Putin Needs To Sacrifice The Donbass To Survive. (Not Really).


Donbass is the heart of Russia. 1921 poster.

Or so some people seem to believe and hope.

So let’s tally up these reasons:

The Russian economy is getting increasingly desperate.

Two percent GDP growth isn’t anything to write home about, but neither is it particularly catastrophic. The budget is balanced, inflation is at record lows, Russia has $450 billion worth of foreign exchange reserves.

Short of major new sanctions or a sharp collapse in oil prices, growth should continue to pick up in the next few years.

The recent weakening of the ruble, as well as the imminent rise in VAT, will contribute to higher than expected inflation, but going from 2% now to 5% in a year’s time (note that Russia’s target rate is 4%) is hardly something to be concerned about.

Ultimately, if the collapse of the ruble from 30 to 60 to the USD and a halving of the oil price didn’t collapse the Russian economy, then going from 60 to the USD to 70 to the USD should be just a blimp on the radar.

The Donbass is a drain on Russian resources

This argument is beloved of by Russia’s pseudo-patriotic liberals – look, Putler is starving Russian pensioners to finance those subhuman gopniks in Donetsk – but in reality, annual subsidies of around $1 billion to the LDNR are almost irrelevant to the Russian budget.

This $1 billion figure is also what Russia approximately spends every year on its Syria intervention.

Russia spends several times this figure on net transfers to Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, whose contributions to Russia are questionable.

For comparison, Iran – a much poorer state – spends about $10 billion per year supporting Syria, while under much harsher sanctions. While its citizens don’t exactly enjoy the sweet life, it’s worth noting that even Iran has neither collapsed nor become completely impoverished under this strain.

The Donbass doesn’t want to be in Russia

This is only half true. According to a 2017 poll carried out by Germans, 45% want to join Russia, 35% want an autonomous status within the Ukraine, while only 21% want to return to the status quo.


However, this is in the context of:

  1. A Ukraine that unequivocally rejects any autonomy, so “shoving back” the Donbass into the Ukraine will still leave 4/5 of people in the Donbass unhappy.
  2. The Russian government consistently ruling out the Donbass joining Russia.
  3. Russophiles in the Donbass getting understandably dejected about the whole affair. If joining Russia isn’t on the table, it’s hard to see why they should have to be shelled and live in the legal limbo that is the LDNR for many more years.

Unilateral surrender in the Donbass will represent Russia’s final betrayal of those not inconsiderable numbers of people who did rise for the Russian World in 2014 (studies have shown 80%+ of NAF fighters hail from the Ukraine). At that point, all of Russia’s remaining friends and allies would be justified in giving it the boot as soon as it is expedient to do so.

Sanctions are crushing the Russian economy

Sanctions only accounted for 10% of the Russian recession from 2014-16. In any case, the greatest threats are now US sanctions that also target foreign companies that do business in Russia. That process is driven by domestic US political fighting, and withdrawing from Donbass will have absolutely zero effect on that so long as a large fraction of the American elites continues to earnestly believe that Putler put Drumpf into office and that Russia is “waging war” on the US. If anything, it will be interpreted as a sign of weakness and a signal to ramp them up even faster.

The experience of Iran has shown that the Europeans will go along with the Americans in the end, private mutterings regardless. It is also worth emphasizing that countering the US sanctions will require the Europeans to be proactive about this, e.g. committing to compensating/counter-sanctioning any American prosecutions of European companies for doing business with sanctioned Russian entities. With Russia’s toxic reputation in Europe (Putin is no more popular there than he is in the US itself) we can be pretty sure that isn’t going to happen. In any case, the American market is much larger than the Russian one, so the vast majority of major European companies are going to independently opt for the US regardless. Especially since there’s no “red telephones” connecting Eurocrats with European captains of industry, as in China.

Fallout from Putin’s pensions reform requires making good with the West

The current fall in Putin’s approval ratings due to the pensions reform is severe, but as I pointed out, it is also very likely to be temporary, like the monetization of benefits in 2005.

Indeed, I am satisfied to report that this might be already panning out. Levada had Putin falling from 79% in May 2018 to 67% in July, but going up to 70% in August. VCIOM had Putin falling from 77% before the announcement of the pensions reform, to a low of 63% in July and most of August; but according to the latest poll, he is now back up at 66%. The only political force this reform benefited was the Communists, where Zyuganov enjoyed a brief surge in confidence that is already beginning to fade; trust in Navalny has remained at a flat 1%. Which is encouraging, since Navalny’s opportunistic opposition to the rise in the retirement age is hilariously transparent.

On the other hand, a withdrawal from the Donbass will be correctly perceived as a defeat, and may well provoke a political crisis.

Moreover, there are some very serious risks to abandoning the Donbass.

There is no guarantee that the West will meet Russia halfway.

Even from a crude Realpolitik perspective that has no truck with national sentiments, Russia is exchanging several birds in the hand for vague promises of some “understanding” with the West:

  • What is for all intents and purposes an active veto on Ukrainian membership of NATO. (Something that even today half of Ukrainians oppose, but is universally supported by its elites).
  • A blockpost against more active Ukrainian encroachments on the Crimea, e.g. once the LDNR is gone, why not blow up the Crimean bridge?
  • A hedge on US aggression against its isolated, surrounded, and highly vulnerable military presence in Syria.

All this in exchange for the mere possibility that the Europeans might soften their sanctions against Russia.

This is assuming that this doesn’t even embolden the Americans (and by extension, the Europeans) into further tightening the screws to effect regime change in Russia, which may be an increasingly realistic prospect because…

Withdrawal from the Donbass will collapse Putin’s approval ratings.

Novorossiya is a core issue for almost all nationalists. Almost all of them can be expected to move from their current ambivalent position on Putin to outright opposition.

While the nationalist response goes without saving, many Communists will also be quite unhappy. For instance, Zakhar Prilepin (famous author and chief editor of Svobodnaya Pressa, Russia’s best major leftist resource) and leftist activist Sergey Udaltsov (whom Western journalists called a political prisoner for leading the 2011-12 anti-Putin protests along with Navalny, before he revealed himself to be unhandshakeworthy in 2014) are Novorossiya supporters.

Basically the limp-wristed liberals are suddenly going to get many hardcore street fighters and Donbass veterans joining them in their protests as Putin’s approval ratings tumble down to perhaps 40%.

At this point, Putin’s “partners” in the West may well be tempted to twist the knife. Violent dispersals will provide no shortage of justifications for ramping up sanctions.

At this point, either the color revolution succeeds, and Russia is swallowed up by neoliberalism.txt (at least in the short run).

Or it transforms into a genuinely harsh authoritarian state that has no choice but to fall deep into China’s orbit (which the attempted rapprochement with the West was meant to avoid in the first place).

So where was I? Oh, right… this why “Putinsliv” is not going to happen. I don’t exactly have a very high opinion of the kremlins, but I don’t think they’re this stupid.

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. Felix Keverich says

    I’m sick and tired of people hyping up China on this website. I’ve got nothing against the people and the country, but honestly:

    Fuck China.

    Seriously, how many countries China has “in its orbit” right now? None. There is no such a thing as “China’s orbit”. And why would anyone want to be in vassalage to the Chinese? Possible reasons excape me.

  2. Thorfinnsson says

    Russia’s financial position is not as strong as its central bank forex reserves and current account balance portray. Private sector foreign currency debt (presumably, mostly Euros) is 30% of GDP–about equal to central bank’s forex reserves. In light of the fact that Russia’s private sector is quite small, that’s a fairly alarming figure.

    Russia needs Thatcherism. What exactly is the rationale for keeping Gazprom and Rosneft owned by the state? These aren’t infant industries and America shows that the private sector does quite well in the oil & gas sector.

  3. Sure, but Russia is not Turkey/Ukraine/Argentina-tier. I am furthermore under the impression that it has better fundamentals than most of East-Central Europe.

    I suspect they are just afraid of independent people getting too much of the super wealth generated in those industries. These people are going to be structurally drawn towards loyalty to the West, and Russia’s means of overseeing them are far more modest than China’s. United Russia is no CPC.

    They are of course highly inefficient and corrupt. Though that might be more feature than bug, as it gives the people around Putin direct access to financial firepower. This is the standard explanation, anyway. While I can understand that being the case for Rosneft, Gazprom – which is even less well run – essentially gives away money to connected subcontractors, as argued in the recent report by Alex Fak at Sberbank’s investment banking division. But those subcontractors as far as I’m aware are not even an important mainstay of the regime – most are just talented grifters.

  4. Anarcho-Supremacist says

    What exactly is the rationale for keeping Gazprom and Rosneft owned by the state?

    Because they make the state a lot of money. Honestly if having a few industries helps keep taxes low don’t see the problem.

  5. AquariusAnon says

    I clearly don’t, this is why I’ve been yelling against it to the point of autistic screeching. See my numerous rants about permanent stagnation Golden Horde 2.0 along with building a “bamboo network” on Russian soil in that situation. The writer of this article, Lin De’an, aka Anatoly Karlin, probably disagrees, but he’s some Sino(and Indian)phile.

    I know more about China and the Chinese mentality than he does, obviously.

    China’s orbit currently consists of Hong Kong, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, a smattering of irrelevant East and Southern African states, and arguably Thailand. Belarus wants to join badly in an obsequious manner, but China hasn’t taken them in yet. Of course, if Russia joins this club, it will strengthen China’s position to the point of completely rewriting the global order for the 21st century, but Russia won’t benefit much if at all, as I’ve written about in detail in multiple posts.

  6. Thorfinnsson says

    Sure, but Russia is not Turkey/Ukraine/Argentina-tier. I am furthermore under the impression that it has better fundamentals than most of East-Central Europe.

    Foreign currency debt is worse in Russia than in the rest of East-Central Europe other than Hungary. That said Russia’s robust current account surplus means that a financial crisis is highly unlikely. Russia also has competent adults in charge of monetary policy and banking regulation.

    Turkey is meanwhile run by a completely lunatic who believes that high interest rates cause inflation. Turkish secret police are now also imprisoning people for the “crime” of speaking ill of the Lira. Makes the Argies look good in comparison.

    I suspect they are just afraid of independent people getting too much of the super wealth generated in those industries. These people are going to be structurally drawn towards loyalty to the West, and Russia’s means of overseeing them are far more modest than China’s. United Russia is no CPC.

    Other policy tools to keep the rich disciplined are available. Capital controls, credit controls, punitive taxation, regulation, etc. Some of these policy tools might also be quite popular with Russian voters, especially in the wake of the pension reform.

    A lot of corporate equity can also come to be owned by ordinary people themselves with an appropriately designed pension system. Good examples of this are Sweden, Chile, and (surprisingly) Malaysia. America’s tax-deferred defined contribution pension programs are also a good model.

    Privatization can even have a bit of a populist flair. The Thatcher government ran advertising campaigns promoting shares of crown corporations soon to be listed to ordinary retail investors.

    They are of course highly inefficient and corrupt. Though that might be more feature than bug, as it gives the people around Putin direct access to financial firepower. This is the standard explanation, anyway. While I can understand that being the case for Rosneft, Gazprom – which is even less well run – essentially gives away money to connected subcontractors, as argued in the recent report by Alex Fak at Sberbank’s investment banking division. But those subcontractors as far as I’m aware are not even an important mainstay of the regime – most are just talented grifters.

    No doubt, but presumably the views of Russians themselves also play a role. Plenty of Sovoks around who think state ownership is glorious, and obviously the Wild ’90s are not fondly remembered.

  7. Thorfinnsson says

    Viewed objectively SOEs are a cost to the state as they are inefficiently run. There are a few decently run SOEs (Russia’s nuclear sector, Norway’s Statoil, some North American utilities), but in general they have a poor record everywhere. They’re justifiable in infant industries–e.g. South Korea’s POSCO (Pohang Iron & Steel Corporation) began as an SOE. Logically Russia should maintain state ownership in the commercial aircraft manufacturing sector for this reason.

    Russia also isn’t Denmark or France and has a lot of fiscal room on taxes. The country has had a flat 13% personal income tax rate this entire century. A marginal rate of, say, 25% on income exceeding 50m Roubles for instance seems entirely reasonable.

    A more active stock market would also increase capital gains and dividends, another source of revenue for the state.

    The current import substitution drive could also be augmented with tariff revenue.

  8. CRISPR-Enabled Russian Cosmic Empire via Tropical Hyperborea (pretty far-fetched) > major Medium Power with ok relations with many European countries (esp. Gen Z), China, and Japan+Korea, growing economic and cultural power (your “optimistic” scenario) > Golden Horde 2.0 (I don’t know if it will be as bad as you say; Russia is not Burma, after all; in any case, what are the other options, if there’s a total break with the Greater West? which incidentally will likely happen if Russia implements your proposals for Donbass) > Surrender to neoliberalism.txt West (maybe we’ll get to the technological singularity before being irreversibly flooded with Infinity Africans) > DPRK like autarky Greater Turkestan presided over by Sechin and Academic Kadyrov (dystopia).

  9. AquariusAnon says

    I never said “Golden Horde 2.0” was an awful end of the world scenario.

    Definitely worse than my “optimistic scenario” that you had above as major medium power with good ties with everyone and somewhat of an immigration hub for Gen Z whites.

    Optimistic scenario = Russia’s true potential

    Golden Horde 2.0 = Exactly the current scenario perhaps with the addition of a bamboo network and double to triple the current amount of Chinese tourists and international students.

    Current scenario = Not optimal but clearly not bad at all, a situation that both Lin De’an and AP can accept. Definitely better than Keverich’s DPRK scenario.

    Just that Russia can definitely do next level above Golden Horde 2.0 at “optimistic scenario” even with the current cards its being dealt. It simply requires less obtuseness, corruption, fear of change, and recalibration of priorities (e.g. on the Donbass issue as an example, and building foundations for future independent and globally influential Russian civilian industrial and soft power industries) from the ruling class.

  10. AquariusAnon says

    And total break with the ENTIRE Greater West is imo unlikely because

    1. Based Gen Z Europeans generally like Russia, which is a good 25% of the population, at least.
    2. This time the Euro will see its value halve, if iron curtain re-raised along the the Baltics and Poland, with the accompanying mass withdrawal of European companies from the Russian market. Just imagine the sheer economic chaos if every single European company shuts its Russian operations and the Russian airspace closes to all European airlines.

