Country 404 vs. Crimea

According to a fable often told by Russians themselves, there once lived two peasants. One of them had one cow, the other had two cows. The poorer peasant found a lamp, rubbed it, and out popped a genie, who proceeded to ask him if he wanted 5 cows. He refused and instead wished for one of his neighbor’s cows to drop dead.

This story is what comes to mind on the news that various Crimean Tatar and far right batallion “activists” blew up the transmission towers carrying electricity to Crimea, plunging the peninsula into a blackout that looks set to last weeks.

In fact, it’s something of a metaphor for today’s Ukraine in general.

(1) “Activists” blockade Crimea, putting an embargo on food products. Belatedly realizing that the whole affair will lose whatever minimal sense it might have possessed in the first place when Russia bans all Ukrainian food imports on January 1, 2016, on Ukraine’s accession to the EU Free Trade Agreement, they decide to up their game, presumably on the belief that if their water blockade failed to win Crimean hearts and minds in favor of Ukraine last summer, then deprivation of electricity as winter approaches surely will. No matter that said electricity blockade will affect not just those evil moskali and Ukrainian zradniki (traitors) who overwhelmingly voted to leave Country 404, but also 90% of the world’s Crimean Tatars whom they are ostensibly fighting for.

heroic-poses(2) Fifty armed National Guardsmen are sent to restore order. The “activists” naturally start to fight them and the efforts of the totalitarian Poroshenko regime to take away their Constitutional rights to blow up infrastructure on Ukrainian soil. In the video above, one of the masked activists, clearly suffering from a terminal case of Maidanism, says the Guardsmen are akin to separatists. Two of the Guardsmen are seriously injured: One gets a brain concussion after getting hit by a stick, while another gets a knife in his stomach.

In any normal functional country, including in any European nation that the Maidanists vaunt so much, they would at this point be getting mowed down by special forces as the terrorists they are. However, in Ukraine, they are “civic activists,” so they are left unharmed to continue to strike heroic Diogenes-in-a-pylon poses. And after a crowd of sympathizing “activists” gathers at the Presidential palace, Poroshenko quickly flip flops and promises that there would be no more attempts to storm them in a hastily arranged meeting with the (self-proclaimed) “Mejlis” leaders of the Crimean Tatars.

You must construct additional pylons!? Not so fast…

(3) Ilya Kiva, the commander of those National Guards supposedly tasked with restoring order so that repairs could be done, immediately afterwards posted the following message on Facebook (the favored communications medium of Maidanist politicians): “The troops are now at their place of permanent dislocation, and the blockade continues! No electricity to Crimea! Slava Ukraine! And now I go to bed…”

slava-ukraine-no-electricity-to-crimea(4) In the meantime, while svidomy Ukrainians digest their great peremoga (victory), the sabotage has forced two nuclear power plants in neighboring Kherson oblast to effect a dangerous emergency shutdown. There is a chance that the blackouts could spread to the neighboring Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Nikolaev according to the head of the Ukraine’s energy company Yury Katich.

Russia has ceased supplying coal to Ukraine in retaliation. Considering that Ukraine’s electricity network runs in significant part thanks to Russian and LDNR coal, this is not an unreasonable retaliation for the blockade of Crimea.

At this point, there can only be two explanations for this turn of events, on which in turn will depend any further developments.

a) The first variant is that Ukraine is a Country 404, a failed state powerless to prevent its “activists” from sauntering about and blowing up infrastructure at will in the hope that it kills more Russian cows even if some Ukrainian cows also get caught in the backblast.

b) The more cynical and darker possibility is that this was all planned. As Egor Kholmogorov points out in an article for Izvestia, now is a perfect window for this kind of sabotage, because the center and east of the territories controlled by Kiev have recently been connected to new power lines from the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant to the west, allowing it to minimize any fallout on Ukraine itself, while Russia is less than two months away from launching its energy bridge to Crimea. This implies that the timing of this operation was chosen by people a “great deal more informed than those of the Right Sector and the supporters of the Mejlis.”

If the latter explanation is in fact the correct one – and considering the possible casualties stemming from a sudden and prolonged loss of power, especially now that winter is coming – then this would make this sabotage something more than a tragicomic skit. As Kholmogorov argued, it would make it an an outright act of state terrorism – and if Russia has any sense of honor and consistency left, it would reply with the usual punishment meted out to sponsors of terror, including wide-ranging economic sanctions at the very least.

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.


  1. [including the wide-ranging economic sanctions at the very least.]

    Just cut off their gas until they get the power back on. Simples.

  2. Ukraine’s capital is Atlanta?

  3. Country 404 strikes again: Ukrainian govt temporarily bans cargo flows to Crimea


  4. Another point is that this whole situation is a Russian fault.
    After annexing Crimea it was only matter of time, that electricity to Crimea would be cut of.
    Building electricity bridge immediately was a duty of Moscow government towards its new citizens.

    It was duty to build electricity bridge by June 2014!

    And they failed, there is no nothing literally till today!
    Such simple task as laying few hundreds of cables in 2-3 months is beyond capabilities of biggest state on Earth.

    A state that cannot supply electricity to its citizens is a failed state.

    Not to mention the bridge over Kerch Strait and tubes with drinking water.
    These are things Russian citizens can only dream about. Just like citizens of Kongo-Bongo.

    So what’s funny in this whole mess, is that both Ukraine and Russia are failed states.

  5. There is oversupply of energy commodities from 3rd world countries.
    Prices are falling, energy companies are aggressively looking for new customers, eager to grab any current Russian customer for themselves.

    That’s just one of many example. Everyday executives get new better offers.

