The Stooge Report: As Ukraine Goes Under, Guess Whose Fault It Is?

Uncle Volodya says, “It is a disaster that wisdom forbids you to be satisfied with yourself and always sends you away dissatisfied and fearful, whereas stubbornness and foolhardiness fill their hosts with joy and assurance.”

Say; did you ever notice that when the west overturns a government, re-orders the political stage to its liking, pumps in a bit of money to get things perking, and it’s a complete success….the western leadership is content just to let the beaming press tell its story of how the miracle came about? Before the regime-change effort gets rolling, there is – naturally – a campaign of demonizing the leader the west wants gone, setting him or her up as The Appalling Destroyer of Democracy and Trampler of Freedom. But that’s for the mouth-breathing masses, the clodlike peasantry out in Tee-Vee Land., who will sooner or later be asked to throw their weight behind regime change and ardently support it. For the government, who will execute this deft (which is only one letter away from ‘daft’) sleight-of-hand which hopefully results in the target country becoming a loyal ally of the regime-changers, there are reports. Lots of them. These reports are written by – allegedly – experts in their various fields, and offer their government commissioners what is presumably an accurate picture of various elements of the target country: how capable is its military? Are they likely to back the existing government, or betray it and get on the bandwagon? What kind of shape is the economy in? National health? Agriculture? Manufacturing and industry? You get the picture.

So if the effort is successful, the press picks up the narrative, and beams lots of good-news stories about the happy thriving people of Newcountry and how their success is all owed to the defenders of democracy and the forces of good. And that’s actually happened a few times; I wouldn’t want to create the impression it’s never successful, although the western regime-change success rate has been pretty much 0 for however-many over the last few decades.

But if it turns out to be a shit-show and a complete sweaty, floundering embarrassment – and especially if there was a well-established camp which warned that it would – what you get are more reports. Lots of them. These reports analyze what went wrong or is still in the process of going wrong, and look about for somebody to blame. So that, you know, nobody will actually put the blame where it belongs. All of them are saying, essentially, “Wahhhh!!! We stepped on our dick!!! But the plan was perfect! We’re victims!!! Someone shall pay for this.”

Exemplary is Chatham House’s “The Struggle For Ukraine”, hot off the press; you can smell the ink. One hundred and twenty-six pages of blame-shifting and redirection, seasoned withal by tropes which have been deemed to be facts via repetition, and nothing else. You’ll recognize some of the authors right away – Timothy Ash is regularly tapped for comments on Eurasian affairs with a Russian component, and he is reliably on the side of whoever is opposing Russia. The talking chancre known as James Nixey was featured here, running his chip-hole about how Britain needs to get tough with Russia. Have you ever seen James Nixey? This is he. He looks about as tough as an apple dumpling. Granted, you do not have to be Vin Diesel to give advice on how to punch a country into submission, but hasn’t everyone had enough of paunchy middle-aged bespectacled white guys laying down the hard line? We’re also passingly familiar with James Sherr – he’s the one who wrote a report (another report!) on Ukraine way back following the Orange Revolution, in which he criticized Yulia Tymoshenko for having the fiscal policy understanding of a gnat. He didn’t say it in so many words, but he made it clear her go-to policy placebo was just to give everyone a raise, as if the money were being knitted in the basement by The Little People. John Lough is an energy guy, former foreign-affairs advisor for TNK-BP. Janet Gunn is a trustee for the BEARR Trust, a liaison for NGO’s which promote healthcare reform. Orysia Lutsevych is a longtime advocate for Ukraine, and has recently been doing research into how Russia uses ‘proxy NGO’s’ to achieve its foreign-policy objectives. I’d be interested in what constitutes a ‘proxy NGO’ since Russia has one real NGO in the USA and not a lot of them around the world. Needless to say, she is also an advocate for a burgeoning NGO-managed civil society in Russia, since that is the west’s back door to the protest community. And wrapping up the panel, Kataryna Wolczuk is a longtime think-tanker and policy wonkette.

I kind of like this report stuff. It looks like fun. And I like fun. But instead of steering you further away from what actually happened, I’d like to try steering readers back on, with my own report, based on their report. So let’s look at it. Because writing a report is a bit of an art, particularly when you are trying to put lipstick on the pig the west has made of Ukraine so that it looks as progressive as a bunch of progressive things in a sack, while spelling out the improvements you would like to see as if you were merely taking note of some minor deficiencies instead of trying to shovel guts back into a chest-to-crotch incision.

Let’s start with the Executive Summary, because it contains a few of those truth-by-repetition gems I mentioned earlier. We learn right away that Ukraine is a mess, ‘fighting for its survival as an independent and viable state’. That’s not where its western handlers expected four years ago that it would be today. Because if there’s one thing you learn in the regime-change game – or would, if the west ever learned anything from it – it’s that the initial sunny estimates always blow up in your face, and it’s always a whole lot harder than the sellers make it sound. Oh, and those who say “Don’t do it – you’ll be sorry” are right at least twice as often as those who say “This is a brilliant plan, it’s all going to fall into our laps like an overripe plum”.

Just before we really dig in, let’s look for something that sets the tone, because official reports like to do that right away. They rarely contain surprises, because politicians don’t…uhh… like surprises. And we won’t have to look any further than the photo which kicks off their report. It shows members of Ukraine’s Rada putting up an inspirational banner behind the speaker’s rostrum, which reads, “Crimea is Ukraine”. Don’t worry if you can’t read Ukrainian; like so many of Ukraine’s messages, this is intended for its western backers as well, and is also written in English so the west can enjoy sloganeering along with its Ukrainian friends.

Imagine if members of the Democratic party in the United States hung a banner in Congress which read “Elvis is not dead”. Or, “Barack Obama was born in Kenya”. “Lance Armstrong never cheated”. You see, when you start out from a premise that the earth is flat, or that something everybody in the world knows to be untrue is true or vice-versa, you are establishing yourself as unreasonable right out of the gate. You are serving notice that further negotiations are likely to be accompanied by a deepening sense of unreality and futility. Ukrainians can write, and say, “Crimea is Ukraine” until the clap of doom if they want, and saying it and writing it will never make it reality. What can we say about their western backers, who continue to encourage them in their simpleminded faith? It’s kind of like saying “Step out in front of that train. I bet you can stop it with your mind”.

Ukraine is never going to get Crimea back. Not ever. There is no rhetorical device they could employ which will convince Russia to hand it back, no bauble or concession they could propose which would persuade Russia to exchange it. If Ukraine tried to take it back by force of arms, it would be crushed like a soap bubble in a beartrap. If it persuaded its NATO friends to help it take it back militarily, a war would ensue so destructive that nobody involved in it would ever remember it was about Crimea in the first place. Crimea is Russian. It was never really Ukrainian, and it never will be again.

Now that we have hopefully cleared that up, on with the report. And it is definitely a report, which tells you something about how things are going, and it is not well. I won’t be able to quote it paragraph by paragraph and pick it apart at that level. or we’d be here all week. But let’s try one, just for fun.

Four years since the start of its ‘Euromaidan’ revolution, Ukraine is fighting for its survival as an independent and viable state. Ukrainians took to the streets in late 2013 in protest at their government’s suspension, under pressure from Russia, of plans for a closer relationship with the European Union. While their activism forced President Viktor Yanukovych from power and heralded a more EU-aligned foreign policy under a new government, it also prompted a hostile response from Russia, which annexed Crimea in early 2014, started a territorial conflict in eastern Ukraine, and continues to try to fragment and enfeeble its neighbour.

Notice how they slipped that ‘under Russian pressure’ in there? The Yanukovych government caved in to Russian pressure, and suspended the plan for a close and comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union. Was that what happened? it sure as fuck is not.

I guess Putin must have flown to Kiev, to put the screws to Yanukovych. No? What, Yanukovych went to Moscow? And came back with an agreement to sponsor Ukraine with billions where the EU was offering $600 million in immediate aid, with maybe more if Yanukovych toed the line? I’ll tell you what, Mr. Putin. Let me know when you will be free for an hour or so, and I’ll fly to Moscow at my own expense so you can pressure me like that. Sarcasm aside (regretfully), it is kind of hard to believe Yanukovych went to Moscow of his own free will to ask for help, and got it…and that’s ‘pressure’. In fact, I can show you – for the umpteenth time – what pressure looks like. Pressure is when you take your concerns, all nicely typed up for you by your own economic team, and the Commissioner for European Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy will not even look at it. Especially when all of the concerns expressed by your economic team – from Germany, not Ukraine, so about as arms-length as you could imagine – came to pass, and were every bit as disastrous as they predicted. Ukrainian GDP has been reduced by half since the Glorious Maidan. Half. Which of the European union’s charter members could survive that?

The question the report addressed is what it would cost Ukraine if Moscow were to cut its facilitation of trade with Kiev. The document included tables, bar charts and explanations about the customs union. In the end, though, only one thing interested politicians in Ukraine. On page two, under the heading “summary,” the report states that “Ukrainian exports to Russia would decrease by 17 percent or $3 billion per year.” It provided a solid figure, from Germany, telling the Ukrainian government what it would have to sacrifice for the sake of closer relations with the EU. Should not Kiev be compensated for such a sacrifice?…

Shortly after his visit to the IMF, Arbuzov headed for Brussels to present Enlargement Commissioner Füle with the numbers calculated by the German advisory group. He believed that the numbers spoke for themselves, but Füle didn’t take them seriously. “Did you also request calculations,” he asked smugly, “about what would happen to the Ukrainian economy in the case of a meteorite strike?”

Stefan Fule, you cut-up – no matter how many times I hear that meteorite line, I still laugh. You are wasted on European Engorgement, or whatever it was you used to do, when you could have been killing them with stand-up on Evening at the Improv.

This report recognizes Ukraine’s considerable achievements since the Euromaidan. The country has not succumbed, despite grievous loss of life and territory, to Russian military aggression. It has sealed a landmark Association Agreement with the EU, opening up economic opportunity and making it clear that it sees itself as a fundamentally ‘European’ country rather than a Russian satellite or tributary. And it has undertaken deeper and more extensive reform in the past four years than in the previous 22 of its post-Soviet life.

What’s that funny smell? It’s like…decomposing hay, or something. Oh, right: it’s horseshit. What are Ukraine’s ‘considerable achievements since the Euromaidan’? It has signed an economic cooperation agreement – which its previous and democratically-elected leader refused to sign – which ‘opened up economic opportunity’ that saw its GDP fall by half. It has made it clear it sees itself as a fundamentally European country, although more than three-quarters of its GDP is still controlled by an oligarchy headed by a billionaire president who refuses to sell any of his business assets, although he promised to do so during his election campaign. That’ll fit right in in Brussels, won’t it?

Here are the trade figures for Ukraine-EU trade for 2015 and 2016. Don’t let all that bunk about total turnover and increasing trade obscure an essential fact for you – in both 2015 and 2016, Ukraine spent more on goods it bought from the EU than it earned in goods it sold to the EU. That’s nothing new; Ukraine has always run a trade deficit with the EU. But the Ukraine we’re talking about today has had its GDP cut by half and its reserves looted. It is broke, and living on handouts from the IMF, which the IMF pretends to pay while Ukraine pretends to reform. Yes, I can see economic opportunity yawning wide before Ukraine. Or perhaps that’s the gates of hell; I often confuse the two. The EU allows Ukraine to sell it raw materials for further processing, some piece goods and textiles, a bit of machinery. For these, the EU graciously allows Ukraine a preferential-tariff arrangement, called GSP (Generalized System of Preferences). This is roughly similar to the tariff privilege Ukraine enjoyed with Russia. although the Russian arrangement recognized a wider range of goods. But don’t bother to start printing up “I Heart GSP” stickers. The arrangement expires at the end of this year.

I’m sure you noticed that clever head-fake in there, in which ‘the country has not succumbed, despite grievous loss of life and territory, to Russian aggression’, just as if the former was caused by the latter. Ukraine’s loss of territory was completely and wholly its own fault; it allowed its nationalist instincts to override caution, and announced the withdrawal of official-language status for Russian in a country in which nearly half the population uses it routinely in business and social transactions, and in which nearly all can speak it. Crimea was and is majority ethnic Russian, and they were not interested in being made to learn and speak Ukrainian. They voted with their feet, a concept the west has cheered often in the past when it worked to its advantage. Similarly, the very great majority of deaths of Ukrainians in Ukraine have come at the hands of other Ukrainians, in a civil war the west allows Kiev to call an Anti-Terrorist Operation, because otherwise it would have to confront the reality that President Poroshenko is Killing His Own People, a venial sin the west has jumped upon reliably in the past as an excuse to carry out regime change. Not one Ukrainian has died as the result of ‘Russian aggression’. Russians may have helped prevent the Donbas from being overrun by the Ukrainian military, although Ukraine has never proven any Russian military presence beyond a couple of intelligence officers it captured. Preventing the military annihilation of the civilian population – when it is specifically in violation of the national constitution to use state military forces against the civilian population – does not qualify as aggression.

The west’s credibility and cohesion are also at stake.

For the west, that’s true. And do you know why? Because the west made it that kind of game, with its swaggering and smirking, its “Ukraine – Hey, Russia; We’ve Got a New Best Friend, Get Used To It” headlines, Vicky Nuland handing out cookies on the Maidan, the whole process stiff with western diplomats. All the time shouting that Russia must back off, must stop pressuring Ukraine and let it make up its own mind, when the Russian presence at the Maidan was zero. You did not see so much of that Ukraine-must-be-allowed-to-make-up-its-own-mind talk when Ukraine was choosing help from Russia, so apparently Ukraine must only be allowed to make up its own mind when it is making an approved choice.

