The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War

29 11 2015

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The death of Russia’s brutal dictator-for-life Vladimir Putin, and the end of Russia, will comprise the final chapter of the Cold War—which began at the end of World War II, and lasted more than 70 years.

Lots of us have lived through that war since we were children.  Growing up a mile west of UCLA’s Westwood campus in Los Angeles, and attending elementary school not far away in the suburb of Brentwood, my classmates and I had to go through mock nuclear explosion drills and hide under our desks and shield our heads from “falling debris.”  I remember it well.

It is estimated that the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s.  As the Soviets moved through Germany and captured Berlin at the end of World War II, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.[2]

To their credit, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush set their sights on destroying the Soviet Union; and it is gone, without a shot being fired.  After Soviet forces left Afghanistan in humiliation and defeat—and in body bags—the USSR imploded.  The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell, and the rest is history.  Yet, the Cold War did not end.

Putin is a killer, and Stalin’s heir.[3]  After World War II, he came to prominence as a KGB operative in East Germany—or the DDR, as it was known before the collapse of Erich Honecker’s government—which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit, or the Evil Empire.  Following the USSR’s implosion, Putin and his thugs and cronies hijacked Russia’s incipient democracy, and have been exploiting it ever since.

Despite being a “public servant” all of his life, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated to be $70 billion; “Versailles” has been built for him already[4]; and his cronies have amassed billions of dollars too, and are living like kings outside of Russia.  The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini.  Nothing less will suffice.

The world must never forget that Putin left the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to launch his aggression against Georgia. Then, he left the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and launched his aggression against Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.  Also, the world must never forget that in addition to downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—and killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board—Putin killed Alexander Litvinenko and countless others.

Russia is crippled as a result of our economic sanctions and the fall of oil prices. By ratcheting up the sanctions even more—such as unilaterally denying Russia access to the SWIFT banking system—Putin and Russia will be in free fall, and in a death spiral from which they will not recover.  Putin’s “invasion” of Syria may prove to be quicksand for him, just as Afghanistan was for the Soviets.

Russia is weaker today than the former USSR before it collapsed.  It spans nine time zones and includes 160 ethnic groups that speak an estimated 100 languages. It is by no means monolithic, and may crumble “overnight.”  Once Putin is gone, Russia may be dismembered—never to rise again—with China taking part (e.g., Siberia, which it covets) and the rest becoming independent states like the former Yugoslavia.

Each of the new states will act in its own best interests, just as has been true in the former Yugoslavia, and among the countries that were spun off from the USSR—which have thrived as part of the West.  Putinism will not survive Putin.  It will suffer an ignominious death, like its namesake; and constitute a tragic watershed in history, like Adolf Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich” and Nazism.

Let the celebrations begin.  The end is near . . .

© 2015, Timothy D. Naegele

Putin's death

_______________________________________________

[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search: Timothy D. Naegele

[2]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin’s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao’s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust”)

[3]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ (“Russia’s Putin Is A Killer”)

[4]  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putin%27s_Palace


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91 responses

30 11 2015
smilinjacksez

Wow, that’s a lot of history in a few lines….every student should be made to read it.

Liked by 1 person

6 12 2015
Russell Dee

Please kick Russia out of SWIFT. Just do it now and stop thinking and talking about it. The west is allowing its’ fear of Russia’s threats to determine western policy. The west is not kicking Russia out of SWIFT because the West is scared of Russia. Just kick Russia out of SWIFT and stop talking about it and stop thinking about it. when our western leaders talk about it and think about it they talk themselves out of doing it. They need to stop talking about it and stop thinking about it and just do it. Russia is not going to start WW3 over a diplomatic economic punishment like kicking them out of SWIFT. They will scream and threaten but they will not risk the destruction of their own country over an economic diplomatic punishment. And if Russia does attack us over it then it would not be a total all-out war situation and we should respond with a commensurate attack. Just do it.

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6 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

I respectfully disagree with the following:

The west is allowing its’ fear of Russia’s threats to determine western policy. The west is not kicking Russia out of SWIFT because the West is scared of Russia.

Other countries may be afraid of the murderous Putin and Russia, but the United States is not. Russia is a pygmy state by comparison.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures (“List of countries by military expenditures”)

Both Putin and Russia are in a death spiral from which they will not recover. To his credit, Barack Obama has been ratcheting up our sanctions and other pressures against Russia. It is being done on an incremental basis, not all at once.

One must never forget that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush set their sights on destroying the USSR, and it is gone, without a shot being fired. Putin must be terminated like Mussolini, not coddled.

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6 12 2015
Russell Dee

After the cold war, for some time, Russia was financially destitute. Russia was starving. And during that time Russia was not bullying other nations, stealing other nations’ territory, and causing trouble all over the globe. And during that time the west invited Russia into the fold and helped Russia back to her feet. And as soon as she got back on her feet the first thing she started doing was developing better military technology and modernizing its’ military. At the same time she began to steal other countries territory, bullying other nations, thwarting the west’s efforts to move the world into more civilized behavior, and generally causing mayhem and destruction.

It was a mistake to help Russia out of it’s financial ruin. We should have left her there.

The character of the Russia people is not conducive to peace and harmony with other countries. Russia’s mentality is a bully mentality and if Russia has money Russia will abuse other nations. The only safe Russia is a destitute Russia. We need Russia to go into ruin and we need to keep Russia in ruin for as long as we can.

About a year ago I was reading a story about the Russia stealing Crimea from Ukraine. The story included a brief interview with a Russian sociologist. That sociologist was praising Russia’s Crimean land grab. She was talking about how taking Crimea was making the Russian people happy…making the Russian feel good. She said, “Before we were losing territory but now we are gaining.” And this made her feel good and this made her happy. She was feeling good and happy, and she was saying that the Russian people were feeling good and happy, because Russian leaders were bullying another country and stealing that country’s territory. Now contrast her attitude with the attitudes of western sociologists. Look at the difference between a Russian sociologist and a western sociologist. Western sociologists are trying to stop all wars. Western sociologists are trying to get more funding for the poor and the disabled and the marginalized. Western sociologists complain about their own countries when their countries hurt people from other countries. The sociologists of a country are some of the most sensitive people of any country. That Russian sociologist I talked about is one of the more sensitive people in Russia and she’s all for her leaders going into other nations, killing people, and stealing their territory. And she is one of the more sensitive persons in Russia.

It’s the nature of the Russian people. They don’t care about anyone except themselves. This is their mentality. They don’t care about right from wrong.

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6 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again for your comments.

First, as my article above states, the “Cold War” did not end. It merely morphed into its present form.

Yes, the USSR is gone, but Putin and his thugs and cronies seized power and have been continuing the Cold War to this day. Only when Putin and Putinism are gone, and Russia no longer exists, will the Cold War have truly come to an end.

Second, I agree with your second paragraph. However, there was hope for a different result. Since Putin is a KGB-trained killer and “Cold Warrior,” nothing has changed except Russia today is weaker than the Soviet Union was before it collapsed.

Third, when I was in law school, my wife and I spent a summer vacation in Europe, traveling more than 15,000 miles before the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell. We met a couple at Split in the former Yugoslavia. The husband was German; and I will never forget him telling me that the Yugoslavs and Greeks were afraid of the Germans because of World War II. He was very proud of that fact.

On a later trip to Germany, after the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell, I was visiting friends; and I was told by someone that the only thing wrong with Hitler was that he did not “finish the job” of killing all of the Jews. I listened, because I wanted to learn what the Germans truly believed.

Thus, the Russian “mindset” that you describe exists outside of Russia.

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6 12 2015
Russell Dee

I agree with you that the Cold War did not actually end because if it had ended then Russia would not have been developing new military technology, modernizing its’ army, toughening up its’ army, and generally readying itself for conflict even as the Kremlin was calling the West its’ “partners.” I also don’t think Russia stopped its’ anti-western thinking since the so-called end of the Cold War. I think that when Russia called us “Partners” and pretended we are Russia’s friends it was MASKIROVKA. This is a tactic Russia uses to trick its’ adversaries. They aren’t even ashamed of it. Basically the tactic is to deceive the adversary. In this case, Russia pretended to get along with the adversary (the west) so the adversary would soften its’ military while Russia strengthens its’ own military and then Russia can get its’ adversary at a disadvantage. It was a dishonorable and deceitful tactic unbefitting of an honorable military but Russia and it’s military are not honorable. And look how soft the west has become. Russia’s tactic of Maskirovka actually worked and now the west is scared of Russia. I disagree with you about America not being worried about Russia because I myself am worried about Russia. But the difference is that I know that Russia’s belligerence and threatening attitude and behavior is having an affect on my perceptions and I take that into account. I do not believe western leaders are mindful of that, and I include USA leaders in my assessment.

I think Russia does what all bullies do – project a tough invincible dangerous image. I think that Russia would start a war but I really doubt Russia would push it all the way to all-out war. Russia knows all-out war means the end of Russia as well as the west. I even think that there’s a chance that before a war between the west and Russia got to the point of all-out war China might tell Russia to cool it because I don’t think China wants to get nuked and I think that China knows that if all-out war breaks out between Russia and the west then China could get nuked if it was an accomplice of Russia’s. I don’t think China wants to get nuked over an argument between the west and Russia. No matter how much bluster China talks BEFORE such a war took place I think that if such a war did take place China would start moving towards the sidelines. I think all-out war between Russia and the west would end up being Russia/Iran/North Korea versus the west and Russia/North Korea/Iran would be utterly destroyed during such an all-out conflict as would be a lot the west. And I think Putin would be happy with the part about the west being destroyed but I don’t Putin would be happy with the part about Russia being destroyed.

Valdimir Putin would be up in his big new “Doomsday” plane but sooner or later that plane has to land and I don’t think Vladimir Putin wants to land into a Russia that is a radioactive wasteland of carnage and rubble. I think he’s just as worried about the west as the west is worried about him, and if western leaders would get that into their heads they could manage that murderous thug better. I don’t think he’s going to push the nuclear button and I don’t think he can win in a man-to-man battle against the west. I think he knows this and I think that when push comes to shove he may start some small war against the west but he isn’t going to let it go full-on total war.

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6 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Putin is only interested in two things: his personal survival, and power.

By invading Georgia and then Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, he has played to the issue of Russian nationalism, and diverted attention from problems in the “Motherland.”

As more Russians come home in body bags, and as economic conditions deteriorate even more, the Russian people may decide that his is not the path to follow.

His own self-preservation and power do not include a major war. His military is not capable of one. Yes, he bluffs Europe, but that is all he is able to do.

Again, Russia is a pygmy state, and he is its pygmy leader. When he goes, Putinism goes with him.

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6 12 2015
Russell Dee

I despise Russia for kidnapping other nations. Other nations should not have to be part of Russia if they don’t want to be part of Russia. Each nation should be free to select its’ own destiny. Russia’s interference in the efforts of other nations to join the west amounts to enslaving those other nations.

All of that having been said, I disagree with you about Russia’s military capabilities. I do think that their new tank is superior to our Abrams tank. I acknowledge that Russia lacks the money to fund the full deployment of their new tank but they are deploying some of them. I also think that their S-400 and coming S-500 are horrific weapons that can potentially literally anihilate our air force. And then there’s the Chinese carrier killers, which could factor into a US versus Russia war. These 4 weapons are plenty potent and the Russian air force is formidable as well. And Russian ground forces look pretty smooth & effective in Ukraine. I know Ukraine is not the same as NATO but the point is that the Russian troops still look much more capable than they are given credit for. As much as I despise Putin I still have to admit that he has improved his military substantially and we need to take his military seriously or else we won’t be prepared if war breaks out between NATO and Russia. We underestimate Russia at our own peril. Russia is a tough potent military. True enough the Russian state is a pygmy but its’ military is not.

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14 12 2015
JOHN BOULTON

I think S-400 and S-500 will be good for bullying / threatening aircraft from ‘safe’ territory in a limited conflict. e.g launching from Russia into the airspace of a limited Baltic conflict.

In the event of all out war, where NATO is prepared to strike inside Russia, I expect these systems will be persecuted to extinction in the opening phases of conflict.

Liked by 1 person

6 12 2015
Russell Dee

And Russia’s arms sales are picking up so it can use arms sales to offset some of its’ losses due to lower oil prices. Putin knows what’s happening. He sees that oil prices are low and could drop further. He knows Russia has western sanctions leveled against it. He knows these things hurt Russia financially. And yet Putin still keeps pushing Russian aggression. That could mean that Putin has a trick or two up his sleeve. For example, maybe he knows that arms sales can make up for some of the economic losses stemming from low oil prices and maybe he knows that his middle eastern aggression can potentially push oil prices higher. Maybe this; maybe that. The point is that the Russian economy is in trouble now, Putin is aware of it, and he is probably planning action that could help the Russian economy. To prevent him from saving the Russian economy NOW is the time to kick Russia out of SWIFT. By delaying we are giving Putin a chance to come up with a way around Russia’s financial problems.

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7 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

A few brief thoughts about both of your last sets of comments.

First, it must be remembered that the murderous Putin invaded Georgia with a conscript army, using Soviet-era equipment. Thus, anything is an improvement over this.

Second, the best that he and Russia have today has been on display in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. It is not impressive.

Third, yes, he has weapons systems on the “drawing boards,” with a few in limited production. However, Russia’s dire financial straits prevent him from doing much more. He and Russia are “paper tigers,” and pygmies.

Fourth, the Pentagon is well aware of what he and Russia have, and what they do not have.

Fifth, his “bark” is fall louder than his “bite.” Like the USSR, where he learned at the feet of the best, he and Russia are engaged in pure propaganda and blustering. It is “show,” which our weak allies have taken in, to some extent.

Sixth, I agree with respect to SWIFT, which may come. Time will tell.

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18 01 2017
nameless

Since I haven’t posted in awhile I wanted to ask you what you think of the upgrade plans to the US’s Abrams tank? I think the upgrades makes the Abrams more competitive with Russia’s new Armata tank.

I still think that we need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something even better than the Armata but I don’t see a rush because, like you said, Russia doesn’t have the money to buy all of the Armata tanks that it wants whereas we are fully capable of funding the upgrades to our Abrams tanks.

On the other hand, if Trump lifts sanctions against Russia then Russia will have access to money and then it will have more money to beef up its’ military.

My 2 big concerns about Russia now are

1. Donald Trump is too accommodating towards Russia.

2. S-400 and their pending S-500 are a problem.

As you can see my number one concern about Russia is our President-elect Trump. His nice-nice with Putin/Russia is a big problem.

Liked by 1 person

18 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again for your comments.

I was an Infantry officer, and armor was never remotely an area of my expertise, so I will respectfully beg off addressing your comments in that regard.

As stated elsewhere, I do not believe our President-elect will be deceived by Putin in the least.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-9523

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7 12 2015
Russell Dee

About your second point, I thought Putin’s Crimea force looked impressive.

About your third point, yes he only has limited production of his new tank but he has a good supply of his S-300 and S-400 air defense systems and they are hands down the best air defense systems in the world. They are better than Patriot or THAD.

About your fourth point, yes the Pentagon is aware of what Putin has and the Pentagon itself is scared of Putin’s S-300 and S-400. Putin can almost ground our entire Air Force with these two systems. And he’s got the S-500 coming. I wish we had the S-400 instead of the Patriot and THAD.

We need to break Russia’s back financially and leave them in a state of financial wreckage.

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7 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

The force in Crimea is the best that he has. And as a propaganda piece, they had to look good, or at least decent.

The Pentagon is not “scared” of anything. Having worked there in intelligence, they have plans and plans and plans, for each and every contingency. Despite being a “government bureaucracy,” it is head and shoulders above every other organ of American government . . . thank God.

I agree with your last paragraph completely.

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7 12 2015
Russell Dee

Do you remember what I said about Putin having a plan to try to find ways around low oil prices? Look what just made the news:

http://sputniknews.com/military/20151207/1031340227/russia-iran-military-contracts-worth-billions.html

And this explains why Russia was keen to do the Iran/USA nuclear deal – he figured that if the deal was done then Iran would be able to start selling oil and Iran could use its’ oil revenue to buy Russian military hardware. Iran is going to sell a lot of oil and they are going to give a lot of that money to Russia for weapons sales.

The west needs to disrupt Putin’s schemes now by kicking Russia out of SWIFT.

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7 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

First, Sputniknews.com is “an international multimedia news service launched on 10 November 2014 by Rossiya Segodnya, an agency wholly owned and operated by the Russian government.”

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sputnik_(news_agency) (“Sputnik (news agency)”)

Thus, it is pure Russian propaganda spewed out to the world by the murderous Putin’s shills and lackeys. It is as believable as what the USSR used to promulgate. No one should take it seriously.

Again, I agree with your last paragraph.

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7 12 2015
Russell Dee

I know Sputnik is a mouthpiece for the Kremlin but I also saw the same story in other media sources. A number of media sources are saying that Iran will be making huge military hardware purchases from Russia. If this is true then that is two problems: 1. Russia will get needed revenue 2. Iran will develop a monster army. We don’t need either of these two things happening. We need to speed up the bankrupting of Russia and we need to do something to prevent Iran from building a huge army.

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8 12 2015
Russell Dee

Thank God the price of oil continues to fall. That will hurt Russia in two ways. 1. Russia will have less revenue from oil. 2. Iran will have less money from oil to buy Russian military hardware. Plus Iran won’t have the oil revenue to build the Frankenstein monster army that it wants to build. This would all be good but oil prices need to come down to $20 or even $10 a barrel to wreak enough havoc on the Russian and Iranian economies.

And it would still be best to also kick Russia (and Iran too) out of SWIFT. All you have to do is look over the stuff said by Iran and Russia at their recent meeting and it becomes apparent that Russia and Iran are dangerous monsters who want to create an nightmarish world.

If the west and Saudi Arabia can bankrupt Russia (and hopefully Iran too) they need to keep Russia and Iran destitute for a good amount of time. It can’t be just 2 or 3 years.

Like I said before, Russia was destitute awhile ago and we allowed her to get back to her feet. We did business with her. We funded her and we brought her into the fold. It was a mistake. Russia is a foul and evil place, and its’ citizens rationalize and justify the plunder of other nations. That’s how the Russian people are hardwired, and they are not going to change. Russia has taught us that the only time they aren’t hurting people is when they are destitute.

If we can get Russia destitute for 15 – 20 years that would suffice. By then the world would be different in ways that would inhibit Russia from becoming as powerful as it is today. You see, it takes money for Russia to become powerful and the primary way that Russia makes money is via oil. In 20 years from now oil will not have the clout that it does today because alternative energy sources will be in much wider use. The quick-charging, affordable, electric car with a 300-mile range is coming.

Oil has seen most of its’ best days.

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8 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

First, as I wrote in the article above:

Once Putin is gone, Russia may be dismembered—never to rise again—with China taking part (e.g., Siberia, which it covets) and the rest becoming independent states like the former Yugoslavia.

Each of the new states will act in its own best interests, just as has been true in the former Yugoslavia, and among the countries that were spun off from the USSR—which have thrived as part of the West. Putinism will not survive Putin. It will suffer an ignominious death, like its namesake; and constitute a tragic watershed in history, like Adolf Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich” and Nazism.

Second, with respect to so-called man-made “global warming” or “climate change,” I have written:

Barack Obama is among the world’s so-called “elites” whose criminal obsession and fanaticism with global warming are threats to civilized life on this planet. In another time, the proponents of “global warming” would have been members of the “Flat Earth Society,” and claimed a consensus with respect to it too. So-called man-made “global warming” is a hoax and “The Great Green Con.”

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-34-trillion-swindle-the-shame-of-global-warming/ (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming”)

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8 12 2015
Russell Dee

I totally disagree with you about man-made global warming.

The man-made global warming warnings do not originate from democrats or any politicians for that matter. These warnings originate from scientists and the scientists will align themselves with whichever party is willing to try to solve the problem. If republicans were trying to solve the problem and democrats were being obstinate then the scientists would align themselves with the republicans. The scientists are on the side of solving the problem, not on the side of republicans or democrats. You’re focused too much on democrat versus republican…Obama versus republicans.

This is about the fact that the environment is becoming less and less hospitable according to the scientists. Take the politics out of it.

That aside, it doesn’t matter how you feel about global warming because the affordable efficient electric motor is coming no matter what. It’s almost here and it will kick oil to the curb. And when it kicks oil to the curb that will rob Russia of its’ ability to generate large amounts of revenue with which to make mischief. So we only need to make the Russians destitute for about 20 years and then after that their oil won’t afford them the luxury of generating the revenue to bully other nations. At least I don’t think so. At any rate, we should make Russia destitute and keep her destitute for as long as we can.

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8 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

I respectfully disagree regarding so-called man-made “global warming” or “climate change.”

Scientists are “whores” just like politicians; and they are bought and sold (e.g., government and/or university grants).

Enough said. We do not agree, and there is no point in discussing the subject further.

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8 12 2015
Russell Dee

And I’m a lot less certain that Russia will fall than you are. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think Putin will back off some as soon as his reserves shrink down to the danger zone and the stupid west will allow him back into the fold again. I think this would be a huge mistake because as I’ve said Russia is incapable of living in peace and harmony with other nations. If the west accepts an olive branch from Russia and let’s Russia back into the fold then Russia will bide her time, build strength, build reserves, and then start causing trouble again. Russia needs to be put into a destitute state and kept in that state long term or else Russia needs to fall as you indicate. One or the other. The west should never take Russia back into the fold again but unfortunately in the west there is a lot of sentiment to take Russia back in. If you do not believe me just look at France.

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10 12 2015
Russell Dee

Now you have Italy trying to prevent sanctions against Russia from being renewed. Europeans are weak appeasers. You would think they would have learnt from WW2 that appeasement is a mistake but Europe is stupid. They think it’s possible to get along with a monster. Russia = monster.

I actually think that there’s a chance that Europe would willingly agree to accept Putinism rule of their own countries rather than fighting against Putinism.

If the west lifts sanctions from Russia that will strengthen Russia and it will help Russia continue its’ brutal aggressive land grabbing. Europe is its’ own worse enemy.

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10 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Europe is very weak. This has been true for decades.

But see http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21683967-montenegros-accession-fills-one-few-remaining-gaps-western-alliance (“In the Balkans, NATO has outmuscled Russia”)

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12 12 2015
Valentina Tzoneva

I think that Mr Putin should stop activities in the Middle East and point his guns towards the real source of global mess-the usa. I think he has been too patient and unlike the author of this article I see the reality: usa is collapsing, nato is useless and cautious, un is serving the loosing usa. EU is waking up and dis-identifying from its ” leaders”- the puppies of usa. To the author I would say that I feel sorry for him for being a victim of brainwashing from early age. I wonder if you have missed the opportunity to cross-check the news.You can do it now.It will help. You are one of the millions of brain-washed patriots believing in their government. There is a solution for you: go for counselling or see a psychologist. Overall: your article is just a wishful thinking. May be you still believe in Santa and bin Laden’s 9/11? Really? Plus, do some fact-proving before you post. Please, do not bother to respond to my comment. Thank you.

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12 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Comrade. It is always nice to hear from the murderous Putin’s shills, much less one using a South African IP address.

The question for you is what will you do for a living when Putin and Putism are dead and buried, and Russia is dismembered like the former Yugoslavia?

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12 12 2015
Russell Dee

You are the one who doesn’t get it.

In the USA we have something called freedom. In Russia there is tyranny instead. Tyranny = slavery. And you are so mindless you can’t even figure out that you are a slave. You do what your government tells you to do but in America the government does what the people tell the government to do.

And your government keeps you brainwashed full of nationalism to blind you from that truth that you are a slave to your government.

You need to open up your eyes to the fact that you are a slave. It’s the 21st century and you are a slave. What a loser.

Liked by 1 person

15 01 2016
Alec

right back at you.

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18 01 2016
John Ackerby

You think Russia is about freedom. LOL. Here’s Russian freedom:

Ukraine: we are a free state and we chose to join the western civilizations.

Russia: No Ukraine you will be a Russian vassal.

Ukraine: No. We own ourselves and we chose the west. We are not Russia’s slave.

Russia: Ukraine you will be our vassal state or we will steal Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (at least).

Ukraine: No you can not have our territory and we chose to join the west.

Russia: Fine then we are stealing Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (at least) and we are going to keep your country in a frozen conflict so that you can’t be a stable and free democratic country that is part of the west.

Ukraine: That is not fair. We are our own country and we are free so we should get to join the west if we want to.

Russia: Hahaha! Yes you are your own country but we here in Russia don’t care. You have only as much freedom as we allow you to have. We are stealing large amounts of your territory and we are going to keep you in a frozen conflict. And we are destroying much of your country by making war in it and wrecking all of the infrastructure. Everything. And we are not paying one cent to cover the costs of the damage that we do in your country. As a matter of fact, we’re going to sue you for bond money you owe us but we won’t pay you back for the expense of cleaning up the mess we made of your country when we sent our goons there to do war against you inside of your own country.

This is Russian freedom.

Liked by 1 person

18 01 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

I agree completely, John. Thank you for your comments.

Putin is a “Cold Warrior” who will suffer the fate of his comrades in the USSR.

While I disagree with Barack Obama in many respects, his policies vis-à-vis Putin are correct. The sanctions and fall of oil prices are “gutting” Russia, with much worse yet to come.

At some point, Putin and Putinism will be history, and nothing more. The sooner it happens, the better.

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14 12 2015
Russell Dee

Kerry and Obama sure are spending a lot of time talking to Putin and I think it’s a big mistake. It also suggests your theory that the west will bankrupt Russia is incorrect. If the west were going to bankrupt Russia then the west, including Obama and Kerry, would simply ignore Putin while they keep sanctions on Russia and keep dropping the price of oil until Russia collapses. But instead Kerry and Obama talk to him and talk to him and talk to him I’m really worried that Obama and Kerry are going to put America in grave danger. You see, the biggest threat of Russia is not what Russia is doing in Ukraine or Syria. No. The biggest threat from Russia is its’ modernizing and expansion of its; own military. This is a problem and it doesn’t bode well for the future. And the only way to put a stop to it is to simply bankrupt Russia now. But if that was the plan then Kerry and Obama would not be talking with Putin about Ukraine and Syria at all. After all, if Obama and Kerry were planning to simply bankrupt Russia (falling oil prices plus sanctions) then there would be no reason to talk with Russia about Ukraine and Syria because once Russia goes bankrupt Russia will leave both Ukraine and Syria. The mere fact that Obama and Kerry are talking with Putin shows that Obama and Kerry do not intend to bankrupt Russia if they can avoid doing so, and this means that they will let Russia keep modernizing and expanding their military.

