EDITORIAL: Russia, Surrounded

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Russia, Surrounded

It’s a real indication of just how wretched a failure the Putin regime is that even the softest left-wing appeasers aren’t fooled the KGB clan any longer.  Earlier in the week we showed that John Kerry is taking the lead in standing up to Russia in Georgia, and viewing two European policy initiatives towards Russia last week, all we can do is stand up, cheer and shout “BRAVO!”

First, ignoring Putin’s crude threats and hysterical fits of anger as if he were nothing more than a yapping puppy, NATO pushed forward to hold joint military operations with Georgia, an amazing display of solidarity that put Russian aggression firmly in its place.  The Kremlin was left to gape slack-jawed as a massive NATO military force poured into Georgia, displaying for all to see technology and standards of living for soliders about which the Russian army cannot even dare to dream.

Then, again ignoring Russian fury, the EU implemented a massive $800-million program to wean Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine away from Russian influence, preparing them to join the EU and of course, ultimately, NATO.  Making Russia’s humiliation complete, the program was announced by the new president of the EU, who hails from Russia-loathing Czechoslovakia.

What does Russia have to respond with?  Only empty threats and blind neo-Soviet hatred.

Even the benighted people of Russia ought to be able to recognize how Putin has polarized the entire planet against Russia, has made real the eternal Russian fantasy about being surrounded.  Nations like Ukraine and Georgia who ought to be Russia’s closest friends have been turned into enemies.  Enemies like the United States and the NATO countries have been galvanized into a whole new level of alterness and response.  Russia is left with a ragtag group of rogue countries from Venezulea to Syria to North Korea to call its “friends,” not one of which can do anything to advantage Russia in the slightest respect.

It would be one thing if Putin had butchered Russian foriegn policy this badly but salvaged the economy. Yet the opposite has occurred. He has destroyed the economy just as badly, and Russia now faces double-digit unemployment and inflation while its currency, reserves and stock market have all plummeted dramatically in value.  The stock market in particular has exposed Russia as a nation whose economic fortunes are entirely dependent on luck, specifically the rising and falling of crude oil prices.

And all of this, sadly, was not only predictable but predicted. Any sensible person would have known long before Putin took power that the KGB could not be expected to produce any other result for the country. Russians, in fact, had seen that nefarious, malignant organization destroy their country once, and yet they foolishly handed power back.

Woe is Russia.

40 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia, Surrounded

  1. Nicaragua can ;)

  2. and how did Russia retaliate?

    did you see the interim piece of the first concert of the Eurovision yesterday? it was… disgusting and grotesque and very bizarrely nostalgic and just plain… odd. It’s as if the last 30 years never happened when you look and listen to the sound of the military choir singing Katyusha (that song was the nostalgic part, the rest of it was, well, the rest). And it ended with a massive pink blow-up tank being rolled on stage from one side, and just as big blue blow-up MIG plane coming from the other side while the military drummers do their tattoo and the men’s choir sings to/with the fake-lesbian duo of some years ago TaTu (one of whom has gotten chubby).

    I’m sure you’ll be able to find it on youtube somewhere…

  3. CommieBastard

    I’m part of this planet and not ‘polarized’ against Russia. Also, you need to work on your grammar if you’re going to write ‘professional’ articles like this.

  4. and here it is, the Russian idea of modern entertainment suitable for Europe-wide broadcasting:

    I don’t think I need to comment further

    • So much for Russian “culture”.
      Looks like it has about the same value as German “Kultur” circa 1914

  5. What morons do write your editorials?

    Russian stock market is recovering at a pace not seen in the West. Oil is at almost 60$ per barrel already. Wait for OPEC summit next week – you’ll see it above 60$. Unemploiment roughly the same as in USA. Even WSJ confirms that Russia handled crisis unexpectedly well.

    And US dollar is steadily declining. Today it fell to 4 month low against rouble.

    It’s fat americans, who should prepare for the worst. Hahaha….

  6. Putin has definitely polarized the world. You would have to have blinders on to not realize this.

  7. Crisis… What crisis??

    In Russia crisis was from 1990 till 2000, and that was the REAL CRISIS. What we now expirience is pale in comparison…

  8. I love it when people like Leonid get spasmodic, it only shows the insecurity of Russia and Russians.

  9. “Putin has definitely polarized the world”

    What world???

