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Friday, 05 December 2014


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You might be right that Putin hasn't got a clue about grand strategy or global economic forces. He is not exactly alone is he? YMD probably has trouble with snakes and ladders!

"You're a very naughty boy", BOE, 'Dave' is not my man, he's just the best second-rater available amongst the collection of third-raters who run our political parties today!

Interesting piece today. It would seem Comrade "Rootin' Tootin' Putin is set on following the demise of his former beloved USSR. Bad policy at home, foreign miscalculations and the devilish unpredictability of commodity markets. He may grab and try to keep neighboring lands, but that is costly. All he needs is a really harsh winter and discontent among the peasants and kulaks will boil over. He sounded funny making promises to anyone who would repatriate capital to Russia. He is no more believable than Obama.

Russia today is a third world economy with a first world missile program.

You final sentence is an excellent summary, Whitewall.

I can report that the fact that the rouble is dropping like a piano falling down a lift shaft is not only affecting me, but is starting to hurt my Russian friends. Most people I have spoken to support Putin's foreign policy but are absolutely contemptuous of his domestic policies. 'Putin is no economist' is a refrain that I am starting to hear over and over again.

It will be very interesting to see the way that all this pans out... and I have a ringside seat!

Richard, in a way I envy your ringside seat...just not for too long.

Hello David! Haven't been to here for ages.
Basically, I am a bit surprised of quite an accurate review on Russian issues made by foreigner living abroad. Iam going to leave aside some political issues and statements I disagree with and pay attention to the economy. Well, the sanctions were intially dramatically underestimated. You should remember a very brave statements used to be made by our officials. Now they changed the language and one way or another call to stop them. I'd say it's not a central issue but they contribute a lot to our current situation. The oil prices are the main problem. You should also have heard about so-called couter-sanctions - the bans for lots of european stuff to be imported. First of all food. It has led to dramatic food prices increase (for example 40% for salmon and 70% for herring, 60% for cheese, 25 for fruit and vegetables should give you a clue). Besides that, petrol prices have grown this year for 20%. This is already fourth economical crisis for me and I have no idea about the outcomes. Actually I do not tend to liase the reasons wit Ukraine. This situation had been inevitable and Ukraine was just its catalisator.

Richard, keep a very close eye on the exit!

Alexey, good to hear from you again. Yes, Anne Applebaum, who is Polish-American, has a very good reputation as a writer on Eastern Europe. She mentions the problems that the ban on exports of food, particularly frozen vegetables is having inside Russia.

I really do believe that the main problem your country suffers with is its lack of practice in a free market economy. In order for capitalism to work there must be a system of law which protects buyer and seller and that law must be open to all and beyond reproach. None of your oligarchs practice free market capitalism, they just stole everything they could from what had been state-owned enterprises and now they run them like the mafia - and Putin has admitted it by pleading for them to return some of the cash!

I am not singling out Russia for extra criticism, we are all to a certain extent prisoners of our history. However, there is no excuse for the idiots in Brussels - perhaps encouraged by Berlin! - to stick their noses into Ukrainian affairs which is a highly sensitive area for the Kremlin. However, we are where we are, and I just hope Putin is clever enough to avoid any dangerous mistakes.

Be careful where and when you skate, Alexey, I think the ice will become dangerously thin very soon!

Can't leave uncommented some political part of Anne's article. Quote: "At the beginning of this crisis, some Russians sounded as if this were 1941, when Hitler invaded the USSR and the nation rallied round Stalin. The Ukrainians were said to be Nazis; Nato was said to be encircling." I can proove the last two statemets, but can Anne or anyone else proove the opposite?
Blaming Russia for "annexation" she must suggest any options. Should Russia have left its originally territory to some group of nazi, gangsters and self-proclaimers?

When the guns begin to roar, Alexey, each side reaches for its best propaganda. Truth rarely enters!

Not sure if Vlad will beat the Kaiserin's EU in the race to the bottom

Whether Russia or the EU collapses first might rather dictate the longer term future of Europe. If it's the EU, then Putin might feel emboldened to try something military in a weak Europe in the EU's aftermath. If Russia goes pop first, then a post-Putin regime might turn to embrace Europe. Not that Europe would have much left to offer, except as a grateful customer of the oil and gas.

Blighty can't turn its back and walk away from all this, Kipper style. History has never let us do it before. You gotta be in it, to win it.



You'll be relieved to know that the military balance is still very much in NATO's favour, particularly in terms of quality. Most NATO units are well equipped and highly trained. While conceding that a few of their units are first rate, the Russian military still relies overwhelmingly on moderately trained conscripts and most (but not all) of the kit in their ORBAT is distinctly second line.

Take note as well that for all her strength on paper, Russia's military is spread pretty thinly. With billions of covetous Chinese massed on her eastern borders, she simply cannot afford to commit too large a proportion to any one area such as the Ukraine. Nor can the fragile Russian economy withstand much more expenditure on top of the range military kit.

With regard to your last comment, on recent performance, the UK doesn't seem to have any influence at all in Europe, except the ability to be dictated to. In Europe with zero influence or out of Europe with zero influence?

Interesting choice isn't it?

David you are almost accurate. To have a whole picture just add that fact that those who try and do normal business as it must be done just cannot exist in that environment. There are now any firm and sustainable rules. Finally, to make you laugh, would you like to know what the authoriries doing with business in current situation? So they have just imposed all the retailers a new tax. Besides that huge amounts they had already had.
Russia cannot be understood with the mind

my appologize
There are NO any firmly and sustainable rules.

Lawrence, thanks for that link, I will post on the subject later. However, I would remind you that post-Waterloo until the end of the 19th century we did very well with "splendid isolation". Your interventionist views would not amuse m'Lords Palmerston and Salisbury!

