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Uh so has Debaltseve fallen?


Zveroboy1
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Russia uses gas as a weapon, and Germany has suffered more than once because of this. So it is not in Germany's own self interests to remain dependent upon Russian gas no matter what.

For my part, I've never been particularly sympathetic to Ukrainian complaints about Russian gas supplies. The reality is that Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine to the tune of many billions of dollars since the fall of the USSR - including in the form of heavily subsidized gas. The Ukrainians have been abusing their position as a transit-point for gas to Europe as much as the Russians have been abusing their position as a supplier. If the Ukrainians had their way, the Russians would keep providing them with subsidized gas while paying Ukraine transit fees for the gas that crosses Ukraine's pipelines into Europe, all while the Ukrainians want to have their cake and eat it too by leaving Russia's economic sphere - and all the while the Russians pay for it by the provision of subsidised energy. Nothing comes free in this world. If Ukraine wants to go to Europe, then the Russians are perfectly justified in making them pay what the rest of Europe pays - the market rate. The pricing disputes leading to gas cutoffs all arise from this basic conflict.

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Ok, so I've had a blast reading through this thread the past week, so I just have to contribute..

Thanks Chris for taking the time to answer to us and to comment.

 

I'm disappointed to see much of this thread has been arguing against the procedure of this debate (ie, is chris biased, ) instead of critiquing the conclusions he draws with logical or rational arguments/evidence.

 

we seem to have been debating Russia's and Putin's responses to the Crimea and Ukraine War, what would everyone say is the strategy or plan for Russia in Ukraine over the next 3 months, 6 months and a few years?

 

is Russia's military being degraded as a result of the war in Ukraine? through loss of equipment, tanks, morale, weaponry? or is it easily replaceable/retrainable? is he using quality troops or conscripts? or is the loss of terrorists/criminals/Ukrainian sympathizers/seperatists the brunt of the military losses?

 

what impact, if any,  is there on Russia from the imposition of Economic Sanctions? do you really feel its significantly contributing to the war effort against Russia? 

 

do you feel that there is any civil movement or pressure in Russia due to its citizens that will, in due time, have a strong influence to stop the war/collapse Putin's power?

 

do you foresee an increase in defence spending in the other baltic states near to russia as a result of Russia's intervention? will this create/cause another cold-war? or will it be short-lived due to Russi'a economic situation (sanctions civil pressure etc?)

 

lets get the ball rolling :) 

 

let me quickly state, that I assume the intervention by Russia in Ukraine is illegal, and that war is an extention of politics, and that the war should be prevented. 

 

 

 

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Right, so I reached the part of the interview, where Putin talks about the nuclear deterrent. Alex K relayed it pretty well. The full transcript, is as follows (Starts at 1:28:30 or so of this video http://russia.tv/video/show/brand_id/59195/episode_id/1180834 -so that you could look at President Putin's delivery while he gives these answers to judge for yourselves whatever you want to judge):

 

-----

- Interviewer: In your discussions with western leaders - was it at all clear to you, that they would not involve themselves in this story via military methods?

 

- Putin: No of course not. This could not be something that was immediately clear. Even from the first stage of working [with them], i had to accordingly organise our armed forces, aaaand, not just organise them, but give them direct instructions, orders, which dictated the possible behaviour of Russia and our armed forces, under any [means all types] of development of the events.

 

- Interviewer: Does this mean, what you just said, that we also made ready our country's Nuclear forces?

 

- Putin: We were ready to do this, weee, I spoke to the colleagues [means western leaders] and told them directly, just like I am telling you now, in a completely open format, that this is our historical region, there are Russian people living there,  they became endangered,  we cannot abandon them, it wasnt us who overthrew the Government, this was done by Nationals aaaaaand, people with extreme mindsets, you supported them [you meaning west/US], but, where are you [west/US] located? Thousands of kilometres away?  And we are here. And this is our Land. What do you [west/US] want to fight there for? You dont know? Well, we know. And we are ready for it. And this is an honest and open position. Because this is what it is. And this is why I dont think that anyone had any intention to turn this into a global conflict. We are not intending to climb the horn [Russian equivalent of kicking hornets nest], they [unclear if he means Nationalists or the Western leaders, i guess he means Nationalists] have simply forced us to take such measures, and I will repeat again, that we were ready for the most unfaveourable development of events, and I was trying to base everything on the fact that it would not get to this and it was unnecessary to escalate the situation further. 

 

-------------

 

Then the video goes on with voiceovers from announcer, who says the following:

 

"Later, in the Ministry of Defence, we were told that in the days of the events, many of our Military Specialists proposed to Vladimir Putin, acting as the Chief Commanding Officer, to use all available measures in order to demonstrate the readiness of Russia to defend its national interests. The President responded, "Despite the sheer complexity and dramatism of the situation, the Cold War is over, and we dont need international crisises, in the format of the Caribbean one. Moreover, the situation does not call for the necessity of such actions, and would contradict our own interests. In respect of our Nuclear deterrent forces, the President added, they are anyway always in full combat readiness."

Edited by VasFURY
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Hahah, this inteview is indeed interesting, I wish someone did a proper full translation into english of its content. 

 

Later they talk about the US destroyer Donald Cook, which was lighted up by Anti Ship Shore Systems "Bastion", turned tail and ran for the bosphorus. Apparently, after that situation, more than 10 US sailors from the destroyer resigned from their service (can anyone confirm/find out in US news?) (could be just propaganda). Apparently one of the reasons was also the presence of Russian SU-24, which did some fly-bys on a dangerous distance to the already spooked destroyer. An admiral then says that in order to cool off our American colleagues, we had to demonstrate the strength of our force in the area, so we chose to utilise Air-to-Sea aviation with instruction to fly in missile deployment range, in order to demonstrate our strength. Then it cuts to interview with Putin, where the interviewer asks - was it your instruction to scare off the destroyer with aviation? No, says President Putin, No, not mine. They were naughty/bullyish to do so, and didnt even tell me. (hard to translate хулиган directly. It translates like a bully, but its not really. Its more "mischivous" than bully).  Then interviewer says: So, you turned Crimea into a Fortress? Yes, says Putin, we made it a fortress, from the Sea, and from the Air. 

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Hahah, this inteview is indeed interesting, I wish someone did a proper full translation into english of its content. 

 

Later they talk about the US destroyer Donald Cook, which was lighted up by Anti Ship Shore Systems "Bastion", turned tail and ran for the bosphorus. Apparently, after that situation, more than 10 US sailors from the destroyer resigned from their service (can anyone confirm/find out in US news?) (could be just propaganda). Apparently one of the reasons was also the presence of Russian SU-24, which did some fly-bys on a dangerous distance to the already spooked destroyer. An admiral then says that in order to cool off our American colleagues, we had to demonstrate the strength of our force in the area, so we chose to utilise Air-to-Sea aviation with instruction to fly in missile deployment range, in order to demonstrate our strength. Then it cuts to interview with Putin, where the interviewer asks - was it your instruction to scare off the destroyer with aviation? No, says President Putin, No, not mine. They were naughty/bullyish to do so, and didnt even tell me. (hard to translate хулиган directly. It translates like a bully, but its not really. Its more "mischivous" than bully).  Then interviewer says: So, you turned Crimea into a Fortress? Yes, says Putin, we made it a fortress, from the Sea, and from the Air. 

 

That sounds implausible to me. A feel-good story for the patriotic Russian public, that they saw off the evil American interlopers. I just don't buy it.

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The U.S.S. Donald Cook was buzzed by a plane, that was reported last year:

 

 

WASHINGTON — As tensions between the West and Russia simmer, a Russian attack plane engaged in “provocative” acts Saturday towards the destroyer USS Donald Cook in international waters, the Pentagon announced Monday.