    China? India?? Brasil?? maybe arab world?
    And in all this countries live thrice as much people then in your anglo-saxon “world”. So come down to earth, “white men”, hehe…

  10. Leonid believe me China and the USA do far more business than Russia and China. China is on board with the USA, not Russia. That is why after Russia invaded Georgia and stole their land, China would not side with Russia, Mongolian man.

  11. Would that be the same Russian stock market lat lost 3.3% TODAY?

  12. Andrew it is. And something that is often overlooked is the volume of trade in the RTS vs NYSE. Russian Gross Domestic Product is: $1.757 trillion (2008 est.) vs U.S.A. Gross Domestic Product is: $14.33 trillion (2008 est.)

  13. I think the State California makes more money than the whole of Russia.

  14. Lost of 3.3% is technical correction. Trend is surely upward. As for GDP of usa : 60% of it – financial servises. Those dirty servises that provoked financial crisis around the world. But the world will never be the same after crisis. Say goodbuy to the dollar as world currency. China can drop the value of it in a matter of days.

  15. Leonid, China has no desire to drop the value of the U.S. Dollar. First they would lose value on their loans, secondly the U.S.A. would lose purchasing power resulting in less products purchased by U.S.A. causing more loses for China. I have been hearing this nonsense for a long time now, but it’s not going to happen, try harder.

  16. Hell America’s military budget is nearly half of Russia’s entire economy.

  17. Of course they doesn’t want, but they can…
    As for America’s military budget – well everybody sees, who is evil empire. Russia doesn’t need such budget. We don’t say that our interest are all over the world. What we have is enough to defend our country’s natural riches. What we have will suffice to destroy usa (and the whole nato) several times if need be…

    Buy the way… You know that usa owe more money to the world than all the rest countries combined?

  18. You say “Russia doesn’t need such budget.” It’s irrelevant, Russia doesn’t have the money for such a budget even if it was needed. The U.S.A. has far more infrastructure and is far more developed than Russia, regardless of our debt. Our debt is manageable. In fact as compared to our economy, the debt is smaller now than it was in 1950 and you see how much America has accomplished since the 1950’s. The American Economy is larger than the next 3 countries combined and those 3 are Japan, China, and Germany. Where is Russia? Russia brags about the Great Patriotic War as if they had won it, yet the country that they defeated is doing far better than Russia in every way.

  19. leonid you like to call the US an evil empire, let’s look at the record. The US is pulling out of Iraq, just like we have always said we would do, yet Russia invades Georgia and annexes their land. After World War II the US helped rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan, the US helped rebuild Japan too. The US did not steal and occupy these countries. We left Japan after we helped get them rebuilt. Compare to Russia: Russia via the Kremlin, occupied the greater part of Eastern Europe and pillaged these countries that is why they hate you now and have ran to NATO.

    • “The US is pulling out of Iraq” – actually, when? And what a hell were they doing there????!!11 Found any nukes? Will US also return 10o.000 dead people to life? Oh wait, or it’s 150.000? Or 600.000? I’ve even heard of 1000.000, but let’s think it’s 100.000.

      • 1. Regime-changin’ (easy – a Soviet-type “target practice” enemy complete with low morale and idiotic leadership by Saddam & Co).

        2. Fighting Al-Qaeda crazies and other “Anti-Iraqi Forces” (sectarian militants, tribal militias) ever since, to stop them from killing us, the civilians, and each other. (See this film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vINM0CAysc8 as of why and how ut happened.)

        Leaving Iraq: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/05/iraq.withdrawal/index.html

        • 1. Did anybody there asked US to change anything? I think not.

          2. Yeah right. To stop them killing each other. Keep watching your films.
          And yes, Obama just said Al Quaeda is going to attack USA again. No proof of course. Just brain-washing. He promised a lot, americans elected him, and now US can pull out from Iraq in 2010, 2011, 2012… and so on.

