Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 4, 2015

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May 4, 2015

Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 4, 2015

By J.Hawk

This is the 29th edition of this “almost daily” feature. To view earlier editions, click on Daily Brief tab above the title.

Politics

 The agreement to supply natural gas to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline ratified

 This agreement diversifies Russia’s natural gas customer base and reduces the EU’s “most important client” power. Moreover, it may also lead to the elimination of Ukraine from the list of natural gas transit countries, especially if the planned pipeline through Turkey, or under the Black Sea, is built.

Doomsday Clock moved two minutes forward

 It is now three minutes to doomsday. In related news, Russia and NATO have revived the Cold War-era institution of the “red phone”, or the direct hotline between the Kremlin and NATO for use in crisis situations. It’s likely the product of the shared expectation of (and resignation to) more fighting in Eastern Ukraine in upcoming months.


Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is calling on OSCE to compel Kiev to stop the shelling of Donetsk

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explicitly accused Kiev of violating Minsk-2 and called on OSCE to enforce compliance with the agreement, but so far to no effect. One can hear the sounds of explosions in the video posted below, though the intensity of the shelling is much lower than it was before the beginning of the January campaign.

Kerry is threatening the EU

 The fiction that the EU adopted anti-Russian sanctions wholly independently is increasingly difficult to maintain, as is the US effort to keep the EU corralled on this issue, not only because it is the EU that has to bear the bulk of the cost associated with sanctions and with Ukraine’s slow-motion collapse, but also because the US is good at finding exceptions to sanctions when it suits its own national interest (for example, Russian rocket engines). Therefore EU’s July summit where the sanctions war will be discussed can result in a surprise or two. However, the US does have a possible ace up its sleeve in the form of Kiev regime which understands that Washington is its only hope, and which just might deliver another disastrous campaign in time to sway the EU’s vote on that matter. Because even though European leaders want the sanctions lifted, they want to be able to do it in a face-saving way, which in practical terms means not in the middle of a war.

Kazakhstan may become the next Ukraine

There is a widespread opinion in Kazakhstan that the most recent elections were the last peaceful ones the country will see. Ethnic Russians comprise 25% of Kazakhstan’s population, and once Nazarbayev exits the stage, there will be a struggle for power that might well fan the flames of Kazakh nationalism and provoke Donbass-style Russian separatism. On the plus side, there is no Kazakh equivalent of the OUN-UPA, SS-Division Galizien, or a history of virulent anti-Russian nationalism. Which doesn’t mean that one couldn’t be invented, of course. 

Frankfurt, Baltimore, Knurow…and then every place else?

A soccer match between two minor-league teams evolved into a full-blown riot as the “pseudo-fans” (as the Polish officialdom refers to the right-wing militants who use soccer matches as “training days”) of the two teams clashed, forcing the referees to call off the game and provoking a police intervention which resulted in one “pseudo-fan” dead. And then things escalated. Much of what is happening in and with Poland has to be considered in conjunction with the fact that the country (like many of the poorer EU members) is a socio-economic powderkeg. The Polish government is at a loss when it comes to stimulating the economy, large numbers of Poles are emigrating, which encourages the government to engage in a fair amount of saber-rattling in the hopes of rallying the masses around the flag–in many respects a “lite” version of the crisis in Ukraine, but one which might yet transform into the “heavy” version because Polish nationalist parties might be tempted to re-enact a Polish version of the Maidan and tap into the latent potential of the disaffected, right-wing militant youth in the same way as Ukraine’s right wing parties did, which makes the Knurow riot very different from Frankfurt and Baltimore, and rather similar to the Kiev Maidan. It should be noted that the Polish “pseudo-fans” have already mastered the Maidan arsenal to a tee: cobble-stones and Molotov cocktails.

Donetsk Shelling, May 2-3

 Over 30 houses in Donetsk were destroyed or damaged by 122mm and 152mm shells (more photos at the link). No rocket artillery appears to have been used. There are dead and wounded among civilian population, and the two warring sides seem more interested in working out local ceasefires than reviving Minsk-2 provisions which unfortunately appears to be a dead-letter agreement, as Kiev is not interested in implementing its political provisions.

Who fired first?

The shelling described above was an intense and two-way affair, with both sides using weapons “forbidden” by Minsk-2. Witnesses in Donetsk could not tell which side fired first, and DPR and UAF are blaming each other for the escalation. It would appear that both sides have returned at least a significant proportion their artillery weapons to within striking rate of the frontlines. 

Wrathful expectation

That’s the phrase Cassad (Boris Rozhin) used to characterize the mood on the Donbass, the veritable hope that the UAF will once again try something stupid and expose themselves to another round of heavy losses and defeat, but this time with possibly decisive results, not only on regional but on national and maybe even international scale. Donbass spirits are also being lifted by the growing economic integration with Russia, which gives a sense of optimism and hope in the future that would otherwise be lacking. 

Azov occupies OSCE observation point

This act took place near Shirokino and in spite of the intervention by UAF officers. Whose orders are clearly mere recommendations, as far as the Azov regiment is concerned. The usefulness of the Azov’s actions needs little elaboration. Should the Azov and/or the UAF launch a major offensive and the OSCE is not there to report it, who can authoritatively contradict Kiev’s claims of “Russian aggression”?

Krivbass Battalion blocked by UAF paratroops

Krivbass came to the aid of a Right Sector battalion after its vehicle came under fire by UAF paras, so now the word is that the battalion has been officially disbanded and its base is surrounded by  the paras.

Mourning in Odessa

Flags were flying at half-mast in Odessa to commemorate the anti-Maidan activists murdered in May 2, 2014. Odessa was Ukraine’s only city to have marked this anniversary.

