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27 February 2015

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wisedupearly

Sir, I appreciate your clarification that all parties will needed some "profit" if we are procure a peaceful solution. How much will be sufficient? History tells us only that we will never know enough to be able to determine what is the perfect amount. Disappointing but there you are. How much will be sufficient to satisfy the rebels? Definitely much less than the cost of fighting a major European non-peace. On to a far more urgent matter. How much profit do we, the US, need? Is there any combination of "good results" that will keep our elites happy and out of WW3? These are the same elites who have served us so poorly recently and it does not look promising.

b

As a European I see NO way that all EU member states would agree, as necessary, to accept Ukraine within the EU.

Forgetaboutit.

Besides that the question must be asked if becoming a member of the EU would be good fro Ukraine.

The answer, for economic reasons, is no!

Opening the Ukrainian markets would see EU industries rush in and trounce any Ukrainian company. Farming would be the only think left in Ukraine but would be owned by multinationals. All the industrial businesses in east Ukraine would go bankrupt as their market is Russia and Russia can not, and will not, allow open borders with the EU.

The offer (and bribing) to join the EU was rejected by Yanokovich exactly because he could see the economic catastrophe it would cause. Ukraine, said reasonable economic estimates, would need to invest $160 billion in its industries to be EU competitive. It does not have the money. It can't join without further ruining itself.

Misanthrope

The problem with your plan is that it seems to be pretty close to an unconditional surrender by Russia. Not only are you suggesting they should turn over Ukraine to the EU (and by extension to the US) you also seem to be suggesting they should give back Crimea. I can't see the latter ever happening. Moscow has declared that Crimea is now part of the federation. Were they to go back on that, I can't see how anyone would ever take them seriously again. Other parts of the federation would then start thinking that Moscow wouldn't defend them if the going got tough. It would be the end of Russia as we know it.
And what would they get for this act of prostration? Some promises from people who have already demonstrated that they are completely untrustworthy.

Peter Hofmann

Some clarifications about the economy of the ukraine: http://guralyuk.livejournal.com/2002010.html

João Carlos

Dr. Polk

IMHO Greece shows that there is no economic future for Ukraine at EU. EU will want Ukraine have big austerity measures that will bring NO economic growth, just the contrary.

If Russia will accept Ukraine enter EU, the answer is clear. No. Yanukovich had an agreement to join eurasian economic zone with Russia, then US made a coup there (yes, we need tell the truth, sorry), and Russian knew it very well, so Ukraine join EU, as other commenters pointed it, is the same that Russia surrender, and Russia will not surrender.

For now Russia will accept a federalization of Ukraine. If Ukraine joins EU, Russia will start to broke the country at two halfs, and they will make all effort for get Odessa at the east part for give to Ukraine no open access to Black Sea.

With relation to Crimea, there is no discussion too. It belongs to Russia and they will not accept any "cosmetic" agreement about it, so Crimea will never return to Ukraine. And Russia will go to war for Crimea.

It is good to remember that when the Turkey pipeline is completed, Russia will stop to use Ukraine for transport gas to Europe. That is 55% of gas that Russia send to Europe. So, take note, Russia started to try to undermine Europe economically.

By the way, Russia and Cyprus just made a military agreement. I don't doubt Russia will try to make a military agreement with Greece (that is a NATO member!) after Greece get out eurozone. Well, Russia hate the idea that baltic states are NATO members, so they will start to play hard. Very hard.

The train is moving and the only way to stop it is if Europe and US concede more than your plan offer. Russia is moving its economy to China and don't fear a second cold war. Economic sanctions just made Russia resolve go stronger and they saw that Russia counter-sanctions made a huge damage to Europe economy.

confusedponderer

Mr. Polk,
"Ergo, the only feasible agency to advance these goals is the European Union"

Some of my concerns, off the top of my head:

#0.
EU member state Bulgaria is so corrupt that from one point on Europe repeatedly stopped paying development funds payments and subsidies because they would only get lost. Ukraine is very probably much worse.

2008:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/07/23/eu-bulgaria-idUSL23102522720080723

"the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime was not producing results and the Commission had to act to protect taxpayers' money.

"Therefore, the Commission has taken the decision today to formalise this suspension (of aid) and withdraw the accreditation for two government agencies in charge of managing these pre-accession funds,"

2014:
http://sofiaglobe.com/2014/06/04/ec-suspends-million-of-leva-regional-development-funds-payments-to-bulgaria/

"The European Commission has temporarily suspended payments of several million euro in regional development funding for urban development and tourism projects after an audit found problems in management and control of the funds.

Notice of the suspension of the funds was given in a June 3 letter and the suspension will continue until the irregularities are corrected."

#1.
The EU's capability to transfor nations is limited once they are members. The conclusion drawn by the accession of Romania and Bulgaria was that the donkey moves by dangling the carrot in front of its nose, not by having him eat the whole sackful right away. If accession comes to pass, Ukraine will not be granted membership but get accession candidate status.

#2.
Judging by the premature membership of Bulgaria and their record, Ukraine will at the least quarter of a century of state building before it will work. And as for what that means practically:

#3.
Ukraine's culture is corrupt to the core, but at the root of it lies the cleptocratic oligarchs that stole their wealth. For EU membership to work, Europe would need to break the Oligarchs first. Since they are the feudal overlords of Ukraine right now, that would mean replacing the power structure at the top without conquest.

#4.
They perhaps could be bought off, and US and EU multinationals may be more than pleased to pounce, but still. Who'd fill the vacuum? What about popular resentment in case of a buyout? There is no occupation force to help them along as in japan or post-war Germany.

#4a.
I will not delve into my distaste about the EU paying to fix the destruction of war that US indulgence of Ukrainian folly has caused. I am a firm believer in the 'Verursacherprinzip' (i.e. you broke, it you fix it).

#5.
European integration is though legal integration and faithful and voluntary application of Eurpean law. Ukraine's Ministries are corrupt.

#5a.
Ukraine has zero tobacco exports to Australia and join into a lawsuit against Australia at the WTO? Despite Ukraine experting no tobacco to Australia? That's sovereignty to let in practice.

https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds434_e.htm

#5b.
Ukraine's judstice system is corrupt. You believe that integration by law, i.e. transformation of Ukrainian law into European law and faithful execution of these laws will work? As they said in the Army: 'I have seen horses puke ...'

#6.
Who would pay for all that nation building Ukraine? Germany? The German taxpayer? Europe proper? The US taxpayer? What do you think that 40 billion a year for a quarter of a century or so will do to the acceptance of the European model in the member states?

#7.
One of the unmentioned understandings of the EU association agreement was that Ukrainians would not gain freedom to travel into Europe. If they did they'd depopulate Ukraine and flood Europe's labour market. If that was seriously proposed, let alone if it ever happened, the UK would leave the EU.

#8.
What about European values that Ukrainian Nazis now trample? The vanguard of Ukrainian nationalism on the right is so toxic that the EU parliament before the Maidan issued the following statement:

"The European Parliament ,
...
A. whereas the 2011 EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv recognised Ukraine as a European country with a European identity, which shares a common history and common values with the countries of the European Union;
...
4. Stresses that effective cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union can only be realised on the basis of a clear willingness on the part of the Ukrainian authorities to carry out and implement the necessary reforms, in particular that of the legal and judicial system, with the aim of fully adhering to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, minority rights and the rule of law ...

