Putin on the ritz
October 29, 2014 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin's speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi a few days ago, and, chances are, those of you who have heard of the speech didn't get a chance to read it, and missed its importance. (For your convenience, I am pasting in the full transcript of his speech below.) Western media did their best to ignore it or to twist its meaning. Regardless of what you think or don't think of Putin (like the sun and the moon, he does not exist for you to cultivate an opinion) this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946.
Via includes tl;dr of top 10 points
posted by infini (159 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well that sure was a short New American Century.
posted by localroger at 9:47 AM on October 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


Was he banging his shoe on the podium?
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:47 AM on October 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


Stephen Cohen was talking about this speech and its importance last night on the John Batchelor show (mp3 podcast). I was just about to read it myself, the full text is also translated into English here on the official Kremlin.ru site.
posted by Auden at 9:50 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, good.

What is this blog, btw?
posted by Diablevert at 9:51 AM on October 29, 2014


I think you forgot the "collapsitarianism" tag (previously).
posted by effbot at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Man, that does not sound good.

And this bit is just laughable:

"In her external, and, even more so, internal politics, Russia's power will rely not on the elites and their back-room dealing, but on the will of the people."
posted by Ham Snadwich at 9:52 AM on October 29, 2014 [27 favorites]


This is the sound a country makes as it slips down the pole of geopolitical significance.
posted by Thing at 9:53 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is the sound a country makes as it slips down the pole of geopolitical significance.

Or, just before it annexes the Sudetenland.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2014 [61 favorites]


Per the tl;dr, I don't trust Putin & Russia any more than I trust the U.S., but (importantly, I believe, as an American) I definitely don't trust him/them any less. I think he's right that the U.S.'s actions over, say, the past 12 years, have harmed global security, and in fact, that the U.S. has done more damage than anyone else over that time.
Who knows whether that will change? I don't expect it, and don't entertain any vague hopes for it. I am not rich or connected, so my desires and opinions are absolutely irrelevant to the course of U.S. policy.
posted by spacewrench at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


This is the sound a country makes as it slips down the pole of geopolitical significance.

Boy I hope so, because it's an awful sound.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:55 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


The problem with such a declaration is that Russia's ties to the rest of the world are fewer and less durable than the US's or China's. Whether you like them or not with the the US and China you know at least roughly what you're getting and you can plan. By contrast Russia comes across as capricious and unstable and thus, subject to endless renegotiation.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:00 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Shorter Putin:

We must rebuild the international order in a way that doesn't privilege certain countries over others and respects the national sovereignty of all nations, unless those nations are former Soviet Republics, because who ever heard of "Ukraine" or "Belarus" being a real country, amirite?
posted by firechicago at 10:00 AM on October 29, 2014 [58 favorites]


#Ukraine:
I would like to remind you of the last year’s events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine’s association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn’t even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine’s main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine’s association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine’s association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but – I stress – civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.
translation: Hey, leggo, I was playing with that!
posted by Artful Codger at 10:01 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or, just before after it annexes the Sudetenland.

FTFY
posted by The Tensor at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


I only read the tldr; version/breakdown of the speech. If any thing, it sounds like the same hollow pronouncements of Russia's greatness with the same dashes of Russian threats that has been coming out of Putin's mouth for several years now. Particularly, the part on how Russia will not go to war with anyone except those who mess with its "interests." I assume Ukraine falls under that definition and then what about the other former Soviet satellites not in the NATO treaty? Even those in it are pretty worried at the moment.
posted by Atreides at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Russian strongman delivers withering diatribe against strongmen.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:04 AM on October 29, 2014 [29 favorites]


Russia's ties to the rest of the world are fewer and less durable than the US's or China's.

Russia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union, including roughly 36% of Germany's natural gas needs, which is one big stick to be holding. That makes things a little trickier.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


The problem with such a declaration is that Russia's ties to the rest of the world are fewer and less durable than the US's or China's.

Except for that whole "how most of Europe supplies itself with heat during winter" thing...
posted by hippybear at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is my favorite part:

Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past.

When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.
posted by The Tensor at 10:08 AM on October 29, 2014 [36 favorites]


spacewrench: “ I think he's right that the U.S.'s actions over, say, the past 12 years, have harmed global security, and in fact, that the U.S. has done more damage than anyone else over that time.”

This is a laughable claim from someone who has spent the last twelve years violating the sovereignty of nations in the name of rebuilding a glorious empire.

In general, I am not seeing anything new in this speech whatsoever. Putin is suddenly "explicitly violating Western taboo by speaking directly to the people over the heads of elite clans and political leaders"? Yes, he certainly wasn't doing that when he published an op ed in the freaking New York Times.
posted by koeselitz at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I find it's a pretty good rule of thumb that anyone who refers to a country as "she" is up to no good.
posted by escabeche at 10:10 AM on October 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'd love to read some other analysis and interpretation of this speech. This blog post sounds my crank alarm.

For instance, there's no way to let "Russia has no interest in building a new empire of her own" go by without commentary, preferably spiced up with some Ukrainian swear words. But according to Putin, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is all America's fault for building an anti-ballistic missiles system and then Ukraine's fault for considering joining the EU.
posted by Nelson at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Serious: The framing of this post is very strange.

Literally nothing Putin says here is new. He's been saying these exact same things for a long time. Russia is strong, Russia will not tolerate interference, the US is terrible, Russia will do what it needs to, etc. We've heard all of this before.

What exactly makes this particular speech significant?

Does anyone else besides this blogger think it's " the most important political speech since Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946"?
posted by Sangermaine at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2014 [42 favorites]


This is the sound a country makes as it slips down the pole of geopolitical significance.

This statement could only be made in total ignorance of Russia's position in the world of fossil fuels.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


What is this blog, btw?

Club Orlov is by Russian expat engineer Daniel Orlov, one of the main figures in the Collapsitarian movement. Also previously here, here & here . I'm still deciding whether & how his biases may be coloring his summary of the speech.
posted by scalefree at 10:12 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Putin, you can talk like a Metternich.

But you are no Metternich.
posted by ocschwar at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, hey, Russia doesn't want war, you guys!

I'd appreciate some non-Orlovian analysis of this speech.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do like Putin's comparison to the US's spending of their political clout following the Cold War to the nouveau-riche spending all their money.
Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

posted by maryr at 10:15 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


The ukraine is only a geographical expression
posted by JPD at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's this whole genre of completely valid criticisms of huge problems with the U.S., which are voiced by Russia purely for political/propaganda reasons, along with some not-too-subtle singing-the-glories-of-Russia on the side. The RT (Russia Today) news channel is a big purveyor of such. I imagine this speech will be really popular among the kind of people who uncritically post RT pieces to their facebook walls.

There are literally billions of people in the world who have the moral standing to criticize American imperialism. Putin is on the short list of people who do not.
posted by edheil at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2014 [39 favorites]


The problem with such a declaration is that Russia's ties to the rest of the world are fewer and less durable than the US's or China's. Whether you like them or not with the the US and China you know at least roughly what you're getting and you can plan. By contrast Russia comes across as capricious and unstable and thus, subject to endless renegotiation.

Russia, China to sign package of cooperation documents in Moscow

Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington out of Eurasia?
There could soon be a trade alliance between Beijing, Moscow and Berlin—but you wouldn’t know it from the triumphal tone in Washington.


