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Russian invasion: Why collective responsibility is not so “collective”?

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Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, there has been an unprecedented number of sanctions imposed on Russia and Russian citizens. However, while 10,100 restrictions have been imposed, only a few of the 100 richest Russian individuals have been reached by them. While the UK only sanctioned 32 of these people, the EU sanctioned 26 and the US only 17. Now many of us wonder if there is a special reason why the most influential individuals are allowed to do business and travel freely around the world. 

Who is responsible for the invasion?

After February 24, 2022, the number of sanctioned companies reached 108, while the EU sanctioned over 1,200 individuals.

There’s a common understanding that all the Russian people are responsible for the crimes committed in Ukraine. After all, if they were not directly involved in actions against Ukraine, they have contributed to Putin being able to consolidate absolute power in a period of 22 years. Absolutism is one of the causes of Ukraine’s suffering, as it gave Putin the power and resources to make the decisions he made.

We can find a similar situation in Argentina, whose first football championship in 1978 is not a reason for pride in this country as it was held as a distraction while the police were murdering innocent people. With the support of the military board that was leading the country as a de facto regime, crimes against humanity were being committed.

Those who support the argument of collective responsibility say that culpability for a crime not only belongs to the perpetrator but also to accomplices and to those who don’t condemn it. Thus, roughly the 143 million people living in Russia follow into this category.

Apparently, supporters of such a theory have forgotten that many citizens fled Russia and others went to the streets to protest against the invasion and were thrown into jail. Besides, it’s not like the Kremlin shows on national TV the destroyed houses, the mass graves, the rape victims, and the Ukrainian mothers fleeing with their children. Russians most likely are not even aware of what’s being done in their names. Again, this was also the case in Argentina in the 70s.

The concept of collective responsibility for war is not new – the Germans are well aware of this. But this is the first time in the last 75 years that responsibility for military decisions of the government is being transferred to an entire nation, i.e., hundreds of millions of people. One can argue how justified this is, because over the past decades, military conflicts have flared up in different parts of the world, from Vietnam to El Salvador, but not a single powerful nation has ever received even a tenth of the blame that was placed on Russia. Perhaps this is because in the 20th century, after WWII, wars were a common instrument of politics, and in the 21st century this is perceived as a monstrous practice. Veterans of the war in Iraq will agree with this, but that cannot be an excuse in Ukraine, where the war has come too close to the borders of Europe.

Collective responsibility: shouldn’t it apply to everyone?

So, if the Russian people are held responsible for Putin’s actions, what about virtually 75% of Russia’s richest individuals? From the top 100 richest Russians (according to Forbes in 2021) only 32 have been sanctioned by the UK, and the EU and the US show even lower numbers.

Reports released by the Kyiv-based ICPS (International Center for Policy Studies) in 2019 and 2022 informed about certain people not being subject to sanctions. Yet, they have played a role in actions against Ukraine like the Donbas conflict or the annexation of Crimea. What’s even worse: these people still have an impact on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Being able to conduct business freely around the world, they continue to help the Kremlin thus counteracting the official sanctions. ICPS names those powerful Russians who are still not sanctioned, and this is a highly questionable international practice. If the collective West did not include 3/4 of the most influential Russians in the sanctions list, many of whom personally participated in inciting the conflict in eastern Ukraine, then why is the issue of Russian collective responsibility on the agenda at all? It is quite obvious that an ordinary Russian tourist in Europe cannot, for example, be compared with Igor Chayka, a prominent Russian businessman, son of ex-General Prosecutor of Russia Yuriy Chayka, and the brother of the corrupt businessman Artyom Chayka. Though both his relatives have been hit with heavy sanctions, Igor has managed to slip through the cracks. Although recently exposed by the US, he is still waiting for sanctions from the EU. Throughout his life, he’s used his father’s position to generate tons of capital and business opportunities. A few years ago, Igor started the company PKB, a real estate development firm that builds on occupied Crimean land, but as reported by ICPS he was not sanctioned for that. Alexei Navalny’s team exposed both Igor and Artyom for their corruption related to using their father’s connections to buy up huge amounts of foreign real estate.

Another clear example from the ICPS report is Ruslan Rostovtsev, known as the Coal King. Rostovtsev has been one of the most influential coal smugglers from Donbas for the past decade, supporting the Russian government and state-owned companies such as Russian Railways, according to data. His activities are directly related to the support of separatism, which led to the war in Ukraine. However, neither the name of Ruslan Rostovtsev, nor his company (for example, Swiss trader Kaproben Handels, as reported by ICPS) are found in any sanctions list.

This is surprising as Rostovtsev has been directly linked to the financing of the separatists in Ukraine for many years. Another hero of the study of the Ukrainian Institute, Igor Chayka, nevertheless came to the attention of Western legislators, then again, Rostovtsev, for whatever reason, seems to be off the hook. Also out of sight are dozens of Russian oligarchs, including those whose enterprises produce dual-use products.

How to make sanctions more effective

The goal of the sanctions must be to weaken Moscow’s destructive power over Ukraine. Moreover, they should create a gap between the Kremlin and the Russian oligarchy.