Big mistake!!!!!!!!!

We should bankrupt Russia.

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15 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

I agree with your last sentence.

With regard to talking with Putin, Barack Obama probably “hates” Netanyahu of Israel just as much if not more, yet they talk.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/ariel-sharon-is-missed/#comment-7737 (“Netanyahu Sets Off Firestorm Of Criticism”)

One lesson I learned early on in Washington is that you always take the calls of your adversaries and/or enemies. It is a lesson well learned.

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26 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Putin Plants The Holiday Jet Bomb That Killed 224 Russians [UPDATED]

Putin is pure evil

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

On a sultry night at Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East, events were much the same as any evening. Passengers’ tickets at the airport were scanned and passports stamped. People dozed on chairs; babies cried.

Outside, taxi-drivers loitered as chartered flights arrived or thundered away into the sky. One such departure early that morning on October 31 was Metrojet Flight 9268, taking Russian tourists home to St Petersburg from holidays on the Red Sea.

The Russian captain, a veteran called Valery Yurievich Nemov, had 12,000 hours of experience. The safety logs were up to date, though there had been previous damage to the aircraft when the tail was damaged — and repaired — in 2001.

As the aircraft taxied shortly before 4am, there were 217 passengers on board, with seven crew. Take-off went smoothly. The plane climbed to a cruising altitude of 31,000ft, and was 23 minutes into its flight, heading north over the Sinai peninsula.

Then the nightmare happened.

A shattering explosion towards the rear of the plane effectively split the aircraft in two and it crashed to the ground.

Bodies were found — many still strapped into their seats — scattered over a 30-mile radius 31,000 feet below where the aircraft broke up in the sky.

Experts say there would have been a ‘hurricane-like’ decompression ripping through the plane from back to front, tearing anything — and anybody — not strapped down into a maelstrom of airborne objects flying through the cabin.

Some of those aboard died of hypoxia — loss of oxygen — while many others were killed on impact with the ground. But the injuries suffered by those at the back of the plane were markedly different from those at the front. According to Russian sources, passengers in the front section suffered ‘blunt trauma of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, with multiple fractures to the upper and lower limbs and trauma to the internal organs’.

They add that passengers seated at the rear of the aircraft suffered ‘explosive trauma with multiple burns over 90 per cent of their soft tissues’, while their bodies had been peppered with shrapnel.

Islamic fanatics soon claimed responsibility for this horrific act of mass murder, subsequently publishing a photograph of a drink[] can concealing a timer and explosives, which the extremists claimed had been smuggled on to the aircraft, and detonated after it took off.

Yet, intriguingly, the extremists initially seemed to have as little detail about what actually happened as authorities on the ground, who, in the first hours after the disaster, were unsure of the cause.

Instead, in a brief and strikingly vague statement, IS condemned ‘Russian crusaders’ for their involvement in Syria, and warned that infidels ‘neither have safety in the lands of Muslims nor in their air’ and that ‘soldiers of the Caliphate were able to down a Russian airplane over Sinai province’.

If anything, the implication seemed to be that they had shot down the plane from the ground, not sabotaged it with a bomb.

What’s not in dispute is that the atrocity prompted an extraordinary, seismic shift in world politics between former foes.

Even though sanctions had been imposed on the Moscow regime over its intervention in Ukraine, David Cameron immediately made efforts to improve relations with Russia by phoning President Vladimir Putin to tell him that the British people ‘shared the pain and grief’ of the Russian people.

Putin was said to have been ‘gladdened’ by the call, and welcomed Cameron’s offer to help Russia track down the perpetrators, as other world powers — including France, Germany and China — pledged their solidarity with Russia over the outrage.

Public opinion, both in Russia and internationally, swung behind Putin after he swore to take ruthless revenge on Islamic State. Moscow started bombing Syria (where ISIS is taking on the ruling Bashar al-Assad government) within days of the aircraft being downed.

But is all really as it seems over the story of Metrojet Flight 9268? Could there be another very disturbing explanation of how the aircraft was blown out of the sky?

One man certainly believes so: Boris Karpichkov, a former spy with the KGB (later renamed the FSB) who now lives under a new identity with his wife and family at a secret location in England after fleeing here in fear for his life.

His sensational claim at first seems unbelievable. For he maintains it was the Kremlin, not ISIS, that deliberately blew the plane out of the sky.

And he says Putin cynically authorised the tragedy not only to obtain worldwide sympathy at a time when Russia was being treated as a pariah because of its aggression towards Ukraine, but also to gain support for its ostensible belligerence against ISIS, which Putin would use as a cover to attack rebel groups in Syria who were sworn enemies of his ally President al-Assad.

Of course, this could simply be the most monstrous slur by a deeply disenchanted man. For it has to be said that Major Karpichkov fell out with his KGB paymasters over money he claimed was owed to him, and ended up in jail before fleeing to Britain.

Yet his case deserves to be aired, particularly in view of the history of black propaganda emanating from Putin and his Kremlin cronies, and his argument is compelling.

The major claims his information comes from a general lieutenant in GRU (one of Russia’s numerous military intelligence wings).

This man told him, he says, that around the time of the plane’s crash, Putin had been expressing his concerns to Kremlin allies about ‘possible losses of political influence’ in Syria and the Middle East. Putin, he went on, was worried about the fate of his traditional ally in the region, President al-Assad, given the West’s support for rebel groups trying to depose him.

A plan was allegedly hatched by officials within GRU to reverse Russia’s declining influence in the region and — as Major Karpichkov claims he was told by a senior source — to ‘kill two rabbits with one bullet’.

The aim was to get ‘at least silent international approval’ for massive military operations against Assad’s enemies under the guise of a campaign against the IS terrorists blamed for bombing the Russian passenger jet; and to bolster Russia’s multi-billion-pound weapons business with the Middle East.

This was all summarised in a dossier compiled by the former KGB spy: ‘In order to accomplish all these aims and to get Western consent to fighting Islamic State (which was, essentially, official support for keeping the Assad regime in power), the Kremlin desperately needed the kind of justification which would generate worldwide attention and full international sympathy and approval for military action.’

The major certainly knows all about the dark arts of espionage.

A graduate of a KGB academy in Minsk, he was taught how to kill with his bare hands as well as how to carry out other so-called ‘wet-jobs’ — the killing of a target without leaving any traces of evidence.

He served in Russian intelligence for more than a decade, reaching the rank of KGB major and, as such, was privy to Kremlin secrets at a high level. He spent much of his career in the then Soviet republic of Latvia, where he specialised in counter-intelligence for the KGB.

When the Soviet empire collapsed in 1991, he stayed in newly independent Latvia, where he joined the country’s intelligence services. But he also remained on the books of the Kremlin, leaking information to his old bosses.

However, he was jailed for two months on weapons charges after a row over payments he claimed were owed to him by the KGB. The Russians, in turn, accused him of being involved in a massive fraud — part of the normal modus operandi of the Kremlin bringing criminal charges against enemies.

After he was placed under house arrest in Lativa, he used four false passports issued to him while he was a spy and fled the country, ending up in Britain a decade ago.

He says he retains high-level contacts in Russian intelligence circles, and that his dossier is an accurate representation of the truth about the worst terrorist atrocity involving an airliner since the terror attacks in New York on September 11, 2001.

The file states that Russian intelligence ‘geniuses’ in GRU outlined a plan to Putin and his closest aides to bomb a Russian airliner and blame it on Islamic extremists ‘to initiate enormous international hate towards ISIS and to create international sympathy to act on its own without any limits or reservations (for military action).’

Once agreed, Major Karpichkov says, the operation was straightforward.

A specialist in ‘wet-jobs’ and other forms of espionage was despatched to Sharm el-Sheikh, where hundreds of thousands of Russians holiday each year to escape the cold. Posing as a fighter who was recuperating in the Red Sea after serving in Ukraine, the agent befriended a young Russian woman staying in the resort, and began a holiday romance.

When the woman was due to leave for St Petersburg, the Russian agent gave her a ‘present’ — asking her to deliver it to his parents at home in Russia — and escorted her through the notoriously lax security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport before she boarded the doomed Metrojet flight in the early hours of the morning.

The gift, says Major Karpichkov, was a bomb and the detonator used to ignite the explosives was known as an EHV-7, which is produced exclusively for special forces soldiers. The device itself looked like a piece of plumbing tube, which is primed to explode by an electrolyte ‘bath’ slowly corroding a metallic wire, which detonates the bomb once it is broken.

The explosive material was — sources add — cyclonite, an enormously powerful substitute for TNT.

It has been suggested that the bomb was most likely placed under the seat 30A or 31A. Plane records show that seat 30A was occupied by Nadezhda Bashakova, 77, from Volkhov in St Petersburg region, travelling with her daughter Margarita Simanova, 43, who sat in 30B. In seat 31A was Maria Ivleva, 15, also from St Petersburg region. Could this young woman have been be the unwitting carrier of the bomb? She was with her mother Marina Ivleva, 44, who occupied seat 31B. My sources say the bomb carrier was older, and sitting nearby.

However extraordinary, the allegations about the Sinai crash are not as far-fetched as they may seem. After all, Putin has allegedly used such a murderous method against his own people to generate support for war before. In 1999, during Putin’s first term as president after coming to power following a career as a KBG spy, he was accused of being behind the infamous bombings of four apartment blocks in Moscow as well as the cities of Buynaksk and Volgodonsk.

Within 24 hours of a series of explosions ripping through the apartment blocks, killing 307 civilians, including women and children, and injuring more than 1,700 more, Putin had blamed Islamic fighters in Chechnya — and launched a devastating air assault on the region.

According to Putin and his loyalists, the bombing was ordered by Islamist warlords, who were trying to wreak havoc among the Russian population. Yet, even as Putin was going to war against his enemies in Chechnya, three Kremlin spies were arrested by local police who accused them of planting the devices.

At the same time, another bomb plot was foiled and Russian police traced suspicious calls, in which ‘terrorists’ discussed the atrocity, to a number in Moscow. It turned out to belong to the FSB (state security).

Other suspects arrested for the bombing campaign were later released after showing their FSB official identification cards.

Even more damning, it transpired that a Russian official had expressed his condolences about the apartment building bombings in an official speech to a council meeting — three days before any of the explosions.

A special parliamentary commission was set up to investigate the plot in 2000. While Putin’s government refused to co-operate with the inquiry, two members of the commission were killed in apparent assassinations, and its senior lawyer was jailed.

The commission later blamed Islamists and Chechen separatists for the apartment bombings.

Yet Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB spy who fled to Britain and was later murdered by two Russian agents, also alleged — along with several other former Putin allies — that the apartments were blown up on the Kremlin’s orders to win public support for a war in Chechnya.

Soon after making these and other allegations about Putin, Litvinenko was poisoned by Russian agents who slipped polonium 210 — a deadly radioactive substance — into his tea during a meeting at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square. He died in agony several weeks later.

Not surprisingly, the Russians have furiously dismissed the claims by their former spy. ‘This theory about the plane being deliberately blown up on Putin’s orders can only come from someone with a sick mind who is intent on revenge,’ snorted one Russian intelligence source.

‘Look at Karpichkov’s background — he has fallen out with all his old sponsors whether in Moscow, Riga or London, and probably the CIA, too. No one trusts him, and he invents far-fetched nonsense. Linking it to the apartment block explosions — well, these were also absurd claims for which no proof was ever produced.’

Perhaps this is true. Perhaps the claims by Boris Karpichkov are fantasy or some attempt to smear the spy’s former Kremlin handlers — part of the intelligence world’s so-called wilderness of mirrors, where nothing and no one is quite what they seem.

Or perhaps we do really live in times when people blow their own out of the sky for arms sales, oil and power.

For the sake of us all, let’s hope that the Russian major is horribly wrong about what really happened to Metrojet Flight 9268.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3374231/Did-Putin-plant-holiday-jet-bomb-killed-224-Russians-s-outrageous-theory-ex-KGB-agent-claims-dossier-proves-Kremlin-orchestrated-atrocity-justify-waging-war-Syria-decide-yourself.html (“Did Putin plant the holiday jet bomb that killed 224 Russians? It’s an outrageous theory. But an ex-KGB agent claims this dossier proves the Kremlin orchestrated the atrocity to justify waging war on Syria… and decide for yourself”); see also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/12103602/America-to-investigate-Russian-meddling-in-EU.html (“Russia accused of clandestine funding of European parties as US conducts major review of Vladimir Putin’s strategy”—”James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, has been instructed by the US Congress to conduct a major review into Russian clandestine funding of European parties over the last decade. The review reflects mounting concerns in Washington over Moscow’s determination to exploit European disunity in order to undermine Nato, block US missile defence programmes and revoke the punitive economic sanctions regime imposed after the annexation of Crimea”—”‘The Russian campaign exists in a grey area, operating covertly – and often legally – to avoid political blowback, but with the clear aim of weakening Western will to fight, maturing doubts over Nato, the EU, Trident and economic sanctions'”—”Russia also took an active interest in the Scottish referendum which threatened Britain’s Trident base at Faslane and which was given extensive coverage on Russia Today. Afterwards, Russia claimed the count was flawed and suggested the result was rigged”)

The world must never forget that Putin is a KGB-trained killer and Stalin’s heir, who served in East Germany—or the DDR, which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit.

Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s.

As the Soviets moved through Germany, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin’s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao’s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust”)

After the USSR imploded, Putin and his thugs and cronies hijacked Russia’s incipient democracy, and have been exploiting it ever since.

The world must never forget that he left the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to launch his aggression against Georgia. Then, he left the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and launched his aggression against Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.

Also, the world must never forget that in addition to downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—and killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board—Putin killed Alexander Litvinenko and countless others.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“)

The Russians may leave Syria in body bags, like the Soviets left Afghanistan. Russia is crippled as a result of our sanctions and the fall of oil prices, with much worse yet to come.

See, e.g., http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/oilprices/12104181/Russian-oligarchs-lose-11bn-in-just-10-days-during-oil-price-crash.html (“Russian oligarchs lose $11bn in just 10 days during oil price crash”—”The gilded generation of Russia’s richest men have suffered drastic losses during the market turmoil this year, hastening the end of an era of world dominance”—”[T]he era of the Russian oligarch is now drawing to a close, as the oil price crash and the collapse in the Russian currency leaves some of the world’s richest men nursing huge losses”—”Industrial sectors from steel to mining have been in the vanguard of the sell-off in Russian stocks, while the Russian rouble has dropped in value to new lows”—”In total the 13 richest Russians, who control around $130bn between them, have lost as much as $11.1bn since the start of the year”—”In a cruel twist of fate the sudden reversal of fortunes could see the newly enriched of Russia facing the age old problem of being asset rich but income poor, a headache that might more usually be associated with expatriate British pensioners”—”[M]any oligarchs have chosen to take their money out of the country”—”This creates a situation of vast wealth on paper, but assets such as luxury houses tend to generate little cash unless rented out, and assets such as yachts, private jets, helicopters and football teams can cost millions to support each year”—”[P]roperty in Russia will suffer from currency devaluation”—”The Russian rouble has more than halved against the pound during the past two years”)

The murderous Putin and Russia are in a death spiral from which they will not recover.

Putin must be terminated like Italy’s Mussolini, not coddled.

Putin's death

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29 12 2015
Russell Dee

I previously said that the biggest threat from Russia is not its’ bullying in Ukraine or it’s military intervention in Syria; rather the biggest threat from Russia is in it’s modernization and expansion of its’ military. Here is a new news article supporting my position:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/12/29/intelligence-report-warns-russian-naval-buildup.html

This is the reason why Russia must be bankrupted. The US and Saudi Arabia must lower the price of oil down to $17 – $20 a barrel and the west must keep existing sanctions on Russia, and perhaps even kick Russia out of SWIFT as well.

If the West and Saudi do not do this then Russia will soon regain the strength it had during Soviet times and it will complete its’ partnering with China to form the most powerful military juggernaut this world has ever known. And then we will all be at their mercy.

We need to bankrupt Russia for the sake of freedom and democracy and the forces of goodness over evil. But I honestly think that Saudi and the West may let Russia off the hook by letting oil prices increase and scaling back sanctions when they should be increasing sanctions against Russia.

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29 12 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

As stated in my article above, I believe we will witness the end of Putin, if not Russia too.

Russia is far weaker than the former USSR before it imploded. Any sense of Russian military “greatness” is a facade and little more.

With respect to China, Russia is a vassal state. China needs Russia like it needs more air pollution in Beijing.

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21 01 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Putin Killed Litvinenko [UPDATED]

Putin-Litvinenko-MalaysiaAirlinesFlight17
[Putin, Litvinenko and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that Putin shot down, killing all on board]

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

The wife of Alexander Litvinenko has declared her husband vindicated after a public inquiry found Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘probably’ ordered his assassination by FSB agents on the streets of London.

A major review has concluded Russian spies did kill the ex-KGB dissident, who was a British citizen, by poisoning his tea with radioactive polonium at a Mayfair hotel in central London in 2006.

Linking the state-sponsored assassination directly back to the President Putin could send relations between Britain and Russia back into a deep freeze.

A report by Chairman Sir Robert Owen today concluded Mr Putin ‘probably’ approved the assassination.

And following the report, Mrs Litvinenko said: ‘The chairman found as a fact and to a high degree of probability that the FSB directed Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun to murder Sasha and also found as a fact that both Vladimir Putin and Nikolai Patrushev, director of the FSB at the time, personally approved the assassination.’

She told waiting journalists outside the High Court that Mr Cameron should now expel all Russian agents from London and impose economic sanctions on Russia.

She continued: ‘I’m, of course, very pleased that the words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Mr Putin of his murder have been proved true in an English court with the high standards of independency (sic) and fairness.

‘But now it is time for David Cameron. I’m calling immediately for expulsion from the UK of all Russian intelligence operatives … based at the London embassy.

‘I’m also calling for the position of targeted economic sanctions and travel bans against named individuals including Mr Patrushev and Mr Putin.’

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Lugovoi called the charges against him ‘absurd.’

‘As we expected, there was no sensation,’ he said. ‘The results of the investigation that were announced today once again confirm London’s anti-Russian position and the blinkered view and unwillingness of the British to establish the true cause of Litvinenko’s death.’

In a statement released from his deathbed in 2006, her husband had said: ‘You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

‘May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.’

Sir Robert’s 300-page report said Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun were probably acting under the direction of Moscow’s FSB intelligence service when they poisoned the 43-year-old with radioactive polonium 210 at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Singling out then-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev alongside Mr Putin, Sir Robert wrote: ‘Taking full account of all the evidence and analysis available to me I find that the FSB operation to kill Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin.’

In his report, Sir Robert wrote: ‘I am sure that Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun knew that they were using a deadly poison and that they intended to kill Mr Litvinenko.

‘I do not believe, however, that they knew precisely what the chemical they were handling was, or the nature of all its properties.’

He continued: ‘I am sure that Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun were acting on behalf of others when they poisoned Mr Litvinenko.’

When Lugovoi poisoned Mr Litvinenko, it is ‘probable’ that he did so under the direction of the FSB, the report found.

Sir Robert said Kovtun also took part, adding: ‘I conclude therefore that he was also acting under FSB direction, possibly indirectly through Mr Lugovoi but probably to his knowledge.’

Mr Cameron will face growing calls to impose sanctions on high-profile individuals in Russia if the Kremlin refuses to extradite Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, the alleged assassins.

Downing Street had no immediate comment on the report, but confirmed Home Secretary Theresa May will be giving the Government’s response in an oral statement to the House of Commons in the next few hours.

There is overwhelming evidence linking the pair to the murder but both deny any involvement and Russian President Mr Putin has so far refused to extradite them.

The death of Litvinenko marked a post-Cold War low point in Anglo-Russian relations, and ties have never recovered.

The Foreign Office is eager to avoid a full-blown row, partly because Mr Putin’s cooperation is badly needed in the fight against Islamic State terrorists.

Litvinenko’s wife Marina, who has led a ten-year campaign for justice, believes sanctions should be imposed.

She said: ‘If proved, particularly in an official way in a court, you definitely need to react.

‘They still survive. They are able to travel. I think there should be a very serious discussion about what kind of sanctions and against whom.’

Mrs Litvinenko, 52, is certain that vital information has been suppressed by Moscow.

She said: ‘Both Lugovoy and Kovtun had plenty of opportunities to present their case. It is a shame that the opportunity was not there to question them. They could have been questioned about: if they did it. Did they do it by themselves? Who sent them to do it? How did they obtain that polonium? Why was it that a weapon of mass destruction was used to carry out a murder in Britain?

‘Questions have been raised about Mr Putin [that] he needs to answer. He gave Lugovoy an honour, he made him an MP, he made him a TV star. He obviously appreciated Lugovoy’s activities.’

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said those responsible for Litvinenko’s murder should be subject to a ban on travelling to the UK and excluded from the British banking system.

‘By poisoning one of their own on British soil, the Russian government completely disregarded the rule of law both within the UK and internationally,’ he said.

Litvinenko, 43, a fierce critic of Mr Putin, was given polonium in a cup of green tea during a meeting at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair. It took him three weeks to die.

He had been working with MI6 and other agencies in the UK.

Last night Mr Putin’s spokesman said the Kremlin had no interest in the findings of Sir Robert’s inquiry.

Dmitry Peskov said: ‘It is an inquiry that is taking place in Great Britain and in this case it is not a topic that is of interest to us, or that is on our agenda.’

________

ECHOES OF THE COLD WAR: TIMELINE OF THE KILLING OF ALEXANDER LITVINENKO AND THE INVESTIGATION INTO HIS SHOCKING DEATH

1998 – Alexander Litvinenko claims at a Moscow press hearing that the FSB – the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation – instructed him to kill high-profile billionaire Boris Berezovsky.

1999 – Mr Litvinenko is arrested and spends nine months in jail on charges of abuse of office. He is later freed by a court.

2000 – Mr Litvinenko flees Russia and seeks political asylum in Britain – it is granted the following year.

2002 – Mr Litvinenko co-writes a book, in which he accuses his former FSB superiors of carrying out a number of apartment block bombings in 1999.

2006 – Journalist Anna Politkovskaya is shot dead in her Moscow apartment on October 7. Mr Litvinenko begins to investigate her murder.

November 1 2006 – Mr Litvinenko meets Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun at the Millennium hotel in London’s Mayfair. Mr Litvinenko is admitted to a hospital in north London several hours later, after complaining of feeling sick.

November 17 2006 – His condition deteriorates and he is transferred to University College Hospital in central London.

November 21 2006 – The Kremlin dismisses as ‘sheer nonsense’ claims that the Russian government was involved in the poisoning.

November 23 – Mr Litvinenko dies in intensive care.

November 24 – Mr Litvinenko’s family releases a statement, accusing Russian president Vladimir Putin of involvement in his death.

May 2007 – The Crown Prosecution Service announces its decision to prosecute Lugovoi for murder.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3409405/Inquiry-says-Litvinenko-killed-Putin-s-spies.html (“‘Putin personally approved my husband’s assassination’: Fury of Litvinenko’s widow as bombshell report blames Russian leader for poisoning – sending relations between London and Moscow back into deep freeze”) (emphasis added) and http://www.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/Litvinenko-Inquiry-Report-web-version.pdf (Read the Report); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-7049 (“Litvinenko Tape Points Finger At Putin, While America Provides Proof“) and http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/21/alexander-litvinenko-was-killed-killed-for-calling-putin-a-pedophile.html (“Alexander Litvinenko Was Killed ‘for Calling Putin a Pedophile’”—”The allegation—that Putin had used his position as head of the Russian intelligence service to destroy video evidence of himself having sex with underage boys—was ‘the climax’ of an increasingly bitter personal feud between Alexander Litvinenko and the Kremlin leader”)

After invading Georgia and Ukraine, and seizing Crimea, and downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—and killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board—and killing Litvinenko and so many others, Putin’s days are coming to an end.

He must pay the ultimate price, and follow in the footsteps of Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Nothing less will suffice.

Putin's death

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22 01 2016
Russell Dee

Of course Putin killed Litvinenko. He sent people inside another country (UK)to murder Litvinenko by radioactive poison. What would you expect from a man who was complicit in shooting down a civilian airline (MH17) over the skies of Ukraine where he has his regular military and some goons waging war and causing mayhem and destruction in another sovereign country? This is the kind of stuff that Putin does and of course UK will do very little about it. A complete ban on all Russian financial trade should take place along with a complete ban on all commercial trade but of course UK will do nothing other than some impotent finger wagging at Russia. And now you have that fool John Kerry talking about lifting western sanctions against Russia in just a few months. I fear that when the dust clears Russia will get to keep eastern Ukraine and Crimea, finish building its’ Frankenstein military, and be the leader of the middle east. The west is in trouble.

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22 01 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments.

Yes, the UK’s David Cameron is weak and spineless, and will “huff and puff” but essentially do nothing about it. Among other things, he is “preoccupied” with Brexit.

I agree with you too:

A complete ban on all Russian financial trade should take place along with a complete ban on all commercial trade but of course UK will do nothing other than some impotent finger wagging at Russia.

Needless to say, I hope that the rest of your comments do not come true. It would be a tragedy beyond belief.

Owing to the fall of oil prices and our sanctions, and Putin’s adventurism in the Middle East, he and Russia are “poised” for a collapse (e.g., they are running out of financial reserves), which could be hastened easily by additional sanctions, and the further fall of oil prices.

To let them off the hook now would be a mind-boggling disaster.

