In the last thread I was accused, by a commentator of allegedly Italian descent, of disseminating pro-American anti-Russian propaganda. It’s a false charge. This blog has been critical of Putin and Russia and its actions in Ukraine and elsewhere, but it certainly hasn’t heaped any kind of pr
aise or adulation on the West or America. In fact, on occasion, this blog has mentioned and often implied that the “West” has “issues” just as the “East” does. If this blog concentrates the majority of its space, thus far at least, to criticism of Putin and Russia, it’s because there are plenty of blogs devoted 24/7 to criticism of the West and America, and many of those blogs are disseminated via Western servers and fiber optics meaning, for the time being at least until net neutrality is a thing of the past, the West allows this preponderance of incessant criticism whilst the East, meaning Russia, China and the Arab countries, represses freedom of expression and
dissent. That’s not a trivial fact to be brushed aside. Stating this most important fact is not bragging about the West and America, it’s underscoring the importance and value of freedom of expression and dissent, because once that’s gone, True In-Your-Face Serfdom (yep, I’m singin the Trues again HBO) shortly follows.
A scrutinous perusal of this blog will reveal no patriotic symbolism or jingoistic jingles like one finds at The Vineyard of the Saker blog with its prominently displayed ribbon of St. George and the absurd message “Russia Stands For Freedom.” Catcher In The Lie isn’t interested in capturing and cultivating an audience, nor is it an intelligence community psyops. Cold N. Holefield doesn’t want a fan club. I don’t want a faithful following and an echo chamber in the comment section. In that sense, this blog is a rare exception and will, therefore, never be a popular pick. And I’m alright with that. I’d sacrifice popularity for creative, critical and objective thought and reasoning every day any day. In fact, it’s not even a sacrifice. It’s the natural and organic thing to do. The opposite is synthetic and contrived…and it shows.
Here’s the comment from Phoenix dindin (whatever the hell a Phoenix dindin is—but apparently whatever it is it likes fast motorcycles but somehow hates the Capitalism that produces the motorcycles and encourages such an expensive hobby for the increasingly idle who seek thrills with grifted/inherited loot) in the prior blog post that prompted this post, although it’s not the only comment that has served as motivation.
We all know that Putin is a dictator, that he is a murderer but now, if im not mistaken, i must aknowledge that he is going against the NWO,the banksters who decided these wars and to me this is a good thing because it slows down the process of globalization and in the meantime we can organize for a response and who knows maybe the dollar could collapse and so all the usa economy with a subsequent shift in the power from the dirty west to the brics countries which are dirties too but they dont INVADE OTHER COUNTRIES LYING THAT THEY WANT TO BRING DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM WHEN THE REALITY IS THAT THEY WANT TO RAPE THEM OF ALL THEIR RESOURCES!!
What? Is this person even paying attention? Is this comment for real? Could this person really have read everything I’ve written about and revealed thus far at this blog? The answer to those questions is obviously and resoundingly no. This person doesn’t care about research, investigation, observation and critical thought and reasoning. This person only cares about hate and finding something…anything to hate, and it’s found it in America and Israel. Yes, in its first post to this blog, made in Italian by the way, it made sure to mention Israel as well as America. I didn’t realize Italians were particularly anti-Semitic. I believe most aren’t, but as I revealed in the comments to that prior blog post, Fascism is mounting a comeback in Italy, and in Europe and around the world in general, so it could explain this person’s preoccupation with the American-Israeli relationship versus any other American relationship. Fascists don’t like many things, but at the top of that list are Jews. Anti-Semitism, for those who don’t already know, is a favorite pass time in Russia. It ranks right up there with drinking and bathing in vodka. Here’s a taste from The Moscow Times and The Huffington Post, quoted in that order from each respective link:
The Moscow Times
by Victor Davidoff
“Sometimes you’re sorry that the Nazis didn’t turn the ancestors of today’s liberals into lampshades.”
That shocking phrase wasn’t printed in an obscure neo-Nazi newsletter but was the subheading of an article in the web version of one of the country’s most widely read newspapers, Komsomolskaya Pravda. The author, Ulyana Skoibeda, is also widely read and notorious. She first came into the public eye when she proposed euthanizing newborn infants with disabilities and then took the spotlight with her fight for “racial purity” in the Russian state. She criticized the practice of inviting African soccer players into Russian teams and said “foreign citizens” like journalist Vladimir Pozner and writer Mikhail Veller, should be banned from television. Not long ago, Skoibeda got another 15 minutes of fame when she demanded that a text by the Russian writer Dina Rubina should not be used in a nationwide contest because “a citizen of Israel has no right to teach us” about Russia. Skoibeda, with the help of the popular newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, has helped take the centuries-old phenomenon of anti-Semitism mainstream.
This time Skoibeda’s ire was ignited by a post on LiveJournal by the liberal politician Leonid Gozman, who also happens to be Jewish, like most of the other subjects of Skoibeda’s attacks. Gozman wrote a critical post about the television series “SMERSH,” an acronym for the Soviet wartime military counterintelligence agency, because it portrayed the agency’s activities in a rosy light.
“SMERSH operatives didn’t have snazzy uniforms, but that’s about the only thing that differentiates them from the [Nazi] SS,” Gozman wrote. “I don’t know how many innocent people they shot, but it was a lot. The acronym SMERSH, like SS and NKVD, should make people shudder in horror and not be used as the name of a group of patriotic soldiers.”
Historians are more certain of their figures. At a minimum, SMERSH arrested almost 500,000 people and executed 30,000 or 40,000 of them. Most of them were Soviet citizens who usually didn’t even know what crime they had committed, which was typical for the Stalinist period. We do know why one of those thousands was arrested — an Army captain by the name of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He was sentenced to eight years in the camps for calling Stalin “mustaches” in private correspondence.
SMERSH also was active on Soviet-occupied territories. In July 1945, two months after the end of World War II, a SMERSH unit near Bialystok in northeastern Poland executed almost 600 Poles without trial because they were suspected of having served in the Armia Krajowa, the Polish resistance under German occupation.
