Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today is Holy Paskha - Christ is Risen!


Χριστός ἀνέστη! Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! المسيح قام! حقا قام!‎

11th century fresco of the Resurrection, Chora Church, Constantinople

Today is by far the biggest and most joyful day of the year for Orthodox Christians.  This is also the day when Christians greet everybody, regardless of their faith or lack thereof with the words "Christ is Risen!".  The ancient tradition has many meanings, but one of them is the fact that Christ did not only resurrect for the pious believers, but for all of mankind and in His resurrection he "co-resurrected" all of humanity.  I think that it is therefore only appropriate for me to also greet you all with this ancient greeting - Christ is Risen!

For those of you more theologically inclined, regardless of your religion or denominaton, I am posting an except from the first epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians which has a profound exposition of the importance of the resurrection of Christ for all of mankind.

I will "see" you all on Monday, kind regards and have a peaceful and joy-filled Holy Paskha,

The Saker

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Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (chapter 15 verses 12-58)

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.  Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”  Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.  And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.  But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The thing which everybody seems to be missing

Okay, I decided to squeeze in one more post before taking time off for Holy Paskha, this is well worth it.

Some of you have asked about China's role in all this, in what the real interests of the USA are, how the EU is positioning itself and what Russia does or does not want.  And, somehow, bogged down by the minutiae of the unfolding events I managed to never mention something which Putin, Lavrov and many other top Russian politicians have repeatedly said:

What is happening today before our eyes is the end of one international system and the birth of a qualitatively different one.

Interestingly, Putin has declared that for him the point of no return was reached when the USA and its allies at the UNSC and NATO clearly and grossly twisted the intention of the UNSC on Libya and "upgraded" what should have been a "no fly" zone to a free-fire zone to attack and bomb Libya [of course, it was pretty darn clear to Putin that the "all necessary means to protect civilians" of the resolution was an open ended invitation for the AngloZionists to "interpret" it in any way they wanted; now his says that Russia was "lied to" in order to not blame Medvedev for walking into a 10 foot wide hole.  But that is irrelevant here].  Putin says that from then on he had acquired the conviction that the West could not be negotiated with and had to be simply stopped.  Then Syria happened: for the first time since the end of WWII the USA had decided to do something and was stopped by an outside power in the most humiliating way possible.

The Russian stance on Syria was an overt challenge to US world hegemony.  It was clearly understood as such in Washington and now, following the crisis in the Ukraine, the Russians have openly admitted this.

So this is the real stake of the civil war in the Ukraine: for the USA it is to punish Russia for daring to challenge the world hegemon; for Russia it is to unseat this hegemon and replace him by a multi-polar international system in which sovereign countries act within the bounds of international law.  You could say that even though most of the Security Council is vehemently opposed to that, Russia is trying to show to the world that the USA does not own the UN and that it only represents 1/5th of the P5 and 1/15th of the UNSC.

The West has slouched into a position of total submission to the USA and its domination tools over Europe: the EU and NATO.  The central Europeans have even volunteered to become a US protectorate, a territory to house US missile systems and secret CIA prisons.

With the exception of Iran and Syria, the Arab and Muslim world has sold out, some to the USA, others to Saudi Arabia, most to both at the same time.  Latin America tries hard, but is still heavily dependent on the USA while Africa just wants to survive the best it can.  As for Asia, some parts are as sold out as Europe (Japan, Korea), others are trying to keep a low profile, while China is clearly quietly standing behind Russia but in an externally undeniable way even though China stands to benefit more than any other country on the planet from a change in the international order.

The Russians would have much preferred to wait, to buy time, but the US determination to punish it for daring to oppose it on Syria literally forced them to fold and surrender or openly accept the US challenge and stand firm.

I will repeat that again and again - Putin had no other choice.

And now that this is all in the open, you can be absolutely sure that Russia is not playing to return to the status quo ante.  With an amazing candidness both Putin and Lavrov have openly spelled out their goal on Russian TV (Lavrov on the show "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev" and Putin on during his 4 hours long Q&A yesterday).

So this is the Russian end-goal: to unseat the USA from its role as a world hegemon.  And that goal implies a much longer, bigger and more sustained effort that just force the freaks in Kiev to the negotiating table.  Among other things, this goal implies that Russia must:

1) Force the Europeans to fully realize the outrageous price they are paying for being the obedient and silent vassals of the USA and slowly drive a wedge between the USA and Europe.
2) Force the USA to admit that it does not have the military might to punish or, even less so, "regime change" anybody they don't like.
3) Encourage China and other Asian powers to openly stand with Russia in demanding that international law be adhered to by the West.
4) Gradually replace the dollar with other currencies in international trade and thereby slow down the financing of the US debts by the rest of the planet.
5) Create the conditions for Latin America and Africa to be able to make choices about its future and replace the current monopoly enjoyed by the West in setting the terms of North-South relations.
6) Present another civilizational model which openly reject the current Western paradigm of a society run by small and arrogant minorities.
7) Challenge the current liberal and capitalist economic order embodied in the Washington Consensus and replace it by a model of social and international solidarity (call it "21 century socialism" if you want).

All of the above can be summed up in one word: re-sovereignization.

Since he got elected, Putin mentioned many times the need for a re-sovereignization of Russia.  The Ukrainian crisis has forced him reveal the real end goal of his agenda: to re-sovereignize the entire planet.

This is a tall order and it will take many years, possibly decades, to achieve this goal, though my personal feeling is that the total incompetence and infinite arrogance of of the 1%ers plutocrats which rules over the western world will continue to accelerate that process.

The big question now is this: can the AngloZionist Empire follow the example of the Soviet Empire and collapse without triggering a massive bloodbath on its way down?

There will be violence, for sure, as has been with the former Soviet Union.  But if we can avoid a global conflagration or even a large scale massive war then that would have to be considered as success because it is when they collapse that empires become the most dangerous and unpredictable.