  20. This editorial is a joke. How can you call the NATO exercise in Georgia “an amazing display of solidarity that put Russian aggression firmly in its place” even though Armenia, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Serbia, Kazakhstan and Switzerland withdrew from this exercise? The rest of participating countries are sending about 1000 troops combined. Half of the exercise is based on some kind of computer model involving 650 specialist troops. The other half of the exercise consists of an in-field peace operation simulation involving about 450 troops. Based on this information, this NATO exercise can hardly be called “an amazing display of solidarity”, and Russia can be hardly scared by a bunch of computer geeks sitting at computer terminals in Tbilisi running something that probably looks like DOOM II or Warcraft.

    The rest of your editorial is completely delusional in the same way. No one in the West takes Saakashvili seriously any more. Yesterday John Kerry co-authored an Op-Ed in Washington Post with title “A Friend to Georgia and Russia”. While this piece was certainly pro-Georgian, it has NEVER even mentioned Saakashvili’s name once. Unfortunately, Misha is far more isolated than you’re willing to admit. And the cost of the August conflict to Russia was minimal. Just look at the current US leadership. A commitment to “reset” relations with Russia has got to mean something.

  21. Jacob – You’re entitle to believe any fairy tail you wish. But the doesn’t have blinders on. We will work with Russia, as long as Russia stops invading it’s neighbors. As for the Georgian President, that is up to the people of Georgia, and not up to Russia or the USA. Are you sure that all NATO is doing is what you described? I think you will see that it has already cost Russia dearly for it’s invasion into Georgia. There is far less trust of Russia than before August 8th and Russia paid a heavy price after that war when billions of dollars were removed and taken to other, more stable countries. That money still hasn’t returned to Russia and it will likely be a very long time before it does. But you are entitled to live out your fantasy.

  22. The command exercise (computer geeks if you will) was only the 1st part of the exercise.
    They have moved on to field exercises (counter terrorism) this week.

  23. clock,

    my information on the NATO details is close to 100% correct. I am not writing a Wikipedia article here, but you can more than confirm the details I have listed by doing a bit of Googling. More than a half-dozen countries balked out, including Switzerland and Estonia, hardly pro-Russian countries. Note that you can count Russia itself in the list of countries that essentially withdrew since Russia used to be a semi-regular participant in this NATO program, called “The Partnership for Peace”. Next, this NATO exercise was planned more than a year ago. It is conducted annually. This year it happened in Georgia by luck, so it is not even a planned response to the Russian invasion from August. The nature of this exercise is as non-threatening, peaceful, and non-offending as a military exercise can be. It may be a good PR act, a show of support, but it doesn’t have anyone in the Russian military scared.

    Regarding the Russian stock market collapse, I can hardly link that event to the South Osetian War. Before this war happened, the Chinese stock market already lost more than 50% in the same summer, and then 30% more towards the end of year. The American S&P 500 index declined more than 50% in all of 2008. In fool could predict that Russian and any other emerging stock market should have collapsed in 2008 too. Yes, the war triggered it, but it would have happened sooner or later in 2008. The September and October of 2008 was one of darkest periods in the American financial history. Did the war in Georgia cause that too? I don’t think so.

    Next, Paul Krugman, the guy you won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008 for his work in trade, predicted in 2008 that Estonia, Iceland, Ireland and a few other economies (some in Eastern Europe) were going to essentially collapse in the current crisis and he was right. Was Russia on his list of soon to collapse economies? No! In fact, according to many economists, Russian government has been handling the crisis fairly well, despite the unavoidable contraction in its economy.

    In the end, the Georgian crisis did not have a long-lasting effect on the Russian economy. If you keep a close look at the financial news you will see that the money IS returning to Russia. Google for article: “Emerging Markets Fuel 2Q Hedge Fund Performance”

    The same goes for trade. Trade is a mutually benefitial activity. American beef and poultry producers are still eager to sell their produce to Russia, Europe buys Russian energy, and India keeps buying Russian T-90 tanks and Sukhoi-30MKI aircrafts. Japan wants to buy Russian oil even though the Kuril Islands issue remains unresolved. I don’t see any of those countries dropping these mutually benefitial trades just to scold Russia because of the mess that MISHA got himself and his country into.

    I want to see Georgia to make peace with Russia, improve its economy, and be integrated in appropriate international structures. However, none of this will happen while Saakashvili is in power. He had spent all of his political capital. Georgia needs a fundamental change in its leadership.