    3. Lack of Russian gas = heat rationing in the winter. Not sure if Europeans can survive with only a couple hours of heating a day on top of a Greece-level economic crisis due to the iron curtain without throwing pitchforks at the govt.

    Assuming the Europeans really manage to do this without overthrowing their government over chaos in their own territory, then yes, Russia will be a hard authoritarian state. Without Lukashenka-style bending backwards obsequiousness and selling out towards China, China will probably also view Russia as toxic, and choose to invest elsewhere. China won’t be hostile to Russia just as its on good terms with Iran, but there will be no large scale Chinese FDI and influence. In this case, Russia should simply go full-DPRK.

    But this point, the Russian elite will probably go full-Lukashenka and secure large scale Chinese FDI this way, including replacing English with Chinese as the default second language, and allowing China to dictate the terms of FDI. In this case, we get instant Chinese vassal status for Russia with corresponding bamboo network, and at this point Chinese influence grows bigger and bigger, with Russian living standards stagnating at current levels adjusted for inflation.

  11. Felix Keverich says

    Belarus cannot be in China’s orbit, because it is firmly in Russia’s orbit. And unlike the fictional “China’s orbit”, Russia’s orbit is very much a real thing: one cannot leave it without paying a great price.

    Russia wants to export its energy, and China needs to import a lot of energy. So this is a foundation for a healthy commercial relationship. But beyond that Russia doesn’t really need China for anything. There is no pro-China constituency within the Russian politics, and the country is viewed with suspicion – this is probably one of the few issues both Russian nationalists and liberals will agree on.

  12. Pushing a progressive income tax in Russia? I thought you were not like the other Swedes…

    It seems to me that a progressive system is inherently evil because it ends up making the state moralize about inequality. It becomes a snowball rolling down hill – a state religion and a mania. Taxes inevitably increase. Pretty soon it becomes the globo-homo variety of egalitarianism, and they’ll be importing millions of khat-chewing Chadians.

  13. AquariusAnon says

    If Anatoly Karlin enters Russian politics with Lukashenka as his running mate, then we’d have a highly pro-China constituency right there.

  14. Felix Keverich says

    You seem ignorant about economic issues. For example, when it comes to natural gas market, European countries are not in the same boat. Britain and Spain import virtually no gas from Russia. These countries built lots LNG terminals and import from Qatar. Germany, Italy and France have a well-diversified supply from multiple sources. The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

    There is no Chinese FDI in Belarus, and in Russia it accounts for 1% of the total FDI. Nobody is learning Chinese in Russia or Belarus. I don’t know what you’re smoking.

  15. Thorfinnsson says

    While he never actually said it, the old saw attributed to Willie Sutton applies. He robbed the banks because that’s where the money is.

    The modern state requires considerable financial resources. The rich have the money.

    I personally disfavor punitive taxation rates and am against efforts to increase equality, but I can see the utility of punitive taxation to discipline would be compradors.

  16. AquariusAnon says

    So with this in mind, then full embargo with the Greater West would mean Eastern Europe being willing to go through heat rationing at best, and no heat at all at worst, in the winter. Even countries like Germany would require some heat rationing since the part of gas that Russia supplies will be all gone. Not sure if they can survive this without getting all riled up.

    Furthermore, Russia can hurt Western Europe economically not just in gas. Once Russia overflight rights are banned, European airlines would lose a lot of money, forcing some to even shut down (Finnair on the top of my mind will go bust immediately), with a lot of direct routes now requiring significant detours and fuel stops. East Asian, followed by Middle Eastern airlines would eat their lunch.

    Also, if all European companies are forced to leave the Russian market, Russians won’t die if they can’t buy a new Mercedes, and a former Auchan can be easily converted to a local Russian supermarket, but European companies will lose billions of dollars in this process. All their FDI they put in the Russian market will simply evaporate. Loss of huge markets at corporations = large scale layoffs guaranteed.

    And Russia in this case should just model themselves after Iran. If anything, they can finally start developing their own industries. No reliance on the West or China please.

  17. You’re sort of both correct.

    1. China does indeed have vast investments in Belorussia (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China-Belarus_Industrial_Park).

    There are apparently Chinese translations everywhere, like in Sheremetyevo Airport. (According to AquariusAnon, who I assume is not lying).

    1. I agree with you about the natural gas. This will not be a problem for Western Europe.


    Share of EU natural gas imports sourced from Russia fell from 80% in the 1990s to just 35% today.

    Can be replaced on reasonably short notice with pricier LNG; Germany can reopen its NPPs; Germany and Poland can probably increase coal production; etc.

  18. AquariusAnon says
  19. Felix Keverich says

    China does indeed have vast investments in Belorussia

    lol China has plans for vast investments in Belarus. They will probably never materialise. At any rate I’m not aware of Chinese companies making anything in Belarus.

    I do know that Russian energy subsidies to Belarus amount to $3 billion every year. This a Russian direct investment in the survival Lukashenko regime.

    There are apparently Chinese translations everywhere, like in Sheremetyevo Airport. (According to AquariusAnon, who I assume is not lying.

    This is almost certainly untrue. Doubtful, that AquariusAnon has ever visited Belarus.

  20. AquariusAnon says

    See my post just above yours. There seems to be even more Chinese in Belarus than Russia. At least I don’t see exclusive Chinese signs for bus stops at Sheremetyevo, nor train station signs and ATMs in Chinese

  21. Felix Keverich says

    You didn’t take these pictures. You copied them from websites on the internet.

    Admit it, you’ve never actually been to Belarus.

    To me these images look like a bit of Belorussian provincialism, nothing more.

  22. Excellent piece.

    The experience of Iran has shown that the Europeans will go along with the Americans in the end, private mutterings regardless.

    Exactly. Some people think that a but of quiet murmuring represents potential mutiny. More likely it represents grumpy acceptance.

    In the long run EVERYTHING is about CHINA.
    The trade attack against Turkey, Iran, Russia is not a loss of friends to China. It is defining the minority in as small a group as possible. It is making sure that EU, Saudi, most of ME is on the US side when there are two non-overlapping trading blocks, China vs US.
    That will be soon.
    The interesting questions are in Asia, which side of the pacific will Korea and Japan be on?

    Basically the limp-wristed liberals are suddenly going to get many hardcore street fighters and Donbass veterans joining them in their protests as Putin’s approval ratings tumble down to perhaps 40%.

    I would have thought that any back-sliding on Donbas and the liberals disappear completely. Completely blindsided from all debate. (In fact I have always argued that if Navalny says give back Donbas or Crimea to Ukraine it is simply proof that his constituency is the CIA, and he has no intention of ever winning support in Russia).
    The question then becomes whether the US wants to fund nationalist protesters as a separate group? Why not – they fund ISIS.
    There will be no neo-liberal color revolution. A bloody nationalist one, perhaps. More Libya or the attempts in Syria than a color revolution. Ukraine 2014 perhaps.

    Or it transforms into a genuinely harsh authoritarian state that has no choice but to fall deep into China’s orbit (which the attempted rapprochement with the West was meant to avoid in the first place).

    I don’t think there is any choice medium term here. Russia doesn’t want this. China doesn’t want it. But the US wants a 2 block world.

    A minor quibble, mainland Europe certainly does have “red telephones” connecting Eurocrats with European captains of industry, and unlike China they work both ways. And Putin is almost as popular amongst Europeans as he is with Americans. It is just the CIA won’t let you play politics in Europe if you don’t bad mouth Putin (just as they have a veto on all European Ministers of Defence).

  23. I’m not aware of Chinese companies making anything in Belarus.

    China’s Geely targets Russian market with new Belarus plant

    China is building a new airport in Minsk, energy infrastructure and a commercial park known as Great Stone just outside the capital.

    The plant, 70 km (44 miles) from Minsk, aims to produce 25,000 and 35,000 cars in 2018 and 2019 respectively and has the capacity to make 60,000 cars per year.

    “Ninety percent of the cars produced will be targeted at the Russian market,” the company said in a statement.

    Heavy investment in residential complex in China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone
    If you use BelTA’s materials, you must credit us with a hyperlink to eng.belta.by.

  24. Felix Keverich says

    The plant, 70 km (44 miles) from Minsk, aims to produce 25,000 and 35,000 cars in 2018 and 2019 respectively and has the capacity to make 60,000 cars per year.

    “Ninety percent of the cars produced will be targeted at the Russian market,” the company said in a statement.

    This carmaker sold 1051 vehicles in Russia in the first half of 2018, down 3% from 1H 2017.

    I’d say we’re in no danger of losing Belarus to China. Think about it, if 90% of output is aimed at the Russian market, then who has the leverage in this situation: China, Russia or Belarus?

    Speaking of China and industrial parks, they seem to do this trick all the time. Announce an agreement to open industrial park, promise a couple of billions in investment someday. They did this in Syria, yet no money from China has been distributed thus far.


    Last July, Beijing hosted the First Trade Fair on Syrian Reconstruction Projects at which Qin Yong, vice-president of the China-Arab Exchange Association, unveiled plans for $2 billion of Chinese investment in Syria to establish industrial parks.

    “Vast Chinese investment in Syria”. For now, just talk.

  25. AquariusAnon says

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Already some people in the US are viewing Russia and China as some Union State that share the same culture and values.

    This type of bipolarism will be even more catastrophic than the 20th century imo. Everybody but the US and China will lose, and given how big these shoes are for China to fill, even China may not be willing or able to step up to the plate.

    Of course, it would make sense to have 2 worlds, one defined by neoliberalism.txt and the other defined by some type of Orweillian totalitarian statism, exact world not formalized yet, but something like “Socialism with Chinese characteristics applicable to the rest of the world”. Both would be capitalist in their own realm and both would be awful in different ways.

    Joining America’s neoliberalism.txt block will not only mean breakdown of society and culture with the introduction of assorted “rights”, but also ethnic replacement will be mandatory. By the end of the century, most of America’s allies, including America itself, will be almost unrecognizable, with the titular nationality being maybe 70% of the nation at most, and dipping below 50% in their major cities.

    Joining China’s block will mean dodging a bullet in terms of rights and ethnic replacement, but it will mean implementing Orweillian totalitarian 1984-style statism, and also for non-Chinese countries, letting China run your economy, and they’ll inevitably use only their companies and hire their own, in your country, while channeling the profits back to China. Such foreign country of economy coupled with 1984-style statism will mean stagnation and stifling of growth, both cultural and economic. While ethnic replacement and destruction of culture under neoliberalism.txt won’t happen, but a century of stagnation and pessimism will. But neoliberalism.txt and domination by American millennials will lead to even worse stagnation and pessimism, at best.

    I feel like the goal for now is to have Russia, Belarus, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and Latin America to join the Chinese sphere, with the rest of the world joining the American sphere. The Intermarium could lean either way but more likely side with the US. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will probably side with the US and embark on the neoliberalism.txt crusade.

    btw, Good China-UK relations coupled with horrendous Russia-UK relations are interesting: Using this hypothesis, this might mean that while the UK is to firmly remain in the US sphere, it plans to deal with China via the UK.

    This is only a possible goal of the US establishment and might not even happen though.

  26. Poland “surrendered” to neoliberalism.txt without accepting large numbers of Third World migrants.

  27. The Chinese have already started to try to weed out criticism of their leadership from foreign countries. I don’t think they will stop short of censorship once they get strong enough.

    So you will have the spectacle of two blocs fighting each other, with no freedom in either of them.

  28. For now – and without accepting LARGE NUMBERS (as if “small numbers” don’t matter).

    How long do you think she will be able to resist, as long as she remains a U.S. vassal and part of the EU and NATO?

  29. Okay, so you think Russia Stronk! I doubt President Keverich could stay in power in Russia for long (Russians would chase him out after the sanctions started to bite), but if he did, it’d be a catastrophe for Russia.

  30. Poland is only posturing against the decisions of EU and Germany in particular when asked to receive refugees who registered in other countries, who usually do not want to come to Poland anyway because of low social benefits. But Poland accepts quite a lot of people who apply for residence status in Poland directly (official immigration). In 2017 192k applied for residence permit in Poland: 125 from Ukraine, 9.5k from Belarus, 9.5k from India, 6.4k from Vietnam, 6k from China. The numbers of accepted refugees/migrants form countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria are not reported. Furthermore Poland issues many passports to Israelis. In 2017 over 3500 Polish passports were issued to citizens of Israel.

    The real story of immigration to Poland is much worse than the right-wing fanboys of Poland would want us to believe. Poland is not Hungary. Polish government does not have vision or resolve of Orban.

  31. Hungary already has lots of Gypsies, and of course there is some immigration to Hungary as well, though smaller scale than in Poland. The many “immigrants” with Hungarian nationality are mostly ethnic Hungarians from neighboring countries, who could receive Hungarian passports without moving to the country.


    Orbán created a scheme for rich foreign nationals, where in exchange for buying government bonds for €250,000, they automatically received residency permits. (The bonds will eventually be paid back… not a very smart scheme.)

  32. Oh no it cannot – I am a geologist working in the energy industry

    There is just not enough LNG to go around, Replacing Russian Gas would require the current output of Qatar, Australia and Malaysia. Most LNG is under long term contract, not SPOT available immediately. There is also competition for LNG from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. You just cannot magic up this amount of gas.

    In terms of US LNG , this is still at the embryonic stage. Assuming that the volumes are really available, and only one gas play the Marcellus , has any real growth potential.

    Other possible supplies include the Eastern Mediterranean , Egypt , Israel and Cyprus as well as possibly Azerbaijan, however the volumes are not that big and the infrastructure needs to be built and there are significant domestic markets and other possible importers. There is also Iran but I think the Americans might object

    In terms of expanding coal in a hurry, this is not logistically possible

    Russia is also seeking other export markets for its gas. The Power of Siberia pipeline will link with China soon and LNG terminals are being developed in Yamal and expanded in Sakhalin. Russia has not even started on its huge shale gas and shale oil potential. The Bazhenov shale in Siberia has a potential sweet spot of 700,000 km2, literally the size of Texas!

  33. Natural gas can be used as a political weapon, but it’s not a very strong or effective weapon at all. For example there’s a pipeline from a Croatian port to Hungary. We can get some from Germany I guess. We also have some reserves (normally enough for a winter), and we produce something like a third of our needs.

    Again, it’d strengthen the neocons politically, but would do little to increase Russia’s power or to force these countries to submit.

