Features

If you think you understand what Putin’s doing in Ukraine, you’re not paying enough attention

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

Vladimir Putin has won in Ukraine. Russia is on the verge of getting de facto control of eastern Ukraine, destabilising the remainder, and establishing its president’s cherished Eurasian Union. The West is nowhere — weak, disunited, and out-strategised by a master of geopolitics.

Hang on, that’s all wrong. Crimea was the high-water mark of Putin’s neo-imperialist vision. He lost control of all Ukraine when Yanukovych fell and most of it voted firmly to stay outside his control in the recent presidential election. He’s not even won the battle for eastern Ukraine, where the ‘separatists’ now meet a stronger Ukrainian military response. Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, thinks this is partly because the West has been united in aiding Ukraine and opposing Russian aggression.

On the other hand, maybe all this just means that he’s winning more slowly. Ethnic Russians and Russophones are two thirds of the east’s population. They want continued political links with Russia, to which they are culturally linked for ever. Moreover, their ‘separatists’ control major eastern cities. And Russian troops are just over the border which, for practical purposes, has disappeared. It’s just a matter of time, especially since Putin made Russia invulnerable to western pressure by concluding the biggest energy deal in history — a 30-year, $400 billion deal to export Siberian natural gas to China.

Well, OK, the separatists control major buildings in eastern cities, and they have enough guns and clubs to prevent others from voting in the presidential election. But opinion polls show that two thirds of eastern Ukrainians want independence and a close relationship with Europe as well as links with Russia. They have started demonstrating too.

So the separatists are feeling nervous—and not just because the Ukrainian army is killing large numbers of them. They fear betrayal by Putin, who called on them to cancel their referendum on independence and to embark on ‘dialogue’ with the newly ‘legitimate’ president and the formerly ‘neo-fascist’ Kiev regime. That same week he announced that the Russian troops had been ordered to return to their barracks. The markets briefly concluded that Putin knew he had overreached, wanted to avoid further sanctions, and would halt hostilities.

Confusing, isn’t it? And Putin at least seems to like it that way. Nato spokesmen doubted his claim of Russian troop withdrawals because nothing had happened the last three times he said it. And the day after the ‘legitimate’ Ukrainian president was elected, separatists launched not ‘dialogue’ but an attack on the government-held airport in Donetsk. Since western journalists on the border report that the separatist forces are both Russian volunteers and trained soldiers, that attack may not have come as a surprise to the Kremlin. And news agencies recalled that Putin had earlier qualified his commitment to ‘dialogue’ with Kiev with the regretful comment that it would be ‘very difficult for us to develop relations with people who come to power amid a punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine’. Battles in the east continue. Watch this olive branch in my hand; now you see it; now you don’t; now you see it again — oh, it’s a razor.

So what is Putin’s game? Conferences of intellectuals have been discussing the Russian president in the context of Ukraine in recent months — and they generally find the experience like trying to pin down Proteus. Historian Timothy Snyder, New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier, and a slew of western embassies jointly convened a recent such conference in Kiev which expressed both puzzlement and distress at Russia’s success in persuading many on the western left that Putin’s actions over Ukraine were justified or at least understandable.

At an earlier conference in Vilnius of Russian, Ukrainian, Baltic, and Polish intellectuals (with a sprinkling of Brits and Americans), ‘Russia Reality Check’ organised by Lithuania’s Eastern Europe Studies Centre,’ those present divided roughly into two camps. Some thought Putin a shrewd, ruthless, cynical kleptocrat, principally concerned to protect and increase his vast fortune, to avoid any future imprisonment, and thus to retain power for himself and his clique more or less indefinitely. That was the optimistic view: it implied a desire to avoid serious conflict—or at least to confine it to domestic opponents.

But a disturbingly large number, including some former government officials from Russia and western Europe, saw the Russian president as bent upon a tactically cautious but strategically bold campaign to reverse the post-Cold War settlement of 1989, and indeed to go further.


A former Russian official with some personal knowledge of Putin outlined what he thought was his long-term vision, and reckoned its domestic stages had already been accomplished: create a strong centralised presidency, subordinate all arms of government to it, extend its control over private industry through corruption and favouritism, and make the media, public or private, an arm of presidential propaganda.

The vision’s application to foreign policy only began with the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. It is unfolding further with the Ukraine crisis. In succession it would include the gradual re-incorporation of ethnic Russians and Russophones in the Russian ‘federation’, the establishment of a Eurasian Union composed of former Soviet republics in Central Asia (with similar authoritarian regimes) to augment Russian stability and power, a rapprochement with China, the sedation and neutralising of western Europe, especially Germany, and finally a long economic struggle with the principal enemy, now isolated: the English-speaking world, the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, etc — in current lingo, the Anglosphere.