  24. Jacob, it’s pretty apparent that you haven’t lived in Georgia from 2004-2007 because if you had, you would have noticed the leaps and bounds Georgia has made in terms of international structures and economy. Of course this is typical of someone like you to come across and some level-headed anglo saxon “Jacob” but in actuality you are as transparent as most FSB plants. Also, this mess you say that Misha got Georgia into, well you see it was a mess before he came, it’ll be a mess long after he’s gone.. Hell, it was a mess before Georgia tried to reclaim her territory hence the “reclaim” part. Plants such as yourself want Misha gone just so you can fill his position with some Kremlin lackey of your choosing. So before you spout off “Georgia should make peace WITH RUSSIA”, I think you need to spend a few years bordering the South Ossetian Autonomous Region you silly FSB daff.

  25. Oh yeah, what”s the exchange rate Ruble vs. Lari at these days?

  26. I liked Youtube clip. I think it tells a lot about what is Russia proud of- military, it’s past. Of course not much modernity here, but orchestra performed good.

  27. Let’s see who will be elected president in Lithuania. There are 2 former KGB agents candidates.

  28. Gary Marshall

    Hello Jacob,

    It does not matter how many countries committed and participated in the NATO exercises. The ‘amazing’ display is simply that the exercises are underway given the Russian Government’s torrent of threats, rebukes, the movement of large numbers of Russian troops and equipment to ‘independent’ Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    The point and the point of the article is that NATO does not care what the maniacal Kremlin thinks and the impotent Russian army does.

    You remark that the period of September to October as the darkest in US history. Obviously, you know very little of US history.

    I agree the Russian invasion of Georgia did not cause the continuing collapse of Russia economically, but it certainly did assist. Russia is an economy heavily dependent upon resources and grossly stifled by its despotic government. As the fortunes of resources go, so goes Russia. Present circumstances are aggravated sharply by a Government of barbarians, who observe no law or code of conduct national or international.

    Krugman received his Nobel for work done in the 70’s. Since that time, he has been a bit of a dope. His word or predictions are worth about as much as yours. For example, Russia is not as you say on his list of nations to collapse. I rest my case.

    So Russia has been handling the crisis rather well? High inflation, high wage arrears and forced holidays, collapsing demand, a deteriorating Rouble, a collapse in commodity prices, acutely increasing unemployment, troubled banks everywhere, deteriorating health of Russians, declining GDP, lawlessness, invasions of sovereign countries, severing gas supplies to customers, hatred from almost every bordering country and those not bordering Russia, persecuted political opposition . The list is endless. What magic the Kremlin performs with its brutal wand!

    Sad to see, Jacob, that you fail in distinguishing a nightmare from a dream. Well, there is more ‘dreaminess’ to come.

    Actually, Europe buys Turkmen gas, which comes via Russia. All Europe has to do is find another route bypassing Russia. And Europe is looking and the Turkmen, after Russia caused the erruption of a section of its pipeline, is embracing the effort.

    As for oil, it does not matter who the seller is. Japan will buy oil from wherever the best deal is had. If in Russia, fine. If not, then elsewhere. And there are deals everywhere.

    Current and near term market conditions do not support rising oil prices, a fact now being discovered in a recovery seemingly more remote than projected.

    We all know how trade works. Unfortunately, Russia does not seem to have grasped the fundamentals. Energy prices have declined from on high and the wealth that flowed is not flowing so much any more in that gang ridden country. Hence, the losses in the Rouble and in the Russian stock market. They have recovered in a bear rally, as have many others.

    Regardless, the recession goes on in the US and depression in Russia. Russia sells arms, but sales have slowed in case you had not noticed due to the rotten quality of the equipment sold and due to the recession.

    So money is returning to Russia? Whose money? Where are the investments? The Russian Government pushed interest rates to the maximum to prevent the financial people from rightly betting against the value of the Rouble. This measure imperils and suffocates the capital markets, preventing any type of beneficial lending accelerating and elevating the effects of the slowdown.

    You call this good government?

    Government in any other nation should then seem idyllic.

