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"The West didn't ask for this, didn't want it, did it's darndest to ignore it, and is still struggling with those who favor outright appeasement. Yet the West is still stuck with a nuclear armed autocratic state that is in massive economic turmoil and involvement with a war of aggression. The West is also going to suffer a financial hit from "blowback" caused by this crisis. Worse, the West is being blamed for it by said autocratic state. 

Fun times ...........Autocratic governements are inherently unstable and highly susceptble to catastrophic failure. If Russia had been a well functioning Democracy for the last 20+ years it is very doubtful it would be in the spot it is right now...... The West didn't set up Russia for failure... Putin (and his allies) did. All the West is guilty of is not propping up a failing dictator."

 

Snips from Steve's insightful observations and comments. Not a lot for me to add to this.

 

 USA does have issues... and an imperfect sytem inherently designed for changes in power.

 

We all live in interesting times... 

"Fun times".... more fun being here than there... getting a bear hug from "Man of The Year #15" ;)

Well to give them a little credit, at least he doesn't get some of the accolades that fearless hairdo in N Korea gets.

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There was an article on the Beeb today which suggests that looking back a few more years, the West did have some contributory input to the current negative situation. The author draws vague analogies between the punitive terms of Versailes in '19 and the refusal of the West to help the neonate Russian Federation in the early '90s (in the way they did help Poland). He does explicitly say that it's no excuse for Putin's current behaviour, but some of the root causes of the economic situation and the fertile ground prepared for the "the West hates us" narrative that Putin has pushed can possibly be laid at the feet of the triumphalist attitude to the end of the Cold War.

 

Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30483873

 

O' course, the Russians might just have seen a helping hand at the birth of their new democracy as a sign of weakness and ended up in the same place anyway.

 

There might be a grain of truth in that. I always felt that the Bush administration passed up a chance to do something positive there and I cringed when Bush proclaimed "We won!" But I think dan/california is also on the money in that with such a vastly corrupt government and society the amount of real help that we could have given might have ended up like spit on a hot stove.

 

Michael

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I just read about a statement from Alexander Turtschinow who said something along the lines of "Our war will only end if all of ukraines territory, including Crimea, is back under Ukrainian control."

 

I can't imagine Putins reaction if Ukrainian troops were to invade Crimea. It probably wouldn't end nice.

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It could be argued that Putin wanted to grab eastern Ukraine because Crimea is otherwise utterly indefensible. Their rail traffic, road network, water supply, food, all coming from Ukraine. The excuse of 'ethnic nationalism' for the incursion was a red herring. He wanted the supply corridor.

Edited by MikeyD

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Some quick thoughts.

 

1.  There is no way, no how that Ukraine is going to try and take Crimea by force as long as the Russian Army is parked there.  And it is, big time.  Anybody remember how costly it was for the Axis forces to take it from the Soviets?  So what the Ukrainians mean is that there will be no normalizing of relations with Russia until Russia makes a deal (of some sort) with Kiev.  The status quo of stealing it is simply unacceptable.  BTW, Ukraine is in the process of filing a lawsuit in international courts against Russia.  One report said they are going to ask for $3 TRILLION in damages. "And please, no Rubles!"

 

2.  There is a grain of truth in almost all conspiracy theories and apologist arguments.  It is true that the West didn't lavish the same amounts of aid on Russia as it did on the European countries that were formally under Russian control.  Resources are always limited and I think the victims should get preferential treatment.  Russia would likely have rejected overt help because pride would have precluded it.  

 

3.  I also am not sure Russia ever had a chance to be transparent enough for the West to work with on a constructive basis.  Countries like Poland said "we don't want to have anything to do with the past.  We want something new".  Russia, even in the early 90s, said "we had a glorious past and we need to get that back".  Evidence of this abounds, including the Soviet worshiping that STILL is in mainstream Russian culture.  Imagine how much the West would have helped out Germany in the 1940s if they insisted on keeping statues of HItler and continued to use Nazi symbology all over the place.

 

4.  Mitigating circumstances should always be looked at, but Russia's actions over the past 20+ years have been deliberate and consistent.  The population has been seen as an ATM for hand picked people.  If someone poses a threat to that arrangement, they are dealt with by acts of violence and/or discrimination.  I doubt Putin is on the CIA's payroll, therefore I doubt the West has had anything to do with how and why Russia is in the mess that it is in now.

 

Steve

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Steve, "....The population has been seen as an ATM for hand picked people....."

 

Segments the population may ... wake up... and  forcefully resist the hands of "hand picked" plutocrats from picking their pockets.

Powers that be help them if they do.

