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How To Read Ukraine
Is Putin Winning or Losing?
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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Russia will remain a weak oil state, for as long as American Shale developers keep lowering the price of development. While Russia still has a few other exports (mostly poor quality arms), it is losing even that market to the Chinese. Due to trade sanctions and falling oil prices, at the moment Russia must begin making large cuts in its Defense spending, and running a war in the Ukraine is a budget busting drain.

    • rheddles

      So is a war in Syria. As badly as Obama has played our hand, I’d still rather be us than them.

    • evangelical

      Russia doesn’t have a budget deficit so why would they need to cut their military budget?

    • justin bristow

      The communists Dunderheads produced poor quality arms. But Russian capitalists are making very many high quality ones.

      Remember when you went around saying communism doesn’t work? You were right. And the Russians recognized this, and reformed. Now the most talented designers make plenty of money and the industry attracts the best of the best.

      • evangelical

        Communists made plenty of great weapons of extremely high quality. There is concern a lot of submarine building talent was lost in the fall of the USSR….but I disagree, I think Russia is building great Subs currently.

        • justin bristow

          Очень жаль, мой друг, но я знаю оружия которые вы изобрели. Вообще это было мусор. Мы плевали на такие оружия, и наши союзники сокрушили твоих в 80-х с регулярностью. Мы совсем не устрашились перед мощью умирающего советского союза.

          Неужели, это было ВЫ и ваши предки которые боялись НАС. Так боялись, что они привели идиотов типа Горбачева до власти. Им было необходимо рискнуть, а провалились.

          Сейчась ваши работники не так изолированные и не так ленивые как советские люди. Они могут делать настоящие технологии, сотрудничающие и с нашими союзниками и пользующиеся нашими идеями в важных местах как электроника, компьютеры и т. д.

    • Carney3

      Shale oil is inherently more expensive than ordinary oil and only profitable when OPEC cuts production enough to raise the world market price higher than shale’s production costs. But high oil prices do great damage to the world and US economy. The interests of the US oil patch are directly contrary to the broader US economy. Texans fondly remember the 1970s as a boom time for the same reason the rest of the nation recalls it as an economic misery: high oil prices.

      The only way out of the oil trap is to break free from oil. Since we hardly make any electricity via oil anymore (1% or so of electricity comes from oil, down from nearly one-fifth during the 70s), the real issue with oil is in transportation. We need to end oil’s unnecessary monopoly on transportation motive power by preserving and expanding incentives such as tax credits for electric vehicles, but the real game-changer is in alternative fuels for internal combustion engines, such as (much-maligned) ethanol and (especially) methanol, the latter of which is made from natural gas, coal, or ANY biomass including inedible crop resides, weeds, trash, even sewage. Methanol is higher octane than premium and cheaper than regular even after taking mileage into account, and it costs automakers only $130 per new car at the factory at most to add full flex fuel capability, and these days as little as 41 cents. Unfortunately a combination of a widespread failure of vision, cultural inertia, a “you go first” unwillingness to expend the slightly higher amount per car when no fuel infrastructure to take advantage of the feature yet exists, and widespread oil cartel entanglement in the auto industry have combined to stall this simple, reliable, cheap feature for 20 years. It’s time to stop waiting and asking, time to MAKE this happen. Tell your Members of Congress, and the presidential candidates, to support the proposed Open Fuel Standards Act to make full flex fuel capability, compatibility with a variety of fuels, fuel choice, a required standard feature like seat belts. Anti regulation types can be sold on it as a less intrusive alternative to the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard, since the OFSA simply expands compatibility and options for consumers rather than forcing them to buy a product.

      • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

        ….uh…. no.

        Take a look at what’s happening to Volkeswagen right now. In addition to all of the capital wasted on these greenie pipedreams, automakers must watch out for the vultures seeking to strip their bones after the political winds shift.

        If you want it, you can buy it and pay for it. Leave the rest of us out of it.

        • Carney3

          Volkswagen’s emissions cheating magically erases the facts about shale being backbreakingly expensive how again?

          The real pipe dream is the mindless yahoo “Drill Baby Drill” chant that ignores facts. Facts like how we have over 20% of world oil demand but less than 2% of the world’s commercially recoverable oil reserves COUNTING Arctic and offshore.

