VE Day – 70 Years On And Europe Is Still Fighting A Tyrant

Today is the 70th anniversary of VE day. Better people went before us and fought for our liberties and freedoms. They fought so that we can live a life that is free and that I could retain the right to write these words without repercussions. Sadly, if I was Russian, then I could very well end up in jail because a repressive dictatorial imp troll, know to the world as Vladimir Putin, has continued to erode the freedoms that generations who have gone before him fought to resurrect.

The image below is of a Ukrainian soldier captured in Shakhtersk, just outside of Donetsk. It won 3rd prize in the POY awards and it serves as a stark reminder that war has once again cast its shadow across Europe.

For most Europeans watching the evening news, it would appear that the war in Eastern Ukraine has finally ended, a result of the diplomatic efforts of Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande. That belief however is a fallacy. The war and human tragedy has continued unabated in Ukraine. Families have been torn apart, both literally and ideologically. And all this is happening with the backdrop of Russian ultra-nationalism, what with leather clad bikers making provocative statements by their insistence on driving through Europe to give a two-fingered salute to Germany and Europe, or rhetoric from Putin’s Kremlin that the Soviet army defeated Nazi Germany single-handedly, or the almost hysterical fervour that the Kremlin and their journalistic-apparatchik have attached to the planned parade through Moscow on May 9th.

No doubt Putin will take pride of place upon at the podium on Red Square, atop the tomb of Lenin, and once again bask in the glow of his sycophantic followers – a combination of corrupt Oligarchy and their families, and the ordinary Russian who is either naive and believes every word from the Kremlin media instruments used to fill the airwaves and newspaper columns with lies and propaganda, or who are too lazy to actually to question these lies and stand up to a dictatorship that is hell-bent on returning Russia to an era where its citizens are not to be trusted and who have to be controlled, lest they form their own opinions and become a problem or threat for the regime .

Whilst Russians are slobbering over themselves and their nationalistic pride over the defeat of Nazi Germany, they continue to carry out atrocities on their “so-called” brothers in Ukraine. These orange/black ribbon wearing Russian scum make me sick. As do ordinary Russians who refuse to do anything to remove the monster that is Putin, for fear that they lose everything. God forbid they lose their flash cars, their gold gilded mansions or their ability to vacation in Europe thrice yearly (a region that they enjoy spending time in, but whose values they detest…..odd that).

Unless ordinary Russians stand up to Putin and his dictatorship, then they deserve their lot in life. Thankfully, Ukraine is fighting to resurrect law and order and freedoms of press and free speech. It’ll take a while to mend the many wrongs inflicted during the Soviet era, but they are a resilient nation and are determined to join the reset of civilised Europe.

For all I care, Russia can rot in hell.

Slava Ukraine and I pray for the millions of lost lives who fought for the liberty I enjoy today.

Ukrainian Soldier Shakhtersk - Andrey Stenin

Nemtsov Murder Inquiry – Detective Putin On The Case

Here are just some of the latest cartoons/memes do the rounds on the internet regarding Putin’s decision to “personally handle the investigation” into Boris Nemtsov’s murder. As one Canadian politician succinctly put it, “It’s like the wolf investigating the disappearance of little red riding hood”.

The FSB have already laid the blame at Ukraine’s doorstep, blaming the SBU. Despite the fact that this is lacking in any evidence to support such a claim, it’s also without any merit as the Ukrainian government and security services received significant support from Nemtsov as he railed against Putin’s illegal war against and occupation of Ukraine. Suffice to say, Detective Putin is on the case, so we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that the killers will be caught and prosecuted…..NOT!

Putin Polonium Detective Putin

Reagan’s Words On Soviet Union – Still Valid Today

Putin StalinI’m not a fan of the US Republican Party, but I was a fan of US President, Ronald Reagan. Sure, he had his idiosyncrasies when it came to social reform and domestic policy in American, but his stance on the Soviet Union was unwavering, and in the end, his administration oversaw the increase in economic spending in the form of an open arms race with the Soviet Union, as well as a covert proxy war funded and fought via the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. The results being the economic crippling of the Soviet Union, eventually leading to its ultimate collapse.

