The Saker blog now also in Russian!

ДОРОГИЕ РУССКОЯЗЫЧНЫЕ ДРУЗЬЯ!
Читайте блог Балобана по-русски щелкнув на эту ссылку:


http://www.vineyardsaker.ru/

The Saker Blog now also in French!

AMIS FRANCOPHONES!
Vous pouvez maintenant lire le blog du Saker en Français en cliquant sur ce lien:


http://www.vineyardsaker.fr/

The Saker Blog now also in German!

ALLE UNSERE DEUTSCHEN FREUNDE!
koennen jetzt den blog des Sakers auf Deutsch lesen - bitte hier anklicken:


http://www.vineyardsaker.de/

The Saker Blog now in Oceania

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN OCEANIA!
you can now also visit the Oceania Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.vineyardsaker.co.nz/

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Ukraine Will Never Retake Crimea

Written especially for Russia Insider

The Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Geletei is hardly a credible figure.

Not only did he recently declare that Russia had threatened the Ukraine with nuclear strikes, he even told a Ukrainian journalist that Russia had already executed two tactical nuclear strikes on the city of Lugansk (apparently to explain why the Ukrainian forces had to retreat from there). The Junta later denied the story and blamed it on the journalist who first published it.

Despite these antics, Geletei nonetheless caught the world's attention when he promised the Ukrainian Rada that the Ukraine would retake Crimea and organize a victory parade in Sevastopol. The Rada (Ukraine's parliament) greeted that promise with a standing ovation.

The truth is that this will never happen. Here is why:

By 2020 Russia will have completed the following defense plan:

  • 86.7 billion rubles will be spend to modernize the Black Sea Fleet. Modernization plans include the deployment of ultra-modern Project 11356 frigates and top of the line Project 636.3 diesel-electric attack submarines.
  • A separate army group, similar to the one in Kaliningrad, will be formed and a bomber base will be created. The ground forces component will include one Air-Assault brigade, one Spetsnaz brigade, one Naval Infantry brigade and one Motor-Rifle brigade. Earlier, other sources spoke of one or two Airborne brigades, two or three Motor-Rifle brigades and one Tank brigades.
  • The Russian Air Force plans to deploy Tupolev Tu-22M3 “Backfire” bombers in Crimea which will be able to not only defend Crimea from any threat from the sea, but also destroy key components of the the US/NATO anti-ballistic missile system now deployed in southern Europe.
  • Finally, Crimea will be defended by coastal defense missiles, air defense systems and anti-ship cruise missiles.
In other words, Crimea will become a formidable defensive node, an unsinkable aircraft carrier if you want, and an ideal location for the power-projection of Russian military forces in southern Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Middle-East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

No wonder the US/NATO wanted it so badly.

Speaking of the US and NATO – much is made of the presence of USN ships in the Black Sea. In reality, the USN poses no threat to Russia at all, at least not from the Black Sea. The Black Sea is an enclose and small sea, at least by USN standards, where any USN ship, underwater or on the surface, would be a sitting duck for Russian forces, especially missile attacks.

The USN knows that and what these USN vessels do in the Black Sea is called “showing the flag”. This has nothing to do with threatening Russia or Crimea. If the US really wanted to threaten Russia, the very last thing the USN would do is enter the Black Sea. The USN is a deep sea, “blue water” navy, which fights long-distance and not a littoral, “green water” or, even less so, a coastal “brown water” water navy.

Finally, history has shown that Crimea is ideal to defend and very hard to take. By land, Crimea is only accessible by a few open and undefended roads from the north. Centuries of warfare have turned it into a Swiss-cheese like structure filled with tunnels, underground bunkers and fortifications.

Last but not least, Crimea has now already been fully integrated into the Russian military's Southern Military District (based in Rostov-on-the-Don) and, as such, it would have the full support of the rest of the Russian Armed Forces.

The Saker

A couple of short items about Russia Insider and book for donations

Dear friends,

First, I want to thank you all for your support and kind words about the Russia Insider project.  I am also truly delighted to be associated with this endeavor.

Second, I wanted to clarify a few things about Russia Insider and my role in it.  Russia Insider is not a blog or a collective of blogs.  The format used by RI is deliberately kept to short(er) posts, not long analytical essays.  The idea is to offer a go-to place to get a quick reaction to current events, along with a short commentary and enough links and sources for any reader to follow up should he/she decide to do so.  In my case, this is not unlike what I sometimes do with my mini-SITREPs.  I see that as very nicely complementing the much longer analyses I do here on this blog.

Also, no worries, most of my time will still be dedicated to this blog.

As for my contributions to Russia Insider, I have not been told to change my views, not say this or that or not to use this or that term.  Just like with any such project, if the editor in chief does not like something he can refuse to publish it, which is fine by me as long as I get to post whatever I want here, on my blog.  Please do not worry, my freedom is truly sacred to me and I would never associate myself to any project which would limit it.  The beauty in Russia Insider is that they fully share that philosophy.  Besides, I dare say that I am in pretty darn good company there, so I have no worries on that account at all.

Finally, please notice the new window on the left hand column which announces that author Yuri Dia Konov, whose book Russia's Diamond Ruble I recently reviewed on this blog, has offered to send any of his books (in English or Russian!) for free to anybody sending a donation to the Saker Blog.  So please do press that "donation" button and then email Yuri and tell him which book you want, and he will email you the PDF right back!


Kind regards and many thanks,

The Saker

America's Plan B, and the Houthi fly in the ointment

by Mindfriedo
 
From the start of the conflict in Syria, one thing has been conspicuously absent: Balance, tit for tat, and eye for an eye. Hafiz Al Assad understood these concepts well. He kept his friends close and his enemies closer. The Israelis and the great powers understand balance, at least when dealing with equals. Bashar was overtly loyal to Iran and the resistance, he should have seen things coming. His father would have. The Saudi's failed bid to woo Syria was the harbinger to Syria's ills. 
 
Bashar also did the one thing his father never did. He opened his doors to Turkey. Two states that have always harmed Syria, and every Syrian will tell you this, are Egypt and Turkey. With friends like these who needs Israel. 
 
The resistance has been fighting defensive. Slowly and self assuredly the empire, and it's  bully in the region, Israel, along with the other big crime families: Saudi, Qatar and Kuwait have been escalating the conflict against the resistance with impunity. The current advance of the Shia Houthis in Yemen, is a late yet visible response to the Empire's Daash (ISIS) project in Syria and Iraq. It has now forced the Saudis to talk to the "snake" Iran. Saudi Arabia may soon need its "moderate" 5000 strong Sunni army in the east rather than in far away Syria.
 
The steadfastness that the "spear tip" of Iran (Hezbollah) has shown has frustrated Israel at every turn. Israel has vented its frustration by hitting Gaza hard and by proving to the world that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me." It has also baited Hezbollah by pressing hard on Gaza. But has realised that the next war it fights will involve an invasion of Israel. 
 
