Putin’s problems

August 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A good piece from the Herald on Putin’s problems:

The world faces a moment of maximum danger in . has perhaps just a few days to decide whether to launch a full invasion of the Donbass, or accept defeat and let the Ukrainian military crush his proxy forces.

Nato officials say has massed 20,000 troops in battle-readiness near the border, backed by Spetsnaz commandos, tanks and aircraft. Vehicles have been marked with peace-keeper labels already. Nato sees every sign that the Kremlin intends to disguise an attack as a “humanitarian mission”.

So it will be an overt invasion.

He has been clear from the outset that he will deploy any means necessary to bring Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit. Only war can now achieve this, since all else has failed, and since he has turned a friendly Ukraine into an enemy by his actions. The awful implications of this are at last starting to hit the markets.

“People thought that Russia was just playing a game of brinkmanship, and that pragmatism would prevail in the end. There is real fear now that this will spin out of control,” said Chris Weafer, from Macro Advisory in Moscow.

Yields on 10-year rouble bonds have jumped to 9.7 per cent, up 130 basis points since June. A liquidity crunch is rapidly taking hold across the financial system.

“The market is shut. Not a single Russian entity has been able to borrow anything in dollars, euro or yen since early July,” Weafer said.

The invasion will make this worse. Putin’s popularity will drop at home, as the economy slumps. He will face possible defeat in elections, which may force him to reveal whether he will allow this to happen, or will he remove the democratic facade.

Putin now faces draconian sanctions from the US, EU, Japan, Canada and Australia together. He can strike back by asymmetric means – perhaps a cyberattack – but tit-for-tat retaliation can achieve nothing. There is no equivalence. Russia’s economy is no bigger than California’s. This is an economic showdown between a US$40 trillion power structure, and a US$2 trillion producer of raw materials that has hollowed out its industrial core. The new arsenal of sanctions refined by a cell at the US Treasury – already used with crisp effect against nine countries – is nothing like the blunt toolkit of the 1980s or 1990s. Nor can Russia retreat into Soviet self-sufficiency. It is locked into global finance. The International Energy Agency says Russia needs to invest US$100 billion ($118 billion) a year for two decades just to stop its oil and gas output declining.

This is one of the benefits of having countries in the global economy – it means that when they do bad things, the economic pressure can be the best elver against them.

European officials calculate that Putin will not dare to cut off energy supplies, since to do so would bring the Russian state to its knees within months. But even if he tried – as a shock tactic – it would not achieve much. Oil can be obtained anywhere.

Cutting off the gas would hurt Europe, but hurt Russia more.

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109 Responses to “Putin’s problems”

  1. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “There is no equivalence. Russia’s economy is no bigger than California’s. ”

    That pretty much says it all about Putin’s supposed economic miracle.

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  2. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Where was the similar outrage when Russia invaded South Ossetia / Georgia a few years back. To be fair, they hadn’t shot down a passenger airliner so the global interest was substantially lower.

    I also wonder whether NZ will continue to sell goods to Russia, we have been missed off the list of countries banned for food/goods into Russia. Could be some arbitrage opportunities to get around this? EG- Poland “sells” its goods to NZ, who onsells them to Russia without taking possession?

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  3. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    “There is no equivalence. Russia’s economy is no bigger than California’s”

    To be fair though… if California was a country it would have approx the 8th largest Economy in the world. So still a major player.

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  4. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    Less of a problem for Russia than the invasion of Iraq has been for the Western allies.

    NZ has missed a great opportunity. In response to Western boycotts, Russia has shut out European food supplies, and is seeking new suppliers in South America and other regions.

    NZ was on the point of signing a free trade agreement with Russia but pulled the plug over Ukraine, perhaps to curry favour with Obama so Key will keep being a golf mate.

    On one hand, National cosies up to China, and its supporters warn us we will starve unless we let China buy up our farm lands. On the other, National cheers on the US and the UK over Britain, while China refuses to take part in any sanctions against Russia.

    If our diplomats and politicians are too dumb to make their own decisions on Russia and the Ukraine, they could at least follow Merkel and the Germans who, while imposing sanctions, acknowledge the cost to themselves.

    As for Russia being a military or political walk over, do politicians learn nothing at all from history? Russia is the grave of hundreds of thousands of Napoleon’s Grand Armee and of two million German soldiers in World War 2. It’s also the world’s second hydrogen-bomb and nuclear-bomb super power.

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  5. EAD (995 comments) says:

    I am sick and tired of the “establishment” telling me which countries I should hate, then get on with, then hate again.

    This article, and the whole anti-Russian, anti-Putin agenda is so obviously hyped and based on nothing it would be utterly pathetic, if it were not so serious. It is another agenda based on lies.

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  6. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    To be fair, they hadn’t shot down a passenger airliner so the global interest was substantially lower.

    The inhabitants of the nearby villages are certain that they saw military aircraft in the sky shortly prior to the catastrophe. According to them, it actually was the jet fighters that brought down the Boeing.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/deleted-bbc-report-ukrainian-fighter-jet-shot-down-mhi7-donetsk-eyewitnesses/

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  7. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “This article, and the whole anti-Russian, anti-Putin agenda is so obviously hyped and based on nothing it would be utterly pathetic, if it were not so serious. It is another agenda based on lies.”

    I’m curious EAD as I’m looking for more work. How much does being a Kremlin mouthpiece pay nowadays? I assume it’s more than in Stalin’s day, the guy who invented the “useful idiot” phrase to describe people like you.

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  8. tom hunter (4,729 comments) says:

    What do you mean A good piece from the Herald; this is just a reprint from The Daily Telegraph.

    It’s a good thing Russia is so relatively weak because it makes it easier for the US Secretary of State to deal with:
    http://cdn.pjmedia.com/tatler/files/2014/08/00.0.jpg

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  9. dime (9,849 comments) says:

    So whats the end game?

    Putin loses and the yanks get the missile defence thing installed in the Ukraine?

    That will be an impressive win for the yanks.

    Course, putin could just nuke someone. no way the yanks respond.

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  10. adaman (41 comments) says:

    “This is one of the benefits of having countries in the global economy – it means that when they do bad things, the economic pressure can be the best lever against them.”

    But this is one of the worst things as well in joining the global economy as well. As a smaller state, you are able to be pushed around by larger players especially when you have a large amount of your trade with the dominant market. For instance how much of Russia’s trade is with the EU and more importantly how much of it’s oil and gas is with the EU.

    We just have to look to last in NZ where Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull pulled out of meeting with the Dalai Lama because he didn’t want to upset the Chinese (with Dunedin and Shanghai being sister cities) and also the overal increased trade NZ does with China.

    From a purely economic point of view free trade is great but the political consequences due to interfering politicians and the state leviathan makes trade a thing that can manipulated by your larger partners more so if you trade with them more. Who is to say what is good or what is bad, if the dominant market doesn’t like you doing something, they will push you around, they will influence you to undertake another course of action due to the influence they have over you due to your increased trade dependence upon them.

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  11. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    The center of gravity for world commerce and trade is moving away from New York and London to Beijing, Moscow, Delhi and Brazilia

    And as the Godless, decadent, depraved West sinks its elites get more and more hysterical.

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  12. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    Re Tom Hunter at 10.19:

    And the Telegraph piece is part of the US’s publicity offensive to wind up the West against Russia over the ethnic-Russian enclaves in Ukraine. America has nothing else. It couldn’t fight a land war in Russia even if it wanted to. The logistics would be impossible. Fuck, the supply lines were too long from Germany in WW2. And the Russian military forces, in manpower, are about the same size as America’s. Could today’s casuality-averse West sustain the casualties Napoleon and Hitler weathered?