 

Over the course of about 90 minutes, a Russian SU-24 fighter jet made 12 “close-range, low-altitude” passes near the Cook while the ship was in international waters in the western Black Sea near Romania, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

 

Warren did not say how close the Russian plane came to the Cook. But a U.S. Navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Stars and Stripes that at one point the jet came within 1,000 yards of the vessel at an altitude of only 500 feet.

 

The jet did not overfly the ship, according to Warren.

 

Warren said the aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from the Cook. No shots were fired and the plane appeared to be unarmed, based on visual observations made by those aboard the Cook, Warren said.

 

 

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/pentagon-russian-fighter-flies-provocatively-close-to-uss-donald-cook-1.277941

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steele6,

 

I believe you mean, Steve, not Chris, when you thanked Chris for "taking the time to answer us and comment."

 

VasFURY,

 

There have been no reports I'm aware of, from any source, saying the USS Donald Cook, the subject of 90 minutes of highly determined low level harassment, officially characterized to the media by Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren as "provocative and unprofessional," was being toyed with by mischievous Russian airmen, as Putin would have you believe. Note, too, that the ship made repeated attempts to contact the grossly offending Su-24/FENCER, but no response was made.  These efforts would've occurred on Guard (121.5 MHz), which is the international emergency radio frequency used by pilots for declaring Mayday, and air, naval and ground controllers for warning off encroaching aircraft and the like. The vid provides additional details.

 

 

Understand, too, that what the spokesman said needs to be understood as highly euphemistic speech. If you think I'm making this up, please see the pile of lies the public was told about the attack on the USS Liberty. To this day the truth hasn't been officially revealed, nor Israel called to task. Restated, given the choice of phrasing, you may reasonably conclude that what really happened was far worse and scarier than official statements acknowledge. Particularly, note the pains taken to directly state the plane didn't overfly the deck. Now, if that never happened, then why would they say anything about it? Nothing good can come of bringing it up, after all. The USS Donald Cook, an AEGIS equipped Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer capable of handling even ballistic missile threats, did not flee from the K-300P Bastion-P antiship cruise missile system in the Crimea, but was subsequently joined ~ two weeks later by, the USS Taylor, an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate, before the former rotated out and returned to her new base in Rota, Spain.  She subsequently returned to the Black Sea on December 26, 2014. There's been more activity since. Not exactly Bastion-P scared behavior, is it?

 

My assessment, Putin is indeed grandstanding for his listeners, claiming a mythical victory only a few will be able to contradict. In truth, he's very fortunate that strike jet of his wasn't blown out of the sky. US Navy ships always retain the right of self defense, and the Pentagon speak needs to be understood in exactly that context. The skipper of the USS Donald Cook exercised extreme restraint in an extremely tense situation. When the plane repeatedly failed to respond to being called on Guard, and came in on another pass, he would've been perfectly within his rights to put, at the least, a warning shot across its nose, for which the Phalanx CIWS Close-In Weapon System) is admirably suited. And if that didn't work...  Before I end this, I'd like to address the business of many times repeated claims that the otherwise unarmed Su-24/FENCER used nothing but an electronic device called Khibiny, that put all the AEGIS electronics on the USS Donald Cook offline, leaving the ship "deaf and blind." This story is just that, and the manufacturer, KRET, manufacturer of the real EW system of that name says so.

 

"By the way, nowadays Khibiny is being installed on Su-30, Su-34 and Su-35, so the famous April attack in the Black sea on USS Donald Cook by Su-24 bomber jet allegedly using Khibiny complex is nothing but a newspaper hoax. The destroyer's buzzing did take place. This EW system can completely neutralise the enemy radar, but Khibiny are not installed on Su-24."

 

The claim that AEGIS was taken down apparently first appeared on the Russian Radio website, or in light of what the Voltaire Network link above says, may've originated in Russian Gazette. In making the claim, the Russians shot themselves in the foot. How? They confirm the 12 reported passes and go on to characterize them as being the performance of a simulated missile attack. Rather redefines "provocative and unprofessional," wouldn't you say? That same site is the source of the crew leaving the ship story as well. The same story was presented and amplified upon by Pavel Zolotarev, Assistant Director of the Institute of USA and Canada, a putative Russian think tank, putative because it's really working for the Russian intelligence organs!  Indeed, per an FBI counterintelligence specialist named David Major who spoke at an official CLASSIFIED briefing during my time at Hughes, on the heels of the Falcon-Snowman case at TRW and the Richard Bell spy scandal at another branch of Hughes, that institute was a known nest of spies, for which it provided government, if not diplomatic, cover. Scholars aren't generally considered spies, and their perceived think tank looks like a high level policy analysis organization, giving them all sorts of access and the ability to operate outside of strict geographic limits imposed on Russian diplomatic officials and Russian staff in the US.

 

Thus, not only is Putin grandstanding for his people and a larger international audience, but he is, in my view and others,  executing a state level disinformation operation as well. Evidently, its purposes are: to humiliate the US, establish how serious the threat is to anyone contemplating attacking Crimea and, likely the most significant, to attempt to convince Poland that the AEGIS (planned for land BMD there) won't work in the face of exotic all-conquering Russian EW and that, therefore, Poland should not bother with building AEGIS and making it operational. This is a direct example of what the doctrine I described above in my #472 says: the use of information warfare to secure a political goal. In this case, it's ultimately designed, I believe, to solve a strategic problem for Russia: preventing any further deployment of AEGIS BMD by European NATO countries, with Poland as the current main area of concern.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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As an ELINT aircraft the Su-24MP does not operationally carry any weapons (apart from two AA-8 Aphid/R-60 missiles with 6lbs blast frag warheads), so it was likely that as soon as it was determined that that was what it was (likely when the Fencer turned on its OECM pods), they figured there wasn't any real reason to treat it as something overly belligerent.

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Agreed they are goals and that they are meaningful from the Russian perspective, but they are only achievable if Ukraine is brought to its knees first and kept there *forever*. This is because, contrary to original planning, Ukraine is showing absolutely no signs of willing to let Russia do either of these things to it now or into the future.

The problem is Russia is behaving like like it is playing a football match where there is 90 minutes of play and whoever scores the most goals wins. But in reality Russia is playing more than one match. Instead, it is like a season of football where you have to win enough games to make it to the finals, then win enough games to make it to the final match, and then you have to win the match. Even if you win all that, next year you have to repeat the process all over again.

Long term, Russian can not secure these the first goal at all, but could achieve the second goal if Ukraine agrees to it.

 

What is your definition of "brought to knees"?

And speaking of achievability. Ukranian position is irrelevant in achieveing both of that goals. Ukraine can not join NATO unilaterally without alliance's approval and NATO is not eager to accept Ukraine anymore. And Ukraine can not get Crimea from Russia on it's own without "big guys" commiting themselves to that cause. Just remember that Japan is hoplessly trying to get Kurials from Russia with zero progress. So, I would say both goals are already achieved. They only thing in question is was it worth it.

 

 

 

Because he doesn't want Russians getting any ideas in their heads about changes in Russia. It is why every year there are more restrictions on Russian freedoms, in particular speech and association. The 2011/2012 protests were a major turning point, but the need to suppress the truth about Russia's war in Ukraine has required even more.

Russians are very smart people. And I really do mean that. So if they see that a revolution in one city can get rid of a dictator and corrupt system of government, raise their standard of living, and enjoy the benefits of close economic ties with Europe... what do you think a Russian might say to himself? "This could happen here if we try". At least that is what Putin is afraid of. And he is right to be.