5. Is concerned about the misuse of administrative resources and the system of campaign financing, which fell short of international standards as set by the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) ...

6. Calls on the Government of Ukraine to address the electoral irregularities ...

7. Expresses its concern about the problems relating to the counting and tabulation of votes in a number of single-mandate constituencies ...

8. Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles ..."

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2012-0507+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

toto

This sounds like a very rational way forward.

However, if I remember correctly, this is more or less what the Europeans proposed after Russia seized Crimea, but before the unpleasantness in Donbass.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/land-for-gas-secret-german-deal-could-end-ukraine-crisis-9638764.html

Russian actions since then might be taken as a not-so-polite "no".

confusedponderer

#y.
and yes, the Uklies (and the west) would have to accept the secession of Krimea.

Norbert M Salamon

Sir:
I am greatly impressed by you analysis and additional clarifications.
I agree to many of your points. IMO neither EU nor NATO can be part of the solution for:

1., RF will not accept NATO under any and all circumstances.

2., there is no hope that all of the 28 EU members would look positively to Ukraine's entry -- reflect on Turkey's journey in this respect,
3., The finances necessary for Ukraine to become anything but a failed economy is not in the possible budget of the EU [having a deflating economy and numerous interior financial problems -Greece, Spain etc.]nor is it possible for the US with over 40 million on food stamps.

4.,Even if by some miracle the necessary funds would be available to bail out Ukraine [US, EU, IMF or China]without the precondition that the oligarchs are defanged and economically destroyed with the concurrent elimination of their private armies [by force, if necessary] the end result would be a failed state of kleptocracy - in other words a post "liberated" Libya in the center of EUROASIA.

confusedponderer

correction:

'I am a firm believer in the 'Verursacherprinzip' (i.e. you broke it, you pay for it).'

Patrick Bahzad

First of all, thank you Prof. Polk for your views on the issue and the insight into similarities with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think what is important to understand is that even if both these situations have their specifics, they're also both serious enough to have serious implications on the future of all parties involved, to the point where even peace itself could be at stake.
Regarding your ideas, I think they're basically the expression of common sense and reason: Ukraine only has a future as a State and within Europe, if it can serve as a bridge between East and West (and that includes the US of course). That some people's interests might be different to what common sense dicates it obvious from developments on the ground.
Be that as it may, it's important to work towards a solution by which reason is going to prevail in the long run, while making sure things are not going to get totally out of hand in the short run. That is the fine line we have to walk.
Regarding EU membership as such, as a sort of compensation prize for those who were aiming for NATO integration, but also as the way forward for Ukraine, the idea of membership had been endorsed by both presidents, Yuvchenko and Janukovich.
The procedure for such membership however is long and tedious. Lots of administrative, legal and economical reforms will have to be carried out in Ukraine, which may be very costly to the Ukranian industry in particular. Temporary help packages and financial help will be required in any case, to entertain even the idea of a smooth move into the EU.
It is definitely a process that is going to take years, which might be a positive element for Russia as it would have time to adjust to dealing with a Ukraine that's member of the EU and try and turn this into a win-win situation.
Needless to say, as long as no peace agreement is found, negotiations about EU membership will be put on ice, as the EU does not hold negotiations with countries in war or in protracted situation of civil war. This could be an incentive both for the reformists to shut down the radicals, but also a weapon that the radicals can use against the legitimate Kiev governement. Because of this, it is all the more important to reach a peace deal that accomodates security concerns of all Ukrainians, while avoiding to inflame the situation further with regards to Russia.
The probably most difficult element to manage will be those in the pro-Kiev camp that are hardline supporters of NATO membership, backed by American sponsors. Porochenko, the realists in the political establishment and the civil society in Ukraine will have to stop their unhelpful meddling at some point.
Finally, regarding ratification of Ukrainian membership by current EU member States, this is the last peace in the puzzle of the membership procedure. Ratification method can vary from one country to the other, either by referendum or parliamentary approval. If negotiations can to that stage, it is hardly imaginable that a country will oppose this move.
But you can never discount that possibility, especially in countries where referendums will be organized. Also, EU member States that do or will entertain good relations with Russia at the time of the membership ratification (Cyprus maybe, or Greece, maybe Hungary or Bulgaria) might hold such a Damokles sword not just above the head of Ukrainians but also about the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, attempting to get some sort of kick-back for giving their blessing to this new membership.
But it will be years before we reach that point, so let's not micromanage the issues at stake and try and see the bigger picture instead, i.e. where do we - in Europe - want to be in 15-20 years. Let's not forget that failing to engage Ukraine and offer it some form of deal with the EU, which is for better or worse the only non-military international alliance that is relevant in the world, Ukraine will become a truly failed State with all the dangers this entails both towards the East and the West.

FB Ali

The basic problem with Dr Polk's proposed solution is that there is no trust remaining between Russia and the EU. The latter has shown itself to be a handmaiden of US policy.

Another problem is that under no circumstances will Russia relinquish the Crimea. For them, apart from other factors, it is a matter of national security.

David Habakkuk

CP,

I very much agree with what you say.

A digression, which may head back to some of the points you make.

Something which Oxford University does rather well these days is mafia studies. They have two splendid Italian professors, Diego Gambetta and Federico Varese. Among other things, these have demonstrated that, on occasion, 'rational choice' theory does have its uses, if used with a sensitivity to the contexts in which people actually make decisions.

As Varese put it in his 2011 study 'Mafias on the Move':

'A relatively recent body of research has shown that mafias emerge in societies that are undergoing a sudden and late transition to a market economy, lack a legal structure that reliably protects property rights or settles business disputes, and have a supply of people trained in violence who become unemployed at this specific juncture.'

Turning the argument round, a well-functioning liberal society presupposes legal codes regulating property rights and market exchanges, and state institutions with the capacity to enforce these.

It is also greatly helped by a culture of respect for law, which in turn is more likely when there is a general acceptance that the existing distribution of property is at least approximately legitimate.

That there were formidable obstacles to creating both the institutional and cultural preconditions for a well-functioning market society in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire was something of which intelligent Tsarist statesmen were all too well aware at the time.

One might perhaps also say that a range of features of the Soviet system did not exactly help alleviate these problems (irony alert.)

However, the kind of Western economists from whom the Russian 'reformers' in the 1990s were foolish enough to take advice had simply never reflected seriously on the institutional and cultural preconditions for a well-functioning market economy, and had small grasp of economic history.

Instead, they believed, like Fukuyama, that contemporary Western society was somehow the natural end to human history, and all was required to produce it was to clear away the obstacles presented by the malevolence and stupidity of those involved with the old system.

The fact that such people were dripping with intellectual condescension did not make it easier for them actually to come to grips with the problems involved in exiting from the disastrous communist experiment.

Accordingly, the Russian 'reformers' were encouraged to adopt policies which made already intractable problems very materially worse.

In essence, 'shock therapy' meant that for members of the 'nomenklatura' and outsiders in fortunate positions, 'rational action' was looting: and the proceeds of successful 'looting' could be absolutely astronomic.

As the population at large did not regard the means by which property had been acquired as legitimate, the 'rational' strategy for the looters was then to salt as much as possible of the proceeds away in the West.

