Putin: cleaning out the Augean stables in a single day? He’s too busy cleaning out the Russian oligarchs!


Putin slays Islamic terrorism

Putin slays Islamic terrorism

Russia’s latest assault on the sensibilities of the West comes in the form of an art exhibition in Moscow. You can tell that the press in Russia can’t be truly free because, were it to be so, headlines in Russian red-tops (no pun intended) would surely be inviting their readers to laugh themselves silly at the subject title alone: The Twelve Labours Of Putin. Yep, you got it, they have characterised Putin as Hercules.

Putin grapples with the multi-headed hydra - of Western sanctions!

Putin grapples with the multi-headed hydra – of Western sanctions!

Those who love the classics may well blanch at the very idea: Hercules is the Greek god and all-time hero Heracles, the son of Zeus. Facts aside, what is so hilarious about this is that the Russians are taking these ridiculously over-adulating images seriously. The only more amusing facet is the degree to which Putin appears to be able to inflate his ego without people falling about laughing: I mean, can you imagine Tony Blair in the guise of St. George impaling Wendy Deng as the dragon? Maybe in a cartoon caricature in The Guardian lampooning the horrible oddity of the two together, but as a compliment? I think Tony would have been media-savvy enough at least to have declined to lend his reputation to the freakish spectacle.

I have a suggestion to make. How about adding a 13th Labour of Putin, along the lines of ‘Vlad syphons more in assets from the Russian people than Bernie Madoff stole in his 40-year Ponzi scheme spree? Damn, Putin wins again!

Russia’s ‘hybrid’ wars and China’s belligerent expansionism


A game about he Russian tactic of maskirovka, Moscow’s hybrid war

The Wikileaks revelations described the Russian Federation as a ‘Mafia state’, but is this really such startling news? It was obvious soon after a drunken Yeltsin virtually gifted the resource-rich state industries to highly-placed and cunning apparatchiks that Russia resembled the Wild West rather than developing a conventional system of government for the world’s largest state. Bloomberg’s article here details the the effect of hybrid wars on the Russian economy.

Yeltsin’s actions, and the failure of the political classes to stop him, robbed the extremely poor of the true value of the nation’s assets, running into hundreds of billions of pounds. The instability inherent in what amounts to an unsound economic policy brought about massive losses to these new super-rich a couple of years back because of the volatility of the Russian market. The last decade has also seen oligarchs being jailed or fleeing the country altogether, their underlings being murdered and press freedoms curbed – even to the extent of organised murder of journalists – to stifle debate and possible dissent. 

China is attempting to expand its territory and increase its natural resources, against the wish of smaller nearby states.. Artificial islands are under construction in the disputed South China Sea as the Chinese state makes relentless efforts to expand it’s geographical boundaries at the expense of its neighbours. In 2012 the Communist Party reclassified the South China Sea as a “core national interest”, placing it alongside such sensitive issues as Taiwan and Tibet. It means China is prepared to fight to defend it. 

Beijing’s claim includes the Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal and the Paracel Islands and the area it encompasses comprises an “expanse stretching right up to the coasts of the Philippines and Vietnam and even Borneo.” The vast majority of the South China Sea is claimed by the Chinese, in an area which is demarcated on maps by the ‘nine dash line’. 

This territorial ultimatum by China is yet another example of the Asian superstates flexing their muscles knowing that their surrounding neighbours are too small and weak to make a stand. To resolve this imbalance these countries are forced to align themselves with the US, or as in the case of Ukraine, the EU, in order to make the playing field more even. Of course, alignment with the US is deeply unpopular to the world at large, paradoxically because they see the US as ‘the bully’ or thinking of itself as ‘the world’s policeman’. Such arguments provide no resolution to the problem of the balance of power between smaller states and superstates, nor the possibility that China and Russia will almost inevitably seek to take advantage of the weaknesses of more democratic states and their unwillingness to stand up to them.

The most alarming aspect of this new world is that, in twenty-five, maybe fifty years, it will be Russia that will have the single largest economy – along with China – and they will probably be calling the shots (no pun intended). Many in Europe fear the spread of Islam, and their fear may be justified if it concerns those involved in terrorism. What the fundamentalists should fear – along with us – is the new world order that is about to emerge. The freedoms that we cherish and that the Islamic fundamentalists despise may be swept away by these countries as they expand, but the paradox will be that none of us will gain from a ‘Mafia’ overlord and fledgling democracy overseen by a proletariat in the coming generation. You only have to look at human rights in China, and the treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Urumqi, and what happened in Georgia and Azerbaijan to realise what the future may bring. These superstates are slowly expanding and will become larger as time goes on. We are feeding crocodiles here and weill will be on their menu in the future.

