Opinion Poll: Belorussians Favor Union State With Russia Over EU

Been a while since the last Belarus update. It looks like progress towards implementing Union State provisions continues, with some accomplishments including:

  • Mutual recognition of visas from third countries. (So getting a Russian visa will now enable you to visit Belarus as well).
  • Moves towards removing cell phone roaming.
  • Russia to recognize results of the Belarusian high school state exam.
  • Extension of deadlines of various military objects and creation of three common military training centers.
  • Moves towards registered the “Soyuz” (Union) party in Belarus, whose platform centers around integration.
  • Belarusian goods transit to use Russian instead of Lithuanian ports.

These I suppose are good developments from Russia’s perspective, given that Lukashenko may have been getting second thoughts about reneging on the integrations commitments he had made in return for Russian support during the abortive color revolution against him last year.

Meanwhile, a couple of interesting recent polls on what Belorussians think.


(1) First one is from Chatham House, a British neocon foundation that can hardly be accused of being pro-Russian: Что белорусы думают про политический кризис

This question concerns whom Belorussians voted for in the massively falsified 2020 elections that were the proximate triggers of the protests. Removing people who refused to answer it, we see that Tikhanovskaya got 57% vs. 24% for Lukashenko. This tallies with my own deductions from the beginning:

Moreover, balancing out regional unrepresentativeness – and then some – is the extreme degree of early voting, which was a truly incredible 42% in these elections (and 28% in the leaked protocols). Unsurprising, there’s a r= 0.66 correlation between % early voting and % Lukashenko vote share. Just considering the precincts with somewhat credible early voting shares (say, <20%) shows Lukashenko at perhaps 30% at best. So even with the above factor of Minsk overrepresentation counted in, it’s hard to see how Lukashenko could have possibly gotten more than 35%. Likewise, it is also hard to see how Tikhanovskaya could have gotten less than 50%, making her President without the need for a second round.

However, anti-Lukashenko’ism, as I have often voted, does not automatically equal anti-Russian zmagarism.

Given the option to choose a President from a wide variety of names, a plurality of Belorussians (29%) opt for imprisoned oligarch Viktor Babiriko, who was not allowed to participate in the election – although its far from clear what he would do were he to actually come in power, he has maintained the most pro-Russian rhetoric of the major opposition figures. Lukashenko is himself in second place at 27%, which is congruent with my statements that his real level of support is at around 30%. However, only 4% now endorse Tsikhanovskaya and her radical Atlanticist agenda of banning pro-Russian media and EU and NATO integration.

It would also come as a bad surprise to those who wish to see Russian influence ejected from Belarus that Putin maintains a net positive approval rating Belarus, with 54% positive and 28% negative. Unfortunately, there was no poll on feelings towards the Union State and the like – perhaps for reasons that correlate with this one. As we shall see below.


(2) The second poll is from OSW, a Polish based geopolitics think-tank.

What is your attitude towards the following political leaders?

Lukashenko’s approval rating is at 40% positive (this may actually represent a modest increase from the 30% he was at before the elections – after all, people like winners).

Meanwhile, it is Putin who actually has the highest approval rating – with this poll finding that 60% of Belorussians are positively disposed to him. A number that is barely different from the 65% he has with Russians.

What is your attitude towards the following countries?

What is your attitude towards the following nationalities?

Belorussians are best disposed towards Russia as a state and Russians as a people, while the least popular states amongst the ones surveyed are the US, Lithuania, and Ukraine. That said, there is no major beef with anyone.

But here are the really relevant questions.

What is your attitude towards the following political structures?

71% positive attitude towards the Union State with Russia. More so than the much richer EU at 62%, and drastically more so than NATO at just 23% (which the secret program of the opposition committed to joining).

Are you in favour of deepening the integration of Belarus and Russia within the Union State?

Of even greater relevance: 54% want deepened integration with Russia in the context of the Union State. Given the already existing level of ties, this means de facto merging into one country by any other name. There’s substantial opposition here, of course – 38%, and almost certainly an outright majority amongst the under 40s (who dominated the protests). But still, boomers do have a voice, no matter how much this annoys the “we wuz Litvins” youngsters who get “triggered” by the word “Belorussia”. 54% versus 38% is solidly legitimate from a “democratic” perspective.

Again, a reminder that this poll comes from a Polish, pro-NATO think tank. They have no incentive to “pad” the results in Russia’s favor and to the extent they reflect well on Russia they explain it through loaded terms such as the “regime’s propaganda.”

How do you evaluate the policy which the following countries have adopted towards Belarus during the current political crisis?

And while this is hardly a ringing endorsement of Russian actions during the protests, nor is it a condemnation or a vindication of Western/zmagarist claims that Putin coming down on Lukashenko’s side was going to “alienate” Belorussian society from Russia (to a greater extent than was already the case, at any rate). Not when an outright majority (52%) have a positive attitude towards Russian policy on Belarus during the unrest. In fact, to the extent that the Belorussians didn’t appreciate foreign involvement, it was sooner aimed against the Ukraine and the PR stunt they tried to pull with the Wagner mercenaries (an intel ops in coordination with the Americans to lure them into Ukrainian territory and arrest them, after the failure of which Ukraine put Lukashenko onto its “enemies of Ukraine” list and threatened Belarus with sanctions).

Still, it seems that the Belorussians are on the whole a phlegmatic people, used to being at the crossroads of empires, and were basically OK with everybody getting involved in their internal squabbles in net terms.

That said, there were a few questions that might be a cause for concern so far as Russian policy-makers are concerned.

Do you think that the policies of the following countries threaten the territorial integrity of Belarus?

This looks bad at first glance, but it is really just a factual statement. “Russia” is literally the correct answer.

What historical tradition should Belarus primarily draw upon?

This is portrayed as a drift towards Occidentophile sentiment by the Polish authors, since the numbers associating with the USSR is declining.

But to what extent does this reveal something real as opposed to Soviet boomers dying off and getting replaced by zoomers who identify more with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which some historians describe as a Rus state? Moreover, the Russian Empire isn’t even given as an option by the very considerate Poles. The most markedly zmagarist choices would be the Belarusian People’s Republic and the PLC, but between them, they only garner 22% of the vote – about the same percentage as those with a positive opinion of NATO, and I would guess largely overlapping.

Are you considering working abroad, and if so, where?

Probably the most concerning result in this poll is that Poland is now visibly ahead of Russia as a source of work. This is perhaps inevitable, given the wage differential between the two ($700 in Russia, $1,250 in Poland). Belorussians might like Russia and Russians more, but you can’t blame them for going where they’ll get more money; Poland has also made it bureaucratically very easy through the Polish Card, which requires having some Polish ancestors and a rudimentary knowledge of the Polish language (this is smart policy on the part of the Poles). Poland has had a very nice time economically since 2014, whereas Russia’s was marked by adjustment to lower oil prices and sanctions. Nonetheless, this could well be a temporary state of affairs for those exact same reasons – this transition has played itself out and Russia is in now in a better position to grow fast.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.

 

Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.

 

Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.

Comments

  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

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  2. Of even greater relevance: 54% want deepened integration with Russia in the context of the Union State. Given the already existing level of ties, this means de facto merging into one country by any other name. There’s substantial opposition here, of course – 38%, and almost certainly an outright majority amongst the under 40s (who dominated the protests). But still, boomers do have a voice, no matter how much this annoys the “we wuz Litvins” youngsters who get “triggered” by the word “Belorussia”. 54% versus 38% is solidly legitimate from a “democratic” perspective.

    By all means, let the people speak! Just keep in mind that popular opinions could eventually be reversed–Britain voting to join the EU in the 1970s and then voting to leave the EU in 2016, for instance.

    Anyway, as a Westerner (of Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian-Jewish) myself, I am quite content to have the West play “the long game” for Belarus. There’s absolutely no need to rush things, after all. Strategic patience is a key virtue.

  3. It’s quite interesting–the West has been extremely successful at expanding its sphere of influence over the last 35 years, especially in Europe and the former Communist space. Pro-Western Belarusians should bide their time–for decades, if necessary–and learn from the experiences of their pro-Western Eastern European neighbors. Maybe allowing Belarusians to work in the European Union might also be of value–to get Belarusians more acquainted with the European Union, for instance. Though I’m unsure just how politically feasible this actually is in the near-term.

    As for having Belarus join NATO, I really don’t see why exactly this would be necessary. Finland was able to join the EU without joining NATO, after all. Ditto for Austria.

    Interestingly enough, with the future of Belarus on the line, there might be a greater incentive for the West to try making Ukraine a success story–though this is likely to be a work-in-progress lasting for at least a couple of decades.

  4. As a side note, if Belarus would have actually been, say, a province of Ukraine, then I would not have necessarily opposed its union with Russia–a la the Donbass. But it is its own independent country and even in 1897 (Great) Russians and Belarusians were recognized as being different on the 1897 Imperial Russian census. But you should know that I myself have sentimental attachments to Belarus.

    Anyway, this is a matter for the Belarusian people to decide–and of course they should reserve the right to change their minds later on, if necessary. The West should, of course, try using the various tools at its disposal (soft power, et cetera) to reach out to the Belarusian people. Helps build stronger connections, you know?

    By the way, in regards to Ukraine, other than teaching Ukrainians how to better organize protests, just what else exactly did US democracy promotion in Ukraine actually consist of?

  5. Shortsword says

    These numbers are obviously falsified somewhat. Probably by using a non-representative sample.

  6. Shortsword says

    As for having Belarus join NATO, I really don’t see why exactly this would be necessary. Finland was able to join the EU without joining NATO, after all. Ditto for Austria.

    Retarded point.

    Finland and Austria will be aligned with NATO anyway. It doesn’t matter as much. For Belarus it’s about cementing control. Admission into NATO would go together with political and military purges.

  7. Time to go ahead with the Rus Confederation including Belarus, Russia and Novorussia (Donbass republic so far).

  8. Belorussians are best disposed towards Russia as a state and Russians as a people, while the least popular states amongst the ones surveyed are the US, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

    To clarify, Ukraine is exactly in the middle, with three states more popular and three states less popular (you forgot to add China).

    71% positive attitude towards the Union State with Russia. More so than the much richer EU at 62%

    Which means either the Eurasian Union or the EU would win in a referendum, though Eurasia would win by a larger amount. But no NATO.

    Of even greater relevance: 54% want deepened integration with Russia in the context of the Union State. Given the already existing level of ties, this means de facto merging into one country by any other name. There’s substantial opposition here, of course – 38%, and almost certainly an outright majority amongst the under 40s (who dominated the protests)

    So if Russia and Belarus do not unify soon (say, ten years, before too many boomers or older folks die off), the train will leave the station.

    ::::::::::::::::::

    Any geographical differences on these polls?

  9. ΔŖК†ІКⱲØЛФ says

    Anatoly, thanks for the polls, I always appreciate hard data + analysis like this. How likely (in %) do you think it is that Belarus will merge with Russia (either de facto or de jure) in the next two decades?

  10. Retarded point.

    Finland and Austria will be aligned with NATO anyway. It doesn’t matter as much. For Belarus it’s about cementing control. Admission into NATO would go together with political and military purges.

    You mean similar to Ukraine purging its pro-Russian media right now?

  11. So if Russia and Belarus do not unify soon (say, ten years, before too many boomers or older folks die off), the train will leave the station.

    TBF, though, even an EXTREMELY long-lasting unification can theoretically be reversed later on. For instance, England and Scotland. They were unified for over 300 years but it’s unclear that they will actually permanently remain unified. If Belarusian youth think that their elders will give them a bad deal in regards to unification, they could theoretically reverse this move later on once they themselves will have much more political power. I don’t believe that any kind of political integration MUST necessarily become a self-sustaining process. Rather, I think that it depends on what kind of appeal it will generate over the years, decades, and centuries. Just like one can leave a bad marriage (even an EXTREMELY long-lasting one), one can also leave a bad union.

  12. And also northern Kazakhstan?

  13. Not feasible. Not necessary.

  14. More so than before 2020. Perhaps 35%?

  15. Correct. In practice, EU and NATO integration have been interlinked since the 1990s. No reason for that to change.

  16. Concerned citizen says

    Poland has had a very nice time economically since 2014, whereas Russia’s was marked by adjustment to lower oil prices and sanctions.

    The Karlin cope.

    1. The effect of sanctions on the Russian economy has been negligible. Around 1% of GDP since 2014
      Proof: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/216248/1/CESifo-Forum-2019-04-p19-22.pdf
    2. So what exactly is this adjustment to lower oil prices? Is it perchance a development of non-oil, high-value added exports? A breakthrough in cutting edge industries? Surely this adjustment resulted in a surge of economic growth? Spoiler: nothing like that happened. There has been no “adjustment”. Russia remains a country dependent on raw material exports: half of federal budget, 70% of exports.

    Russian real wages are the same as in 2008. Russia has had a lost decade. The reason: incompetent rule by greedy, but stupid people.
    Even in Karlin’s questionable worldview where freedom=bad, Vlad’s cronies are indefensible. They aren’t Lee Kuan Yews at the slightest, so Anatoly’s crush on Putin is truly bizarre to me.

  17. So if Russia and Belarus do not unify soon (say, ten years, before too many boomers or older folks die off), the train will leave the station.

    I probably wouldn’t be that categorical. After all, people become more conservative with age – Belorussian support for Russian integration over European may have slipped over the past three decades, but nowhere near as fast as demographic replacement would have predicted. In the past decade in particular, Europhile sentiment has also been driven by the opening of EU labor markets to Belorussians, while Russia’s has become relatively less attractive. These factors could always shift in all kinds of unpredictable ways. And there could be other developments in both the EU or in Russia that make them relatively more or less attractive to Belorussian youth. But yes, over the long term, the BelArusian identity is likely to crystallize and decrease the probability of a union.

