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24 February 2014

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Fred

David,

As you point out it was Nikita Khrushchev who grafted the Crimea into Ukraine. I am surprised that the Russian Foreign ministry did not take the opportunity to follow Obama's hero Lincoln and praise the US for admitting that the policies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in regards to the Crimea and Ukraine were the correct policies and that the United States is now willing to fully back the nation created by the USSR.

(See the Trent Affair for reference)

David Habakkuk

kao_hsien_chih,

While my ignorance of Thailand is complete, your account of its politics rings true. And the general conclusions you draw seem to me of immense importance.

Some scattered observations. Commonly, Western journalists, diplomats etc etc, are prone to assume that ‘liberal city dwellers’ are the natural beneficiaries of ‘democratisation’ in the societies they are, supposedly, trying to understand.

These are the people to whom they generally talk, and this is one reason why time and again they completely fail to understand what is actually happening in these societies. In general, Western journalists, diplomats, etc etc, don’t attempt to talk to a wider selection of people: they haven’t developed the intellectual skills required to do so, even in relation to their own countries, and they find it frightening.

For precisely the reasons you give, ‘modernisation’ may not in fact generate political stability, in that bridging the gulf between ‘liberal city dwellers’ and other groups in the population may be extremely difficult. This is a problem which people in the West in general appear not to wish to face.

However, Ukraine is a special case, in several ways. One element is that Yanukovich does not have a strong basis of popular support. Precisely an element of stability in the situation in Ukraine used to be that the Eastern oligarchs, who dominated the ‘Party of the Regions’, had very strong interests in maintaining an independent and unified Ukraine.

Largely as the result of their – totally delusional – belief that Yanukovich is Putin’s puppet, the U.S. and the E.U. have blown this relative stability apart. How far the Eastern oligarchs will retain serious influence is one of the major imponderables of the current situation.

As to Ms Nuland, and Geoffrey Pyatt, perhaps it would be best if they retrained as elementary school teachers. There are few other professions for which their peculiar combination of arrogant condescension and limited intellectual grasp appears to be an appropriate qualification.

Marco Naccio

Check Haaretz again for the correction. It was not the chief rabbi, but rather a Chabad pretender to the throne. Propaganda.

Thomas

And the loss of Russian energy supplies will do what for the European economy?

groovenoter

Completely distorted and disingenuous read of the situation:
A) the demonstrations are mostly peaceful but the forces behind them have a history of violence;
B) name me one Thai politician and party that isn't corrupt; the Democrat party which is one of the main sponsors of the protests is notoriously corrupt and their main beef with Thaksin is that they cannot replicate his electoral successes. The last Democrat government to run Thailand in over a generation was installed after the 2006 coup;
C) complete falsehood. The anti-Thaksin crowd are angry because they cannot rid themselves of Yingluck and the TPT party at the ballot box; they represent around a 1/3 of the Thai electorate mostly centred around the BKK middle class. They do not have the support of the rural Thais.

The Yingluck government and the police have been bending over backwards to avoid any kind of serious or violent confrontations. The military has not been involved in the situation and the military leadership have been try to maintain a studious if somewhat convoluted distance from the whole mess (please check out the latest statements by the Thai military chief Prayuth Chan-ocha. It's all over the MSM and the internet).

Tyler

Why the hell would I care about the jews?

Do the jews care about the shit Israel is stirring up in the MENA affecting the Christians there?

Joe100

All -


Right Sector seems to be “taking over” Kiev as seen in the following Saker posts
today:

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/02/meet-real-new-authorities-in-ukraine.html

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/02/meet-real-new-authorities-in-ukraine_25.html

Not a pretty picture!

And here is some footage of the "peaceful protesters", likely primarily Right
Sector members -

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/02/combat-footage-from-kiev.html

While Right Sector may see themselves as "true nationalists" from their own perspective, their violent behavior and "strong" views suggest that they are not likely to tolerate conflicting views. And the transitional government is now asking for $35 billion in immediate outside support to avoid default. There are also reports of various forms of US and EU financial support for Right Sector.