Europe still a key partner for Russia, but China a priority – Putin
posted by infini at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2014


Except for that whole "how most of Europe supplies itself with heat during winter" thing...

Yes (to hippybear and Thorzdad) but that's an illustrative example more than otherwise -- they are unable to resist flexing that particular muscle, often over trifles, which contributes to the air of instability and mistrust. If you want to be taken seriously as a geopolitical partner you can't just keep overplaying the same hand, because further business and trading ties will not be forthcoming.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd be willing to consider the argument that it's the most important speech made by a Soviet or Russian statesman since Khrushchev in '56 ("we will bury you"), although I think that gives short shrift to, say, Gorbachev's Christmas speech dissolving the USSR in 1991, which certainly ought to rank up there—although I can see why certain people might prefer to pretend it never happened.

But to say that it's the most important speech since Churchill in nineteen forty six? The most important thing in almost seventy years of global geopolitics? No. Just... no.

Although the fact that someone would claim that with what appears to be a straight face, as much as one can tell in writing, is an interesting window into the Putinist psyche and its model of the universe.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is all America's fault for building an anti-ballistic missiles system and then Ukraine's fault for considering joining the EU.

Translation: "I didn't want to beat you up, but baby you made me do it when you started talking about leaving..." Really a class act.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:18 AM on October 29, 2014 [27 favorites]


This statement could only be made in total ignorance of Russia's position in the world of fossil fuels.

Saudi Arabia isn't a great power because of its oil and gas, and nor is Russia. Neither can stop exporting without destroying their economy.
posted by Thing at 10:18 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


In this speech, Putin abruptly changed the rules of the game. Previously, the game of international politics was played as follows: politicians made public pronouncements, for the sake of maintaining a pleasant fiction of national sovereignty, but they were strictly for show and had nothing to do with the substance of international politics; in the meantime, they engaged in secret back-room negotiations, in which the actual deals were hammered out. Previously, Putin tried to play this game, expecting only that Russia be treated as an equal. But these hopes have been dashed, and at this conference he declared the game to be over, explicitly violating Western taboo by speaking directly to the people over the heads of elite clans and political leaders.

The blogger's assumption is that international politics are based on blustery false speeches followed by serious backroom deals. Why should we think that this speech isn't more bluster?
posted by Going To Maine at 10:18 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


At least he's scaring people into renewables by continually playing with the gas spigot.
posted by benzenedream at 10:19 AM on October 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.

like it or not he's right
posted by p3on at 10:20 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think there's anything much new here either, but it remains worrying enough - especially with countries within the EU actively citing a desire to build a Putin-style illiberal state. It does seem to be a direction that is growing in significance as the democratic West ossifies, China flexes its muscles and we all get ready for the inevitable resource wars.

OK, that's depressing. Here's Putintin to cheer us up.
posted by sobarel at 10:23 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


The blogger's assumption is that international politics are based on blustery false speeches followed by serious backroom deals. Why should we think that this speech isn't more bluster?

If speeches like this were actual declarations of policy North Korea would have gone to war about 800 times by now.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:24 AM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Russia's ties to the rest of the world are fewer and less durable than the US's or China's.

can't say I'm an expert on this geopolitical stuff. But it strikes me that Russia is more consciously vulnerable than the USA with regard to what it needs from other nations. I wonder if such actually makes its ties stronger.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2014


Nelson: “But according to Putin, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is all America's fault for building an anti-ballistic missiles system and then Ukraine's fault for considering joining the EU.”

More than that – Putin still speaks as though his ridiculous propaganda is true:
Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but – I stress – civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.
Emphasis mine. He doesn't just say that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was America's fault because America built an anti-ballistic missiles system; he says that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was America's fault because America caused a Ukrainian civil war, after which Russia's only sane recourse was to invade to set things right. "We didn't start this," he says – America did.

This seems patently absurd to anyone who actually paid attention to what happened in Ukraine, but there you go.
posted by koeselitz at 10:27 AM on October 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Since nobody else has posted it, ...

Also, love the post title.
posted by kokaku at 10:27 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


like it or not he's right

That Putin's Russia won't be the savior of the world? I have no doubt of that.
posted by The Tensor at 10:28 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe I've just been reading too much World War I history lately but Putin saying shit like "global war is inevitable" reminds me of Kaiser Wilhelm and his "c'mon, Belgium, just let us pass through, we'll totally leave once we've destroyed France, we promise" followed by "how DARE the Belgians fight back!"
posted by dnash at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


lectures about non intervention then sends up the grocery cart to the space station...Im confused.
posted by clavdivs at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Russia will no longer play games and engage in back-room negotiations over trifles. But Russia is prepared for serious conversations and agreements, if these are conducive to collective security, are based on fairness and take into account the interests of each side.

Do food sanctions and sudden discovery of Giant Name American Brands (McDonalds, Jack Daniel's) count as playing games? It's hard to tell these days what is serious adult discussions, and what is the next round of chicken taxes.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just for slightly demented lulz I decided to google around to see if anyone had floated the hypothesis that Russia blew up Chernobyl to create a market for its fossil fuels by scaring the world away from nuclear power for centuries. I didn't find much but what I did find has now got me searching for treatments for exposure to stupid toxicity.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:44 AM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


#notalldictators
posted by Behemoth at 10:49 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Seriously folks, if we had a reason to, couldn't we blast them into fucking oblivion? Russia can only go so far with this crap. Once shit gets real, byebye Mother.

One problem with this idea is that they also have a whole bunch of nukes with which to blast us back.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:49 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Of course the reason I did that search is because -- never mind conspiracy -- it is effectively the case; Europe prefers being dependent on Russian gas over nuclear in significant measure precisely because a Soviet bloc nuclear plant killed a province and shat fallout all over them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:50 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seriously folks, if we had a reason to, couldn't we blast them into fucking oblivion? Russia can only go so far with this crap. Once shit gets real, byebye Mother.

Once shit gets real, bye bye pretty much every goddamn one of us other than the cockroaches and ants.
posted by blucevalo at 10:52 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hope the Russians love their children too.
posted by dnash at 10:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


THE BOLSHEVIK WHO THINKS ‘THE NATION’ IS TOO LEFT WING
“I want to meet with them,” Ponomarev said, pointing out that he is a reader of The Nation and often agrees with its articles. But he said they are now perceived to be pro-Putin. “If you value your reputation, your message is not getting across. If a regular person was reading this, they would not understand all your considerations, it would be seen in a black and white way that you are supporting Putin,” he said. “No leftists should support Putin, why do you? Putin is an enemy of your values.”
[...]
Towards the end of the interview, Ponomarev returned to the topic of Vanden Heuvel and her magazine. Perhaps searching for a frame of reference the magazine’s editors would appreciate, he paraphrased a founding father of the Russian revolution, V.I. Lenin. “We should not be aligned with any imperialist state, neither ours nor others. We should opt to turn imperialist war into civil war for the workers,” he said repurposing Lenin’s advice for revolutionaries from a century ago.

He then waited a beat and deadpanned: “Yes I am an admirer of Lenin.” 
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.