  34. Spisarevski says

    There is no such a thing as “China’s orbit”

    Why, because the Chinese don’t insist on exporting their political system, don’t interfere in the internal politics of countries and their only demands are stuff like accepting the rightful sovereignty of China over Taiwan? I’d say that this is a feature and not a bug.

    China will soon be more technologically and economically powerful than the whole West combined, and unlike the West they are treating you with respect. Why would any Russian nationalist say something like “fuck China” is beyond me.

  35. There are reserves, so we’d have some time, up to a year, to find a solution. Obviously a natural gas embargo, if it was impossible to replace quickly, would put our economies on a war footing. German nuclear plants could be restarted.

    I don’t think Russia could destroy the Eastern EU economy with a natural gas embargo, it’s even more fanciful than to imagine that the Russian economy could be destroyed by a western embargo. It’s just not very easy.

  36. I do not think that Russia wishes to destroy any economy, any blowback affects everybody. I am however reminded about an anecdote about a Manchester City fan from a few years ago before they were bought by Abu Dhabi and started winning

    A Man City fan finds a magic lamp and rubs it. A genie appears and says to the Man City fan, you can have three wishes but Alex Ferguson, the man united manger can have twice of what I will grant you. The Man City fan replies, cut off my left leg, right eye and left testicle. Unfortunately such attitudes persist amongst some politicians.

    In terms of gas storage, in oil and gas reserves have a different meaning , most European countries have about 3 months. A loss of Russian gas would see serious shortages very soon.

    Nuclear is not a substitute for gas as it only generates electricity, not heat or industrial uses for methane, so substitution is tricky

    a nuclear plant can take over 6 months to restart from a mothballed state. The German plants are being decommissioned so this I am afraid cannot work. Coal plants may also be restarted but this would also take months and have a guess where much of the worlds traded coal comes from

    Another feature of any hydrocarbon embargo would be the loss of 10% of the worlds oil production and about 20% of the worlds exported oil represented by Russia. This would be genuinely catastrophic for the world economy. I don’t think that anyone would be stupid enough to do this.

    The world energy system is very finely balanced and a shock, particularly if inflicted by dumb politicians can cause a lot of damage

  37. Rattus Norwegius says

    What is wrong with Russia joining China’s orbit?

  38. Rattus Norwegius says

    “1. Based Gen Z Europeans generally like Russia, which is a good 25% of the population, at least.”
    My experience is that Gen Z Europeans does not hate or dislike Russia. They don’t like Russia either, for the most part they are just indifferent to Russia.

  39. Felix Keverich says

    Ideally, Keverich regime in Russia will be backed by a vast security and propaganda apparatus. Old oligarchs will be expropriated and/or killed off, their assets will be distributed among the friends and loyalists of Mr Keverich. The only plausible threat to Keverich regime could thus come from Russia’s own “intelligence community”.

    You need to get real here: despite what you hear in Western media, no government targeted by Western sanctions has ever have been overthrown in a popular revolution. Iran survived decades of Western sanctions and continues to do it now, without surrendering its soveregnty to the Chinese and becoming some sort of satellite. Iranians do not consult Chinese on their foreign folicy decisions, even though the Chinese are doing great favor to Iran by continuing to buy its oil. The truth is that China needs to import lots of oil, and will continue to buy it from Russia and Iran regardless of what these countries do foreign policy-wise. Having lots of cash does not necessarily give you power over people.

  40. Frederic Bastiat says

    Regarding “Chinas Rise to World Power”, people have to keep in mind that China is not self-sufficient in energy-ressources nor is it able to secure the trade routes for its energy ressources, which makes it dependent on the good will of the US (the only world wide maritime power). If push comes to shove, the US can embargo China easily. It surrounds China with its military presence in South Korea, Japan, Tawain (potential) and Phillipines. Without energy, all technology, however fancy, will simply come to a stand still.

    Control of enough energy ressource is a sine qua non for a true world power. As I see it, there are only a few canditates for world power. China, with current energy technology, is not among them (nuclear fusion being a couple of decades away in the future).

  41. no government targeted by Western sanctions has ever have been overthrown in a popular revolution

    Not necessarily popular revolution, but a lot of governments fell in order to facilitate commercial relations to the West. For example the USSR, where both the population and the elite wanted this to happen. The likes of Medvedev still would sell their country, if the West was buying it from them. There are other examples, like Myanmar or Serbia.

    Anyway, just as perhaps the Russian government wouldn’t fall, neither would the Eastern Europeans suddenly become pro-Russians just because the natural gas was cut off. In fact, expect the opposite.

    The West still has technological superiority over Russia (and China, though the latter is diminishing fast), and so this kind of violent standoff would result in an overwhelming western military buildup, which Russia couldn’t hope to match, especially not because your money would be spent on a violent occupation regime in Ukraine, and it would be the kind of nation-building project the Americans engage in with futility. Basically you’d try to create a loyal population out of a disloyal one, while their living standards would be plummeting, and you’d be committing heinous crimes against segments of the same population.

    And attack the same time you’d be dismissing and insulting the Chinese, your only possible allies.

    Iran survived decades of Western sanctions and continues to do it now, without surrendering its soveregnty to the Chinese and becoming some sort of satellite.

    China is still weak. And of course China didn’t much help Iran. You won’t become a satellite if they never help you.

  42. China only needs to build a strong enough military.

    Basically a superpower-sized nuclear arsenal and a strong navy. The former is easy. The latter is going to take a couple of decades at most. Did you know that they already have more large vessels than the Americans? Granted, they are smaller, and the number of modern vessels is still smaller than the number of US vessels, but they are not nearly as behind as they used to be a decade or even half a decade ago.

    I think a serious US blockade (not embargo) would already result in a war, though the Chinese would have little hope of winning it yet. (It’s actually a big unknown, but at least on paper the Americans are still stronger, provided they can protect their aircraft carriers.)

  43. Karlin’s link from the other post:


  44. Swedish Family says

    A post of mine in that other thread was memory holed by the spam filter (too many links?), so I hope people don’t mind that I repost part of it here. The passage below is from Richard Sakwa’s Frontline Ukraine, and the bolded part, if true, suggests that support for Crimean secession from Ukraine was far lower than often thought.

    The referendum was brought forward to 16 March, and after much debate over the wording, the ballot in the end consisted of two simple questions (printed in the Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar languages): ‘Are you in favour of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as part of the Russian Federation?’ and ‘Are you in favour of restoring the 1992 constitution and the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine?’ According to the referendum commission, 83 per cent of Crimea’s eligible voters cast their ballot (1,274,096), of whom 96.7 per cent backed reunification with Russia (1,233,002). Thus, 82 per cent of the total Crimean population apparently voted in favour. There were no independent Western observers, and thus the vote inevitably attracted widespread criticism. A report of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights later estimated that turnout was in fact only between 30 and 50 per cent, of whom 50–60 per cent voted for unification with Russia, with a higher turnout of 50–80 per cent in Sevastopol, the overwhelming majority of whom voted in favour. Thus in the peninsula as a whole, only between 15 and 30 per cent of the total population voted to join Russia.[6] Kiev and the Tatar Mejlis, the presidium of the traditional Crimean Tatar parliament, the Qurultay, urged voters to boycott the referendum, and if turnout fell below 50 per cent the vote would automatically have been invalidated, and the majority of Tatars apparently abstained. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that even in perfect conditions a majority in Crimea would have voted for union with Russia, and in Sevastopol the vote would have been overwhelming.[7]

    [6] 6 Paul Roderick Gregory, ‘Putin’s “Human Rights Council” accidentally posts real Crimean election results’, Forbes (5 May 2014). Available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2014/05/05/putins-human-rights-council-accidentally-posts-real-crimean-election-results-only-15-voted-for-annexation/ For the report itself, see ‘Problemy zhitelei Kryma’, 21 April 2014, http://www.president-sovet.ru/structure/gruppa_po_migratsionnoy_politike/materialy/problemy_zhiteley_kryma.php

    [7] 7 For a study of the ‘30 days that shook the world’, see Anatoly Belyakov and Oleg Matveichev, Krymskaya vesna: 30 dnei, kotorye potryasli mir (Moscow: Knizhnyi mir, 2014).

  45. China produces 77% of oil it needs. The 23% that is imported is spread among many suppliers:

    16% – SA
    13% -Angola
    11% – Russia
    10% – Oman
    9% – Iraq
    9% – Iran
    and many other countries with 4% and less.

    They do not list Myanmar which actually may supply about 10% imports.

    Notice that Russia provides only 2.5% of oil that China consumes. If Russia would stop selling oil to China, China would not be hurt. China has one of the largest reserves that may last for over 90 days.

  46. Pakistan and Sri Lanka have both accepted military aid from China. Pakistan got missile parts.


    Lots of countries want access to the Chinese market, and China can demand a quid quo pro access to Western countries and slowly hollow out their productive capacity. For example China is building a new nuclear power station for Britain.

    And why would anyone want to be in vassalage to the Chinese? Possible reasons escape me.

    They wouldn’t want to obviously, everyone wants to rule the world. But a good state knows its limitations and sometimes the potential antagonist is too big and close. Ukraine was foolish not to realise that. Finland acquiesced to Soviet overlordship and benefited from doing so. The tenure as Nokia CEO of Stephen Elop , during which he did deals specially favorable to his former employer of Microsoft that destroyed Nokia, just shows that two potentially rival entities of substantial size can never be friends. China will never be a friend of India, they will just beat them.

  47. I saw this in the other thread.

    I think it’s probably solidified over time, but perhaps it’s still not as overwhelming as we usually think in these threads. Anyway, it probably explains the unwillingness to annex an even more reluctant (in fact, probably actively hostile) population.

    Annexing Ukraine is actually not nationalism. The idea that Ukrainians are basically Russians is simply misguided, not a good description of reality. It’s similar to the idea that the Dutch are just Germans. The only true thing about it is that probably Ukrainians are the easiest to assimilate for Russians. It’s still a formidable task, especially for the western half of the country. (This includes Kiev.)

    On the other hand, once you recognize reality (i.e. that Ukrainians are a different ethnic group), then the demand to annex it nevertheless becomes imperialism. Which is usually very bad for nationalism, especially long term.

  48. I think the debated South China Sea seabed contains a lot of oil, too. So pretty soon Chinese import demand could drop further.

    Also probably some of their oil consumption is unnecessary luxury consumption. They could cut it back in case of an American blockade, but such a blockade would already be an act of war, so would probably result in open military conflict.

  49. Fake news:

    The one exception to this pattern, an estimate of 50%-60%, was produced by the Russian President’s Human Rights Council. However, on closer examination, it was not any sort of official figure, as presented by Forbes blogger Paul Roderick Gregory – a professional anti-Russian hack who later claimed 2,000 Russian soldiers died in Donbass on the basis of some lurid claims from a completely unknown Russian “business news” website – but the mere personal opinion of a single member of the Council, Yevgeny Bobrov, who based his assessment on conversations with a couple dozen unnamed “activists.”

  50. A question. While searching some stats I have noticed that Russia consumes a lot of gas. Several times more than Germany, Italy or France. With significantly smaller economy than Germany why does Russia use so much gas? Do they release into the air or are the numbers of their production fake providing that the numbers of export are true because the export numbers can be verified by the recipients of Russian gas?


  51. The popular support is secondary to seizing territory as a way to make the West and its new pal Ukraine realise that Russia is a power of consequence. RT today revealed that even Yeltsin was complaining about “unacceptable” US navy exercises near Crimea, but all the warnings were ignored.
    Sometimes a nationalist state has to use aggressive military force for territorial aggrandizement against lesser powers who are getting funny notions. I think the West and Ukraine are begining to get the message per these strong punitive measures.

  52. Frederic Bastiat says

    China only needs to build a strong enough military.

    But what is powering the military machine? You cannot run everything on nuclear power.

    I am not sure, but I also suspect that it is easier to deny access to trade routes than to secure access.

    Energy is simply the limiting factor. A nation is only as powerful as how much energy it can convert to its purposes, which depends, among others, on energy availabilty (i.e. control of energy ressources) and conversion capacity (i.e. machines).

  53. Frederic Bastiat says
  54. AquariusAnon says

    You’ll be in for a surprise if you think that China treats anyone with respect once it gets sufficient power.

    Right now, it treats people with respect because it realizes that its not a superpower yet, and no match for the US, but as China gets powerful enough to form a block, as reiner Tor has said, I’ll just have to say that it won’t be very pleasant to live in the Chinese block.

    If you want to see how foreign countries will be treated once China has enough leverage over them, see Hong Kong as an example. They’ll straight up meddle with your internal affairs, set up a puppet government, and then censor local dissidents against that same government. China will have the local elite report directly to it, while most if not all Chinese FDI in said country will be managed and manned by its own people, and the profits of which immediately plugged back to China. They’ll make sure the local elite gets paid well enough to be sycophants, while the rest of the population will probably experience the joys of economic stagnation in a heavily censored and Orweillian consumerist society, and getting shipped to reeducation camps if you object. The Chinese elite, both in Beijing and the bamboo network they station in your country, will be actually making important decisions for you.

    Essentially, living in the Chinese block in say, the mid 21st century, will probably be quite similar to being in the Soviet block, with Chinese characteristics. This is assuming that China doesn’t have some type of enlightenment of its own and continues on the exact same path it is on.

    Granted, the US block won’t be much better as it will likely be equally censored. Just like the Chinese will probably jail people in their vassals if they voice discontent with the Chinese censorship and economic model of blatantly exploiting your country without having the local masses benefit much if at all, the US will probably start jailing people if they voice discontent to gayness, grrl power, US troops, and ethnic replacement.

    Those 2 blocks might end up looking very, very similar in terms of getting dominated by the main superpower, with the US shoving neoliberalism.txt down everyone’s throats and China shoving China-revolved Orweillian statism down everyone’s throat.

  55. Russia consumes a lot of gas because it has a lot of gas.

    Cold winters need heating, also more electricity generation using gas. There are considerable inefficiencies and waste in the former Soviet Union , for example district heating switched on using a calendar rather than a thermometer.

    Gas is subsidised as a social benefit and like any other cheap or free good people waste it. Market forced would lead to far less waste but also frozen babushkas which would not be acceptable to the public. Gazprom has a significant social supply obligation which damages profits but keeps poorer Russians from freezing.