The west has already failed. It was going to turn Ukraine into a prosperous western-leaning market democracy just like snapping its fingers, and moreover, Russia was going to pay for it. But Ukraine lost the Russian market, exactly as Yanukovych’s economic team had forecast, and it has been in a downward spiral ever since. Its oligarchy has correctly perceived that while western agencies and leaders might make a lot of noise about corruption,  they are not really going to do anything serious about it because, while they might be able to make something out of a united Ukraine minus Crimea, Ukraine minus Crimea and the Donbas industrial heartland is a non-starter. Therefore the west must look the other way and pretend to be intensely preoccupied with something important, while Poroshenko tries to wrest back the Donbas militarily. Then the west would pretend to be surprised, but delighted that Ukraine is happily whole once again. But that effort is going nowhere, and the war drags on and on without the lines on the map ever changing very much. Without regular injections of cash from the IMF, Ukraine would collapse, and once Europe’s gas no longer crosses Ukraine and it loses its transit fees, that will wipe out its largely illusory ‘growth’, even though that is achieved only through regular loans which Ukraine can never pay back. It might as well all be written next to “Failure” in the dictionary.  Textbook.

At this point, we’re up over 3000 words, and just got to the end of the Executive Summary. But there is still ever so much bullshit ahead, it just will not be possible to tabulate it all in a single session. Therefore, this is going to have to be a multi-post effort. Stay tuned, and if you’d like to read ahead and help me out, I’d be grateful.


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1,301 Responses to The Stooge Report: As Ukraine Goes Under, Guess Whose Fault It Is?

  1. Warren says:

    The Economist
    Published on 23 Nov 2017
    Britons often grumble that Americanisms are creeping into British English. Lane Greene, our language guru, asks where American words really come from—and whether they pose a threat to the Queen’s English.

  2. Warren says:

    Russia Insider
    Published on 21 Nov 2017
    Vladimir Putin took part in the unveiling ceremony for the monument to the Peacemaker tsar Alexander III. The monument has been erected in the Livadia Palace park.
    The monument is a gift from the Russian Artists’ Union. The author of the sculptural composition is sculptor Andrei Kovalchuk, head of the Artists’ Union, People’s Artist of Russia. The monument has been erected in the park of the Livadia Palace, where Emperor Alexander III liked to stay with his family. The four-metre-tall bronze monument was created at a plant in the Urals. Alexander III is presented as sitting on a tree stump, dressed in military uniform and resting on his sword, with a stele behind him topped with a double-headed eagle.

  3. Warren says:

  4. Warren says:

    Is Seeking the Truth a Human Right?

    Earlier today, Bill Browder, American-born British billionaire and also grandson of the notorious CPUSA leader Earl Browder, posted the above picture on Twitter from inside a conference on “human rights challenges” at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway. Hosted by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the conference was billed as an “international hearing” into the death of Browder’s longtime accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, in Russian state custody. Browder’s tweet reads: “Magnitsky denial filmmaker complaining how unfairly he’s been treated in his ambitions to spread FSB version that Magnitsky wasn’t murdered.”

    Tsk, tsk. I don’t know what filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov said — he was not permitted to record the proceedings — but you would think that whatever it was, Browder could take it: five scheduled minutes of dissent in an uninterrupted battery of pro-Browder speakers and even an after-dinner play, all endorsing the international Magnitsky movement as he, Browder, and his impressive organization, have created it.

    What is the Magnitsky movement? For starters, it is an amazing success. By dint of Browder’s ceaseless lobbying and influence, the US Congress and parliaments in Canada, the UK, Estonia, Latvia have passed “Magnitsky Acts” sanctioning mainly Russian individuals connected with the arrest, imprisonment and death of Sergei Magnitsky, who died at the age of 37 under terrible circumstances in a Russian prison in 2009.

    Apparently, Browder sees fit to tar anyone who questions whether Magnitsky’s prison death was an intentional “murder” (carried out by eight men wielding batons for over an hour, as Browder tells it), or, perhaps, a result of criminal negligence by prison medical personnel, as mouthpieces of the “FSB version” — the FSB being successor to the KGB.

    • Warren says:

      Andrei Nekrasov is a kreakly that has gone off the reservation and stopped singing the State Department NED funded NGO hymn sheet. Subsequently, he has been ostracised, ridiculed and excommunicated by his erstwhile friends and comrades in the arts. Nekrasov would have remained a western media darling had he simply stayed on script.

      • Nekrasov is the boyfriend of a Finnish russophobe Heidi Hautala. Wonder how a change of Nekrasov’s opinions have affected their relationship.

        • yalensis says:

          I don’t think Nekrasov necessarily changed his opinions, his problem is that he is just honest. He was starting to make a pro-Browder movie, but those pesky things called “facts” turned him in another direction. Now he has to suffer the consequences of his own integrity.

          • Cortes says:

            Well said.

            I recall the word used of SA of Dutch background who “got it” about apartheid: they were “consequent/konsekwent” – apologies for the rubbish rendition. They put into practice what they learned in Sunday School. Tell the truth.

      • kirill says:

        Nice to see some of the liberasts recover their sanity.

    • Cortes says:

      Bowdlerise will become less well known than BROWDERISE.

      Mystic Cortes prediction… (remember it’s not safe to trust those who refer to themselves in the 3rd person….).

  5. Vladimir Lenin, the Father of Ukraine, was also a great russophobe:

    Lenin: “‘Russians are shitheads! Pure-blood Russians are racists, scoundrels at heart, and rapists!'”

    • Moscow Exile says:

      “Russia is a country of genetic scum” — Ksenia Sobchack.

      “Why are you worried about these people? Well, 30 million will die out. They did not fit into the market” — Anatoly Chubais.

      “These people” whom Chubais referred to were impoverished Russian citizens.

    • yalensis says:

      Well, we can all stipulate that Zhirinovsky is a great philosopher, a renowned historian, and expert on the nationalities question.

  6. Lenin the butcher did more harm to the Russian nation than anyone else in the history.

    This is a man who conspired with the Germans to defeat Russia in WW1.

    This is a man who publicly wished for a Japanese victory in the 1905 war (he got his wish).

    This is a man who split Russian lands into several parts. He created an artificial state of the “Ukraine” which had catastrophic consequences for Russian people in this millenium. Ivan living in Kiev now hates Ivan living in Moscow. And he gave some of the most fertile Russian lands to Asiatic nomads (northern part of Kazakhstan).

    This is a man who ordered one million Russian cossacks executed. The Cossacks, who were the most patriotic of Russians.

    This is a man who prevented Russia from ever truly challenging the America/West. The 1900s should have been a Russian century. Instead it was a catastrophe for Russia.

    Bury him and tear down his statues!

    • Today’s Liberals are the Bolsheviks of the 1910s and 1920s.

      And the Bolsheviks of the 1910s and 1920s are today’s Liberals.

      • Ryan Ward says:

        To quote the great George W. Bush, “That was some weird shit”

        • yalensis says:

          Weird shit indeed, Ryan! And can you please address that issue of the Kazakh nomads. I happen to know that your position on this matter is the diametric opposite of Karl’s.

          Karl believes that Lenin took land from honest Russians and gave it to the lazy-ass Kazakh nomads, I think you have said in the past it was the other way around…
          I’m honestly not sure who I believe at this point, since my knowledge of Kazakh history is a bit sparse.


          P.S. – you have to keep in mind, when dealing with Karl’s frothing bullshit, that he is an “Aryan” racist. Honestly, I’m not just throwing words around. Karl is a Finnish fascist. He is very harsh on Central Asians, whom he considers genetically inferior to Europeans. To his credit, he is one of those racialists who “allows” Slavs into the Aryan pantheon, that’s the one thing that sets him apart from Hitler. That, plus his distrust of Germans.
          Honestly, I don’t understand why Karl doesn’t understand Lenin’s “tilt” to Germany in WWI. He believes that Russian peasants should have fought for the death for Mother England. Weird, indeed.

          • Ryan Ward says:

            To put it mildly, Karl is confused. The one grain of truth in what he’s saying is that the entirety of Central Asia was originally part of the Russian SSR. But that obviously wasn’t because the whole territory was full of Russians. It was just because the Central Asian states were ASSRs originally rather than SSRs. The “northern part of Kazakhstan” Karl refers to was the Kirghiz ASSR (at the time, confusingly, Kazakhs were referred to as Kirghiz and Kirghiz were referred to as Kara-Kirghiz). The Kirghiz ASSR also included parts of what’s now Orenburg Oblast. The southern part of what’s now Kazakhstan was divided up into a few different Central Asia ASSRs. So, while technically it’s true that the Russian SSR shrank because of the Central Asian states becoming SSRs, this was more of an administrative thing than anything else. Actually, if you consider “core Russia” to be the parts of Russia that aren’t included in any ASSR, it actually grew a little bit, as it gained the parts of Orenburg Oblast that had been part of the Kirghiz ASSR.

            But of course, if we’re talking about “Russians” and “Kazakhs” as ethnic groups, it’s much more important to track where the actual people were, as opposed to where administrative borders were drawn. Wikipedia has a really useful table about that, showing the ethnic composition of Kazakhstan through time

            Nationality 1926 1939 1959 1970 1979 1989
            Kazakh 58.5 37.8 30.0 32.6 36.0 40.1
            Russian 18.0 40.2 42.7 42.4 40.8 37.4
            Ukrainian 13.88 10.7 8.2 7.2 6.1 5.4
            Belarusian 0.51 1.2 1.5 1.2 1.1 0.8
            German 0.82 1.50 7.1 6.6 6.1 5.8
            Tatar 1.29 1.76 2.1 2.2 2.1 2.0
            Uzbek 2.09 1.96 1.5 1.7 1.8 2.0
            Uyghur 1.01 0.58 0.6 0.9 1.0 1.1
            Korean 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6

            The really key point to notice there is that from 1926 to 1970, the Kazakh share of the population dropped a full 26 percentage points, as the Kazakhs were reduced to a neglected minority in their own country. As an aside, and linking back to the old discussion, this is one reason (although not the only one) why I’m not particularly impressed by the fact that Kazakhstan was given SSR status nominally equal to that of Russia. The point is that the status was given to the territory, not the Kazakh people, and because of starvation, dumping of exiles and voluntary (but state-sponsored as part of the virgin lands campaign) immigration, the Kazakh SSR had become not particularly Kazakh anymore.

            Looking in the Wikipedia article, I also found an article about the Kazakh famine. My Russian isn’t good enough to read the whole thing, but what I could read looked interesting, so here it is

            • Ryan Ward says:

              I just noticed that the formatting of the table got messed up (it looked fine on my screen as I was typing 😉 ) Anyway, it’s a bit hard to read now, but the most important figures are Kazakh (1926)- 58.5% (1939)-37.8% (1970)- 32.6%
              Russian (1926)-18.0% (1939)-40.2% (1970)- 42.4%

              • marknesop says:

                I tinkered with it a little bit but was unable to make much difference. That often happens with copy-paste into WordPress. I don’t know how it would work in comments, but in articles I was able to keep the columns in place by building it in a table using Word.

    • Jen says:

      I suppose giving Finland its independence was one of the harmful acts Lenin committed upon the Russian nation?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The Russian Empire was responsible for ending in 1809 the 400-year overlordship of Finland by Sweden.

        From 1809 until 1917 Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire and, apparently, enjoyed quite a large degree of autonomy, albeit that from 1809 the Romanov tsars were the Grand Dukes of the Finnish Grand Duchy.

        • Warren says:

          Finland was granted autonomy within the Russian Empire. The Finnish Diet/Parliament was reconstituted in 1863. Duchy of Finland was able to enact its own laws, hold its own elections all the time remaining within the Russian Empire. A statue of Tsar Alexander II remains standing at Senate Square in Helsinki.

        • Jen says:

          The main difference though is that Finland would not have been able to conduct its own foreign policy as a Grand Duchy within the Russian empire. How much difference this made compared to Finland’s status as an independent country since December 1917 might be another question though. Finland’s geographic position between Russia and Scandinavia / Germany probably made delicate navigating between two opposing sides all but inevitable, something no country should ever have to go through, but whether Finland’s politicians have done that well and intelligently (and are doing so now) is another topic altogether.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      The 1900s should have been a Russian century. Instead it was a catastrophe for Russia.

      The 1900s?

      Surely you mean the 20th century?

      A catastrophic century for “Russia”?

      So the Soviet victory against the Nazi German invasion should be included in this catastrophic century for “Russia”?

      And 20th century Soviet achievements in science were also catastrophic?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        For sure, but to say that the history of the Russian Empire, the USSR and the Russian Federation from 1900 until 2000 was a series of unmitigated and mostly avoidable disasters, a “catastrophe” both socially and politically, is not entirely true.

        For example, Russian citizens have been for the past 100 years amongst the most literate and best educated in the world. Before the turn of the 20th century, the vast majority of the tsar’s subjects were illiterate and uneducated.

        Literacy and Academic Performance in Russia

        Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 99.7 percent; male: 99.7 percent; female: 99.6 percent (2015 est.). The literacy rate in Russia is nearly 100 percent except in some areas dominated by ethnic minorities, where the rate may be considerably lower. According to the 2002 census, 99.5 percent of the population above age 10 was literate.

        The standard of education is high particularly in math and science. Russian high school and university students often have a deeper understanding of Western literature and history than their American counterparts. Ranking in math among 8th grade students in 38 countries: 12th.

        Ranking in science among 8th grade students in 38 countries. 16th. [Source: International Study Center, Boston College, 2001]

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I know what my children learn at a Russian state secondary (“middle” in Russian, “high” in US parlance) school and what my 18-year-old son is now studying in higher education (“college” in the USA).

          The stuff my children are learning/learnt in maths, for example, is, in my opinion, beyond the ken of most British schoolchildren of the same age.

          And my children study Russian literature and grammar: they learn by heart great chunks of Pushkin, Lermontov etc., which “rote” learning, it seems, is tabu amongst many UK pedagogues.

          They stopped teaching English grammar in English schools (don’t know about North of the Border: their education system is different) in the very early ’70s — and you can’t half bloody well tell now! Just take a look at some of the howlers one sees in the so-called quality press.

          When I was at school over 60 years ago, we had to learn by heart passages from Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Shelly, Tennyson, Blake, Wordsworth etc. I don’t think they do that any more.

          I still remember those pieces of literature that I learnt by heart, and my son still remembers Lermontov’s “Borodino”, which work I recall him having to learn during his summer holidays 5 years ago.

