|1877 "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."|
Monday, January 26, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Minsk agreement is dead, though it really never had any life. The Russian terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions, villages, towns and cities every day with artillery and rockets. Shelling increased every time a new shipment of humanitarian aid arrived from Russia.
Troops freely moved back and forth across the border and hundreds of pieces of heavy weapons, including newly developed rocket launchers, armoured vehicles and fire control centres have been transported into Ukraine and positioned along the border of the Russian held territory in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia's testing of new weapons reminds one of the Spanish Civil War for those seeking historical parallels.
Last week they shelled a Ukrainian checkpoint and hit a bus, killing 13 civilians. The other day a bus stop in Donetsk City was hit and several more civilians were killed. Of course all this is the Ukrainians doings, even though the bus stop was hit by mortar fire and the Ukrainians were several times out of mortar range.
The Russian terrorists hide behind civilians as Putin promised last year that they would. They locate and fire from populated areas - schools, hospitals etc being favourite locations as it makes it difficult to return fire without killing civilians. If the Ukrainian military are too cautious, the Russians will shell civilian areas and blame the Ukrainians which is likely what happened with the bus stop in the city.
Russian media is already reporting that Mariupol has surrendered. A bit premature but from the earliest days of Communism, Russian media has always been over optimistic in predicting accomplishments. Not that I doubt it will happen. Russia has 50,000 troops and hundreds of heavy weapons on the border with Ukraine. The invasion will come as a "peacekeeping mission" and Putin is already preparing people for the increase in Cargo 200, see Paul Goble's blog post, link below.
Putin Seen Declaring War on Kyiv the Only Way He Can – By Blaming Ukraine
Russia kills civilians in Mariupol, demands peace
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Four Buddhist monks were arrested in Moscow for praying in front of the Ukrainian Embassy for the civilians killed in a terrorist rocket attack. Two men have had criminal charges laid against them after holding "Je suis Charlie Hebdo" picket signs and one 75 year old pensioner could face five years in jail.
This article has more details of Russian clamp down on free speech.
Russian press has come out strongly in favour of strict censorship and blames the magazine for the deaths in Paris. Lierov marched in the parade, though relegated to the fourth row. There were other countries represented where freedom of speech is even more controlled than Russia. At least Obama had the good grace not to attend but that is a blog rant for another day.
Some Russians are wearing "Je suis Valera" buttons in support of a mentally deranged Russian soldier who killed a family of seven Armenians in their own home. According to the agreement between Russia and Armenia, he should be tried in an Armenian court. Russia is refusing and Armenians are rioting. The killer is being treated as a martyr in Russia (see above link for more details).
The war has heated up almost full scale again. Russian troops and equipment continue to be sent across the border into Ukraine and Russia continues to deny it. One of the best comments I read on an article was "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck but denies it is a duck, then it is a Russian duck".
The Donetsk airport has come under extremely heavy attack in the last few days. It has held out longer than Stalingrad and has assumed the same mythical proportions in Russia's war against Ukraine. As I write, I do not know if it has fallen or not. Both sides are fighting fiercely.
|Map of combat zone in eastern Ukraine|
According to Sytnik, Leonid Reshetnikov, the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, and Tamara Guzenkova, the head of the Institute’s department responsible for Ukraine, were vehemently opposed not only to Ukraine, but to the very notion of a distinct Ukrainian identity as such. The two, along with their subordinates, writes Sytnik, “could not say anything, but ‘there is no Ukraine, only Little Russia [Malorossiya]’; ‘Ukrainian statehood is a bluff and it is a failed state’; ‘it is a result of the criminal destruction of the Russian Empire by the Bolsheviks’; ‘the Ukrainian language was artificially created by the Austrians and the Poles to break up Russian unity’; ‘the consolidation of the post-Soviet space on the foundation of territorial and spiritual rebirth…’ ”
According to (Stytnik), who specialized in the Baltic States during his time in the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, he was fired after his analytical report on Belarus was delivered in September 2014. Sytnik’s main premise was that Belarus would participate in the Moscow-crafted Eurasian Union only as long as Belarus’ sovereignty remained intact. In his words, he was subsequently told that his point of view contradicted that of the Russian presidential administration and, therefore, the view of the Institute, and he had to go. (Note: He appears to have been right)
The Russian analyst’s scathing remarks about the country’s leadership and about the community of government experts confirm that the concept of Russian supremacy has a strong hold on the Russian leadership. These supremacist views are not limited to the post-Soviet space, where “only ethnic Russians are capable of creating statehood.” The West is also seen as decadent and somewhat spiritually inferior to the Russians. The spread of such views in Russia, especially among the country’s leaders, precludes easy and quick solutions to the Ukrainian crisis, but rather suggests a relatively lengthy period of tensions between Russia and the West, even if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin were, for some reason, to step down.