This was heady stuff and, for a Brit, even flattering: the Great Game redivivus on an even larger scale than in the 19th century! Does Peter Jones, I wondered, still stock swagger sticks and pith helmets? But two qualifications may calm the mind.

The first is the protean nature of the Putin regime, especially in its use of the media. Journalist Peter Pomerantsev, an Anglo-Russian essayist and film-maker who graduated with honours in the world of modern Russian media, describes the regime as a post-modern dictatorship ‘in the sense that it uses many of the techniques associated with postmodern art and philosophy: pastiches of other’s narratives, simulacra (i.e. fake) institutions, and a “society of spectacle” with no substance.’ He continues in a recent Legatum Institute lecture: ‘The regime’s salient feature is a liquid, shape-shifting approach to power… the leaders of today’s Kremlin can speak like liberal modernisers in the morning and religious fanatics in the afternoon.’ And that is exactly what they do — a regime run by its intelligence service puts on a series of happenings to suit the political needs of the moment.

In such a regime the media plays an especially important role (as indeed it did in prewar fascist regimes). ‘Politics as spectacle’, to borrow Pomerantsev’s phrase, is a perfect distraction-substitute for politics as who gets what, where, when and how. It is therefore an especially valuable technique for a kleptocratic regime. Whenever the populace seems riled up over something like corruption, state television will show Putin summoning leading officials and giving them a stern talking-to. The political needs of the Ukraine crisis were for an injection of jingoism into the body politic. And state television — Russia Today for abroad — obliged with a steady diet of anti-fascist denunciations directed towards Kiev. Nor was that without effect. Some of the Russian intellectuals in Vilnius were genuinely sad over the fact that close friends had been swept away in this fake-nationalist tsunami, along with high percentages of ordinary Russians. And the western leftists who were excusing Putin’s Ukrainian adventure, or so the Kiev conference intellectuals lamented, were probably repeating memes — Russia’s natural sphere of interest, anti-Semites running Kiev, the threat from the EU(!) — that they had picked up via Russia Today.

For the Kremlin’s postmodern media techniques seem to work as well with foreign as with domestic audiences. Thus, Putin announces the withdrawal of the same troops several times over and even gets credit for his willingness to compromise. Or as President Obama complained in a press conference, he assures the world that the troops in Crimea are nothing to do with him until some time later he cheerfully admits they are Russian. Or he publicly calls on the separatists to abandon their planned independence referendum while continuing to give practical military support to them after they ‘ignore’ him (those are postmodern quotes).

Pomerantsev compares these exercises in political technology to the final scene in the Wizard of Oz. Another comparison might be the satirical film Wag the Dog, in which an American president gets re-elected by winning an entirely simulated war. In Putin’s case, of course, the war is real enough — a recent UN estimate was that 127 people have been killed in the recent unrest in eastern Ukraine — but the dialogue is simulated.

 

Will that continue to be the case? Some of the ‘geo-politicians’ in Moscow who chill our blood with their grand designs for a world-dominating Eurasian Union may well be no more than touring cast members in Putin’s repertory theatre of useful ideologues — to be wheeled on stage when the troops go in and pushed behind the scenery when Mrs Merkel is in town. One of the advantages of post-modernity is that it is shameless. It makes major adjustments to the script — or strategic vision — without ever conceding that there was such a thing in the first place. And even when there is such a thing, a tactically agile strategist will postpone it indefinitely if he meets a harsh response or high obstacles.

The second reason for calm is that Putin is probably more aware than anyone of the formidable obstacles in the path of his Eurasian Union and its march to victory over the Anglo-Saxons. To begin with, Ukraine’s membership in his Union is essential to its success — and that outcome is farther away than when he began to squeeze Yanukovych into breaking off negotiations with the EU.

The spontaneous pro-Russian uprising he expected never occurred; it had to be goosed by thuggery and covert intervention. It has since led to a widespread anti-Kremlin nationalism among Ukrainians of all ethnicities. A Ukrainian president has been elected with the legitimacy of a clear majority and without needing a destabilising run-off vote. The neo-fascist parties supposedly ruling Kiev got 1 per cent each in the same elections. The new leader will get more western aid than did his predecessors. Putin can see that continuing a covert subversion of eastern Ukraine would probably cost him and his kleptocratic supporters dear — and invading the rest of Ukraine might even bring him down.

Even if Putin succeeds in destabilising Ukraine indefinitely, that is the most he can hope for. He cannot now draw it into his authoritarian stockade. Indeed, other authoritarians in Central Asia may be reluctant to join his camp or to yield it any real power if they do. It is their own authoritarianism they favour, not the domination of Moscow.