 

Steve, "... Ukraine is in the process of filing a lawsuit in international courts against Russia.  One report said they are going to ask for $3 TRILLION in damages. "And please, no Rubles!" :)

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Steve, what would a Russian "collapse" look like, I wasn't alive for the fall of the Soviet Union but I have some understanding of what happened, but with Putin now its all up in the air for me?

 

I'd rather not think about it :(

 

Economic collapses are pretty much the same throughout modern history.  Currencies derive most of their value from faith in their worth.  When faith is lost, the currency is also lost.  Under normal circumstances, even bad ones, there's enough faith by enough people that the currency don't dramatically and quickly fall in value.  Remember, someone is always looking to make a buck off of someone else's misfortunate, which tends to cushion currencies from hitting free fall even when short to mid term events look bad.

 

A central problem with the free market system is that the worse things look the less conservative the investors are.  Which means for a while a currency (or stock) falsely looks to be doing just fine even though there are all kinds of warnings that there is a systemic failure in the near future.  That's because the risk takers invested already knowing about these sorts of things. Which means instead of seeing the perceived value decrease due to red flag indicators, it sometimes doesn't go down much at all.  In fact, often times it goes up.

 

Part of the reason why it can go up is because the risk takers realize they can't afford to lose what they've invested, so they put more into the bad investment hoping to trick people into believing there's value to be had.  They either put their own money in or convince others to by artificially keeping the perceived value high.  It's purpose is to buy time until they can get out, hopefully slowly so nobody spots the behavior.  Because as soon as someone figures out what is going on, it can go badly very fast.

 

Once the big risk takers are seen selling at a loss then things can come apart quickly.  An investor in a sinking ship always wants to be the first to the lifeboat, never the last.  There is no equivalent of "women and children first".  If everybody is in a mood to sell, and there's not a relatively equal amount of buying activity, then things can go into catastrophic collapse overnight.  It's what happened in the US in late summer 2008.

 

This is what we're seeing now with both the Ruble.  

 

There are some signs that Russians are doing the same thing at the individual level.  When a currency gets into big trouble the average person acts in his/her own self interests.  The two actions available to individuals are:

 

1.  Purchase something tangible with the currency before it loses its purchasing power.  Washing machines, cars, expensive watches, etc.  Something that is likely to hold value more than the currency being used.

 

2.  Purchase some sort of investment that (hopefully) is not affected by the currency's decline.  Foreign currency exchanges and foreign investments are the two big ones.  Got a family member in the US?  Send them all your Rubles and have them hold the equivalent value in USD in a US bank account.  The more well-to-do and connected do things like buy property, bonds, and other things that have value based on another country's value system.

 

Both are REALLY bad for the economy.  People take their savings and spend it on things they ordinarily wouldn't buy.  This means they don't have liquid assets to pay for living expenses or future economic activities.  Those activities are often vital to the economy, such as rent, taxes, etc.  Think of how bad things would be for your local town/city if everybody went out in one weekend and spent almost all of their money on durable goods.  Who would go to the movies, restaurants, auto repair shops, dentists, etc. in the coming weeks if they already blew all of their money on washing machines?  Where will those employers of all of those businesses get their money to pay their employees?  Where's the economic activities (sales taxes in particular) that provide tax revenue to government?

 

This starts a vicious cycle that causes businesses to fail, which puts more demands on government services, at a time when less revenue is available to the government to provide those services.  Which causes more problems for the labor pool, which decreases economic activities further, which hits businesses harder, which then hits government even harder than before.

 

No good comes of this for currencies either.  Now the system is awash in cash that nobody wants.  Everybody then tries to unload their cash on something else.  But nobody else wants it at today's price, so the sellers have to accept a lower price.  The more panic, the lower that price must go before someone buys. And there's only so much that gets bought, which further reduces the price.  Which means the value decreases and causes people to get rid of even more cash.  And that cycle continues.

 

Life for the average person becomes Hellish.  The less power and tradition of the rule of law, the more Hellish it becomes.  Russia in the 1990s was a horror show in most urban areas.  The criminal gangs of the 1980s obtained official power throughout the 1990s and are, to no small extent, the government that Russia has today.  In a collapse situation it will go back to street wars and, absent a MAJOR change in Russian character, the dominate ones will become the new government power.

 

Ugh, this sucks.

 

Steve

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Anyone ready to place a bet on how many pieces come of the edges of Mother Russia if the wheels come all the way off.  The Muslim majority pieces of the Caucuses are being held by brute force now and would clearly attempt to leave again, just for starters.....