But the issue here is clearly not history. Since President Vladimir Putin first came to power, Russia has become a field where the threatening weeds of xenophobia and nationalism grow rampant. In Moscow, thousands have marched in nationalist demonstrations and taken part in riots. Crimes motivated by nationalism are so common that they are barely worth mentioning on the local crime news. Following the dark logic of European nationalism, whomever Russian nationalists start with as their enemy — migrant workers or African soccer players — sooner or later they get to the Jews.
Columnist Ilya Milshtein wrote on Grani.ru: “From low-grade xenophobia to an attack on Israeli citizens and blacks to lampshades. That is the historical path: from state patriotism to the crematoria at Auschwitz and the gulag camps.”
Anti-Semitism always flares up in Russia whenever the political situation heats up. Today’s patriots, like the monarchists a century ago, can’t help but notice that there are several Jews among the opposition leaders. They also can’t resist the chance to portray the entire opposition as secret agents of “Jewish capital.”
Prominent opposition leader and satirist Viktor Shenderovich jokes that his day is ruined if it doesn’t begin with an anonymous phone call asking when he will finally emigrate to Israel. Strangely enough, the more he changes his cellular number, the more anti-Semitic calls he gets.
Film critic Yury Bogomolov wrote on his Facebook page: “A civil war is already being fought, although it’s still a cold war. Liberals are not yet being shot, but they are labeled subversives in Komsomolskaya Pravda and on television. … The ideological basis for savage reprisals has been articulated, and the legislative mechanism may soon be put in place.”
Incidentally, lawmakers didn’t miss the publication in Komsomolskaya Pravda. The State Duma decided that three of its key committees, including defense and security, should be entrusted with an investigation. Alas, they weren’t tasked with investigating the fascist statement by Skoibeda. Instead, the Duma focused only on Gozman’s blog to determine if he violated the law by “equating Red Army troops with SS troops.” If not, several lawmakers suggested, new legislation should be passed to make statements like Gozman’s that equate Nazism with Soviet communism a crime.
Vladimir Sungorkin, editor-in-chief of Komsomolskaya Pravda, apologized to his readers for the publication, saying that he is unable to check all the material himself. But a few days later the newspaper treated its readers to another attack on a liberal, who — surprise — is also Jewish. In a comment to writer Mikhail Berg, a Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist regretted that “we can’t put people like that on the cobblestones of Red Square just before a convoy of T-90 tanks goes by in a parade.”
After that, Skoibeda’s dream of making lampshades out of the skin of liberals and their forefathers sounds almost quaint. When can we expect the headline calling for everyone to launch a pogrom?
Sweet! SMERSH. It sounds vaguely familiar…that acronym…like smerd except the “d” in smerd is replaced with an “sh” for shit perhaps? It would be appropriate and fitting—for SMERSH to be an acronym representative of shitty smerds (redundant, I know, since at one time smerd meant “stinker”).
The Huffington Post
A television news anchor on a Russian state-owned TV station has accused the Jews of bringing the Holocaust on themselves.
Evelina Zakamskaya, a presenter on the TV channel Rossiya 24, made the eyebrow-raising claim during a chat over the Ukrainian protests and Crimea.
She was interviewing Aleksandr Prokhanov – a writer who recently admitted he was fervently hoping for a new Cold War – who said supporters of Ukraine were bringing about “a second Holocaust.”
He said it is “strange that Jewish organisations, the European and our own Russian organisations, support the Maidan [protests].
“What are they doing? Do they not understand that they are bringing about a second Holocaust with their own hands? This is monstrous.”
Zakamskaya replied that the Jews “brought about the first [Holocaust] similarly.”
Nodding in agreement, Prokhanov said: “It is a blindness. It is an unbelievable blindness, that is clearly repeating itself, because even then in 1933 in Europe, many liberal organisations were feeding the Fuhrer.”
A video of the comments in Russian was first posted by a blogger on Americablog.com, who provided his own translation.
Unsurprisingly, many were left horrified by the comments, with one YouTube user summarising some of the reaction by commenting: “Complete and absolute facepalm. Nice display in what kind of shit fantasy Russia lives in today.”
Others said the fascists “are in Russia, not Kiev.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of anti-Semitism in Ukraine following several violent anti-Semitic attacks that have occurred during the revolution.
But in an open letter to Putin this month, Jewish leaders wrote: “Your certainty about the growth of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, which you expressed at your press conference, also does not correspond to the actual facts.”
Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine, also said earlier this month that the attacks may be provocations by pro-Russian forces seeking to delegitimise the Ukrainian revolution.
Sounds to me like Putin’s Russia is ridding itself of its infections (read Jews, gays, minorities and dissenters of all stripes). That’s the kind of personal liberty Monica Perez and her conservative hard “Right” Putin worshipers can get behind and support.
Phoenix dindin is not alone in its delusional notion that Putin is a savior against the New World Order (NWO) or whatever proxy we want to use for the force, or forces, that are always aligned against us Small People, even in the best of times. A commentator who goes by the name of ben (Uncle?), per this blog post at Moon of Alabama blog, had this to say in response to me about Putin and salvation:
CNH @ 13: Interesting theory in your ” call the bluff” link. Thanks for the input. Hopefully, the linkup between Oligarchs world wide, postulated on in your link, hasn’t yet happened. Time will tell. I for one, would still like to believe there’s a ruler somewhere, who really cares about the welfare of his\her workers. A naive dream? Maybe. Putin? We’ll see. The BRICK alliance? Again, we’ll see.
Posted by: ben | Apr 15, 2014 10:55:14 AM | 128
First of all, I believe it’s BRICS, not BRICK…unless ben meant to substitute Korea (North) for South America. But what’s most unnerving about ben’s post is the implication that the Small People must rely on a “ruler” to save them, and really, when has that ever been the case in history? I’m sure not a few intellectuals will come running to the rescue to provide examples of noble and benevolent “rulers” and to those examples I will say to the bookish ones, BULLSHIT. “Rulers” use the Small People. “Rulers” create the Small People. Small People create the “rulers.” Galileo allegedly said, “woe the country that needeth a hero.” Cold N. Holefield says, “woe the people who needeth a ruler.” A people who need a ruler are Small People. How do I know? It’s written in the rule book, that’s how. Look it up yourself under the chapter called History. As I type this, the Smallville theme song per the YouTube below comes to mind. The Small People must be saved in perpetuity; it’s what makes it all go around and around. For the record, I don’t want anyone saving me—especially a “ruler,” and certainly not Putin. I thought the saying went, for all you Christians out there who see Putin as a return to Christian values, “God helps those who help themselves.” Seeking vindication and protection from a so-called “ruler” is the opposite of responsibility, accountability and empowerment especially when that “ruler” is a particularly conniving and heinous butcher like Putin with thousands of nukes at his disposal and allegedly prepared to use them if things don’t go his way (not that I believe that but that’s the meme being spread).