And the wider geopolitical struggle with the Anglo-Saxons? The Sino-Russian gas deal was a plot twist of brilliant timing, since it came after mumbled western threats to diversify European energy suppliers. A Gazprom spokesman drove home the message, comparing Sino-Russian co-operation in exploiting fossil fuels with western Europe’s reliance on wind in every sense. But it signifies no great geopolitical shift of power.

Turn from the worried strategists on newspaper opinion pages to the business pages and trade journals. There you will learn that it was Putin who forced the pace on finalising a deal that had been in negotiation for years (for the obvious reason that he wanted a response to western pressure); that just hours beforehand the leaks suggested no agreement on prices; that the prices agreed at the last minute will not be publicly revealed; but that they are almost certainly at or below the discount rates that Gazprom offers its traditional Central European customers. This was an OK commercial deal for Gazprom at best; it was a great political announcement for Putin; it was a shrewd exploitation of Putin’s weakness by China; and it signifies that hard bargaining will characterise Sino-Russian relations across the board — including border disputes and foreign policy towards third parties.

Even if China were ever to get into a serious dispute with the US, then a middle-ranking energy-dependent power in demographic and economic decline like Russia would not be much help. And China would prefer to avoid such a conflict, even with a stronger ally than Putin, because it knows that the idea of American decline has been vastly oversold and that it faces major demographic and economic problems of its own. As Josef Joffe establishes in his magisterial Myth of America’s Decline, even if China’s growth does not slow down — which would make it unique in economic history — it will catch up with the US by about the Greek kalends. And with Chinese military spending at about a ninth of Washington’s, military equality would take even longer.

Given a choice between defeating the Anglo-Saxons and tyrannising over his billions, Putin should do the latter. A master of political fantasy should never start believing it.

John O’Sullivan is director of the Danube Institute in Budapest and co-founder of Twenty-First Century Initiatives in Washington.

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Show comments
  • Ted Cunterblast

    Russia is playing the long game, and that’s why she will prevail. The West doesn’t have much time.

    • J_ohn

      No she isn’t, she’s turned away from the institutions of the post-1945 world order including sovereignty, and international law as such. That’s to say nothing of her pitiful excuse for democracy, internally. Her banks can’t get loans internationally, hundreds of billions of capital has fled in recent months, and I suspect the government can’t even sell its bonds or roll over debts. This is madness.

  • global city

    Westerrn/Caucasian civilisation would be wiped out if Russia/USA and ‘Europe’ ended up fighting a major war…. would that concern the cultural Marxists and multiculturalism adherents?

    Putin should be careful.

    • Gregory Mason

      Western civilisation is quite capable of destroying itself on its own without Russian help.

      • global city

        That’s the point that I was trying to make, in a roundabout way. If Russia became aggressive toward Europe/NATO and we all ended up fighting then the whole civilisation, West and East would be destroyed.

  • Cyril Sneer

    And here’s me thinking that the situation in the Uktraine was engineered mostly by the US over the course of many years in their decades long policy of regime change of any nation where such interference will prove fruitful whether that be for regional hegemony, natural resources etc etc etc etc…..

    And oh look, 2015 was/is election year in the Ukraine… ho hum, let’s avoid democracy and go straight for anti-democratic methods in the name of freedom and democracy…..

    • Rob Gill

      sometimes governments do not last the full course and early elections are called. Presidents get impeached by the legislature – in this instance all deputies who voted to impeach Yanukovich (including his own party) were democratically elected. That’s democracy – something Yanukovich showed scant regard for in 2004 until the high court rescinded the election result. Yanukovich had recourse to the highest court in the land – he chose to flee with ill-gotten gains instead. No surprise -the far right wingers of the Spectator readership should support Putin – their admiration for bullies is matched only by the far -left.

      • Baron

        You, sir, were born brainless, will die brainless. Anyone with any
        common sense would and should impeach anyone if a gun were pointed at
        the one ordered to impeach. The corrupt man fled because he would have
        been killed if he didn’t. When the armed thugs took over, all the
        deputies ran for their life.

        Not that Baron would lift a finger
        if a proper court sentenced Yanukovych to hang, or fail to applaud it if
        the deputies impeached the man without fear of getting shot, but for
        everyone in the world who wanted to look to see the Congresswoman
        appointing members of the provisional government, and yet people
        like O’Sullivan ignoring it as if it were of no significance, the Sloboda
        lot, only months before labeled as a bunch of villains, joining the
        forces of ‘democracy’, a man enriched by acquiring assets on the cheap
        put in charge, the likes of O’Sullivan rejoicing whilst spitting at
        Putin’s crony oligarchs ….. Arghhhh

        The Founding Fathers must not be turning but spinning in their graves.

        • Rascalndear

          Personal insults are the first resort of the man without a good argument. Just one example of your nonsense: “All the deputies ran for their life.” I know this used to be a communist colony but groups of people still have “lives” when refered to collectively. But more to the point, if “all” the deputies ran for their lives, who has been sitting in the legislature in Kyiv all these months, forming a Cabinet and passing laws with votes of 350 and more out of a 450-seat council? Oh… I forgot… you’re paid to write nonsense.