  56. Best source of energy data that is publicaly available and easy to use is the BP statistical review of world energy. This includes a spreadsheet which people can use to make calculations. The China graph above looks correct

  57. Thanks for double checking. It seems that my 77% number was 10 like years old.

    So now the production is less that 50% of consumption.

  58. Polish Perspective says

    Foreign currency debt is worse in Russia than in the rest of East-Central Europe other than Hungary

    You’re wrong, as usual.


    Russia is continually pursuing a de-dollarisation strategy. It does so successfully.


    I’ve often argued out that it isn’t enough to look at just net government debt, which is very low in Russia at any rate. Household debt also matters and Russian households are very disciplined.


    When I described Russia as ‘shockingly solvent’ last month I wasn’t exaggerating.

  59. Being hedged or attacked by all their neighbors at once is a traditional Chinese fear. It is rational that they think of it as a military scenario, and even try to prevent it by developing hypersonic missiles, claiming disputed islands and militarizing them, and trying to increase development of ports in other countries as well as railroads to those countries.

    However, I think it is extremely unlikely. Impossible in the near term. To start, it would take an excess of hubris that would require the US to be a dictatorship, such as in the case of Japan or Germany when they declared war on America. And would either of them even have done it, if nukes were a thing? Then it would take the cooperation of all local allies – quite unlikely.

    In the long term, I’d say even though the political situation in the US is deteriorating, it becomes even less unlikely. A lot of men were drafted but never sent to Vietnam because of fears of blacks. That was when the US was 85% white. Getting these different groups to fight together would not be easy. Add to that, China’s power is growing, and the power of the US is declining. These overseas bases will have to close.

  60. There is no middle point between the frozen babushkas and waste?

  61. Some of them like to keep their windows open for ventilation purposes – if it is anything like the US.

  62. Rattus Norwegius says

    Expropriation without compensation?

  63. AquariusAnon says

    The Ukrainian-Russian conflict to me looks a lot like the Irish and British conflict exactly 1 century ago, so the Russians and Ukrainians do have a template on how to iron out their differences.

  64. If you want to see how foreign countries will be treated once China has enough leverage over them, see Hong Kong as an example.

    Hong Kong is literally a part of China though, not some foreign country. Yes, it sucks for them that the freedoms they used to have are being eroded, but nevertheless it’s a Chinese city.

    Hopefully at some point the Chinese will have to go the other direction anyway. If they want to ever develop compelling pop culture for soft power, they would need to relax the censorship.

  65. Thorfinnsson says

    I am not usually wrong.

    Your chart shows 30% of GDP.

    What I was wrong about is that Poland and the Czech Republic also have more foreign currency debt it seems.

  66. Does the Hungarian number contain debt owed by local subsidiaries of foreign corporations? I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the case. These companies are also highly export-oriented, so their incomes are also realized in foreign currencies.

    Local interest rates have been relatively low for the past several years, the central bank short term rate has been below 4% for 5 years and below 1% for 2 years now. So recently it hasn’t made any sense for anyone to borrow in a foreign currency, especially not just a few years after everyone got so badly burned during the financial crisis. Besides, banks have become much less eager to push these loans, for example it’s no longer allowed to offer such products to households.

    But the Hungarian economy is very open anyway, so any recession in the EU will be felt badly, that’s for sure.

  67. Felix Keverich says

    But didn’t you say something about president Keverich getting chased from his country by an angry populace “once the sanctions started to bite”? 🙂

    I think I adressed that argument, didn’t I? That’s not going to happen. President Keverich could die of old age, and then one of his milquetoast successors would sell out the country – a more plausible scenario, but we cannot see that far ahead.

    China is still weak. And of course China didn’t much help Iran. You won’t become a satellite if they never help you.

    China needs to keep buying Russian oil. Buying more and more of oil, pushing global prices up, boosting Russia’s income. That’s the only thing that Russia needs China to do. And they will!

  68. Felix Keverich says

    US Energy Information Administration is a very good source of international statistics on energy industry. They have a detailed profile of China energy sector, including this chart:



  69. Of course there is. Subsidies could be limited to poorer people, pensioners etc. And industry could be way more efficient than it is.

    However there is a problem with integrated district heating, where individual apartments have no control over their temperature. Every 1st October the mayor ceremonially switches on the district heating , needs or not, and the mayor ceremonially switches it off again on the first of April. The residents of the apartments may be a pretty varied bunch, from freezing babushkas to reasonably middle income people.

  70. I found this (in Hungarian):


    Márton Nagy, a vice president of the central bank, said that excluding debt owed by the foreign owned subsidiaries of foreign firms to parent companies, the total gross foreign debt denominated in foreign currencies was around 39% of GDP. The net debt is only 10%, so theoretically there are assets to back those obligations.

    So your numbers do seem to include those debts.

  71. for-the-record says

    Some of them like to keep their windows open for ventilation purposes

    Old tradition. Back in the early 1990s I was involved in setting up an airline in Ukraine, as part of which the (Ukrainian) pilots were trained in Ireland, and we had to rent some flats for them in Limerick. When we received the utility bills we couldn’t believe them, until we realised that they had been putting the heat on full blast and regulating the temperature with the windows, just as they did (costlessly, for them) back at home.

  72. I think I adressed that argument, didn’t I?

    You did, assuming that said president will be skillful enough at court politics.

    But I still think there’s a reason why regimes across the world try to appease their populations.

    That’s the only thing that Russia needs China to do.

    You also need technology and trade. With or without Ukraine and Central Asia, Russia is too small to produce everything on its own. And it will hopelessly fall behind technologically if it tries to develop everything in isolation.

  73. anonymous coward says

    With significantly smaller economy than Germany

    This isn’t true. Finance is not economy. Look at the statistics for real-world production of real world stuff: electricity, steel, wheat, oil, fertiziers. Russia is significantly larger than Germany on any metric. Germany makes more money, that is true. But their economy, as measured in things, not dollars, is significantly smaller.

  74. Germans produce and drive more and better cars with stronger engines than Russians. They spend more time abroad vacationing. I’d even guess their apartments are larger, despite having a much smaller country. Their aviation industry is much bigger and better, except perhaps military aviation (which in the case of Germany is a question of political will, or lack thereof), and they produce more and better machinery.

    There are a few areas where Russia has the edge (e.g. nuclear industry or spacecraft), but in general the German economy seems to be somewhat bigger or roughly of similar size. As shown by the data.

  75. Putin will not abandon Donbass for a number of reasons. First, he won’t survive it in Russia politically. Most people would disapprove of such a move. No matter what Western MSM say, the powers in Russia are a lot more responsive to the public mood than the powers in the US or EU. Second, there would be no benefits in terms of relations with the US and its sidekicks: the US treats any sign of weakness of its adversaries as an incentive to put even more pressure.

    However, he won’t absorb Donbass, either, again for many reasons. The first is geopolitical: he wants to use Donbass as a lever to move Ukraine to a neutral federative of confederative state. The second is pure economy: Donbass is a lot more populous than Crimea, so the costs of bringing living standards there to Russian level would be much greater. The third is military: even though no more than 10% of Ukrainian population are nationalist mad dogs, the price of defeating them would be too high in Russian lives. So, he just lets Ukraine slowly rot from within, as time is on his side.

    From this perspective the accusation of the maddest Ukrainian nationalists that Poroshenko and Co are Putin’s agents makes certain sense: nobody did as much to destroy Ukraine as its current “leaders”. However, this is not because they are Putin’s agents, but because their puppet masters don’t give a hoot about Ukraine: they use it as a tool against Russia, and they consider that tool disposable.

  76. Thulean Friend says

    There has been a large body of declassified documents released recently by the Clinton Presidential Library. It concerns his correspondence with Yeltsin from the early to mid 90s. I’ve just skimmed it so far, but what is immediatedly striking is just how craven Yeltsin is. Bill barely has to do anything.

    The begging bowl.


    Here’s the phonecall right after the re-election.



    It’s close to 600 pages in full.

  77. Felix Keverich says

    We will do trade. China has become the world’s biggest importer of oil and, as I have shown, its dependence on oil imports is set to grow in the future. Russia could potentially supply massive quantities of oil that cannot be blocked by US navy at Malacca strait ( https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=32452 )

    Beyond that, Russia and China will cooperate on a range of international issues, but without Russia falling into “China’s orbit” (whatever that means) because Fuck That. For a country like Russia it would be both degrading and unnecessary.

  78. Russia falling into “China’s orbit” (whatever that means)

    It simply means that as long as you are equals, China will defer to Russia on issues of vital importance to Russia (like Crimea) and Russia will defer to China on issues of importance to China (like North Korea). But as China gets stronger, eventually the issues important to China will grow in number, while the number of issues important enough to Russia to do things regardless of Chinese opinion will get smaller. It will take a long time.

    Anyway, it’s better if China is not that much bigger than Russia, which is why you need to keep a good relationship.

    Russia could potentially supply massive quantities of oil that cannot be blocked by US navy at Malacca strait

    Unless the American blockade truly happens, a situation might arise where Russia needs to sell its oil more than China needs to buy it. Because you will have no one to sell to, while the Chinese will be able to buy it from many places.

    Oil demand might peak in the near future (like by the end of the next decade), with the electric vehicle market expanding.

  79. On a more general note, I’m against unprovoked aggression and I’m for cooperation with all potential allies, especially the prospectively strongest one.

    But I’m for strong reactions against aggression, including extraterritorial sanctions.

  80. Thorfinnsson says

    “Things” are priced in money.

    You are an idiot.

  81. Spisarevski says

    The same things are priced differently depending on your location. “Money” with no gold standard or another mechanism of assigning real value is as meaningful as farts in the wind.

    You’re not as smart as you think you are.

  82. It’s actually more efficient.

    “Teploelektrotsentral” uses remaining thermal energy of steam, after passing through turbines (to produce electricity) – to heat district water supplies.

    This is very efficient, although requiring some investment in (water carrying) infrastructure and some additional responsibilities for the municipality.

    If you compare to Ireland, where almost all water heating is privately with a small, inefficient, individual heater.

    But the centralized heat electric station, while an excellent idea – had the negative aspect that many of these stations were historically fueled by coal.

    The use of coal burning, while at the same time requirements to be close to residential areas – was a very bad combination for air quality and health.

    So in recent decades, there is an ongoing effort to convert to gas generation. And it’s one of the direct ways in which quality of life and health is now improving.

    The majority are now using gas, but it’s still not everywhere.

    For example, adjoining directly Chelyabinsk in the West, they’re fueling one of their stations with brown coal. At the same time, the majority of wind in the city in the winter is from the West. (You don’t need Sherlock Holmes to deduce some – of the many – reasons the city is an ecological nightmare).

  83. Another German Reader says

    Czar Putin and his cronies only need to hold out until the mid-2020s. By then Western European countries will probably much politically dominated by national-conservative parties. They are more pragmatic towards Russia.

    In addition the rising percentage of non-Europeans will naturally awaken a new global European identity from the Montanian oil-driller to the Italian ice-cream-salesman to the New Zealandean sheep-farmer.

    The cherry on top will be the Civil War in the US Democratic Party: Old Jews & WASP are being dislodged from party-control by Diversity Inc. and the reinforced Republicans will be mainly are guardian of the US Whites.

    Furthermore Infinity Africans (Akarlin’s quote) & Frustated Arabs will keep up the pressure and slowly over the next century Western Liberalism will be eradicated due constant cognitive dissonance.

  84. Thorfinnsson says

    Econometrics adjusts for this with purchasing power parity. This would still be needed under a gold standard regime since local wages, rents, etc. would differ based on economic conditions. UK and, say, Bulgaria were for instance both on the gold standard in 1890. No doubt wages and rents in Sofia were far lower than they were in London at the time.

    This subject comes up a lot on this blog actually, mostly in the context of Russian commenters attempting to portray the Ukraine as an African shithole by conveniently ignoring PPP and using nominal prices instead.

    Anonymous Coward’s comment is even dumber than that since the “things” he fetishizes are internationally traded and do not differ dramatically in price from one country to the next.

  85. My first reaction was to agree with the Thorfoolson who called you an idiot. But on the second thought you might be correct. Economy as measured in money is not physics and energy is not conserved so dollars are not equivalent to each other in terms of units of energy. But I suspect that Russia is also vey inefficient. That in Russian it may take more units of energy to produce the unit of fertilizer or steel than in Germany. Or a question is how much energy China spends on building iPhones comparing to the US and how much dollars for iPhones goes to GDP calculations for each country?

  86. Hyperborean says

    President Keverich

    I like this one. We have Admiral Martyanov and Thugfinnsson already, now we have another one.

  87. Daniel Chieh says

    This entire notion of vassalage is dumb as heck.

    Its almost never worth the cost to take on the problems of foreign nations and then decide to inflict it upon your own nation. With the exception of Hong Kong(which is part of China), none of those nations would really do anything for China(would they even vote in the UN for China?). For most of them, its just a fairly expensive gamble for OBOR for resources and some mild assurance that they won’t line up against China.

    If orbit is defined as “will not be ready to jump in an alliance to kill you because billions were spent on them,” then the entire world is in the US’ orbit.

    Its all so fantastical. China is a nation that has issues making non-fake vaccines, which apparently, is going to conquer the world. No. Hopefully she’ll manage to create a sphere of influence around herself and stop having scandals every 6 months. That’ll be nice.

  88. Daniel Chieh says

    If you want to see how foreign countries will be treated once China has enough leverage over them, see Hong Kong as an example.

    Is this a joke? Hong Kong is part of China.

    Does China censor or arrest people in Phillipines, which is probably one of the most “China-orbit” countries? Please. As a rule: China can reliably be counted on not to protect co-ethnics; as most they might do an evacuation in the event of a pogrom.

  89. Which Dumbass? Medvedev or Siluanov?

  90. anonymous coward says

    Rest assured, I will do the same for your campaign. There will be no interference in your internal affairs.

    Sheeeit, “”Russian influence”” seems to go way back.

  91. anonymous coward says

    “Things” are priced in money.

    For a citizen like you and me, yes.

    For nations, no.

    “Money” is a fiction that doesn’t really exist once start ruling whole countries.

  92. Does China censor or arrest people in Phillipines

    China is not very strong yet, and even after it becomes the #1 power, it’ll still take some time to become influential enough to make things like that happen.

