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Thursday, 03 April 2014

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Gazprom isn't doing too well either.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-03/gazprom-s-910-billion-gaffe-shows-putin-economy-waning.html

Hear, hear. But never mind, Nige, leader of the neo-Nasty Party and hero of the working and underclass, thinks he's a bit of an operator, so it'll all work out fine for Vlad in the end.

SoD

Crimea is real estate and , in the long run , that is what counts.

A few comments... particularly as I have Ukrainian friends, and also as the Crimea is not completely unknown to me. I spent my holiday there last year!

I think that it is a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that Putin has now blown the chance of a pro Russian Government being elected in Kiev as the population of the Crimea is not huge - two and a bit million, set against an overall Ukrainian population of roughly forty million. Take note also, that those cute maps of the Ukraine that show a country split broadly into two main ethnic halves are huge oversimplification.

Whether or not the Crimea turns out to be a "massive shit sandwich" or a shit sandwich of more manageable proportions remains to be seen. The economy is certainly a gangsterocracy wrecked basket-case and massive investment will be required from Russia to make the place a going concern. However, what is true for the Crimea is true for the Ukraine many times over, which is why Russia is actually DESPERATE not to invade. Her economy is not very strong and she simply CANNOT AFFORD to take over the whole country. The role of the Russian army on the border is (hopefully) merely to intimidate and to prevent the rowdy Ukrainian proles from getting too far out of line.

What many people in the West don't realise is that Ukrainian and Russian history is joined firmly at the hip. The relationship between the two countries is every bit as ancient and close as the relationship between England and Scotland with some comparisons with Ireland thrown in for good measure. For example, a well-known Georgian mass murderer is every bit as hated in the Ukraine as Oliver Cromwell (still) is in Ireland!

To be fair to Putin, his Russian (and Georgian) predecessors had already handed him a massive shit sandwich with regard to the Ukraine in general and the Crimea in particular. When Nikita Khruschev transferred the Crimea - which was Russian - to the Ukraine in 1954, the population, who overwhelmingly considered themselves Russian, found themselves handed over to the Ukraine like a sack of spuds and as the current Crimean population STILL overwhelmingly identify themselves Russian, it can be argued that what Putin has done is merely to correct a historic wrong.

Unfortunately though, as befitting his KGB past, he has used thoroughly dictatorial methods to accomplish this. There was actually no need to cook the referendum result. The Crimean citizens would probably have returned a 60/40 or perhaps even a 70/30 result in favour of reunification with Russia. Also, the bully-boy tactics and the humiliation of the Ukrainian military have left a very nasty taste in the mouth indeed.

Lawrence, I actually agree with Farage on this. Putin has run rings around Europe and America to accomplish what he has done, and one cannot help but admire his qualities as a statesman and leader. However as Farage says, that is not to be taken as approving of the man or liking him. I can tell you that his domestic policies are woeful, his government is 100% corrupt, and that that corruption is strangling Russia. Most of my adult students are learning English to get a one way ticket out of their own country and that they are precisely the dynamic entrepreneurial types that Russia can least afford to lose.

We now have the Scottish referendum to look forward to although whether or not Cameron sends in the tanks in the event of the Jocks returning the wrong result remains to be seen!

AK, that was a very enlightening article and confirmed my worst suspicions that all is far from well in Russia.

SoD, I'm seeing you this weekend so we will settle the matter over a bottle or three of fine claret - well, Australian plonkeroo, perhaps!

John, in a sense you're right but it is going to take ga-zillions to develop it which the Russians can ill afford.

Thanks, Richard, always good to get the inside story. As far as I can tell after a quick check everyone from Talleyrand to Churchill has been credited with the famous saying "Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks." Personally I would prefer a strong Russia in the sense of a healthy, fairly liberal and thriving Russia because I believe the real problem for the future is going to be China and I would prefer to have Russia on our side rather than theirs. The more I think about him the more I suspect that Putin is indeed a plonker, one of those short-sighted political leaders who believes that tanks and ships are the be all and end all of national strength.

Gazprom isn't doing too well either.

Isn't looking too hot for the cheese industry either!

http://news.yahoo.com/russia-probes-cheese-factory-workers-shown-bathing-milk-073114603.html

Thank you, JK, my pal Richard in Russia will be glad of the warning!

