The Russian Menace Made Simple 190


There is currently a major propaganda blitz by arms and security industries to convince us was are in a “new cold war”, and therefore should be spending even more ludicrous sums of money on weapons of mass destruction. Here are a few simple facts.

a) Russia is not a great power. Its total GDP is about the same as Spain’s – and Spain is pretty knackered. Russia has even less economic clout as a basis for world domination than the UK.

b) Russia’s economy is not diversified. It is over-dependent on raw commodity production and export. Its distribution of wealth is even worse than ours, although the Tories are doing their best to catch up. We have a totally false popular impression of Russian wealth because a few oligarchs have most of the money – and export it straight to the West. Capital flight is a huge problem for the Russian economy.

c) Russia is no threat to the UK and never has been. Centuries of Russophobia are entirely baseless. The idea of a defensive posture against Russia is ludicrous as there is no threat. Churchill, incidentally, asked Truman to nuke Moscow. A nuclear attack would be the only realistic way Russia could attack the UK – and the only thing that could make that possible are the mad calls for cold war and more weapons currently being heard in the West. None of which is to say it would be militarily sensible to attack Russia, as history shows. But Russia’s aggressive potential is very limited indeed. It will not be long before Poland plus the Baltic states are economically stronger than Russia.

None of this is to say Russia cannot continue to bully those very weak states which neighbour it. I have no time for Putin’s aggressive nationalism. But his position is fundamentally weak and his powerbase very limited. Neither the left nor the right in the UK (and in this comments section) want to hear this. The right constantly exaggerate Russia as a threat to boost their political interests and military funding. The left want desperately to believe in Putin as a strong counter to the West, as indicated by the ludicrous analyses that the Syria conflict was all about Russia’s decrepit and worthless Black Sea Fleet.

How to handle relations with Russia is not quite as much of a conundrum as it sounds, as Putin’s vaulting ambition is severely limited by his economic constraints. He is feeling that severely now, and it is nothing to do with the token and pointless economic sanctions. Russia desperately needs economic and political form – but Putin’s hand is only strengthened by the bellicose nonsense which enables him to appeal to the powerful atavistic strand in modern Russian social culture. I remain of the view that internationally supervised, genuinely fair referenda in Eastern Ukraine should be the way forward. That should include a new and properly conducted referendum in the Crimea, including free campaigns. It should be made plain that there will be a fast track into the EU for the Ukraine at the end of that process, after the secession of any districts that wish to join Russia.


190 thoughts on “The Russian Menace Made Simple

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  • CanSpeccy

    @Kempe

    The idea that an R60 could bring instant destruction, blow apart, an aircraft the size of B777 …

    But I do not believe that that is the idea.

    According to a report attributed to the Russian Union of Engineers:

    “…At 17.17-17.20, the Boeing 777 was in Ukrainian airspace near the city of Donetsk at the height of 10100 m. An unidentified combat aircraft (presumably a Su-25 or MiG -29), which was a tier below, on a collision course, in the cloud layer, sharply gained altitude and suddenly appeared out of the clouds in front of the civilian aircraft and opened fire on the cockpit, firing from a 30 mm caliber cannon or smaller. The pilot of a fighter jet can do this while in “free hunting” mode (using onboard radar) or with the help of navigational guidance using airspace situation data from ground-based radar.

    As a result of multiple hits from shells there was damage to the cockpit, which suddenly depressurized, resulting in instant death for the crew due to mechanical influences and decompression. The attack was sudden and lasted a fraction of a second; in such circumstances the crew could not sound any alarm as the flight had been proceeding in regular mode and no attack was expected.

    Since neither the engines or hydraulic system, nor other devices required for the continuation of the flight were out of commission, the Boeing 777, running on autopilot (as is standard), continued on its horizontal flight path, perhaps gradually losing altitude.

    The pilot of the unidentified combat aircraft maneuvered to the rear of the Boeing 777. After that, the unidentified plane remained on the combat course, the pilot provided a target tracking aircraft equipment, took aim and launched his R-60 or R-73 missiles.

    The result was a loss of cabin pressure, the aircraft control system was destroyed, the autopilot failed, the aircraft lost the ability to maintain its level flight path, and went into a tailspin. The resulting overload led to mechanical failure of the airframe at high altitudes.

    The aircraft, according to the information available from the flight recorders, broke up in the air, but this is possible only in the case of a vertical fall from a height of ten thousand meters, which can only happen when the maximum permissible overload is exceeded. One reason for stalling and going into a tailspin is the inability of the crew to control the aircraft as a result an emergency in the cockpit and the subsequent instantaneous depressurization of the cockpit and the passenger cabin. The aircraft broke up at a high altitude, which explains the fact that the wreckage was scattered over the territory of more than 15 square kilometers.”