Some EU states are pleading for the removal of certain Russian influential people from the blacklists arguing that there are not enough legal foundations for such inclusions. However, this tepidity not only does not defend but directly harms Ukraine’s sovereignty. 

While some of Russia’s top millionaires continue to trade freely in fields like finances, metallurgy, and energy, they will be a source of funding and support for the Kremlin. The punishment must consist in actually limiting these people’s business possibilities thus leaving them no other choice than turn against Putin’s regime. All in all, if all the Russian people are being held responsible for the invasion, it’s only fair that those individuals whose activities have the highest impact on the economy and the political decisions have to answer too. After all, it seems that sanctions are hurting everyone except for those who are directly responsible or that can influence the decisions when it comes to the Kremlin’s foreign policies. In the meantime, hundreds of lives have been lost, money has been spent, and democracy is hanging by a thread.

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U.S. bank trouble heralds The End of dollar Reserve system

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The US banking system is broken, stresses ‘The Asia Times’. That doesn’t portend more high-profile failures like Credit Suisse. The central banks will keep moribund institutions on life support.

But the era of dollar-based reserves and floating exchange rates that began on August 15, 1971, when the US severed the link between the dollar and gold, is coming to an end. The pain will be transferred from the banks to the real economy, which will starve for credit.

And the geopolitical consequences will be enormous. The seize-up of dollar credit will accelerate the shift to a multipolar reserve system, with advantage to China’s yuan as a competitor to the dollar.

Gold, the “barbarous relic” abhorred by John Maynard Keynes, will play a bigger role because the dollar banking system is dysfunctional, and no other currency — surely not the tightly-controlled yuan — can replace it. Now at an all-time record price of US$2,000 an ounce, gold is likely to rise further.

The greatest danger to dollar hegemony and the strategic power that it imparts to Washington is not China’s ambition to expand the international role of the yuan.

This crisis is utterly unlike 2008, when banks levered up trillions of dollars of dodgy assets based on “liar’s loans” to homeowners. Fifteen years ago, the credit quality of the banking system was rotten and leverage was out of control. Bank credit quality today is the best in a generation. The crisis stems from the now-impossible task of financing America’s ever-expanding foreign debt.

America’s chronic current account deficits of the past 30 years amount to an exchange of goods for paper: America buys more goods than it sells, and sells assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, and so on) to foreigners to make up the difference.

America now owes a net $18 trillion to foreigners, roughly equal to the cumulative sum of these deficits over 30 years. The trouble is that the foreigners who own US assets receive cash flows in dollars, but need to spend money in their own currencies.

Before 1971, when central banks maintained exchange rates at a fixed level and the United States covered its relatively small current account deficit by transferring gold to foreign central banks at a fixed price of $35 an ounce, none of this was necessary.

The end of the gold link to the dollar and the new regime of floating exchange rates allowed the United States to run massive current account deficits by selling its assets to the world.

In effect, the market worries that buying inflation protection from the US government is like passengers on the Titanic buying shipwreck insurance from the captain. The gold market is too big and diverse to manipulate.

The dollar reserve system will go out not with a bang, but a whimper. The central banks will step in to prevent any dramatic failures. But bank balance sheets will shrink, credit to the real economy will diminish and international lending in particular will evaporate.

Southeast Asia will rely more on its own currencies and the yuan. The dollar frog will boil by slow increments.

It’s fortuitous that Western sanctions on Russia during the past year prompted China, Russia, India and the Persian Gulf states to find alternative financing arrangements. These are not a monetary phenomenon, but an expensive, inefficient and cumbersome way to work around the US dollar banking system.

As dollar credit diminishes, though, these alternative arrangements will turn into permanent features of the monetary landscape, and other currencies will continue to gain ground against the dollar, concludes ‘The Asia Times’.

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Mastering Writing Skills: Write Effectively for Academic and Professional Success



Most people underestimate the importance of knowing how to write. In school, students are assigned paper after paper. The results help teachers grade their knowledge. But, that’s not the main reason why these are assigned. Essays and other papers give students practice, and a chance to learn effective writing. It’s a lifelong skill that not only serves to land them a passing grade but can also help them boost their professional success later on.

How to Master Your Writing Skills

If you want to make sure that you learn how to write better, both for academic and professional success, here are some tips and tricks for you.

1.Ask Someone to Write for You

The best way to learn how to write is to read what you need to write. If you aim for academic success but don’t know how to craft a paper that gets you an A, get some writing help from a reliable service. Today you can simply go online and request to write my essay and you’ll receive a top-notch assignment. This isn’t just to help you meet a deadline or land a high grade. You can also use it for college learning – to read what a good paper should look like.

When you have a finished piece of writing, this can be your guide. Students often order papers online to meet deadlines or make sure they get a high grade. Even if this is the case, use the opportunity to learn, too – next time you need to craft a similar paper, refer to the one written by an expert to boost your writing skills.

2.Read What You Like

Reading is an amazing way to boost your writing skills. How is this possible, you wonder?