  18. Belarusian Dude says

    Still, it seems that the Belorussians are on the whole a phlegmatic people, used to being at the crossroads of empires, and were basically OK with everybody getting involved in their internal squabbles in net terms.

    An accurate summary of the situation. I remember some anecdote my father told me of how the latest occupants came and hung a Belarusian man for partisan activity. A day later he was lowered from the noose and to everyone’s surprise he was still alive. When asked how he did it he replied: “At first it hurt, but I soon got used to it.” The one long term trend that might be best for the Russians is that the more liberalized youngsters have very few kids sometimes importing gay childfree ideology whilst the oft. rural vata have 1 child at a much younger age usually followed by more.

  19. Belarusian Dude says

    As an addendum for this reason a veyshnorian situation is impossible. Even if Brest or some other city manages to reach a critical mass of zmaharism it will be instantly encircled by vatniks.

    Indeed such polls tend to go for large cities like Brest, Minsk, Hrodno, Homel city, etc. And do not account for the opinion of their significantly more reactionary neighbours regions

  20. I predict that luka is on his final legs. – Concerned Citizen, August 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm GMT

  21. Verymuchalive says

    Get your facts right. The UK did not vote to join the European Economic Community. It joined the EEC in 1973 without a referendum. There was a referendum in 1975 whether to confirm the entry into the EEC. A majority voted in favour, largely convinced that the EEC was just that – a trading bloc.

    Several transmogrifications later, the EEC had become the European Union. None of these changes were approved by a referendum of the British people. When there was an actual referendum about this would be superstate, the majority voted to leave.

  22. Russian Unionist says

    “Of even greater relevance: 54% want deepened integration with Russia in the context of the Union State. Given the already existing level of ties, this means de facto merging into one country by any other name. There’s substantial opposition here, of course – 38%, and almost certainly an outright majority amongst the under 40s (who dominated the protests). ”

    Does this mean that Russia needs to act quickly if it wants to fully annex the country (e.g., making it one of its federal subjects or a federal okrug)? Alternatively, is there a possibility of an LDNR-style scenario with a separation of the eastern Belorussian regions, i.e., Vitebsk, Mogilev, Gomel? (Of course, Brest is as Russophile as Mogilev, but with Minsk in the middle it all may not be that easy to “swallow”.)

  23. Russian Unionist says

    even in 1897 (Great) Russians and Belarusians were recognized as being different on the 1897 Imperial Russian census

    The 1897 census recorded the native language or dialect of the citizens. It did not “recognise” (Great) Russians and Belorussians as being “different” (“different peoples/nations” I assume you meant to say).

    The official view of that time was that Belorussian (or rather White Russian to use a historically accurate term) was either a dialect of Russian or merely “a branch of the akayushchy Southern Great Russian dialect”:

    «белорусское наречие, на котором говорят белорусы, по фонетике и морфологии является отраслью акающего южновеликорусского говора» (С. К. Булич, Энциклопедия Брокгауза и Ефрона)

  24. Agathoklis says

    The Russian model is just not attractive no matter how many trannies are raising children or enlisting in the military in the West. Sensible people largely ignore the Woke wave and get on with their mostly prosperous and self satisfied lives. In comparison, Russia signifies stagnation, mismanagement, lost potential etc.

  25. They’re been interlinked because countries that joined the EU also wanted to join NATO. But if they wouldn’t have wanted to join NATO, no one would have actually forced or pressured them to do so.

  26. FWIW, if Samogitians want to have a separatist movement from Lithuania, by all means, let them start one!

  27. If Central Asian gasterbeiters ever begin moving to Belarus in large numbers, that could further strengthen the pro-European side in Belarus, no? After all, within the EU, Muslims are more likely to move to Western Europe as opposed to Eastern Europe.

  28. Russian Unionist says

    Belarus is not Scotland which existed for nearly a millennium before the union with England. If not for the decision of the Bolshevik government to create a “union of republics” largely for the factions in Ukraine and Caucasus and the korenizatsiya policy (which the actual Belorussian masses didn’t want) there would be no topic for discussion here today.

  29. Shortsword says

    They’re been interlinked because countries that joined the EU also wanted to join NATO. But if they wouldn’t have wanted to join NATO, no one would have actually forced or pressured them to do so.

    That’s the narrative that’s told but it isn’t true. Out of the Eastern European countries that joined NATO only Poland and the Baltic states were enthusiastic about it. For the rest it was a package deal. And there was pressure to accept it.

  30. Wouldn’t using Russian rather than Lithuanian ports for Belarusian goods transit add hundreds of miles to the trip?

    Stalin might have been short sighted in not adding some southern Lithuanian territory (including Marijampole and Druskininkai) to Belarus in order to make it contiguous with Kaliningrad Oblast. That territory had a lot more Poles than Lithuanians at the time, so it would have been relatively easy to replace the displaced Poles with Russians and Belarusians, rather than Lithuanians.

  31. It might be feasible if the territories to be reunited with Russia were more narrowly defined.

    Uralsk and Petropavl are, in some ways, pretty Russian already, and they’re close to Russia.

  32. Shortsword says

    Wouldn’t using Russian rather than Lithuanian ports for Belarusian goods transit add hundreds of miles to the trip?

    From Minsk the distance to Klaipeda (Lithuanian port) is 460km and to Ust-Luga (Russian port) the distance is 640km. Then you’ll have to add another ~700km shipping distance too. So the answer to the question is yes.

  33. What exactly did this Western pressure consist of, and source, please?

  34. FWIW, there’s also the Minsk to Riga route, which is around 475 kilometers long.

  35. Yep, that’s probably true. Of course, in such a scenario, if Russia would have been REALLY smart, it would have also created a special economic zone (SEZ) in the Baltic states in order to flood these territories with Slavs.

  36. Moreover, the Russian Empire isn’t even given as an option by the very considerate Poles.

    Yup!

  37. Shortsword says

    It’s made very clear that joining NATO is the way into being part of the Western world. So that’s every Western institution pushing for that. Just joining EU for economical benefits isn’t on the table even if that’s really what most countries are after. There must be geopolitical loyalty. Joining NATO is the ultimate way to signal this.

    I’m not sure if you’re just naive or whatever. You won’t find much of this in legal documents.

  38. Belarus is not Scotland which existed for nearly a millennium before the union with England. If not for the decision of the Bolshevik government to create a “union of republics” largely for the factions in Ukraine and Caucasus and the korenizatsiya policy (which the actual Belorussian masses didn’t want) there would be no topic for discussion here today.

    If anything, Belarus is more like Wales, with Ukraine being more like Scotland.

  39. If you don’t have any sources to back up your claim–not even any articles from dissident writers–then I’m not sure why exactly I should actually be inclined to believe you.

  40. Welsh separatism could yet emerge over the next 50 or 100 years! Seriously.

  41. Yep, Belarus would have definitely been MUCH better off having Kaliningrad Oblast along with a land corridor to it. Arguably, they deserved it considering that their percentage losses in World War II were probably the largest among all Soviet peoples other than the Jews, who got Israel.

  42. Shortsword says

    Okay. Don’t.

  43. Bylorussians seem pretty sane and good natured to me. The don’t want NATO, but apart from that they don’t seem to hate anyone much. I don’t know the place so tell me if I am wrong.

  44. Felix Keverich says

    As a matter of fact, Russia’s “non-resource” exports reached historic high in 2020. They grew every year since 2014.

    https://tass.com/economy/1250003

    Russia became a net food exporter for the first time in modern history in 2020. China has been a huge help, as they’re willing to give Russian products a chance.

  45. reiner Tor says

    I don’t know about pressure, but Hungary joined NATO five years before the EU.

    It was generally understood a part of the package to join the West. Before joining, there was heavy government propaganda (“information campaign”) about it and it was later even criticized by some Norwegian NGO, because they realized that basically 100% of the “information” distributed at taxpayer expense was pro-NATO and no counter-arguments were even considered. Likewise the media was 100% pro-NATO.

    Even so, the law on popular votes was changed in the runup to the vote. The previous rule was that for a yes vote to be valid, at least 50% of the eligible voters needed to turn out to vote, and at least 50% (+1 vote) needed to vote in favor. But it was clear that it would be difficult to achieve in that case, because there wasn’t enough enthusiasm (though in part it was because everyone assumed the vote to succeed as no political force was openly opposed except the small fringe far right and far left parties), while those opposed (probably a minority anyway) were apathetic (and the government encouraged their apathy, for obvious reasons). In the event, they changed the rule that a vote would be valid if the yes vote got a majority of the votes and at least 25% (+1 vote) of the eligible voters voted in favor. Which is what happened, turnout was relatively low (49%), but within that a vast majority (85%) voted yes.

    Overall I’m not sure how much would have been done to push the country into NATO even if the population was less supportive (and the support was to some extent manufactured through propaganda and media domination), but apparently in Bulgaria there was no popular vote (as its outcome could not be assured), and so I don’t think that popular opinion (malleable as it is) in Ukraine or even Belarus could prevent it, even in the hypothetical scenario without Crimea etc.

  46. From what I can tell, knowledge of Woke is very minimal to non-existent in Belarus.

    But, my wife knows a number of younger siloviks or guys who work in government ministries and are already entering politics in preparation for higher office later, they are still relatively pro-Luka and have more of an orientation towards Russia, because it is closer to what they already know.

  47. LondonBob says

    The EU avoids public plebiscites are they normally don’t go the way they want, public opinion is simply ignored when there isn’t an overwhelming majority, a lesson there. I figure the Westminster bubble had become so detached from society they actually thought they would win.

  48. LondonBob says

    Commodity prices are starting to soar so Russia will boom over the next few years, Poland is a commodity importer and EU funds and transfers will be less now Britain is no longer subsidising them.

  49. You know what I would find hilarious?

    The Zmagarists winning, turning Belarus into Litvia or whatever the fuck they larp as, and then starting beef with the Baltoids because “they’re swamp hicks who refused to be civilize into Slavdom and stole the name of Lithuania”

    I think the ensuing feeling of betrayal would push the already insane suicide rate of the Balts into 100%

  50. AltanBakshi says

    As for having Belarus join NATO, I really don’t see why exactly this would be necessary. Finland was able to join the EU without joining NATO, after all. Ditto for Austria.

    Finland joined EU in 1995, then everybody thought that EU is just an economic union and not a political one.

  51. Pro-Western Belarusians should bide their time–for decades, if necessary–and learn from the experiences of their pro-Western Eastern European neighbors. Maybe allowing Belarusians to work in the European Union might also be of value–to get Belarusians more acquainted with the European Union, for instance.

    Now see, that’s old timey Soviet era thinking.
    In today’s world, places like Russia, Belarus, Vietnam, and China, have open borders (not counting the COVID thing).

    They are free to go abroad at any time. In 2019 literally 1 in 9 Byelorussians went abroad for a holiday.
    https://eng.belta.by/society/view/belarus-outbound-tourism-up-by-155-in-2019-128664-2020/

    They sunbathed and took touristy photos of ancient stuff in Spain and Greece and Egypt, and then they resumed their lives back at home. Where borders are open and all media is available.

    They can watch any films they want and listen to any music they want. This is not the world circa 1980 where “maybe we should figure out a way for them to check out what the West actually looks like, and how they should get access to Western TV and films”.

    All of this is already a given. This is 2021.

  52. I don’t think Belarussians want to place their country as the fourth Baltustan.

  53. Hapalong Cassidy says

    I wonder what the popularity of Lukashenko is among Russians. I’m sure it is a lot less than it was in the 1990’s. Back then there was a movement to draft him to run against Yeltsin.

  54. You see, this is what Karlin is not getting. As much as it pains me to say this, Karlin is living in the past. The past of the nation state. I know this feeling because I was used to living in that mindset too.

    I remember when I was in my 20s, being incredibly proud to be British. Concerned about immigration, the destruction of the local culture, etc. The vast majority of my peers simply did not care and were only concerned with money and having a good life. “Who cares?” Was the typical mindset.

    I see this same problem in the Russian youth, the Belarusian youth, the Ukrainian youth. The only ones who feel still very deeply patriotic are the boomers and older. The younger generation want the same things as the West has. They care about themselves, their future prosperity and they do not care about their countries – period.

    I think, even though it is sad to admit, that individualism is the future, rapidly connected to globalisation and that nationalism is the past. If people can find a way to prosper somehow, they will do it. Nationalism only rears it head when the economic chips start to come down.

    As much as I like reading Karlin, I think its honestly time he really does do a post reviewing the future of the Slavic youth, where they are going and what is the likely results. Youth are the future.

  55. Thulean Friend says

    Statistics are our friend here. The WTO breaks down goods exports into three categories. Fuels/minels, agriculture and manufactures.

    This is what it looks like for Russia.

    To build a truly modern economy, it is manufactures that truly matter for long-term sustainable prosperity. Commodities can help countries for years, even decades, but sooner or later the boom fades. Russia/Brazil/South Africa all had to learn that painful lesson post-2013. Agriculture exports can help at the margin, but they are part of the primary sector.

    Countries stuck boosting exports dependent on primary sectors don’t tend to become rich. The reason is simple: there are low and dimishing returns and inherently low-productivity prospects. For Russia, agriculture has been the clear winner over the past decade. That is better than no winner, but it is not what you would want to see if you want to get rich over the long haul.

    I pick value over volume, because value is what counts for nominal GDP. Volume is irrelevant if the currency keeps losing value (just ask the turks). And if the ruble has collapsed and not recovered, then it simply meant that the economy wasn’t competitive enough to maintain the previous level of the ruble, which it wasn’t. So value is the fair measurement.

