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Posted to YouTube 6/22/2016.

Can you see the tree?  The trees?  The forest?

How about the blight?

Writing about Russia can be like that: Focus on a crime, follow it into more general corruption, arrive at the “mafia state”; overview energy and economics, move on to “hybrid warfare” and other aggressive military and paramilitary activities, and it dawns that there is an imperial state at work; have a glance at history, then get the nose out of the books and have a look around at present Putin & Co. relationships, disinformation, domestic information control, and global propaganda.

What may be most dangerous about Russia today is the slowly developing surround in alliance and axis accompanied by the seduction of the popular mind (in Soviet-speak, “the masses”) by way of the promotion of confusion.

For its part, this blog has pressed the idea that defending Putinism, much less spreading it, devolves to sustaining a deeply feudal-medieval worldview that in turn undergirds the power of state elites: the “New Nobility” that is the FSB; the “Vertical of Power” that is this most singular Russian President around whom other elements revolve; the Oligarchs that produce and enjoy the state’s wealth, albeit with a nod to the permit provided by their political mastermind.

From off that magnificent hub:

  • Putin-Assad-Khamenei (Putin-Khamenei);
  • Putin-Assad-Khamenei-Baghdaddi (together representing medieval absolute power);
  • Putin-Orban.

With numerous stolons — plant-generated surface and underground runners that propagate some of the species that use them — the Moscow hub appears to support an immense array of illicit and licit relationships.

Here’s a nugget pulled from the illicit bin, which, of course, is the one that most bothers the west:

The leaked files suggest that Roldugin is not keeping this wealth for himself, but is funneling the money to Putin’s inner circle, the reports say. Although Putin is not mentioned in the documents, he appears to be at the center of a web of Russia’s most influential and powerful men who owe their posts and fortunes to nothing but their friendship and association with him.

“It’s possible Roldugin, who has publicly claimed not to be a businessman, is not the true beneficiary of these riches,” the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists wrote. “Instead, the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists — and perhaps for Putin himself” (Mirovalev, LAT, April 4, 2016).

How deep go these relationships?

How many are there?

Can you see the tree?  The trees?  The forest?

The blight?

The Syrian Tragedy, as BackChannels refers to that horrific process in which it appears Damascus with tacit approval from Moscow and Tehran pursued a course certain to produce “The Terrorists” by preferentially bombing more moderate Free Syrian Army forces and refraining from curbing the early development of al-Nusra and ISIL, needs no introduction: the human spillover is either encamped or migrating all over the Middle East and Europe.

Posted to YouTube April 14, 2016.

Moscow, however, has been also busy from the Baltic Sea (as depicted in the above naval incident) to the Black Sea.  Crimea and Ukraine, Lithuania, and Moldova, among others moan with the impositions or threats posed by the phantom of the Soviet alive within the Russian Federation.

A note from Moldova (Timpul.md, February 11, 2015):

Given Moldova’s limited economic potential, the country struggles to maintain its defense capabilities. It only allocates 0.3% of its GDP for military purposes, which amounts to about 25 million dollars per year. Furthermore, Moldova presents limited interest to the West. Its strategic and economic importance is negligible. To make things worse, Moldova is highly dependent on Russian energy supplies, export and labor markets. Russian media control a significant share of Moldova’s informational space. Finally, Kremlin has been instrumental in using Russian speaking minorities in Moldova to advocate interest that often go against the will of the majority of the local population.

In earlier and Soviet years, Moscow was not above playing games to irk the west and possibly draw on its coffers and patience, for whom has always to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of so much meddling?  The BBC recently ran an audio clip featuring Somalia’s General Mohamed Noor Galal recounting the machinations that went into setting the course for war in the region between Ethiopia and Somalia known as the Ogaden.  In that misery, the Soviet enticed Somalia to invade the Ogaden and seize it from Ethiopia, and when Ethiopian forces were down on luck and firepower, it intervened to arm Ethiopia, which then recovered the Ogaden.

Somalia, however, has never recovered.