For starters, reading books, articles, other papers, or anything else – can boost your vocabulary. When you read, you also come across different writing styles, giving you ideas for when you need to write.

Even though it might not seem this way when you actually read, reading gives you a lot of useful information that is stored in your subconscious.

3.Practice Writing

If you want to master writing, truly master it, you need practice. Those essay assignments are not enough. You should do some free writing, too. Start your blog or journal, write letters to your peers, join a writing workshop, etc. Just write for the sake of it – practice is very important!

4.Don’t Skimp on the Editing Part

Editing is as important as writing itself – maybe even more important. While some mistakes might be acceptable in school, these are never welcome in professional circles. A single, unintentional mistake can have a devastating effect and ruin the quality or the message in your writing.

Research and writing are tiring, but this is no reason to skip the editing part and submit the work in a rush. If you want to learn to write better, you need to start by editing your work. When you proofread and edit it, you can find the most common mistakes you make and learn how to avoid them.

5.Focus on the Structure

The first draft is often a result of free writing. It’s good to write with the flow without focusing on the details, the mistakes, or the structure. This allows your thought to run without interruptions.

But, you can’t submit the first draft of any writing – not if you want it to be good.

In addition to editing the mistakes out of your writing, focus on the structure, too. Structure makes sure that your ideas get across to those who read the content.

Outlines are very useful for this. Many students see them as a waste of time since they aren’t formally required. However, a good outline can actually cut down the time you spend on editing and formatting your task. It will also make sure that the information in your essay flow and are clear to the reader.

6.Ask for Feedback – and Use It!

Unless you’ve mastered the skill of writing, you’ll make mistakes. This is how you learn, and there’s no shame in it. It’s also the time when feedback can really help you. Ask your mentors, your peers, your parents, and friends to take a look at your writing. Ask them to be blunt and tell you what flaws they find in your writing.

You might not accept all of their notes and feedback, but learning how others view and understand your writing is very useful.

Wrapping Up

Writing requires some talent but most importantly, it requires practice. It is something you learn in time, which is why it’s assigned at every academic level.  So, practice, practice, and practice some more. This is how you’ll master the skill!

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FORBES: Where is the Russian banking crisis?

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“Sanctions were supposed to kill the Russian financial sector. It did, and it didn’t. Where is the Russian banking crisis?” – FORBES is perplexed.

Yes, sanctions have hurt Russia’s financial institutions. But a Russian banking crisis, one that looks like we have seen in the U.S. recently with Silicon Valley Bank and in Switzerland with Credit Suisse, has not occurred.

There were never any runs on Russian banks. The ruble strengthened. And while most banks are protected by the state – led by Sberbank and VTB – the Russian Central Bank has spent much of the last decade working to clean up the financial system.

For this reason, Russian banks have survived the West’s sanctions regime and stock market delistings better than anyone would have imagined. For a cynical Russian, watching Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse burn down while their bankers are gainfully employed is like smirking before the camera lens in front of a burning building.

Had the sanctions come at the time when the Russian Central Bank was cleaning up its “zombie banks” – all hell would have broken loose. But seeing how much of that mess was swept away prior to the 2022 sanctions regimes taking hold, Russia’s banks remain safe and sound, even if Russian investors in those banks have lost their shirt.

The sanctions policy, the hardest ever taken out on Russia, is 13 months old. New ones pop up regularly. It is unclear what can possibly be next, as Russia’s financial institutions have already been largely cut off from the Western system.

Russia’s financial sector, and its banks at home, aren’t making headlines like banks in the U.S. and Europe are. They have withstood the onslaught of sanctions.

They’ve lost their European and U.S. assets, which will not be recovered for years to come, if ever. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said in press reports that Sberbank is “the most attacked entity” in the country, which experiences “unprecedented challenges in terms of complexity and power.” He said Sberbank lost nearly all of its assets abroad, leading to massive write-downs.

Yet, Russian president Vladimir Putin smirks at the burning buildings of Credit Suisse and the lost $200 billion in Silicon Valley Bank deposits, needing unprecedented FDIC support to protect account holders. The bank is now insolvent. His biggest banks remain only because most of Russia’s banks over the years have been folded and rendered insolvent. And a danger to the Russian financial system was liquidated.

“Thanks to the professional actions of our banking community, government agencies, and the efforts of the central bank, I want to emphasize that we managed to overcome all these (sanctions) difficulties in general,” Putin reportedly said in Moscow earlier this month after meeting with Sberbank’s CEO. He said that Sberbank’s current stable position was “a good signal for the whole economy.”

With sanctions expected to remain for a long time to come, will Russia’s heavily sanctioned banks fold one day, too?

“Who knows what will happen in Russia, because we all only know what we read in the press and what we read in the press is that Russia did a smart job handling their banks pre-sanctions and so after sanctions they have managed okay,” says famous commodities investor Jim Rogers from his home in Singapore, who has been a director of Russian fertilizer company PhosAgro. “We saw the ruble go down when sanctions were first imposed, then it went up. So in that case alone, the market tells me that somebody in Russia did something right,” he says.

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