  • CanSpeccy

    @Kempe

    the Russians have shot themselves in the foot

    Who said the image was provided by “the Russians”? The Daily Mail attributes it to a “mysterious source.”

    It’s as likely to be some BS fabricated by Western intel to discredit the government of Russia as a product of Russian intel. The image(s) has no value as evidence for or against the Ukies unless its provenance is established, which it has not been.

  • Kempe

    ” attributed to the Russian Union of Engineers: ”

    Provenance no better than the Wail’s story and not making a lot of sense. R60 only has infra red guidance and would’ve homed in on an engine. Both engines were found close together and intact.

  • CanSpeccy

    R60 only has infra red guidance and would’ve homed in on an engine. Both engines were found close together and intact.

    But one engine is reported to have been on fire: CNN has the video!

    But I think the most significant fact that we know for certain, is that the multi-national inquiry, which has all the evidence, continues to remain silent.

    Since none of the parties to the inquiry has a vested interest in proving Russia innocent, the silence suggests that clear evidence of Russian culpability does not exist. Ukraine, however, which is a party to the inquiry, is able to block publication of the commission’s findings indefinitely, if its own guilt would be revealed. My bet is that a report will never be published.

  • CanSpeccy

    Michael Rivero seems to effectively debunk the Daily Mail’s mysteriously sourced MH17 shoot-down image here.

    In general, the physical evidence is pretty much useless except in the hands of an unbiased and highly competent technical evaluation commission, which does not exist in the case of MH17.

    As the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 have shown, physical evidence rarely settles the argument as it can be faked, endlessly reinterpreted, or countered by new fake evidence.

    Putin is smart, therefore, to focus on the question of why the evidence in the possession of the international inquiry into the downing of MH17 is not released: the cockpit voice recording, the Ukraine air traffic control recording, US-NATO satellite and radar data.

    The inference is clear: conclusive proof of Russian culpability does not exist.

    I very much doubt if conclusive proof of culpability for MH17 will ever appear in the public domain. That could only happen in the event of total defeat of Russia or the West. But then, in a Nuremberg-type scenario, how much confidence are you willing to place on the evidence of the victors!

    Folks just have to make their own judgment as to what is most probable. But if they want to be taken seriously they should avoid bald assertions such as those of Rory Stewart when all they have is a judgement based on inconclusive evidence.

  • Kempe

    The CNN video is a clip from this which shows a Antonov transport plane shot down the week before.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TELrLvX5ybU

    Some other poor sods having their arses burnt off.

    Anyway it contradicts the “engineers” report. I think you’e just taking the proverbial.

    I’m somewhat surprised to see the Wail and the Sexpress still have that story up on their websites.

  • YouKnowMyName

    Russian TV Channel One have shown these high resolution photographs that they claim to be US or UK (do we have any spy satellites?) possibly spy photographs of an aircraft shooting at MH17

    http://img1.1tv.ru/imgsize640x360/PR20141114180250.JPG

    with a bigger version here

    https://cs540102.vk.me/c624118/v624118275/7d74/tcP6RpgwgeI.jpg

    strange timing that this is released during Brisbane G20 summit!

    The Russian Channel One story is here http://www.1tv.ru/news/leontiev/271840

    they do say “allegedly” a lot, and claim the source is a professional, but the TV says that they still also have to consider the BUK theory

    meanwhile Kempe mentioned “No one’s doubting that there was another aircraft in the vicinity” do you have a source for that! – I’ve never seen ‘our media’ accept this as a fact

  • MJ

    “Kempe mentioned “No one’s doubting that there was another aircraft in the vicinity” do you have a source for that!”

    Kempe goes on to say:

    “it’s what the BUK operators were trying to shoot down”

    There’s no evidence that a BUK was involved. The idea has only gained currency because of repeated, unsubstantiated assertions from Ukraine and others. The absence of any reported exhaust trail suggests that no surface-to-air missile was involved at all. The recent satellite image is almost certainly a fake however. That airliner would have to be several kilometres long!

  • CanSpeccy

    The real evidence is what you don’t see: the cockpit voice recording; the air traffic control tapes; and the US-NATO satellite and radar images. Under the terms of the agreement that created the international inquiry commission, this information will never be released unless Ukraine agrees. That the information has not been released already strongly suggests that, by whatever means, Our friends, the Kiev Nazis, downed MH17.

  • Resident Dissident

    @Yossi

    “I remain of the view that Dmitry Orlov has a much better and rounded view of Putin and Russia than Mr Murray.”

    Rounded views normally entail seeing more than one side – perhaps someone could point out where Orlov has said anything critical regarding Putin.

