The Kremlin’s new preoccupation: how to get out of the Donbas

"Russian World" and Minsk Agreements: Russia leaves the Donbas. Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovsky

"Russian World" and Minsk Agreements: Russia leaves the Donbas. Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovsky 

Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Vitaly Portnikov

“Military force will not solve the problems of the Donbas.” These words by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pronounced at a meeting with pro-Putin activists, accurately depict the changes in Russian foreign policy toward Ukraine. Of course, the Kremlin will continue to flex its military muscle near Ukrainian borders in the foreseeable future, but the Russian leadership will have to forget about war for a long time. There are objective reasons for this: the effect of sanctions, new measures by the US, the fall in oil prices and, of course, the Russian presidential elections. Putin would like to approach his new term in office as the stabilizing president. And without at least a partial improvement in the relations with the civilized world, he will not succeed.

Therefore, the main preoccupation in the Kremlin today is how to get out of the Donbas without losing face. It is no coincidence that Lavrov’s statement coincided with the reinforcement of the border command in the area under the control of the occupying forces. The mercenaries are being prepared for the concept that they will have to return to Kyiv’s control and that they will not succeed in moving to Russia “just like that.” As was the case with Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, only the trustworthy people will be admitted — those who worked closely with the special services and who are ready to continue this collaboration. And since there has been no real border in the occupied territory, Donbas appeared to be the continuation of Russia. Now this will no longer be the case.

Of course, in the beginning Moscow will insist on the need to comply with the Minsk agreements. This is precisely what Sergey Lavrov was taking about when he argued that “no one wants a war with Ukraine.”

But the fact remains that the Minsk agreements are not simply a special procedure for the management of the occupied territories after their liberation. They are first of all a ceasefire — in other words, something that Moscow still cannot ensure to this day. And now let us just imagine that shooting ceases in the Donbas. What will be the justification for the so-called “people’s republics,” for Zakharchenko, for Plotnicky and their Russian curators? All these “republics” have been invented for one purpose only — to kill Ukrainians. If the Kremlin decides that the shooting must stop, there will be no war and no money for the Donbas either. The “people’s republics” will simply disintegrate as if they had never existed. And we should not think that Moscow does not understand this. This is why Moscow is in no hurry to stop the shooting. This is why it is in no hurry to leave — because in Moscow they have not yet come up with a way to explain this  surrender to the Russian population, how to say that the Donbas is no longer the “Russian World” and that the Donbas residents who “dreamed” of living in Russia will now happily live in Ukraine. But as soon as Moscow comes up with the explanation, it will leave.

Russia can and should be pressured

lavrovNaturally, this does not mean that Putin will leave Ukraine alone. First, the Russian president is still not ready to leave Crimea. The occupation of Crimea has become the cornerstone of his entire political career and the basis for years of intense international pressure to force Russia to leave the peninsula. Putin may think that after withdrawing from the Donbas he will be left alone, but he is mistaken. Donbas will become an indicator that the West is doing everything right and the Russia can and should be pressured — and that it will leave from anywhere. So we  hope the pressure will not weaken: without the return of Crimea, Ukraine will not be able to become a state with defined borders. The return of Crimea is in the interests of both Ukraine and Russia. Only the abandonment of the peninsula will allow Russia to return to the civilized world. With  Crimea, Russia will always be a rogue state.

Secondly, the Kremlin will continue to pursue the destabilization of Ukraine. For Putin, it is critically important to prove that Ukraine cannot exist as a state. As the military pressure declines, there will be more diversionary pressure. Moscow will work actively with Ukrainian opposition politicians and the simulated part of civil society; it will finance media and promote negative views among Ukrainians. Based on the social moods I’ve observed, I would even venture to guess that Putin will find it much easier to win in the fields of propaganda and sabotage than in military action. Therefore, we should not think that the struggle for the future of the Ukrainian state will end with the withdrawal of the occupation forces from the Donbas. In fact, Lavrov has simply admitted that the Kremlin will not vanquish Ukraine with the help of war. This means the Kremlin will use other means.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Radio Svoboda

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  • veth

    Excellent analysis.

  • Микола Данчук

    This is why reforms need to be enacted, visas on Russians and full financial disclosures.
    The parasites within Ukraine need to be held accountable for any treasonous activity.
    Those that want mother-Russia – Putin wants you back anyway (population issues and such), Please go now. And it should be made harder if they want to stay.

