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Raptorx7,

The latest report (December 14) from Ukraine Today says absolutely nothing about a presidential statement he was going to veto the UFSA.

http://uatoday.tv/geopolitics/ukraine-freedom-support-act-us-president-obama-to-decide-whether-to-arm-ukraine-397328.html

Forbes is saying, in essence, that, because of their bipartisan support Obama won't dare veto either the the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014 or the Ukraine freedom Support Act of 2014.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2014/11/06/what-can-a-republican-senate-majority-do-for-ukraine/

Please explain what you mean by your statement. So far, I've found nothing indicating an Obama utterance indicating he would veto the UFSA. It's readily showable, though, he has repeatedly said he didn't favor supplying lethal aid to Ukraine, but that's hardly the same as an a priori veto declaration.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Raptorx7,

The latest report (December 14) from Ukraine Today says absolutely nothing about a presidential statement he was going to veto the UFSA.

http://uatoday.tv/geopolitics/ukraine-freedom-support-act-us-president-obama-to-decide-whether-to-arm-ukraine-397328.html

Forbes is saying, in essence, that, because of their bipartisan support Obama won't dare veto either the the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014 or the Ukraine freedom Support Act of 2014.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2014/11/06/what-can-a-republican-senate-majority-do-for-ukraine/

Please explain what you mean by your statement. So far, I've found nothing indicating an Obama utterance indicating he would veto the UFSA. It's readily showable, though, he has repeatedly said he didn't favor supplying lethal aid to Ukraine, but that's hardly the same as an a priori veto declaration.

Regards,

John Kettler

Sorry John I may have gotten confused are you saying that part of the bill was unknown (The Ukranian lethal aid) until now or the fact that Obama will veto it?

The Ukrainian lethal aid section has been known about since the bill began to be voted on.

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sburke,

How about paying attention to the information, rather than deriding it because I won't reveal my sources? Every single day there are dozens of unattributed stories--"a senior White House official said today;" "according to an intelligence source not allowed to talk to the media;" "said an official at State who didn't wish to be identified," to name but a few--presented to the world. No one even blinks over this. What seems to be the case here is that you find it a) difficult to believe I have such sources myself and B) that they would tell me all sorts of highly classified things. I have them, and they talk to me because I have the peculiar skills to understand the information, place it in an overall context, look at it critically and present it with great discretion. This information is provided because the suppliers, at great risk to themselves, seek to inform the American people about pertinent matters, some of grave import. I walk a very narrow tightrope between getting the word out and saying too much.

You fail to realize that secrets are the lingua franca in DC and elsewhere. They are leaked accidentally (would you believe a very much still classified S/NOFORN/WNINTEL satellite pic of an Su-27 prototype at Ramenskoye, outside of Moscow, a pic which appeared in the Defense Authorization Hearings volume? Nearly gave spook types a heart attack) and on purpose, as in JFK's using highly sensitive missile intelligence (briefed to him since he might become president) for slamming the Eisenhower over the "Missile Gap" before the election of JFK. "Scooter" Libby outed CIA clandestine officer Valerie Plame for political gain.

I believe gratitude is in order, not to me, but for those brave Americans who care enough to at least partially alleviate the information gap; to pull aside, however briefly, the curtain of secrecy and show us what's really going on.

Regards,

John Kettler

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and present it with great discretion.

Like announcing it on a public internet forum?

This information is provided because the suppliers, at great risk to themselves, seek to inform the American people about pertinent matters, some of grave import. I walk a very narrow tightrope between getting the word out and saying too much.

I believe gratitude is in order, not to me, but for those brave Americans who care enough to at least partially alleviate the information gap; to pull aside, however briefly, the curtain of secrecy and show us what's really going on.

Regards,

John Kettler

EVERYONE knows the White House is reviewing the decision and when they make up their mind they will announce it to the whole world. They will either veto it or not. Thank god these brave Americans risked their lives to tell me something that the whole world will know in a couple days. whew. And if he doesn't veto it you will say....... whatever.

What seems to be the case here is that you find it a) difficult to believe I have such sources myself and B) that they would tell me all sorts of highly classified things.

