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Tag Archives: Russia
Our forum is now twelve years old, and we have just passed our half millionth post milestone. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of talking the last decade or so!
The forum was started back in the tail end of the Russian and Ukrainian so-called ‘mail order bride’ phenomenon, and our subject matter was a one-trick pony in that regard back then. Times have changed in a decade. Russian and Ukrainian women are not relocating like they once were. Indeed, since Crimea reunified with Russia and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk broke away to become independent, the Ukrainian bride industry [as it mostly was] has withered on the vine.
I have just returned from my annual sojourn to America recently; Texas and California to be exact.
This might have been the first time I had ever been to Texas and not see someone wearing a cowboy hat. Amazing, since I spent 10 days there (14 days in Cali). Equally amazing was not seeing any police, or very, very few in both places.
Nobody shot at me either. Always welcomed.
Nothing really has changed much, but it being an election year, one could sense a palatable shift in the mood of the country; interesting to witness I must say. Living outside one’s country for years will change your perspective and give you a certain vantage point that is quite different obviously, than from someone who hasn’t experienced this. That is assuming that one can stay objective.
One major paradigm shift for me over the years living in Moscow has been to not look at things as good or bad but different.
People are people. Living in Moscow is not that different, all things considered, than living in LA. Cultural attitudes aside, I get up, go to work, meet with friends, enjoy life, deal with problems etc. much like I did in LA.
America is a great country, let’s not kid ourselves. I always have a good time there and the people are generally nice and polite. Stereotypes are blown way out of proportion, so it’s quite easy for non- Americans to take pot shots at the country and its people as if the same assholes don’t exist in their country in some form or another.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.
The government takes a lot of heat, and rightfully so. Now it’s time for the American government to change its paradigm and start to work along side countries they have had dubious or mediocre relations in the past. Doesn’t mean putting up with another country’s crap, but not starting any crap of your own as well. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop the do as I say or else nonsense.
It will be interesting to see who is elected President in the U.S.. The U.S. military industrial complex needs to dial it back, that’s for sure.
One thing that was blatantly obvious while I was in America is how the cost of living has gone up in relation to Russia, and Moscow in particular. I didn’t buy half the stuff I normally do to bring back, because quite frankly it cost more in America than Russia taking the exchange rate into consideration. Yikes, what a surprise.
Moscow, normally a perennial among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world now sits at 192. New York City, San Fransisco and Washington D.C. have all cracked the top 10. I don’t think there has been a time in the last 20 years that 3 American cities have been in the top 10. Honolulu, San Jose, Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago all are in the top 30. This really has to be a first since I’ve been tracking this (since I moved to Moscow) that I have seen so many American cities rank that high.
I believe the worst is over here in Russia; I’m 99% sure of it. It’s also a good time for any Westerner to visit given the exchange rate. Oil is at least moving in a positive direction for the country and the country has improved other sectors.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Western businessmen, dignitaries, and diplomats attend this year’s annual ST. Petersburg International Economic Forum after a 2-year absence. It’s quite apparent EU businesses see the Russian economy coming out of a slump and are as Putin says “chomping at the bit” to do business in Russia again. Of course they are.
These sanctions are bullshit and everyone knows this. Sanctions rarely if ever achieve their desired goals and these sanctions have taken a toll on Europe as well. Part of what the sanctions accomplished was to push the Russian’s back against the wall and force them to finally do something productive within the country. Agriculture continues to produce positive results and I see and feel it at check out counter.
America again it seems, have underestimated things with short-sighted policies.
The demise of Russia economically has been greatly exaggerated by the West. There is still a long way to go to get to the boom years of 2000-2007 and recovery is slow to be sure. As with any recession, some people suffer more than others.
Concurrently, it’s good to see Russia reach out to the West as they have done recently. Russia understands its need for the West to ensure a better future for its people. But, it must be done cooperatively, not aggressively or underhanded. I think business between Europe and Russia will start to increase sanctions or not; it’s only a matter of time.
Life is good in Moscow. Certainly not any worse than in most cities/countries. Summertime is an awesome time to be here and things are looking up. You never know about the future, but it seems there are some rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds of 2014.