Look, calling Russia "the savior of the world" is obviously self-aggrandizing BS, but the Soviet/Axis "spheres of influence" pact only lasted for 2 years, and after the middle of 1941, Soviet pressure on the eastern front was crucial to defeating the German Empire; the USSR suffered the most casualties of any nation in WWII, most of them lost fighting the Nazis. Its declaration of war on Japan in 1945 was arguably just as important as the US's nuclear bombardment in ending the War in the Pacific. They were never a proper "ally," but Allied and Soviet interests were much more aligned than they were opposed during WWII, at least from 1941-45, and the Soviets bore a hell of a lot of the burden of that war.

Anyway, I'm not all "rah rah go Putin," but that characterization seems especially flip.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:59 AM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


One problem with this idea is that they also have a whole bunch of nukes with which to blast us back.

They're in the process of selling the rocket engines to the world's various space agencies. I wonder how many they have left?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:00 AM on October 29, 2014


So in this part:
5. Russia has no intention of going fishing in the murky waters created by America's ever-expanding “empire of chaos,” and has no interest in building a new empire of her own (this is unnecessary; Russia's challenges lie in developing her already vast territory). Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past.
…is this like a prelude to sealing the borders of Russia and her satellites? "We aren't coming out and we don't want you looking in"?

(That last line made me snort.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:00 AM on October 29, 2014


This statement could only be made in total ignorance of Russia's position in the world of fossil fuels.

Diminishing rapidly.

1) The US has overtaken it, the Saudis have discovered new reserves, Africa and S. America and Australia are all bringing new production online. New shipping technology means Europe will no longer be dependent on pipelines to get its gas, just in time for the US to authorize natural gas exports.

2) Renewables are a monster. They're already outproducing nukes in the UK.

3) Efficiency is at an all-time high, and increasing every year. My all-wheel drive station wagon is the size of my Dad's old mid-size SUV from the '00s, and gets better mileage than my 2-door subcompact from the '90s while being faster than either. Electric cars and quick charging stations are a reality. New boilers and AC unit tech, new windows and home insulation tech, LED bulbs are cheap, cheap, cheap these days.

4) Iran is going to normalize relations with the US and Europe, and soon. Everyone knows it.

5) Oil prices are cratering. We'll probably hover at juuust where fracking and deep water drilling are profitable - maybe $70-75/bbl

Decreasing demand, increasing competition and lowered profitability means bad times for a petro-state trying to prop up an immense military with global reach and regional hegemony. (This includes the Saudis, who are the poster-children for Dutch Disease.)

Russia needs Europe to buy its gas and oil and prop up its regime just as Europe needs Russia for its energy - only the Europeans will need Russia less and less and less over the next decade.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:04 AM on October 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


I wonder what Putin's thoughts are on succession? From the outside Russia really looks like a one man band, but he must have some sort of plan if he's expecting a long-term Russian renaissance (assuming he's not so hyper-virile and macho that he expects to live forever...) and there isn't a Politburo apparatus full of besuited and trained candidates lined up as in China.
posted by sobarel at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Communism lasts about three generations, that is what it takes to build and educate a middle class. Then watch out, what was once the great enemy of the pet economic system, becomes a powerhouse and may even a better mirror of democratic ideals. While one group struggles in transition, the other wallows and wakes up to the enormous theft of say, the Bush years.

The thing about this speech is, it is brilliant, and we in the west are used to being shown Putin as a whack job. I hold up the American whack job mirrors of Cheney and McCain. I hold up our obvious malfeasance in Syria as a mirror to Ukrainian intervention. When I studied Russian history in the sixties, the Ukraine was in Russia, Kiev was a classic chicken recipe, and a major Russian city.

I prefer peace to war, whose victims are ninety percent women and children. War masquerades as an extremely profitable business. One major difference between the US and Russia, where the US could take a lesson, is how different cultures and ethnicities are allowed to keep identity. We in the US pride ourselves on the melting pot concept, any poor immigrant can wear a uniform and turn a burger, maybe that promise has lost appeal. We can say it is so much better than where they came from, but if we made the misery that drove them here then shame on usI.

Lately I have been reading the literature of nineteenth century Russia, They were a globally connected nation then, poets, farmers, merchants, soldiers, people who stay up all night to talk and dance. Our cold war propaganda is still harming the potential for world peace, and is still untrue.

We are still loaded with nukes and still in a world war mind frame. Even more worrying is the "end times" mind frame. Figuring out how to live peacefully is a lot more difficult than just going at it. After going at it you still have to frame peace just to survive it.

Can't we just skip "it" the stakes are now the web of life.
posted by Oyéah at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


Communism lasts about three generations, that is what it takes to build and educate a middle class. Then watch out, what was once the great enemy of the pet economic system, becomes a powerhouse and may even a better mirror of democratic ideals. While one group struggles in transition, the other wallows and wakes up to the enormous theft of say, the Bush years.

I'm old enough to remember, but I think I missed the period when the Nixon/Carter/Reagan/Bush/Clinton years were Communist.
posted by hippybear at 11:24 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.

Russia did kind of save the world during WWII. They took by far the biggest part of the burden and the loss of defeating Germany. Granted, they did so much the same way Darth Vader saved the galaxy by turning on Palpatine - at whose command he had terrorized the galaxy for decades - only when push came to shove to save Luke. And the moment they did so, they grabbed all the land they could and ran it almost as brutally as the Germans for several more decades. But they did give up the most blood and tears to take down Hitler.
posted by Naberius at 11:27 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Putin on the Ritz (SLYT)
posted by null14 at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2014


"... Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify...."

Oh, no worry, Open Source 3-D Printer Kit Drones'n'Bombs will even the playing field.
Run it off a lithium-ion battery, place it in a tender spot, puncture the battery, and it self-immolates.
That would be your self.

And watch for our new micro-printed EarWorm(TM) -- the micro-drone that will go straight to your head, and blow your mind.

No need for that preemptive nuclear strike.
Too late, anyhow.
Our e-beasts are chewing on your missiles' software and hardware -- checked those fuel lines?

Read your history -- the age of precisely directed assasination is underway.
Every corporation has its critics, and knows who they are and how to eliminate them.

Do I need to add /snark ?
posted by hank at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2014


...the Soviet/Axis "spheres of influence" pact only lasted for 2 years, and after the middle of 1941, Soviet pressure on the eastern front was crucial to defeating the German Empire; the USSR suffered the most casualties of any nation in WWII, most of them lost fighting the Nazis.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact gave Germany the green light to invade Poland from the west, closely followed by the Soviet Union from the east, starting the Second World War. It was only later that the two invaders turned on each other. It's true that the peoples of the Soviet Union suffered much higher casualties than any other Allied country in the war, but I'm inclined to distinguish between their suffering (which deserves to be remembered with gratitude) and the actions of their government (which started the war in order to conquer an empire). We should certainly be glad the Soviet Union ended up fighting against the Germans rather than with them—if not, who could have withstood that alliance?—but let's not forget how they came to be fighting.
posted by The Tensor at 11:39 AM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


This article in spiegel is pretty good. Apparently German spies are telling the press they have concluded that it was Russian backed separatists who shot down the Malaysian passenger jet and the Dutch investigators are saying there is no conclusive proof of that claim.
posted by bukvich at 11:42 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.
posted by The Tensor at 1:08 PM on October 29 [10 favorites +] [!]


I punched my best friend in the face in a game of Risk in this exact scenario. Global domination is hard.
posted by Fizz at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


There are literally billions of people in the world who have the moral standing to criticize American imperialism. Putin is on the short list of people who do not.