    Tiny Slovakia, with a population of <5% of Russia's, has just 3 billion lower manufactures exports (8 billion to Russia's 83 billion). That is how far behind Russia's industrial sector is. It may produce a lot, but most of it is subpar for exports. Export is the ultimate quality constraint. You can't force others to buy your stuff out of patriotic fervor or fiat. Either it is competitve or, in the case of Russia, it is not.

    The half-glass full interpreation is that Russia has nowhere to go but up (AK's favoured take, for unsurprising reasons). But given Russia's consistent failure to achieve any kind of prosperity, ever, independent observers should adopt a more cautious stance. Russia has the basic ingredients to become a rich country, but so did China for the longest of time. China changed their circumstances, Russia has still not been able to break out of their mediocrity.

  56. Thulean Friend says

    I will add services exports to get a full picture. Goods exports used to be synonymous with exports (>90% in the pre-1980 period), but services are growing very fast. They are now ~25% of world exports and their share keep increasing. How does Russia do in capturing this dynamic sector? Not great.

    Russia’s services performance

    Of course, services are also composed of low-productivity sectors (e.g. tourism). Countries dependent on those tend to be poor growers. A big problem in Southern Europe. Thankfully, the WTO disaggregates various service sector exports and we can look at the cutting edge. Namely IT services. There’s more high-productivity services than that (e.g. finance), but IT serves as a good proxy on how skilfully countries are exploiting the frontiers of technology. After all, software eats the world.

    For IT services, it looks like this.

    Russia does okay, as you’d expect from a country with a substantial talent pool but even supposedly backwards Germany managed to outgrow (in percentage terms!) Russia, despite starting at a much higher base. Because IT services require much cheaper inputs and investments than traditional capital-intensive manufacturing, it means the weak ruble is less of a hindrance in any analysis here.

    Russia had 2X Poland’s IT services exports in 2008 and by 2019 it was only at 62%. Of course, Russia has a much bigger domestic audience (Yandex etc), but this isn’t really an excuse. That market is too small and impoverished. This is high-end exports, so you need to compete on the world stage to make a mark.

    The overall pattern from the most productive areas of both goods & services exports reveal to us in stark detail how far behind Russia has fallen. Only beating Slovakia by $3 billion in manufacturing exports is one of the most shocking findings I’ve come across lately. Dependence on agriculture or fuels/minerals is a dead end. Do the kremlins understand this? putlet gets “tech-inspired” every decade or so. In 2009 it was nanotech. These years he yaps about blockchain and AI. Talking about buzzwords is easy. Industrial policy is hard and requires patience and diligence. There’s no sign there is much of either quality in Russia’s current leadership.

  57. Slovakia doesn’t export a lot of manufactures because it has excellent manufactures in particular – it exports a lot because Germany offshores a lot of simpler manufacturing work (lower end vehicles, primarily) there to take into account of a work that a cheaper workforce that is in close proximity to the vast markets of Western Europe. The Slovak domestic market is obviously very low by itself. The reason that Russia is not a major, say, vehicle exporter (which is how Czechia and Slovakia get their ultra-high figures) is that it is obviously much less convenient to use as a base to export into Western Europe for logistics reasons and basic comparative advantage economics.

    In fact, your own table makes the point: 10M Czechia exports almost as much manufactures as 40M Poland. Does this make Czechia 4x as developed as Poland?

    Russian tariffs on foreign manufacturers are not especially high by international standards, and low relative to most of economic history. If Russian manufacturing was especially uncompetitive, its domestic wares would be dominated by foreign products. That is not the case: https://www.unz.com/akarlin/made-in-russia/

    Russia’s export basket:

    https://www.unz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/russia-exports.jpg

    Australia’s export basket:

    https://www.unz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/australia-exports.jpg

  58. Shortsword says

    Looking at exports like that is useless. EU countries has very high exports as a percentage of GDP. Hungary 82%, Belgium 81%, Slovakia 92%, Netherlands 93%, etc. But the actual production is nowhere near those values. That should be immediately obvious to anyone looking at those numbers—no country exports over 90% of production. The exports are high because a lot of production is split between different EU countries. So maybe you import $10B and add say $1B value. That’s $11B exports but the production is only $1B.

  59. It cracks me up how Unz hosts some Russian sperg who writes about shit that 99.9999% of Anglophones and 99.9% of Unz readers couldn’t care less about. Where are your Chinese, Iranian, Syrian, Cuban counterparts to share their trivial autistic musings and statistical analyses about their countries?

  60. But you are talking about the annexation of these territories to Russia. I’m talking about a Confederation of three states.

  61. Verymuchalive says

    Poland is a commodity importer and EU funds and transfers will be less now Britain is no longer subsidising them.

    The answer is no. Poland got the best part of 100bn euros in subsidies from the EU from 2005 to 2020. Now the net subsidy has been set by the Eurotw*ts at 140bn euros for the period 2021 to 2026. The insanity of bunging these enormous sums down a black hole like Poland should be obvious to most rational people.
    https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/poland-biggest-beneficiary-of-eus-cohesion-fund—pm-14322

    The upside for the Eurotw*ts is that Poland and other Visegrad states can be threatened by partial or total non-payment. So I expect Poland and one or both of Czechia and Slovakia to capitulate shortly. Hungary will be a much harder nut to crack, but Orban better get used to the Visegrad Group being a group of one.

  62. For IT services, it looks like this.

    Russia does okay, as you’d expect from a country with a substantial talent pool but even supposedly backwards Germany managed to outgrow (in percentage terms!) Russia, despite starting at a much higher base

    From the link, Russia’s IT exports were about $5.4 billion in 2019. Ukraine’s was $4.17 billion that year:

    https://itukraine.org.ua/en/export-of-ukrainian-it-increased-by-30-during-2019.html

    Ukraine has a little more than a quarter of Russia’s population but exported nearly 80% as much IT services as did Russia.

  63. LondonBob says

    Australia, Canada?

  64. Shortsword says

    For comparison you should use the same source.

  65. Another good illustration of the inanity of the Thulean approach.

    IT exports apparently similar and 3x higher for Ukraine in per capita terms, meanwhile in terms of what their respective IT spheres have actually create:

    Russia: Yandex (inc. AI, cloud services, self-driving cars – basically, a parallel Google); mail group (Vkontakte, Russia’s Facebook); several e-commerce giants; world’s largest digital bank, TCS Group (Tinkoff). These are the foundations of a self-contained tech ecosystem replicating most everything that you can find in Silicon Valley (or Shenzhen) and which no other European country, including Germany, possesses. There’s even a 23andme-equivalent (Genotek).

    Ukraine: 4A Games and GSC make good video games, I don’t want to diss them. But they’re not Yandex or Vkontakte, and they’re not even CD Projekt Red (Poland). Otherwise, <1% of the population (freelancers) lead very nice lives, enjoying Western salaries with Ukrainian prices. Good for them, many of us aspire to the lifestyle of a geo-arbitraged NEET, but it's hard to see how that will make a lasting contribution to Ukraine's economic development.

  66. Thulean Friend just posted to a link with an image that did not include Ukraine.

  67. Shortsword says

    There’s also Playrix which one of the largest mobile game developers in terms of revenue. Probably ~$2.5B revenue in 2020. It’s headquartered in Dublin but founded by Russians and basically all development is in Russia.

    It’s not as prestigious as CD Project Red (even though their prestige has crashed recently) but the revenue is much higher.

  68. Thulean Friend says

    Yes, Ukraine has done great in IT exports. It’s really a story of CEE (especially the non-EU part) over the last decade. Serbia has seen insane growth as well. The reason is fairly straight-forward. Non-EU CEE countries are capital poor but human capital rich. IT services tend to be asset light (another reason why India did really well).

    The story is in fact better than I showed, because the WTO breaks down BPO and IT services into two discrete parts. BPO is slightly lower value-added of the two but it’s still much preferred to low productivity tourism or agriculture. It is what most people tend to think when they hear “outsourcing”: stereotype of people in callcenters. Except it has become more upscale in recent years.

    I mentioned India before and the CEE region has been eating their lunch at mid-high to high-end of the industry.

    https://i.imgur.com/H045oNe.png

    The way to read the chart is that CEE gets much more out of their workers than India does. In other words, productivity is rising, and hence incomes. India is still throwing ungodly amounts of labour inputs (median age is just 28 and a huge share of their college grads are 1st gen), so total output is increasing even if per worker output is stagnant.

    These differential productivity dynamics explain a lot of why the CEE is taking a larger and larger bite out of the high-end outsourcing business. It isn’t just language and timezones.

    The question is, can this party keep going? What holds back CEE is the same as ever: corruption. Human capital is worth a lot, but without strong instiutions, you will lose your best people to other countries.

  69. What holds back CEE is the same as ever: corruption.

    Nonsense. I don’t get the impression it’s even an issue in Russia (surveys back that up), and if so, it’s most certainly not an issue in CEE.

    The issue is clusterization and economies of scale.

    CEE (and Ukraine) are too small to benefit from economies of scale – it is especially important in IT, since costs of scaling up tend to be trivial while network effects keep exponentiating. And the main global cluster is Silicon Valley, which sucks in the best human capital not just from the US but from Europe as well. Happily SV is in self-destruct mode, so it might give CEE a reprieve and allow the likes of Krakow to develop their own, smaller clusters. Still, without a gargantuan captive market like China has, or even a large, semi-captive market like India or Russia have, their ultimate prospects are limited.

    PS. Why do Ukraine (and Belarus) “export” IT services? Because they do not have a Yandex, an Ozon, or a Vkontakte to hire many of their talented software professionals. That Belarus according to Thulean’s stats apparently has half of Russia’s IT exports while its only IT company of any international stature is World of Tanks says it all.

  70. Thulean Friend says

    That’s fair. I’ll include a number of FSU countries, Serbia plus a few comparator countries such as Turkey and Mexico for good measure. I will only do this because AP is a gentleman and encouraging civility is an unalloyed good in any social interaction.

    IT Services

    BPO

    Serbia went from $272 million USD to $1.6 billion in a span of a decade. Mexico went from $272 million to just $60 million. Of course, Mexico has seen a huge rise in manufactures exports, but their net value add is minimal (only just the bare minimum of processing before shipped back into the US). So Mexican real wages have not risen, unlike in Serbia.

    Belarus did amazingly well, too. This is a big problem for Lukashenko, if Belarus single successful export industry packs up and leaves (as some anecdotal evidence suggests), then what else will they have? Tractors? Interestingly, one of the countries mentioned in the story as an emigration destination for IT professionals is Ukraine. The other names are more typical (Baltics, Poland, Germany).

  71. LOL at the CEE rejoicing over displacing India as a source for some American offshore work (and German manufacturing). More “colonialist” of a mentality than a country that was actually colonized.

    India at least seems to be quite serious about building up its own tech ecosystem independent of the West and the Sinosphere.

    India retains ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-china-apps-idUSKBN29U2GJ

    https://twitter.com/AlexeiArora/status/1367909330427772932

    https://twitter.com/balajis/status/1368998017110401024

  72. Verymuchalive says

    We will find out what these “authoritarian weaklings” will do shortly. If Germany, above all, wants it, it will happen.

  73. LOL at the CEE rejoicing over displacing India as a source for some American offshore work

    The CEE countries are apparently doing more complex things than what the Indians are doing in terms of offshoring work.

  74. Thulean Friend says

    Don’t stare yourself blind at export ratios. Why is Israel, with a much lower export ratio, richer than Hungary? What matters are absolute export values. If a country has a steady export ratio of ~20% but keeps replacing low-productivity exports for high-productivity exports, it will enable it to ask for much higher prices at the world market, and to buy much more expensive imports and hence its per capita GDP will rise.

    China’s “Made in 2025” is all about this, hence the consternation it is causing in D.C. They have credibility in their plans the way the Russians (to the extent there is even is a plan in Moscow) just don’t.

    A final note. There seems to be a narrowing debate on IT services in the thread, but I am fundamentally agnostic on services vs goods. What matters is a systematic shift to higher-productivity exports, across the board. Countries that focused too much on a few narrow sectors without a concomitant broader shift (e.g. India) paid a heavy price as they were left behind by those who did not (China).

  75. Verymuchalive says

    Driving Germany & Belgium out of the EU & EZ will buy a decade or more to wind down the failed European Political Centralization effort in a graceful manner.

    You really are a fantasist. It’s not going to happen.

  76. Shortsword says

    You’re probably trolling but whatever. Export numbers of individual EU countries can’t reasonably be compared to large non-EU countries. The most reasonable comparison is looking at the total trade between EU countries and non-EU countries. In 2019 EU had $2100B in exports.

  77. Daniel Chieh says

    Meh. I’ve been in the industry for at least a decade by now, and CEE sourcing is relatively minimal. By and large, the benefits do not accure to the parent nation; it is ultimately a fundamentally different model from what, say, India is doing.

  78. Daniel Chieh says

    It is much easier to replace services. A strong nation will therefore place an emphasis on goods.

    No, services also require capital investment and development of knowledgebases. This is why replacing Indian service providers at this point, especially at individual companies is nigh impossible.

    I mean, all software is a kind of service. AWS isn’t getting replaced anytime soon and Microsoft has their lock on PCs.

    Hell, COBOL programmers still are needed for a reason.

  79. Thulean Friend says

    I’ll illustrate the point, so you can understand it better. First, the absolute export values of both Israel and Hungary.

    https://i.imgur.com/EppSz5O.png

    But now let’s adjust for their export ratios to GDP.

    https://i.imgur.com/YjlCvZp.png

    This is the point I was making. Israel, despite having a dramatically lower export ratio, exports nearly as much in value terms as hungary does. Why? Because it can fetch much higher prices at the world market for each goods sold than Hungary can. Why? Israel is a high-productivity economy, so it makes more expensive stuff.