Here, they could rely on the assistance of crooked Western experts in money-laundering, and the readiness of Western elites to see particularly unpleasant 'compradors' as bringing 'freedom' and 'democracy' to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

In any case, with something approximating to Lenin's dream of a 'withering away of the State' actually happening, and proving a total nightmare, property rights had to be protected by private force. The new property-holders did not have the option of being benevolent.

Another aspect of this 'withering away' was that the vast military, intelligence, and internal security apparatus of what has been aptly termed a 'counter-intelligence state' was subject to headlong demobilisation.

Accordingly, 'rational action' on part of all kinds of different people led to the creation of what were in essence private security forces controlled by the oligarchs. There was demand, from oligarchs who needed such forces, and supply, from trained people suddenly thrown out of a job, or baited with the temptation of salaries far in excess of those any Russian state employee could command.

And, likewise, 'rational action' led many former members of the military and security services into the service of organised crime. This, of course, is the kind of 'rationality' which refined Harvard economists find a bit difficult to understand. It is all a bit too vulgar, really.

That nothing whatsoever was learned from the shambles which 'shock therapy' produced was amply demonstrated by the enthusiasm of the Bush Administration for simply disbanding the Iraqi army – what in creation did they expect a large force of people with military training and experience suddenly thrown on the scrap heap to do?

All these problems remain serious enough in Russia, but more serious still in Ukraine. To read people lectures on the need for abolish corruption actually gets one precisely nowhere – what is required is a hard-headed look at how far both 'rational' incentives and culture can be changed, and if so how.

Instead of this, however, West Ukrainian nationalists have been encouraged to fall again for the same delusion that afflicted Russian 'liberals' in the Nineties – that simply opting to make some kind of 'choice' in favour of the West would provide a miraculous antidote to the legacies of their history.

The predictable result has been that the disintegration of Ukraine into a 'failed state' – something which has been on the cards for a long time – is now happening, and seems quite likely to become utterly irreversible.

It may be that, as it were, Ms Nuland and her friends have brought Iraq to the heart of Europe -- although, alas, with a great deal of cooperation from Europeans.

confusedponderer

Another afterthought - assuming that Europe can do it (and actually I believe they could, in principle) - would the US be able to restrain themselves for as long as that will take?

I am specifically thinking of folks like Viccy 'Fuck the EU' Nuland around, who appear to have their very own ideas about what should happen in Ukraine.

confusedponderer

And I am speaking purely politcally. In the US Ukraine is treated as a domestic political issue and pols are running to position themselves as to not be weak on Ukraine.

I believe that McCain's lady friend Lindsay is pondering so loud on running for office specifically as to push his competitors to the right on matters like Ukraine.

Dubhaltach

I echo confusedponderer above.

Further I see very little consideration - to put it mildly, of the interests of the EU's citizenry in this.

May I also point out that accession of new members requires referenda in current member states.

As I have no desire to see yet another viciously and monstrously corrupt sinkhole joining the EU I can assure you Dr. Polk that the moment the proposal is mooted I will start campaigning energetically against.

The Government of the USA were and remain prime movers in this mess Dr. Polk. You broke it you fix it and you pay for fixing what you broke. It'll probably cost a bit more than the US$5 billion that your government admits to having spent to subvert the country to start off with but thems the breaks.

Dubhaltach.

VietnamVet

Sir,

It is a breath of fresh air to read a rational plan to get us of this mess and save mankind. I also agree with the comments. Hopefully the pull back of heavy artillery from the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine continues and this gives time for sanity to return to return to the world. But, there are two problems. Europe has to divorce itself from the transnational elite and govern for the benefit of the people. That means returning sovereignty to the states and the waning of NATO and Eurozone. Secondly, there is the USA. Joe Biden (VP) has appointed himself as Viceroy of Ukraine and his sons as princelings. The multi-nationals will not give up plundering foreign riches and war profits without a fight.

confusedponderer

"However, the kind of Western economists from whom the Russian 'reformers' in the 1990s were foolish enough to take advice had simply never reflected seriously on the institutional and cultural preconditions for a well-functioning market economy, and had small grasp of economic history. "

Amen.

I strongly, very strongly, recommend Bruce Scott's work. He stresses, and stresses, that capitalism is a ***system of governance***, and not a bloody holy market that magically governs itself.

The Concept of Capitalism, by Bruce R. Scott
ISBN-13: 978-3642031090
ISBN-10: 3642031099 Edition: 2009th

His analogy is organised sports, take football - in which you get the NFL that sets the rules, the sportsment and the referees that sanction misconduct. He emphatically stresses that THE PLAYERS DO NOT MAKE THE RULES.

In Ukraine, to stay in the analogy, they did. In Russia Putin reasserted NFL authority over the game.

When in the US regulators maintain that it is not their job to regulate Wall Street because the market will self-regulate that's a sign of rot.

When they then are not tarred and featherd and run out of town for saying so openly that shows that the rot is not merelyy superficial.

It also suggests that in the US there is little actual awareness what their vaunted caputalism actually is about, or perhas was about, once, back in the day when governance was taken serious. Back in the day before the idiocy of 'The govetrnments that governs least is the government that governs best' ...

William R. Cumming

Extremely interesting additional comments [claifications?]!

My problem comes down to defining and analyzing the Ukraine as a modern nation-state. Is it or isn't it?
What are the arguments either way?

Charles I

Seems like common sense, least bad of any workable option, but its not going to happen. Russia is not giving up Crimea and there will desultory fighting until they have their little southern land bridge. Through which they will divert the bulk of energy exports.

That this may lead to a failed state and permanent chaos on their border is still viewed from the east as fruits of a plot and proof of perfidy rather than a future cost they are responsible for. Russia will only negotiate for real gains, token concessions, especially of territory in hand. A cosmetic fix maintaining some kind of federalized Ukraine in its present borders is lipstick on a pig that ain't gonna fly, even within Ukraine.

And then as if the EU with or without U.S. and/or Nato is capable of funding and nation building Ukraine. Friday it saved Greece for four whole more months - just into the 3rd quarter, wow. I take that as a sign that sell in May, go away is going to be good advice this year, but not as evidence of any nation building capacity.

As well, for whatever reason fighting the terrorists seems more newsworthy than avoiding nuclear war and fixing Ukraine to everybody's specs. Many above noted EU members leery of another eastern influx from less developed economies and legal cultures, but they're marching in the streets of Paris against the jihadis/ISIS. Although if we had any smarts we'd attempt the least worst settlement it tout suite so we can focus on ISIS.

If Ukraine couldn't sort out their minorities problems by politics or other means, and can't defend themselves, it seems they must compromise - even the almost unconditional surrender demanded above of Russia and the rebels as noted above, except reversed.

Or buffalo us into fighting a war there, not even the second least worst option, as again, it seems agreed we are already going to ramp up on ISIS.

confusedponderer

The classic 'three element' formula by Jellinek that they treat you with when you study law in Germany in the first semester is this:

* One territory, with clearly defined borders
* with a core population
* governed by a state authority

That is very general, but still useful:

IMO the problem in Ukraine arises over fundamental matters of identity.

One of the problems with Ukraine is that the western Ukrainian nationalists hold that there is nothing Russian in a distinctly western Ukrainian (Galizian?) ethnicity, and that, if anything, they were heroes in fighting the Russians and victims of Russia tthough the Holodomor and subsequently communist occupation/administration.

There also is an insistence that the Holodomor was a horror rivalling (if not much worse in their view) the Holocaust inflicted deliberately and not merely the result of blundering central planning.