I hope that the above answers many of the questions which have been posted here.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker

PS: I just got this amazing video of a woman stopping a APC in Kramatorsk with her bare hands.  I guess she could be seen as a symbol of what Russia wants to do with the AngloZionist Empire:

 

Full text of the Geneva Statement of April 17, 2014 and a short commentary

The Guardian published the full text of the Geneva Statement. This is what eight hours of negotiations produced:
The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.

All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.
That's it. Good thing that they called it "initial" because it really contains only vague well-intentioned truisms.  They might as well have written something along the lines of "give peace a chance" or "we are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day".  So if there is nothing of substance here, what is the big deal?  Why did it take so long?

The big deal is that Uncle Sam had to accept Russia as an equal party to the solution of this mess.

The big deal is that Kiev had to accept the East as an equal party to the solution of this mess.

This might look obvious to any mentally sane person, but for die hard imperialist who believe their own hubris and for neo-Nazis thugs who thought that they could built their Banderastan and basically eliminate the East in one way or another, this is a very painful concession one, in fact, they will try as hard as they can to renege on.

Furthermore, this "statement" (it is not even an agreement) has a huge flaw which is already becoming obvious: it was signed by "the Ukraine" as if there was such an entity in the first place.  But that, of course, is a fiction.  The two biggest forces which really matter are the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers of the East, neither of which was invited.  Instead, it is this fictional and wholly illegitimate regime of oligarchs and CIA agents which put it's signature in the name of all Ukrainians.  The problem is that this regime is about as representative of the Ukrainian people as the Kerensky regime was in 1917 Russia: it represented only itself.

As for the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers in the East, they are not bound by this agreement and the latter have already declared so.  As for the Right Sector, there is one word in this document which refers directly to them, the word "square" as in "all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated".  That they won't like one bit.  Of course, all the revolutionary junta needs to do is to deliver the "Maidan" a public demonstration permit and, voila, they will be "legal", except that the Maidan is a much bigger threat to the regime than to anybody else.  So doing that might be very dangerous.

The bottom line is this: this "statement" is only a "partial acceptance of reality" by the USA and its puppets in Kiev, that's it.  What made them cave in is the absolute failure of the so-called "anti-terrorist operation" which far from crushing the East saw several instances of units switching sides (the 24th Airborne Brigade, were most of these defections occurred, is now reportedly being disbanded, thus Kiev is basically getting rid of what is probably the comparatively  best trained and most combat capable unit in the entire Ukrainian military).

The most important thing to understand at this point is that the future of the Ukraine will not be decided by this document, but only by the correlation of forces on the ground.  That is the only thing which the AngloZionist Empire responds to: force.  With the Empire, written agreements, treaties, promises and pledges are not worth the paper they are written on, and the Russians knows that better than anybody else.

Putin gave the Ukrainians one month to, at the very least, resume paying their electricity bill and negotiate a payment plan, then Russia will switch to a monthly pre-payment option in which the Ukies will only get the energy they have paid for in advance.  The effect of that will be nothing short of an economic nuclear explosion, especially in the context of the promised Presidential election.  And even if by a mix of halfway measure (loans, reverse gas deliveries, etc.) the West managed to keep a few streetlights in Kiev on over the summer, by September the severity of the shortage will be nothing short of apocalyptic.

As for the Russian-speakers in the East, nobody currently has the means to disarm and crush them by force.  I see no way this could change in the foreseeable future.  What the East will do over the summer is simply to organize itself better and prepare for any attempts by Kiev to crush its people.  As for Russia, it now has all the time it needs to covertly assist the Donbass financially, organizationally and even militarily.

Time is most definitely not on the USA's side and with the passing weeks the position of the current oligarchic regime will get weaker and weaker and that will force it to more and more concessions.  Frankly, a much better solution at this point would be to have direct negotiations between the Right Sector and the Russian-speakers.  I know, this sounds far fetched, and it it, but at least these two parties do most definitely have power and legitimacy (with their own people, that is).

One more thing: some of you have expressed concerns about the planned OSCE monitors mission.  You have to understand that all this is is a fig leaf to try to give the impression that all parties want to de-escalate the violence.  Furthermore, and I assure you that this is true, nobody on the planet knows the OSCE better than the Russians, especially Putin, as they saw how these "observers" "observed" in Chechnia!  As a result, if and when these so-called "observers" show up in the eastern Ukraine, they might as well wear T-shirts with "CIA", "MI6", "DGSE" or "KSI" written in big letters.

The bottom line is this: this agreement is first and foremost a symbolic concession by the AngloZionists and nothing else.  It will have zero real impact on the ground.  One should not be distracted by all the hot air being currently released in the corporate media and the blogosphere because words are just that - hot air, political flatulence.  Only one thing will decide the eventual out come of this crisis: the correlation of forces on the ground and it unambiguously indicates that the "Ukrainian experiment" is over.  It is now just a matter of time.

The Saker

*Very* interesting reply of Putin during yesterday's Q&A


Yesterday Putin had a four hour long Q&A on Russian TV.  I will not post it here, but one reply by Putin is really interesting.  See for yourself:

Q: MARIA SITTEL: More from anxious pensioners. “If the West refuses to purchase gas from Russia, how will that affect people’s well-being, especially that of pensioners?” – Lyudmila Budarina, Tambov Region.

A: VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have to say that oil and gas revenues make up a large part of the Russian budget revenue. This is a serious component for us in addressing economic development, budget funding for our development programmes and, of course, and meeting of our social commitments to our citizens.

I’ll tell you what. I am not sure that I’ll get the figures right, but, if my memory serves me correctly, the bulk of oil and gas revenue comes not from gas but from oil. In terms of the dollar equivalent, our oil revenues last year amounted to $191-194 billion and gas revenues to about $28 billion. See the difference? 191 from oil and 28 from gas.