But the Shia resistance, aided by Sunni fighters of Assad, and backed by Russia, has frustrated the Americans even more. One thing that now seems very clear is that what the US wanted, more than anything, was boots on the ground in Iraq. The  Shia political leadership in Iraq could be bought---as was the military leadership on the eve of Iraq's collapse---but not the older, deeper, and wise Hauza. Sistani's insistent opposition to any extension of US occupation, Sadr and Iran aiming for the same, made sure that the US could not stay. Maliki became immaterial to the US after that. 
 
Another approach was needed, and in came Daash. Like a disease incubated, the leadership of Daash coalesced while under US "detention." The United States provided humane living quarters for psychopaths and degenerates that should otherwise have been killed. Sistani's call to arms prevented Baghdad from falling, an eventuality that would have had Obama come to the rescue. 
 
Turkey is brazenly and self assuredly playing with fire. The Kurds in Syria are now fleeing to Turkey. Turkey that is inhuman enough to at first close its borders. Turkey that is making money off blood oil. Turkey that has had its hostages released. Turkey that wants a greater role and is unwilling to fight Daash. Turkey that is the strategic depth of Daash to the north. Turkey that is headed for disaster. For there is bound to be some move like the Houthi one against Saudi. Without balance the picture skews to one side. And that is naturally unacceptable. There is enough of an Allawi population in Turkey to start something as is the huge Kurdish refugee population. When and how the resistance pulls this off is going to be very interesting and heart warming. Like Ariel Sharon, Erdogan, a winner so far, is going to be loathed once he starts to loose (he is already loathed by half of Turkey's population).
 
In Iraq, everything is now pretence but transparent. The mask has now come off. The United States did not gets its reward(oil) for bringing "democracy" to Iraq. The oil is flowing in the wrong direction, and no body is paying the bill. So Iraq has to pay in lives. At a recent Sadr rally in the south of Baghdad, (http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/suspicions-run-deep-in-iraq-that-cia-and-the-islamic-state-are-united-595462?pfrom=home-lateststories) Shias and Sunnis said the same thing: Daash is CIA. The air strikes are placebos. The Great Satan is up to no good. 
 
The game, Empire against the Resistance, is on. 
 
PS: SITREPs will begin tomorrow, but will be twice a week
 
Two interesting stories from Syria's Ba'athist past:
Ali Duba was Hafez Al Assad's head of intelligence. So renowned/feared was he that when the uprising/project against Bashar started, Bashar is rumoured to have said to his people to get in line or he would bring back Ali Duba.
The first story is when Duba's son was kidnapped. The intelligence apparatus of the Syrian state was fast enough to locate the kidnappers in a village on the Syrian Lebanese border before the boy could be carried over. Duba surrounded the village with tanks and made the villagers an offer they could not refuse. He said either my son walks out, or nobody does. His son walked out.
 
The second was when Hafiz was visiting his home town. A neighbour of his, an old Allawite lady approached him and said that her conscripted son was posted far away from home. And that he as President could perhaps do something and bring him closer to home. When Hafiz remonstrated that his own sons were serving far away, she asked him not to worry, it was ok, she would ask Ali Duba.
 
In tomorrow's SITREP: the downfall of Ali Duba
To know very little about the man: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Duba

Monday, September 22, 2014

The "Russia Insider" project is officially launched today!

I am delighted to announce that I have been contacted by the editors of the new website Russia Insider and that I have accepted their offer to collaborate with them.  I did agree to this not only because I knew several of the excellent contributors to this project, but also because I truly believe that it is a much needed, timely and very important project (please see Russia Insider's "About" page for more details and background)

Check out today's CrossTalk where the Editor in Chief of Russia Insider,  Charles Bausman, is one of the guests:



A very good project, with very good people doing something very important - how could I refuse?!  I gratefully accepted.

I strongly believe that bringing the true story about modern Russia is crucial, especially for the English speaking world.  At a time when everything Russian is demonized and some crazy, but powerful, maniacs are dreaming about yet another war (Cold or Hot) against Russia, it is absolutely crucial to deconstruct the warmongering anti-Russian propaganda and to replace it with a much more complex and nuanced understanding of the true Russia, not the fictional Land of Mordor the Neocons are trying to portray.

There have been many conflicts between the West and Russia in the past, but for the first time, in the age of the Internet, we - in the West and in Russia - have the means to stop the current one and to prevent it from turning into yet another a full-scale continental war.  We need to fight that "information war" and we need to win it.


Please help us fight this war and contribute in any way you can: first and foremost, spread the word about Russia Insider on the social media, post links to the Russia Insider homepage on your blogs and websites, subscribe to the Russia Insider YouTube channel, subscribe to the newsletter (on the homepage), help us organize a crowdfunding for the site or join our community of contributors.  Last, but not least, sign up for the RSS feed and make sure to check the Russia Insider website at least once a day.

I am absolutely delighted and honored to be associated with this project which I believe will become a key player on the international scene.

Kind regards,

The Saker

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Transcarpathia and Transnistria SitRep 14 Sep - 20 Sep

by "Y"

Transcarpathia

ATO

More than one hundred Zakarpattya Border Guards were sent to front in the east. Groups photographs taken at the leaving parade show the extremes the Ukrainians have resorted to. The members are not of prime military age, are generally older adults. Their physique is very variable, including a significant proportion of extremes. The recruits are reported to have been given 2 weeks training.

Four prisoners of war were returned to Transcarpathia as a result of the cease fire. These were members of the 51st Mechanized Brigade and were in good physical shape. They were captured near Ilovaisk on 24 August. A further two are due to be repatriated in the near future.

Volunteer collections for materials and supplies to be sent to the front in support of the Transcarpathian troops still are held. Some supplies are handed over to the Transcarpathian Border Guard members before they leave for the front. Others are been delivered by a local coordinator. The supplies are taken by private van for distribution at Pisk near Donetsk. To date, four such deliveries have been made.

Bishop Milan Shashik confirmed that parishioners of the Greek-Catholic church in Mukachevo donated funds sufficient for an ambulance to be bought and sent to the front. Others have constructed and donated lightweight stretchers. Further voluntary support on behalf of Transcarpathian members of 51st Mechanised Brigade raised about 40,000 UAH for food and clothing and 15,000 UAH for computers and printers. Canada provided kevlar helmets and flak jackets for those departing for the front. It is not clear whether this donation derives from the Canadian government or from Ukrainians residing in Canada. The electoral candidate Viktor Baloha claims to have donated an armoured van.

Finally, this week a further 19 refugees have arrived from the east and Crimea, bringing the total to 1503 (1485) from Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and 228 (227) from Crimea. The figures in brackets represent the totals residing within Transcarpathia at the end of August. This weekly total is much less than the average of about 240 refugees for the first two weeks of September. Whilst this may indicate that people are still leaving despite the cease fire, there is no indication of how long it took them (and hence the departure date) to travel to Transcarpathia.

The Ukrainian government is reported to have provided 257 million UAH for the families of 423 fallen soldiers. It remains to be seen whether the government can continue this level of financial support once the true figure of losses become visible.