    The difference is likely even more dramatic because you really need to adjust for net value added. This is best exemplified with regards to Mexico, which has seen a huge rise in gross exports but where net value add is minimal, so it doesn’t really benefit the country as much. Israel, by contrast, has a very high R&D intensity and even has its own integrated circuit manufacturer (TowerJazz). So a much greater share of its gross exports accrue to its domestic economy.

    Point is, looking at export shares alone is misleading. This is why I prefer looking at nominal values, especially nominal wages. Those are directly proportional to what a country can afford to import at the world market. Which in turn are dependent on its export competitiveness.

    It’s not a perfect measurement, but it has the fewest downsides. Noted currency manipulators like Taiwan (~12% current account surplus) will systematically undervalue their wages in order to suppress imports and boost their export competitiveness through classical currency manipulation. But edge cases will always exist.

  80. Shortsword says

    I’ll illustrate the point, so you can understand it better.

    Stop writing these comments where you “educate” others about things you don’t understand. You don’t know anything about quantum computers just because you’ve read some new article about it. Maybe you get a kick out of it or something. Who knows.

  81. Just how large would an economy of scale actually need in order to be successful? Because Russia and “Intermarium” have comparable populations AND comparable levels of human capital, no?

  82. Russia: Yandex (inc. AI, cloud services, self-driving cars – basically, a parallel Google); mail group (Vkontakte, Russia’s Facebook); several e-commerce giants; world’s largest digital bank, TCS Group (Tinkoff). These are the foundations of a self-contained tech ecosystem replicating most everything that you can find in Silicon Valley (or Shenzhen) and which no other European country, including Germany, possesses. There’s even a 23andme-equivalent (Genotek).

    Based on what you’re writing here, this suggests that Russia would be quite appealing to ambitious foreigners who are into tech, no?

  83. When exactly did the EU actually become a political union?

  84. Passer by says

    Russia has still not been able to break out of their mediocrity..

    I would be a bit more careful on that. I think that you need to very carefully study a country before making generalisations.

    Russia is the number one nuclear power plant producer in the world, dominating the world market, as well as possesing one of the best manned space programs – number 2 in the world, as well as producing one of the best weapons in the world, some better than the US ones, and the best in the world, in addition to having better aviation industry than China. It is one of the only 3 or 4 countries in the world that can produce world class passenger aircraft and various jet engines entirely by itself.

    Then look at the first class vaccine it developed (pretty fast), again better than China, and being one of the most popular in the world.

    And all of that under sanctions for high tech components.

    All of those things are not at all predicted when you look at just russian exports. Do not underestimate Russia like other european supremacists before you underestimated it.

    As the saying goes: Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks.

    I would advise to be careful with that country. Not everything can be captured by simple numbers, i would say that only a deep and long term study of it helps.

  85. Daniel Chieh says

    Are you considering learning Russian, XYZ?

  86. I already know Russian fluently. Russian is actually my first language, though I was born in Israel to Russian immigrant parents as opposed to being born in Russia. Specifically, I can speak Russian fluently and I can also read and write Russian fluently but I am a bit slower with the reading Russian part because Russian uses a different alphabet and while I am familiar with all of its letters and sounds, I am nevertheless much more comfortable and at ease with using the Latin alphabet.

  87. Thulean Friend says

    So we’ve reached the point where you have no arguments left because all your previous ones have been shown to be flawed. And now you get salty. I’ll make a mental note of your intellectual caliber to be subpar and unworthy to engage with 🙂

  88. Thulean Friend says

    I don’t think I am unfair in assessing the country. As I wrote, it has the basic ingredients to be rich. Yet, as the data conclusively shows, it is far behind and falling further behind.

    Russia has not made inroads in Western markets but their dalliance with China isn’t exactly paying off either. The Chinese are now cutting out the Russians from aircraft engines, one of the last high-productivity exports Russia provided the Chinese market. As for IT firms, if anything it is Alibaba/Aliexpress which is making inroads into Russia rather than any Russian firm into China.

    Russia’s role has been reduced to be a fuels and agriculture provider to China, a basically colonial pattern. It can pretend it doesn’t need the world and rely on its own impoverished domestic market, as AK fantasises, but it will not yield any dramatically better results than it has in the recent past.

  89. Shortsword says

    You didn’t even address any points. In fact, you avoided them and just went on to rant on something tangentially related. You talk about how EU countries have such high exports. Okay, EU does have high exports but it needs to be mentioned that they are artificially inflated. At least when looking at individual countries. Even repackaging counts as export. So goods that are more or less just passing through EU countries can count as adding hundreds of billions of export. On paper anyway. That’s important to mention and avoiding that just makes it look like you want to troll.

  90. Boomthorkell says

    That’s the general thing, I think. Russia is not so much of an “export” country by comparison to many countries, because Russia itself is its own economic sphere. It “exports” to itself. Not an Autarky, but as you’ve (and others) have shown, it’s not exporting computer gamers, but making it’s own Facebook. It doesn’t export so many Russian industrial products, but it does make it’s own jets. If I recall, Russia also produces almost all of its own honey.

    Countries that are desperate to be exporting goods basically show they themselves are not self-sufficient, or would not have a high level of development if they were dependent on their own consumer\producer economy. In fairness to them, while Austria-Hungary was a reasonable economic unit, Czechia and Slovenia was never meant to be.

  91. sudden death says

    Nice to observe the movement of goalposts as overall trend in RF propagandism always was and still is (now aimed for Ukrainian&Belarus audiences mostly) about West wanting to compeletely destroy and impoverish EE, but facing inconvenient realities of autofactory building and creating IT service jobs, thus reducing incentives to emigrate, all it becomes bad because “colonialism”.

    And at the same times while some Brits here keep whining about all the money for EE while giving their foreign aid for various africani/pakistani hellholes, lol 🙂

  92. Israel, despite having a dramatically lower export ratio, exports nearly as much in value terms as hungary does. Why? Because it can fetch much higher prices at the world market for each goods sold than Hungary can. Why? Israel is a high-productivity economy, so it makes more expensive stuff.

    In particular, Israel is hooked up with the US big tech/surveillance/finance/chip/spy/jew complex, while Hungary is not.

  93. And can’t there be a version of zmagarism that’s especially meant for vatniks?

  94. Israeli Jews and US Jews form a global Jewish hive mind? 😉

  95. Interesting analysis.

  96. sudden death says

    Russia’s role has been reduced to be a fuels and agriculture provider to China, a basically colonial pattern.

    That is great but completely expected development, but there is some paradigm that RF is object somehow worth competing in order not to give it to China completely. Why is it actually bad in the long run letting them be devoured by the dragon at worst or becoming benevolent satelite of it at best if they themselves are joyfully shilling for it? China has no real allies between other Asians, except some fake tragicomedy of state as NK, so strategically the West has more than enough pottential allies and resources to withstand any longterm economic confrontation even with China having de facto acquired RF resources.

  97. I checked that World Bank site, and there is some funny stuff with regard to exports/imports. Luxembourg exports 209% of its GDP, and there are 8 countries with more than 100%, including Vietnam (i.e. Chinese goods with ‘made in Vietnam’ label I suppose). Belarus is at 66% of its GDP for exports, so I guess it’s doing better than Russia? It’s probably the latter that needs the Union in order for this efficient country to teach it its secrets.

    This reminds me of the time that Canada was the biggest trade partner of the US, with lumber from Canada being processed in the US, and some of it being sent back. If Canada was a state of the US, all of that ‘international’ trade would go to zero officially.

  98. Saudi Arabia is a fuels provider to the world and it uses those money to buy itself scientific research. If a country with people that are smart had that same money from exports, they would get a lot more for the profits by investing it into education. This is what Norway did successfully; I have a Norwegian collaborator and even though I think his small university’s research in some second rate town is crap, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend surplus money than by funding a research university in your second-rate cities. And even with SA being a human resources shithole, it still manages to have KAUST, staffed with foreign researchers and getting lots of publications in top journals. That does trickle down into the economy eventually. It’s silly to see resource export as a negative if that money gets invested even halfway wisely.

  99. The Big Red Scary says

    And don’t forget the “modified milk ingredients”. So far as I understand, Canadian milk is exported to the US, where it undergoes some ungodly process, then imported back into Canada for making “cheese”.

  100. sudden death says

    Nothing to argue here, except neither Norway nor SA are dreaming about being some essential sovereign pillars of a multipolar world, differently from RF.

  101. Start pulling at the threads, lol.

  102. The Big Red Scary says

    I can’t speak specifically to IT, but I do know something about Indian versus CEE science and academia.

    Long story short, India is high variance and low mean, CEE countries are low variance and highish mean. The result is that Indian scientists consistently produce some serious results while sitting in their offices staring out the window at peasants shitting in the street (not an exaggeration), while CEE scientists lead more or less comfortable lives but almost never produce anything interesting or worthwhile.

    This could change over time. India has a huge population, and has been steadily building up its scientific infrastructure even before independence (the Tata Institute was founded in 1945), while the CEE countries have modest populations and shorter histories as independent countries. In theory, you can imagine some CEE countries rising to the level of wealthy Western European countries. But so long as both India and the CEE countries remain liberal democracies, however, I expect them to be unable to act with the necessary ruthlessness to solve internal structural problems and will continue to underachieve. (Same for Russia.)

  103. LondonBob says

    Worth remembering for all the SV hype that the oil shale boom rescued the US economy under (in spite of) Obama.

  104. reiner Tor says

    I’m just wondering if posting a link to a screenshot of an Imgur image (instead of embedding, or better yet, linking the statistics) is already a manufacture, or it’s merely a primary product..?

  105. reiner Tor says

    And so you can start your website without Karlin, or including those other countries, etc. So what is your point?

  106. reiner Tor says

    Is Taiwan a currency manipulator or is there just a kind of capital flight? I mean, Taiwanese need to put the money somewhere. Instead of spending it on imports (perhaps buying capital goods..?), they are probably investing the money abroad. They might simply be preparing for a swift Chinese annexation.

  107. reiner Tor says

    The Chinese think they can build a similar engine to the one which is already fairly obsolete in Russia, and they are asking them to buy a fighter jet already slowly getting obsolete (even for the Russians themselves, as their own air force is now buying the Su-57 for itself) in exchange for a continued selling of those obsolete engines. It’s actually very likely that the Chinese engine is not yet on par with the obsolete Russian engine (in particular I’d expect it to have a shorter lifespan), but the Chinese simply didn’t want to pay so much, and replacing their engines more often (with the resulting slightly lower readiness rates) is not a big issue for them.

    From the whole thing it sounds like the Chinese are no longer desperate to buy Russian weapons, while the Russian side is also not very desperate to sell to China.

  108. I don’t think it was ever reasonable to expect that Chinese fighter jet engine technology would not catch up to world standards eventually. Perhaps the only surprise was that it took so long.

    Aliexpress – in the same way (less, actually) that Google, Facebook, and Twitter have made “inroads” into Russia. It is only 8% of the Russian e-commerce market, which is otherwise dominated by Russian companies such as Wildberries, Ozon, and Yandex.Market. For that matter, Aliexpress is hardly even a proper Chinese venture (registered in London; co-owned by not just Alibaba, but by Mail Group (who also own Vkontakte)).

    You seem to have a habit of making bold pronouncement but coming down flailing when having to give concrete examples.

  109. Not really, it’s good for wage growth, but most of the profits accrue to foreigners (esp. Germans) and the most O-Ring sectors tend to stay put there as well. It’s enough to live a comfortable existence on the periphery, like the Med countries do, but it’s probably not a viable model for becoming really rich (VC/tech hub Estonia aside).

    Russia has a chance of accomplishing that, despite facing vastly greater structural and geopolitical challenges than Visegrad and the Baltics.

    … bout West wanting to compeletely destroy and impoverish EE, but facing inconvenient realities of autofactory building and creating IT service jobs

    I never argued that, but keep knocking down “RF propagandism” straw men and fantasizing about the Chinese-Ukrainian border. I allow that this is the maximum possible extent of the Lithuanian Dream.

  110. reiner Tor says

    The issue is that China is alone soon going to be on par with NATO, while NATO countries are moving to self-destruct with feminism and diversity. Even if you fully trust all of the other Western allies (and why would you?), countries like South Korea or Japan, the addition of Russia to China is going to be a serious challenge.

  111. sudden death says

    hey, it’s not that neccesary for Ukraine to grab whole of China’s Eurasian version of Canada 😉

  112. Europe Europa says

    Reading this thread it seems most Russian nationalists seem obsessed with comparing Belarus and Ukraine to Scotland and Wales, it’s rare they compare it to any other country. Like Spain with Catalonia and the Basque Country, France with Brittany, Occitania, Germany with Bavaria, or Sweden/Denmark/Norway for that matter.

    Personally I think a Russian irredentist movement fueled by anti-Britishness is not going to get very far. The sum of their argument seems to be “Belarus and Ukraine are Russian, because Scotland”. Such sentiments need to be backed up by something more substantial than straw man arguments about countries they hate, such as England.

  113. Demografie says

    Yep. Agree. I don’t know much about other things, but I have worked for 10 years in Czech/ Slovak Automotive sector. Everything is set up by Germans\Koreans\French. Whole supply China. Slovakia provide land and hands. They receive free land, free tax credit, clap down on unions, using agency work (aka modern slavery).

  114. Yet, as the data conclusively shows

    The data does not predict that this country would have a world class space program, better than Europe or Japan, a world class aviation, or that it would dominate the world nuclear power plant market, or that will be the world’s second largest weapons exporter. Additionally Russia is readying the MC-21 aircraft for production and competition on the world market.

    The chinese problems with jet engines remain, hence the attepts to buy Ukrainian Motor Sich.