And while at it, Ukrainian conplicity in Nazi war crimes or the holocaust - that's all commie propaganda. Paul Himka's is quite illuminating on this.

They have consequently rewritten history to reflect their preferrences.

In my impression of Ukraine, over that basic question there is no consensus of the governed.

As a result of that basic disagreement abiout what sort of state Ukraine is ethnically there came fissures, which now question both the sate authority (Ukraine arguably doesn't exercise any, nor governance) and borders in places like Donbass.

Andrey Subbotin

To a Russian, the idea that Ukraine joins EU but promises not to join NATO translates as "They lie and will accept it into NATO a few years later, just like they did with Germany and Kosovo". I see no way to make this promise credible.

The second problem that the author does not even mention is the fate of russian-speaking population. The current Ukrainian-nationalist government is committed to the same program of de-russification that is in effect in Baltic states - Russian-speakers are to be 2nd class citisens, they are not allowed to have effective political representation, they are under constant pressure to de-russify, cannot have good education in russian, cannot have career, their children are indoctrinated in schools etc. We cringe but endure it in baltics, but Ukraine is just too large. Without some kind of regime transformation that guarantees ethnic Russian rights we cannot have good relations with current Ukraine.

anna-marina

Thank you. A minor addition: There could be no viable economic reforms without law enforcement. Actually, this is a very expensive proposition. For those habituated to a functioning legal system, the idea that economic prosperity needs more than change of government and presence of managerial skills is not easy to contemplate. The greatest problem for the former Soviets states has been the creation of a strong egalitarian judicial system that works consistently. Such system requires a lot of money and expertise.
As for a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis, such solution is not in the interests of its designers. The neocons need a festering bloody wound on a Russian border as a pretext for punishing the Russian Federation with economic sanctions (illegal) and draining her resources for a support of refugees from Ukraine in Russia as well as for the suffering population in east Ukraine. The unforgivably childish parlance of the US representatives--the demonization of Russian president and the disinformation and lies re Ukrainian conflict--only emphasize the US' determination toward achieving the neocons' goal of crashing and dismembering the "regional power" which possesses too much valuable mineral resources and which has been getting too much political capital.
How come that the country that used to be an aspiration for those living in totalitarian states, has been losing its moral authority be means of intellectual pettiness and moral depravity... It is depressing to compare the giants of the American revolution with the intellectual and moral dwarfs in the current Congress.

anna-marina

It seems that creation of a failed state in the heart of Eurasia was the goal of the $5bln investment announced by Mrs. Nuland-Kagan.

Norbert M Salamon

In reply to Mr. Cumming:

IMO there is a similarity of Ukraine to Sadam's Iraq, to Tito's Yugoslavia with respect that all had the appearance and characteristic of a nation state [if we consider that Ukraine SSR was a legal entity] -as long as a strong ruler [be it Khrushchev or someone else] managed to hold the diverse religious, cultural or linguistic groups in enforced peace. There is a similarity to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, also, where numerous minorities co-existed.
However, in all the cited countries it took a small spark [Sarajevo] or foreign meddling to produce chaos.

So I respectfully suggest that Ukraine is not a nation state at the present. There is fracture from Russian speakers in the East, Hungarian descendants in the West [Hungary gained over 100 000 new citizens from Ukraine in the past 12 months]the Crimean group in the South, with Polish influence in the North-East, plus small odds and ends all over. All ruled in theory by a criminal oligarch [as revealed by Snowden documents of US] who has very little actual power, being a slave of US policy helped along by a Finance Minister freshly out of US government bureaucracy - and somewhat opposed by the ambitious Yats. Ms. Nuland's protégé.

I do not know if the pieces could be put together along Mr. Putin's aim of a loose federation. This would require a strong leader interested in the welfare of all citizens who is capable of taming the various members in present ruling clans.
The above can only occur if the USA gets away from any meddling in East Europe.

anna-marina

A rather lengthly outline of Russian grievances:
http://rt.com/op-edge/235807-fascism-mideast-ukraine-neo-nazi/

Patrick Bahzad

Think the genuine goal was nato expansion. You don't need 5 bn USD to make Ukraine a failed state !

OIFVet

Dear Confused Ponderer, I was born in Bulgaria and I do not disagree either with your characterization of it as corrupt or with the rest of your analysis. Something to keep in mind though: for the EU and the US, corrupt native elites are not necessarily undesirable reality. Such elites are easy to buy and to control, and for a relative pittance.

In support, some perspective on the suspension of development funds in June of 2014: this was announced at the height of EU's push to force perceived weak link Bulgaria to suspend its agreement on the construction of South Stream, and a week before McCain and two other US Senators visited Sofia to apply pressure on the government to suspend work on South Stream. The economic and political pressure exerted on the government of Bulgaria succeeded, the then-PM announced the suspension of South Stream. Consequently his government resigned and was replaced with a more desirable government (from EU/US POV). The current government is headed by PM Borissov, whom US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks accused of having ties to organized crime and drug/tobacco trafficking. The same Mr. Borissov once bragged, publicly, that he is "CIA's man in Bulgaria". The current foreign Minister, Mr. Mitov, is a anti-Russia hawk who spent a long time on the payroll of the National Democratic Institute. "The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is an organization created by the United States government by way of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to channel grants for furthering democracy in developing nations."

I think this provides a pretty good idea about what happened in Bulgaria last summer: a quiet regime change related to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and the replacement of one set of corrupt elites with another set of corrupt elites that are closer to the US/EU than their predecessors. Corrupt foreign elites are simply a tool in the arsenal of democracy and freedom...

ToivoS

testing

turcopolier

toivoS

testing what? pl

anna-marina

Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of opposition to Putin, was killed in Moscow, near Kremlin. It is hard to imagine that the Russian president was interested in this murder considering both his approval rating and demonization of him by western MSM
Here is an article from Saker: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2015/02/breaking-news-false-flag-in-moscow.html

Imagine

I strongly confirm Mafia theory. Orlov's "Five Stages of Collapse" examines this rather well. When Kiev becomes insolvent and unable to fund its cronies, the warlords, already de facto city-state barons, will reign supreme. Thus a new Time of Warring States. We already have this at a moderate level; it is the course of nature; get used to Mafia warlords at a large level real soon.

Dubhaltach

In reply to Andrey Subbotin 27 February 2015 at 04:14 PM

"To a Russian, the idea that Ukraine joins EU but promises not to join NATO translates as "They lie and will accept it into NATO a few years later, just like they did with Germany and Kosovo". I see no way to make this promise credible."

What I am hearing from my Russian friends is very similar. Like you they see no way to make Western promises credible an issue sedulously ignored in Dr. Polk's essay.

The US and its allies have no credibility with my Russian friends because as you put it "They lie and will accept it into NATO a few years later, just like they did with Germany and Kosovo" To say nothing of the lies they told about Poland and the Baltic Republics and the lies they continue to tell about the missile systems stationed in those countries.

And that's before we get into Ukraine's strategic role. When they look at what has already been done in Ukraine by the US Government and its allies why on earth would any Russian government believe one word from either the Americans or the Europeans about their intentions towards Russia? I don't have one Russian friend or contact not even one who is not of the opinion that the next target is Russia itself.