          Instead of stupidly stubbornly clinging to a suicidal status quo whore the ONLY way to move is from the ONLY energy source permanently controlled by our geo strategic enemies, we should finally be non idiotic and use the MANY energy sources that are abundant in America in CHEAP form to move – that is, ALL the non-oil sources.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Even the greenie Inquisition prosecuted against apostates to greenie orthodoxy can’t conjure “shale” as being “backbreakingly expensive”, whatever that gibberish means, simply because petroleum withdrawal methods are whatever they are, in comparison to each other, and are not placed in rank order by some strange gibberished means that greenies fantasize.

            Your second paragraph is mindless gibberish with a couple fantasized number factoids scattered around like the leaves off my maples are doing this week.

            Your last paragraph is indecipherable. Try to do better next time. In the meantime, if you want it, then you go ahead and buy it and pay for it. Leave the rest of us out of your schemes.

          • Carney3

            The numbers I refer are not “fantasized” nor “gibberish” but come from those well known “watermelon” eco-Marxists in the CIA in 2007, under the Administration of two Texas oil-men. Check the CIA World Factbook and dial it back to 2007.

            I realize you resist the facts because you emotionally wish to do so, because you have been expensively propagandized to associate yourself with oil and to associate alternatives to oil with various groups you dislike.

            But oil does not deserve your loyalty. It is not free market or American. More than 78% of the world’s commercially recoverable oil reserves are in OPEC countries, which have government-monopoly oil sectors that manipulate the world prices by government-ordered production level changes. No other energy resource is controlled by a cartel like this, let alone a cartel of our nation’s enemies. All non-oil energy resources are available in cheap and abundant form in America. That’s why it’s so stupid to keep our transportation sector locked in to only being able to run on oil derived fuels.

            As annoying as some American “greenies” may be, they are not as bad as the Saudis, or Iranians, or Venezuela, or Putin, or the various terror gangs those regimes and their satellites support. It’s about priorities. If we could work with Stalin (STALIN!) to beat the Axis, if we could work with Mao (Mao!!) to check the Soviets, we can work to a point with American “greenies” to free ourselves from dependence on jihad juice.

            It does no good to adopt libertarian “you choose your product, I’ll choose mine” rhetoric. It’s misleading in this context. Your purchase of jihad juice funds terrorists who are out to kill me and my family. That’s a lot different from you buying Coke and me Pepsi.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Yes, your numbers are fantasized gibberish. But if you claim otherwise, then provide a link to support them, or they shall remain so. And be certain to make it a link from 2015, not a decade ago.

            Your second paragraph is greenie dogmatic nonsense. Save it for your fellow travelers.

            The third paragraph is even worse.

            It does every good to slap down you authoritarian greenies. You seek to control others. It’s what you do. As mentioned, you do what you want, and leave the rest of us out of it.

          • Carney3

            I chose the previous administration because I anticipated you’d dismiss up to date facts as an Obama lie. So don’t try that now, since you asked for up to date stats. And snce you are unable or unwilling to type “CIA World Factbook Oil Reserves” into a search engine, here’s the link for 2014:


            Do I need to do arithmetic for you, too?

            The dogmatism is entirely yours. You resist facts with juvenile name calling. I am a conservative on social, economic, and national security issues, but I have not let my distaste for the left and for extreme greens blind me to the unpleasant facts that the status quo in energy is an economic and national security disaster for us, even setting the environment aside.

            Once again, you pretend that your use of oil is a mere personal choice and any government policy to shift us away from oil is a violation of your liberty. But insisting on funding a rogue’s gallery of the world’s worst tyrannies and terrorists is not compatible with liberty. And you couldn’t use that oil without forcing me to pay for bases and wars to keep that oil flowing, a cost directly reflected at the pump, so you’re getting massively subsidized by those who do not drive or who use non-oil transportation energy. Finally, again, since all oil purchases regardless of where the oil is drilled or refined make oil more scarce and expensive, you’re enriching terrorists one way or another. Every time you swipe your credit card at the pump you’re cravenly bowing in submission to the jihad and voting with your money for more 9/11s. With every swipe, you endorse the big orange explosions coming out of the Twin Towers. Swipe, explosion. Swipe, explosion. You can reject this reality and call me names, but the facts remain in total indifference to your emotional state, and your own mortal enemies gloat at your stubborn refusal to stop being their useful tool.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Yes, you do need to do arithmetic to support your assertions, child. They are your claims, and as of now, you haven’t proven them, still, so we can go ahead and continue to call these claims fantasies and gibberish. I might also suggest you stick to data produced by the USGS or equal, as that is what we in industry use, rather than political bureaucracies’ fantasies and gibberish.