Oil is sold on world markets. Is there any way to do us harm? One may try. But what would be the result for those who would attempt to do it? First of all, how would this be done? Of all the countries in the world, only Saudi Arabia has the real potential to increase production and thus bring down world prices. Saudi Arabia’s budget assumes a price of $85-$90 per thousand cubic metres.

Q: KIRILL KLEYMENOV: President Obama has already visited them.

A: VLADIMIR PUTIN: I’m sorry, I meant oil, not gas. The budget assumes a price of $85-$90 per barrel, and our budget, I think, $90. So, if one goes below $85, Saudi Arabia will be on the losing end and have problems. For us a drop from $90 to $85 is not critical. That is first.

Second, we are on very good terms with Saudi Arabia. We may, for example, differ in terms of our views on Syria, but we practically have identical positions on the development of the situation in Egypt. There are many other things where we see eye-to-eye.

I have great respect for the custodian of the two Muslim shrines, the King of Saudi Arabia. He is a very clever and balanced man. I don’t think that our Saudi friends would make any abrupt changes to harm themselves and the Russian economy.

Furthermore, they are members of OPEC, where we have many supporters. It is not that they have sympathy for us, but that they have their own economic interests and sharply reducing production – which can only be done in a manner agreed upon within OPEC – is a fairly complicated business.

Finally, in the United States, which is developing shale gas and shale oil production, production costs are very high. These are expensive projects. If world prices tumble, these projects may turn out to be unprofitable, loss-making and the nascent industry may simply die.
And one last point. Oil is priced and traded in the world in dollars. If prices fall, demand for dollars will plummet and the dollar will start losing its significance as a world currency. There are very many factors involved. The wish to bite us is there, but the opportunities are limited. That said, some damage can be caused.

Now about gas. We sell gas by pipeline (most of our sales are by pipeline) mainly to the European countries that depend on Russian supplies to cover about 30-35, 34 percent of their needs. Can they stop buying Russian gas altogether? I don’t think that this is possible.

Some of our neighbours, very good neighbours with which we have very sound relations, such as, for example, Finland…Finland gets 90 percent of its gas from Russia. Some countries that used to be called People’s Democracies in Eastern Europe depend on Russian gas if not for 90 percent, then for 60, 50 or 70 percent of their needs.

Can supplies be stopped altogether? I think that this is totally unrealistic. But one can do this at one’s own cost, by hurting oneself. However, I cannot imagine such a situation. Therefore, of course, everyone is keen on diversifying their sources of supplies. Europe is talking about greater independence from Russia as a supplier, and similarly we are beginning to talk and act to become less dependent on our consumers.

However, so far, there is a measure of balance between consumers and suppliers. The only problem is transit countries. And the most dangerous part, of course, is transit via Ukraine with which we have tremendous difficulties in agreeing on energy problems. But I hope that we will be able to bring things back to normal, considering the contracts that have been signed and are functioning.

MARIA SITTEL: Thank you.

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Also, FYI, a reader sent me this chart from Zerohedge:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Making sense of the latest Kerry Lavrov deal

Ok, first the necessary caveats:

1) Kerry and Lavrov already had a deal on Syria, also made in Geneva, but then the USA reneged.
2) The EU also had a deal on the Ukraine with Yanukovich, who was overthrown literally the next day.
3) The USA, NATO and the EU have lied, cheated, mis-represented, twisted and simply betrayed pretty much every promise which they made to Russia ever since Russia freed itself from the yoke of Communism in 1991.
4) The USA probably has as much control over the Ukrainian crazies a la Right Sector as it does over al-Qaeda, tenuous at best.
5) Putin does have a lot of "street cred" in the eastern Ukraine, but it is far from being infinite.
6) The USA does have full control over the Ukrainian oligarchs, but they, in turn, are clearly in a struggle with the nationalist crazies who probably have more firepower and crowd muscle than these oligarchs.

To these caveats, I also want to add a few basic reminders because from the comments I have seen on my previous initial post, a lot of you are over-reacting to this latest developments.  So, just for context, please keep in mind that

1) The Kiev regime has proven that it does not have the means to crush the rebellion in the East.
2) For reasons I have already mentioned many times, NATO and the US do not have a military option in the Ukraine.
3)  Western sanctions are not significantly hurting Russia and they are very significantly help Putin's personal popularity and reforms program.
4) Time is not on the side of the regime in Kiev as the West cannot rescue the Ukraine; Russia can, but will not do so as long as the regime in power remains both illegitimate and crazy.
5) Popular militia can which materialize overnight can also disappear overnight.
6) Until now Kiev has rejected any negotiations with the East.
7) Kiev hold tens or even hundreds of anti-Fascist activists in its jails.
8) The population which would suffer from open warfare is in the East.

Ok, now that we have set the context, let us look at what happened today:

1) Kiev has agreed to negotiate with the East.
2) All illegal armed groups will have to disarm (that was already agreed between Yanukovich and the EU).
3) OSCE monitors will be dispatched to the East to monitor the situation.
4) Kiev has committed to legal reforms for greater autonomy.
5) The Crimea has not even been discussed.
6) The EU has accepted Putin's proposal to discuss gas deliveries.
7) Nobody will face prosecution except for major crimes.

Now, in my opinion, very little has in fact been agreed to, and all that has been agreed to is vague, ambiguous and lacks any verifiable landmarks to achieve within a clear timetable.

So I very much disagree with those who see that as a sell-out by Russia or, even more so, who call a truly top-notch diplomat with fantastic diplomatic skills all sorts of bad names.

Furthermore, and that is the only big news, the USA, the EU and Kiev have agreed to negotiate with Russia, something they had categorically refused to do in the past (except for the EU agreement with Yanukovich which lasted less than a day and which the US never committed to).  As for Crimea, it is simply not part of any negotiations and will just remain a great opportunity for western politicians to spew some more hot air when they feel the need to.