I know, I’m going hard on Vlad, aren’t I? Too bad. Get over it. He can take it, can’t he? Why does he have so many defenders? To me, it’s a sign of weakness. Strength needs no defense, but Putin requires 24/7 non-stop defense from all corners. In my book, not the rule book by the way, that’s a poignant contradiction. If Putin was strong, we’d never know his name let alone have to witness his hideously hairless bare chest. Strength doesn’t feel compelled to squash dissent and murder perceived enemies that may or may not exist, but Putin does. Take the case of Litvinenko. For those who aren’t familiar with this case, the following 2007 movie produced and directed by Russian dissident Andrei Nekrasov, Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File, can be found on Netflix streaming (but no doubt difficult if not impossible to find in Russia), but for those who don’t have Netflix here’s a link to Ovguide where you can watch the movie. It’s well worth it for those who haven’t, I promise. It behooves you to watch it when you get the chance, and you should make the chance sooner rather than later. It’s haunting.
I want to know what kind of glue ben and Phoenix dindin are sniffing? It’s obviously some powerful stuff. Putin’s ascension to power, like Obama’s, is permeated with mystery and intrigue with much of the trail of tears up the mountain of power left in plain sight for those who use their eyes to see rather than as biologically optical bijou. Putin’s rise was much more murderous because much more power is concentrated in the person of Putin versus his office, hence his need to stick around and maintain his position and tight hold despite Medvedev. Obama, on the other hand, occupies a symbolic and ceremonial position but his person possesses no power. Rather, the office of the executive possesses immense power; increasingly so in the last twenty to thirty years. In both cases, power is concentrated, and when power is concentrated, liberty and freedom are eliminated in short order.
While researching the Collapse subculture that’s been building around the world, and in America and The West more specifically, I used a handle/screen name of a character from the excellent 1971 satire directed by Alan Arkin starring Elliot Gould, Vincent Gardenia and Donald Sutherland called Little Murders. I consider it one of the greatest satires of all time, and it’s as relevant today as it was forty years prior. Personally, I sympathize and resonate more with Elliot Gould’s Alfred Chamberlain character than I do with the Vincent Gardenia’s Carol Newquist character. I chose Carol Newquist as my screen name at Clusterfuck Nation and other Collapse blog venues because the character represented many of the character profiles drawn to the idea of Collapse. Carol Newquist’s world was crumbling and Carol was losing control in an increasingly insane world driven insane by the severe oppression and repression of the likes of Carol. Carol and his ilk made their own bed, and now they’re lying in it. In the story, Carol laments and gives diatribes about the way things used to be and the way they should be again and how to make them the way they once were. Some of these lamenting diatribes are delivered in pseudo fits of rage. This character made me laugh so hard when I first saw this movie so many years ago, I nearly pissed my pants and died of suffocation trying to catch my breath. After reading Clusterfuck Nation for a while before going native and interacting with the rabble as part of my research, I decided this screen name would be perfect, but what I didn’t anticipate was how the audience at Kunstler’s blog, if you can call it (audience) that, completely missed the point. It’s not surprising, because as I’ve mentioned, there really is no audience at Kunstler’s blog, but if there was, yeah, they still would have missed the point. I guess the lesson is, it’s not worth trying to make a point in a world that increasingly, if it ever did, has no point. If you haven’t seen Little Murders, you should. Read James Howard Kunstler’s latest weekly offering here and then watch this clip, starting at 6:23, of Vincent Gardenia’s Carol Newquist character going on a tirade and tell me if you can tell any difference between the two. I can’t. They’re one and the same.
Carol Newquist says emphatically, “I want my freedom” at the end of that clip. And all the tactics he mentions that will get him and his ilk that freedom are the very same tactics the Conservative Revanchists pine for and the very same tactics Putin is using because, don’t you know (you should by now), as The Saker says, “Russia Stands For Freedom.” Satire’s now reality — maybe it always has been and I just haven’t noticed until now. Gardenia’s Newquist, who has clearly lost control and his grip, has conjured Putin in an attempt to turn back the clock, even though you can never go back. But you can pretend the past is a destination that beckons you, and sometimes that’s enough, isn’t it? Make believe can be fun, especially when you don’t even know you’re playing. But playing make believe in grown up land can be deadly. Putin has his Little Murders — a lot of them as a matter of fact. This link to a post at La Russophobe entitled The Putin Murders does an excellent job of exposing Putin for the mass murderer he is. Carol Newquist is proud. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.” Of course, the Putin Parade will have a field day with that link. They’ll tell you Kim Zigfeld, a pseudonym by the way, is a Neocon and therefore anything she authors cannot be trusted as a source. Read it for yourself and make your own mind up. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture especially when you put it in the context of everything else exposed in this blog. Here’s several comments to that linked blog post I found interesting:
Gus | August 19, 2008 at 2:51 am | Reply
When will the West learn to better counter such ruthless, Godless and thug-like behavior? I would like to see Putin and Medvedev hanging from a lamp post in Moscow someday!
Puss | November 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Reply
I am so-o-o pleased to read about your secret (?) wish, Gus. This is exactly what I was saying since they have ‘elected’ they Fishy-Eye Comrade P and his bunch of mafiosi.
