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Abkhazia Is Not Crimea but Everything Is Set to Become It

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New suspicions over the status of Abkhazia emerge along with every political move of Russia. While the leadership of South Ossetia has been wholeheartedly obedient to Moscow and expressed its readiness to join the Russian Federation,  Abkhazia insists on retaining formal independence. The de facto foreign minister of Abkhazia declared, “The political status of the Republic of Abkhazia is not subject to revision and is irreversible”. Due to the willingness to be a “loyal ally” but not a part of Russia, Abkhazia never held a referendum on the matter.

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has enhanced the geopolitical framework of the debate and after the event, many Abkhaz started to worry that the prospect of being “swallowed” by Russia may come to reality. Following recognition, assimilation steps have been met with ideological resistance. However, with Russia not only maintaining its position through friendly rhetoric but also with military and economic presence – all of the de facto republic’s economy depends on Russian aid –  the resistance may be the question of time. The weak organizational capability of the governing elite even strengthens the leverage of patronage. It is for clinging to the money received in aid that mainly directs internal political processes. Taking Russian influence and leverage into account, Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, has every characteristic of a Russian protectorate. Growing economic, political, and social linkages reduce the legitimacy of the claim of the Abkhazian government.

This article explores the nature of Abkhazian sovereignty and the prospects of its complete integration with Russia. It puts the spotlight on the possible political shift in the region stemming from the strong dependence and the shift in generation mindset as well as geopolitical interests of the Russian Federation which can become a decisive factor in the future status of Abkhazia.

Breaking Away from Georgia

Following a de facto break away from Georgia, all motives behind the actions of Abkhazia have been about gaining recognition of its independence. In 2008, the recognition was received from Russia but what it means for the Kremlin and what Abkhazia wants it to be has nothing in common. It was more about separating from Georgia rather than freely conduct one’s own affairs.

After dismantling the bipolar structure, intensified ethnic conflicts in Europe fell under the geopolitical alteration zone, leading to their internationalization in nature. Today’s Russia sees post-Cold War state sovereignty as a by-product delivered from the power struggle (Russia and liberal West) in contrast to its representation in international legal documents. The speeches of Russian politicians often indicate that from Russia’s point of view, Ukraine is rather a territory combining a different group of people than a sovereign state.  The rhetoric, following the recognition of Kosovo, illustrated that Putin understood the idea of sovereignty as a mere subject of geopolitical manipulation. Georgian government in the period of pre-war of 2008 voiced the concerns that Russia still did not take Georgia as an independent state. After the recognition of Kosovo, the Kremlin started a proactive policy in order to exploit the idea of sovereignty and link the South Ossetian and Abkhazian case to it. Respectively, the war in 2008 was followed by Russia’s recognition of the independence of the break-away regions.

Getting on Truck with Russia

Since the recognition of independence of Abkhazia, the aid from Moscow amounts to half of the budget. Russia also provides additional funds for aid projects and infrastructure. It spent about 465 million to build and renovate military infrastructure, including the largest military airfield in the South Caucasus and a strategic naval base in the Black Sea.  In addition, Abkhazia uses Russian roubles as its main currency, it has adopted Russian technical and commercial standards, and almost all of its main infrastructure is owned and overseen by Russian companies. Most of the financial aid is in the form of loans that imposes a financial restraint over Abkhazia. Interestingly, in 2009-2011 when money was pouring in, people have been taking out loans from Russian banks but now they cannot repay them.

Financial incentives such as social benefits were introduced for people holding a Russian passport. Nowadays, a large majority of Abkhazians have Russian passports. This process, also known as “Passportisation”, in the long term, will create a perfect opportunity for Russia to invoke self-determination for Russian citizens as in the case of Crimea.

