Monday, November 24, 2014


The Power Vertical

Podcast: The Restoration

Then and now.
Then and now.
Ninety-one years and five months ago, five men gathered in Moscow and approved a treaty forming a new union. Sixty-nine years later, that union -- the Soviet Union -- dissolved leaving in its wake 15 independent states. And they've stayed independent for more than two decades.

This week, three men gathered in Astana to form another union -- the Eurasian Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the new grouping is designed to foster the free flow of people, goods, capital, and services. But coming in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea, and against the backdrop of Russia's intervention in eastern Ukraine, suspicions abound that it is but another step in the restoration of the old empire.

In the latest Power Vertical Podcast, I discuss these issues with Merkhat Sharipzhan, a senior correspondent and analyst with RFE/RL's Central Newsroom; and Natalya Churikova, senior editor of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and host of the program "European Connect."

Enjoy...
Power Vertical Podcast -- May 30, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- May 30, 2014i
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by: Eugenio from: Vienna
May 30, 2014 19:44
And in the meantime Ukraine is flourishing: GDP will shrink by 7 % this year (according to the IMF), three regions (Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk) broke away from this European civilizied country and on June 3rd Russia will discontinue supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, which will allow the country to enter the new stage of prosperity and eternal happiness. The people of Ukraine have a really strong reason to thank Victoria Nuland and Frau Merkel :-)).
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 01, 2014 13:55
By the way, guys, here is a topic you might find interesting and write a couple of cheap US propaganda articles on: while Russia keeps supporting the anti-EU separatists in Lugansk and Donetsk, the EU and NATO member state France is going ahead with a long pre-planned sale of the Mistral-type large troop-deployment ships to Russia. Today - Sunday - there was even a demonstration in the French ship-yard of Saint-Nazaire against this sale by allegedly French pro-Ukrainian activists. But the French economy - affected by the last five years of stagnation (typical for a number of countries here in the Euro-zone) - of course cannot allow itself the luxury of picking and choosing its clients: whoever pays money will get the product, and Russia is the country that HAS money (whereas Ukraine is apparently going to COST the EU a lot of money).
Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2014/06/01/manifestation-contre-la-vente-de-mistral-a-la-russie_4429866_3210.html
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
June 02, 2014 01:35
But why should they, my dear friend from the country of what's-his-name, that famous 30's politician? You've got it all laid out for them, in complete oblivion of all Putin is doing to sap the strength of his own people (and Ukraine's). Why, for all I know, you should write the articles yourself, and post them as Archibald Archibaldovich. Why not? If you can't beat them, you have to join them...
In Response

by: La Russophobe from: USA
June 02, 2014 09:49
When a country fights a war against a foreign aggressor to win its freedom, it's logical that this will impose some economic suffering. Russia suffered mightily during World War II.

But what is Russia's excuse now? Russia is mired in recession, the ruble's value is plummeting, inflation is soaring, foreign capital is leaving the country in a tsunami. And Russia isn't fighting any foreign invader as Ukraine is fighting Russia.

In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 02, 2014 22:27
Yes, La Rus..., of course, Russia is "collapsing" - as usual. I am not even mentioning the fact that "Baschar al-Assad's days are numbered and he knows it" :-)).

by: Konstantin from: Loos Angeles
May 30, 2014 20:21
Rephrasing a Russian Poet:
_______________________________________________
Dzerzhinsky's, Lenin's and Serafimovich's drunken "mordas"
Killed 40 Millions, Russians and non-Russians, expand Russia.
Lukashenka and Putin, soften by Kazakh Leader's China deal,
Run into each-other - as it go too far, give Europe to Prussia.
Still, give them an inch - genocidal Russ will expand and kill.
______________________________________________
As they still sucking-up non-Russian nations and nationals
All over the World, even in USA, making us sick and killing
By various services and nurses, killing floors CIA hospitals,
GRU-Spetcnas infection, poison and bestial strangulations,
As my mother killed for vengeance and plagio-blackmailing.
______________________________________________
SOME THINGS IN USSR WERE GOOD (INSPIRATIONS),
SOME BAD (COLLECTIVE MEDIOCRITY), SOME UGLY
(DRESSED AS ROBESPIER'S GILIOTINE RUSSIANS,
EXPANDING THEIR NEW EVIL COLONIAL EMPIRE).