Economy

Local reports illustrate the dire straits of the economy. Laws relating to recording currency conversion transactions at banks are being changed. These changes will require some transactions to be reported daily to central authorities rather than monthly. This reflects concerns about capital flight. The government is promoting 'War Bonds' which offer a 7% return over two years in an attempt to raise money quickly. The so-called 'war tax' has been extended until 2016, which says something about the government's expectation for peace.

Further price increases have been announced, including 3% increase on fuel tax and locally increased charges for waste disposal starting in 20015.

Proposals for integrating local rail networks into the systems of adjacent EU countries have focussed on 750 mm gauge and 1520 mm gauge lines in Transcarpathia. Reinstatement costs have forced the committee to focus on just the 750 mm tourist lines.

Energy

The local government has given details of the implications of a decree limiting the amount of gas available over the coming winter. It is responsible for ensuring compliance and aims to promote energy conservation and use of renewable energy.

Gazprom has reduced the energy flow through Uzhgorod corridor to the minimum contract values in response to a proposal for reverse flow from Slovakia to Ukraine.

Mobilisation

Opposition to the mobilisation process continues. Representatives of the Slovak population protest against Slovakian men being sent to ATO. Ivan Latko, president of the Slovak Association of Uzhgorod stated "Our youth does not want to fight and die in eastern Ukraine. We believe that the Ukrainian government does not make substantive action in order to stop the war".

Local media reports the intent to create a battalion of female volunteers. So far, 20 women have volunteered. The have received a one week training course, focussing on stripping and reassembling a rifle, elementary tactics and practice in a local wooded area. The training is provided by Pravi Sektor members. It is not clear that these tutors have actual military experience at the front.

Politics

The lustration process initiated by the Poroshenko regime is under way. This process excludes individuals with a questionable political past from further political activity. The intent is probably to remove anyone who would oppose integration within the EU, the austerity measure required by the IMF and anyone on a Pravi Sektor blacklist.

Locally, Valeriy Lenchenko, Chairman of the Transcarpathian regional state administration has been dismissed. Others affected appear to include Viktor Lukach, Deputy head of infrastructure, utilities, construction, Roman Shnitser, head of the Department of Health and Marianna Gag Director of the Department of Education.

Viktor Baloha, a candidate in the pending election is showing his colours. He stated that "First Putin threatened to take Kiev within two weeks. Europe remained silent and made us sign the 'Minsk Covenant'. Now Putin promises to restore the 'Iron Curtain' within two days. If Europe is silent this time, the next threat from Putin will be to take Berlin and Madrid, and from there to Washington DC, not far away." He refers to Russians as "Asian savages". This obvious blatant fear-mongering bears no relation to reality. It will be very interesting to see how effective it is.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made a visit to the region. The only public information refers to a meeting at the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute to commemorate the opening of a refurbished building.

Propaganda

Members of the Carpathian Sich, a founder group of Pravi Sektor, forming part of the 5th Battalion Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, along with 93th Mechanized Brigade and the "Dnepr-1" battalion have been fighting near Pisky immediately west of Donetsk airport.

One member of the Carpathian Sich has produced an address to the Transcarpathians, stating "To win the war, you must first win the internal war - in the minds and hearts of people. Only then will we be able to overcome external Kremlin enemy. The first front - ideological - frankly we have lost, but the fight is not all war, and we are firmly focused on revenge. For friends, for family. For hunger, oppression, destruction, shootings. Everything will come in its own retribution. The Russian Federation is a parasite that is constantly trying to expand its territory at the expense of other peoples and other States at any cost. She is war, destruction, death" ... "its control lies in hypocrisy, meanness, it is being professionally trained to zombify". This is a classic example of projection. He (presumably) notes in tones of resentment that the group has to rely on the regular military for weapons.

Promoters of the Transcarpathian child battalion 'Falcon' have released a video showing a group of children, aged 2-10 years singing "Glory to Ukraine. Glory to its heroes. Death to moskals! Ukraine is above everything. The East and the West are together".

Seven Transcarpathian soldiers, mostly officers, have been posthumously awarded title 'Honorary citizen of Uzhgorod' for their personal courage and heroism in defending sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Separatism

The discontent felt by the Hungarian speaking citizens in Transcarpathia is still present, expressed at a low level. Vasily Brenzovich, who is seeking parliamentary mandate, noted that there is now no representation for Transcarpathian Hungarians in the Ukrainian Parliament. The only way this can be gained is through a party list, the block of Petro Poroshenko. He does not accept this and propose continuation of action for representation of minority rights in the European Court of Human Rights.

In contrast, Laszlo Brenzovics, president of the Hungarian Ethnic Alliance (KMKSZ) said that it was a difficult decision to KMKSZ to adopt the Poroshenko's party bid. Given the current very serious and crucial situation in Ukraine, it is important that the Hungarians in Transcarpathia have control over their own development of the situation. The internal debate is due to be resolved in a closed meeting of the KMKSZ.

Transnistria

ATO

Whilst the Ukrainian regime has placed more troops at Bolgrad, close to the Moldova/Transistria/Ukraine border supposedly because of risks raised by Transnistria, the Ukraine ambassador to Moldova says Ukraine will never attack Transnistria. He states that Transnistrian comments about an economic blockade are propaganda.

The modern day Stranglelove, General Breedlove, is stirring things. He claims that NATO needs a regulatory framework to protect non-member countries given that Russia may conduct military operations in Moldova and Transnistria. He also claims that "In the last 12 years we have been trying to become partners with Russia". Maybe placing a missile defence system in Poland, allegedly to protect the west from Iranian missiles, was seen by Russia for what it is - protection for a pre-emptive US nuclear first strike, thereby destroying nuclear deterrence.

Economy

Following an outbreak of cutaneous anthrax in Cahul, south-west Moldova, Transnistria has introduced extra check on cattle imported from Moldova.

Inflation is reducing slightly, with some evidence for reducing food prices dropping. The annual inflation figure is expected to be about 4%.

A Russian trade delegation has visited Transnistria to discuss mechanisms to promote the sale of Transnistrian goods in Russia. The delegation subsequently visited Gagauzia.

The Transnistrian government has reacted to negative economic trends. It aims to generate a stable transparent tax system for small and medium businesses allowing them to plan for the short-term. The proposed introduction of VAT proved controversial. A proposal to introduce a tax of about 1.5% for the renovation and upgrade of the gas infrastructure was also rejected.

Energy

Gazprom has reduced the energy flow through Transnistrian corridor resulting in a 5% drop in supplies to Romania. This is in response to a proposal for reverse flow from Romania to Moldova.

Politics

Andre Sfonov, a former Minister of Education and now political analyst, opposes the current policies of Yevgeny Shevchuk, leader of Transistira. Safonov states that it is not appropriate to concentrate power in times of difficulty. He regards the government as incompetent and proposes that they should resign immediately. Shevchuk has initiated legislation to amend constitution, obliging deputies to work on a permanent basis, introduced changes which complicate the procedure for impeachment of President, whilst simplifying dissolution of armed forces.