    Gary Marshall

  29. Jacob – I don’t think NATO lists detail and strategies on google links. You will not find what NATO wants to keep secret in a google search. As for those countries that backed out, it just lets the NATO – CORE countries know who they can depend on. The countries that did back out do very little in terms of real contributions to NATO.

  30. clocker,

    then you’re mistaken and also very delusional. You really think NATO can (or wants) to keep secret an exercise that’s going to be attended by military and civilian observers from dozens of countries. You might not find on google the exact plan of this exercise, but you can find the kinds of troops involved, weapons they bring (hardly anything that can qualify as heavy weapons), if any, or the nature of the exercise. After doing only a little of research any sane person can conclude that this exercise has no serious military value, and is just a big PR event. Where do YOU get your information Mr Clock, may I ask? Besides, all of this is happening with the background of Georgian citizens and military themselves staging massive anti-government protests. Saakashvili is a political corpse now. You can whine all you want but he will never be elected a president again.

    • Actually Jacob, if you consider 2 or 3,000 “massive” protests from 5-8pm in the afternoon (the protest site is empty for the rest of the day), fair enough.
      Living in Tbilisi, as a Georgian speaking foreigner in a regular (not rich) part of the city, I can tell you although people have some legitimate gripes with the current government (and who doesn’t in any country), the overwhelming majority wish for the opposition to shut the ….. up and get on with actually doing something constructive.
      In reality there is very little support for the opposition, they are seen as pro-Russian, and have no formulated policies (except for the President must resign of course).
      I suggest you stop overdosing on Russia Today, and watch some real news.
      BTW, I have a good pic of a very empty Rustaveli St in front of the parliament from Saturday may 9th. I will email it to LR and see if they will post it for me.
      “Massive protests” only in your imagination.

      • Thank you Andrew for setting Jacob straight on some issues.

        I am a Georgian speaking foreigner that has a regular apartment in Tbilisi, in a regular (Samgori District) neighborhood. I have seen much bigger gatherings at local Soccer matches in Telavi. I think this is why most logical new sources haven’t covered this beyond the first few days. It’s not even news worthy. Of course, RTR being as vile as they are would like FSB english literate wannabe provocateurs like that of Jacob to think Tbilisi is one fire.

  31. Gary Marshall,

    Since when has having a recent publication record become a prerequisite for being a good economist? The past 20 years of research has not added much to our understanding of macroeconomics. In fact, some people (DeLong I think? check his blog) claim that our understanding of real world economy got worse, not better, since the time when Keynes was alive. The material that’s taught to non-economists in the universities has not changed in the last 40 years or so. The truth is that most of academic economists who study macroeconomy for the most part struggle to provide models that match real world data during normal times, much less during crises like the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, most of academic economists have relatively little knowledge of basic empirical facts.

    The best economists from a practical point of view are those who work in the central banks, IMF, world bank, and only a very small number of academic people etc. And yes, Krugman is one of such people. He certainly has a better understanding of the current events that the vast majority of academic economists. And actually, until 2002 he had been publishing in high impact academic journals.

    But based on your logic, for example, someone like Alan Greenspan was not a good economist simply because he has not published anything. In fact, he had not completed his PhD. It is easy to blame Greenspan ex-post for what’s happening, although that’s highly debatable, but he certainly understood more about real world economics than all except for maybe one of dozen academic economists.

  32. “Russia surrounded”. It`s very cool! EU do not repugnance to fascist in Ukraine or Troll in Georgia or Lukashenko (!) but some of them disdained EU. Presidents of Moldavia, Belorussia avoded summit. Otherwise if EU have unnecessary money then they in right direction. Unlike EU we rather would like to keep our money from waste. It is not problem for Russia and our authority said as clearly because we have enough possibilities in these countries to prevent any anty-Russian action. But if someone wish to carry this weight so we will be glad. But you will have to carry out all necessary costs and expenditures. New EU relations won`t be mutually beneficial. E.g. Georgia and especially Ukraine are very unstable and insolvency now.
    EU will became more weak and incapable after that. Otherwise Russia creates many new mutually beneficial relations in all the world. We have a success in this way with India, Brasil, China, Arabic countries etc. We are given a warm welcome in these countries where we did not hear your blabber about democracy.

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