Right after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, two sides signed the agreement linking Abkhazia to the Russian Federation in the main areas of defense, border controls, customs, social issues, and public order. Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership with Russia obliges Abkhazia to coordinate foreign policy with the former and unite with Russian armed forces. This step was criticized as “de facto annexation”. After coming to power in 2014, Russia-backed de facto president Raul Khajimba has been actively demanding a closer bond with the Russian Federation.  It is why after the protests over rigged polls in 2020, Khajimba’s resignation has been positively taken by Tbilisi. He was succeeded by Aslan Bzhania, who expressed the willingness for dialogue and establishment of a bilateral channel with the Georgian side. Still, the toneless response of the Georgian government and the public views in Abkhazia showed again that no changes are to be expected any time soon. It has been Kremlin curators who contributed to removing Khajimba from the post, and Bzhania, the former employee of Federal Security Service in the Russian Federation, has the least to do with being the non-Russian political actor.

While Georgian leadership is constantly afraid of making the mistake of totally losing the break-away regions by taking an actual step ahead, it only contributes to the status quo that is already the lost game. The extensive linkage does not automatically derive from foreign economic aid and soft power. When defining leverage, the organizational power of leadership is an important variable. When naming Abkhazia as a protectorate of Russia, the weak organizational power and limited administrative capabilities are also taken into account. On the forefront of bilateral agreements and declaration of independence, there is a strong one-sided dependence. Moreover, the recognition of Abkhazia by the Russian Federation has only enhanced the isolation and pushed it into the hands of Moscow. It matters little to the Kremlin who wins elections. There is no real force willing to counter Russian influence and even if there is any, the lack of outside support would undermine all its capabilities. As well said, “there is no opposition or coalition in Abkhazia; there are only politicians waiting for their turn”.

Abkhazia has no serious social links or civil society ties with other countries, especially with Western states. Another noteworthy trade partner remained Turkey, which accounts for the second-largest source of import due to the high number of Abkhazian diaspora there. But Russia’s intention rests on limiting any other actor which intervenes in its zone of interest. It proved to be true in 2016 when Abkhazia was pressured to impose sanctions on Turkey and give a major blow to one’s own economy while Abkhazia’s impact on Turkey’s economy had always been close to zero. Abkhazia later justified its actions under Article 4 of the Treaty on Alliance and Strategic Partnership with Russia that makes it align its foreign policy with Russia. The political risks and unpredictable environment reduced all the incentives for Turkish citizens to conduct business in Abkhazia and left alternative potential investors out. Apart from this, Russia reimposed the visa requirements for Turkish citizens that created problems for the diaspora, which tries to maintain ties with Abkhazia. They were made to travel from Turkey to Abkhazia through the airport in Sochi, which is part of Russia. These events clearly show that Russia stays unwilling to compromise creating other options for the region.

The lasting socio-political and economic crises, as well as lack of organizational order, questions the formally retained sovereignty of Abkhazia.  The ruling of the de facto parliament that Abkhazia will not consider unification with Georgia, neither with Russia nor will it hold the referendum on the matter, may be subject to revision when the past will not be enough to justify future decisions.

A Third Party

Although today Abkhazians are decisively against joining Russia, the view of the future generation leaders with a Russian mindset, who are educated in Russia and think in Russian finds solid ground. The majority of the older generation who remembers the war and justifies all the sacrifices by its independence will be substituted by a new cohort of young people. There have been active discussions about the third party which will replace the current leading figures on the political playground. The most prominent in this respect is Inal Ardzinba, currently chairman of the Inter-Religious Public Council for Youth Affairs, existing under the Patriarch of Russia Kirill and the former head of the department in the president’s administration. He is also famous for lobbying Donbass and Luhansk separatists and is considered to commit crimes against the state of Ukraine such as the shift of the border and undermining the constitutional order. Inal Ardzinba seems to be preparing for an ambitious political future that is well known to and supported by Putin’s closest circle such as Vladislav Surkov, the closest adviser and one referred to as an ideologist of Putinism. The frequent show up in media where he voices thoughts on emerging future Abkhazian political leaders serve this cause. Ardzinba announced the creation of the new party representing and empowering youth politicians around.