The EU Delegation to Moldova has stated that minorities (e.g. those in the pro-Russian autonomous region of Gagauzia) should not be worried about Moldova's association with EU. The Council of Europe representative met with the Transnistria Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Shornikov. They discussed partnership projects such as the development of media, civil sector, higher education, protection of cultural heritage and human rights.

Gagauzia and Transnist5ria have separately signed agreements of cooperation with Russian oblasts. Gagauzia signed a document with Nizhn Novgorod, covering trade, technological and humanitarian issues. Transnistria signed Memorandum of Cooperation with Archangelsk covering agriculture, light industry and tourism.

A ministerial delegation from Northern Ireland made a second visit to Transnistria in order to get first hand information about the status talks. The Transnistrian Foreign Minister noted some slight progress had been made - resumption of trade traffic through Transnistria, removal by Russian specialists of a dangerous disused cable car linking both sides of the Dniester river and resolution of some movement problems for people crossing into Moldova. Complications include Moldovan attempts to raise criminal charges against Transnistrian officials, and economic pressure from Moldova.

There has been no progress on the Joint Control Commission to resolve the status of Transnistria. Both sides have agreed to the inclusion of 25 issues on the draft agenda. However, the next meeting of the JCC has been cancelled, with both sides blaming each other, unwilling to compromise over differences.

Propaganda

The 400 strong contingent of Russian troops present as part of the long-established Moldovan/transnistrian/Russian peace-keeping force, took part in an annual training exercise. Tasks included the assembly of pontoon bridges across a river. It remains to be seen to what extent this is projected as i) an invasion of new troops and ii) preparation for war.

The Guardian, a UK 'newspaper', has released an article about Transnistria - "One secret policeman each: life in Fortress Transnistria". It includes a trailer of the video with an opening caption 'Pridnestrovie is a small part of Moldova with population 500,000'. The Guardian writes "What is it like to live in a state that hardly anyone recognises? Secret police, central planning and the ever-present face of Russian-backed strongman Igor Smirnov". These comments set the tone. Secret police - check. Central planning - check. Russian-backed - check. Strongman - check. Interestingly, they use the Russian name Pridnestrovie rather than the Romanian/Moldovan name.

Resources

A BBC video takes a similar line to the Fortress piece promoted by the Guardian. It raises one parallel with Ukraine; most of the industry originally in Moldova was located in the east of the country and now lies in Transnistria.

A third video 'The Renegade province fuelling tensions between Russia and Moldova' also focusses on the porous border with Ukraine, and alleged weapons trading, including so-called weapons of mass destruction. This latter story appears to have originated with mysterious documents that just happened to come into the hands of Oazu Nantoi, a former Moldovan government official and head of a Moldovan NGO. These documents allegedly describe 38 Alazan weather-control rockets modified to carry radioactive material intended to track clouds. The original source for the above report appears to be Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (i.e. US sponsored BS) These alleged rockets conveniently become known as 'dirty bomb-type missiles'. A later report links these same (non existent?) rockets to Zaqarwi and al Qaeda.

An alternative outlook, that gets away from the blatant propaganda of the Guardian and BBC pieces, is provided by Lada Ray. Her website is rather quirky, but she offers several videos related to this part of the work. One in particular relates to Transnistria, in which she presents a first hand, personal, often humorous and human view of the region. She reports on how dependent Moldova is on money sent to it by legal and illegal Moldovan migrant workers in Russia and the EU (~30% of GDP is quoted). Her predictions on the other hand ...

Jeroen Akkermans, the RTL News photographer who made the invaluable photographic records of the debris of the MH17 incident, has an album of photographs of Transnistria taken in 2010.

September 21 Ukraine and Russia mini-SITREP

Demonstrations in Russia:

According to RT, 5'000 to 26'000 people have marched in the streets of Moscow demanding peace in the Ukraine.  According to Vzgliad,20 people demonstrated in Petrozavodsk and Saratov, 50 in Perm, up to 100 in Ekaterinburg, 10 in Novosibirsk, 15 in Syktyvkar and a few people in Barnaul.  What are important here are not the actual figures, but the order of magnitude.  What we clearly see is that these demonstrations were tiny, at least by Russian standards and when RT's  Anissa Naouai reports that there was a "very high turnout" she is plain wrong.  Also, and this is no less important, let us be very careful about what these demonstrations were all about: for peace in the Ukraine and against war.  With such a vague and yet doubleplusgoodmeaning slogan, even refugees from bombed out Donetsk could agree (maybe even especially them).

What we have here is a typical propaganda ploy: get people in the streets in support of peace, love and happiness all over the world, and then present that as an "opposition" protest against the government policies.  But, come on, seriously, who wants war in the Ukraine?  The Kremlin?  

The other important point is this: even if, for argument's sake, we agree that 100% of the demonstators were fierce opponents of Putin or Russian policies in the Ukraine, that is less than nothing compared to Putin 80%+ approval rate.

So what did not happen?

What did not happen is the "Russian Maidan" predicted by Evgenii Fedorov and his supporters.  This is what he predicted would happen on September 14th:
They chose Saint Petersburg as the first site. The process has begun. The process is being helped: the whole story with an early election in Saint Petersburg is not accidental! (...)  They will send to Petersburg the same trained young people and fighters as those who were prepared in Ukraine. If necessary, they will be issued with Russian passports. The total number of fighters in Russia, prepared by the Americans, ranges from 50'000 to 100'000. On the basis of Ukraine. Of course, you won’t be able to pick them out: they are Russian people, in pure form. These people will come to Petersburg and rent apartments in great numbers. Their task will be to carry out provocations, if necessary, military provocations.  What does it all mean? It means terrorist activities! The Right Sector as you know does not have any problems with terrorist activities.
How much of that did actually happen? None at all.
Where is the Nationalist Maidan?  Nowhere.
How is the regime in power?  As stable as ever.

Fedorov did not stop here. In the same article (please do read it all), he even wrote this:
First, there is a new Ukrainian factor: a 100 thousand brainwashed people. The propaganda is at work turning people into animals there. Their position has strengthened in case you haven’t paid attention. You know, people are watching and many of them are rejoicing at the victories in Ukraine. There are no victories! There are some tactical gains, but no wins. Just six months ago we had a neutral neighbouring country. Now we have a country that has more than 40 million people and is absolutely militarily hostile to Russia. What kind of victory is that? Moreover, they have a Russian population. This is a country which can serve as a good base for the invasion of Russia by orange invaders of the modern type. It wasn’t like this just six months ago. It means that the balance of power around Russia has fundamentally changed. We suffered a huge defeat in the geopolitical sense. We didn’t have an enemy yesterday, and today our enemies look like us. In fact, it is a clear victory by the 5th column. It has won politically, militarily, and from there to a military invasion of Russia.
A military invasion of Russia, no less!

Evgenii Fedorov is a very nice person and he has many good ideas.  I honestly like him.  But as an analyst he is firmly set into the "doom, gloom and total panic" camp and, frankly, he has zero credibility with me.  I have tried to warn about this, but mostly I was ignored or attacked.  I hope that with the total "flop" on this "Russian Maidan" everybody now see that Fedorov should be listen to with a couple of pounds of salt.