There's a repeated history of Western powers invading Russia - whether it was the Teutonic Knights and the Sword Brothers, the Swedes under Charles XII, the French under Napoleon, the Poles in 1919, and the Germans in 1939. Now Western powers (including a reunited Germany) are trying to establish a dominant presence in Ukraine and to seize the initiative so that a Russia that they see as weak and vulnerable can only react by doing what they tell it to. Or what? What will they do if Russia disobeys? Seen from Moscow the answer to that is I suspect very clear indeed.

Dubhaltach

Dubhaltach

In reply to anna-marina 27 February 2015 at 09:34 PM

I was talking to a Russian friend of mine when news of his murder broke.

His reaction consisted of one word:

"Good"

That particular friend is one of the kindest and gentlest people I know. So I did some quick digging. Just three highlights:

Nemstov was deputy prime minister under Yeltsin.

He was allied to US Senator Ben Cardin, co-sponsor of anti-Russian sanctions (Magnitsky Act).

Closely allied with current Kiev regime and a frequent visitor to Kiev.

I see from your link that the Saker is saying his murder was a "false flag" aimed at causing problems for President Putin. I suppose that is possible but if so it seems to me that it will rally Russians further to Putin's side and not away from him.

Dubhaltach

Imagine

We need to be clear on our objectives.

#1 is to prevent a nuclear exchange with Russia.

#2 is to prevent a hot war with Russia.

Nowhere on this list is "saving Ukraine as a state" or "saving Ukraine's economy" or "saving Ukraine's people".

Thus, a satisfactory outcome for American people would be to let Russia have its way with the Ukraine: treacherously declare peace, diabolically force a cease-fire on the brave Nazi brown-shirts, and evilly maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine into a federation of Ukrainian states (Russia STILL has not recognized NovoRussia as a country).

As even Pres. Obama has acknowledged, if Russia really wanted to annex the gaping basket case that is Ukraine, tanks would be in Kiev in three days and there is nothing, zero, squat anybody would be able to do about it. Just like if WE really wanted to annex the gaping basket case that is Mexico, there is NOTHING that Russia could do to prevent us from taking all that delicious land and oil.

Russia is NOT going to annex greater Ukraine for pretty much the same reasons America is not going to annex Mexico. It would be a strong net negative (read: terminally stupid).

However, even if they DID, in the worst case imaginable, even if Russia completely took over Ukraine it would still mean NOTHING to the strategic interests of the American people. Just like even if we completely took over Iraq, or Afghanistan, it means squat to the Russian people.

Why all the sturm und drang then?

Personal interests.

--Poroshenko has a cottage industry of "Russian Invasion" going. Every time he cries Wolf, he gets paid $10B++.
--NATO has a cottage industry of "Russian Invasion" going. Every time they cry Bear, they get paid billions. It is an existential threat to NATO NOT to be at war with Russia.
--Poland ditto
--Warlord/Mafia lord Kolomoisky is an incredible strategist, he has already displaced over a million people in just one year. His battalions have been blessed as National Guard and given nation-state-level military equipment. He has not run out of money as others have. Cease-fires and massacres mean nothing to him, he has resources and patience. He will continue with his goals until he de facto owns the oil fields of East Ukraine for free.
--Joe Biden early chose to back Kolomoisky. He has billions of dollars of upside, and no discernible downside. Biden is willing to fight and ethnically cleanse Novorussians to the last woman and old man in the Ukraine. He is being successful in it.
--Robert Kagan is so smart, he is not even noticed on the battlefield.
--America has had a decade of mutually-beneficial and cordial relations with Russia. Vicky Nuland's surface goal was to take this down, stick her thumb in the eye of Russia, help overthrow the gov't of Ukraine in a guided coup, start an ongoing anarchy on the doorstep of Russia to bait it into a war justifying a NATO invasion, create a firebomb of a failed state next to Moscow, and reassert American dominance and hegemony in the region. Apart from the hot war with NATO, she has incredibly achieved all of her surface objectives. Who could have believed it?
--Nuland's deep objectives are unknown, whether this involves America uber alles dominance, or allowing Israel to "cut the grass" in Gaza unnoticed, or establishing a new Israel in the Ukraine, or even a reverse takeover of Russia by the Israeli mafia. Or getting promoted should a job opening occur. Or simply the satisfaction of a job well done, making Russkies homeless. More exploration is in order here.
--McCain early on backed the Nazis, but has not been heard from recently. In the unlikely event he is against ethnic cleansing of peasants, he could be an interesting ally.
--Rice must be pulling some strings somewhere.
--Feinstein is a dark horse. Arguably the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, she still seems to have some decency: she spoke out against Gitmo.
--Kerry is a wild card. Is he smart enough to get Burisma funds funneled through his financial adviser Devon Archer, and thereby maintain plausible deniability? Or is smoke being blown up his nose? Putin, of Kerry: "It was unpleasant and surprising for me--we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he is lying and knows he is lying. It's sad."
--Pres. Obama is also a wild card. He has promulgated some of the lies spread by the State Dept. Is this premeditated, or have his information channels been clogged? How badly does he want to bomb Syria / Iran / Russia? I have to believe that he does not want nuclear war with Russia. He seems to be standing against Netanyahu to close a peace deal with Iran, there is some hope. There is a 30% chance that he is ignorant of the ethnic cleansing and depth of the Nazi situation. It is worth pursuing. If so, this could provide a wedge of leverage.

Someone is trying to wipe out Russia with the sanctions. These are rightly seen as economic warfare. Russia doesn't care a fig about you offering to lift sanctions you capriciously put in place in the first place ("Hey, nice country you got there...shame if it were to burn down...") nor "helping" it with its devalued currency vs. the dollar; it already understands someone is trying to kill it, and has pivoted to China and India while America hires Nazis and liver-eaters. But that's just my opinion; ask them.

Also of note is the Western media has been subverted. When a pregnant-looking woman is strangled, when a half-nude rape victim is burned to death with gasoline in the Odessa massacre and it only rates a one-line "some people died" mention at the bottom of paragraph 8, you know that there's some serious organization that's been accomplished to keep the narrative in line. This must be kept in mind.

With these stacked against, it is an uphill battle to get the American oligarchs to climb down from their stomp-and-grind, then-kick-out-their-teeth position.

I repeat: Uk. joining the EU will solve none of these sources of initiative/power flow, and so will resolve nothing. It would make a war involving NATO more likely. It is not going to happen, though, for practical and strategic reasons. Any more than America will annex Mexico to clean up its drug lord slums. So this is a non-starter, a waste of precious time.

There is still an outside chance that some American leaders' positions come from different reality-tunnel perceptions. This is well described in Oshry's "Seeing Systems", which is well worth reading. Dr. Polk, you are wise enough now to be able to recognize the meta-patterns, the "terrible dances" to war. First comes smoke, then comes the flame--screaming and yelling, lunging for the kill, THEN the buffalo stampede off the hill. Easy to see after five or six times.

when there is still sincerity on our side, perhaps with Obama, with Kerry, or even Feinstein, then sitting down and describing the situation vividly and sincerely until it actually gets THROUGH can bring a transformation. Then you laugh, to break the spell, and everyone says "What A Fiasco!".

Then you both sit down on the SAME side of the table, put the problem situation on the table in front of you, and say NOW. What are WE going to do about this, TOGETHER?.

This is what Putin did with Merkel and Hollande.

You can only do this with people who have a shred of integrity and sincerity left in them, however.

I have hopes for Mr. Obama, and Sen. Feinstein. Also, the American public.