His words spoken two decades ago are every bit as valid and relevant today as they were then. His dubbing of the Soviet Union as the “evil empire” could be as much describing today’s Russia ruled by an increasing megalomaniacal menace, Vladimir Putin, as it was then to describe Gorbachev’s politburo back in the 1980’s. The difference that set’s Gorbachev and Putin apart is that Gorbachev was actually trying to rebuild the Soviet Union for the better, whereas Putin aims to cling on the power come hell or high-water, lest he be dragged off his perch and prosecuted by the proletariat for the various crimes he has committed against them in his 16 years in power.

Reagan rightly pointed out of the Soviet’s that “they lie, they cheat, you can’t trust them”. It’s a lesson forgotten by today’s Western “leaders”. Only two weeks ago, a wet behind the ears Federica Mogherini announced a plan to lift sanctions against Russia and rebuild economic ties with the dictator, whilst our neighbours in Ukraine continue to fight and die as their country struggles against the occupation from it’s aggressive Russian neighbours. It seems that despite Europe’s leaders being taught the lessons of history, such as Hitler’s bare-faced lies to Neville Chamberlain or of the duplicitous Stalin carving up the map of Europe in Yalta, they still prefer to live in a world where they believe that today’s world leaders wouldn’t dare dream of thinking or acting in a similar fashion.

But one has to only look at Putin’s track record to know that he is capable of anything and has in fact already shown that to be the case. His crack down on freedoms of speech, his near monopolistic stranglehold on the press, and the increasing, almost monotheistic “Power Vertical” he so lovingly refers too in his speeches, all point to a man who has become drunk on power. And his continued wars in Chechnya, Transnistria, Dagestan, Georgia and now Ukraine all demonstrate that he will stop at nothing to maintain his position at the top at home, and project his power abroad.

In Reagan’s own words back then, “detente” with the Soviet Union was a “one way street” and that the Soviet Union repeatedly acknowledged and declared that their intention was to “further their [communist] cause. Meaning that they reserve the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that”. This pretty much sums up today’s Russia and Putin’s current foreign and domestic policies. But if you don’t believe me, then why not listen to the words of “Ronnie” and decide for yourself.

Putin’s Planned Pipeline With Turkey – Just Smoke & Mirrors

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin s

Much speculation has been made since Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced the cancellation of the planned South Stream project last December. Seen by some as a rebuke by the Kremlin towards the EU’s sanctions against Russia, many analysts speculated various theories.

One theory doing the rounds was that the cancellation of the project sounded the death knell for Europe’s poorer countries who are both reliant on Russian supplied gas to power their business and warm their homes and who would have benefited economically from jobs created in the construction of the pipeline, and of course the transiting of the gas once the pipeline was up and running.

Another theory doing the rounds is that it makes political sense to further destabilise Europe, and NATO. Russia would prefer to bring Turkey under its sphere of influence, a country similarly modelled on a narcissistic dictator who has no real respect for democracy, human rights or a free press, all of which are values that Europe holds dear. Thus cancelling South Stream would do two things. It would create economic uncertainty for the poorer east European countries, thus creating a discord between their governments and Brussels, and it would also put the cat among the pigeons with NATO leaders as the only NATO member state ruled by a dictator has built enormous political capital at home and potentially gains more influence, and thus immunity from criticism, with Brussels.

But I think this is all bullshit, and here’s why.

Recently, Gazprom’s mafioso CEO, Alexei Miller, announced a veiled threat to Europe, in the form of a “Godfather” styled “offer they can’t refuse”. You know the kind I’m talking about, how you have “such a nice family and it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

Miller announced yesterday that it would be in Europe’s best interests to support Gazprom’s initiative to circumvent Ukraine as a transit country, by way of building a connector between Greece and Turkey, enabling them to press on with their plan to use Turkey as a transit country into Europe, now that South Stream was cancelled.

“the Turkish Stream is the only route along which 63 billion cubic metres of Russian gas can be supplied, which at present transit Ukraine. There are no other options,” he said.

“Our European partners have been informed of this and now their task is to create the necessary gas transport infrastructure from the Greek and Turkish border,” said Miller, according to a Gazprom statement.

“They have a couple of years at most to do this. It’s a very, very tight deadline. In order to meet the deadline, the work on building new trunk gas pipelines in European Union countries must start immediately today,” Miller warned.

Or else what, Alexei?:

“Otherwise, these volumes of gas could end up in other markets.”

Please, don’t make me laugh. And I also like the way Russians still overuse the word “partner” when referring to any dealings they have with Europe. Any real “partner” wouldn’t have shut off gas supplies, as they have 2006, 2009 and again in 2015. With “partners” like these, who needs enemies?