Also, the ban against Russia competing in world athletics must continue for years if not decades to come.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-7836 (“Ban Russia From All Athletic Competition Based On Its War On Athletics”)

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25 01 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Russians’ Anxiety Swells as Oil Prices Collapse [UPDATED]

Putin is Stalin in mirror

This is the title of a New York Times article, which echoes what I have written above. It states:

Last year was bad enough financially for Sergei and Victoria Titov, both music teachers getting along in years. Her government salary was slashed by one third, and rampant inflation put some basic groceries like eggplant and cucumbers out of reach.

Then came Jan. 1, and the abrupt decision by the regional government here in Krasnodar, the capital of Russia’s southern agricultural heartland, to chop transportation subsidies for older Russians, forcing the couple to limit their trolley rides.

Indignant and fearing worse amid Russia’s accelerating economic problems, Sergei joined an unauthorized demonstration last week by hundreds of older Russians who gathered under the bronze statue of a Cossack horseman on the main square here and chanted, “Return our benefits!”

They were not alone, neither in Krasnodar nor across this vast nation, where illegal protests and wildcat strikes are erupting with increasing frequency by truckers, teachers, factory workers and all sorts of Russians facing steep government cutbacks because of plummeting revenue from oil and gas.

The global collapse in oil prices is reordering economic relations around the world, but the change is particularly daunting for Russia, which relies on energy exports for 50 percent of its federal budget.

In December, President Vladimir V. Putin told the nation that the worst of the recession — the economy shrank 3.9 percent and inflation hit 12.9 percent in 2015 — was over and that modest growth would return in 2016. He has been pushing the oil collapse as an “opportunity” that will wean Russia off energy imports and diversify the economy.

Then in January oil fell below $30 per barrel, with no bottom in sight, and the ruble hit a record low of nearly 85 to the dollar before recovering slightly.

The last time oil prices dropped so low and stayed there, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union disintegrated. Steadily rising prices since 2000 have lifted Russia out of poverty and economic chaos, buoying the prosperity of many Russians with it. Mr. Putin was lucky enough to be president for much of that period, but he now faces an extended decline, with real incomes shrinking.

With the federal budget approved in December based on oil at $50 a barrel, Anton Siluanov, the finance minister, announced that the country faced a budget deficit of about $40 billion, and ministries were ordered to cut spending 10 percent. Budgets were similarly guillotined last year.

In Krasnodar, Mr. Titov, 64, braced for harder times. “I do not know what they will cut, but I know it will affect us,” he said. “We are watching all this with alarm. It is clear that the government lacks the necessary resources to give us a normal life.”

In Krasnodar, a city of about 800,000 people, retirees register a kind of sticker shock when discussing food prices, yelling out items as they remember newly high prices. “Apples!” one shouted, noting that the cost had nearly doubled. Then “Zucchini!” Then “Smoked sausages!”

Food prices rose 20 percent last year, according to official statistics, but often Russians say their grocery tab is up by a third or more, thanks in part to sanctions Moscow slapped on Western food imports in retaliation for sanctions the West imposed over Ukraine.

Sergei Galustian, 65, a retired police officer, lives on a downtown street with just 27 houses, their proximity making it easy to assess change.

“Nobody is starving yet, but incomes are definitely down,” he said, noting that homes are colder, that neighbors turn on just two lamps after dark where they once used five and that people have stopped buying new clothes. Retail sales across Russia were down by 13.1 percent for the year ending in November, according to official statistics, with car sales off nearly 40 percent.

The 100 or so workers at the giant Seydin Machine Tool Factory, once the pride of the city during the Soviet era, have not seen a paycheck for a year and recently received layoff notices. They, too, have on occasion gathered in the main square to demand their back pay. The workers “have to take to the streets!” they wrote in an open letter to Mr. Putin.

In a tradition dating from Soviet times, most firms, and especially state-run companies, tend to cut hours or stop paying salaries rather than fire people to diminish the chances for social unrest.

In Moscow on Wednesday, about 15 employees of Sbarro, the pizza chain based in Ohio, stood in the brutal cold outside one franchise holding signs saying, “Give us our money.” Several said they had not been paid for at least three months.

“They just tell us they have problems,” said Sergei Yudichev, 50, a driver for the chain for more than two years.

Albeit poorer, Russia remains a petro state, so there are pockets of plenty. Rolls-Royce reported a 5 percent jump in sales last year, the rich splurging as the value of their assets nose-dived.

Others just seemed oblivious. Moscow’s City Hall advertised for tenders for its banquets, noting that menu items should include foie gras and Parma ham (which is banned elsewhere in Russia because of sanctions).

Social media erupted in mocking resentment. One Russian quoted a famous line by the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovski from the 1917 revolution, “Eat pineapples, munch your grouse!” and left unstated the second line, “Your last day is coming, bourgeois!”

Russia pumped record amounts of oil last year, nearly 11 million barrels per day, but that pace will not save it in the current global glut. The main government strategy so far seems to be to cut spending and to rely on its reserves until oil prices improve.

Russia has around $360 billion in foreign currency reserves and some $120 billion in two rainy day funds, down from just under $160 billion a year ago. At current spending rates, however, the two funds are expected to last only 18 months. It might also sell significant stakes in state-run companies like the oil giant Rosneft or Sberbank, and it will not increase military spending.

Mr. Titov, a veteran organizer for the Communist Party, said he felt the economic problems were contributing to a corrosive sense of drift. “Russia always lived with some manner of national idea, a goal: We were building socialism and communism,” he said. “But there is no national idea. Now, we just go with the flow and it is not clear in what direction.”

Russian involvement in wars in Ukraine and Syria has swelled the general whirlpool of anxiety, with the possibility of a global war discussed on state-run television. Some analysts accuse the Kremlin of deliberately seeking overseas adventures to distract people from domestic economic woes.

“People are more alarmed and more tense, because now we are speaking not only about their well-being, but their lives in general,” said Valery Fedorov, director general of the government-owned Russia Public Opinion Research Center, known by its Russian initials, Vciom.

Many analysts expect people to do what Russians always do in hard times — hunker down, tend to their vegetable plots and wait it out. Others say that Russians have gotten used to a higher standard of living and that they will protest losing it.

The government allows street protests over issues like lost wages, but its distinctly authoritarian edge emerges in the face of political action.

So far, local governments have reacted lightly to the protests. The governor of the Krasnodar Region restored transportation passes for the older Russians receiving the lowest pensions.

Some residents, like Mr. Titov, groused that the wealth was being wasted on prestige projects rather than helping ordinary people. Still, he does not expect Russians to sour on Mr. Putin any time soon. In nearby Sochi, Russia spent around $50 billion to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, and a similar construction juggernaut is building stadiums nationwide for the 2018 World Cup.

“The Russian people got what they wanted, a czar ruling the country,” he said of Mr. Putin. “What we need is an effective manager, but what we got is the Olympics, soccer and war.”

See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/world/europe/russians-anxiety-swells-as-oil-prices-collapse.html?_r=1 (emphasis added)

Aside from the catastrophe of Russia’s foreign currency reserves running out, perhaps the key sentence of this article is the following:

The last time oil prices dropped so low and stayed there, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Putin and Russia are in a death spiral from which they will not recover.

As my article above states:

Despite being a “public servant” all of his life, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated to be $70 billion; “Versailles” has been built for him already; and his cronies have amassed billions of dollars too, and are living like kings outside of Russia. The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Nothing less will suffice.

The Russian people and the world must never forget that the murderous Putin is Stalin’s heir. And as stated in my article above:

Stalin was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million men, women and children—his own countrymen—including millions during the collectivization of the Soviet farms in the 1930s. As the Soviets moved through Germany and captured Berlin at the end of World War II, they raped at least two million German women in what is now acknowledged as the largest case of mass rape in history.

See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin’s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao’s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust”)

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23 02 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Opec Has Failed To Stop US Shale Revolution

American Energy Dominance

The UK Telegraph‘s International Business Editor in London, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, has reported:

The current crash in oil prices is sowing the seeds of a powerful rebound and a potential supply crunch by the end of the decade, but the prize may go to the US shale industry rather Opec, the world’s energy watchdog has predicted.

America’s shale oil producers and Canada’s oil sands will come roaring back from late 2017 onwards once the current brutal purge is over, a cycle it described as the “rise, fall and rise again” of the fracking industry.

“Anybody who believes the US revolution has stalled should think again. We have been very surprised at how resilient it is,” said Neil Atkinson, head of oil markets at the International Energy Agency.

The IEA forecasts in its “medium-term” outlook for the next five years that US production will fall by 600,000 barrels per day (b/d) this year and 200,000 next year as the so-called “fracklog” of drilled wells is finally cleared and the global market works off a surplus of 1m b/d.

But shale will come back to life within six months – far more quickly than conventional mega-projects and offshore wells – once crude rebounds to $60. Shale output is expected to reach new highs of 5m b/d by 2021.

This will boost total US production of oil and liquids by 1.3m b/d to the once unthinkable level 14.4m b/d, widening the US lead over Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said this alone will not be enough to avert the risk of a strategic oil crisis later in the decade, given the exhaustion of existing wells and the dangerously low levels of spare capacity in the world.

“Even if there were zero growth in demand, we would have to produce 3m b/d just to stand still,” he said, speaking at the IHS CERAWeek summit of energy leaders in Texas.

Mr Birol said investment in oil exploration and production across the world has been cut to the bone, falling 24pc last year and an estimated 17pc this year. This is a drop from $520bn to $320bn a year, far below the minimum levels needed to keep up with future demand.

“It’s not good news for oil security. Over the past 30 years we have never seen oil investment dropping two years in a row,” he said.

“It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts raise the odds of unpleasant oil security surprises in the not too distant future,” he said.

The warnings were echoed by Opec’s secretary-general, Abdalla El-Badri, who said the current slump will lead to serious trouble when the cycle turns. “It sows the seed for a very high price in the future,” he said at the CERAWeek forum.

Mr El-Badri said he had lived through six oil cycles over his career but the surge of shale oil supply from the US has made this one of the most vicious. “It is a supply bubble. This cycle is very nasty,” he said.

The Opec chief admitted that the cartel has been caught badly off guard by crash, blaming the wild moves on speculative forces with control over 5m “paper barrels” on the derivatives markets. “The fundamentals have not changed that much,” he said.

But Mr El-Badri sent mixed signals about the real problem in the crude markets, letting slip that Opec and the US shale industry may not be able to “live together” and that frackers will take advantage of output cuts intended to stabilize the market. “If there is any increase in price, shale will come back immediately,” he said.

Contrary to widespread assumptions, the IEA report said Saudi Arabia and the Opec club will lose market share, treading water as North America and Brazil’s “pre-salt” basin in the Atlantic account for most of the growth in global output by the early 2020s. Algeria, Venezuela, Nigeria and Indonesia are all going into decline.

Iran’s grand plan to reach 5m b/d and regain its place as the cartel’s number two is dismissed as “aspirational”. It will struggle to add much once it has recaptured its pre-sanctions level of 3.6m b/d. Iran’s major fields are 70 years old and need sophisticated technology, yet foreign investors are wary of taking the plunge.

Outside Opec, there will be a steady erosion of output in China, Mexico, Colombia, Egypt, Oman and the North Sea, all chipping away at global supply and leaving the world vulnerable as demand rises by an average of 1.2m b/d each year – hitting 100m b/d by 2020.

China’s demand will ratchet upwards by an accumulated 2.5m b/d even as its own output slips, a scissor effect likely to tighten the global market relentlessly from 2017 onwards.

The IEA report implicitly calls into question Opec’s strategy of flooding the market in order to cripple of the US shale industry. Asked if the policy had failed, Mr Birol deflected the question diplomatically.

“I wouldn’t could call it failure of this group or that group, but there is a new fact of life: we can produce oil at $50-$60. It is the success of oil industry,” he said.

While the Opec strategy is finally forcing frackers to shut down, it has taken far longer than expected and may prove fleeting since private equity groups armed with a $60bn war chest are waiting to buy up the assets of failed shale companies.

The strategy has been prohibitively costly for Opec itself. Annual revenues have dropped from a peak of $1.2 trillion to around $400bn at today’s prices, and a large part of this is a result of Opec’s own actions.

The IEA said US frackers have been able to cut costs by 25pc-30pc and even more in the Permian Basin of West Texas. “A year ago it was widely believed that this would happen by the end of 2015 but that view has proved to be very wide of the mark. In 2014 and again in 2015 supply exceeded demand by massive margins,” it said.

Much of the confusion is over the US “rig-count”, which has dropped from 1,500 to 440. “Oil production has not fallen nearly as quickly as the rig-count alone would suggest,” it said.

Russia is perhaps the biggest casualty, given that it is trying to fund a superpower military status and cover half its budget comes from oil and gas revenues. Its output will fall by 275,000 b/d as the old Soviet fields in western Siberia go into decline.

The Vankor, Uvat and Verkhnechonsk fields all boosted growth last year but there is little else new on the horizon. “Russia is expected to see the steepest output declines,” said Mr Birol.

Ultimately, a fresh oil price spike or just a return to prices of $80 sows the seeds of its own destruction for the industry. It is likely to accelerate the shift to electric cars as the technology comes of age, and the COP21 climate accords start to bite.

That is a story for the 2020s. Mr Birol said it is a “heroic task” to interest anybody in the Houston oil fraternity in climate change.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/12169239/Opec-has-failed-to-stop-US-shale-revolution-admits-energy-watchdog.html (“Opec has failed to stop US shale revolution admits energy watchdog“) (emphasis added; charts omitted); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-7283 (“US To Launch Blitz Of Gas Exports, Eyes Global Energy Dominance“)

The biggest losers will be the murderer Putin and Russia.

Aside from the catastrophe of Russia’s foreign currency reserves running out, perhaps the key sentence of a recent New York Times’ article is the following:

The last time oil prices dropped so low and stayed there, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Putin and Russia are in a death spiral from which they will not recover. Putin’s fantasies about Russia becoming a superpower are delusional.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“)

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11 03 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Putin’s Mistress Surfaces Again With Respect To World Athletic Ban [UPDATED]

Putin and Alina Kabaeva

The UK’s Daily Mail has published an article about the murderous Putin’s mistress, Alina Kabaeva, who is rumored to be the mother of their two young children:

The glamorous former gymnast believed to be Vladimir Putin’s secret lover has landed a top sports as Russia fights back over the Maria Sharapova doping scandal.

Alina Kabaeva, 32, has taken control of the popular Sport-Express, a leading sports publication.

Russia has been hit by the Olympics doping scandal which could see them banned from Rio.

Ms Kabaeva, a rhythmic gymnastics Olympic gold medallist, was banned for a year after testing positive for Furosemide at Australia’s 2001 Goodwill Games.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova stunned world tennis on Monday when she announced that she had failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year.

The medication, which the Russian athlete said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency in January following ‘evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance’.

She said she did not realise the substance was now illegal, but took ‘full responsibility’ for her actions.

She has accepted a provisional suspension and will find out the full sanction she faces after a tribunal hearing expected to take place in April.

Ms Kabaeva’s arrival at Sport-Express coincides comes as her close friend pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva blasted banning meldonium as ‘ridiculous’.

‘My grandmother has been taking mildronate for the last six, seven years and – strange though it may sound, she didn’t turn into a super granny nor show paranormal abilities,’ she said. ‘Nor did she show extra resilience.’

Sport-Express claims moves to ban the Soviet-era drug is being led by the ‘United States Anti-Doping Agency’.

In a rare interview, Ms Kabaeva said: ‘I will take an active part at Sport-Express. I’m always open to business proposals where I can apply my expertise and experience in sports, so I happily agreed to head the board of directors of Sport-Express company.’

Ms Kabaeva has lately remained in the shadows and routinely sidesteps questions on whether she has a relationship or children with the Kremlin strongman, 31 years her senior.

She is believed to be Russia’s secret First Lady since Putin’s 2014 divorce from wife Lyudmila.

Denials that Putin and Ms Kabaeva are a couple have failed to stem the speculation in Russia.

Since 2014, she has chaired the National Media Group, and it was a move by this business to take a 25 per cent stake in Sport-Express that led to her new role.

There are separate rumours in Moscow that she will soon grab full control of major newspaper Izvestia.

Ms Kabaeva said: ‘For me it is quite natural to move always only forward, whether it’s sports victories or the development of the business.’

She stressed: ‘Here is my motto – faster, higher, stronger.’

Sport-Express has a circulation of 220,000 in 309 Russian cities, plus a large online presence which Ms Kabaeva vowed to expand.

Claims of a relationship between Putin and Ms Kabaeva began in 2008 with a story in a Moscow newspaper owned by media tycoon and former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev, who later bought The Independent titles and the London Evening Standard.

At the time, Putin – who has since divorced his wife Lyudmila – bemoaned the ‘erotic fantasies’ of journalists who poked her ‘snotty noses’ into other people’s lives.

Ms Kabaeva has given interviews which served to fuel Russian suspicions that she was romantically linked with the president.

She said she had met a man who ‘I love very much’, declining to name him.

She gushed: ‘Sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared.’

Rumours have suggested she had a child or children with Putin, but these have not been confirmed.

Last year, she made few public appearances and there were rumours in May that she had a face-lift.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3486031/Is-Putin-s-lover-Russia-s-secret-weapon-Maria-Sharapova-scandal-Glamorous-ex-gymnast-half-age-lands-Kremlin-sports-job-s-drugs-ban-too.html (“Is Putin’s ‘lover’ Russia’s secret weapon in Maria Sharapova scandal? Glamorous ex-gymnast half his age lands top Kremlin sports job . . . And she’s had drugs ban too!“) (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1028 (“Tycoon Alexander Lebedev, Putin’s “Full Of Sex” Mistress Alina Kabayeva, And WikiLeaks“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-1139 (“Killer Putin’s Mistress On Cover Of Russian Vogue“)

Reports have circulated for years that Alina Kabaeva has had two children with Putin, and that she and their children live at least part time in Switzerland.

Also, Russia has been banned indefinitely from world athletics.

The ban must continue through the Rio Olympics. Otherwise, its doping of athletes will have no consequences.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/#comment-7836 (“Ban Russia From All Athletic Competition Based On Its War On Athletics“) and http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/sports/russia-doping-sochi-olympics-2014.html (“Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold”—”Dozens of Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including at least 15 medal winners, were part of a state-run doping program, meticulously planned for years to ensure dominance at the Games, according to the director of the country’s antidoping laboratory at the time”) and and http://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-doping-charges-put-ioc-on-defensive-1463094414 (“Russian Doping Charges Put IOC on Defensive“) and http://www.wsj.com/articles/eight-russian-athletes-retest-positive-for-using-doping-in-2012-olympics-1464456377 (“Eight Russian Athletes Test Positive for Doping in 2012 Olympics“) and http://www.wsj.com/articles/world-anti-doping-agency-finds-cheating-conspiracy-at-highest-levels-ofrussian-sports-1468848784 (“World Anti-Doping Agency Finds Cheating Conspiracy at Highest Levels of Russian Sports”—”Russian sports officials collaborated with state security services on a massive cheating program that included corrupting the testing lab at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to a report issued Monday by the World Anti-Doping Agency”—”The report said Russia developed a system for hiding dirty urine samples during the Sochi Olympics, in which samples were passed through a ‘mouse-hole’ that existed between the lab and the FSB building next to it. In addition, an FSB employee had access to the lab by posing as a credentialed member of the sewage and maintenance staff”) and http://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-loses-appeal-against-olympic-ban-on-track-and-field-athletes-1469096268 (“Russia Loses Appeal Against Olympic Ban on Track-and-Field Athletes”)

The 2018 FIFA World Cup must not be held in Russia.

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14 03 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

The Murderous Putin Cuts And Runs From Syria [UPDATED]

Putin is pure evil

The Wall Street Journal has reported:

Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly ordered his country’s armed forces to start withdrawing from Syria, saying their principal mission had been accomplished as peace talks got underway Monday.

The Kremlin said Mr. Putin had ordered the “early withdrawal” of the “main part” of the Russian contingent, following a meeting with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

After a speaking by phone with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mr. Putin said in a statement the “principal tasks set for the armed forces of Russia in Syria have been accomplished” since the start in September of a bombing campaign.

U.S. officials said any withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria would come as a complete surprise and that the U.S. government didn’t expect Moscow to announce such a move.

But U.S. officials also said that there had been evidence over the last several months that appeared to suggest that Moscow didn’t have plans for a long-term stay at the bases it used in Syria.

For instance, the Russian military didn’t appear to be rotating its equipment—tanks, aircraft and artillery—among bases throughout the country in a way that would be consistent with a military’s plans for a sustained presence. Equipment wasn’t being withdrawn for maintenance, for example, and Russian forces weren’t being rotated in and out, according to U.S. officials.

Mr. Putin billed the deployment of Russian air power to Syria as an anti-terrorism campaign, saying Mr. Assad’s government was the only bulwark against Islamic State and other militant groups. But the bombing campaign angered U.S. officials, who complained that Russian strikes were also targeting relatively moderate rebel groups.

Russia’s air campaign changed the equation for Mr. Assad, whose forces last summer had been losing control of territory. The Russian aerial campaign “radically changed the situation” on the ground in Syria, the Kremlin’s statement said, allowing for a recent cease-fire deal between world powers that is supposed to pave the way for a negotiated end to the five-year conflict.

“The achievement of a truce contributed to a sharp reduction in the scale of the bloodshed in the country, improving the humanitarian situation,” the statement said. “It was possible to create conditions for the start of the peace process under the aegis of the U.N.”

According to the Kremlin, Mr. Assad said he supported the “early establishment of the political process in the country” as part of a bid to reach an end to the conflict. Syrian state television said Messrs. Putin and Assad agreed that there would be a reduction in the size of the Russian air force contingent currently in Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr. Putin had not yet discussed his decision with Western leaders, but added that Russia would maintain a base in Khmeimim and a naval base in Tartus.

Salem al-Meslet, a spokesman for the umbrella group encompassing Syria’s main opposition factions, said Monday that a Russian withdrawal would affect Mr. Assad, but stopped short of calling it a win for his side until it was evident on the ground.

“It will be important if this decision is taken,” he said. “It will be more important if Putin decides to stand beside the Syrian people, not beside the dictator [Mr. Assad].”

Mr. Meslet said the opposition would continue to participate in the Geneva talks no matter whether the decision translates into action or not. He cautioned that it could be a tactical “trick” ahead of the opposition’s scheduled meeting Tuesday with Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy leading the diplomatic effort to broker peace.

“It is important to wait and see for tomorrow because tomorrow we will see if this decision is done for the sake of the Syrian people or for the sake of al-Assad,” he said.

Talks for a political resolution to the Syrian war began in Geneva on Monday, showing relative progress since a rare truce in Syria brought the warring sides back to diplomacy, but it could be many more months before the contours of real negotiations begin to take shape, United Nations officials said.

Mr. de Mistura met the Syrian government delegation to lay out how this first of three rounds of negotiations would work. Both sides described the meeting as positive and constructive, and committed to beginning talks on the real issues—how to carry out a political transition in Syria—on Wednesday.

“I can describe it, in short, as positive and constructive,” said Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s envoy to the U.N. and the head of the government delegation in Geneva.

The meeting mostly discussed procedural issues but laid the groundwork for more substantive discussions later this week, both sides said.

“It was a useful meeting, and I think we clarified quite a lot of the issues,” said Mr. de Mistura.

In the next 10 days, Mr. de Mistura will meet separately with a delegation representing the government and another one representing the opposition, in what officials call “proximity talks” until the two sides are ready to negotiate face-to-face—as they did at the last major negotiations effort in 2014.

That these meetings began Monday, after a delay from the date originally envisioned, with no major hiccups or objections was a step forward for all parties involved, given that the last attempt to hold the talks in January collapsed before they even started.

The U.N. envoy had warned earlier Monday against attempts to derail the latest negotiations to resolve the war in Syria, which has killed more than a quarter of a million people, displaced half the population, and drawn regional and global powers in.

The U.N. children’s fund on Monday offered a new statistic on the toll of the five-year war: one in three Syrian children have been born, since the conflict began, into violence or displacement. Among these 3.7 million children born since the conflict began in 2011, UNICEF said in a report, 306,000 children were born as refugees.

In Geneva, Mr. de Mistura said the only alternative to diplomacy was an even bloodier conflict—“a return to war,” he said, “an even worse war than [what] we have so far.”

The United States and Russia now bear significant influence over whether the respective Syrian sides they support will engage meaningfully in the talks, officials in Geneva said. The two world powers brokered the truce that began on Feb. 27 and has held, surprisingly if imperfectly, and eased tensions enough so that the opposing sides in Syria committed again to peace talks.

Moscow, many diplomats said, has successfully brought Damascus back to the negotiating table, but faces a new challenge in keeping the government committed to the parameters of the U.N. transition.

Both the Syrian government and Russia, which began military action in Syria last September, are refraining from major cease-fire violations, though U.S. officials say both could be doing more to show their commitment to the truce.

Mr. Jaafari, the Syrian government’s head delegate, made a rare reference in a press conference on Monday to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254—the resolution that backs the political transition roadmap.

Syrian officials rarely publicly recognize the resolution as the basis for the Geneva talks, with Syria’s foreign minister on Saturday slamming the U.N. for trying to dictate the terms of a transition in Syria.

Mr. Jaafari’s comments on Monday were slightly more conciliatory. He said the government delegation submitted ideas on “basic elements for a political solution” to the U.N. envoy “to enrich his diplomatic efforts when he meets various delegations.”

Mr. Jaafari said he hoped the opposition representatives the U.N. envoy will be meeting with represented a breadth of Syrians, indicating that the Syrian government continues to challenge the legitimacy of the main opposition delegation present in Geneva.

“We want to negotiate as Syrians, with Syrian leadership, and without foreign intervention,” he said. Syria’s government has long dismissed opposition groups as foreign-backed insurgencies funded by the oil-rich Gulf states or with Western agendas.

Groups actively fighting in Syria, including the extremist Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, have been excluded from the peace process. Syrian Kurdish militias, a crucial ground force in the fight against Islamic State, are expected eventually to be included in the meetings at a later point.