Monday, January 12, 2015
This is a good time to start my new business as my cousin's two daughters became engaged to the loves of their lives over the holidays and the entire family is in planning tizzies, according to Facebook.
It amazes me how it can take up to a year to plan a wedding. Time would be better spent planning the rest of one's lives together. Weddings, except in novels and movies are not the end, they are the beginning. Funerals are the end. I have been to some of them too, fortunately not yet as the guest of honour (though that may change if my cousin gets hold of me after this post).
|He brought joy to tens.|
There are some differences of course. Two guests of honour at a wedding instead of just one. Also they can usually get in and out of the building on their own steam. There isn't that hot dusty drive to the cemetery but you do have to wait until they get back from the photographers. Renting a tux is not recommended for the guest of honour at a funeral.
The groom, being irrelevant to the entire planning process, can just relax. A stuffed dummy would do just as well. So long as you can stand where you are told, nod at appropriate times and produce the ring on demand, you will be fine.
It is also good practice for the rest of your life.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Of course the Russian media is already blaming the CIA for the murders to drive France and Europe in the saving arms of America. And naturally, Paul Craig Roberts agrees with Russian media but he is certifiable.
The involvement of the CIA with funding and training various terrorist groups is reasonably well known, which is why it is so easy to suspect them of being behind every terrorist organization or act in the world. but I had not thought about the KGB/FSB in the same light.
According to Pavel Gubarov, "Governor" of the Donetsk People's Republic, he has recorded proof of Putin's Chechen Warlord Ramzan Kadyrov bragging to some of the Russian terrorist fighters that he had hired two Algerians to make trouble in Paris in revenge for French sanctions and the cancellation of the Mistral warship contract. He does not approve of this kind of terrorism and is willing to cooperate with what he knows.
In the same article Ukrainian Rada Deputy Ihor Mosiychuk is quoted as saying Kadyrov had threatened France before and "when the Caucasus Mujahideen open a second front against the tyrant of the Kremlin, his vassal Kadyrov is trying at all costs to paint the Caucasian rebels as Islamist terrorists".
Akhmed Zakayev, Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, in exile in London has written to the President of France regarding the need ofRussia to find a common enemy with the west, Islamic terrorists:
countries have imposed
However the current crop of anti-Russian fighters, in the North Caucuses are Wahhabi Islamists bent on establishing a Caucasian Emirate. They had been galvanized by the atrocities of the Second Chechen War and of Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin's warlord, charged with keeping Chechens under control. However Wahabism is being spread throughout the FSU by the Islamist Revival party which seems to have its roots in the KGB/FSB.
This has great benefits for Russia as it allows them to divide Muslims into two groups, the good ones who are moderate and do not upset the apple cart and the bad terrorists. The author suggests that the terrorists are in fact cultivated as provocateurs by the FSB and therefore not trusted by the local populace.
A number of fighters from the North Caucuses have been recruited by ISIL in Syria including one Doka Umarev, leader of the Emirate, who was allegedly dead but turned up in Syria, transferred by the Kremlin to fight AGAINST their ally Assad. Russia needs to hang on to Syria and Assad as their last foothold in the Middle East, so by strengthening ISIL in opposition, they can muddy the waters.