    • Ihor Dawydiak

      Well stated Mykola. Ukraine must make every effort to destroy corruption wherever it rears its ugly head and must strengthen its democracy through social, economic, financial and judicial reform as well as rebuilding and modernizing a highly motivated professional Armed Forces. Such reforms would in turn become a major factor in ensuring a resolution to critical objectives such as; 1) An even greater unity and patriotism from every level in Ukrainian society, 2) A much enhanced prospective to becoming a full time member of the European Family of Nations including formal membership within the EU and NATO, and 3) Severing any dependence on Russia that could be deemed as vital to Ukraine’s prosperity. As for Russia, the Russian people are the masters of their own destiny. If they want to continue to living in a cesspool with sub-human deviants such as Putin the Pederast as their leader, then they will only have themselves to blame for their predicament. In any case, Ukraine is not Russia, it never has been Russia and it will never be Russia.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        To achieve all this the Ukrainians will first have to get rid of Poroshenko as he is the primary obstacle to reforms and fighting corruption in my opinion. They will have to wait until the next election, however. Fortunately this is less than 2 years away.
        Severing dependence on Dwarfstan is already being done. Moscow’s main weapon is energy and thanks to alternative gas supply routes Kyiv is no longer totally dependent on the Kremlin’s whims. Not geting coal from the so-called LNR and DNR, either directly or indirectly, is the next step. Improving the country’s energy efficiency to that of Poland would significantly reduce the need to import energy; though this can’t be achieved overnight it should definitely be a top priority for the next president and government.

        • laker48

          Easy does it!

        • http://padraeg.wordpress.com/ Patrick Sullivan

          On all these energy issues, Trump leads!

  • PADRAEG

    Putin’s Fascism is destroying Russia’s future for decades. To survive, such Fascism must destroy freedom & all culture!

    • zorbatheturk

      Spot on.

    • Mick Servian

      except I don’t see freedom and culture being destroyed….
      go put on your fascist tin foil hat

      • http://padraeg.wordpress.com/ Patrick Sullivan

        Then open your eyes. Read of Navalniy, et el!

        • Mick Servian

          so what the US has it’s Assange’s and snowdens too

          • laker48

            Mick, landlocked and surrounded by NATO member states, your Greater Serbia is already dead in the water

  • zorbatheturk

    What, RuSSian tanks don’t have a reverse gear???

    • http://padraeg.wordpress.com/ Patrick Sullivan

      It does, but most are not trained to drive well!

  • Tony

    Traitors better watch and learn, kremlin doest care about you or your region(not even if it’s in Russia proper). You are just a discardable footsoldier and easily recruited/steered with propganda.

  • Vol Ya

    putin the idiot has lost Ukraine forever. before Russia invaded Ukaine, Ukraine was neutral on joining NATO. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine and its people see the need for Ukraine to form military alliances with NATO and Poland and the Baltic countries. Thank you putin for changing the minds of Ukraine and its people, for showing that Russia will always treat Ukraine brutally. none of this could have been accomplished without putin’s stupidity.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    The article doesn’t mention the overriding motive for the dwarf wanting to quit the Donbas: Dwarfstan is running out of money. First, wars cost money, and lots of it. Although Moscow probably still has huge stocks of guns and ammo they are being depleted and eventually will have to be replenished. Second, the so-called LNR and DNR have to be heavily subsidised by Moscow to stay afloat, even if only barely. The same applies to the Crimea, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia; all have seen the subsidies cut. With the Reserve Fund running on fumes and only the Welfare Fund left to plunder, the time when the dwarf will be forced to withdraw from the Donbas and possibly Syria is rapidly approaching.
    There’s also the small matter of reparations. Kyiv is sure to send Moscow the bill for all the devastation the dwarf’s aggression caused, and even if it will take years of court cases Moscow will eventually have to pay. And it will be a hefty bill, not millions but bilions of $$$$; I doubt whether Kyiv will accept worthless rubbles. Moscow had better start saving……..

    • laker48

      The dwarf will run out of the federal reserve fund’s money by the end of September the latest, His next step will raiding the federal retirement fund what he’s already started doing, as retirement pensions of military officers have been significantly reduced. Over 50% of RuSSian men die before or soon after attaining their retirement age, so he may buy some time, but not too much. We may see an encore staging of the 1991 Soviet play, this time starred by the fascist RuSSian Federation, even before 2020.

      • veth

        He can look at this own retirement fund of 200 billion dollars off-shore………..