See http://www.wsj.com/articles/putin-orders-withdrawal-of-some-russian-forces-from-syria-1457980402 (“Putin Says Russian Forces to Begin Syria Withdrawal“) (emphasis added)

After his ferocious and inhuman acts against the Syrian people, and those of his puppet Assad, the murderous Putin is not withdrawing from that country for altruistic reasons. He and Russia are in a death spiral from which they will not recover.

As stated in the article above:

To their credit, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush set their sights on destroying the Soviet Union; and it is gone, without a shot being fired.

Adolf Hitler sought to destroy the USSR in “Operation Barbarossa,” yet he failed. Reagan and Bush succeeded.

Our sanctions and the fall of oil prices have been devastating Russia’s economy; and its foreign currency reserves are running out. Russians’ anxiety has swelled as oil prices have collapsed.

Putin is a KGB-trained killer, who must never be trusted. After invading Georgia and Ukraine, and seizing Crimea, and downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—and killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board—and killing Alexander Litvinenko and so many others, Putin’s days are coming to an end.

He must be terminated, like Mussolini before him. Nothing less will suffice.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa (“Operation Barbarossa“)

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27 01 2017
RussellDee

Putin is ratcheting things down in Syria because he knows it would be hard to get sanctions relief if he doesn’t start pretending to be more civilized. He’s trying to trick people like you into thinking that he’s not as bad as he’s made out to be. GOPers will fall for it and Putin/Russia will get sanctions relief and Putin and his thuggish brand of politics WILL rise..

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/trump-putin-call-russia-sanctions/

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27 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

More idle speculation.

As the CNN article noted:

McCain added that it would be “naive and dangerous” for [anyone] to think Putin isn’t an enemy to the United States.

I agree with that, and have gone farther than Senator McCain and underscored it in my article above.

Liked by 1 person

24 07 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Boycott The Rio Olympics Because Of The Killer Putin’s Russia, and Zika [UPDATED]

Putin is pure evil

The Wall Street Journal has reported:

The International Olympic Committee cleared the way for scores of Russian athletes to be banned from the Rio Games, but stopped short of forcing the country’s entire delegation to stay home due to alleged state-sponsored doping.

The move left open the possibility that many Russian athletes will ultimately be allowed to complete in the Rio Games if they can prove they haven’t been taking performance-enhancing drugs. But the IOC also said Russian athletes no longer have a presumption of innocence because of the evidence showing widespread doping sanctioned by the country’s sporting officials and security agencies.

“We have set the bar to the limit in establishing strict criteria that every Russian athlete will have to fulfill if he or she wants to participate in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” said Thomas Bach, IOC president, in a teleconference on Sunday. “We have balanced desire, the need for collective responsibility with the right of individual justice of each individual athlete.”

In creating the loophole, the IOC is seeking to skirt a crisis that would have been created by banishing one of its most important and influential member countries. A country’s entire delegation has never been banned from an Olympics for cheating.

The decision came at the end of one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent IOC history and is sure to anger anti-doping leaders and the so-called “clean athlete,” movement, which has spent months lobbying the IOC to ban the Russian team from Rio after an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed how Russia corrupted the testing lab at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as part of a five-year plan to hide its cheating from the rest of the world.

On Tuesday, the IOC banned any Russian official connected with the report but said it would await a decision from an appeals court on whether a full ban of the Russian team was legal. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time “now we are seeing a dangerous recurrence of political interference in sport.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland ruled Thursday that collective punishment was allowable for countries whose athletic officials and athletes are found to have conspired to cheat on such a wide scale as two WADA reports have shown.

After an executive board meeting Sunday that followed several weeks of research into how many Russian athletes have been subject to reliable international drug testing during the past year, the IOC recommended that international sports federations should ban Russian athletes who cannot prove their innocence. The international federations handle much of the anti-doping testing that occurs around competitions or when athletes are training abroad.

Russian athletes will have to satisfy stringent criteria to be approved for competition in Rio. Any Russian athlete who has ever served a suspension for a doping infraction won’t be permitted to compete even if that suspension has been completed, the IOC said. Each international sport federation will have to individually review each athlete’s application to compete in Rio and the findings must be upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest appeals court in athletic circles.

With less than two weeks before the start of the Rio Olympics, Mr. Bach said, “I agree with you that this is a very ambitious timeline but we had no choice.”

He said the process has been in the works for several weeks, with international federations going through their records in order to make decisions in time for Rio.

Mr. Bach, who won a gold medal in fencing at the 1976 Games, said he would feel comfortable participating in the Rio games if he were still competing. He said as a former athlete he was troubled by the idea of potentially punishing innocent athletes.

“What I have been fighting for was that an athlete should not suffer and be sanctioned for a system in which he was not implicated,” Mr. Bach said. “It is about an individual athlete. It is fine to speak about collective responsibility but at the end of the day you have to be able to look into the eyes of the individual athlete.”

While the IOC has banned countries from Games in the past, those decisions were made for geopolitical or human-rights reasons, not cheating.

Germany and Japan were excluded from the 1948 Olympics after World War II. Apartheid South Africa wasn’t allowed to compete from 1960-1992. Yugoslavia’s teams couldn’t participate in the 1992 Olympics because of the war in the Balkans, though individual athletes were allowed to compete. Afghanistan was barred from the 2000 Games because of the Taliban’s repression of women.

The lingering question is whether the bar will be set high enough for Russian athletes to convincingly prove their innocence. While many athletes are subject to testing at competitions, most anti-doping officials agree that the vast majority of these tests are meaningless since athletes know they are likely to be tested and can take measures to avoid detection.

The most effective testing is random and unannounced, but for athletes who are training in and live in their own countries, those tests are supposed to be carried by independent national or regional anti-doping agencies. WADA’s investigations and news reports by Germany’s ARD, 60 Minutes and The New York Times have shown that the main purpose of Russia’s anti-doping agency in recent years has been to cover up Russian doping rather than expose it.

Russia’s track-and-field federation has been banned from international competition since November, when the first WADA reports detailed how Russian track officials conspired with coaches, athletes and former leaders of the IAAF to cover up positive drug tests.

See http://www.wsj.com/articles/ioc-stops-short-of-banning-entire-russian-delegation-from-rio-olympics-1469369374 (“IOC Stops Short of Banning Entire Russian Delegation From Rio Olympics“) (emphasis added)

This is outrageous. Both the IOC and FIFA are travesties, which must be turned upside down to eliminate the corruption from within.

There is something tragically wrong with the regulation of international sports, when Russia can defy all of the rules, and still be allowed to compete.

Russia should have been banned indefinitely from world athletics. And the ban should have continued through the Rio Olympics. Also, the 2018 FIFA World Cup must not be held in Russia.

Otherwise, its doping of athletes will have no consequences; and all of Lance Armstrong’s victories and honors should be restored.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-8492 (“Putin’s Mistress Surfaces Again With Respect To World Athletic Ban“)

Also, the cloud hanging over the Rio Olympics stemming from the Zika virus crisis is considerable if not ominous.

Those athletes who have skipped the Olympics because of this factor alone—which can have a devastating effect on young families—have been wise to do so.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/global-chaos-and-helter-skelter/#comment-8876 (“Zika Crisis: Rio Olympics Should Be Moved Or Postponed“); see also https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1529920/un-atomic-agency-helping-guard-rio-olympics-from-isis-terror-attack/ (“OLYMPICS ‘DIRTY BOMB’ FEARS – UN atomic agency helping guard Rio Olympics from ISIS terror attack”)

Zika Crisis and Rio Olympics

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17 12 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

The Russian People Need To Terminate Putin And His Cronies [UPDATED]

Putin's death

Garry Kasparov has written in the Wall Street Journal:

A quarter-century ago, on Dec. 25, 1991, as the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned after a final attempt to keep the Communist state alive, I was so optimistic for the future. That year and the years leading up to that moment were a period when anything felt possible. The ideals of freedom and democracy seemed within the reach of the people of the Soviet Union.

I remember the December evening in 1988 when I was having dinner with friends and my mother in Paris. My family and I still lived in Baku, capital of the then-Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, where I was raised, but I had become accustomed to unusual freedoms since becoming the world chess champion in 1985. I was no longer accompanied by KGB minders everywhere I went, although my whereabouts were always tracked. Foreign travel still required special approval, which served to remind every Soviet citizen that this privilege could be withdrawn at any time.

My status protected me from many of the privations of life in the Soviet Union, but it did not tint my vision rose. Instead, my visits to Western Europe confirmed my suspicions that it was in the U.S.S.R. where life was distorted, as in a funhouse mirror.

That night in Paris was a special one, and we were joined by the Czech-American director Miloš Forman via a mutual friend, the Czech-American grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek. We were discussing politics, of course, and I was being optimistic as usual. I was sure that the Soviet Union would be forced to liberalize socially and economically to survive.

Mr. Forman played the elder voice of reason to my youthful exuberance. I was only 25, while he had lived through what he saw as a comparable moment in history. He cautioned that he had seen similar signs of a thaw after reformer Alexander Dubček had become president in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Eight months after Dubček’s election, his reforms ended abruptly as the U.S.S.R. sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia and occupied the country. Many prominent Czechs, like Messrs. Forman and Kavalek, fled abroad.

“Gorbachev’s perestroika is another fake,” Mr. Forman warned us about the Soviet leader’s loosening of state controls, “and it will end up getting more hopeful people killed.” I insisted that Mr. Gorbachev would not be able to control the forces he was unleashing. Mr. Forman pressed me for specifics: “But how will it end, Garry?”

I replied—specifics not being my strong suit—that “one day, Miloš, you will wake up, open your window, and they’ll be gone.”

It is difficult to describe what life in the U.S.S.R. was like to people in the free world today. This is not because repressive dictatorships are an anachronism people can’t imagine, like trying to tell your incredulous children that there was once a world without cellphones and the internet. The U.S.S.R. ceased to exist in 1991, but there are plenty of repressive, authoritarian regimes thriving in 2016. The difference, and I am sad to say it, is that the citizens of the free world don’t much care about dictatorships anymore, or about the 2.7 billion people who still live in them.

The words of John F. Kennedy in 1963 Berlin sound naive to most Americans today: “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free,” he said. That for decades the U.S. government based effective foreign policy on such lofty ideals seems as distant as a world without iPhones.

Ronald Reagan’s warning that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction” was never meant to be put to the test, but it is being tested now. If anything, Reagan’s time frame of a generation was far too generous. The dramatic expansion of freedom that occurred 25 years ago may be coming undone in 25 months.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. was the end of watch for the anti-Communist coalition formed by Harry Truman after World War II. A year later, baby boomer Bill Clinton was making jokes with Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin and it was time to party, not press the advantage. The U.S. had unrivaled global power and influence, more than at any other time in history. Yet instead of using it to shape a new global framework to protect and project the values of democracy and human rights—as Truman had done immediately to put Stalin in check—the free world acted as though the fight had been won once and for all.

Even worse, we made the same mistake in Russia and in many other newly independent states. We were so eager to embrace the bright future that we failed to address our dark past. There were no truth commissions, no lustration—the shining of light on past crimes and their perpetrators—no accountability for decades of repression. Elections did nothing to uproot the siloviki, the powerful network of security and military officials. The offices and titles of the ruling nomenklatura changed, but the Soviet bureaucratic caste remained as power brokers with no accountability or transparency.

The reforms in Russia enacted by a dream team of national and foreign economists were piecemeal and easily exploited by those with access to the levers of power. Instead of turning into a free market, the Russian economy became a rigged auction that created an elite of appointed billionaires and a population of resentful and confused citizens who wondered why nothing had improved for them.

We in Russia naively equated democracy with wealth, as if the ballot box functioned like an ATM—and we looked on enviously as many of our former Warsaw Pact brethren enjoyed the benefits of massive Western investment. With so few strings attached to the loans and credits Russia received, it was easy for the well-connected to game and profit from the system.

President Yeltsin saw no advantage in building robust institutions that might challenge his authority. This led to corruption under his administration. But it had far more severe consequences when someone far more ruthless replaced him.

When Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, he found few obstacles capable of resisting his instinct to remake Russia in his own KGB image. He also found a Russian public that felt betrayed by the promises of democracy and afraid of the violence and corruption we saw all around us. Mr. Putin’s vulgar rhetoric of security and national pride would have worn thin quickly had the price of oil not begun to skyrocket in the new millennium.

A rising cash flow enabled him to negotiate a Faustian bargain with the Russian people: your freedoms in return for stability. Few envisioned how far he would go in collecting on that bargain, but that’s always the trap with empowering authoritarians. Every step Mr. Putin took without consequences encouraged him to take another, and another.

Outside Russia, at every turn, Europe and the U.S. failed to provide the leadership the historic moment required. Russia was declared the successor of the U.S.S.R. with little argument, even being awarded a coveted spot in the G-7 in 1997. Mr. Putin first used that gift to validate his democratic credentials—and later to expose the hypocrisy of the leaders of the free world, who continued to indulge him as he ripped up Russian democracy root and branch.

Even today, members of the Western democratic establishment praise Mr. Putin as a “strong leader”—as he enters his 17th year of total power in an imploding Russia that millions have fled. The bedrock belief of the Cold War, that the U.S. and the rest of the free world would be safer and stronger by promoting human rights and democracy, has been abandoned in the West in favor of engagement and moral equivalence.

To paraphrase Tolstoy, every repressive state is repressive in its own way—but socialism has proved uniquely toxic. The utopian communist idea competed directly with capitalism and lost. Instead of admitting this failure, Soviet leaders squeezed the soul from their citizens by forcing them to perform in the macabre perversion of human nature that is totalitarian socialism.

Right-wing dictatorships like those of Taiwan, South Africa, Portugal and Chile made smooth transitions to vibrant democracy and the free market. Left-wing regimes have had a far harder time, as if socialism were an autoimmune virus that destroys a society’s ability to defend itself from tyrants and demagogues.

The story of human progress is striving, dreaming and sacrificing for a better future. Instead of believing that happy, successful individuals make for a successful society, socialism insists that a perfectly functioning system will produce happy individuals. When the system comes first, the individual becomes an afterthought. When the system fails, individuals are blamed for not surrendering to it enough. Recovering from a regime that restricts individual freedom is far easier than recovering from one that teaches that individual freedom is worthless.

The people I met in the West in the 1980s were intensely curious about the Soviet Union, even if they called us all “Russians.” Cold War enmity led to a great deal of mythologizing, but there was also sincere concern for the hundreds of millions of people living behind the Iron Curtain. Westerners often asked how they could help, something that is rarely heard in today’s environment of appeasement and isolationism. A time when dictatorship is not seen as a discrete problem—when in fact it is the dominant crisis that enables so many others, including war, terror and refugees. The architects of the Cold War understood that there could be no lasting peace unless the Soviet Union was contained and opposed at every turn. That lesson has been forgotten, along with so many others.

In the old days, I was also asked regularly why I did not defect instead of spending half my time fighting my nemesis Anatoly Karpov at the chessboard and the other half fighting with the Soviet authorities. My answer was always the same, that I wanted to change my country and improve things for everyone, not just for myself. I attempted to use the slight protection my fame provided me to speak out whenever I could. The same was true when I retired from chess in 2005 to join the opposition to Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on Russian democracy and civil society.

Today, I live in exile New York City, driven there not by the Soviets but by a bloodthirsty Putin regime that has no ideology beyond power and money. My medals and awards as a representative of the U.S.S.R. offered me some safety there, but today my name is being purged from the Russian record books.

A year after that 1988 dinner in Paris, Miloš Forman called me from Prague. He said, “Garry, you were right. I opened the window one morning and they were gone.”

Within two years, the U.S.S.R. would also vanish beneath my feet. Yet 25 years later, the thugs and despots are flourishing once again. They still reject liberal democracy and the free market—not because of a competing ideology like communism, but because they understand that those things are a threat to their power.

The internet was going to connect every living soul and shine a light into the dark corners of the world. Instead, the light has reflected back to illuminate the hypocrisy and apathy of the most powerful nations in the world. Crimea is annexed, Ukraine is invaded, ISIS is rallying, Aleppo is laid waste, and not a one of us can say that we did not know. We can say only that we did not care.

Globalization has made it easy for the enemies of the free world to spread their influence in ways the Soviet leadership couldn’t have imagined, while the West has lost the will to defend itself and its values. It’s enough to make you afraid to open the window.

See http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-s-r-felland-the-world-fell-asleep-1481930888 (“The U.S.S.R. Fell—and the World Fell Asleep“) (emphasis added)

Of course Garry Kasparov is correct.

As I have written in my article above, Putin is a killer and Stalin’s heir. Following the USSR’s implosion, Putin and his thugs and cronies hijacked Russia’s incipient democracy, and have been exploiting it ever since.

Despite being a “public servant” all of his life, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated to be $70 billion; “Versailles” has been built for him already; and his cronies have amassed billions of dollars too, and are living like kings outside of Russia.

The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and Rasputin. Nothing less will suffice.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Rasputin#Assassination (“Grigori Rasputin“)

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22 12 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

Putin: Russia Is The Strongest Nation In The World

Putin's death

This is unhinged and delusional.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ (“Russia’s Putin Is A Killer”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin’s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao’s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust”)

Yet, the Washington Post has reported:

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday called for the United States to expand its nuclear arsenal, after Russian President Vladi­mir Putin said his country’s nuclear potential needs fortifying, raising the specter of a new arms race that would reverse decades of efforts to reduce the number and size of the two countries’ nuclear weapons.

In a tweet that offered no details, Trump said, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

Trump’s position represents a radical shift in thinking. Russia and the United States have worked for decades at first limiting, and then reducing, the number and strength of nuclear arms they produced and maintained under a Cold War strategy of deterrence known as “mutually assured destruction.” Republican and Democratic presidents have pursued a policy of nuclear arms reduction.

Trump’s tweet came shortly after Putin, during a defense ministry meeting, talked tough on Russia’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. Putin said that Russia is the strongest nation in the world but that it cannot rest.

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” Putin said in an apparent reference to a planned NATO troop buildup in Eastern Europe.

The Trump camp offered only slightly more explanation of the president-elect’s comment later in the day, when communications director Jason Miller said in a statement that Trump “was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it — particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes.”

Miller added that Trump believes in “the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength.”

Trump’s tweet was in keeping with earlier comments he has made. During an October debate, he criticized this country for lagging behind Russia in its nuclear program. “We are old, we’re tired, we’re exhausted in terms of nuclear,” he said. “A very bad thing.”

He also suggested that South Korea and Japan develop nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the threat posed by North Korea.

The United States has just under 5,000 warheads in its active arsenal and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, a number that fluctuates, according to Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. In an October assessment by the State Department Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Russia has about 400 more nuclear warheads than the United States does. But the United States has about 170 more delivery systems than Russia.

Under the New START Treaty, the main strategic arms treaty in place, the United States and Russia must deploy no more than 1,550 strategic weapons by February 2018. Kimball said both countries appear to be on track to meet that limit, which will remain in force until 2021, when they could decide to extend the agreement for another five years.

Since President George H.W. Bush’s administration, it has been U.S. policy not to build new nuclear warheads. Under President Obama, the policy has been not to pursue warheads with new military capabilities.

The U.S. military is in the beginning stages of updating its nuclear triad, which covers the delivery systems — bombers, submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Last year, the Pentagon estimated that it must spend an average of $18 billion a year over 15 years, starting in 2021, to replace weapons that already have been refurbished and upgraded beyond their original shelf lives.

But independent experts have estimated that the cost of modernizing the aging nuclear arsenal could reach $1 trillion over 30 years, according to the Arms Control Association.

“If Donald Trump is concerned about the rising costs of the F-35, he will be shocked by the skyrocketing costs of the current plan to modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Kimball said. “Trump and his people need to explain the basis of his cryptic tweet. What does he mean by expand, and at what cost?”

But others say that nuclear weapons and the principle of deterrence are essential components of national security and that the Obama administration’s efforts to further reduce its nuclear weapons have been wishful thinking.

Michaela Dodge, a Heritage Foundation policy analyst specializing in nuclear weapons and missile defense policy, said that the White House in its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review made the erroneous assessment that there was little likelihood of conflict with Russia. Yet Moscow is in the midst of a large-scale nuclear weapons modernization program and has violated many arms control treaties that it signed, she said.

“There is already an ongoing nuclear arms race, except now the United States isn’t racing,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s mostly Russia and China.”

Dodge has called for the incoming Trump administration to spend more on its nuclear weapons program. She also said that the United States should withdraw from nonproliferation treaties that have not worked and consider resuming nuclear test explosions, the last of which was conducted in 1992.

“”Nuclear weapons present an existential threat to the United States,” she said. “So to continue to have strong deterrence is a national priority.”

Robert Jervis, a national security policy professor at Columbia University, said the remarks by Putin and Trump do not necessarily mean a new arms race is on the horizon.

“Not yet, but we’re seeing the sorts of dynamics that could lead to one,” he said. “But we’re umpteen steps away from that.”

See https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/donald-trump-says-he-wants-to-greatly-strengthen-and-expand-us-nuclear-capabilitiy-a-radical-break-from-us-foreign-policy/2016/12/22/52745c22-c86e-11e6-85b5-76616a33048d_story.html (“Trump says he wants to ‘greatly strengthen and expand’ U.S. nuclear capability“) (emphasis added)

As I wrote in my article above:

Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush set their sights on destroying the Soviet Union; and it is gone, without a shot being fired. After Soviet forces left Afghanistan in humiliation and defeat—and in body bags—the USSR imploded. The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell, and the rest is history.

. . .

Russia is weaker today than the former USSR before it collapsed. It spans nine time zones and includes 160 ethnic groups that speak an estimated 100 languages. It is by no means monolithic, and may crumble “overnight.”

The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and Rasputin.

Nothing less will suffice.

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18 01 2017
nameless

Mr. Naegele, I used to post here a lot. I stopped posting because it looked like the the USA and its’ allies were winning the diplomatic war against Russia by bleeding Russia financially through sanctions plus low oil prices. I was worried for awhile because I saw Putin winning in Crimea, the Donbass region, and Syria, but then I saw where Russia was reducing arms expenditures so I concluded that while Russia may be winning temporarily by using force, he’s losing on the economy and his country is going down the tubes slowly. I was confident that if USA and its’ allies would continue their sanction and low oil prices the USA and its’ allies would ultimately win the “war” against Russia because Russia would not be able to afford to continue causing trouble. I was thinking that we are 4 – 6 years away from Russia caving in.

And if Hillary Clinton had won the election the USA and its’ allies would have continued the Obama strategy and this is what would have happened.

But Trump won the election and he wants to make nice-nice with Putin. Trump has even said he would drop sanctions against Russia in exchange for a nuclear arms reduction deal. How stupid and nuts is that? We need nuclear arms because Russia is not our only [enemy] with nukes. China has nukes, North Korea has nukes. We need to keep our nukes.

Besides, Russia violates most of the nuclear deals it makes anyway so if we make a nuke deal with Russia we would reduce our nuclear arms but Russia wouldn’t and then we’d have limited firepower and Russia would be loaded with nukes. Big mistake. We should not be making deals to get rid of our nukes and we should not be dropping sanctions against Russia. We need sanctions and low oil prices so we can keep Russia poor so Russia can’t afford to build the Frankenstein monster army that it wants to build.

But now here comes Trump and he wants to dump sanctions. And if he does that then Russia’s revenues will increase and it will be able to fund its’ military expansion.

Trump is a problem. Trump is too nice to Russia and Trump is too accommodating towards Russia. I think that the salacious stuff in the Christoper Steele dossier is probably true because there is no other reason that I can think of for Trump to be so accommodating towards Russia.

Russia is on the ropes but it looks like Trump might let Russia off the hook.

Liked by 1 person

18 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments. Welcome back.

I understand all of your concerns. At the outset, it must be kept in mind that in 2001 George W. Bush famously said about Putin:

I looked the man in the eye. I found him very straight-forward and trustworthy – I was able to get a sense of his soul.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenia_Summit_2001 (“Slovenia Summit 2001”)

Similarly, Barack Obama announced his policy of “Reset,” and told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 that he would “have ‘more flexibility’ to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election.”

See, e.g., http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nuclear-summit-obama-medvedev-idUSBRE82P0JI20120326 (“Obama tells Russia’s Medvedev more flexibility after election”)

Both presidents took positions that were accommodating if not pathetically naïve, but their views changed with the passage of time.

My sense is that our President-elect is not a fool, nor is he naïve. He knows Putin is a killer; and much of what he has been saying is “gamesmanship.” Also, it drives many in both of our political parties nuts, and keeps them off guard.

I agree with you that Russia today is a mere shadow of its former self, and weaker than the former USSR—which was defeated without a shot being fired.

It is worth mentioning that China’s newest “super weapon” is its new aircraft carrier, which it bought from Russia—the blind leading the blind.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_aircraft_carrier_Liaoning (“Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning“)

I am not convinced that any truly meaningful sanctions will be removed from Russia. More importantly, if we open our energy spigots wide, as the largest energy producer in the world, we will be in a position to supply Europe and Asia (including China), and hurt Russia’s exports and economy even more.

For a long time now, I have believed Putin’s actions constitute false bravado intended primarily for domestic consumption. Also, I believe Russia’s military is spread too thin in Crimea, other parts of Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere in the world.

Again, one must never forget that a similar scenario led to the collapse of the USSR. And with the end of Putin, “Putinism” dies with him.

Next, addressing your first comment, I do not believe in “diplomatic wars.” I have almost zero faith in the State Department, and believe “wars” are won economically and militarily.

Also, I agree with you regarding the need to maintain our nuclear superiority and strengthen missile, cyber and other defenses.

Lastly, you have suggested that Putin might have something on our President-elect, which Putin could use to compromise or blackmail him.