‘The basic difference between Russia’s and America’s attitude towards Islamic terrorist is that America regards it as an external threat, while Russia employs terrorism as an object and government tool both internally and abroad. Islamic terrorism is only a part of international terrorism. KGB was using terrorism to spread communist regime principles all over the world, and it was well before Islamic terrorism became a global threat.‘
Friday, January 9, 2015
The annual Christmas letter went out to anyone I thought might be interested. Not many people write them anymore, what with Facebook allowing daily updates with pictures and all. My late wife was an amazing letter writer, kept up a huge correspondence. She used to write individual letters at Christmas to 75 or 100 people. Once that got too much she photocopied a hand written or typed letter. Getting a computer sure speeded that up and especially addressing the envelopes.
It also made it easier to save the letters from year to year. Going back over them is like reading a mini-history of our family. An "authorized history" mind you but none the less, a brief look at our lives year on year. I grouped them into PDF documents by decade and sent them to the kids. Five letters from the 80's; ten from the 90's; eight from the 2000s. Thirty years of memories.
I got the books caught up, which is never fun. But things more or less balanced and at least I know where some of the money went. It sure does went.
Finally caught up on blog reading this morning. Amazing how long it takes to read all the blog entries on those I follow, especially Paul Goble's. He can summarize half a dozen Russian articles a day when he is on a role. And news - I am a news junkie now. No idea how many articles I read in a day. There are dozens of articles on Europe, Russia and Ukraine coming in on my Facebook feed, plus the websites I have linked. The kids gave me The New Yorker for Christmas. Throw in the freebies from several magazines like the Economist and it never ends. Not sure I am any smarter coming out than going in, though.
The Charlie Hebdo massacre is pretty horrific and will generate the intended backlash. The Economist charted Islam in Europe and compared actual numbers against perceptions. As expected perception is multiples of reality. There are enough nutjobs ready to say "Kill them all and let God sort it out", that I should hate to be Muslim in Europe. That is the intent of course, to have all Muslims living in fear of an infidel backlash and ready to obey the ISIL and Al-Qaeda call to jihad.
Interesting enough, Putin condemned the killings but the usual Kremlin suspects applauded them, as “I just found out about this and I am for those who shot them. There must be press censorship, and if you don’t feel the limits, then you pay with your life” .
Ukraine is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ukrainian positions are shelled and attacked daily. The Russian side by all reports is gearing up for a massive attack but when? I wish our troops were better armed with high tech anti tank stuff and the like.
Russia continues to go rapidly downhill towards Stalinist totalitarianism. Now they have banned transsexuals and transgender people from driving as they are psychologically unfit. There is a fairly lengthy list of folks now banned from driving to decrease road deaths. Actually repairing roads and cracking down on drunks would go quite a ways too. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving but unfortunately not zero tolerance for bribery or protection from high position (your own or someone you know).
A few decent articles, especially Motyl's article on Donbas and the Deep South:
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Today there was a quiz about anger that my cousin in law had done that said she was pretty laid back which is the truth. Not quite comatose (she is in Calgary and can't reach me to beat me) but not easily disturbed.
I, on the other hand,... according to the test, had moderate anger management issues. I take pills for that or they would not be so moderate, trust me. As one who has never suffered fools gladly, I find that there are fewer fools when I take pills.
But these days they do not seem to be working. Reading the news and comments on Ukraine makes my blood boil. Dealing with EU bureaucratese makes my blood boil. Dealing with idiots who cannot follow simple written instructions makes my blood boil.
I am so grouchy I could put my teeth in backwards and bite myself in the throat. Mostly I just want to crawl in a hole and pull the hole in after me. Slept to 10:30 this morning and had a nap this afternoon. And it is not even February.
But it is winter, such as it is. +5C, constantly cloudy, constantly foggy, constantly muddy. I wish it would get cold and snow. But then I think about those poor pensioners in eastern Ukraine with no heat or light and our poor army guys some of whom are still without winter equipment though that is changing.
Christmas! Bah! Humbug.