Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Power Vertical

The Daily Vertical: RIP Minsk

The Daily Vertical: RIP Minski
March 03, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
By Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page. 

A transcript of today's Daily Vertical can be found here.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mamuka
March 03, 2016 13:54
Minsk Agreement: Dead. Meetings in Prague between Russian and Georgian officials: Gravely Ill. OSCE discussions to address Nagorno Karabakh: Not heard from in years. Border discussions/"confidence building measures" along the de facto Abkhaz and South Ossetia admin boundaries: On life support. If there are any discussions about Transdnistria they are less active than efforts to stir up the Gagauz minority.

Is there a pattern here?

All these discussions offer interesting assignments for western diplomats and training opportunities for FSB-chiki. Actual conflict resolution exercises-- "not so much."
In Response

by: Gevorg from: Germany
March 03, 2016 16:02
Brian talks about proxy forces of Russia in Donbass... I have little doubt about the Russian proxy forces out there, but I have no doubt in proxy forces of the US and Israel in the Middle East. Normally when the Zionists are planning to push through their heinous agendas, they start with the so-called "peaceful demonstrations" almost everywhere. That is what happened in South American countries, in African countries, in Libya, in Egypt, in Syria, in Ukraine and many other countries. So many naive Muslims are now being used as a convenient tool by the Zionists in achieving their geopolitical goals in the Middle East. Many Muslims now out of their ignorance serve the interests of Israel and the United States...
In Response

by: Mamuka
March 03, 2016 21:00
Not sure if this post if from a Troll but you get five points for using an Armenian name. dzalian nijieria!

by: Marco
March 03, 2016 15:02
The Minsk 2 accords guarantees that the war continues... the war makes sure that Russia stays isolated... Russia's isolation destroys its ties with Europe... Europe turns away from Russia towards the U.S... the U.S wins... Russia loses... Ukraine gets destroyed.
In Response

by: Berkeley from: UK
March 03, 2016 16:46
A US Supreme Allied Commander in Europe general Philip Breedlove said last Thursday that he believes NATO are prepared to “fight and win” a war against Russia in the very near future... But Europe has no quarrel with Russia - we do not want a war with Russia!

So, again the Zionist controlled US government is the problem here! Unfortunately most western governments have had corrupt leaders placed in control of our countries by these NWO / Zionist leaders and taken control of the media as well. A traitor within can do huge damage...

It is the powerful rich lowlifes who control countries' leaders and there media who make fortunes from the war machines.
In Response

by: Neil Nelson from: UT, USA
March 03, 2016 19:57
I think the quote you want is "fight and win if necessary." Even got that quote right. Who is not willing to fight and win if necessary?

by: Neil Nelson from: UT, USA
March 03, 2016 15:35
This RFERL page in an apparent attempt to be fair in its reporting falls into the Russian strategy of putting the blame on Ukraine.

"Kyiv claims Russia is violating the Minsk agreement ..." Well, there is no 'claims' about it. Russia's military forces in the Donbas is a well known fact.

"... that would increase autonomy for Ukraine's eastern regions and allow local elections there." Except this benign and on its face reasonable request is not Russia's intended result for the constitutional changes. 'Autonomy' becomes 'national veto' and 'local elections' becomes 'rigged elections' to keep Russia's proxies in power, a mini-me of Russia's rigged elections.

"German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on February 23 that infighting among political parties in Ukraine's governing coalition ..." Duh! Welcome to the democratic process. Who needs a properly elected government in Ukraine when you have Steinmeier and Putin to dictate?
In Response

by: JLNancy
March 04, 2016 08:24
Yes, one can’t 100% rely on rferl reporting. (Some rferl staffers e.g. still erroneously refer to Ru’s aggression on Ukraine as a civil war.) So here’s this  Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin late Thursday (3/3/15) told journalists after the five-hour talks of the Normandy Four top diplomats that …

"Today's meeting is the next step, but we can’t talk about decisive progress, given the actual security situation, given that yesterday we had 63 attacks, given that the OSCE does not have access to many areas of Donbas and the Ukrainian-Russian border," the minister said.