Russians are absolute idiots, or too spooked to move, and there are so many of them, all sitting on their backsides prettily. Surely, would they care for their own wellbeing and their children’s future, they should do just that, – the Kremlin and Lubyanka companies should be both kicked out of business. To have their streets decorated in a lovely surreallistic Christmas-ey display, – with the hundreds of their greedy murderous vultures, suspended upside down, with the dosh falling out of their pockets, – ah, it is every decent man and woman’s dream! I am not a bloodthirsty monster at all, but, even if this would last for a couple of hours, before they have been put to prison, – wouldn’t it be something to dream about? If only.
The people keep very-very quiet, as usual, according to Pushkin’s ‘Boris Godunov’: ‘narod bezmolvstvuet’ – they all keep shtum, that is.
Julia | April 19, 2014 at 11:22 am | Reply
I am a Russian sitting on my … I am 50, a mother of a son 26. Do you know how many Russians have died since 1989? Nobody knows exactly – but hundreds of thousands, maybe more – about 150 000 children have been adopted by foreigners, hundreds of thousands women have been sold to brothels. All last European wars (including a Yugoslavian one) have been arranged by the KGB/FSB in order to hide the fact now enormously big the amount of dead Russians is. Post-Soviet migration could disguise the population decrease but well-being is – a paradox! – the time when you can count dead ones. So there is room only for permanent chaos. Don’t blame us – your country probably is afraid of conflicts with the oligarch’s/FSB’s Russia too. Your government has got the army, the police, the secret services. I have got my son. Will you notice his death? Or diffamation? Will you protect us? Believe me – they have come this time for your soul. Do not criticise Russians! Do something
Notice the bolded part. That’s not an insignificant number, but what a shining example of Monica Perez’s personal liberty that she will defend at all costs. Considering Monica is a high-ranking member of the Putin Admiration Society, I’m sure she’ll be ready to force her children into a life of sex slavery when it comes knocking at her door — which may be sooner rather than later if Monica and her ilk have their way and infection-cleansing gets underway earnestly in America and the West. Nothing says freedom and personal liberty better than sex slavery, don’t you agree?
While flipping the channels Sunday night, an increasingly favorite hobby/sport in an increasingly electronic world, I ran across Anthony Bourdain’s: Parts Unknown on CNN. Tony did an episode on Russia — specifically Putin’s Russia. He’s done several shows on Russia over the years in other presentational incarnations such as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations but this one was particularly hard-hitting — and for good reason. At least he has the nerve to go there — something spineless traitors like Kunstler and Krolick (both Jews by the way, which is ironic or not depending on how deep you go in trying to solve the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” (Churchhill) that is Russia), who have bilked the hopelessly indebted cash cow that is America for all it’s worth, are unwilling to do for various self-serving reasons. I like Bourdain. He’s an excellent writer and his shows are excellently choreographed and produced. Some people might call him a prick — but that, to me, is what makes him so endearing. The guy just says it like it is, no holds barred, whether the “is” part really is — which it’s most likely not, but who cares? Not me. Not anymore (ah, the memories ;-)). Here’s a taste of Bourdain’s prose from the Russia episode linked to above:
In this episode of “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown,” we take a look at Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Not Russia, the country of Tolstoy and Gogol, poetry and great sacrifice, forests of birch. Nor the Russia haunted by the Great War, Lenin and Stalin, terrors, gulags and purges. The Cold War does not feature in this story — nor what immediately followed. We’re looking at Putin’s Russia, the country he’s made — is making, right there, in full view of the world. We look at who’s doing well — and who is not.
Putin appears to see himself as a manly man of the old school. By old school, I mean mid period Sylvester Stallone. He is fond of appearing in public with his shirt off while riding a horse or standing in front of a tank or holding a large gun. All these macho displays might cause one to ask if he doth protest too much about his masculinity, but we won’t go there.
For reasons of good diplomatic relations, the West has been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Extending the benefit of the doubt has been something of a reflex when it comes to Putin. When a loud critic of Putin’s was poisoned by a radioactive polonium (a wildly expensive and nearly impossible to obtain substance outside of restricted military circles) in the center of London, the attitude was very much, “Who could possibly have done such a thing?”
In the run up to the annexation of Crimea, there was similarly disingenuous hand-wringing in the press and by public officials:
“What, oh, what, will Putin do next?”
And: “Who could those pro-Russian insurgents be?”
Though the question probably should have been, “Was there ever any doubt,” perhaps there are other priorities at work in the West’s apparent credulousness.
About 50% of the oil used by Europe comes from Russia these days. And Vladimir Putin has demonstrated before that he will not hesitate to turn off the tap.
Putin’s rule has been marked by official attitudes of xenophobia, homophobia and paranoia. He likes power, and, as we’ve seen with the Sochi Olympics, is not shy about projecting it. Though a former officer in the Soviet intelligence services, he is certainly comfortable with ’80s style go-go capitalism. The people close to him tend to make a lot of money. He’s not afraid of doing what he sees as being in his interests — or the interests of his country — and the hell with what anybody else thinks. He’s no wimp. He espouses, when convenient, anyway, traditional Christian values.
Thinking about it, he could probably get elected to Congress in this country.
Though his face is as taut and devoid of expression, as a Real Housewife, it holds, based on past behaviors, little mystery, one would think. Yet here we are, only now, finding out who Vladimir Putin really is.
This clip from Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Russia episode, reveals hints of the True Russia (HBO — you Bastards!) that’s overlooked for the Potemkin Village spectacle that is the Tverskoy District of Moscow or the recent Sochi travesty with its $50 billion price tag. From that Sochi link, a commentator said the following:
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
February 24, 2014 10:52 AM
At least 20 % of all the Russian are sure that the Sochi’s $50 Billion expenditure was an ill spent whim of the ruler, absolutely unrelated to more urgent and higher priorities’ needs of the country, predominantly northern and impoverished beyond the Moscow Ring Road. The most optimistic forecasts are that there will be just 0,3% boost to the country’s GDP: the mountain of all spent resources gave birth to… a mouse.
Although the huge country badly needed modernization of its substandard roads, logistics infrastructure instead. All of the Sochi’s facilities will soon be neglected and looted as volunteers leave the place. Even in-numerous prosperous Russians will certainly prefer to have their holidays and vacations in more civilized places like Turkey, Greece and Italy than in semi civilized Sochi.