 

Uh, you seem to have quite vauge understanding of Russians :)

 

1. Russian involvement in Ukranian civil war as widely known "secret" in Russia. And that is not a problem in the eyes of majority of Russians. Non-involvement would be an issue. Needless to say, taking Crimea back from Ukraine is widely supported. Even anti-Putin opposition is splitted over the matter.

2. Ukraine is not getting to be "stable improving democracy" any time soon due to same reasons Iraq hasn't become real democracy even after you've bombed it into rubble. And why Russia hasn't become democracy when western-backed politicians got to power. Democracy is not some sort of software you can install into coutry. It should be part of it's culture which is developed over centuries. People that got into power due to Ukranian coup a not better than those has been before simply because they are products of the same system, same culture.

3. Events of Euromaidan has actually solidified popular support of goverment. Before it's bloody and violent culmination many people in Russia supported both Ukranian and domestic opposition. After Euromaidan support has sharply decreased, that is not kind of change they want.

 

 

 

The plan was to take the industrial and port facilities away from Ukraine, which would also take away access to Black Sea oil/gas, coal, and other natural resources which the rest of Ukraine lacks. These would only be reintegrated with Ukraine under conditions favorable to Russia. Specifically "federalization". This would ensure that the central government in Kiev could never do anything Russia opposed because it would continue to control the "federalized" territories as it has controlled Ukraine for the last 24 years. Basically by making sure it is dysfunctional and corrupt.

 

Hmm... do you really think, that Ukraine was disfunctional and corrupt just because of Russian influence? ;)

 

 

No, it is not realistic because it turns out Ukrainians do not want to play the part Russia thought it would. Which was to split into two and not have any strength to resist Russia's actions. Driving tanks to Kiev was never the plan.

 

 

If it's not realistic, then why do you think Putin would bother doing that? Either he is stupid or that is not his goal

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Unfortunately for Ukraine that doesn't really figure into how far the US should stick its neck out - the US has never had a compelling national interest in whether Ukraine was in the West's camp, and nothing has really happened to change that. US officials may deny that if put to them, but its self-evidently true

Oh, I totally agree. However, this is where the split between hardline interventionists and hardline isolationists really becomes apparent. To the isolationists, the definition of "national interests" stops at the border and then only is reluctantly extended. The interventionists generally view everything as in the "national interests" in some way shape or form.

Personally, I think there's ample evidence to suggest that a strong Europe is in the US' national interests and a weak/divided Europe is not. If Europe were politically and culturally capable of successful action for its own collective self interests, the US would not have to worry so much about Europe. But as the Balkans breakup shows, as does current events with Russia, the US does have to worry.

Sooooo... the choice for the US is to either understand that Ukraine is in its national interests as a side effect of its national interests in Europe, or conclude that Europe is not very important to US national interests and therefore Ukraine, as a side effect, is also not important.

I find the inconsistent position of US politics on this matter frustrating and counter productive. We had the same sorts of problems during the breakup of Yugoslavia, so nothing new.

Food is one thing, but as for its industry, Europe has plenty of that already. Also, this is really more Europe's concern than that of the US. The US has never been particularly interested in assisting the EU becoming a Eurasian hegemon (the same applies to Russia). US foreign policy has always sought to prevent that. NATO is where its at for the US - it allows them the greatest influence over European defence policy.

It is true that the US does not want a United States of Europe to compete against. Definitely. But it doesn't want a Russian hegemon in Eurasia even more. I think neither are likely to happen, but policy should not be based on hope or speculation.

BTW, the industrial comment was more-or-less about sustaining Ukraine as a stable and well balanced nation state. It has all the elements of being that, even if there are major issues with pretty much all of them at the time.

 

As far as the Russians see it, the West is meddling in Ukraine, they don't belong there, and they will go to the hilt to ensure that Ukraine doesn't move into the Western camp. Whether its true or not is irrelevant. So ultimately this could be a case of "Ukraine should be our ally because the Russians are determined that Ukraine not be our ally."

Or put another way, if we are going to be accused of something we aren't doing, we might as well do it and get some benefit from it :D

True, but how to stop it? The only way I see forward is a political resolution where Russia gets some of what it wants. Sanctions could go from now until the heat death of the universe, it would not change the Russian position. Just today the BBC is reporting the Ukrainian Rada enacted laws as to the 'special status' of the DNR and LPR that the Russians claim are contrary to Minsk II. This could be a pretext for further fighting.

Russia has no interest in Minsk 2 being carried out. Certainly the "true" separatists (which are in large part Russians) want nothing to do with it. Russia because Minsk 2 doesn't give them the ability to influence Ukrainian politics in Kiev or in Donbas, the Novorussians because they want to either be a direct part of Russia or their own independent state. So unless the West can find the magical combination of elements to get Russia to live up to its own agreement, Minsk 2 is dead already.

The other option, besides military and diplomatic, is to wait it out. Make sure Ukraine can continue the war as well as reform/remake its government and economy. As with the Cold War, Russia's policies are unsustainable given the economic and geopolitical realities. Eventually this will cause Russia to act towards a reasonable solution or collapse in upon itself as did the Soviet Union.

 

Well to be fair, Obama has repeatedly used military force without Congressional authorization, for example, and has sought it after the fact while saying he has the authority to do so anyway. Bush did the same I believe.

And Clinton and Bush 1 and Reagan and even Carter, true enough. These actions have all been deemed within their Constitutional authority. I don't know if that is the case with what Putin did, but I suspect it wasn't. In any case, none of the US leaders mentioned invaded another country, said they hadn't to Congress, then asked for permission for a hypothetical war that was in fact had already started.

 

No one should trust him - not without verification :). But in any event, we agree that the US is already doing what it should be doing per the Budapest Memorandum.

The US is doing the minimum, granted.

 

Agreed that he wants more - but for the abundance of clarity, I don't think its territory. Donetsk and Lugansk is leverage - they're very significant parts of Ukraine economically (or, were, and can be again). They're a tool to enforce compliance - renewed fighting can damage Ukraine at any time.

Absolutely. Russia didn't even want the Crimea, which is why I was surprised that Russia annexed it. These areas are net drain on the country's finances and are considered to be the most corrupt and "in the pocket of Russia" for the whole of the country. There are many Ukrainians who believe "good riddance".

BTW, the chatter in the hallways of the Kremlin, at the time of the "referendum", was that Putin had little choice but to annex. The hardline nationalists said they would accept nothing less, the groups expected to rule Crimea said they didn't want to wind up like Transnistria. So they basically pressured Putin to go with the Full Monty option. I do not know how accurate the scuttlebutt is, but it is logical and does explain why Russia would break with its tradition of not annexing the territories it pried away from neighbors.

Nobody in Moscow thinks these are "prizes" in and of themselves except the radical nationalists since they very much think territory equals power.

Yeah, I think Europe's conduct from the beginning of this has been unbelievable. They've nurtured this idea in Ukraine that the moment they signed the EU Association Agreement, everything would somehow magically get better. But they refuse to give any real help to enact the reforms Ukraine needs.

Yup.

 

A thing to remember about Poland is that it has gotten (IIRC) hundreds of billions in aid from the EU over the decades. This is precisely what Ukraine needs.

And post-WW2 Europe had the Marshall Plan (which were loans, for the most part). The track record of success for these programs is certainly good, so it should be extended to Ukraine.

Steve

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Steve, thanks for the reply, I think where I disagree, it is mostly in the interpretation or degree but the facts/issues/perceptions seem mostly valid.

 

[...] but I do believe that she is at a point where she wants to do more but can not because of politics. While I understand that, she is a leader and leaders are supposed to lead. She is falling short of that definition more than not.

