On Russia Insider

Preliminaries (1) Full disclosure: My personal involvement in the Russia Insider project is minimal. I donated $40 during the 2015 summer Kickstarter campaign, and until recently, they have been republishing my articles. I got no recompense for that, but I have always been okay with that. I want Russia Insider to succeed and I get free publicity […]

On the Crimean Sanctions

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/15): There can only be two “justifications” for it: (1) If the Crimean referendum was rigged and illegitimate, as Kiev and the West have repeatedly argued, on what grounds are ordinary Crimeans getting punished for what is in fact Russian aggression? Sounds rather whimsical and arbitrary, if that is so. (2) The Crimean referendum […]

The “Normalization” of Russia’s Demographics

This is the first of my promised Last Three Posts on DR. It’s been a bit more than a year since my last update on Russia’s demographic turnaround, and believe it or not, the cause of this was more than just laziness and lack of time on my part. A different question started bugging me: […]

Why Asia Won’t Sanction Russia for MH17

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/15): This map is instructive: Relations with China and India are excellent. China is fast becoming a semi-ally. Korea relations are fine. Relations with Japan are frosty, but even they are less enthusiastic about serious sanctions than the West. The main reason for this is Japan’s not unfounded fear that Russia will get too […]

Was MH17 Terrorism?

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/15): Let’s say that the SBU recordings are genuine and the NAF was directly responsible for shooting down MH77 on the mistaken impression that it was a (valid) military target. Should this then be classed as terrorism? Would it invoke NATO’s Article 5, as some of the most heated rhetoric is suggesting? (See http://www.spitsnieuws.nl/…/nederland-en-vs-bereiden-invasi…) Well, […]

The Fall of Slavyansk

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/15): 1) The fall of Slavyansk is mainly a political problem, not a military one. In military terms, it is, if anything, a success, with Strelkov managing to successfully exfiltrate the great bulk of his forces from encirclement. 2) Donetsk has almost ten times the population of (pre-war) Slavyansk. Having aquired the great bulk […]

On Ukraine/Syria

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/14): It struck me a while ago that what Russia is doing so far as the Ukrainian borders in the east are concerned is essentially the same as what Turkey and Jordan are doing in relation to Syria’s borders. Both Turkey and Jordan keep the borders open, allowing jihadists from across the world and […]

Russian Liberals and China

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/15): Russian liberals (Vladimir Milov this time) continue claiming the China gas deal is disastrous for Russia. His argument this time? That Japan pays $200/mcm more for gas than what China gave Russia. http://www.echo.msk.ru/blog/milov/1330024-echo/ He is either ignorant of or ignoring the fact that Japan imports gas as LNG, because it’s an island LOL. […]

A Very Brief History of China-Russia Relations

The response of much western commentary to the Russia China agreements has been scepticism that they can ever burgeon into an outright partnership because of the supposedly long history of mutual suspicion and hostility between the two countries. The Economist for example refers to the two countries as “frenemies”. To see whether these claims are […]

Impressions of the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum

I am currently in St. Petersburg where I have attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Before saying anything further I wish to thank Peter Lavelle of RT TV for very kindly and very generously arranging my invitation to the Forum. At the Forum I attended three roundtables: (1) On the InfoWars brilliantly hosted and […]

Deconstructing the Result of the Four Party Talks

The media refers to the document that emerged out of today’s four party talks as an “agreement”. This is not strictly correct. The text of the document is here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/17/ukraine-diplomats-meet-in-geneva-in-bid-to-ease-crisis-live-coverage?view=desktop#block-5350089ce4b056a9012cda6f As its text makes clear what this document is in reality is not an an agreement to settle the Ukrainian crisis or even an outline […]

Russian Federation Sitrep 2014.04.17

KIEV ATTACKS. On Tuesday what remains of Kiev’s army, accompanied with threats of destruction, entered two eastern cities, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. The soldiers soon switched sides (or as they say in Kiev “Russian terrorist sabotage groups have been captured six units of armored vehicles”), up went the Russian flags and St George ribbons and the […]

Russia’s Game Plan in Donbass

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/14): Quick piece I scribbled off for RIA: First off, an elementary observation: Donbass is not Crimea. Crimea features prominently in Russia’s historical memory, having undergone two epic sieges over two centuries. It was only given over to Ukraine as a pure formality, to mark 300 years since the Treaty of Pereyaslav that was […]

Russian Federation Sitrep 2014.04.03

  THE FUTURE OF UKRAINE. The Ukraine of six months ago no longer exists; it has been destroyed by the scheming of Brussels and Washington. If there is to be something on the map named “Ukraine” at the end of the year that in anyway resembles what was there six months ago, Moscow’s plan must […]

Was Crimea Worth It?

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/14): Was Crimea worth it? [editorial tone – neutral/objective] Pros * Secures major Black Sea naval base; Ukraine no longer able to link it to gas discounts. * Demonstration that Russia still counts to putsch leaders, pro-Russia elements in S/E Ukraine, and the West. From a realist, non-sentimental perspective, it’s better to be feared […]

The Lavrov-Kerry Meeting

We do not have anywhere near complete information about what happened at the Lavrov Kerry meeting on Sunday.  That in itself is a good sign.  It almost certainly means that with the Crimean issue out of the way (and with the western powers having tacitly admitted that the Crimea is now part of Russia) real negotiations […]

Navalny and Sanctions

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/14): While Gorbachev supports Crimea’s return, Navalny is helping the EU to compile sanctions on those who made it possible (http://www.alde.eu/uploads/media/Crimea_list_FBK_ALDE.pdf). All ideology aside, I really do think that this marks the end of him as a serious politician. (Note that I say this as someone who unlike most pro-Putinists predicted he’d get a […]

Russian Federation Sitrep 2014.03.20

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 March 2014 PUTIN SPEECH. After the referendum (by the way, perfectly normal numbers for this sort of thing see Falklands Islands, Kosovo and others) the process of re-joining Russia has begun – Putin’s speech here. One of his points was the illegality of Khrushchev’s transfer in 1954 “What matters now is […]

After The Referendum

If, as seems to be generally expected, tomorrow’s referendum in Crimea produces a substantial majority in favour of union with the Russian Federation, what will Moscow’s reaction be? I strongly expect that it will be…… Nothing. There are several reason why I think this. One is that Moscow is reluctant to break up states. I […]

What If?: Ukraine vs. Russia

Reprinted from Facebook (2018/02/14): I’m almost certain it won’t happen, but it’s always fun to consider these what-if military scenarios. Namely, Ukraine vs. Russia. In terms of numbers, it will be about 100K vs 150K – Russia has more, of course – 300K in the ground forces – but can only devote a certain percentage of its […]