Russia Roundup #32

Враги (Levada Center)



Obama and the U.S. Miscalculation on Russia (NYU Jordan Center)

I include this a bit reluctantly (I really don’t appreciate the tone), but it’s decent, for what it’s worth. Pick out the parts that are useful and disregard all else, including the ending.

The Moscow School of Hard Knocks (War on the Rocks)

Another iffy one, but read anyway.

This is How the New Cold War Turns Hot (The Nation)

American journalists keep saying Alexander Dugin is Putin’s ideological adviser. One problem: He’s not.

NOSE Award goes to Boris Lego, aka Oleg Zobern (Lizok’s Bookshelf)

The NOSE Award was presented to Boris Lego on Tuesday for his Сумеречные рассказы (Dusky Stories or Twilight Stories), a book I described in previous posts as “a collection of nineteen Russian Gothic stories; a cover blurb calls it the scariest book of the year…” One NOSE juror apparently called the stories “trash” during (public) deliberations; that cheery note, and others, are here, on the Год литературы site.

Towards a Realist American Russia Policy (Gordon Hahn)

American foreign policy, especially its Russia policy, is a runaway train without rails, driven by a troubling confluence of hubristic ideological influences and bureaucratized sectoral interests networked through Washington. These two kinds of influence too often are neither disinterested, nor in the American interest, and deprive U.S. foreign policy of a strategic imperative.

Kremlin-Baiting Trump: What is the Risk? (John Batchelor Show)

Haven’t listened to this myself, but thought it might be of interest.


  1. 1) Levada center.

    The only worthy thing here is what’s written at the very bottom, in the fine print:

    “АНО “Левада-Центр” внесена в реестр некоммерческих организаций, выполняющих функции иностранного агента. Заявление директора Левада-Центра, не согласного с данным решением, см. здесь.”

    Aww, yeah! Finally!

    2) Jordan Center.

    “The performative became substantive for a second reason: unrewarded and unrecognized for its past cooperation, Russia had less and less to lose by acting alone, and little to gain by cooperating”

    The USS Obvious has arrived! And both of the authors vie to become its captain.

    “And maybe Russia, less beleaguered abroad, will be forced to grapple with the domestic imbalances of income, wealth, and taxation, and the rollbacks of civil rights and journalistic freedom. How ironic it would be if a Trump administration becomes a catalyst for change within Russia, entirely unwittingly.”

    Oh, yes, the ageless trope “Russia distracts the ignorant populace with the adventurism abroad”! No need for proof, no. I wonder – how successful would be these so-called “civil rights” and “atni-corruption” groups in Russia, should the US cut their financing? Oh, what, you expected to keep funding them and think that Russia won’t notice, or that it will notice but see no reason to speak out?

    3) The Nation.

    “He illegally seized Crimea—a previously Russian territory with a Russian majority population given to Ukraine by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and inherited by them once the USSR dissolved”

    Okay, how about a new term? “The Reclamation of Crimea”.

    “While Putin is responsible for Russia’s continued presence in the Donbas, it is his right flank that both launched that war and works to prevent an exit from it.”

    Highly debatable. And since when this is sign of good journalism to blindly believing everything people claim, like with Strelkov’s “I pulled the trigger”? What is without doubt, is the Western belief that Russia is willing to throw Donbass under the bus in the name of lessening of sanctions, and only our local “deplorables” are stopping Putin from “behaving”.

    The same people said in 2015 that Putin is willing to throw Assad under the bus.

    “Fears of Russian occupation among residents of the Baltic countries are understandable.”

    No, its not.

    “Their collective populations are smaller than New York City’s and they live next to the successor state to the Soviet Union, which illegally annexed them in 1940.”

    In that case Canada must crap itself daily at the thought of the impending American annexation. 110% reliable proof:

    (which is still more than they can offer about the Baltics)

    And the author fails to name the chief reason for Baltics fate in 1939 – the WWII and USSR’s preparation to it, plus the desire to move the border westward. Why no one is willing to say the obvious?

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  2. Re: Gordon Hahn.

    I read it. At first, I expected the article to be good.