So what benefit could possibly accrue to the EU or the US from this mess?

kao_hsien_chih

Well, even with regards to Ukraine, my take is that while the Eastern oligarchs do undergird the coalition supporting Yanukovich, they are also underwritten by a large population that is Russophile, both in their economic and sociocultural outlooks, and skeptical of the West. So, they are rather equivalent of the "rural Thais" in relation to Thaksin's party--even if their role is more secondary. One difference might be that they are invested in relations with Russia, rather than in Yanukovich himself. So, while Yanukovich might be disposible, Russian ties are not.

kao_hsien_chih

We are not talking about years yet. I believe Ukrainian "gov't" asked for something like 30 billion over next few weeks, or they will go bankrupt. If we are speaking of years, we might be talking many hundreds of billions, or even trillions, to prop up a country with gdp of less than 200 billion....

robt willmann

These days, in addition to the prime investigative technique, "follow the money", are the fraternal twins, "follow the debt" and "follow the derivatives". All of them most likely apply, and will apply in the future, to Ukraine which, in an amusing twist, is bankrupt like the government now trying to tell it what to do, that of the U.S.A.

http://www.dw.de/volatile-ukraine-teeters-on-brink-of-bankruptcy/a-17451734

Waiting in the wings, to be "invited" to give "help" to Ukraine, is the International Monkey Business Fund, less accurately known as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If those sharks get into what's next for Ukraine, the "nationalists" and Right Sector who hate Russia will realize that Putin is saintly compared to the IMF.

The first few hours and days after a coup are, of course, critical, as the plotters want to give the appearance of business as usual so that those protesting and feeling the pressure of getting back to their regular lives to survive, will go home and more or less accept the "new order". Sure enough, right away there was Catherine Ashton of the EU sitting there with the "interim president", Oleksandr Turchynov, as pictured in the BBC article in the main post above. I wonder if the sweet Ms. Ashton is familiar with that slippery looking fellow. After all, when being involved in the security service, Mr. Turchynov was accused of ordering the destruction of the case file on the notorious Ukrainian - Russian - Israeli organized crime figure, Semyon Mogilevich, who is presently one of the FBI 10 Most Wanted Fugitives.

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/new-and-conflicting-details-emerge-over-mogilevich-92521.html

http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/semion-mogilevich/view

Russia seems to be first protecting its Crimean naval base and Sevastopol, so that there is no Act Two there of the theatre that played out in Kiev--

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/ukraine-separatism-threat-crimea-russia-naval-port

A few Russian armored personnel carriers are roaming around that area, and the Sevastapol city council appointed a new mayor, a Russian citizen.

I think that Russia does not want to divide Ukraine into two countries, as that would create many more details and problems to deal with, such as drawing a border, protecting the new border, putting together a new governmental structure, if any, for the new country, etc. etc. However, splitting Ukraine would cause a default on all the debt that government has outstanding, and if Russian banks were not too exposed from holding a lot of it, a default would slap the western banks holding that garbage bond debt.

Back on Sunday, 23 February, on the NBC Meet the Press television program, Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, appeared to answer the softball questions asked by the host--

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/susan-rice-u-s-side-ukrainian-people-n36746

She made a big Freudian slip when talking about the agreement signed last week to keep the lid on but did not last very long: "... and that agreement is very consistent with our principles and it's consistent, in fact, David, with where this situation is going. We are going to have a unity government, we are going to have near term elections, we are going to have constitutional reform, and that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people ...."

"We" are going to have a unity government, and near term elections, and constitutional reform? Silly me; I thought it was all being done by and is all up to the Ukrainian people.

kao_hsien_chih

[snark}Haven't you got the memo? We are all Ukrainians. Heck, "we" are more Ukrainian than those silly Slavs in Ukraine because "we" know what's good for them better than they do.... [/snark]

eakens

This Ukraine drama coincides nicely with the US ramping up of LNG facilities and capacity in anticipation of being an exporter of NatGas.

This struggle between the US and RU only goes to highlight how weak Europe really is. The question is what will the EU do now that it has been made crystal clear to them that even they are nothing more than pawns. This is the danger of spending and printing yourself into bankruptcy. A few minutes of self-reflection by our leaders would be appreciated.

Charles I

They already occupy little bits, and the Crimean ports aren't going anywhere.

"Russian troops now control the main access to Sevastopol, the Ukrainian port city that is home to a major Russian naval base, following orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin that put Russia’s military on alert.

A military checkpoint – with a Russian flag and a Russian military armoured personnel carrier and troop transport truck -- was set up on the main highway between the Crimean capital of Simferopol and the naval port of Sevastopol. The checkpoint is north of the city of Sevastopol, and so well beyond the Russian base."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/tension-in-crimea-as-pro-russia-and-pro-ukraine-groups-stage-competing-rallies/article17110382/

Charles I

And Stalin sowed it with deported Tatars

Thomas

Eakens,

Would Europe be able to get new supplies in sufficient quantities to prevent even a short term disruption?

How would the populace respond to this if not?

