Category Archives: Russia

Russia’s Poor Feel Impact Of Sanctions

Putin: US wants to subdue Russia, but will never succeed

Reuters reports:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin.(RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin)‘The United States wants to subdue Moscow, but will never succeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

“They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subdue us, solve their problems at our expense,” Putin said at the end of a four-hour meeting with his core support group, the People’s Front.

“No one in history ever managed to achieve this with Russia, and no one ever will,” he said, triggering a wave of applause.’


Stephen Walt’s Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years

Stephen Walt writes for Foreign Policy:

‘Tell me, friend: do you find the current world situation confusing? Are you having trouble sorting through the bewildering array of alarums, provocations, reassurances, and trite nostrums offered up by pundits and politicos? Can’t tell if the glass is half-full and rising or half-empty, cracked, and leaking water fast? Not sure if you should go long on precious metals and stock up on fresh water, ammo, and canned goods, or go big into equities and assume that everything will work out in the long run?

Today’s world is filled with conflicting signals. On the one hand, life expectancy and education are up, the level of violent conflict is down, and hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty over the past several decades. Private businesses are starting to take human rights seriously. And hey, the euro is still alive! On the other hand, Europe’s economy is still depressed, Russia is suspending nuclear cooperation with the United States, violent extremists keep multiplying in several regions, the odds of a genuine nuclear deal with Iran still looks like a coin toss, and that much-ballyhooed climate change deal between the United States and China is probably too little too late and already facing right-wing criticisms.

Given all these conflicting signals, what broader lessons might guide policymakers wrestling with all this turbulence? Assuming governments are capable of learning from experience (and please just grant me that one), then what kernels of wisdom should they be drawing on right now? What do the past 20 years or so reveal about contemporary foreign policy issues, and what enduring lessons should we learn from recent experience?’


Russian TV Images That Claim Ukrainian Jet Shot Down MH17 ‘Fake’

Former NATO General Harald Kujat: I have doubts over evidence of Russian invasion in Ukraine

Editor’s Note: Harald Kujat is a retired general officer of the German Air Force. He served as Chief of Staff of the German armed forces from 2000-2002 and as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2002-2005. This clip is taken from one of the most popular political talk shows in Germany. Below is a brief summary of what Kujat said.

  • That there’s a lot of speculation but so far proof of Russia’s involvement with regular military forces has not come to his attention
  • He cites the example of when the Ukrainian President announced that 23 armed Russian vehicles had been destroyed on Ukrainian territory, but no photos of any surviving or killed Russian soldiers were ever produced
  • That we have been shown five satellite photos as proof that Russian Forces are operating in Ukraine (three of them were marked as being ‘on Russian territory’ and two of them were marked as ‘on Ukraine territory’): the three Russian photos were marked with exact locations, whereas the two Ukrainian photos contained no location
  • Not only do we have to be careful of what the Russian’s say, but we also have to be careful about what the Ukrainian government and the West says (US and NATO)

NATO Says Russian Troops, Tanks Near Ukraine

Editor’s Note: The Russian’s are clearly involved in supporting the Eastern Ukraine rebellion, but take everything NATO says with a large dose of salt. They have been hyping up an imminent Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine and even Eastern Europe for much of this year and we still haven’t seen one. That’s not to say that the Russian’s wouldn’t, but NATO also have a military budget to justify.

The American Century is over, the Eurasian Century has begun

Pepe Escobar writes for RT:

World leaders during the APEC Summit family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott standing behind Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)‘There’s hardly a more graphic illustration of where the multipolar world is going than what just happened at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

Take a very good look at the official photos. This is all about positioning – and this being China, pregnant with symbolic meaning. Guess who’s in the place of honor, side by side with President Xi Jinping. And guess where the lame duck leader of the “indispensable nation” has been relegated. The Chinese can also be masters at sending a global message.

When President Xi urged APEC to “add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy,” this is what he meant, irrespective of inconclusive decisions out of the summit.

1) Beijing will go no holds barred for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) – the Chinese vision of an “all inclusive, all-win” trade deal that really promotes Asia-Pacific cooperation, instead of the US-driven, corporate-redacted, and quite divisive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

2) The blueprint is on for “all-round connectivity,” in Xi’s words – which implies Beijing setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Beijing and Moscow committing to a second mega gas deal – this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia; and China already funneling no less than $40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.’


Why Gorbachev Feels Betrayed By The Post-Cold War West

Nathan Gardels writes for The World Post:

Mikhail GorbachevOn the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, remains a hero in the West. But the West is no longer in favor with Gorbachev.