The illegal formations and their weapons?  I suppose that if things go well they will very gradually vacate some buildings which are only needed for symbolic reasons, as for their weapons, they will hide them (and use extra time to get more!).  None of the activists will be detained, at least not legally and, frankly, I see no other option at this point for the Kiev authorities then to release the anti-Nazi activists they are holding.  So far, the Russian speakers, far from vacating any building, have seized one more.

The sanctions?  Those in place will stay, the West will make lots of empty threats about more sanctions if these evil Russkies don't behave, Putin will assume not only that no sanctions will be lifted, but also that many more will be introduced (that serves his economic reform agenda).

Crimea?  It will see a huge economic boom starting this summer with a wave of "patriotic tourism" and *massive* investments from the Russian business community which will now get a chance to bid and invest in all the neglected infrastructure the Ukies left after them and all the numerous millionaire mansions the Ukrainian oligarchs have built.  Crimea will become the "jewel of the Black Sea" and the economic powerhouse of southern Russia.  Military contracts, huge ones, will begin pouring in (the Russian Navy already ordered 5 ships today).

The Ukraine?  It will get poorer, more unstable, totally dependent on western emergency aid which will barely let the regime stay in power unless the revolutionaries come to their senses or tell Uncle Sam to buzz off.  Either way, as long as the rump-Ukraine remains anti-Russia (nevermind a Nazi Banderastan) it will remain a bankrupt failed state.

Russia?  It will continue exactly on the same course and adapt its policies depending on the exact ratio of sanity/delusion it will detect in its "western partners".

So today agreement is really neither good, nor bad, in fact - it's no big deal at all.  Either it will be as short-lived as the agreement between the EU and Yanukovich, or it will be slowly implemented with lots of zig-zags on the way.  Regardless of which option proves true, it will not affect the deep dynamics which have been set in motion which have now acquired a momentum so powerful that probably nobody can stop it.

The attempt to put down the eastern Ukraine appears to have petered out and the chance to turn the Donbass into a "East Banderastan" lead by a clique of neo-Nazi freaks are as small as ever.  In other words, chances are the at least the current phase of the Ukrainian civil war is over.

All in all, that is pretty good news, I think.

The Saker

Lavrov press conference in Geneva after agreement with USA (with link to Kerry's press conference)



Important:make sure to also listen to the press conference by John Kerry gave in another room (to signal that the US and Russia are really enemies I suppose) at the same time.  Click here to listen to it.  The video is choppy and "jumps", blame the US State Department or YouTube, not me.  If I get a clean one I will post a link to it here below.

"Ukraine deal"? Maybe. But the instanity sure continues...

I am trying to make sense of what is going on.  But so far, this looks like more of the total, absolute terminally insane chaos which we saw in the first 2 days of the Ukrainian civil war.  See for yourself:

First a deal between the the USA and Russia (-: well, officially they seriously refer to it as the Ukraine, EU, US, Russia agreement :-) is announced.  Specifically, the deal is on "de-escalation".

So far, so good.

Then, in a BBC post, I read this pearl:
Mr Kerry said the extent of the crisis had been highlighted in recent days by the "grotesque" sending of notices to Jews in eastern Ukraine, demanding that they register themselves as Jewish.
Again, even though this is an obscene, literally polar, 180 degree, misrepresentation of the target, it is also interesting.  The fact that the Ukies were killing each other is irrelevant, think of it like a few dead bugs on your windshield, but if GOD FORBID there might be ANY sign of Jews being not killed, not tortured, not beat up by bats or lynched by a mob, but just forced to register as such, they TOTAL PANIC must ensue, this is clearly a PLANETARY EMERGENCY REQUIERING AN IMMEDIATE WORLDWIDE MOBILIZATION!!!! (yes, this must be written all in caps, if not - you are an anti-Semite).  So Kerry just had to act and by its action, no doubt, the USA will prevent another "Holocaust of 6 million Jews" (here the quotation marks are essential because Hitler's mass murder must *only* be referred to as "Holocaust" and absolutely must include the absolutely obligatory figure of 6 millon, if not - you are an anti-Semite).

And, of course, the fact that the only Nazis in the Ukraine are those of the US and EU supported illegal regime makes no difference at all.  After all, they really don't care one bit about the life or well-being of any Jew (or Anglo for that matter) at all.  For the US any murdered or mistreated Jew is nothing more than a pretext for intervention, a good thing, really (at least in their sick minds).

To cap it all off, I then saw this:

Kiev: Military operation in Ukraine southeast to go on despite Geneva agreement
Despite calls for a peaceful dialogue in the document on Ukraine adopted in Geneva, the coup-imposed Ukrainian Foreign Minister said it will not affect the “anti-terrorist” operation in the East of the country and the troops will remain there.   Soon after the Geneva document, adopted at a four-side meeting between Ukraine, the US, the EU and Russia, was published, Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa said Kiev is not bound by its recommendations.    According to Deshchytsa cited by RIA Novosti, “the troops in the East of the country are carrying out a special operation and can remain where they are.”
So much for de-escalation I suppose.

I suppose that as long as these anti-terrorist forces continue murdering Russian-speaking civilians and refrain from listing Jews, that is kosher from the USA's point of view.

So you will forgive me if I am overtaken by a powerful wave of positive emotions at the news that some kind of deal was struck.

Give me a couple of hours to find out what the hell is really going on and I will come back to you with hopefully a halfway decent SITREP (-: caps not mandatory here, but that is the convention :-)

Cheers,

The Saker

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Personal announcement: blog switching to universal time

Dear friends,

With almost 20'000 readers literally spread all over the world, I have decided to follow a very good suggestion posted by 'anonymous' and switch this blog's timestamps to universal time aka Zulu time aka GMT.  Sticking to the one I previously used (EST) is really inadequate and parochial.  Also, since most of the world does not use the stupid AM/PM convention, I will be using the so-called "military time" in which 10AM is 10:00 and 10PM becomes 22:00.  This is much more logical.