    However, I’d imagine China will try to prevent strong anti-China parties or movements from emerging in its sphere of interest, and obviously over time this might easily lead to efforts to finance pro-China outlets and to suppress anti-China outlets in these countries. For example they could pressure Alphabet or similar companies (or maybe their equivalents or subsidiaries in smaller countries) to take anti-China websites off the web the same way they took out the Daily Stormer. It’s actually very likely that eventually they will take that path, it’s just the logic and nature of power.

    Look, if there ever was a power inclined not to suppress free speech in its sphere, it’s the US. It has free speech in its constitution, it’s the core tenet of its ideology. And yet suppression of free speech is spreading in the US sphere like wildfire. Even inside the US, the elites have managed to restrict freedom of speech ever more.

    What makes you think China will be different? I don’t think examples of Chinese empires from 500 or 1000 years ago are relevant to this. They didn’t have mobile hi-bandwidth internet back then, so they had neither the need nor the means to suppress it.

  93. anonymous coward says

    Anonymous Coward’s comment is even dumber than that since the “things” he fetishizes are internationally traded and do not differ dramatically in price from one country to the next.

    Two points:

    a) It’s perfectly possible to have a functioning, stable country with high standards of living and without international trade.

    b) It’s perfectly possible to have international trade without “money”.

  94. anonymous coward says

    But I suspect that Russia is also vey inefficient. That in Russian it may take more units of energy to produce the unit of fertilizer or steel than in Germany.

    To be sure. But Russia also produces more steel and more fertilizer than Germany. This industrial power might not translate into a high standard of living (whatever the hell that means), but that’s a question of mentality and priorities, not economics.

  95. Do you think that a Volga Gaz-24 with a 95 hp engine, a fuel consumption of 12 (or 15? or 20? I don’t know) liters per 100 kilometers, and weighing 1.4 tons is the equivalent of a modern car with a 220 hp engine, a fuel consumption of 8 liters, and weighing 1.4 tons? When the modern car, in addition to the much better fuel consumption, performance, suspension, brakes, etc., also has nice electronics (navigation, playing music from a smartphone, parking radar and camera) and is much safer if it crashes? Because it uses up the same amount of steel, and actually less fuel (so by your metric, it’d be actually worth less)? It’s also not bigger on the inside? But smaller on the outside, so easier to park (in addition to the parking radar and camera).

    The hard output numbers are not very meaningful in terms of cars, but I’d bet you they are not very meaningful for industrial robots, machinery, ships and boats, aircraft, weapons, electronic devices, and basically any industrial product I can think of.

    So using steel and coal output as a measure of… anything other than steel and coal output is just dumb. It made a lot of sense in 1914, and it still made some sense in 1945, but no longer.

  96. that’s a question of mentality and priorities, not economics

    It’s actually a question of economics. It takes investment to increase efficiency, for example you need to better insulate houses (in Hungary a lot of old commie blocks’ renovation included a much better insulation, resulting in much lower natural gas consumption), and you also cannot do that overnight. The insulation is a physical asset, by the way, and it’s either there or not there. The same thing is true of electronics etc.

  97. any industrial product I can think of

    Well, I can think of a few, like cutlery, or Chinaware, where actual worth might be closer to as indicated by raw numbers than market worth. I mean, an ugly or less fashionable fork is usually just as good for the job as a better one.

    But such products are rare. I’d bet you that even things like knives might be better in quality than they used to be a hundred years ago, and so there’s room for ambiguity here: if country X produces more knives than country Y, but the knife production of country Y is worth more on the market (could be sold for more), then is it because the market is inefficient? Is it simply paying a premium for “made in country X” labels? Or are those knives of better quality? Sometimes it’s the former, sometimes the latter, sometimes both.

    But simply looking at the raw numbers doesn’t seem to be very useful for most industrial products.

  98. Hyperborean says
  99. Thanks, that’s a nice example. So, apparently, they are already doing this.

    Not very consequential, since I don’t quite support the Uighurs, but I don’t like the idea of being unable to talk about that part of reality. For example there might be “hate facts” concerning the conflict, like you mention how many people are in reeducation camps or something, and that might be censored. Eventually, China won’t mind if you get prosecuted for this.

    So there will be one camp where you have to parrot the official anti-China line about the oppression of innocent Uighurs etc., and there will be another camp where you cannot even mention the fact that the Chinese are doing anything to any Uighurs at all.

    Great prospects.

  100. anonymous coward says

    Economy, n.: the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money.

    It’s an undeniable fact that Russia produces more “goods and services” than Germany. It’s incorrect to say that Germany has a larger economy.

    You might claim that Russia’s “goods and services” are unneeded, outdated, poor quality, not efficient, not democratic enough, don’t involve enough Elon Musk, etc., etc., but none of that has any bearing on the original statement.

    Russia’s economy is pretty huge. Look at Russia’s non-oil exports for example.

  101. a) not really, unless the country in question creates as much technological progress as the rest of the world combined. I don’t think it’s possible.

    b) half truth at best. The trade between COMECON countries or the clearing system between Germany and Hungary during the Third Reich both used some kind of money as a unit of accounting. You can, of course, switch to gold, but then gold would be the money. Even back in the gold standard times prices of things (as expressed in gold) varied widely.

  102. It’s an undeniable fact that Russia produces more “goods and services” than Germany.

    How do you count? Germany produces three or four times more cars than Russia (and designs the cars it builds, to boot), and it’s a participant in the Airbus program, so I guess some portion of the Airbus production will have to go there, too. I’m not sure about shipbuilding, but it’s probably inconsequential outside China, South Korea and Japan, probably negligible compared to the automotive or aerospace industries. So I’d guess vehicle production is an area where Germany wins hands down.

    Machine building might be another area where Germany produces more (in quantity, not just quality) than Russia.

    How do you add up nuclear plants produced (where Russia has the edge) to the output of the machine industry and vehicle production?

    Then what about electronics? Do you think computers are not “things?” How can you compare chip production to car production?

    I don’t think it’s possible to discount money (or some similar unit of accounting), and I also don’t think Russia would come out on top of this with any sensible counting methodology.

    Electricity or steel production is easiest to compare, but they mean ultimately very little, because they are not useful in and of themselves, and a lot more of it is wasted in Russia than in Germany (due to backwardness, not choice; or if choice, a dumb choice).

  103. anonymous coward says

    You’re desperately cherrypicking to make Germany look good. It’s pointless. Germany makes more cars but fewer buses than Russia; you can conduct these kinds of back-and-forth exchanges ad nauseam.

    Point is that Russia’s industrial output is much bigger than Germany’s. Whether that’s crude iron or cars is really irrelevant. If what you want is ‘economy size’ then it doesn’t matter what you make, as long as you keep making more and more of it.

    That said, or course “economy size” is not so interesting in itself. See China: their “economy size” is probably larger than the rest of the world combined, but they still need to import white ballet dancers and guitar players. (Sad. Many such cases.)

    On the other hand, a “large economy” means stability and military might. Which is why hoping that sanctions might affect Russia is so stupid. Russia is too big to fail.

    …a lot more of it is wasted in Russia than in Germany (due to backwardness, not choice; or if choice, a dumb choice).

    There’s no evidence of this, only wishful thinking.

  104. Daniel Chieh says

    In its sphere of interest? Possibly. Still, the Philippines are an excellent example because in terms of power, they are within the Chinese sphere of influence, they are much weaker, and have in theory a substantial well-established Chinese diaspora. In practice, however, the Star still does whatever it wants, the diaspora has no feelings for Beijing, and Chinese power seems to mostly be intent on trying to get the Philippines to take on debt for debt diplomacy aimed ultimately at the ocean resources.

    In theory, China has promoted “cyber sovereignty” in the UN, or non-interference in the internet grounds of each country(but that doesn’t mean anything to me, countries don’t really abide by their stated morality ever). Russia theoretically agrees to this stance.

    From a more self-interested perspective, to me, it seems that there’s no reasonable effort to suppress speech in other countries(even influenced ones) that won’t invite huge pushback. Its difficult enough within China, which has led to the government unofficially ignoring the use of VPN; to spread out and implement an internal policy worldwide seems madness and a guaranteed way to turn the public against you.

    Even US influence is primarily done through NGOs which are largely deniable and usually in majority owned independently(the state usually hides its funding), and that’s a system that took quite some time to take shape; even that has led to a lot of pushback, thus the “globohomo” meme of the US. I assume that Chinese officials will not engage in that particular brand of stupidity, except for example, strongarming companies for Taiwan but perhaps overreach is the name of the game in this universe.

  105. Isn’t it ironic that people here complain about censorship, and yet suppprt a neoreactionary regime, that will by its very nature have a lot of censorship, I mean Karlin is sympathetic to the Tsar’s regime, which employed a lot of censorship by itself. And people here like you looked highly upon Singapore or Chiang Kai Shek’s Taiwan, which did employ a lot of censorship to suppress dissent. And what is censorship, is banning gay pride parades or banning pro-gay literature censorship? Many people here seem to support that, is banning porn on TV or bringing back the Hays code censorship? Many people here by their inclinations also seem to support those measures, what about banning Soros NGOs, those can also be called censorship? And isn’t taking away women’s right to vote also considered censorship or crushing of political dissent?

  106. Do you have any sources for the bus production? I found one source which claimed that Russian bus production was twice larger than the German one, but it was from 2002 (and the site itself looked suspicious, for example there were no sources given for the data). Anyway it seemed to be much lower than car production (how many cars are worth one bus? how do you even compare? but of course assuming one bus to be worth 10 or 20 cars won’t be enough to reverse the statistic for cars), and I found a similar statistic which claimed (again, for 2002…) that Russian heavy truck production was lower than that of Germany.

    Russia’s industrial output is much bigger than Germany’s

    What do you base this assertion on? I think vehicle production (including cars, trucks, buses, aircraft, etc.) is significantly larger (like, at least twice as large) in Germany as in Russia. Arms production is significantly smaller.

    You don’t seem to attach any importance to some services (which are definitely considered economic activities). For example designing a car is a service. How many of the cars built in Germany are designed there, vs. how many of the cars built in Russia? Are those services worthless? (Designing a car is a very valuable service, more valuable than cutting my hair, which I normally do myself for free.) How do you calculate or count their value, if you discounted money?

    China: their “economy size” is probably larger than the rest of the world combined

    Why do you think so? What is it based on?

    wishful thinking

    I don’t wish Russia to be worse than Germany. Currently I’d actually be happier if Russia became stronger. If for no other reasons, then because it’d make my liberal acquaintances sour.

  107. You saw the news about Turkey? It just seems to me to be inevitable.

    Yes, there will often be backlash. But I guess the Chinese will learn. Maybe in the future they won’t give much publicity to such efforts. There’s no reason why these kinds of pressures need to be made public.

    Regarding the Chinese diaspora, I’m not sure how they are connected to this. China is not really ethnonationalistic to care for them much. They are willing to throw those minorities under the bus if it helps them. But we’re talking about censorship, which is typically done by governments or big corporations, not ethnic minorities. (Unless indirectly, if those minorities control the corporations.)

    I can imagine for example that it will be possible to persecute the Chinese minority while still impossible to criticize Emperor Xi. (It’s similar to how “Democratic Kampuchea” was strictly Maoist and praised Chairman Mao in its press while persecuted the Chinese minority. So there’s some historical precedent.)

  108. The US’s natural commitment to free speech is overridden by it’s stronger impulse to be moral busybodies. America interferes with and suppresses other cultures elsewhere because it’s political culture is a disgusting abomination resulting from the fusion of Puritanism and Kikery. It remains to be seen if the natural Chinese impulse for controlled speech overrides our political culture of not really giving a shit about other peoples.

    All existing instances of Chinese political interference with other states all fit into 2 neat categories. Suppression of all instances of Taiwanese pretensions of statehood and any formal recognition. Suppression of anti-party activism by emigre groups (Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uighurs) and counter-intel directed towards temporary student populations to prevent them from falling to the Pozz and potentially bringing it back with them. The Communist party doesnt really seem to care about anything else.

    It’s a racial thing, East Asians compared to Whites are basically social autists. Case in point, Mongolia. Mongolia is suffice it to say almost entirely dependent on China economically. Yet Mongolians are rapidly so anti-Chinese that it would make a Ukrainian svidomite seem positively a russophile in comparison. Yet despite this, the Communist Party doesn’t actually meddle in Mongolian domestic politics nor does it actually seak to suppress anti-Chinese sentiment among the Mongolians at large via it’s leverage over Mongol elites. It just doesn’t care because Mongolia isn’t a US geopolitical sockpuppet and isn’t an avenue of potential subversion within China itself.

  109. The Turkey example fits neatly into my point. You do know why China went after Turkey don’t you? Erdogan the magnificent in his infinite genius thought using Turkish intelligence to create fake passports and a smuggling route through Southeast Asia for Uighur recruits to travel from China to Turkey as a pipeline into Syria was just going to be ignored. His erratic behavior managed to simultaneously piss off the Americans, Russians, and Chinese all at the same time. The suppression of “anti-Chinese” media in Turkey really means the suppression of Uighur diaspora Jihadist agitprop and not Turkish media in general.

  110. Do you have any sources for the bus production?

    13,400 this Jan-July: http://www.gks.ru/bgd/free/B04_03/IssWWW.exe/Stg/d01/157.htm

    Hardly bus manufacturing superpower stats.

    Germany produced zero buses (it doesn’t seem to produce commercial vehicles at all, according to OICA): http://www.oica.net/category/production-statistics/2017-statistics/

    Still, it produces 4x as many (higher quality) cars. Doesn’t detract from your general point.

    As I’ve remarked before, anonymous coward is remarkably good at being consistently wrong.

  111. I also found it, but I think it’s suspicious: it could be a case of no separate reporting of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. I actually found a source (can’t track it now) which explicitly stated that separate reporting ceased some time ago.

    For example on Wikipedia I found an article which listed the German automotive industry plants. It lists one Mercedes plant in Mannheim producing heavy truck engines, one plant in Ulm producing Magirus firefighting vehicles, and one MAN plant in Munich producing heavy trucks.


    Another source says that Germany is one of the biggest truck producers in Europe.

    Germany (Daimler & MAN), Sweden (Volvo & Scania), France (Renault), Italy and Spain (IVECO), the Netherlands (DAF) and Belgium (DAF and Volvo) are some of the largest truck producing countries in Europe.