I assume our intelligence people know what it is, and have been briefing the President-elect right along. Can it be worse than Bill Clinton or JFK’s antics when they were presidents, or Clinton’s travels to the Virgin Islands on the “Lolita Express” without his Secret Service detail, to “ravage” underage girls? I doubt it.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/#comment-7185 (“Clinton Fatigue”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/john-f-kennedy-the-most-despicable-president-in-american-history/ (“John F. Kennedy: The Most Despicable President In American History”) (see also the extensive comments beneath the latter article)

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19 01 2017
RussellDee

Thanks for responding.

You pointed out that diplomacy is useless with Russia. You said the only way to deal with Russia is with economic leverage and/or the militarily. So let me first say that when I said the west was beating Russia diplomatically I really meant to say the west was beating Russia economically. I’m not a pro in foreign affairs so I used the wrong term (diplomatically) when I meant to say “economically” since when I said the west is winning diplomatically I was referring to the sanctions, which are of course causing economic damage to Russia. We are on the same page there. We need to hurt Russia economically.

Some Europeans want to end the Russian sanctions and some do not. The ones that want to end the Russian sanctions claim the sanctions aren’t changing Russia’s behavior so the sanctions aren’t working. But that IS a lie.The sanctions ARE working. You yourself said (in our past discussions) that Putin may have some good weapons designs but he lacks the funds to buy them. I agree. And It’s those sanctions and low oil prices that keeps Putin from having the funds to field all of the monster weapons he wants. The sanctions are forcing him to alter his defense spending.

I hope you’re right about Donald Trump not being compromised, but it sure feels otherwise. Trump’s offer to drop the sanctions (against Russia) in exchange for a nuclear arms deal would obviously benefit Putin/Russia more than the west since dropping the sanctions in exchange for a nuke deal means both sides get the equal benefit of arms reduction but Russia would get the added benefit of getting the sanctions lifted. Such a deal would be obviously heavily weighted in Russia’s favor.

I understand that you believe that the flattery Trump showers on Putin/Russia and the deals (heavily lopsided in Russia’s favor) Trump offers to Putin are all meaningless. I understand that you believe Trump saying that kind of stuff is no different from previous administrations trying to do re-sets with Russia or looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing Putin’s soul. I appreciate your point. But IMO Trump is going much further in the flattering things he says and in the ridiculously lopsided offers he’s making to Putin/Russia. I think it looks very suspicious. It feels like Trump may be in Russia’s pocket.

You asked me what kind of compromising material Russia could possibly have on Trump that could damage him. You pointed out that there has been some bad behavior by some of our past presidents and they weren’t destroyed by it.

Firstly, Those bad things done by past presidents weren’t video-taped by a foreign foe so there wasn’t irrefutable evidence to that stuff in the hands of a foreign foe. Also, some of those bad things done by past presidents were done in a different time. Today, video-tape (in the hands of a foreign foe) of certain behavior by a President could destroy him. If the Russians have video of Trump having sex with a minor child, or video of Trump having homosexual sex, or video of Trump having violent sex with a woman wherein the woman got badly hurt, it could destroy Trump’s Presidency and his personal life. He could be impeached with serious shame, and he could spend the rest of his life in humiliation.

Liked by 1 person

19 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again for your comments.

First, I believe we need to not only hurt but destroy Putin and his cronies and thugs, or allow the Russian people to do this and take back their country—as I stated in my article above and in other writings.

I have no beef with the Russian people. They have been victimized by Putin throughout his career.

Second, many in Europe are “weak sisters,” and weak allies. The ones who understand Putin the most, or should, are those who suffered under communism. Angela Merkel should know this, having grown up in the DDR where Putin began his career as a KGB agent. However, perhaps she was “brainwashed” during her time under its repressive regime. Maybe she never saw the suffering of so many.

Third, there are lots of ways to defeat and/or destroy Putin and Putinism. Sanctions are one; economic destruction directed at Putin and his cronies and thugs is another; direct military action is a third. Again, we destroyed the USSR and communism economically and ideologically, without a shot being fired.

Fourth, I believe Trump is much more adroit and savvy than either George W. Bush or Barack Obama in dealing with Putin. He has dealt with “killers” all of his life. To flatter them, and then insert the shiv, is second nature to him. Anyone who has spent any time dealing in NYC with tough hombres is not mesmerized by the likes of “two bit” Putin.

Fifth, my guess is that the worst the Russians have on Trump is not as bad as you suggest. My guess too is that our intelligence services are privy to what Putin has, and have shared it with Trump already. As a tough guy, which he is, he needs only to remind Putin that he will be terminated summarily if any damage is done; and obviously, we have ways of doing that instantly.

As I have written before, I do not believe Putin is suicidal.

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19 01 2017
RussellDee

Just to let you know, I do not believe for one second that Mr.Trump is a homosexual or a child molester or a violent sexual woman-beater. It probably seemed like I was suggesting he might have these kinds of proclivities but I do not believe that for one second. However, I would not put it past the Russians to slip some chemical into his drink at a party to get him pliable enough to do things he would never think of doing on his own. I do NOT trust the Russians and I think they would do anything. Remember that you yourself agree that the Russians slipped radiation poison into Alexander Litvinenko’s tea.

I know it sounds like some cheap far-out spy thriller plot but I really believe that the Russians would do exactly what Mr. Steele claimed in his dossier so these allegations seem plausible to me. Again, I do not believe for one secon that Mr. Trump would do the things alleged in Mr. Steele’s dossier unless he was drugged or something.

Please note that it’s being reported that there are other videos with sound involving other locations in Russia. Please read this linked article:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-russia-claims-more-than-one-sex-tape-blackmail-cia-agents-bbc-paul-wood-a7523321.html

Paul Wood is not a tidbit reporter.

And I do believe Mr. Trump may very well be “adroit” enough to deal with Putin as long as Putin doesn’t have compromising video, as I’ve suggested, against President Trump. But if Putin has that sort of video/audio against Mr. Trump then that changes that equation.

I like President Trump’s stance on China, though. I think we need a tougher policy regarding China. And that make me think that maybe Mr. Trump is going all soft on Russia because he knows that if he doesn’t get close to Russia then Russia might come to China’s aid (against us) if we tangle with China. What do you think of that?

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19 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

I do not trust the killer Putin and his thugs and cronies at all, and believe they should share Mussolini’s fate.

But Steele has run a small, essentially-two-man office in the UK; and he may not be credible at all.

Years ago, I dealt with an investigative firm in New York City named Orbis, which claimed to have a worldwide presence, and now seems to be defunct. They pitched me in Washington, D C., trying to get new business.

Vestiges of the firm appear to exist today, and this may be one of them.

Next, I fully expect that the very worst will be asserted against Trump by his “enemies” during the next 4-8 years, in an attempt to tear down his presidency and/or impeach him. In an effort to restore or rehabilitate his failed racist presidency, Barack Obama may participate.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?”)

It will be interesting to see if he pardons Hillary Clinton before he officially leaves the White House. If he does, there will always be a permanent blight against his presidency, like that against Jerry Ford’s presidency after he pardoned Richard Nixon.

If Obama does not do it, Hillary may be indicted, convicted and spend time in prison. Indeed, there are reasons to believe that her “surrogates” may cut deals to avoid prosecution themselves, and “spill the beans” on her criminality in the process of doing so. As an adjunct to this is what did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?

See, e.g., http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/01/20/hillary-clinton-trump-inauguration/ (“Trump Supporters Chant ‘Lock Her Up’ When Hillary Clinton Announced At Inauguration”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4140810/Hillary-Clinton-white-pantsuit-Trump-inauguration.html (“An ice-cold handshake at last between President Trump and Hillary Clinton – after she sits glum-faced through his inauguration as crowd chant ‘lock her up'”)

Lastly, Trump would be smart to play off Russia against China; the “step-child” against the parent.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

Just to let you know, if not for the POSSIBILITY of Russia having compromising material (videos as I’ve described) on President Trump then I would not have a problem with Mr.Trump being President.

Some people are very upset about Mr. Trump becoming President Trump for many reasons, but if it were not for the possibility that Russia might have serious compromising material to hold over President Trump I would be fine with Mr. Trump being President Trump. That is my one concern about President Trump.

And the point is not lost on me that Putin does share some Christian values with the USA GOP. I think Putin could use those shared Christian values to get the GOP to buddy up to Russia.

I also worry that Putin could give President Trump some good deals on the geopolitical and then perhaps the GOP leadership could get to thinking that maybe the USA could become good friends with Russia. I think it would be a mistake.

Putin doesn’t give anyone a fair deal LONG TERM. If the GOP cozies up to Putin we will regret it down the road. Putin ultimately wants his Russia to lead the world and the only way Russia can lead the world is if Russia somehow knocks America down from the top because America presently leads the world. So even if Russia starts behaving better It’s a trick to dupe America into making itself vulnerable so Russia can knock America down. The desire to lord it over the world is in Russian DNA.

Russia actually has a word for tricking their foes – it’s called Maskirovka. It was Maskirovka when Vladimir Putin some years ago said that he could imagine Russia joining NATO. He was feigning friendship for the west while he was really plotting ultimately defeating the west. That is why he kept modernizing his nukes and kept working on better conventional weapons. He would be friendly with us while at the same time he was trying to build a Frankenstein army to defeat us. Mark my words; its a mistake to trust Russia.

And I understand that you’re OK with the common man in Russia, but I’m less so. The point is not lost on me that Putin has high public approval for his murderous imperialistic foreign policies. I don’t hate the Russian people but I do not count on them to put the kabosh on Putin either. How am I supposed to faith a bunch of people who support a cold blooded killer like Vladimir Putin?

I think we need to count on western sanctions and low oil prices to drive Russia into bankruptcy. We can and will do this if President Trump doesn’t let us down by lifting sanctions. We need to keep sanctions on Russia, we need to pressure everyone else to also keep sanctions on Russia, and we need to keep oil prices low.

Now the New York Times is reporting that US Intel is taking the allegations in the Christopher Steele dossier serious. Our government is investigating this stuff.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your additional comments.

I read the New York Times‘ article, and there is nothing of value in it.

If the intelligence and law enforcement agencies went after Hillary Clinton with the same gusto, she would bave been indicted by now.

Since the clock is ticking and Barack Obama has not pardoned her yet, she may be indicted in the months to come.

Next, Putin does not have any more “Christian values” than Stalin and Hitler had. He is pure evil personified.

Lastly, Putin is delusional. Russia is a pygmy nation, which will not lead anything. Like the USSR that is dead and buried, this is Russia’s future trajectory, as I have discussed in my article above.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

I’m NO FAN of Hillary Clinton and I did NOT vote for her. But I agree with the FBI’s decision not to prosecute her for the email scandal for the reasons stated in the below quote from a story which quoted FBI director James Comey:

“To warrant a criminal charge, Mr. Comey said, there had to be evidence that Mrs. Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information. The F.B.I. found neither, and as a result, he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

There are other FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton ongoing. Time will tell whether or not she has committed actionable offenses. I’m confident that if the authorities find clear violations of the law by Hillary Clinton they will pursue those violations.

But Hillary Clinton is small potatoes to me because she can’t do damage to the USA. If she had been elected President I would be expressing my concerns to you about her being a person who is under FBI investigation on numerous fronts and now she’s President of the USA.

BUT she was not elected. She can’t harm the country. And I think you’re too concerned about a has-been and no-count presidential candidate (Clinton) and insufficiently concerned about the possibility that our actual President, Donald Trump, may be seriously compromised by Vladimir Putin, of all people. I think your judgment is clouded by your political positions. You seem to have lost your objectivity.

You’re dismissive of the NY Times article, which is now being reported by many other news outlets. If REGULAR CITIZEN Hillary Clinton used her governmental position(s) to get some kind of personal advantage funneled to her through her charity that is small potatoes compared to the very real possibility that PRESIDENT Trump might be compromised by that murderous tyrannical thug, Putin.

It appears you’re willing to sweep under the carpet the possibility that President Trump might be seriously compromised by our worse enemy because you’re just happy that your political party is in charge.

You’ve lost your objectivity.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again, Russell.

First, I am not a Republican, nor a member of either political party. I have been an Independent since I left the U.S. Senate, after watching and working with both parties, up close and personal.

Indeed, as I wrote when this blog began:

I have been a member of the National Democratic Club and the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill, simultaneously. I felt it was good business to entertain our clients and others at whichever club they preferred, and I felt comfortable at both of them. In fact, when I worked in the U.S. Senate, there was a spirit of bipartisanship in both the Senate and House, which I believed was healthy and beneficial for the country.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/about/#comment-861

Second, as I have said many times, I believe Hillary Clinton and her surrogates should be investigated thoroughly, and indicted for the crimes that they have committed, and serve time in prison.

Third, I have been an outspoken critic and opponent of communism and Putin all of my life, and my statements and record speak for themselves. Indeed, my article above pulls no punches and condemns Putin essentially for all eternity, which is an “honor” that has been reserved for Hitler, Stalin and Mao, among others.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin’s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao’s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust”)

Third, I was born and raised in California, and my parents revered Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. Yet, when I was old enough to vote, I became a Democrat and remained one until friends of mine were killed in Vietnam, for nothing. The Iraq War was another war in which American lives were lost or maimed, and trillions of dollars were wasted, for nothing.

I never voted for Nixon, although I had three chances to do so. However, he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by the Democrats. I have zero doubts that they will do everything in their power to destroy the Trump presidency, because they are vicious. Donald Trump is our first Independent president, beholden to neither political party, but willing to work with both if it serves the interests of the American people.

His Inauguration Address today captured that vision.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/the-president-and-first-lady/#comment-9534 (“A NEW DAY!”)

He is not a pawn of the killer Putin. He is commander-in-chief of the strongest military in the world, and leader of the strongest economy in the world, both of which are likely to become much stronger during his presidency. He does not need Putin at all, period.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

How can you possibly KNOW that President Trump is not a “pawn” of the killer Putin. I don’t know it. There are at least 5 USA intelligence agencies investigating that matter. Do you know something they don’t know?

IMO you do NOT have an open mind. The evidence at this point does not say that President Trump is definitely a Putin pawn but the evidence at this time does say that there IS a very real chance that President Trump is a Putin pawn.

If you have irrefutable evidence to the contrary I’m sure the national news media and those 5 USA intelligence agencies would love to see it. So why don’t you disclose your irrefutable evidence to the media and the 5 USA intelligence agencies investigating the matter.

I don’t like the democrats anymore than you do but I like this country more than I like any political party.

The evidence says that there IS a chance that Putin has President Trump under his thumb and if you really wanted Putinism eliminated you would keep an open mind to that possibility because if President Trump is a Putin pawn that could strengthen Putinism.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

Yes, Christopher Steele has been running a PRIVATE intel office in UK but he used to work for M16. He used to be the top spy for M16 in Russian matters. He was a highly credible and respected spy for M16 for a long time and when he retired from M16 he did not instantly lose his Russian contacts. He says he got his information from the contacts he developed over years as M16’s top Russian spy.

He’s considered to be a quality spy by US intelligence agencies.

I’m not saying that Mr. Steele could not possibly be mistaken but I am saying that Mr. Steele is EXACTLY the person who would be able to get quality intel regarding possible Russian/Trump ties and compromising material. And he is professional and heady enough that he should not be dismissed.

IMO you have lost every last vestige of objectivity.
IMO you’re allowing your ideological beliefs cloud your judgment. IMO your ideological beliefs have pushed your anti-Putin position to a back-burner because it’s more important to you to protect people who share your politics.

I put country before politics. It appears you put politics before country,

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again.

First, I have never put politics before my love of this country and its people.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/ (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life”)

I served in our military with the DIA at the Pentagon, and in the U.S. Congress, and am very proud of what I have done.

See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf

Second, there is every reason to believe that Christopher Steele is a cipher, and nothing more.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

Without a good reason you wave away any evidence that you might be wrong, and that should tell you something. I hope you recover your objectivity.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

There is credible evidence of the Clintons’ criminality and depravity, which have hurt our great country already.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/#comment-7185 (“Clinton Fatigue”) and http://www.dickmorris.com/dog-didnt-bark-no-pardon-hillary/ (“The Dog Didn’t Bark: No Pardon For Hillary”)

And the same thing is true of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/john-f-kennedy-the-most-despicable-president-in-american-history/ (“John F. Kennedy: The Most Despicable President In American History”)

They have been treasonous.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

OK. Pres Kennedy was a bad guy and so is Hillary Clinton. But neither of them are in a position today to hurt our country in order to help Russia. Today it is President Trump who is in that position.

And the whole knows that President Kennedy challenged Russia so far as to invoke nuclear war. And obviously since Russia tried to keep Hillary Clinton from getting into the White House that shows that Clinton was no friend of Russia’s.

Trump is the only one of those 3 people who looks suspiciously to close to Russia.

I thought your agenda was the demise of Putin and Putinism. But now you’re circling the wagons around a man, President Trump, who appears to have every intention of strengthening Putin and Putinism.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

As I have written, the despicable and irresponsible JFK almost brought about a “nuclear winter,” which might have destroyed the United States, Russia and the peoples of both countries.

His tragic life was depraved in almost all respects, as my article about him—and the extensive comments beneath it—describe in considerable and vivid detail.

I do not believe President Trump will strengthen Russia at all. Indeed, the people that he was appointed view Putin and Russia as our enemies.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

If President Trump squashes the investigation into Russian/Trump involvement then as far as I’m concerned that will be the final piece of evidence I need to believe that the Russians have him under their thumbs. There is no reason for him to kill the investigations unless he has something to fear from the results of the investigation.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Nonsense.

It is motivated by Democrats who want to destroy the Trump presidency. Yet, it is these same people who covered up the Clintons’ criminality thus far, as they did in the case of John F. Kennedy.

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20 01 2017
RussellDee

I’m clearly the only left in this blog who is against Putin and Putinism.

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20 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Clearly, I am against Putin and Putinism, and have equated them with Hitler, Stalin and Mao, and the other vicious killers throughout history.

Others who read this blog have read the article above, because I get regular statistics concerning which articles are read. You are not alone, by any means, but others do not choose to comment.

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21 01 2017
RussellDee

You could care less if Putin hacked our most recent elections and successfully compromised our present President. You’re more concerned about John Kennedy’s bad behavior 50 years ago even though it no longer has any effect on anything today. You’re more concerned about some now powerless private citizen, Hillary Clinton, wanting to use her own ISP instead of the government ISP a couple years ago.

You are no independent. You are a republican and that’s fine. I’m cool with republicans…until they become hacks. And you are a hack.

Only a hack is more concerned with JFK’s bad behavior from 50 years ago than a present day threat that the current President may be seriously compromised by the Russians.

I am the only person in this blog who is steadfastly anti-Putin. Your anti-Putinism only lasts until President Trump tells you to forgive Putin. You will be singing praises of Putin within a year.

You’re already overlooking bad behavior by Putin so you don’t have to face the truth that President Trump may have been seriously compromised by Putin. You simply don’t want to know.

You’ll be kissing Putin’s ring within a year.

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21 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your additional comments.

First, I supported Barack Obama’s treatment of both Russia’s Putin and Israel’s Netanyahu—because I believe they are moral equivalents—even though I never voted for him.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/is-israel-doomed/ (“Is Israel Doomed?”)

After reading his book “Dreams from My Father” and watching him govern, I believe Obama is a black racist.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/ (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?”)

Tragically, his epitaph and legacy are the following:

President Obama arrived in Washington on the wings of his promise to cool the rancor between the races, the nation’s saddest and most enduring inheritance of slavery, and he leaves Pennsylvania Avenue having only made things worse.

See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/2/the-obama-years-stumble-to-a-cheesy-climax/

Second, the “jury is still out” with respect to our new president’s treatment of both Putin and Netanyahu. It is my hope that his policies will approximate those of Barack Obama in this regard, but we shall see.

Again, none of his appointments are consistent with appeasing Putin in the least (e.g., General James “Mad Dog” Mattis at DoD), or with your greatest fears—which speaks volumes.

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23 01 2017
RussellDee

It’s kind of funny because you’ve had this blog against Putin going for years and you pretend your anti-Putin stance is solid as oak but you’ll drop your anti-Putin stance as soon as the GOP starts getting along with Putin. And that will be within a year.

Putin will give Trump some good deals to show off to the GOP in congress and then the GOP will start softening its’ position on Putin. Then you’ll start a new blog about how Putin has turned over a new leaf and you’ll draw back your anti-Putin position.

Putin will play you extremist’s along for a little while. And while he’s playing you along he will also be working on bringing America down from the top spot in the world. You see, America is currently the greatest nation in the world and Putin covets that position. And his intention is to take it from us.

And he’s long-gaming us. And you and your extremists don’t want it taken from us but Trump will be showing you all some great deals he got from Putin so you will buddy-up with Putin. And then all of a sudden Russia will be the number one nation on earth and America will be moving downward.

We may just go down the ladder a rung or two but we could also crash to the bottom and go through the floor because Putin might wipe us out so that he can wipe out the threat of us ever getting back on top of Russia again.

He can wipe us through a number of holes in our armor. The most obvious one is via finances. He’s already building alliances. With China’s help he’s also building new banking systems and things like that. He will strengthen those systems more and more, and then the USA-led system will crumble beneath the USA and the USA will be left holding the bag.

You extremists are going to get America into trouble that we may not be able to recover from.

And please stop kidding yourself that you’re some kind of independent. You are definitely GOP and that’s fine. I truly am independent but I agree with a lot of the GOP positions. At any rate, not only are you NOT an independent but you are also an extremist on the GOP side. I would go so far as to say that you appear to be an extremist right-wing political hack.

You should stock up on “I love Putin” t-shirts now because you will be loving on Putin within a year.

I’m the only person left in this blog who is truly anti-Putinism.

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23 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments, as always.

Wild, is all I can say at the outset.

Among other things, you said:

[Y]ou’ll drop your anti-Putin stance as soon as the GOP starts getting along with Putin. . . .

As I have stated many times in the articles and comments here, I am not a Republican, and view many Republicans as Neanderthals.

Second, I do not believe Putin is long for this world.

Third, you added:

And then all of a sudden Russia will be the number one nation. . . .

Nonsense. Russia is weaker today than the USSR was before it imploded. Regrettably you are engaged in fantasies, not dissimilar from those of the delusional Putin.

Fourth, you stated:

[N]ot only are you NOT an independent but you are also an extremist on the GOP side. I would go so far as to say that you appear to be an extremist right-wing political hack.

Wow. You seem to have lost it. Sorry about that.

Have a nice day.

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26 01 2017
RussellDee

I think President Trump’s isolationism could strengthen Russia and Putin. President Trump appears to be withdrawing from the world and anyplace that the USA withdraws from Putin/Russia can move into. President Trump is now at odds with Mexico (over the wall and the disrespectful way President Trump engages Mexicans and Mexico) and the net result could be that Russia and/or China could start making overtures to Mexico. And Mexico might accept those overtures from Russia and/or China, I think the USA will start moving down from the top of the heap in the next year or two and Russia and China will supplant the USA as co-number 1 countries. I think that as the USA moves downward our economy could collapse because one thing that keeps our economy afloat is our status as the number 1 country in the world. That’s how we get away with having our massive national debt. And as soon as we lose that lofty number 1 status the reality of our national debt will crash our economy.

There was only one ever way to keep this from happening – increase taxes (to pay down the national debt) cut government spending, and stay involved in world affairs so that we could maintain our status as the number 1 country in the world. I hope President Trump does this but it doesn’t look like he’s going to. He’s doing the SPENDING CUTS part but he’s not doing the TAX INCREASE part and he’s withdrawing from the world rather than staying involved in global matters.

I think we’re beginning the rise of Russia/Putin.

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26 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

False bravado for domestic consumption on the part of Putin is not the same as real power.

He and Russia are pygmies on the world stage, and much weaker than the USSR before it imploded.

They are tied down in Crimea, Syria and elsewhere, and like the Lilliputians. You give them credit that would hearten even Putin, whose days are numbered.

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27 01 2017
RussellDee

President Trump will soon lift sanctions against Russia. And then the entire EU might follow suit and drop sanctions. If USA and EU drop sanctions against Russia that will let Putin off the hook and Russia WILL rise.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/russia-sanctions-trump-putin-234262

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27 01 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

First, the Politico article that you cite does not say that at all. It merely states that sanctions against the killer Putin’s Russia and his cronies and thugs, and the full extent of them, are “under consideration.”

Second, it adds:

A group of Senators, led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are planning on proposing a bill to limit Trump’s ability to lift Russian sanctions without congressional approval.

So be it.

Third, even if the sanctions were lifted in their entirety, which I do not expect to happen, you assert that “Russia WILL rise.” To what level? From being a marginal economy at best, to being a “slightly more than marginal” one.

There is fantasy and then there is reality.

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8 02 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Killer Putin’s Puppet Assad Tortures And Exterminates 13,000 Captives [UPDATED]

Putin's death

Russia’s killer Putin is Stalin’s heir, and he must be terminated as brutally and viciously as possible, to send a message to the world.

His puppet, Bashar al-Assad, must share a similar fate, like Hitler and his puppet Mussolini, and like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his sadistic sons in recent years.

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

Boris Johnson yesterday said he was ‘sickened’ by reports that Bashar al-Assad’s regime tortured and hanged 13,000 political prisoners in four years.

Amid compelling evidence that the Syrian president’s henchmen carried out an unprecedented ‘policy of extermination’, the Foreign Secretary said the dictator had ‘no future as leader’.

Civilians perceived to be opposed to the brutal regime – including doctors and aid workers – were executed in mass hangings of up to 50 detainees at a time, according to a chilling Amnesty International dossier.

Victims were given death sentences after sham trials lasting less than three minutes, often on the basis of confessions extracted through torture, the human rights charity said. Many thousands of others held at the notorious 20,000-capacity Saydnaya military prison, north of Damascus, died from starvation and disease.

The charity’s year-long investigation drew on graphic accounts from witnesses, including judges, officials and former guards at the prison.

One source, a former military officer known only as Hamid who was arrested in 2011, described hearing the killings taking place from the floor above. He said: ‘If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around ten minutes … We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death.’

The bodies of those hanged are believed to have been dumped in mass graves on military land on the outskirts of the war-ravaged capital.