Here is Merkel in a nutshell: she was voted in by a very large portion of the population exactly for her absence of leadership and passion. Yet she is a pretty accomplished politician after having gutted her own party to the last brain, and then overtaking the competition on the left. In Germany we have various ways of arriving at decisions. Grand leaders are certainly in the mix, but haven't been terribly popular recently. Currently the default is what gets least serious (seniority is important) opposition. Depending on the issue you can have a couple of years to come up with critique. You can get through life perfectly well without taking a single risky action, as long as you are adept at torpedoing other people's proposals. That is why (within their culture) Germans like to be so negative. I'll give an example further down.

 

Does Germany want to be remembered as the country that waffled in the face of Russia's war on it? Or would it not be better for Ukraine to view Germany as a friend who supported it in its most dire times? So far Germany hasn't made a good case for being viewed fondly.

Germany waffles all the time, see above. Coming out of an armed intervention with a net positive result is viewed as relatively unlikely, so unless "everybody else is doing it too", the place is far far away, or the situation is really dire - you try to sit it out or nudge things on as best you can.

 

[...] risking by inaction is it's strong relations with Poland, the Baltics, and northern Europe. The US, for all my criticism of Obama, is building up more good will than Germany is at present. If Germany, and other EU countries, are concerned/disinterested in US leadership pressure in Europe this isn't a smart move.

I would not call the relations with Poland particularly strong. In very recent history perhaps yes, but generally it is a lively up and down re the government, and a much slower lagging, generally improving relationship between the peoples. It is correct that the latter is at risk, and that is somewhat serious.

Re goodwill Obama vs Merkel it depends a lot on whom you ask. Also (many) people differentiate between German (or US) corporations, government, and people. I do agree though that Schäuble does not score very high against Varoufakis. We do try though:

;)

 

Germany's top 5 export nations:
France (8.8%), United States (8.1%), China (6.4%), United Kingdom (6.2%), and Netherlands (5.8%)
Russia is 10th at 3.5% with Poland a close 11th at 3.2%. Denmark and the Sweden combined account for about the same as Russia (3.4%). And this was before sanctions, so for sure Russia has fallen below this mark.

I tried to convey that the export issue is pressing of course - thanks for the numbers. It is about what I had in mind except I hadn't assumed the Netherlands to be so high in import and export but that does not change much. I just had a look here: http://atlas.media.mit.edu/profile/country/deu/and there's two issues:

1. If Germany can't get the crucial imports (3/5 top imports are ffuel, others energy embedded in e.g. Al, and of course "consumer crap") it goes straight back to "flint tools and roving hoards" as main export (or perhaps CDSs, or something in between). As an aside, someone mentioned "one can't eat gas, but western Ukraine has very valuable agri potential". While the latter certainly is true, I'd love to open a rather deep rabbit hole for the former: sure you can eat gas (since 1913 at least). In fact probably way more than 2/3 of the people do exactly that (for now). If you're feeling lucky look up W R Catton.

2. The rates of import/export change (and reasonable potential) over the last couple of years is probably more important. I haven't looked myself but I see e.g. Poland developing into another Germany-like economy. Perhaps complementary, perhaps not. Russia is a little further away from that state. Sure it would not be a "happy ever after" match but it looks attractive for feeding industry through the next 10-20 years at the least. Better than competing for African resources with China. What keeps many SMEs from setting up (a second time) in Russia is the seemingly crazy lawlessness and obscurity of conducting business at certain levels. However many believe Putin has a small but positive influence on this. The second point is not so much my personal take as what I infer from hear-say.

 

From the energy standpoint, Russia is definitely more important. However, Russia has proved even before this crisis that it is unreliable and short sighted. Russia uses gas as a weapon, and Germany has suffered more than once because of this. So it is not in Germany's own self interests to remain dependent upon Russian gas no matter what.

From my perspective this is not absolutely clear yet (see Dozza). However I would be very surprised if that would not become standard procedure in the decades ahead. One more reason to jump ship now and get on board with a tanker.

Personally, I would regret to see a distancing from very many elements of (newish) anglo-saxon culture. Although there is a lot on the eastern side that I really appreciate I am afraid it'll be kept down and on the margins longer than I can expect to be waiting for it.

 

@Steele 6: I like your approach, but I don't like my answers.

E.g. will this create/cause another cold-war? or will it be short-lived due to Russi'a economic situation (sanctions civil pressure etc?)

Probably No. And emphatically no.

The cold war was happening in a strong growth situation, where there were relatively many resources per capita to smooth out wrinkles and allow for live and let live. The way it looks, that is probably over for good. If we're good we'll get through it with a limited nuclear exchange. If we're really, really good we'll just scale down and refrain from breaking stuff too much. If we go gorilla - our time is probably up. Of course this goes a little past Putin's 6 month plan.

Edited by polterklotz
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What is your definition of "brought to knees"?

Another revolution in which a real civil war breaks out, thus allowing Russia to do as it pleases because there's no coherent opposition.

And speaking of achievability. Ukranian position is irrelevant in achieveing both of that goals. Ukraine can not join NATO unilaterally without alliance's approval and NATO is not eager to accept Ukraine anymore. And Ukraine can not get Crimea from Russia on it's own without "big guys" commiting themselves to that cause. Just remember that Japan is hoplessly trying to get Kurials from Russia with zero progress. So, I would say both goals are already achieved. They only thing in question is was it worth it.

NATO was very much unlikely to let Ukraine join even before this conflict. In fact, Ukrainians were against it too. IIRC about 2/3rd not wanting it and 1/3 in favor of it. If anything, Russia has increased the chances of Ukraine becoming a part of NATO because more Ukrainians want it than did before.

As for Crimea being gone for good from Ukraine, it is likely true. I do not see it ever becoming part of Ukraine again. Not unless Russia has a revolution and Crimea indicates it wants to go back to Ukraine. I do not see that as likely either. But your example of Karelia is a good one. Japan has not got it back, but they still want it and it still affects relations between Russia and Japan.

 

Uh, you seem to have quite vauge understanding of Russians :)

Actually, I think I know them better than you think :D

 

1. Russian involvement in Ukranian civil war as widely known "secret" in Russia. And that is not a problem in the eyes of majority of Russians. Non-involvement would be an issue. Needless to say, taking Crimea back from Ukraine is widely supported. Even anti-Putin opposition is splitted over the matter.

Absolutely about Crimea, but of course the war is not over. So they are happy about it now because they got it fast and without any direct bloodshed. The "honeymoon" period is already over because the true costs of sustaining Crimea are only now starting to be felt. Soon Russians might have what we call "buyer's remorse". Which is regretting a decision after an initial positive feeling.

As for the war in Ukraine itself, Russians still do not know the true costs of the war there because the government is hiding it. If they knew the true cost, their opinions might change. The polls indicate that a majority of Russians (IIRC 95%) do not want a full war with Ukraine, so it is obvious why the government refuses to admit it is fighting one.

2. Ukraine is not getting to be "stable improving democracy" any time soon due to same reasons Iraq hasn't become real democracy even after you've bombed it into rubble. And why Russia hasn't become democracy when western-backed politicians got to power. Democracy is not some sort of software you can install into coutry. It should be part of it's culture which is developed over centuries. People that got into power due to Ukranian coup a not better than those has been before simply because they are products of the same system, same culture.

It will take many decades to change the culture, true. However, it has to start somewhere or it will never change. I am a historian and I watched what happened in Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union lost control of it. I am seeing the same sorts of positive signs of change in Kiev now. It will not be even, there will be many setbacks and frustrations. But I think Ukraine's previous failed revolutions have given it knowledge to judge progress.