    • J_ohn

      I think you’re confusing promotion of substantive democracy, with the promotion of ‘thin’ democracy.

      The former consists in political equality, rule of law, sovereignty, dominance of political over military and police institutions, stable territorial borders and non-outside-interference, a democratic culture, constitutional protections for minorities, free fair and frequent elections, the equal right to receive and impart political information, the equal right of assocation, and political education to make the former meaningful.

      ‘Thin’ democracy is just voting.

      Promoting institutions of substantive democracy worldwide, especially where they are under threat, e.g. in Ukraine under Yanukovich, is not interference.

      • Colin Robinson

        You mentioned “dominance of political over military and police institutions” as part of substantive democracy.

        In the February takeover in Kiev, a large body of excited militant demonstrators exercised dominance over all the institutions, including the police, the presidency and the parliament.

        Same thing happened in Italy in 1922, with the March on Rome, which is not remembered as a triumph for substantive democracy.

  • Том Клан

    West has once again backed the wrong horse, long term
    strategy will fail! And that’s because, support of radicals, anti-Semites and Russophobes.. will never work in Ukraine.

    • caap02

      Russia is currently built on the same solid foundation as the USSR circa mid-80s (i.e. a pile of sh#*?!t). When it come crashing down is the only question. Will Puin have to kick the bucket first? Or will it happen before that?

  • ClausewitzTheMunificent

    Straight from a Washington think tank. Just who exactly does he think the Speccie’s readers are?

    • roger

      The proles of AirstripOne?

    • J_ohn

      Sorry which bit did you disagree with? Mistrust isn’t an argument you know.

      • ClausewitzTheMunificent

        Fair enough, I was, however, too tired to reply. I will give an exhaustive reply by next Tuesday being very much occupied till then.

  • Tom

    Putin is making a mistake in Ukraine. He gains territory in the easy but loses influence in the west. Overall, Russian influence has diminished in Eastern Europe

    http://www.thelaymansterms.com/putin-is-falling-into-obamas-trap-in-ukraine/

    • Greg

      Russia are still one of the 3 superpowers. That is all that matters. Influence is bought. Not earned.

      • Tom

        Agree that influence is bought, and it says in the article that the US and the EU need to bolster the government in Kiev otherwise the strategy won’t work.

        • Greg

          Bolstering an illegitimate government wont work. The Russian people already want out of Ukraine and the western neighbours don’t care much for their poor eastern basketcase of a neighbour.

          • Tom

            Sadly, the legitimacy of the Government in Ukraine is irrelevant when it comes to the power politics between the West and Russia.

            Whatever needs to be done to secure influence in the region will be done. Russia want out because they can see that what they’re doing is losing them power in the region – and their analysis is correct

            Time will tell if they have lost influence in the long run in Ukraine, my suspicion is they have. We will see if the new Ukrainian president looks to make deals with West and potentially join NATO. This would seal the West’s strategic victory.

          • Greg

            Yes they would lose influence if they took an active role but they are smart enough to realise that they will win anyway since they are so much more powerful than the EU and NATO. Especially when Obama treats the Eastern Europeans with so much contempt!

          • Tom

            I think you’re seeing that at the moment. Russia will stop its activity in eastern Ukraine as it thinks it has greater influence with a friendly Ukraine on its border. They think that overall they will lose influence by taking territory in the East.

            Obama may have missed a chance. If Russia is able to bribe Ukraine with a gas deal then Russian influence can be restored. The US needs to get in to Ukraine and build up the new government, not concede it to Putin.

          • Greg

            Russia bribe the Ukraine? Ukraine is a poor country which is reliant on Russia. They might as well be part of Russia (Which is what many of the states want). The USA is on a separate continent. Russia will always win.

          • Tom

            Again, that is possibly correct – we will see. Ukraine is indeed reliant in some ways on Russia. However, there is a chance to break that. In much the same way as West Germany was bolstered by the west on the border of the Soviet Union, Ukraine should be supported by primarily the EU – as US is too far away to realistically support Ukraine.

            The acid test though is NATO. If Ukraine becomes a member, Eastern Europe will have changed forever.

          • roger

            So why not have Russia in NATO, it’s a north atlantic power fighting nutty islam like most of the others, it can have Turkeys seat.

          • Greg

            I agree. Russia was our ally for hundreds of years. We helped them beat the Germans twice in the last 100 years. Why are they seen as the enemy?