In a word, YES. That would be a very concise and exact summation. But I'd say impossible, not simply difficult.

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The passage of the Ukraine bill was not surprising. It was expected to easily pass both chambers. In fact, I think it probably would have passed even with its original language (which would cause ALL KINDS of headaches), but they wanted a united front and so they had to pull some of the more controversial elements out. And united front they got. I think if the White House needed a new coat of paint the vote for authorizing it would have been more contentious, especially over what color to paint it :D

Anyway, Obama can veto it if he wants, but it will be overridden and he knows it. There's no point in going through that since it's clearly a sign of weakness on his part if he doesn't sign. Same thing if he lets it pass unsigned (I forget the time table for that). So yeah, he's going to sign it or he's a bigger idiot than I think he is. Either way, it's an open political process with a definite timetable and transparent outcome. Leaks and speculation happen EVERY DAY in Washington and I can't recall a single person being arrested or strung up for speculating which way the wind is blowing about legislation.

The bill is not a really big deal. It doesn't obligate Obama to do anything proactively, it just gives him flexibility (and pressure) to do retaliatory things against Russia if need be. I expect Obama won't do anything major with this new authorization unless Putin makes a move first. And the last thing Putin should want are Javelins in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers. Though on a plus side for Putin, a Javelin hit doesn't leave much Cargo-200 or other evidence to cover up.

The only thing this bill does is show Russia, and Europe, that the US political climate for appeasement is over. Punishment is now the primary message coming from the US, even if the President is reluctant to go down that route. Russia, not surprisingly, is pretty unhappy with this message.

Steve

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Something else to think about is how Ukraine will develop after defeating the Russian invasion (Which it probably will). Right now it seems as if Ukraine is develpoing into a stable democracy. I'm not shure if that trend will continue after the defeat of the major outside threat.

How stable is the Ukraine?

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If the West is willing to make a real long term investment, and ride them mercilessly on the corruption problem it should be vert stable. If the West shows its usual gnat-like attention span it will not end well. In the long term Ukraine has the ability to become a major agricultural exporter among other things, but they need a real run of halfway competent, only mildly dishonest government to get off the ground.

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If the West is willing to make a real long term investment, and ride them mercilessly on the corruption problem it should be vert stable. If the West shows its usual gnat-like attention span it will not end well. In the long term Ukraine has the ability to become a major agricultural exporter among other things, but they need a real run of halfway competent, only mildly dishonest government to get off the ground.

They had a shale oil deal in the works with Chevron, but it looks like that is falling through.  Either because Shale is simply getting too unprofitable or the drilling areas are too close to occupied territory.  Shell apparently is still in the deal for now.

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Something else to think about is how Ukraine will develop after defeating the Russian invasion (Which it probably will). Right now it seems as if Ukraine is develpoing into a stable democracy. I'm not shure if that trend will continue after the defeat of the major outside threat.

How stable is the Ukraine?

 

There are very clear signs that the people of Ukraine are finally getting serious about holding their government accountable to the needs of the people.  On paper, at least, Ukraine has all the right ingredients to become a significant regional power.  Their perpetual problem has been the endemic corruption throughout society.  It's no easy thing to get rid of, as many of the former Soviet dominated European countries can attest to.

 

Which presents major problems for Russia.  Putin launched the war against Ukraine in February because he wanted to avoid having a Russian speaking democracy tackling corruption and abuses of power right on his border.  Unfortunately for him, the war has wound up having the exact opposite effect.  The people of Ukraine are united in a way they never have been before, serious reforms are well under way, and the Maidan and (now) combat veterans are going to make sure it stays that way.

 

Whatever changes are going on now, it's significantly better than the faked reforms of the last two major shifts in power.  There is fundamental change underway.  How far it goes, how fast, and how successful... nobody knows yet.  Me?  I'm an optimist.  I think Ukraine can become a country that is reasonably free and fair to its population, contributes to the world in a positive way, and acts as a model for others to follow.  Putin obviously believes this too, though unlike me he doesn't view it as a good thing.