 

 

Does the military remain a unified force when its wages won't even buy potatoes and cabbage?

Edited by dan/california

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I don't see Russia coming apart. What I expect is the unexpected - I mean something entirely out of left field. As unexpected as 1993 when there were tanks on the streets of Moscow firing on the Parliament building after congress attempted to impeach Yeltsin. Not that, perhaps not remotely similar, but something of the same historical magnitude.

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"..... Life for the average person becomes Hellish.  The less power and tradition of the rule of law, the more Hellish it becomes.  Russia in the 1990s was a horror show in most urban areas.  The criminal gangs of the 1980s obtained official power throughout the 1990s and are, to no small extent, the government that Russia has today.  In a collapse situation it will go back to street wars and, absent a MAJOR change in Russian character, the dominate ones will become the new government power.

Ugh, this sucks.

Steve

 

".....The Muslim majority pieces of the Caucuses....." Dan

 

"....  tanks on the streets of Moscow firing on the Parliament building...." MikeyD

 

Where do I hang the Christmas Lights ;)

 

Actually I was thinking pretty much what Dan suggested combined with the criminal gangs horror show in most urban areas.... but had not considered tanks on the streets of Moscow but maybe I should?

 

Tractor time and then to check what Man of The Year #15 is fabricating ... ugh.. reporting to the public in his yearly Kremlin Cuddle Hug. I susepect it will include US / EU sanctions are evil and combined with Ukraine....  is to balme for all the Motherland troubles.

I did not realize that Man of The Year #15 legally has till 2024 before he must step down... unless he changes the laws.

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A couple of years ago I was purging a dusty pile of video tapes.  For fun I checked some out to see what I had taped (remember those days?).  One of them was live coverage on CNN International (no longer exists AFAIK) of the assault on the Russian White House.  I had to tape it because I had to go to work the next day and couldn't afford to go totally sleepless.  So around 2am or so I popped in a tape and went to sleep, then watched it later when I got back from work.  Some people do this with sports, I do it with civil unrest.  I'm a bit odd by most peoples' standards :D

 

I don't see Russia falling completely apart overnight, though that is a possibility that nobody should rule out, I don't think it's in the cards for the very near term.  I do see more violence in independent minded outlying areas.  We're already seeing an uptick in violence in Chechnya as well as the predictable ham-fisted response.  The pattern of previous events will, almost for sure, be repeated there.  If the violence gets to a certain level at the wrong time, there will be another wave of pieces of Russia breaking away.  I think it's bad for everybody since the track record of good governance in break away states of the Soviet Union is not very good.

 

Getting back to the primary topic... the conflict in Ukraine.

 

A nation state can only juggle so many balls in the air at one time before something gets dropped.  If someone suddenly tosses the juggler a running chainsaw, the pattern of juggling and what is being juggled and how it is juggled will change.  Most likely not for the better if the juggler was already working at the edge of his abilities.

 

Russia can continue to flow weapons into Ukraine indefinitely because the stockpiles of Soviet era weapons is practically endless for an insurgency type operation.  Consumables, such as ammo, food, fuel, clothing, etc. are more constrained resources that need constant attention.  Processing requests, production, scrounging, stockpiling, transporting, etc. are active things which have implications when disrupted.  Training is also something that suffers when resources become strained.

 

Finding "volunteers" to fight in Ukraine is not sustainable forever.  I'd say it's the single biggest weak spot in the current Russian strategy.  It's likely difficult, already, to get sufficient volunteers of a sufficient quality to be effective fighters in Ukraine.  Russia has already sent in it's traditional gangs that helped create Russia's other frozen conflicts, so that well is long since tapped.  The ultra-nationalists ("Novorussia") have already committed the bulk of their resources into the fight.  Kadyrov has been a very important source of "volunteers" (many from his security forces).  Now that things are heating up again in his home turf that supply is likely to be constrained somewhat, or disappear if things get really bad.  Cossacks have proven to be a fairly unreliable bunch, more interested in carving out their own fiefdoms than fighting or working towards the Kremlin's goals.  Even the Ukrainians that are fighting have a limited pool to draw from because the longer this goes on the more disillusioned people are with the "cause", if not at least the chances of success.  The truly foreign fighters, such as Serbian Chetniks and right wing "adventurists" from various European countries, have never constituted more than a few dozen at any one time so they've never been a big source of manpower. 