But is he wrong? I don't think so. It sounds like he has our number.

I do have to say though that "Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past" was pretty funny and could have used a rimshot.
posted by Marmaduke Hammerhead at 11:44 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


"While one group struggles in transition" that is a nation driven by desperation to communism, to switch from monarchy and despotism to a more level society. Those who wallow and wake up to the theft of the Bush years, that was the stable US middle class.
posted by Oyéah at 11:51 AM on October 29, 2014


I don't have time to read the entire speech. Does he say anything about how Russia will handle future harassment from punk-rock bands?

posted by mmrtnt at 11:55 AM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


> But is he wrong? I don't think so. It sounds like he has our number.

Which is fine, if we're establishing the precedent that one doesn't have to be without sin to cast stones. The USSR was famous for its tu quoque arguments, and present-day Russia employs them sometimes whenever the international community thinks Russia is doing something awful. In a long press conference prior to the Sochi Olympics, nearly all the questions were about Russia's "homosexual propaganda" bill, and Putin brought up several times how homosexuality is still illegal in certain states of the US (which is false, but was true of certain sex acts a decade ago).

So if the new standard is "OK, criticisms will be taken to heart no matter where they come from," I'm all for it, but I doubt Putin is going to take that rhetorical club out of his bag.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Club Orlov is by Russian expat engineer Daniel Orlov

Say no more.

Expats, when they get patriotic, are always the most obnoxiously nationalist wannabes, justifying their "betrayal" of their country through living abroad by doubling down on the boasting and internet hard man macho act.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:00 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact gave Germany the green light to invade Poland from the west, closely followed by the Soviet Union from the east, starting the Second World War. It was only later that the two invaders turned on each other. It's true that the peoples of the Soviet Union suffered much higher casualties than any other Allied country in the war, but I'm inclined to distinguish between their suffering (which deserves to be remembered with gratitude) and the actions of their government (which started the war in order to conquer an empire).
That's a rather simplistic, cold war reading of the USSR's actions at a time when the western democracies had shown that a) they couldn't be trusted to actually defend their partners in East Europe, b) were perhaps indeed busy pointing nazi Germany at the USSR and ruled by c) elites much more comfortable with Hitler than Stalin while d) the USSR itself was in no shape to fight and needed breathing space.

Which doesn't absolve Stalin and co from the warcrimes they committed nor their domestic and foreign politics before the war, but does explain why exactly the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Slap*happy: [Russia's position in the world of fossil fuels is] Diminishing rapidly.

I read an article last week, forget the source, that was suggesting that the US, Saudi Arabia and others are secretly working together to lower the world prices for oil and gas, in order to inflict pain on Russia.

Thoughts?
posted by Artful Codger at 12:09 PM on October 29, 2014


The 1980's oil supply glut and oil price collapse was supposedly cooked up by William Casey and the Saudis. There are a lot of documents out there but this one looks credible.
posted by bukvich at 12:14 PM on October 29, 2014


When I studied Russian history in the sixties, the Ukraine was in Russia, Kiev was a classic chicken recipe, and a major Russian city.

In the '60s a lot of things were very different: the English were bringing in internment without trial in the North and still were attempting to cling to their colonies in Africa, you had major civil rights movements across America and Europe, you had students barricading the streets in Paris. Which is to say that unless we're going to decide that how things were in the '60s is the great goal we should aim at, whether Ukraine was an independent nation or not in the '60s seems really insignificant as an argument, unless you can back it up with force. Which he is clearly willing to do in search of some mythical pan-Russian past where everyone was 'yay! Mother Russia!' and not rebelling half the time.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I read an article last week, forget the source, that was suggesting that the US, Saudi Arabia and others are secretly working together to lower the world prices for oil and gas, in order to inflict pain on Russia.

Europe is on the brink of going back into recession - this is the only reason production in Saudi Arabia is so high. The Saudis are plugged into the world economy, and we don't need it spiraling back into global crisis. While dropping oil prices hurt Russia, they benefit industry and global trade far more.

Also, it's true - global consumption is declining as supply is increasing, due to increases in efficiency and competition from renewables. Solar and Wind keeps improving incrementally every year, as does energy efficient tech. It's really starting to add up. No conspiracy theory needed.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:25 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


When you look at what's happened in Ukraine, it is probably best described as a civil rights movement against Putin. And Putin's response has been truly psychopathic: murder and torture. But it probably pales in comparison to what he did in Chechnya during his rise into power. I've seen some pictures from Eastern Ukraine I will never get out of my head. Apparently Tartars in Crimea are being disappeared as well.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Slap*happy: [Russia's position in the world of fossil fuels is] Diminishing rapidly.

Favorited for optimism.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:29 PM on October 29, 2014


In view of the post title, there must be a link to the Official Putin on the Ritz animated GIF
posted by exogenous at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I read an article last week, forget the source, that was suggesting that the US, Saudi Arabia and others are secretly working together to lower the world prices for oil and gas, in order to inflict pain on Russia.

Thoughts?


Pretty much exactly what I figured. But also with a side dish of "Hey Saudi Arabia, we'll stop nagging you about funding ISIS if you help us screw the Russians". And as others have noted keeping prices low helps Saudi Arabian exports anyway.
posted by davros42 at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2014


But it probably pales in comparison to what he did in Chechnya during his rise into power.

One doesn't generally acquire the epithet "The Butcher of Grozny" without some seriously grim stuff going down.
posted by sobarel at 12:34 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thoughts?

Well, that's a dangerous path to go down. Oil prices are political, not truly driven by market factors. The cost for the Saudis to kick out a barrel of Oil is 15 bucks. They could undercut the whole world if they wanted to. Once it gets below 90 bucks, it starts hurting Russia. Once it gets below 80, it starts making the US fracking business model less viable. So, if it is true that the US and Saudi are colluding, they can't go too much lower than it is now, the US economy starts to take a hit.
posted by prodigalsun at 12:38 PM on October 29, 2014


That's a rather simplistic, cold war reading of the USSR's actions at a time when the western democracies had shown that a) they couldn't be trusted to actually defend their partners in East Europe, b) were perhaps indeed busy pointing nazi Germany at the USSR and ruled by c) elites much more comfortable with Hitler than Stalin while d) the USSR itself was in no shape to fight and needed breathing space.

Which doesn't absolve Stalin and co from the warcrimes they committed nor their domestic and foreign politics before the war, but does explain why exactly the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed.


What explains the subsequent Soviet invasions of Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, and Romania?
posted by The Tensor at 12:38 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Orientalism reanimated: colonial thinking in Western analysts’ comments on Ukraine
Practically all those who defend Russia in this debate fell into this trap. Reading many of the articles that accuse the West of “causing” the Ukrainian chaos by “provoking” Russia in its strategic interests and wounding its pride of great power, it’s clear how the authors write from a distorted, hierarchical and, ultimately, orientalist (if not outright racist) perspective on the small countries of Eastern Europe.

