Sane Take on the Russia-Ukraine Case

Stories like this one are so rare they are precious, so I had to share it. No paranoia, no fear-mongering, and, outrageously, presenting both sides' versions. Worth a read.

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Marina, 

On this topic - a couple of months ago I met a Dutch expat that lives in Russia at a conference. He actually said that Putin had done a lot to clean up corruption from the bottom and life for the average Russian had actually improved. And importantly they are not faced with corruption in their daily interaction with authorities etc. 

What is your take on this? 

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Who am I to argue with someone who lives there and I don't? There are enough facts and figures from organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF that prove Russia is doing a hell of a lot better than during Yeltsin's times. But I'm sure you understand it's not the well-being of Russians and the Russian economy that a large part of the world cares about. Let me put it like this: Europe and the U.S. loved Yeltsin for a good reason.

I feel like a lot of people living in Western Europe, particularly the UK, and the U.S. have this romantic view of Russia as a Soviet-era prison, straight out of "1984" with Putin as fill-in-the-blank-monster, with no opposition whatsoever and no critical press either, the monster bent on taking over the world. What annoys me is the complete lack of critical thinking in this view. Asking the simplest question of how would Russia benefit from taking over, I don't know, any of the Baltic States, for example, would yield the most logical answer, which is "It won't."

Same with Ukraine. Who needs an abscess in their backside, really? But this is why the "Putin the deranged dictator" adage is so popular, I think. It eliminates the need for asking questions that require logical answers. It doesn't hold up in the face of evidence as an accurate description of this person (Russia's doing better than before economically and geopolitically, which is the result of deliberate, rational, efforts) but it appeals to emotions.

You understand this is an oversimplification and Russia is far from trouble-free with a lot of poverty and yes, corruption, but that's all I could formulate coherently. We all need an enemy, unfortunately, and right now Putin fills the role for Europe and the U.S. better than anyone else. We'll see what happens in five years. I hope we won't see another Yeltsin.

P.S. Here's a story from today that highlights the divide between reality and wishful thinking. Which is why sane, low-emotion reporting about Russia is so refreshing.

 

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23 minutes ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Who am I to argue with someone who lives there and I don't? There are enough facts and figures from organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF that prove Russia is doing a hell of a lot better than during Yeltsin's times. But I'm sure you understand it's not the well-being of Russians and the Russian economy that a large part of the world cares about. Let me put it like this: Europe and the U.S. loved Yeltsin for a good reason.

 I feel like a lot of people living in Western Europe, particularly the UK, and the U.S. have this romantic view of Russia as a Soviet-era prison, straight out of "1984" with Putin as fill-in-the-blank-monster, with no opposition whatsoever and no critical press either, the monster bent on taking over the world. What annoys me is the complete lack of critical thinking in this view. Asking the simplest question of how would Russia benefit from taking over, I don't know, any of the Baltic States, for example, would yield the most logical answer, which is "It won't."

 Same with Ukraine. Who needs an abscess in their backside, really? But this is why the "Putin the deranged dictator" adage is so popular, I think. It eliminates the need for asking questions that require logical answers. It doesn't hold up in the face of evidence as an accurate description of this person (Russia's doing better than before economically and geopolitically, which is the result of deliberate, rational, efforts) but it appeals to emotions.

You understand this is an oversimplification and Russia is far from trouble-free with a lot of poverty and yes, corruption, but that's all I could formulate coherently. We all need an enemy, unfortunately, and right now Putin fills the role for Europe and the U.S. better than anyone else. We'll see what happens in five years. I hope we won't see another Yeltsin.

P.S. Here's a story from today that highlights the divide between reality and wishful thinking. Which is why sane, low-emotion reporting about Russia is so refreshing.

 

Knowing people that deals with Nordstream 1 + 2 my impression is that 70 % - 75 % of decisions on those projects are rational business decisions, the remaining 25 % - 30 % of decisions are, well, less rational. 

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Sounds like a good proportion. If it was the other way round, that would have been worrying. 

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1 hour ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Sounds like a good proportion. If it was the other way round, that would have been worrying. 

90 % - 95% rational based decisions would have been better... All about perspective I guess. Seriosly. 

