April 17, 2015
Russian Blogosphere Survey for April 17, 2015
This is a daily Fort Russ feature. To view earlier installments, click on the Daily Brief tab above the title.
“Let them play kissy-kissy with their Bandera portraits”
Oles Buzina was a prominent Ukrainian political commentator, an opponent of the Maidan, and a critic of the illegal overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014. This is the second murder of a prominent opposition figure this week–earlier in the week Oleg Kalashnikov, a former Rada deputy, was shot and killed in Kiev, as was Sergey Sukhobok, a journalist from Donetsk. So it looks like things have moved on from “suicides” to outright murders. And why not? It’s not as if the West will even bother to report on any of them…All the while the Ukrainian social media are full of praise for the still-unidentified (and perhaps never to be identified) killers, and of calls for the murder campaign to continue.
Cassad makes a few remarks on the basis of talking to people who just came from the Donbass. The fight around Peski and Spartak were pretty intense–UAF lost at least 10 armored vehicles and several tens of soldiers, NAF also has losses but on a smaller scale. The area is heavily fortified by both sides, extensive minefields block most approaches in both directions, therefore there is little chance of a decisive victory on that sector. Which makes one wonder why try in the first place. On the economic front, Novorossia is steadily becoming a ruble zone, and the level of trade between it and Russia is steadily increasing.
Aleksandr Zakharchenko gave an interview to Bloomberg, in which he said that, if need be, Mariupol could be easily outflanked and enveloped, as the NAF would not shell the city in which so many civilians, and relatives of many of the NAF soldiers, live. In addition, he spoke of Mariupol becoming part of DPR as an inevitability, given the growing antagonism between the Junta and Novorossia.
It appears that most of the fighting was done by volunteer battalions, which leaves Cassad to wonder whether this is a deliberate attempt to bleed them dry in such relatively pointless battles (there are complaints to that effect on Ukrainian social media). Both sides suffered tens of casualties (counting the wounded), but the exact numbers are still unknown. More ominously, both sides have brought some of their artillery closer to the front line, which accounts for the level of casualties on both sides .
Highlights from Putin’s Wednesday question and answer session
“Russia should create the best possible conditions for business and private investments, perfect its monetary and credit policy, and the management of the economy.”
“The national debt of several EU countries has reached 174% of the GDP–will they be able to cope with it? We don’t know. The Russian Federation authorities will seek to stimulate economic growth without burdening its citizens in this manner.”
“One has to have brains to build an economy. But one has to have a heart in order to gain the support of the people.”
“With state support, the growth of domestic agricultural production is unavoidable. Domestic food production in order to ensure food security is an exceptionally important matter.”
“There are many threats which we can’t anticipate, but if we preserve a stable internal political situation, and the level of national consolidation that we currently have, there are no threats which we should fear.”
So, what does it all mean? It means Russia intends to remain an integrated part of the global economy, with market mechanisms predominating and the government intervening directly only in matters of high national priorities, as in agriculture, for example. Let’s not forget that Putin and much of the rest of the Russian political class grew up watching the growing inefficiency of the command economy model, and the impossibility of reforming an economy in which the political system was so heavily embedded. Therefore Lenin’s “commanding heights” model which Putin did not mention but seems to be adhering to will remain the order of the day for the foreseeable future.
Blogger Russkiy Malchik is arguing that Putin has adopted a position that is equidistant from all the major political movements in the country, the Reds, the Whites, the conservatives, the liberals, and his statements are a reflection of that, even if they tend to irritate people on various segments of the political spectrum. Here are a few of Putin’s quotes that RM cites:
“There is one people in Ukraine and Russia, but in Ukraine they ought to decide their own destiny. We are helping these people so that they don’t die of hunger or freeze to death, but we don’t presume to decide for them. Only they are in the position to decide how to deal with the problem of their own sociopathic government.”