 

Which is why the Russian military and security forces have been obligated to play a direct role in combat on the ground, especially in August.  As budgets and internal unrest increase within Russia, the chances of being able to successfully leverage these forces decreases.  Worse, from the Kremlin's standpoint, a commitment of forces in Ukraine exposes the Russian government to increasing internal instability.  Some think Putin might try for an overt war in order to distract people from the problems at home.  Certainly Russian media propaganda continues to spin its tall tales about NATO/US/EU conspiracies to repress the true power of Russia, so they are continuing to lay the groundwork for a direct confrontation.  Just this week the Russian government released a "report" that would be laughable if the intentions behind it weren't so deadly serious.

 

If Putin is smart, and I am of the opinion that he isn't nearly as smart as people used to think, he wouldn't risk an open war in Ukraine.  The Russian people do not want such a war even though Russian propaganda tried desperately to convince them they should.  With overt economic problems now obvious even to the most uninformed Russian, I think there would be a massive backlash against a large scale military move in Ukraine.  Especially because the Ukrainians have a proven capability to cause Russian military forces significant losses in a very short space of time.

 

Whatever lies ahead of us isn't good, but the Kremlin is the one that gets to decide how bad it is going to be.  Let's all hope some fresh thinking penetrates Putin's inner circle and injects some realism into their planning.

 

Steve

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For fun I checked some out to see what I had taped

Haw haw, the next room over from my workstation I have a shelf of aging corroded videotapes that also contain news clips of the 1993 uprising in Moscow! No wonder we've found ourselves working together.  :)  I'm older than you, though, so my stash goes all the way back to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

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It's so awesome to be able to read Steve's insightful predictions knowing most of what he says will come true.

 

Uhhh, you do know that most of what he's predicting is BAD, right ?? :huh:

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Uhhh, you do know that most of what he's predicting is BAD, right ?? :huh:

Yes I do and that I don't look forward to going through this all over again - my country is still stuck in the effects of 2008 economy depression. Just when there was hope of a recovery we'll get hit with yet another disaster. 

 

Still, having Steve's insights is just simply grand. 

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Could be a prequel to a new episode?

"...Whatever lies ahead of us isn't good, but the Kremlin is the one that gets to decide how bad it is going to be.  Let's all hope some fresh thinking penetrates Putin's inner circle and injects some realism into their planning."
Steve

Based on early reports see below… the injection has not taken effect just yet.

 

 

Baneman "....most of what he's predicting is BAD...."

 

In light of what is coming out of the Motehrland,  the predictios may be more correct then many want them to be.

 

Snips from our annual bear hug

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Wait, what's this?  It can't be!!  But it seems it is!  My very public sources are indicating Obama not only did not veto the Sanctions bill, he signed it!!!  Gasp!!!!

 

 

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-signs-russia-sanctions-bill-says-no-penalties-200956484.html

 

 

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he had signed into law a new Russian sanctions bill passed by Congress but did not intend to impose further sanctions against Moscow for now.

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Thanks for the appreciation of my Nostradamus stuff.  As I have said for months now... I'm just following events and drawing upon history (recent and past) to get a sense of where this part of the world is headed.  It just so happens that my experiences and studies overlap this particular subject.  Ask me about Zimbabwe or Chile and you'll get much shorter and more vague answers :D

 

Oh, and let's remember that I've got no inside sources and am only following events a few hours a day.  I'm bound to be wrong, perhaps very wrong, at times or even in overall direction.  The fact that so far I've been more right than wrong doesn't change that fact.

 

Putin's press conference gives us little hope that he's changing course.  There are other bad signs too.  However, there are two good signs that have come about recently:

 

1.  Talk about Novorussia from official Russian channels has all but ceased as far as I know.  Putin doesn't do large scale staged events very often, but for the last two of two he hasn't mentioned it either.  That's definitely a good thing just as when he did mention it a lot of people, myself included, said "uh-oh!  That's not good!"

 

2.  He released Vladimir Yevtushenko from house arrest. His arrest was a clear warning shot aimed at the Russian oligarchs who have been getting more upset with Putin's handling of governmental affairs.  It was the tail end of a power struggle between the ultra-nationalists (idealists) and the oligarchs (realists), in which the oligarchs clearly lost.  Now that Putin has released Yevtushenko, perhaps it is a sign of a shifting of power again.  Or it could be nothing.  We do know that Putin did strip him of his assets and gave them to a buddy of his, so perhaps he just let him go because he already made his point and neutered his monetary power.  Nobody knows.

 

Steve

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Hi,

 

For those who may be interested..

 

Jane’s Defence have their annual review available for free download. Half way down the page, just off centre. Was there an hour ago but has been up for a while so if interested go for it..