I hope you don't mind and take the time to adapt to this small change.

Kind regards,

The Saker

Listening to Yulia, thinking about al-Sahhaf

I have been listening to a long monologue by Yulia Timoshenko on the Ukrainian TV and I am left speechless.  Here is what she says: (summary, not exact quote)
The Russians have sent in their agents to attack the authorities in the eastern Ukraine and seize the weapons caches to then give them to their sympathizers.  What the Russians want is to scare us to accept their plan: to turn the Ukraine into a Russian colony.  We have to form a new military, a parallel army of volunteers which will beat them back.  Then we will negotiate with Putin from a position of force.  Our new military will never allow the occupants to get to Kiev.  We will engage in a pubic advertisement campaign to ask for volunteer contributions to pay for it.  We have to be strong!!
OMG - I don't know whether I should howl of laughter or sob in despair about that kind of crazy nonsense.  From her tone and choice of metaphors, she has gone completely hysterical.  The scary thing is that nobody dared to tell her that he entire plan is not absolutely crazy and laughable, but simply a non-starter: you cannot create a armed ex-nihilo in days, week or months.  It takes *years* and *a lot* of *money* to do that.

I think that the freaks in power are either completely insane, or totally out of touch with reality, or they are liars who know that they are lying, but who are getting something from it.

Frankly, listening to Yulia on Ukie TV I thought that she is much, MUCH more ridiculous than Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf and Saddam Hussein with their delusions about a "Mother of All Battles".


Scary.

The Saker

Yet another truly excellent CrossTalk, today about russophobia

Ukraine SITREP April 16, 10:50 EST (Ukrainian civil war day 2)

It is still a little early to call this day over, especially considering the time it takes for the information to seep out of the eastern Ukraine and make it to the Internet.  Furthermore, we have to be extremely cautious with the news not only because truth is the first casualty of war or because all the information sources have a vested interest in getting out the "right" information "correctly" presented, but because today, just as yesterday, the main characteristic of the situation in the Ukraine is complete, total, chaos.

With these caveats in mind, we can still say the following with a strong degree of certitude:

Something really amazing happened today in Kramatorsk.  It appears that a column of Ukrainian paratroopers entered the city unopposed, some of them put Russian flags on their Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), others Saint George ribbons.  When they made it to the city center they were greeted by the civilians who brought them flowers and food.  Then, some of them apparently left, possibly on their IFV though that is still unclear to me.  It appears certain that 6 IFV of the BMD-2 types (Airborne IFV) were given to the local self-defense forces.  It is unclear to me what happened to the crews.  Some reports say that they purchased civilians clothes and returned to their base, but that makes absolutely no sense.  Strictly speaking, handing over their IFV to "terrorists" in a "battle situation" could get them summarily executed on the spot.  At the very least this should land them in front of a court martial.  So my guess is that the crews either deserted completely, or stayed around and join the locals.  What is certain is that the local defense forces now have 6 armored vehicles armed with the formidable 30mm 2A42 multi-purpose auto-cannon which can tear into pretty much anything short of a main battle tank.  The BMD-2 is also *ideal* for urban combat: relatively compact, well armored, highly mobile and with that formidable gun (which can shoot armor piercing rounds), it is just about the best kind of vehicle to use inside a city (it also has a machine gun and a guided anti-tank weapon).

By the way, these units came from the same 24th Airborne Brigade I mentioned yesterday, probably one of the few more or less well trained units in the entire Ukrainian military.  

Another less noticed event was an attempt by unidentified paramilitaries to attack or break through one of the checkpoints near the city.  The attack failed, the number of casualties is still undetermined.  The locals blame the Right Sector thugs for this one.

All the other info coming out of the eastern Ukraine are just rumors and it makes no sense to repeat it here, much less so use it as a basis for making conclusions.

What appears to be pretty certain is that nothing major happened today, most definitely no big combat operations.  If yesterday was chaos with local violence, today seems to be only chaos, which is not a bad sign I suppose.

Finally, this "just in" from RT.  Unverified, by consistent with what we know:
Reports from Slavyansk say that the army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city for an “anti-terrorist operation” are leaving en masse. Some troops are openly voicing support for the eastern Ukrainians, while others are speaking out against a war. According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk. 
If that is so, this might be the beginning of the end for the "anti-terrorist" operation.   Why?  Because enough of the military switches sides, or at least lays down arms or refuses to obey, no other force can challenge it.  The Paratroopers can easily make minced meat out of any police, SWAT, SBU or even regular military unit.  They could even hold their ground against an armored attack (holding ground is what these paratroopers are trained for).  If the 24th Airborne Brigade switches sides (which has not happened yet!!), then that is the end of the entire "anti-terrorist" operation.  But this is a big "if" and we should not assume something about the entire brigade just on the basis of what one single company did.

Stay tuned, I will try to keep you posted,

The Saker

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ukraine SITREP April 15, 18:30 EST update 1 (Ukrainian civil war day 1)

The first day of what will become the Ukrainian Civil war has finished and since by tomorrow morning a lot can happen, I have decided to provide this intermediate SITREP update tonight rather than to wait for tomorrow.

The short summary of the day is: absolute chaos and local violence.