Already in 2005 when I sat down with him in Moscow to discuss the 20th anniversary of his reforms that ultimately led to the dissolution of the USSR, Gorbachev expressed anger and betrayal over what he regarded as America’s “victory complex” over Russia.

Clearly, the seeds of hostility that are now manifest in the present crisis between the West and Russia over Ukraine have been gestating for some time.

Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev could not be more different as leaders. But they are both proud Russians who don’t think their nation is getting its due. They are like “ bent twigs springing back after being stepped on,” in the phrase Isaiah Berlin used to describe how resentment and aggressive nationalism are rooted in the backlash against humiliation.’


Noam Chomsky on the US, Russia, NATO and the possibility of a new Cold War

The End Of An Era: Is The US Petrodollar Under Threat?

Andrew Topf writes for Oil Price:

‘Recent trade deals and high-level cooperation between Russia and China have set off alarm bells in the West as policymakers and oil and gas executives watch the balance of power in global energy markets shift to the East.

The reasons for the cozier relationship between the two giant powers are, of course, rooted in the Ukraine crisis and subsequent Western sanctions against Russia, combined with China’s need to secure long-term energy supplies. However, a consequence of closer economic ties between Russia and China could also mean the beginning of the end of dominance for the U.S. dollar, and that could have a profound impact on energy markets.’


Russian Lawmaker Proposes Mailing Putin Sperm to Impregnate Russian Women

Kevin B. Sanders reports for the New York Observer:

‘The Russian-language newspaper, Trust, is reporting that an actual lawmaker—albeit one with a history of strange ideas—has introduced to the State Duma a bill that proposes extending the greatness of Russian by having children using the sperm of Vladimir Putin. To the best of our research, the Observer is the first to translate this strange proposal into English.

“The essence of my proposition is simple”, says the Chairwoman Of Parliamentary Commission on Women’s affairs, Children and Family, Yelena Borisovna Mizoulina. “Each female citizen of Russia will be able to receive by mail the genetic material of the President, get pregnant from him and have a baby. These mothers will be receiving special allowances from the government.”’


A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

Seumas Milne writes for The Guardian:

Vladimir Putin‘[...] There is little chance of the western camp responding to Putin’s call for a new system of global rules. In fact, the US showed little respect for rules during the cold war either, intervening relentlessly wherever it could. But it did have respect for power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, that restraint disappeared. It was only the failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and Russia’s subsequent challenge to western expansion and intervention in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine – that provided some check to unbridled US power.

Along with the rise of China, it has also created some space for other parts of the world to carve out their political independence, notably in Latin America. Putin’s oligarchic nationalism may not have much global appeal, but Russia’s role as a counterweight to western supremacism certainly does. Which is why much of the world has a different view of events in Ukraine from the western orthodoxy – and why China, India, Brazil and South Africa all abstained from the condemnation of Russia over Crimea at the UN earlier this year.

But Moscow’s check on US military might is limited. Its economy is over-dependent on oil and gas, under-invested and now subject to disabling sanctions. Only China offers the eventual prospect of a global restraint on western unilateral power and that is still some way off. As Putin is said to have told the US vice-president, Joe Biden, Russia may not be strong enough to compete for global leadership, but could yet decide who that leader might be.’


NATO: Spike in Russian Military Flights Around Europe, No Actual Violation of Airspace

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘[...] Bomber flights near NATO territory are not anything new, and happen from time to time. The amount of hype they receive is generally dependent on whether or not NATO is of a mind to make Russia out to be a threat at the time it takes place.

With no violation of NATO airspace, there is no reason to believe any of this is anything out of the ordinary, and is a continuation of NATO trying to portray Russia as starting a new Cold War for the sake of pushing military spending increases alliance-wide.’


RT launches dedicated UK channel

The Calvert Journal reports:

‘Russia’s state-backed news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) will launch its first dedicated British news channel tonight from its new London studios at Millbank. RT UK will cover local, regional and national stories from the UK, and will “challenge dominant power structures in Britain by broadcasting live and original programming with a progressive UK focus”, according to the media organisation’s website.

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan has said the British media landscape is in need of diversification: “Now, with a dedicated UK channel, we can serve the needs and interests of the British public by promoting debate and new ways of thinking about specifically British issues.”‘


Obama Promised a “World Without Nuclear Weapons,” But May Now Spend $3 Trillion on Weapons Upgrades

‘We are on the road in the historic city of Vienna, Austria, not far from the Czech Republic where President Obama gave a major address in 2009 that called for a nuclear-free world. His disarmament efforts were cited when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but since then advocates say little progress has been made. A recent New York Times investigation found the United States is on pace to spend as much as $1 trillion over the next three decades to modernize its nuclear arsenal and facilities. This week, more than 150 countries at the United Nations signed a joint statement calling on nuclear powers to attend the third major conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons scheduled this December in Vienna. The United States has yet to attend one of the meetings. We are joined by Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.’ (Democracy Now!)