          • Rascalndear

            Because they are behaving like an enemy? duh! Even in WWII, they behaved like an enemy… cutting deals with Germany and taking bits and pieces of their neighbors… then grabbing Eastern Europe altogether after the war and more than a third of Germany, rather than leaving them to run themselves, as the Western allies did with their bits of Germany… In a sense, by letting the Soviet Union get away with that bit of land-grabbing, the West failed to entrench the post-WWII rules of the game, so Russia has never really paid much attention to them since then, in either of its incarnations.

          • Rascalndear

            Really? And just who do you think is arming both sides in the Syria mess… Assad at home and ISIL abroad? If you stop spouting trolly nonsense and look at the map of Russia’s invasion and incursion into Ukraine and what is happening with ISIL, you should understand that it’s about the control of resources. No more, no less. http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/06/13/321678737/in-one-map-the-dramatic-rise-of-isis-in-iraq-and-syria

          • Rascalndear

            That’s where people don’t “get it” about Russia. It fights Islam on one hand and arms it on the other (Syria, ISIL, etc). It does whatever it believes is necessary to reassert its hegemony over Eastern Europe and Central Asia… Its Chechen fighters are one of the main forces now on the ground in Eastern Ukraine… last time I looked, they were still Muslims.

          • caap02

            Tom: Greg is a russian troll….

          • Tom

            And here’s me trying to be balanced…

      • roger

        When i see all that Russian military kit, Topol M, D400 and Sukhois i wonder why the MOD doesn’t buy them, we have one of the largest military budgets yet have crap equipment.

  • Baron

    A first class waffle of a well meaning but deluded progressive, a fustian diatribe of someone whose wishful thinking overrides common sense, a laughingly obvious misrepresentation of facts, and that’s the most generous take on it.

    The key is Crimea, Putin got it for Russia thanks to the costly but inept meddling in Ukraine by the West, it will keep it because it was Russia who was robbed of it in 1992, not Ukraine in 2014. Russia had held Crimea for the longest, most of its inhabitants are Russians, the language of the peninsula is Russian, and it will remain Russian long after Putin’s gone and forgotten.

    Any leader of Russia would have made a move for Crimea, losing it would have deprived Russia of the only non freezing military naval facilities this side of Ural. Instead of waiting for the Ukrainian government appointed by the West to tear up the lease, the one who likes stripping to the waist took it for next to nothing. It pains the messiah, hence the unceasing yapping about it by his poodles.

    Putin’s view of the rest of Ukraine is very likely similar to that of the German Frau, who has allegedly said on hearing of the Crimean annexation: ‘Well, they still have alot of top quality dirt left’. He will gladly leave it to the EU taxpayers to put it right, then make a move.

    Russia has time on her hands, and the Ukrainians would do well to remember there is nothing for the West in guaranteeing their long term security. Blood ties will always trump ill conceived ideas of constructs such as the EU, which may fall apart in its current form well before Putin abandons the rebuilding of the Russian pride. The British referendum may well be the beginning of the end of the Babylonian set-up.

    • CIS Markets

      Not deluded progressivism. Knowing interference – see John O’Sullivan’s activities in Hungary which reflect exactly the techniques he accuses Russia of. Let’s see what happens when Orban refuses to lose his Russian affiliations and how the opinions of aligned-journos like O’Sullivan are unleashed. The Hungarian Maidan approaches.

      • Baron

        Good point, CIS Markets, nevertheless, Baron prefers to give people the benefit of the doubt, even if it’s seldom the right judgement.

    • caap02

      -“Russia had held Crimea for the longest”: wrong, the tatars held Crimea longer than the Russian empire
      -” most of its inhabitants are Russians”: The 2001 census showed 58% of Crimea’s pop. to be of russian ethinic origin…….Russian have been a majority (barely) in Crimea for only a few years.

      • Baron

        Bollocks

        Sent from my HTC

        —– Reply message —–

  • Since the author pretends (1) he doesn’t know who KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn is; and (2) he doesn’t know about the Communist’s “Long-Range Policy”, he attempts to pull the wool over your eyes with the “truth” behind Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, an invasion that only occurred after the government manufactured demonstrations in Kiev went unexpectedly national, resulting in the hundreds of statues of Lenin that came tumbling down in February, statues that were supposed to have all come down by February 1992.

    • caap02

      Woo-hoooo??!?? I think that the radio transmittors in your dentures are malfunctioning.

  • Greg

    It really is quite simple. The people in the east of Ukraine are Russian and want to rejoin Russia. Putin wants these people to join Russia. The Ukrainian Government (if you can call it that) want them to stay but don’t want them to express an opinion (Hence no voting at the election). In the end they will join Russia.

    • caap02

      There is not a single oblast in Ukraine that does not have an ethnic Ukrainian majority, except for Crimea. So your statement that the “people in the east of Ukraine are Russian ” is just flat-out wrong. So is your statement that they want to rejoin Russia. Every single poll taken in past years has shown that support from joining Russia in eastern Ukraine is minimal.
      As for no voting in the Presidential election in eastern Ukraine, there was voting except for those areas where pro-Russian armed men prevented it (by e.g. entering commission offices and seizing all election materials and kidnapping and threatening election commission members).