        • laker48

          LOL!

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Earlier this year Tatyana Golikova, head of Dwarfstan’s National Accounting Agency, stated in the Duma that the Reserve Fund would be empty some time this year, leaving only the Welfare Fund. Previously Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the Duma that the Reserve Fund would be empty by the end of 2017 at the latest.
        The Welfare Fund won’t get the dwarf very far as it amounts to $80 billion or so, but with the dwarf wasting $$$ left, right and centre even including sending $$$ to Maduro (Venezuela won’t be able to pay the loan back) those 80 billion won’t last very long.
        The dwarf and chums COULD, of course, hand some of their loot back….. but I’m not holding my breath.

        When the money runs out things will get very ugly in Dwarfstan indeed. Last year Crimean pensioners were complaining bitterly to Medvedev about the low level of their pensions, but all Medvedev said was “There’s just no money. Hang on in there. All the best.” By the end of 2018 he will be flying all over the country to repeat the same phrases.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        This article on unian.info sheds some light on Dwarfstan’s financial plight:

        https://www.unian.info/politics/2087014-what-stands-behind-russias-defense-budget-cut.html

  • Vol Ya

    Russia is dying. There is nothing Russia
    can do to reverse its demographic decline. It is arithmetic at this time –
    rising poverty and disease rates and declining life expectancy. So what does
    putin do. He attacks and tries to destroy and destabilize other countries to
    try and make Russia look better in comparison. It won’t work. Nobody wants to
    move to or live in Russia. If russia was such a great country, then why
    do putin’s children and lavrov’s children live in the west, why don’t they stay
    in russia and live there?

    • laker48

      You’re right on the money! Demographic projections for RuSSia are grim. By 2050, there will be fewer than 70 million ethnic RuSSians in the fascist RuSSian Federation (there live between 105 and 110 million ethnic RuSSians there now) . As of today, only 30% of young men in RuSSia are healthy enough to enter any kind military service, even as draft soldiers, and the situation keeps deteriorating. Even without any external intervention RuSSia will implode.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Those grim figures may well be reached sooner than 2050. Birth rates are going down, death rates are going up, as are emigration figures. Anyone with even half a brain will try to leave- but which country will admit tens of thousands of Dwarfstanians???

        • Rafael Hernandez

          Over 200k Ukrainians left on the day Visa regime was implemented. Does not concern you, or were you always such a Russophobe?

          • laker48

            So what?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            What a patriotic people!

          • laker48

            I’ve lived for three decades out of Poland and this doesn’t prevent me from being a Polish patriot. I’ve contributed more my time and money into promoting Poland’s national interests in Canada and the US than I would have been able to do so while living in Poland. Those Ukrainians, if they behave themselves, may become ambassadors of their homeland.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Yes that’s good, but the hate you are projecting towards Russia is not good, and not helpfull to any discussion what so ever. You are a Polish patriot, so that means you love christianity. Guess what thanks to Russia, the christians are still in Syria. Without Russia, Syria and probably Iraq would have fallen to Daesh.

          • laker48

            It’s not hate. It’s Polish patriotism, as the Muscovite RuSSia has been the deadliest enemy of Poland and Poles for many centuries. RuSSia is a murderous polity, no matter who governs it, be it the tsars, the Bolsheviks or the present Putler’s kleptocracy. Wherever the RuSSians set their feet, they bring death, misery and destitution. They were the best allies of the Weimar Republic and Hitler’s Germany since the early 1920s until the 22nd of June of 1941, and were guilty of co-starting WW 2 by joining Germany on the 17th of September of 1939 in the bandit invasion of Poland.

            The time of payback is coming, but this will be the economic destruction of the German-RuSSian gas duopoly in Europe, in alliance with Canada, the US, the UK, Norway and Middle Eastern oil and gas exporters. Poland, together with its allies, is putting together the Three Seas Initiative under the US umbrella. This alone may drive out of European energy raw material markets up to 30% of RuSSian gas and 500 million barrels of RuSSian crude, what will reduce RuSSia’s gross oil and gas export revenue by up to $30 billion a year, what constitutes 50% of RuSSia’s defence budget. This may happen before or in 2022.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            You salty for Russia destroying and annexing Polish Lithuanian commonwealth?

          • laker48

            The Commonwealth was destroyed from inside by the very Polish and Lithuanian aristocrats who, pursuing their often conflicting interests, created the Targowica Confederation and asked tsarina Catherine the Great for help and brought the RuSSian army into Poland.