My prediction is to look for Russia to show true sighs of recovery into 2017 as oil hits $60-70 with relations and business ties improving between the West and Russia.
Danchik Continue reading
Let’s break down some metrics:
I live in a 2-room flat less than a 10-minute car ride to the city center (Prospect Mira for those of you who know the area).
It’s Western renovated and ran about $1330 (40k rubles) before the ruble devalued. Concurrently, most apartments in Moscow have either kept the same rental price, or have actually decreased in price in order to find tenants.
So, while someone’s income has decreased because of the exchange rate in dollar terms, so has relative housing cost; over $8k a year in my case (roughly $675 a month). That 40k includes gas, electricity, landline, cableTV/internet, trash, water and my Tajik Concierge. Great guy, and very helpful.
If I were to go back and live in a comparable flat in Los Angeles, the same cost would double, minimum.
I would also have to buy a car, so we’d be talking conservatively about another $600 for car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance for an average $20K ride. My transportation costs average about $150 a month (metro, taxis, g/f’s car, etc.).
The next biggest expense is of course food. I spend at most 1000 rubles a day. I really can’t see spending more than this, and 1000 could probably be chopped in half if push comes to shove. But for the sake of argument, let’s double it to 2000 and use this for reference.
Housing, utilities cable and WiFi internet – 40000
Transportation – 10000. Remember I’m an expat and don’t need a car here.
Food – 60000, and believe me that is an ambitious sum, more like 30-40000 at most, but again for the sake of reference. We’ll use 60k to include entertainment such as eating out, movies, theatre, etc., and a daily 300 ruble Starbuck mocha that I could easily do without, etc. This factors in a 35% rise in food costs during the devaluation period.
Restaurants/cafes prices have only increased about 5-10% during this time; closer to 5% all things considered.
Pretty much covers about everything and we’re looking at 106,000 rubles.
Now I understand that it would be nice if you could still stash away about $3k a month, but times they do change. And if you were someone who hasn’t saved for a rainy day (time), then that’s on you.
Nevertheless, that leaves us with 94000 rubles and that is still close to $1500; not bad all things considered.
If you think that things will not improve, or that your time back in the States will be better, I say don’t let the customs agent kick you in the ass on your way out. And good luck with those American women.
All I know is, given the situation, there’s no way I’m heading back, and really, why would I? Simply put, I have a wonderful life here, despite all the oppression I [don’t] feel from Putin.
Contrary to popular belief, life is good here. And it’s especially good if you’re lucky enough to be making 200k rubles a month. 98% of the working population in Moscow would love to make that kind of money. And if you’re one of the very fortunate expats to be making 200k a month or more, then count your blessings. Continue reading
When a propaganda channel like Fox News begins to make positive noises about Russia, we must wonder why the narrative has changed so fast and who is pulling the strings. We all know about Fox News, often referred to as … Continue reading
This article first appeared on RT.
Turkey has shown its hand by destroying the Russian warplane over Syria and followed through on its previous threats to Russia. We must now regard Turkey as a hostile state that supports terrorism.
As has been widely reported, on the 24th November, Turkey – an EU aspirant NATO member – shot down a Russian warplane on legitimate Syrian duties. As a result, one pilot is dead and the other was rescued by Russian Special Forces. Another soldier was killed during the rescue operation and Russia lost a rescue helicopter in the process.
Turkey has been sabre-rattling at Russia for some time. It made a tremendous hue and cry about a previous brief accidental incursion into its airspace, backed up with threats and warmongering. Only two days before this incident, Turkey was threatening Russia with ‘serious consequences’ if it didn’t end its operations near the Turkish border.
Turkey’s actions were clearly premeditated rather than a response to an incursion as first claimed. But they didn’t manage to get their story straight and have been backfilling ever since. The ever-changing Turkish version of events has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese. Turkey claims it gave the Russian plane ten warnings but Wikileaks showed us proof that Turkey claimed the planes were allegedly in Turkish airspace for only 17 seconds.
There would have been no time for ten warnings or for the pilot to seek authorisation to fire, so he was acting on a standing order. He had permission in advance from high up the Turkish food chain to shoot a Russian plane down.