And where, pray-tell are these gas supplies likely to be sent, if they are redirected away from Europe? China? Not bloody likely. The Chinese gas infrastructure is worse than a leaking sieve. There is already one major pipeline, from KAZAKHSTAN, supplying their main network. And unlike Europe’s infrastructure, China’s is highly centralised, in the form of hub-and-spoke. In fact they have such a hard time actually getting gas to where it’s needed that they’re too busy fixing their own internal pipelines to cover the immediate demand. So where Alexei? Tell me!

What hardman Miller is basically trying to say is that if gas can’t move to Europe via Turkey, Gazprom won’t ship it via Ukraine. But push come to shove, if Europe is still deemed the most valuable destination for Russian gas, Gazprom will continue to sell it there, and ship it via Ukrainian pipes. It simply cannot afford not to.

It’s a bluff, plain and simple. Even the most doveish Eurocrat can see it for what it is. To top it all, gas supply is expected to increase later this year as the Gladstone and Gorgon LNG sites in Australia and Sabine Pass in the US come online. And this glut in supply will further exacerbate the drop in gas prices, meaning that gas imports in Asia will centre on cheaper (and more politically stable) suppliers from Australia, further excluding pass-through business Gazprom could only hope to gain with their deal with the Chinese.

As for Europe, with another mild Winter almost gone, the consequent bumper reserve stores and a focus during these past two years on retrofitting gas terminals in Grangemouth (Scotland), Ferrol, Valencia & Cartagena (Spain) and Hammerfest (Norway) to enable them to handle LNG from the US, it further diminishes Gazprom’s grip on gas supplies into Europe. This alternate path to supply undercuts Russian leverage, not just in Europe, but in China too. And given the noise regarding unresolved prices coming from Mandarin’s in China about the gas deal with Russia announced last year, you just KNOW that the Chinese will squeeze Putin’s balls like a hungry python.

On top of this, the whole thing with Turkey looks like a set-up to me. Since late 2013, right up until very late 2014, the Bulgarians had been courting the Kremlin and Gazprom. Along with demented Hungarian President, Victor Orban, Russia has few other allies in Brussels. The Bulgarian Parliament had tried to pass a law circumventing EU rules forbidding Gazprom from owning AND controlling the pipelines they operated in the EU. They even went so far as to have Gazprom actually WRITE the law! But with Brussels threatening to cut off much needed cash from the EU development funds, the Bulgarians quickly fell into line and they rejected South Stream.

So…..a connector between Greece and Turkey, eh? Why wouldn’t it work? Ignoring the centuries of hatred, a stale war in Cyprus and a complete mistrust between the two? Well, for starters, ignoring the politics for a moment, the current Turkish infrastructure can’t even handle the current pass-through commitments from other deals the Turks inked.

Turkey has the domestic infrastructure to get the gas from the Black Sea shore to the Aegean. From an Oxford Institute for Energy Studies report:

The BOTS [Turkish national gas company] transport system’s throughput capacity is not sufficiently developed to accept and ship all the contracted gas volume from the eastern suppliers due to the limited installed capacity of the existing compressor stations. BOTAS is able to take some 90% of the gas from the Trans-Balkan Gas Pipeline (the Western Line) and the Blue Stream pipeline from Russia, but has struggled to cope with volumes contracted from Azerbaijan and Iran. Therefore, the company has had to pay billions of dollars for ‘untaken’ gas.

This is the picture today. It will take a significant level of investment in Turkey to upgrade their infrastructure that will allow it to handle large additional gas flows via the new pipeline.

So who is going to pay for all of this? It’s not like Gazprom is flush with cash. On the contrary, like all Russian corporations, Gazprom is in dire straits financially. Although it’s not subject to sanctions right now, it IS affected by it’s inability to tap foreign money markets through it’s banking concern. It owes billions of USD denominated debt, which falls due during the course of 2015. Ordinarily they’d pay this off by simply borrowing more and rolling that debt over. But since the money markets have been shut off, they’ve had to resort to government funds and other unlikely sources, such as China (remember those guys?)