            We witness a similar situation in contemporary Poland, where the German and RuSSian-sponsored so called “total opposition”, that was democratically voted out of office, keeps trying, together with the EU institutions in Brussels, to overthrow a democratically elected Polish majority government that only delivers on its election programme and cleans out the Augean stables of corruption and larceny left behind by the ousted government.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Poland has already decided not to renew the current contracts with Gazprom which expire in 2019 and 2021. Gas will come from Qatar and Norway instead- indeed, Qatar is already shipping LNG to Poland’s terminal near Stettin which opened last year.
            As for oil, Saudi Arabia has offered Poland a deal it can’t refuse: to undercut any price the dwarf quotes for Dwarfstanian oil. Poland would be mad to reject such an offer.
            The Baltics, too, are looking elsewhere for oil and gas.

            That’s what you get when you charge extortionate prices and threaten your customers with invasion and nukes. The dwarf has obviously never heard of “the customer is always right”.

          • laker48

            It’s a little bit more complex than that. The Qatari contract provides for LNG shipments of the equivalent of one billion cm after regassification per year, thus leaving at least four bcm per year for the lowest bidders from Qatar or elsewhere. The decision to expand the Swinoujscie LNG terminal’s regassification capacity from the present five to 7.5 bcm per year has already been made and the next stage will be adding another 2.5 bcm per year to achieve 10 bcm per year.

            The second source of gas will become a pipeline from Denmark to Poland running under the Baltic Sea with at least 10 bcm per year capacity piping gas from the fields already owned by Poland under the Norwegian Sea. There’s also considered an option to build or buy another LNG terminal in the Gdansk area to add another five to even 10 bcm of annual LNG regassification capacity. All contracts with Gazprom expire by 2022 and there’s no intention on the Polish side to renew them because the only way Poland may be willing to buy RuSSian gas will be the open spot market.

            Let’s switch to oil! Poland has been independent from RuSSian crude supplies since the 1980s because Poland’s Naftoport in Gdansk can receive 34 million tons (250 million barrels) of crude per year or even up to 50 million tons (375 million barrels) per year under emergency conditions. All old contracts with RuSSian crude suppliers expired in 2015 and two largest Polish refiners Lotos and Orlen signed with their RuSSian suppliers new contracts with minuscule take-or-pay quotas expiring in 2019. Lotos and Orlen process between two of them up to 60 million tons (450 million barrels) of crude per year. Orlen, the larger of the two, negotiates with Saudi Arabia, while Lotos with Iran.

            The third player in this game is the Gdansk Naftoport itself that is now expanding from the present 34 to 100 million tons (750 million barrels) per year in cooperation with Saudi Aramco that will build 12 megatanks for storage of Saudi crude and other oil products. The port authorities are silent, but the leaks indicate that the expansion will be completed either by the end of this year or in the first half of 2018. The problem with re-shipping crude from Gdansk outside Poland is the lack of connection between Plock and Brody in Ukraine that would enable to ship up to 30 million tons (225 million barrels) of crude to Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova and Bulgaria.

            There’s also under construction the energy and logistic corridor Via Carpatia, bypassing Ukraine and connecting the Baltic Sea in the North and the Aegean and Adriatic Seas in the south. This corridor is part of the Three Seas Initiative project and is partially financed by EU structural funds. It’s completion is scheduled between 2021 and 2022. The involvement of the US in these initiatives may accelerate everything. After the completion of these project, France and Germany in the west and RuSSia in the east will be separated by a “Chinese Wall” ruining the German-RuSSian gas duopoly, hence the rabid actions of the German and RuSSian-financed Polish “total opposition” geared to an illegal overthrow of the legally elected Polish government. The election of Trump in the US combined with historically high level of anti-RuSSian sentiments in the US Congress will likely put strong brakes on any anti-Polish actions attempted by France, Germany and RuSSia.

          • zorbatheturk

            Good post. The RuSSkis must become price takers on spot markets.

          • laker48

            They’re now ones for oil, but can still collect monopoly rent on gas, as the US can liquefy only 70 bcm of NG per year, but 10 more, if I remember it correctly, liquefaction trains will be completed in the US by 2021, thus increasing its liquefaction potential to over 200 bcm per year (Gazprom sells to Europe up to 185 bcm of NG per year). If we match this with close to 200 bcm regassification capacity idling in European LNG terminals, we can see the trouble facing RRuSSian gas exporters.