            Sorry, but I have no time to read the rest of your fevered gibberish, so I’ve skipped these last two paragraphs of your fantasy rant.

            Also, best you just stick to yourself, and cease your authoritarian demands on others. You aren’t qualified or understanding of the issues, apparently, so it’ll probably make life simpler for you.

          • Carney3

            Again, chanting epithets like “gibberish”, “greenie”, and “authoritarian” does not make ideologically inconvenient reality go away any more than a leftist chanting “racist”, “sexist”, and the like does.

            You claim to favor liberty but you fund authoritarian regimes with your energy purchases.

            As for qualifications, I’ll go ahead and list some people who support getting off oil, who are bona fide patriots, and most of them conservative:

            Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy, author of “Homegrown Defense”, and Fox News contributor;

            Gal Luft and Anne Korin of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and authors of “Turning Oil Into Salt: Energy Independence Through Fuel Choice” and “Petropoly: The End of America’s Energy Security Paradigm”;

            Dr. Robert Zubrin; nuclear engineer and former space program rocket scientist, author of “Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free from Oil” and frequent contributor to National Review and the Washington Times;

            William L. Ball, Reagan Secretary of the Navy

            John Lehman, Reagan Secretary of the Navy

            John Block, Reagan Secretary of Agriculture

            William P. Clark, Reagan Secretary of the Interior, National Security Advisor, close Reagan friend (now deceased);

            John Hofmeister, former President, Shell Oil Company;

            Adm. Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane, Reagan National Security Advisor and frequent Washington Times contributor;

            George Schultz; Reagan Secretary of State;

            You discredit yourself by proving over and over you operate in bad faith. You refuse to read one or two brief paragraphs, in contemptible fear that you might learn something contradicting your desperately clung-to abstractions. You ask for data, I tell you where to find it. Rather than go there, you demand a direct link as if you can’t use Google. I provide it. Then rather than admit being proven wrong, you, as I anticipate you would, demand I do your math for you. But you telegraph that you will reject it because you won’t like the results. Your excuse about a bureaucracy could just as well be applied to the USGS – and where do you think the CIA gets its data? It cites the Department of the Interior, the Oil & Gas journal, and other public and private sources.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Not reading that authoritarian rant, prog. Sorry.

            Again, I’d suggest you stick to your own business, and quit trying to control others. You’re not bright enough to understand the issues .

          • Carney3

            Reagan Cabinet officers are “authoritarian progs” who are only motivated by “trying to control others”? Yes or no? And was that short enough for your attention span?

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Not short enough, greenie. Still unread.

            Stick to your own business, not controlling others, prog.

          • Carney3

            It’s my business if you’re funding terrorists trying to kill me, traitor.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Well done, lad. Your incoherency doesn’t merit any more than one sentence, and that sentence is definitely incoherent.

            Again, stick to your own business, and keep your authoritarian socialist kookery out of everybody else’s.

          • Carney3

            What’s incoherent is your attempt to make your financial support for authoritarian socialist regimes fit your anti-authoritarian anti-socialist rhetoric, not to mention your fact-resistant, Iwo-Jima fanatical opposition to opening the market to competition and customer choice.

          • the genuine, authentic Jimmy

            Nope, you went back to the wordy gibberish, and I had to avoid reading it. Sorry, prog. Best if you stick to your own business and keep out of everybody else’s.

