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Putin seems to think the oil train is going to last forever.

 

I can’t say what Putin think of course, but official line in Russia is to consider balancing economy as top priority, alongside battling corruption, supporting demography and repairing defense gap. The problem is understood and addressed, but it is very hard to do something with it quick.

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It was decisive in shaping Russian public opinion that made current situation possible. What most western analysts do is underestimating public support of Putin’s actions in Russia, rather preferring to focus on his personality – and so avoiding inconvenient question of how 85% of pro-western Russians in early 1990th converted into 85% of anti-western now.

 

 

P.S. By the way it is common conspiracy theory here that whole Yugoslavia war was to distract attention from Monica Lewinsky affair. I hope Obama’s family is robust.

 

 

Interesting update, thanks - I had thought it was Libya that had influenced Russian opinion. I didn't realise Kosovo/Yugoslavia had so much weight these days.

 

In terms of why Serbia was isolated and hammered, I had the impression at the time it had something to do with WW1 starting in the same area, and that NATO wasn't going to let Serbia call the shots in what NATO considered to be its own back yard.

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No additional pressure in fact: Ukrainian Government is not paying for gas anyway, and Russian Government can’t just cut it off since it will also cut off supply for significant part of European clients (who pay for their gas)

 

 

I believe Russia just collected the debt - and billions more on top - by repossessing Crimea. Ukraine really should be getting free gas for a couple of decades.

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I think you underrate the fear of Russian actions of late. I dont like to magnify them, but looked at from the Prism of the 1930s, its inevitable that Europeans are going to assume the worst. And indeed, why wouldnt they?

 

Fear? LOL. Latvia might fear Russia, but then again, Latvians always fears Russia, so what has changed? The United States does not fear Russia. The United States is highly annoyed that Russia defied it. Who next shall tell the global hegemon to go pound itself? The US fears the potential for unintended outcomes, for the unanticipated connection between what should be unconnected things, for what Sir Edward Grey coined as the phenominon where the consequences of a previous crisis would dissappear underground, only to appear unexpectedly in another place, later on.

Edited by glenn239
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It would be rather difficult for Putin to battle corruption without upending the whole basis of the Russian political-economic system. Without corruption, the ability of Putin & Co to pay off their supporters would decline dramatically, which would threaten their hold on power. He could of course implement harsh political controls to supress dissent, and we're already seeing some movement in this area with further centralization of control over media and public sphere, but right now his supporters still expect significant monetary rewards. So basically relatively little has changed after "oligarchs" have departed the scene - just the identities of people collecting the payoffs. You don't think the Sochi Olympics cost 50 billion dollars because of the harsh southern Russian climate, do you? :)

 

So "fighting corruption" is really just a feel-good phrase for Russian TV anchors to use between denunciations of "national traitors" and "objective journalism".

Edited by Gregory
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I believe Russia just collected the debt - and billions more on top - by repossessing Crimea. Ukraine really should be getting free gas for a couple of decades.

 

It could only work if Ukraine officially approve this annexation (or reunion as it called here) – but they continue to insist it is not the case….

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Without corruption, the ability of Putin & Co to pay off their supporters would decline dramatically, which would threaten their hold on power.

Gregory, seems to me you completely misunderstand how political system work here in Russia now. Putin & Co is not paying off their business supporters – but just ease the grip on their throats when needed. And now, with all this West sanctions against “Putin supporters” this grip is even tighter – they can’t just escape to London or Emirates to enjoy benefits of their bank accounts till the end of their life. By imposing sanctions on Russian officials and business elite, West gives Putin not only their throats in one hand, but their balls into another – with full support of Russian population that hates this oligarchs.

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It was decisive in shaping Russian public opinion that made current situation possible. What most western analysts do is underestimating public support of Putins actions in Russia, rather preferring to focus on his personality and so avoiding inconvenient question of how 85% of pro-western Russians in early 1990th converted into 85% of anti-western now.

 

 

 

P.S. By the way it is common conspiracy theory here that whole Yugoslavia war was to distract attention from Monica Lewinsky affair. I hope Obamas family is robust.

 

Interesting update, thanks - I had thought it was Libya that had influenced Russian opinion. I didn't realise Kosovo/Yugoslavia had so much weight these days.

 

In terms of why Serbia was isolated and hammered, I had the impression at the time it had something to do with WW1 starting in the same area, and that NATO wasn't going to let Serbia call the shots in what NATO considered to be its own back yard.

Back in 1999, Russians wary of NATO expansion and the accompanying shift in doctrine to include foreign intervention used to say, "Bagdad yesterday, Belgrade today, Moscow tomorrow?"

 

Not sure if the original quote ended in a question mark as above...

 

EDIT: As to why NATO intervened in Yugoslavia, that's a subject for a separate topic entirely.