As the new Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science in a 1 hour discussion heard on US public radio said something like... "Ukraine is a nation that is very good at revolutions. We need to stop that" :) Meaning, Ukraine has to be a good nation of governing itself instead of just revolting and replacing the bad with more bad.

3. Events of Euromaidan has actually solidified popular support of goverment. Before it's bloody and violent culmination many people in Russia supported both Ukranian and domestic opposition. After Euromaidan support has sharply decreased, that is not kind of change they want.

This has a lot to do with the hundreds of millions of Dollars Russia state media spent on outright lies to discredit the new Ukrainian government. So it is not surprising that Russian views changed... because skillful propaganda works. And there is nobody more skilled and experienced at it than Russia. Though some are saying ISIS is the best out there.

 

Hmm... do you really think, that Ukraine was disfunctional and corrupt just because of Russian influence? ;)

Certainly not :D However, Russia's influence was designed to keep it that way.

 

If it's not realistic, then why do you think Putin would bother doing that? Either he is stupid or that is not his goal

I have been quoted in interviews as calling Putin "stupid" because I do believe it was his real goal ;)

But to be fair to him, dictators tend to be surrounded by people that tell him what he wants to hear. This is why almost all dictatorships fail unexpectedly. Very often because of fighting an ill advised war. Putin's other land grabs and internal interferences had almost always worked out as planned. Putin also has a VERY low opinion of Ukraine and Ukrainians, so why would it fail there? Arrogance was a part of his decision making process.

Putin surely believed that if they could create some False Flag incidents he could march the Army in before Ukraine knew what hit them. The areas would, like Crimea, be largely receptive to Russian occupation and therefore Russian influence. There were many good reasons for him to think this, BTW. But he overestimated how far and widespread this would be. He got decent results in part of Donetsk and Luhansk, but not much elsewhere.

Putin's "stupidity" came in at this point. Instead of realizing that his usual plan for a neighboring country would not work, and therefore try something new, he kept the same plan. Or as we say, "get a bigger hammer". He then wildly underestimated everything that followed.

Steve

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For my part, I've never been particularly sympathetic to Ukrainian complaints about Russian gas supplies. The reality is that Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine to the tune of many billions of dollars since the fall of the USSR - including in the form of heavily subsidized gas. The Ukrainians have been abusing their position as a transit-point for gas to Europe as much as the Russians have been abusing their position as a supplier. If the Ukrainians had their way, the Russians would keep providing them with subsidized gas while paying Ukraine transit fees for the gas that crosses Ukraine's pipelines into Europe, all while the Ukrainians want to have their cake and eat it too by leaving Russia's economic sphere - and all the while the Russians pay for it by the provision of subsidised energy. Nothing comes free in this world. If Ukraine wants to go to Europe, then the Russians are perfectly justified in making them pay what the rest of Europe pays - the market rate. The pricing disputes leading to gas cutoffs all arise from this basic conflict.

I agree that the gas deals with Ukraine are extremely complex and can not be viewed outside the bribe/corruption paradigm. If one just looks at price per cubic meter of gas to the consumer, then Ukrainians have had little room for a reasonable complaint. However, the point is that Russia has used the subsidized gas as both a tool for control (when it got it) and a weapon for punishment (when it did not). That is the only reason they got the deal they got.

Also, let's not forget that Russia viewed binding contracts as merely a list of suggestions. If it finds itself in a position that it doesn't like, it acts without regard to contracts or legality. There's plenty of evidence to support this claim. Including them being found liable for $50b for its illegal seizure of Yukos this past summer. A fine I doubt it has any intention of paying:

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/28/us-russia-yukos-idUSKBN0FW0TP20140728&sa=U&ei=PwYKVY6YHKK_sQSKxIKIDA&ved=0CB4QFjAB&sig2=I6qEZo70zraINtrL7sI8LQ&usg=AFQjCNGMpLJnL9MSMZtLXBEWnOfsy3guWg

Steve

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Absolutely. Russia didn't even want the Crimea, which is why I was surprised that Russia annexed it. These areas are net drain on the country's finances and are considered to be the most corrupt and "in the pocket of Russia" for the whole of the country. There are many Ukrainians who believe "good riddance".

Crimea will be a net drain in the short term, but over the long term it could pay for itself.

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/world/europe/in-taking-crimea-putin-gains-a-sea-of-fuel-reserves.html?referrer=&_r=0

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Regarding the USS Donald Cook, in my #482, I meant to say there have been no reports--not traceable to Russian state (federal, as opposed level control, to oblast)--indicating that ship was ever "lit up" by Bastion-P. Doing so would have  constituted a grave threat to the ship and would've been dealt with accordingly. As in making the problem go away forthwith, not waiting to deal with missiles in flight. Again, the inherent right of self defense. Illuminating a US Navy warship with a fire control radar tells its skipper attack is imminent. That doesn't go over well at all.

 

Speaking of threats, Putin has again raised the stakes by sending Tu-22M/BACKFIRE theater level bombers to Crimea. These bolster Su-27M and Su-35 aircraft already in Crimea.  This article not only addresses the bomber deployment, but states there is a lot of antiship missile ordnance already there. It also says there is a six ship NATO naval force in the Black Sea, two of which are Italian. This may be the seven-ship force reported by Reuters still conducting training there as of March 17, 2015. Additionally, the Russians have officially put 20+ ships to sea in the Baltic, with unknown forces operating in the Black Sea, the Norwegian Sea,  and the Arctic Ocean. They have gone to full-on war alert on Sakhalin and are generally exhibiting, in my view, every sign of fearing attack over a vast expanse of territory. Speaking from an animal behavioral perspective, they are "making themselves look big" by showing off their military capabilities, when they are really operating from a place of deep fear. I've seen this sort of behavior before. During the Cold War, the Russians, who tracked our greatly feared nuclear armed carriers with religious devotion, somehow lost one, impossible as that may sound. The word I got from the previously mentioned colleague who had a CIA Office of Science & Technology sponsor (I personally met the guy, at Langley, in his office) was that "It looked like somebody stomped an anthill." Every ship which could sail put to sea. Every flyable plane took off. Both were part of an all-out effort to find that carrier group. Once the carrier group was located, the ants, if you would, returned to the nest. As irrational as it may seem to us, Putin's afraid. Putting his forces on the scope and scale of alert (across nine time zones) is very expensive and is a major hit on equipment which has a vert short service life. I guarantee RT wouldn't dare talk about this stuff without official sanction. At the very least, this information would otherwise be SECRET. 

 

Steve,

 

In the course of trying to find a Yahoo article from yesterday, I may've found you a new research resource called UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization). The link will take you directly to a piece on the very poor situation of the Tatars in Crimea now. But the juicy part is what the Tatars told the Ukraine government about activities of the separatists there way before Putin moved against Crimea. Looks like a very good site. Per the Yahoo piece I did finally locate, things are bad and getting worse in Occupied Crimea, where Russia's economy looks good by comparison. 

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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Crimea will be a net drain in the short term, but over the long term it could pay for itself.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/world/europe/in-taking-crimea-putin-gains-a-sea-of-fuel-reserves.html?referrer=&_r=0

Yup, the oil and gas thing was front and center for those of us who were paying attention at the time. Russia seized some oil/gas platforms almost as quickly as it seized the ground. IIRC some of them weren't even in Crimean territorial waters.

How the balance sheet turns out is yet to be seen. It's pretty bad for now and without favorable cooperation from Ukraine it will continue to have costly logistics problems. If Russia ever goes through with the bridge project (estimated to be higher than $45b just to build it) that's going to further burden the balance sheet.

Steve

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Steve, thanks for the reply, I think where I disagree, it is mostly in the interpretation or degree but the facts/issues/perceptions seem mostly valid.