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  13. JMS (319 comments) says:

    As for Russia being a military or political walk over, do politicians learn nothing at all from history? Russia is the grave of hundreds of thousands of Napoleon’s Grand Armee and of two million German soldiers in World War 2. It’s also the world’s second hydrogen-bomb and nuclear-bomb super power.

    Who on earth is suggesting NATO invades Russia?

    If Russia overtly invaded the Ukraine, the US has the ability to turn it into such a grave for the Russians, though Obama would never use that capability.

    And absent any NATO invasion of Russia, the nuclear weapons you speak of are irrelevant.

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  14. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    JMS posted at 10.25:

    If Russia overtly invaded the Ukraine, the US has the ability to turn it into such a grave for the Russians, though Obama would never use that capability.

    And how would America do that without starting full-scale nuclear war, JMS?

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  15. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Beijing and Delhi maybe, Andrei, Russia’s economy is fast going down the dunny.

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  16. EAD (995 comments) says:

    A quick question – where have sanctions ever worked? They have barely had any meaningful effect on even the feeblest of regimes and everyone (Russia and her suppliers etc) have had had plenty of warning while all the hoo haaing was going on, to work out ways round this piece of political theatre.

    Also, who do you think really will suffer the most? Russia has massive resources and low debt levels, the EU and US have massive debt and little (USA moderate) levels of resources. The Russian population is well known to be able to take massive pain, we are a benefit system for the poor and rich…. the Russians massivley support Putin http://time.com/3088126/putins-popularity-hits-87-russia/ and are a Patriotic people. The majority in the West hate their respective leaders and if they face economic hard times will go up in flames as the reality of mult-culturalism will come home to roost.

    Now, let me guess who is walk away from this with a bloody nose???

    And I almost forgot to add – the IMF is at best dying out, at worst a joke:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/9954646/BRICS-reach-deal-on-development-bank-to-rival-IMF.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/liamhalligan/10978178/The-dollars-70-year-dominance-is-coming-to-an-end.html

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  17. JMS (319 comments) says:

    Course, putin could just nuke someone. no way the yanks respond.

    Depends on the someone.

    While it’s almost certain Putin will launch an overt invasion, in addition to his current covert one, he will certainly not be nuking anybody.

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  18. JMS (319 comments) says:

    And how would America do that without starting full-scale nuclear war, JMS?

    The eastern Ukraine is not Russia.

    Putin is not going to commit literal national suicide for the sake of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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  19. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    The USA has been trying to goad Russia into invading Ukraine for months, in reality.

    American malefeasance has destroyed the country and they want to get out of the catastrophe they have created by shifting the blame and costs onto Russia while separating Russia from its European markets.

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  20. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “And as the Godless, decadent, depraved West sinks its elites get more and more hysterical.”

    That should read: “As Putin manipulates religion to fool the gullible, it sinks ever lower into his decadent and depraved agenda to rebuild the Soviet Empire.”

    There, fixed it for you. :)

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  21. tom hunter (4,729 comments) says:

    America has nothing else.

    America probably does not need anything else. I don’t know why you’re bothering to put so many military facts on the table – all of which I agree with – when the article is pointing to the fact that we’re talking about massive non-military consequences.

    Specifically the article is pointing out that Russia, especially it’s oligarchs, and especially Mr Putin himself, are now so wired into the Western economies, that the financial damage they’ll take will be far greater – probably orders of magnitude greater – than anything they get out of invading the Ukraine.

    Now it may be that this no more applies in this situation than did the huge financial and investment (and personal) ties that existed between Britain and Germany in WWI – but I’d like to think that Putin is smart enough to learn from history.

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  22. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    The US used it’s economic superiority to defeat the Soviet Union, it can do the same to defeat Putin’s empire building. There will be no need for military action, and even if it came to that, Russia’s military is no match for the US.

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  23. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    He’ll invade. It’s been on the cards for months now.

    Here’s some interesting commentary from The Interpreter (run by one of Putin’s major political enemy’s son):

    Politics of Survival Drive Putin’s Policies, Moscow Commentator Says:

    Despite the expectations of many in the West and the past behavior of the Russian government, politics, not economics are the driving force behind Vladimir Putin’s policies now: his Russia must now pursue survival rather than growth and thus “victory or death,” according to Konstantin Gaaze.

    In a commentary on Slon.ru over the weekend, Gaaze says that as a result of the events of the last six months, “the device of the new Russia is ‘Survival; everything else is nothing.’” And while different members of the elite understand that differently, this shift has enormous consequences.

    Among other things, it means that the West’s assumption that gradually ramping up economic sanctions will have an impact is wrong. Putin and his regime don’t care about the impact of those sanctions on the population or even on themselves because the issue now is the political one of survival. That changes their calculus and perhaps should change that of the West.

    Within the Putin elite, there are two basic groups, Gaaze says. There are those who think that they simply have to wait out Putin’s “experiment with partisan war in a neighboring state” and then return to cooperation with the West. And there are others who see things differently: “for them, survival means to win,” to show the West it can’t push them around.

    But the two groups, he argues, are united on one point: “Russia today is not about economics, not about growth, not about rules from textbooks or investments.” Instead, “politics, or more precisely the current political moment, is deciding everything.”

    That is “a revolution,” Gaaze says, given what Putin had been doing before. But “now everything is different,” everything is about protecting the regime and protecting Putin and preventing anyone from forcing them to back down or change course in ways that would compromise either.

    And then there’s an article from last month: Putin Never Backs Down Even When He Would Benefit, Moscow Commentator Says.

    Also, Putin was almost defeated in the last elections, but even with a vast amount of Russians turning up at polling booths to try and prevent voting fraud, he still won. The people were most successful in Moscow in cutting his majority, but that was it. The Russians are very good at rigging elections – look at Crimea.

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  24. s.russell (1,616 comments) says:

    I am constantly amazed by the people who believe that if only we wring our hands hard enough and make loud-enough harrumphing noises Putin will be forced to back down.

    The relative sizes of the economic blocks are irrelevant unless the sanctions are global. They are not. Oil and minerals are fungible commodities. As long as a few countries will buy it matters nothing that others will not.

    Financial sanctions will hurt Russia’s powerful billionaires by a few million. They will laugh at them.

    Putin’s popularity rests on his populist anti-Westernism and control of media. To cave in would be a faster route to political destruction than war. Any consequences of war will be blamed on America and his people will believe him and rally round the flag.

    And after a bit of vigorous wet-bus ticket waving, media focus will shift, Western countries will forget about Russia, and commerce and diplomacy will return to the status quo.

    Conclusion: If you think Putin will be put off by Western threats, I think you are (sadly) mistaken. I hope I am wrong.

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  25. Wayne Mapp (65 comments) says:

    If Putin let Donestk be taken over by the Ukrainian army, he would lose respect in Russia instantly. He would have been shown to be a paper bear.

    Putin and the Russian people will be betting that western sanctions will be relatively short term (less than two years). They will think that is an OK trade-off.

    So in reality this section of Eastern Ukraine is about to be carved off by Russia. And while there will be sanctions, is it really in anyones interests for them to become permanent, and have a new Cold War.

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  26. emmess (1,427 comments) says:

    The inhabitants of the nearby villages are certain that they saw military aircraft in the sky shortly prior to the catastrophe. According to them, it actually was the jet fighters that brought down the Boeing.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/deleted-bbc-report-ukrainian-fighter-jet-shot-down-mhi7-donetsk-eyewitnesses/

    You actually believe that?
    Even the Russians couldn’t decide amongst themselves what conspiracy theory to push.

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  27. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    The USA’s military is no match for the Taliban Shawn as 13 years of war have amply demonstrated.

    Apart from the fact that very few people actually understand anything of the History of Ukraine and its component parts, knowing exactly nothing about it, they also cannot seem to grasp that the people who actually live there have their own views of events and might not want to surrender their homes and lands to the transatlantic elite who want to loot them and militarise them to attack their own kin in Russia.