          He can still recite it: I’ve just asked him to do so.

          He prefers “russkiy rep” now.


          • Jen says:

            At least he will not be a shoegazer rapper.

            (“Shoegazer” = a musician or singer who tapes the lyrics to the stage floor so s/he can read and sing them while performing; term also refers to a style of rock music – usually fuzzy guitar melodic indie pop – that such musicians play)

        • marknesop says:

          Just to clarify, this is a reply to Mike Averko, whose comments have been deleted. Moscow Exile is a favoured target, as he seems to be the only person still fooled by Mike’s aliases.

    • yalensis says:

      Says the neo-Nazi Finn who pimps for Nicholas II and the Franco-English Entente.

  7. Warren says:

    Theresa May to warn of ‘hostile’ Russia threat to EU security

    PM Theresa May is to warn EU leaders to be wary of “hostile states like Russia” and pledge the UK will stay committed to European security after Brexit.

    In Brussels for a summit, she will say it is crucial that European countries work together to “protect our shared values and ideals”.

    She will also discuss Brexit with European Council President Donald Tusk.

    Last week Mr Tusk said the UK must show more progress on the “divorce bill” if trade talks were to begin this year.

    On Friday, Mrs May is expected to stress the need for a unified approach to security as the UK leaves the EU.

    Brexit negotiations are going nowhere, with the Irish PM threatening to torpedo any deal if a “hard border” is erected between the Republic and Norther Ireland. The hard Tories Brexiteer have May cornered, and dictating to her. May has no other options than to cite the tried and tested Russian bogeyman in a desperate bid to win some sort of a concession from the EU. Expect more hysterical “Russia threat” narrative from the state-controlled (foreign policy) UK media.

  8. Cortes says:

    The blame game kicks off at the news that an underwater explosion was recorded in the presumed vicinity of the ARA San Juan on 15 November:

    UK and French monitoring stations picked up the event and passed on the information to Argentine diplomats. Odd frisson from the report as though Navy brass is hoping the vessel may have been beyond the continental shelf and questionable maintenance may go unexamined.

    Very sad.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I shall be interested to compare how the Western media treats this tragedy and how it treated that of the Russian submarine “Kursk”.

      15 Years on, Russians Less Inclined to Cast Blame for Kursk Submarine Tragedy — Moscow Times, Aug 11, 2015.

      • Patient Observer says:

        A few quick thoughts:
        “It sank” [Putin]— and appeared to smirk — when answering a question about what had happened to the submarine during an interview on the television channel a month after the tragedy.

        This laconic answer and the president’s demeanor were slammed as being cynical, indifferent and inappropriate for years to come, and further enraged those who already believed the government could have saved some of the sailors.

        I saw that interview and Putin was reacting to what he likely considered a stupid question; something like IIRC “What do you think happened to the Kursk”? Claims that he was smirking was only in the eyes of the beholder.

        The San Juan was supplied by a German manufacturer. I speculate that there will be few questions about its design or quality even if were, in fact ,not better than a leaky 55 gallon drum.

        • marknesop says:

          Ah, yes; he ‘appeared to smirk’, which sounds a lot like “I say he was smirking, because that’s the way I took it”. Typically, unless he is in the mood to fence, Putin does not have a lot of patience with or time for reporters, particularly western reporters. He must know very well that the main purpose of their questions is to get him to say more than he intended, so they can scream “Putin admitted it!!!!” So his replies are frequently pointed and short, to limit the extent to which they can be misquoted and massaged for effect. In this instance reporters were probably hoping for some explanation they could use to expand on Putin’s admission that KURSK was an inferior design, or its builders were probably drunk when they put it together, or just a good old-fashioned slip where he revealed a defense secret.

          As soon as he heard about the disaster, Putin returned to Moscow, from Sochi if I recall. During the summer recently when Moscow was inundated by choking smoke from forest and peat fires surrounding the capital – completely intolerable according to Julia Ioffe, who was in Moscow at the time and gave us near-hourly updates – Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov gathered up his precious beehives and decamped to a more amenable climate. George Bush flew over New Orleans when the levee let go and Lake Pontchartrain flooded the city during one of the worst hurricanes it had ever experienced. The US Army Corps of Engineers warned the government several times over the years that the levee was inadequate, and that such a result was likely in in a significant storm.

      • yalensis says:

        According to this piece, , the Russian consul in Mar del Plata, Yury Kuznetsov, said that Russia learned a lot from the Kursk tragedy, which is helping now to assist the Argentinians.
        Kuznetsov said that the transport plane and oceanographic vessel “Yantar” dispatched by Russia, are the most up-to-date in this type of search-salvage operation.
        He said that after “Kursk”, Russia underwent a complete modernization of all of these components.

    • marknesop says:

      I heard on the radio, in a report on the incident, that the unit has not been heard from in a week, and that the water in which they were operating is far beyond their crush depth. So it seems unlikely anyone could survive. I was discussing it with my daughter today, and the incident involving the KURSK came up. I said that if the Argentinian boat imploded, death would be very quick; it’s a small boat. KURSK, however, was a huge submarine, with several watertight sections, and investigators know some of the crew lived for hours but could not escape as the boat slowly flooded; they found handwritten notes to their families in their pockets.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The salvaged “Kursk”:

        ARA “San Juan”:

        Are those barnacles on the San Juan hull?

        • Patient Observer says:

          It’s a high-tech coating used to absorb sonar signals. Or just barnacles. What’s with the water pouring out the opening in the bow?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Someone has just been to the heads?

          • marknesop says:

            Barnacles attach themselves to anything which is not moving, which the submarine isn’t while it is in dock. Ships still often use an anti-fouling paint which is toxic to barnacles (and sea-life in general, so its use is tightly restricted), but you can’t put it over anechoic tiles, which are a dense rubbery compound. Submarines have fresh-water outboard discharge like all vessels, although their grey and black water are usually well-filtered except on very old designs – they have no holding tanks to retain all their waste water until it can be pumped out in port. Submarines – to the best of my knowledge, I’m not a submariner and have never been one – still have a bow buoyancy tank called the ‘Q tank’, which is used to add or subtract weight from the bow as desired to help the submarine surface, or dive quickly. ‘Flood Q’ to get the nose down quickly, “Blow Q’ to assume an up-angle on the bow.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, you can see in the photo of the KURSK that the bow was blown off; her missile tubes (the primer-coloured caps on either side of the hull, upper-most) are intact, undamaged and none had been expended. The most likely theory is that a torpedo exploded, possibly while it was being handled, loaded or transferred. Russia was known to be experimenting with a hydrogen-peroxide fuel mix for its torpedoes – as the USN did as well at one time – and while it yields a very hot, fast run it is potentially very dangerous and explosive.

          The pressure hull is also intact, so the remaining crew who were not killed in the explosion – everyone in the bow obviously died instantly – drowned as flooding advanced into the hull. I believe I recall the last of them were found in a compartment that had been isolated from the flooding, but their air would have run out as the submarine lost power and was unable to generate or recirculate air. She was on the bottom, but I believe it was much shallower than where the SAN JUAN went down and her double hull is much stronger anyway. SAN JUAN is just a diesel boat, although she is a very well-built design and probably descended well below her rated crush depth before imploding.

          • Patient Observer says:

            The Kursk salvage operation involved using an abrasive cable pulled back and forth by winches on the sea bottom. It took a very long time but eventually the hull was cut in half facilitating the salvage. One result was a relatively clean cut as pictured.

            Theorists continue to offer explanations for the sinking with some involving collision with US subs. Could be but an accidental torpedo explosion seems the simplest and most likely.

            • kirill says:

              There is a photo from the side which shows a round hole which the hull cutting operation cut in half. The size of this hole is about right for a torpedo. It should be noted as well that the front part of the hull which was cut off is never shown (even on the seabed). So the “tin foil hat crew” find it credible that the Kursk was sunk. I see no evidence to exclude this theory. Also, if torpedoes where prone to detonation while handling, then there would be more Kursk incidents. As far as I know, this was the only such case in the USSR/Russia navy since WWII. Statistical outliers are suspicious.

              • marknesop says:

                Maybe so. Nobody really knows. But peroxide fuel makes torpedo handling particularly dangerous. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen torpedo handling going on, but there is a heavy I-beam overhead rail which acts as a track along which the torpedo is moved from its rack to the tube. Heavy grippers like claws grab the torpedo, and it is lifted with a chainfall or hydraulic lift, then pushed down the track. It’s unusual for the grabs to lose their grip, but it could happen. Whatever did happen was probably not decisive – it was the second explosion, which seismic records indicated was 16 times more powerful than the first, which blew the bow apart.

                If you are talking about this round hole, it should be apparent that it is too precise to have been caused by an explosion. It looks like it was deliberately cut around a hull fitting or something. The edges of the hole are not flowered outward, as they would be in the case of an internal explosion, or inward as they would be if the submarine was attacked from outside. Additionally, it looks as if the lower part of the hull was already blown almost completely apart; the cut by Mammoet only goes halfway down, and then the rest presumably broke free and allowed her to be lifted.

                By the way, here’s the kind of crackpottery on offer regarding the incident, from the Orthodox Anti-Globalist Resource Center. As is stated, it was an almost perfectly round hole, and a projectile that leaves such a hole is not explosive. The edges are not ‘bent inward’ as described in this nutty attempt to make something sinister out of it, and suggest a complete lack of understanding of explosives. Given the condition of the rest of the area, how is it possible a projectile entered KURSK through that hole, then exploded and blew everything else to ratshit but left that perfect circular hole? It seems clear the hole was made after the fact, and may have been used to get optics inside while the submarine was still more or less in one piece. The reason the bow was not recovered is because it rammed into a clay bottom with something like 14,000 tons of submarine in free-fall pushing it, bow first because the bow was flooded. It was the bow, stuck in the bottom, which prevented the submarine from being raised in the first place.

                Also that hole, off the top of my head, looks to be at least three times the diameter of a torpedo. I don’t know who thinks the Russian government would know that the Americans sank a Russian submarine in Russian waters in the middle of a Russian naval exercise, and then covered it up rather than shouting it to the world, but I sure don’t.

                • Patient Observer says:

                  I was going to post a link to a National Geographic piece on the Kursk sinking. It had a number of interesting video segments but the overall theme was that, despite brave and trained sailors, Russia was doomed to fail as its armed services are a generation behind the West with poorly maintained equipment. Also, it turns out, British experts informed the viewer that the Russian military is simply paralyzed by fear and will never ask for help from another country in the even of a disasgter. Predictable, whenever an “expert” had a British accent, there would barely contained scorn.

                  In past tragedies that have hit the US, I believe that the US never accepted offered help from Russia, Cuba or other political unacceptable countries. Here is an example for Hurrican Maria that wiped out much of Puerto Rico.


                  Cuba’s deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra said Havana has offered to send to San Juan an emergency campaign hospital with 39 doctors to help the needed population with health services.

                  “Cuba also offers to send four brigades of electric workers to help our sister nation rebuild its electrical system,” said the official in his Twitter account.

                  Cuba has already sent medical and relief brigades to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, which are also affected by recent hurricanes Maria and Irma.

                  This offer must be accepted by Washington as Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States and Cuban aid workers and doctors must be granted U.S. visas.

                  However, in the current state of Cuba-U.S. relations, it seems unlikely the White House will approve such offer as Washington has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Havana over an alleged “sonic attack” [i.e. noisy crickets] in the island against U.S. diplomats.

                  So, the US is guilty of refusing badly needed help due to political considerations and the help was purely to help civilians – no military overtones or secrets to protect.

                • marknesop says:

                  The west had a lot easier time selling that rust-bucket-military story before the development and deployment and demonstration of the Kalibr missile. They could argue that sure, their newer ships and tanks looked nice and menacing, but inside they are packed with ancient, wheezy tube technology and kludgy electronics. But the so-far flawless cruise-missile attacks (don’t believe the damage-control nonsense that half of Russia’s missiles crashed in Iran) have made it difficult to imagine that Russia is a generation behind the United States. Especially considering the obvious successful rollback of ISIS in Syria by the Russian military – although the SAA must be given credit for its stubborn bravery – while the USA was reduced to a bit player and spoiler whose attempts to help the opposition succeed and facilitation of ISIS were transparent.

                  Accounts of the KURSK disaster reflect American admiration that the design was able to withstand such a powerful explosion and yet remain largely intact, and the its compartmentalized watertight integrity prevented flooding from almost half the hull, including the reactor compartment. The reactors were said to have been shut down to prevent a nuclear disaster, although that meant certain death since without the reactors, they had no electrical power for air circulation.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                The photo below appeared in this “EP Today”, which is a monthly European Parliament journal:

                The title of the above linked “EP Today” article is “Relatives Of Kursk Submarine Sailors Mark 17th Anniversary Of Disaster”.

                No doubt, readers of that article would have assumed that the photograph that appeared in it was of the “Kursk”.

                It is not: it is of USS San Francisco (SSN 711) in Guam, following an accident that claimed the life of one sailor.

                USS San Francisco struck an undersea mountain about 360 miles southeast of its Guam home-port .

                Look at the flag in the above photo!

                Here is another photo of the unfortunate USS San Francisco taken in the same Guam dry dock:

                But EP Today mistakenly presents that photograph of USS San Francisco as being one of the salvaged Kursk.

                Was the copy editor of EP Today “lying”?

                Here is the Kursk before the accident:

                and after:

                • marknesop says:

                  SAN FRANCISCO is not even a ballistic-missile submarine; she’s an attack boat. There’s not a lot of distinguishing features on a submarine for recognition, but Russian boats typically do not put the diving planes on the sail (conning tower) as American naval architects do – they’re forward on the sides of the hull instead.

                  You can’t see KURSK’s diving planes in most photos because they’re under water. You can’t see them in the drydock photo, either, because they were on the bow section which is still on the bottom.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, that lift was a technological marvel. Other photography before the bow was cut off, though, showed that the explosion – or more than one, the succeeding ones perhaps being sympathetic detonation of similar weapons – blew the bow apart and outward. Water would have immediately flooded much of the forward end and she would have become nose-heavy as she headed for the bottom.