A couple of things stand out:
  • The same source who reported that the CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev on Sunday or Monday also say that the US plan is to use the Ukrainian military to blockade the rebel cities and to use special units (national guard, SBU SWAT, a newly created unit called "Shtorm" and Right Sector gangs) to actually do the repression.
  • In a rather bizarre incident, some Ukrainian officers were told that 30 armed terrorists had seized an airport near Kramatorsk.  They landed there supported by APCs and helicopters only to find out that only civilians were present.  Rumors say that "several" to "eleven" civilians were killed in that operation.  The amazing thing is that the officers really seemed to believe that they would be fighting some kind of military force.  When they realize that this was not the case, most of the forces were evacuated and only a smaller force was left at the airport.  It is currently surrounded by civilians who are blocking all exists.
  • Same thing happened to the recon battalion of the 24th Airborne Division which was sent in to locate "terrorists".  When the saw that only civilians were present they refused to continue their mission, turned around and left.
  • A convoy of Right Sector militants disguised as pro-Russian forces (they were wearing Saint George ribbons) were stop and searched by civilians.  Soon, after some brutal interrogations the truth became obvious, the trucks full of weapons confiscated and the drivers beat up.
  • In Kiev the Right Sector has given the so-called President and his regime 24 hours to take action.  If not, they promised to overthrow him.  In other words, the small, disorganized and demoralized leftover of the Ukrainian police now might be told to put down both the Russian-speakers in the East and the Galician freaks in Kiev.
  • As for the always amazing White House, its press secretary has declared that the USA "praises" the neo-Fascist regime for its "restraint".
Okay, so what is really going on here?

The Ukrainian military is told that it has to stop "terrorists". Regardless of whether they believe it or not, the Ukrainian commanding officers are more or less willing to execute that order.  What they seem to be unwilling to do is kill many civilians or, even less so, take a city by force.  So they stop in the outskirts and conduct very tense and unpleasant dialog with very hostile and suspicious civilians.

The Ukrainian security services are probably more willing to shoot civilians, but they seem to be really weary of entering the rebel cities, and I can't blame them.  Unlike most of the barricades around the cities which are manned with civilians (including women and senior folks), some barricades and buildings inside the city are defended by armed men, some definitely with military experience, and supported by many civilian demonstrators.  Any SBU force seen shooting civilians risks being killed by a lynch mob.

The Right Sector thugs would love to kill as many of the accursed Moskals as possible, but they have neither the training nor the numbers to seize a town.  And should they be caught they have no hope whatsoever to make it out alive.  They will be literally torn into pieces by the locals.

So, to sum it up so far:

1) The Ukrainian military only pretends to participate in the so-called anti-terrorist operation.  While some units from Galicia might try it, most units are probably unwilling to shoot many civilians.
2) The cops, SWAT teams and SBU special forces probably would not mind shooting into a crowd, but they would be fearful to enter inside the urban environment of a city and storm buildings while having a furious mob all around them.
3) As for the neo-Nazi thugs and common criminals hired by the oligarchs, they have neither the training nor the means to put down a city.

Thus, the first day of that civil war is one of total chaos and confusion with only localized violence.  Even if 11 civilians were killed, this is nothing compared with what would happen in the Ukrainian military decided to attack a city with Multiple Rocket Launchers like the Georgian did with Tskhinval in 08.08.08.

A few words about the Russian speaking opposition now.

I have watched as much video footage today as I could and here is what I see:

1) Lots of real civilians, unarmed, including women and seniors.  They seem both frightened and very angry.  Their plan is to form a human shield to stop the Fascist assault.
2) Lots of determined and solid looking men, many of the coal-mine workers.  They are armed with metal rods, sticks and a few Molotov cocktails.  Any trained force armed with real assault rifles could easily kill them, but they would probably make minced meat our of Right Sector thugs.  These are simple but *very* tough men, and boy do they look mad....
3) An assortment of self-organized armed groups, mostly equipped with handguns and assault rifles, they have some real firepower, but are poorly trained and poorly commanded.  They could not stop a determined assault either, but they could provide enough firepower locally to scare off the cops.
4) A few small groups (3-5 men) here and there who look like they know what they are doing.  Some are former paratroopers, others have served in other well-trained units.  They seem to be trying hard to get a more or less organized resistance going and they probably could mount an intelligent attack on an enemy column (as happened over the week-end in one case).  I don't think that these groups are very numerous, but they could show up anywhere and they are therefore a real threat to any attacking force.

Taken separately, none of these defenders amount to much of a force to protect even a small city.  However, the combination of these very different type of defenders might present a real problem for the Ukrainian command, especially considering the morale problems on the Ukrainian side and what appears to be a fierce determination triggered by rage and fear by the Russian-speakers.

Besides, urban assault operations are always and inherently very difficult and very dangerous.  During such operations the most typical scenario is one where the initial attack appears easy and victorious and then all hell breaks lose and what appeared to be a success turns into a nightmare.  It takes not only a lot of firepower to prevail in an urban environment, but also a very strong determination and the willingness to kill a lot of civilians.  In the eastern Ukraine almost every civilian runs around with a cellphone or camera so there are "eyes" everywhere and every event is filmed, some are even streamed live on the Internet.  Not good for the attackers either.

One more thing: I think that a red line has been crossed today and that now that the entire population in the eastern Ukraine has been assimilated to "terrorists" while the two main candidates to the Presidential elections have been assaulted (and one, Tsarev, charged with, I kid you not, hooliganism and sedition!) there are no more hopes for a federalized unitary Ukrainian state.  When civilians were shot today in an official and authorized army attack, which was ordered by the so-called "interim President" and which was praised by the USA for its "restraint" a qualitative change in the struggle occurred.  Short of a miracle, my personal conclusion is that Ukrainian experiment has crashed and burned.  It's over for "the Ukraine".

For several days I have spoken of an "escape velocity" and I think that today it was reached.  To paraphrase a well-known English nursery rhyme:

The Independent Ukraine sat on a wall,
The Independent Ukraine had a great fall.
All the West's money and all the West's men
Couldn't put that Ukraine back together again

 
The only question now is what human price will the West and its neo-Nazi puppets in Kiev extract from the Ukrainian people before accepting the inevitable?

Stay tuned.