    It is not yet clear that they managed to properly replace russian engines, see here

    https://breakingdefense.com/2021/03/could-ukrainian-firm-solve-chinas-jet-engine-problem/

    “The PLAAF, having run out of options to utilise an indigenous engine, are now exploring possibilities to purchase some of the Russian-made Izdeliye-30 engines.”

    Such ongoing aviation issues are one of the reasons China has teamed up with Russia to produce Comac C929 too.

  115. I don’t think RF cares about being a pillar of the multipolar world. They just want to be left alone from the current big pillar of the unipolar world, so that role is projected onto them. And compared to Norway or Saudi, it’s rather ridiculous to state that RF is at their technical level. Investment into tech or education in RF will go a lot further. Currently research jobs at universities are underfunded.

    I remember having a conversation with someone in 2015 who was anti-Russia and said that now the Russian oil industry is screwed because their source of technology is cut off and their yields will go down. And they provided a helpful article from Business Insider or Forbes or something or other. I said that it’s obviously nonsense, because you’re expecting a country that carries American astronauts into space and builds nukelar subs not to learn how to drill for oil on their own.

    That kind of self-sufficiency is also attractive to minorities. I once read form some minority in RF based in Western North Caucases, that he’s proud to be part of RF but still cares about his culture on the side. Because if they weren’t part of RF but their own shitty country with a few hundred thousand people, they couldn’t claim that ballet in Moscow, the Hermitage, or space travel were also part of their achievements as citizens of the country. Belarus is quite a bit bigger, but there is probably the same sort of desire to be a part of something more impressive for a part of the population. Plus the population would be more compatible.

    The place I live in now was also it’s own country with its own language at one point and now it’s part of a bigger country, but a lot of the locals say as well that they are part of the bigger country and that’s that, and call themselves as members of that country, are patriotic, and take pride in the achievements. True, it’s not everyone, but a majority is pro big country and the local language is dead by now.

    And Russia is actually not so bad. I’ve been there two times in 2015 and 2019 in one big city and it had pretty much everything in the supermarket that I saw in Costco. I don’t buy the usual “they have all the products but the people don’t have the money”, because if that were true, then the supermarket would stop stocking them. Add to that a closed economy which makes everything on its own, including its own computer chips (you don’t really need the latest <10nm tech to make functional computers), space rockets, cars, military jets, etc… and yes, that's impressive. Maybe they are having trouble competing with the US, China or the core EU block… but Saudi or Norway? Come on. Not even close there. Even the best example of a small, capable country, i.e. Israel, can't build cars, subs, and apparently light rail on its own; economies of scale matter at some point.

  116. Btw – CEBR estimates that Russia (under sanctions) will be growing faster than the EU and the US for the next 15 years. Which means it will be getting stronger in relative terms vis a vis the West.

    Russia is not looking for much – it is looking for a multipolar world. Under the widely accepted by economists and geostrategists long term conditions of slow growth for the West and higher growth for the non-West, caused by the law of diminishing returns, you have mission accomplished.

  117. AltanBakshi says

    The change was very gradual and subtle, in the 80s and 90s common people supported EU because they thought it’s good for economy and that people could travel freely, only some politicians and bureaucrats thought that it’s some kind of political union of tomorrow. There was very little EU interference on politics of European countries, mostly just market regulation, very few thought that one day EU would have an unified foreign policy like now, even in early 2000s it would have sounded unbelievable.

    I think you are playing stupid or being maximalist by asking such questions as “when exactly.” When exactly Weimar Germany lost its democratic character and became a mockery of democracy? In 1930 or 1933? Officially Weimar constitution was never repealed. Though EU is wholly different thing than the pre war Germany it’s the old story of slippery slope happening once again.

  118. Daniel Chieh says

    Personally I think a Russian irredentist movement fueled by anti-Britishness is not going to get very far.

    What is this even

  119. Oh, the poor one, still dreaming of the “West” ruling the world. I have unpleasant surprise for you – this is how the US sees the world by 2050.

    https://imgur.com/a/ZLm3ZQl#5POdSd3

    (source – US National Intelligence Council)

    Law of diminishing returns. The richer the country, the more its growth rate declines. Which causes a long term relative decline of the West in the the world.

  120. Boomthorkell says

    There is a documentary (or was it a research paper?) somewhere that really goes deep into this, but I cannot seem to find it anymore. That is the gist of it, though “Russia as its own All-Russias Market.”

    As for the AH-bit, I’m just sore over the cultural and economic dislocation that followed the break up of the old Empires. There were even calls for a Danubian Economic Federation of sorts, but the Post-WWI deciders wouldn’t hear any of it. It took however many decades till this area came under some kind of (peaceful\non-Socialist, not to knock the whole era) unity again. Even then, I think Czechoslovakia and all the rest had more value under a relatively comparable Cistlethania and very agricultural Translithenia than as “low-level producers” in an EU.

  121. FWIW, there’s also the Minsk to Riga route, which is around 475 kilometers long.

    Riga used to be considered the main port in the Baltic states. Is that still the case?

  122. The easiest option: The Polish Central Bank will credit Poland’s government accounts with the amount due, ignoring the illegal hold back. The overdrawn “EU Account” at the PCB will be funded by ECB via the TARGET2 mechanism.

    1. Is the Polish Central Bank legally allowed to do this?

    2. Is the leadership of the bank willing to defy the EU so blatantly?

    3. If the ECB refuses to make the overdrawn EU account whole, wouldn’t the Polish Central Bank be on the hook?

  123. It accounts for about 25% of Baltic sea cargo, as it did a decade ago:

    https://ic.pics.livejournal.com/genby/30544598/1506657/1506657_original.png

    However, it’s now dwarfed by Russian capacity. Neither Riga nor the Baltic parts in general have grown since 2009, whereas Russian cargo shipments have increased by 70%:

    https://ic.pics.livejournal.com/genby/30544598/1512633/1512633_original.png

  124. sudden death says

    You have the EZ mechanics backwards. TARGET2 would automatically (and unstoppably) top up Poland’s national balance. Every other member of the EZ would have to unanimously approve action against Poland to change this core program.

    This might be shocking news to some USA citizens, but Poland is not a member of eurozone 😉

  125. Verymuchalive says

    So the Baltics’ antipathy towards Russia has been very bad for trade, as Russia has further developed its own Baltic ports and is increasingly using them rather than Riga and other ports.
    Rather like Maidan resulted in the reunion of Russia with Crimea and the building of the Crimean Bridge. Was Nordstream 2 a consequence of this also ? Quite possibly. Both have been bad for Ukrainian trade, needless to say.

    This is obviously inept conduct on behalf of the Baltic and the Ukrainian governments, but very predictable. I suppose there will be more examples in the future of Russia bypassing these countries.

  126. Passer by says

    There is also a big spike in ship building.

    For first time Russia tops as No.3 world’s shipbuilder nation in 2020, after China and South Korea.

    https://www.themeditelegraph.com/en/shipping/shipyard-and-offshore/2020/05/07/news/russia-tops-as-no-3-world-s-shipbuilder-nation-1.38815774

  127. Demografie says

    Money lie on ground in Russia. From ports to LNG production, West force Russia develop. Another big business opportunity is production of polymer. Russia have 2 main things, oil and cheap energy.

  128. Shortsword says

    That was just Russia being third in terms of orders (measured by total CGT) on a specific month, not for all of 2020. The amount ordered per month is a volatile statistic as large orders by big companies or states can push the numbers high for that month.

    Russia is far behind China, South Korea and Japan by total gross tonnage. Those three countries build the majority of the world’s ships. No other country is close.

    It should be noted that large total gross tonnage mostly means building a lot tanker and container ships. Particularly big ones. And China, South Korea and Japan are really the only countries building massive tankers and cargo ships. CGT, compensated gross tonnage, is supposed to be a measure that more correctly indicates work required to build a ship than gross tonnage but I’m not entirely sure how it works.

    But the upside is that Russia has recently started building oil tankers and LNG carriers. Zvesda shipyard (near Vladivostok) has received a lot of investment and are building oil tankers and LNG carriers for Rosneft+Gazprom. So maybe Russia will be 4th by total gross tonnage after China, South Korea and Japan.

  129. Thulean Friend says

    Canada is an interesting comparison. Many of the excuses deployed by Russians (“muh cold, muh distance, muh population density”) could be used by Canadians too. Canada does produce more oil per capita, but still much lower than e.g. Norway or the GCC countries.

    Their export structure is significantly more diversified than I expected. Australia’s less so, but this is partly explained by a much lower population, which allows them to live off commodities far easier. Russia’s structure is about where I’d guessed them to be.

    Canada’s population is slowly getting too big to live off commodities, so they are branching out. This is essentially the blueprint for Russia as well – except they were always too big for their current economic model, a message many don’t seem to want to accept. Canada does have two major advantages over Russia. First, its human capital base is higher. Well above the OECD average, whereas Russia is slightly below it. This is not catastrophic for Russia, but it will matter at the high-end. Second, and no less crucially, Canada is the net beneficiary of human capital flows, i.e. high-skill migration. Russia clearly is not. Whatever can be said about Tajiks, especially their cute women, they are not cognitive powerhouses.

    Some of this is already visible. In high productivity service fields like AI, Canadian institutions punch way above their weight relative to the country’s population share in the world. If Canada lost all their fossil fuel production over the course of the coming decade, they’d be able to re-adjust pretty seamlessly, as the transitition is slowly under way at any rate. I see no incipient signs that any such transition is under way in Russia, and given the furious denials by the usual crowd in this thread, not even a recognition that one is needed to move up the value chain.

  130. Verymuchalive says

    Pidgin English speaker no understand. Russia has multi big heap things: grain stuff, trees, gold, black coal stuff, big river dam stuff, many more big heap stuff. Russia has big heap population, but not multi big heap. So Russia has multi big heap profit.

    Russia industry develop multi big heap until WWI. Then 1917 multi bad heap Bolshies take over. Most of them are multi bad heap Jews, who massacre multi good Russian Orthodox Christians. Then multi multi bad heap Georgian, Stalin, takes over. Even worse !

    Economic growth very milquetoasty in Communist era. Then drunkboy Yeltsin take over.
    Multi bad Jewscum pillage Russia. Things multi multi bad.

    Then Anatoly hero – Blessed Vladimir Vladimirovich – take over. Multi multi big heap improvement overnight. Even when enemies sanction, VV still improve.

    Hope Pidgin man now know. Money no lie on ground in Russia. Lots of hard work needed to get benefit from it.

    PS If that’s you Tiny Duck, you were a lot more amusing in your previous incarnation.

  131. Daniel Chieh says

    Ah, Canada.

    https://palladiummag.com/2019/09/19/how-not-to-build-a-country-canadas-late-soviet-pessimism/

    Our excursions have become a personal tradition. “Every year, I reduce my career expectations,” says T———. Most conversations in Vancouver go something like this, although rarely with such candor.

    As of the writing of this article, the wait times for a screening have been reduced to a commendable average of 48 days, half of the previous average of 96 days. How were these wonderful results achieved? By running the MRI machines 24/7 and scheduling appointments at 3 or 4 a.m. for those in critical need. You might be dumbfounded by this story. Couldn’t the number of machines simply be increased?

    A few physicians attempted to procure the MRI machines themselves and charge very low rates for screening. They were immediately ordered to cease and desist operations by health authorities. You see, determining the need for MRI machines is a core competency of a specific health commission in the British Columbia health care system, and at the time, the commission had not yet determined that there was a need for more machines. The issue required further investigative work by said commission.

  132. And Lithuania and its port will be punished for the Lithuanian regime change policy aimed against their neighbour.

    Belarus oil exporter Belorusskaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya (Belarusian Oil Company, BNK) decided in January not to extend its long-term contract with Lithuania’s LTG Cargo, the cargo branch of Lithuania’s state-owned Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), which transports its oil products to the Port of Klaipeda. LTG Cargo transported some 2 million tons of BNK cargoes of oil and oil products last year.

    Lithuanians are now wondering what would happen if Lukashenko moved ahead with the other outlandish idea he has voiced many times on different occasions: to divert the export of Belarusian fertilizers from the Lithuanian port to Russia’s Baltics ports, Ust Luga and Primorsk, even though they are some 600 kilometres further away.

    If Belarus ended this transport, it would have a devastating effect on LTG and Klapeida. In 2020, of the nearly 60 million tonnes of cargo carried by LTG Cargo, 19 million tonnes were Belarusian shipments.

    According to Algis Latakas, CEO of the Port of Klaipeda, the economic activities of the Klaipeda seaport make up 6% of the national GDP and as many as 60,000 jobs depend on the port.

  133. Passer by says

    There is some recognition. First, Russia started to build lots of chemical plants for plastics, and in 2020 became an exporter, one of top 10 in the world. It will enter top 5 in several years. That is – exporting a manufactured chemical product is better and more profitable than exporting just the raw material such as oil and gas.

    A special plant near China was built, where they take all of the special elements from the natural gas they export to China via Power Of Siberia 1, and it is used for producing important rare elements such as Helium and Xenon.

    The Government banned the export of raw timber, and started pushing for the local production of timber products instead.

    I already mentioned the increase in ship building, including unique icebreaking tankers. The country also managed to expand on the world nuclear power plant market. Recently a unique neutron reactor was launched, used for materials and nano science, one of only 3 in the world.

    https://www.neimagazine.com/news/newsrussia-approves-modernisation-of-pik-reactor-8160978

    The country replaced many pharmaceutics with homegrown production.

    Now there is talk about taxing US internet giants to use these money to invest in their own IT sector, just like the EU does.

    Btw do not forget that the country is under western economic warfare, you have the US pressuring any country buying russian high tech military equipment, this even expanded to vaccines, where the US pressured Brazil not to approve the Sputnik Vaccine.