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  28. EAD (995 comments) says:

    The excellent Paul Craig Roberts weighs in – “Will Putin Realize That Russia Holds The Cards”?

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/08/06/will-putin-realize-russia-holds-cards-paul-craig-roberts/

    It is very illuminating to read the the thoughts of someone so distinguished and with inside knowledge from his time as Wall Street Journal Editor and in Ronald Reagans Treasury

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  29. JMS (319 comments) says:

    So in reality this section of Eastern Ukraine is about to be carved off by Russia. And while there will be sanctions, is it really in anyones interests for them to become permanent, and have a new Cold War.

    The question now, is how much of it will be carved off. Even at their peak the rebels controlled only about half of Donetsk-Region and half of Luhansk-Region, now it’s 10% and 25% respectively. Will Putin merely annex the current rebel controlled areas, or the original rebel controlled area, or both Regions (Oblasts) entirely?

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  30. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    Shawn LH posted at 10.34:

    Russia’s military is no match for the US.

    If you are talking about a war in eastern Europe, Shawn, you are dreaming. America hasn’t got the land forces, the supply lines, and dear I say it the gumption, to fight a land war through a Russian winter. Its population could not swallow the huge casualties that would ensue, or the length of time the war would last.

    Re Tom Hunter at 10.12: What the Telegraph article doesn’t emphasise is that China is refusing to join sanctions against Russia. The sanctions aren’t one way. Some firms in Britain that are dependent on the Russian market are already squealing and laying off staff, yet the most pain will be felt in Germany. There, despite World War 2, there are a number of people who still think that ties with Russia are as important, or even more important, than ties with the West.

    Even if America succeeds in causing privation in Russia, never underestimate the Russians’ character when it comes to enduring hardship. They have endured so much over the centuries, that they would easily weather a few years of economic squeeze.

    NZ fucked up by canning the trade agreement with Russia on the eve of its being signed. We would have had a good cushion against the collapsing dairy prices.

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  31. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “The USA’s military is no match for the Taliban Shawn as 13 years of war have amply demonstrated.”

    Meanwhile, in reality:

    “Taliban leader admits they ‘cannot win war'”

    “KABUL: One of the most senior Taliban commanders has admitted that it is unlikely they can win the war in Afghanistan, according to an interview published by Britain’s New Statesman magazine.

    The identity of the Taliban leader is not revealed but the interview was conducted by Taliban expert and author Michael Semple, who has also served as a UN envoy to Afghanistan and now works with the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard.

    “It would take some kind of divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war,” the commander, who is referred to only as Maulvi (cleric) tells Semple, according to excerpts of the interview on the magazine’s website.
    “The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect.””

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/407628/taliban-leader-admits-they-cannot-win-war/

    So in actual fact, the US has done what the Russians could not.

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  32. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘the transatlantic elite who want to loot them and militarise them to attack their own kin in Russia’
    Do you think Andrei actually believes this garbage?

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  33. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “If you are talking about a war in eastern Europe, Shawn, you are dreaming. America hasn’t got the land forces, the supply lines,”

    The US means the US + NATO. The supply lines would not be a problem as NATO would have the cooperation of Western Ukraine.

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  34. s.russell (1,616 comments) says:

    I expect Obama will take swift and strong action: He will make a speech.

    In that speech he will (with enormous dignity and gravitas) explain that the US has a very large wet bus ticket and is not afraid to use it!

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  35. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    You people are so ignorant – even as we speak there are problems in Kiev, there a problems in Western Ukraine, the Government is bankrupt and has not paid its army in weeks.

    Its major export market Russia is not buying anything

    Its gas supplies have been cut off due to non payment

    The Winter is coming and in the east many peoples homes have been destroyed along with the infrastructure, schools, hospitals, churches etc

    The writing is on the wall……

    A humanitarian catastrophe

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  36. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “The writing is on the wall……

    A humanitarian catastrophe”

    Caused by Putin’s warmongering.

    The Mujahedeen expelled the Russians from Afghanistan in a humiliating defeat for the Russian military.

    The US has forced the Taliban to the negotiating table because the Taliban, as they admit, cannot defeat the US military.

    You and Kremlin puppet EAD are living in a Putin created fantasy land.

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  37. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    Putin is filthy scum, he needs to be put in the dock, and then executed for the dirty criminal he is. What a disgrace it is that 100 years after the great war, nearly 300 innocents are blown out of the sky, and their bodies left to be desecrated and looted by Putin’s russki thugs. And gutless Europe stands by and does nothing, intoxicated by the smell of russki oil, and bank notes, and selling weapons. While one of the finest nations in Europe is helpless as nearly 200 of its citizens are desecrated and robbed. And a nation that lost over 30 citizens, a nation that sacrificed over 60,000 of its finest to save Europe, is forced to to send its own forces half way across the world. This world is a pile of sh!t !!

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  38. Viking2 (11,412 comments) says:

    This is Germany’s (through its proxy Nato this time), 5th or 6th attempt to control Russia. Will fail as per the past.

    Putin will turn off the energy supplies come winter and then see who howls loudest.

    At least Condalessa Rice knew the history of the area as did Gw.

    Obama is a stooge and a fool.

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  39. dime (9,849 comments) says:

    “The USA has been trying to goad Russia into invading Ukraine for months, in reality.” – true that!

    bloody yanks, always being naughty!

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  40. stephieboy (2,789 comments) says:

    Viking, what did Rice and Bush do in respect of the Eastern Ukraine ( and let us not forget Georgia ) precisely.?

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  41. JMS (319 comments) says:

    This is Germany’s (through its proxy Nato this time), 5th or 6th attempt to control Russia. Will fail as per the past.

    Putin will turn off the energy supplies come winter and then see who howls loudest.

    At least Condalessa Rice knew the history of the area as did Gw.

    Obama is a stooge and a fool.

    The first two claims are bullshit.
    The 3rd is half correct (the condoleeza bit)
    The 4th is unfortunately largely correct.

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  42. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    Re Shawn at 11.54

    The US means the US + NATO. The supply lines would not be a problem as NATO would have the cooperation of Western Ukraine.

    You are dreaming, Shawn. Britain shows its solidarity by sending three tanks and a couple of fighters to Estonia.

    You really think the people of Western Europe are going to accept going into full scale war over Ukraine? With the possibility of it escalating to nuclear war?

    You are fucking dreaming! Britain couldn’t even get enough support for the Government’s desire to put troops into Syria.

    As for help from Ukraine: there was help for the Germans from some western Ukrainians in World War 2, and that didn’t get the Wehrmacht over the line. It was stuffed as soon as the Siberian divisions rolled it back outside Moscow.

    And do you think present-day American or West Europeans would have the stomach for Stalingrad style fighting?

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  43. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    Paul Craig Roberts needs to stop looking at all those homoerotic photos of Putin he has in his stash.

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  44. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    What war mongering Shawn?

    Have you ever been to Russia or Ukraine? Or Belarus?

    Have you ever been anywhere where English is not spoken?

    You know nothing

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  45. JMS (319 comments) says:

    It was stuffed as soon as the Siberian divisions rolled it back outside Moscow.

    You mean Jack Frost with a little assistance from the Siberian divisions.

    The Germans due to their irrational racial policies treated the Ukrainians like shit, if they hadn’t, Stalin would have been in serious trouble.

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  46. tom hunter (4,729 comments) says:

    The center of gravity for world commerce and trade is moving away from New York and London to Beijing, Moscow, Delhi and Brazilia

    Moving perhaps but still relatively small in the totality of economies and their institutions. Why do you think so many businesses from China, India and Brazil come trotting into the capital markets of London and New York? And as pissed off as I am with the way the dollar has been “managed” by the Fed, the fact is that there’s more to a global currency than a central bank and a big economy. If you think buying stuff in US dollars is bad now wait until you’re buying stuff with a currency controlled by a combined Beijing-Delhi set of politicians and bureaucrats. It would make the Fed look sane.