              The same photography showed nothing to support the theory that she collided with an American sub. I know that was a popular theory just after the incident, but it is very unlikely. There was a major Russian naval exercise going on at the time, and it is pretty hard to believe an American sub which was involved in a fatal collision with a submarine the size of KURSK could have been so undamaged that it could sneak away without making noise and being detected and exposed.

              • et Al says:

                I bet there were either American or British subs in the region ‘monitoring’ the exercises, something not at all unusual. It wouldn’t surprise me either if a smaller (and much quieter) diesel-electric sub from another NATO nation (or allied) would have been there if suitably tricked out with proper intelligence gathering gear. Even if there wasn’t much to gather, listening on the exercise would have been a useful training exercise in itself for western sub crews.

                • marknesop says:

                  They were obviously already monitoring it to some degree; it was western sonic gear which recorded the initial explosion and the larger second one which followed. I’m not disputing there might have been a western submarine in the vicinity, although it would have been particularly difficult to explain its presence if it were caught and was not in international waters. If so, it would have been told to remain well clear of exercise units. I am very skeptical that a collision with a western submarine caused the disaster, and quite a bit beyond skeptical that a western submarine attacked KURSK.

  9. yalensis says:

    This piece is interesting and shows that Ukrainian demographers themselves are not buying into the “Holodomor” myth.
    Executive summary:
    (1) Ukrainian Institute of Demography published numbers showing that Kazakhstan suffered more, relative to population, than Ukraine, in the famines of the early 1930’s.
    (2) The man quoted is Deputy Director of Ukrainian Demographics Institute, Alexander Gladun.
    (3) Estimated number of people in Ukrainian SSR who died of famine = 3.9 million. Gladun mentions that Ukrainian politicians often artificially raise this number to as high as 10 million, for political effect.
    (4) Absolute number of deaths in Kazakhstan were fewer, but more significant relative to population: An estimated 22.4% of the population died in the famine.
    (5) Gladun’s statistical methodology is to calculate the trend of deaths (without famine) and then substract the actual deaths, with a rough estimation that the “extra” deaths must be caused by the famine. He also factored in some other indications.
    (6) The number of “extra deaths” in the entire USSR in the years 1932-1934 constitutes around 8.7 million people.
    (7) Kazakhstan lost around 22.4% of its population; Ukraine 1.3%; Russia 3.2%; Belorussia 1.3%.
    [yalensis: Note that we are also not talking about ethnic deaths per se, just where people lived geographically, remember that the USSR was a melting pot.]

    The VZGLIAD piece, written by Sergei Guryanov, denotes the first time that a Ukrainian official institution “admitted” that somebody other than just Ukrainians, died from the famine.
    He notes that the Kazakh government does not accuse anybody of deliberating targeting Kazakhs or artificially creating the famine. The Ukrainians are the only ones to do this.

    Gladun may have gone off the reservation on this point! Let’s hope that he stays alive.

    • Ryan Ward says:

      (7) Kazakhstan lost around 22.4% of its population; Ukraine 1.3%; Russia 3.2%; Belorussia 1.3%.
      [yalensis: Note that we are also not talking about ethnic deaths per se, just where people lived geographically, remember that the USSR was a melting pot.

      Firstly, just wanted to identify a typo. The Ukraine number should be 13.3% rather than 1.3%. But secondly, I wanted to point out that, although numbers of deaths in different regions don’t exactly map onto ethnic groups, they probably match reasonably close, but underestimate the number of ethnic Ukrainian and Kazakh deaths. In the Kazakh case, the estimates I’ve seen are that more than 85% of the deaths there were ethnic Kazakhs. Since ethnic Kazakhs were less than 60% of the population, this means that they suffered disproportionately. It’s likely that almost a third of the ethnic Kazakhs alive at the time starved. In the case of the Ukrainians, it’s likely that the great majority of deaths in Ukraine were of ethnic Ukrainians, since the great majority of famine deaths were in the countryside rather than the city, and the Ukrainian countryside was overwhelmingly ethnic Ukrainian. However, ethnic Ukrainians likely account for a disproportionate number of the deaths in Russia as well, since one of the hardest-hit regions was the Kuban, which was heavily Ukrainian. It would be hard to calculate exactly the percentage of ethnic Ukrainians in the Soviet Union that starved, but the number would certainly be higher than 13.3%.

  10. J.T. says:

    Since there appears to be much reader exchange between Russia Reviewed and KS, I figured I’d leave this here:
    I’ve begun collecting reader feedback on RR in 2017. If you’ve read my blog at least once, you’re elligible to complete the form. Your honesty and participation are much appreciated.

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    King’s question about the Kursk comes at 1:06.

    Was Putin “smirking”?

    Yes, because he had just said: “To a certain degree” in answer to King’s question about whether he was enjoying being president.

    And then, in my opinion, Putin probably thought King’s next question: “What happened — you tell me — what happened to the submarine?” was pretty dumb, because it was far too soon for him to give an authoritative reply, and so he replies by stating the obvious: “It sank”.

    But then, following King’s next question: “Why? What do we know?” Putin begins to look serious and says: “Unfortunately, we know little about the cause of this tragedy. Clearly it was the result of an explosion, but we do not know what caused the explosion”.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes, MT twisted Putin’s reaction into something entirely different to serve an editorial agenda.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Forgot to mention that Putin has a strong sympathy for the Russian military so claims of cynicism toward the tragedy was a cheap shot at a man who would feel deep pain for such a loss. Shame on MT.

        • davidt says:

          YouTube seems to have recently pulled a 2015 Russian documentary on Putin It’s still accessible on the Russia Insider Youtube channel, however, for reasons I don’t understand I seem unable to give a direct link to the video. Nevertheless it is easily found by Googling “russia insider youtube channel”- the first item will hopefully give the doco. About 26 min 30 sec into the video there begins a most poignant account of Putin’s meeting with the families of the Kursk’s crew essentially to tell them that the crew cannot be saved.

          • marknesop says:

            That’s very inspiring; thanks for bringing it to my attention! Here’s the link to Part 1 – the follow-on segments should show up among the choices on the right. You’re right; the scene in the auditorium where Putin is delivering the sad news – personally, as is his style – is very moving. No wonder the west fears him as it does. He’s actually a leader.

      • marknesop says:

        It’s what they do. Although you’d never know from their mission statement.

  12. saskydisc says:

    Venezuela forgives Dominica’s 100 million $ oil debt.

    As US sanctions and other tactics make it harder to purchase US$ denominated commodities, such dedollarisation has reduced costs, while buying good will. Moreover, if Venezuela carries through on selling oil in other currencies, neighbouring countries may need to earn such other currencies. This will force both a reduction on US dollar recycling foreign aid/loans, and local reindustrialisation in Venezuela’s oil buying neighbours.

    • marknesop says:

      Continued de-dollarization will also, unfortunately, inspire a redoubling of American efforts to overthrow the Maduro government. No country can be seen to successfully shrug off the world’s reserve currency; it would set a very bad example, and several countries have already been punished with ruin for trying it.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Iran may be able to pull it off with support from Russia and China. If these two countries decide it is worth the risk, they can also help Venezuela in its dedollarization effort.

      • saskydisc says:

        Thing is Venezuela already crossed that Rubicon with a previous announcement. Can as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb…

  13. Patient Observer says:

    The Finnish broadcaster Yle fell for a Russian April Fool’s prank and aired a report about the Soviet moose cavalry. Now it is being probed by the media regulator for failing to correct its mistake after finding out the story was bogus.

    The original hoax was printed in the April 2010 edition of the Russian version of Popular Mechanics. The story claimed that Soviet Union in the 1930s ran a clandestine program to train moose as cavalry mounts and even had some 1,500 infiltration riders ready for the 1939 war with Finland. The magazine supported its joke with doctored photos of weaponized animals and a manual titled: “The use of moose in cavalry units of the Red Army”.

    The hoax dropped a number of hints for readers to catch, the ridiculous details including a claim that Stalin had postponed the start of the Finnish war to let the moose heat season pass, or that the animals could tell the Finnish language from Russian almost a kilometer away, and alert their riders to the presence of the enemy. The magazine even stated clearly that the story was a joke in the last paragraph.

    The Finns want to believe…

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “The Finnish broadcaster Yle fell for a Russian April Fool’s prank and aired a report about the Soviet moose cavalry.”

      Perkele! Everyone knows that only Canada has the moose cavalry! Russia only has bear cavalry (technically – dragoons) and Yakuto-Buryat Space Marine underwater elk-carriages [nod, nod]

      Irrefutable proof:

    • marknesop says:

      The Swedish army’s moose cavalry disintegrated on the battle lines when the animals ran to hide in the woods whenever shooting started. Soviet War Moose, were trained in secret not to be gun-shy. But when war broke out with Finland, they had not finished their training, and so never appeared in battle.

      Not ready to admit failure, the Russians decided to turn moose into cross-country animal transportation for geologists and loggers. They could eat logging leftovers, and then be milked or eaten themselves. Unfortunately, It turns out that moose don’t have muscles in the right places to pull logs. It’s sort of like putting in Yao Ming (7’6″ tall former Houston Rockets basketball player) to block for your quarterback. He’s strong, but he’s not wide. And, unlike Yao Ming, moose don’t seem to work in teams. One not-super-at-pulling moose is nowhere near as good as two awesome-at-pulling draft horses.

      Wheee!!! I’m going crazy!!The moose is not suited to domestication, and during rutting season the males are extremely dangerous. Good luck milking one. Not the males, obviously.

      • Jen says:

        Moose don’t quite look the right shape to be ridden. Their backs slope down from their shoulders to their tails which probably makes saddling hard if they’re restless and tetchy because then you’re fighting gravity as well as the animal itself.

        Also those antlers would get in the way if you were riding a moose – let alone trying to shoot an enemy in front of you – and I should imagine the animal’s energy needs increase hugely while the antlers are growing, because blood is feeding them during the growth period.

        On the other hand, some nomads who herd reindeer have no problems riding individual animals to the extent of riding one while breastfeeding a child (as in one of the pictures below).

    • Cortes says:

      A Quaker actually weaponised The Moose a long time ago in America:,_My_Lovely

  14. Patient Observer says:

    John McCain proves yet again his credentials as a liar and a fake. Some hilarious tweets here:

    • marknesop says:

      Better not make him dedicate too much thought to the issue, or his brain will be doing extra duty and he’ll have to wear the boot on his head.

      • Jen says:

        That’s assuming there is much brain left after surgeons took out the tumour in July 2017.

        At least now with McCain not able to distinguish between “right” and “left”, he might actually start supporting and voting for legislation based on whether it helps his fellow Americans and not based on ideological considerations or whether a Democrat or Republican representative introduced it originally.

  15. et Al says:

    Two biggies reported via The Duran (thanks for reminding me PO!), 1: Clinton’s PR firm Perkin’s Cole paid Fusion GPS to pay journalists to hype up Trump-Russia collusion with the help of an unnamed ‘Russia expert’ from May to Dcember 2016 *; & 2: Twitter is going to keep tracks on its users habits: ‘but also monitoring sites visited by users outside the Twitter eco-system’**




  16. Warren says:

    • Jen says:

      As Bernhard of MoA and one of the commenters note, Friedman was being fellatious and his article was “fellacious” too.

      • yalensis says:

        Friedman putting lipstick on a pig, in order to make war against Iran more palatable to the hoi polloi?
        He’s, like, “Oh, the Wahhabists aren’t so horrible any more, so let’s all join together against our common enemy, Iran.”

  17. Warren says:

  18. et Al says:

    Al-Jizz-Error: Speculation rife as Georgia stays mum on raid suspects

    Georgia’s government has remained silent about the nationality of foreign gunmen killed in a large-scale police operation in Tbilisi on Wednesday.

    Officials said they would not comment on the identity of the suspects, as the investigation is ongoing, while Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said their nationality or ethnicity did “not matter”…

    Oooh, missus! But haven’t we been told for years that the threat from the Pankisi gorge is just made up by Russia, or is it since IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/Whatever it’s ok to flip 180? I’m curious to see how this turns out.

  19. Warren says:

    “The Resistance” is now turning on themselves and denouncing each other.

  20. Patient Observer says:

    The [Berlin] airport is now six years behind schedule and several times over its initial budget. The original budget of €2.5 billion ($2.98 billion) has since ballooned to €6.6 billion ($7.87 billion).

    That is not to say that the airport is anywhere close to being functional as the story indicates most safety systems continue to fail inspection and the grand opening has been pushed back to 2019.

    Given the great success of Russian mega construction projects (Crimea bridge, Sochi Olympic facilities, etc.), Germany may wish to consider asking for Russian help (just kidding, never will happen).

    • kirill says:

      Russian airport projects are also finished within reasonable timeframes and total costs.

      The reason why the NATzO MSM bleats so hard about Russian corruption is to divert attention from the rampant corruption at home. The kind of corruption that matters since it involves massive amounts of money.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I have mentioned this project before, but why does one seldom hear of the Big Dig?

        The Big Dig was the most expensive highway project in the US, and was plagued by cost overruns, delays, leaks, design flaws, charges of poor execution and use of substandard materials, criminal arrests, and one death. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006). However, the project was completed only in December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion ($8.08 billion in 1982 dollars, meaning a cost overrun of about 190%) as of 2006. The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it would not be paid off until 2038. As a result of a death, leaks, and other design flaws, Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff — the consortium that oversaw the project — agreed to pay $407 million in restitution, and several smaller companies agreed to pay a combined sum of approximately $51 million.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Per Wikipedia:
          The Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T), known unofficially as the Big Dig, was a megaproject in Boston that rerouted the Central Artery of Interstate 93, the chief highway through the heart of the city, into the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel. The project also included the construction of the Ted Williams Tunnel (extending Interstate 90 to Logan International Airport), the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge over the Charles River, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the space vacated by the previous I-93 elevated roadway.

          3.5 miles plus some extra works out to $1.19 million dollars per foot or about $14,000 per square foot of paved surface (with reasonable assumptions). How many Gucci handbags is that?