The Kremlin proved many times that it stays vigilantly on the watch to seize opportunities to engineer support of specific groups for its foreign policy goals. Obviously, it does not waste time to exploit its advantages in Abkhazia. It supports a new generation of politicians in Abkhazia who have the least to do with Georgia and, unlike the older generation of the Abkhazian political elite, are much more enthusiastic about integration in Russia. While Georgia has the image of an aggressor, Russia is seen as a friend and security guarantor. The above-mentioned development of processes could definitely build more barriers with Georgia, which is already left outside the processes.

As in the case of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia actively uses soft power tools in Abkhazia as well as in South Ossetia. If in the former instances tools apply to the concept of Russkiy Mir to promote language and culture with ethnic Russians, in Abkhazia it is the geopolitical premises that make ideal ground for securitizing the political identity. Abstract ideas relating to nationalism and cultural characteristics remain highly volatile to be integrated into political discourse. And usually, Russia promotes traditional Russian culture and values as well as counters Western liberal influence through the Orthodox Church. It seems no accident that Inal Ardzinba works in the Youth Affairs Council which functions under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. For informal or formal incorporation, the Kremlin has a perfect candidate backed by the majority of Abkhazian youth to serve Russia’s cause.

Crossing Another Red Line

Even though the de facto government of South Ossetia has expressed the willingness for succession to the Russian Federation, the latter has been unreluctant to accept the call. The leadership always preferred uniting “two Ossetias” over the claim of the state sovereignty. After Crimea, it is the most likely region to be annexed. So, why Russia does not cross another red line to unveil its power and hegemony over the region?

When information about annexation is spread, it is difficult to draw a line between individual statements and the strategic communication at the behest of the Kremlin. There are many factors unknown for us, particularly, when one needs to deal with Russia’s disinformation campaigns.  What we know is that considering the current circumstances,  the annexation of South Ossetia does not seem to have as many advantages for Russia to outbalance the possibility of maneuvering with Georgia. With the status quo, the Kremlin already poses effective leverage to have an extensive influence over the country.  For now, neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia may be on the agenda to be a target of Russia’s expansionist ambitions but all it matters for Russia is securing its spheres by all necessary means.

When talking about possible annexation, Russia’s geopolitical interests should be well analyzed. The location of Abkhazia at the Black Sea creates opportunities for connections with the outside world.  And although today Abkhazia is heavily dependent on Russian assistance, it has many other potentials to become a strategic point in the region. For Russia, the Black Sea has always been seen as “near abroad”, which has been instrumental for its projections as a great power. In response to the so-called Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia’s foreign policy became more assertive to secure its presence around the Black Sea. The most important event to reestablish its military presence has been the annexation of Crimea, making it a Russian “platform for power projection”. The event directed attention away from Abkhazia since Russia has already established a strategic military base in the sea. Yet, there is no guarantee when it will be up to cross one more red line to reimpose its dominance in the region. It will be largely defined by the willingness and readiness of the West and political forthcomings in the bordering countries like Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova as well as Turkey.  In case Russia senses any possible encroachment on Abkhazia, there seems no way Moscow will allow to take a risk and let the status of Abkhazia play a positive role in developing the ties with external powers. Apart from the mentioned, regional energy dynamics can make the Black Sea a global arena of competition leading to assertive steps from the Russian side. If annexation will not be the logical end after the disappointment and exhaustion in Abkhazian society, then Russia’s decisive step can finalize the process overnight.

Conclusions

The means adopted by the Russian Federation leads to the legitimate doubt that they might be part of its strategy to annexation. For now, it does not provide many benefits to finalize the process but if the trend continues, whether to formalize the dependence as annexation or not will just be up to  Russia’s own will. The increasing gap between Georgia and Abkhazia does not leave many choices for Abkhazia. Unlike the post-Soviet countries, break-away Abkhazia remains isolated from the world and more exposed to Russian influence. Until what stand will it be possible to maintain vigilance towards the threat to self-identity and independence derives from multiple factors. However, the integration of Abkhazia into the Russian Federation is impending and all the factors work in favor of it. This trend does not seem to be disrupted until there is an unpredictable change falling under the wider geopolitical umbrella.