    In any case the scenario you portray does not help your hero much as the likes of Beijing look North to a vast, resource-rich and largely empty land owned by an economically shaky government. As the article points out Putin and his cronies will jump from the frying pan of US-Euro to the fire of China.

    West’s assumption that gradually ramping up economic sanctions will have an impact is wrong …

    Sadly – even having noted that the economic impact on Russia will be substantial – I have to agree with this, and also S Russell’s comment that the sanctions may only last a couple of years, and also those comments that have him painted into a corner. From Putin’s perspective this may be the least worst option.

    So yeah – I think he’s more likely to invade than not, probably up to the Dnieper River. But it won’t help him as I think the last piece of the article made clear

    Ukraine is not a member of Nato, and has no Article V protection. The West has already stated that it will not deploy forces if it is invaded. Novorossiya is his for the taking. It is his last lethal card.

    But,…

    Even if Mr Putin’s strategy of a Euro-Asia alliance with China succeeds, it will reduce Russia to a vassal state of China, a supplier of commodities with a development model that dooms it to backwardness. “It is a dangerous illusion. We are witnessing the funeral of Russia,” said Aleksandr Kokh, a former top Kremlin official.

    Mr Putin is stuck in a Cold War timewarp, deaf to the shifts in world power. He has been obsessed with an imaginary threat from an ageing, pacifist Europe in slow decline, turning manageable differences into needless conflict.

    Yet at the same time he is throwing his country at the feet of a rising power that poses a far greater threat in the end, and that will not hesitate to extract the maximum advantage from Russia’s self-inflicted weakness.

    I’ve often said that Putiin is smart, but there’s a difference between being tactically smart and strategically stupid.

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  47. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    @ Putin’s poodle.

    “What war mongering Shawn?”

    Putin invading Crimea.

    “Have you ever been to Russia or Ukraine? Or Belarus?”

    That is why we have global news.

    “Have you ever been anywhere where English is not spoken?”

    Okinawa, the Philippines.

    “You know nothing”

    I know more than you. It helps not being gullible enough to mindlessly swallow Kremlin propaganda.

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  48. tom hunter (4,729 comments) says:

    What the Telegraph article doesn’t emphasise is that China is refusing to join sanctions against Russia.

    Of course not. If I was the Chinese I wouldn’t either, given the prize that’s going to fall into the laps anyway.

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  49. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I saw an article a few weeks back that made the point that the much trumpeted gazillion dollar gas deal between Russia and China actually underscored Russia’s relative weakness.

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  50. tom hunter (4,729 comments) says:

    Yah mm, Pritchard’s article covered that point as well:

    The Kremlin is counting on acquiescence from the BRICS quintet as it confronts the West, and counting on capital from China to offset the loss of Western money. This is a pipedream. China’s Xi Jinping drove a brutal bargain in May on a future Gazprom pipeline, securing a price near $350 per 1,000 cubic metres that is barely above Russia’s production costs.

    What a deal.

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  51. Daniel (207 comments) says:

    But Rachel Smalley said that she didn’t think Russia’s build up of troops on the border had anything to with Ukraine, and was just a show of force for his own people. Then again, maybe Rachel Smalley doesn’t understand news and current events very well.

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  52. greenjacket (459 comments) says:

    DPF: “can be the best elver against them”
    LOL.
    Quite how the use of young eels against Russia would have an effect is unknown.

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  53. Doctor Who (52 comments) says:

    Comment on the original site:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/11017413/Vladimir-Putins-pointless-conflict-with-Europe-leaves-it-a-vassal-of-China.html

    Ravi uppal • 6 hours ago
    AEP,what a piece of BS . Let me dismantle all your BS one by one .
    1. Putin’s war is not pointless ,this is existential . What did Kennedy do when Kruschev put the missiles in Cuba . Why should Putin do anything different ?. What would UK do if tomorrow Hollande turned all his nukes to the direction of London .Do you expect Cameron to twiddle his thumbs .
    2. The Russian companies at this stage are not in any immediate need of funds .As you yourself have pointed out that . They hold $130bn +$430bn=$ 560bn against a 12mth liability of $84bn to end 2014 and then $ 120bn for 2015 . So by arithmetic they can last for 4 years in the fight . Now let me ask a question ? Can the EU last without Russian gas exports for 4 years ? Can the EU afford to loose it’s third largest market ?This is a marathon and not a sprint . The man with stamina wins.
    3. You have given an absolute lie on the information of gas prices and volumes .So let us get things straight . The only major exporter of LNG in the world is Qatar ,the other are minnows . 70% of their production is pre sold to Japan,China,South Korea,India and Taiwan since none of these (except China) have significant domestic gas production . Exports to Japan have more than doubled after Fukushima since they need the gas for power generation. The current price for LNG which Japan is paying $12 per Mcf . Are the Qataris so dumb that they will sell for $6.50 to Europe ? Are you “Jughead” or you do no research ? By the way technically and economically speaking piped gas cost $6.00 ,so can you explain how can LNG cost $ 6.50 landed when it costs additional liquefaction,shipping and reconversion to gas at destination and not to mention that LNG has 65% of the BTU compared to piped gas since 35% is lost in liquefaction and then back into gasification . For Europeans gas means heating but for the 5 countries gas means electricity and most important Ammonia fertilizer without which the agriculture is dead and so are the people . Gas inventories are up because it is summer . When winter comes and you have massive drawdowns ,and no replenishment from Gazprom you can kiss your life goodbye . Just for your info , UK is the last country(also called end of line) to receive gas from the European pipe network . In case of a severe winter what reaches UK after all countries is a pittance . In 2013 was it not for the arrival of 2 LNG tankers from Qatar , the gas network in UK would be empty . That was what we in Belgium call “5 minutes to a12″ moment . By the way 80% capacity means nothing . You must know the MOL(minimum operating level) and pressure required to pump the gas into the pipelines . Effective you have only a 50% capacity because you need the other 50% to maintain pressure and flow .
    4 The Japs and the Koreans can fire their nuclear plants . Do you think this is like switching on a bulb ? The minimum time required to fire up a closed nuclear plant is one year since you have to inspect all the equipment from ground zero to ensure that the next Fukushima does not happen . Like I said this is a marathon and Putin will win .
    5 . No Putin will not cut off the gas . He does not have too . What he has to do is raise the price by 100% and kill EU . I am watching French, German and Belgium TV . All the business leaders are having grave concerns that Putin’s announcement on agri imports is going to major business catastrophe . 50% of Belgian pears and 56% of Polish apples go to Russia . Where do you throw these huge volumes . Mind you this is just agro ,what when he comes to industrial sanctions ?
    6. This is a battle between “paper tigers” worth $ 40T against an “energy giant” worth $ 2T . Remember “Energy is wealth ,currency is paper “.Get this straight .
    No energy and the house of paper goes up in flame .

    7.Ah,so Putin is expansionist and FSB/ GRU torture ? Can you tell where has Russia expanded after the collapse of FSU ? Let us get truthful , which country has had the most imperialistic and expansionist policy since WW II ? Which country has the most bases worldwide and spends more on military than the rest of the world combined? As to torture”we do not do torture”–George Tenant . No, we carry out “enhanced interrogation” and rendition . What hypocrisy .
    8. Yes, Ukraine is not a member of Nato TODAY but it would be a member of Nato in the near short term if Putin will not act now . No, he will not invade Ukraine . He will just let it self destruct and win without lifting a finger . All the signs of it’s disintegration are showing clearly . That is the reason for the conflict “Better to ampute now then let the cancer spread” . Never, ever has the West said they will not make Ukraine a member of Nato . As a matter of fact not only Ukraine but also
    Georgia and Moldova .All the trouble has been started by the US neocons and the EU is going to have to foot the bill .
    You are carrying water for Obama and the EU donkeys in this article not to mention all BS crap.