When a commentator claims that Russia feels threatened by the advance of NATO in Eastern Europe or Ukraine’s approach to the EU, he’s basically implying that Russia does indeed have an inalienable right to claim rights in the region, as if Eastern Europe was nothing but a tool to compensate Russia’s unresolved inferiority complexes. Pro-Russian commentators implicitly deny Ukraine the very dignity of active subject in the whole issue, thus even denying its relevance as an independent state.[1]

The idea that Russian actions are legitimate reactions to the interference of “outsiders” in a region seen as “Russian” is nothing but a 2.0 expression of the same imperialist mentality with which Europeans empires split the Middle East. This is all the more surprising as it often comes from people who embrace ostensibly anti-imperialist positions in any other context. In their writings, Eastern Europe is a passive object on which Moscow is the only one actor (in the Latin sense of “doer”) entitled to operate, with no concern for smaller, local figures.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:38 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I read an article last week, forget the source, that was suggesting that the US, Saudi Arabia and others are secretly working together to lower the world prices for oil and gas, in order to inflict pain on Russia.

There are also reports that OPEC is increasing output in order to bring the cost of oil down in order to kill the profitability of Canadian shale oil production. The energy world is such a friendly place.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2014


One major difference between the US and Russia, where the US could take a lesson, is how different cultures and ethnicities are allowed to keep identity.

Lot of people in the post-Soviet-satellite countries and a lot of present-day Ukrainians who might disagree with this.

It's pretty pointless to argue over "who's worse," but I am as baffled by the good vibes Putin gets in some corners of the left as Mr. Ponomarev seems to be (tho seeing that the linked piece is by Eli Lake, I'm compelled to note that I've taken Mr. Lake with at least a grain of salt ever since his business was kissing GWB's ass). An autocratic, hypercapitalist, increasingly socially-illiberal, expansionist state driven by Macho Machovich is the last place that deserves any lefty love, IMO. The only thing Putin has going for him is that he isn't "the West" and I guess he really knows how to sell that.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


The Tensor: This is my favorite part:

Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past.

When was that? Oh, he must be referring to that time Germany and Russia agreed to divide up the world and conquer it, but then the Germans ruined everything by stabbing Russia in the back.
Might have been the time that the Soviet armies on the Eastern Front defeated the Nazis, without which D-Day would have been one of the largest massacres of American forces in it's entire history.

Or the time Russia defeated Napolean by burning their own capital city.

I'm not saying they've ever been the good guys, but in all honesty they have stopped two cancerously growing world empires dead in their tracks. Not out of any interest in being the savior of the world, of course; out of pure survival needs.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:53 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


escabeche: I find it's a pretty good rule of thumb that anyone who refers to a country as "she" is up to no good.
What have you got against the translator of his speech?
posted by IAmBroom at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Idunno... lotta people here seem to have sucked up and swallowed all the anti-Russian propaganda the US has produced. Not much hope of discussion in an atmosphere so thick with jingoism.
posted by fredludd at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


> Russia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union, including
> roughly 36% of Germany's natural gas needs,

Let 'em eat cake go renewable.
posted by jfuller at 12:58 PM on October 29, 2014


Might have been the time that the Soviet armies on the Eastern Front defeated the Nazis

You gotta give 'em this. Russian Army—worthy fucking adversary, man. Or as my Russian history prof used to say "Drunk they beat Napoleon and drunk they beat Hitler!"
posted by octobersurprise at 12:58 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


global consumption is declining...due to increases in efficiency and competition from renewables

This is a big claim. I would be very interested in reading your sources. I mean, there's probably no question that consumption is declining, but whether it is due to efficiency or renewables is in doubt.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2014


Idunno... lotta people here seem to have sucked up and swallowed all the anti-Russian propaganda the US has produced. Not much hope of discussion in an atmosphere so thick with jingoism.

It's easy to name call. Russia has a long history of totalitarianism, jailing political prisoners, and controlling media messages of their own. You don't need to suckle at the teat of fox news to figure that out. You want to be more specific about what people have said here that is incorrect or how we've all been completely deluded by the state propoganda machine?
posted by prodigalsun at 1:00 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


there's just one thing missing from putin's speech - an admission that his country is falling to pieces and the only way he can think of to hold it together is to find an external cause to rally the people around
posted by pyramid termite at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Idunno... lotta people here seem to have sucked up and swallowed all the anti-Russian propaganda the US has produced. Not much hope of discussion in an atmosphere so thick with jingoism.

I dunno about anti-Russian, but anti-Putin doesn't require a hell of a lot of propaganda or spin. And while he's right, of course, that U.S. short-sightedness with its power has caused global unrest, using it to lay the blame for Ukraine on the U.S. is laughable, and the rest of the speech is bluster, rationalizations, and sabre-rattling. Oh, and lies, like when a dictator-for-life boasts that Russia's future will be determined by its people.

I don't need to be jingoistic to know that Putin is bad for Russia and bad for the world as a whole.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Here is the the transcript of the speech from the Valdai website. If you scroll (way) down you'll find it also includes the Q&A session with Putin.

Includes admitting that Russia helped (now former) Ukrainian President Yanukovich escape to Crimea, before helping him escape from the country. Also this lovely take on the annexation of Crimea:
Seeing these developments, people in Crimea almost immediately took to arms and asked us for help in arranging the events they intended to hold. I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea, but not to force anyone to take part in the elections. This is impossible, you are all grown people, and you understand it. How could we do it? Lead people to polling stations at gunpoint?"
posted by Kabanos at 1:06 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


So the good news is that solar is expected to reach grid parity in all 50 states by 2016.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 1:14 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Actually, I see now that the Kremlin's website includes the most complete transcript. (Looks like the Valdai site cut off some of the Q&A section).
posted by Kabanos at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


You gotta give 'em this. Russian Army—worthy fucking adversary, man. Or as my Russian history prof used to say "Drunk they beat Napoleon and drunk they beat Hitler!"

From what I remember of history, though, these aren't particularly good examples of how good the Russian Army is/was. Napoleon got crushed by winter and Stalin's purges had weakened the Red Army officer crop so much and his personal military leadership was so incompetent, that they suffered enormous losses beyond what they need have. Or has opinion about the management of the Soviet campaign in WWII altered more recently?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find it quite charming that there are people who think speeches make a difference.
posted by fatbird at 1:19 PM on October 29, 2014


I find it quite charming that there are people who think speeches make a difference.

looks like somebody doesn't live inside of an inspirational sports movie
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oyéah: One major difference between the US and Russia, where the US could take a lesson, is how different cultures and ethnicities are allowed to keep identity.
This... is staggeringly wrong.

Ukrainians under Soviet rule were forbidden to speak their own languages. I know a 3rd-generation Italian-American with an Italian accent. While it's true the BIA once forbid teaching in native languages, even that hasn't been true for decades.

Displays of cultural and ethnic pride have routinely been prohibited and violently oppressed by Russia. If you consider LGBT parades to be "ethnic pride", then there are certainly some examples... but that's both a stretch and farther back than Chechnya.

The idea that the US could learn anything about tolerance from Russia's government is laughable. As bad as the US can be, many countries are worse - Russia certainly included.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:23 PM on October 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


Plus, they treated the Jews so well too.
posted by prodigalsun at 1:52 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


The claims in this thread about fossil fuel consumption falling really seemed unbelievable to me. So, I checked the data. Consumption continues to rise.

It is possible that consumption/supply is falling - no, scratch that: if the price of fossil fuels is falling worldwide, consumption/supply is falling. Period. But, what's the actual trend? That turned out to be a bit harder - lots of comparisons stopped at 2008 (probably since the Great Recession upended decades of trending for a few years). Here's one, that clearly shows the long-term (multi-year) trend in crude oil price is sharply upwards. Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) are also up, although prices in the US are anomolously down. So, it's also untrue that production is outstripping demand.