EU doesn’t know how to rid itself of Ukraine

The post cites virtually every EU official of note, from Juncker through Schultz to Mogherini (and with quite a few other names in between), as saying things that are not exactly music to Kiev’s ears, namely that the path to joining the EU is a very long one, so long that you probably shouldn’t even attempt the journey. And then there are voices calling for the end to the sanctions war, and even Merkel’s abrupt desire to visit Moscow on May 10 (in other words, one day after the anniversary) to lay down a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  But Ukraine just doesn’t know how to take a hint…

A Correction

The correction is a small but telling one, and amounts to the removal of the “soft sign” from before the letter “k”, thus changing the Ukrainian spelling Donets’k to Russian Donetsk. Yet another “fact on the ground” signifying Donbass’ drift away from Ukraine.

Economy

The recovering ruble and other news

The Russian Central Bank is continuing to lower its lending rate, now to 12.5%, a sign that it likes where the ruble is right now (sufficiently weak to make Russian exports more competitive but not so weak as to make imports prohibitively expensive) and that it believes the threat of inflation had subsided. Fitzmorgen notes that the RCB has been lowering its rate at a steady 1% per month pace, suggesting that it is no longer in a crisis response mode as in December 2014.  It is also a sign that the RCB does not want the ruble excessively strengthened by the increase by the price of oil, which appears to be largely driven by the sharp drop in drilling in the US.

Construction of Leningrad-2 nuclear power plant

Many more photos at the link.

Military

Tigr Variants

 Even though it’s been in service for a number of years, Tigr became instantly world-famous thanks to the many live video feeds from Crimea where it was the vehicle of choice of Putin’s Polite People (also known as “little green men”). We have not seen the end of the family’s development, as Victory Parade rehearsal photos and videos show Tigrs of a yet-unseen variant with a (canvas-shrouded) weapon station.

Corvette Soobrazitelnyy live-fire

 What’s of interest here is that the missiles being launched from the vertical cells belong to the Redut family, a navalized S-500 that will equip future Russian warship classes. Soobrazitelnyy was the first ship to be equipped with the Redut in order to work out the last of its bugs.

Life and service in accordance with regulations

A photo gallery showing the inside of contemporary inspection-ready Russian Army barracks.

In the dining facility

Continuation of the report above. Mmm, liver…

Armata gets down to business

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The tank’s novelties include: unmanned turret, armored crew capsule in the hull, new multi-layer armor, an active defense system capable of shooting down missiles, rockets, and even high-velocity kinetic-energy penetrators, new electronic countermeasures, phased-array radar, digital control system with plasma displays, satellite navigation, 2A28 125mm cannon with full stabilization and a high-capacity automatic loader ensuring a high rate of fire, and many others.

History

Ministry of Defense 147th Auto Base, pt. 1

 A historical museum of the Russian and Soviet automotive industry, with every motor to have ever been used by the Ministry of Defense. Photos and more photos.

MOD 147th Auto Base, pt. 2

Kruzenshtern tying up in Novorossiysk

 Built as a cargo ship (its current “frigate-like” paint scheme notwithstanding) in Bremerhaven in 1926 and delivered to USSR in 1946 as a war reparation, the four-masted Kruzenshtern is one of the world’s largest sailing vessels still in existence.

Guards Private Serezhenka–the youngest soldier of the Great Patriotic War

Seryozha Aleshkov’s parents were murdered by the Wehrmacht when he was only 6 years old. Saved by a neighbor, he escaped into the forest where he was found by scouts from the 142nd Guards Rifle Regiment who then brought him along back across the front lines and adopted him as a “son of the regiment” (a not uncommon practice during the GPW–see Ivan’s Childhood or Brest Fortress for a fictionalized movie portrayal). Awarded a medal for helping save the wounded regimental commander, Seryozha survived the war, attended the Suvorov Academy, and entered the legal profession, settling in Chelyabinsk after the war, to live closer to his adopted parents–142nd Guards commander Mikhail Vorobyov and his wife Nina.

Re-enactment: Liberation of Ostrava (Czech Republic) by the Red Army

A photo gallery.

A walk through Moscow, 1944

Just as Hitler promised them, though omitting a small but crucial detail… A photo gallery of the Wehrmacht POWs taken during Operation Bagration, the largest defeat suffered by the Wehrmacht (500,000 soldiers killed or taken prisoner) which was timed to coincide with the D-Day, thus ensuring the success of the landings in Normandy by making it impossible for the Wehrmacht to reinforce the West Wall.

A real, patented Ukrainian


“The so-called ‘Babiy Yar’ was only the reaction by the German authorities in Kiev to the destruction of the historical city center’s by the judeo-bolshevik scum. It’s the Jews who were responsible for the death of more than 2000 peaceful Kievans.”

It makes you wonder what passes for history in Ukrainian classrooms these days…

Life and Society

Sunday Cats

Train to Vorkuta pt. 7: Urdoma and Mikun

A nature outing. USSR, 1969

Humor

 What??? So these types defeated us too???

“Your face upon learning that you lost the war to UPA.”

The proper name tag

Dropping the “h” from Ukraine’s president’s name changes its meaning to “little piggy.” Another subtle EU hint?

Something like that

“Giving Ukraine $40 milllion to fight corruption is like giving 40kg of heroin to fight the drug cartels.”

A little humor

“D for Dickhead”

“Death takes only the best. But Ukrainian military commissariats take everyone.”

“Look, more US humanitarian aid.”

“Says it all”–a reference to the words in the upper right hand corner which proclaim “Purely Ukrainian Murders.”

“US armored vehicle deliveries to Ukraine are continuing”

 “Thank you that I am no longer a whale.”

A year-old oldie but goodie. Ukrainian word for “cat” sounds like the Russian word for “whale.”

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