Ukraine suckers Russia, but Good!
Last week, Ukraine’s new president Victor Yanukovich sold a piece of his country to Putin’s Russia in exchange for wildly reduced prices on natural gas.
Specifically, Yanukovich renewed Russia’s lease on its naval base on the Black Sea at Sevastopol from 2017 to 2042. For Yanukovich, it was the deal of the century. For Russian “president” Dima Medvedev, it was yet another amazing sucker move.
The irony in light of our lead editorial in this issue is palpable: Russia is running out of gas rapidly, yet it is going to send a flow of cheap energy to Ukraine indefinitely in order to secure a naval base which offers Russia absolutely no strategic value, since the Russian “navy” is a mere figment of the Kremlin’s imagination, in reality nothing more than rusty, creaking bucket of bolts.
One might well ask why Russia didn’t simply give Ukraine a pile of cash to keep the base open. The answer is simple: Because the amount of money Ukraine has demanded to be paid is so astronomical that Russia cannot directly reveal it to the Russian people, who would run wild in the streets with rage. By trading gas supplies, the sum remains highly secretive.
So let’s be clear: the people of Russia are getting royally screwed not once, not twice, but three separate times in this little deal. First, they send piles of cash to Ukraine that they simply don’t have to spare in the wake of the global economic crisis. Then, they send vast quantities of rapidly depleting energy resources right after the cash. Finally, what they get in return is something they don’t need and can’t use, something that serves no purpose except to stroke the cold-war egos of the madmen who occupy the Kremlin.