Relax, people. The sky is still falling.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:55 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


This... is staggeringly wrong.

Ukrainians under Soviet rule were forbidden to speak their own languages.


Plus there is the argument that Stalin starved 2.5-7.5 million Ukrainians to death to eradicate the rise of Ukrainian nationalism.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:57 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ctrl-F mh17

What, no heavy breathing about that any more?
posted by telstar at 2:02 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she had in the past.
[takes ten seconds to think about the cold war from the perspective of russia and international communism] oh ok
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


prodigalsun: Plus, they treated the Jews so well too.
And don't forget Poland!
posted by IAmBroom at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


What explains the subsequent Soviet invasions of Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, and Romania?

Well it's not like anybody was using them
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Eh, words are cheap. And Russia today is something of an archeopteryx - stuck between the authoritarianism of the past and the freedoms promised by new technology and economic development. It's neither lizard nor bird, and one side of its nature actively impedes the growth of the other. They won't be a force in international relations until that internal conflict gets sorted out.

Time is on the side of the young, and against Putin. Barring any stupid, self destructive wars he'll be gone in a decade or two, and Russia can finally achieve its destiny and become a modern nation.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


The claims in this thread about fossil fuel consumption falling really seemed unbelievable to me. So, I checked the data. Consumption continues to rise.

It is possible that consumption/supply is falling - no, scratch that: if the price of fossil fuels is falling worldwide, consumption/supply is falling.


That...makes no sense. Price goes up when either demand rises or supply shrinks. Price goes down when either demand falls or supply increases. The US energy information administration --- the source that blog is using --- has monthly data on both oil prices and production. I'm on my phone, or I'd link, but if you Google "era crude production history" and make about three clicks, you'll see that the cause of the price drop is largely a vast run-up in supply, with US producing rising from a nadir of 150k-ish barrels a day in the late 2000s to 250k barrels a day and rising as of now, to levels it last saw in 1986.

That turned out to be a bit harder - lots of comparisons stopped at 2008 (probably since the Great Recession upended decades of trending for a few years).

Nah, that's when Yergin won and the case for doom fell apart.

Here's one, that clearly shows the long-term (multi-year) trend in crude oil price is sharply upwards.

I don't think it shows any such thing. Oil prices bounced around between 20-40 bucks a barrel for nearly two decades before skyrocketing during the mid-2000s, crashing along with the Great Recession, and then jumping up again. They've spent the past few years bouncing wildly between 75-110 bucks, most recently crashing down to 80ish. That's because there's a much higher price floor under the new supply of oil. But it's not at all clear that prices from here will inevitably begin to rise steadily.
posted by Diablevert at 2:37 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Might have been the time that the Soviet armies on the Eastern Front defeated the Nazis

And then embarked on a campaign of theft and mass rape, followed by sending their own POWs to the gulag. The Russian Army can make even defeating the Nazis seem like an unpleasant proposition.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:49 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


And Russia today is something of an archeopteryx - stuck between the authoritarianism of the past and the freedoms promised by new technology and economic development.

China is demonstrating that it's possible to become a major economic and technological power while remaining an authoritarian one-party state. I don't think liberalism and increasing freedom are a given for the developing world, and there are plenty of countries who see Putin as a role model rather than a relic.
posted by sobarel at 3:02 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, uh,
Putin (like the sun and the moon, he does not exist for you to cultivate an opinion)
lol
posted by Flunkie at 4:09 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


They're in the process of selling the rocket engines to the world's various space agencies. I wonder how many they have left?
I don't know, but Orbital Sciences is going to need to buy another, the last one they used is "out of service" now.
posted by edheil at 4:15 PM on October 29, 2014


The sanctions must be hurting.

Classic reinforcement theory. When you put your foot down to stop bad behavior, there is usually a brief uptick in that behavior, until the offending party really gets that you mean business. You have to be consistent with consequences to make this work.

I read this speech as an indication that Putin is beginning to sweat. Does anyone really think that the oligarchs who run Russia will let Putin destroy their sand castles? Think again, Vlad!
posted by Vibrissae at 4:39 PM on October 29, 2014




Will we as humans ever do away with nation states and the awful self serving people that generally end up controlling them (directly & indirectly)?

All this talk of, Russia is worse, no the USA is worse, just highlights the fact that both nations are terrible/decent (to varying degrees), and the bickering about which one is worse/better doesn't help us reach any conceptual solutions as to the underlying problems that are causing this idiocy to continue ad infinitum. Not that that is the point of this post, or the arguments above, but sometimes I get a little philosophical about things...or something.
posted by nikoniko at 5:22 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Diablevert: "That...makes no sense. Price goes up when either demand rises or supply shrinks."

But... that's exactly what IAmBroom said. It's not that consumption is going down, it's that supply is rising faster than consumption is rising. This is an argument against the price drop being an indication of falling consumption-- the price drop is due to a rise in supply, and consumption continues to rise (though perhaps slower than formerly, I don't know).
posted by dougfelt at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2014


"Eh, words are cheap. And Russia today is something of an archeopteryx - stuck between the authoritarianism of the past and the freedoms promised by new technology and economic development. It's neither lizard nor bird, and one side of its nature actively impedes the growth of the other. They won't be a force in international relations until that internal conflict gets sorted out.

Time is on the side of the young, and against Putin. Barring any stupid, self destructive wars he'll be gone in a decade or two, and Russia can finally achieve its destiny and become a modern nation.
"

Part of my "Russian Politics in Transition" class was about looking at the historical models for government in Russia and pointing out that the country is so damn large compared to its population that maintaining central control effectively has led to autocratic central governments for pretty much all of Russia's history as Russia. The only times that this has started to slip, you got the 1917 revolutions and the 1991 collapse of the USSR.

And something worth looking at is the instability of resource-extraction economies, especially petro-economies. Both Venezuela and Mexico poorly managed their oil wealth in the '70s, spending heavily on programs rather than infrastructure and failing to diversify their economies. Russia is over-reliant on resource extraction as a funding source, not just oil but things like timber too, and despite Putin's nominal declarations of Russian development plans, the dominance of oligarchs in Russia has made effectively shifting the output of Russia to things like manufactured goods or information technology much more difficult (it's one of the risks that the U.S. runs in not curbing income inequality here).
posted by klangklangston at 6:04 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


You gotta give 'em this. Russian Army—worthy fucking adversary, man.

A bit too much credit given to the Russian army here. The worthy adversary actually comprises three layers; winter + vast lands + leaders willing to throw countless waves of demoralized, undersupplied cannon fodder at the enemy until the latter runs out of bullets (aka the Zapp Brannigan strategy).
posted by Behemoth at 6:21 PM on October 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's not that consumption is going down, it's that supply is rising faster than consumption is rising.

On the Gripping hand -

1) Renewables have been growing as fast, and now faster than, fossil fuels - and when fossil fuels top out (2018 or so in the US, and a sloooooow decline thereafter), renewables, being tech, will likely keep growing.

2) Efficiency, also being tech, and now a focus in the age of $75/bbl+ oil, is increasing at the same rate as renewables.

3) China, Indonesia and Brazil are making concerted efforts to wean themselves from fossil fuels.

... buuut....