Russian strategy in the Ukraine

Several of you have pointed out the apparent contradiction in my assertion that Russia's real goal in the Ukraine is regime change while, at the same time, staying out of the Ukraine and placing the burden of liberation and de-Nazificaton on the Ukrainian people.  The contradiction is, I submit, only apparent.  Here is what Russia can, and should, do:

1) Politically oppose the regime everywhere: UN, media, public opinion, etc.
2) Express political support for Novorussia and any Ukrainian opposition
3) Continue the informational war (Russian media does a great job)
4) Prevent Novorussia from falling (covert military aid)
5) Mercilessly keep up the economic pressure on the Ukraine
6) Disrupt as much as possible the US-EU "axis of kindness"
7) Help Crimea and Novorussia prosper economically and financially

In other words - give the appearance of staying out while very much staying in.

The key here is to create the conditions which would make it possible for the Ukrainian people to overthrow the Nazis currently in power, boot out the CIA proconsul in Kiev and begin de-Nazifying the country. Yes, this is a long-term and difficult task, but Russia has no other viable options.  There will never be stability of safety for Russia as long as the Nazis are in power in Kiev.  Sure, a temporary cease-fire or truce or even treaty can be signed with the Nazis, but it will never be viable and at most it will provide a short term respite.  I will repeat it again, regime change and de-nazification in the Ukraine are a vital national strategic objective for Russia.  Nothing short of that will do.

In conclusion, a couple of short items:

Business Insider says that "Ukraine Is On The Brink Of Total Economic Collapse".


The Kiev basketball team played in Lithuania against Russia wearing 'cammo sport's gear':



They lost 77 to 102 :-)

And now, last but not least, the really good news!!

According to Yahoo, the notorious Jewish oligarch, Mafia Don, mega-oligarch and iconic "Putin foe" Mikhail Khodorkovksy wants to lead the anti-Putin opposition and he is even contemplating a presidential position for himself.  This is absolutely wonderful news as, now that Berezovsky is dead, Khodorkovsky can legitimately claim the title of most hated oligarch in Russia.  To have him now declare that he wants to "lead" (read: finance) the Russia non-systemic (which did not even make it into the Duma) opposition is a dream come true for Putin's PR team.  They will now have a wonderful time discrediting all the pro-US opposition has "Khodorkovsk's agents".

Great news indeed!

Kind regards,

The Saker

A couple of blog housekeeping news

Dear friends,

I wanted to share with you a couple of blog housekeeping news.

First, the "kinda-but-I-am-not-so-sure-bad" news: after both of the people whom I had asked to help me as pre-moderators bailed out on me (the first one due to disagreements in the format of the blog, the second due to personal issues) I have decided that when the new blog goes live I will do all the moderation myself.

Which is both bad and good, really.  Bad: it will take more of my time I could have spend doing other things.  Good: at least I would bail out on myself.  Also, I have to tell you that with time I have lost my inhibition about tossing out "bad" comments and now I do this as soon as I see anything discourteous, the use of CAPS, or any other comment I think deserves to be trashed.  And this helped a great deal.  This morning when I woke up there were 66 comments awaiting in the moderation queue and all them them perfectly good.  Apparently the trolls are gradually giving up (except this one crazy guy who hates both the English and the Indians who regularly tries to post a comment advocating the genocide of both; for weeks I have been tossing his crap into /dev/null, but he keeps trying).  So since I will do the moderation myself, I will never bad a person, but I will shoot "bad" comments on sight with no remorse.

I have had another friend agreeing to pre-moderate for me, and I could ask another two, but why go down that road?  There are advantages to doing that myself and, even more importantly, there are much better ways to save time.

And this is the good news.

This morning I received an email from a reader who very kindly sent me a version of my latest SITREP corrected from all the numerous typos it had.

You can down load this corrected version by clicking here

This is when an idea hit me.  But first, let me explain my past dilemma.

God knows I am a terrible writer.  Not only is English not my first, second or even third language, but I always write under huge time pressure and, to make things worse, I never see my own typos.  Lastly, I simply never have the time to re-read myself and try to clean-up my writings.  In the past I have had readers posting comments with corrections, sending me emails with lists of mistakes to correct and even sending me completely proof-read texts.   The problem is that correcting is also time consuming.  As for simply replacing my text with another one is very tricky if not outright dangerous.  First, there is the possibility of a well-intentioned corrector incorrectly understanding my (poorly-written) text inadvertently making a mistake.  Second, there is the non-trivial risk of a not well-intentioned corrector deliberately mis-correcting what I wrote and then, once it is posted, crucifying me for saying something I never did.  With the recent smear-campaign against me where I was accused of saying things I never said I became very paranoid on that account.  As for re-reading the proofread text sent to me before posting it, that again takes too much time.

But then, this morning, "H" sent me my corrected SITREP as an attached document in ODT format.  All I had to do was to save it to Google Drive, and post the link (which I did above).  That solves ALL my problems because I can post a proofread text in just a few clicks and I don't have to re-read anything since the original document, with typos and all, is still posted.  Thus, it is absolutely clear that the corrected document has been edited by a friend but not by me and if a malevolent "corrector" twists something that I wrote and I get challenged on that, I can easily point to the original text as the only "original" one.  Finally, to for those of you who want to re-posts my stuff elsewhere, do have access to a well-formatted clean ODT text is also much better than to have to cut-n-paste my original text, no?

So here is my idea if you guys agree.

If somebody does the same thing "H" did today and sends me a corrected text as an attached ODT file I will immediately update the original post with a note at the bottom pointing to a clean, proofread, text.  Does that sound useful to you?  Please let me know.  I like the idea a lot, but I want to make sure that I did not miss something and that most of you like it too.

As for me, the next time I write something under huge time pressure (like yesterday's SITREP), I will add a note at the bottom saying "text needs proofreading" and, hopefully, somebody will pick that up, send me a corrected text to which I will then post a link.

Watcha think?

Please let me know.

Kind regards,

The Saker

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ukraine SITREP September 20, 23:34 UTC/Zulu: War or Peace?

[Quick note: I want to begin this SITREP with a correction to something which I mentioned in the last SITREP abouy General Bezler: even though his signature did appear to figure on the infamous statement of the four commanders declaring their loyalty to "General" Korsun, the information that he had been arrested is, according so sources qualified as "solid" by Colonel Cassad, not true.  Since I have no reason to doubt Cassad's sources, I assume that this is true.  I have no idea why/how Bezler's signature was found on this document, maybe it was a fake?   Either way, Bezler even made a short video today making fun of Ukie not-so-special forces.  In contrast, Korsun's arrest is apparently confirmed.  Now let's turn to the SITREP proper - The Saker]

War?