UGLY FORM PROMISSING GOOD WILL END UGLY
(USSR INSTEAD OF COMMON WEALTH OF FREE).
GOOD FORM MIGHT END GOOD, BUT WATCHOUT,
LIFE IS A DYNAMIC COMPETITION AGAINST EVIL
(EXPANDING AND PLOTTING RUSSIA-PRUSSIA)!



by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
May 30, 2014 22:14
World is not uniform, Putin.
As anything also in life - return to basics.
Life is precious - for individual, or whole nation.
The larger entity and its interests, the more hypocrites.

Ukraine is a big country, but hardly survive Russian pressure
Trying destroy genetically Carpathian-Caucasian Civilization,
Invading with damn lie, Varag master slaves-Slavs treachery.
Half of Russia, Volga, classified "non-Slav Tatars" truncation,
As steps on Tatars in Crimea, and knifing "Hohol na koleni!".

Georgia small country - once Common Wealth of Caucasus,
Russia does everything possible destroy them - part by part,
Invading genocide, cleansing, economy squeeze, "Security"
Propaganda, like "Meliton Kantaria leading NATO to put flag
On Kremlin - destroy Russia". Now Putin use the same "uity".

Security issue can be always discussed, without the race war
That Russia force on the World. By the way, truth much better:
Caucasian Civilization at large stretching like Cross, or Sword.
Eastern pillar or blade go through Turkestan and Central Asia.

Northern pillar go through Russia mixed with Ural-Volga world,
Go through Ukraine mixed with Carpathian world. Why they lie,
Inventing multitude by "Mycop-Urartu-Kurd-Russ" Great-Spies
Hypothesis? Truth with all migration of history did OK in USSR,
Better than ridiculous Varag-Prussak empire own Slavs-serfs!


UKRAINE'S BEST FORMULA - INDEPENDENT, STRONG,
PROSPEROUS COUNTRY - CENTER OF EUROPE WITH
FREE TRADE WEST, EAST, INCLUDING RUSSIAN WING,
RENEGOTIATING OLD FRIENDS AT WESTERN BORDER.

GEORGIA WAS ALMOST EXTERMINATED BY RUSSIANS,
SINCE THE 12-13-th THROUGH THE 18-20-th CENTURIES.
BEST FORMULA - COMMON WEALTH OF ALL CAUCASUS
WITH "IVERIA" TYPE GEORGIA UNITED BY SAKARTVELO
TO PRESERVE GENETICS AND SOULS OF CAUCASIANS.

FROM POIN OF SECURITY, GEORGIANS SINCE KNOWN
HISTORY, SOME 12 MILLENNIUMS - POSITIVE CENTER
OF CAUCASIAN RACE AND HUMAN CIVILIZATION - DID
CONTRIBUTE TO SUCH A SECURITY AND PROGRESS,
EVEN IN LATE USSR- US CONFEDENTIAL MITTINGS IN
GEORGIA WITH THE INTELLECTUALS AND SCIENTISTS.

BECAUSE OF RUSSIAN RACE WARS, NEITHER GEORGIA
CAN AFFORD LIVE WITHOUT EUROPEAN-INTERNATIONAL
HELP, NOR IT THREATENS RUSSIA EVEN IF NATO HELPS
IN SOME DEFENCE AREAS - WHICH WILL CORRESPOND
TO RUSSIA WILL. WILL RUSSIA PULL BACK, OR EXPAND?

by: Mamuka
June 01, 2014 21:19
Our congenial host (who, thankfully, did not laugh at his own "witty" comments as much as in previous podkasti) said "we all knew what Putin was doing in 2008 when he provoked Misha" (and that is of course a paraphrase). Well then why did we not hear this at the time? We all knew that Putin played Misha like a violin and poor Misha obliged almost on cue. Yet the popular image at the time was that somehow Georgia invaded Russia.

Also I think you are correct in your assessement of Nazarbayev as a cunning politician.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 03, 2014 11:43
Commenting on your article "U.S. Base In Kyrgyzstan Officially Closes", I wanted to say that one more country is saying the phrase that became customary to many nations in the world: "Bye bye, gringo shit, go back to Detroit to continue looking for food in the garbage" :-)).

by: peter from: ottawa
June 04, 2014 11:36
Soon, Russia will be surrounded by Nato bases in Norway, Finland, the Baltics, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Aleusian and the Artic . All with missiles, drones, antennas, gaggets, gizmos, sensors add the NSA, CIA and FBI that comes with all these bases, jamming , eavesdropping, spying on a technological backward Russia with no access to western credit, worthless ruble and a lost Soviet ideology. Switch sides Evgeny aka Eugenio before you sink in your morass. Cheers.

