Today’s Putin Quotation

I would even say that once, in Soviet times, we so much frightened the world that this resulted in the creation of large military-political blocs. Did we benefit from that?

Certainly, not. We thought, for some strange reason ten years ago, that everyone loved us heartily and that they all should toil, while we would reap the fruits – I mean the G-8 countries. That we did not even have to use the fork, that we only had to open our mouths and pies would jump into them of their own volition.

Putin interview with journalists from Nezavisimaya Gazeta, ORT and RTR. Interview 24 Dec 2000. Text published Nezavisimaya Gazeta 26 Dec 2000.

Today’s Quotation About Putin

President Putin’s KGB roots have sadly informed a style of governance that is neither reformist nor particularly democratic. The common thread throughout his domestic and foreign policies is his effort to trade on fear — the fears of Russians that their country is under attack from hostile external forces (Chechens, NATO or free marketeers); and the fears of Westerners that if not for a strong, pragmatic leader, Russia will again become unruly, unstable and potentially aggressive. Instead of beating down the real hostile forces in Russia — corruption, ignorance, a bloated state — Mr. Putin cleverly changes the rules of the game.

Garry Kasparov “The Russian President Trades on Fear” The Wall Street Journal Europe, 4 Jan 2001


(Note 25 March. Just after I put this out I read Jon Hellevig’s “The Hidden Story of Crimea’s Economic Success” which shows up the WaPo story for the nonsense it is.)

THINGS THE WMSM WON’T TELL YOU. “The only developed countries where birth rates remain higher than Russia’s are Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland.” Not, of course that mere facts slow down the anti-Russia propagandists: “Fertility rates in Russia are falling, and Russia’s population is in decline…” (last June) but, then, the Russia they rail against exists mostly in their imaginations.

ECONOMIST. The latest “A hollow superpower” will give as good a laugh in a few years as this prediction from 2012: “The beginning of the end of Putin“. Don’t know why people bother to renew their subscription: it’s not as if anything it says changes year by year.

ECONOMY. In February the industrial production index grew 1% year on year; first growth in a year.

OIL. The major oil producers are supposed to meet next month to discuss production freezes.

CRIMEA. In honour of the second anniversary of Crimea’s return to Russia we have this from the WaPo: “Crimea’s ‘new normal’ of repression”. Not even their readers believe it: the most liked comment is “On the whole, this editorial is another spiteful, propagandistic and manipulative propaganda piece.” Here are a number of Western opinion polls showing widespread, and growing, enthusiasm there.

SYRIA. Increasingly incoherent Washington spokesman says Syrians can make any decision they want as long as it’s the right one. The ceasefire seems to be holding reasonably well and Syrian forces continue to gain ground. Russian special forces were there (no surprise: probably still are). Should have listened to Russia in 2012, says the former Special Envoy to Syria. This makes me wonder if there’s any truth in this. RT crew claims to have found documents on Daesh-Turkey oil trade. My take: “Another Lesson from Moscow Washington Won’t Learn“.


LESIN. Transpires not a heart attack after all but likely murder. FBI dunnit. Putindunnit. (Of course Putin would wait until he got to Washington to kill him rather than an easy hit in Moscow. Probably.) Perhaps we’ll find out some day.

FOOD. Good report from an intelligent observer on situation in St Petersburg.

I WAS WRONG. On who today’s poster child of Russian horribleness is; a new meme is born. I can’t be bothered researching it.

LIES. The truth dribbles out. “The Big Lie About the Libyan War“. “Secret cables from the United States embassy in Beijing have shown there was no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square“. “A 2006 cable from US Ambassador to Syria William Roebuck discussed ‘potential vulnerabilities’ of the Assad administration and the ‘possible means to exploit them’.All that hype about Syria was actually about Israel and Iran. CIA was in Afghanistan before the Soviets entered. All that hype about Libya? don’t forget Qaddafi’s gold. Veterans Today permits itself a victory lap for getting Ghouta right. But don’t worry: everything you read today is true.

WESTERN VALUES. The (new) US general says “I grieve with you” over the destruction of the Kunduz hospital. Newest story, replacing the old and newer, by the way: “targeting sensors experienced a glitch”. Apparently, you can’t see a lit-up hospital from a circling C-130.