          I would imagine a lot of mansions, yachts, 2nd and 3rd homes, lavish parties, fabulous vacations and big political donations ensued.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Both are very significant expansions with no indication or major cost overruns or delays. For a major construction to be so hopeless behind schedule and over budget requires a free-for-all in the form of massive corruption in management, suppliers, contractors, inspectors and accounting. Mix in a healthy dose of incompetence and before you know it, a Berlin airport debacle is born.

        • Jen says:

          There is usually no oversight over these major infrastructure projects in the form of regular audits by external auditors or inspections by third party authorities who would report back to whoever commissioned the construction. Such audits and inspections also have to be available to public scrutiny under FOI or equivalent auspices. If construction is outsourced to private firms who in turn outsource work to contractors and they in turn outsource their part of the work to others, and the process goes on ad nauseam, then scrutiny from outside can be difficult as the chain of responsibility becomes diffused and hard to trace. If a disaster were to occur during construction or later after construction is finished and the airport becomes operational, no-one can be blamed yet intuitively you would know that all parties involved in the construction are at fault.

          • kirill says:

            This would indicate that Russian megaprojects have substantial oversight and control even though they are nominally similar to the western variants, with private subcontractors galore.

  21. Lyttenburgh says:

    First of all – let me apologize most profoundly for what you are about to watch:

    This is one of the Ukrainian political talk shows – a typical specimen of the time. Among the “stars” present were: miraculously cured after “bomb attack” Radical Party’s deputy Ihor Mosiychuk (that fine gentleman with a posh cane costing more than his monthly Verkhovna Rada salary) and eternal downshifter (ex-president->ex-governor->ex-citizen) Mikho Saakashvili.

    For the context – as is his forte, Mishiko previous to this clip have spent most of his time lying through his breath promising bright future very emotionally describing the potential of the Ukrainian economy potential in the (very unlikely event) that all “corruption enablers” will be kicked out from the halls of power and he and his team will get the reigns of power. I remind you, that currently Saakashvili lives in a tent on Maidan, he still have no personal ID or passport, and that his “Mikho-Maidan” did not get the official blessing from the Washington’s ObCom. Still – he calls for the downfall of the “government of thieves”.

    All the sudden and in no connection to anything Mikho had been saying so far, formerly chubby Rada Deputy Ihor Mosiychuk asks Saakashvili one crucial question [3:30] – does he support Bandera?


    Okay, let me repeat this – in a prime time, live, on one of the central Ukrainian TV channels (NewsOne is not even owned by Poroshenko for a change) one political dignitary asks another whether he supports a Nazi criminal and the one dignitary asked this question is supposed to say “YES”, with everyone else (the TV host, the studio audience, other “performers” of the talks show which include “young reformers” like Leschenko) also expecting him of saying “YES, I DO!”.

    [Mosiychuk then asked Saakashvili of all people why the USA decided to give the memetic by now “Javelins” to “pro-Russian Georgia” and not to “pro-American Ukraine”]

    Predictably, Saakashvili dodges the question in his own unique style. He begins shouting “If Bandera was alive today, he’d be executing corruption enablers!”

    This answer does not satisfy the fierce Mosiychuk, so he jumps up (despite numerous wounds sustained just recently during “assassination attempt”) and tries to whip Saakashvili with his cane, all the way demanding for him to “bugger off back to Georgia” and asking “how much Kolomoisky pays you?” (honestly – I don’t know which is worse here). And after calming down (5 minutes later) Mosiychuk launched the last barrage by claiming, that it was Saakashvili who paved the way for the “corrupt regime” of Poroshenko back then 3.5 years ago, so he has not right to criticize him.

    P.S. Everything will be Ukrajina. SUGS!

    • marknesop says:

      I LOVE that Wolverine-style Samurai forearm thing he’s got going on – I bet you could bolt all kinds of attachments to it that would help you do everything from clearing frost off your windshield to chopping broccoli.

      The European Parliament is probably under strict orders to stay off YouTube, in case they should accidentally see something like this debacle. Those who defy the order and see the Mosiychuk/Saakashvili show must just close their eyes and shudder; in extreme cases, suck their thumb and assume the fetal position. Please, God, let the EU get stuck with Ukraine. Especially in a scenario where their gas is just delivered to the border, and they have to pay to transit it across Ukraine.

      • Jen says:

        Okinawans traditionally have wooden weapons called tonfas which run beneath your hand (holding an appendage attached to one end) and arm to the elbow. The end beneath your hand extends so you can use to block or poke and the rest of it protects your arm. I suppose tonfa experts can swing the weapon so the longer part can jab or block too.

        You could modify them so they can carry concealed weapons like blades or spikes (but maybe not machine guns) and you only have to press a button with your thumb to spring these out.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          How does Saakashvili manage to live in the Ukraine without the appropriate documents?

          Someone must be enabling him!

          No passport, no citizenship anywhere, wanted in Georgia …

          How does he travel?

          Who enables him to cross frontiers?

      • Cortes says:

        He’s wearing one of these:

        I thought we were going to get a remake of a famous movie scene

        Sent from my iPad

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And Ihor Mosiychuk poses his question in Ukrainian, to which Saakashvili answers in Russian, which tongue Ihor Mosiychuk, apparently, fully comprehends,

      What would that nutter Irina Farion say about this?

    • yalensis says:

      (1) Ihor (“Wolverine”) Mosiy lost a lot of weight!
      (2) Nonetheless, the student audience is clearly for Mishka! Chubby as he is, his silver tongue always wins ’em over!

  22. Patient Observer says:

    For those interested in space exploration, Russia has increased funding of its nuclear electric space craft engines. If this is same project previously reported, it is a megawatt class nuclear power plant for high power ion engines capable of hauling large amounts of cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond.

    Roskosmos earmarked 2.2 billion for the TEM nuclear-electric module under the Prioritized Innovation Projects line item, which is a considerable increase from 1.6 billion initially projected by the Ministry of Finance.

    My take is that the increase in funding reflects achievements of milestones and the project is moving toward flight hardware.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    СМИ рассказали о срыве наступления ВСУ в Донбассе из-за волонтера

    The mass media has reported that a volunteer caused the Ukraine army Donbass offensive to breakdown
    November 25, 2017, 08:40

    The Ukrainian army had been preparing a massive offensive in the Donbass. However, the operation was disrupted because a volunteer had spoken in social networks about Ukraine army plans.

    Headquarters of the 54th brigade was going to align the front line forward to the outskirts of Gorlovka. The operation failed “because of the chatter one of the volunteers”, reports “” with reference to the Ukrainian news media.

    “The capture of a much greater area had been planned, but these plans became public”, HQ pointed out.

    What the volunteer had made public caught the attention of the army command of the Donetsk People’s Republic. The area where the offensive was to take place was strengthened and the Ukraine army operation broke down.

    Clearly, the “area where the offensive was take place was strengthened” means the Russian army moved in with thousands of tanks.

    If the Ukrop-Army had had Javelins it would have been a different story!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Wonderful news of victory against the Russian occupiers!

      ВС Украины подтвердили захват двух сел в Донбассе

      Ukrainian armed forces confirmed the capture of two villages in the Donbass
      25 ноября 2017, 13:27

      The Ukrainian army has taken control of two small villages located on the line of contact. We are talking about the villages of Gladosovo and Travnevoe. This was reported by the press centre for military operations.

      In turn, the DPR command has accused the Ukrainian military of violating the Minsk agreements.

      Earlier in the mass media there appeared information that Ukraine armed forces had been preparing to undertake a massive operation. They had hoped to align the front line forwards towards the outskirts of Gorlovka.

      The operation was disrupted because of a “chatty volunteer”, who spoke on social networks of the plans of the Ukraine armed forces.

      No doubt there will soon be held a huge victory parade in Kiev with Porky Poroshenko on a podium taking the salute.

      Next stop: the long awaited victory parade in Simferopol.

      Glory to the Ukraine! To the heroes, glory!

      • Moscow Exile says:


        Ukraine military have liberated Travnevoe and and Gladosovo

        The “mountains” in the background are waste tips from local collieries.

        Граждане оккупированного силовиками села Гладосово просят о помощи
        Пт, 24 Ноября, 2017

        The citizens of Gladosovo, a village occupied by security forces, have asked for help

        The citizens of the village Gladosovo, located on the front near Gorlovka, have asked Alexander Hug, the deputy head of the Special Monitoring Mission in the Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, to protect them from the tyranny of Ukrainian nationalists.

        Alexander Hug, director of the mission in the Donbass, has arrived in Donetsk.

        The villagers feel that the Ukraine armed forces treacherously seized their village and that many of them have been arrested and taken off to some unknown destination. They have pointed out that this small village is within the so-called “grey area”, so the attack by Ukrainian military personnel was a gross failure to comply with the Minsk agreements. “This village status was treacherously broken on 21 November 2017 by Ukrainian troops who invaded us during the night of November 22.

        This information was confirmed by DPR Defence Commissioner, Edward Basurin. The PR service of the DPR Ministry of Defence has also confirmed this information. So far, the OSCE has not made any response to the Gladosovo villagers. Some civilians have been tortured.

        • yalensis says:

          This was the Ukrainian “big offensive”. I feel very bad for those small villages now under Banderite thumb, but on the bright side, the Ukies intended to take much much more. But were thwarted by DPR.

          In a VZGLIAD piece that I linked further above in the thread, Krutikov wrote how some Donbass villages are actually under the impression that being “in the grey zone” is a legal status for them. This is why they naively appeal to the OSCE. They would like to keep their legal status as “grey zone” villages.
          Obviously, they are barking up the wrong tree. The OSCE will not defend them from the Ukr-Nazis.

          And, by the way, for anyone wondering, this Ukrainian “offsensive” was pre-planned and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the startling events in Luhansk, at least according to Krutikov. It was just a coincidence. More likely, the Ukies planned their “big offensive” to impress the pindosi, in order to get theyselves some javelins.

      • marknesop says:

        No doubt there will soon be nothing done, although there must be disappointment that the big push did not materialize. You can be sure, though, that had the DPR captured these villages from Ukraine, it would not be spoken of as a liberation and they would be sternly ordered to give them back as it was a violation of the Minsk Agreement. Ukraine suits the west because one is as corrupt as the other, to the extent that they scream about international law when it favours their position and ignore it when it doesn’t.

  24. Moscow Exile says:

    Meanwhile, back to the real world.

    A front-page story from this morning’s UK Daily Telegraph:

    The Duchess of Cambridge seen giggling as her husband joins in with the Royal Variety Performance

    The world holds its breath!

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    Are the Metropolitan Police using clones?

    The Met responded to the incident as though it was a full-blown terror attack

    An altercation on the platform of Oxford Circus underground station led to panic, aided by rumours spread by social network users that another Jihad attack was taking place in London.

    See: Oxford Circus incident latest: Tube platform ‘fight’ blamed for sparking terror alert

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    From the Facts-Are-Sacred Grauniad:

    EU anti-propaganda unit gets €1m a year to counter Russian fake news

    For the first time since the team was set up in 2015, the East Stratcom taskforce will have money from the EU budget, rather than relying on contributions from EU member states or squeezing other budget lines. The unit has been granted €1.1m (£980,000) a year from the EU budget for 2018-20, according to a source familiar with the team’s work.

    The new funding emerged after the European council president, Donald Tusk, warned that one of Europe’s real problems was “cyber-attacks, fake news, hybrid war”, following a summit with EU leaders and their counterparts in eastern Europe and the Caucasus on Friday. “We have to keep very cautious, vigilant and also honest. If we want to protect ourselves, if we want to help our partners, we have to be very aware about the threat inside the EU,” Tusk said.

    Tusk referred to Theresa May’s recent speech, where the prime minister accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an attempt to “weaponise information” and sow discord in the west.

    But Tusk appeared to go further than May by linking “hostile” Russian activities to the EU referendum, while May did not mention any UK elections or referendums in her Mansion House speech.

    • marknesop says:

      Nice work if you can get it. I can think of a talented candidate who would find it right up his street.

      Remember, folks, it’s important that we remain honest. And in order to show unity in the face of Russian meddling, we must remain absolutely loyal to the official government narrative, because alternative theories and independent thought are fertile ground for sowing discord.

      I’m not sure how they plan to reconcile those two realities.

  27. Moscow Exile says:

    From offguardian:

    Vladimir Putin finally confesses his entire responsibility for everything bad that has ever happened since the beginning of time

    #blamePutin continues to be the media’s dominant hashtag

    I had never heard of “Stranger Things” before I read this offguardianarticle.

    That is one of the many disadvantages of not living in the “Free World”, I suppose, in that I am prevented by Putin’s tyrannical regime from enjoying that which the “Community of Nations” takes for granted.

    • yalensis says:

      So Putin FINALLY admits his complicity in that boring Stranger Things subplot.
      For those not in the know, this is the one where “El” hitches a ride to NYC and joins up with a gang of psychic punks. But when these teenaged sociopaths ask El to use her psychokinetic powers to kill a guy who used to experiment on them in the underground lab, she notices in the nearby photo that the guy has a family, and refuses to do further harm to him.
      The punks are devastated when El decides to leave them and return to her former Scooby gang. El senses psychically that her boyfriend Mike is in mortal danger from the Demigorgon of the Upside-Down world.

      No doubt this was Putin’s first effort at screenwriting. Possibly he had hoped to “spin off” the psychic punk gang to their own show.
      But the viewers were not impressed, and only wanted to see El back in Hawkins being raised by Sheriff Hopper and hanging around with her pre-teen gang.
      Note to President Putin: Never mess with a winning formula.

    • marknesop says:

      Every time you think the anti-Russian cacophony has reached a crescendo, they crank it up another notch. It’s getting funny, really; nobody could possibly believe one nation could be responsible for everything that’s wrong with the rest of the world, and yet nobody actually does anything about it except carp and complain and pad their defense budgets.