References

Tamar Tkemaladze is a senior student of International Relations at the Free University of Tbilisi. She has been engaged in research on anti-corruption, the rule of law, and election monitoring at Transparency International Georgia. Currently, Tamar works in UNDP Georgia. Her previous publications covered the AA/DCFTA of the EU with Georgia.

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Eastern Europe

Ukraine’s issue may endanger peace in the whole of Europe

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Big challenges ahead, the world may face uncertainty, and unrest, as NATO allies have put forces on standby and sent ships and fighter jets to bolster Europe’s eastern defenses as tensions soar over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.

The military alliance’s move, announced on Monday, came as the United Kingdom began withdrawing staff from its embassy in Kyiv as fears persist of an imminent Russian invasion. Britain’s move came after the United States took similar action.

The UK’s foreign office said in a statement that it was pulling out “some embassy staff and dependents” in response to “the growing threat from Russia”.

Tensions in Ukraine are high following Russia’s massing of some 100,000 troops near its neighbor. The West says Moscow, which is angered by the growing relationship between Kyiv and NATO, is preparing to attack Ukraine.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied planning to make an incursion, but the Russian military already took a chunk of Ukrainian territory when it seized Crimea and backed separatist forces who took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine eight years ago.

UK’s Johnson warns against ‘disastrous’ invasion

Johnson has said that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a “disastrous step” by Moscow.

“We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous step,” he told broadcasters, adding an incursion would be a “painful, violent and bloody business”.

Asked whether he thought an invasion was now imminent, Johnson said intelligence was “pretty gloomy on this point”.

“I don’t think it’s by any means inevitable now, I think that sense can still prevail,” he said.

Moscow accuses the West of ‘hysteria’

Moscow has accused the US and its allies of escalating East-West tensions by announcing plans to boost NATO forces in Eastern Europe and evacuate the families of diplomats from the US embassy in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the West of spreading information filled with “hysteria” and “laced with lies” and said the probability of military conflict in eastern Ukraine being initiated by the Ukrainian side was higher than ever.

He claimed Kyiv has deployed a large number of troops near the borders of breakaway regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, indicating it is preparing to attack them. Ukraine has repeatedly denied having any plans to do so.

Although Europe was part of the cold war and many other wars in other parts of the world but was away from any big war on its own soil for several decades. The prosperity and economic development were due to peace and stability in Europe for such a long time. People were feeling safe and secure, and focusing only on economic developments. If any misadventure happened in Europe, the unrest and instability may cost a heavy price.

It is appealed to politicians and decision-makers to avoid any misadventure and avoid any instability in Europe as well as other parts of the world. Wars never benefit humankind, even, winning the war does not mean success absolutely. The cost is on the human lives, either side of the warring countries. The world has been emerged as a global village and may impact whole humanity if any part of the world is disturbed.

Pakistan was the victim of the four-decade-long Afghan war for four decades and suffered heavy losses in the form of precious human lives as well as economic losses. The bitter lesson learned was to stay away from wars. Pakistan has learned this bitter lesson after huge suffering. Hope, the rest of the world may learn from our experience and may avoid any big loss.

It is believed that there is nothing that cannot be resolved through peaceful diplomatic dialogue, as long as there is a strong will for peace. The UN may intervene and play its due role to protect human lives. Hope all concerns may initiate meaningful dialogue and save humanity from big loss. Humankind is the most precious thing in this universe and must be protected at all costs.

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Eastern Europe

Ukraine Lies About 2022 Russian Attack to Hide Dying Economy

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, Ukraine’s president Zelensky speaking to the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence Service said “We have learned to contain external threats. It is time to launch an offensive to secure our national interests. We are united in wanting our territory returned immediately”.