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  54. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    DPF originally noted:

    is is an economic showdown between a US$40 trillion power structure, and a US$2 trillion producer of raw materials that has hollowed out its industrial core.

    America’s economic might has done it a lot of good in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, DPF.

    China has probably been the world’s biggest economy for all but a couple of centuries of history. When it was at the top, it didn’t stop the horsemen from impoverished Mongolia riding in and taking over the country.

    Economic power doesn’t always determine the winner.

    But NZ should still have grabbed that free trade agreement while it was going. Let’s be the new Sweden in international conflicts. Sell to all.

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  55. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    Shawn my friend, if you knew anything you’ld know that Russia did not invade Crimea

    The Crimeans declared themselves independent and asked to join the Russian Federation with this being validated by a citizens referendum – all done under the constitution of federation when Ukraine became independent

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  56. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    ‘validated by a citizens referendum’
    Hah! Next you’ll be talking about the ‘independent’ election observers again.

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  57. grumpy (256 comments) says:

    I’m with Andrei on this. My Russian and Ukrainian friends see the issues in exactly the same way as he does. It’s hard for us at the other end of the world to understand the history and regional tensions that are very real over there.

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  58. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    AP’s contemporary report of the event

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  59. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    To recap some points about the referendum:
    1. The option for the status quo was not on the ballot
    2. The referendum was held under a military occupation.
    3. There were no credible external observers.

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  60. unaha-closp (1,158 comments) says:

    Putin has retaliated by banned importation of food products from the Western bloc of nations that placed economic sanctions on Russia. NZ hasn’t placed sanctions on Russia and stands to benefit from this trade war.

    This is the best kind of war. One where we don’t care who wins, is disruptive to one of our major competitors (conflict zone grows a lot of food) and we can sell to both sides.

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  61. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    @ Putin’s poodle.

    “Shawn my friend, if you knew anything you’ld know that Russia did not invade Crimea”

    He sent troops in to secure the airports and other key areas. That’s an invasion.

    “The Crimeans declared themselves independent and asked to join the Russian Federation with this being validated by a citizens referendum”

    The referendum was invalid. A referendum at the point of a Russian gun is a joke that only a gullible fool would consider legitimate.

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  62. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    The referendum was invalid. A referendum at the point of a Russian gun is a joke that only a gullible fool would consider legitimate.

    Stop making shit up. The referendum did not occur “at the point of a gun”.

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  63. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    Shawn for the Crimeans to make the choice they did was a no brainer

    Ukraine is bankrupt, has a Government they didn’t vote for in power and is in a State of Civil war

    Crimea is at peace, is receiving investment money and is secure from the bloodshed that is engulfing Ukraine.

    Wages and pensions have gone up across the board.

    These are people for the most part who have always considered themselves to be Russians and now they are a republic with their own Parliament within the Russian Federation which is a good deal for them

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  64. jawnbc (81 comments) says:

    Had Putin worked with OSCE and conducted a legitimate referendum the West probably would’ve leaned on Kyiv to let Crimea go. After all, it was “gifted” to Ukraine by a Soviet despot only half a century ago—and it has remained most Russian ethnically and linguistically.

    But he didn’t. And the West put their pockets ahead of principles and look where we are now. Putin is betting that the West won’t intervene militarily. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Ukrainian government asked OSCE or the European Commission for peacekeepers in Eastern Ukraine.

    There’s no shortage of blame for this situation, but I lay much of it at the feet of Merkel (whom I had a lot more respect for until this crisis) and Hollande (who has always been rather useless).

    People like unha-closp and the reps from the dairy industry who are rubbing their grubby little hands with glee over the prospect of profiting from this are vile. More importantly, Putin will toss them under the boss sooner or later—so it’s bad business.

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  65. grumpy (256 comments) says:

    Below is an email from a mate of mine, Konstantin, he is a Russian with strong views on this.

    1. Turmoil in Kiev or how it all started

    The policy of the Ukraine for the last few years has been blackmailing the West on the ground that Ukraine will develop closer economical ties with Russia and blackmailing Russia that the Ukraine joins the EU next day. Their goal was to milk as much money and preferences as they could from one side and oil and gas and more loans from the other. Adding up an enormous level of corruption and very different lifestyles, economics, ethnic traits and religious beliefs between Western and Eastern Ukraine, this situation couldn’t last long. Ukrainian people got tired and went on Maidan. The US regarded this situation as very favorable one for reaching their two main goals in Europe: getting a firm foothold as close as they can to the Russian border and revive the NATO which with years has become too lazy and peaceful organization and obviously needed to be kept in check. This was the reason why Nouland, Biden, the CIA director, the US senators were visiting Kiev as frequently as they visited the golf courses. At exactly the same time Putin was enjoying his time at the Olympics and his aides stayed away from Kiev. Personally I was really amazed at such a bold and direct interference of the US officials in internal Ukrainian affairs. Well, just as they say, «Why there will never be a revolution in the United States? Because there’s no US embassy there».

    2. Annexation of Crimea

    I strongly believe this was the right thing to do. First, putting aside the all-Russian history of Crimea and the unlawful secession from Russia by Khruschov, if it wasn’t for the annexation we’d have a full scale bloodbath in Crimea right now, far worse than we currently see in Eastern Ukraine, to say nothing of a couple of naval NATO bases in Crimea in a few years from now. Second, uniquely enough for the modern history, the annexation was a «clean kill», so to speak, not a single person got hurt and 98% of the population supported joining Russia. The outrage of those who overlooked the event while they were supposed to keep an eye on Russia is understood. And let’s leave all the cries that there were no changing borders in Europe since WWII for the kids. I mean – Germany, Yugoslavia, Kosovo – the borders were changed every time the West thought they should.

    3. Putin’s stature

    Putin is supported by a vast majority of the Russian population because he leads more or less independent policy as opposed to Eltsin’s times when the West basically regarded Russia as a lowly state with non-existent interests. Russians are very sensitive to being treated this way even if in many cases they do not live up to the standards when they should be treated the other way. Right now people start grumbling that Putin backed down on Eastern Ukraine and doesn’t take any firm actions. Note that the number of Russian and Ukrainian(!) refugees fleeing to Russia exceeded several hundred thousand which is a big burden for the southern Russian regions to bear. If Putin keeps being indecisive his ratings will definitely start plummeting to finally meet Obama’s. That’s us, Russians – today we love, tomorrow we hate.

    4. The West and the downing of the Malaysian plane

    Now I am being sarcastic. I mean, guys, what’s happened to the West? Where are the basic Western democratic values like, say, the independent system of justice? Where is the presumption of innocence? In half an hour after the plane was shot down Putin personally was held culpable. The downing of the plane has raised many questions which desperately need answering before we are to blame anyone (why the pilots changed the course towards the war zone and lowered their altitude, who told them to do so, why the Ukrainian BUK battery radar activities increased drastically that day, were there any Ukrainian fighter jets following the Malaysian liner, what recent Poroshenko’s «we’ll have a surprise for you» remark meant, etc., etc.). Instead of a proper investigation we are being fed with some «psakiing» like «we got the information from social networks proving that the separatists shot down the plane and Putin was personally responsible. We also got some intelligence that we can’t disclose». I mean, are you kidding me? Social networks? If all the verdicts in Western courts had been based on «this is obvious that he did that» statements the West wouldn’t have become the West as we know it. I always respected the US internal policy and I still consider it to be the best in the world with a few minor exceptions. But the international policy of the US has been a disaster lately and more and more reminds me of some sort of trolling other nations. Unfortunately I do not see any attempts to solve the Ukrainian crisis in a diplomatic way. No talks between Putin and Obama, a few talks between Lavrov and Kerry, obviously, to no avail. So far the Western approach has been overly simplified – Putin is the villain of the peace, a pariah, let’s kick him out of our sandbox (G7, G20, 2018 WFC, what else?).