      I can’t think what’s holding the EU together; it’s so dysfunctional and its leaders are so incompetent. As far as America goes, the common wisdom seems to be that it will get back on track as soon as Trump is gone, whether that be tomorrow or at the end of his term. I honestly doubt it; too many agreements and arrangements will have been overturned and broken, while America’s bullying of the EU was not even so brazen under Obama as it is now. It seems we are hurtling headlong toward some catastrophe whose outlines are becoming clearer.

  28. et Al says:

    In other news I’ve seen recently, China will build a $1.6b aluminum processing plant in Tadzikistan with a capacity of 500k tons and India has scrapped a proposed $500m deal to buy Israel’s ‘Spike’ missiles, preferring to its own DRDO to develop their own.

    Test of a modernized anti-ballistic missile missile.

    And curiously this: GE explores turboprop tie-up with Russia’s United Engine

    The US manufacturer says the partners have signed a memorandum to “explore turboprop engine business opportunities” and to “identify areas for synergy for growing a turboprop portfolio in the Russian market”.

    The deal represents “a unique opportunity for both companies to work together” as the two sides have each a “rich history developing engines”, says GE.

    GE produces its turboprop H-series engine family – comprising three models spanning the 550-850hp (410-633kW) range – in the Czech capital Prague. The powerplants are updated versions of Czech manufacturer Walter Engines’ designs, which GE acquired in 2008…

    I thought Russia was under sanctions, not to mention Czechia is one of the most outspoken anti-Russian, pro-American countries in the CEECs. They won’t be happy with this.

    But, why give GE the business rather than develop their own? Is this an untouchable JV (sic Siemens/crimea turbines) or is this UEC buying GE tech/IP to develop their own range, much as the Chinese have done before? Rather than investing in homegrown Russian engines which would take some time and quite a bit of money, this looks like a quick solution… that’s not Ukrainian…

    • Patient Observer says:

      Describing UEC as a “corporation consolidating engine-building industry in Russia”, Vladimir Remek, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Moscow, says the deal is an “important step in the process of enhancing Czech-Russian aviation co-operation”.

      Not sure what they are saying – will small turboprop engines be built in Russia based on a GE design? Seems like a relatively small deal if it happens. In any event, Russia’s turboprop technology is highly developed and diverse so the deal could be just to fill a hole in product coverage.

      • et Al says:

        I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but it is the Ukraine that has/d expertise in small jet turbines and turboprops. Russia has no problem developing and building the biggies.

        The only thing that may tie all this together, is the GE is in quite some trouble and this may be a divestment being presented as a JV, flogging of Walter and the associated GE tech. They’ve already flogged off their appliances business to the Chinese giant Haier for $5.4b.

        Either way, Ukraine has lost a natural market, and here’s an American company profiting from the Ukraine’s loss. Funny dat!

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    This is interesting …

    Well, I thought it was!

    The diagram shows how the world’s economic “centre of gravity” has changed over the years.

    For a very long time the centre did not move away from the borders of Asia. However, in the early twentieth century it moved to Europe, then for while it flew away across the Atlantic ocean, and then in our own time, back in 2010, it landed in Russia, in Salekhard.

    It is expected that by 2025 the world’s economic centre of gravity will still be located on Russian territory.

    Perhaps there is a homespun truth in all of this: Russia is a strategically in a central position between Europe and China, giving us all the many benefits of being in an indispensable transit country.

    See: Экономический центр мира

    • davidt says:

      Perhaps it is now appropriate to produce a similar plot for rugby league’s centre of gravity. I would ordinarily congratulate you on England’s victory 20 to 18 over Tonga, but find it difficult to do so as Tonga probably deserved to win. (This was a semi-final game in the so-called Rugby League World Cup.) You would doubtless be interested to learn that Papua New Guinea is the only nation on the globe where league is the national sport. Unfortunately, for the time being at least, the Papuans’ enthusiasm for the game is not matched by an appropriate heavy, athletic “build”- not too many coal miners up there. To be fair to England, Tonga is a very strong side. They disposed of New Zealand last weekend. The point is that if league is to have a future it will be here in the antipodes, with Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Papua providing the bulk of the players outside Oz. Your old mate Mal Meninga is currently coaching the Australian side and he has put a bit more pride into the Australian guernsey- they knocked over Fiji 54 to 6 on Friday night.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        To davidt — please do not remind me of what, ostrich-like, I have been refusing to acknowledge for years but was only recently finally and unequivocally hammered home to me during my last involuntary return to the land of my birth and to my home-ground, the Northwest England heartland of Rugby League, namely English RL is crap!

        I watched the “best” of English RL whilst awaiting last September in Sunny Salford permission to return to the Empire of Evil — and it was pathetic.

        I felt like going down to Australia House and begging them on my knees to to allow me and my family to emigrate in order to watch some decent rugby in my twilight years.


        • davidt says:

          I think we might have slipped more than a tad too. Earier today I found myself looking at old videos of Meninga and company, and was reminded of how many wonderful players we have had. I don’t know where the next crop of great players are going to come from- already, the most exciting players are frequently from the “islands”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I watched quite a bit of cricket in the UK as well when I was last back there.

            Bloody awful as per bloody usual!

            Two hours ago as I write in Moscow at 13:10 Moscow time:

            Ashes: England on verge of crushing first Test defeat by Australia

          • Jen says:

            My understanding is that boys of Polynesian background tend to be bigger and perhaps reach puberty earlier than other boys in the same age groups. There has been talk of introducing weight categories in school-boy rugby league competitions but I do not know how far that idea has gone. Also rugby league probably plays a bigger part in modern Polynesian cultures and among Polynesian families in Sydney and other areas: if individual families have members involved in the same sport, they become role models for younger relatives and a bridge into the sport if kids show promise. Other family members become involved in supporting these relatives so the sport helps to bring families together and provides opportunities for socialisation of younger members into family cultures.

            I did some community work a couple of years ago in the Aboriginal community in Redfern and rugby league is a major obsession there – the community is a big supporter of the South Sydney (Rabbitohs) team.

    • Cortes says:

      I think I posted this

      earlier, but it got no traction.

      Perhaps better here?

      • marknesop says:

        You did: I remember reading it at the time. However, it just did not register when I saw the companion article that Putin intends for only Russian shipping to use the Northern Sea Route. Of course he can dictate such terms, because few others would be able to get through without Russian help, and nobody else has icebreaking LNG tankers!

        Whupped ’em agin’, Josey!!

      • davidt says:

        I noticed it too. Arctic warming aside, I think that Karaganov gets it right when he commented “We are now in a very favorable situation due to historical reasons, primarily the shift of the global center to Asia and China’s pivot to the West. We were out of luck for a long time, but it is back now.” Of course, all this depends on the country being governed competently. I don’t pretend to understand economics but it is very important that Russia has efficient industries. I am a fan of Yaroslav Lissovolik, who publishes quite a bit at the Valdai Club website. He emphasizes the need for Russia to develop its export industries, and to develop strategies that mesh in with the emerging Asian economies.
        As an aside to Mark, the best ,lines in “The outlaw Josey Wales” are these of Lone Watie: “I’m glad you stopped me when you did. I might have killed her.” Sooner or later we all lose much of our strength.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Yes, that is a big deal. The world seems to be shrinking around Russia and Asia due to strong human capital and increasingly favorable climates that favor arctic shipping and possibly agriculture, at least in Russia. The US had its day when geography and natural resources favored its growth.

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    Don’t you just love Russian girls!

    It says on their backs: I have no guy.

    Either Taganskaya or Kievskaya metrostation, by the looks of it.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Does she know that sign is on her back? As kids,we would stealthily put a sign on the back of someone that says “Kick Me” – never got old. Actually, I do think she knows the sign is there.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The signs are stuck on with Scotch tape running along each of their sides: they have not just been simply stuck on by some practical joker as he or she walked past them.

        They may have been stuck on the girls’ coats, though, when they were hanging in a cloakroom, but it is strange that the girls did not notice them when putting their coats on.

        My advice to those 2 girls above:

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    On his knees again …

    St. Michael’s Square, Kiev. The President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, honouring the memory of the victims of the 1932-1933 famine in the UkSSR.

    On November 25, the Ukraine honours the memory of victims of Holodomor, the alleged planned genocide by starvation of the Ukrainian nation by the wicked Russians.

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    I think Navalny meetings are attended by more people than there are there on St. Michael’s Square.

  33. Moscow Exile says:

    And it never stops …

    The Economist, October – November edition, 2017

    On Putin’s right shoulder — the Kremlin wall, as a symbol of the power vertical. And, of course, the army.

    On his left shoulder — the economy. Why on the left? Because his guidance of the economy is not “right”: his mafia state has usurped the financial system.

    A pipeline is also featured on the left shoulder to indicate the staple of the economy.Also shown are tubing as the main in the Russian economy.

    Putin with a fishing rod refers to Russian Emperor Alexander III, who famously said: “While the Russian Tsar fishes, Europe can wait”.

    The chain aiguillettes symbolize the slave-like nature of Russians and end at the base of the collar at a red star: the USSR shall live again!

    On one of the chains there is a padlock with a mic symbol, indicating the media as a key link in his enslavement of the people.

    Plenty of other symbols there, all dreamt up by a team of cupid stunts at the Economist London office.

    The Economist likes issuing cryptic covers on its editions, especially at New Year, and the chattering classes then have a jolly old time interpreting them.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      A pipeline is also featured on the left shoulder to indicate the staple of the economy.Also shown are tubing as the main in the Russian economy should have read: A pipeline is also featured on the left shoulder to indicate the staple of the economy.

      The bit “Also shown are tubing as the main in the Russian economy” is part of the Google machine translation that I edited into “real” English but forgot to delete.

      Most machine translations result in great passages of gibberish and one is forced to do a clean translation of the original text. That is what I find to be the case, anyway.

  34. Patient Observer says:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law which will allow authorities to brand certain foreign media outlets as “foreign agents.”

    Under the new law, any media outlet operating in Russia and funded by a foreign state may be designated a foreign agent by the Justice Ministry.

    So Radio Free Europe & Voice of America will duly notified I suppose. And CNN will not.

    Oddly, corporate funded media is presumed by many to be free of organized and ongoing bias. However, all major cooperate media can be charged with bias toward corporations, capitalism and the countries that harbor them. And when the government and corporations are just different facets of the deeper state, the distinction loses significance. In other words, all media is inherently biased. The assumption that free market forces will create a market for truthful information is so quaint and Pollyanna! The opposite is the case – a valuable resources such as control of information will not be up for grabs. Never has been and never will.

    The best media can do is to reflect the cultural values and beliefs of the population. I suspect RT does a much better job of that than, say the NYT, especially around here.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

      There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

      The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

      We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

      The remarks were apparently made around 1880 by the at that time preeminent New York journalist John Swinton, a Scot who had emigrated to Canada and then to the USA in the 1850s.

      Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given in his honour leading US journalists. Someone proposed a toast to the independent press, whereupon Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying as quoted above.

      Details concerning this quote concerning who Swinton was and when and where he made this angry statement, are often erroneous.

      See: John Swinton -— Yes, He Said It, But…

      • Patient Observer says:

        Nailed it.

      • Northern Star says:

        “Rense Radio Network
        The Oregon-based radio network and website hosts shows by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and other racists while pushing various “BioSuperfood” and immune-system products. Here’s how the network describes its programming: “What you see is what you get. Essential values: Kindness and Accountability, Responsibility, Integrity and Intelligent Discourse, Exploring by Thought, Learning by Listening, and Helping those who seek to know… and grow.” Writes the Southern Poverty Law Center: “Jeff Rense is building a shady alternative-health product empire while promoting Adolf Hitler and blaming and bashing the Jews.”

        birds..feathers…et cetera

        • Jen says:

          Although does post links to dubious sites and racist wackiness, the website also posts links to RT, Sputnik, PressTV and a number of Israeli-based websites. In the past the website also relied very heavily on news from the BBC, The Independent and The Guardian. It has also posted links to articles on the World Socialist Web Site ( are supposed to exercise judgement when perusing; it acts as a clearing-house for news items and articles that go under the radar of the Western MSM.

          The Southern Poverty Law Center is not entirely innocent either, its agenda has changed over the years and as a non-profit legal advocacy organisation it has been accused of making up lists of hate and extremist groups (or exaggerating the threat certain of these groups pose to the public by [for example] artificially inflating the groups’ member numbers) with an eye to gaining funding and donations.

          Former politician in the Netherlands and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali ended up on SPLC’s hit list “A Field Guide To Anti-Muslim Extremists” – for what reason, who knows? – because she has advocated for change in the Islamic religion and renounced it as well?

      • Cortes says:

        Fascinating. Thanks.

    • cartman says:

      Eh, it’s pretty weak. Hopefully they will extend it to reporters who have worked at any of those state-funded outlets to parallel the Sorosian blacklist of guests who appeared on RT.

  35. Lyttenburgh says:

    Currently there is a bout of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the thematic forums and comment boards, among the “unicorn fanciers” (i.e. the supporters of the elusive “democratic Syrian opposition”) after this: US to stop arming anti-IS Syrian Kurdish YPG militia – Turkey

    “The US is to stop supplying arms to the Syrian Kurdish militia the YPG, Turkey has said.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said President Donald Trump had made the promise in a phone call to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The White House said it was making “adjustments” to its support for partners inside Syria but did not explicitly name the YPG.

    Turkey has long complained about US support for the group.

    Washington has viewed the YPG as a key player in the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS), but Ankara brands the group’s fighters as terrorists.

    Turkey says the YPG is as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group it has been fighting for decades in south-eastern Turkey.
    The US, however, has seen the YPG as distinct from the PKK. In May it announced it would supply arms to the Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which were poised to drive IS from its stronghold of Raqqa. It had previously armed only Arab elements of the SDF.


    The White House confirmed the two leaders had spoken by phone and said Mr Trump “reaffirmed the strategic partnership” between the US and Turkey.

    “Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete,” the statement said.

    “We are progressing into a stabilisation phase to ensure that Isis [IS] cannot return. The leaders also discussed the purchase of military equipment from the United States.””