 

Just Google Jane’s.com   and it should come up. (Am reluctant to give the URL because I have been reminded that I own a “warning..” from Moon on posting commercial links. I posted the link Scourge of War site.. I think Moon must have been in a bad mood ;). )

 

Anyway.. Jane’s tone is different from that of most here. But if you look at the posts on this thread all it shows is that we are all human. We do all have prejudices and likes and dislikes and there is nothing wrong with that. We start with different sympathies. It is called being human.  

 

On the internal Russian stuff, economy and such, a chap called Dr. Richard Connolly from Birmingham University just tipped up on the BBC as a talking head and generally thinks Russia will survive economically better than many in the western media believe.

 

I don’t know him either and have followed who wins and who loses economically as closely as I have militarily all my life.  But there are alternative views on that subject too.

 

To be open about my sympathies, or starting point. When bullets a start fly I default to what today we would call The Five Eyes, Russia and Poland. So think it was unwise for the EU, with US support, to have got so involved in the way they did. Many in Britain agree with that but not all. It inevitably resulted in greater suffering. But each to their own. BTW.. Jane’s tend to agree with me… but they too are only one more of many views.

 

We are truly lucky to have CM to argue about.. so far ahead of all others it is almost embarrassing..

All the best,

Kip.

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Turning the topic back to CMBS Ukraine versus CMBS Russia, From a game perspective I think CMBS could stand to have a few 'stalemate' scenarios. 

Eliminating a salient in their otherwise static front lines, that kind of stuff.

The backstory and campaigns are pretty dynamic. But with the sort of firepower everyone's wielding I can imagine both sides rapidly getting to a point of exhaustion where nobody dares to advance against the other. How many Kornets and Javelins and TOW 2Bs and Shturm-S and  Khrizantema can an armored force take before they just don't want to follow orders anymore? That's where asked-for small scenarios involving infantry patrol clashes could show up. The lines are static and their exhausted armor's left behind out of fear of being entirely attrited.

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Hi Kip,

 

I've read Janes' review when it came out a few weeks ago and found much of it inline with my own assessment of the state of affairs.  Quibbles with some small details and some conclusions here and there, but on a topic this complex and full of information gaps (i.e. *NOBODY* in the West knows what Putin is really thinking) that's to be expected.  Even after events are long over there's never full agreement on causality, alternative decisions, specific details, etc.  Look at all the debate still going on about dozens of major WW2 topics!  

 

One of the problems we have is in the language we use.  I am convinced the Russian state is headed for "collapse".  Now, what I define as "collapse" and what others do is often quite different.  For me it's simply the inability for the present regime to carry out it's will domestically and internationally in a coherent way.  It becomes more reactive than active, it wields less power than more.  If someone defines "collapse" as a total change in power, that's fine.  It's a concept that is flexible in how it is applied.

 

The second thing is time scale.  When I say "collapse" am I talking about tomorrow, next month, a year, 10 years, 15 years?  Autocratic regimes often hang on a LOT longer in a declining state than logic suggests.  Cuba, which is all over the US news today, is such an example.  Assad's regime is another, though it's holding on in a totally different way.  I think Russia is likely going the route of Cuba (steady decline) rather than Assad (bloody challenge).  Even if there is a coup in Moscow, I think the successor is likely going to be similar to Putin and that means the fundamental problems Russia has will not be addressed in a positive way.

 

As Kip says, there's no one right answer because things haven't happened yet.  We all have our own perspectives and interpretations.  So far events are playing out pretty much how I thought they would.  The ones arguing against my points of view have generally been proven wrong so far or, at least, not been proven right.  That could change any second from now, so I'm humble enough to know that my past track record is not an indication of infallibility.  It does, however, give me fairly solid reason to stick to my opinions instead of being swayed by those offering radically alternate predictions.

 

Steve

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Turning the topic back to CMBS Ukraine versus CMBS Russia, From a game perspective I think CMBS could stand to have a few 'stalemate' scenarios. 

Eliminating a salient in their otherwise static front lines, that kind of stuff.

The backstory and campaigns are pretty dynamic. But with the sort of firepower everyone's wielding I can imagine both sides rapidly getting to a point of exhaustion where nobody dares to advance against the other. How many Kornets and Javelins and TOW 2Bs and Shturm-S and  Khrizantema can an armored force take before they just don't want to follow orders anymore? That's where asked-for small scenarios involving infantry patrol clashes could show up. The lines are static and their exhausted armor's left behind out of fear of being entirely attrited.

 

Substantial suggestion MikeyD. I hope to learn the art of crafting small scenarios in Modern. Hope others join in the fun casue CMBS is going to Rock!  Fire me up Scotty

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