 

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3 hours ago, Rasmus Jorgensen said:

Marina, 

On this topic - a couple of months ago I met a Dutch expat that lives in Russia at a conference. He actually said that Putin had done a lot to clean up corruption from the bottom and life for the average Russian had actually improved. And importantly they are not faced with corruption in their daily interaction with authorities etc. 

What is your take on this? 

from what I hear from friends and relatives - corruption is on all levels. Especially interaction with authorities - infamous Russian traffic police is a good example. Imitational democracy is fading away; electoral process it rigged and corrupt. Finding justice in judicial system could be dangerous and silly thing to do. Putin is corrupt as fkuc..

British expat living in Moscow loves it.

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3 minutes ago, DanilKa said:

from what I hear from friends and relatives - corruption is on all levels. Especially interaction with authorities - infamous Russian traffic police is a good example. Imitational democracy is fading away; electoral process it rigged and corrupt. Finding justice in judicial system could be dangerous and silly thing to do. Putin is corrupt as fkuc..

British expat living in Moscow loves it.

Thanks. 

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36 minutes ago, DanilKa said:

from what I hear from friends and relatives - corruption is on all levels. Especially interaction with authorities - infamous Russian traffic police is a good example. Imitational democracy is fading away; electoral process it rigged and corrupt. Finding justice in judicial system could be dangerous and silly thing to do. Putin is corrupt as fkuc..

British expat living in Moscow loves it.

Good to have different perspectives. May I just say something? Russia will never -- can never -- be a Western European style democracy. Looking at it from this angle is pointless, including regarding corruption. Sadly, corruption in these parts of the world has been developed into part of the culture over many decades.

 

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6 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Stories like this one are so rare they are precious, so I had to share it. No paranoia, no fear-mongering, and, outrageously, presenting both sides' versions. Worth a read.

The irony is this is a Russian owned UK newspaper, albeit it stopped the hardcopy version 2 years ago and has moved online.

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Could you please provide hard proof of ownership? Also, more importantly, point out to me any evidence of pro-Russian bias in this story. I'm kinda sensitive on bias, you understand. So sensitive, in fact, I generally refuse to comment on Russia-related topics here or anywhere because anything different from "Russia is the worst and everything is Putin's fault" is interpreted as "Russian propaganda."

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20 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Who am I to argue with someone who lives there and I don't? There are enough facts and figures from organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF that prove Russia is doing a hell of a lot better than during Yeltsin's times. But I'm sure you understand it's not the well-being of Russians and the Russian economy that a large part of the world cares about. Let me put it like this: Europe and the U.S. loved Yeltsin for a good reason.

I feel like a lot of people living in Western Europe, particularly the UK, and the U.S. have this romantic view of Russia as a Soviet-era prison, straight out of "1984" with Putin as fill-in-the-blank-monster, with no opposition whatsoever and no critical press either, the monster bent on taking over the world. What annoys me is the complete lack of critical thinking in this view. Asking the simplest question of how would Russia benefit from taking over, I don't know, any of the Baltic States, for example, would yield the most logical answer, which is "It won't."

Same with Ukraine. Who needs an abscess in their backside, really? But this is why the "Putin the deranged dictator" adage is so popular, I think. It eliminates the need for asking questions that require logical answers. It doesn't hold up in the face of evidence as an accurate description of this person (Russia's doing better than before economically and geopolitically, which is the result of deliberate, rational, efforts) but it appeals to emotions.

You understand this is an oversimplification and Russia is far from trouble-free with a lot of poverty and yes, corruption, but that's all I could formulate coherently. We all need an enemy, unfortunately, and right now Putin fills the role for Europe and the U.S. better than anyone else. We'll see what happens in five years. I hope we won't see another Yeltsin.

P.S. Here's a story from today that highlights the divide between reality and wishful thinking. Which is why sane, low-emotion reporting about Russia is so refreshing.

