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27 August 2014


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Babak Makkinejad

Russia will not do so under ordinary circumstances. Russia is not a friend of Iran and does not consider the development of potential friendly relations with Iran a possibility.

They need Iran to tie US down in the Persian Gulf but not too much...

Reminds me of a joke:

This Iranian governor was receiving a delegations of Russians. His protocol chief asks him: "Should we fire the cannons to salute them?"

And he says: "Yes, but not too loud."

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad, 'walrus'.

It may more sensible to post some observations on PB's response to an earlier comment of mine here. He wrote:

'The question is however how much of a genuine or fundamental difference there is between the representatives of the DPR and the Head of Russia. Or is there some kind of gamble going on, sort of good cop/bad cop routine to maximise benefits that Russia (ans to a lesser extent people in Eastern ukraine might get out of this).'

There are obviously two quite separate questions. One is how far the DPR people and the Russian authorities are actually – even if they may not appear to be 'singing from the same hymn sheet' – in agreement. Another has to do with how far, if they are not, the Russian authorities can push the DPR people.

As regards the former question. Obviously, PB is aware of what 'Colonel Cassad' – aka Boris Rozhin – and also 'the Saker', have been writing. As regards Rozhin, it seems clear that he is a 'Strelkovite', while 'the Saker' appears to be in a state of conflict between a 'Strelkovite' heart and a 'Putinista' head. In answer to the question that PB raised on an earlier thread, this is one of the reasons why I think that 'the Saker' is almost certainly what he claims to be.

According to the version put out by the supporters of Strelkov, at the time he escaped encirclement in Slavyansk, some kind of deal was in the works, in which Surkov was one key participant, and Rinat Akhmetov another, which would have involved abandoning the attempt to defend Donetsk, in return for some kind of autonomy mediated through Akhmetov. As far as I understand it, the 'Strelkovite' version is that this deal was frustrated when Strelkov and his people turned up in Donetsk.

(For Rozhin's version, see http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/what-makes-strelkov-feel-melancholy.html .)

Also of interest here is a recent article on Strelkov by Paul Robinson. An academic now based in Ottawa, between an undergraduate degree at Oxford and further degrees at Toronto and Oxford Robinson spent five years in the (British) Army Intelligence Corps. He knows a lot of Russian military history.

(See http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/putins-right-flank/ .)

A key part of Robinson's argument is that Strelkov and his associates – notably Igor Borisovich Ivanov and Igor Mikhailovich Druz – really do see themselves as 'White Guards', in the tradition of those who fought the Bolsheviks (and the Ukrainian nationalists) in the complex and incredibly bitter civil wars following the 1917 Revolutions.

Among the corollaries of this, according to Robinson, is that while Putin has always wanted a federal solution in Ukraine, this group is implacably opposed to it. While remaining agnostic on the truth of the argument that Surkov was trying to, as it were, stitch Strelkov up, Robinson suggests its dissemination indicates the depth of the distrust the latter's supporters feel for those in control in Moscow.

What Robinson goes on to suggest is that the sidelining of Strelkov could reflect the desire of people in Moscow for a leadership more amenable to deals with Kiev. If this is right, in my view, the press conference given by Zakharchenko raises questions about how far the manoeuvre was successful.

As to how far Putin both wants to, and can, coerce the DPR leadership into accepting that they should remain part of Ukraine, that seems to me very much a question of what Poroshenko can offer. On this I really think a judgement is premature.

However, it seems to me deeply unclear whether those in control of both U.S. and European policy will deploy the kind of pressure that would make it possible for Poroshenko – assuming he wants to – to defy the West Ukrainian ultranationalists whom the 'putsch' back in February put into key power positions.

If the Germans were in control of things, the situation might be different. But frankly, in relation to EU policy towards Russia, it increasingly seems to me that the Poles are now as or more important than the Germans. And the Germans will not, for the forseeable future, challenge the Americans directly, however dotty they think that any 'ukaz' from Washington may be.

Patrick Bahzad

DH, very interesting post and links, thank you for sharing your take on this topic. Hope you don't mind if I'll answer in more detail tomorrow (it's getting late here in "EU country" and I still have to go for my evening jog LOL).
Overall however, what you're saying (or quoting) makes perfect sense to me.
Just a quick side note, regarding the German attitude in this, i wouldn't underestimate Madam Merkel's diplomacy ... She may not look the part but she can be very convincing. And she takes German economic interests very seriously. So while you may see Poland in the driving seat right now, I don't think this is a structural trend. There is a widening gap within the EU as to the Policy to adopt vis a vis Russia and Ukraine, but ultimately it's Berlin (and Paris), not Warsow, that is going to have the final word on this.
As for Poroshenko, he is stuck not only between Donbass secessionists (+Russia) on one side and the ultranationalists from West Ukraine (+their sponsors in the West) on the other, but he also has to deal with various oligarch clans. You mentioned Akhmetov, but he's only one link in one of these clans (Ukraine has at least three other of these groups, each one with people as powerful and influential as Kolomoisky, Yaroslavsky, Lozhkin, etc.)
(to be continued)


While Rassmussen is holding his warmongers party at Cardiff, it would be an interesting time to drop more information on MH 17 in the public sphere.