Edited by ink
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On the other hand, I think you have bought into the image of Putin as projected by Russian media. So here is the thing - Putin, despite his macho, "I'm in command here" image is still just one of many potential contenders for the Russian "throne". He does not have autocratic power, as much as he would like to - otherwise you'd be back to enjoying mandatory "volunteer" work on Saturdays and marching in columns on 1st of May. Why do you think he is so set on controlling the media and removing any sign of dissent from the public sphere? It's not because criticism wounds his sensitive soul, I'll tell you that much.

 

Basically, his ability to rule depends on providing his supporters with tangible tokens of favor. Now, since Russia has not quite devolved to level of 1970s USSR/North Korea, this involves money. If he stops providing a steady stream of rewards to his circle, it's very likely that he would be replaced. This money flow has two main streams - explicit funds spent by Russian budget and off-the-books payments to and from his supporters. In reality of course the picture is much more complex, with those two streams at times feeding into each other, but basically that's the way it works. By choking off the money flows from his cronies, the explicit reliance on Russian state is increased - it's true. If the sanctions stop there, they are not likely to be more than a minor inconvenience to Putin & Co. This has been noted by many, many Western commentators. However, if they proceed to the next step, and are accompanied by concrete steps to reduce the revenue Gazprom is able to collect from EU - that's when the real fun will start. Rising prices and falling incomes are a bad combination for any regime that does not rely on sheer terror to control the population. Over the next few years we'll see how the game will play out - what's happening right now around Ukraine is just a first move.

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And Serbs are much closer to Russians (could be understood without translation with some effort) – so NATO bombing them influenced public opinion much stronger then Iraq and Afghanistan, especially taking into account we got our own Albanians (Chechens) and it was hard for West to make Serbian actions looks bad here.

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On the other hand, I think you have bought into the image of Putin as projected by Russian media. So here is the thing - Putin, despite his macho, "I'm in command here" image is still just one of many potential contenders for the Russian "throne".

Macho image of Putin is much stronger translated in Western media then in Russian one – here he is presented mainly as serious political leader. And his public support is really significant. Of course in times of economic hardships leaders tend to loose popularity – but it is the case everywhere in the world, not only in Russia, isn’t it?

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Quite interesting tech used in exercises by Ukraine in Chernihiv Oblast (closest route to Kiev from Russia) in a training center. None of that usual T-64BV.

 

I see what seems to be BTR4, some T-80 based mod (Oplot,T-84?) shown. Maybe someone can make more definite ID

 

BTR4

 

BTR3?

 

Oplot?

 

Small roadwheels, Bulat?

 

More pictures here:

http://censor.net.ua/photo_news/279074/ukrainskaya_armiya_provela_masshtabnye_voennye_ucheniya_na_chernigovschine_fotoreportaj

Edited by carrierlost
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Stuart, 1) In Bosnia it was civil war with all sides doing a lot of nasty things, not only Serbs 2)On Kosovo – I still advise you to take a look on Taken or Taken-2 (since it is definitely not Serbian propaganda) – this fiction at least would give you the idea how this nice guys are viewed by their neighbors.

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And regarding this numerous mentioning of “German foreign policy playbook of the 1930s” - it is pointless IMHO: Austria and Germany historically were parts of two separate empires, while Russia and Ukraine are historically part of one state. So it is more like Germany reunification in 1990th.

 

That would assume East Germany was ceded to another nation that emerged from the former German Empire, rather than a zone of occupation developing into its own state. The analogy would fit Pommerania, Silesia and East Prussia which became part of Poland and Russia respectively, but obviously those weren't included in reunification; rather the existing borders were recognized in the Two-plus-Four Treaty of 1990.

 

Austria is indeed a much better comparison because it used to be part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until the latter officially dissolved in 1806, and in fact the Austrian Habsburgs provided the emperor most of the time even though the office was vested with nowhere near the power of the Tsar or later the Soviet government at the best of times, and damn-near powerless after the 16th century. The Austrian Empire, including Hungary and assorted other non-German territories, only starts in 1804. Though you could argue that the rest of the German Empire crumbled away from them rather than vice versa; but the same could be said for the position of Ukraine in the fall of the USSR, given the importance of the Kiev Rus for the Russian Empire.

 

It has been pointed out though that Russia is now in a situation not dissimilar to post-WW I Germany, seeing itself as the loser to a conflict treated unfairly and humiliated by the victors, having lost much of its previous realm with millions of its compatriots now living under foreign rule.

 

Please, enough of this Hitler stuff. ANY German statesmen in the 1930's and 1940's would have annexed Austria and other border territories. Stresemann, a more middle of the road leader than Hitler, was fully intending to do it before he died.

 

That is a rather strenuous thesis, and among other things completely ignorant of the Greater vs. Smaller German controversy throughout the history of German nationalism, largely informed by the Prussia-Austria antagonism and all the underlying streaks like Protestantism vs. Catholicism; a whole war was fought about this in 1866.