It is really good to get a detailed German perspective that is rational. So far we've only had a neo-Nazi chiming in from Germany, so it was not exactly productive :D

 

Here is Merkel in a nutshell: she was voted in by a very large portion of the population exactly for her absence of leadership and passion. Yet she is a pretty accomplished politician after having gutted her own party to the last brain, and then overtaking the competition on the left. In Germany we have various ways of arriving at decisions. Grand leaders are certainly in the mix, but haven't been terribly popular recently. Currently the default is what gets least serious (seniority is important) opposition. Depending on the issue you can have a couple of years to come up with critique. You can get through life perfectly well without taking a single risky action, as long as you are adept at torpedoing other people's proposals. That is why (within their culture) Germans like to be so negative. I'll give an example further down.

Thanks for this too. I do not know that much about internal German politics, but it is consistent with what I've read and heard from Germans. Especially the ones I know that have US Green Cards and are trying to become citizens :D

The German woman I heard speak at the Camden Conference talked a little about this. She is, basically, ashamed of Germany's problems with leadership within Europe and the world. Germany is clearly the single most powerful and influential nation on the Continent. It is quick to act when money or EU regulations are involved, but on almost all other issues it seems reluctant to do anything without consensus. And consensus in Europe is an unnatural state, so not leading in favor of a particular position is very often the equivalent of not doing anything.

This is a frustration for Americans. The old saying is "with power comes great responsibility". Germany has great power, but it wants little of the responsibility that goes with it. Which means when Europe is in obvious dysfunction, and the US steps in to give Europe the leadership that it lacks, the US is criticized. This is not to say that the US wants to give up all its leadership, nor does it mean that Germany only wishes to criticize the US. What I mean is that this is the inherent stress between the US and Europe but in particular Germany.

 

Germany waffles all the time, see above. Coming out of an armed intervention with a net positive result is viewed as relatively unlikely, so unless "everybody else is doing it too", the place is far far away, or the situation is really dire - you try to sit it out or nudge things on as best you can.

The US is no different since it does this with many issues. I think the difference between the US and Germany outside of their borders is that the proportion of action and inaction are reversed for the two nations. The US is prone to too much action, Germany is prone to too much inaction. Neither is optimal. Internally, I think the US is prone to too little action and Germany too much. But of course that is debatable.

 

I would not call the relations with Poland particularly strong. In very recent history perhaps yes, but generally it is a lively up and down re the government, and a much slower lagging, generally improving relationship between the peoples. It is correct that the latter is at risk, and that is somewhat serious.

Recent times is what I was referring to. Certainly Germany's history with Russia is even worse than with Poland.

 

Re goodwill Obama vs Merkel it depends a lot on whom you ask. Also (many) people differentiate between German (or US) corporations, government, and people. I do agree though that Schäuble does not score very high against Varoufakis. We do try though:

;)

OMG, that is hilarious! I don't know why the Germans have such a bad reputation for humor. But then again, I am told my sense of humor is a bit odd :D

 

I tried to convey that the export issue is pressing of course - thanks for the numbers. It is about what I had in mind except I hadn't assumed the Netherlands to be so high in import and export but that does not change much. I just had a look here: http://atlas.media.mit.edu/profile/country/deu/and there's two issues:

1. If Germany can't get the crucial imports (3/5 top imports are ffuel, others energy embedded in e.g. Al, and of course "consumer crap") it goes straight back to "flint tools and roving hoards" as main export (or perhaps CDSs, or something in between).

Yes, and we also know that the oil/gas industry has disproportionate political power due to its importance and money. For Germany, in particular. Schröder was not picked at random by GAZPROM, that is for sure.

 

From my perspective this is not absolutely clear yet (see Dozza). However I would be very surprised if that would not become standard procedure in the decades ahead. One more reason to jump ship now and get on board with a tanker.

Personally, I would regret to see a distancing from very many elements of (newish) anglo-saxon culture. Although there is a lot on the eastern side that I really appreciate I am afraid it'll be kept down and on the margins longer than I can expect to be waiting for it.

Of course none of us know the future, but historical trends favor Ukraine more than they favor Russia in terms of near term political stability. If Russia went through a relatively peaceful transition to a reform minded government (unfortunately, this is unlikely) then Germany would have two solid trade and energy partners instead of what it has now. Since favoring a strong Ukraine doesn't preclude a good relationship with Russia long term, I think it is pragmatic to ensure Ukraine doesn't become a failed state.

Steve

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Hahah, that video is hillarious!

 

@ John - thanks for the insight regarding the destroyer situation. I found this article here:  http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/11/13/aegis-fail-in-black-sea-ruskies-burn-down-uss-donald-duck/

                                                                             and this one (has english further down):  http://www.stopfake.org/en/lies-the-crew-of-the-us-destroyer-ship-got-scared-by-the-russian-fighter-aircraft/

 

I agree that Russia has a very strong propaganda machine, but then again so does the West/US. When that flight went down over eastern Ukraine, within the first week all of London was convinced that Putin personally fired the missile to bring the jet down. And then - complete and total silence. There are no reports on further findings, no reports on interviews with the Ukrainian traffic control officers from Kiev, who were leading the aircraft, absolutely nothing in the papers that sheds any light, on who was responsible for this tragedy. But what really irkes me, is that nobody here in the UK is seeming to even consider the possibility that there was a ukrainian military jet involved in this situation, or that there was something else rather than a ground to air missile, in accordance with the data that the Russian Ministry of Defence had provided some time ago. 

 

I guess both side's propaganda machines know not just how to highlight matters to embarrass each other, but also how to keep things hidden on the dark side of the moon. I dont think that professionally trained crew of a US Destroyer were spooked by a bomber that was flying very close to the vessel (if it was a situation where they were in danger, they probably wouldnt even have seen the bomber, just a missile contrail heading for their vessel), and subsequently resigned or needed psychotherapy. I do think that there may be a possibility that Russian military technology is not as **** as some of the western media outlets like to point out. Ultimately, i hope that there is never a situation to determine it in a combat environment, and I do hope that hostilities cease sooner rather than later, and further bloodshed is avoided.

 

I have read many interesting things in this topic by various sides of the discussions. I feel very sympathetic to the Ukrainians for their suffering (like I said before, I have family there, and Ukraine feels like a second home to me, even though I was originally born in Russia), but I do not feel sympathetic to the current Ukrainian government. I think that the most reasonable step to stop the bloodshed, is to call off the Ukrainian troops from the war against the "separatist terrorists", and bring them back from the front line. Maybe establish a new border, which, while not legitimately confirming Donbass autonomy, would act as the new national boundary, to be respected by Donbass/RF while the politicians and lawyers muse over how to resolve the separation.

 

As Steve and some others mentioned, I agree that it is unlikely that the "insubordinate" territory will expand further towards Kiev, in order to gain control of Ukraine. If that were to happen, the West would surely intervene with armed forces on the ground to defend Ukraines sovereignty (personally, I think the UN peace keepers should have gone in as soon as the Donbass conflict started). What such an "ending of the war" would mean for the Donbass region - i dont know. For sure there will be problems with maintaining public order and civil discipline (theres probably no police force there anymore, and a ****load of armed guys roaming the streets). Maybe Russian troop presence could provide some stability in the region for a short time? Problem is, although well trained, I do believe that parts of the Russian military have remained corrupt/"hoolyganist?" in nature, so Im not sure how that would work out (although all of Crimea is talking about the "polite green men", the russian soldiers that came in during the annexation period and have acted in the most disciplined and courtious manner - and i have heard this from people living in Crimea with whom we used to do business, not just media outlets). (again, referring back to media machines of the west/RF, notice how crimeans call them "polite green men", while in the UK media they referred to them as "little green men". Who would you rather have outside of your house? (I know the best answer is probably "neither" ^_^ ). 