The oligarchs will divert 60% of any foreign aid that would get sent to Ukraine, so barring divine intervention, Ukraine pretty much is a lost cause. But even if Kolomoisky and Biden triumph in ethnic cleansing, worst case, as long as we avoid nukes or an all-out war with Russia, it counts as a minor win for America. Keeping eyes on this prize, then:

Suggested Action Items
----------------------
1. Send out a media blitz, including articles, viral YouTube videos, about the horrors, patterns, and likelihood of nuclear war. Someone can interview Dr. Polk, and record the benefit of his experience with actual scenarios. Get FAS to speak. Perhaps Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton could be brought in on this. Powell and his Doctrine. At least get Charlie Rose. Another talking point / center of focus is the "Reverse Cuban Missile Crisis" meme.

2. Send a camera crew over to East Ukraine and start gathering footage of homes wiped out, or the million people displaced and now half in refugee camps. Put together a story of the skinheads getting paid to stomp people. Tell the story of Right Sektor and the Social Nationalist's rise to power. Something that the President or a Senator can watch.

3. Interview the key players (listed above). "Know not yourself and know not your opponent, the situation gives danger every time." Find out what their positions, preferences, perceptions, and values are. What are they REALLY trying to accomplish?

PPP,PP-PP. Without this foundation for a synthesis, there is insufficient information to craft a solution that has any hope of sticking.

4. Armed with a first-hand statement of purpose from each of the key drivers, see if there is any daylight for explanation of misunderstandings or miscommunications. Take advantage of overlap in actual (not professed) interests, and lock in areas that are easy to agree on. One of these should be No nuclear wars.

(Ukraine being neutral and not joining NATO was agreed on a long time ago, a "pie-crust promise--easily made, easily broken" by America and Ukraine. There should be no compensation for re-affirming this. It will have little credibility. If you think it might help, go for it.)

Remember, "change your thinking, and change your life" [your destiny]. Emphasis on YOUR. Not THEIR. If you are able to get some of our American oligarchs to wake up, this could completely dissolve the situation. You're not going to change the Russian way of thinking, and you don't need to. What you need to do is to slightly change the American way of thinking--get leaders to remember our strategic interests, put the country first instead of their own personal vendettas/agendas. Peace is cheaper than war. If you can open the eyes of our leaders, have the scales drop from their eyes, show them that thirty pieces of silver is really quite a high price to pay for America's destiny, then there is hope of achieving the prize.

Thank you very much for your informative columns.
Please kindly read Oshry's "Seeing Systems" about the patterns of conflict and peace negotiations.

William R. Cumming

Thanks CP as always!

Two questions:

1. Were there Pograms against Jews in the Ukraine historically before WWII invasion by the Germans?

2. How many Kulaks starved to death or transported by STALIN before WWII lived in the Ukraine?

William R. Cumming

Is it accurate that most Greek realty is owned by foreigners and few of those pay taxes?

William R. Cumming

Many thanks NSM! And your comment agrees with my understanding.

Do you know whether the Ukraine ever had an "official" language or was bilingualism just tolerated but not "official"?

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think the analogy of the relationship between US & Mexico to that of Russia and Ukraine obtains.

The most important differentiator is that Ukraine was ruled for 300 years from Moscow.

Her borders, indeed the borders of all former Soviet Republics are accidents of historical development; Stalin bowing to the wishes of Lenin who wanted to create a structure which could legally be expanded to include Germany, Italy etc. after socialist revolutions in those countries came to pass.

Stalin wanted to make them all internal provinces to the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.

I think we are witnessing the beginning of the re-absorption of Ukraine into Russia; massive ties of blood and religion and history cannot be altered so drastically and so quickly.

William R. Cumming

My understanding is that the EU is unofficially putting clamps on immigration from MENA of followers of Islam! My question may seem unrelated but East of the URALS I understand there has been ongoing a precipitous rise in the undocumented Han-Chinese population!

What do we know about office EU and Russian immigration policy NOW?

Does Russia allow dual citizenship? Does the Ukraine? My understanding is that legal and illegal immigration to the EU from Russia and the Ukraine is huge but not well documented. And emigration of Jews to Israel from Russia and the Ukraine only a small trickle.

Is there any good open source analysis of any of this?

confusedponderer

1. Re progroms - there were some I understand. This ought to be a decent starting point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_Ukraine

And as for WW-II itself - the 1942 Lviv pogrom stands out for having been idigenously instigated and carried out by forces close to or identical with Bandera's OUN-B - German occupation authorities were bystanders.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/to-see-what-ukraines-future-may-be-just-look-at-lvivs-shameful-past-9178968.html

https://www.academia.edu/1314919/The_Lviv_Pogrom_of_1941_The_Germans_Ukrainian_Nationalists_and_the_Carnival_Crowd

2. Re death count of forced colletivisation in Ukraine - I would need to read more about that.

The Holodomor took place in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic between 1932 and 1933. The Wiki estimate is that it killed an estimated 2.5-7.5 million Ukrainians.

Galizia and the Bukowina in today's western Ukraine, and current hotbed of Ukrainian nationalism was unaffected because they were at the time part of Poland.

I think these are a good starting points:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor

https://www.academia.edu/499209/The_Holodomor_in_the_Ukrainian-Jewish_Encounter_Initiative

3. And an addition of my own - on Ukrainian oligarch business practices, to shed some light how exactly Ukrainian Oligarchs became as wealthy as they are:

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Corporate%20Raiding%20in%20Ukraine_0.pdf

This is not a place you want to invest in a joint venture.

William R. Cumming

Thanks very much CP!

ToivoS

I posted a response to the professor's article that failed to appear. Just checking to see if something was broken.

anna-marina

Agree. I meant a creation of a version of Iraq in the heart of Eastern Europe.

David Habakkuk

CP,

On the 'Holodomor', it is interesting to glance at what was I think the only significant on-the-ground reporting at the time, that done by the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, which is now all available on the net.

(See http://www.garethjones.org/ .)

I must confess a personal interest, in that Jones was the son of the headmaster at my father's school, the grammar school at Barry in South Wales, where my grandfather was secretary of the local Education Committee.

So when in 1933 Gareth Jones described what he had seen in Ukraine to the chapel my family attended, they were in no doubt he was telling the truth. The experience had a formative influence on my father's attitude to communism, and accordingly, indirectly, on mine.

To see the words 'Hero of Ukraine' at the top of the main page of the website was, however, disturbing.

What I think has happened is that the work of Gareth Jones has been exploited by nationalists from Galicia – who experienced a great deal of other forms of Stalinist brutality, but not the 'Holodomor' – to attempt to create a unified Ukrainian identity.

This is to be based on the premise that what was at issue was a genocide waged by Russians against Ukrainians.

In fact, in much of Ukraine the legacy of the traumatic past pulls people in conflicting directions. A perhaps extreme example is a lady of my acquaintance who comes from near Lviv. Her paternal grandfather was a kulak, who went out into the street in Smolensk shortly after the onset of 'Operation Barbarossa', and was never seen again. His daughter ended up living in a hole across the Volga from Stalingrad, making shells.

After the war, as Smolensk was rubble, a relative in the NKVD pointed her towards Lviv. Here she married a Ukrainian railwayman, who had a close relative who had been in the SS Galizia Division.