    Indeed it looks like «the US and Russia are going to fight with each other until the last Ukrainian is standing». I do hope it doesn’t lead to WWIII. Big wars start with small incidents, as we all know.

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  66. Slipster (150 comments) says:

    ShawnLH (3,851 comments) says:
    August 8th, 2014 at 10:07 am
    —–
    “There is no equivalence. Russia’s economy is no bigger than California’s. ”

    That pretty much says it all about Putin’s supposed economic miracle.
    —–
    And it becomes even more pathetic when you remember that the bulk of that economy is based on the raw oil & gas exports. Without those, it would probably rank somewhere next to Zimbabwe or perhaps Nigeria (another regime propped up almost exclusively by oil exports).

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  67. Jim Peters (10 comments) says:

    How can President Barry-O be planning a war with Russia when he spends his time golfing and fund raising?
    He is the laziest, most disconnected and disinterested President in US history. Planning a war requires energy and focus he could never muster.

    Barry-O is interested in playing the victim card and fabricating threats of impeachment, to drum up donor support to the Democrats mid-term elections. As well as opening the southern border to the next generation of Democrat voters.

    He is not spoiling for a fight with Russia. He is a pampered nancy-boy, not a Putinesque alpha male. I do not see any of his cabinet being hawkish either. They run away from conflict and responsibility as fast as Barry-O. Barry-O and his traveling salvation show are not up to a stand up fight with the Ruskies.

    US saber rattling or direct covert action threatening the ever-persecuted Rodina makes a great narrative. If you happen to be the local weepy-eyed CCCP propaganda mouth-piece.

    Frame the impending Soviet invasion to make it appear as if Barry-O, or your mad Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper clone from the West is responsible, and your noble peace keeping actions are therefore justified.

    The Soviet Union did not die in 1991. It just changed the colour of the paint on the outside of the abattoir.

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  68. Slipster (150 comments) says:

    @Grumpy: Your “Russian with strong views on this” is nothing more than yet another retelling of the official Moscow propaganda line. I doubt very much that person is real, except in the sense of a minor functionary in the Kremlin propaganda office somewhere.

    Just look at the totally ridiculous claim of the 98% support for the annexation of Crimea! That’s despite the fact that nearly half the pipulation boycotted the so-called “referundum” conducted by the occupying army and there were documented cases of voting by the unidentified military personel with hastily removed ensignia.

    Don’t be ridiculous posting that rubbish here, there are official Kremlin propaganda outlets for that.

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  69. stephieboy (2,789 comments) says:

    jim peters, so lets nuke them.??

    and grumpy in Putin’s land of the free,

    http://cpj.org/killed/europe/russia/

    Utter bollux about M17 with Putin’s and the Kremlin’s hand on the propaganda throat..!
    And big wars start with big incidents e g Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland 1989

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  70. stephieboy (2,789 comments) says:

    Correct typo error which should be “1939”.

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  71. Jack5 (5,051 comments) says:

    Whoops! I see the Russians seem to want to buy our food.

    Just in time to cushion the dairy-price crash?

    Wonder whether America will try to make us refuse sales to Russia.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11305862

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  72. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “Stop making shit up. The referendum did not occur “at the point of a gun”.”

    Hah, from the Jew hating nutter who makes EVERYTHING up!

    And yes, it occurred under a foreign occupation, so it DID occur at the point of a gun, the Kremlin’s.

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  73. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “These are people for the most part who have always considered themselves to be Russians”

    Which is the same excuse Hitler used for occupying Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia.

    It is telling that Putin and his apologists are using exactly the same excuses and telling that you admit this is all about racial empire building.

    Heil Putin! One Volk! One Nation! One Leader!

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  74. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    Russians are not “foreign” in Crimea Shawn – Crimea has been Russian for longer than the USA has existed as a nation.

    That’s the bit your tiny little, parochial mind cannot grasp.

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  75. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Hah, from the Jew hating nutter who makes EVERYTHING up!

    Shawn & slander, birds of a feather.

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  76. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    UglyTruth and denial of the truth, birds of a feather.

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  77. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    So Andrei, when did you ditch real conservatism for racial fascism?

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  78. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    UglyTruth and denial of the truth, birds of a feather.

    A liar and a hypocrite.

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  79. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    And yes, it occurred under a foreign occupation, so it DID occur at the point of a gun, the Kremlin’s.

    “At the point of a gun” implies duress. The Croatians were not under duress during the referendum.

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  80. G152 (301 comments) says:

    Shawn my friend, if you knew anything you’ld know that Russia did not invade Crimea

    The Crimeans declared themselves independent and asked to join the Russian Federation with this being validated by a citizens referendum – all done under the constitution of federation when Ukraine became independent
    ———–
    Riiiiight
    I have this bridge for sale

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  81. Jim Peters (10 comments) says:

    stephieboy – nuke who? Sorry, I didn’t catch that though train you were on. Got left at the platform.
    Both sides have nuclear weapons.

    Barry-O may be histories top narcissist, but he is not Nero.
    Putin, well, I’m not so sure. He has spent his life solving problems with violence. I don’t believe he would escalate.
    Maybe this is where the mad Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper character appears in the unfolding story, and gives one side pretext and opportunity.

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  82. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    Vladimir Putin: The rebuilding of ‘Soviet’ Russia.

    “The world was stunned when Russia invaded Crimea, but should it have been? Author and journalist Oliver Bullough says President Vladimir Putin never kept secret his intention to restore Russian power – what’s less clear, he says, is how long the country’s rise can continue.”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26769481

    Putin’s Empire of the Mind: How Russia’s president morphed from realist to ideologue.

    “A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Russian imperialism.”

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/04/21/putin_s_empire_of_the_mind_russia_geopolitics

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  83. grumpy (256 comments) says:

    Slipster (57 comments) says:
    August 8th, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    You are totally wrong. I have known Konstantin for almost 20 years. He is a highly qualified engineer. Those who know my previous comments would tell you I am hardly an apologist for the russians!

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  84. stephieboy (2,789 comments) says:

    Andrei, your wrong

    Crimea was annexed by the Czars in 1783 . The US had been in existence since 1776.

    And from Russia with hate the growth of Neo Nazism in Putin”s Russia ,

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  85. Andrei (2,568 comments) says:

    And from Russia with hate the growth of Neo Nazism in Putin” Russia ,

    Can you tell me of any European Nation or any Nation derived from a European Nation that doesn’t have a Neo Nazi element Stephie Boy?

    That film could have been made in London with a few minor cosmetic changes to reflect the change of location and historical culture of the protagonists.

    The point is Vladimir Vladimirovich is almost certainly one of the greatest statesmen alive today and he is not a WASP which drives WASPs and token WASPs crazy.

    When Americans clain they are “an exceptional nation” or the öne indispensable Nation”, Barack Obama has used both phrases recently that is a sure sign of insecurity.

    The USA has created the biggest empire the world has ever seen supported by the biggest military the world has ever seen by far and are borrowing a billion dollars a day to hold it together while fighting wars all over the planet – this can’t go on forever and the end is in sight.

    I think their Ukrainian adventure is a step too far -Ukraine will disappear eventually as a Nation – I doubt it can be salvaged, it was a bastard child of the Bolsheviks anyway conceived to stymie Polish ambitions in the aftermath of the Polish Soviet War.