OOPS. According to the Electoral Integrity Project, the USA ranks 47th in the world for quality of elections. Bit of schadenfreude for the country that is so quick to judge other elections.

DOCUMENTARY ON UKRAINE. “Ukraine, les masques de la révolution” here with English sub titles and background. The author started out believing all the “revolution of dignity” “European civilisational choice” stuff but found it rather different when he got there.

NEXT YEAR WILL BE BETTER. “We continue to believe that 2016 can and should be the year that Ukraine breaks free from the unholy alliance of dirty money and dirty politics that has ripped off Ukrainians for far too long” – Nuland. Or not: “Catastrophe has no end in sight” – Jim Rogers.

NUCLEAR UKRAINE. A reminder that things can still get a lot worse. Here’s a report claiming that Kiev has taken many of the radioactive vehicles left at Chernobyl and re-used them or melted them down. Ukraine nuclear engineers write protest letter about dangerous orders. And there’s already the concern about US-supplied fuel. Other worries have appeared in the past. There are a lot of reactors in Ukraine.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Websites: US-Russia, Russia Insider, Russia Observer


Russia Is Finished Quotations

First of all, the policy that is being pursued in our country is the policy not of yesterday, but of the day before yesterday. It is linked to the nostalgia of very many people in our country for the Soviet stagnation and for the Soviet traditions.

We witness a traditional policy, a return to old habits such as renunciation of freedom of expression, renunciation of all freedom, renunciation of such values as non-use of the army in internal conflicts, renunciation of personal initiative and of outspokenness; an expectation that benefits are about to be distributed from above. This is the way the majority of citizens feel. And this is the main feature of the past year. The policy of our authorities and the President have pursued this year tends to bring back the mentality of the day before yesterday.

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, “Hero of the Day” program, NTV, 20 Dec 2000

MH17 For Dummies

According to this source, the US intelligence budget for 2014 was 67.9 billion US dollars. That’s about 130,000 kilometres of $100 bills laid end to end or about three times around the world at the equator. Which is quite a lot of money, even if a lot goes to administration, overhead and the like.

So, you’d think that if an airliner was shot down over an area that was being closely watched, all this money would have bought quite a lot of information.

And, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it did and here he is saying it: “we observed it” (1.15)

But, two years later we still await the US intelligence evidence.

Instead we have

Well common sense would suggest that, if we haven’t heard about the other stuff then

  • it isn’t there or
  • it contradicts what Washington has been saying.

QED. It’s not that complicated.


Another Lesson from Moscow Washington Won’t Learn

When the announcement of a partial withdrawal was made I was as surprised as anyone. I thought: Daesh is not been defeated, the threat of Ankara doing something extraordinary has not disappeared, the Syrian Army still needs air support to liberate other parts of the country, I can’t believe that Putin trusts either Washington’s promises or its ability to fulfil them. I then went on the Presidential website and found this: “In this context, Mr Putin said that Russia’s Armed Forces have fulfilled their main mission in Syria and a timetable for the withdrawal of the Aerospace Forces’ main air grouping has been agreed.” A timetable is not the same as withdrawal, I thought. But then it transpired that aircraft were in fact leaving and the formal meeting of Putin, Shoygu and Lavrov was published. So, think again: the schedule was for the present and not the future.

I think we now know three things. 1) Not all the Russian aircraft are leaving, in fact large-scale strikes against Daesh positions near Palmyra occurred yesterday. 2) Strikes are possible from outside Syria. We have seen the use of long-range aviation from Russia and cruise missiles from the Caspian and Mediterranean. 3) Russian aircraft can be moved back in under 24 hours if needed.

At the beginning of the operation, the strategic purposes were laid out. 1) To shore up government power lest a vacuum be formed that Daesh would occupy (vide the US-NATO disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya). 2) To create the possibility for meaningful negotiations on Syria’s future. 3) To reverse Daesh’s record of constant expansion and victory. 4) To kill as many jihadists originating from Russia and the FUSSR as possible so they don’t come home. Other benefits, like exposing the hollowness of the “isolated” and “powerless” Russia memes, showing off and testing weapons systems were present; they were not, however, as important as Western commentators thought they were.

