Putin Drags Russia back into its Failed Past

One of the big stories out of Russia last week was the barbaric country’s efforts to block Syrian human rights atrocities from being adjudicated by the international criminal court.  In doing so, Russia stood with China against the entire UN  Security Council and most of the civilized world.

Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld reviews Russia’s litany of aggression and corruption, of which the Syria outrage is only the latest example.  Vladimir Putin, a proud KGB spy, is dragging his country back into the dismal failure of the past, openly provoking the USA in to a new cold war and corruptly diverting huge flows of badly needed capital towards military power and to line his own personal pockets.

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China and Russia make a Dubious Deal

It’s being reported China and Russia have just made a deal under which Russia will deliver to China 1.14 trillion cubic meters of gas in thirty 38-billion-cubic-meter shipments.

It’s reported that China will pay $400 billion in total for these shipments.  That means it is getting 1.14 billion thousand-cubic-meter deliveries and paying about $350 per delivery.

Gazprom is getting $485 per thousand cubic meters of gas from Ukraine.

So China is paying $135 less per thousand cubic meters than Ukraine is paying.

That’s if China is actually paying $400 billion, of course. But many sources are saying the deal is worth “as much as” $400 billion, so China could be paying even less.

And of course Gasprom isn’t currently ready to deliver gas to China, there will be significant overhead costs to the company in preparing to do so. Therefore its profit margin, if any at all, will be smaller still.

Did NATO just help China take Russia to the cleaners?

Putin Eyes Latvia, Licks Lips, Spits Poison at USA

PUTINLIPS

There may be some Americans who still think that Russian aggression in places like Ukraine and Georgia does not affect them directly and can be ignored, but Californians disembarked the Good Ship La-La Land last week for good.  Their concerns are nothing, however, compared to the stark terror striking the hearts of Latvians these days.

When they looked skyward last week, Californians heard the distant rumble of Russian nuclear bombers buzzing their coastline, and they weren’t alone. From the Netherlands to Japan to Guam, Russian nuclear weapons have been brandished all around the world with increasing frequency as Russia opens its gaping maw over Ukraine, even though the U.S. undertakes no such provocative action against Russian populations.  Indeed, the head of NATO confirmed that Russian special forces were operating in Eastern Ukraine just as they earlier done in Crimea.

Putin’s message is clear, and copied from Hitler’s playbook:  Let me grab whatever I want, or you’ll be next.  And the next tasty tidbit on his menu may very will be the Baltic nation of Latvia.

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A Russian Bridge Too Far

An interesting story appeared on Russia’s state-sponsored ITAR-TASS newswire yesterday. It reported that Russia would attempt to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov, giving it a land connection to its newly annexed territory in Crimea (which the whole world believes to be part of Ukraine).

The story begins this way:

Chinese companies will be first foreign investors in economy of the Russian Republic of Crimea after the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. A Chinese construction company and a private investment fund may be involved in construction of a transport corridor to Crimea across the Kerch Strait at the cost of $ 1.2-3 billion with some part of the project to be invested in yuan, Kommersant daily learnt.

There is great deal of fascinating information in this single paragraph:

(1) Russia can’t build this massive bridge itself, it needs to hire the Chinese.

(2) Russia thinks that hiring a Chinese contractor means that the contractor is “investing” in Russia.

(3) First the article says the Chinese “will be” involved then it says “may be.”  In other words, who knows.

(4)  ITAR-TASS can’t come up with this “story” itself, it relies on Kommersant to do so.

(5) Russia obviously thinks it needs this bridge, meaning that it doesn’t think it’s likely it will have a land corridor to Crimea through Ukraine.

It is, of course, totally laughable that Russia would think hiring a contractor constitutes investment by that contractor in Russia, and it’s a telling indicator of how desperate Russia is to find foreign investors of any kind.  Russia saw unprecedented capital flight in the first quarter of this year, and more than $100 billion in capital losses are expected by year’s end.  But this sort of neo-Soviet flight of ludicrous fancy is still surprising.

Putin has invested billions in upgrading the Russian army so it can conquer Russia’s neighbors, but he hasn’t developed Russian civil engineering to the point where Russians can build a major bridge like the one it needs over the Azov.  Or alternatively, Russia is so desperate to court foreigners that it is going to deny Russian companies the chance to profit from the enterprise. Either way, a harbinger of doom for Russia.

And the only reason Russia would need a bridge like this would be if it believes it won’t be able to seize “Novorossiya” from Ukraine.  If it can’t do so, that means it can’t deliver water and electricity to Crimea over land, which means that the residents of Crimea will be at the mercy of Ukraine for basic services for the foreseeable future.  Any attempt by Russia to squeeze Ukraine on gas will be met with proportional retaliation against the “Russians” in Crimea.

The ITAR-TASS article is Putin’s Russia in microcosm.  It neatly reflects all the fundamental weaknesses of this inherently failed state, now bent on a suicidal binge of aggression against its neighbors that has left it with the same status of international pariah held by such nations as Iran and Syria (nations of which Russia is the only significant friend).

Berzerk Putin runs Russian Economy into the Ground

Over on the mighty Pajamas Media megablog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld shows how the crazed policies of Vladimir Putin are wrecking havoc on the Russian economy while the equally crazed policies of appeasement favored by Barack Obama encourage Putin to be even more deranged.  If you have any investments in Russia, you’d better hold on to your financial hat with both hands.

And over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, Kim shows how Putin has gone too far even for the milquetoast Obama administration, which is slowly starting to characterize Putin as the same type of pariah and rogue as one finds in places like Syria, Libya, Egypt and Venezuela.

The Current Government of Ukraine is Perfectly Legitimate

Some of Putin’s minions like to claim that the current government of Ukraine lacks legitimacy because it was not elected by the people. This is absolute nonsense, and a brief review of American history shows why.

Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States in August 1974 when Richard M. Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. Ford was the first man ever to assume the office of president without having been elected president or vice president, having also taken the office of the vice presidency by appointment following resignation. As soon as the American people got the chance to decide whether Ford should be president, they immediately said “no.”

Ford isn’t the only American to wield presidential power without ever being authorized to do so by the people. Chester A. Arthur became president in 1881 following an assassination, and could feel superior to Ford in that he had been elected to serve as vice president. However, whereas Ford at least managed to get the nomination of his party to continue in office at the expiration of his initial term Arthur failed to achieve even that, and was rejected as a candidate.

That same fate befell Andrew Johnson, who like Arthur took power after a presidential assassination. While Arthur may have been humiliated by being denied his party’s nomination, he could feel better about himself knowing that, unlike Johnson, at least he had not been impeached as Johnson was.

Between them, the repudiated rulers Ford, Arthur and Johnson held presidential power for more than a decade. Was the American government illegitimate during this period? Other men who succeeded to the presidency, like John Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt, went on to validate their rule by being elected to continue it. Does that mean Ford, Arthur and Johnson should never have been in office at all?

Of course not. And there is no more logic supporting the notion that the current government of Ukraine is somehow illegitimate. Victor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president, was impeached and indicted for massive crimes of which he is unquestionably guilty. He fled the country to avoid prosecution, and is being given sanctuary by Russia, which refuses to extradite him. A temporary government, just like that of Ford, Arthur and Johnson, was set up pending elections, which were scheduled to occur far more quickly than was the case with Ford, Arthur or Johnson.