"Putin has run rings around Europe and America to accomplish what he has done, and one cannot help but admire his qualities as a statesman and leader."

Have to agree to disagree with you on that one, Richard. Putin has deliberately manoeuvred Russia into the biggest nutcracker in the history of diplomacy, economics, and warfare. Europe, America, and China now have carte blanche to devour the Russian empire, taking what they want. It was always a dead cat bounce following the Soviet collapse, so this is how the last act in the decline and fall of the Russian empire will play out, so be it.

The slow strangulation of Putin and Russia has begun: -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10750840/Russias-South-Stream-pipeline-in-deep-freeze-as-EU-tightens-sanctions-noose.html

I feel sorry for the ordinary Russian people, who will have to suffer horrifically, yet again. But that wretched Putin, so admired by Farage and his neo-Nasty Party, I hope they hang him from a lamppost when it's all over (Putin that is, but then again ...).

SoD

Lawrence,
Sanctions are only effective if a) if they have a detrimental effect on the leadership of the country they are being applied to... and b) if they are universally applied, effectively creating a pariah state. Whether or not they will have any real effect remains to be seen, but somehow I doubt that my two conditions will be met in this particular case.

Much will depend on Putin's future actions. Reluctantly again, I have to say that he is playing another blinder in East Ukraine. The Russian Army is currently playing the part of the Sword of Damocles which WILL fall if there is any meaningful resistance to the so-called Ukrainian Russian supporting militias who are currently occupying key locations in the more important eastern cities. Many of these look suspiciously like Russian soldiers, right down to the kit which includes significant numbers of very new looking AK74s. Somehow, I don't think that the impending Ukrainian elections will be free or fair, however I cannot see Europe and NATO taking any sort of decisive action. There are simply too many conflicting interests and if they were to run a bath they probably couldn't even agree on which was the hot tap!

Putin does have his weaknesses. The first is his vanity. Bill Clinton made a very interesting remark on him recently and I quote, "He is highly intelligent, deeply patriotic in terms of Russia, but he sees it more in terms of the greatness of the state and the country than what happens to ordinary Russians." Here, the state IS Putin and Putin IS the state and he is simply acting for the advancement of his own prestige and NOT for the people of Russia or the Ukraine! One day, this may well come back to bite him on the arse as I believe that he is making a serious misjudgement. A quote from the late Boris Yeltsin may give us a clue as to what this is. "You can build a throne of bayonets, but you cannot sit on it for long."

Putin thinks that power simply comes from the barrel of a gun. It doesn't and there are significant numbers of people in both East and West Ukraine are already angered and will resist if they think that Russia is trying to take over their country. All it would need are a few armoury doors to be left open and the Ukraine would turn into a running sore. Sending troops in would be easy; getting them out would be much, much harder. In short, I believe that he is unleashing forces that he will soon be unable to control.

Time will tell...

You really should David, read the entirety of your "Ukraine-related" February posts.

Er, what you posted (was your authoring?) at any rate ... you didn't by any chance manage to get a barrel (cask) of my preferred Glenfiddich through the port of Savannah?


I'm of the opinion Mr. Morgan (personally) where Vosha may've made his mistake - if it turns to be such - was underestimating the depth of feeling in Poland (forgive my returning to a 2011 STRATFOR article)

"Visegrad: A New European Military Force is republished with permission of Stratfor."

But ... & oh and I really dislike hearkening back to something Duff brought up just as he was beginning the throes of Kursk:

(mainly because I "borrowed" from David - and didn't attribute)

But it was from the February 18th 2014 post I had specifically in mind:

While the Normandy landings during the summer of 1944 did mark a major turning point in the war in Europe, we should remember that by the end of that year, 91 Allied divisions in northwest Europe faced 65 German divisions across a 250-mile front, while at the same time in the east, 560 Soviet divisions fought 235 German divisions across 2,000 miles.

http://duffandnonsense.typepad.com/duff_nonsense/2014/02/an-historical-exercise.html

My point there actually - had to do with ... the depth of commitment ... nothing actually to do with Easter per se however ... that doggone "depth of commitment" thingy does have a habit of rearing it's head from time to time.

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