Has Rowan Atkinson followed Gerard Depardieu to Russia?


Comrade Strelkov (Стрелков)

Igor Strelkov imagined on Good Night, Little Ones

Russia isn’t well known for its internationally acclaimed television programmes but its longest running children’s TV puppet show ‘Good Night, Kids’ has been on the air for 50 years and is still as popular as ever. Such an icon it is in the jewel of Russian TV that no less a patron than Vladimir Putin conceived the idea of a new cartoon character to enhance the kiddies’ pleasure, and possibly President Putin’s too.

“At first the idea was rather unexpected,” programme producer Alexander Mitroshenkov tells RIA Novosti news agency. “But when we examined it in detail we realised that it was a winner!” Mr. Mitroshenko is as famous in Russia as Michael Jackson was in the USA. Whereas Michael Jackson, by way of surgical and cosmetic intervention, made himself look like Diana Ross, Mr. Mitroshenko appears to have restyled himself on Imelda Marcos, the widow of the late Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos:

 

Imelda-and-Mitroshenkov

A prize for who can tell which is Imelda Marcos and Alexander Mitroshenkov

Имельда Маркос и Александр Митрошенков

Russian social media sites were trending with mockery for poor Mitroshenkov’s vomit-worthy fawning over Putin’s mind-boggling nomination of a character for the kiddies’ show. A social media junkie called Dedushka Udava jeered at Mitroshenkov and his crony colleagues on the Vzgliad website for “grovelling to state officials” berating their suitability to be anything of influence in children’s’ TV.

The most imaginative suggestions have, however, come from comments trying to envisage what the new character will look like. Mitroshenkov, determined to cling to the anticipation, has said only that the character will emerge from the “same enchanted forest as the show’s established puppets Khriusha the piglet and Stepasha the hare.” 

The internetsky has been ablaze with suggestions that the new idol could be Igor Strelkov – a leading rebel in the pro-Moscow militia in eastern Ukraine, “straight from the Donbass forest”.

Others have suggested that Mr. Bean may emerge as the winner, especially as this image appeared online in Russia recently:

Surkov-and-Bean

              Putin and Mr. Bean … is this beans on toast?

 

Until it was realised that the ‘will have Bean’ is actually Vladislav Surkov, a Russian businessman and politician widely believed to be the mastermind behind Russia’s land-grab in Crimea, though he appears to have styled himself on Mr. Bean because NEITHER of the above images shows Rowan Atkinson!

 Then there is the suggestion that it is a prominent Putin loyalist by the name of Sergei Kurginian, a man who seems to spend half his life posing with rifles, whilst others have mocked the character Vatnichek – or Little Padded Jacket – an internet meme used to mock Russian ultra-patriots, but if you look at the two of them together it would seem that Kurginian went to Dr. Woffles Wu for his plastic makeover as he’s a dead ringer for the little Russian ‘Spongebob Squarepants’.

               Sergei Kurginian and Vatnichek, satirical suggestions for children's TV

Sergei Kurginian with Vatnichek, Russia’s Spongebob Squarepants

 Сергей Кургинян с Vatnichek

And the new character? All will be revealed, apparently, at the beginning of October.
 

‘You Have to Understand, George. Ukraine Is Not Even a Country’


Banksy-Putin

What is the evolutionary prospect for the pro-Russian revolution in Ukraine?

The video clip shown here is evidence that Russia is actively involved in an ‘invasion by stealth’ in Ukraine. The Russians call this ‘Maskirovka’.

A new military front has been opened in south-eastern Ukraine and – as it is obvious to expert observers that this is not just pro-Russian rebels – the town of Novoazovsk has fallen into Russian hands.  It is a border town on the south eastern tip of Ukraine, it is the administrative center of the Novoazovskyi Raion, in Donetsk Oblast.Situated close to the Russian border on the Sea of Azov. The next likely target will be the port city of Mariupol. This is a Russian strategy to keep NATO from their border. It is not a strategy that the pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk would adopt as it would stretch their already limited capabilities

Ukraine has again claimed that Russian military columns have entered Ukrainian territory to ensure success for the rebel attack, but the Russian government continues to deny arming or covertly supporting the rebels, with their strategy of maskirovka, attack by stealth. Putin’s mafia have repeatedly claimed that  any military hardware, such as rocket launchers or tanks used by separatist forces, must have originated from Ukrainian army bases that have been overrun by the rebels..