According to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov "was not ready to go deeper into the security issues in terms of providing access to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission…"

Klimkin stresses that comprehensive security not only means "a ceasefire and arms withdrawal." "First of all, it is the OSCE control over the territory of Donbas and the Ukrainian-Russian border. Security means withdrawal of all weaponry that is there. Without security, we can’t move in the direction of the elections, [in the temporarily occupied parts of Donbas]" he said voicing Ukraine’s position.

Klimkin emphasized once again that "in respect of the current round of negotiations, we can’t talk about decisive progress… But we were able to discuss in detail the number of positions of the OSCE, on the other hand – to get a clear vision of security.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister noted: "It was a very difficult meeting….We came here with three key priorities. First was the security. Based on discussions with the SMM, we expressed clear proposals.”

According to Ukraine’s top diplomat, these proposals are about clear access to the territory of Donbas, "this is a very clear scheme of how the SMM can get an effective monitoring along the Ukrainian-Russian border." "This is, firstly, the organization of a number of SMM bases along the border, the opportunity to conduct inspections, establish the appropriate equipment, which would allow monitoring the border and the most critical points day and night; possibilities of SMM presence from our side. We believe that this proposal, if implemented, can effectively ensure the monitoring of the section of the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is still beyond Ukraine’s control," said Klimkin.

Also, the Ukrainian foreign minister said the Ukrainian side "placed a special emphasis on the establishment of security zones, such as in Debaltseve, or around the Donetsk airport". "We have focused on the need to exchange hostages. Everything that is happening now is the lack of any progress – we only managed to make a very limited swap," said the minister.
He also handed over to Lavrov, one of the non-governmental organization’s reports on "How the Ukrainian Hostages in Donbas are Mistreated".

Pavlo Klimkin also said that the main topic of discussion was the issue of the modality of elections. "Here, our main focus was on the need to ensure security and to have such election modalities, which would correspond to Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards," Klimkin said.
In Response

by: Neil Nelson from: UT, USA
March 05, 2016 03:07
JLNancy, This is an excellent report. I can see that Klimkin is clearly the man for the job. Whereas Steinmeier, from his remarks post on RFERL today, should be getting paid by Putin if not already.

I am not getting through to (Ukrainian Independent Information Agency) and instead receiving a '502 Bad Gateway' error. It may be internal to unian or it may be hacker or denial of service related. You may have an idea.
In Response

by: JLNancy
March 04, 2016 09:02
Edit - My typo correction – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, late Thursday (3/3/2016), told journalists…..

by: James from: US
March 03, 2016 16:57
So, divide the Ukraine, divide Russia, divide the Middle East, divide Africa, etc... it works so "well" for the interest of the US and Israel... Northern Ireland 40 years of civil war, Korea, Germany, India, Yugoslavia - all got divided and no peace! Maybe Americans should work on fixing their own country, more people killed in the USA by guns than anywhere else. 25% of the world prison population is the USA, race riots, America needs to clean up its own backyard before telling the world what's right and what's wrong.

by: William from: USA
March 03, 2016 17:04
I don't understand how the US gets to dictate whatever the hell it wants over another nation that has done absolutely nothing to us. Let Ukraine and Syria deal with their own civil war the way they want to.

by: Democracy from: Earth
March 03, 2016 19:44
More sanctions! And this time the real ones for a change. Cut them off from SWIFT, ban them from all international sporting and cultural events. Let them live happily ever after with Putin but on their own.

by: Mike from: USA
March 04, 2016 02:52
Brian, you have illustrated a number of compelling reasons why 'Russia' should have no place as a permanent member (with veto) of the United Nations Security Council. The Kremlin's very purpose in Ukraine, Syria, Transdniester, Georgia and elsewhere has always been to promulgate insecurity. These are the same guys who signed a treaty to ban biological weapons and then, before the ink on their signatures was completely dry, set up their own biological weapons program that eventually manufactured (among other things) 300 tons of weaponized anthrax a year in the waning days of the Soviet "so-called" Union. Then we were told all biological weapons stocks were destroyed. Who but a fool would believe them, about anything they say, or write or promise?
In Response

by: Douglas from: United States
March 04, 2016 10:44
If among the members of the UN Security Council there is a state who must be excluded from membership - it is the US!