 

Steve

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sburke,

 

You are clearly not getting it. Causation we can discuss separately. The discretion lies in what I say, how much I say and when and in what manner I present it. At any given time, I'm sitting on a trove of intel of varying sensitivity. Information which I may or may not be allowed to use subsequently, in whole or in part. This information has been and is provided to me as deep background. It provides a context in which I can understand certain aspects of what I receive and, where permitted, judiciously convey certain aspects of that overall view still going on behind the scenes, so as to better inform my readers. It also consists of material on US and foreign weapon developments, US and Allied operations, areas of operations, live fire trials and much else. Whole categories of important-shocking-mind-bending matters of which you likely know nothing. And never will unless you bestir yourself. That's about as far as I dare take this here. You know where to find me should you wish to have an unfettered discussion.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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I am sorry Kettler, but I can not take your words seriously.

 

It's not the first time you reference to special connections of yours, sensitive information and such. At the same time you say you are not to disclosure what these sources are, adding sensitivity and secrecy as justifications.

 

This is a public internet board dedicated to a videogame and while I recognize that some people here are, or were, involved in the armed forces, I really don't buy other people talking about special sources, secrets etc. thus posing themselves over the Others of us normal people who have no special connections to military or governative agencies and are just here because we like the subject or the videogame.

 

I find this attitude a bit insulting. I am all happy to discuss with anyone about what we like, tanks, armed forces, events and such, but when I read someone telling me he is "sitting on a trove of intel of varying sensitivity which may or may not be allowed to use" I feel like I am being joked around. It's like a kid saying "I know the president of USA thinks this but I cannot prove it, so you should take it as granted, because I have connections". Really cuts any wish to discuss further for me. I respect any personal opinion, even very deep or strong analysis done by some people here, but they never refer to secrets, special information to prove their ideas that only they have access to. If someone thinks differently than me or has a different opinion, be it, different points of view, but I cannot respect someone who say or infer that his opinion has more strenght because he has access to information I (and all the Others here) don't have access to.

Phrases like: "Whole categories of important-shocking-mind-bending matters of which you likely know nothing". I really have no connections with US government, army, or agencies, I am here willing to discuss about anything for what I know, but if you come up with phrases like that I just consider you a fraud. Really, I can't belive someone with such connections would write things on a video game discussion board (with all respect to BFC of course). And the fact that you expect me to belive this kind of things and treat you as someone who is doing a big favour to us by giving bits of special information from the inside, is insulting.

Edited by Kieme(ITA)

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John,

 

I do not want to have a discussion about stuff you're NOT posting.  It's pointless for everybody.  Whether you have important info you can't divulge or not is immaterial to a discussion in a public forum because a discussion requires everybody have access to the same info and to be able to judge it's soundness or relevance.  A discussion with vague allusions to materials is impossible.

 

In short... post and discuss or do NOT post and do NOT discuss.

 

Steve

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Politics, demographics, flow of information, etc. all have roles to play in warfare, which is obviously why all of these things are mentioned when discussing warfare here and elsewhere.  Anybody that recognizes this also knows that economics are often almost important as military capabilities on the battlefield.  Events are quickly unfolding which will have an impact on where the war goes from here.  I don't want to get into a big economics discussion, but I think it's on topic to remind people that Russia's current economic problems are going to factor into the near future of the war in Ukraine.

 

There is a classic book out there called "When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany".  It's not easy to read even for economists, but it's an extremely well researched work that has been recently updated.  I've read it and it's got a lot of relevance to what's going on with Russia today.

 

For those who don't want to read this book, the lesson is that a nation with a bad monetary policy, internally weak economic system, and major social unrest isn't something that a nation state can live with indefinitely without a major calamity.  Eventually there comes a time when things collide at just the wrong time and boom... the rubber bands, chewing gum, and paperclips that held everything together fail.  The state's new focus then switches to short term measures to control social unrest rather than sound economic policy.  This then leads to a worsening economic situation which then leads to more unrest... and so on.  It generally only ceases after a difficult period of time, likely following a major change in government.  And that's if things go fairly well :(

 

 

Many months ago "financial experts" generally agreed that Russia had enough resources to last 2 years without major problems.  I disagreed quite strongly and went "on the record" (internal discussion and private emails) saying that Russia's economy had at most 1 year, but possibly only months.  In November (not sure what exact date) I said months only, not 1 year and absolutely not 2 years.  I was too conservative.