“Stalin was nothing like Hitler, who thought his task the destruction of entire nations. But the government of that time is “monstrous” due to the repressions and other harsh policies.”
“The West’s attempts to topple Russia are economically senseless. But the fall of the ruble relative to the dollar was not only inevitable, but also helpful. We should learn how to work better and get that which we earned.”
“The USSR’s collapse was the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. At the same time, USSR was trying to impose its political model on other countries, which ended badly. The United States is doing the same right now, and it too will end badly.”
When following the Western media, one is struck how little one hears or sees of what Putin actually has to say. You only get “analysis”, of the sort imputing motives and objectives which are entirely alien to Russia’s leadership. Moreover, Russia has about the most transparent and honest foreign policy of any major power today–if you take the trouble to learn about its policies, nothing will come as a surprise.
In his Wednesday on-air appearance, President Putin said that while it would be ideal for the Mistral order to be completed, the failure to deliver them would not have an effect on Russia’s security. Moreover, Putin said that the reason the Mistrals were ordered in the first place was motivated by the desire to provide French shipyards with work (which implies a political quid pro quo of some sort), and that should the French decide not to deliver the ships, Russia expects them to return every bit of money it paid for them in the first place.
Russian General Staff Chief Army General Valeriy Gerasimov said at the IV Moscow International Security Conference that Europe has become a promoter of international instability due to its position on the Ukraine crisis and the unwillingness to come to terms with Russia’s position on this matter. According to Gerasimov, the US and European position is motivated by their belief that they had won the Cold War, which entitles them to dictate the terms of conduct in the international system. NATO, in particular, is once again perceiving Russia as an adversary, and conducting military training exercises aimed at “containing” its Russian neighbor, even as the “defensive” alliance insists on its right to expand eastward, a process to which Russia cannot remain indifferent. Similar views were expressed at the conference by the RF Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.
A video about Uralvagonzavod [Urals Railcar Factory] which manufactures the T-72, T-90, and now the T-14 MBTs. In Russian without subtitles, but lots of interesting graphics, plus of course factory floor scenes.
A gallery of photos from Venezuela’s recent military exercise.
Fomin is the head of the RF Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, and the contract he’ll be preparing in Iran concerns the delivery of S-300 air defense systems. Fomin believes the contract will not take much time to negotiate and sign. The time of delivery will depend on whether Iran wants newly built systems (which would take up to two years) or “used” ones from Russia’s own arsenal (which could happen very quickly indeed).
A photo gallery.
in Ukraine, at least not yet, but rather in Iraq, where ISIS destroyed
several of these tanks that were used by the Iraqi military. The tanks
were destroyed by RPGs and anti-tank guided missiles.
Named Mikhail Yefimov, it is the 19th Superjet to be delivered to Aeroflot.
It is estimated that the Oroch vein, located in the Magadan Region, contains 4.5 tons of pure gold and 198 tons of pure silver. The processing plant in nearby Kubakinsk will begin operation in 2016.
The SVU-A is a bull-pup variant of the standard SVD 7.62mm semi-automatic sniper rifle. The SVU-A is usually issued to Russian special operations units, and it is a sufficiently successful design that the Russian Army’s next sniper rifle, the SV-121, will also use the bull-pup configuration.
Iskhak Akhmerov (1901-1976), born in the city of Troitsk of the Chelyabinsk Region, headed the undercover intelligence gathering operation inside the United States over the period of 10 years, 1935-1945. In recognition of his accomplishments, Iskhak Akhmerov was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and awarded two Orders of the Red Banner, though what these accomplishments actually were remains a state secret.
On the Moscow Metro every day is the Victory Day…
Russia’s hockey team plays Finland while wearing Soviet-era jerseys
The match between Russia’s and Finland’s national teams took place in Tampere, Finland.
On the left: “We’ll destroy everything Soviet! Damned Muscovites!”
On the right “That’s not what I had in mind! What do we do now? We wait…Europe will help us!”