 

The West loved Yeltsin because he was selling the country to the western corporations. He enriched his friends and supporters by allowing them to buy national industries for peanuts, turning them in oligarchs. And then the oligarchs were selling the Russian companies to western companies making billions from goods they had bought for millions or less. Yeltsin, the new  friend of the West, was coined a "démocrat" despite the fact he started a bloody war in Chechnya and sent the tanks in Moscow to fire on the parliament building to solve a constitutional crisis he had created by trying to illegally dissolve the parliament to avoid an impeachment vote.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Russian_constitutional_crisis

Under Yeltsin the GDP had been declining, corruption was rampant, violent crime was skyrocketing, medical services were collapsing and life expectation was falling. Russia was dissolving into chaos and was increasingly irrelevant on the international stage.

So many Russian credit now Putin to have stopped the free fall of the country into the abyss and restored a powerful Russia they can be proud of. He has replaced Yeltsin's oligarchs by his own oligarchs but at least the new oligarchs are not selling the national industry to the West. The economy is faring far better than under the Yeltsin years and Russia is back on the international stage. We have to take into account these facts if we want to understand Putin's Russia.

 

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(edited)

.

Edited by jaycee
Forgot to quote who I was replying to

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(edited)

1 hour ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Could you please provide hard proof of ownership? Also, more importantly, point out to me any evidence of pro-Russian bias in this story. I'm kinda sensitive on bias, you understand. So sensitive, in fact, I generally refuse to comment on Russia-related topics here or anywhere because anything different from "Russia is the worst and everything is Putin's fault" is interpreted as "Russian propaganda."

 

It is not in doubt Evgeny Levedev also owns the Evening Standard the afternoon London daily.

I wasn’t pointing out bias merely the irony.

 

http://www.albionmill.org.uk/?p=1476

Edited by jaycee
adding owner's name
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23 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Good to have different perspectives. May I just say something? Russia will never -- can never -- be a Western European style democracy. Looking at it from this angle is pointless, including regarding corruption. Sadly, corruption in these parts of the world has been developed into part of the culture over many decades.

 

That's an interesting choice of words for a 24/7 linguist. 

Other than that I agree. Things have to be seen in context. 

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(edited)

On 11/30/2018 at 6:18 AM, Marina Schwarz said:

I feel like a lot of people living in Western Europe, particularly the UK, and the U.S. have this romantic view of Russia as a Soviet-era prison, straight out of "1984" with Putin as fill-in-the-blank-monster, with no opposition whatsoever and no critical press either, the monster bent on taking over the world. What annoys me is the complete lack of critical thinking in this view. Asking the simplest question of how would Russia benefit from taking over, I don't know, any of the Baltic States, for example, would yield the most logical answer, which is "It won't."

Same with Ukraine. Who needs an abscess in their backside, really? But this is why the "Putin the deranged dictator" adage is so popular, I think. It eliminates the need for asking questions that require logical answers. It doesn't hold up in the face of evidence as an accurate description of this person (Russia's doing better than before economically and geopolitically, which is the result of deliberate, rational, efforts) but it appeals to emotions.

You understand this is an oversimplification and Russia is far from trouble-free with a lot of poverty and yes, corruption, but that's all I could formulate coherently. We all need an enemy, unfortunately, and right now Putin fills the role for Europe and the U.S. better than anyone else. We'll see what happens in five years. I hope we won't see another Yeltsin.

P.S. Here's a story from today that highlights the divide between reality and wishful thinking. Which is why sane, low-emotion reporting about Russia is so refreshing.

 

For the benefit of readers following this thread and interested in matters of Ukraine, I have placed in bold and underline the various points I would now respond to. 

1.  Is Russia a "Soviet-era prison"?   Answer:  but of course.  Yes.  And that is especially true if you are a political dissident, or an Opposer of the Putin regime, or advocate a parliamentary democracy, or advocate a Monarchy, or advocate anything other than Putin for Life.  Under those circumstances, you will either be assassinated, or imprisoned in some filthy dungeon until you develop some lung disease and die. 

Now I appreciate that people don't want to hear that, yet there is ample evidence flowing out of Russia that it is Putin or, well to put it plainly, your death. 