The Saker

Personal announcement: there is good news, and there is bad news (and one idea)

Dear friends,

Today, as people often say, I have some good news and some not so good news.

The good news is that a number of kind people have reach out to me in different ways to help me assure the survivability of this blog.  The idea is to make the blog available in sufficient number of duplicates located in different places of the planet to prevent the "Axis of Kindness" from shutting it down.  This is what we have done so far.  The following two locations are available as "reserves" to be used in case of an "accidental" deletion of this blog here:

https://vineyardsaker.wordpress.com/
http://thesaker.ucoz.com/blog

Right now, these locations are not used or updated and I will keep them "frozen" until and unless an emergency happens.

The following two sides have a partial backup of the pasts posts of this blog:

https://thesaker.wordpress.com/
http://info.scoop.co.nz/Saker_Analytics 

I am in contact with several folks who are trying to work out a way to backup the full blog in one location and then provide automatic "mirroring" of what is posted here.  That would be the ultimate solution, but it takes a little more time to setup.

Stay tuned, and I will keep you posted when this option is available, hopefully in more than one location.

The other good news is that the number of visitors to this blog is steadily rising and on Sunday it reached just a hair short of 20'000 (19,936 exactly) - not bad at all for a week-end day!  Also, I am getting daily reports about posts of this blog being published elsewhere, from Brazil, to India, to New Zealand, to Russia to the USA.  In other words, our joint efforts (at least 60% of the credit for the quality of this blog goes to you all, I could never hack this alone!) are paying off and we are kicking the presstitutes right were they deserve it.  So please continue commenting, posting links, reporting events, translating, proof-reading my horrible writing, discussing topics at length and everything else you have been doing.  We make a difference, however small.

Now the bad news.

Guys, I cannot accept money orders or checks.  While I do not distrust any specific person amongst you, I am trying to keep my "thin anonymity" up as long as possible.  Once my read identity comes up (which I know will happen sooner or later), it will be a major distraction and a pain in the a** for me to deal with.  I want to keep focusing on issues and topics, not personalities.  If I start accepting money orders or checks even this very "thin" anonymity of mine will go down the tubes real fast.  So all I can only suggest is this:
  • PayPal (flattr basically does not work for me)
  • Snailmail to either Europe or the USA (see exact addresses on the left)
I will spare you the frustrating discussions with my bank, and I will immediately concede that PayPal is a massive pain in the rear end to deal with.  I tried to find some alternative to PayPal which would allow folks to send me donations without going through the hassle of opening up an account, but they all have their own drawbacks.

If you really hate PayPal to the point of never wanting to use it I fully understand.  Then use snail mail and send me cash or gift cards or anything else you feel comfortable sending.

Somewhere down the road, if the donations keep on coming, I might consider opening up a non-profit, but at this point in time this makes no sense at all.

Sorry for the frustrating bad news.

One more thing:

I think that it might be extremely useful to create a group of "correspondents" of this blog.  Here is what I mean by that:

The fact is that I am the proverbial "armchair strategist", with all the flaws which derive from that situation.  This weakness is partially mitigated by the fact that I used to be a *professionally trained* armchair strategist: this is the guy who in peace time sits at the top floor of a sombre looking building and who in war time sits very deep inside a bunker.  He rarely wears a uniform, even more rarely combat fatigues, but he is always surrounded by lots of electronics and communication gear and each morning he gets a big pile of paper and secure emails which he plows through and then works with big databases to assess the data which just came in to evaluate it.  The closest he ever gets to a firing tank or artillery piece is on his computer screen, usually during command-staff exercises.  You know the type, right?  In Russian they are called "staff rats/bitch" (shtabnaia krysa/suka, штабная крыса/сука).  Not a very popular type with the frontline folks.  The polite word of us is simply "analyst".

One of the things which such an analyst has is the possibility to contact somebody in the area he is trying to evaluate to ask a question, get a detail, ask for a translation, etc.  In my case, however, my needs are even more basic:

I need local folks to go through the local Internet resources (not the big national news, those I parse myself) to seek out interesting stuff and then simply send me the links.  Though a commentary or evaluation of these links could be helpful, the links alone would be helpful enough.  Here are the languages which I can read more or less decently: very easily: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and English, of course.  With some difficulties Portuguese, and Dutch.  Slowly and preferably with the help of a machine translator,  can also understand a text written in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Afrikaans, Slovak and Macedonian.

Also, there are four languages which I don't know at all and with which I would really need a person willing to translate or even just summarize interesting articles in the local Internet (in order of priority): Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Hebrew.

Should that work, my goal would be to completely bypass the AngloZionist media and to offer the readers of this blog information from the small news sources which are little known but which are trying hard to become more visible.  Sure, we all know about RussiaToday, PressTV or TeleSur, but who knows what kind of interesting stuff is published on the local Internet in Omsk, Isfahan or Cochabamba?

Tlaxcala does a great job of translating "alternative" information in many languages and IPS tried to being local information sources.  But for the former does not use local correspondents or specialize in English-language information while the latter has, shall we say, a "not always adequate political agenda" with some pretty darn big blind spots.

So here is my idea: if some of you are interested in becoming "Saker correspondents" we could have your just scan the local press in your area (it don't need to be in Timbuktu - the local press in France or Romania might be very interesting too) and send me the links.  I could then either publish the full article if it is worth it, or just post a few links so those interested can read it for themselves, or simply read the stuff myself to help me understand a region or a current event.  If there will be Arabic, Chinese, Farsi or Hebrew speakers willing to be "Saker correspondents" then they would work somewhat differently: they could email me and say, "the local website has a reader's forum where one guy just posted his impression after a 3 day trip to the town of X and he is describing something interesting.  Do you want a summary or full translation?"  Depending on the place, situation and source I would have to decide whether this is worth the correspondent's effort.