 

The only reason I mention this is because what is happening now, and what will happen soon, will affect Russia's economic and domestic political ability to engage in large scale risky military activities.  That in turn limits Russia's viable options when Spring roles around, if not even sooner.  And if Russia doesn't recognize its viable options have become more limited, then it will find out the hard way once the campaign season starts up again.

 

Steve

 

P.S.  I don't know what the "financial experts" earn for their predictions, but my opinion is they are over paid and I am very much under paid :)

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P.S.  I don't know what the "financial experts" earn for their predictions, but my opinion is they are over paid and I am very much under paid  :)

 

 

He he Steve, you sure rock this world. Also when in-game camera shake is turned off. ;) 

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P.S.  I don't know what the "financial experts" earn for their predictions, but my opinion is they are over paid and I am very much under paid :)

 

Yeah, one of the problems of talking heads and their predictions is there is vitually no cost.  The get lots of attention and accolades when they guess right and virutally no blow back when the get it wrong.  This is one of the reason we see lots of predictions some of them kind of wild.  Keep your grains of salt handy.  Even for Steve :)

 

I listened to a really interesting pod case from Freakonomics recently about this - http://freakonomics.com/2011/09/14/new-freakonomics-radio-podcast-the-folly-of-prediction/

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The next big question is what Putin does with Europe's gas supply this winter.  If he is already running out of money he might double down on one of his last levers.  This could come down to the severity of winter in the parts of Europe most dependent on Russian gas. 

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The next big question is what Putin does with Europe's gas supply this winter.  If he is already running out of money he might double down on one of his last levers.  This could come down to the severity of winter in the parts of Europe most dependent on Russian gas. 

 

It's his last resort, that. And given the OPEC decisions on production lately, a lever that's getting shorter by the week. Beeb are reporting that the massive interest rate hike by the Russian central bank has done little beyond persuade currency traders that the Rouble really is junk, along with all RF government bonds. The wheels appear to be coming off.

 

Just riffing of what Steve said about financial predictions: it is often said by bankers that they need to offer generous remuneration to attract the "brightest and best" to their particular banking centre (the City of London, f'r'ex), and yet they don't seem to notice that the very same bonus package will equally attract the greediest and most willing to deal unethically to get profits. I'd contend that the historical reward model for careers in finance is better at the latter temptation than the former, as shown by the number of scandals in the banking sector (LIBOR, PPI, junk derivative products etc et endlessly cetera) compared to the success of the sector in predicting and dealing with problems before they get out of hand...

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I don't know what the "financial experts" earn for their predictions, but my opinion is they are over paid...

 

It's been on my mind for a couple of decades now that economic theory is about at the same stage that astronomy was in the age of Ptolemy. Maybe I am a little unduly pessimistic, but I don't think that economics has found its Newton and Kepler yet, let alone its Einstein. Economists seem to be in the position of having to fall back on ever more arcane explanations for why their previous predictions haven't panned out. Given that is the case, it is ever harder for the non-expert to make an informed judgement on whether he is being sold snake oil or the real goods.

 

Michael

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Just riffing of what Steve said about financial predictions: it is often said by bankers that they need to offer generous remuneration to attract the "brightest and best" to their particular banking centre (the City of London, f'r'ex), and yet they don't seem to notice that the very same bonus package will equally attract the greediest and most willing to deal unethically to get profits. I'd contend that the historical reward model for careers in finance is better at the latter temptation than the former, as shown by the number of scandals in the banking sector (LIBOR, PPI, junk derivative products etc et endlessly cetera) compared to the success of the sector in predicting and dealing with problems before they get out of hand...

 

With you all the way on that one, buddy. Only I would also apply it to any industry where the top executives receive annual compensation measured in multiple tens of millions of dollars. Or more. And that they also get more than handsome compensation if they are fired for cause is nothing less than a scandal. Who else gets millions of dollars for screwing up their responsibilities?