To Patrick B and David H, thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I sit very far away and cannnot see much of the detail of what is happening and I am not trained or good at analysing the motives of the host of actors in this tragedy.



Interesting happenings today...




PB & DH, thanks for your insights. Looking forward to PB's 'to be continued' regarding the oligarchs and where they all stand.

According to this piece by Pepe Escobar, Merkel is stepping up her game. If she is willing to buck the US, it could make a big (and very constructive) difference. However, as PB has pointed out... given all the different players with different agendas, it's hard to see much order coming out of all this chaos any time soon.

From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key http://rt.com/op-edge/183328-minsk-wales-germany-key/

G. I. Hazeltine

Mr. Makkinejad - With respect, having watched the world with attention since 1961, what could 'not possibly happen' has happened. Would you not agree? More than a few times?

You did not answer my question. Perhaps you are not able to give an informed answer.

Perhaps someone else could..

Patrick Bahzad

Hi all, regarding the ukrainian oligarchs and their importance in the current situation, I'll try and make things simple, even though they're more like the famous onion: you peel off one layer and you got another underneath ...
What has happened in Ukraine since the independence of that country is that groups of oligarchs have gradually taken control not only of the economy but also of the government, both at regional and national level. Anybody in ukrainian politics had (and still has) the backing of one or the other of these powerful clans. There are close links between the "business men" and the politicians, a bit like in a feudal system where politicans have an allegiance to one oligarchical group or the other. In exchange for that, they promote the interests of the group that supports them, each of these groups having in turn close relations with corporations and governments in the West (or in Russia for one of them), which basically make ukrainian politics so difficult to understand and to predict from the outside.
Now the main oligarchical groups are: the "Donetsk" group around Firstly the Donetsk clan - Rinat Akhmetov (main interests mining and steel), this group also includes people like Kolesnikov or Yury Ivanyuschenko. Akhmetov has had an ambivalent attitude since the beginning of the events on Maïdan Square. He has sided - for now - with Porochenko, because his financial and economic interests were threatened by pro-russian groups in the Donetsk area, but most of his companies' trade is done with Russia and he is likely to lose big if there is a restructuring of the ukrainian economy, especially in the wake of the free trade agreement with the EU. He is very concerned about guaranteeing himself a strong powerbase around Donetsk, whose governor he personally chose (that's how the new democracy works in Ukraine !), and that's why he has armed and financed militias groups to fight the Separatists in the East. For him it's not a nationalistic or ideological battle but one of self-preservation. Also part of Akhmetov's clan are men like Boris Kolesnikov, Yury Ivanyuschenko and Sergei Taruta (the aforementioned governor of Donestk oblast).
The second oligarch clan is or rather was the one around former President Yanukovtich. The reason I'm mentioning the ousted President is that some of the other oligarchs in Ukraine backed the Maïdan movement, in particular Pravy Sektor and Svoboda, as a reaction to Yanukovitch "racketeering" practices against them. They were fed up paying large sums of money and decided to have a go at him, obviously they were not alone in this enterprise, but it didn't take much to convince them to give money, as Yanukovitch was the one putting the thumb screw on them through his control of customs, tax and other administrations. To give you an example of how intertwingled this microcosmos is, You have to know that Akhmetov (now firmly with Porochenko) was the main sponsor of Yanukovitch when he got elected ...
The next oligarch group has Dmytro Firtash as his main player. He's in energy production and chemicals and he is the main partner of the Rothschild Banks in Ukraine. I'm just mentioning this to underline that each of these groupe has corporate and government support in the West, but not gonna go further into this, would over-complicate things I'm afraid. Firtash is current under indictement in the US for bribery, and is being held (under bail) in Austria. He claims this is payback for his alleged role in the imprisonment of Julia Timochenko under Yanukovitch (see, Ukraine is a mad house) ...
Next comes the Privat Bank group, under Kolomoiksy. Although he is Jewish, he was behind most of the right wing activists on Maïdan and still is financing some of the most extreme groups. Why ? Because he was the one who was most interested in getting rid of Yanukovitch and his racketeering gang, which cost Kolomoisky lots of money.
There's another less known group around Victor Pinchuk, who is the main sponsor of PM Yatsenyuk. He has close ties to interest groups, corporations and (maybe) government officials in the US.
Finally there's one last oligarch group one should mention: it's the arms/military technology oligarchs , although you could find other more repulsive names to qualify what they do. I'l just mention one name: Leonid Derkatch (and his family). He used to be the head of the SBU, so you can imagine he knows quite a bit about who has done what and when.
So there you go. You have all these groups of very rich people, with personal and collective financial interests, that dictate both their own conduct and the support they give to one political group or another. Porochenko, former chocolate king oligarch, knows that only too well and realizes he has to steer his ship through very rough waters ... On the international stage, all these groups are backed either by governments or huge corporations, like Shell for example, Chevron, or "Rotschild Europe", who compete for various pieces of the ukrainian resources, like rich farming land in the south, or the huge shale gas fields around Kharkov/Donetsk. Now you can imagine that control over these areas has serious implications over who will be awarded the contracts for exploiting those fields in the end.
Just writing this post actually gave me a headache ... ;-)

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