Russia says the plane was attacked over Syria and has published credible evidence to prove it. The plane crashed in Syria and the pilots ejected and landed in Syria. Russia has no reason to knowingly enter Turkish airspace while on Syrian duties.
Turkey knows that Russian planes are legitimately operating close to its borders in Syria. So the Turks were not acting against any actual or perceived threat. They are likely hoping to evade any serious Russian retaliation by hiding behind NATO’s skirts with a supportive narrative guaranteed to come from Uncle Sam. NATO has already announced that the organisation agrees with Turkey’s claims and has pledged to stand in solidarity with them.
The attack was premeditated to the extent that even TV crews and others with cameras were standing by waiting to film the events. They were clearly tipped off in advance.
Turkey is now claiming that it didn’t know the plane was Russian and have rushed out a dubious unverified recording of what is claimed to be the warnings given to the ‘unidentified’ plane.
There seems no doubt that the terrorists in the area whose loyalties are with Turkey had a heads-up and instructions to kill the aircrew. That one of them got away with his life is going to be inconvenient for the Turkish narrative. The pilot reports that there were no warnings of any kind, they know the area like the back of their hand and were not in Turkey.
Let’s be realistic here, this was a planned attack, probably cleared in advance with the Americans, with a story concocted in advance to give plausible deniability.
Follow the Money
What Turkey was really reacting to is Russia disrupting the lucrative and murky oil deals some of its officials and family members of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are tangled up in.
Large amounts of stolen oil are transported illicitly by ISIS to Turkey for onward transportation and sale. The profits from which are helping fund the expansion of ISIS and turning a nice profit for some people in Turkey. Russia has been disrupting this supply chain by bombing the tankers and the production plants. This means certain people in Turkey are losing a lot of money due to the effectiveness of Russia’s air campaign. Some sources claim that one of these people is Bilal Erdoğan, son of Turkish president Erdoğan.
Clearly, there is enough money to be made from stolen oil that decision makers in Turkey were prepared to commit a war crime in defence of it and damage Turkish tourism at the same time.
Tourism in Turkey Will Suffer
Turkey may have just imploded its tourism industry overnight. It has long been a very popular destination for tourists from Russia. Over four million tourists from Russia visited Turkey last year.
Russian tour operators Pegas Touristik, Natalie Tours, Biblio Globus and Tez Tour have already announced they are ending package holidays to Turkey.
The backlash against Turkey is already being seen in Russia. There have been protests outside the Turkish embassy in Moscow and Russians are being very vocal on social media.
With Egypt also off the table for many Russians, Greece will no doubt welcome the 2016 influx of tourism from Russia with open arms.
We Need to Rethink Our Attitude to Turkey
President Putin has described Turkey’s actions as a “stab in the back by terrorist accomplices” – and it’s hard to disagree with him.
The West needs to take off its rose-coloured glasses in respect of Turkey. Turkey has spent years allowing terrorism to flourish in the region. Far from trying to usher Turkey gleefully into the EU, as Brussels is trying to do, they should be kept at arms length. Turkey has proved itself to be dishonest, hostile and disingenuous.
Turkey cannot be considered a partner or an ally to countries that are legitimately fighting terrorism. Turkey is complicit in the support of terrorism. They must be treated as such.
Russia is now beefing up its air defences in the region, and future bombing missions will be flanked by fighter planes. It is unlikely that Moscow will be as restrained as they have been on this occasion if something similar happens again. Russian Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy was quoted as saying, “We warn that every target posing a potential threat will be destroyed”. If Turkey commits further acts of war against Russia, they know to expect robust military retaliation.
We must now regard Turkey as a hostile state that supports terrorism rather than a European ally and an agreeable holiday destination.
Stuart Smith for RT. Follow Stuart on Twitter @RussianHQ Continue reading
It starts out quite interesting, actually. It walks the reader through history as Cheney sees it first, starting off with the founding fathers and the usual stuff about freedom and liberty, and he dwells on the relationship between the US and Europe in the second world war somewhat.