    And refusing to sell coal from Ukraine would only further suppress Donb-Ass economy.
    As nobody else wants to buy Donb-Ass coal.

    Ukraine, if pays by cash, is able to source gas or coal from any other country.

    No need of Russia. Russian threats of sanctions are empty.
    The only losers would be Russian oligarchs.

    Ukraine + Russia = 808

  6. To seek out a svidomite as a customer would be a real bad move – if getting paid meant anything to you.

  7. A state that cannot supply electricity to its citizens is a failed state.

    Fortunately, the Russian state seems to be able to ensure that its citizens in Crimea have access to electricity.

  8. If Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukraine would get lots of help form the West. So Ukraine will try to provoke Russia into something. There is no incentive for Ukraine to let things settle down.

  9. If Russia really invaded Ukraine, there would be new government in Kiev in a matter of 72 hours in place, while Poroshenko and Yatzenyuk (if they manage to escape) would take prominent positions in US Ivy League madrasas. Such as was the case with “great statesman” Saakashvilli who managed to get position of the Senior Statesman in Tufts University School of Law and Diplomacy (they also have school of Advanced Heating and Air Conditioning Repair in one of their cellars). No wonder then, that US foreign policy is such a resounding “success”.

  10. John Mearsheimer 25 years ago:-

    During the Cold War both superpowers were drawn into Third World conflicts across the globe, often in distant areas of little strategic importance. Eastern Europe is directly adjacent to both the Soviet Union and Germany, and it has considerable economic and strategic importance. Thus trouble in Eastern Europe would offer even greater temptations to these powers than past conflicts in the Third World offered to the superpowers. Furthermore, Eastern European states would have a strong incentive to drag the major powers into their local conflicts, because the results of such conflicts would be largely determined by the relative success of each party in finding external allies.

    The Berlin-Baghdad Express, The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, also A German -Turkish alliance over refugees, and the Russian “geopolitical coup” in Syria are both moves similar to the ones that provoked WW1. I would compare Ukraine to Serbia before WW1. They are going to try and drag the West into a wider war.

  11. With all my deep respect to Mearsheimer (and he is a very important voice in the American “realism”), I am not interested in his opinions re: USSR/Russia. Especially re: USSR.

  12. Economic Sophisms says

    In my favorite version of that joke, the Genie says he’ll give the neighbor twice what he gives the farmer. So the farmer says “put out my eye”.

  13. He has proven predictive power, especially about Russia, so read him. I have his book.

  14. An important point Mearshiemer makes is that post CW the world rivalries are no longer in two power blocks but rather multipolar, and that gives more room for problems while also leading to miscalculation.

  15. I read him–not interested. I read Hans Morgenthau’s Spruance lecture in Naval war College in 1957. There is nothing interesting here–all of it was said many times before. The only work of international repute from US which had real influence was Huntington’s magnum opus “The Clash Of Civilizations”, came out in 1996. Mind you, this was from the guy who advocated war in Vietnam and founded the magazine Foreign Policy, which is today a combination of freaks and hacks such as Fareed Zakaria. I reiterate–I AM NOT interested, unless these are figures of scale of late George F. Kennan or Ambassador Jack Matlock, in anything related to USSR/Russia “analysis”. I, however, can make a prediction–100% probability–we all gonna die eventually.

  16. First, both assume that the end of the Cold War did in fact represent a critical turning point in history. Either such as marked the end of one kind of conflict and the beginning of another (Huntington); or that represented the beginning of a process which would eventually culminate in a world without war and thus to the End of History (Fukuyama).

    Second and perhaps even more important, both focus on what, for lack of a better term, I shall call spiritual factors. For Fukuyama, the paramount one is ideology. For Huntington, it is identity. In doing so they leave out any other number of factors that have always led, and presumably will continue to lead, to war in the future too. Chief among them are technological developments; competition for economic resources in a world where such resources are said to become less and less plentiful; and, over-arching everything else, the “perpetual and restless desire for power after power that ceaseth only in death” (Thomas Hobbes). The least one can say is that, in any attempt to understand the future of war, these factors must take a paramount place side by side with those Fukuyama and Huntington have focused on.

  17. Ukraine is a bankrupt failing state. Destroying power lines ultimately will backfire because Russia will indeed is already building the cable under the Strait of Kerch from the mainland that will be very hard for the Ukro-Nazis and Turkish MIT stooge Tatars to sabotage. A cable-laying vessel from China is actually helping the Crimean authorities reach towards the goal of getting one third of the peninsula’s power supplied from the Russian mainland by December 23 if not New Year. Go BRICS!

    Meanwhile Ukraine’s rickety power infrastructure is wide open to attack. Not just from the evil sovoks of the DNR, but eventually if Polish ultra-nationalists get pissed off enough at Kiev and steal some shells or semtex from an army base they can see to it that Banderites have to celebrate Stepan B’s b-day or the anniversary of the mass murderers of Poles UPA using only torches. I do not believe the Ukraine in its present borders will exist in 20 hell maybe even 15 years with small bits of TransCarpathia going back to Hungary just to get sane, functional governance and services. The Poles will probably want nothing to with bringing Lvov back…

    Russia’s economy is in severe recession, but much of southern and southeastern Europe is stuck in a perma-depression and northern Europe is being dragged down as well especially with the immi-destabilization of Germany and Sweden. The UK may be an outlier but even there living in London is becoming unaffordable and native Britons are a minority in their own capital. So I’d be a bit more circumspect in calling Russia a failed or failing state considering how quickly its trade partners are either being dragged down by pathological altruism, neo-Ottoman stupidity, or the deliberate ‘Empire of Chaos smash it all if we can’t keep it with the petrodollar’ revenge of the D.C. elect.