In a blog for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an expert analyst, Joseph Dempsey, has identified what can only be a tank that has originated from the Russian military in a column of tanks and rocket launchers that were seen in eastern Ukraine two days ago. He writes


Recently published online footage, reportedly taken on 26 August in Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast, in eastern Ukraine, shows a convoy of military vehicles. Whilst date and location are unconfirmed, the operator of the convoy is apparent: flags associated with the separatist movement are clearly displayed and some vehicles feature bright green areas, a common feature of separatist armour.

 The mixed convoy includes at least three T-72B1 MBTs but it is the appearance (01:40–01:53) of a lone, more modern T-72 variant that is of particular significance. This variant, distinguished by the prominent Kontakt-5 Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) arrangement on the turret front, is commonly referred to by Western sources as the T-72BM. It is operated by the Russian Army in large numbers, but crucially it is not known to have been exported or operated outside of Russia. The presence of this variant in Ukraine therefore strongly supports the contention that Russia is supplying arms to separatist forces.


Expert identification of this Russian tank in a separatist column in eastern means that it could only have come from across the border in Russia. There is no confirmation of the date or the exact location, but it is clear from the footage that the tank that must have come from Russia is with other armoured vehicles flying the Donetsk separatist flag. This took place whilst Putin was in Minsk trying to establish a road map for peace in Ukraine. So what is Putin’s aim?

A study of a map that was produced for the Presidential Election in Ukraine in December 2004 gives a clue to voting patterns in south and south-eastern Ukraine. You may already know that Yushchenko was elected in the poll, that he was a staunch supporter of Ukraine and its freedoms – namely “democracy, Ukrainian identity and European integration”. His ethnicity is Ukrainian as the “Sumy Oblast region where he was born is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking” whereas Yanukovych, who lost this election but subsequently won the presidency in 2010, was a native Russian ethnic who lived in the Donetsk Oblast.

Ukrainian-general-election-2004

It is apparent from this snapshot of voting patterns that the blue areas, supported a strongly pro-Russian president, whereas the Orange areas voted for an ethnic Ukrainian. The division along ethnic lines is confirmed in this graphic, underscoring the pattern that Putin is seeking to exploit by sending advisors, troops and equipment into Ukraine. Although this strategy is weakening his international reputation it is strengthening his popularity in Russia,

Ukraine west v east

Putin is seeking to recreate Novorossia or New Russia, a historical term comprising an area north of the Black Sea, part of which was Russia and part of which was Ukraine.

how-putin-sees-Ukraine-with-no-NATO-fleet

“The guys from the east shot the positions of the Ukrainian army and the army left Novoazovsk,” according to freelance journalist Petr Shelomovsky, who told the BBC. “Since the morning, they’ve been leaving the town and we’ve probably seen the last armoured personnel carrier leaving the place.”

The German Chancellor and the EU are currently making representations to Moscow protesting the interference by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine. If some decisive action is not taken, Putin will grab more land from Ukraine and any such success will only feed the appetite of the Russian nation to see a rebirth of the USSR.

Graph showing a poll concerning Russia and the longing for the USSR

You can access details of these surveys of Ukrainian and Russian opinion at: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

In an article headlined Putin Forever? Russian President’s Ratings Skyrocket Over Ukraine, the writer explains that “Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is enjoying almost unprecedented job-approval ratings in his country. And the only reason for this popularity surge, sociologists say, is Russia’s tough stance on Ukraine. A separate study conducted in April by Russia’s state-funded polling agency VTSiOM showed that 82 percent of respondents thought their country played an important role in global affairs, compared to 58 percent six years ago.”

Putin’s comment to George W. Bush stands as a chilling warning about the fate of Ukraine. It is reported that he said ‘You Have to Understand, George. Ukraine Is Not Even a Country’

That view is becoming ever closer to reality in the passage of 2014.

Putin’s excuses about troops in Ukraine are becoming increasingly feeble


Crack-cocaine smoking  Toronto mayor Rob Ford considers Putin's rejection of 'boot-on-the-ground' in eastern Ukraine

Crack-cocaine smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford considers Putin’s rejection of ‘boot-on-the-ground’ in eastern Ukraine

Russian paratroopers have been captured in the Donetsk region of Ukraine having “crossed the border by accident” according to Russian military sources. A Ukraine government spokesman said ten Russian soldiers were captured.