The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

19:16 November 21, 2014

POWER VERTICAL PODCAST: A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

09:14 November 21, 2014
09:11 November 21, 2014

AND AS TENSIONS RISE IN THE BALTICS...

09:09 November 21, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINE MARKS START OF EUROMAIDAN PROTESTS WITH NEW HOLIDAY
By RFE/RL
Ukrainians are marking a new national holiday on November 21 -- the anniversary of the start of Kyiv’s Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of the country’s former pro-Kremlin regime.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed decree on November 13 that declared the holiday for annual “Day of Dignity and Freedom” celebrations.
The protests began with a few hundred people who met spontaneously on a vast square in central Kyiv of November 21, 2013 – disappointed by then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a landmark deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
After that first night, as the protests quickly swelled to tens of thousands of demonstrators, brutal police efforts to disperse the crowds with batons and teargas backfired.
As the crowds got bigger, the protesters began to call for Yanukovych’s ouster – which came in February 2014 after more than 100 people were killed in clashes with police that failed to end the demonstrations.

BIDEN TO MEET UKRAINIAN LEADERS, ANNOUNCE NONLETHAL U.S. AID
By RFE/RL
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was expected to announce an increase in nonlethal U.S. military assistance to Ukraine on November 21 as he meets in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The talks come on the first anniversary of the start of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that toppled Ukraine's former pro-Kremlin regime.
As Biden arrived in Kyiv on the evening of November 20, U.S. officials told reporters that he will announce the delivery of Humvee transport vehicles that are now in the Pentagon’s inventory of excess supplies.
They said Biden also would announce the delivery of previously promised radar units that can detect the location of enemy mortars.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not specify a dollar value for the assistance. 
Russia on November 20 warned the United States not to supply weapons to Ukrainian forces.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned against "a major change in policy of the (U.S.) administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine. 
He was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama's choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, who told a congressional hearing on November 19 that lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at."
The U.S. State Department's Director of Press Relations Jeffrey Rathke on November 20 told reporters that "our position on lethal aid hasn't changed. Nothing is off the table and we continue to believe there's no military solution."
He added, "But, in light of Russia's actions as the nominee mentioned [on November 19] in his testimony, as he indicated, this is something that we should be looking at."
The aid expected to be announced by Biden on November 20 falls short of what the Ukrainian president requested during a visit to Washington in September when he appealed for lethal aid - a request echoed by some U.S. lawmakers in response to what NATO allies say is Russia's movement of tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine.
In September, Washington promised Ukraine $53 million in aid for military gear that includes the mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars, small boats, and other nonlethal equipment for Ukrainian security forces and border guards in the east.
The United States and its European allies have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Russia for its seizure of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine.
(With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and TASS)

RUSSIAN OLYMPIAN CHARGED WITH SPOUSAL ABUSE IN UNITED STATES
Russian Olympian hockey player Slava Voynov – who plays with the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team – has been charged with felony domestic violence against his wife.
Voynov faces one felony count of spouse abuse with a maximum penalty of nine years in prison. If convicted, he also could be deported.
Prosecutors say Voynov “caused his wife to suffer injuries to her eyebrow, check, and neck” during an argument at their home in October.
Voynov has been suspended from the NHL since his arrest early on October 20 at a California hospital where he took his wife for treatment.
Voynov’s attorney, Craig Renetzky, says his client didn’t hit his wife.
Renetzky blames the charges on a misunderstanding between police and Voynov’s wife, who speaks very little English.
Voynov – who played on Russia’s team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- faces arraignment on December 1.
(Based on reporting by AP and Reuters)

NATO: RUSSIAN ACTIVITY IN BALTICS POSES RISK
NATO says Russia's growing military presence in the skies above the Baltic region is unjustified and poses a risk to civil aviation.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Tallinn on November 20 that the aircraft regularly fail to file flight plans or communicate with air controllers and also fly with their transponders off.
Speaking at the Amari air base, he said alliance fighters have intercepted planes more than 100 times in the Baltic region alone so far this year, a threefold increase over 2013. 
He did not say how many of the intercepted aircraft were Russian.
Stoltenberg also said that, overall, NATO aircraft have conducted 400 intercepts to protect the airspace of its European alliance members in 2014 -- an increase of 50 percent over last year.
(Based on reporting by AP and AFP)

 

16:55 November 19, 2014

MORE ON THE SOURCES OF RUSSIAN ANTI-AMERICANISM

Konstantin Eggert has a commentary in "Kommersant" on Russia's anti-Americanism. He opens like this:

"Sometimes I have this feeling that there are only two countries in the world - Russia and the United States. Of course, there is Ukraine, but it either to join us or the Americas. Russian politicians and state television are constantly in search of the 'American hand' in all spheres of our life. In Soviet times, the United States was formally considered to be our number one military and ideological enemy. But even then it didn't occupy such a large space in the minds of the political leadership and citizens. And the paradox is that, on one hand, officials and the media regularly talk about the decline of America as a great power, and on the other declare it to be the source of all evil in the world. This contradiction does not seem to disturb anybody."