From an operational perspective, there were four tasks. 1) To secure the airbase and freedom of operation (an issue complicated but not derailed when Turkey ambushed a Russian aircraft). 2) To degrade Daesh’s infrastructure by destroying troop concentrations, headquarters, arms dumps and, especially, crippling its cash cow, the oil trade. 3) To provide close air support to Syrian and allied forces. 4) To re-equip and train Syrian forces.

It is quite true that “The objective set before the Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces is generally fulfilled” . Задача, поставленная перед Министерством обороны и Вооружёнными Силами, в целом выполнена. Not all of it, but most of it. Strategically: the Syrian government is much more secure; negotiations are underway together with a ceasefire; Daesh is in reverse; many jihadists will not be coming home. Operationally: the bases are secure; Daesh’s infrastructure and oil business have been severely degraded; close air support continues and will for some time. “Generally fulfilled” indeed. Or, as NATO says, in private, “efficient and accurate”.

And, should the situation on the ground be reversed, Russian airpower can return in hours.

This is the third time Moscow has shown Washington how to use armed force. It is never something to be used alone, it must always be part of a complete package. We saw this in the second Chechen war, in the Ossetian war and now in Syria. Bayonets are useful for many things, but not for sleeping on. However, it is unlikely that Washington will learn anything: the alcoholic binge of more violence to solve the problems the violence created is too well entrenched. In fact, they can’t understand, as Fort Rus points out, that to more thoughtful planners “withdrawal” is not a candy-coating of “defeat”.

It’s because a funny thing happened along the way in the development of US foreign policy lingo. The term ‘defeat’ was replaced with the term ‘withdrawal’. This happened as a result of needing to soft-sell major defeats like Vietnam or Iraq. Defeats were re-branded as ‘withdrawals’, even though in doing so, the term withdrawal was forever changed into a synonym for defeat, and a lack of resolve.

Many Western responses are amusing. Here Chatham House fearlessly demolishes a straw horse: 3. ‘Mission accomplished’ is a bit of a stretch… 4. Nonetheless, the intervention has achieved several key Russian objectives. Of course Putin didn’t say “mission accomplished”; this contortionist invents it so he can pretend that he failed.

Some are just incoherent: “Moscow is thus is committed to ‘monitoring’ the very agreement that it’s been opportunistically breaching…“.

But so far I find this the most amusing example of someone not getting it. “A Well-Timed Retreat: Russia Pulls Back From Syria” by Alexander Baunov. Two samples will show how absurd his thoughts are:

President Putin’s announcement that he is pulling back from Syria should not have come as a big surprise. He believes he has met most of his goals there—many of which have nothing to do with Syria itself. Russia has found a way back to the table where the world’s board of directors sits and resolves regional conflicts together.

This time, Vladimir Putin did not need to pretend too hard when he announced that a mission was accomplished.


On the Russian domestic scene, which some experts had considered the main reason for Russia to get involved, interest in Syria had begun to wane among the home television audience. The pictures of silver rockets in a blue sky had been shown so often that there was no mood for a second season of them. The public would rather see successes on the home front.

Too many Americans (“some experts”) comment from Gulliver’s Island of Laputa and tie their imaginations into contortions. Read what Putin says, watch what he does and think about it. Don’t assume.

Or you can join Samantha Power in Laputa: she “doesn’t make it a point of listening to President Putin’s claims” (Here at 2:39) but is always ready to tell us what’s really going on: “Russia’s military deployment in Syria to back Bashar al-Assad ‘is not a winning strategy,’ America’s ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Today’s Putin Quotation

If we agree that the symbols of the preceding epochs, including the Soviet epoch, mustn’t be used at all, we will have to admit then that our mothers’ and fathers’ lives were useless and meaningless, that their lives were lived in vain. Neither in my head nor in my heart can I agree with this.

There was already a period in our history when we rewrote everything anew. We can do the same today too. We can rewrite the flag, the anthem and the coat-of-arms. But then surely we will become people with no memory of where we come from.

Putin address, ORT, 4 Dec 2000