Whilst Gazprom is not directly sanctioned now – just the Gazprombank arm – all that could change with the very fluid situation right now in Ukraine. One wrong move by the Kremlin in eastern Ukraine could vastly change the playing field. In addition, Gazprom’s hard currency revenue picture is dismal. Gazprom’s shipments to Europe were down more than 9% last year, and no gas is yet flowing to China. And the best part of it is that Gazprom prices – at its own insistence! – are tied to lagged oil prices. What’s that mean?Well, since the price of oil has plummeted 60%, so too will the price of gas Gazprom sells. It’s revenues from Europe will decline by the same order of magnitude as oil prices have, to the tune of 60%. A far cry from their predictions of $250(!!) back in 2008. Great work Alexei. I can see why you were picked to be CEO.

Schadenfreude doesn’t even come close to describing my feelings at contemplating Gazprom getting what it insisted on – an oil price link. It insisted on this link almost as a matter of principle, and came up with one ludicrous argument after another to justify it.

And while we’re talking about revenue, let’s talk about prices in general. One of the biggest flies in the ointment about the Turkey deal, and which everyone seems to fail mentioning, is the fact that the Russians still haven’t finalised a deal with Turkey on the gas prices for THIS YEAR! So somehow, whilst they’re still bickering about a price deal for this year, they are somehow going to magically reach an agreement and lock in a long-term price for the pipeline business? Keep dreaming Alexei.

Whilst we’re still on the topic of price, let’s cast our minds back to all the other large pipeline projects Putin and his cronies announced this past decade, and ask yourself how many of them ACTUALLY followed through and went live. There were deals announced with China going as far back as 2006, but they never materialised because neither the Chinese, nor the Russians, come come to an agreement on price. The same thing happened with two other lines with the Kazakhs and Azerbaijan. The two latter parties ultimately choosing to cast off the shackles of Gazprom and opting to go it alone.

This current deal, signed when Putin was under the gun has not fully resolved price issues. This “deal” has every prospect of having the same issues as all the others that have come before it, especially since the Turks realise Russia’s holding a weak hand. Not to mention, the Chinese can smell blood from miles off, and they’ve been circling Gazprom like a famished school of sharks.

So sizing up all of the above, the veiled threat from Putin’s favourite Herald, Alexei Miller, is nothing more than that. It’s a ploy, designed by the Kremlin to further destabilise an already unbalanced European economy. It’s made all the more poignant by the fact that one of the country’s that, on the face of it, stands to gain a great deal economically, i.e. Greece, but will in reality not gain much at all. Already lumbered with a massive bailout program which they are failing to manage, putting extra pressure on the Eurozone as as whole. In fact, the way Miller has positioned it, he’s expecting an already bankrupt economy to foot the bill. And remember, that all this is going on whilst the Mandarins in across the EU member states foreign offices are all deciding what to do vis-a-vis the sanctions with Russia. Do they tighten the screws, loosen the screws or just sit on their hands. I’m just curious who will end up with a horse’s head in their bed.

Russian Pipeline

Vice News – George Soros on EU vs. Russia

Long a fan of new media upstart, Vice News, since my initial introduction by way of their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis – Maidan, then Russia’s Crimean annexation, and now Russia’s armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine – their no-nonsense grass-roots coverage of events on the ground are a breath of fresh air when compared to the current crop of mainstream media, such as the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Independent, etc.

This latest piece, a kind of “talking-heads” segment, is a new segment they have recently rolled out which began with a piece on China’s aspirations, followed by a segment on how ISIS was born from a misguided and maligned form of Hawkish American Imperialism.

In this particular video, George Soros discusses his essay “A New Policy to Rescue Ukraine“, and sagely explains that by offering Ukraine assistance, Europe can foster an open society in Ukraine and protect itself from Russian aggression.

In his essay, which calls on members of the European Union to behave as countries indirectly at war with Russia, Soros calls on the EU to provide Ukraine with $50 billion to defend itself and kick-start political reforms. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambition has unintentionally brought into being a new Ukraine that is adamantly opposed to endemic corruption and inefficient government.

With inexperienced EU Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, most recent attempt to appease the regime in Moscow and advising a lifting of sanctions by the EU against Russia, it has only further compounded the divisions within the EU on how a continued relationship with Russia some be managed in the future. Mogherini was criticised during the hearings by EU officials during the vetting process prior to her taking up her position as High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Indeed, many observers and members of the EU Parliament expressed their concerns over her closeness to Putin and her ability to remain objective and strong in her dealings towards Russia in her current role.

One key question that needs re-asking is, “Is Mogherini fit for purpose?” It is my personal opinion that she should never have been appointed this position in the first place, as her continued dalliances with the kleptocratic regime in Moscow are detrimental to the security of Europe.