 

Also, Alex K said something very clever - the russian people/culture/politics, will not change quickly (good example with Iraq). Russia is a huuuuuge nation, with over 100 nationalities within it. Russia is a totalitarian state. I dont see any other way that Russia could be governed effectively without being one. And I must say, that people for the most part, have been living better off in the last few years under the Putin regime, than they were for example under Yeltsin, or the USSR before that (again, not from media, but from personal childhood and family experience). I dont know if this will last with the current sanctions situation, and with the looming possibility of an actual armed conflict taking place, but Steve, I think that it is VERY unlikely that Russia will collapse any time soon from within. Public opinion is very high for Putin, and is very strongly set against the West's intervention. People do not view the current sanctions as a result of Putin's actions. They view it as a western attempt to undermine a strong and growing Russia, as it had previously attempted to do in the past. And in times of hardship, Russian people have a very strong tendency to come together and endure in order to overcome whatever difficulties exist. So if the West is being inactive because they want to wait Russia out, well, its gonna be a hell of a long wait, during which Ukrainian situation will deteriorate even more, because the sanctions are affecting Ukraine even more than they are affecting Russia.

 

Someone mentioned that to save the current situation, need to give ukraine loads of money (not on loan, just gift) - whoever said that sorry that Im not crediting your name, i just dont have time right now to go back through the thread.) I strongly agree with this, BUT, the corruption in Ukraine is even worse than in Russia. New government is very similar to previous in respect of their interests and goals. Any such monetary gifts will have to be strongly controlled in terms of their distribution and usage.

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I do think that there may be a possibility that Russian military technology is not as **** as some of the western media outlets like to point out.

 

There's only really two ways to prevent being acquired by sensors:

 

1. An airframe that is designed to give off a a very small, or even absolutely no radar return.  This is stealth, and is expensive, places very strong design restrictions on the plane, so if a plane doesn't look like an F-22/F-117 or is a fairly well known unstealthy aircraft, it likely has a visible radar return.  

 

2. Active jamming.  Basically bombarding the target sensor with enough emissions that it cannot sort out the garbage transmissions, from the return from its own sensors.  This is helpful when you're attacking because generally it causes issues with long range target acquisition, however at closer range it starts to fail (basically the sensor is usually more powerful than the jammer, so in practice it starts to burn through the backround noise), and it is amazingly brilliantly obvious there's something happening because your sensors are now full of garbage signals.

 

You don't just magic sensors "off" and then sneak in.  If there was such a potent capability it'd be the holy grail, you'd have the American version, the Chinese knockoff, the American and Russian countermeasure to this sort of system, and all sorts of folks flipping out about it.  As the case is our resident conspiracy theorist on this board doesn't seem to buy it, and that is strongly telling.  

 

The more likely scenario is the American one, where a very annoying Russian plane is told to go away on a few occasions, plane does not, Americans roll their eyes and life generally goes on as always.

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I agree that Russia has a very strong propaganda machine, but then again so does the West/US.

No, it does not. It has a wide range of very strong media outlets that, at times, hold totally opposite positions on a given topic. Most importantly, in the US none of which are coordinated and controlled by the US government. Not even Public Broadcasting, which is the only thing the US government directly funds, is within the control of the US government in any meaningful way (which is why Republicans have tried to cut funding for it many times :)).

The closet the US has to "propaganda" are what we refer to as "talking points". Both the left and the right of politics use these to try and control what is talked about and how it is talked about. The right is far, far, far better at this than the left. Sometimes the result is fairly similar to what happens in Russia, but it is still inherently not the same thing because there are opposing points of view which, usually, balance it out.

 

When that flight went down over eastern Ukraine, within the first week all of London was convinced that Putin personally fired the missile to bring the jet down. And then - complete and total silence. There are no reports on further findings, no reports on interviews with the Ukrainian traffic control officers from Kiev, who were leading the aircraft, absolutely nothing in the papers that sheds any light, on who was responsible for this tragedy.

This is not true. First off all, the media has a short attention span because there are always new things to cover. Everything, no matter how serious, "falls off the front page" quite quickly. However, there have been recent reports, all of which confirm the earlier ones... the only explanation that fits the facts is a Buk shot down the plane. Plus, as with any aircraft crash the reports are always quick at the beginning and then a long pause because there's nothing new to present until the final findings. And those findings often take years to arrive at.

 

But what really irkes me, is that nobody here in the UK is seeming to even consider the possibility that there was a ukrainian military jet involved in this situation, or that there was something else rather than a ground to air missile, in accordance with the data that the Russian Ministry of Defence had provided some time ago.

Uhm, I don't know what media you pay attention to in the UK, but this fantasy story (along with others) spun by Russia was covered in great detail and quickly rejected because it is contrary to the evidence and the laws of physics. In fact, sometime last week or so one of the design engineers for the SU-25 that Russia says carried out the attack said the aircraft design is physically incapable of doing so. Heck, even Russia Today had to cover it:

http://rt.com/op-edge/240021-mh17-investigation-su25-ukraine/

Note, this is a good example of RT's tactics when trying to address real news that it doesn't like. Gordon Duff, the guy interviewed, is totally and utterly unqualified to voice an opinion. He is, from what I can tell, an anti-semetic NWO conspiracy whackjob who holds no credentials to speak with any authority on the subject. Yet RT treats him like he's some world known expert. If you research RT's "experts" you will see a pattern of them being paranoid delusional conspiracy types with zero credentials or credibility on whatever they are being interviewed about. No mainstream Western media does this.

The other guy (Richard W. Bloom), on the other hand, does have credentials and he says "I think with the facts we already have on MH17 they would quickly come up to a conclusion that it was surface-to-air missile and the only question might be the specific individuals involved in launching the missile." Pretty cut and dried statement.

So what RT does is typical, but clever, propaganda. It puts the total nutjob, who supports Russia's invented story, first so people get those comments as first impression (which is a stronger impression than second). It then puts the credible guy, who refutes Russia's invented story, second. There is no attempt made by RT to inform the public that the first person is a nutjob and the second one is credible. That would be counter productive :D And the fact that RT can only find nutjobs to support Russia's official story is pretty telling.

The SU-25 "theory" was discarded quickly because it wasn't believable. I do agree with you about the Western media's poor handling of the story. It should have been more direct about how obvious a lie it was and who was spreading the lie.

Here is some more reasonable documentation of facts related to the downing of MH-17:

http://www.interpretermag.com/evidence-review-who-shot-down-mh17/

 

I guess both side's propaganda machines know not just how to highlight matters to embarrass each other, but also how to keep things hidden on the dark side of the moon.

The more one side controls its media, the more that side is trying to hide things on the dark side of the moon. That is because there is no other reason to control media, not to mention murder journalists.

 

I dont think that professionally trained crew of a US Destroyer were spooked by a bomber that was flying very close to the vessel (if it was a situation where they were in danger, they probably wouldnt even have seen the bomber, just a missile contrail heading for their vessel), and subsequently resigned or needed psychotherapy.

This is what depresses me. You heard something uttered by a confirmed liar, found it to be hard to believe, and yet you believe it until proven otherwise. Logically, you should be thinking about it the other way around. In other words, because it sounds hard to believe and that it was uttered by a known liar, that you should presume it isn't true unless someone can prove it otherwise.