    “The combination of uncontrolled messianism and sectoral interests and imperatives have resulted in an ‘imperial overstretch’ that far outstrips America’s declining capacity and power in the world. This growing gap between American ambitions and capacity is compounded by China’s rise, Russia’s resurgence, and the Sino-Russian strategic partnership. This paper focuses on problems in U.S.-Russian relations and their possible solutions.”

    But then:

    “…the development of a Russian counter-messianism – neo-Eurasianism – as an antidote to the American. ”

    If Mr. Hahn chose to become a member of the “Dugin’s Witnesses of Eurasianism” sect – this is just sad.

    “Rather than making a robust effort to integrate Russia into Western economic, political, and security institutions, as some seem to suggest, Washington was slow and timid in developing policies to do so.”

    No, in fact they were absolutely honest and sincere. The matter is – all such “integration” also presumed Russia’s subservient role to the US. It did work fine with Poland – even told directly, that now they will become NATO’s bitches and IMG pleasuring object, the sheer Russophobia and the thought that Big Daddy US will be here protecting them from Meanie Russia was enough for both the Polish elites and the populace. And what were they offering to Russia? Fairy tales about aggressive China?

    The thing is – no standard integration vis-à-vis West will ever work on Russia. The West is unwilling to grant Russia an equal say in what it is this fantabulous “Greater West”. And our elites (finally!) started to express the desires of the people, who are not willing to become yet another Western colony. Pardon the cliché (I’m already hating myself for being ready to write it), but no matter how much you live in denial, Russia bear won’t suddenly transform into Eastern European hamster.

    “American Leadership Without Hegemony: Imperial Overstretch or Network Leadership?”

    The saddest thing – at least for me – is that Mr. Hahn doesn’t even doubt that the US must be the leader of the world in some capacity.

    “Moreover, the involvement of foreigners in political activity raises the suspicions of authoritarian leaders and often discredits the opposition in the eyes of some who might otherwise support their calls for democratization.”

    Judging by the fact, that the US still has “Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA), and that Israel recently adopted (without much fanfare or outrage) its analog, then both the US and Isreal are authoritarian countries.

    Or they are just sane ones, doing what every state must do.

    “We need far greater precision in U.S. and Western democracy-promotion policies and heightened caution towards our American revolutionism.”

    Again – Mr. Hahn does not question the fact, that there *must* be American democracy-promotion at all. Leaving other countries be is simply not an option.

    “In future, U.S. and Western policymakers must resolve that the stakes should be very high before approving the inherently risky policy of full-blown regime change or ‘color revolution.’”

    But, again, Mr. Hahn is not against this illegal practice itself. Just tell me – but what right and internationally recognized law do you, the US of A, can stage, no matter how “justified”, a “colour revolution” anywhere on the planet?

    The answer is – no, you can’t, because there are no such laws. No matter what you think about the North Korea – you can’t stage a colour revolution here. Period. Suck it.

    By reserving for yourself the “right” to engage in regime change you, the US, undermine the international order of the sovereign nation-states and the UN mandate, as the only legitimate source of any forceful actions between the countries.

    “Criteria codified in an international convention or treaty regarding foreign involvement in the domestic politics of states might be useful.”

    Thankfully, there are no fools eager to open this Pandora box. Or do you really think that diverse country will grant the US their “blessing” to enact the regime change that might, one day, target them? There is nothing to regulate, because any such activity is illegal. Period.

    “The first-order task — that will be largely achieved by the Obama administration’s departure — is to cease U.S. officials’ gratuitous demonization and personal attacks on Russia’s popular President Putin.”

    This is more easily said than done. The Western Enlightened Public ™ is already brainwashed to consider Putin as “evil”.

    “At present, Russia is neither friend nor foe.”

    Good, Let’s keep the relations on this level. Or do you subscribe to Bushism of “Who is not with us is against us”?

    “Thus, the Trump administration must address the most fundamental issue as Moscow sees matters, NATO expansion. EU expansion will not be perceived as a challenge to Russian power, if Moscow’s concerns regarding Western military expansion are addressed.”

    Again – wishful thinking and ignoring of the dangers for, say, Ukraine to become simultaneously a EU country while enjoying all of the CIS membership benefits. Do you really think that Russia’s approach to the economy is suicidal?