    And although these agricultural sanctions are mocked by the West, they are actually well thought out and will have major impacts on the countries bordering Russia who have foolishly allowed the USA to use them to target Russia – I expect to see upsets in elections throughout Europe in the next couple of years and governments starting to distance themselves from the USA. These are not particularly wealthy nations you understand

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  86. SPC (5,595 comments) says:

    Andrei, the only reality behind your post, is the assessment within Russia that the USA weakened itself economically and militarily during the GWB years and are now less able to act to contain regional powers when they exert power. Thus a neo-Russian imperialism in Eastern Europe, Iranian hegemony in the ME and a Chinese hegemony in Eastern Asia can be asserted.

    And the connection to India and Brazil to imply a non western economic power is because the Soviet Union collapsed due to having an international ambition beyond its independent economic capacity.

    Labelling pro EU sentiment in Eastern Europe, as of an American artifice, is simply a device to dismiss any nationalism in Eastern Europe based on building a future independent of Russia.

    Russia is the bully here. And the appeal to the West to appease the imperial ambition rather than make a fight of it, is just the same as it was in 1939.

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  87. grumpy (256 comments) says:

    Looks like Putin’s problems just got fewer.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/evidence-is-now-conclusive-two-ukrainian-government-fighter-jets-shot-down-malaysian-airlines-mh17-it-was-not-a-buk-surface-to-air-missile/5394814
    What sort of government would do this? The same sort as shot it’s own people at Maidan to start the civil war in the first place.
    http://www.channel4.com/news/ukraine-catherine-ashton-phone-shoot-maidan-bugged-leaked

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  88. Jim Peters (10 comments) says:

    Here are 3 European nations that do not have active neo-Nazi elements (apart from those passing through):
    1. Liechtenstein
    2. Monaco
    3. Vatican City (well, I might be wrong here)

    Of course, everyone knows Illinois Nazi’s are the worst.

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  89. Gulag1917 (876 comments) says:

    The Ukraine far right threatened to kill anybody that spoke Russian is it any wonder that Crimea was helped. Amazing that people have not worked out some of the USA geopolitical strategy which is possibly to,
    1. contain Russia
    2. neutralise Russia
    3. destroy Russia

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  90. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    Putin is against Nazis in Ukraine, but he loves them in Russia.

    http://americablog.com/2014/03/meet-vladimir-putin-favorite-neo-nazis-russia-crimea.html

    Violence and hatred in Russia’s new skinhead playground.

    “”Today in Russia there are 50,000 skinheads at the very minimum while in the rest of the world including America, Europe and other countries there are about 70,000,”

    http://www.culteducation.com/group/1154-skinheads/19358-violence-and-hatred-in-russias-new-skinhead-playground.html

    Russia has more Neo-Nazi’s than any other country.

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  91. Jim Peters (10 comments) says:

    The US has no clearly defined geopolitical strategy. Barry-O is asleep at the wheel, working on his golf handicap, attending town hall meetings with (less-and-less) adoring fans and $10,000 a plate donor dinners. He hasn’t got time or the intellect to plan a conflict or confrontation with Russia.
    Clinton demonstrated she is clueless and out of her depth with Benghazi, and will throw all-and-sundry under the proverbial bus when required.
    Kerry is still trying to figure out where Ukraine is in his atlas of the 50 states.
    Barry-O has crippled and politicised the US armed forces to the point they have serious senior leadership issues.

    Any war, hot or cold, with the West, will be started by the Soviets – deliberately nor not.

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  92. SJM (77 comments) says:

    Gotta love western media, never a mention of the EU’s bribery of civil society groups to the tune of €434,918,585 or if Crimea should ever have been given to Ukraine in the first place, it goes without saying that there is seldom any mention of the EU’s blatant land grab of the entire Ukraine

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85112
    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/08/more-about-the-eu-and-its-activities-in-ukraine.html

    And 20k troops is nowhere near enough to invade a nation the size of the Ukraine, but That wont get a mention either, it would screw up the narrative.

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  93. Brian Marshall (201 comments) says:

    I am not naturally a lover of Putin, but this is no different than what the west did to Serbia over Kosovo. Actually Kosovo was worse since the Ukrainian elected government was thrown out by the current regime. They may have been corrupt, but they were elected.

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  94. Robo (24 comments) says:

    There is a big constituency in Russia for moving away from the West and crony capitalism. Remember these people’s fathers/grandfathers fought at Stalingrad. They really don’t buy our bulls–t. Russia is the only sophisticated economy that can disconnect from the West. Putin is on a winner.

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  95. V (701 comments) says:

    Why is it the same people who point the figure at Russian media propaganda refuse to consider that some of our media narratives are full of exactly the same type of propaganda?

    And this whole Crimea referendum at the point of a gun rubbish. Learn some history. Crimea is Russian, the majority of people speak Russian. Do you honestly think they wouldn’t vote to become a part of Russia.
    When the USSR dissolved Ukraine was considered one of the richer parts of the Soviet Union, and yet through its own corrupt politicians is now several fold poorer than Russia, which itself is not a rich nation.

    As for John McCain and Victoria Nuland giving out pastries on the Maidan, what part of not interfering in another nations internal affairs do these guys not understand. I certainly don’t trust Poroshenko or Yatsenyuk any more than any previous leaders of Ukraine. They have been begging for NATO to intervene and fight a war for them. A war pushed on them by god knows who in Svoboda, Praavy Sector on their own citizens in the East.

    Gosh! – (From 7mins)

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  96. soundhill1 (190 comments) says:

    @Jacks: “China is refusing to join sanctions against Russia.”

    China is trying to move away from GMO imports from USA, to Ukraine’s GMO-free goods. They probably realise that if USA forces win, that the phosphate-rich soils of Ukraine will become another casualty of the USA agricultural system. Glyphosate binds the minerals.

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  97. CharlieBrown (1,002 comments) says:

    V and Soundhill – don’t the Chechnyan’s want independence from Russia? Are you going to cry their tune or is it ok as long as the invaders aren’t the USA?

    I didn’t agree with the protests in Ukraine and think it wasn’t necessarily the best thing for them to be buddying up with Europe. But the moment Russia turned the domestic matter into an invasion I quickly changed my mind.

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  98. cha (3,943 comments) says:

    Russians huh.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/barack-obamas-53rd-birthday-marked-with-racist-laser-projection-and-banner-in-moscow-9654519.html

    https://twitter.com/TornCurtain1991/status/497442815300108288/photo/1

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  99. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    Andrei posted a video of the racist display last night. Speaks volumes. Today he was defending Serbia.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is a great deal of racial fascism behind the support for Putin.

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  100. soundhill1 (190 comments) says:

    @CharlieBrown: ” don’t the Chechnyan’s want independence from Russia? ” Some of them. It is hard to understand it all. Remember?: “Two ethnic Chechens — one dead, the other in custody — are suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings ” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-21/chechen-conflict-spawned-terrorism-with-separatist-jihad.html “Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, said last week the brothers “weren’t born, raised, taught or somehow shaped in the Chechen republic” and that the roots of their actions were to be found “in the place they rose and studied — in the U.S.” The Chechen conflict began almost two decades ago as an attempt by the majority Muslim republic to break away from Moscow’s control in the backwash of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The rebellion veered in an Islamic-extremist direction when Russian troops returned to Chechnya after a brief hiatus in 1999.” “The Northern Caucasus region of Russia has become an incubator of Muslim extremism amid the convulsions of a separatist conflict in Chechnya that killed tens of thousands of people, turned hundreds of thousands into refugees and sent embittered exiles across the globe.” In the first Chechen war with Russia a lot of soldiers changed sides. It is now claimed some of them are “volunteer” (rebels) in this conflict. (In contrast to the reported mercenaries of Monsanto-employed Academi (Blackwater Security) fighters. Monsanto hopes to make Ukraine a GMO area.
    http://rt.com/op-edge/ukraine-blackwater-mercenaries-russia-794/

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  101. soundhill1 (190 comments) says:

    Continuing with this puzzle:
    Phantom Report » Kiev decides to tame eastern Ukraine by hiring foreign mercenaries
    I doubt that this material could appear in the USA news media. Hard to verify. Why would it be thought up falsely? And why the report, which I have yet to retrieve, that the “Ukrainian” forces are not targeting military buildings in Donetsk, they are avoiding them and only targeting civilian buildings? Very nasty war crimes to try to turn the people to ask for surrender. http://www.phantomreport.com/kiev-decides-to-tame-eastern-ukraine-by-hiring-foreign-mercenaries There is a lot more if you search Google for Monsanto mercenaries ukraine. Some revolving door material is about 8 minutes in to this: https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dcocp7utUy64&h=mAQHGJUPA
    Also note reports of Ukrainians deserting or burning draft cards.

