Monday, June 1, 2015

Ukraine update - the Russia Problem

Pretty much the same old same old again. Russian-backed militants continue to shell and attack Ukrainian positions along the front, using weapons that under Minsk II they were supposed to have pulled back 50 km from the line of engagement.  Two Russian servicemen have been captured; Moscow claims they were no longer service men at the time of capture which both men say is bull-tweetie.  Two Ukrainian soldiers have just been captured; that will be interesting.

Novorussiya seems to be a thing of the past.  Possibly Kerry traded Crimea for Donbas.  The problem with Donbas is that it reminds me of the child custody battle where neither parent wanted the little hellion.  Neither Ukraine nor Russia can afford to take responsibility for trying to fix it.  Russia broke it so they should own it but it cost a lot of Ukrainian lives...

Proroshenko met with the EU rescue people  who are decidedly unhappy about the rate of reform in Ukraine.  So are the people of Ukraine, I might add.  There has been a few things done but nothing to really address the root problems of corruption, bureaucracy,and lack of business friendliness; all three being tied together in one gigantic Gordian knot.  How well the economy is doing is anyone's guess.  Mine is "not so good". We are seeing a few businesses close or scale back here in Zhovti Vody.  At least the crops are looking pretty good.  We have had a good winter and good soil moisture with recent rains.

Things in Russia have been going from bad to worse.  Another dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, is in hospital with severe kidney failure, most likely from poison. It seems, as one article put it, "Don't walk, don't eat, don't drink".  Radio Free Europe has a list of those poisoned.  Funny how all of them seem to be enemies of Putin.

Putin passed a law last year that any NGOs which received foreign money must list themselves as foreign agents and print that on all documents.  He has added to that recently with the undesirable organizations act. Any organization, including a business can be declared undesirable, shut down and the principals fined or jailed.  The initial list includes the usual suspects such as Amnesty International, Memory and Mothers of Russian Soldiers.  He has also decleared that deaths of Russian soldiers during "peacetime" are state secrets.

When MH 17 was shot down over "separatist" controlled territory last July, the Russian Defense Ministry released satellite photos to prove that it was done by a Ukrainian fighter plane.  Bellingcat ( have released a 45 page report proving that the photos were faked. The Soviets used to go to great lengths to make their false information believable.  Putin's Russia no longer tries.  the intent isn't to fool but to sow confusion by providing what they euphemistically call alternative opinions.

There have been some odd things going on in Ukraine such as a string of suicides, murders and explosions.  A far-right extremist group claiming to be Ukrainian.  It does check out as being extreme right but not Ukrainian.  Surprise, surprise, surprise. .

Cheryl Rofer at Nuclear Diner has some good links. One book, one lengthy paper and a couple of good articles.

An opinion piece in the Financial Times says the West's problem is not Putin but Russia itself, going back over 200 years.

Historically, Russia has pushed its borders outward, as far away as possible from its heartland. It did not stop when it reached defensible physical borders, but only when it ran into powerful countervailing states. Where the west saw imperialism, Moscow saw the erection of defences.
For Moscow, states there face a choice not between independence and Russian domination, but between domination by Russia or a rival. That struggle, Moscow believes, is playing out in Ukraine.

On another front, America is FINALLY going after FIFA.  FIFA makes the mafia look as innocent as babes.  I mean Qatar? In summer? South Africa claims it paid $10 million in bribes to get the World Cup in 2010.  For Russia, that kind of money is pocket change after the $30 billion that disappeared in preparation for teh Sochi Olympics.  Putin claims America is overstretching its jurisdiction but methinks he is scared that their own shenanigans will come to light and that the 2018 World Cup will get pulled.

So you have to read this.  Borowitz must be hurting from laughing.  Having China or North Korea take him seriously is nothing new but Russia?  Priceless!


  1. ...then again, expecting them to have a sense of humour is laughable in itself...

    1. The people have a marvelous sense of humour. the bureaucracy and siloviki, not so much


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