Alternatively, you could bypass me completely and contact each other directly and jointly decide to try to get the local information sources to the English-speaking world, either through my blog or through any other outlet you like (God knows there are many very good ones today).  Then my role would be just to help put you in touch with each other and then you could work without intermediaries.

Just think about it.  All I know is that there are regular readers here from all over the planet, with lots of languages and excellent expertise and education.  Not to flatter you all, but there is *a lot* of brainpower available which we could put together if you guys are interested.

If not, no problem.  I regularly have goofy ideas and I don't expect a standing ovation every time a share them with others :-)

Again, sorry for the stupid situation with donations, but I tried my best within the time that I have and the laws, regulations and practices I have to comply with.  I can't afford doing something even remotely not 100% legal and 100% ethical.

Kind regards and many thanks,

The Saker

PS: there is a strong possibility that the international situation will take a sharp turn for the worse and there is a not trivial possibility that some kind of conflict or war may start in several locations on the planet (the Ukraine, DPRK, South China Sea, Venezuela, Iran, etc.).  So whatever we decide, let's try to stay in touch and try to make sense of what is going on together, okay?  The Saker

Full Press Conference of the Russian delegation at PACE (subtitled in English)

Thanks to kind help of 'sparling-05' I can post the full press conference of the Russian delegation at PACE.  I think that seeing this historical moment on video with subtitles give us a much better sense of the atmosphere in which it took place and of the overt and rude hostility of the presstitutes present.

Enjoy!

The Saker


Ukraine SITREP April 15, 10:54 EST (a sharp turn for the worse)

The situation in the Ukraine has taken a very sharp turn for the worse.
  • Two Presidential candidates from the eastern part of the country were assaulted yesterday by Ukie brownshirts.  Mikhail Dobkin got away with only paint and flour thrown at him, but reports say that his bodyguard were hurt.  Oleg Tsarev got severely beaten, however, and barely escaped the Right Sector lynch mob.  No doubt, this will not prevent the "democratic West" from concluding that the elections were free and fair.
  • A mob of Right Sector activists surrounded the Parliament building in Kiev and accused the regime in power of incompetence and indecision in its repression of the eastern Ukraine.  The Right Sector wants weapons do "close down the border with Russia and deal with the insurrection in the East".  After some negotiations they gave the so-called "President" 24 hours to yield to their demands.  Iulia Tymoshenko was so frightened that she apparently declared that the Right Sector might seize power.
  • The "anti-terrorist" operation has now clearly begun.  Several towns and at least one airport in the East have been stormed by pro-regime forces.  Combats are reported from many parts of the region.
  • In the meantime, the EU and the USA are preparing another round of sanctions against, you guessed it, Russia.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has announced that if the regime in Kiev uses violence the talks scheduled for this Thursday in Geneva will be scrapped.
  • Putin called Obama and they had diplomats often call a "frank and lively exchange of views"
  • I have just received the confirmation that the video with the so-called "Russian Lt.-Colonel" is a fake made by a member of the UDAR party of Klitchko (Google translated article here)
It appears that after a few days of confusion and chaos, the regime in Kiev and its western sponsors have decided to try to solve the problem by brute force.  This maximalist strategy of "no negotiations, only violence" is fully consistent with the usual US practice and the record of the Ukie neo-Nazis.  For a few days there were signs that maybe a real negotiation might take place, but now this options seems have been discarded in favor of a violent crackdown.  Of course, the recent visit of the CIA director in Kiev (now admitted by the US government) had strictly nothing to do with that.  Yeah, right.

Now a lot will depend on how effective the Fascist forces will be in their crackdown.  I personally very much doubt that the goal of pacifying the eastern Ukraine is achievable.  The freaks can probably put down a town or two, but all of them seems hardly doable, even over time and one by one.

Furthermore, and even though the Kremlin really does not want to end up in this situation, I am quite certain that the Russia military will intervene should the bloodbath become too massive.

I am starting to get the feeling that the West's 1%ers have concluded that a civil war in the Ukraine and/or a Russian intervention might be a better option that a democratic and federalized Ukraine.  Within their own logic and twisted system of values, they might be right: there are more and more signs that a referendum or any chance for democracy could be used by the eastern Ukraine to secede.  So, in the traditional AngloZionist way, they concluded "if I can't have it, I burn it".

The idea that the Ukraine might turn into another Afghanistan is, however, naive to the extreme.  Afghanistan was a country united just about only one thing: the hatred of foreign occupiers.  Furthermore, the Soviet troops who fought there were officially doing their "internationalist duty" and not defending their own people and land.  Then, while the Soviet Union did occupy all of Afghanistan, thus an large hostile area, I am quite sure that any Russian military operation would stop at the Dniepr (who in Russia or eastern Ukraine needs to live "under one roof" with the Galician Nazis anyway?!).  Finally, and contrary to the prevailing myth, the Soviet military was rather successful in Afghanistan and it withdrew only because Gorbachev and the Russian people found it pointless, if not outright immoral, to invade another country.  In other words, politics got the Soviet out, not the prowess of the Afghan resistance who could not even take Kabul for a full three years after the Soviet withdrawal.

In contrast with Afghanistan, all the Russian military would have to do is whack the forces involved in the repression against the East and then let the locals take over.  Something not unlike what the Russians did in Georgia: they eliminated the Georgian armed forces, helped the folks in South Ossetia and Abkhazia get organized, withdrew and recognized the sovereignty of these republics.  One possible option for the Russian military would be to engage in a short but determined attack on key installations and units involved in the crackdown, then let the locals organize their "Republic of Donetsk" or "Novorossia" or whatever else they want to call it and recognize it as an independent state.  No such option was even remotely possible in Afghanistan.  So all that talk about a "new Afghanistan for Russia" is just wishful thinking by western elites.

The next week will be crucial and the outcome of the conflict will probably be decided in the next days so stay tuned.

Kind regards,

The Saker