WEDNESDAY MAY 5 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Vladimir Putin, Liar
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia, Food Wasteland
(3) The Russian Army on the Verge of Collapse
(4) Russia, once again a Sucker
(5) CARTOON: Putin the Environmentalist
NOTE: For those who read Russian, Yuri Felshtinsky’s book about Vladimir Putin and the KGB has been posted online.
NOTE: In the “we thought we had seen it all” department, a reader tips us that state-sponsored propaganda network Russia Today has opened an online dating service encouraging Russians to meet foreigners, and presumably then to leave the country.
Once again, Putin breaks his Word
Russia, you may have heard, is ruled by a liar. A man, Vladimir V. Putin, who spent his entire life in the KGB, proudly learning the ways and means of dishonesty and mendacity, until likely he himself lost touch with the very notion of what is true. As such, that Putin would govern on basis of lies, deception and self-deception, should surprise nobody, and instances of such conduct flow in on a daily basis. How convenient for Putin, then, that the current occupant of the Oval Office is a helpless sucker, and his predecessor was little better.
Back in 2006, Vladimir Putin signed a bilateral treaty with the United States promising to implement certain policies in Russia to protect American intellectual property rights, which were being profligately stolen by Russians far and wide.
Four years later, the U.S. government has issued a report (see page 23) which, for all practical purposes, calls Putin a liar for failing to do what he promised he would in the written agreement.
Russia, Food Wasteland
A reader tipped us by e-mail to a new list just published by mineral-water maker Pellegrino of the 50 best restaurants on the planet. Three of the top ten and eight overall are located in the United States, the nation most honored by the list. American chef Thomas Keller, who has not one but two restaurants in the top 50, is the world’s most lauded auteur de cuisine.
And guess what: Not a single restaurant in the top fifty is even located in Russia, much less does it prepare Russian cuisine.
Paul Goble reports:
Faced with a declining number of men in the prime draft age group and increasing resistance even among them, the Russian defense ministry is calling for extending the length of time during which the spring draft will take place, drafting men as old as 30, reducing the number of deferments and bringing to justice those who illegally avoid service.
If these measures are adopted, the Russian military might be able to fill its draft quota this time around but only at the cost of increasing disruptions in the economy and especially in the lives of young men and of worsening public attitudes toward the military, activists and experts warn.
Russia’s spring draft began on April 1 and was slated to last until July 15, but the problems the military has been having with securing enough draftees this time around have been so severe that the General Staff this week offered a series of proposals so that it can reach its quota.
Defense expert Alexander Golts, agreeing with a point we made last week and writing in the Moscow Times, points out how Ukraine has suckered Russia on the Sevastopol naval base deal it recently inked:
The Duke of Wellington used to say some victories are worse than defeat. I suspect that President Dmitry Medvedev’s “brilliant diplomatic victory” in Kharkiv on behalf of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will in reality create very serious problems for Russia in the future.
After inflating gas prices for Ukraine a few months ago, Moscow has now graciously agreed to reduce them by 30 percent in exchange for Kiev’s agreement to extend the lease on the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol through 2042. The Kremlin thereby resolved an important strategic problem. Only a few years ago, the Black Sea Fleet, which is virtually locked in by the Bosporus, seemed like a deadweight and a throwback to the Cold War era. But the increasingly unstable situation in the Caucasus and Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008 have given the Black Sea Fleet a new meaning. It gives Russia the ability to deploy its forces rapidly into a region where crises are most likely to develop. In addition, the Kremlin believes that keeping the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea symbolizes Russia’s continuing influence over Ukraine.
Putin asks: "How come it's so dirty around here?" The polar bear mumbles: "Oops . . ."
Explanatory news item here (Ellustrator is saying Putin might as well ask the bears to do it).