4) Developing economies in Africa may not do the same, and the third most populous country in the world (I live there. Hello from here in Rhode Island!) may abandon renewables if they decide to elect a revanchist president to go along with their revanchist legislature.

(And I meant earlier that the growth in demand was slowing, not that demand itself was diminishing - tho that will happen, and likely soon if renewables and efficiency keeps up their growth arc. I didn't phrase it that way and deserved to be called out for it.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:30 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


The most important speech since Churchill? Wow, and I thought American Exceptionalism was arrogant.
posted by caddis at 7:58 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


"[...] Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify [...]"

Trolled by "Star Wars", yet again.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:24 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


A bit too much credit given to the Russian army here. The worthy adversary actually comprises three layers; winter + vast lands + leaders willing to throw countless waves of demoralized, undersupplied cannon fodder at the enemy until the latter runs out of bullets (aka the Zapp Brannigan strategy).

It's 2014, not 1944. Just about every weapons system the west has there is a Slavic equivalent, and sometimes their version is better and/or cheaper to produce and/or greater quantity. And they have the worlds biggest stockpile of NBC weapons (it's how Syria got a chem weapons program). Fighting Russia is not the same as fighting Jihadists with AK-47s and RPGs. They are the most lethal military in the world, besides the US.
posted by stbalbach at 8:45 PM on October 29, 2014


Ehh. Europe has energy weapons and the US has orbital weapons. The Russians have very, very, very good late '80s weapons... that the Israelis were able to fly through to bomb Damascus without much bother. It's kind of painful when the Pakistanis are confident they can engineer a better fighter platform on their own, and the Indians make their own tanks.

But, no, the US won't go to war with Russia unless it knows it's worth loosing a few major cities over.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree, I think the conventional Russian military is, well, not a paper tiger but its not anything like on par with the US, UK, Canada, ANZAC and so on. But, first, it would be idiotic to test that theory. And, second, they still have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Ultima ratio regum and all that.
posted by Justinian at 11:21 PM on October 29, 2014


oooo wait 'till he gets to Brisbane for the G20, he's gonna get a shirtfronting

What's a shirtfronting my foreign friends? Well, it's a an Australian football manoeuvre where you apply the full front of your shirt to the face of your opponent.
posted by mattoxic at 1:09 AM on October 30, 2014


His act of poisoning a dissident who had sought refuge in a western country spoke far more eloquently about his intentions.
posted by atchafalaya at 1:50 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, a drone could have done a better job...
posted by infini at 7:46 AM on October 30, 2014


Yeah, a drone could have done a better job...

Logical fallacy, yo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:50 AM on October 30, 2014


You tied my hands. Grar!
posted by infini at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2014


Diablevert: It is possible that consumption/supply is falling - no, scratch that: if the price of fossil fuels is falling worldwide, consumption/supply is falling.

That...makes no sense. Price goes up when either demand rises or supply shrinks.
We're agreeing. "Consumption/supply" = consumption DIVIDED BY supply, not "either consumption or supply".
posted by IAmBroom at 9:36 AM on October 30, 2014


stbalbach: It's 2014, not 1944. Just about every weapons system the west has there is a Slavic equivalent, and sometimes their version is better and/or cheaper to produce and/or greater quantity.
Ah ha ha ha ... no. The Soviet Union went bankrupt attempting to keep up technologically with the US - which it couldn't, we've since learned, so they spent a lot of time and money attempting to at least appear to be keeping up. That much is solid, known fact.

No miracle occurred when the USSR fell to advance technology in Russia by decades, and they've struggled economically since (as before), with most of the country's wealth going into oligarch's pockets (such as Putin's, of course); none of these guys are altruistically building a super-duper-Russia-tech-revolution.

If anything, 2014 Russia is even farther behind 2014 US than their 1990, and possibly even 1944, equivalents.
stbalbach: They are the most lethal military in the world, besides the US.
The much-larger, better-funded (by a factor of 2) mainland China military would politely disagree.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:43 AM on October 30, 2014


Justinian: And, second, they still have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
Also false.

Honestly, people, before you go bathing Russia in praise IN THIS THREAD of all threads, could you at least make a minor effort to fabricate facts a bit less obviously?
posted by IAmBroom at 9:47 AM on October 30, 2014


dougfelt: But... that's exactly what IAmBroom said. It's not that consumption is going down, it's that supply is rising faster than consumption is rising. This is an argument against the price drop being an indication of falling consumption-- the price drop is due to a rise in supply, and consumption continues to rise (though perhaps slower than formerly, I don't know).
That's the opposite of what I said. I'll try to make it very, very simple:

Consumption, also called demand, is RISING.
Supply is RISING.
Consumption is rising FASTER than supply.
This makes energy prices RISE.
Energy prices are RISING.
There IS NO PRICE DROP.

I don't know why people in this thread are so damned attached to the bizarre myth that energy is getting cheaper, BUT IT IS NOT TRUE. And - DUH! Extracting oil from things called "tar sands" and "shale deposits" is going to be way, way more expensive than extracting it from a gusher.

And, in general, the vast majority of our energy uses are getting hungrier, which isn't fully offset by "efficiency" - how efficient does your cellphone have to get to use less energy than the one you didn't even own in 1990? My grandparents didn't have A/C in my childhood; now I wouldn't consider buying a car that didn't. Etc. Efficiency gains are less than our hunger for energy.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 AM on October 30, 2014


I don't know why people in this thread are so damned attached to the bizarre myth that energy is getting cheaper, BUT IT IS NOT TRUE.

You mean, aside from the pesky fact that crude oil used to be at $150/barrel a year or two ago and yesterday it closed at something like $82/barrel?
posted by hippybear at 10:06 AM on October 30, 2014


Time frame, hippybear. If it goes down in the next few minutes, would that make your fact wrong?

Or is the overall trend more important? I don't believe that a one-year dip in oil prices means that oil is going to be cheaper in ten years. It depends on whether you're speculating on oil spot prices, or talking about future energy availability.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:13 AM on October 30, 2014


Yeah, but how much of that is price inelasticity - Katrina was an education for oil producers and commodity speculators who started to push the price of oil right up to the pain point, and indeed, it's been banner years of profitability for oil companies since then. While I totally buy that oil was on a long-term upward trend due to increasing global demand, prices rose abruptly in response to Katrina, and never returned to previous levels. More, there was a major war in a major oil producing region that was Not Going Well during the bulk of the period where oil prices abruptly rose. There's a new one, sure, but the US is now a much larger supplier.

What we're seeing now is a lot more supply from a lot more producers, uncertainty about uninterrupted supply being eased, and a return to price elasticity as efficiency improves and alternatives take hold. So, I think the pricing since 2003 or so has been out of whack with actual supply/demand, and the market is finally correcting itself. It will still trend upwards, but not as dramatically or as suddenly as the beginning of the Iraq War or post-Katrina.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:50 AM on October 30, 2014


Justinian: And, second, they still have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

Also false.

Honestly, people, before you go bathing Russia in praise IN THIS THREAD of all threads, could you at least make a minor effort to fabricate facts a bit less obviously?


Actually if you read your own link and look at the total warheads, rather than just the active ones, you'll see that Russia is indeed first worldwide. You can quibble about what really counts, but it's not unreasonable to claim that they 'have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world'.