      • Greg

        Just because someone is ethnically Ukrainian doesn’t mean they aren’t Russian. The Ukrainian identity was created in 1917. Before this they were Russian. Russia is in itself a union of smaller nations.

  • pp22pp

    I am sick of being “spun” and treated like a child by the twits who call themselves our “elite”. The BBC is the worst. The dim-witted harridans who run it remind me of my great aunt chiding when I was five years old for playing in the field at the back of her house.

    1). We deposed the government in Ukraine and were surprised when the Russians didn’t like it. I know more about Ukraine than this guy. At least I read the two languages spoken there. It’s ethnically diverse, therefore unstable. Duh!

    2). We are supporting al Qaeda in Syria against a regime that is a threat to no one but his own people. Do you think the Syrian army would last five minutes in a fight with Israel?

    3). The Electoral Commission tries to fix the election against UKIP. That was really infantile.

    4). Mass immigration – as if that’s going to make us a happy and cohesive society. You have to live in Cloud-Cuckoo land to think that’s going to fly. And yes, Mr Smug, there is a difference between Roma and Germans.

    5). Money-printing our way to economic salvation. You don’t need industries. Just buy the stuff off the Chinese and print the money to pay for it.

    Where do the MSM, BBC, Electoral Commission find these morons? You would do better picking people off he street at random.

    Our elite is so dumb and so out of touch. This will not end well.

    • Baron

      A top class rant, pp22pp, you should keep hitting them as hard as this more often.

    • Baron

      And another thing re your point 4, pp22pp, have a look here. How does one “cohesive” people like that?

      http://youtu.be/egjo70WM4Oc

    • Matt

      The last time anyone thought that point five was a good idea the Wiemar government had to invent a new currency, and in reference to point four the only people that are disenfranchised by mass LEGAL immigration are the people GCSE dropouts with such a grossly inflated self worth that they think they deserve more than minimum wage for working at Mcdonalds, immigrants aren’t stealing jobs they’re earning them!

      Now, whilst I’m not going to pretend I know enough about politics to dispute one, two and three, but if your political knowledge is as shaky as your economic knowledge, they’re probably tripe too.

      • pp22pp

        1). I have my own business and a PhD. I have one degree in the humanities and one in the natural sciences.

        2). Mass legal immigration was intended to keep Bliar and his friends in power for ever. They even admitted it.

        3). If you bring in labour, you drive down its cost and that doesn’t just apply to people who work in McDonalds. It’s called supply and demand.

        4). Oh, and it’s the WEIMAR Republic. I was being sarcastic. I think money printing is insanity.

        If you can’t see that I was being sarcastic, you’re either a bit dim or English is not your first language.

        • Matt

          First off, top notch use of numerical lists buddy you’ve really got that down. I’m very sorry that I didn’t pick up your satire as its pretty hard to judge tone over the internet, but as you had my back catching that ‘Weimar’ typo I’m going to help you out here, use square brackets and those little smileys to convey what text alone cannot [right now I’m patronising you (: ].

          Now lets talk economics, an influx of foreign labour does great things for an economy, migrants were worth over 20bn last year alone. The increase in supply isn’t going to have a negative effect on demand due to increased supply, all thats going to grow is the rate of growth which is a very good thing. To top that its very hard to just sit back on benefits if you’re a migrant, even if it wasn’t, who really starts a whole new life not to make something of it? So this terrible mass immigration you’re talking about; increases growth, creates new jobs as people strive to make their own business (just like you, i might add), and brings in new fresh human capital. As the majority of economists concur free trade is the ideal we all should be working towards, and it doesn’t get much freer than total geographical mobility of labour.

          So next time you want to slate a policy because you don’t like the man who put it into play, do a little research first, knowing the phrase “Demand and Supply” merely puts you on the level of every struggling door to door salesman in 1950’s America.
          And you can add this to your list of academic achievements, because Willy Loman, because you just got schooled.

          • pp22pp

            At the moment, I am in Korea. I have lived in Japan and South America. Don’t tell me filling the place with Third World overspill is a good idea. Homogeneity is strength.
            Many of our main sources of immigration are the biggest hell holes on earth. Labour force participation by Somalis and Bangladeshis is pitiful.
            Japan and Korea are dynamic homogenous societies with companies like Samsung, Honda and Panasonic and they did it all without the help of immigrants from the Congo!

          • Matt

            Right, I have neither the time nor the patience to try and argue facts with someone who thinks their smattering of real life experience from a single biased viewpoint can compare to mountains of empirical evidence and such, see no real point in trying to debate economics with you. Instead I’ll ask you this; who are you, not only to judge a persons ethics by their place of birth, but to deny them a chance to enjoy the freedoms of education, work and prejudice that you have been given?