    Also some of the biggest truck companies in the world are based in Germany, even if some (or all, though as per above I doubt it) of production was moved abroad. I guess the Mercedes buses produced in Turkey were designed in Germany.

  112. Thanks for the explanation.

    I still think mission creep might eventually set in. Let’s hope for the sake of both China and the rest of the world that it won’t.

  113. Philip Owen says

    In what Universe does Russia have higher industrial output than Germany? Russia exports crude oil. It uses the revenue to buy manufactured goods, often from China. Some industry survived, because of state purchasing, incompatible technical standards or occasionally technical leadership (space craft, nuclear reactors, heavy trucks or simulators for marine vessels for example, even sometimes, good creation design – Gloria Jeans but the list is not long). Russian living standards are not high.

    In terms of total output, Germany is in the top 5 manufacturers in the world (USA, China, Japan, Germany, South Korea – then the UK/France/Italy keep swapping places from year to year Turkey is joining them too). Russia is not always in the top 20.

    Steel stopped mattering much about 1918. We mostly have asphalt roads now not railways. estroyers are built of aluminium not steel and there are not so many of them anyway.

  114. Steel stopped mattering much about 1918.

    Is that why Trump introduced tariffs on steel “in the interests of national security”? Just mixed up centuries, did he?

  115. https://www.worlddata.info/europe/russia/energy-consumption.php

    Energy consumption per capita:

    Russia 6,160 kWh, Europe 5,402 kWh

    Natural gas consumption per capita:

    Russia 2,899 m^3, Europe 1,162 m^3

  116. Yea, many Russians (myself included) were shocked how cold it is in British homes in winter. Russians, like Americans, like to be comfortable, and can afford to pay for it.

  117. Ironically, Russia is the second largest producer of aluminium, and titanium, in the world. Steel is very relevant, even today.
    Russian chemical industry is formidable as well.
    Given enough communism- and trouble-free time, Russia will occupy its natural position as manufactorium of Europe due to abundance of natural resources and human capital it has.
    Consumer goods especially brands and luxury items have huge profit margins yet are strategically speaking useless and irrelevant industries, especially in hypothetical crisis and conflict scenarios, not to mention Western economies being dominated by services and financial hot air.

  118. In all honesty, I think Russian housing is not energy efficient. Nor is the entire industry geared towards energy and resource efficiency. But times change.

  119. Philip Owen says

    Yep. He’s Trump. His trade policy is 18th C. I am not a complete Trump basher. I think he was genuinely the peace candidate and that outweighs his many defects. I think the same way about the EU.

  120. Felix Keverich says


    I was kind of on the fence about operation in Idlib province, but now that Trump is publicly warning us not to touch al-Qaeda in Syria, I feel that he is leaving us no choice: we MUST attack.

  121. Daniel Chieh says

    Patchwork is postmodernism compatible.

  122. Winter in Russia: cold indoors as well as out
    Most radiators in urban Russian homes are fed by hot water transported from heating plants miles away. Ageing pipes frequently burst, causing hardship and even fatalities.

  123. I’m not kidding: it surprises me that Russia is not known for underground cities.

    Montreal and Toronto both have underground malls.

  124. No, Russian housing is certainly not energy efficient. Russia used a lot of designs that are OK in a warmer climate, but not in Russian winter. Neither is American housing, so we pay a lot to keep warm in winter (whatever passes for winter in 90% of the US) and keep cool in summer.

    It’s partially a tax thing: the taxes in the US and Russia are a lot lower than in Europe, so in the US and Russia a winning strategy is to make more money, whereas in Europe with exorbitant taxes a winning strategy is to spend less (unless you are rich enough to dodge taxes in various ways).

  125. Yes, when the Empire tells you that something is white, you don’t learn the color of the thing, but you can be 100% sure that it is not white.

    That’s a great achievement of the US propaganda. Soviet propaganda also achieved that level of trustworthiness, and where is the USSR?

  126. Care to explain, I mean if you and the people here are against censorship in principle then shouldn’t be anti-sodomy laws and banning porn be considered a form of censorship?

  127. Yes, this “central heating” is a bane of the whole post-Soviet space. Actually, in Russia those pipes are in a lot better repair than in many less fortunate post-Soviet republics (I know this comparing the info from people living in Russia and Ukraine; my sample size is not huge, though: three outside of Moscow in Russia, two in Moscow, three in Ukraine).

  128. Not to mention banning “hate speech”. What is “hate speech” is totally in the eye of the beholder.

  129. Isn’t it ironic that people here complain about censorship, and yet suppprt a neoreactionary regime, that will by its very nature have a lot of censorship

    What’s wrong with censorship? Freedom of speech is worthless liberal claptrap. It was a concept invented for the specific purpose of undermining society. The only people stupid enough to believe in freedom of speech are libertarians and cucks.

  130. Daniel Chieh says

    What you censor on your patch does not necessarily apply to another patch; thus why Land mentioned his NRX is really compatible even with a hardcore xenofeminist ideology.

    Beyond that. It’s quite possible to be against censorship in principle without being fanatical about it; I am against killing in principle but that does not mean I must surrender my life if attacked.

    Plenty of historical examples apply – Voltaire lived in the Ancien Régime, had a difficult time and proceeded to thrive in exit while still producing content before he returned. By having a fairly free exit it permitted more rather than less intellectual diversity, while allowing culture to thrive.

    Getting too attached to even a good idea is a sure way to turn a project unworkable.

  131. I have doubts about the significance of polls that show these very negative approval ratings of Putin in Europe. On the base of what most media report, it is not surprising that when people are just given a choice between „positive“ and „negative“, more people choose „negative“ than „positive“. But that does not mean that most people among that majority buy into the demonization, and it certainly does not mean that they consider Russia a threat or an enemy.

    I think the following survey (in German) from this spring gives a much better picture about the situation in Germany: http://wiese-consult.com/russland-und-der-westen/ (the PDF does not seem to be accessible at the moment). 94% of German citizens think good relations with Russia are important. 50% think that the US is mainly responsible for the current increase in tensions between Russiaand the West and only 25% think Russia is mainly responsible. 89% are in favor of a foreign policy that is more independent from the US and also takes into account Russian interests, while only 6% prefer „a clear distance to Russia“ to that option. 58% of Germans are in favor of a rapprochement with Russia, 26% want Germany to distance itself more from Russia and 14% agree with the status quo (https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article174648662/WELT-Trend-Mehrheit-der-Deutschen-wuenscht-politische-Annaeherung-an-Russland.html). 91% of Germans think that Russia is not a threat (https://www.pfalz-express.de/umfrage-deutsche-haben-keine-angst-vor-russland/) – so the percentage of people who see Russia as a threat is much lower than in similar polls in the US. Polls both among German citizens and German economists show that a majority is in favor of lifting or reducing sanctions (61% of German economists according to https://www.wiwo.de/politik/ausland/oekonomen-umfrage-oekonomen-zweifeln-an-russland-sanktionen/22805780.html), fewer are in favor of keeping the current sanctions (33%) and very few are in favor of increased sanctions.

    Yes, at the same time, the polls show that a majority has a negative view of Vladimir Putin, but that that probably mostly means that they think that there are enough political differences between them and Putin that they would not vote for him, not that most of them regard his government as an evil threat. In any case, in different polls, around 70% of Germans said they consider Donald Trump a bigger threat to world peace than Vladimir Putin (that also has to do with prevailing very negative attitudes towards Trump, of course).

    So, the readiness to bear economic sacrifices for additional sanctions against Russia (which a vast majority of Germans reject) is certainly very small. And it is not only Germany, probably the Scandinavian countries are the only ones in Western Europe where hostility towards Russia and the Russian government has a relatively widespread popular basis, otherwise, it is just a phenomena of politicians and journalists in transatlantic networks with little support in the general population.

    In many European countries, these attitudes translate into political programs. In the last French elections, all significant candidates except Macron (who ended up winning) and Hamon (who only received 6%) were in favor of rapprochement with Russia (both left-wing and right-wing candidates, Le Pen, Fillon, and Mélenchon), a majority of French voters voted for one of them in the first round of elections. While in France, candidates that were for a rapprochement with Russia did not actually win, the Austrian and Italian governments contain parties that campaigned, among other things, on better relations with Russia and lifting sanctions (the sanctions are particularly unpopular among farmers who are hurt by the Russian counter-sanction). In the Italian government, both parties of the coalition are in favor of lifting sanctions against Russia, and many expect them to block the further extension of anti-Russian sanctions in the beginning of next years (otherwise, it could be difficult for them to explain breaking a pre-election promise).

    So, certainly it is good that Russia prepares for all eventualities, but the likelihood that the EU will participate in the escalating economic warfare against Russia is hardly very big. European politicians are often subservient towards the US, but if it becomes too obvious that they are subservient towards the EU, this makes them unpopular in their own countries, and they hardly want to lose elections because of this. During the Cold War, the US was also against Germany getting gas from the Soviet Union, but they could not prevent it, and for Germans economic self-interest was more important than pleasing the US. Of course, the US can bully the EU economically, but that only further lowers the popularity of the US and increases the popularity of policies for distancing the EU from the US. The EU is an economic block of a similar size as the US, it does not have to be afraid of the US. When the US does not go too far in its demands, EU politicians often give in, but there are limits.

  132. sudden death says

    Nice to see that author of this blog seems starting to assess China-RF long term relationship somewhat more realistically.

  133. Philip Owen says

    There is a big underground mall in the centre of Moscow but you are right. It is not usual. In St Petersburg, they built long colonnades (covered walkways). In the rain and summer heat, perhaps better than going underground.

  134. Thorfinnsson says

    The Bank of Russia is certainly concerned about it:


    Money is a fiction in that it was created by man, but it’s the most universal unit of account.

  135. Thorfinnsson says

    Both, especially the latter, are true.

    But neither are widely practiced. And neither are practiced by Russia and Germany at present.

  136. Thorfinnsson says

    Steel and energy consumption also vary. The US consumes less steel per capita (more timber frame construction) but more energy per capita (more driving) than other countries of similar affluence. Russia consumes a lot more energy.

  137. Thorfinnsson says

    Lol non-oil exports.

    Not that Russia has none, but is this really the yardstick you want to go up against Germany with?

    Germany exported $1.4 trillion worth of goods last year. Current account surplus was the world’s largest at $296 billion.

    Russia’s economy isn’t small. It is in fact about the same size as Germany’s and likely to become larger. But it’s not presently larger b/c you value wheat production more than the market does.

  138. Thorfinnsson says

    Resource efficiency is a simple finance question. Do the savings in operational expenses justify the increased capital expenditures?

    Taxes impact this in that energy efficiency is typically subsidized by irrational & gay governments and capital gains (your alternative to energy efficiency investments being financial markets) are usually taxed.

    I’ve found that energy efficient LED lighting (for factories), even with America’s low electricity prices and ignoring government subsidies, is a good business investment. The entire cost of capital is recouped in three years. With the irrational government subsidies it’s recouped in only a bit more than one year.

  139. Thorfinnsson says

    Trump came of age in an era in which steel was more important and per capita consumption was still growing.

    Though I agree steel is still important and that America imports one-third of its steel is a scandal.

    But we should’ve started with tariffs on final goods in industries we’re competitive in but have a trade deficit in (tires and cars for instance).

    Steel should’ve come later or its output been encouraged by other means since it is an input into the cost of other products.

  140. Thorfinnsson says

    Steel is not as important as it was in 1918 or 1945, but hardly irrelevant.

    Heavy construction is dominated by steel.

    Most ships are in fact still made of steel. So are cars. And if you want to talk weapons, so are artillery shells and bomb casings.

    Light duty roads may be asphalt, but heavy ones are reinforced (with steel) concrete.

  141. Porn is not political speech.

    Free speech should be reserved for protection of political speech from governmental interference.

  142. Isn’t it curious that only Japanese (Toyota), Korean (Kia), and German (VW) cars are now assembled in the US, whereas “American” cars are now assembled in Mexico?

    I agree that in their unbridled greed the corporations moved to foreign countries the production that used to be in the US and should have remained domestic. There must be a government policy to prevent that. I used to buy sneakers made in the US, but now, when I try to avoid “Made in China”, the best I can do is “Made in Mexico”, “Made in Vietnam” or “Made in Philippines”. The same goes for pretty much everything else, from light bulbs, socks, and nails to computers and trendy clothes.

    Trump’s tariffs today are best described by “closing barn doors after the horse has bolted”. Very sensible, wouldn’t you say?

  143. It’s amazing how hot some underground spaces can get in the city in summer. You’d think that a large underground space could easily be cooled by nearly 100% passive (maybe some fans) geothermal transfer. But I suppose there are all sorts of complications to building in a city.

  144. Isn’t it curious that only Japanese (Toyota), Korean (Kia), and German (VW) cars are now assembled in the US, whereas “American” cars are now assembled in Mexico?

    Nissan and VW have been assembling in Mexico. I suspect that they aren’t the only two doing so.

  145. I know. Everybody assembles in Mexico, but very few assemble in the US. There are no American car makers among these few. I have VW Tiguan assembled in Mexico and did not buy VW Atlas assembled right here in TN because it is too big for my taste.

  146. Muslim countries stay silent as China cracks down on Uighurs:


    The mouthpiece of globalism wants Muslims to conveniently be obsessed about an enemy of the US sphere oppressing Muslims, while I guess they naturally want them to stay silent about Palestine. LOL

  147. I wonder if they’ll give Ramzan Kadyrov kudos if he speaks up for them, as he did for the Rohingya Muslims.


  148. Did you read about the Skripal developments?

  149. Isn’t it curious that only Japanese (Toyota), Korean (Kia), and German (VW) cars are now assembled in the US, whereas “American” cars are now assembled in Mexico?

    Wow, you are the king of cluelessness:



    Readers should be aware of this pattern, when this guy makes equally nonsensical claims about Ukraine.

  150. Everybody assembles in Mexico, but very few assemble in the US. There are no American car makers among these few

    You repeat this utter nonsense.

    Here is a list of the numerous auto assembly plants of US auto companies in the USA:


    You’ve lived in this country for decades and you write such nonsense.

    Corvettes are assembled not far from you, in Kentucky!

    Forty minutes from Nashville TN:


    Spring Hill Manufacturing is a General Motors factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee….As of 2016, the plant includes vehicle assembly (Cadillac XT5 , GMC Acadia, and Holden Acadia) as well as powertrain, stamping and molding operations.[14]


    Are you lying, or are you simply pig-ignorant and making wild claims?