And closes like this:

We still have not been able to use the opportunity that we were given with the collapse of the communist regime - to arrange our lives based on liberty and civic virtue. And today, we, as a people, want to go back to the starting point, to beat everyone. And the Soviet Union, with its absence of sausage and freedom, again suddenly seems sweet and dear. But it won't happen. I will put it banally: you can't go into the same river twice.

Read the whole thing here (in Russian, with audio)

15:53 November 19, 2014

UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION WAR

MIchael Weiss, editor-in-chief of The Interpreter magazine, appearing on Hromadske TV to talk about Russia's information war.

Michael and Peter Pomarantsev recently co-authored an excellent report "The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money." Both also appeared recently on The Power Vertical Podcast to discuss the report.

15:42 November 19, 2014

WHY IS PUTIN PICKING A FIGHT WITH THE U.S.?

Oleg Kosyrev has a snarky and clever blog post on the subject up on the Ekho Moskvy website. 

1) The United States is the ideal opponent. "It is big and strong and your self-esteem increases when you fight somebody really influential."

2) The United States is not fighting with Russia. "They aren't really interested. They have enough of their own problems and dreams. It's nice to fight somebody who is not fighting you."

3) It is a substitute for the authorities' inability to benefit Russians. "How convenient. Who is to blame for rising food and gas prices? The U.S.A.. Who is to blame for the fact that Russian has political prisoners? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for people demonstrating on the streets? The U.S.A. Who is to blame for the fact that independent international courts denounce the Russian court system? The U.S.A. You can even blame the U.S. for the fact that the light doesn't work in the entrance to your apartment building."

Read it all (in Russian) here.

15:23 November 19, 2014

UKRAINE SAYS MHI7 SHOT DOWN BY RUSSIAN CREW

14:47 November 19, 2014

AFTERNOON NEWS ROUNDUP: THE SEQUEL

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

KYIV, WEST SAY RUSSIA CANNOT BAR UKRAINE FROM NATO

Ukraine says it will not tolerate pressure from any other country over whether or not it seeks to join NATO.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyynis spoke made the remark to reporters in Kyiv on November 19, after the BBC quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying in an interview that Moscow wants "a 100 percent guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining NATO."

Hitting back with a reference to Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Perebyynis said Kyiv would like guarantees that Moscow will not interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs, send in troops, or annex Ukrainian territories. 

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, told journalists on November 19 that any decision on seeking to join NATO could be made only by the Ukrainian people, not by Russia, Europe, ar the United States.

The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, made a similar statement on November 19.

(Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax)

PUTIN TELLS U.S. ENVOY TIES MUST BE BASED ON EQUALITY

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready for cooperation with the United States as long as Washington treats Moscow as an equal, respect its interests, and refrains from interfering in its affairs.

Putin spoke November 19 at a Kremlin ceremony during which he received the credentials of foreign envoys including John Tefft, the new U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.

Putin said, "We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in various fields, based on the principles of respect for each other's interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters." 

The remark echoed a formula Putin set out in a foreign policy decree at the start of his third term in 2012.

Tefft, 64, is a career diplomat who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania. 

His posting starts at a time when ties are badly strained over the Ukraine crisis. 

Tefft replaces Michael McFaul, who was ambassador from January 2012 until February 2014. 

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

RUSSIA SAYS 2010 NUCLEAR ARMS PACT STILL IN RUSSIA'S INTERESTS

By RFE/RL

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has signaled that a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States is not in jeopardy despite severe tension over Ukraine.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers on November 19, Lavrov said the 2010 New START treaty "meets our basic strategic interests and, on condition of its observance by the United States, we are interested in its full implementation."

The treaty, one of the main products of President Barack Obama's first-term "reset" of ties with Russia, requires Russia and the United States to have their long-range nuclear arsenals under specific ceilings by 2018.

But Lavrov said the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, which President Vladimir Putin suspended in 2007, is "dead" for Moscow. 

NATO has refused to ratify a revised version of the CFE treaty without a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and Georgia.

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers 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