 

There was enthusiast support across all parties for a union in the Weimar Convention, already called for in the constitution of German Austria (i. e., the rump of the former Habsburg Empire), but negotiations fell apart even before the treaties of Versailles and Saint-Germain made it impossible, not least due to the economic burden it would have meant for Germany, plus Austrian demands to establish Vienna as a second capital etc. People soon found more pressing needs to worry about; the Pan-German League as the most vocal proponents of a Greater Germany reached their peak in 1922 with 52,000 members, but had only 8,000 in 1932.

 

Much of that camp was obviously gobbled up by the NSDAP, however with no Hitler, it becomes hard to get a base for the Anschluss. Many alternate scenarios for 1930s Germany foresee some sort of military dictatorship, and most of the military elite are Prussian-forged, no friends of saddling themselves with Austria. Even Stresemann, whose DVP had a largely Protestant voter base, was still apprehensive of the power shift towards Catholicism that an annexation would have brought, and expressed severe doubts it would be practical despite his wishes; support was far greater in Austria itself than in Germany, to the chargrin of the Austrofascists.

 

Hitler of course was not only Austrian, minor circumstances like religious differences didn't figure at all in his idea of a new German Empire. About any leader would have gone for the territories lost to Poland if given the chance; but I can't see many entertaining any serious thoughts about Austria.

Edited by BansheeOne
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...

Please. Spare us the simplistic propaganda...

 

Been to Kosovo recently?

Were you to Albania recently? Do you know why probably about 75% of population, despite all claims of solidarity hates Kosovo Albanians?

If not ask those who were (hint - there are few on this forum) in Kosovo and were observant who actually rules there - and no it not EU, NATO or any kind of government, it is clan leaders heavily involved in narco-trafficking. Same narco-trafficking supplied KLA, insurgency in Macedonia and southern Serbia. Same narco-trafficking brings shitloads of heroine to Euro market. EU and NATO are unwilling to crack on that as it would bring insurgency again and then whole "humanitarian intervention" bull falls apart.

 

Bonus question, who is David Hicks and where did he spend 1998/99?

And that has exactly what to do with ascusations of annexation and puppet governments? You want to dig into that, the USSR had that pattern down in spades. Otherwise, you're unhappy with punative expeditions?

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Stuart, 1) In Bosnia it was civil war with all sides doing a lot of nasty things, not only Serbs 2)On Kosovo – I still advise you to take a look on Taken or Taken-2 (since it is definitely not Serbian propaganda) – this fiction at least would give you the idea how this nice guys are viewed by their neighbors.

So we should have bombed the crap out of everyone?

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Scroll back Bojan, you're missing the point.

 

But to address your point..,What is Russian doing about the Narco Trafficking? What did Russia do about the 10 years of civil war?Perhaps you want the US to actually annex those places and institute US law. Would that work better?

 

What precisely do you desire insofar as an end state?

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Ryan, there are scarcely any Russians on Kosovo, but there are plenty of US and Euro troops and government types. So who should do something about narco trafficking? Or is it that your logic says that criticism toward NATO = automatic support for Russia? Cause again I have very little sympathy for Russia either, considering they are behaving just as US did some years ago.

 

I already wrote what could have been done in '90s re Kosovo.

 

What do I desire? Everyone to live nicely and plenty of alcoholic drinks for everyone. Which is utterly irrelevant, as it won't be that way. I just find internet cheerleading about "have to do something but heavens if we actually do something" and "have to help poor <insert current cuddly nation here> vs evil <insert current evil nation here>" from the west highly cynical given the western track record in last 20 years and utter fuckup in Libya.

 

And IMO Kosovo is a cancer, but it is YOUR cancer now. Good luck with it.

 

So we should have bombed the crap out of everyone?

 

No, you should have stayed the fuck out of it. Barring that maybe not torpedo two peace plans cause you did not like them.

Edited by bojan
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That was not what Roman wrote, he wrote that there are deep sympathies in Russia for Serbia (and reverse).

Which is nice and fine, but in politics sympathies don't count for a lot in real terms.

Edited by bojan
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Reading into it, it seems NATO will be going in if Russia pushes into Ukraine.

 

Air power supporting Ukrainian ground forces will put an end to any Russian attack there (blah blah, but S-30000000!!!! They're just standoff weapon bait).

 

So, I guess that's it for this little staring contest. Russia won't go in with that threat there.

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I can’t say what Putin think of course, but official line in Russia is to consider balancing economy as top priority, alongside battling corruption, supporting demography and repairing defense gap. The problem is understood and addressed, but it is very hard to do something with it quick.

 

 

Yeah, and if you believe it there is a bridge that you can buy. Especially laughable the battling corruption part.

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Reading into it, it seems NATO will be going in if Russia pushes into Ukraine.

 

Air power supporting Ukrainian ground forces will put an end to any Russian attack there (blah blah, but S-30000000!!!! They're just standoff weapon bait).

 

So, I guess that's it for this little staring contest. Russia won't go in with that threat there.

 

The smart way would've been to quickly deploy light forces to the eastern borders of Ukraine ("to protect the Russian minority"), the same way we deployed 101st to Saudi during "Desert Shield".

Edited by Gregory
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