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  102. CharlieBrown (1,002 comments) says:

    soundhill1 – Russia had as much right to invade crimea as finland has a right to invade russia to reclaim land the mongrel soviets took in world war 2. I’m sure the crimean tartars would agree. Who would want to live in Russia considering its recent homophobic laws and controlled press. nb, I do note that our press is controlled by a hopeless socialist middle class but I trust its independence over a state owned system as that in Russia.

    Personally I hope Russia collapses and gets completely demilitarized considering its recent atrocious history over the last 100 years.

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  103. soundhill1 (190 comments) says:

    @CharlieBrown, how about a comment on this?: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-real-reason-america-used-nuclear-weapons-against-japan-it-was-not-to-end-the-war-or-save-lives/5308192

    Likewise my understanding of GMOs, as indicated in the video, is not about furthering science, or protecting people, it is about domination.

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  104. V (701 comments) says:

    @CharlieBrown

    Can’t say I have that much sympathy for Finland in that context given it fought with the Axis powers.

    As for the homphobic laws that relate to promotion of homosexuality to children. Firstly, sure I don’t think such laws are necessary, but lets remember Britain had the exact same laws up til 2003 (Section 28). To me it looks like these laws are more for political popularism.

    The second point is this is an area of huge propaganda, remember the Sochii Olympics where if you believe Western media homosexuals were going to be rounded up etc etc. Of course all of those ‘fears’ never came remotely close to any fruition.

    Thirdly, at the same time as pouring scorn on Russia for these laws we happily go about our business with various Arab states like Saudi Arabia where they do far far worse to homosexuals. So it is little wonder Russia doesn’t take us seriously with such hyprocrisy in full view of the world

    As for Russia collapsing, little chance of that happening economically speaking. It is the West that has developed huge debts that won’t be repaid, where the size of the state in some countries is approaching 50% of GDP. That is the reality.

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  105. CharlieBrown (1,002 comments) says:

    Saudi Arabia doesn’t invade other countries. And Saudi arabia isn’t getting more restricted (even though they have horrible laws). Also below is an interesting article, Russia is being sued for 50 billion dollars, also goes to show how despicable the man is, he is an utter thug. They aren’t an economy seeing good times, and the more Putin carries on the worse it would get.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/07/28/uk-russia-yukos-idUKKBN0FX08M20140728

    Also, Russia invaded Finland (it is called the Winter War) before they joined the axis, of course they would side with the Axis in retaliation. What Russia is doing regarding Crimea is despicable, and hypocritical at that. If they ceded the 10% of land they took of Finland at the same time then I could have some sympathy for them.

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  106. cha (3,943 comments) says:

    Fun fact, when Finland invaded the Soviet Union the barque Pamir was seized in Wellington as a war prize.

    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/seizure-of-the-finnish-barque-em-pamir-em-as-a-prize-of-war

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamir_%28ship%29#World_War_II_and_beyond

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  107. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    I strongly recommend this damned excellent article by Prospect’s Ben Judah, one of Putin’s most incisive critics:

    http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/opinions/putins-disasters

    “Russia has not been governed efficiently at any point in its history. The nation today finds itself ruled by a curious monster of Putin’s creation—an all powerful but hideously corrupt bureaucracy, an imperial creature, unanswerable to anybody outside the office of the President, ruling autocratically over the population, but rendered laughably incompetent by its own metastasizing corruption.”

    [...]“Putin’s disasters all come back to this—the inability of the Russian state to deliver reliable government, without accidents, or these horrific screw ups. In 2010 various global governance and corruption indicators showed that Russia was almost as corrupt as Papua New Guinea, with the property rights of Kenya, as easy to do business in as Uganda, and as uncompetitive and monopoly ridden as Sri Lanka. Last year it was ranked the world’s 127th most corrupt nation out of a total of 177.

    Putin’s rule has been punctuated by tragedies: from the sinking of the Kursk submarine (2000), to the Nord-Ost theater siege (2002), and the Beslan school massacre (2004), all well known in the West. Then there are those accidents that are painfully remembered in Russia, such as Sayano–Shushenskaya power plant explosion (2009), and the deadly Moscow smog and rampaging forest fires (2010).

    In all these cases, the same bureaucratic malpractices killed large numbers of Russians: Putin’s developing dictatorship has eliminated all transparency, and chucked out any checks and balances. At the same time its incredible corruption has frozen the system in a state of untouchable incompetence. Now, they have sent this stealth intervention force in to Ukraine and it has completely screwed up.”

    “To put it simply, these “rebel” armies, are one of the largest Russian military intelligence operations in a generation. But, it would seem, despite being armed with sophisticated rocket launchers, they were unable to tell the difference between a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet and a Ukrainian military transport plane. This is because, out in the field, the Russian army’s special operation forces (who are supporting the separatist rebels) have been unable to combat the corruption, incompetence and incoherence which brought about the military bungles in Beslan a decade ago when Russian military stormed the besieged school causing horrific chaos and the loss of 334 lives.

    Vladimir Putin has reacted to all these Russian disasters the same way: he cannot do empathy. He is not one of those politicians who can connect with the mourners, or turn their grief into his theater, and lead the nation’s tragedy. Rather, he has reacted to each incident, coldly, like someone who cannot understand that he, and not his petty officials, is to blame for Russia’s rotten chain of command.”

    Also strongly recommended: Ben Judah: Fragile Empire: How Russia fell in and out of love with Vladimir Putin: New Haven: Yale University Press: 2013.

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  108. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Andrei will be along in a minute to tell you that Vladimir’s quite a guy and that Russia is in the ascendant.

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  109. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Odd, I don’t really care what Andrei thinks. Lucia Maria, you must be worried sick, given Poland’s proximity to all this. I hope this Economist article goes some way to setting your mind at rest, however partially:

    Poland wants to make its forces significantly more lethal in case of an attack. The government is pushing hard for America to sell it upgraded stealthy JASSM cruise missiles, which have a range of almost 1,000km (625 miles). The missiles, which can be launched from F-16s, would give Poland the ability to counter attack by striking deep into Russia.

    The need for such a system may have seemed in doubt when Poland first announced its military modernisation programme, to be completed in 2022. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its support for the insurgency in eastern Ukraine and its aggressive Russian-Belarusian war-games in recent years, not far from Poland’s eastern border, have made policymakers much more aware that the country faces a real security risk.

    “Russia’s actions on its post-Soviet periphery are likely to result in a more heavily armed Poland. Poles’ worries about their vulnerability have grown owing to the reluctance of western European countries to base NATO troops in Poland permanently. Radek Sikorski, the foreign minister, wants two heavy brigades shifted to Poland, but recent opinion polling shows that three-quarters of Germans oppose such an idea. There is an old Polish saying, “if you have no one to count on, count on yourself”. Though Poles know they are much safer since joining NATO, history reminds them to rely as much as possible on their own efforts.”

    http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21608788/government-steps-up-its-defence-spending-front-line-state

    As for France’s arms deals with Russia, I am disgusted at the Hollande administration over its current actions. And NATO should station troops in Poland, given that is obviously what Poland’s inhabitants seem to want. I don’t trust Putin any further than I could throw him.

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