          • pp22pp

            What freedoms will there be when the whole country looks like Tower Hamlets? What right do people like you have to taken what forefathers built and trash it? It was given to our generation in trust to preserve and pass on and you have ruined it! Mountains of empirical evidence? Look at Africa! Look at Japan! For God’s sake open your eyes, you ignorant fool! Reality is always thrown out of the window and replaced with “You’re a nasty racist”. Our civilization didn’t fall to an army. It fought off Hitler. It fell to a bunch a smug self-satisfied jack-asses who cannot accept that entire planet is not entirely the same. If you fill Britain with the Third World, the Third World is what you will get.

            Try looking up average IQ by country.

            The Japanese look at what we have done and shake their heads in disbelief. You have my complete contempt.

          • Rascalndear

            Yes but they did it with a good dose of help from a country that has been thriving through immigration since its inception… the US. Neither Japan nor South Korea would have made it so far other wise.

          • pp22pp

            Japan was a rich country in the 1930’s. It developed on its own between 1868 and 1945. In those years it shunned foreign investment.

            Korea – hard to say. It was under Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945. It was then cut in two. The economy was a shambles after the Korean War. The Americans definitely helped, but the country had been a battleground and the need to maintain a huge army for over fifty hears has only partly been offset by US aid.

            Did US aid more than offset the effects of the Korean War? I don’t know. Does anyone?

            And has recent immigration helped the US? In the 1950’s the US was half the world’s economy – partly due to the fact that WW2 had knocked out the competition. Immigration was drastically reduced in 1924 and overall the population was 90% white.

            Immigration really kicked in after 1965 and the US has run a trade deficit continuously since 1972.

          • mark tayler

            South Korea and Japan depend on the US market and US military power.

    • Rascalndear

      Don’t flatter yourself that you or anyone in your country had anything to do with the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych. The government, by the way, never moved. He himself fired the Cabinet and it was replaced. The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s legislature, was voted in in 2012 and it formed the new Cabinet. But you obviously don’t know much about Ukraine and its government–nor do you care (knowing languages does not signify any level of understanding or or knowledge of a particular country and its people or culture). So why are you even posting on this particular article (did you even read it?)? For a PhD, you don’t have much of a sense of what’s going on in the world. England, maybe, but not anywhere else.

      • pp22pp

        You’re right that my knowledge of Ukraine is increasingly out-of-date and what I said was that I knew little but it seemed to be more than this guy knows. But unless there has been a sudden transformation in the last fifteen years, it is poor, corrupt and divided and very susceptible to outside interference. People in Lviv are not like people in Odessa apart from being eminently corrupt.

        Of the Ukrainians I am still in contact with most are for the new government, but the one from Odessa who now lives in Australia absolutely is not. One of the others is anti-Putin, but her father is for Putin. She grew up in Kiev. They all agree that the country is still hugely divided along quasi-ethnic lines and that this was a disaster waiting to happen. Is this incorrect?

        My PhD has nothing to do with either Ukraine or England. The other guy was accusing me of being ill-educated.

        If Ukraine is immune from outside interference, then logically the Russians cannot be stirring up trouble in the east any more than the West could help stir up trouble in the west.

        • caap02

          “They all agree that the country is still hugely divided along quasi-ethnic lines and that this was a disaster waiting to happen. Is this incorrect?” Yes, it IS incorrect. It seems that your friends share your taste for simplistic analysis.
          Of course Ukraine is not immune from outside interference, but there is interference and interference (e.g. putting your nationals into key government positions) and then there is armed invasion. Ukraine is especially not immune to the latter.

          • pp22pp

            Are you Ukrainian?