The big event of the week was, I think, Poroshenko's speech to what I call the Imperial Senate (aka Joint Session of Congress).  I have made the full transcript available here and here.  I don't think that it is worth carefully parsing this text, so I will just mention the few elements which are absolutely obvious to me:

1) This text was written by a US Neocon.  It even included such typical US-propaganda gimmicks as the "personal story" to give a human touch and moment carefully crafted to generate applause.  So no only what the author of this rant American, but he/she was for sure a diehard Neocon.

2) This text was a lame attempt at copying Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech, except that Poroshenko is no Churchill, Putin no Stalin and Novorussia no Soviet Union.  Nonetheless, the message was clear: Russia represents a planetary threat to freedom, democracy, liberty, human right, free speech, etc.  In fact, according to Poroshenko the choice is not between two civilizations but between civilization and barbaric darkness.

3) The US deep state is by now clearly aware of the immense challenge presented to it by Putin's "Eurasian Sovereignist" Russia and the movement it leads (BRICS+SCO+etc.).  The fact that it has to use such absolutely over the top rhetoric is a clear sign of fear and the Neocons are now freaking out.  The danger for them is becoming very real (more about that below).

4) More than anything else, this speech proved to me that the only viable goal for Russia is regime change in Kiev.  This is a message I will hammer in over and over again - regime change in Kiev is a vital, arguable existential, priority for Russia.

5) Far from being any kind of patriots or nationalists, the Ukie "nationalists" are subservient puppets of the West, willing to service AngloZionist interests with less shame then a old prostitute services her clients.  For all the "Glory to the Ukraine, to the Heroes Glory!" slogans, the Ukies are the cheapest prostitutes on the planet with no self-respect whatsoever.

The entire speech had a Disney-like feel to it: on one side, the forces of Light, lead by the USA in white shining armor and on the other, the forces of Darkness, lead by Russia crawling out of the Asian steppes like Lovecraft's Chtuhlu.  Infantile to the extreme, the purpose of the speech was to induce a planetary war against Russia and her allies or, at the very least, to contain that 21st century Mordor.  Poroshenko went as far as referring to now completely disproved lies (such as Russia invading Georgia in 2008) and hinting that Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria. could/would be next.  Clearly the main can lie with an ease which any used car salesman would envy.

Then there is the issue of the standing ovations.  Less than Obama and less than Netanyahu, but still a lot (12 I think).  The Imperial Senators appeared to stand longer and clap harder each time Poroshenko drifted off into some kind of crazy nonsense.  A scary sight, really.

Now we all know who runs the US Congress (AIPAC) so what this is, really, is a declaration of war by AIPAC and the Zionist faction of the AngloZionist Empire.  The Anglos are far less enthusiastic as shown by Obama's refusal to send weapons to the Ukies.  Just like in 2008 and that other lunatic - Saakashvili - I get the feeling that there might be a lot of behind the scenes Neocon "parallel diplomacy" going on.  If not, why would Obama's bosses tell Poroshenko to ask for weapons they don't want to give him in the first place?  My guess is that there is a lot of reluctance in the Pentagon and possibly in the intelligence community to get the USA fully committed behind a regime which might not be around in a few months.

Whatever may be the case, Poroshenko's speech felt like an infantile but nasty declaration of war.  Clearly, there are those who are very concerned that peace might break out

Peace?

Version 1:

On the "peace front" a number of interesting things happened.  First, on September 14th sixteen business representatives from the USA, Russia, Germany and the Ukraine met for a private meeting with the Chairmen of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab.  In attendance were some very big player including the hyper-notorious Anatolii Chubais (for a complete list or participants, see here).  They adopted the following document:



(You can also download the document from here.)  The publication of this document resulted in something as predictable as it was amazing.  The "Putin is selling out Novorussia" choir immediately denounced this document as a total betrayal of Novorussia and a victory for the oligarchs.  I said that this was a predictable reaction because by now it is pretty clear that these folks will denounce any and all negotiated documents (Agreement, Memoranda, Treaty or any other type) as a "sellout of Novorussia", "victory for the oligarchs" and "capitulation by Putin".  Still, what was absolutely amazing to me that apparently they seem to notice #6:
Guarantee the security and sovereignty of Ukraine by the international community. Recognize the supremacy of international law above national interests. Recognize the right of self-determination but encourage to consider a policy of military non-alignment for Ukraine, comparable to the status of other European countries (i.e. Finland, Sweden, Switzerland).  Amazingly, but the nay-sayers managed to completely miss the fact that 1) Ukie laws which contravene the EU Convention on Human Rights (including Protocol 12 on minority rights) and the UN Charter (whose Article 1 and others specifically uphold the right of self-determination) could be overruled 2) that the Ukies were told to recognize the right of self-determination (not just federation, but open-ended self determination) and 3) that the Ukies were told that they will have to remain neutral and non-aligned.
And that, coming form Chubais & Co!


Now, I understand that the Ukies broke every single document they signed so far, and this one will be no exception.  But what is crucial here is that the message from "top finance" is not Poroshenko's hysterical call to arms before the Imperial Senate, but "no crazy laws, self-determination, no NATO".  This is a HUGE victory for Russia who sees a Ukrainian membership in NATO as a major threat.  Conversely, this WEF Initiative is a nightmare come true for the Neocons as it finalizes, if it is applied of course, the non-NATO status for the Ukraine.

True, this document speaks of a unitary Ukrainian state (apparently unless and until the right of self-determination trumps that) and it is full with well-meaning generalities.  But point #6 is absolutely amazing coming, as it does, from the trans-national plutocrats which signed it.  And yes, will Chubais' friend recommend an non-block status for the Ukraine, the Ukie Rada is abrogating its nonaligned while Timoshenko demands and entry into NATO.

Finally, keep in mind that this is an "initiative" which does not commit the Ukraine or Russia to anything.  At most, this is a declaration of desirable principles, a basis for negotiation if you want.

Version 2:

The other big event of the week is signing of the Minsk Memorandum.  Here is the full text:



Unlike the vague and, frankly, un-implementable Minsk cease-fire agreement, this Memorandum provides some perfect reasonable standards by which to measure compliance by both parties.  Some points are politically correct nonsense (#9) but most of this text can be summarized as following: a "freezing" of the conflict along the line of contact.  Is that good or bad?

Depends whom you ask.

Strelkov immediately denounced that Memorandum in the strongest possible terms.  According to Strelkov, this is a victory for the "betrayal" camp lead by Surkov who has deceived Putin and is now pushing him into a Milosevic-type of scenario.  In contrast, Zakharchenko, obviously, full backs the plan. So let's look a bit closer to this Memorandum.

For one thing, and that is important, it contains exactly zero political provisions.  None.  So the first rather obvious point that I would like to make is that this plan is very limited in scope: all it does is provide the basis for a mechanism to achieve a more or less verifiable ceasefire.  Period.  So if the Minks Ceasefire Agreement was list of vague and unenforceable (I would even argue undefined) general political statements, this document is the extreme opposite: a purely technical tool which really codifies the current situation on the ground.

So what is the political context in which this ceasefire will have to be observed?  What is the point of the ceasefire?