Mogherini Putin

Russian Terrorists Kill 12 Civilians in Ukraine

WARNING – VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT. SOME READERS MAY FIND DISTURBING

Ukraine Volnovkha Bus 12 Killed

Yesterday, January 13th, 2015, at 14:20 Kyiv time, Russian funded terrorists shelled a Ukrainian checkpoint located 7 km from the town of Volnovakha, in the Donetsk Oblast.

A minibus, transporting civilians was completely destroyed by a BM-21 ‘Grad’ belonging to the militants of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”.

The horrendous, and disturbing video, below, shows the bodies of the innocent civilians who were aboard the bus when the shrapnel from the Grad rocket ripped through the bus, tearing through the people aboard the bus.

12 people were killed: 2 men, 9 women and 1 child. Other sources report a higher number of civilian casualties. All people died from the shell wounds. 3 Ukrainian servicemen from the checkpoint were also wounded.

It is believed that the “Grad” launcher, known officially as the BM-21, was located at Alexandrynivka, a village near Dokuchaevs’k.

Vyacheslav Abroskin, head of the Donetsk regional interior ministry, said it appeared the target had been a roadblock set up close to the nearby town of Volnovakha but the attack had gone wrong.

“It was a direct hit on an intercity bus,” he said.

Of course, the Russian news agency Tass was quick to come to the defence of the terrorists and quoted rebel officials as denying they had carried out the attack.

Terrorists continue to hide their Russian supplied military equipment in private homes, farmsteads and in the backyards of the local Ukrainian civilian population. A ruse to avoid any counter attacks that the Ukrainian Army might be inclined to launch. These continued attacks make a mockery of the supposed ceasefire referred to in the Minsk protocols, agreed last year.

The DPR also announced yesterday an ultimatum to Ukrainian government forces defending the now destroyed Donetsk airport. They were warned by terrorists that if they did not retreat from the airport, they would “suffer the consequences” with an all-out attack being promised.

10 Ukrainian civilians have died since the so-called ‘truce’ was announced back in December.

Merry Christmas Ukraine

Today is Christmas Day in Ukraine. Christmas Day, no matter what day of the year you celebrate it, along with Easter Sunday, marks one of the key Christian religious days that emphasises values such as peace and kindness towards ones fellow man. Sadly, Ukraine has had not much of either in 2014, so my Christmas wish to Ukraine is that peace returns to her shores and that the Russian’s leave as quickly as they invaded this year.

As a small Christmas gift, I wanted to share with you a very cute animation with the soundtrack of a Christmas carol which I bet you never knew originated as a Ukrainian folk song. The enchanting music composed by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1904 based on the original song called “Schedryk”, or “Swallow”This animation is the original Leontovych arrangement animated by the Ukrainian artist Ev Melekhovets

The wider world was introduced to this beautiful carol through the help of American Ukrainian, Peter Wilhousky, and became known to the world as “Carol of the Bells”. Wilhousky made his arrangement following a performance of the original song by Alexander Koshetz’s Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1921.

The original song’s lyrics are about a swallow that flew into a master’s household and started twittering to him about the increase of his livestock.

But why on Earth are Ukrainian’s singing about a Swallow in the middle of Winter? Ukrainian swallows spend their winters south of the Sahara. The culprit of this confusion is the Russian Tsar Peter I, who in 1699, with his continued Europification of Russia, established New Year to be celebrated on January 1, following the example of the other European nations. Before that, Ukrainians celebrated New Year around the Spring Equinox.

From pagan times, it was the reawakening of nature that marked the start of the New Year. The ritual songs called “shchedrivky,” which means “bountiful New Years carols,” were meant to bestow all the earthly riches on a master’s homestead and wish him a fertile year – quite a desirable outcome in an agrarian society. It was also Peter I who introduced Christmas trees to be used as a celebration attribute. Before that, the Christmas decorations that Ukrainians used were made from straw. The main one used is called didukh and symbolizes fertility.

Traditional Ukrainian didukh

Traditional Ukrainian didukh

If the swallow around Christmas wasn’t confusing enough, Ukrainians sing these New Year shchedrivky not on January 1, but on January 13 – a result of the Orthodox church using the Gregorian calendar, which runs 13 days later than the Julian calendar used by the Catholic church.

But whatever calendar you use I would like to wish you all a very

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

З Різдвом і Новим Роком

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain Shona duit