The Toxic Uzbek Town and Its Museum of Banned Soviet Art

Stephen Bland writes for VICE News:

‘Making our way out of Uzbekistan’s Xorazm Province, we began our three-hour drive to the city of Nukus, capital of the country’s autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Up until the late-1990s, the land we were driving through was still cotton fields; today, it’s just an expanse of salty grey emptiness.

Once a thriving agricultural center, Karakalpakstan is now one of the sickest places on Earth. Respiratory illness, typhoid, tuberculosis and oesophageal cancers are rife, and the region has the highest infant mortality rate in the former USSR.’


‘No Putin, No Russia,’ Says Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff

The Moscow Times reports:

‘Ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the 11th-annual Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Friday [Oct 24th], deputy chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin took to the stage to tell international analysts and Russia-watchers that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.”

In response to a question on the impact of Western sanctions from club member Nikolai Zlobin, founder of the Center on Global Interests research institution in Washington, D.C., Volodin said “any attack on Putin is an attack on Russia,” Kommersant reported Thursday.

Volodin backed up his statement with the results of a recent public survey, which showed that 66 percent of Russians could not see any candidates besides Putin running for president in 2018, the newspaper said.’


George Soros: Russia poses existential threat to Europe

Julian Borger reports for The Guardian:

George Soros has warned that Russia’s expansionism poses an existential threat to the EU and called for greater material support for Ukraine.

The investor and philanthropist argues that Vladimir Putin’s mix of authoritarianism and aggressive nationalism represents an alternative model to western liberal democracies, referring to the admiration for the Russian president expressed by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, the president of France’s Front National, Marine Le Pen, and Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

“Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it,” Soros writes in an article published in the New York Review of Books.’


Putin: America is a bully and a threat to global stability

Ukraine confirms Russia winter gas deal

The Herald Sun reports:

‘Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he has reached a deal with Russia to ensure supplies of natural gas to his country this winter.

THE two sides agreed that Ukraine would pay $US385 ($A416.55) per 1000 cubic metres of gas between now and March 31, Poroshenko said in a nationally televised interview on Saturday night.

That is a much lower figure than the US$485 that Russian energy giant Gazprom had so far been demanding.”I can say that Ukraine will have gas and warmth this winter,” Poroshenko said.Poroshenko, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Milan last week, said the agreement could be finalised in Brussels on Tuesday at a meeting between Russian, Ukrainian and EU officials.’


German Intelligence: Pro-Russian Rebels Downed MH17 With BUK Missile Stolen From Ukrainian Military Base

Spiegel reports:

‘After completing a detailed analysis, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people.’


Russian social network hosts ‘Miss Hitler 2014′ contest

Haaretz reports:

A screenshot of the Adolf Hitler fan page advertising the contest.‘An anti-Semitic beauty contest is currently underway on the Russian social networking website VKontakte, the local equivalent of Facebook.

Called Miss Ostland 2014 (Ostland was the name Nazi Germany gave to the occupied Baltic states and eastern Poland), the contest is hosted on the site’s Adolf Hitler group page, which has more than 7,000 followers, according to the vocative website.

Women interested in participating in the competition are asked to send in sexy photographs of themselves, as well as to write about their love for Hitler. The candidate who receives the most likes will be declared the winner.’


AP reporter asks Admiral Kirby: Has NATO expanded to Russia, or Russia moved towards NATO?

Editor’s Note: The U.S./NATO never see their actions as aggressive or confrontational. Actions are always taken in the name of “defence” because they’re the “good guys”. Either they’re so wrapped up in their own moral crusade to “bring democracy to the world” (which is quite clearly bullshit when you look at history), or they wilfully refuse to see how the other side might perceive their actions because it’s to their advantage not to. 

Serbia to salute Putin but sees future with Europe

Matt Robinson reports for Reuters:

‘Russian President Vladimir Putin is guest of honor at a military parade in Belgrade on Thursday to mark 70 years since the city’s liberation by the Red Army, a visit loaded with symbolism as Serbia walks a tightrope between the Europe it wants to join and a big-power ally it cannot leave behind.