    I am generally in agreement with Craig regarding Putin and the extent of Russian power. But genuine anti-imperialists will object to any power trying to bully its neighbours, and those who support human rights will also object and not offer to succour to those who abuse the human rights of their own citizens. There are legitimate questions about the form those objections should take and the extent to which interference in the affairs of another country is legitimate or wise – I too like Craig do not believe a Cold War or a military response would be appropriate or have any chance of success and would favour economic sanctions targeted at Putin and his fellow oligarchs. And as always I would always seek to take advice from the liberal and progressive forces with Russia as to the best way in which we can help them with their problems.

    There are of course those who want to eulogize Putin – precisely because he is seen a throw back to the Soviet days and he is seen as an anathema to the western democracies that they despise. They think they are being left wing and progressive, but they are really just repeating the same mistakes of the previous generation of fellow travellers and useful idiots (and in fact there are a few cases that span the generations). Little do they appreciate what damage they do to genuine left wing and progressive cases in their sloppy and stupid choice of role models. It is of course these same people who seek to stifle any sensible debate regarding alternative ways of dealing with autocrats such as Putin which fall short of military action.

    As a final aside I would suggest Craig needs to careful in attributing characteristics to a particular society such as “atavistic” – Russians are no more inherently atavistic than any other society (at look at the base for UKIP support would demonstrate this to be the case) – such characteristics are something that circumstances and recent history generate – help progressive Russians deal with Putin and I’m sure that the atavism will wither and die.

  • Kempe

    ” That the information has not been released already strongly suggests that, by whatever means, Our friends, the Kiev Nazis, downed MH17. ”

    It does? Really? Do explain.

    The final report into Clutha Vaults helicopter crash hasn’t been released yet either. Does that mean it was shot down by “Kiev Nazis” as well?

  • CanSpeccy

    @Kempe

    ” That the information has not been released already strongly suggests that, by whatever means, Our friends, the Kiev Nazis, downed MH17. ”

    It does? Really? Do explain.

    I already did at 4.50 pm. Do try to pay attention.

  • CanSpeccy

    @RD

    There are of course those who want to eulogize Putin – precisely because he is seen a throw back to the Soviet days and he is seen as an anathema to the western democracies that they despise. They think they are being left wing and progressive, but they are really just repeating the same mistakes of the previous generation of fellow travellers and useful idiots (and in fact there are a few cases that span the generations).

    What can anyone see as left wing and progressive about Putin’s Russia?

    Restoring the Orthodox Church?

    Giving Pussy Riot a public thrashing?

    Making Rosneft a public company — the world’s largest listed oil company?

    Gazprom, another public company that has, in a matter of months, written contracts to sell more natural gas in Asia than they currently sell in Europe?

    Selling more weapons abroad than any other country, a striking achievement for a backward country that “doesn’t make anything,” according to President Obola.

    And unlike the Soviet Union, which fenced people in to prevent them voting with their feet, Russia attracts more immigrants than any country other than the United States.

    And actually, approval of Putin is surely most common among those you call atavistic, UKIP supporters, for instance, people who, like Putin, wish to preserve sovereign nation states.

    In fact left wingers and former fellow travellers, must hate Putin if they know anything about him.

  • Resident Dissident

    “In fact left wingers and former fellow travellers, must hate Putin if they know anything about him.”

    But then they don’t or they chose to ignore those bits that clash with whatever few political principles that they have left – just as do in their support for Assad, Ghadaffi, Saddam, Islamofascists, anyone else who is seen as in opposition to the UK/US/Nato/Israel/western democracies. You have to remember that their spiritual ancestors even managed to get through the Molotov Ribbentrop pact without too many ideological difficulties. They are of course not left wing at all – and should not be confused with those who are genuinely left wing and progressive. This split between the true left and the ersatz left is nothing new at all – witness how the contempt which the fellow travellers showed to Orwell and others on the libertarian left.

    As for Putin – he is smart enough to appeal to both the atavistic and the ersatz left – in fact a large part of his political support is derived from the former diehards of the communist party (which has really shrivelled to next to nothing) and he is particularly carefully in not attacking their shibboleths witness the treatment of Stalin in his personally approved school history, his failure to criticise the KGB and Stalin and his attacks on organisations such as Memory which seek to document Stalin’s worse excesses.

    On the other hand I can see how it is perfectly rational for someone with your political views and principles to be strong supporter of Putin.

  • Resident Dissident

    “And unlike the Soviet Union, which fenced people in to prevent them voting with their feet, Russia attracts more immigrants than any country other than the United States.”

    This is of course true most of the immigrants being from the former southern republics where conditions are pretty desperate. But strangely enough you do not accuse Putin of genocide – is it because you approve of his draconian racist methods of keeping them as a separate underclass which provides a source of cheap labour?