The report said it was ‘inconceivable that these large-scale practices have not been authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government’.

It is the first evidence said to prove that Assad, 51, has authorised torture to punish opponents and crush dissent. He has long been suspected of such action.

Individual death sentences are supposed to be approved by either the Syrian minister of defence or the chief of staff of the army, both of whom are authorised to act on behalf of Assad.

Following publication of the study, Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Sickened by reports from Amnesty International on executions in Syria. Assad responsible for so many deaths and has no future as leader.’

His comments appeared to back away from his suggestion last month that Assad could be allowed to run for re-election in a bid to end Syria’s civil war, which has left nearly 400,000 dead and half the population displaced. But at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Johnson made clear the dictator could not remain in power.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: ‘The Foreign Secretary stressed that Britain [doesn’t] believe that Assad can govern the country or take control of its democratically elected government.’

Amnesty’s report, titled Human Slaughterhouse, reveals that as well as extrajudicial executions, the Syrian authorities are deliberately inflicting horrific conditions on detainees, including torture and denial of food, water and medicine.

Since the uprising began in 2011, the prison has been filled with those accused of opposing Assad or taking part in anti-government protests, as well as military personnel said to be working against the regime or plotting to defect.

Upon arriving at Saydnaya, they undergo a brutal session of beating – referred to as the ‘welcome party’. Witnesses described a methodical routine to the killings, in which the doomed detainees were collected from their cell blocks in the afternoon and told they were being transferred to civilian prisons.

Instead, they were moved to a facility in the grounds known as the ‘red building’, where they were beaten for several hours.

Between midnight and 3am, they were then blindfolded and moved in delivery trucks and minibuses to another part of the jail called the ‘white building’. There, they were taken into a basement room, nooses were placed around their necks and they were hanged. Following the executions, the prisoners’ bodies were taken to Tishreen military hospital where they were registered as having died of natural causes. The corpses were then loaded on to trucks to be secretly buried in mass graves, the report said. Families of the dead were never informed.

Amnesty said the evidence, from between 2011 and 2015, amounted to crimes against humanity and called on the UN to investigate.

Lynn Maalouf, deputy research director at the charity’s office in Beirut, said: ‘The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population.

‘The cold-blooded killing of thousands of defenceless prisoners, along with the carefully crafted and systematic programmes of psychological and physical torture that are in place inside Saydnaya prison cannot be allowed to continue. Those responsible for these heinous crimes must be brought to justice.’ The report adds to previous evidence of abuses, which could result in Assad and key figures in his regime being hauled before international courts charged with crimes against humanity.

In August 2013, a defector known only as Caesar fled Syria with files containing photographs of the bodies of more than 28,000 victims who had died under torture in prison.

The state of the bodies – which were covered in horrific wounds – and their sheer number revealed the scale of the abuse.

Amnesty’s report was published ahead of talks in Geneva aiming to end the bloody civil war.

Assad’s representatives are preparing to meet officials from Turkey, who have backed the rebels, later this month. Russia and Iran, both Assad’s allies, will join the talks.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4201616/Torture-Syrian-regime-exterminated-13-000-captives.html (“Inside Assad’s death chamber: Three minute trials . . . then torture and hangings as report says Syrian regime ‘exterminated’ 13,000 captives“) (emphasis added; charts and diagrams omitted); see also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4215532/Assad-s-21st-century-holocaust.html (“Syria’ President Assad’s ’21st century holocaust'”)

Both Assad and Putin must be terminated, like Mussolini was.

Nothing less will suffice.

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14 02 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

The Kremlin Is Starting to Worry About Trump

Putin is pure evil

Ivan Krastev (Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria) and Stephen Holmes (Professor of Law at New York University) have written for Foreign Affairs:

In 2016, a senior Russian official explained to a group of visiting foreigners why the government had decided not to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Yes, it was a turning point in Russian history, he argued, and, yes, President Vladimir Putin sees today’s Russia as a successor to both the tsars and the Bolsheviks. But celebrating a revolution would send the wrong message to society. The Kremlin today is staunchly opposed to “regime change,” the visitors were told, and thus skittish about eulogizing 1917. It plans to use the centenary, instead, to draw attention to the catastrophic consequences of resorting to revolution to solve social and political problems.

The last thing the Russian government expected was that 2017 would bring it face to face not with a revolution of the past but with a revolution of the present — the radical regime change taking place in the United States as a result of the electoral victory of Donald Trump. It is Trump’s electoral revolution that has captured the imagination, and fanned the fears, of Russian elites today.

The search for a key to Trump’s mind-boggling and miscellaneous gusher of policy directives has tended to focus on his disturbingly erratic, vindictive, simplistic, narcissistic, insecure, and occasionally delusional personality, due exception being made for those conspiracy theorists who treat him as a kind of Manchurian candidate or sock puppet of the Kremlin. What most observers have been late to recognize is the extent to which, behind his mask as a showman, Trump views himself as a revolutionary insurgent with a mission to dismantle America’s “old regime.”

Trump’s tactics certainly belong to the classic revolutionary playbook. His shock-and-awe style of executive action is designed to rattle Congress, catch his opponents unprepared, and incite his base to wage war on the establishment. The extreme polarization he deliberately foments allows him to fend off an opportunistic alliance of the Republican elite with the Democratic Party in defense of the constitutional system, ensuring that protests will be largely impotent. In the words of White House strategist-in-chief Stephen Bannon, Trump is positioning himself as the global leader of an anti-global movement that is anti-elite, anti-establishment, anti-liberal, and nationalistic. “What we are witnessing now,” Bannon told the Washington Post, “is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.”

Russian policymakers, obsessed as they are with the fear of “color revolutions,” may understand better than Americans and Europeans the radical nature of the political change that has descended on Washington. Indeed, when it comes to the ongoing Trump revolution, Russian policymakers are in much the same position as the German General Staff one century ago. In 1917, the German government concluded that the best hope for a German victory in World War I was for a revolution to erupt in Russia. It thus allowed some of the leaders of the Bolshevik party, Lenin among them, to pass through Germany and make their way back to Russia. The hope was that a revolution in Russia would pull the country out of the war — and the plan worked. But by the beginning of 1918, the German government started to fear that the virus of revolution that it had surreptitiously help spread to Russia might circle back calamitously to Germany itself.

Our conversations with Russian policymakers and experts indicate they are starting to have similar fears and doubts today.

There is no way of knowing if Russian interference contributed decisively to Trump’s upset victory. But it’s fair to say that the Kremlin viewed the outcome as a divine gift. Since at least 2011-2012, when Russia witnessed widespread popular protests, and particularly after the Ukrainian Maidan uprising — events that elicited heartfelt praise and encouragement from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — Russia’s leadership had been convinced that her election would spell disaster for Russia and that it might even lead to war. So Russians did what they could to prevent Clinton from getting into the White House. But while they welcomed her defeat, they were wholly unprepared for the ensuing regime change in Washington.

Now that Trump is in power, political elites in Moscow have stopped cheering. They recognize that Russia’s position has become abruptly and agonizingly complex.

It’s true that Trump’s accession opens up the possibility of “normalizing” Russia’s relations with the West, beginning with a reduction or even elimination of sanctions. It also validates many of Russia’s ideological criticisms of the liberal order and may perhaps foreshadow policy reversals that Moscow has long hoped for: from Washington’s disengagement from the Ukraine crisis to its dissolution of the Cold War Western alliance. Russians also celebrate Trump’s unfiltered stream-of-consciousness diatribes as signaling a welcome end to America’s hypocrisy and condescension.

But Trump’s revolution is also ushering in a period of turmoil and uncertainty, including the likelihood of self-defeating trade wars. Still traumatized by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia’s present leadership has no appetite for global instability.

With Trump in the White House, moreover, Putin has lost his monopoly over geopolitical unpredictability. The Kremlin’s ability to shock the world by taking the initiative and trashing ordinary international rules and customs has allowed Russia to play an oversized international role and to punch above its weight. Putin now has to share the capacity to keep the world off balance with a new American president vastly more powerful than himself. More world leaders are watching anxiously to discover what Trump will do next than are worrying about what Putin will do next. Meanwhile, using anti-Americanism as an ideological crutch has become much more dubious now that the American electorate has chosen as their president a man publicly derided as “Putin’s puppet.”

What the Kremlin fears most today is that Trump may be ousted or even killed. His ouster, Kremlin insiders argue, is bound to unleash a virulent and bipartisan anti-Russian campaign in Washington. Oddly, therefore, Putin has become a hostage to Trump’s survival and success. This has seriously restricted Russia’s geopolitical options. The Kremlin is perfectly aware that Democrats want to use Russia to discredit and possibly impeach Trump while Republican elites want to use Russia to deflate and discipline Trump. The Russian government fears not only Trump’s downfall, of course, but also the possibility that he could opportunistically switch to a tough anti-Moscow line in order to make peace with hawkish Republican leaders in Congress.

It is emblematic that, in their first telephone call, Putin refused to press Trump on lifting the sanctions or on America’s discontinuing support for Kiev. Moscow has also chosen to ignore some harsh anti-Russian statements issued by certain members of the new administration. The renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine might seem like a counterexample, but the Kremlin swears that the Petro Poroshenko government in Kiev is the guilty party, aiming at getting the attention of anti-Russian U.S. Congress members and thereby providing a potent argument against Trump’s appeasement of Putin. In any case, Russia has been trying to find ways to accommodate the U.S. president, including, for example, echoing the White House’s denials that Ambassador Sergei Kislyak discussed sanctions with Michael Flynn before Trump’s inauguration as well as announcing plans to reconsider Trump’s demand to set up safe zones inside Syria—a proposal that was initially rejected by the Russians.

Trump’s presidency has also complicated Moscow’s relations with China and Iran. Moscow is interested in normalization with the West but not at the cost of joining a Washington-led anti-China coalition, which Trump seems insistent on creating. Moreover, Putin’s Russia hosts up to 20 million Muslims and therefore cannot indulge in the radical anti-Islam rhetoric adopted by Trump.

What is especially dangerous from the Kremlin’s perspective is that certain nationalistic circles in Russia are falling in love with Trump’s insurrectionary approach. In January, for the first time since Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012, Putin was not the most frequently cited name in the Russian media; Trump was. And although most of Trump’s Russian admirers, such as Alexander Dugin, are loyal to Putin personally, they also dream of purging the globalist elites who occupy the rooms adjoining their president’s.

Anyone who spends any time in Moscow will quickly discover that ordinary Russians, in contrast with a majority of Europeans, feel surprisingly positive about Trump. One reason is that they are exhausted at Russia’s confrontation with the West. Another is that they share Trump’s cynical, borderline apocalyptic view of international politics. Like Trump, they never believed in win-win politics in the first place.

Most interesting of all, they readily compare Trump to an early Boris Yeltsin — impulsive, charismatic, trusting only his family, and ready to bomb the parliament if that works to cement his hold on power. The problem for the Kremlin is that Yeltsin was a revolutionary leader and Putin has decided to make 2017 a year for deploring, not celebrating, revolutions.

See http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/13/the-kremlin-is-starting-to-worry-about-trump/ (emphasis added)

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21 02 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Killer Putin Steals $200 Billion From Russian People [UPDATED]

Putin's death

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the richest man in the world, according to experts who believe he could have a net worth of $200billion.

The official richest man in the world, according to Forbes, is Microsoft’s Bill Gates with a net worth of $75billion.

During his nearly two decades in power, Putin’s net worth has been widely speculated, with the former KGB agent likely having private assets in real estate and company holdings.

One of the most quoted guesses of the 64-year-old’s net worth is political analyst Stanslav Belkovsky’s 2007 estimation of $40billion, but Bill Browder, author and a former fund manager in Russia, has said the president has a higher worth – upwards of $200billion.

IBTimes raised the question of Putin’s wealth last week, pointing out that Browder spoke to Fareed Zakaria GPS in 2015, claiming that Putin’s years in power have led him to gain quite a fortune.

‘I believe that it’s $200 billion,’ he said at the time. ‘After 14 years in power of Russia, and the amount of money that the country has made, and the amount of money that hasn’t been spent on schools and roads and hospitals and so on, all that money is in property, bank – Swiss bank accounts – shares, hedge funds, managed for Putin and his cronies.’

And yet, Putin has been snubbed from the official Forbes list of the world’s richest men and women over the years.

‘We value individuals’ assets–including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash–and take into account estimates of debt. We also consult an array of outside experts in various fields,’ Forbes wrote in 2015.

Without mentioning Putin or any other names, Forbes said the magazine excludes world leaders, particularly ‘dictators who derive their fortunes entirely as a result of their position of power’.

Still, even Belkovsky’s low estimation of $40billion would put Putin, who’s rumored to be dating Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva, into the top ten of Forbes’ billionaires list.

Belkovsky said that much of Putin’s net worth was thanks to the oil business, saying the Russian president controlled 37 per cent of the oil company Surgutneftegaz, 4.5 per cent of the natural gas company Gazprom, and had holdings in the commodities trader, Gunvor.

Gunvor denies that Putin ever had any ownership in the company, which made $93billion in revenue in 2012, according to TIME.

Since first estimating that Putin was worth $40billion, Belkovsky upped his estimate to $70billion, claiming he gained more information from ‘confidential sources around the corporations’, according to an interview with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

A net worth of $70million would put Putin in second place on the Forbes billionaires list, only behind Gates and right above Zara’s Amancio Ortega.

A well-known sign of wealth for Putin is his $35million super yacht named Olympia.

Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich is claimed to have given Putin the yacht after he became president of Russia.

But perhaps one of Putin’s most visible signs of wealth is a palace on the Black Sea that’s reportedly worth $1billion.

The palace features ‘a magnificent columned facade reminiscent of the country palaces Russian tsars built in the 18th Century’, according to the BBC.

In a statement in 2010, however, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president ‘has never had any relationship to’ the palace.

Meanwhile, self-exiled Russian businessman named Sergei Kolesnikov told BBC that the palace was personally built for Putin, but paid for with a secret slush fund formed by Russian oligarchs.

If Putin, a judo black belt and amateur ice hockey player, not only has access to the country’s corporate wealth, but also to the oligarch slush fund, his assets expand tremendously.

According to a dossier written by a political rival of the Russian president, Putin could have access to up to 58 planes and helicopters, a $500,000 watch collection and 20 palaces and country retreats.

The report also claimed he uses a private jet with an $137million cabin which has a bathroom with gold fittings and a $62,000 toilet.

Other perks include a 2,300-acre residence on Lake Valdai in north-west Russia.

‘In a country where 20 million people can barely make ends meet, the luxurious life of the president is a brazen and cynical challenge to society from a high-handed potentate,’ Boris Nemstov wrote in the document, according to the Telegraph.

In April 2015, Putin declared a 2014 income of just $119,000, listing ownership of two apartments and a share in a car parking garage.

Despite being left of the Forbes billionaires list, Putin is still at the top spot for the magazine’s list of most powerful people in the world.

Putin’s rumored girlfriend, Kabaeva, made a rare appearance opening of rhythmic gymnastics international tournament Grand Prix Moscow 2017 on Monday.

Former acting Secretary of the US Treasury, Adam Szubin, said last year that the American government has known of Mr Putin’s corruption for ‘many, many years’.

He told BBC Panorama: ‘We’ve seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalising those who he doesn’t view as friends using state assets.

‘Whether that’s Russia’s energy wealth, whether it’s other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don’t. To me, that is a picture of corruption.’

‘He supposedly draws a state salary of something like £80,000 a year,’ added Szubin. ‘That is not an accurate statement of the man’s wealth, and he has long-time training and practices in terms of how to mask his actual wealth.’

Putin has previously scoffed at claims he was Europe’s richest man, saying: ‘It’s simply rubbish. They just picked all of it out of someone’s nose and smeared it across their little papers.’

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4242718/Vladimir-Putin-200-billion-fortune.html (“Is Putin the world’s real richest man? After 17 years in power, Russian leader has a ‘$200 billion fortune, 58 planes and helicopters and 20 palaces and country retreats'”) (emphasis added)

Putin is pure evil.

As I have written in the article above:

Despite being a “public servant” all of his life, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated to be $70 billion; “Versailles” has been built for him already; and his cronies have amassed billions of dollars too, and are living like kings outside of Russia. The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Nothing less will suffice.

And it is a mistake to state that the killer Putin is “rumored to be dating Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva.” According to reliable reports, he has fathered two children by her; and they live most of the time in Switzerland.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-8492 (“Putin’s Mistress Surfaces Again With Respect To World Athletic Ban“)

Also, the Daily Mail article neglects to state that Boris Nemtsov was assassinated by Putin’s thugs outside of the Kremlin on February 27, 2015.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Boris_Nemtsov (“Assassination of Boris Nemtsov“)

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23 03 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

The Butcher Putin Kills Again!

Putin is pure evil

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

A Russian MP who fled Moscow fearing for his life at the hands of President Putin’s secret service was assassinated today in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Denis Voronenkov, who had testified against the pro-Russian former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, was shot dead in broad daylight by an assassin with a 9mm handgun.

His bodyguard was injured but fired back, fatally wounding the gunman, who died a few hours later.

The 45-year-old fled Moscow in October with his wife Maria Maksakova, an opera singer, saying they were fed up of the ‘schizophrenic’ Russian government.

Maksakova, who had a son with Voronenkov last year, rushed to the scene of the shooting outside a luxury hotel today and broke down in tears.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said it was an ‘act of state terrorism’ by Russia and added: ‘It clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past.’

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘We believe that all the falsehoods that can already be heard about much-hyped Russian involvement are absurd.’

The bodyguard, who was a member of the Ukrainian security services, remains in hospital.

The Ukrainian authorities said the assassin had been identified as a Ukrainian citizen, although he may be an ethnic Russian from the breakaway east of the country or from the Crimea.

He was shot three or four times and died from wounds to his chest and head.

Writing on Twitter, Ilya Ponomarev, another former Russian MP and critic of Putin who has been in exile since 2014, said Voronenkov had been killed while on his way to meet him.

Ponomarev, who was the only MP in the Russian Duma to vote against the annexation of the Crimea, tweeted: ‘There are no words.’

Nikolai Kovalyov, a former Russian security chief who is now an MP, told Russian state television the killing could have been rooted in a business dispute.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko blamed the Kremlin for Voronenkov’s killing, saying Russia wanted to punish him for his testimony to Ukrainian investigators.

He said it was a ‘cynical murder’ of a man who had provided investigators with important testimony about Russian aggression and added: ‘This was a typical show execution of a witness by the Kremlin.’

The killing came a few hours after Russian or separatist saboteurs blew up a warehouse storing tank ammunition at a military base in the east of the country.

In Voronenkov’s last interview, with Radio Free Europe last month, he said he opposed ‘Russia’s war’ against Ukraine but said it would only end when Putin left the scene.

He also threatened to testify about the involvement of former President Yanukovych – an ally of Putin – in the separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine and said: ‘I will talk about criminal deeds of the former president, which led to the ongoing bloodshed in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.’

At the end of the interview with Kiev-based journalist Christopher Miller Voronenkov and his wife laughed as they showed him social media messages calling them ‘traitors’.

Miller wrote: ‘Maksakova . . . says of all the attention they have gotten in the past 48 hours: “God, it’s so funny!”‘

Miller tweeted today: ‘As Ukraine’s president and prosecutor general jump to cast Voronenkov murder as Kremlin plot, Kiev police tell me still too early to call.’

He added: ‘Yes, Voronenkov was viewed in Moscow as traitor – no worse crime. But had enemies in Ukraine unhappy he was welcomed here, given citizenship.’

Voronenkov was wanted in Moscow on fraud charges and Russian media had reported in recent months that he owned five expensive Russian apartments and a fleet of luxury cars.

His name also surfaced in the Panama Papers leak as a shareholder of a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

He said he feared Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which took over from the KGB in the 1990s.

Last month, in an interview with Radio Free Europe, Voronenkov compared Putin’s Russia with Nazi Germany and said the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 was ‘illegal’ and a ‘mistake’.

In that interview he said he was not interested in Ukrainian politics and only wanted to raise the couple’s son, whose first birthday will be next month.

Russia and the Ukraine have been virtually at war with each other since President Yanukovych was ousted by Ukrainian nationalist demonstrators in February 2014.

Ethnic Russian separatists have set up a rebel republic in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine and Russia annexed the Crimea, which is dominated by ethnic Russians, in the summer of 2014.

Yesterday the Ukraine forbid Russia’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, Yulia Samoylova, from taking part in the competition in May because she had toured in the ‘occupied’ Crimea.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko today blamed the Kremlin for Voronenkov’s killing, saying Russia wanted to punish him for his testimony to Ukrainian investigators.

Voronenkov, who was a former member of the communist faction in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, had renounced his Russian citizenship and been granted a Ukrainian passport.

Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Ariev‏ tweeted: ‘New Litvinenko case. Former Russian MP Voronenkov shot to death in Kiev right on the street. Putin spreading fear over the world.’

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said Voronenkov was killed around noon local time and his bodyguard was injured.

Maksakova, who was also a member of parliament, was not with him at the time but rushed to the scene.

He was elected in 2011 and was at one point a strong supporter of Putin, having co-authored a 2014 bill which banned the foreign ownership of Russian media, a move described by Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky as ‘perhaps the single worst thing that happened to press freedom as an institution in Putin’s Russia’.

But he later changed his position and defected to the Ukraine and since coming to Kiev he had testified against Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych, who was blamed for the violent crushing of demonstrations by anti-Russian protesters in Kiev’s Maidan Square in February 2014.

Svetlana Petrenko, a spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, which had been probing fraud allegations against Voronenkov, said: ‘In the event of official confirmation of his death, the law provides termination of the criminal case on non-exculpatory grounds with the consent of the relatives of the deceased, or referral of the criminal case to the court for consideration on the merits.’

After he fled to Ukraine, Russian investigators filed fraud charges against Voronenkov in connection with his business activities.

Putin supporters were quick to reject Ukrainian allegations that Voronenkov could have been killed for betraying Russia.

Enrico Ivanov tweeted: ‘Voronenkov celebrated Crimea’s reunification and criticised regime, he changed point of view in 2016 after he was accused of fraud.’

Ivanov tweeted that Putin critic Alexei Navalny called Voronenkov ‘a pig and a thief till 2016 because he was incredibly corrupt. For one time he was right.’

But Anton Geraschenko, an adviser to the head of the Ministry for Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said: ‘This is a contractual political assassination, the goal of which is to intimidate all those Russian deputies and officials who will try to escape from Russia to the West or to Ukraine. I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, relatives and friends.’

______

Killed by the Kremlin?

October 2006: Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down as she got into the lift by her apartment in Moscow. Five Chechens were convicted of the murder but it remains unclear who ordered it

November 2006: Former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko had tea with two Russian agents at a hotel in London. He died later, poisoned by polonium-210. Scotland Yard wants to interview the two Russians, who fled to Moscow

November 2012: Russian businessman Alexander Perepilichny, died at his home in Weybridge, Surrey. The tycoon, who alleged Russian officials were involved in a massive fraud, is believed to have been poisoned

February 2015: Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who had called on the public to march against the war in the Ukraine, was assassinated in central Moscow. The case is unsolved

Nov 2015: Mikhail Lesin, a former Putin adviser nicknamed The Bulldozer, was beaten to death at a hotel in Moscow. He was reportedly planning to move to New York and make a deal with the FBI. He is buried in Los Angeles

Nov 2015: Abdulwahid Edelgiriev, a Chechen Islamist refugee who had fled the Russian republic of Chechnya, was shot dead in Istanbul. Several other dissident Chechens have been killed in Turkey by suspected Russian hitmen

March 2017: Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian MP who defected to the Ukraine in October 2016 and testified against Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovych, is gunned down in the centre of Kiev

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4342008/Russian-MP-fled-Moscow-shot-dead-Kiev.html (“A widow weeps: Distraught wife rushes to the scene of her husband’s assassination as ANOTHER Putin critic is gunned down in the street after fleeing to the Ukraine in fear for his life“) (emphasis added)

Putin is every bit as vicious as Hitler and Stalin. He must be terminated in a fashion similar to that of Mussolini. No mercy must be shown.

Putin's death

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10 04 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Terminate The Rabid Dogs: Putin, Assad And Kim Jong-Un

Putin's death

The UK’s Sun has reported:

RUSSIA and Iran have said they will respond to further American military actions following the air strike in Syria last week.

In a joint statement, the command centre for the two countries and allied groups said “we will respond to any aggression”.

The statement read: “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

The warning comes on the same day that:

• A Russian politician warned the North Koreans could strike at any time

• A seven-year-old Syrian girl tweeted her support for Trump’s missile strike

• The President blasted claims his 59-missile strike on Syrian airfield missed targets

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned “flagrant US aggression on Syria” following the missile strike on a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical attack by the Syrian government on innocent civilians.

The Iranian leader, a key ally of Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad, called yesterday for an impartial investigation into the chemical attack that killed at least 70 people.

He warned that the American strikes in response risked escalating extremism in the region, reported Iranian state television.

In a phone call with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Rouhani told him: “Allegations that Syria launched the chemical attack were just a pretext to disrupt the Syrian peace process”.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said Assad told Rouhani the Syrian people and army were “determined to crush terrorism in every part of Syrian territory” – a reference to the rebels who have been fighting his bloody rule for six years.

He also thanked Rouhani for Iran’s support for “the Syrian nation”.

In a speech on Sunday, Rouhani also criticised US-allied Gulf Arab states for endorsing the missile strike.

He said: “Unfortunately, there are countries in our own region which encourage America’s acts of aggression.” He warned: “Your turn will come too.”

Saudi Arabia hailed the strike as a “courageous decision” by President Donald Trump and a Saudi ally, the United Arab Emirates, declared they also supported the action.

Both countries are part of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria.