    Inshallah! Meanwhile, the commentariat is accusing Trump of “throwing Kurds under the bus” because he is (you know that – lets say it together!) “Putin’s puppet”. I for one think that Trump simply decided not to limit himself to the pardoning of just one turkey. Eh? Geddit?! Tough crowd.

    I think this is very important lesson about the fate of all “proxies” employed by the US. A lesson that won’t be learned, I’m afraid.

  36. Warren says:

    Was this fella a deserter from the Canadian Moose Cavalry?

    CTV News
    Published on 24 Nov 2017
    A moose caused quite the mess and drew lots of attention while running all over Markham. CTV Barrie’s Mike Arsalides reports.

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    Порошенко предложил ввести ответственность за отрицание голодомора
    Глава незалежной считает массовый голод в СССР «геноцидом украинского народа»

    Poroshenko has proposed to introduce [legal] liability for denial of Holodomor
    The head of “Independent” Ukraine considers the mass famine in the USSR as having been “genocide of the Ukrainian people”

    President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, on the “Day of Memory for Victims of the Famine” called the 1930s mass famine in the USSR “genocide of the Ukrainian people” and promised that “the innocent victims souls shall never be forgotten”.

    The head of “Independent Ukraine” [the word “independent” in Ukrainian and used mockingly by the Russian media to denote post-Maidan Ukraine: the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic became independent of the USSR in 1991, as did the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic — ME] expressed his opinion that “not to recognize the Holodomor is just as immoral as to deny the Holocaust” and proposed that there be legal liability for the denial of these two tragedies. “I think it is time for us to adopt a law on liability for the denial of these two unprecedented and horrific tragedies”, wrote Poroshenko on his page in Facebook.

    By the way, we should remind readers that earlier this week, the state Department of the USA issued a statement supporting the Ukraine in connection with the the anniversary of Holodomor. In response, the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, noted that in Kiev they are trying to present the USSR famine of the 1930s as having been “genocide of the Ukrainian people”. However, as the diplomat stressed, this has nothing to do with reality.

    • marknesop says:

      Clever of him, though, to conflate it with the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers usually get short shrift, and Porky obviously hopes to piggyback (see what I did there?) on that by making the two issues equivalent. Quite a cheek – well, more of a jowl, really, I guess – for a president to do that who helped shoot down a resolution which would criminalize glorification of Nazism. But of course, the Ukrainian position is that the Nazis weren’t really bad, although of course the Holocaust was awful. But the Nazis were not responsible for the Holodomor – that was the dirty Moskali.

      I doubt he will see any rewards for his grandstanding, and he should be careful about stirring the pot. Awakening renewed interest in the Holodomor will surely bring republishing of opinions which refute his genocide theory.

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    The UK Daily and Sunday Telegraph is now behind a paywall — “Premium service” they call it — and so there is no online “quality” newspaper freely available in my motherland.

    I visit the Telegraph site every morning in order to see what is new, but am, therefore, unable to read the stories in full.

    This Telegraph story intrigued me this morning:

    Revealed: Prolific ‘cyber-squatter’ is Birmingham father and former courier

    One of Britain’s most prolific “cyber-squatters” who has bought thousands of domain names and repeatedly been accused of extortion can be revealed for the first time as a Birmingham father of two.

    An investigation by The Telegraph can reveal that Wesley Perkins, a 47-year-old former courier, has used numerous aliases and created fake offshore companies to trade in domain names linked to businesses and trademarks.

    Often buying the domain from as little as £10 after a company accidentally lets its ownership expire, he then sometimes diverts its internet traffic to Russian hardcore pornography before demanding thousands of pounds to return it to its former owner.

    And, in a belligerent challenge to both British lawmakers and the complex network of those meant to police the internet, the wealthy “cyber gangster” said: “What I do is legal, and until the law is changed I will continue to do it.”…

    To continue reading this article log in to your Telegraph account. Or register now, it’s free.

    I have no idea what “cyber-squatter” means and do not understand the cyber-jiggery-pokery that this bloke is up to. However, what intrigues me is the reference to Russian pornography.

    Why Russian pornography in particular?

    Is Russian pornography far more accessible to this man than that produced in the USA in a far greater quantity than is produced in “Putin’s Russia”?

    Is there something inherently evil in Russian pornography because it is … well, Russian?

    In the USA: “Pornography is a large industry that involves major entertainment companies, which offer pornography films through cable channels and in-room movies in hotels. Pornography distribution changed radically during the 1980s, with VHS and cable television largely displacing X-rated theaters. VHS distribution, in turn, has been replaced by DVD and Internet distribution for niche markets. Pornography generates billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone. An estimated 211 new pornographic films are made every week in the United States” Wiki

    In Russia: “According to Russian law, consumption of pornography is allowed though the production of it is not. The illegal production, distribution, and “public demonstration” of pornography is punishable by a 2- to 6-year prison term. Roskomnadzor, the Russian government’s media overseer, has the power to order the blocking of pornographic websites. In 2015 the agency required the blocking of the Russian-language version of Pornhub and 10 other pornographic sites on the basis of a court ruling.

    There is, nevertheless, some uncertainty concerning the legal status of pornography in Russia. The law criminalizes only the ‘illegal’ production and selling of pornography (which implies that it sometimes can be legal), but two circumstances make enforcement of the law difficult: (1) the lack of a legal definition of pornography, and (2) no law defining when production or selling is permitted”Wiki

    Which country produces the most porn?

    The USA hosts 428 million porn pages, or 60 percent, of the worldwide total.

    The Netherlands, which sits in 2nd place, hosts 187 million pages (26 percent).

    Meanwhile, 66 percent of the porn hosted in the United States comes from California

    Source: What countries host the most porn?

    According to the above linked data, in comparison with the 428.3 million porn pages hosted in the USA (4,199,521 domains), Russia hosts 638 thousand pages (6,260 domains).

    So why, according to the Telegraph, is this Birmingham UK “cyber-squatter” so interested in diverting internet traffic to Russian pornography sites so as to demand payment for returning said traffic to its owners?

    Are the wicked Russian pornographers aiding and abetting him in his blackmailing schemes?

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    Russia’s ex-finance minister regrets adoption of foreign agent media law

    MOSCOW, November 25. /TASS/. Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who now heads the Center for Strategic Research, regrets a law on the media outlets designated as foreign agents has come into force in Russia, he told reporters on Saturday after the All-Russian Civic Forum held in Moscow.

    “I believe … the law on NGOs is very tough and I believe that lots of NGOs are improperly defined as foreign agents. I also regret the media are included in this [group]”, he said.

    Above: Kudrin speaking on the same platform as are two well known foreign agents.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Nemtsov to Navalny: That sad pillock behind us gets paid fuck all by the Department of State! He gets fuck all off no one. Not like us!

    • marknesop says:

      I remember Kudrin did a great blubbering act for the foreign press when the new law on regulating NGO’s in the Russian Federation came into force. If I recall correctly, his example was that a foreign-supported NGO with its headquarters in another country, which made and installed wheelchair ramps for the disabled in Russia, could be made to to register as a foreign agent. I said at the time, scornfully, that they could not.

      I would now like to qualify that a little bit. If the activity described is all this NGO did, no, they could not. The two conditions which must be present is the agency, advocate or entity must (1) while operating as a non-governmental organization within the Russian Federation, receive funding from a foreign country, and (2) engage in activities which are political in their nature.

      If your NGO is homegrown Russian and receives no funding from any but Russians, you can be as political as you like. You can demonstrate, within the rules, and call for the government to be run out of office with citizen support, shout that Putin is a thief, whatever you like within the confines of what would be allowed in other democratic countries as free speech. If your organization is called “Washington Incorporated” and is wholly staffed and paid for by the United States of America, but it does only charitable work – like building wheelchair ramps – and does not engage in political activity, it is not a foreign agent and will not be so designated.

      The media law is a little different, and is demonstrably a reaction to American regulation of RT which is different to how it treats other media outlets in the United States. Critics of RT often say that while it does not lie, it is selective in what it reports and that its manner often puts the USA in a bad light. Foreign media outlets in Russia go much further than that, but what is a lie, really? For example, foreign media outlets like The Moscow Times frequently report the crowd at anti-government demonstrations to be exponentially larger than it is. Is that lying? Not if they can get someone else, like the organizer, to say that’s how many people showed up. Then they’re just reporting what he said.

      NGO’s problem in Russia is that they cannot get, through persuasion alone, homegrown Russian NGO’s to agitate politically against the government.

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    Киев захватил два села в нейтральной «серой» зоне на линии разграничения

    Kiev has captured two villages in the neutral grey area on the boundary line

    Kiev has confirmed that “the Armed forces of the Ukraine control Travnevoe and Gladosovo”

    The Ukraine is consistently doing everything so that the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics become united as one state, with which it will prove harder to fight and to negotiate ….

    However, Kiev is doing everything so that the Minsk agreement be declared null and void. The Ukraine armed forces launched an attack that resulted in more than 10 Ukrainian soldiers killed, several wounded, and some captured. It could have been attributed to some local resistance. However, in the course of their offensive, the Ukrainian units captured two villages situated in the “grey area” of the front line: Travnevoe and Gladosovo. There were no militia units facing them and Ukrainian forces, therefore, met no resistance. An attempt to advance further led to the militia fighting back and inflicting considerable losses.

    Kiev has confirmed that “the Armed forces of the Ukraine control Travnevoe and Gladosovo”. This has been stated in an official press service message of the of the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation. Moreover, the Ukrainian command has acknowledged that it had planned to capture a much larger area, but, says that there had allegedly been some volunteer who had blabbed about the plans and allowed the militia to prepare themselves and to bring forward some reserves. At the same time, the ATO headquarters reported the elation of local people as regards their “liberation”. There has even been shown a video in which several women receive from the Ukrainian military canned food, sugar, flour and pasta.

    “When we went in … well, everyone said that at last the Ukrainian government was in control, that where we had been earlier, they had been waiting for us. Everyone was happy”, said a Ukrainian soldier in this video. A cheap propaganda ploy, which is the only way one can describe this video creation, because the residents of these small village settlements had called for OSCE observers.

    “The residents of this village area have appealed to you via the social network for help. Have you seen this appeal, and if you have, how can you comment on the actions of the Ukraine armed forces under the present circumstances?” one of the journalists at a press conference asked the First Deputy Head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in the Ukraine, Alexander Khug.

    “Yes, we have received information about events in the settlements Gladosovo, Travnevoe and Metallist. Today, a patrol was sent out there, and now he it is returning from its destination. The purpose of this patrol was to survey the territory using unmanned aerial vehicles. This was a preparatory measure for a possible routine patrol on this territory, which can be sent there tomorrow”, Khug replied, confirming that such appeals had been received by him personally and that he had promised such a mission. “As soon as we have checked and confirmed the facts, we will publish them immediately. In the meantime, we call on the parties not to take any action that could aggravate the data gathering situation and any other village settlements along the line of contact.”

    And the Deputy Commander of the DPR Operational Command, Eduard Basurin, told journalists that the leadership of the republic considers the recent actions quite clearly to be a rejection of the Minsk agreements. In fact, to interpret them otherwise is simply impossible, because of the line of demarcation that has been spelt out and recorded by all international institutions.

    The issue of violations of agreements by Kiev can be brought up at the UN: it can even go as far as a Security Council meeting, but if the international community cannot take action against Kiev, and the US is able to oppose such action being taken, then the Lugansk and Donetsk republics could take action in their own hands. It is possible that Kiev is to some extent counting on this happening, and, specifically, on a direct retaliatory attack by LDPR units. Then Kiev will be able to rush to Washinton’s feet, screaming that Russia is attacking them and that they need more Javelins (the American portable anti-tank missile system, designed to destroy armoured vehicles and low-flying low-speed targets) and, preferably, free of charge. Following this, therefore, an asymmetric response might just well be the unification of the LPR and the DPR, which unification will be recognized as having been forced upon them by Kiev.

    The OSCE mission will certainly try hard not to recognize this, but their “blindness” cannot be infinite.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Why has this not been joyfully reported by the Finnish bearer of glad tidings?

      Советник Порошенко признал провал наступления украинских силовиков

      Advisor to Poroshenko has acknowledged the failure of Ukrainian security forces
      26.11.2017 15:56

      Advisor to the President and Ukraine Minister of Defence, Yuri Biryukov, has commented on the attempted raid against the Lugansk militia made by the 58th brigade of the armed forces along the demarcation line. As written by the official on the social network Facebook, the actions of the army cannot even be called a raid — it was an initiative of the military command and it ended in complete failure.

      Apparently, the whole exercise was a total cock-up, according to reports, and the villages were “captured” because there were only villagers there. When they tried to advance from the “grey areas” into territory defended by the militia, they got their arses kicked.

      From Biryutkov’s Facebook:

      «Это не было рейдом. У меня, кроме матов, по этой истории слова нет. Инициатива комроты, насмотревшегося репортажей про зачистку двух сел в серой зоне Светлодарской дуги. Славы захотелось. И поперли.»

      “It was not a raid. I have no words for this story except obscenities. An initiative undertaken by the company commander who had seen reports about the cleansing out of two villages in the grey zone of the Svetlodarskaya salient. The wanted glory and they blew it.”

      See: Это не было рейдом: в Киеве открестились от уничтоженной в ЛНР группы ВСУ

      It was not a raid: Kiev distances itself from the destruction of a Ukrainian army group in the LPR

  41. et Al says:

    Al Beeb s’Allah GONAD (God’s Own News Agency Direct): British Cycling: Team Sky ‘gamed system’ over use of therapeutic use exemptions

    Team Sky have been accused of “gaming the system” by seeking permission for their riders to take otherwise banned drugs on the basis of medical need.

    British former professional cyclist David Millar has told a BBC documentary the team’s use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) was “incredibly disappointing”.

    But Shane Sutton, a former senior coach at both Team Sky and British Cycling, told the programme – to be aired on BBC Two on Sunday – that he and his riders “never crossed the line”.

    However, he did concede that TUEs may have been used to “find the gains”.

    The Australian’s management style also comes under scrutiny, with the revelation a former sports psychiatrist at British Cycling developed serious concerns about Sutton’s treatment of riders in 2012….