Well, again, that depends whom you ask.

According to Poroshenko and other Ukrainian officials it is to give time to the Junta Repression Forces (JRF) to regroup, reorganize and prepare for a counter-attack.  Strelkov would agree.  Zakharchenko and Lavrov disagree.  While they observe and denounce the Ukie preparations for a possible (likely? inevitable?) counter-attack, their official position is that the Agreement and the Memorandum are now binding documents useful in preparation for a final status negotiations.  At this point Zakharchanko speaks of a completely independent Ukraine and Lavrov of a neutral Ukraine respectful of all its citizens.

I suggest we take it step by step.

First, long before we got to this point, we used to have heated debates on this blog about whether time was on the Russia, Novorussian or Ukie side.  At the time, most commentators, including myself, were of the opinion that time was most definitely on Russia's side, but the question was if Novorussia could survive long enough.  Basically, we wondered if Novorussia could stay alive long enough for Banderastan to collapse, or whether the only way to save Novorussia from a Nazi takeover was an overt Russian military intervention in the Donbass.  Some of us even spoke of weeks.

Now, several months later, we see that not only did Novorussia not collapse under a Nazi takeover, but that the Novorussian Armed Forces gave a magnificent thrashing to the JRF and instead of getting encircled in Donetsk and Lugkans, the NAF pushed the JRF all the way out to Mariupol.  At the very least, this proves that

1) Those who said that a Russian military intervention was the only way to save Novorussia were wrong: Novorussia survived.
2) Those who said that there was no Russian covert aid or that this aid was insufficient were wrong again: Voentorg is thriving (named after a military store, "voentorg", which literally means "military trade", here refers to the Russian covert aid to Novorussia)

Furthermore, at the time everybody agreed that things could only get worse for Banderastan, especially when the Fall and Winter would begin.  As far as I know, there is still nobody predicting a miraculous turn-around in the Ukie economy so we can assume that all that Banderastan did was get so much closer to the inevitable economic and social cliff.  And, indeed, the cracks are visible all over, AngloZionist aid or not.

I think that basic logic tells us that time is still on Russia's side and that the Ceasefire Agreement, this time supported by a Memorandum, solves the time problem for Novorussia: with aid from Russia freely flowing in (both over humanitarian aid and covert, "voentorg", aid) Novorussia can now sit tight and wait.  The cold season will not only exacerbate the economic-social tensions in Banderastan, it will also make offensive operations much harder.

What about the opportunity costs?

In economics there the notion of "opportunity costs".  These are the costs you do not incur directly (you don't have to pay anything), but these are the "costs" resulting from missed opportunities.  Income you could have made, but did not.

Is Novorussia incurring such opportunity costs as the result of this peace?

That depends on your hypothesis.

There are those who believe that the NAF could if  not make it to Kiev, then at least liberate Mariupol, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and other cities.  I agree that Mariupol was about to fall, but only at great risk of envelopment from the north.  As for other cities, I personally don't believe that is true.  Even Slaviansk is quite out of reach, at least for the time being.  Some say that a collapse of the JRF would have left the road open to Kiev.  While true in one sense (some units might have used to panic to make it that far), this is a typically civilian idea of warfare.  "Getting there" can be easy, of course, but it's *staying* there typically turns into a nightmare.  I do not believe that by early September the NAF had the capabilities to breakout much beyond their current areas of deployment and to successfully liberate much more territory.

Furthermore, I do not believe that a purely military solution is achievable, especially not one which has Novorussians "liberating" central or, even less so, western Ukraine.  I know that my hatemail will go through the roof, but I will say that I think that freezing the frontline on September 19th is a pretty good deal, especially since that removes the single biggest "distraction" in internal Ukie politics: the so-called "Russian invasion".

There are also those who say that the Russian military could liberate most, or even, all of the Ukraine.  I agree. Militarily, this is a no-brainer.  But by doing so Russia would provide the Neocons with their ultimate dream: a Cold War v2 for many decades to come.  Pragmatically, this would be a disastrous decision.  But the moral aspect is even more important here.  As far as I am concerned, and setting aside all my sympathy for the people of Novorussia who have fought for their freedom and, I am now convinced of it, will get it, Russia owes the Ukraine absolutely nothing.  Not gas, not loans and most definitely not the lives of Russian soldiers. There is no reason I can think of why a young man from Moscow, Tobolsk or Makhachkala has to sacrifice is life liberating Banderastan from the local Nazis.  No, sorry, the Ukrainians have to free themselves.  It is the hight of hypocrisy to spend decades whining about the Moskals and then expect them to come a liberate you from your own Nazi freaks. 

The people of Donetsk and Lugansk have shown that they, like the folks of Crimea or South Ossetia, are truly deserving of Russian help, even if that means that Russian young men should die, as happened in South Ossetia.  And I would note here that South Ossetian man are now fighting as volunteers for Novorussia, so the Ossetians have proven beyond any doubt that they were fighting for.

But the folks in the rest of (historical) Novorussia?

Did you hear about the uprising in Mariupol?  Right.  Neither did I.  What about the partisans around Zaporozhie or Chernigov?  Same thing.  Well, in reality, this is not quite true and not really fair.  First, the Nazis are using terror to subdue the locals in these cities and, second, there have been a few actions here and there.  But if Strelkov was speaking the truth when he said that most young men in Donetsk and Luganks were quite happy to sip beer and watch the events on their idiot-boxes, this is even much more true of the rest of the Ukraine.  Even senior NAF commander admitted that their strength was in the fact that the NAF were liberators, but that the further they would go west, the more they would be seen not as liberators but as occupiers (and, believe me, the propaganda on Ukie TV is nothing short of unimaginable: according the Ukie officials who speak on Ukie TV on a daily basis, Russia is already occupying the Ukraine with, last time I heard, 19 battalion tactical groups!)

Every one is free to have his/her opinion and I cannot prove that I am right simply because hypotheticals are, by definition, unprovable.  But my personal belief is that freezing the line of contact on the 19th is reasonable and that the ceasefire benefits everybody more than the regime in Kiev (which is why I expect it to be broken even more than it already is).  Furthermore, I submit that these are the fundamental objectives of the key parties to this civil war:

1) Russia: regime change in Kiev (long term goal: years)
2) Novorussia: de-facto full independence from Kiev (short term goal: months)
3) rest of the Ukraine: liberation and full de-Nazificaton (long term goal: years)

The current situation is favorable for #1 and #2.

What about the warning from Strelkov: that this ceasefire agreement is like the one reached in Croatia which gave the Croats time to prepare a counter-attack with their NATO masters and (illegally) occupy the Serbian Krajinas?

For all my sympathy and admiration for Strelkov, I think that he is plain wrong.