  • gabrielsyme

    We miss something when we consider Putin’s motivations to be centrally concerned about regime survival. While that doubtless is a significant factor, the deeper motivation seems to be clearly something more akin to promoting “national greatness”. While it’s difficult to get a clear grasp on Putin himself, certainly elements of the Russian regime understand the purpose of Russia in a mystical or semi-mystical form, where Russia provides a counterweight to a decadent West; or has preserved true Christian civilization while the West has corrupted and then lost this civilizational identity (not all Russian nationalists draw such a rigid division between Russian and European civilization). This understanding of Russia helps make sense of the strong governmental support for pro-natality policies and the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. Westernization will therefore be resisted on the Russian periphery not only because improved economic conditions and civil rights would provide an unflattering contrast to Russia, but also because the Russian administration regards political and economic ties to the West as to also result in the adoption of Western cultural values inimical to Russian greatness and cultural identity. If Russian greatness requires that it resist Western cultural imperialism, a policy that opposes Western political and economic influence in Orthodox Slavic lands will be a logical response. In all of this Putin is at least mainly correct.

    Another factor is that Russia, as far as we can determine, still believes in defence-in-depth, the need for a deep frontier to survive any military assault from the West. Historically, Russia has survived many invasions in significant part due to the vast distances invaders have to traverse in order to eviscerate the ability of Russia to field an organized resistance. While the current disposition of Germany, the EU and NATO makes a military threat to Russia from the west seem fantastical, any historically-minded ruler (and Putin is nearly historically obsessive) is extremely aware of the massive cultural and strategic shifts in recent European history. Security planning needs to account for passive neighbours potentially becoming aggressive. NATO expansion is not merely a political or (indirectly) a cultural challenge to Russia, but very much a security issue.

  • Fat_Man

    Russia may be a basket case in the not too long run, but Putin is having the time of his life riding Obama around the world stage.

    • evangelical

      Russia’s position is only growing stronger. Especially in export of Nuclear Reactors, the second largest industrial sector behind oil/gas, and a $150bl portfolio in Nuclear Reactor orders.

    • Barbara Whitehair

      Obama has allowed ISIS to grow. Allowed Taliban to regain lost ground. Allowed Putin to take over countries at will. Domestically, he has caused an immigration crisis, ruined our economy, and forced us to by health insurance we don’t need.

      I now am forced to pay $500/month for health insurance and it was only $200 before O-care! (My car insurance is only $25/month from Insurance Panda, for comparison. A private company!) Please Obama, don’t stick your hand in anything else!

      To think that some people are so worried about the terrorists rights. Sickening. Senator Feinstein…..what have you got to say?

      I don’t get liberals…of course no one wants war but guess what, sometimes it’s the last resort and needs to be done. No man is an island! When is enough going to be enough already?! RIP to all those killed by such barbarians. So senseless…

      • evangelical

        ISIS wouldn’t exist if Bush didn’t invade Iraq, you dumb ldiot.

        There is no “private car insurance” it is just as regulated as health care.

        You’re too “stoopid” to realize that health care cannot be “insured” because everyone gets into a catastrophic accident called death, it’s only a matter of time…and it’s expensive…far more than a totaling your stupid ford Taurus.

      • Hypernonpartisan

        If Insurance Panda is so great, why must they rely on spammers (i.e., thieves like yourself) for advertising?

  • longlance

    Vigorous, valiant, virile President Vladimir Putin is a proven & consistent winner. He is universally admired & respected as a strong, serious, sensible statesman.

  • redmanrt

    “But keeping Ukraine from assimilating into the West: that’s vital.”

    The same arguments could be applied to Poland. For a Russian, the only secure border is one with Russian soldiers on both sides of it.

  • Cjones1

    There’s the rub! Paying rent for Crimea is not in Putin’s basket of priorities. The Syrian project that creates the Russian/Iranian/Syria axis will protect Russian interests there, lead to the elimination of ISIS in Syria and possibly Iraq thwarting the designs of Sunni power and the Saudis (whose low oil prices severely damaged the Russian economy), and minimize U.S. influence in the region for years to come.
    Europe will suffer from the influx of refugees as well. It might be better and less costly for the Europeans to provide the refugees free bus and train transportation to Russia. Real politik baby!