  • Dave

    This man is insane or is suffering from very short term memory.

    G20. Obarma “We are also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles. And one of those principles is that you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections,” Obama said at a press conference.

  • Sofia

    Dave.

    Obama’s words are so astounding they deserve repeating…

    ““We are also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles. And one of those principles is that you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections,”

    Can you imagine any other forum where Obama could utter such breathtaking hypocracy without being greeted with uproar.

    Imagine the wave of derision that must have greeted those words as they travelled across the continents.

    From 2012. “Is there a neocon word for Chutzpah?” https://images2.dailykos.com/i/user/312562/kos-82-teaser.jpg

  • Paul Barbara

    The US has a New World Order plan for a One World Government; many Western leaders have called for this.
    On February 17th, l950, James Warburg (CFR) said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committe: “We shall have world government whether or not you like it, by conquest or consent.”
    The West, using NATO and by creating new power blocks around the world, subservient to the US-dominated United Nations, intends to gobble up all independent nations.
    Neither Russia nor China think much of this plan; I doubt if most citizens of independent countries around the world do either, but they have ‘leaders’ foisted on them by coup, or by invasion followed by ‘appointment’ of a puppet leader, or just by massive overt or covert internal interference by Western Banks, NGO’s, and training (subverting) potential leaders, military security and police personnel by Western forces.

    I believe Russia has no interest in war with the West, but the Western madmen certainly seem intent on pushing Russia to the wall, with war a possibility.

    It was not Russia, but the West which precipitated the Ukraine business, and even boasted how much they had got for their $5 billion investment in Ukraine. And after their ‘Putsch’ was successful, the first thing the US did was ship all of Ukraine’s gold out of the country (whether to the States or to Germany is not clear).

    Is Russia a ‘Paper Tiger’? Hardly! Get a load of this:
    ‘AEGIS Fail in Black SEA, Ruskies Burn Down USS Donald “Duck”:
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/11/13/aegis-fail-in-black-sea-ruskies-burn-down-uss-donald-duck/
    The essence of the story is that the much-hyped ‘Aegis’ class vessel was effectively blinded, by a solitary Russian Su-24, which then made 12 simulated missile attacks on the ‘Lame Duck’.
    Maybe it’s the US that needs to buy some military equipment!

  • Sofia

    Paul.

    Re ‘Aegis’ blinding and Donald Cook Crew Resignations.

    Can anyone confirm this story? My first reaction was that surely a US sailor can’t just resign. I was wrong.

    “Resignations are processed by PERS-834F (901-874-2084).  You should also submit a copy of your resignation request to your detailer for entry into your file. 

    You will submit an Unqualifed Resignation from Active Duty (ACDU) as an active component officer who will be awarded an Honorable Discharge upon separation.  “

    From, http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/officer/Detailing/surfacewarfare/careerinfo/Pages/Resignation.aspx

  • CanSpeccy

    @Sofia

    Re ‘Aegis’ blinding and Donald Cook Crew Resignations.

    Can anyone confirm this story?

    I’ve looked for convincing confirmation without success. But this is interesting:

    The OSCE is using drones in Ukraine (probably providing the Ukies with targeting data for their artillery), but according to this report from the Wall Street Journal, via Russia Insider the drones have had to be grounded due to sophisticated jamming.

    I guess jamming a drone is not the same as jamming the Aegis system, but only the other day I read that despite advances in military technology by China and Russia, America could still rely on its “core competences,” of which advanced drones were one. The OSCE drones are German built not American but one may wonder whether America’s “core competence” in drone technology is that much better than the best that Germany has to offer.

  • CanSpeccy

    @ Res Dis

    But strangely enough you do not accuse Putin of genocide – is it because you approve of his draconian racist methods of keeping them as a separate underclass which provides a source of cheap labour?

    What are talking about?

    Are you accusing Putin of genocide?

    And who are the “they” that Putin is, so you seem to claim, genociding while simultaneously exploiting them as a source of cheap labor?

  • CanSpeccy

    Russia is an OSCE Member State – if it doesn’t like it why doesn’t it just get the monitoring mission closed down?

    Do you think Russia’s vote alone would be sufficient to shut down the monitoring mission? I doubt it.

    Anyhow, jamming the drones, if it is Russia jamming the drones — and we don’t know that, conveys a message, doesn’t it. Although it also give away some info about Russian military tech which might have been better kept for a more important occasion.

  • Tim

    The OSCE operates by consensus: and employs a large number of Russians.

    The OSCE Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk is being deployed following a request to the OSCE by Russia’s government and a consensus agreement by all 57 OSCE participating States. The observers are to contribute to reducing tensions during the current crisis.
    http://www.osce.org/om

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