            The cost of purification, liquefaction, shipment and regassification at the point of delivery has dramatically dropped from close to $100 to sometimes less than $20 per 1000 cm, thus reducing the maximum length of a pipeline able to compete with LNG carriers from over five thousand km to less than two thousand. What Europe needs is only a distribution grid connecting all EU member states with all LNG terminals. If this is done, RuSSia will turn into a price taker lining up cap-in-hand throughout European gas auctions.

          • zorbatheturk

            LNG is gonna be yuuuuge. Lots of gas in Asia, Caspian, etc.

          • laker48

            LNG shipment is rapidly getting cheaper, as BOG (boiled off gas) is used as fuel for LNG carrier engines. RuSSia has only one LNG train in Sakhalin and is missing out on the LNG boom in the Pacific Rim.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Using boil-off gas as fuel is nothing new- LNG tankers have been doing this for decades. It was burned in boilers to generate steam for the ship’s propulsion, but recently diesel engines burning LNG have entered service.

          • laker48

            You’ve got it right and Poland pioneers this. Another blow delivered to the German shipbuilding industry. http://www.lngworldnews.com/bc-ferries-second-lng-fueled-vessel-departs-poland/

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            If I’m not mistaken Shell’s “Methane Princess” and “Methane Progress” were the first significant LNG tankers, built in the early 1960s; I remember reading in “Airfix Magazine” about them at the time, probably still have the relevant issue somewhere. They had dual-fuel capability with their boilers being able to burn both LNG boil-off and heavy fuel oil. I also remember reading in (I think) “The Motor Ship” about Sulzer and B&W experimenting with dual-fuel diesel engines in the early 1970s, though dual-fuel diesel engines actually entering service is a fairly recent development. Polish yards building ships with dual-fuel capability doesn’t mean Poland pioneers this as such ships are also being built in yards in other countries.

          • laker48

            Right you are, but Poland is among the leaders. I live in British Columbia, Canada, where two of three Polish-built dual-fuel diesel ferries have entered regular service here. The province mulls ordering two or three more and has already decided to refit older vessels with dual-fuel engines in Poland. http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/b-c-ferries-will-head-to-poland-for-refits-1.2217288

            Polish shipyards have cooperated with Sulzer for long decades and are now making new inroads into this lucrative dual-fuel engine niche market. Engines for these vessels are now made in Poland that is among the five largest ferry shipbuilders in the world (over 20% global market share) despite the raiding of its shipbuilding industry by the former government led by Donald Tusk. All those closed shipyard, especially in the Szczecin area, are being reopened and modernised.

          • zorbatheturk

            LNG projects cost tens of billions to set up. RuSSia can’t finance them, and foreign energy companies will face high taxes in RuSSia and no real legal certainty as to ownership of assets and the future revenue streams. In other words, Putin wants to steal everything.

          • zorbatheturk

            Stop conflating Daesh with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. IS in fact are the descendants of Islamists radicalized by the RuSSian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. RuSSia created Daesh. Assad is just as murderous as IS.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Usa created Mujahideen in Afghanistan against Russia, which later became Taliban. Daesh is acually Jaish al Islam, which was created in 1999, and got more powerful with the illegal American invasion of Iraq. Every root of conflict in middle east today is caused by USA, you know it very well

          • zorbatheturk

            And why were the mujahedeen created? To get the invading RuSSians OUT of Afghanistan – in which mission they succeeded. So the RuSSian invasion started the whole thing, trollop.

          • http://padraeg.wordpress.com/ Patrick Sullivan

            Good try! Russia shares fully in that horror!

          • http://padraeg.wordpress.com/ Patrick Sullivan

            Putin required hate by his war crimes. As Reagan, USA distinguishes between misguided Russiana & Putin’s kleptocracy!

          • Eddy Verhaeghe

            Rafael, do you have a link to a credible source? I guess not, but I’d love to be contradicted. Because it is really no fun to discuss with someone who spouts endless nonsense…

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            The visa regime with the EU allows visits of up to 3 months without a visa, as Kyiv has allowed EU citizens visa-free visits of up to 3 months since 2005. Even if 200,000 Ukrainians DID depart on the first day as you claim (a highly unlikely figure anyway), it does not imply that 200,000 emigrated at all. Really, old eunuch, are you THAT thick????