Are the American people so stupid that they would forget what George W. Bush did to other countries? This simple minded buffoon started a never ending war and since that wasn't enough started another never ending war. The lies that he and Obama told the American people to get the wars started were so obvious it would be humorous if it wasn't so terribly tragic.

Tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with thousands of our service men and women killed and thousands upon thousands more wounded to where their lives will never be the same.

Such warmongers like Bush, Obama, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and many others should be behind prison bars for crimes against humanity. It is so insulting to see those buffoons prancing and laughing on the stage like they were some sort of celebrities when they are really world class criminals.
In Response

by: Mike from: USA
March 04, 2016 16:08
If you contend that Mr George W. Bush was an inept president, you'll get no argument from me. If you contend that Barack Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are warmongers, you will get plenty of argument, especially from those analysts who hold the position that the current administration has sought to avoid war to such an extent as to give belligerents the idea that the US has withdrawn from the world scene and that this withdrawal is itself the cause of much of the chaos we currently see. One obvious point is that President Obama has thus far refused to supply Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons despite the clear abrogation of the Budapest Memorandum by the USA. How could a warmonger pass up an opportunity like that? For that matter consider that even Mr. Bush had an immensely cynical and bloody provocation in the attempt (in 2001) to bring an endless religious conflict to American soil. Also consider that Mr. Bush served two terms and is now a private citizen. He did not get a rubber-stamp Congress to change the constitution in order to allow him more time in office. The deaths and maiming of American soldiers is certainly tragic, but we have long known that most of these injuries were caused by "Improvised Explosive Devices" or IED's. If you wish to excuse or condone amateur bomb makers, go ahead. Were it not for the the long-term and disproportionate US support for the United Nations, I very much doubt that today there would even be a United Nations. The Russian Duma has granted Mr. Putin permission to use military force to defend the "rights" of Russian speakers in whatever country they are citizens of. This makes Russian speakers an existential threat to any country that harbors them. Yet, these same Russian speakers demand protections due to a minority. A minority, by the way, that seems to resist assimilation, apparently does not know the local language and wants to dictate the course of foreign policy to the people of the local country. "Russia" has in many ways become a source of instability in this world. Example: A Russian missile fired by the Russian military brought down a civilian airliners killing all aboard and then used its UN Security Council veto to deny responsibility and cut off debate. This rogue thugocracy does not deserve a veto in the UN Security Council and should not have it.

by: mr nobody from: usa
March 04, 2016 06:11
The "Minsk" agreement was an admission of failure of the "Budapest" nuclear disarmament agreement. The next agreement will be an admission of the failure of the "Minsk" agreement.

This is a "lame duck" American administration that has failed to protect Ukraine territoriality or materially. The administration has no new efforts in the works to restore Crimea to Ukraine or eject Russia from Donbass. About that MH17... forget about it.

When this administration asks for more time, they mean that they need a little longer to get a new job and pack their office.

by: Andrew from: Auckland
March 04, 2016 09:50
Exactly the same scenario as the "Ceasefire" agreement between Georgia and the Abkhazian "separatists" in 1994. Russia claimed to be a mediator but was actually supplying most of the heavy combat units to the separatists, including Russian Frontal Aviation and elements of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as T-72 and T-80 equipped tank battalions against which the Georgians had mainly T-54s.

by: Gregor from: USA
March 04, 2016 10:31
The Russians are not our enemy. No matter how the American government tries to spin the facts and use propaganda on us, some of us are not buying into the lies, this time. Who is the aggressor in this world and who is trying to be the world's policeman? If you can not answer these simple questions then you are brain dead. For the brain dead the answer is - the United States!

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or