2.   Is Putin some monster bent on taking over the world?   Answer:  No.  That said, I would argue that he is certainly bent on "taking over," to the extent that he can control, subjugate, have puppet regimes, and exploit for resources and strategic advantage, his immediate neighbors.  In that sense, Putin is a rebuilt British King George III,  occupying neighbors with mercenary troops  (Hessians in the days of King George III; "volunteers" in unmarked green uniforms, basically discharged soldiers being recycled as mercenaries by Putin through some black-ops front in order to maintain some "plausible deniability," a technique used by the old KGB for decades.  Did Putin order the invasion and occupation of the Ukraine Donbas?  But of course.  Did Putin invade, occupy, and annex the Crimea?  But of course. 

And the same with Soviet Georgia, and other little exclaves scattered around.  Let's not kid ourselves about Putin. 

3.   "We all need an enemy."   No, we don't. Having to deal with Putin and his continuing conflicts is something we really do not need.  In the past, "appeasement" was the tactic used.  Putin invaded Crimea; nobody in the West even did one little peep.  The West has been buying Russian gas, also oil products, also manufactured goods, specifically to try to bring Putin and Russia into the world family of nations.  Nobody gains anything (OK, lunatic Border Control aficionados gain, but reasonable folks do not) with having a violent and aggressive Russia sitting on their borders.  Russia has that heavily-militarized wasteland known as the Kaliningrad Oblast, a left-over from the take-over of Germany and Poland at the end of WWII, that threatens the Baltic States. Nobody wants to see Putin again using his black-ops troops knocking over the Baltics, using the Kaliningrad as a salient against the West, taking over the Baltic Sea, and exploiting the locals. 

So the tactic of the West is to buy Russian products, and hand the RUssians western currencies.  Has not been working out so hot, so far.  

Ukraine is not an "abscess," except perhaps politically. Ukraine has well developed industry, especially in aircraft engines and airframes  (Antonov), and Ukraine has vast amounts of raw materials including coal and especially wheat.  That wheat historically has fed Russia.  Putin wants to use Ukraine as a vassal State in a mercantilist format, where Ukraine supplies raw materials at priced dictated by Russia, and sells Ukraine manufactured goods and gas at prices dictated by Russia.  Ukraine is thus a source of immense profit to Russia. So, Russia will undermine political stability, probably invade the East including taking over the city of Kharkov,  and enslave local Ukrainians especially the native Russian speakers.  

Don't kid yourself about the harsh realities of Mr. Putin.  He will kill you in an instant, if you cross him. Yes, he is a monster.

Edited by Jan van Eck
scrivener error
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21 hours ago, Rasmus Jorgensen said:

That's an interesting choice of words for a 24/7 linguist. 

Other than that I agree. Things have to be seen in context. 

Which one, @Rasmus Jorgensen?

@jaycee, where's the irony? In the origin of the owner (first time I hear his name by the way) or the fact that a newspaper whose owner is Russian is not constantly ranting against Russia?

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3 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Which one, @Rasmus Jorgensen?

@jaycee, where's the irony? In the origin of the owner (first time I hear his name by the way) or the fact that a newspaper whose owner is Russian is not constantly ranting against Russia?

Irony in that its a Russian owner, Russian news outlets are not known for unbiased reporting these days.

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(edited)

Russia is in a lot better shape than 20 years ago. In fact according to Spectator Index russian economy has advanced in pucharsing parity growth of gdp after 1999 by 218 % which is the best result in Europe ahead of Poland and Ireland.

Russia is of course  not a democracy but rather authoritarian regime- but thats traditional russian state form and you rather should not expect it to change even in medium term especially in hostile external environment and NAto at its borders because its not a situation to expand democracy in any country.

All liberal forces all compromised in 90"= there is even a special russian word  Дерьмокрация for state form in 90s. I would point out that Дерьмо means shit in russian . So not a democracy but rather diermocracy in russian public memory. After 90s only a very little part of russian society believe in democracy and they remember than contrary to expectations West did not help at all but tried to exploit russian crisis by conquering russian economy and mineral resources and was exploiting russian weakness in international politics  

Corruption is traditional russian problem known for at least more than 500 years. I suggest reading some Russian Empire history= you could read all the time that\s one of biggest problems of russian public administration

But it doesnt really matter whether Russia is a democracy or not because even democratic great power categorically cant allow hostile military alliance at its borders.