Reading through the lines you start to see the changes in attitude from what started out as good sound principles of freedom and liberty to what we see today (not sure he intended that to show through as clearly as it does). From what I deduced, it was somewhere between the end of the Vietnam war and the arrival of Carter as president the US started to become noticeably aggressive and interventionist abroad.
The book implies that Reagan was single handedly responsible for bringing down the Berlin wall with his Brandenburg speech. Not true.
It is an interesting read initially for the non-American as it offers an insight into *why* Americans think as they do.
What is disappointing in a way is how he described the principles the US was founded on and its early development (I suppose we all knew them anyway but they are well presented therein). He describes a country that anyone would want to live in.
What I see as an outsider (and occasional visitor), is how far wide of that mark and those intended standards the US has become, both with actions abroad and the influence of big media and business on the masses and the political decision making. But that happens anywhere.
I had no opinion on Cheney one way or another, so I can read his opinions without any particular bias against the guy. He seems to have a dim view of Obama, but then again, so do most Americans.
I was finding untruths and flawed thinking early on. The bloke is the neocon of neocons.
He seems scornful of any president who didn’t want to bail into any country, all guns blazing, at the drop of a hat. He thinks the Iraq war was a terrific idea. Obama and Clinton have had scorn. He seems to like the Bushes.
It started out well but then goes downhill rapidly with his train of thought……
Then it gives a scary insight into the neocon mind. Example: Indignation that Assad didn’t step down as Obama “instructed” him to do. Really!
About a third of it is taken up with quotes from other neocons to support his worldview, with some commentary in-between.
Then follows page after page of quotes from Obama with him trying to rip it to bits. The thing was, after reading Obama’s stuff, I am actually starting to like the bloke. I didn’t before.
Then he launches into the real out there stuff: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, etc. were all *super* ideas and they should have gone much, much further.
He thinks Russia is still the USSR, and must be hemmed in and castrated at any cost. He has similar views of China.
Then, there is page after page of what he thinks the next president should do, which basically is rule the world and start World War 3 to do it.
It rounds off with a General Cheeseburger rant about “exceptional”, greatest country in the world, apple pie on Sunday, blah blah.
I can only say its great that this old duffer was put out to grass. If one who thinks like him gets in the White House in 2016, there will be a world war for sure.
All in all it was a disturbing journey into a disturbing mindset. After reading it, I am surer than I ever was of the need to contain American aggression around the world and de-dollarise. I came out of it – unintentionally – with a new-found fondness for some of Obama’s ideas.
Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America
Dangerous: Why the World Doesn’t Need a Powerful America Continue reading
This article first appeared at journal-neo.org The New York Times in its recent article, “Russians Strike Targets in Syria, but Not ISIS Areas,” attempts to frame Russia’s recent actions in Syria as dishonest and dangerous. It reports: Russian aircraft carried … Continue reading
For the mainstream western media, lying about Russia is now just a routine part of the working day.
No British Sunday newspaper would be complete without the obligatory anti-Russian double page spread on the ‘threat’ Putin and Russia poses to somebody somewhere this week.
To get this right, one must not concern oneself with facts. Simply choose a country, any country will do, do some random Googling, make some stuff up to pad it out, but be sure to say you are “quoting a source” to absolve yourself of responsibility for what you write.
Better still, you can lend your article some surface credibility by quoting from or linking to the made up articles of others. They will return the compliment and quote yours when they write how Russia is poised to invade [insert country of choice] next week.
The concept of accurate reporting and checking sources seems to be a thing of the past.
We all saw the headlines when MH17 went down that read “Putin’s Victims” and “Putin Killed My Son”. The idea being that because the missile that hit MH17 may have once been manufactured in Russia, this makes Russia, and Putin particularly, personally responsible.
Using this logic, if my cat were to get run over by a man driving a Volkswagen, I should pen a headline that reads, “Merkel’s Killer Car Mows Down Innocent Moggie in Cold Blood”. I would then find a picture of Merkel smiling and use a sub-headline that reads, “Sources Claim Merkel Sniggered When Told of Cat Catastrophe”.
This is what happens in the western media each week. But the target isn’t Merkel and her killer Volkswagens, the target is Putin and Russia.