Don’t be a party pooper, Gennady. Remember Anna Chapman’s credo — something she repeats to herself in her head while she’s giving Putin head in his Yellow Submarine? Anna’s philosophical credo per the link I provided in the previous Revenge Of The Smerds post:
You must be active. You must be positive. And you must bring value. It just came to me. Sometimes I just know. I woke up one day and I just knew. And these three things correspond exactly to who I am. I am active, I am positive, and I bring value.
Now, Bourdain’s quote, immanently more sane and grounded, from the linked clip to his Russia show I provided:
The night train to St. Petersburg is one of the great fun things to do in Russia. Roll on great steel wheels through the night through dark forests of birch and snow. Out there in the dark, visible for a second or two at a time, the Real Russia — the one most Russians live in.
That Real Russia is revealed in this excellent Ellen Barry NYT (American propaganda rag, I know, but one that cherishes uncensored Russian commentary in the comments to its many Russian articles) exposé. Here’s a taste per the link:
The Russia Left Behind
A journey through a heartland on the slow road to ruin.
A Modern Train, a Rotting City
A few times every day, the high-speed train between St. Petersburg and Moscow barrels through the threadbare town of Lyuban. When word gets out that the head of Russia’s state railway company — a close friend of President Vladimir V. Putin — is aboard, the station’s employees line up on the platform standing at attention, saluting Russia’s modernization for the seconds it takes the train to fly through. Whoosh.
But Vladimir G. Naperkovsky is not one of them. He watched with a cold, blue-eyed stare as the train passed the town where he was born, with its pitted roads and crumbling buildings. At 52, having shut down his small computer repair business, Mr. Naperkovsky is leaving for another region in Russia, hoping it is not too late to start a new life in a more prosperous place. The reasons are many, but his view boils down to this: “Gradually,” he said, explaining his view of Lyuban, “everything is rotting.”
At the edges of Russia’s two great cities, another Russia begins.
This will not be apparent at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, nor is it visible from the German-engineered high-speed train. It is along the highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg — a narrow 430-mile stretch of road that is a 12-hour trip by car — that one sees the great stretches of Russia so neglected by the state that they seem drawn backward in time.
As the state’s hand recedes from the hinterlands, people are struggling with choices that belong to past centuries: to heat their homes with a wood stove, which must be fed by hand every three hours, or burn diesel fuel, which costs half a month’s salary? When the road has so deteriorated that ambulances cannot reach their home, is it safe to stay? When their home can’t be sold, can they leave?
Clad in rubber slippers, his forearms sprinkled with tattoos, Mr. Naperkovsky is the kind of plain-spoken man’s man whom Russians would call a “muzhik.” He had something he wanted to pass on to Mr. Putin, who has led Russia during 13 years of political stability and economic expansion.
“The people on the top do not know what is happening down here,” he said. “They have their own world. They eat differently, they sleep on different sheets, they drive different cars. They don’t know what is going on here. If I needed one word to describe it, I would say it is a swamp, a stagnant swamp. As it was, so it is. Nothing is changing.”
Driving the highway, the M10, today, one finds beauty and decay. There are places where wild boars roam abandoned villages, gorging themselves on the fruit of orchards planted by men.
There are spots on this highway where it seems time has stopped. A former prison guard is spending his savings building wooden roadside chapels, explaining that “many souls” weigh on his conscience. A rescue worker from the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl is waiting, 27 years later, for the apartment the Soviets promised him as a reward. Women sit on the shoulder, selling tea to travelers from a row of samovars. Above them, pillars of steam vanish into the sky, just as they did in 1746, the year construction on the road began.
None of this appears to affect the obvious and nauseating crush those on the far “Right” and far “Left” in the West have on Putin. Eidetic, these people are not. They fall for it again, and again and again. They never learn. Take this satire (even though it’s not labeled as such, it is satire nonetheless), for example, from Ellen Barry (yes, Ellen again) at the NYT. It’s dated 2011 but it’s even more relevant today.
Texas Blogger’s ‘Man Crush’ on Putin Leads to Lengthy Heart to Heart
Gayne C. Young, a high school English teacher from Fredericksburg, Tex., is not a specialist in foreign policy. The blog he writes for Outdoor Life, a magazine for hunters and fishermen, focuses on subjects like his Labrador puppy, unusually large carp and a subdivision near his home that has been overrun by feral hogs.
Nonetheless, last week Mr. Young scored a journalistic coup, publishing a lengthy written interview with Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Young approached the Russian government last year after blogging repeatedly about his “man crush” on Mr. Putin, and the questions he sent the Russian prime minister were, shall we say, softballs. They included, “Are there Yetis or Russian ‘wood goblins’ in the taiga?” and “Are you the coolest man in politics?”
The decision to grant the interview appears to be part of an attempt by Mr. Putin to soften his image in the West. During the three years since Mr. Putin entered a power-sharing arrangement with President Dmitri A. Medvedev, the president has been cast as the smiling face of a “reset” in the relations with the United States. In the eyes of Western observers, that has left Mr. Putin as the bad cop, which could pose a problem if he decides to return to the presidency next spring.
“There is some truth in this argument, and I think Putin has realized he needs to care about his image in the West,” said Alexander Rahr, a Russia specialist at the German Council on Foreign Relations. “The only argument which really speaks for Medvedev is this Western thing. That is his trump card. Putin has to counter it.”
The Outdoor Life interview — at times an exercise in mutual back-slapping — is not likely to have much impact, especially since it was released the same day as a much-anticipated news conference by Mr. Medvedev.
But it does show Mr. Putin trying to present himself in a softer, more friendly light. In between discussions of tiger poaching, Ernest Hemingway and the fragility of human existence, Mr. Putin tells Mr. Young that the United States and Russia have been powerfully drawn to each other since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The recent improvement in relations “seems to point to the fact that the vast majority of barriers between our peoples were unnaturally and artificially forced upon them,” Mr. Putin said. “Ordinary people always want to live in peace rather than in war and to be able to freely socialize, interact and make friends, if you wish. For too long, we had been cruelly held apart from each other, so it was only natural that the fall of the Iron Curtain generated a huge wave of interest toward Russia.”