Ulenspiegel

Here you miss the point: A larger percentage of NG is now traded as LNG, therefore, a share of the Russian exports, which happen via pielines, can be substituted with LNG at a higher price. And LNG production increase happens at a higher rate than demand increase. As some European companies have invested in a pipeline net in the past they prefer (cheaper) Russian NG of course.

OTOH, as Gas and oil are the only menaingful sources for income, a stategy that destroys this income, is self-inflicted pain for Russia.

Worst case is a military invention that led to the destuction of pipelines in Ukraine and forces the customers to get substitutes, this means lost market for Russia, I bet some guys in Ukraine know this very well.

Ulenspiegel

Europe can of course not substitute 100% of the Russian imports within a short time: It is quite easy in electricity generation, much of the NG in electricity generation has already be substituted with coal again.

The storage capacity in Germany is good for around 3 months of demand, however, the pipeline capacity between Lower Saxony and Bavaria is IIRC not sufficient to provide sufficient NG pressure at 100% demand, in February 2012 the high Russian and east European domestic demand has already caused problems in Bavaria: NG powerplants stand idle, Austrian (coal) capacity did the job.

If 100% of Russian import are lost, the problem is of course the heating sector. An short term interruption during summer may be doable, one year interruption with a cold winter would be "interesting" and would of course damage the European economy and would very likely causes thousands of dead people.

The most likely answer would be a crash program to reduce the volume of imported NG, however, the long term loser would be Russia.

Ulenspiegel

Eakens,

some of the export facilities are the answer to the lack of domestic pipeline capacity in the USA.

And do you really assume you pay only 4 $ per mcf because shale gas production is so cheap or the producers are owned by the Salvation Army? How does a LNG facility affects the price in the USA?

The next question for you is: What is the carrying capacity for NG of most European countries? What for the USA? Maybe you loook in the wrong direction. :-)

Thomas

Thanks for the info.

Babak Makkinejad

I think the most likely answer would be that Russia will not cut exports to EU, but others might - such a rump Ukraine.

EU has no energy future outside of Russia - none, zilch, nada.

harry

Marco is right. It was actually Russian propoganda. I apologise for propogating it. And I assume you care for Jews like you care for all people. Its not Jews stirring up the middle east. Its not even Israelis. Its some Israelis.

Cat Mack

Dear Ulenspiegel, I hope you subscribe to comments. Challange accepted.

Have a look at list of countries by median age (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_median_age). Germany is the third oldest country in the world, trailing behind Italy and Japan. For comparison, in 2010 U.K. had median age 3 years less than Germany. This will not stand, though. Over the remainder of 2010s, the Germany will be the fastest aging country in the Europe (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Population_projections). In 2020s, the process will slow down due to increased mortality of old Germans. Countries which lost a sigificant portion of their youth due to emigration in 1990s and 2000s will accelerate their aging to ridiculous levels (Poland, Romania, Spain, Baltics), all while migration sinks (primarly U.K. and Nordics) will stay stable. By 2020, median age in Germany will be 48 years with quater of population already retired.

Can immigration stablize Germany? First, the Eurostat statistics linked above already account for migrants who left their countries by 2011 and their anticipated fertility. The report links to tables updated for 2012, all trends continue. You can find have a look at age-cohort pyramids from http://esa.un.org/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2012_%20KEY%20FINDINGS.pdf at http://populationpyramid.net/ukraine/2015/. Looking through these tables, there are no young people left in Spain for Germany to import. Bulgaria is similar: their demographics collapsed in 90's and there are no young people to export. There are certainly young people left in Romania. Aren't the most mobile of them already in U.K.? As the crisis deepens, I concurr that you might be able to squeeze a couple dozen thousands here and there. But I submit to you that they will be of "lower" quality (or maybe different) compared to more mobile people who already left and did NOT choose to go to Germany.

Ukraine will have a peak of potential emmigrants (demographics 25-29) in 2015. Less so Russia, I suspect that most of that demographic in Russia will be Muslim in a couple of years.

Besides, spending some time in Zurich, I have observed quite a lot of young and enterprising Germans emigrating.

I would be very much interested in your opinion on how Germany can run such a society in couple of years, without some deus-ex-machina solution. I can see Germans going for a modfied T4 euthanasia program in couple of years. Current fertility is irrelevant. All of Central Europe, including Germany, is at 1.3 or lower TFRs. Again, compare this to U.K.: Poles and Romanians living in U.K are at roughly 2.7, Britons themselves at 1.85 or so.

Trying to make the rest of Central Europe unstable to attract migrants is one way Germany can move forward. But I do not thing it will work in the long term.

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