The United States and European Union are unlikely to welcome the sight of Putin taking the salute at a parade of more than 3,000 Serbian soldiers while NATO says Russian troops are fighting on the side of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The East-West split over Ukraine, recalling the Cold War, has exposed the balancing act Serbia faces, politically indebted to Russia over the breakaway region of Kosovo but seeing its economic future inside the EU.’


Small private bank fuels fortunes of Putin’s inner circle

Steven Lee, Myers, Jo Becker and Jim Yardley report for The New York Times:

Vladimir Putin arrives to take the oath as President of Russia in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow, May 7, 2012. (ALEXEI DRUZHININ/NYT)‘[...] Woven deeply into the Putin system is Bank Rossiya. Founded as the tiniest of banks in the twilight of the Soviet era, Bank Rossiya, through staggering, stealthy expansion backed by the largesse of the state, now has nearly $11 billion in assets. It controls a vast financial empire with tentacles across the economy, including a large stake in the country’s most powerful private media conglomerate, a key instrument of the Kremlin’s power to shape public opinion. How well the bank survives in a time of sanctions may ultimately be a barometer of whether economic pressure is enough to make Putin stand down at a time when neighboring countries, especially in the Baltics, are increasingly anxious about a newly aggressive Russia.

Putin came to power vowing to eliminate “as a class” the oligarchs who had amassed fortunes – and, to the new president’s mind, a dangerous quotient of political sway – under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, in the post-Communist chaos of the 1990s. Instead, a new class of tycoons have emerged, men of humble Soviet origins who owe their vast wealth to Putin, and offer unquestioning political fealty to him in return… If the modern Russian state is Kremlin Inc., Putin is its CEO, rewarding his friends with control of state-owned companies and doling out lucrative government contracts in deals that provoke accusations of corruption but have the veneer of legality under the Putin system.’


Football fans jailed for anti-Putin chant in Belarus

BBC News reports:

Fans chant at the Ukraine-Belarus Euro 2016 match in Borisov, Belarus, on 9 October 2014‘A court in the Belarusian capital Minsk has jailed eight Ukrainian football fans after they sang an insulting song about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One man was sent to prison for 10 days for possessing fascist symbols. Seven others were jailed for five days for using obscene language.

They had joined in anti-Putin chants and songs at the Euro 2016 qualifier between Ukraine and Belarus. A number of Belarusian fans were also convicted and fined.’


Stephen Cohen: Everything in Ukraine Hinges on the Parliamentary Elections This Month

From The Nation:

Petro Poroshenko‘Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has now formed his own political party, but whether or not he will control a majority of Parliament is now in doubt. As Stephen Cohen explained on The John Batchelor Show, “For Poroshenko everything, everything—the war, the political future of Ukraine, his own future, and the billions of dollars that the West is promising Ukraine to build and restructure—hinges to some degree on these parliamentary elections and whether he can build in Kiev a workable majority. He certainly doesn’t have it now.”’


Bodies pile up in Ukraine morgue despite ceasefire deal

U.S. adviser: Russian sanctions could be eased soon if Ukraine progress made

Reuters reports:

‘Talks on easing sanctions against Russia imposed over the conflict in Ukraine could begin in the next few weeks, but more measures are possible if there is no progress over a ceasefire deal, the U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser said on Friday.

[...] “Our hope over the next weeks is that we begin to implement that agreement in a meaningful way on the Russian side. And if that happens we can actually begin to talk about rolling back the sanctions,” Blinken told reporters at a briefing in London.

“But you know we will get to a point where if there is no action in implementing the Minsk agreement, we will need to look at not only sustaining the pressure but looking at ways to increase it.”‘


How Putin’s American Fixers Keep Russian Sanctions Toothless

Lee Fang reports for VICE:

‘[...] Ketchum, a public relations firm that has represented the Russian government and Gazprom, the Russian oil behemoth, just filed its latest 6-month disclosure form with the US Department of Justice. Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law signed by President Franklin Roosevelt to regulate international lobbying, agents of foreign governments are required to report a significant amount of their activities to the public. The disclosures show a number of media contacts on behalf of the Russian government, including with the New York Times, AP, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, Politico, CNBC, CNN, and PBS.

The form also shows that Ketchum has corresponded closely with two trade groups that have been pivotal in beating back sanctions against Russia since the revolution in Ukraine: the US-Russia Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, a Moscow affiliate to the US Chamber of Commerce known as an AmCham. Both groups are funded by companies with a stake in the US and Russia, including CitiGroup, BP, GE, GM, and Caterpillar.

But the most important business link between the two countries is ExxonMobil. The oil giant has multiple deals with Rosneft worth upwards of $1 trillion, including plans to drill in the Arctic, throughout Siberia, and in Alaska.