See https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3293221/russia-and-iran-say-they-will-respond-to-american-aggression-following-air-strike-in-syria/ (“Russia and Iran pledge to hit back against further Syria strikes as they blast US for ‘crossing red lines’“) (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/the-next-major-war-korea-again/#comment-9880 (“The Burier Of Bin Laden, USS Carl Vinson, Moves Into Korean Waters“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/the-president-and-first-lady/#comment-9876 (“Trump Attacks“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“)

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8 07 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

With Energy Prices Falling, Trump Has Putin Over The Barrel

American conservative commentator, economic analyst, television personality, and newspaper columnist, Lawrence Kudlow, has written in the New York Sun:

A few years back, in one of his finest moments, Senator McCain said on a Sunday talk show that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.” It was right when he said it, and it’s even more right today.

Vladimir Putin’s circle of corrupt oligarchs gouge whatever money they can from the impoverished Russian economy and move it to bank accounts overseas. They do this after giving President Putin his cut, after which he apparently also sends the money overseas.

Many say Mr. Putin is the richest man in Russia, worth billions and billions. So the old Soviet model of the nomenklatura communist bureaucrats getting rich while the rest of the country declines is still in place.

With energy prices falling, though, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has essentially been in a recession for the past four years. With oil at $50 or less a barrel, Russian budgets plunge deeper into debt. It’s even doubtful the Russians have enough money to upgrade their military-energy industrial complex.

Through crafty press relations and his own bravado, a deluded Mr. Putin struggles to maintain the illusion that Russia is a strong economic power. It isn’t. Not even close.

Now, Russia still has a lot of oil and gas reserves. It uses this to bully Eastern and Western Europe. It threatens to cut off these resources if Europe dast complain about Mr. Putin’s power grabs in the Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, the Baltics, and elsewhere.

Enter President Trump. In his brilliant speech at Warsaw earlier this week, he called Mr. Putin’s energy bluff.

It may well have been the best speech of his young presidency. Mr. Trump delivered a stirring leadership message, emphasizing the importance of God, freedom, strong families, and democratic values.

While pledging to uphold NATO’s Article 5 — committing the members to protect one another — Mr. Trump went even deeper: “The fundamental question of our time,” he said, “is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?”

He said, “if we do not have strong families and strong values then we will be weak and we will not survive.” He also spoke several times of the religious leadership and bravery of Pope John Paul II.

It was a bold strike for the West.

In an absolutely key part of the speech, he took direct aim at Mr. Putin’s energy bullying.

President Trump said, “We are committed to securing your access to alternative sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.” Italics are all mine.

Mr. Trump has quickly made it clear that President Obama’s war on business is over. He’s also made it clear, through regulatory rollbacks of breathtaking scope, that the Obama war on fossil fuels is over.

Our new president wants America to achieve energy dominance. He withdrew from the costly Paris climate accord, which would have severely damaged the American economy. He directed the EPA to rescind the Obama Clean Power Plan, which would have led to skyrocketing electricity rates.

He fast-tracked the Keystone XL pipeline. He reopened the door for a modernized American coal industry. He’s overturning all the Obama obstacles to hydraulic fracturing, which his presidential opponent, Secretary Clinton, would have dramatically increased. He has opened the floodgates wide to energy exports.

Right now, U.S. oil reserves are almost in parity with those of Saudi Arabia. We have the second-most coal reserves in the world. There are enough American gas reserves to last us a century. We have already passed Russia as the world’s top natural-gas producer.

We are the world’s top producer of oil and petroleum hydrocarbons. Exports of liquified national gas are surging, with the Energy Department rapidly approving new LNG projects and other export terminals.

All these America-first energy policies are huge economic-growth and high-wage-job producers at home. In the Warsaw speech, Mr. Trump made it clear that America’s energy dominance will be used to help our friends across Europe. No longer will our allies have to rely on Russian Gazprom supplies with inflated, prosperity-killing prices.

In short, with the free-market policies he’s putting in place in America’s energy sector and throughout the American economy, the businessman president fully intends to cut into Russia’s energy-market share. As that takes hold, Russia’s gas-station economy will sink further.

As that takes hold, the bully-boy Mr. Putin will have to think twice about Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltics. He’ll have to think twice about his anti-American policies in the Middle East and North Korea. He’ll have to think twice about his increasingly precarious position as the modern-day Russian tsar.

The world may yet become a safer place.

Mr. Trump has Mr. Putin over a barrel.

See http://www.nysun.com/foreign/with-energy-prices-falling-trump-has-russias/90024/ (emphasis in original)

Taking this discussion beyond Mr. Kudlow’s fine article, it is time to crush Russia’s killer Putin, as I have written previously:

Putin is a killer, and Stalin’s heir. After World War II, he came to prominence as a KGB operative in East Germany—or the DDR, as it was known before the collapse of Erich Honecker’s government—which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit, or the Evil Empire. Following the USSR’s implosion, Putin and his thugs and cronies hijacked Russia’s incipient democracy, and have been exploiting it ever since.

Despite being a “public servant” all of his life, Putin has amassed a fortune estimated to be $70 billion; “Versailles” has been built for him already; and his cronies have amassed billions of dollars too, and are living like kings outside of Russia. The Russian people need to recover what Putin and his cronies have stolen from them, and then terminate all of them—like the last Czar and his family, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Nothing less will suffice.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“)

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3 11 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Russia’s Killer Putin Is Boxed!

Comrade Putin

In the game of chess, the end choices are “check” and then “checkmate.” At the very least, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is “boxed,” in check; and at some point, he may find himself in checkmate and his end may be upon him, which the article above predicted.

He has come a long way from being a ruthless KGB agent in the former DDR, or East Germany. He has solidified his power, by killing or “reassigning” those who would challenge him. Yet, down deep, he has always known that the United States wants him dead: with his head “mounted on a slab”—having met a fate rivaling that of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Italy’s fascist Benito Mussolini before him.

Yes, there have been “feints” in his direction, but they have been short-lived and often disingenuous; and he has been smart enough to know that. Overtures made by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were “sleights of hand,” and he knew it. But now the situation is even more dire for him.

Any chances of rapprochement with the United States went out the window when claims surfaced of Russian collusion in our 2016 elections. Barring a miracle for Putin, President Donald Trump’s hands are tied. He cannot appear to favor Putin or Russia in any way, lest his critics have more ammunition to attack him.

The same thing is true with America’s Leftist Democrats, who have staked their attacks against Trump on Russia’s actions. As the “Uranium One”-Russian scandal continues to unfold—casting its net far and wide to encompass Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller and so many others—Putin will be like an “untouchable leper.”

When all of the scandals relating to Putin and Russia unfold completely, Americans of all political stripes will be clamoring for retribution—pounds of flesh. This can be manifested in a myriad for forms, ranging from direct military action to economic sanctions that have real teeth, such as denying Russia access to the SWIFT payments system and cratering its economy.

Stay tuned. The endgame will not be pretty for Comrade Putin.

Putin's death

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/the-real-russian-conspiracy-barack-obama-the-clintons-and-the-sale-of-americas-uranium-to-russias-killer-putin/ (“The Real Russian Conspiracy: Barack Obama, The Clintons, And The Sale Of America’s Uranium To Russia’s Killer Putin“) (see also the comments beneath the article)

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5 12 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Russia Banned From Winter Olympics

Comrade Putin

Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja have written in the New York Times:

Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound. Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.

That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways. The International Olympic Committee, after completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for doping so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history.

The ruling cemented that the nation was guilty of executing an extensive state-backed doping program. The scheme was rivaled perhaps only by the notorious program conducted by East Germany throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Now the sports world will wait to see how Russia responds. Some Russian officials have threatened to boycott if the I.O.C. delivered such a severe punishment.

President Vladimir V. Putin seemed to be predicting a boycott of the Pyeongchang Games, since his foreign policy in recent years has been based on the premise that he has rescued Russia from the humiliation inflicted on it by the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, has said no boycott was under discussion before the announcement, however, and the news broke late in the evening in Moscow when an immediate official reaction was unlikely.

In barring Russia’s team, Olympic officials left the door open for some Russian athletes. Those with histories of rigorous drug testing may petition for permission to compete in neutral uniforms. Although it is unknown exactly how many will clear that bar, it is certain that the contingent from Russia will be depleted significantly. Entire sports — such as biathlon and cross-country skiing, in which Russia has excelled and in which its drug violations have been many — could be wiped out completely.

Thomas Bach, president of I.O.C., has said he was perturbed not only by Russia’s widespread cheating but by how it had been accomplished: by corrupting the Olympic laboratory that handled drug testing at the Games, and on orders from Russia’s own Olympic officials.

In an elaborate overnight operation at the 2014 Sochi Games, a team assembled by Russia’s sports ministry tampered with more than 100 urine samples to conceal evidence of top athletes’ steroid use throughout the course of competition. More than two dozen Russian athletes have been disqualified from the Sochi standings as a result, and Olympic officials are still sorting through the tainted results and rescinding medals.

At the coming Games, Mr. Bach said Tuesday, a special medal ceremony will reassign medals to retroactive winners from Sochi. But, in light of legal appeals from many of the Russian athletes who have been disqualified by the I.O.C., it is uncertain if all results from Sochi will be finalized in time.

The Russian Olympic Committee was also fined $15 million on Tuesday.

The punishment announced Tuesday resembles what antidoping regulators had lobbied for leading up to the 2016 Summer Games, where Russia was allowed to participate but in restricted numbers. It is likely to face a legal appeal from Russia’s Olympic Committee.

The decision was announced after top International Olympic Committee officials had met privately with Alexander Zhukov, the president of Russia’s Olympic Committee; Vitaly Smirnov, Russia’s former sports minister who was last year appointed Mr. Putin to lead a national antidoping commission to redeem Russia’s standing in global sports; and Evgenia Medvedeva, a two-time world skating champion.

“Everyone is talking about how to punish Russia, but no one is talking about how to help Russia,” Mr. Smirnov said, sipping a hot beverage in the lobby of the Lausanne Palace Hotel before delivering his final appeal to officials that afternoon. “Of course we want our athletes there, and we want the Russian flag and anthem,” he said.

But that appeal was rejected in light of the conclusions of Samuel Schmid, a former president of Switzerland whom the Olympic committee appointed last year to review the findings of a scathing investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Tuesday’s penalty was in line with what had been advocated by two key whistle-blowers whose accounts upended Russia’s standing in global sports over the last several years: Grigory Rodchenkov, the chemist who spent 10 years as Russia’s antidoping lab chief and was key to carrying out the cheating schemes in Sochi; and Vitaly Stepanov, a former employee of Russia’s antidoping agency who married a runner for Russia’s national team and was the first to speak publicly about the nation’s institutionalized cheating.

“The world knows that hundreds of Olympic dreams have been stolen by the doping system in the country where I was born,” Mr. Stepanov wrote in an affidavit submitted to the International Olympic Committee this fall. He had suggested banning Russia’s Olympic Committee for two years, or until the nation’s antidoping operations are recertified by regulators. Russia and its individual athletes are all but certain to miss the 2018 Paralympics given regulators’ refusal to recertify the nation last month.

“The evidence is clear, that the doping system in Russia has not yet been truly reformed,” Mr. Stepanov wrote.

Dr. Rodchenkov is living at an undisclosed location in the United States under protection of federal authorities. In August, “Icarus,” a film detailing Dr. Rodchenkov’s move to the United States and tell-all account, was released.

Tuesday’s decision may have major consequences for another major sports event, next year’s $11 billion soccer World Cup in Russia. The nation’s deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, was Russia’s top sports official during the 2014 Sochi Games and was directly implicated by Dr. Rodchenkov. As part of Tuesday’s ruling, Mr. Mutko was barred for life from the Olympics.

See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/sports/olympics/ioc-russia-winter-olympics.html (“Russia Banned From Winter Olympics by I.O.C.“) (emphasis added; graphic omitted)

As the Times‘ article states:

The scheme was rivaled perhaps only by the notorious program conducted by East Germany throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

This is significant because of killer Putin’s background in East Germany, or the DDR.

As I wrote in my article above:

Putin is a killer, and Stalin’s heir. After World War II, he came to prominence as a KGB operative in East Germany—or the DDR, as it was known before the collapse of Erich Honecker’s government—which was one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet Union’s orbit, or the Evil Empire. Following the USSR’s implosion, Putin and his thugs and cronies hijacked Russia’s incipient democracy, and have been exploiting it ever since.

. . .

The world must never forget that Putin left the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to launch his aggression against Georgia. Then, he left the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and launched his aggression against Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. Also, the world must never forget that in addition to downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17—and killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board—Putin killed Alexander Litvinenko and countless others.

See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-9111 (“Boycott The Rio Olympics Because Of The Killer Putin’s Russia, and Zika“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-8492 (“Putin’s Mistress Surfaces Again With Respect To World Athletic Ban“)

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24 12 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

NEVER Trust Russia’s Killer Putin! [UPDATED]

Comrade Putin

Julian E. Barnes and Emre Peker have written in the Wall Street Journal:

Power politics between Russia and the rest of Europe are once again raising a question that dogged strategists throughout the Cold War: Where is the line between prudence and paranoia?

Russia, which for years has used its vast supply of natural gas as a political lever with energy-hungry Europe, is building a nuclear power plant in Moscow-friendly Belarus. Neighboring Lithuania and Poland are so determined to escape Russia’s clutch that they refused to buy electricity from the plant.

Still, the $11 billion Ostrovets nuclear-power project, 30 miles from Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, is fueling fears in the Baltic republic. Lithuanians say they don’t think Moscow would actually trigger a nuclear accident but they do worry about a panic-inducing warning of a leak—real or not.

“Even a fake message about the disaster could trigger a lot of damage to our country,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė. “We treat this as a national security threat.”

Evacuating Vilnius would be massively disruptive, lower the country’s defenses, and increase its vulnerability to potential covert action by Russia. Lithuania, occupied by the Soviet Union until 1991, has briefed fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, arguing Moscow has demonstrated it can effectively use nontraditional military techniques to destabilize its neighbors.

Belarusian authorities didn’t respond to requests for comment, while Russian officials referred questions to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear monopoly. A spokesman for the Moscow-based company dismissed Lithuanian warnings that the Belarus nuclear plant represents a hybrid threat as “a patently bogus claim which doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny.”

“The project meets the highest safety standards,” the Rosatom spokesman said.

Lithuanian officials, however, are ringing alarm bells against the backdrop of Russia’s assertiveness across the globe. Washington and its European allies have accused Russia of interfering in elections, deploying social media to spread false allegations and using other unorthodox methods to sow divisions among Western democracies. Allied officials say Russia uses a range of tactics to pressure their neighbors, seeking to loosen their ties to the West.

Infrastructure projects are seen as potential weapons in other parts of the world. South Korea so fears North Korea will use its Imnam hydroelectric dam to try to flood Seoul that it spent $429 million building its own dam in defense. China’s new artificial islands in the South China Sea are seen by the U.S. and its allies as permanent aircraft carriers.

Which non-traditional threats should prompt reaction is a tough call. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, few foresaw commercial planes being used as suicide weapons.

European officials are divided over the potential threat from the Ostrovets plant. Rosatom has projects around Europe, including nuclear power plants under construction in Hungary and Finland. Accidents are bad for business, even false alarms, say energy experts.

“They’re not building a ticking time bomb,” a European official said. “But, you will never satisfy the Lithuanians, they simply don’t want the project.”

But the European Union and NATO officials see a different kind of threat from the plant. They say the project is an attempt by Moscow to maintain its neighbors’ energy dependence on Russia.

The EU is trying to help Poland and the Baltic states cut ties to Russia’s energy grid. The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, recently pledged to advance a plan to integrate the four countries into the European energy network by May.

Conventional nuclear risks such as radioactive contamination also feed Lithuanian fears. Some 75% of its capital region’s drinkable water comes from the Neris River that runs by the Ostrovets plant and through Vilnius. One-third of the country’s 2.9 million people live within a 100-kilometer (62 mile) radius that would be heavily affected by an incident, according to Lithuania. In recent years, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have distributed iodine tablets to residents within 100 kilometers of nuclear power plants, in line with International Atomic Energy Agency emergency guidelines.

Adding to Lithuania’s wariness is the safety record of Russian nuclear power. Memories of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster resurfaced in November when scientists tracked a cloud of radioactive isotopes that appeared to originate from Russia. Rosatom has denied responsibility for the recent radioactive cloud, which was centered around a facility run by the company.

“They simply cannot afford to behave in any kind of gross political, non-market way,” said an Ostrovets project supporter, who is familiar with the discussions. Unlike PAO Gazprom—the Russian state-run natural-gas giant that enjoys stable, high demand from Europe and has on occasion cut off supplies amid political spats—the nuclear enterprise is operating in a highly competitive global market that would severely punish any mishap, the person said.

Belarusian and Russian officials and their supporters argue that Russia’s interest in European energy is about economics, not threats. The IAEA has said Belarus has shown a strong commitment to safety standards.

Officials from the EU and its members have said the bloc can do little beyond demanding strict adherence to international agreements and regulations. Belarus has agreed to cooperate with the EU and the IAEA. The bloc will review Belarus’s stress-test, visiting Ostrovets in March and unveiling its findings in June, an EU official said.

Nonetheless, some allied officials warn against dismissing Lithuanian national-security concerns. In February, as German troops deployed to Lithuania under a NATO mandate, false reports spread that a German national had raped a Lithuanian girl. Some Western officials said the misinformation likely came from Russia, seeking to undermine support for NATO. Russian officials have said such claims are a NATO propaganda campaign to justify its military presence in the Baltic states.

In April, lawmakers in Vilnius adopted a law against importing electricity from “unsafe” power plants and in June Lithuania’s parliament declared the Belarusian nuclear plant a national-security threat.

“The plant is not economically viable,” said Ms. Grybauskaitė. “If they go ahead, it [is] not economic goals they are pursing.”

See https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-nuclear-plant-stokes-europes-fears-of-a-power-play-1514116800 (“Russian Nuclear Plant Stokes Europe’s Fears of a Power Play“) (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/the-real-russian-conspiracy-barack-obama-the-clintons-and-the-sale-of-americas-uranium-to-russias-killer-putin/ (“The Real Russian Conspiracy: Barack Obama, The Clintons, And The Sale Of America’s Uranium To Russia’s Killer Putin“)

As discussed in my article above, and in the footnotes and comments beneath it, the bottom line is: NEVER trust Putin.

Just ask the people of Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, Syria and the loved ones of those whom he has killed since coming to power in the DDR many years ago.

The United States has vast energy resources, which are being exported after years of being “frozen” by the failed Obama administration. It is time for America to supply the oil and natural gas needs of our allies abroad—as well as those of China.

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5 02 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

The Fall Of The Berlin Wall, Remembered [UPDATED]

Fall of the Berlin Wall

The following article appears in the UK’s Economist:

TO MILLIONS the Berlin Wall—which as of today has been down for longer than it was up—was above all a symbol. It was a by-word for division and the post-war era in Europe. It played stage to an evolving caste of monumental historical figures: JFK, Willy Brandt, Walter Ulbricht, Ronald Reagan, Helmut Kohl. Its gave way to German reunification and the birth of the euro.

But it was also the cause of countless private tragedies. It severed families. It destroyed opportunities. 173 East Germans were killed trying to cross it. One, 18-year-old Peter Fechter, was shot in 1962 while trying to scale the wall and left to bleed to death in the no-man’s-land, West German soldiers throwing him bandages in vain.

The story of this hateful barrier’s fall and the ensuing 28 years, two months and 27 days of German history is one of expanded individual horizons: it has meant previously unimaginable travel, enterprise, friendships and relationships (the proportion of German couples with one “Ossi” and one “Wessi” partner passed the 10% mark in around 2008). Among the touching reflections on the anniversary today have been social media posts to that effect by Germans speculating on how much poorer their lives would have been #ohneMauerfall (without the fall of the wall).

One experience is better documented than most. The wall’s construction in 1961 was Angela Merkel’s first political memory: “My father was preaching on that Sunday. The atmosphere was horrible in the church. I will never forget it. People cried. My mother cried too. We couldn’t fathom what had happened.” Just over 28 years later, working as a physicist in East Berlin, she was taking her regular Tuesday-evening sauna when travel restrictions were lifted. She later joined the crowds pouring across the border at the Bornholmer Straße bridge and, on the other side, wanted to call her aunt in Hamburg from a pay phone, but had no West German money. A woman who had dreamed of travelling to the West, perhaps to America with special permission on her retirement, would soon after plunge into the reunified republic’s politics and end up leading it. If she secures a fourth term as chancellor in the still-ongoing coalition talks[,] she could end up having done so for over half of its post-wall history.

***

Last week I sat down with John Kornblum, the former American ambassador to Germany and the brains behind Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987. He theorises that the country’s modern history has moved in 20-30 year cycles. First there was the immediate post-war period from the late 1940s to the 1960s, marked by the sundering of the country and the ensuing dramas and culminating with the construction of the wall. Then came a period of greater stability and, from the start of the Brandt chancellorship in 1969, more national self-reflection in West Germany. Then with the fall of the wall came a third period: reunification and a process, centred on the red-green government of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005 but continued under Mrs Merkel, of Germany’s relaxation into normality.

The recoherence of Berlin over that later period is a testament to how far the country has come. Differences between the old east and west halves remain, some subtle (in the east street lights are yellow and the traffic-light man wears a hat, in the west they are white and he is bare-headed) and others more fundamental (Ossis support Union and are more likely to vote for the political extremes, Wessis cheer on Hertha Berlin and tend to vote centrist). But generally, to quote Brandt, “what belongs together grows together”. Central Berlin has been rebuilt, new east-west transport arteries like the cathedral-like Hauptbahnhof are open and others are under construction. Peter Schneider, a veteran chronicler of the city, writes: “The fall of the Wall and the reunification of Berlin’s two halves have sped up the city’s pulse, injecting new life energy. It’s as if the city had won back a temporal dimension that, during the years of the Wall, seemed to have disappeared from West Berlin and was merely alleged to exist in East Berlin: the future”.

To be sure, the past is visible too. Berlin epitomises the German knack for sensitively accommodating the scars of history. Parts of the wall have been preserved as memorials and much of the route is now traced by cobble stones which disappear under buildings built in the old death strip—The Economist’s premises in Berlin among them—and re-emerge on the other side. In a plot once bordered by the wall a block from the Reichstag, to which the Bundestag moved from Bonn in 1999, sits the Holocaust memorial, an undulating 5-acre sea of tombstone-like concrete slabs. When, last month, a local historian discovered a forgotten stretch of the wall in the woods by a suburban train line, it was a rare sight: an unarchived, uncurated piece of the city’s 20th century traumas.

***

There is a nagging tension in the reunified city, between its oddball past and its grown up, worldly present. For decades West Berlin was an eccentric place, cut off by the wall and far away from mainland West Germany. Plenty left it for cities there, like Hamburg and Munich. To slow the flow, the authorities exempted its young men from national service, which helped attract those seeking alternative lifestyles to districts like Kreuzberg. The fall of the wall saw another influx, as artists swept into former eastern districts to benefit from the cheap accommodation. Today’s city—its centre the shiny capital of Europe’s largest economy, its inner suburbs mostly in the advanced stages of gentrification—is a far cry from the scruffy, charmingly mangled Berlin of the early 1990s.

Some fret that the city still has some growing up to do. They gripe about its administrative dysfunctions, its sometimes anarchic streets (illegal nighttime car races are the latest scare) and infrastructural embarrassments like the parodically problem-plagued new airport, now scheduled to open a decade late in 2021. “What kind of national capital is this?” goes the typical eye-rolling complaint. But more Berliners have a different worry: that its reinvention as a modern European political and start-up hub is driving out the working-class Berliners and poor bohemians who make the city the place it is. Local newspapers heave with tales from the battle lines: struggles between residents and property developers, vandalised yuppie flats and bars, squats stormed by police officers, cars torched in protest at one thing or another and conflicts between the city’s world-renowned night clubs and its zoning lawyers.

It all boils down to one basic question: can the unified Berlin be a misfit, free-thinking historical curiosity and a modern, globalised power centre at the same time?

***

That quandary is a small part of a much larger one: if in Mr Kornblum’s scheme the post-wall Schröder-Merkel period of German adjustment to a new, reunified identity is drawing to a close, what does the next phase of its history bring?

It is awkward to remember, especially on a happy anniversary like this, but the wall was not just an atrocity, though it was that. It was also a stabiliser. Since unification in 1871 the “German question” has loomed: the country is too big for there to be an easy balance-of-power in Europe but too small to dominate the continent. This imbalance helped bring about the two world wars but, as Hans Kundnani argues in his book The Paradox of German Power, was temporarily suspended by Germany’s division from 1945. This subordinated the Prussian heartland to the Soviet bear and left behind a western, largely demilitarised, geographically marginal Germany comparable in size to Britain, France and Italy and capable of being bound into European institutions. The construction of the wall stabilised that solution to the German question; a moment, in the words of the historian Tony Judt, “when the great powers, whatever they said in public, heaved a private sigh of relief”. But later the wall fell, a reunited Germany was once more at the heart of Europe and the imbalance returned.

Its re-emergence may well define Germany’s next phase and is already evident in several places. One is the growing east-west divide in the EU. Germany is economically and politically mighty enough to inspire resentment among its Visegrád neighbours, but not enough to influence their leaders, who like PiS in Poland and Fidesz in Hungary increasingly define their politics against that of Berlin. For all the (silly) talk about her being the “new leader of the free world”, Mrs Merkel could not even persuade her eastern neighbours to accept a relatively tiny number of refugees. Or take the euro zone, where Germany’s economic weight is creating imbalances (“suddenly Europe is speaking German”, gushed a leading Christian Democrat in 2011) requiring a level of further integration whose necessity its leaders remain slow to contemplate, notwithstanding tentative steps in the right direction in the recent coalition talks. Or consider the geopolitical picture, where Germany is big enough to make moves unsettling to its neighbours, like backing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, but too timid to make proportional commitments to common security.

The management of these tensions probably means a redoubled alliance with France (where things look promising) and reconciliation with Poland (where they do not). The pre-wall period, then the wall period, then the post-wall period have marked Germany’s evolving post-war history. Now comes the post-post-wall period.