  134. “T——— and I usually meet in Vancouver’s West End, by English Bay. Quaint towers from the sixties, ”

    Thanks. I knew when I read “quaint towers from the sixties” and LOLed, that it was going to be something that I would enjoy reading, even though in the grand scheme of things it would be meaningless. But what a time well lost, eh?

  135. That [The trick wouldn’t work; because Poland isn’t in the Euro Zone.] being said, Poland still has options to retaliate against German aggression. For example:

    — Unilaterally placing a tariffs on German goods.
    — Suspending German businesses operating in Poland. Or, expropriating those businesses.
    — An additional surtax on Russian gas being transported to Germany is another excellent option.

    All three examples would get Poland in trouble with the EU. The first two would get Poland in trouble with the WTC. The last would piss off both Germany and Russia, which hasn’t worked out so well for Poland in the past, and would raise energy costs in Poland. The second would invite Germany to confiscate Polish owned property in Germany, and elsewhere.

    If the EU is as anti-Poland you think that it is, they would love for Poland to follow your advice; because they would love such a good opportunity to make an example of Poland.

  136. Joining the EU would give the largest economic boom to Belarus, but a large proportion of the country’s youth would emigrate to Western Europe. So it would be a mixed benefit.

    Moreover, EU would not tolerate the current elite in Belarus, so it can be clear that Belarus will not join the EU.

    Alternatively, Belarus could probably secure even greater subsidies from increasing integration with the Russian Federation, as no-one can waste money as well as Moscow. However, the local elite in Belarus would not allow competition from Russia, anymore than your cat will invite neighbour cats in the gardens without hissing and screaming.

    So, Belarus, will continue as independent, unless there is a perhaps unlikely, significant change of elite to one which would be politically acceptable to the West, in which case Belarus could turn to the EU – but even that would not be unambiguous benefit for them.

    Youth are the future.

    All over the postsoviet countries, the opinion of the people is almost irrelevant, unless the elite really incompetently lose power. The important thing is the decision of the elites, and the normal people are ignored.

    Elites themselves are not deciding in a simple way -e.g. “I like Western Europe, so therefore I want my country to integrate with Western Europe”.

    Rather, the exactly opposite is often happening. The more the elite like Western Europe, the more like to raise the price of entry to others.

    E.g. “I like Western Europe, therefore the people should be going for vacation to Crimea”.

    So, we have hence the appearance of “elite hypocrisy”, which can be contributing to the divergence between Russia and the West, rather than a simplistically expected opposite.

    For a funny example, Mizulina was rather the face of, if not actually was architect to, the bill to ban a promotion of homosexuality in Russian schools. She was publicly very concerned that Russian children avoiding the Western propaganda which promoted homosexuality. Yet where were her children educated? In England. Meanwhile, her wildly successful son has pro-American and e.g. anti-China politics according to Twitter retweets: https://twitter.com/nmizulin

    There is such an example of how the more personally pro-Western your political elite, the more anti-Western can be their decisions. This is perfectly how it can be in postsoviet countries where a pro-Western elite personal behaviour can even seem to correlate with anti-Western political decisions. .

  137. Boomthorkell says

    There’s a great Canadian who writes about all the chances Canada missed by remaining an under-populated, rent-seeking, Anti-American, poor-stand-in-for-the-Confederacy bastion of the British Empire.

    We would have been much better off united in the 19th-century, building a train to Siberia through the Great North.

  138. Verymuchalive says

    Even if the Baltics had still joined NATO, they could have taken a more measured, nuanced position re Russia and Belarus. One thinks of Iceland, where the Keflavik Air Base closed in 2006. There has been US and NATO activity since, but it has been strictly limited.

    NATO troops and aircraft are now in the Baltics more or less permanently. But this involves antagonising Russia even more. Russia has a massive military superiority, so it is very unwise and dangerous.

    Also, they still benefit greatly from trade with Russia and Belarus. As Western sanctions have resulted in Russian import substitution, so Baltic hostility has resulted in diversion of Russian trade from these countries. If Belarus does likewise, Latvia will suffer serious loss economically.

    The corrupt Baltic political elites have been bribed by the EU and NATO. They’re not the ones who will feel the consequences of their actions.

  139. sudden death says

    NATO troops and aircraft are now in the Baltics more or less permanently. But this involves antagonising Russia even more. Russia has a massive military superiority, so it is very unwise and dangerous.

    This is akin to writing that forces at the ground in West Berlin involves antagonising USSR even more as it has massive military superiority, so it is very unwise and dangerous, which could not be further from the actual Cold war reality.

    Of course, only the forces on the ground itself are not solution itself, there has to be political will, resolve and readiness to defend and stand unshaken, what made West Berlin rather nice and quiet place despite being absolutely surrounded by the Soviet army all the time, but that is another matter.

  140. sudden death says

    China+RF is not whole of non-OECD, it’s not like all other non-West Eurasian countries (e.g. India or Vietnam) have lots of lost love for unrestrained China.

  141. sudden death says

    If we are talking about purely about military aspect, all this feminisation looks more like meme so far, as even USSR can be succesfully accused of this during WWII having&propagandising their female fighters, like snipers or partisan heroes 🙂 As for diversity it also not like draft was forbidden for blacks or redskins in USA during the 20th century wars too.

  142. Europe Europa says

    This would be like the UK still having ambitions of integrating the whole of Ireland into the UK. Yes I know some would say it’s different because the Irish are “Celts” and therefore supposedly completely different to the English (although the same argument applies to Finnic Karelia and other non-Slavic Republics), yet the reality is Ireland is now to all intents and purposes an English-speaking Anglo society pretty much materially indistinguishable from England.

    Their Celtic culture is little more than a romantized notion now, and not unlike Celtic revival culture found in parts of England. What sums up how superficial Irish “Celtic” culture is is how the pub is the most central part of it, despite pubs being an English invention and transplant in Ireland. It seems take anything English, paint it green, throw some psuedo-Celtic font on it and it’s suddenly “Celtic culture”.

  143. Daniel Chieh says

    India isn’t going to save you.

  144. Verymuchalive says

    Iceland has taken the decision to remain in NATO but in a limited way. Even France acts in this manner. If the Baltics had pragmatic governments, they should have done likewise. It would have given greater protection to their economic relations with Russia and Belarus.

    what made West Berlin rather nice and quiet place despite being absolutely surrounded by the Soviet army all the time, but that is another matter.

    You are obviously far too young to remember this period. West Berlin was not rather nice and quite. By the late 1960s it was a haven for a large welfare class and radical leftists, including the Baader Meinhof Gang. Germany’s “Green” fixation was born in this time and place.

  145. silviosilver says

    Statistics are our friend here.

    The right statistics are our friend.

    To build a truly modern economy, it is manufactures that truly matter for long-term sustainable prosperity.

    But not necessarily manufactured exports.

    And if the ruble has collapsed and not recovered, then it simply meant that the economy wasn’t competitive enough to maintain the previous level of the ruble, which it wasn’t.

    When a country’s currency falls, its goods become more competitive, not less. I’m not sure I’ve come across an opportunity this unambiguous to point out that something really is Econ 101.

    Still, I understand what you’re trying to say. When you use “competitiveness,” what you really mean is “productivity.”

    Paul Krugman makes this point in a Foreign Affairs essay, an oldie but a goldie from 1994. It really is worth reading the whole thing.

    A couple of choice quotes to whet your appetite (but note that the essay as a whole is not this irritatingly polemical):

    The idea that a country’s economic fortunes are largely determined by its success on world markets is a hypothesis, not a necessary truth; and as a practical, empirical matter, that hypothesis is flatly wrong.

    So let’s start telling the truth: competitiveness is a meaningless word when applied to national economies. And the obsession with competitiveness is both wrong and dangerous.

  146. Krugman claimed in 2016 that America would take decades to recover economically from Trump’s presidency.

  147. Rather, the exactly opposite is often happening. The more the elite like Western Europe, the more like to raise the price of entry to others.

    E.g. “I like Western Europe, therefore the people should be going for vacation to Crimea”.

    So, we have hence the appearance of “elite hypocrisy”, which can be contributing to the divergence between Russia and the West, rather than a simplistically expected opposite.

    I think this reflects the typical post-Soviet predilection for conspiracy and “class analysis” reflecting an underlying cynicism about people’s motivations.

    For every example like Mizulina you have several counter-examples. It is the Russian liberals who vacation and often live in Western Europe and likewise want Russia integrated with Europe. Margarita Simonyan doesn’t even live in Moscow most of the time, but in her native Krasnodar. Many of the siloviks for that matter are barred from Western Europe by law. Meanwhile, Kostin of VTB bank (systemic liberal) a few years ago was whining about no longer being able to ski in the US due to sanctions.

  148. This was from before Krugman went woke/TDS-afflicted.

    His points on the necessity of being careful about “competitiveness” are apt and one I made myself. While it can apply strongly to small countries, it applies much less to big countries and blocs, and – by definition – recedes to complete meaningless at the world level.

  149. sudden death says

    Iceland has taken the decision to remain in NATO but in a limited way. Even France acts in this manner. If the Baltics had pragmatic governments, they should have done likewise. It would have given greater protection to their economic relations with Russia and Belarus.

    Neither Iceland nor France (nuclear state, btw) has RF army at the doorstep. Also all Baltic states have fluctuating roughly about 50-60% of all the trade with EU&US, 20-30% with the rest of the world and about 10-15% with RF (imports mainly oil&gas and re-exports foreign goods into RF). When taken individually as a country by country, yes RF trade has the biggest share, but in the whole picture actually that’s just minor trading partner among all trading blocks, so why should national territorial security be potentially weakened because of it?

    You are obviously far too young to remember this period. West Berlin was not rather nice and quite. By the late 1960s it was a haven for a large welfare class and radical leftists, including the Baader Meinhof Gang. Germany’s “Green” fixation was born in this time and place.

    Obviously meant “nice and quiet” in a military context, not whatever cultural fads were trending there at the time.

  150. Blinky Bill says
  151. Shortsword says

    What is the leftmost head and the rat supposed to be? Argentina and Canada?

  152. sudden death says

    Quite beautiful picture without any irony or jokes, just the helmeted person standing next to Chinese one should be about ten times smaller in order to reflect the reality of the situation 😉

  153. Daniel Chieh says

    Wasn’t there a Serbian soldier with a toy sword in the original drawing?

  154. Blinky Bill says
  155. liberals who vacation and often live in Western

    Because jealously and social aspiration/values, are formed by the people who socially only one rank above you. Your aspirations and jealousy have been mainly formed the class of people who you have significant personal contact with, and who your children may even be friends with in school, but who are socially in a class above yourself, and who might unfairly compete against yourself for the same positions.

    Therefore, that Trump’s hypocrisy was generating discomfort from the New York’s haute bourgeoisie whose children might have been in the same schools as Trump’s children (but would have been below them socially), while billionaires that are equal or above Trump like Carl Icahn or Elon Musk are laughing about Trump, as a charming eccentric peer.

    Meanwhile, lower class Americans are not offended by Trump in the same way, as he is an animal from a different social universe, that they cannot be competing with, and whose children would never be in the same neighbourhood, or competing for the same jobs, or the same dating partners, as Trump’s children.

    There is a similar situation with Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom. In places like Cambridge University, where a younger Johnson would be part of social ecosystem and competing for your job or girlfriend from a higher position, there is anti-Johnson graffiti in the paving stones, On the other hand, among the Kingdom’s working class, there is a natural support or rapport to Johnson, as he is a from too many social ranks above them to be known personally.

    • In Russia, there are local complexities, where the upper class is proportionally a smaller part of the population, and personal acquaintance and jealously is restricted to circles of haute-bourgeoisie.

    The bourgeoise in Russia can go for vacation in Europe, and massively send their children to summer schools in London, in a weak imitation of the upper class, But it is a socially rank above them, who bought half of London’s property market, and the classrooms of Institut Le Rosey. It is the Altushkin that enjoys real anglomania, while the bourgeoisie satisfies with ersatz versions of Westernization, and the middle class below them is left with Harry Potter books. .

    By the way, internet and technology can be broadening social contact between classes, and the result will be unpredictable. For example, with Instagram, the elite starts to have a “virtual” contact with people multiple social ranks below them, whose brains might be tricked into viewing them more like peers.

    post-Soviet predilection for conspiracy and “class analysis”

    It’s just universal human reality, and when you talk to people from Latin America and Asia, they also experience all this. It’s only people from very high trust, utopian social realities like Denmark or Finland, that might not seem to notice these dynamics.

    For a funny example, it seems fashionable in Lebanon that family of anti-Israel politicians, signal their their social power by posting themselves with Israeli books on Instagram:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/lebanon/comments/m6etkn/the_son_of_haraket_amal_mp_and_previous_minister/gr5fcye/?utm_source=reddit&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

    Margarita Simonyan doesn’t even live in Moscow most of the time, but in her native Krasnodar.

    This family in the beginner ranks of Armenian crime networks. Maybe they have cut one millions from Russian people, but to be fair to them, it’s not the kind of numbers you need that can buy you much shiny things outside Russia. https://echo.msk.ru/blog/corruption/2612029-echo/

    Many of the siloviks for that matter are barred from Western Europe by law. Meanwhile, Kostin of VTB bank (systemic liberal) a few years ago was whining about no longer being able to ski in the US

    Yes these sanctions and conflicts with Western governments, could possibly be beneficial for improving governance in Russia and reducing the “double game”.

    But politics is a very complex systems, and you can end with “triple games”, that doesn’t necessary benefit the local economy.

    What happened with oligarchs like Mikhail Fridman, where they were so scared of sanctions that they pretended they are supporting the West, while really employing Putin’s daughter. Then they believed that Trump would be the answer to their problems by reducing Russia-USA tensions, but in reality they contributed to damaging Russia’s reputation by providing fuel to the “Trump Russia conspiracy theory”, when they were constantly trying to socially network with Trump’s family.