In many respects the headlines matter more than the article itself. Rather than read them cover to cover, the public tend to graze through the papers absorbing the headlines and the next few lines, assuming them to be a reasonable synopsis of what the article will contain proof of before they move on.
They are subsequently misled when they read the typical western media headlines on anything to do with Russia. They go away with the impression Putin is a cackling Bond villain, in his secret cave, with his finger poised over a big red nuclear button. They imagine he has planes and ships permanently poised to invade the west at any moment, and only our continued vigilance prevents these invasions.
War is Imminent. Really?
When a western media hack wants to write something bad about Russia, always better to get the word WAR in the headline. Preferably in capitals. Here is a good example from the Express a week ago.
I wasn’t the only one to find this headline tiresome and misleading.
The Express’s Defence Editor who is responsible for publication of nonsense such as this, is a chap called Marco Giannangeli. I and others decided to engage him on Twitter to find out why he published such twaddle.
After a polite exchange of views, he quickly began to distance himself from the headline.
Upon opening the Express this Sunday, lo and behold, they decided to write something altogether more factual.
For a change, there was no photo of Putin shirtless, no tales of him being poised to invade New Zealand or somewhere, and not so much made up rubbish from unnamed “sources”.
Has the penny dropped? I doubt it will last if it has. But progress is progress however fleeting it may turn out to be.
I’d like to think I had a little something to do with this. Easier to write what actually happened than make stuff up about the UK going to war with Russia as they did last week.
In Other News.
The Mail on Sunday however, is as ever, today regurgitating US State Department propaganda today with this little gem.
Russia is “bombing innocents”, apparently. The insinuation here is that if this is so, it is done on purpose. That is the take-away the casual reader gets.
To the Mail’s credit, they also give column inches to a altogether more sensible journalist who actually knows something about Russia: Peter Hitchens.
The White House and Downing Street both seethe with genuine outrage about Russia’s bombing raids on Syria.
Yet the people Vladimir Putin bombed have views and aims that would get them rounded up as dangerous Islamist extremists if they turned up in Manchester. So why do British politicians call them ‘moderates’ when Russia bombs them?
It’s not as if London or Washington can claim to be squeamish about bombing as a method of war. We have done our fair share of it in Belgrade, Baghdad and Tripoli, where our bombs certainly (if unintentionally) killed innocent civilians, including small children.
I find Peter’s articles on Russia most refreshing. As a former Moscow correspondent, he has forgot more about Russia than most tabloid hacks will ever know.
Expect More Bias on Syria Reporting.
The western media will continue to report negatively on Russia’s actions in Syria. We will see more claims about the bombing of civilians.
The Russians made clear from the outset that ISIL (ISIS) were not the sole target of their mission.
From the outset they made it clear that ensuring the survival of Syria as a state, and the survival of the legitimate government of that state were the primary goals.
Lavrov, when asked about targets said that if it looked like a terrorist than it would be treated as such.
By definition, all terrorists are civilians; so too are ‘rebels’. It is convenient when writing propaganda to muddy the water this way.
The US now considers Al-Quada (Al-Nusra) to be ‘moderate terrorists’ and therefore to be supplied and protected by the various agencies available to the US.
What is going on is that the US is struggling to find a way to justify it’s support of ISIS and other terrorists. Their support is now becoming obvious with the impact of Russian and Syrian activity upon ISIL (ISIS) and those other terrorists.
Of course these are not ‘terrorists’ but different facets of several mercenary armies bankrolled by the US and their allies; both directly and indirectly. Russia is thus correct to treat them all as being aspects of the same enemy.
The US isn’t writing the script any more. Russia will bomb other US-funded terrorists as well, even if they have pretty names. Anti-Assad terrorists are anti-Assad terrorists. It doesn’t matter what they call themselves.
Of course, our compliant western media will make some parping noises about the ones they know are western funded imagining that ‘our’ terrorists are better than ‘their’ terrorists somehow.