    Readers should be aware of this pattern, because you make equally nonsensical and bizarre claims about Ukraine.

  151. USD – ruble dropping, but not drastically so, and in any case its probably tied to a general EM sell off.

    I don’t expect much to come out of this in particular (though I may be wrong).

    1. As relates to EU sanctions, the UK does not have a great bargaining positive wrt to the EU at this moment.

    2. The UK by itself can’t do much against Russia.

    3. The US Skripal-based sanctions are potentially extreme, but they are on course anyway.

  152. What is your assessment of what really happened?

    I don’t expect them to lie that much. So two Russians were in Salisbury near the house of Skripal, a few hours before they were poisoned. That’s surely a coincidence.

    This makes any unconnected explanation (e.g. that it was some madman from Porton Down) extremely unlikely. Unless the GRU regularly kept sending people to check out Skripal or Skripal was a triple agent or something.

    So we’re mostly left with two broad explanations, either it was Russia, or it was a false flag. I personally don’t think that the false flag is terribly likely.

  153. Of course, it’s possible that the two Russians will be produced by Russia, and they will be found to have used their real names, and were just two random dudes with a neat explanation of what they were doing in Salisbury. That’d put the ball back into the British court.

    But the Russian explanation of not having any idea who the two guys were (flying on a specific date to and from Moscow – what kind of airport security does Russia have?) is just not credible, I believe.

  154. I’ve previously thought the various Skirpal probabilities were roughly:

    #1 (45%)- rogue GRU operation carried out by a small group who wanted a) revenge on Skirpal and b) less blather from kremlins re: “our Western partners”, “only way forward is Minsk”, etc.

    #2 (40%)- Ivins type at Portland down

    #3 (10%)- false flag by agents of some government other than Russia (Ukraine being the most likely suspect in this category)

    #4 (5%)- other

    Based on today’s developments I’d have to raise the probability of #1 to at least around 85%, and pretty much eliminate #2 .

    I don’t think it’s implausible that the GRU would be surveiling Skirpal, particularly while his daughter was visiting with him, so the mere presence of GRU agents in the vicinity wouldn’t be conclusive.

    The smoking gun information- assuming it is true- is that traces of novichok were found in the suspects’ hotel room. However, it doesn’t appear that the UK actually knows the suspects’ real identities, and hence the basis for assuming they are Russian, may be nothing more than that they arrived in the UK on a flight from Russia. In which case, the false flag scenario can’t be completely ruled out, since the perpetrators could have taken the precaution of not flying directly from their home country to the UK.

  155. But the Russian explanation of not having any idea who the two guys were (flying on a specific date to and from Moscow – what kind of airport security does Russia have?) is just not credible, I believe.

    Not sure why this isn’t credible. It would just mean that Russian airport security isn’t any better than UK airport security, since the UK is admitting that the suspects probably managed to enter using false identities.

  156. the false flag scenario can’t be completely ruled out, since the perpetrators could have taken the precaution of not flying directly from their home country to the UK

    Yeah, but flying through Moscow with a fake Russian passport? Is it not highly dangerous? If it was a false flag, those secret agents surely had balls.

    I don’t know about the rogue GRU operation, but I’d guess Putin would punish them, wouldn’t he?

  157. The UK suspects that they were using false identities, because the UK thinks those were perfectly valid Russian passports.

    Now in the Russian airport security system, there must be traces that two people using those passports traveled there, and because Russia is the issuer of those passports, it must also have an idea whether those passports were fake or real. Therefore, at the very least, it must either know who those guys were, or, conversely, it must know that there were some fake passports involved. So they are lying when they say that they know nothing. Now, it’s quite understandable, in both cases, why they’d lie, but since we’re just neutral observers here, we’re under no obligations to accept the Russian explanations. In fact, since the Russian explanation appears to be false, it’s best to just point it out.

    So, either Russian security services must be working overtime to find out who those two guys were and how they obtained their fake passports, or they already know they’ve been caught. To be honest, it’s difficult to come up with a pro-Russian explanation right now, because what we have is what Theresa May told us in March:

    • either some rogue elements within Russia got hold of lethal poison and took it to the UK, in which case Russia must acknowledge that it’s unable to control its chemical weapons facilities (besides possibly illegally producing and storing chemical weapons),
    • or the Russian government itself is using such poison (with remarkable incompetence, to boot) on British soil.

    There’s one more, equally embarrassing explanation, namely, that it was a false flag, using fake Russian passports to travel through Russia, and the Russian authorities didn’t manage to catch the fake Russian passport.

    Which is better from a pro-Russian (or anti-NATO, anti-Theresa May, etc.) perspective?

  158. Yeah, but flying through Moscow with a fake Russian passport? Is it not highly dangerous? If it was a false flag, those secret agents surely had balls.

    Smearing novichok on the Skirpal’s doorknob was fairly brazen. Also, I’ve never flown outside the USA, but I assume airport security is generally much tighter entering a country than leaving it? If so, they could have entered Russia overland or by sea (from Ukraine?), and would not expect to have their fake Russian ID’s heavily scrutinized when they subsequently caught a flight out of Moscow for the UK.

  159. I think passports now have a chip (maybe Russian passports don’t have chips yet?), and there’s an automatic reader which just reads the passport # anyway. You give your passport to the border guard, who just uses an electronic device to read the passport number and sees the picture from the database on his screen, and then compares it to the picture in your passport, and also to your own face. At least something like that is happening in most civilized countries.

    I don’t think it’s possible to slip through controls with a fake passport of the country where the airport is, except if security is extremely sloppy. But I don’t think any intelligence service can bank on it.

    Using a fake Russian passport in the UK is much easier, because the UK doesn’t have a database of Russian passports.


  160. The photos released by Scotland Yard seem to have been doctored. By Craig Murray:


  161. Well, assuming you’re correct that personnel of a foreign intelligence service, could not have had any reliable means of fooling passport checks at the Moscow departure gate, then yes, it looks very bad for the GRU. In that case, the only way their personnel could still be innocent of the attacks, is if the reports about their hotel room testing positive for novichok are false (I’m not sure if the UK government has officially confirmed that information), or if the test results are unreliable (we’ll probably never know that for sure, since they’ll never be subjected to cross-examination in court).

    That’s the crucial evidence in the case now. Without it, I’d still say that someone at Portland Down being responsible remains quite plausible. The odds of a chemical weapon attack in the UK happening within 10 miles of the UK’s primary chemical weapons research facility, purely by random chance, must be thousands to one. And it doesn’t make sense that the GRU agents would have deliberately selected a target near Portland Down, in order to cast doubt on Russia’s guilt, because clearly this attack was designed to make Russia look as guilty as possible. So it seems that either the proximity of Portland Down is just a very unlikely coincidence, or the perpetrator worked there and chose the target of his attack based partly on convenience.

  162. for-the-record says

    These are all very good points, I was thinking of writing something along these lines but you have done it much better than I would have.

    The Russians presumably photograph everyone at passport control so they can easily confirm or deny that these people entered Russia via the flight in question.

    It could still have been a false flag, but it would have to have been a stunningly efficient one — either precisely timing the attack to coincide with a known GRU surveillance operation, or sending some easily identified culprits via Moscow on false passports.

  163. for-the-record says

    The photos released by Scotland Yard seem to have been doctored. By Craig Murray

    Not convinced by this, don’t think the Brits would have been so stupid as to release obviously doctored photos. My guess is there is a rather banal explanation (camera clock was kaput being the most obvious).

  164. I don’t know about the rogue GRU operation, but I’d guess Putin would punish them, wouldn’t he?

    To do that he’d have to admit not being in full control of his own state apparatus.

    I’ve noticed that regarding the alleged chemical attacks in Syria, there is never any consideration that that they might have been carried out by a rogue SAA faction, or simply been accidents involving mislabled ordinance. Instead things proceed as if the only possibilities are “Assad did it” (ridiculous) or false flag. Thereby risking WIII, just because neither side has an incentive to provide alternatives: The West wants an excuse to attack Assad, and Assad doesn’t want to admit that any of his forces may be disloyal or incompetent.

    A similar phenomenon is at work in the Skirpal case, where the UK feels emboldened to blame “the Russian state” or even Putin personally, knowing that even though a rogue operation is by far the more likely scenario, Russia can’t admit that and has to stick to the unlikely (though not totally implausible) claim of complete innocence.

    I wonder what would happen if the situation were reversed: If it looked like a similar attempted assassination had been carried out by agents of the UK

  165. The missing conclusion of the blockquoted sentence:

    I wonder what would happen if the situation were reversed: If it looked like a similar attempted assassination had been carried out by agents of the UK

    on Russian soil, would May admit that a rogue operation was a possibility?

  166. for-the-record says

    Let me put forward a theory, to which I don’t necessarily give a high probability, but nonetheless in light of recent events seems to me not entirely inconceivable.

    I have always been bothered by the “unnecessary” poisoning of Yulia Skripal. Why did the attackers choose the precise time when she was there?

    The theory: Sergei wasn’t under regular GRU surveillance, but the GRU was very interested in Yulia’s visit given the possibility (likelihood?) that Sergei was still active in intelligence gathering and that Yulia was acting in Russia on his behalf. So they sent a surveillance team (Alexander and Ruslan) to London on 2 March to be in position for Yulia’s arrival on the following day.

    The powers that be (and here I am thinking of a “rogue” UK operation) were aware that Yulia would be tailed to Salisbury, and that is why they chose precisely this time period to launch their “false flag”, knowing that surveillance cameras would pick up Russian agents in the vicinity of the Skripals.

    So the Russians were forced into the position of either denying everything (which is what they have done), or immediately admitting that they had a covert surveillance team in place which had nothing to do with the crime (“Yes, we broke into the safe, but it was just to have a look, we’re not the ones who took the money”).

    Totally crazy?

  167. Then there’s some possibility of the murder having something to do with Yulia’s presence, or even with the Novichok serving some role or purpose other than to murder the Skripals.

    But it currently looks like a botched job by the GRU.

  168. It would indeed be odd if Sergei just randomly happened to be attacked during the 1%(?) of the time that he wasn’t living alone. And a rogue UK operation being responsible could also explain the other seeming improbable coincidence: The proximity to Portland Down.

    Three problems with this theory though:

    1) It assumes that traces of novichok were not actually found in the suspects’ hotel room as reported, or that they were planted there.

    2) It doesn’t explain the disguising of the novichok dispenser as a perfume bottle, which according to the male druggie was inside a sealed box with the brand logo, suggesting it was intended to be smuggled through customs. It seems to be just bad luck that the two druggies found the box, so presumably the conspirators didn’t plan for it to be found and conveniently help frame the surveillance team.

    3) I’ve always been skeptical that agents of the UK (or any Western government) were responsible, because the risk/reward calculus doesn’t make sense: Why would multiple individuals risk going to jail for life for murder, when relations between Russia and the UK/West were already very bad? It’s not like they were sabotaging an imminent outbreak of UK/Russia detente.

  169. Wow, know-it-all troll is always on guard. What fraction of the US car market do these assembled in the US models have? Now, who is pig-ignorant?

  170. My sincere apologies to pigs. Intellectually, they are way ahead of Ukies.

  171. The UK itself is, as one of the commenters on this site aptly put it, “formerly Great formerly Britain”. However, the UK serves the same purpose as White Helmets, Ukies, and other scum: they provide pretexts.

  172. Well, British special services screwed up again: the time stamp on the alleged photos of the two Russians in question from the surveillance camera is exactly the same: 02/03/2018 16:22:43. The UK should not be too stingy and hire better fakers.

  173. #160, #163

    Just because you’d like something to be true doesn’t make it true.

  174. You were caught making the ridiculous claim that no American company assembles cars in the USA, when there is a massive US auto company factory within your state.

    Indeed, there are 20 auto assembly plants of US companies within the USA (25 if you include Fiat/Chrysler).

    This is important because it shows your pattern of either lying about even simple things or total ignorance about something right next door to you.

    And since you either lie about these things so brazenly, or are ignorant even of things next to you, it speaks to your credibility about anything else. Anyone actually familiar with Ukraine sees that what you write about it is similar total nonsense. But it’s nice that you have exposed your extreme dishonesty and/or ignorance for American readers about their country.

    So clearly you are the troll.

    And thanks for yet another gem of your dishonesty/pig-ignorance:

    What fraction of the US car market do these assembled in the US models have?


    89% of Jeeps, 86% of Cadillacs, 83% of Dodge, 80% GMC, 70% Chevrolet, 64% of Fords are made in the USA.

  175. He is a troll who claims to live in Nashville yet states that no US auto company makes cars in the USA; there is a massive US auto assembly plant in the Nashville suburbs. His claims are pretty much useless.

  176. This also makes me reassess the likelihood that Litvinenko was also murdered by Putin’s people. Not Berezovsky, nor false flag, not even an accident.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the official Narrative looks good now.

  177. for-the-record says

    Unfortunately, a lot of the official Narrative looks good now.

    Unfortunately, I agree. The only counter-story I see is the one I advanced yesterday, that whoever did it intentionally timed it to coincide with a Russian surveillance operation of Yulia’s visit (and subsequently contaminated the London hotel room with Novichok).

    But the extraordinarily weak Russian defense (“the names don’t mean anything to us”) really looks bad to me, since it should be very easy for the Russians to identify who these people were and provide an alternative explanation, if there is one.

  178. https://twitter.com/russian_market/status/1037300104368218118

    also, Moon of Alabama has a good rundown >http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/09/a-curious-timestamp-in-the-new-novichok-evidence.html#more

    While I do believe, that Secret services are usually overvalued in their competency (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/3662a707-0af9-3149-963f-47bea720b460)
    (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3691711/Russian-spy-service-punishes-trainees-drove-Moscow-luxury-convoy-celebrate-graduation-allowing-photographed.html), this whole supposed operation looks incredibly amateurish and coupled with other premises of the story(novichok properties) unlikely to be true. But one can never rule out a 67D chess counter-counter intel op I suppose

  179. The problem is that there are several concurrent narratives at work, and it seems unlikely they are all true at once. Are Russian security forces so incompetent that they embarrassingly bungled the Litvienko and Skripal assassination (attempts), or so cunning and smart that they managed to install their own agent as POTUS? Because we are apparently supposed to believe both stories simultaneously, even despite their seeming mutual exclusivity.