Most of the time, she is a vociferous Ukrainian nationalist. But then I vividly remember her, after a (good) few drinks on New Year's Eve a few years back, singing us songs the Red Army soldiers sang during the war.

When people have been victims alike of Stalin and Hitler on the scale that was the case with many in Ukraine, it is not surprising that the past pulls them in different directions.

What is however damnable about the use of the work of Gareth Jones is that the clear purpose is to suggest that the 'Holodomor' was not part of a general assault on the peasantry throughout the Soviet Union, but a manifestation of Russian hatred towards Ukrainians.

That his is not what he believed is clear from the press release Jones issued after his return from Ukraine. In this he wrote:

''I walked along through villages and twelve collective farms. Everywhere was the cry, There is no bread. We are dying. This cry came from every part of Russia, from the Volga, Siberia, White Russia, the North Caucasus, and Central Asia. I tramped through the black earth region because that was once the richest farmland in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves what is happening.''

(See http://www.garethjones.org/overview/mainoverview.htm .)

Imagine

I got it. Of course. Free Range Chicken (freerange.com) is the top activist marketing & animation studio who actually gets it. These guys are enlightened and on fire. Founder Jonah Sachs literally wrote the book on Winning the Story Wars (http://freerange.com/thinking/post/lessons-in-brand-storytelling-from-winning-the-story-wars). They launched nuclear Global Zero. These guys make Superbowl-quality PR campaigns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2doFTYLK2q8 on shoestring budgets. The sign-language-using orangutan using Skype to video-chat with the little girl, from his rain-forest home about to be destroyed, gives a Wait, What? Did I really see that? moment. http://freerange.com/work/movies They WILL get your message across.

They are worth whatever you can pay them. They do work for several foundations, including the Kaiser Foundation, and so may even be able to help you raise money. They have done pro bono work but you should not make them do so. If nothing else, there is Kickstarter.

Focus on your #1 goal, which is preventing nuclear war.

And this is your main claim to fame, that you've successfully done so in the past. After you've done a Free Range viral video, a potential next step is to spend the next six months getting famous for your past deeds, turning into a Somebody. Then, this will give you a platform from which to launch the rest of your message. I never heard of Dr. William Polk, director. But when you are The Guy Who Helped Stop The Cuban Missile Crisis, the public, and decision-makers, will actually listen to what you have to say. (The Jessups at P.R. agency http://www.platformstrategy.com can help you with this for around $4K/month; there may be better ones I don't know.) Then you can stop nuclear war; prevent large-scale war with Russia; and save Ukraine, too.

I would start with FreeRange.com, they are effective, enlightened, and they can give you the results you want in the fastest time.

Piotr, Poland

Murdering Nemtsov exactly in the Day of the Special Forces (ie KGB/FSB festivity day) 2 days before big opposition march in Moscow and a week before publicing Nemtsov's Report on Russian dark matters in Ukrainian War is absolute accident, of course :-)

Maybe you can think so, but Russian opposition read it as the clear signal: shut up and be seriously afraid of Kremlin. You could be the next ones!
Are they stupid scaremongers? Really?

And after Starovoytova,Politkovskaya and Litvinenko killings you can still believe "its hard to imagine the Russian president...etc"?

Wake up! It is old Bysanthine style of removal of political opponents broadly practiced in Russia!

BTW Saker is only one level smarter Service A (Russian international information/disinfomation intelligence service)collaborator than those from
Savushkina Street 55:

http://kioski.yle.fi/omat/at-the-origins-of-russian-propaganda


Imagine

Confirm Muslim EU immigration lowered. I found little mention of Han Chinese in the Urals region; however, Russia and China are building a transcontinental railroad, and so diffusion is expected. Smart and rich Ukrainians have already left the Ukraine; Kol' is a dual citizen with at least Israel. Poor NovoRussians have fled to Russia and are now refugees; Russia is reforming its refugees regulations & infrastructure to accommodate these. Also, Poroshenko will soon face a popular revolt, so seems preemptively attriting able-bodied soldiers, esp. Right Sektor. And, IMHO, the present Jewish influx matters less than the future aspirations of Kolomoisky and Nuland.

Piotr, Poland

"His reaction....Good"

Nemtsov's Report described the Sochi Olympics as the biggest swindle in Russian history.
Sochi costed 50 billions of USD! Much more than any Summer or Winter Olympics in history!
Nemtsov showed the directions where most of the "Olympic" money disappeared.

Such politician was very inconvenient to many in today's Russian reality, especially to Putin's cronies enriched on Sochi's contracts

And accepting murder as a legitimate way of getting rid of other people ("Good") tells more about who your friend really is and about contemporary state of mind in Russia, than thousands of scientific papers....

anna-marina

There is an absolute certainty in your accusations. But the Russian opposition (to Putin) would not agree with you. " ...all the leaders of this opposition have so far made very moderate and reasonable statement and all those which I have heard have apparently dismissed the notion that the Kremlin was behind the murder." http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2015/02/good-news-out-of-russia-even-non-system.html
By the way, your description of the Russian opposition is insulting. There are brave people that could not be intimidated.
As for the revelations of the Nemtsov Report, they were pre-empted by Lebedev's (Russian oligarch in exile) publication that presents Kremlin's contingency plan in case the US embarks on regime change in Kiev.
What is unusual about such plan?
You do not need to poor dirt on Saker. First of all, he does not belong to MSM owned by a few corporations; he is an honest person. Moreover, there are other great analytics (see honorable Polk above) that can explain you the basis for the ardent interests of the US in the affairs of the distant Ukraine.

Charles I

Dunno about about Greek ownership or foreign tax evasion off the top of my head, except every tax man goes after the nearest, weakest low hanging fruit when it comes to non-voluntary enforcement.

Obviously Greece has a fair bit of institutional incompetence and the corruption that alone causes from people just wanting to get something done and inured to paying for it. It is so out of control in India and China that both governments are now tackling corruption as a national economic never mind political priority. Funnily enough, to meet the requirements for rule of law, contractual certainty etc of foreign governments, investors and the IMF. Citizens be damned.

Wealthy foreigners often own and develop the nicest bits of any undeveloped or troubled economy, the bits that theoretically would have the highest assessments. My cursory historical review of real estate trajectories and foreign ownership in places like Greece, Spain, Ireland & Iceland demonstrated that first foreign cash develops the nicest untouched bits that discretionary travelers and wealth can get to, generating capital gains out of dust and borrowed cash. Then the local government usually has to spring for some roads, an airport, etc as things pick up. Foreigners and foreign capital are enjoyed as supporting the local tourist/service economy until a local collapse/revolution/corruption/crisis etc triggers a sudden property devaluation - that affects the highest assessed the most.

Locals, hostage to tourism and poor governance, a bit put out by the inflated housing market, are now abandoned by those equity-pinched foreign devils with no attachment to land, culture, neighbor or nation. This happened to Spain a decade or so ago and I think they traded quite a few Brits and Germans for Russians but my knowledge of that is mostly anecdotal.

Anyway there's always an entirely different foreign blob of capital that hows up to buy up all the distressed properties now underwater at fire sale prices. Eventually new arrangements are made to facilitate the return of tourists and foreign investments, again on an equity basis - often negotiated with the latest crisis-tailored special tax treatment locals can only dream of.

There were waves of different flavors of capital flows too, Arab, Russian, Chinese, and these apparently had discernible locational preferences, although now the Chinese are everywhere, most recently buying massive swaths of agricultural production.