Mr. Putin also plays up his image as an avatar of manliness, which has been established by photos of him riding shirtless on horseback, shooting a tiger with a tranquilizer gun or offering judo instructions. Asked about an episode last summer, when he shot a dart at the exposed back of a gray whale from a rubber dinghy, Mr. Putin drifted into Hemingway territory.
“All that surrounded me — the low sky, the stormy sea and, of course, the whales — was magnificent,” he said. “Besides, these elegant giants showed us a real performance, leaping out of the water in front of our boat.”
On that occasion, a reporter asked Mr. Putin whether it was dangerous, and the prime minister responded, “Living in general is dangerous.” In the Outdoor Life interview, he elaborated, saying that a human being is “still one of the most vulnerable creatures on earth,” barraged by disease, disaster and criminality.
“However, this is not a reason to hide away from life,” he said. “One can truly enjoy his or her life only while experiencing it, and it is inevitably related to a certain level of risk.”
It was the gray whale episode that especially captivated Mr. Young, 42. After he began writing about his “man crush,” his blog hits grew so high that his editors asked him for more, and he published an open letter to the prime minister proposing that the two men go hunting together.
Before long, Mr. Young was communicating with the press attaché in the Russian Embassy in Washington and with Ketchum, a public relations firm that represents Russia.
“My editors were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ ” Mr. Young said. But early in the spring, he was told that Mr. Putin was in the process of answering Mr. Young’s questions — at considerable length. The draft originally sent to Outdoor Life was almost 8,000 words long and had to be edited down by almost 3,000 words, Mr. Young said.
“I got to tell you, I’m more in love with the guy than ever,” he said. In an interview from his home in Texas, Mr. Young said Outdoor Life was hoping to send him to Russia to go fishing with Mr. Putin, who is not a keen hunter. It seemed Mr. Young’s ardor does not extend to Mr. Medvedev, since a mention of the Russian president’s name was met with silence on the other end of the line.
“You’re going to have to remind me who that is,” Mr. Young said.
I thought Putin was a homophobe? If this isn’t gay love, there is no such thing. Is that what it’s called these days — fishing? Get a hotel room already. Must they engage in such flamboyant fellatio in public for all to see? What about the gay exhibitionism laws in Russia? Shouldn’t they apply to the public pornographic behavior exhibited by Putin and Gayne (and “gay” is right there in his name) Young? Give these boys a rainbow flag, someone, please. It’s the only thing that’s missing — the rainbow flag and this theme song (just change the “her” to “him”) to go with their romance:
But over-compensating outdoorsy high school teachers from Texas aren’t the only profiles wanting to buddy up with Putin. Apparently, there are not a few, retired or otherwise, military personnel, at all levels, who admire Putin and would like to go fishing with him like Gayne Young. Don’t believe me? Head (haha) on over to Sic Semper Tyrannis for a look see. Military people, especially those with more brass, love Authoritarians — and Pat Lang and his type are no exception. Lang, if not explicitly certainly implicitly, has made clear his fondness and support, sometimes contractually as a consultant, for the likes of Bashar al-Assad, the late Omar Suleiman and now Vladimir Putin. If you thoroughly research Pat Lang’s blog, you can’t help but conclude he’s sympathetic with these murderous and torturous tyrants. Of course, Lang’s a spy (once a spy always a spy), and spies, these days at least and perhaps always, have no problem murdering and torturing when it’s called for to accomplish their mission, whatever that mission may be. All three of these authoritarian tyrants have murdered and tortured with impunity, the first two in that list under contract with America per this dated NYT article. Per the link:
Torture, American Style
Maher Arar is a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. On Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning from a family vacation in Tunisia, he was seized by American authorities at Kennedy Airport in New York, where he was in the process of changing planes.
Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen, was not charged with a crime. But, as Jane Mayer tells us in a compelling and deeply disturbing article in the current issue of The New Yorker, he “was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet.”
In an instant, Mr. Arar was swept into an increasingly common nightmare, courtesy of the United States of America. The plane that took off with him from Kennedy “flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.”
Any rights Mr. Arar might have thought he had, either as a Canadian citizen or a human being, had been left behind. At times during the trip, Mr. Arar heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of “the Special Removal Unit.” He was being taken, on the orders of the U.S. government, to Syria, where he would be tortured.
The title of Ms. Mayer’s article is “Outsourcing Torture.” It’s a detailed account of the frightening and extremely secretive U.S. program known as “extraordinary rendition.”
This is one of the great euphemisms of our time. Extraordinary rendition is the name that’s been given to the policy of seizing individuals without even the semblance of due process and sending them off to be interrogated by regimes known to practice torture. In terms of bad behavior, it stands side by side with contract killings.
Our henchmen in places like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Jordan are torturing terror suspects at the behest of a nation – the United States – that just went through a national election in which the issue of moral values was supposed to have been decisive. How in the world did we become a country in which gays’ getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?
As Ms. Mayer pointed out: “Terrorism suspects in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East have often been abducted by hooded or masked American agents, then forced onto a Gulfstream V jet, like the one described by Arar. … Upon arriving in foreign countries, rendered suspects often vanish. Detainees are not provided with lawyers, and many families are not informed of their whereabouts.”
Mr. Arar was seized because his name had turned up on a watch list of terror suspects. He was reported to have been a co-worker of a man in Canada whose brother was a suspected terrorist.
“Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say,” Ms. Mayer wrote.
The confession under torture was worthless. Syrian officials reported back to the United States that they could find no links between Mr. Arar and terrorism. He was released in October 2003 without ever being charged and is now back in Canada.
Barbara Olshansky is the assistant legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing Mr. Arar in a lawsuit against the U.S. I asked her to describe Mr. Arar’s physical and emotional state following his release from custody.
She sounded shaken by the memory. “He’s not a big guy,” she said. “He had lost more than 40 pounds. His pallor was terrible, and his eyes were sunken. He looked like someone who was kind of dead inside.”
Any government that commits, condones, promotes or fosters torture is a malignant force in the world. And those who refuse to raise their voices against something as clearly evil as torture are enablers, if not collaborators.
There is a widespread but mistaken notion in the U.S. that everybody seized by the government in its so-called war on terror is in fact somehow connected to terrorist activity. That is just wildly wrong.