Beginning the day after Joe Biden’s inauguration, Ukraine has been complaining of Russia’s troop buildup of over 90,000 men on its border. According to Ukraine’s Zelensky, Russia was prepared to attack at any moment.

In response to this, Ukraine mobilized over ½ its army or over 170,000 troops to the frontline with all the heavy weapons at its disposal accompanying them.

This force was a supposed counter to the Russian invasion army, which again, was just over the border.

In reality, the Russian army staged planned war games near the city of Yelnya, 160 miles (257 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border. You read that right, the Russian army was160 miles away from the Ukrainian border even though every major western publication made it sound like they were already in Kiev.

For the average modern army, that means over a day’s travel just to get to the Ukrainian border. Then another 4-5 hours travel on top of that to where the Ukrainian army is. So much for a surprise attack.

So what is it that Ukraine’s President Zelensky finds so threatening about Russia?

Ukraine’s President Zelensky told visiting US Senators in early June that the country’s military defense against Russia and the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are inextricably intertwined.

Once the project is completed, Ukraine will be deprived of the funds required to fund defense spending and defend Europe’s eastern border.

“Nord Stream 2 will cut Ukraine off from gas supplies, which will cost us at least USD 3 billion per year.”

Zelensky, always the joker, wants Russia to pay $3 billion per year so he personally can defend Europe from Russia who is paying him.

What a great story. He’s confusing screenwriting fantasy with diplomacy again.

“We won’t be able to pay for the Ukrainian army,” Zelensky observed.

In reality, Ukraine has about one month’s worth of diesel if Kiev ignores Ukraine’s responsibility to its own people to provide a safety net or at least access to necessities like bread or shelter in below-zero weather that’s on its way next month by heavily subsidizing gas and electric costs.

The only thing the government in Kiev is concerned about is losing the $3 billion in transit fees from the country they accuse of attacking them.

Zelensky’s government went as far as demanding fees from Germany and Russia when Nordstream II took over the transit game.

Zelensky’s Ukraine is shuffling Europe, NATO, and the US closer and closer to the line where one mistake in diplomacy, one stupid move by any of Ukraine’s infamous Neanderthal nationalist volunteers, and bang!

The next headline reads- Oops! Thousands dead in Ukraine as the war spreads to Europe.

Joe “Brandon” and club RINO are sleepwalking America right into this level of catastrophe by coddling his pet kleptocracy who’s already stolen billions of US dollars meant as aid.

And why? Why oh-why indeed.

Ukraine is using the supposed Russian attack to renegotiate its unsolvable gas situation.

It’s either this or tells Ukrainians; Oops! We screwed the pooch guys! You’re gonna freeze because we can’t afford gas.

Russia won’t invade because then Russia will be responsible for providing a total civil safety net including gas and electricity for Ukrainian people who otherwise can’t afford it.

Ukraine’s economy is dying. Russia doesn’t plan to foot the bill.

According to Oleg Popenko, the head of the Union of Consumers of Utilities (UCU), high gas costs will prevent most small and medium-sized firms from operating and will force them to close.

According to him, small business owners will be unable to “pull” the payment of 7,000 hryvnias (22,000 rubles) for heating.

As a result, we can anticipate a reduction in the activities of hairdressing salons, bakers, dry cleaners, dental offices, and so on.

They will either have to include the higher-priced communal unit in the pricing of their services, or they will have to close.

All types of businesses, from small dry cleaners to big agricultural holdings, use gas to some extent.

The only ones who benefit from the price increase are Ukrainian gas-producing businesses, which are now raising the price for their users’ dozens of times, resulting in massive profits.

In a recent interview, former President’s Office head Andriy Bogdan forecast a total economic collapse by February of next year.

“Here we still have December – this is the pre-New Year’s, joyous month, when everyone spends money, and somehow with hope:” We’ll pluck something out of the egg-box and live.”