Ukrainian television carried a lengthy report that included video excerpts of the interviews with the captured soldiers and claimed that they were from the 331st regiment of the 98th Svirsk airborne division. One of soldiers said “this is not our war”, whilst another, claiming to be Sergeant Andrei Generalov, said: “Stop sending in our boys. Why? This is not our war. And if we weren’t here, none of this would have happened. They would have sorted things out with the government themselves.” Russia emphatically refutes any suggestion that it is involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine or that it is giving military assistance to the rebels. The facts on the ground do not support Russia’s innocent stance. The excuses that come from the Russian government are all one dimensional and weak, such as “The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border [and] crossed it by accident on an unmarked section” leaving you wondering if they have ever heard of briefing their troops or equipping them with GPS.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s security service said that the paratroopers had been captured over 20km into Ukrainian territory near the village of Dzerkalne, some 50km from the city of Donetsk. Andriy Lysenko a Ukrainian military spokesman  said: “This wasn’t a mistake, but a special mission they were carrying out.”

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents are meeting in Minsk, Belarus to try and come to an agreed settlement over the war, though having the last dictator in Europe, President Lukashenko, hosting it is something of an irony. With rigged elections and the opposition ‘marginalised’ in a judicial way, it is the last bastion of anti-democracy that is wholly in Europe. Putin will wistfully ask himself why he can’t have in Russia the autocracy that Lukashenko has in Minsk. Or maybe that is what Putin is really aiming for.

 

Pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk embarrass themselves by humiliating Ukrainian POWs


mob-rule-in-Donetsk

Ukrainians celebrated the national independence day today, which marks the day of their freedom from the former USSR. In Kyiv the with parade was respectful and dignified, but pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk held a parade that surely shows the sort of people that control Donetsk these days as they paraded and mocked captured servicemen through the streets in front of thousands of people jeering them whilst throwing anything at them that came to hand.

The parade was led by around fifty soldiers: prisoners of war who simply looked down as they walked, clearly in a very dirty state, their heads shaved and many of whom were clearly injured. and unkempt. 

They were jeered and shouted at and all manner of items were thrown at them, including shoes, eggs, bags of flour, dog excrement, empty water bottles and soiled nappies. As they were paraded through central Donetsk with their hands behind their backs, Tchaikovsky’s “Slavonic March,” was played throughout the streets. This music is a familiar and very patriotic piece to Russians..

prisoners-paraded-through-streets-Donetsk

To add to the humiliation, two tank trucks followed the prisoners-of-war, spraying soapy water onto the street as if to say that the street needed cleaning as the captives passed through the city. 

Those watching, men, women and children, screamed “Fascists!”,“Perverts!” and “Hang them from a tree!”  One woman told a TV crew “They are attacking our city. They are fascists. I am in favor of this parade.” A rebel soldier close to the parade, said that the parade proved how well the captives were treated “We keep them on cots and feed them three times a day,” he said.

This spectacle was organised to contrast with the traditional military Independence Day parade in Kiev, the national capital, where soldiers from the national army marched through the streets of the city, feted by cheering crowds.

cloud-of-flour-thrown-at-pows

The Geneva Conventions’ rules concerning POWs prohibit humiliation or parading prisoners publicly. 

The commander of the rebel militia made a public announcement after the parade had passed through the streets.  “Kiev said that on the 24th, on the Independence Day of Ukraine, they would have a parade. Indeed, they did march in Donetsk, although it wasn’t a parade,” top rebel commanderAlexander Zakharchenko said. “Soldiers of the armed forces of Kiev walked along the main streets of Donetsk. What Poroshenko planned has taken place.”

BBC map

Ukraine’s defence ministry voiced a strong protest about humiliation of these soldiers, saying. “The organisers of this disgusting event cannot be considered human,” a spokesman told Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “Nothing is holy” for them, he added.

prisoner-of-war-violation

You might imagine that shooting down the Malaysian Airlines plane would have embarrassed the pro-Russians into a more civilised way of conducting themselves, but it hasn’t. They seem to be completely shameless.

 

 

 

The US and EU are lining up more sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine


Putin-sanctions

The US government issued the following warning to Russia on Friday concerning the aid convoy that was heading into Ukrainian territory without legal authority.

“Given that Ukraine has allowed international humanitarian groups to deliver aid within its territory, there is no logical reason why Russia should seek to deliver it,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told a Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Friday.

“Therefore, any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory, including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming. And it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine,”

The EU and US, along with the Ukrainian government, accused Moscow of increasing the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russia flatly denied the accusation saying that the unrest was the result of Ukraine’s use of force in the region and that its bid to end the rebellion has made the situation worse.

Over the last week NATO has repeatedly warned about invasion of the territory by Russia. It supported its claim by saying that Russia had amassed 20,000 troops on the Ukraine border. Once again, the Kremlin denied any plan to send or use troops in the rebellion in the Donetsk region.