Tony Blair knows a little about that sort of thing. Just two days ago the British prime minister formally apologized to 11 people who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for bombings in England by the Irish Republican Army three decades ago.
Jettisoning the rule of law to permit such acts of evil as kidnapping and torture is not a defensible policy for a civilized nation. It’s wrong. And nothing good can come from it.
These are not nice people. The people who currently sympathize with them, or contracted with them in the past for torture services, are not nice people. Anyone who supports this kind of debauchery is themselves debauched. So, when you visit Lang’s site and do the thorough research if you’re so inclined, you be the judge especially when you consider the Putin worshiping and coddling that’s going in at that space right now. What Putin worshiping, you ask? How about the comments by FB Ali in his most recent guest post at Sic Semper Tyrannis and the supporting commentary in the comment section to that post, for example. The post itself is a rather run-of-the-mill analysis for Putin apologists who claim the West is encircling Russia in an attempt to subordinate the Russian soul. It even mentions Neocons. Imagine that? But what’s most noteworthy are the adulatory comments about Putin in the comment section. As I’ve said before on this blog, if these people aren’t being paid for their Putin water-carrying propaganda, they should be — because if they’re not, they’re fools, and if they are, they’re duplicitous opportunists who discard any notion of principles. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments from the linked post. Hold your nose because the smerdiness is most mephitic:
burton50 said in reply to VietnamVet…
Say what you want about Putin, but in the course of fifteen years he and his team have acted very decisively to limit and reverse the damages of this trend in Russia, rebuilt and re-energized the armed forces, begun the hard work of reconstructing the state’s tax base and its institutional organization, and brutally rehabilitated the state’s capacity to reign in the sort of massive theft and corruption that when on in Yeltsin’s era. The effort has begun to bear fruit in the reversal of the terrible demographic and economic trends unleashed by the collapse of the USSR (it’s to this that Putin’s famous quotation refers). The program was not to be a frontal assault in the Bol’shevik manner: the oligarchs are probably thought of as useful in their own way, but they are carefully supervise and have been warned in no uncertain terms that interference in the affairs of the nation (as in the Ukraine) wouldn’t be tolerated.
FB Ali said in reply to burton50..
I agree with what you say about Vladimir Putin. He saved Russia from a decline into poverty and irrelevance. Perhaps that is one of the reasons he is so detested by the neocons and their supporters.
I think he is a Russian patriot, and this is his primary motivation in his policies and actions.
Highlander said in reply to FB Ali…
I agree Putin is a great leader for Russia, a very hard nosed and realistic man.
A worthy opponent for anyone. I hope,it doesn’t come down to a face off with Obama.
Alba Etie said in reply to FB Ali…
He also has been a champion of endangered wildlife in Siberia and elsewhere.
The Twisted Genius said in reply to VietnamVet…
I disagree with your assessment of Putin. He is a skilled adversary worthy of respect. Rather than a dirty rotten scumbag, he is a heard hearted empath and, perhaps, one of the rough men we hear so much about. As Burton50 said, he has politically neutered his one per centers, the Russian oligarchs. Russian history will probably look kindly on the Putin years.
Tyler said in reply to David Habakkuk…
Why can’t we be friends? Because of World War Gay and the fact that Russia offers an alternative to soulless hedonism which is the West’s primary export now.
“by keeping neo-cons in his administration, he can neutralize/co-opt them as a group.” IMO Obama is a weak man If I were president, the neocons would be in hiding. pl
What’s particularly ironic about FB Ali’s felicitous admiration of Putin is the fact that FB Ali has shared a very similar experience with Alexander Litvinenko, but unlike Litvinenko, Ali was not tracked down in Canada by his former colleagues and poisoned with Polonium-210 to die a torturous and undignified death. And yet, FB Ali not only fails to acknowledge his common ground with Litvinenko, but instead, not only ignores the murderous crimes of the sadist who ordered the poisoning of Litvinenko, but proclaims Putin’s greatness as a Russian patriot when Putin is in fact no such thing. Sorry, FB Ali, but you have lost all credibility as have Lang and any and all commentators to his blog. Here’s a link to Amazon if you want to purchase his recently published book about his Pakistani persecution. I find it difficult to empathize when he can’t find it within himself to empathize with Litvinenko and instead holds Litvinenko’s executioner on a pedestal. Disgusting. Here’s a quote about Ali’s autobiographical book:
FB Ali was a rising star in the Pakistan Army when, in 1969, Gen Yahya Khan, the army chief, declared martial law and took over the country. Disheartened at the direction in which Pakistan was heading, and his inability to do anything about it, he contemplated resigning, but the 1971 war with India intervened. Given an important combat command shortly before it began he witnessed firsthand how badly this disastrous war was mismanaged by the military regime and the incompetent generals it had appointed. The resulting debacle drove him to initiate and lead the army action that forced Gen Yahya Khan to hand over power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had won the 1970 election. The usual fate of kingmakers befell him: in 1972 he was retired from the army and a few months later arrested and tried on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Narrowly escaping a death sentence, he ended up with life imprisonment, spending over 5 years in prison before he was released following Bhutto’s ouster in another military coup. Though offered a significant role in the new setup he decided to move to Canada with his family. This memoir contains an insider account of many important events of that decade, including the 1971 India-Pakistan war and the troubles in East Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. It is also a poignant tale of courage and endurance in the face of adversity.
FB Ali ends his post at Sic Semper Tyrannis with the following admonition:
As Alastair Crooke points out, Russia is not afraid of sanctions, and this will not alter the course of developments in the Ukraine. All they will lead to is a much more confrontational and insecure world in the future.
With so many critical problems facing humanity (over-population, widespread poverty, global warming, to name a few) this is not a happy prospect.
But wait. PailiP just got done telling us that a positive population rate in Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. If FB Ali and all the Putin worshipers and apologists are so concerned with over-population (and many of them are), then surely they should be concerned with, rather than championing, the positive population trend in Russia — if it can be called a trend. Not to mention, if a country’s standard of living is improving, the population should be declining, not increasing as we’re seeing in Russia. As it stands, Russia’s just adding people as fuel to a future fire (nuclear perhaps) without proper consideration for their welfare and well-being. They’re just statistics on a Powerpoint slide to ironically gloat about — nothing more. Russia’s population trend is not positive when you consider the thesis of this linked article.