  • obadiah_edomite

    My impression is that “a poor, corrupt, Ukraine run by greedy and unpopular oligarchs is pretty much” the historical standard. Then there’s the fact that Russia started in Kiev in the 10th and 11th century after the prince married the byzantine emperor’s daughter and became christian.

  • evangelical

    Is American interest full of liars? Putin offered an EU-Russian trilateral trade solution to Ukraine in exchange for a $15Billion bailout before the EU/US Imperialists blew-up the Ukraine.

  • justin bristow

    Excellent, excellent analysis. Spot on.

    However, this is the short, short run. You don’t spend the kind of money Putin is spending on the military right now and not use it. Russian strategist know full well from the Cold War they cannot compete in an arms race indefinitely. Demographics, while not nearly as bad as many suggest, mean that during the 2020s and 2030s Russian power will ebb before the Putin generation of higher birth rates reaches maturity.

    Russia is building an army it intends to use. Sometime before 2025. Like Japan in 1941, it’s strategists intend to build a defensible sphere of influence to ride out the lean years.

    Ukraine is a basket case, the entire society is no where near Western cultural norms. It’s prominent politicians predict it will take them 15 years just to reach 2013 levels of prosperity. And that’s in a country where the demographic situation is much worse than in Russia. Ukraine will be a hollow country by 2030.

    The USA will have to be directly and decisively involved for Ukraine to integrate despite Russian objections. To the tune of major rearmament and hundreds of billions in aid.

    The U.S., by bi partisan approval, is shrinking its military and its foreign aid. Putin has every reason to continue his current strategy.

    • evangelical

      Just to make sure you know….Russia’s ruble devaluation means the Kremlin receives as much in “revenue” as it did at $100/bbl oil prices.

      The Russian people may suffer inflation as a result, but it is a “hidden” tax the Kremlin is more than willing to extract.

      How is the demographic situation in Russia “bad”? They have a younger population curve than the US, and a growing population.

  • Jerome Ogden

    There is a lot of blame that rightly accrues to Putin in the Ukraine confrontation, but it is a real stretch for Dr. Mead to blame him for pushing “Ukrainian nationalists toward more radical politics…” That ignores history. Svoboda was virulently fascist and anti-Semitic long before the 2014 crisis. Its original name was the “Social-National Party.”

    As the Telegraph (UK) reported last year, “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control
    of the interior …The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”

    In June even the Congress had to face this reality, when the House approved an amendment that blocks US training
    of members of the Ukrainian paramilitary Azov Battalion because of its neo-Nazi character. That is a back-handed admission that the current government in Kiev is infested with neo-Nazi anti-Semites, concentrated in the security apparatus, a reality heretofore assiduously ignored in the NYT and other MSM, because it doesn’t fit the narrative of total good (our side) fighting total evil (Putin) in Ukraine. But to blame Putin for the “radical politics” of these neo-Nazis, as Dr. Mead seems to do, distorts reality even more than ignoring it does.

    • Sarastro92

      Correct. Mead is either living in la-la land or is consciously promoting State Department propaganda. Put in rightfully concerned about encirclement … having a US backed fascist coup on his doorstep obviously poses an existential crisis… Regime Change in Moscow is next up on the menu … so the stakes are now infinity higher…

      But the US/NATO is playing with fire. Putin is not Saddam or Gaddafi. The idea that conventional war will not escalate to thermonuclear war is fatuous in the extreme.

  • Lost in america

    Putin is definitely winning. He has the Administration spinning. They have no idea what they are doing. They are passive observers as Putin stripped away Crimea, his main military goal; supports a war criminal in Syria who has hundreds of thousands deaths on his hand. They can not blame Putin for destroying Libya. With their failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is hard for anyone to take this shameful statecraft seriously. Putin is winning, but so can anyone else. People are desperate for someone who will respond to the collapse of American foreign policy. Trump knows nothing, but can’t be much worse.

  • EpsilonAurigae

    Article contains false information.

    Poland and Baltic states are NOT prosperous, and are NOT any better under “democratization” than they were before. Poland may display some improving statistics – at the expense of 2 million Poles working in other countries, and not living in Poland.

    Average Russian GDP is comparable, until this year when sanctions hit value of Ruble, but the ruble is not devalued within Russia.

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