      • Rafael Hernandez

        All lies. Russia is blooming, a 2,5 rise in their Gdp this year. Not to mention that their PPP has never been higher now than before. Of course Russia has some problems, it is gigantic country so it is impossible. By the way, when you critize their men, Russian athletes this year in London managed to surpass Poland in the medal table, even though they only had 17 athletes, and had to competw under ana flag (neutral flag) So much of sanctions working on Russia!

        • laker48

          “Russian athletes this year in London managed to surpass Poland in the medal table (…)”
          Well, they wish. :) Check the most recent medal tables!

          Your other claims are as credible as the already mentioned one. Do you have secret access to a special news source for RuSSian lemmings and shills?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Hmm, was very close though. Yes the rest of what I said was completely right, and you know it

          • laker48

            LOL! Go to the WB and Trading Economics’ websites, check their indicators and statistics against your claims and come back! Fair enough?

          • Rafael Hernandez

            I stay corrected

          • laker48

            Of course! You’re being corrected, as your pathetic confabulations don’t hold any water. :)

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Predictable answer. I know what I’m saying is true. You are free to believe whatever rubbish Anti-Russian sites such as EP throws at you

          • laker48

            Stay immersed in your illusions! :)

          • Dirk Smith

            Liar. 1 USD =59.8929RUB
            US Dollar
            1 USD = 59.8929 RUB
            ↔Russian Ruble
            1 RUB = 0.0166965 USD It’s over……

          • laker48

            With the RuSSian ruble (or rubble) having oscillated for almost three years now around 60 rubles for one US dollar and Urals crude below $55 per barrel with no prospects for rebounding in the foreseeable future, the agony will go on until a slow and painful death. There may soon be blood in RuSSian streets.

          • zorbatheturk

            Should a Korean war burst the China bubble, oil will sink into the 20s.

          • laker48

            Perhaps not to the 20s, but to the trading band $25-$50 to keep US shale producers profitable.

          • zorbatheturk

            Lithium and electric cars are going to be big soon.

          • laker48

            Petrochemical industry doesn’t limit itself to making fuels.

          • zorbatheturk

            The Saudis are the lowest cost producers.

          • laker48

            I know, and they’ll be selling aggressively, as they’ve signed a $125 billion arms deal with the US, to be expanded to $200 billion over the next few years. The US may start reselling Saudi crude to Europe and China.

          • zorbatheturk

            A big oil and gas player has just released its oil price forecasts for the next few years. Brent. This year, $50. Next year, $55. Then, $60, rising to $70 in 2021. They are just pulling numbers out of the air. Nobody knows. But Asian oil demand has quadrupled since 1980 while European and North American usage has essentially flat lined. Every second Cambodian civil servant is driving a Lexus now, with the cabinet ministers having Range Rovers. But Asia ex-Japan is in a major bubble zone thanks to the China boom and the Fed cutting rates to rock bottom. When Asia crashes, the oil price is going down down down… like in 1998 when it bottomed at $10.

            PS. Two American guys just drove a Tesla from Texas to Panama and wrote a book about the trip. Rio Tinto is planning a big lithium mine in Serbia, near Jadar.

          • laker48

            The glass ceiling is now $50 per barrel of WTI where all US shale producers are profitable.

          • Tchitcherine

            The China bubble WILL burst eventually, one way or another, won’t it?

          • laker48

            It may, as some 600 million Chinese live in families with incomes less than $2 per day and another 300 million in families with income less than $5 a day, but it’s not in the US’s best interest to see more blood in Chinese streets, so the bubble will be likely deflated in a gradual manner. The main problem of China is internal debt of its local governments and this alone may eventually lead to the destabilisation of the Chinese economy. Another peril is the imminent slowdown in the pace of growth of the Chinese economy from the present 7% to 10% to the natural 3% to 4% per year. Let’s wait and see!

          • zorbatheturk

            Probably lots of Ponzi schemes currently hidden in China.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Vast sums of money have been invested in apartment buildings, the building of which contributed massively to China’s economic boom. Now, however, the problem is to find buyers and given Chinese wages the apartments aren’t exactly being sold off like hot cakes.
            It’s like the situation in Spain about 10 years ago where housing was built without anybody sitting back and asking “Now wait a minute, just who are going to buy all these apartments and houses?”- but on a far more massive scale with astronomical sums borrowed and invested with little chance of the money coming back. When (not if) this bubble eventually bursts Peking’s problems will be just as astronomical. It’s a ticking Chinese time bomb.