Of course you can't really trust any of this data except to give you imaginary agency in aiming one's distressed properties investment dart.

On another recently dormant front I am more up on and fascinated by, the Chinese have stated that they will reveal how much gold they have accumulated since their last disclosure some years ago. I can't wait to see what they claim, because there will be money to made that day and the next morning. The gold supply figures currently on offer from private and government sources have indicated that we are in the age of imaginary "fiat" gold rather than an age of gold as a commodity and fungible specie for quite some time. During which China has by all appearances been buying physical gold in bulk to such an extent that it has impacted Indian gold purchases and the usually reliable run-up in prices that September celebratory purchases cause for several years running.

I guess you'd better google your question. . .

Norbert M Salamon

The amount cited and the cost are about right without corruption, for it included new highways, rail lines and power lines, rebuilding the town-site etc.

different clue

Andrey Subbotin,

The retrospective tragedy here is that when Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior made that promise, they meant that promise. They did not imagine that a successor President, a "Democrat" of all things, would break that promise. Maybe future historians will tell us WHY Pres. Clinton did that, as well as arranging the Great Yeltsinian Piratization of all possible public assets in Russia.

So the destruction of trust by President Clinton and the ratification of that destruction by Presidents Bush Junior and Obama mean that any RussiaGov would have to see some lie-proof material evidence that any future Ukraine has had all bridges to NATO and EU irreversibly burned down ahead of time before that future RussiaGov will consider any agreement about Ukraine.

(By the way, while we shouldn't cry over spilled milk; if the whole cow has died I think we can weep for a few minutes. Clinton pushed over the first domino leading us to where wew are now in Ukraine and with Russia. I wonder if he did it under the influence of the antirussianitic racist antirussianite Zbigniew Brzezinski. Who lost Russia? Clinton lost Russia. Clinton threw Russia away).

Norbert M Salamon

Mr. Cumming:
I m sorry I do not know enough to comment on your language question, I recommend that you peruse the INTERNET ENCYLOPEDIA OF UKRAINE constructed by members of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, I think Edmonton. I read comments that the content is somewhat prejudiced versus Russia/USSR for obvious reasons.
The heading language is printable I you so desire.

Piotr, Poland

1 "The message to the opposition" is one thing, but their reaction after getting it is the other.
I've never doubt in the courage and bravery of Russian opposition. They will ignore "the message", its clear to me.

2. "Those men who killed Nemtsov, important ex-member of Russian Govt, shooting him while driving white car on the brightly lit bridge in the eyes of many cameras, send us very important political message" - Gleb Pavlovski, ex Putin advisor, author of many of his speeches etc, now in opposition.

3. "I don't think Putin is decision-maker in the case of Nemtsov murdering, but I accuse him of creating suitable atmosphere for those who did it" Sergei Kovalov
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Kovalev

or as Michael McFaul, who knew Nemtsov well said it: "You teach people to hate. You encourage people to hate. You push messages of hate. They then do hateful things."


4. For me Putin is not the man, who personally decided to kill Nemtsov too. But I have no doubts it was done by russian special forces people for "wet works" . Look at the date, moment and place (the place is easy to see from Kremlin windows).
Nemtsov was followed 24/7, were was his "tail" (ie his police followers) on the bridge?
Why Police took away all hard disks from Nemtsov's private computer, while copying them would be enough?

5 For me "operation Nemtsov" commander and decision - maker was an officious "big man" from strength resorts, who guessed Putin's will, wanted to frighten opposition. The "Officious functionary, guessed sovereign's will" was popular in Russian history and still is, because being officious was many times very profitable in Russia.

Piotr, Poland

Oh really? So Nemtsov was idiot, who didn't know what he wrote about in his report?

And for example Rottenberg bros (close Putin friends from his childhood), who won 15% of all contracts, didn't enrinch themselves 2.5 bln of USD?

Find some better arguments, please.

David Habakkuk

Piotr, Poland,

In dealing with atrocities in the former Soviet Union, people who rush to say that they have 'no doubts' as to who is responsible, before anything in the way of serious evidence has been produced, are commonly either fools or knaves.

I see that you treat it as self-evident that the death of Alexander Litvinenko was the work of the Russian authorities.

If you are seriously interested in getting at the truth about this bizarre affair, you will obviously want to consider carefully comments I posted on a report in the 'Financial Times' entitled 'Ukraine calls for fresh sanctions against Russia' in July last year.

These provide links to three diaries which I and my Italian collaborator Mr David Loepp posted on the 'European Tribune' site in December 2012. In turn, these contain links to further diaries posted by Mr Loepp in the immediate aftermath of the breaking of the story of Litvinenko's poisoning, and by myself in 2008-9.

(See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/268c2b1c-f481-11e3-bf6e-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz3RLj4lz00 )

I would add that much more extended accounts of the evidence summarised in these 'European Tribune' pieces were submitted by me to the team responsible for what was then supposed to be the inquest into the death of Litvinenko between September 2012 and July 2013.

So far, the evidence produced in what is now the inquiry has signally failed to persuade me, or Mr Loepp, that our reservations about the conventional wisdom about Litvinenko's death were ill-founded.

I look forward to your devastating rebuttal of our evidence and arguments.

Piotr, Poland

Slava Rabinovich on the search of Boris Nemtsov's flat:

http://xsovietunion.blogspot.com/2015/02/slava-rabinovich-on-search-of-boris.html?view=classic

Fred

Piotr,

"But I have no doubts it was done by russian special forces people for "wet works" . "

Do you have some actual facts to confirm your claim?

YT

Mr. Habakkuk, Herr "confusedponderer", et al.,

Talking 'bout mafia studies...

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8849.html

William R. Cumming

Thanks Charles I for your reply! I guess tax codes and tax enforcement should have been past, present, and future for any "nation-State" wishing to join the EU and/or EURO, as part of the due-diligence study as in all US M&As.

Should NATO due a periodic report on the due-diligence of NATO members in developing, implementing, operating its NATO forces?

William R. Cumming

Thanks IMAGINE!

William R. Cumming

Thanks Peter a very useful link IMO!

Dubhaltach

In reply to Piotr, Poland 28 February 2015 at 06:30 PM

"Oh really? So Nemtsov was idiot, who didn't know what he wrote about in his report?"

Nobody said he was an idiot and putting words into other peoples' mouths is a fundamentally dishonest mode of arguing.

He may or may not have known what he was talking about. His report may or may not be accurate. What there is no doubt about however is that he wrote it as a politcal weapon and that he was intimately connected politically to attempts by politicians in foreign powers to effect regime change in his country in clear and blatant opposition to law and the expressed democratic will of his fellow countrymen.

Dubhaltach

In reply to Piotr, Poland 28 February 2015 at 02:52 PM

I understand the reasons for your fanatical hatred of Russia and the Russian government I also understand why a Russian patriot who saw his country being raped by Yeltsin's cronies who knows that many died as result of the poverty unleashed by that rape would feel satisfaction that one of the perpetrators of that rape died violently.

The desire for retribution is innate in human nature. As you repeatedly demonstrate. The fact that I may understand why people feel the way they do does not mean that I condone it.

If somebody did to my country what Nemstov and his cronies did to his and if one of those same prime movers continued to blatantly and openly connive with my country's enemies I too would feel a certain amount of grim satisfaction at one one my country's enemies death.

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