 

I have read many interesting things in this topic by various sides of the discussions. I feel very sympathetic to the Ukrainians for their suffering (like I said before, I have family there, and Ukraine feels like a second home to me, even though I was originally born in Russia), but I do not feel sympathetic to the current Ukrainian government. I think that the most reasonable step to stop the bloodshed, is to call off the Ukrainian troops from the war against the "separatist terrorists", and bring them back from the front line. Maybe establish a new border, which, while not legitimately confirming Donbass autonomy, would act as the new national boundary, to be respected by Donbass/RF while the politicians and lawyers muse over how to resolve the separation.

That is what Minsk 2 is supposed to do. In fact, that was what Minsk 1 was supposed to do. The fact is there can be no peace or reasonable settlement of the issue until one of two things happens:

1. Ukraine surrenders

2. Russia ceases to wage war

 

As Steve and some others mentioned, I agree that it is unlikely that the "insubordinate" territory will expand further towards Kiev, in order to gain control of Ukraine.

Not quite. I said that Russia would not be wise to do so, therefore it hopefully will not. But if Ukrainian troops pulled back 10 miles from the current frontline, the next day the separatists would be within shooting distance again.

s

What such an "ending of the war" would mean for the Donbass region - i dont know. For sure there will be problems with maintaining public order and civil discipline (theres probably no police force there anymore, and a shitload of armed guys roaming the streets). Maybe Russian troop presence could provide some stability in the region for a short time? Problem is, although well trained, I do believe that parts of the Russian military have remained corrupt/"hoolyganist?" in nature, so Im not sure how that would work out (although all of Crimea is talking about the "polite green men", the russian soldiers that came in during the annexation period and have acted in the most disciplined and courtious manner - and i have heard this from people living in Crimea with whom we used to do business, not just media outlets). (again, referring back to media machines of the west/RF, notice how crimeans call them "polite green men", while in the UK media they referred to them as "little green men". Who would you rather have outside of your house? (I know the best answer is probably "neither" ^_^ ).

Read some independent news stories about what is going on in Crimea. Focus on the term "nationalization". If you look in places other than official Russian media, you will find that Crimea is now officially controlled by criminal gangs. Many would say it was even before Russia invaded, so perhaps it is only marginally worse. Then read about the difficulties Russia has had with the Cossacks in Donbas to understand that this is not isolated to just the Crimea.

 

Also, Alex K said something very clever - the russian people/culture/politics, will not change quickly (good example with Iraq). Russia is a huuuuuge nation, with over 100 nationalities within it. Russia is a totalitarian state. I dont see any other way that Russia could be governed effectively without being one. And I must say, that people for the most part, have been living better off in the last few years under the Putin regime, than they were for example under Yeltsin, or the USSR before that (again, not from media, but from personal childhood and family experience). I dont know if this will last with the current sanctions situation, and with the looming possibility of an actual armed conflict taking place, but Steve, I think that it is VERY unlikely that Russia will collapse any time soon from within.

Not any time soon, I agree. But look at Russian history. Twice in the last century very deeply entrenched totalitarian regimes collapsed quite suddenly. Both times due to a combination of war and economic difficulty. Do not think it can't happen again.

As for Putin's popularity, do not put much faith in the numbers. Even if they are accurate, support can fall apart very quickly when it conflicts with reality. Which is why the Kremlin holds such a firm grip on media, political opposition, public assembly, and anything else potentially threatening to an autocratic regime. The need for such things is a sign of internal weakness, not strength.

 

Someone mentioned that to save the current situation, need to give ukraine loads of money (not on loan, just gift) - whoever said that sorry that Im not crediting your name, i just dont have time right now to go back through the thread.) I strongly agree with this, BUT, the corruption in Ukraine is even worse than in Russia. New government is very similar to previous in respect of their interests and goals. Any such monetary gifts will have to be strongly controlled in terms of their distribution and usage.

Ukraine started out in this crisis more corrupt than Russia, for sure. It will take a long time for Ukraine to get to a reasonable level of corruption and government competency, but the same is true for Russia. The difference is Ukraine is moving in that direction, Russia is deliberately resisting it. As a citizen, I would rather be in a corrupt country trying to be better than a corrupt country that is not.

Steve

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Thanks for the points Steve, Panzer and other active members in this thread. Duly noted. I do disagree with some of your opinions above Steve - especially regarding armed gang control of Crimea. I have it on good authority from around 100 or so families whom i know from that region (whom we keep in contact with from time to time to see how things are developing), and they all unequivocally say that the place is very peaceful, and very Pro-Russia, no crime, no armed gangs etc. (Im in the maritime trade and used to service a passenger line between Odessa and Yalta before the current problems started, so I know many local seafarers, port agents, tour operators, technical services suppliers etc. and none of them have complained about anything that was bothering them. They are of the opinion that things are much better right now, salaries have gone up, pensions have gone up, fuel is cheaper, etc etc. Seafarers are usually very outspoken persons, as anyone here who is from the Navy will confirm, and they dont sugarcoat their opinions. If things were crap out there, they woulda said so.

 

Other points - Im not so well informed on them, so thanks for pointing me in the direction of the cossack problem and other "faults" with the Russian influence in the region. I will educate myself on the subject matters and possibly return to you with a debate on some of the interesting points that you have raised above, if I feel that I can argue a strong point for the other side.

 

But Steve, same way you get "depressed" when you have to point out to me that I heard something from a "confirmed liar", and base my opinion on that rather than on the logical reasoning related to a given circumstance, I get depressed when you relate to your news outlets back in the US as sources of much more informed/cleaner/truthful findings. Snowden showed the world just how capable your secret services are at either altering, witholding or modifying the truth, and lets not even get into the control of the internet conspiracy theory (interestingly, some of the websites that I was trying to pull up just now to paste into here, which i read a few months back and which provided the "Russian point of view" in respect to MH17 (from private sources, not government related) - I cannot find them anymore!). That's why its good to talk about matters relating to whats going on in the world with other educated humans, and hear their points of view, hear what they have heard or seen, and make own opinion. I have come to better understandings of some aspects of the "situation" from some of your and other member's writings. Just need to point out that your "totalitarian" necessity to outline all things wrong with Russia can be hard to stomach sometimes  :D . Its all good though, we get wiser from it.

Edited by VasFURY
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Speaking of "no new news" about M-17. Coincidentally this was released today by a Dutch news outlet:

A metal fragment from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 matches a surface-to-air BUK rocket, a Dutch broadcaster said on Thursday, supporting a theory that the plane was downed by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

http://news.yahoo.com/fragment-mh17-crash-supports-missile-theory-dutch-tv-160843056.html

I only post this to refute the notion that MH-17 is "forgotten".

Steve

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"It will take a long time for Ukraine to get to a reasonable level of corruption and government competency, but the same is true for Russia. The difference is Ukraine is moving in that direction, Russia is deliberately resisting it."

 

Not entirely true mate. Last two years has seen Russia  (Putin) change the internal policies in a major major way, to stop the syphoning of state/public funds into private pockets. Granted, the top/elite will probably be given loopholes to continue their own enrichment (as is true for any western country as well, lets not be rosy-eyed about this), but for the most part, there is a huge drive by Putin to stamp out corruption in Russia.  As for Ukraine, I really hope the government can stabilise the country and its economy, but lets not forget that the country's economy right now, is in the hands of 3 business men.  Who's businesses continue operating as normal, despite the war and the effect of the currency drop, I might add. 

 

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/03/11/ukraine-names-oligarchs-and-gangsters-as-governors-ministers/

(p.s. I dont know why the first image has a JUDE sign in it, the article doesnt seem to be anti-semitic in its content, otherwise I wouldnt have posted it)

 

Im not saying that Russian creme-of-the-crop are any better, but I would not go so far as to say that Ukraine is moving towards a reasonable level of corruption and governmental competency.

Edited by VasFURY
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