  180. Unfortunately, a lot of the official Narrative looks good now.

    The Narrative looks good only in the sense that it’s winning the PR war in the West, which was always going to be the case without proof of Russia’s innocence. Not in the sense that it is actually true, since the Narrative is that “Putin did it”, and there is essentially 0% chance of that being true. It’s clear that the GRU personnel apparently responsible did not merely want Skirpal dead, they also wanted to embarrass Putin on the eve of the World Cup, and probably not because they are pro-Western liberals.

  181. Unfortunately, I agree. The only counter-story I see is the one I advanced yesterday, that whoever did it intentionally timed it to coincide with a Russian surveillance operation of Yulia’s visit (and subsequently contaminated the London hotel room with Novichok).

    I don’t see why it had to be intentionally timed. Given that the GRU had reason to surveil Sergei’s meeting with Yulia, it’s plausible that the true assassins could have just gotten lucky that a GRU surveillance team was in the vicinity at the time of the attack. That’s not more unlikely a coincidence than the proximity to Portland Down being random chance, which must be the case if GRU is guilty.

    And if you’re presuming the reported London hotel room Novichok traces were planted by agents of the UK government, that doesn’t require those agents to have also been involved in the attack on the Skirpals. As I mentioned previously, I think UK involvement in the attack is unlikely, in part because it doesn’t explain the perfume box presumably designed to evade customs, which makes those responsible almost certainly either Russian or Ukrainian (other foreign nationals would have lacked an obvious motive).

  182. for-the-record says

    It’s clear that the GRU personnel apparently responsible did not merely want Skirpal dead, they also wanted to embarrass Putin on the eve of the World Cup, and probably not because they are pro-Western liberals.

    Is it possible that this was the entire purpose of the “GRU” plot? Is there an anti-Putin element in the GRU that wants to poison Russia’s relations with the West? What precisely would be their goal?

  183. For all we know it might be a pro-Putin faction, or Putin himself. The reasons the commenter Sean (and occasionally even Dmitry) wrote, that Putin (or Russia) needs some tensions with the west, because the economic conflict increases his (the president’s or government’s) leverage over the oligarchs. The oligarchs cannot really move their businesses abroad now, and their ability to do so is ever diminishing. The Russian exiles in the UK are now between a rock and a hard place, either they go back home or have to cut all their ties to Russia.

    Tensions also help Russia achieve economic independence in more than one way, for example the sanctions and counter-sanctions have already resulted in Russia getting close to being self-sufficient in terms of agriculture, some development of Russian oil services technologies, etc.

    Sure it doesn’t truly look like an intelligence operation. But it’s a bit like, as you put it, the “yes, we broke into the safe, but it was just to have a look, we’re not the ones who took the money” situation.

  184. for-the-record says

    Sure it doesn’t truly look like an intelligence operation.

    Unless the purpose was precisely to have Russia blamed. More than a few people have concluded that the Watergate break-in was a similar intelligence operation, i.e., an intentional “fuck up”.

    Notably this. (Have a look in particular at the 1st review)

  185. Is it possible that this was the entire purpose of the “GRU” plot? Is there an anti-Putin element in the GRU that wants to poison Russia’s relations with the West?

    That’s the only way that GRU being responsible makes sense. Otherwise, why attempt to kill Skirpal in a way that is guaranteed to point the finger at Russia, why time the attack for shortly before Putin’s big World Cup positive-PR project, why advertise the assassins’ Russian origins by flying directly from Moscow to London, etc.

    What precisely would be their goal?

    For the West to put such harsh sanctions on Russia (which Putin will know are unfair, because he knows the West’s accusations that he was behind the attack are untrue), that Putin may finally stop turning the other cheek, and be forced to start hitting back, by doing things he should have done long ago (like recognizing the DLNR).

  186. Wow, I guess I should be proud: less than an hour per day spent here drove at least one Ukie to sheer hysterics. I note that this “AP” personage sees me as a personal bane, jumping onto any inaccuracy, real or perceived, in my comments and then chewing it, like cud.

    I think I know what pushed that personage over the edge.

    Recently in a different thread there was a discussion of Nazi crimes that consistently go unpunished in post-Maidan Ukraine. Odessa massacre on May 2, 2014, and the murder of Oles Buzina in broad daylight in Kiev were mentioned. While he/she/it acknowledged that Oles Buzina was murdered, he/she/it pushed false official Kiev narrative about Odessa.

    I gave some references:
    “There are movies about the events of May 2, 2014, in Odessa.
    This one was shown in Germany:


    This one is called “Masks of the Revolution” by a French journalist:


    Kiev authorities tried to force European TV stations not to show it: censorship is the last resort of liars.”

    Eventually, I summed up this conversation by saying:
    “So, let’s do the tally. 48 official victims. More than four years passed. One Nazi detained for a month, then let go. Zero prosecuted. Quite a few on the side that suffered 48 casualties are still in jail more than four years later.
    This answers my question fully. The government in Kiev is reluctant to punish its ideological twins, focuses the punishment on the other side. Hitler and Goebbels would approve. They would be proud of Kiev government. Case closed.”

    The problem of this “AP” personage is that unlike a standard Ukie with no scruples (self-appointed “Ukrainian patriots”), who wholeheartedly support Ukie Nazis (as “our sons-of-bitches”), he/she/it has rudiments of conscience, which puts him/her/it in a very uncomfortable position. So, having no argument in cases concerning poor unfortunate Ukraine, he/she/it engages in nitpicking in my other comments.

    In fact, I do commiserate with that “AP” personage. I can only advise him/her/it either to shed the last remains of shame and political fastidiousness and embrace Ukie Nazis openly, like current regime in Kiev, or chuck BS and become a Ukrainian, among whom the approval of puppet “president” Poroshenko is not much above the statistical error of the polls. There is no middle way. The tragedy of Ukraine is that too many people are seeking it.

  187. It’s clear that Putin wanted very badly for the World Cup to be a success. It doesn’t make any sense that he would have put it in jeopardy, when he could have just waited a few months until it was over.

  188. That’s one of many holes in the “Russia did it” narrative. If GRU or FSB is so devious as to arrange Skripal poisoning in the UK, why didn’t he or his daughter die after the application of “deadly” nerve agent? Why was this agent in a perfume bottle, which would be the most suspicious item in male’s luggage? This bottle allegedly turned out to be leaky, on top of everything. Why did the versions put forward by the UK government change so many times in the first weeks (eatery, car, door knob, to mention just a few)? Why would one of the photos replicated by various MSM feature two clowns in spacesuits and a perfectly happy unaffected British bobby without protective gear right next to them? Why didn’t British government present any proof of its claims, not only to Russia, who is presumed to be the enemy, but even to supposed allies? Why do the Brits keep both Skripals incommunicado, so that we can’t even be sure they are still alive? I can continue in this vein for a long time, but what’s the point?

    The timing, the inconsistencies of the official narrative (more like narratives, plural), and the rest of the evidence point in the same direction. And it’s not Russia.

  189. less than an hour per day spent here drove at least one Ukie to sheer hysterics.

    For “hysterics” – see your friend Gerard2.

    jumping onto any inaccuracy

    You are inaccurate probably 80% of the time. Even about simple and obvious things. You claimed there were no US auto company assembly plants in the USA and that all Ameerican cars were built outside the USA…when there is a massive US auto company assembly plant in your own backyard. So either epic ignorance or total dishonesty about something right in front of your eyes.

    All statements about things not even in front of your eyes, such as Ukraine, ought to be viewed accordingly.

    Recently in a different thread there was a discussion of Nazi crimes that consistently go unpunished in post-Maidan Ukraine


    Yes. You conveniently ignored evidence debunking your silly fairytales. You do so again, here, and just repeat your fairytales.

    This is what you wrote about people, like you, who refuse to answer inconvenient questions:

    “I guess the commenters noticed that Ukies never answer inconvenient questions. Example: my post #133 (listing clear examples demonstrating the criminal nature of current Kiev regime) was never answered by any of them, whereas they jump into debate about many other things. Apparently, when you like the lies, the truth hurts.”

    Truth hurts you?

    I will repeat your words and mine. Perhaps you will try to addess the inconveneint truths and your false claims?

    There is footage of Nazis killing people who jumped out of burning Trade Union building in Odessa.

    Show it. There is one situation where someone beat someone who jumped out with a stick. He was stopped. There is plenty of footage where “Nazis” outside saved people inside, like when they brought the scaffolding to the building:


    At 14:00 you see efforts by the “Nazis” outside to save the people inside.

    Odessa events began when pro-Russian thugs attacked pro-Kiev thugs and killed one of the latter. Pro-Russian thugs had done the same thing in Donetsk earlier, scattering the pro-Ukrainians and essentially taking over the city. They hoped to repeat this in Odessa, but they were defeated. A group of them were driven into the Trade Union building where they and the pro-Kiev crowd were throwing Molotov cocktails at each other. It is a bad idea to get into a Molotov cocktail-throwing contest when you are inside a building, it caught fire and about 40 of the pro-Russian activists were killed, despite efforts by many of the pro-Kiev people to save them once the latter realized how deadly the situation had become.

    UN report (pg. 9) corrborates what I wrote:


    Russian nationalists spread fairy tales about there being a massacre, that hundreds of pro-Russians were killed, that some of them were executed (I recall reading there were hundreds shot in the basement and it was covered up by the fire), etc. The fairytales helped inflame the situation in the Donbas, leading to the war with thousands of people actually killed. Most of the one killed in this rebellion were pro-Russian residents. Good job.

    Here is a description of the events:


    All claims backed up by video evidence, you don’t have to take the authors’ word for it.

    You didn’t address the claims then, you don’t address them now.

    Kiev authorities tried to force European TV stations not to show it: censorship is the last resort of liars.”

    Germany bans Holocaust denial. Is censorhip the last resort of liars there, also?

    Eventually, I summed up this conversation

    You avoided addressing your numerous proven lies about the “maasacre” that wan’t one, and instead mentioned the banal truth that Kiev one-sidedly prosecuted anti-government thugs rather than pro-government thugs which nobody disagrees with.

    But what else can we expect from a person who lies about something in his own backyard?

  190. The title of this blogpost should be somehow changed to “Putin should believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing Donbass.”

  191. Philip Owen says

    For reasons I don’t completely understand, my electricity provider (they but wholesale and sell retail – not generators0 has replaced all my light bulbs, already long life fluorescents, with LEDS. Thus reducing my bill. It only comes if I buy gas from them as well.

    In the US, it used to make sense for generating companies to reduce demand because regulators wouldn’t all capacity expansion and price rises without clear evidence of such efforts. But it doesn’t work like that here.

  192. Philip Owen says

    The GRU was a potential instigator of the Odessa riots. Girkin (Strelkov) was there with Transneistrians. The group that fired on the gootball supporters were said to have Transneistrian accents.

    After the massacre, Pravy Sector wouldn’t allow the police to patrol the city unescorted. Until Sakashvilli threw them out, there was a PS observor with every significant police patrol. A city divided in multiple ways.

  193. Philip Owen says

    RT and Russian television stations did not show any pictures of rescue attempts in Odessa. Not even the soccer holigans pushing at the firemen attempting rescues.

  194. They were building a false story by only presenting some information. They also probably didn’t mention that the first violence that day came when the pro-Kiev hooligans were attacked, or that the first person killed that day was a pro-Kiev hooligan. By leaving that information out, and also leaving out the fact that the crowd outside were rescuing people from inside the building, they made a fake story about a deliberate unprovoked massacre of violent pro-Kiev hooligans upon peaceful pro-Russian protesters.

    The French film does the same thing as Russian media did, lying by omission. Here is a condemnation of the French documentary, by various French journalists working in Ukraine:


  195. Interesting theory. Hardly unexpected: some in Ukraine even blame Putin for the Maidan. It’s very childish: a small child can always name 10,000 reasons why it is not responsible for breaking a cup.

    There are many problems with that narrative, though. One, all 48 dead were Ukrainian citizens. So, the fairy tales of Russians or Transnistrians do not hold water. Two, the whole thing was live on TV at the time. Ukrainian Rada cheered on when the Nazis broke into singing Ukrainian anthem next to the burning building. Three, regardless of other things, it is a fact that not a single Nazi was ever prosecuted, whereas quite a few of their opponents spent more than four years in jail. Nazis who murdered Oles Buzina also were not prosecuted or punished in any way, even though he was murdered in broad daylight in Kiev on April 16, 2015, more than three years ago. You’d think in more than three years someone would be found.

    This is a pattern that reveals that Kiev puppets have no scruples whatsoever. It clearly shows where regime’s loyalties are.

  196. America, meaning its Washington power establishment, is just angry and embarrassed over what has happened in Ukraine.

    The engineered coup was supposed to hurt and intimidate Russia right along a major border.

    But it hasn’t worked out that way at all.

    You do have to expect a lot of bellowing and fuming when you frustrate a big bully from finishing an ugly piece of work.

    I think this is a situation Putin has handled like a master statesman.

    The right balance between accepting Crimea – historically Russian and whose people voted overwhelmingly for the change – and assisting Donbass in its struggle but not accepting it as part of Russia, all while helping create the Minsk Protocol to solve the mess.

    I regard his overall position as unassailable.

    Who knows how this will all turn out? The government in Kiev is very weak and has often been threatened by some of its own citizens. People in Western Ukraine have run away from its military draft in droves.

    Large semi-fascists outfits like the Azov Battalion continue to make their presence felt. Poroshenko avoids implementing Minsk because he is weak and feels threatened by Ukraine’s Right Wing. Europe can see what has been happening, and despite its American-influenced rhetoric against Russia it knows Putin is fully committed to a settlement according to the Minsk Accords.

    The Right Wing running the United States keeps rattling Ukraine’s chain, but so far it does nothing too serious to arm it and encourage war, something the Europeans would not appreciate.

    One way or the other, one has to believe the Minsk Accords will come to prevail, but who knows? Donbass may be able to sustain itself as an independent state while Ukraine is never ready to make the effort and not strong enough to overpower it. I’m don’t think Ukrainians in general are keen to fight a serious war on behalf of the pathetic current Ukrainian government, weak and ineffective as it is, riddled with corruption, and having brought the economy crashing down.

    It all could go on for some times. But Putin is the figure who stands out from all the rest in his handling of it.