Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Putin flipped?...or just playing the hard man

Following Putin's absurd claims yesterday [see previous blog] Brian Whitmore, in this absolutely must-read rferl article, ponders whether the Russian president is still capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Whitmore concludes:
Nutty statements from Russian officials are so commonplace that we almost don't even notice them all anymore. 

But we seem to be crossing a threshold and getting close to a very dangerous point. When you build up a make-believe world and surround yourself with only people who reinforce it -- there comes a point where you cannot distinguish reality and fantasy. 

And if Putin really believes his own hype, then we're in a very frightening place, indeed..

But then again, [as Peter Pomarantsev recently noted in the 'FT'] maybe there is reason to this madness (or the rumours of it)... What if Mr Putin’s show of derangement was a front, coolly calculated to intimidate the west? What if he wanted them to fear the random acts of recklessness that might follow if he were provoked?

There is a game of bluff and double-bluff going on here.

My uncle, whose was born and raised in Tsarist Russia always told me that Russians always like to play the hard man...and they treat any sign of weakness with great disdain. He lived through deportation to Siberia and I believe knew Russian psyche pretty well. He always told me if you talk tough and refuse to be cowed, or refuse to give way when bullied by Russians, they will back down. On several occasion this saved his life and the life of his family members . A lesson for western leaders perhaps?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lies Putin loves to believe

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin sensationally claimed that Ukraine's army is a NATO proxy whose geopolitical aim is to constrain Russia.

This is what he said :

"This is not the army, per se, this is a foreign proxy, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn't pursue the objective of national interests of Ukraine.

"They have entirely different goals, and they are tied with the achievement of the geopolitical goals of containing Russia, which absolutely does not fall in place with the national interests of the Ukrainian people."

"We often say: the Ukrainian army, the Ukrainian army. But in fact, who's fighting there? Indeed, there are, in part, official units of armed forces, but for the most part it's the so-called 'volunteer nationalist battalions,'" Putin added.
[Translation from link above...not mine]

Watch Putin uttering these words, at the link here

Looking at his demeanour and not absolutely convincing delivery I am not sure he fully believes everything he is saying..[just my opinion - I think he may have just been trying to 'rubbish' the Ukrainian fighters..but said more than he intended to say.]

Some commentators suggest Putin's assertions may be a pretext to admit the presence of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, but as a peacemaking force protecting the interests of Ukrainians themselves.

But his strategists and advisers, in the words of a Townes van Zandt song,  'tell him lives he loves to believe'.. making it all ok. The lies will become ever more incredible..and dangerous.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Putin will continue to wage war on Ukraine

'Moscow Times' states the obvious when it declares:

 "Putin Is in No Hurry to Resolve Ukraine Crisis...

"Continued fighting gives Putin leverage with Europe that he hopes to corral into forcing Kiev to accept Russia's demands for a "constitutional reform." Any settlement ends this leverage.."

As this noteworthy article [in English] from Gorshenin Institute claims recent statements by key Putin advisers following Kyiv's blockade of separatist-held territories indicate Russian expansion into Ukraine will continue, possibly the start of a major war..

Reminds me of a bleak and famous quote, repeated by Gleb Pavlovsky, a former close adviser of Putin, at the end of a BBC television documentary on the Russia's war on Ukraine  last year:

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time"

Events over the last few days prove Putin wants to push demarcation lines further west of the ones denoted in the Minsk Agreements. As I have mentioned previously he and Foreign Minister Lavrov are also demanding recognition of the November 2 DNR and LNR 'elections' by Ukraine and the Europeans . The latter is utterly unacceptable- hence the breakdown of the Astana talks and the escalation of violence.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How Putin invented war in Ukraine

Listen to this January 17, 2015 Real Clear Radio Hour podcast:

 "Putin's Circus"

in which Peter Pomerantsev, British TV producer and author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia", describes Vladimir Putin’s approach to propaganda and authoritarian rule.

If nothing else at least listen to the last 7 or 8 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes 30 seconds onward into the podcast,  from the link here.

Pomarantsev explains how bellicose propaganda has become reality in Eastern Ukraine, how a disinformation-driven reason for war was invented and the danger this poses to world peace.

What a tragedy such cynical manipulation, a war driven by misinformation, has already cost thousands of lives and billions and billions of dollars of physical damage. It is quite possible a humanitarian catastrophe awaits....I pray it does not.