    …”It’s incredibly disappointing. Team Sky was zero-tolerance, so you’d think that would mean you wouldn’t tread into that very grey area of corticosteroid use, because it is performance-enhancing. So when I heard that it was like, ‘seriously?’.

    “A little bit of me died to be honest with you. I thought you guys were different.”

    Millar has described triamcinolone as the most potent performance-enhancing drug he has ever used. “It made EPO feel weak,” he tells the film…

    …Freeman, who said he was not well enough to give evidence to either Ukad or a parliamentary select committee, is understood to have asked his bosses at British Cycling if he could take part in the film.

    They agreed to his request, but he subsequently resigned from his position due to ill health and declined to be interviewed. …

    More at the link.

    No charges. No surprise.

    AS Mr. Punch says, “That’s the way to do it!

  42. Patient Observer says:

    According to Fox News, 22 US military planes have crashed so far this year while flying non-combat operations – up 38 percent from last November.

    Thirty-seven US service members have died in these accidents. The current death toll is 130 percent higher than the number of servicemen killed in non-combat crashes from the year before.

    Such losses are sad for the families of the lost personnel regardless of how one feels about the goals of US military and civilian leadership (evil would be a fair description).

    Given the number of incidents, the increase appears to be more than a statistical fluctuation. The recent series of US Navy ship accidents, several with high fatality counts, add to the evidence that there is a systemic problem with the US military that goes way beyond insufficient training or long hours. The root cause of the increasing failures could be that the average attention span and intelligence of US military personnel has declined significantly.

    Perhaps compulsory military service with very few exemptions can raise those parameters and likely make war much less popular in the general population. The foregoing is sort of a run-on thought but leads to an interesting conclusion – bring back the draft to reduce the likelihood of war.

    • Jen says:

      Another possibility is that training standards have fallen and at the same time training is rushed, due to pressures of severe staffing shortages; recall that the USAF is short of 1,500 or 1,600 pilots, depending on the source you read, and about 1,000 of the missing pilots are fighter pilots. Much military spending is probably being misused or directed into pet vanity projects or feathering generals’ nests and the money that should be going into recruitment, proper human resources management which includes training (and training of trainers) is instead being diverted away.

      Compulsory military service is not likely to improve the situation: the military would have to devote time, staff and money just to teach draftees how to read and write to a standard where they can begin to be useful – and in addition feed them properly and get them into proper physical condition for basic tasks.

      • Patient Observer says:

        True, the military is understaffed yet the accidents may be more the results of incompetence than overwork – hard to say.

        Actually, the opposite argument can be made regarding the quality of recruits – a cross-section of the American population may have a higher degree of education and general fitness than the typical volunteer. However, my main point is that war will not be the first choice when the kids of the mid to wealthy fraction of society face hardship and possible death.

        • marknesop says:

          They could also be the result of cutting corners on maintenance, or aging airframes – recall that the F-35 is meant to replace a host of other types, as it is supposed to be multi-role. But glitches and delays in the F-35 production program are causing some airframes to continue in service when they were meant to be retired. Then again, it might just be a run of bad luck. The USAF is still a first-rate service, with equipment and training of a very high standard. It would be a mistake to sell them short.

      • marknesop says:

        It’s hard to say what’s causing it, as it could be a combination of a lot of things. And, just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, those who are supporters of America could argue that one factor which is well-known to cause a trough in recruiting figures is a red-hot jobs market. I’m not arguing that such conditions are present, but I can tell you from experience that when there are plenty of high-paying civilian jobs, military recruitment takes a bath. Who wants to be told what to do all day long for similar pay where you don’t have to wear a uniform and get to go home every night? Military recruiting skyrockets under conditions of intense patriotism – such as when America is perceived to be under attack from without – and a lousy job market, especially low and middle-class jobs. The Army thrives on economic misery.

  43. et Al says:

    Neuters: Ukraine tycoon files suit against AlixPartners over PrivatBank nationalisation

    …Kolomoisky and the bank’s other main former shareholder, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, have challenged the justification for the nationalisation and accuse the central bank of misrepresenting PrivatBank’s finances.

    Kolomoisky’s suit, which was filed at the High Court in London on Nov. 20, is one of a myriad of cases and investigations that have sprung up since PrivatBank was taken under state control.

    “I am deeply disappointed that my formerly trusted advisors AlixPartners … have chosen to act against my interests in this way, and that I have been obliged to take legal measures to protect my position,” Kolomoisky said through a representative…

    Well, well, well. Kolostomoisky comes out of the woodwork! Grab some popcorn everyone!

  44. et Al says:

    BMPD Blog: 152-я гвардейская ракетная бригада в Калининграде получила ракетные комплексы “Искандер-М”

    Как сообщила газета “Красная Звезда” в опубликованном 23 ноября 2017 года материале Александра Тихонова и Виктора Худолеева “О ресурсах оборонного значения”, “на днях на полигоне Капустин Яр состоялась торжественная церемония вручения очередного бригадного комплекта оперативно-тактического ракетного комплекса «Искандер-М» личному составу гвардейского ракетного соединения Западного военного округа….

    More at the link.

    In short, the 152nd Rocket Troops Brigade based in Kaliningrad received their Iskander-M short range rockets.

    Bigging up Kaliningrad is one of the numerous options Russia can take if the US sends platinum plated Javelin ATMs to the Ukraine. After all, the US is part of NATO, as most of the EU is, so increasing the threat much closer to home is quite the easy option – the Iskander-M being the conventionally armed version of the system of course.

    It paints quite the dilemma for EU countries, i.e. the US ups the ante in Europe to provoke more fighting with or without its European partners acquiescence, its Europe that pays the price regardless! And that is the Joy of NATO. Their article 5 ‘Musketeer’ clause that an attack on one NATO member is and attack on all, allows Russia to hold any NATO country/ies they see fit to account for actions that threaten Russia or its near abroad. You’re all gonna hang together!

    • Patient Observer says:

      My working hypothesis is that the US wants a war in Ukraine – doen’t need to be much; just enough “material” to feed the MSM spin factory and to force EU politician and Germany to reverse recent trends and to adopt a very harsh anti-Russian position.

      Ukraine will steal EU transit gas, Russia (oops, meant Putin) will be blamed for cutting off the gas and Europe will be forced into an economic recession due to greatly diminished gas supplies. Screams from the media and the manipulated masses will demand a war-time footing to establish a new gas supply and to sever all ties with Russia.

      LNG tankers with Frackistan gas will come over the western horizon to save the day after hundreds of billions of Euros is spent in ports and ships to the benefit American companies and fracking can finally return a profit. Jobs Jobs, Jobs!. Stock growth like crazy! Trump wins in 2020.That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, Porky is doing his level best to make that dream a reality. He evidently really thinks he has found a string to pull on with this Holodomor thing, now suggesting that Russia should apologize for it. That’ll tie in neatly with their apology for doping their athletes, insisted upon by Washington in exchange for having their anti-doping agency reinstated. Like anyone would believe anything they ever said again in the world of sport, after such an admission. A Russia that was still trying to please would have to just kill itself.

        Ukraine and the USA are doing their best to create the impression of intolerable and unrelenting pressure on Russia, until it finally cracks. But it is a facade, and they don’t really have anything, much in the same vein as they continue to insist there is ‘incontrovertible evidence’ of an ongoing Russian military presence in Ukraine, but never offer any (unless you count Porky’s passport shuffle for the UN). They’re doing what they’ve been doing for quite awhile now; kicking the can down the road, and hoping for a break.

        Trump still has yet to approve the 40-something million weapons ‘purchase’ for Ukraine, but he most likely will. All the western analysts, as I’ve mentioned before, as well as the Ukrainian armchair warriors on comment boards and social networks are counting on the Javelin to reverse their champions’ dismal performance to date. But it won’t. Meanwhile, the budget of the European Union had already been calculated for 7 years ahead at the time of the Glorious Maidan, and there was nothing in it about massive extra expenditures to prop up Ukraine. It is not going to get the $70 Billion or whatever that it needs, while zero real pressure on the Ukrainian government to reform its corrupt ways suggests the collapse will continue, perhaps accelerate.

        • Patient Observer says:

          Demanding an apology is a Western alpha dog submission tactic. Serbia was asked to apologize and beg forgiveness in some manner (can’t remember how) over the phony Srebrecnica massacre. They want to replace Serb history with their history and the same for Russia as well. George Orwell said it well:

          Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

  45. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says that it’s unlikely that Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves that are in foreign (Western) banks will be confiscated if sanctions are tightened.

    Siluyanov: “if our gold and currency exchanges are arrested, it’s just financial terrorism, I think that certainly will not come to this.” In fact, it will be a declaration of financial war”.

    First, I didn’t know that part of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves are kept in Western banks. WTF???? Sounds incredibly risky!

    Second, Siluyanov is naive to think that they won’t be confiscated. They will be at some point.

    • marknesop says:

      I agree. Any such reserves in western banks should be repatriated immediately, just on principle – why should they be contributing to the assets-on-hand and consequent borrowing power of a western bank? However, I agree also with Siluyanov that outright confiscation is unlikely. The USA only does that to countries who can do nothing about it. There are still too many western businesses in Russia whose assets and property would be confiscated in reprisal. He says as much when he forecasts it would be a declaration of financial war.

      What I think they would be more likely to do is impose artificial delays and obstruction if Russia tried to access them; say, with made-up audits and the like. I don’t think the USA would dare confiscate them outright, as no legal procedure allows them to.

    • Jen says:

      The reserves themselves could be a weapon – if these are held in US dollars, and Russia is in anyway threatened with more sanctions, Moscow could quickly pull them out and reinvest them elsewhere in Chinese renminbi. That would cause the US dollar to fall in value very quickly, and other currencies such as the renminbi and the Iranian riyal to rise, and the US government perhaps does not want that scenario to happen.

      This might explain why the US government has not yet done anything much against Russia in the financial sphere – because the possibility is very real that Russia will do this. The possibility is more frightening than what would actually happen after Russia pulls the plug.

      The other option open to Washington would be to freeze Russia’s foreign exchange assets but this could result in Russia freezing US foreign exchange assets in Russia and US companies that invest in Russian industry would be the first to feel frostbite.

      • marknesop says:

        I doubt Russia has that kind of money lying around in US banks. It would take a hell of a lot of money to cause a precipitate fall in the dollar. However, Russia and China are kind of allies now – at least to the point that China backs Russia at the UN rather than the United States, in spite of strenuous American effort to reverse that balance – and America owes China a lot of money.

    • cartman says:

      Probably just treasuries and gold purchased on foreign markets – stuff that gets bought and sold constantly.

  46. Patient Observer says:

    In case anyone follows boxing to any degree, Sergey Kovalev (an openly Russian fighter) easily defeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (a Ukrainian fighter) in the 2nd round. As far as I know there was no hype regarding Russia versus Ukraine in US coverage. Kovalev was widely regarded as one of the very best fighters in boxing and as the winner in a previous fight with undefeated US boxer Andre Ward. However, the US judges declared Ward the winner. No other significance to the fight over than denying any racist Ukrainians an opportunity to declare their genetic superiority.

    • Patient Observer says:

      As I noted, the US media (at least HBO and several articles related to the fight) did not play it as national rivalry. Kovalev was openly Russian as we both noted however he also did not seem to consider the fight as having any significance beyond a sporting event i his post-fight interview. Yes, Kovalev is a great boxer and was expected to win; perhaps not so easily as it was close to a first round victory.

      If speculation is desired, a victory by the Ukrainian fighter would have been portrayed by some as a great triumph over the Putin empire. Going further, Putin would be portrayed as being furious over the loss and ordering the immediate execution of his family members living in Russia.

  47. Lyttenburgh says:

    MELDONIUM! [nod, nod]

  48. Lyttenburgh says:

    This is getting funny, Subhān Allāh!

    First, remember the deal between Erdogan and Trump on throwing YPG (read – SDF) under the bus (via The (In)Dependent)? It gets better – Al Masdar reports that “Kurdish forces to join “new” Syrian Army after the establishment of the federalist system”. Well, the Kurds surely took their time to come to this conclusion!

    أعوذ بالل!

    [Western commentariat is butthurt, blames Putin for helping Assad and “getting a clown into the White House”, and also Obama for failing to “find someone better than Erdogan before he staged that little shitshow in July” (c). S – “stability”].

    • marknesop says:

      That is indeed pretty funny, but any ruling government which intends to bring the Kurds under its umbrella would do well to remember that they are a restive lot, and always looking for independence and their own homeland. They are not particular who will be the donor.

      Erdy will be extremely upset, however.

  49. Lyttenburgh says:

    News of the modern culture and street art.

    Recently, I’ve finally had a chance to learn what this (post?)modern art-form known as “happening” really means. Thank you, Poland!

    “Nationalists held an event Katowice at which they showed opposition politicians being hanged from gallows as traitors to Poland.

    The event was organised by ONR and Młodzież Wszechpolska, who were responsible for the recent Independence Day march in Warsaw, and Ruch Narodowy, which had a few members of parliament elected in 2015.”

    As the organizers explained, the “happening” was the protest against the “slander from the Western demoliberals and their media against Poles displaying their pride from participating in the Independence March” (the one that has been dubbed as “60k fascists”) as well as these “hanged” MEP’s (all from the PO party) voting against Poland in the latest, well, voting in European Parliament.

    And because this was just a cultural “happening”, Polish police protected them, by forming a tight cordon.

    The original photo from the WPROST article:

    While in the rest of Europe the “Armistice Day” is a day of remembrance and the ubiquitous poppies worn on your clothes, in Poland it is a reason for celebration:

    Will there be any outrage in the West about that, this “resurgent Polish nationalism”? Nah! Like with Turkey – the politicians here are allowed to do pretty much everything in order to serve as a shield against “Ivan hordes”.

    P.S. Et Al! Hey, remember you posted photos from your Polish trip? Well, turns out there are similar “good luck charms” in Byelarus as well!

    “Abrasha – helps you not only to get rich, but also not to lose all your money”.

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