Higher standards of living, then, reduce fertility. And lower fertility improves living standards. This is what China’s government says. It is also the view that has emerged from demographic research over the past 20 years.* In the 1980s, population was regarded as relatively unimportant to economic performance. American delegates told a UN conference in 1984 that “population growth is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad; it is a neutral phenomenon.” Recent research suggests otherwise.
Cutting the fertility rate from six to two can help an economy in several ways. First, as fertility falls it changes the structure of the population, increasing the size of the workforce relative to the numbers of children and old people. When fertility is high and a country is young (median age below 20), there are huge numbers of children and the overall dependency ratio is high. When a country is ageing (median age above 40), it again has a high dependency ratio, this time because of old people.
Slowing fertility has other benefits. By making it easier for women to work, it boosts the size of the labour force. Because there are fewer dependent children and old people, households have more money left for savings, which can be ploughed into investment. Chinese household savings (obviously influenced by many things, not just demography) reached almost 25% of GDP in 2008, helping to finance investment of an unprecedented 40% of GDP. This in turn accounted for practically all the increase in Chinese GDP in the first half of this year.
Lastly, low fertility makes possible a more rapid accumulation of capital per head. To see how, think about what happens to a farm as it is handed down the generations in a country without primogeniture. The more children there are, the more the farm is divided. Eventually, these patches become so tiny they cease to be efficient. This is occurring in Bangladesh.
Get the standard of living right, and more ideal demographic statistics will follow, not the other way around as most believe and advocate.
But all the above is window dressing for what’s really going on behind the scenes and mostly out of the headlines. I only mention it and keep harping on it and focusing on it because it’s important to challenge and expose the false narrative or narratives. There is no Cold War Redux. It’s a cover for what’s really going on and that is a divvying up of the planet’s Small People and the resources they rely on to thrive. In the case of Crimea, Russia’s annexing move, and The West’s seeming indifference to it, telegraphs that the oil grab was agreed to in advance. Per this Dallas Morning News article:
Crimea may yield trillions in oil riches for Russia and Putin
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited an oil rig in the Caspian Sea operated by Lukoil in 2010. Though Russia has done little to draw attention to the fact, the March 2014 seizure of Crimea theoretically extended its maritime boundaries in the Black Sea to include offshore oil and gas assets potentially worth billions, resources that Russia tried and failed to secure via negotiations less than two years ago.
When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean Peninsula but also a maritime claim more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.
Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Moscow dominion over potentially vast oil and gas resources while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.
Moscow did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. Russia had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.
“It’s a big deal,” said Carol Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”
Gilles Lericolais, director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea an “obvious” play for offshore riches.
In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday.
Irving-based Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European states.
William B.F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Moscow’s Black Sea acquisition gave it potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.
Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.
“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”
The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to such places as the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.
Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal states claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 230 statute miles from their shores. Inside these zones, states can explore, exploit and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.
The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.
Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.
Moscow moved fast.
In April 2012, Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Ryan, of Columbia, estimated that the size of that zone, which existed before the Crimean annexation, amounted to roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.
A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.
In August 2012, the Ukrainian government announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.
When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.
Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is 31/2 times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.
As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the U.S. efforts to ratchet up pressure on Moscow.
“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Saivetz of MIT. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”
Trillions? That’s a lot of Sochis. That’s bigger and better Potemkin Villages. It looks like Crimea isn’t the only acquisition, though. You have to look at the resource pay-off, at least for annexation purposes. This is why the entirety of Ukraine will not be annexed, but certain parts will be because of their strategic access to resources, namely gas and oil. Take Moldova and Kazakhstan, for example. They’re two former Soviet countries Putin’s spending considerable operational time on amidst this alleged Ukraine crisis. Per this WaPo article:
Russian President Putin builds ties in Moldova, Kazakhstan and Baltics
Vowing to defend ethnic Russians wherever they live, President Vladimir Putin has embarked on an aggressive campaign to rebuild the pride and assertiveness of the Russian people, which he says was lost in the breakup of the Soviet Union.
A week ahead of a presidential vote in Ukraine that will help determine that nation’s relationship with Russia, Putin has been devoting new power to redressing what he has called the historical tragedy that shattered the Soviet Union into 15 nations.
After Ukraine, the most immediately vulnerable country may be Moldova, whose Transnistria region is the westernmost edge of a belt of non-Russian territory that Putin has noted was once part of the Russian Empire. Odessa and parts of eastern Ukraine are also part of that territory, which Putin called Novorossiya, or New Russia.
“This is not about reestablishing the Soviet Union,” said Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University who is an expert on Russian security issues. But, he added, “there is this genuine sense that he is this czar who is gathering the Russian lands.”
On Victory Day, the May 9 holiday that marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin visited Transnistria’s celebrations, an unusual trip that analysts say signaled Kremlin intentions over the region.
“Russia is not only monitoring the situation, but we will do everything needed for the residents of Transnistria to see our role as peacekeepers and as guarantors of the Transnistrian Republic’s security,” Rogozin said during his visit, Interfax reported.
“There’s great reason to be concerned in Moldova,” said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking. “Even if it’s not a direct intervention,” the official said, “it’s a way to be able to weaken the government, to be able to rattle the cage, to be able to say, ‘If relations with Russia are bad, we can always pull this one out of the hat and start creating trouble.’ ”
Kazakhstan, too, appears to be nervous. Officials there proposed laws last month that would include harsh sentences for calls for separatism. In some parts of northern Kazakhstan, ethnic Russians make up more than half the population, and President Nursultan Nazarbayev has long worked to solidify his government’s influence in the region.
We’ll see what transpires in the months and years ahead, but through it all, we should keep our eye on the gorilla, and not the ball. If you watch the ball, you miss the gorilla.
That’s all for now. I have more to say — so much more, but this post has already become too lengthy, so I’ll end it here.
Until next time, lie well my friends and for all the right reasons. I know I will.