        • Rascalndear

          Actually, the whole concept of “First, Second and Third Sort” Ukrainians was introduced by …. Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions in 2004. Not by Western Ukrainians or people in Kyiv. It was done deliberately to turn eastern Ukrainians against the rest of the country. Then Dmytro Tabachnyk, Yanukovych’s Education Minister, began to talk about Halychany as though they were the worst evil on the planet and “not really Ukrainians.” And all the nonsense about “banderites” has been perpetuated in Eastern and Southern Ukraine by the same people. Yushchenko was from Sumy (north of Kharkiv, an eastern oblast), and his wife’s parents were also from Eastern Ukraine (including Donetsk). Tymoshenko is from Dnipropetrovsk, Yarosh is from Dniprodzerzinsk. So how is it that all these eastern Ukrainians are “banderites”? Ironically, if eastern Ukrainians had really thought about what was happening on the Maidan, they would have joined forces and ousted their own strongman, Rinat Akhmetov. The region has suffered terribly from the abuse of mine owners like Yukhym Zviahilskiy, whose Zasiadko mine has the worst accident record of any mine in Ukraine (which is saying a lot). There have been stories of miner families freezing to death in their homes in the winter because the company didn’t provide heating as it was supposed to. Akhmetov uses virtual slave labor (see http://ukrainianweek.com/Society/74747), thousands of people who scrabble for coal with their bare hands because they have no other alternatives. At one point the DPR threatened to “nationalize” Akhmetov’s companies, but of course they have no real power and are not a grass-roots movement. The point is, because of the lies and anti-Ukrainian propaganda swamping the waves in eastern Ukraine, people see the rest of Ukraine as their enemy, not their homegrown oligarch. And they complain about their voices not being heard, when their leaders have been running the country for the last 10 years or more. Who’s not hearing them? Yatseniuk only became PM in late February, Poroshenko was innaugurated as president on June 7. Must be the old regime they mean, right? So why didn’t they join forces with the Maidan against it? Because nobody was paying them to do that, most likely. Maybe they should have, but that was not the principle on which the Maidan emerged. Meanwhile, Party of the Regions couldn’t get a single rally going without paying people… There is a cultural difference between eastern Ukraine and other regions, even southern Ukraine, but it’s like the difference between Appalachia, Georgia and New York (just a rough example). It’s more about level of political passivity and it is slowly changing. War has a tendency to do that to people…

      • pp22pp

        Are you Ukrainian?

  • 11B40

    Greetings:

    And, has anybody here seen my old friend Catherine Ashton, the EU’s wonder of a foreign minister??? Oh, can you tell me where she’s gone ??? She did a lot of good, no???

    I’m the kind of guy that when I want to understand a trainwreck, I start in the barn. All this pouting about Putin is not without merit, but why the get out of Ukraine free card for Ms. Ashton and all those American officials who thought the Maidan was some kind of 21st Century Woodstock. Where’s the reporting on what they were up to and how it all went so very sideways.

    All of which is not to say the little lady doesn’t deserve some credit for the way she managed to hand the Ukraine tar baby off to President Obama, another paragon of geopolitical competence.

  • LG63

    It is Putin who is shelling, burning and bombing Ukrainians, including children and women, with fatalities reaching hundreds and refuges – thousands. Of course it wasn’t the EU requesting the old oligarch Yanukovich not to use force in any way and now keeping a blind eye on a new oligarch Poroshenko waging a civil war against his own people.

    it is indeed Putin’s imperialistic ambitions making European politicians leak Americans like a pack of shameless pugs, selling the interests of their own countries for nothing.

    It was in Putin’s interest to attack South Ossetia back in 2008, sponsor uprisings in all post-USSR republics and overturn their natural links with the nation they were living side by side for centuries.

    And yes, it was in Putin’s interest to bomb Yugoslavia 15 years ago, creating enclaves of strategic instability, people / drugs trafficking in the heart of Europe.

    Not to forget it were the Russians breaking NATO non expansion agreements for the past two decades.

    So sick of these continuous, silly and pointless allegations, repeating the same “Putin to be blamed for everything” mantra all over again.

  • roger

    1989 was not a ‘settlement’ with Russia, it was the failure of the Soviet domination and confrontation with NATO. Modern Russia is not an inhuman soviet expansionist ideology, it is as capitalist as anywhere else. Russia still has its population links (linguistic, cultural, religious) into other states as a result of the cold war lasting nearly two generations and these need political co-operative expression, not confrontation.
    Why can’t Russia be in NATO or have closer ties to the EU, because certain cold war fossils don’t want it, Oceania must always be at war with Eastasia as Orwell would have written.

    • Rascalndear

      Russia itself doesn’t want to be in NATO. It sees NATO as “the enemy.” And many people in the region do as well, though if you ask them whether Ukraine should join the “North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” they say “Why not!” Such is the nature of ignorance and brainwashing among the masses.

  • CIS Markets

    Pat russophobia, congratulations. Accusing Russia of “Simulacrum, post modernist institutions” – what poppycock. But while we’re talking of such things what, pray, is this institute up to, John O’Sullivan? Who paid for this pop up job? http://danubeinstitute.hu/

  • ianess

    Dreadful, rambling, incoherent article which left me even more confused as to what the true situation is.

    • Rascalndear

      Could it be that you haven’t paid attention to anything going on in Ukraine at all? It’s not incoherent or confusing to those who have.

  • Peeta Mellark

    For many reasons, countries considered free are susceptible to the creeping tyranny of bureaucratic socialism that destroys liberty by confining our abilities and choices under the leaden threads of administrative restrictions.

  • Rascalndear

    An excellent analysis. Thanks a lot!

  • Derrick Rows

    Here we find an opportunity to sow the seeds of liberty across the fruited plain: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

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