          • laker48

            Bingo!

          • zorbatheturk

            China is a very strange economy.

          • zorbatheturk

            All bubbles burst. Since China pegs the yuan to the dollar, it has to import US interest rate policy. When US rates go up, so will China’s. Of course China may devalue the yuan by 20-30%. That would be the financial equivalent of an atomic bomb going off in Asia.

        • zorbatheturk

          The only industry booming in RuSSia is coffin manufacturing.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            You’re forgetting the STEAL industry with the dwarf and Co as its shareholders.

          • laker48

            Embezzlement, grand theft and larceny are leading industries in RuSSia but, unfortunately, also in the Poroshenko Ukraine. I’m really impressed by seeing the army as the least corrupt force in Ukraine, what cannot be said about the Ukrainian defence industrial sector that manufactures Stugna-P antitank missiles comparable with the Javelins and exports them, while the Poroshenko government begs for the Javelins in the US. How many people in Ukraine know that it makes 4.5 km range antitank missiles able to top attacks and penetration of explosive reactive armour plus 500 mm thick underlying steel one?

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Poroshenko won’t get a second term- he’s just as popular as Yushchenko was at the end of his term. It will be up to his successor to clean up the mess caused by Kuchma, Yushchenko, Proffessor Viktor and Poroshenko.

          • Scradje

            Who would be the best candidate?

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            In my opinion, Yulia. She’s no friend of the oligarchs- quite the
            opposite. She definitely made enemies of Firtash, Akhmetov and Pinchuk when she was PM and possibly of several others. They were possibly involved in getting Proffessor Viktor to set up the neo-Stalinist show trial against her, not that PV would have needed much encouragement to put her behind bars.

            She’s a tigress and that’s exactly what the country needs at the moment.

          • laker48

            She’s an oligarch herself but she may make a good presidential candidate for the time being, although she’s as corrupt as any other Ukrainian oligarch.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Yulia was investigated twice by her political enemies for irregularities: the first time was in the late 1990s when she was investigated under Kuchma, the second time under Proffessor Viktor. Neither investigation found anything- and they tried very hard, especially Proffessor Viktor.

            She is an oligarch, but she does not belong to any group such as that of Akhmetov and Co. As for presidential candidates, the other political leaders aren’t in her league. She’s simply the best person for the job.

          • laker48

            The Gas Princess is corrupt to the core but I agree that she’d make the best presidential candidate for now, as she doesn’t have to steal anymore. She’s also a big question mark as far as her future foreign policy is concerned, especially the relations with the US in light of her very strong pro-German slant.

          • Scradje

            I think you’re right. She’s got the sort of drive and aggression fired by indignation that is needed. I often wonder why she’s so low key these days? She has a most impressive daughter too, but of course if she became a public figure there would be awkward ‘dynasty’ allegations to contend with.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Yevgenia isn’t in the same league as her Mum in any way and I’m not sure whether she actually wants to become a full-time politician. As for Yulia being low key, I think she’s biding her time, keeping her powder dry so to speak. Poroshenko and Co are giving her more than enough ammunition for the next presidential and Rada elections.

          • veth
          • laker48

            They’ve brought it on themselves. Invasion of Georgia, illegal annexation of Crimea and the hybrid war in SE Ukraine have triggered a new arms race. Dwarfstan’s odds of winning it with the Yanks are like the results of a kicking match with a horse.

          • zorbatheturk

            LOL.

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          Rafael, it would be nice if you would give is a link to a credible source. Being an economist the best figure for GDP growth in Russia in 2017 I saw recently was 0%…

        • Y K

          Russia is blooming? Are you touched in the head, Hernandez? Have you even been to Russia lately?
          Russia is in deep and, judging by all the signs, unstoppable decline.

      • zorbatheturk

        Great news. With only 70 million RuSSians alive it will devolve to a non-threat.

        • laker48

          They’ll be overrun by non-RuSSian Muslims.

          • zorbatheturk

            RuSSia might be too cold for them.

          • laker48

            The Chechens and the Ingush are Caucasian highlanders.

          • zorbatheturk

            Chechnya may not be part of RuSSia for much longer.

          • laker48

            But the Chechens may overrun RuSSia. Moscow is already over 25% Muslim.