  156. Shortsword says

    Latvia isn’t part of G20.

  157. Blinky Bill says

    You’re interpretation is incorrect. They are dominating the G20 not necessarily part of it. It’s apparently about the Syria conflict. The artist is Egor Motygin, who is Jewish by the way. He clearly states it’s Latvia and Israel.

    https://www.deviantart.com/egormotygin

    https://www.deviantart.com/egormotygin/art/G20-summit-450311840

    Please scroll through his comments.

  158. Again, I don’t dispute that many of your sociological observations are interesting and have merit, but your fundamental point is that there is “elite hypocrisy” in that many of the more “anti-Western people” are also the ones who are trying to block Western influence in Russia while hypocritically signaling their own high status by associating with the West.

    In reality, though, just a brief perusal of voting results from London in Russian elections – in which liberals who get low single digits in Russia as a whole, (and max of 10-15% in elite Moscow districts), instead get pluralities or outright majorities from Londongrad. This has to be true at all social levels and in fact I would say is most true precisely amongst the highest status people (“exiled oligarch” living in London being a meme).

    There are liberals who are “nativists” or even “obscurantists” of a sort and there are likewise so-called “patriotic Cypriots” (though the only person I personally know who got burned when Cyprus fleeced non-EU foreigners with bank accounts was a Russian democratic journalist, LOL) but there are exceptions, not the rule.

  159. Blinky Bill says

    Comment Thread:

    kjmitch’s avatar
    kjmitch
    May 2, 2014
    Thanks for the explanation, clears everything up nicely. Your English is perfectly fine, by the way 🙂

    Any reason for going with certain animals for certain countries, or was the choice less targeted?
    EgorMotygin’s avatar
    EgorMotygin
    May 3, 2014
    Well, eagle skull for US, rooster for France, lion for UK and WW1-WW2 soldier skull for Germany (recognizable by russians mostly, i think). I can’t really remember why Japan is rat skull, and i was really angry at Israel government for some reason (Syria related, probably), there goes the pig skull. I am Jewish myself, so it had nothing to do with antisemitism.

    Latvia is a rat because Latvians honour their Nazi legion and supported other heads positions.

  160. I can’t really remember why Japan is rat skull, and i was really angry at Israel government for some reason (Syria related, probably), there goes the pig skull. I am Jewish myself, so it had nothing to do with antisemitism.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EosC2STU0AA43M7.png

  161. Your observations are insightful and fascinating to read as usual. However I think the essential problem may not be envy due to closeness but something specific to the haute bourgeoisie (insecurity? rootlessness?) that causes them to dislike both their betters and to have contempt for those worse than them. The really rich and the really poor seem to get along fine with one another, but the haute bourgeoisie dislike both. I don’t think there is as much envy or dislike between segments of the working class, or between ranks of the nobility, as there are among the bourgeoisie. These are the ones with the social rules and strict etiquette, trying to put everyone in their place, angry at those who don’t follow their rules.

  162. Verymuchalive says

    Also all Baltic states have fluctuating roughly about 50-60% of all the trade with EU&US, 20-30% with the rest of the world and about 10-15% with RF (imports mainly oil & gas and re-exports foreign goods into RF)

    As Russia is the cheapest source of energy by far, it is very stupid to antagonise them. Do the Baltics want to import expensive LNG, shipped from America ? The Germans certainly don’t, which is why they asked the Russians to build Nordstream 2. The pipeline totally avoids Poland, the Baltic States or any other transit state. The Germans obviously aren’t stupid.

    Obviously meant “nice and quiet” in a military context, not whatever cultural fads were trending there at the time.

    Baader Meinhof wasn’t just a “cultural fad”, they liked to kill people. Radical leftists were frequently involved in violent protests there during this period and later.

    Now you say that it refers to the military situation in Berlin. But the same holds for the situation on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. There were no incursions by either side into the other during this period. So, yes, it was “quiet”. But it certainly wasn’t “nice”. 2 heavily armed blocs with lots of nuclear weapons is not by any definition “nice”.

  163. Rattus Norwegius says

    EU member states do not require being able to do everything alone. Instead they benefit from being part of a larger network, combining their economies to compete on the world stage. Many EU member states like Germany and France could do everything Russia can do alone. However they don’t need to because of their membership in EU and NATO.

  164. reiner Tor says

    That’s true in some sense and untrue in some other sense. Militarily Russia is perhaps overall similar to China, its nuclear force is actually way larger, while its political power and prestige is also not that much smaller. Economically and especially in terms of raw population numbers it’s really just maybe a tenth (somewhat bigger, especially economically) of China.

  165. silviosilver says

    Yes, that was a doozy.

    But you know, I didn’t link to him because “Krugman says this, therefore you have to believe it.” I linked to him because of the economic reasoning he applied to reach his conclusion.

    Politically to me, he’s a worm, a maggot, a complete piece of slime. But the dude does know a thing or two about economics, and when he’s talking actual economics, he’s not always talking shit.

  166. sudden death says

    Lithuanians are now wondering what would happen if Lukashenko moved ahead with the other outlandish idea he has voiced many times on different occasions: to divert the export of Belarusian fertilizers from the Lithuanian port to Russia’s Baltics ports, Ust Luga and Primorsk, even though they are some 600 kilometres further away.

    Belarusian fertilizer makers themselves say “no way soon”:

    По его словам, это крайне невыгодно и экономически нецелесообразно. Во-первых, компания «Беларуськалий» – стратегический партнер и держатель 30 процентов акций терминала в Клайпеде. Во-вторых, российские порты находятся дальше Клайпеды, следовательно, увеличатся затраты. В-третьих, перевалка грузов в Ленобласти – это большой риск. В-четвертых, в порту Усть-Луга пока нет контейнерного терминала.

    Кроме технических причин есть и более глубокие. Например, перевод погрузки калия в порты, где одновременно с этим грузятся грузы конкурентов, фактически означает передачу хоть и под опосредованный, но все же контроль конкурентов всего бизнеса, так как движение груза в порту – это еще и движение документов, из которых будут видны контракты, рынки, партнеры. В общем, вся коммерческая информация. Готовы ли „Беларуськалий“ и „Белорусская калийная компания“ к этому? Вопрос, думаю, риторический», – сказал бизнесмен в разговоре с изданием Tut.by.

    Есть и другие моменты, которые, по его мнению, делают нецелесообразным перевод белорусских удобрений в российские порты. Например, из-за увеличения транспортного плеча «Беларуськалию» понадобится докупать вагоны, примерно 1000 штук. Кроме того, существенно возрастут затраты на обслуживание вагонов, так как удваивается пробег в расчете на одну перевезенную тонну. К тому же есть проблема вывоза более 1 млн тонн калия контейнерами (в Усть-Луге нет контейнерного терминала), а зимой понадобятся суда ледового класса. Технических проблем очень много.

    По словам Удовицкого, чтобы направить удобрения в российские порты, Беларуси придется дотировать это направление. Например, через скидки к ж/д тарифу.

    Помимо этого, есть риски еще более высокого порядка. Балтийское море соединяется с Северным морем и Атлантикой через датские проливы, а это территориальные воды стран НАТО.

    «Взаимоотношения между ЕС, НАТО и Россией продолжают ухудшаться, и в какой-то момент, в качестве одной из мер давления на Россию, может возникнуть ограничение на следование судов через проливы в российские порты. Если в этот момент „Беларуськалий“ будет грузиться, например, в Усть-Луге, он станет заложником ситуации. Пожалуй, учитывая эти совершенно реальные риски, не „Беларуськалий“, а российские производители должны думать, чтобы создавать резервные площадки погрузки в портах стран Балтии и Финляндии. Впрочем, практически все они это уже сделали, – говорит Удовицкий.

    https://bit.ly/2OOgMFN

  167. sudden death says

    Lithuanians are now wondering what would happen if Lukashenko moved ahead with the other outlandish idea he has voiced many times on different occasions: to divert the export of Belarusian fertilizers from the Lithuanian port to Russia’s Baltics ports, Ust Luga and Primorsk, even though they are some 600 kilometres further away.

    No need to wonder that much, cause Belarus fertilizer makers themselves said “no way soon”:

    По его словам, это крайне невыгодно и экономически нецелесообразно. Во-первых, компания «Беларуськалий» – стратегический партнер и держатель 30 процентов акций терминала в Клайпеде. Во-вторых, российские порты находятся дальше Клайпеды, следовательно, увеличатся затраты. В-третьих, перевалка грузов в Ленобласти – это большой риск. В-четвертых, в порту Усть-Луга пока нет контейнерного терминала.

    Кроме технических причин есть и более глубокие. Например, перевод погрузки калия в порты, где одновременно с этим грузятся грузы конкурентов, фактически означает передачу хоть и под опосредованный, но все же контроль конкурентов всего бизнеса, так как движение груза в порту – это еще и движение документов, из которых будут видны контракты, рынки, партнеры. В общем, вся коммерческая информация. Готовы ли „Беларуськалий“ и „Белорусская калийная компания“ к этому? Вопрос, думаю, риторический», – сказал бизнесмен в разговоре с изданием Tut.by.

    Есть и другие моменты, которые, по его мнению, делают нецелесообразным перевод белорусских удобрений в российские порты. Например, из-за увеличения транспортного плеча «Беларуськалию» понадобится докупать вагоны, примерно 1000 штук. Кроме того, существенно возрастут затраты на обслуживание вагонов, так как удваивается пробег в расчете на одну перевезенную тонну. К тому же есть проблема вывоза более 1 млн тонн калия контейнерами (в Усть-Луге нет контейнерного терминала), а зимой понадобятся суда ледового класса. Технических проблем очень много.

    По словам Удовицкого, чтобы направить удобрения в российские порты, Беларуси придется дотировать это направление. Например, через скидки к ж/д тарифу.

    «Взаимоотношения между ЕС, НАТО и Россией продолжают ухудшаться, и в какой-то момент, в качестве одной из мер давления на Россию, может возникнуть ограничение на следование судов через проливы в российские порты. Если в этот момент „Беларуськалий“ будет грузиться, например, в Усть-Луге, он станет заложником ситуации. Пожалуй, учитывая эти совершенно реальные риски, не „Беларуськалий“, а российские производители должны думать, чтобы создавать резервные площадки погрузки в портах стран Балтии и Финляндии. Впрочем, практически все они это уже сделали, – говорит Удовицкий.

    https://bit.ly/2OOgMFN

  168. You are not quoting a “Belarus fertilizer maker”, but an owner of Lithuanian port infrastructure who tries to bash the competition.

    В-четвертых, в порту Усть-Луга пока нет контейнерного терминала.

    In fact, Ust-Luga does have a container terminal.

    https://yandex.ru/maps/org/ust_luzhskiy_konteynerny_terminal/211180102218/gallery/?ll=28.405412%2C59.674391&z=14

    Взаимоотношения между ЕС, НАТО и Россией продолжают ухудшаться, и в какой-то момент, в качестве одной из мер давления на Россию, может возникнуть ограничение на следование судов через проливы в российские порты. Если в этот момент „Беларуськалий“ будет грузиться, например, в Усть-Луге, он станет заложником ситуации.

    Suggests that EU/NATO could use control of the straits to restrict access to Russian ports.

    Reminder:

    A blockade is a hostile act and could be used to invoke a right of self defence. By definition it will threaten the territorial and political integrity of a state, because you’re denying them use of their own waters. That equates to the use of force by one state against another and that gives you the right to defend against it.

    and

    The Treaty for the Redemption of the Sound Dues between Denmark and a number of European States of 14 March 1857 provides that no ship shall in passing the Sound or the Belts be subjected to any detention or hindrance. This commitment has been made erga omnes, as has been explicitly recognised by Denmark.

  169. sudden death says

    You are not quoting a “Belarus fertilizer maker”, but an owner of Lithuanian port infrastructure who tries to bash the competition

    .

    Belarus fertilizer maker “Беларуськалий” is absolutely official owner of that port infrastructure company too 😉 The cited guy himsel also came from Belarus to Lithuania.

    Citing some old mutual international treaties is also nice and knowledgable, but guess that knowing how RF itself is behaving with official international agreements, like 1997 treaty with Ukraine, business owners need to considering any imaginable complications no matter the legalities.

  170. The guy is a Lithuanian businessman who sold the fertilizer maker a share of the port infrastructure.
    He is not their representative.

    …business owners need to considering any imaginable complications no matter the legalities.

    Apparently, he is not doing that.
    If access to Russian Baltic ports could be restricted, the same could and would be done to the Tribaltic ports, especially Klaipeda, making them no less vulnerable than their Russian competition.

  171. “i was really angry at Israel government for some reason (Syria related, probably), there goes the pig skull. I am Jewish myself, so it had nothing to do with antisemitism.”

    LOL, that’s a bit opposite for me. I actually like Israel, and I love the Hebrew language by now. It’s grown on me more and more. I thought I would slowly start to forget it, but it has not been the case as I guess I learned it too well, and I have started to see how logical and well built it is when I read it now. But if I listen to some Jews for too long, I get the feeling that I’m starting to become antisemitic. I sometimes get that feeling when reading some of Aaron’s posts, though I managed to have a decent enough conversation with him. More often I got that by reading about nepotism-appointed failure Kushner, or some Jewish neocon.

    Anyways, I get the feeling that Israel is not run by dumb people and they will hedge their bets geopolitically. The alliance with the US is not something that they will go to the grave to defend, especially as the country become woke and will try to push the whole racism/anti-racism thing on its vassals, which would be poison for Israel. Maybe in 10 years they will recognize Crimea and Donbass annexation if all the cards are played right. For now there is too much tension over US and Syria. But I would watch how often officials meet (Netanyahu spoke very often with Putin and met him often) and things they say. It’s a country that can pivot. In fact, out of all those hydra heads, the three weak ones are obviously Israel pig, German skull and French rooster, but as a surprise prediction, probably the Israel pig is the weakest (and yes, the fact that its ear is being gnawed on by the Latvian rat, distracting it from the battle, is something which does have a deeper and applicable meaning here).