If you are at war with the elected government, and do terroristic things, you are a terrorist. Using that logic, the US is the world’s most prolific terrorist, but don’t expect that to be written in the newspapers either. Continue reading
This also is interesting if true:
As US President Barack Obama welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to the White House on Friday, Sept. 25, and spoke of the friendship between the two countries, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning-CV-16 docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser. This is revealed exclusively by DEBKAfile.
Beijing is not finding it hard to dance at two weddings, wooing the US for better relations, while at the same time backing Russia in its military intervention in Syria. Coupled with the warm smiles and handshakes exchanged at the lavish reception on the White House lawn, Beijing was clearly bent on showing muscle – not just in the South China Sea, but by allying itself with the Russian-Iranian political and military buildup in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Chinese aircraft carrier passed through the Suez Canal on Sept. 22, one day after the summit in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
When they talked, Putin made no mention of the Chinese warship entering the eastern Mediterranean or its destination. Its arrival has upended the entire strategic situation surrounding the Syrian conflict, adding a new global dimension to Moscow and Tehran’s military support for Assad.
Many sources have noted the passage of Chinese warships up the Suez to the Mediterranean. These things can be tracked in just the same way as we can for aircraft.
There’s no reason at all to not believe that the story is true. The only point in question is the identity of the ships, but again, from tracking data there’s no reason to disbelieve.
I have seen reports suggesting that the new alliance in place will commenced actions against ISIS and cohorts from October 15th giving just shy of 3 weeks for materiel to reach Syria. Apparently that gives time for other Chinese ships already in transit to reach Syria and deploy.
RT is reporting now on live news Russia, Iraq, Syria and Iran coalition in place and America on the fence “thinking” about it. No mention of China yet.
Today, France has just started bombing Isil (ISIS) too.
However this is going to pan out, America will be pushed out of the solution. A necessary step as we slowly lead America to the back seat in the world order. The world needs to see that problems can be solved without American aggression and regime changes. Continue reading
The Russian government held a meeting on de-dollarization in spring of 2014, where the Ministry of Finance announced the plan to increase the share of ruble-denominated contracts and the consequent abandonment of dollar exchange. Last May at the Shanghai summit, the Russian delegation manged to sign the so-called “deal of the century” which implies that over the next 30 years China will buy $ 400 billion worth of Russia’s natural gas, while paying in rubles and yuans. In addition, in August 2014 a subsidiary company of Gazprom announced its readiness to accept payment for 80,000 tons of oil from Arctic deposits in rubles that were to be shipped to Europe, while the payment for the supply of oil through the “Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean” pipeline can be transferred in yuans. Last August while visiting the Crimea, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced that “the petrodollar system should become history” while “Russia is discussing the use of national currencies in mutual settlements with a number of countries.” These steps recently taken by Russia are the real reasons behind the West’s sanction policy.
In recent months, China has also become an active member of this “anti-dollar” campaign, since it has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange, which resulted in Canada becoming the first offshore hub for the yuan in North America. This fact alone can potentially double or even triple the volume of trade between the two countries since the volume of the swap agreement signed between China and Canada is estimated to be a total of 200 billion yuans.
China’s agreement with Qatar on direct currency swaps between the two countries are the equivalent of $ 5.7 billion and has cast a heavy blow to the petrodollar becoming the basis for the usage of the yuan in Middle East markets. It is no secret that the oil-producing countries of the Middle Eastern region have little trust in the US dollar due to the export of inflation, so one should expect other OPEC countries to sign agreements with China.
As for the Southeast Asia region, the establishment of a clearing center in Kuala Lumpur, which will promote greater use of the yuan locally, has become yet another major step that was made by China in the region. This event occurred in less than a month after the leading financial center of Asia – Singapore – became a center of the yuan exchange in Southeast Asia after establishing direct dialogue regarding the Singapore dollar and the yuan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has recently announced its reluctance to use US dollars in its foreign trade. Additionally, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has recently tasked the National Bank with the de-dollarization of the national economy.
All across the world, the calls for the creation of a new international monetary system are getting louder with each passing day. In this context it should be noted that the UK government plans to release debts denominated in yuans while the European Central Bank is discussing the possibility of including the yuan in its official reserves. Continue reading