However, this will not be the case in January and February.

“We will dismiss people, our industry will grow, our budget revenues will fall, and our economy will boom based on the price of gas and electricity,” Bogdan added.

“With a further rise in gas prices, the chemical industry and the production of fertilizers are at risk of dying altogether, predicts energy expert Valentin Zemlyansky.

“Industry will die. I am not kidding. The impact of energy prices on the business situation is an inertial process. The business will not close immediately, it will happen in stages. The beginning will be in March 2022, we will see the peak by May-June,”the expert says. Zemlyansky also emphasizes that this happens with a favorable market environment – mineral fertilizers are in demand, they are actively purchased by India, Pakistan, and China, but Ukrainian enterprises cannot afford their production. This was confirmed by the recent suspension of the specialized work of the Odessa Port Plant.

Thus, Ukrainian exporters are squeezed out of world markets. Many of Ukraine’s neighbors that produce similar products (for example, nitrogen fertilizers) receive gas at fixed low prices. In Turkey, for example, the government regulates gas prices for such businesses. It will also be difficult to sell the products that have risen in price on the domestic market due to the falling purchasing power.

Economic analyst Igor Deysan also warns that an increase in fertilizer prices will lead to the abandonment of sowing of many crops and an increase in the price of agricultural products, especially wheat in the 2022-2023 season.

“The cost of gas is largely carried over to the cost of wheat and other crops. If gas prices remain high for a long time, the rise in gas prices can make a significant contribution to the price of wheat,” the expert predicts.

Farmers still need to dry the harvested wheat crop, which also implies significant gas consumption. The next in the cycle of its processing are millers and bakers, who are also going bankrupt due to high gas prices.”

The breadbasket of Europe is empty. Ukraine hasn’t seen this scarcity since the 1932-33 famine they are constantly enshrining. The difference between then and now is this time the government is responsible for all of it.

Bakeries will close down because Ukraine oversold wheat to Turkey and its stocks are empty. Now, the breadbasket nation needs to purchase flour from Turkey.

Even if the grain was there, the gas needed to furnish the bakeries, cities, businesses, homes, hospitals, and government buildings with heat and electricity is not.

Deputy from the “Opposition Platform – For Life” Yuriy Boyko said on the air the other day that high gas prices are ruining bakeries. “I came to a bakery in the Kiev region. A modern enterprise. The bakery today pays for gas seven times more than a year ago. And for electricity twice. And energy carriers play a very significant role in the cost of bread, about 20%. That is, in reality, already today they are forced to either increase the cost of bread, or there will be no bread, ”the deputy said.

The short-term gas forecast for Ukraine looks bleak even though Ukraine has the second-largest proven gas reserves in Europe right behind Russia.

 Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, now the leader of the Batkivshchyna party, stated on the Nash TV station on December 22 that Ukraine could furnish itself with gas in three years, but only under particular conditions.

Earlier, the politician said that Ukraine should not wait to purchase Russian gas supplies until the end of the heating season, because there is nowhere else to get it.

According to Tymoshenko, “To enhance gas production in Ukraine, the president’s will is required first and foremost because this should become a strategic and critical program for the development of the state’s energy sector.”

Today, there is no such political will. “Licenses are dispersed on the right and left,” she explained.

Secondly, according to Tymoshenko, non-budget banking investment resources must be directed to Ukrgazvydobuvannya, which also needs to be licensed for all explored deposits. In this case, the ex-prime minister is sure that Ukraine will provide its own gas in 3 years.            

Gas firms promise to reinvest revenues in increased production and modernization, but in the meantime, all other industries and small businesses can relocate across the world.

The Association of Gas Production Companies (AGKU) vehemently rejected proposals to impose state regulation of Ukrainian gas pricing in October, citing the fact that it would “inflict a blow on Ukraine’s image in the world arena and severely harm the European Union.” integration processes”.