    “The West must acknowledge that NATO poses a grave potential threat to Russia.NATO’s economic capacity and thereby potential military capacity are some 19 times that of Russia’s.”

    If we are to believe the US intelligence community, punditocracy and hysterical Never-Trumpers, then RT and Sputnik with their puny budget managed to accomplish what CNN, MSNBC, ABC etc. MSM with gigantic budgets failed to do. Sometimes, size does not matter. It’s the capacity to utilize it and stick at right direction that counts.

    “The West’s support for the illegal overthrow of the legally elected, if corrupt Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych sets a destabilizing precedent, compounding Western mistakes in Kosovo and Russian overreactions in Georgia.”

    Georgian military shelled Tskhinval and murdered our peacekeepsrs. What overreaction you are talking about here?!

    “Specifically, the Washington should take the lead in pursuing a Minsk 3 accord with the EU, Ukraine and Russia and insist under that new process Kiev must negotiate directly with the Donbass rebels on mutual implementation of Minsk 3.”

    There is no need for Minsk 3 (4… 5…) – re-read the Articles of the Minsk II treaty. There is no need for re-negotiation. The US just need to tell the Ukraine to behave.

    “This will undercut Moscow’s influence on the Donbass rebels, while making it less necessary as well.”

    No. Or do you think that they will gladly reintegrate to the country where one of the national capital’s central streets is named after Stepan Bandera?

    “This can reinvigorate the Minsk process, especially if coupled with Washington’s pledge to support an immediate lifting of all economic sanctions against Moscow and Crimea, if and when Russia and Donbass fulfill their obligations under Minsk 3 and relinquish full control over Ukraine’s border with Russia to Kiev.”

    Then you indeed didn’t read the Minsk II accords. Moscow is not a side of the negotiations there. We are not obliged to do anything. The ball is firmly in Kiev’s half part of the field – it is them who must fulfill their obligations, if they want to get “their” border back.

    “In order to debilitate and ultimately defeat the global Jihadist/Islamism threat, a grand global counter-alliance of the great powers and their international organizations involved in security affairs is required.”

    All good and laudable, but… In the following paragraph nay a word about sanctioning the countries that act as the sponsors of the international Islamic terrorism. And we know the names. No matter how some people might be pissed off at the “crusaders” – the international Jihadism would have never took its present scale if some countries did not provide these movements with money and weapons, let alone safe heavens and recruitment bases.

    “This danger suggests a need to conclude an international cyber warfare treaty that would place certain targets and practices off limits.”

    Not sure if the author even understands the matter at all. Cyber crime/warfare has inbuilt deniability. Now, which great power (let alone low-tier one) would be willingly limiting itself by signing some piece of paper and then sticking to the terms? Not the US, for sure, as was demonstrated by the evidence produced by Assange, Manning and Snowden.

    “Evidencing Russia’s global power status is the fact that Russia is the only country in the world to pursue military-political power in the Arctic towards the goal of securing its share of the 6 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 24 percent of natural gas located under the Arctic ice and shelf.”

    [citation needed]

    As for now, Denmark, Norway and Canada also has their eyes – and military – focused in Arctic, and these countries are engaged in legal legwork too.

    “Given the close relationship between Russian President Putin and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, it might seem a relatively simple proposition to terminate sanctions in the energy sphere that have halted Exxon Mobil-RosNeft joint exploration in the Arctic under a 2012 deal negotiated by Tillerson, limiting the latter’s ability to capitalize on reserves there.”

    Do you really take us for naïve natives willing to sell our future for a pair of glass beads?

    “U.S. policy towards the Sino-Russian ‘strategic partnership’ should aim at engaging it in order to contain it.”

    Do destroy it, you mean? I understand what’s in it for the US. I see nothing in it for Russia.

    “Their strategic partnership is a de facto defensive alliance that could potentially spark conflict with the U.S.”

    Due to the US actions, mind you. Or, what, you think you would be allowed to stage a colour revolution in N.K., let alone in Hong Cong with impunity?

    “Such cooperation can build trust and help build bridges for reducing tension and resolving conflicts and crises that might develop from the South China Sea to the Donbass and Syria.”

    It won’t work, because you, the US, will still fund the “dissidents” (i.e. the grant-eating scum) and view both of us as the competition to the unipolar world order.

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