Its matter of national security and if you remember broken agreement made with Gorbachow about not expanding NATo to the east= read Putin Munich speech in 2007 and it should be cristally clear what would be its reaction for Ukraine moving to western sphere of infuence.

If you still dont agree read about US Monroe doctrine and cuban crisis in 1961= its similiar situation

If you think about Crimea or South Ossetia or Abkhazia you should read russian statements about Kosovo precedence - Russia said it doesnt accept that but if this is a new rule in international law she will use in in a future for its purpose. 

 

Edited by Tomasz
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As I predicted yesterday, it would be likely that Russia would mass its troops on the Border at Kharkov.  Today's news reports are of thousands of troops, 500 tanks, 2,300 artillery pieces, and 300 aircraft and helicopters are massed on the russian Frontier near Kharkov.  

This is very bad news.  It looks like Putin is about to do another of his aggressive incursions into Ukraine, now that Ukraine has declared martial law and imposed an initial 30-day ban on all Russian males between the ages of 16 and 60 from entering the country.  Effectively, the Kiev government is attempting to seal the Border.  It is reported that large numbers of military-age men in the equivalent of winter combat clothes have attempted to enter Ukraine but could provide the border guards with no plausible reason for visiting, and so were turned back.  I have to assume that these same men will now be moving across the Border at isolated points where there are no guards, and the Border itself is not fortified. Only this time, you have to expect that they will be infiltrating with guns and ammo.

The shooting is about to break out - again.  And Russia will claim plausible deniability - that those are not "Russian troops," they are "volunteers" going to "defend" Russian-speaking civilians being "oppressed" in the border regions.  I can see it coming.

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6 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

Which one, @Rasmus Jorgensen?

@jaycee, where's the irony? In the origin of the owner (first time I hear his name by the way) or the fact that a newspaper whose owner is Russian is not constantly ranting against Russia?

Will never - can never... 

seems very definitive. 

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There is a strong argument that the West essentially forced the cold war. Roosevelt had promised Uncle Joe that it was fine for Eastern Europe to be buffer states. The Soviets were demobilizing their military at an amazing rate until Truman and Churchill put together NATO, which scared the Soviets. Originally the Soviets were part of the Marshall Plan, but at the formation of NATO, and their perceived notion of vassal to the USA, they backed out, and then set up military shop in Eastern Europe. They had already been invaded by western Europe twice in the century, and Napoleon wasn't that long ago. A rebuilt Western military cooperating was a fundamental threat. They would have been fools to just accept NATO without militarizing themselves. 

After the Cold War if the USA and NATO's position had been one of helping Russia, instead of expanding NATO up to the Russian borders, again things might have been different. 

One of my good eastern European friends, remembers the Soviets as the one who delivered the education, built schools, build roads, etc., and while the east is poorer than the west, they are far better off than pre-Soviet times.

My first professional job was as a warrior in the military in the 80s, so it's hard for me to see this version, but it is a viable version. 

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9 hours ago, Rasmus Jorgensen said:

Will never - can never... 

seems very definitive. 

Oh, yes, it is definite. Just like China could never be a Western European-style democracy, for pretty much the same reasons: culture and history.

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12 hours ago, jaycee said:

Irony in that its a Russian owner, Russian news outlets are not known for unbiased reporting these days.

I thought so. Neither are corporate media, though, are they? And, like I said, please show me the bias, unless you consider bias everything that is not criticism against one side of a story. By the way, the Independent's coverage of the war in Syria is most certainly not favourable for Russia, but hey, who am I to challenge your confirmation bias? :)

@Jack Foote, the 1917 revolution didn't happen for nothing and yes, they did build, and yes, it was in many respects better than before, which is why so many elderly people still remember those times fondly. They've suppressed the bad memories and remember the security and the roads, etc.

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2 hours ago, Marina Schwarz said:

thought so. Neither are corporate media, though, are they? And, like I said, please show me the bias, unless you consider bias everything that is not criticism against one side of a story. By the way, the Independent's coverage of the war in Syria is most certainly not favourable for Russia, but hey, who am I to challenge your confirmation bias? :)


But I never said there was bias I said it was ironic. You are trying to fit me for a crime I never done.

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