Only those Ukrainian oligarchs’ enterprises like those of Rinat Akhmetov, Igor Kolomoisky, and Viktor Pinchuk, who control gas production companies and can send natural gas to their enterprises are affected in this situation.

If Ukraine could produce enough gas tomorrow, its citizens can’t afford high-priced Ukrainian gas and hydrocarbon products. The reserves are 5000 ft. below the surface and the costs of drilling and extraction are quite high.

The only way Biden’s Ukraine can become energy independent is if fuel prices perpetually soar from now on. Ukraine will be able to pay financial obligations like World Bank loans and investors like Hunter Biden.

According to Yuriy Vitrenko, the newly appointed CEO of Ukraine’s energy behemoth Naftogaz, Nord Stream 2 will give Gazprom a dominant position in Europe, giving it significant leverage over Germany and other EU countries.

The only option to avert this scenario is for Ukraine to gain access to gas from other gas-producing countries like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, or Azerbaijan, which would gladly use Ukraine’s transit system to sell gas to Europe.

“Germany should ensure that Gazprom cannot obstruct us,” Vitrenko argues.

“They must do so before Nord Stream 2 is completed, while Germany retains the essential leverage.”

The Germans must impose a moratorium until this type of competitive solution is implemented.”

If Russia refuses to cooperate, it will show that Nord Stream 2 is simply a geopolitical weapon aimed at harming Ukraine and monopolizing Europe’s energy markets, according to Vitrenko.”We have a transit system in Ukraine.” Let us compete to bring other gas providers into Europe,” we argue.

Vitrenko believes that once Nord Stream 2 is completed and the present five-year contract expires in 2025, Russian gas will no longer flow via Ukraine.

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, has claimed that Russia may not even complete the current contract.

He warned that Moscow may disrupt Ukraine’s pipeline network to hinder gas transit across the nation and boost the argument for Nord Stream 2.

What’s interesting about this is it brings us right back to a graft-investor scenario reminiscent of Biden-Burisma. The companies feed profits to investors instead of reinvestment into equipment and permitting.

Secondly, Vitrenko wants the most expensive gas in Europe to materialize in his Ukrainian pipe. Caspian Sea gas, like Ukrainian fracked gas, is extremely costly to produce. The average Ukrainian won’t be able to afford it even if it was a possibility.

It’s only now that we get to the part that will make Americans and Europeans equally appalled.

Biden is using gas and oil cost spikes due to his mandated production cuts and the attempt to shutter Nordstream II to support Ukraine.

The more hydrocarbon product costs spike, the less dependent the EU and Ukraine are on Russian gas. This means fewer Russian gas transits to the EU.

As a consequence, Ukraine can profitably frack hydrocarbons and pay oligarchs, political grafts, and international loans. The gas is too expensive for Ukrainian people but investors like Hunter Biden or Amos Hochstein make out like bandits.

The more profitable the expensive EU oil and gas production rigs become, the more diverse gas purchases are and short-term energy diversification and security is achieved through extremely high price energy products.

If energy costs are through the roof, Joe “Brandon” has a clear runway to dismantle the US economy and Democrats will do what Democrats are doing.

Why should this infuriate you? What’s the difference between $1.80 per gallon and $4.00 per gallon gasoline in the US when it’s coming out of your pocket? The difference is Ukraine’s ability to pay its bills. The difference is Ukrainian politicians dealing with their own problems like grownups. The difference is Ukraine starts acting like a partner and less like a petulant child throwing temper tantrums.

How do higher fuel costs transfer to high retail off-the-shelf product costs?

Do high energy costs contribute to runaway inflation?

Now you know.

It is a hard enough choice to bear the cost in lives when a war is worth fighting and can’t be avoided. Ukraine’s Zelensky doesn’t want Donbass back in the fold. Just a few weeks ago, Zelensky described the citizens he claims to want back as “subhuman.”