          • veth

            Kadyrov for President…..OF RUSSIA…………….hahahahahaha

          • zorbatheturk

            At the moment all the Muslims from the Stans can enter RuSSia visa free and work. That may change. They only go there because their crappy rouble wages in Russia are still higher than in Uzbekistan, etc. But China is investing in the Stans… the new Silk Road.

          • laker48

            Most don’t drink vodka and multiply like rabbits. :)

          • zorbatheturk

            RuSSia has a high mortality rate.

          • laker48

            Among ethnic RuSSian men, while sober and mostly Muslim “churki” outlive their ethnic RuSSian counterparts by more than a decade.

      • veth

        To compensate this, they have to invade other countries…………..

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Not to mention a collapsing “health care system”……..

    • Rafael Hernandez

      Watching too much TSN?

  • zorbatheturk

    OUT with PutIN.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    If the demented dwarf REALLY wants to get out of the Donbas, all he has to do is pick up the phone, call Defence Minister Shoigu and say “Sergei Kuzhugetovich, this is your demented il Duce-ski dwarf speaking. I want you to withdraw ALL our tanks, artillery pieces, Grads, ammunition and all our other equipment from the Donbas, together with ALL our troops including our holidaymakers. And I want it done NOW, no ifs, ands or buts.”

    Nothing easier.

  • Mick Servian

    yeah they must be really shaking in tir boots
    Russia has what it wants and besides could crush Ukraine in like two weeks

    • laker48

      Not now. It could have until drunken RuSSian baboons shot down flight MH17 out of the sky, but now it’d have been a sheer disaster with close to 300,000 strong and already well-trained and armed Ukrainian army, close of 100,000 of is territorial defence, and totally hating RuSSia and “Moskali” Ukrainian civilians. It takes up to 11 front soldiers to defeat a territorial defence one. Something opposite is true. The Ukrainian army can overrun Donbas within less than two weeks, but they need a US umbrella to do so.

      Perhaps the US Navy builds its base in Ochakiv between Kherson and Odessa, and trains Georgian and Ukrainian seamen to man the vessels they’re going to lease to Ukraine and Georgia in order to bypass the Montreux Convention and have them permanently deployed in the Black Sea. Illegally annexed and occupied Crimea, and the hybrid war in SE Ukraine will eventually bankrupt Dwarfstan. It’s just a matter of not too long time. https://southfront.org/us-starts-building-major-planning-and-operational-hub-on-ochakov-naval-base-in-ukraine/

      We may also see an encore performance of the 1995 Croatian Operation Storm two or three years down the road, after the base is completed and ready for service to protect US oil and gas companies drilling for oil and gas over the Ukraine Black Sea economic zone. RuSSia is dying. The best educated and the brightest RuSSians work in the west for British, German and US corporations, not in RuSSia, and the brain drain, as well as heavy capital outflow have plagued RRuSSia since the 1990s. Yes, Putler has already got much more than he has ever bargained for

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Shell and Exxon had signed contracts with Proffessor Viktor to start exploration of the Ukrainian part of the Black Sea, but the dwarf’s invasion and seizing of the Crimea put paid to those plans.

        Igor Girkin said in an interview in 2015 that in his opinion Dwarfstan’s army could no longer defeat the Ukrainian army and that in 2016 the Ukrainians could actually take on Dwarfstans army with a good chance of winning.This may have been a bit optimistic (or pessimistic depending on one’s point of view), but the “window of opportunity” is definitely long gone for Dwarfstan.

        The dwarf clearly expected Kyiv to cave in after the invasion of the Crimea and the start of the aggression in the Donbas, but the very opposite has happened. Not only that, but his aggression has made the turn to the West and the break with Moscow irreversible. One wonders whether the dwarf and cronies really considerd this scenario before they started their aggression. One suspects they didn’t- or if they did they arrogantly dismissed it as highly unlikely.
        It’s all blowing up in their faces.

        • laker48

          Having known the dwarf’s behavioral pattern, one may safely assume that he will keep doubling down until Dwarfstan is totally bankrupt. He’s a faithful follower of King Pyrrus and he’ll likely end up like his guru, even without winning a single war. The US cannot afford leaving RuSSia a free hand in Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

          The Ochakiv US Navy base is a stern warning for RuSSia not to even think about landlocking Ukraine. The base will control Crimea and the Turkish Straits, thus taking control, together with the already up and running US Navy installation in Romania, of the strategically most important part of the Black Sea, what will eventually break up the criminal, drug and arms smuggling to the Mediterranean RuSSian-Turkish duopoly in this region.