For one thing, the Serbs in the Krajinas had their heavy weapons under UN guard and when the Croats and their NATO masters attacked, UNPROFOR was ordered by the US to get the hell out of the way and UPROFOR meekly complied (trust me, I followed that situation minute-by-minute, literally).  Furthermore, Milosevic also betrayed the Croatian Serbs and he did not provide support from Bosnia were the Federal Army had several brigades (who later also dumped the Bosnian Serbs).  Crimea is protected by the most powerful nuclear arsenal on the planet and by the most powerful single landforce in Eurasia.  Unlike the Serbian Krajinas, Crimea is ideal to defend (as history shows).  The notion of the Ukies coming from the land, sea or air to occupy Crimea is ludicrous to the extreme.  A JRF which got comprehensively defeated by the NAF cannot take on the Russian military.  As for the USN, it can show the flag all over the Black Sea, but every USN officer knows that the Black Sea is one big trap from which you don't want to fight Russia.

What about Novorussia then?  Could the JRF in theory rearm and successfully attack Donetsk and Lugansk?  In theory yes, but in practice as long as Putin is in the Kremlin, Russia will never allow the Ukie to take over these two republics.  If they tried, the "voentorg" (which, by the way, has not been stopped by the Agreement or Memorandum) will go through the roof and "volunteers" from Russia would come streaming in. And yes, if left no other choice, and facing a "do it or lose it" situation, the Kremlin will order the Russian military to initiate what will, no doubt, be presented as a "temporary and limited peace-enforcement operation to restore the mutually agree upon line of demarcation of September 19th, 2014" or some equally inane formula which, in practical terms, will simply mean "you got 48 hours to smash the Ukie forces".  It will probably take less than 24.  Then the Russians will go right back across the border and ask that the OSCE attest to that withdrawal.  The West will choke with rage, but it shall be too late.  Just like Russia basically disarmed Saakashvili in 3 days of combat, Russia can, and will, disarm Poroshenko, Iarosh, Timoshenko or any other Ukie freak who will try to capture Donetsk or Lugansk.

So is there a conspiracy?  A behind-the-scenes secret deal?

Probably not.  But I bet you that there is a mutual understanding.  The US tells Russia "don't you dare take Kiev" and Russia replies "don't you dare take the Donetsk and Luganks Republics".  Neither side commits to anything, but it "just so happens" that neither dare is called.  Having said that, both sides also see that short of these red lines the rest is fair game.  Hence, the US props up Kiev and Russia props up Novorussia.  Sure, the Neocons in the USA are absolutely incensed, and the "hurray-patriots" (there is such a Russian term) in Russia are also furious.  The armchair generals on both sides (Liashko, Dugin) offer many "simple" plans on how they would win it all if they were in the White House or the Kremlin.  In the meantime, the military commanders in the Pentagon and in the Russian General Staff quietly try to make sure that this war stays local and does not force the "Big Guys" into a real world war.

The main risk is that there is a faction inside the US deep state which correctly identifies the political threat posed by Russia's overt and unapologetic defiance of US policies as an existential threat for the AngloZionist Empire. These guys, Neocons or old Anglo Imperialists, want to play a game of chicken with Russia and they are convincing themselves that Russia must, and will, blink at the last second and back down.  The Russian response is very complex one: to give the appearance of backing down without really giving up anything.  Like when the Russians had to "cave in" to US threats and disarm Syria form its chemical arsenals.  At the time, the Putin is selling out Syria" choir immediately denounced this document as a a betrayal and as a proof that Putin and Obama are, in reality, working hand in hand.  Some even continue to clamor today that "if Assad had chemical weapons" the US would never dare to attack him (forgetting that Saddam also had chemical weapons and that this did not help him at all).  Now, in hindsight, we know that these nay-sayers (I am being nice and polite here) were wrong, 100% wrong, but at the time their laments and outraged denunciations sounded credible.

To be truly honest, I can understand their feelings.  I even wrote on this blog that my biggest fear is that Putin would turn out to be yet another Milosevic.  In fact, I had predicted that the Russians would intervene and I was quite surprised and, frankly, appalled when they did not.  That was when Donetsk and Lugansk were almost surrounded and their fall looked likely.  My brain told met that this would not happen, but I had a knot in my stomach and I could barely think of anything at all besides the tragic events in Novorussia. Yet, this time again, just as with Syria, Putin did "deliver": Russia's covert aid turned the tide and what looked like an imminent collapse of all of Novorussia (especially after the retreat of Strelkov from Slaviansk!) turned into a unbelievable defeat for the Ukie forces.  Again, those who seriously believe that this amazing turn of events happened by itself rather then as the direct result of a strategic decision taken in Moscow just don't understand warfare, sorry.  Russia's covert aid (weapons, men, intelligence, advisors) made this NAF counter-offensive possible and if Putin wanted to "sell out" Novorussia all he had to do is nothing at all.  That would have done the trick just fine.  Instead Russia embarked on a remarkable and highly effective to achieve two apparently mutually exclusive results: to deny the AngloZionists the war they so badly wanted and to deny the Ukies the victory they so badly wanted.

No wonder they so passionately hate Putin and Russia :-)


So where do we go from here?

As usual, I will simply admit that I don't know (which is not bad, considering that many folks seem not to even know where we currently are).  There are too many variables.  Those who tried the MH17 false flag might come up with something just as disgusting and as crazy.  So far, on the US side, it look like the Pentagon is successful in preventing the Neocons from seriously committing the US behind Poroshenko.  Speaking of Poroshenko, he is much safer in the US than at home.  For him, things are about to get much tougher and much uglier.  Right now, literally anything can happen in Banderastan, I cannot call that one at all.

Assuming the Ukies don't launch a Fall or Winter offensive (how crazy would that be?! but then they are pretty crazy...), Novorussia will be fine, courtesy of a strong NAF and plenty of Russian aid.  Hopefully, the crazy infighting amongst the Novorussian elites will eventually stop.  In Russia proper, Strelkov can be the perfect spokesman to 1) hold Putin's feet to the fire and 2) help Putin further gradually suppress the Atlantic Integrationists.  Crimea's future looks as bright as can be.

Which leaves Russia under sanctions. Short term - the sanctions are definitely going to hurt Russia.  Mid-term, Russia will do just fine as long as these sanctions are used as an opportunity to finally embark on some much needed reforms.  There is no risk of a "nationalist Maidan against Putin" (there never was), but the fight against the oligarchs will continue (not only were there rumors, later denied, that Evtushekov had been free, but so far the investigation of the corruption scandal under Serdiukov and his mistress Evgenia Vassilievna has gone nowhere).  There are still plenty of pro-Western Atlantic Sovereignists in Moscow and even inside the Kremlin and it will take a lot of time and effort to suppress their constantly subversive and, frankly, sabotaging efforts.

That's it for today folks, I hope that this was useful.  Sorry for the long post.  All I can say in my defense is that I barely scratched the surface of it all (I good, solid Ukrainian SITREP could easily be 30-50 pages long, though in real life politicians want their reduced to 3-4 paragraphs on one sheet of paper; no wonder they then take stupid decisions!).

Kind regards to all and have a wonderful week-end!

The Saker

PS: a friend just emailed me to let me know that Russia, China plan sign new 30 year gas deal via 2nd route!  So much for the "isolation" of Russia :-)