See https://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch/2018/02/28-years-two-months-and-27-days (“The Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up“) (emphasis added)

As a German friend of almost 53 years wrote to me today:

Mrs. Merkel is destroying this country and nobody is able to stop this woman.

Perhaps the Economist article speaks volumes about Merkel’s earlier privileged status in East Germany when it describes her “working as a physicist in East Berlin, [where] she was taking her regular Tuesday-evening sauna when travel restrictions were lifted.”

. . .

I was in Berlin the first time, during the summer of 1965, when I met my German friend and his then-wife on the coast of the former Yugoslavia. Earlier that summer, I had walked through Berlin’s “Checkpoint Charlie,” into the no-man’s zone of rubble near the border crossing.

I traveled extensively in Germany before and after the Wall came down—beginning on November 9, 1989 and continuing over the following days and weeks—and I was in Berlin when the Soviet troops were leaving. They were selling their uniforms, and plumbing fixtures from their barracks, and going back to “tent cities” in the USSR.

All of that was heady and exciting, but perhaps the most interesting experience—shortly after the Wall came down—was driving across the former “Iron Curtain” into a little village, which had been off-limits before. The menacing guard tower was gone; the road continued on, whereas before it had stopped at the fence; and everything had been done so “seamlessly” that one would not have known that the fence and guard tower were ever there before.

The West and East Germans were part of a true miracle, which swept the former Soviet Bloc countries too. As soon as money came from West Germany, residents of East Germany (or the DDR) literally abandoned their once-coveted Trabants—by the side of roads, and in pastures—and bought shiny new VWs to replace them.

Fast-forward to today, and Germans are “fractured.” Many, like my friend, are disgusted with Merkel and have proudly joined the AfD. And it seems that she has morphed into her former DDR “self,” not far removed from that of her DDR “stable mate,” Putin.

One thing that is just as certain as the fall of the Wall and the Iron Curtain is that Putin’s days are numbered; and Putinism will not survive the death of Putin.

Once Putin is gone, Russia may be dismembered—never to rise again—with China taking part (e.g., Siberia, which it covets) and the rest becoming independent states like the former Yugoslavia.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“) (see also the comments beneath the article); see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Curtain#Fall_of_the_Iron_Curtain (“Fall of the Iron Curtain“)

A vibrant Germany may benefit. Right now, however, it is fractured and desperately seeking its soul.

The country has been overrun with immigrants, primarily from the Middle East, who are changing the “face” of Germany, especially as its ethnic German population ages. What will the German of the future look like physically?

Also, Germany lost World War II, but “won” the war economically through its control of the EU, which seems like a governmental “monstrosity” and bureaucratic “nightmare” today.

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2 03 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

THE DEATH OF PUTIN AND RUSSIA, UPDATED

Putin's death

Jay Akbar has written for the UK’s Sun:

VLADIMIR Putin says Russia is developing an “unstoppable” nuclear cruise missile which cannot be intercepted by any anti-missile system on earth.

The newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket with “unlimited range” was one of several unveiled by the Russian leader in his state of the nation address in Moscow.

They include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and new hypersonic missile which apparently have no equivalent.

Footage shown during his speech apparently showed the new “unstoppable” missile heading toward the United States as he promises to “neutralise” America’s missile defence.

“Russia remained a nuclear power but no one wanted to listen to us,” Putin, 65, told lawmakers. “Listen to us now.”

He said the hypersonic intercontinental rocket, known as the Avangard, is capable of travelling 20 times the speed of sound and strike “like a meteorite, like a fireball”.

_____

Here are Putin’s most explosive claims from today’s speech

• Vladimir Putin has raised fears of a nuclear arms race in the 21st century

• He unveiled new, hypersonic nuclear weapons which have no equal

• The most frightening weapon he alluded to was a nuclear-powered cruise missile

• Putin said it can travel 20 times the speed of sound and strike “like a meteorite”

• He said the Avangard also has “unlimited range” and “cannot be intercepted”

• Putin also announced a nuclear-powered underwater drone and cruise missile

• The Russian leader emphasised the weapons have no equivalent in the West

• Putin vowed to wage nuclear war on the United States if Trump attacked first

• “We aren’t threatening anyone… we aren’t going to take anything from anyone,” he said

_____

“It’s like a fireball guided to its target,” said Putin, who also announced Russia was working on laser weapons systems.

The Russian leader, who has been in power since May 2012, said the missile’s appearance is being kept under wraps.

Putin also announced a web contest to name a new, high-speed underwater drone which carries nuclear warheads and can destroy aircraft carriers and coastal facilities.

The Russian military has dubbed the shadowy vessels autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), allegedly capable of deploying missiles with a power of 100-megatons.

Putin said the new weapons make NATO’s US-led missile defence “useless”, effectively ending Western efforts to “contain” Russia.

He said: “I want to tell all those who have fuelled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions.

“All you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened… You have failed to contain Russia.”

Putin sensationally vowed to wage nuclear war on the United States if they attacked Russia, branding Donald Trump’s new nuclear doctrine “worrying”.

The Kremlin strongman said that if Russia was attacked with nukes then he would not hesitate to launch his nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, RT reported.

The country successfully launched its massive Satan Two nuclear missile, a 100-tonne rocket capable of wiping out the UK, in October.

The colossal weapon which can carry 12 warheads at once travelled 3,600 miles towards a ballistic missile test landing site in far-east Russia.

The missile, also known as RS-28 Sarmat, has a range of 6,000 miles and was fired on Thursday night from Plestek Cosmodrome in Oblast, 880km north of Moscow.

The Russian news outlet Sputnik reported in May that an RS-28 rocket is “capable of wiping out parts of the Earth the size of France or Texas”.

On that basis it has been reported that the weapon could “wipe out an area the size of England and Wales twice over”.

It is unconfirmed where exactly the Satan 2s will be kept but they could easily reach the UK if fired from the east coast of Russia.

The Russian ministry said they had “carried out an exercise to manage its strategic nuclear forces.”

Putin today claimed Moscow’s operation in Syria showed Russia’s increased capabilities in the defence sector.

Putin told lawmakers the nation had restored its domestic air defence systems.

The strongman also vowed to cut the “unacceptable” poverty rate in half over the next six years, in a state of the nation address on Thursday.

See https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5700668/vladimir-putin-russia-nuclear-weapons-icbm-missile/ (“Putin boasts Russia has developed an intercontinental nuclear missile that can’t be stopped or shot down by any country’s defence system“) (emphasis added; illustrations omitted); see also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5502965/Cold-snap-Britain-mercy-Russian-gas-giants.html (“Cold snap to ‘put Britain at the mercy of Russian gas giants'”)

As presidential adviser and political pundit Dick Morris has stated correctly, the facts are far different from what Russia’s killer Putin portrays for domestic and international consumption:

• President Trump is more than catching up with respect to our nuclear capacity, which languished under Obama.

• U.S. oil output is soaring to a 30-40-year record.

• Right now, America is producing 10 million barrels of oil a day; Russia is producing 11 million. By the end of 2018, it is expected that the U.S. will pass Russia in oil production.

• The Russia economy is entirely dependent on energy.

• The U.S. gross domestic product is about $18 trillion. Russia is about $1.7 trillion, with half based on oil, natural gas and energy products.

• With the U.S. having huge energy production, and becoming essentially self-sufficient—and exporting our oil and gas all over the world—America really controls the market price.

• If at any point we want to stop Russia from “breathing economically,” we can simply step up production and lower the prices of our energy products, and watch Russia “die of starvation.”

• Reagan did this to the USSR when he destroyed the Soviet Union economically. It no longer exists. As my article above states, this may be Russia’s fate. And when Putin dies, Putinism will die with him.

See http://www.dickmorris.com/russia-strong-nukes-short-money-lunch-alert/ (“Russia: Strong On Nukes, Short On Money!“); see also https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-will-be-the-worlds-largest-oil-producer-by-2023-says-iea-1520236810 (“U.S. Will Be the World’s Largest Oil Producer by 2023, Says IEA“) and https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/condoleezza-rice-putin-nuclear-threats/2018/03/02/id/846426/ (“Condoleezza Rice Dismisses Putin Threats: He Says ‘Absurd Things'”—”Sanctions . . . are very effective against Putin and his inner circle”—”[C]ontact with the West is ‘really important’ for younger Russians. We want to isolate Putin and Putinism, but we don’t want to isolate the Russian people”)

Lastly, Putin’s “puffery” belies reality. What he did to influence U.S. elections has translated into being a pariah and “untouchable” for Americans and their politicians. He was stupid; and it is likely to cost him dearly—and the Russian people. No rapprochement is possible today, as both U.S. political parties heap scorn on Putin’s activities. His latest killings in the UK are the “icing on the cake.”

Putin is dead, for all practical purposes. By doing exactly what Dick Morris has suggested—stepping up energy production, lowering the prices of our energy products, and watching Russia “die of starvation”—Putin’s world will come crashing down.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/the-real-russian-conspiracy-barack-obama-the-clintons-and-the-sale-of-americas-uranium-to-russias-killer-putin/ (“The Real Russian Conspiracy: Barack Obama, The Clintons, And The Sale Of America’s Uranium To Russia’s Killer Putin“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-11112 (“Russia’s Killer Putin Is Boxed!”—”The endgame will not be pretty for Comrade Putin”)

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14 03 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Like Hitler, Stalin And Mao Before Him, The Only Good Putin Is A Dead Putin

Comrade Putin

Joel Gehrke has written in the Washington Examiner:

New York City could be the next site of a chemical assassination attempt if world leaders fail to punish Russia for its alleged role in [the poisoning] of a former spy in the United Kingdom, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Wednesday.

“If we don’t take immediate concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used,” Haley told the United Nations Security Council. “They could be used here in New York, or in cities of any country that sits on this Council. This is a defining moment.”

Haley raised the specter of new attacks during an emergency council meeting, held at the request of British officials who have accused Russia of using “a military-grade nerve agent” to target a former military intelligence officer who committed treason. Russian diplomats have denied responsibility for the incident, but British investigators say they have identified the poison as a chemical weapon produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Time and time again, member-states say they oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance,” Haley said. “Now one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member. The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”

Russia has denied responsibility for the March 4 incident, which left former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia hospitalized, and warned British Prime Minister Theresa May against considering a cyber-attack or other aggressive retaliation.

“A hysterical atmosphere is being created by London,” Russian Ambassador Visaly Nebenzia told the Security Council. “We would like to warn that this will not remain without reaction on our part.”

Russia faulted the United Kingdom for taking action before submitting to a formal investigation brokered by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “Those experts will not be convinced by their argument,” he predicted.

The British representative at the meeting countered that the United Kingdom has invited the OPCW to conduct an independent test, while faulting Russia for ignoring May’s demand for an explanation earlier this week.

“We have received no meaningful response,” deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen said during the meeting. “This council should not fall for their attempt to muddy the waters.”

Haley, for her part, compared the Skripal attack to North Korea’s use of a nerve agent to assassinate the half-brother of dictator Kim Jong-un — a murder that resulted in the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. She linked the Salisbury incident to the increasingly-regular use of chemical weapons, especially in Syria, and urged Russia to “come clean” about the assassination attempt.

“The Russians complained recently that we criticize them too much,” she said. “If the Russian government stopped using chemical weapons to assassinate its enemies; and if the Russian government stopped helping its Syrian ally to use chemical weapons to kill Syrian children; and if Russia cooperated with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by turning over all information related to this nerve agent, we would stop talking about them. We take no pleasure in having to constantly criticize Russia, but we need Russia to stop giving us so many reasons to do so.”

Nebenzia argued Russia had no reason to try to kill Skripal. He described the former double agent as “a perfect victim” for a plot to frame Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government in the run-up to the March 18 presidential elections.

“[T]he most probable source origin for this chemical are the countries which have since the end of the 90s been carrying out intensive research on these kinds of weapons, including the UK,” Nebenzia told the Security Council. “If the UK is so firmly convinced this is a [Soviet-era] Novichok gas, then that means that they have the samples of this and they have the formula for this and they are capable of manufacturing it.”

Allen replied by citing Putin’s past pledge to punish Russian traitors.

“Let me quote the Russian president, when we think about who benefits,” Allen said. “In 2010, [Putin] said, ‘Traitors will kick the bucket, believe me. Those other folks betrayed their friends, their brothers-in-arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on it.”

See https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/foreign/nikki-haley-warns-russia-could-use-chemical-weapons-in-new-york (“Nikki Haley warns: Russia could use chemical weapons in New York“) (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin%E2%80%99s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao%E2%80%99s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust“)

As discussed in the article above, its footnotes and the comments beneath it, Putin has killed and killed again. The killings in the UK are simply his latest.

He must be terminated, like Benito Mussolini before him.

Nothing less will suffice.

Putin's death

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16 04 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

PUTIN’S RUST BUCKETS HAUL COLD WAR RELICS TO SYRIA

Putin rust bucket

Jessica Finn and Jennifer Smith have written for the UK’s Daily Mail:

Two Russian warships laden with military vehicles have been spotted en route to Syria after Friday’s US-led airstrikes obliterated three suspected chemical weapons sites.

An Alligator-landing ship was pictured cruising down The Bosphorus on Sunday as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to this week’s co-ordinated military action against Syria.

The vessel was spotted on its way to the Russian naval base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast.

On its fourth deployment of Russian military equipment to the war-torn country the ship was seen laden with tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar.

A yellow RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko was also pictured heading for Tartus carrying high-speed patrol boats, a temporary bridge structure and several trucks. The images were posted on social media by Bosphorus-based naval observer Yörük Işık.

They come in wake of Friday’s US-led campaign against Bashar al-Assad’s regime and a chemical weapons attack that brutally murdered 75 civillians [sic].

The blue Project 117 LST Orsk 148 ship was carrying Soviet BTR-80 tanks, Ramaz trucks and a Pelena-1 bomb radar, used to detect IEDs.

A second yellow cargo vessel was equipped with a BMK-T boat used for building temporary bridges and an array of other military hardware.

The Russian warships approaching Syria come after the United States outlined new economic sanctions in response to Moscow’s continued support of Assad’s regime in Syria.

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said measures to be imposed on Monday will send a message to Russia after it blocked six UN attempts to investigate its use of chemical weapons.

In Washington President Donald Trump stood by his comments that the strikes he commanded were a ‘mission accomplished’ after he was slated for repeating George W Bush’s controversial use of the phrase during the Iraq war.

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron today insisted the allied forces had not ‘declared war’ on Syria.

He told a French TV station: ‘We have not declared war on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.’ During the two-hour interview he also claimed he had ‘convinced’ Trump to maintain a military presence in Syria after the US leader threatened to pull out of the country entirely.

It emerged that Trump called Mr Macron twice before he shared his intention to strike Syria in a Twitter post. But he failed to call UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the early stages of the operation, giving the French leader the opportunity to claim France is America’s leading ally in Europe.

Vladimir Putin condemned Friday’s strikes as an ‘act of aggression’ that will worsen the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and have a ‘destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.

But Trump has vowed to carry out more if Bashar al-Assad’s regime dares to use chemical weapons again.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson today defended Britain’s decision to stand up to ‘barbarism’ amid criticism of Mrs May for agreeing to the strike without a vote in the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson said failure to respond to Assad’s use of illegal chemical weapons against his own people would have undermined ‘civilised values’.

He said ‘so far, thank heavens, the Assad regime has not been so foolish to launch another chemical weapons attack,’ adding that Britain and its allies ‘would study what the options were’ in the event of another attack.

But amid fears of revenge attacks by Russia and criticism of Theresa May for acting without a Commons vote, Mr Johnson stressed there was no intention of getting more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.

Concerns have been raised that a cyber backlash could see vital services including water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and air traffic control affected.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today, Mr Johnson said: ‘You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed.’

UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the UK’s air strikes ‘legally questionable’, forcing the Government to publish detailed legal advice justifying the bombings. Today Mr Corbyn demanded a ‘war powers’ law to ban the Prime Minister from taking military action without a Commons vote.

The official legal advice claimed ‘the UK is permitted under international law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering’. Mrs May will face MPs tomorrow.

Asked if there were any circumstances in which he would back air strikes in Syria, the Labour leader replied: ‘I can only countenance involvement in Syria if there is a UN authority behind it.

‘If we could get to a process in the UN where you get to a ceasefire, you get to a political solution, you then may well get to a situation where there could be a UN force established to enforce that ceasefire. ‘That surely would save a lot of lives,’ he told the Andrew Marr Show.

Some 75 people, including children, are said to have died when the Syrian regime used chlorine gas and another nerve agent in Douma last Saturday.

Aid workers told how chlorine could be smelled in the air and victims were found with foam in their mouth and with burning eyes.

Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square that he is `’deeply disturbed’ by the international community’s failure to come up with a common response to the crisis in Syria and other parts of the world.

‘Despite the tools available to the international community, it is difficult to agree on a common action toward peace in Syria or other regions of the world,’ the Pope told a crowd of 30,000 after his traditional Sunday blessing.

Assad continues to deny using any chemical weapons, telling visiting Russian politicians today that Western air strikes against his country were accompanied by a campaign of ‘lies’ and misinformation at the UN.

But in response to the deaths, scores of fast jets, fighters and destroyers fired more than 100 missiles at three military targets in Syria on Friday night.

The first and largest target in the airstrikes was the Barzah Research and Development Centre which was considered to be the ‘heart’ of the regime’s chemical weapons program.

The second target was the Hinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Facility. It was destroyed by 22 weapons including Scalp and Storm Shadows and three Naval cruise missiles. The third target, the Hinshar CW Bunker, was hit by seven Scalp missiles.

Three civilians were injured but there have been no confirmed fatalities.

The Pentagon shared details early on Saturday of the successful, coordinated missile attack on Damascus which set the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program back ‘years’.

At a press conference in Washington DC on Saturday morning, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie gave a detailed break-down of the 105 missiles launched, saying: ‘This is going to set the program back for years. We attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program.’

He also rejected the Syrian media’s claim that Assad’s missile defense systems took down 71 of the missiles launched, revealing that none were compromised and that they were only fired once the coordinated attack was over. Russia also claimed missiles had been intercepted.

All of the US aircraft returned safely to base after the attack. Gen. McKenzie did not say where the Lancer B-1 Bombers had flown from but other officials suggested they were deployed from an airbase in Qatar.

‘We met our objective. We hit our target. It was mission accomplished,’ White said on Saturday, repeating President Trump’s tweet earlier in the day.

Hours after Trump hailed the missile strike targeting the Syria’s suspected chemical weapons – tweeting, ‘Mission Accomplished!’ – Vice President Mike Pence defended the president while building support among U.S. allies for the joint strikes with Britain and France on Saturday.

‘The objective of the mission the commander in chief gave our military forces and our allies was completely accomplished – with swift professionalism,’ Pence told reporters, noting there were ‘no reported civilian casualties.’

He also had a warning for Russia: ‘Our message to Russia is, ‘you’re on the wrong side of history,’ ‘ Pence also said. ‘It’s time for Russia to get the message President Trump delivered last night. ‘You’re known by the company you keep.’

Russia has military forces, including air defences, in several areas of Syria to support President Assad in his long war against anti-government rebels.

Confusion arose over the extent to which Washington warned Moscow in advance. The Pentagon said it gave no explicit warning. The U.S. ambassador in Moscow, John Huntsman, said in a video, ‘Before we took action, the United States communicated with’ Russia to ‘reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties.’

A Pentagon spokeswoman said that to her knowledge no-one communicated with Moscow other than to use a military-to-military hotline that has routinely helped minimise the risk of U.S.-Russian collisions or confrontations in Syrian airspace. Officials said this did not include giving Russian advance notice of where or when allied airstrikes would happen.

France has continued to talk regularly with Russia even as East-West tensions have grown. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, hours before the Western missile strikes.

Between the jets and warships, 76 missiles annihilated the Barzah research center. Fifty-seven of those were Tomahawk missiles and 19 were Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.

The Tomahawks were mostly fired from the USS Monterey, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser and the USS Higgins, USS Laboon and the USS John Warner submarine.

France deployed its Mirage and Dassault Rafale jets and reportedly used four frigate warships. It is not clear how many aircraft were deployed. Britain is believed only to have fired missiles from its Torpedoes and Typhoon aircraft.
Other ships from each nation’s military were in the region, including the USS Donald Cook, but did not fire any weapons. Despite the attack, White said the US was still committed to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the ongoing civil war in Syria.

‘Our goal has not changed. Our goal in Syria is to defeat ISIS….but Assad’s actions were beyond the pale. We do not seek conflict in Syria but we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law,’ she said.

‘We will not stand by passively while Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, ignores international law.’

Iran condemned the Western strikes on Syria, saying no country has a right to take punitive measures against another ‘beyond international procedures.’

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying that Iran had warned about the possibility that ‘terrorist groups’ were behind the alleged chemical attack that triggered the strikes. It said he communicated his concerns in a phone call with Boris Johnson on Sunday.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5618609/Russian-ships-laden-tanks-seen-Bosphorus-en-route-Tartus-Syria-led-air-strikes.html (“Russian reinforcements head for Syria: Warships laden with tanks, military trucks and armoured patrol boats sail towards the Middle East as the world awaits Putin’s response to airstrikes“) (emphasis added; diagrams and videos omitted)

Russia is weaker today under Putin than it was before the USSR collapsed.

The United States has vast energy reserves, and it is time to flood global markets and drive down the prices, and bankrupt Russia.

Putinism will not survive the death of Putin.

Putin rust bucket too

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4 05 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

CRUSH PUTIN: U.S. TO BECOME WORLD’S TOP OIL EXPORTER

U.S. oil: global dominance

Tim Daiss has written at OilPrice.com:

As global oil markets shift their attention from U.S. shale oil production back to a resurgent Saudi Arabia and Russia and geopolitical concerns bearing down on oil prices, Citigroup said last Wednesday that the U.S. is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia next year as the world’s largest exporter of crude and oil products.

The U.S. exported a record 8.3 million barrels per day (bpd) last week of crude oil and petroleum products, the government also said Wednesday. Top crude oil exporter Saudi Arabia’s, for its part, exported 9.3 million bpd in January, while Russia exported 7.4 million bpd, the bank added.

However, it should also be noted that the Citi projection is for both crude and finished (refined) petroleum products, not only crude oil. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest exporter of crude, though since January amid the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut agreement that figure has fallen. On April 10, the Saudi oil minister said that the kingdom planned to keep its crude oil shipments in May below 7 million bpd for the 12th consecutive month.

Saudi Arabia has also trimmed its oil production more than 100 percent of the output cuts it agreed to under the January 2017 production deal. In March, Saudi crude production was at 9.91 million bpd, below the deal’s output target of 10.058 million bpd.

Russia, however, also part of the global oil protection cut agreement, increased its crude oil production by 0.2 percent to 10.97 million bpd in March, compared to the previous month and an 11-month high.

Though Citi has projected that the U.S. could bypass Saudi Arabia in the export of crude and petroleum products, U.S. crude oil exports have been relatively low compared to other major oil producers since the Obama Administration lifted the ban of American crude oil exports in 2015.

Nonetheless, U.S. crude exports are poised for an upward trajectory. On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the U.S. crude exports last week increased by 582,000 bpd to 2.331 bpd, an all-time high.

Profiting from arbitrage

The reason for the spike in exports also comes from the price divergence (arbitrage) between London-traded, global benchmark Brent crude and NYMEX, U.S.-benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices. As the spread between the two benchmarks widens, WTI trades at a significant cost advantage against Brent as well as other crude benchmarks. The WTI discount is a boon for refineries, particularly in Asia, that need the light sweet crude which yields higher priced refined petroleum products.

U.S. crude is also competing for market share in China against traditional exporters Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran. China for its part seems to be pivoting away from Saudi oil as the kingdom continues to increase its official selling price (OSP) for Arab Light crude.

On Tuesday, Unipec, the trading arm of state-run Sinopec Group, said that it plans to continue to cut their Saudi Arabian crude oil purchases for June and July loadings, after slashing May shipments by 40 percent. Unipec executives said that Arab Light crude is no longer competitive against other crude blends. Unipec executives have said previously that such prices increases were “unreasonable.” Sinopec is Asia’s largest refiner.

Saudi Aramco is expected to raise its OSPs by at least 50 cents a barrel for June cargoes to track increases in benchmark Middle East crude Dubai this month, Reuters said, citing two traders that participate in the market.

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude oil supplier in 2017. Saudi Arabia remained the second largest supplier to China in Q1 this year, although its exports were down 5.7 percent from a year ago.

U.S. crude is also finding more buyers in Europe due to the Brent/WTI arbitrage. Market sources have estimated U.S. exports to Europe would average 800,000 bpd between mid-May and mid-June, including 25 million barrels in May overall. One source, according to a report in Hellenic Shipping News, said that of the 25 million barrels expected to land in May, 15 million barrels had already been placed with end-users.

“We are seeing record arrivals from the US to Europe,” a trader said, adding that while all sorts of grades were crossing the Atlantic, WTI Midland represented the largest portion.

See https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Citi-US-To-Become-Worlds-Top-Oil-Exporter.html (“U.S. To Become World’s Top Oil Exporter“) (emphasis added)

Aside from supplying our needs, the United States must supply Europe and China more aggressively.

No mercy must be shown to Russia’s killer Putin. He must meet a fate similar to that of Benito Mussolini before him.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/the-real-russian-conspiracy-barack-obama-the-clintons-and-the-sale-of-americas-uranium-to-russias-killer-putin/ (“The Real Russian Conspiracy: Barack Obama, The Clintons, And The Sale Of America’s Uranium To Russia’s Killer Putin“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/ (“The Death Of Putin And Russia: The Final Chapter Of The Cold War“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ (“Russia’s Putin Is A Killer“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-silent-voices-of-stalin%E2%80%99s-soviet-holocaust-and-mao%E2%80%99s-chinese-holocaust/ (“The Silent Voices Of Stalin’s Soviet Holocaust And Mao’s Chinese Holocaust“)

Putin's death

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