Please note that this is not intended to bathe anyone or any country with praise, scorn, or scented oils.
posted by echo target at 11:41 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


tries again... clears throat

Better dead than red!
posted by infini at 12:25 PM on October 30, 2014


This is an analysis (mainly of Saudi) oil field decline which includes the sentence:

Russia's super-giant Samotlor began a catastrophic decline in 1987. (The Soviet Union collapsed three years later, perhaps not coincidentally.)
posted by bukvich at 12:33 PM on October 30, 2014


I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

I am really, really embarrassed to be compared to Sideshow Bob without having a convincing retort.

Anyhow, untrustworthy doesn't always equal stupid, but, eventually, stupid always equals untrustworthy.
posted by mule98J at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2014


If OPEC prices shale out of profitability that's a good thing...it's the most disastrous, water wasteful way to obtain petroleum. The screed seems like a nationalist call for Americans to unite against Russia. At least it made me feel a bit GRARRY about wanting to put him in his place. FTG.
posted by aydeejones at 1:29 PM on October 30, 2014


What we're seeing now is a lot more supply from a lot more producers

This obviously makes OPEC's attempts to manipulate the price less effective. They would have to cut a much larger percentage of their own supply to have an impact. While they are doing this, they are providing capital to companies developing technologies that will erode the future value of their own oil production. Rather than the result of a price manipulation scheme to damage Russia, I think the lower oil prices may be evidence of the inability of major players to manipulate prices as they could before.

I don't believe that a one-year dip in oil prices means that oil is going to be cheaper in ten years.

You might want to look into investing in oil futures. The current price of Dec 2022 is the same as Dec 2014 in today's dollars.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:39 PM on October 30, 2014


Russia's super-giant Samotlor began a catastrophic decline in 1987. (The Soviet Union collapsed three years later, perhaps not coincidentally.)

No, I'm pretty sure it's because Kim Philby died.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


The energy industry's blood suckers of every nation, politic, and culture will suck until there is a different way found to consume the energies of us all. That is why they are the energy industry.

Russia is a huge, diverse society which has endured centuries of hardship more so than other industrial societies, and they are tough, they have had it. We all deserve a break from the ceaseless and highly profitable animosity.

Every one who yields to the hate-filled impulse should stand in a mirror and shower themselves with their routine hatred, and realize it is a severe illness, and bad set of habits. It is almost unbreakable when coupled with the positive reinforcement of profit taking.

The unfortunate impulse to fear and hate runs the world. When functionally the means to absolute destruction is in the hands of those most able and incliinclined to use them, then the intercession of reasonable leadership and civility is our only tool for reconciliation. For too long we have played the biggest bully game, not because it works, but because it is fun and profitable for the players.
posted by Oyéah at 2:49 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ukraine, Moscow clinch deal on Russian gas supply

Unfortunately this is not worth the paper it's printed on. Signed international agreements do not hold any water for Putin. He will cut off gas to Ukraine if and when he feels like it.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Honestly, people, before you go bathing Russia in praise IN THIS THREAD of all threads, could you at least make a minor effort to fabricate facts a bit less obviously?

First, saying Russia has the largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world isn't praise and it's weird that you think it is.

Second, the very link you provide shows that Russia does have the largest stockpile in the world. The USA has more currently active warheads but Russia has more total. In Case of Emergency those could be reactivated.

So you should really make make sure to be correct on your corrections if you're going to get all up in people's faces about it.
posted by Justinian at 9:58 PM on October 30, 2014


The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact gave Germany the green light to invade Poland from the west, closely followed by the Soviet Union from the east, starting the Second World War. It was only later that the two invaders turned on each other.

you need to revisit some very basic history
posted by p3on at 8:57 PM on October 31, 2014


The technology of negative mobilization
Russian public opinion and Vladimir Putin's "Ukrainian policy"
How can it be that, in contrast to the international community, virtually no one in Russia believed that Russian-backed separatists shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane in July? Beyond press censorship, Lev Gudkov looks to Russians themselves, who increasingly hear only what they want to. His analysis draws extensively on research conducted by the Levada Center, presented here in numerous tables and graphs.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:08 AM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


you need to revisit some very basic history

What exactly is wrong with the statement on the Pact?
posted by Atreides at 8:29 AM on November 1, 2014


Regarding energy and geopolitics: The Shale Revolution and the New Geopolitics of Energy. [pdf] (Robert A. Manning for the Atlantic Council).
posted by Kabanos at 8:48 AM on November 3, 2014


The Shale Revolution and the New Geopolitics of Energy

I am 1/4 of the way through the first page, and this is already the feelgood movie of the year. Will be interesting to see if they can keep ratcheting up the pollyanna all the way through.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:08 AM on November 3, 2014




The Hidden Author of Putinism
"Everything is PR” has become the favorite phrase of the new Russia; my Moscow peers were filled with a sense that they were both cynical and enlightened. When I asked them about Soviet-era dissidents, like my parents, who fought against communism, they dismissed them as naive dreamers and my own Western attachment to such vague notions as “human rights” and “freedom” as a blunder. “Can’t you see your own governments are just as bad as ours?” they asked me. I tried to protest—but they just smiled and pitied me. To believe in something and stand by it in this world is derided, the ability to be a shape-shifter celebrated.
[...]
If the West once undermined and helped to ultimately defeat the U.S.S.R. by uniting free-market economics, cool culture, and democratic politics into one package (parliaments, investment banks, and abstract expressionism fused to defeat the Politburo, planned economics, and social realism), Surkov’s genius has been to tear those associations apart, to marry authoritarianism and modern art, to use the language of rights and representation to validate tyranny, to recut and paste democratic capitalism until it means the reverse of its original purpose.
[...]
The Kremlin switches messages at will to its advantage, climbing inside everything: European right-wing nationalists are seduced with an anti-EU message; the Far Left is co-opted with tales of fighting U.S. hegemony; U.S. religious conservatives are convinced by the Kremlin’s fight against homosexuality. And the result is an array of voices, working away at global audiences from different angles, producing a cumulative echo chamber of Kremlin support, all broadcast on RT.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:25 PM on November 8, 2014


I finally found some mainstream coverage of this speech. From last week's Economist: Hard Talk: What lies behind Vladimir Putin’s latest anti-American rant.
In 2007 Mr Putin’s Munich speech was a complement to Russia’s strong growth. His latest effort is a substitute for it. Blaming Russia’s economic troubles, including falling oil prices, on America diverts criticism from the Kremlin. ...
In many ways it is Russia’s weakness, not its strength, that is now the biggest danger.
posted by Nelson at 1:29 PM on November 8, 2014




Origin of the Separatists’ Buk: A Bellingcat Investigation
It is the opinion of the Bellingcat MH17 investigation team that there is undeniable evidence that separatists in Ukraine were in control of a Buk missile launcher on July 17th and transported it from Donetsk to Snizhne on a transporter. The Buk missile launcher was unloaded in Snizhne approximately three hours before the downing of MH17 and was later filmed minus one missile driving through separatist-controlled Luhansk.

The Bellingcat MH17 investigation team also believes the same Buk was part of a convoy travelling from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade in Kursk to near the Ukrainian border as part of a training exercise between June 22nd and July 25th, with elements of the convoy separating from the main convoy at some point during that period, including the Buk missile launcher filmed in Ukraine on July 17th. There is strong evidence indicating that the Russian military provided separatists in eastern Ukraine with the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed in eastern Ukraine on July 17th.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:00 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


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