The Ukrainians, as of January 2022, are not good partners or friends to America. They are unworthy of American support.  Do we want to give them the opportunity to send American kids to war so their oligarchs and our politicians can steal more?

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Eastern Europe

The Stewards of Hate

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A big bear is rattling the open door of his cage.  He cannot abide a NATO spear in his belly.  Hence Valdimir Putin’s demand for Ukraine to remain out of it, and for the military alliance to stop its advance into eastern Europe.

For 72 years until 1991, Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union, and before that for centuries an oblast of the Imperial Russian empire.  In 1939, parts belonging to Poland were annexed.

It was during the breakup of Russia following an independence referendum that Ukraine opted to separate.  But NATO is another story.  After the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (NATO’s eastern counterpart), Russia had expected the West to do the same.  Instead, NATO became a US fig leaf for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Apparently, everyone in the world saw through this — except the US — as it embroiled itself in both countries, and the bill for the misadventures rocketed from $80 billion to an estimated $5 trillion.

The EU, a path to riches for East Europeans, is a Ukrainian dream, and Russian troops the reality when they wake up.  Such are the facts, no matter how much the Ukrainians are trying to ignore them. 

If the powerful Russian bear is the Ukrainian bete noire, its polar opposite is the case in India.  A powerful Hindutva movement abhors the Muslim minority.  It blames them for India’s problems, very much akin to the situation for Jews in pre-WW2 Germany.  Not unsurprisingly given the roots of the RSS, which modeled itself after the Nazis, instituting uniforms and drills.  A former member assassinated Gandhi for being too soft on Muslims.  Post independence, the RSS was banned by India’s first government which was led by Jawaharlal Nehru, a secular socialist.

The current prime minister, Narendra Modi, is a former RSS pracharak —  that is an active member who devotes himself full time to promoting RSS doctrine and, like a missionary, in seeking new members.  As an ambitious politician, he shed RSS ties when he entered politics and as leader expresses the wish for unity — sentiments not shared by his BHP colleagues.

There is the yogi elected chief minister of India’s largest state, and his undisguised derogatory opinions of Muslims.  Worse, at a political event at the end of December, leaders called openly for the killing of Muslims, and India’s leaders kept silent.  After general social media outrage at the speeches, the police  finally registered a case against some of the speakers for ‘promoting hatred between religious groups.’

Videos show many of the speakers are prominent religious leaders often present with senior ministers in the BJP government.  Imagine, calling for genocide in 2021.  The world reacted to the effort to eliminate Tutsis in Rwanda where it also began with reviling and dehumanization.  Genocide and even incitement to genocide is a crime.  Hence the prosecutions.  Incitement to genocide is recognized as a separate crime under international law and an inchoate crime which does not require genocide to have taken place to be prosecutable.

The founders of post-independence India, Gandhi and Nehru who took pride in being secular, must be in agony over international outlaws wanting to become the stewards of their child.

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Ukraine’s issue may endanger peace in the whole of Europe

Big challenges ahead, the world may face uncertainty, and unrest, as NATO allies have put forces on standby and sent...

Development11 hours ago

Repurposing Current Policies Could Deliver Multiple Benefits for Farmers

A new World Bank and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report finds that repurposing current agricultural public policies could...

Finance11 hours ago

Centralized vs Decentralized Stablecoins: How they’re different

Stablecoins are an essential part of the crypto world. It protects the traders and investors from market swings. Stablecoins have...

Science & Technology13 hours ago

Internet: A luxury or necessity

The internet is the world’s largest computer network, linking millions of computers. It has become an integral part of our...

Health & Wellness15 hours ago

Learning Loss Must be Recovered to Avoid Long-term Damage to Children’s Wellbeing

School closures have caused large and persistent damage to children’s learning and wellbeing, the cost of which will be felt...

Reports17 hours ago

Economic Activity in Myanmar to Remain at Low Levels, with the Overall Outlook Bleak

Myanmar’s economy and people continue to be severely tested by the ongoing impacts of the military coup and the surge...

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