 

Michael

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The next big question is what Putin does with Europe's gas supply this winter.  If he is already running out of money he might double down on one of his last levers.  This could come down to the severity of winter in the parts of Europe most dependent on Russian gas. 

 

Russia "running out of money" is greatly overstated.  Russia not spending its money correctly, well as a citizen of this country I have to say, is a different story.

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Russia "running out of money" is greatly overstated.  Russia not spending its money correctly, well as a citizen of this country I have to say, is a different story.

Well the Ruble just jumped to 80 to the dollar so I think it is not as overstated as you think.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/business/russia-ruble-interest-rates.html?_r=0

 

The economic slide is picking up speed and is approaching terminal velocity.  Stuff like this doesn't help.  An offensive by Kiev in the spring is the least of Putin's problems now.

 

Rosneft, for example, had been clamoring for months for a government bailout to refinance debt the company ran up while making acquisitions when oil prices were high. Because of sanctions, those loans cannot be rolled over with Western banks. Debt payments are coming due later this month.

Relying only on the company’s own cash reserves would disrupt oil development projects on which Russia is relying for future revenue. With the oil giant in a bind, the central bank ruled that it would accept Rosneft bonds held by commercial banks as collateral for loans.

Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles about $10.9 billion at the exchange rate at the time, in new bonds on Friday. The identities of the buyers were not publicly disclosed, but analysts say that large state banks bought the issue.

When these banks deposit the bonds with the central bank in exchange for loans, Rosneft will have been financed, in effect, with an emission of rubles from the central bank. The deal roiled the ruble on Monday, according to analysts.

The reason for Monday’s currency crash is “well known,” Boris Y. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who is now in the political opposition, wrote on his Facebook page. “The central bank started the printing press to help the Sechin-Putin business, and gave Rosneft 625 billion newly printed rubles. The money immediately appeared on the currency market, and the rate collapsed.” Rosneft, in a statement, denied it had exchanged funds raised from the bonds for hard currency.

Edited by sburke

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primer on the likely causes of the Ruble's collapse:

 

 

What we're seeing in recent days resembles full-blown panic. There's nothing really new. At this point, it's about psychology: Fear has taken over, and there's clearly a rush on the part of traders and investors to get their money out of Russian assets. We're seeing a run on the entire country.

 

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-12-16/no-caviar-is-not-getting-cheaper-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-russian-ruble-collapse

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Well the Ruble just jumped to 80 to the dollar so I think it is not as overstated as you think.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/business/russia-ruble-interest-rates.html?_r=0

 

The economic slide is picking up speed and is approaching terminal velocity.  Stuff like this doesn't help.  An offensive by Kiev in the spring is the least of Putin's problems now.

 

Rosneft, for example, had been clamoring for months for a government bailout to refinance debt the company ran up while making acquisitions when oil prices were high. Because of sanctions, those loans cannot be rolled over with Western banks. Debt payments are coming due later this month.

Relying only on the company’s own cash reserves would disrupt oil development projects on which Russia is relying for future revenue. With the oil giant in a bind, the central bank ruled that it would accept Rosneft bonds held by commercial banks as collateral for loans.

Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles about $10.9 billion at the exchange rate at the time, in new bonds on Friday. The identities of the buyers were not publicly disclosed, but analysts say that large state banks bought the issue.

When these banks deposit the bonds with the central bank in exchange for loans, Rosneft will have been financed, in effect, with an emission of rubles from the central bank. The deal roiled the ruble on Monday, according to analysts.

The reason for Monday’s currency crash is “well known,” Boris Y. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who is now in the political opposition, wrote on his Facebook page. “The central bank started the printing press to help the Sechin-Putin business, and gave Rosneft 625 billion newly printed rubles. The money immediately appeared on the currency market, and the rate collapsed.” Rosneft, in a statement, denied it had exchanged funds raised from the bonds for hard currency.

 

The country is not running out of money.  The banker opportunists are taking advantage of a crisis to make a few billion Euro/USD.  While this is a bit larger than '08, the same thing happened then.  And happened before that...  I didn't panic then and I'm not panicking now.  This is nothing new in this country.

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