Richard your words confirm my suspicion that the Russian 'brass' is as stupid as ours and that, nuclears apart, their army is of limited ability. Even so, there's an awful lot of them!

Alexey, it absolutely and definitely does *NOT* make me laugh! I could weep for Russia because every time a small window of opportunity opens yet another set of criminal bastards take over. In my view, the long-term grand strategic enemy of us all is China and given that your country has a huge frontier with it then I want you on *our* side, not against us. Those idiots in Brussels are stupid beyond belief! And as for Washington . . . .


I think you're right about the NATO vs. Russian kit, doctrine, and personnel.

I caught up on my T64-T90's, Gvozdika's (only the Russian sense of humour would name its heavy artillery after a flower), Abrams, and Challengers, etc. as I tracked the Ukraine war this year. Pitted against itself, as it was in Ukraine, the Russian kit, doctrine, and personnel degenerated into an artillery slugfest. The echoes of the Great War reverberated with perfect timing. The reorganized Russian brigades have an astonishing ratio of artillery to units. 54x 122mm-152mm Gvozdika's and MSTA's to support 3 battalions. Bloody hell, in 10 Para we had 6x 80mm mortars!

We'll have to hope that our stealth aircraft, drones, counter battery technology, satellites and missiles can sniff out and snuff out that heavy artillery to give the PBI a chance of getting out of their dug outs. The winning doctrine in the next round of the stone, scissors, paper game of military history will be a 3 dimensional blitzkrieg from this space and airborne kit - a pincer movement through the air, rather than a pincer movement with an armoured formation on a 2 dimensional flank.

And if that doesn't work, a trench-line from the Baltic to the Med. And I'll be playing football with Alexie in no man's land at Xmas, as I mentioned before.


David, I reckon Brussels is pushing Russia out of Europe, which leads to the mutual loose. The more the Europe (I am not talking about USA at all because 95% of people has been perceiving it as an enemy and as a threat. Nato extention and Yugoslavia bombing have contibuted it a lot) tries to get us under pressure the m less our people perceive it as a direction to go towards (actually they tend to use bad language and I am smoothing it very much now).
I find it ridiculous - Europe is concerned about safety and deems Russia is a threat to the peace but stupidly does not admit that Russia is also concerned about its safety and about the peace. Yet again... Everything would have been different if NATO had kept its promise on not extending towards the East. The west needs safety we need safety - wasn't it the best solution to make up a buffer zone consist of former Warzav treatment states plus baltic states and Finland (which, fortunately, is still out of the alliance)? We wouldn't have had most of problems we have now.
However, I have recenlty read quite a lot of articles on shale gas and tight oil and the more i read the more I get convinced that it also contributes a lot to the current crisis.
Regarding to the economy - the common princip in Russia can be expressed by a proverb: In order the cow to give more milk it is supposed to be milked more often.

Alexey, ninety five percent? Probably no more than fifty percent could even find Europe on a globe, much less know what an enemy is, or is not.

"In my view, the long-term grand strategic enemy of us all is China and given that your country has a huge frontier with it then I want you on *our* side, not against us."

Totally agree with that.

Britain has little or no political traction against the Franco-German axis in the EU. With Russia in the EU we would have a natural ally to even up the balance.

Imagine Russian energy, German manufacturing, British finance, and French, errr, do they still do something in France? - oh yes, cuisine.

From Dublin to Moscow, all the goods, services, capital, and people free to move, to find the best customers, friends, and lovers.

And the Scum of the Earth, Grognards, Heer, and Ivan standing at the borders facing off the Chinese and the Islamists. It would be tempting to say that no-one would fuck with us any more. But actually, we've only ever fucked with ourselves for the last 2500 years, apart from the Mongols and the Islamists, where, as said, there is unfinished business.


Michael, not in the country which lost the cold war

The French are also very "fragrant".

I think Alexey, Michael "might be" making a point not so well illumined (and still under analysis over here) to wit:

We, the 95% Michael refers to seem awfully close to some tipping point, which way it will go no one knows ... likely something in the direction of some variation of, as thought of here "Social Justice" turning at which point those "leading us" will/might take the eye off anything outside "our borders" as its natural focus and turn its mighty focus within.

Should that happen - NATO might well become an even emptier suit than it is at present. Our deterrents have been under some duress in recent years - we risk, we the 5% - know we must spend "without the borders"

There are some significant hints our University aged cohort appears to prefer we increase "expenditures" here. Blissfully unaware that their I-Pods and their very Internet (which makes possible "Facebook Movements" etc ... Arab Spring and with no small irony, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" for instance) are wide open to various more or less malignant influence making the modern world all the more open to, paraphrasing Stormin' Norman and - I think Dickens

The Mother of All Winters of Discontent.

I think we should cut Putin some slack. To the east, he faces over a billion racists ruled by a bunch of unaccountable megalomaniacs. To the south, assorted Islamic fruit cakes. To the west he has the Franco-Germans, who have invaded Russia three times in the last two hundred years. Then there are the Americans with their president, who seems to be keen on destabilising not only his own country but everyone else's. A president who has it seems killed 5000 people with "drone strikes". Actually, I really mean murdered, not killed.

So, let's have some sympathy for the Russians and their president.

BOAE, fair comment - and exactly why Russia would be better off shacked up with Europe and befriended with America.

Then we could apply some governance to the criminals and zap the beardy weirdies with those murderous drones.

And keep our energy costs down irrespective of the whatever the camel shaggers cartel is up to.


How about the Anglo-Americans cutting a deal with Russia? Ukrainian independence to be guaranteed by the USA, UK and Canada and the Russians. Ukraine not to join EU or NATO. Notice who I leave out?

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