  172. sudden death says

    So we are back at square one, which leaves the more immediate commercial difficulties for reorienting the cargo quickly. Ofc, it’s not that in principle all of it can’t be overcome over time, if for some reasons there would be enough political will and money to blow 😉

  173. Daniel Chieh says

    But if I listen to some Jews for too long, I get the feeling that I’m starting to become antisemitic.

    I remember spending time around with a Israeli solder – a completely reasonable person on most things, but it made me aware of the sheer existential terror that many Jews live in, and that fear of ethnocide is such an overriding, neurotic force that has for many, been drilled into them via Holocaust training in a fashion that one could almost call abusive.

  174. But probably helps having a TFR 1 child above the developed country norm, so adaptive.

  175. liberals.. get pluralities or outright majorities from Londongrad.

    Numerically most of the Russian citizens in London seem like educated middle class people – “educated professionals”. I haven’t read any survey about this – but this is the general impression. Actually people seem to be working as things like medical doctors in London – i.e. successful middle class people.

    These are mostly people who not only do not relate to the Russian government, but also are not either related to the Russian private sector. For most Russians in London, they are working for non-Russian employers (unlike Japanese in London who are mostly employed in Japanese owned companies in Europe). In this sense, most Russians in London, are just like a more filtered and educated version of the French and Germans in London.

    But you can’t deny that there is another, minority, layer of Russians in London, who are at least informally part of state capacity, and which own a large part of the city’s most expensive property. If you walk in the expensive roads of London, – then you can accurately say “this house is Abramovich, that house is Usmanov”. And in roads like Kensington Palace Gardens , these are large areas of the city, and billionaires’ houses are often grouped near to the official government buildings, so the connection between the state and themselves feels less hidden abroad.

    So while numerically only a small minority of Russians in London, the economically significant people are much more similar to Saudis in London i.e. like an extension of the state, or at least like our equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s royal family with its few thousands princes.

    liberals who are “nativists” or even “obscurantists” of a sort and there are likewise so-called “patriotic Cypriots”

    Not a friend, but I know a man who is from Cyprus and (I don’t know more) his father was something related to military. And also he was saying about how he had been happy to be conscripted in the Cyprus, and was feeling bad for people who were running away from the conscription office in Russia. So, indeed “patriotic Cypriots”, are proud Cypriot citizens, who won’t lose any of millions of dollars there parents have deposited safely in the bank account in Cyprus.

    (though the only person I personally know who got burned when Cyprus fleeced non-EU foreigners with bank accounts was a Russian democratic journalist,

    Liberalism in Russia is one of the more middle class “tribal” groups, and one of the defining behaviours of being middle class people, is that you are almost rigidly susceptible to absorbing values, and imitating of, your rulers .

    There is funny memes about Echo of Moscow, is they are always trying to promote you to buy apartments in Batumi. Obviously Venediktov has some promotional deal with Batumi real estate development companies, or perhaps he has shares in one. But there is even more simply – that Echo of Moscow knows well their audience is not the socio-economic elite of the Russian society.

    So, personally, if you give me $10 million dollars to invest, I would buy an apartment in London. If you give me $5 million, maybe in Marbella. If you give $1 million, I would love to buy an apartment in an affordable place in Israel, like Netanya. If you me $500,000, I would buy apartment in Malaga.

    On the other hand, if I had 5 million rublesto invest on property, and had to have a foreign apartment to boast about my international real estate? Then, and only when you are in such middle class situation, doesn’t Batumi start sound attractive in your ears?

  176. I’ve never really ran into that with the people who were my friends that I’ve met at work or were connected to the job somehow. Most of the time that I went hiking or drinking it was with other foreigners, but I went out to a few big restaurant dinner get togethers with the Israelis and talked to them a lot at work.

    They are just very patriotic and nationalistic, but I guess that can be a consequence of the Holocaust. One of my good friends whose parents were born in Greece and who was short and fat, and was a tank crew reservist, said he’s a patriot and will never leave Israel even if he complains about stuff. Never mentioned being worried about Jews being killed. He did say that he still appreciates the time when he was in his early 20s, not greasy and fat like the typical Mediterranean male in middle age, and could get foreign tourist chicks on the beach in Tel Aviv, and he likes the lifestyle. I got really drunk at his wedding. He’s now living in some cheap Tel Aviv suburb and has three kids… so we don’t talk.

  177. There is also some differences in the class relations in the postsoviet sphere, than in countries like USA, Western Europe or Japan.

    The very wealthy people in the postsoviet countries, typically have a somewhat more provisional ownership of that wealth in their home country. The richer people, are feeling less secure in their property rights. As a result the ruling class has to hedge its investments abroad, and also has to rely on being clubbable and having allies among themselves .

    While in the West, there are wealthy people who are feeling very secure in their property ownerships, and Bezos or Soros can fulfil their narcissistic political ambitions without any possibility of expropriation.

    In postsoviet countries, the upper class is necessarily more internationalized, as way of hedging against relative insecurity of property ownership in their own country, while middle class are usually far more local and rooted in their countries by comparison.

    There is also devalued local currency all over the postsoviet sphere, and as a result middle class people are economically forced to be rooted in their country, as you can live a good life in your country, but your money is not worth very much in London terms (a parking space in London can cost $1 million, the same price as large luxury apartments in provincial cities in Russia).

    But in USA the upper middle class is not forced to be more rooted in the country, and the upper class is not forced to internationalize. Even Trump or Bloomberg’s children, went to local schools in their city, while upper middle class Americans could often live abroad without a fall in their living standards, if they had that inclination.

    The really rich and the really poor seem to get along fine with one another,

    It’s not a good thing though. It’s because the difference in the lifestyles wide enough that the upper and lower class know that they are not competing with each other.

    Someone like Trump is almost from a different world than the working class middle Americans – even in terms of altitude, on the top of a 200 metre skyscraper above the streets of Manhattan. While I could guess that many of his voters have never even visited Manhattan. For them, talking about Trump, can feel very distant, like Greeks talking about some drama on Mount Olympus.

    On the other hand, if you are part of New York’s haute bourgeoisie, you would sometimes see Trump eating in your favourite restaurant, where you would use the same bathroom as him, and your children might have shared the same classroom as his self-entitled heirs.

    When you are at a closer level to your rulers, then your brain is forced to realize they are just like an annoying greedy kid in your school, and actually competing for your resources. You can’t pretend anymore that they are some distant gods on Mount Olympus.

    It’s like this in the office – a lot of office workers, will feel happier when you didn’t ever talk to the CEO of your employer. If you know the CEO personally, then your brain is forced to understand that is just some ordinary dude like yourself, but you’re expending the hours of your life to make money for him to enjoy.

  178. sudden death says

    As Russia is the cheapest source of energy by far, it is very stupid to antagonise them. Do the Baltics want to import expensive LNG, shipped from America ? The Germans certainly don’t, which is why they asked the Russians to build Nordstream 2. The pipeline totally avoids Poland, the Baltic States or any other transit state. The Germans obviously aren’t stupid.

    It took a while cause sadly wasn’t able to find all the latest info in English or at least in graphic form, but anyway all this trope about “cheapness” is not applicable to Baltic practice, e.g. Gazprom managed to hike pipe gas price for Lithuania to roughly about 500$ for 1000 cm3 afterwards 2008 financial crisis despite oil prices crashing down.

    In order to end this patented RF economic nonsense Lithuania ordered floating LNG import terminal in 2011 and started to build needed infrastructure to accomodate it as at the time it was cutting edge tech, only four such type of FSRU vessels in the world were made before IIRC. Everything was completed in 2014 and in a functioning free international gas market last year about 70% of all gas was imported through that terminal, the rest 30% being pipelined Gazprom gas. Out of that terminal imported LNG gas 49% was from Norway, 37% from USA, only 14% from RF.

    At the moment terminal is free to use to all existing and potential gas buyers not only from Lithuania, but Latvia, Estonia and Finland, so in this RF neighbourhood region “expensive” USA LNG gas is somehow absolutely being able to compete with this “cheapest source of energy by far” 😉

    https://www.kn.lt/naujienos/naujienos/sgd-terminalo-tikslai-siemet-pasiekti-su-kaupu/3640

  179. sudden death says

    This year was particularly favorable for LNG imports from the USA. Calculating from the beginning of the LNG terminal operation in Klaipėda, 10 large cargoes were imported to Lithuania from the USA, a total of 9.37 TWh. By the end of the year amount of cargoes from USA will reach 12, according to the schedule. In the calendar year 2020, 7 shipments from the USA were received (and two more are expected by the end of the year). LNG from the USA will make up to 37 percent this year (with planned cargo) of all imported LNG. About 49 percent of LNG will be imported from Norway, the rest – by small quantities from Russia. Although natural gas exports from USA began in 2016, in 2019-2020 was a major breakthrough for the LNG exports to Europe. This was mainly due to an increase in liquefaction capacity in newly-emerged projects in the USA that boosted demand and supply to Europe. The customers of the Lithuanian LNG terminal, of which we have as many as 6 this year, were able to take advantage of the favorable market situation and import LNG from the USA. We believe that from 2021 the changed pricing mechanism of the LNG terminal reloading service and its differentiation according to ship / cargo sizes will further encourage the attraction of new users or cargo. The change in the pricing methodology simultaneously responds to the company’s two goals – to increase the competitiveness of the LNG terminal and to reduce the security supplement paid by natural gas consumers, which is included in the natural gas tariff.

    According to EUROSTAT, only in the first half of this year, Lithuanian natural gas consumers (households and non-households) paid one of the lowest prices for natural gas in Europe. In addition, the State Energy Regulatory Council (NERC) states that in the first half of 2020, natural gas was imported to Lithuania at approximately 54 percent lower price. All this was just a vision 6 years ago, when Lithuania and the whole region had one possible source of supply through pipelines and zero competition. The integration of the LNG terminal and other natural gas connections in the region has also provided a positive impetus this year. In the autumn of 2020, Lithuania announced that it had doubled its natural gas exports to neighboring countries. Using well-developed gas transmission infrastructure, twice as much natural gas was transported to the Baltic States and Finland as last year, i. y. 7.8 TWh. This growth was significantly influenced by the start of operations of the Estonian-Finnish Balticconector at the beginning of this year. From 1st January prices on the Finnish gas exchange approached prices in the Baltic States, although a couple of months before the start of the interconnector, the differences were as high as EUR 10 per MWh. The correlation between the European TTF index and Finnish natural gas prices began immediately after market liberalization. Natural gas trends are also positive in the future. In the Baltic States until 2030 relatively stable demand is forecasted. The launch of the GIPL interconnection and the opening up of the European natural gas market offer huge potential.

    https://www.kn.lt/en/news/news/lithuanian-lng-terminals-results-in-2020-exceeded-expectations/3642

  180. Belarusian Dude says

    Not really. They dont bother to get woke they are sated by urapatriotism

  181. Verymuchalive says

    US LNG is closely related to fracking activity. In the medium and long term, it will decline sharply. The Germans know this, which is why they asked for Nordstream2 to be built. Even at times of high output from fracking, and favourable prices, US exports are small and quite incapable of meeting demand for more than a tiny sector of the European market.

    Gazprom owns Nord Stream 2 and it is a $10.5 billion project that stretches 745 miles from Russia’s gas fields to Germany’s Baltic coast. Russia now supplies 39% of Europe’s natural gas. The United States supplies 3.5%, although a third of all U.S. LNG went to the European Union between January and November 2019, the European Commission says.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2020/10/08/when-natural-gas-prices-rise-russias-nord-stream-2-will-get-a-second-wind/

  182. Someone like Trump is almost from a different world than the working class middle Americans – even in terms of altitude, on the top of a 200 metre skyscraper above the streets of Manhattan. While I could guess that many of his voters have never even visited Manhattan. For them, talking about Trump, can feel very distant, like Greeks talking about some drama on Mount Olympus.

    I’ve listened to one of Trump’s speeches. He is actually able to connect rather well with working class Americans. Much better than would a haute bourgeois. Musil’s works show a similar trend, the old Austrian aristocratic families were often rougher and more naturally connected with the poorer people, than the equally rich new rich people who emerged from the upper middle class. I’ve seen something similar in my family also.

  183. This seems to be a necessary condition for successful American presidential candidates: that they can speak to at least two classes.

    Trump was speaking to the working class and the upper class/billionaire class, while skipping, if not generating hatred from, most of the bien-pensants/bourgeoisie.

    Trump has used successfully his son in law Jared Kushner to network with the influential billionaires like Rupert Murdoch. Moreover, his most significant policy was the corporation tax cut. which rewarded his own class probably disproportionately (although it will also benefit a lot of other parts of America’s economy).

    On the other hand, the attempt to use Trump’s daughter Ivanka, to communicate to New York’s bourgeoisie, seems to have been a failure – perhaps she reminded them of New York’s nepotism, and the annoying oligarchs’ children, that unfairly competed against them at school.

    • Obama was perceived by America’s bourgeoisie as an upper middle class nerdy, white, government worker. At the same time, he was able to communicate to the working class, with a secondary identity as a “cool African American who plays basketball”.

    George W. Bush has a similar ability to communicate to two classes: upper class elite of Connecticut, which was his real identity, and working class men of the soil, which was his fake identity.

    • Then Bill Clinton was famous for his ability to communicate even to African American voters. On the other hand, unsuccessful candidate Hilary Clinton seemed to speak to educated people and middle class voters, but she lacks the skill that her husband has to communicate with multiple classes.