Whatever the Soviet was thinking — arms sales?  Expansion of forced influence? — it sure wasn’t thinking about the lives and needs of either either Ethiopians or Somalis.  In effect, in the promotion of the Ogaden War, The Bear wrapped an arm around the Somali leadership and offered to help the same acquire a fair patch of earth as redress for earlier grievance — and then with that accomplished, it did the same on the other side.

What works, unfortunately, works.

If you now see the Ogaden in history — you have seen one tree.

Nothing has changed: now as then, one may wonder at the character and mentality of the post-Soviet neo-imperial Russian leadership, the same that has treated Russia as it has other states: create chaos and danger, drown the masses in propaganda (ah, those good old Party days are here again!), and for power — and the protection of so many money making enterprises, licit and illicit — promise the super nationalist’s version of greatness, security, and stability.

Note: Putin-Erdogan — politically opposed (there’s that Shiite vs Sunni thing + NATO) but psychologically aligned (and Erdogan has the White Palace to prove it).


Akkoc, Raziye.  “Turkey’s president is not acting like a Queen – he is acting like a sultan’: Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he isn’t a sultan – rather he wishes to be like the Queen in a constitutional monarchy – but his actions suggest otherwise.”  The Telegraph, February 2, 2015.

Anadolu Agency.  “UN: No record of Russia humanitarian aid for Syria.”  February 4, 2014.

Balazs, Edith and Zoltan Simon.  “Orban Attacks EU Energy Plan as Putin Link Nets Hungary Gas Deal.”  Bloomberg, February 17, 2015.

Blair, David.  “Russia jets make ‘simulated attack’ on US warship in ‘aggressive’ Baltic incident.”  The Telegraph, April 14, 2016.

Farkas, Evelyn.  “Putin is testing Western resolve: Russian incursions into NATO airspace are evidence of Kremlin’s growing aggressiveness.”  Politico, November 25, 2015.

Farkas, Evelyn.  “Trump and Putin: Two liars separated at birth? — No wonder they seem to like each other; they are akin in their abuse of the truth.”  Politico, April 4, 2016.

Farkas, Evelyn.  “What the next president must do about Putin: An open letter from the Pentagon’s former key Russia expert on how to contain Russia’s aggressive autocrat.”  Politico, January 25, 2016.

Grigas, Agnia.  Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire.  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.

Harding, Luke and Matthew Weaver.  “Barack Obama calls for ‘reset’ in US-Russia relations.”  The Guardian, July 7, 2009.

Jakóbik, Wojciech.  “Peter B. Doran: Atlanticism under threat.”  Interview. Stop Fake, March 30, 2016.

Loiko, Sergei L.  “A Russian horror story: Gang sentenced for 12 murders at family home.”  Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2013.

Melvin, Don.  “Girl asks Putin: Who’d you save from drowning, Erdogan or Poroshenko?”  CNN, April 14, 2016.

Mirovalev, Mansur.  “Putin’s best friend is at the heart of Panama Papers scandal.”  Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2016.

Political Capital.  “The Kremlin Connections of the Hungarian Far-Right.”  Stratfor, April 20, 2015.

Rettman, Andrew.  “Russian propaganda wins EU hearts and minds.”  Euobserver, June 23, 2015.

Shuster, Simon.  “A Failed Russia ‘Reset’ Haunts Obama in Europe.”  Time, June 3, 2014.

Stop Fake: Struggle against fake information about events in Ukraine.  Anti-propaganda website.

Than, Krisztina.  “Special Report: Inside Hungary’s $10.8 billion nuclear deal with Russia.”  Reuters, March 30, 2015.

Timpul.md.  “Moldova’s Security Options following Russian Aggression in Ukraine.”  February 11, 2015.

Traynor, Ian and Shaun Walker.  “Russian resurgence: how the Kremlin is making its presence felt across Europe: Moscow is influencing policy and shaping opinion all over the continent, with ties to both the far right and the hard left.”  The Guardian, February 16, 2015.

Walker, Shaun.  “‘So what if Putin is corrupt?’: Russia remains unmoved by offshore revelations.”  The Guardian, April 13, 2016.

Walker, Shaun.  “The luxury hotel, the family of the top Moscow prosecutor and Russia’s most notorious gang: Video by anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny links family of general prosecutor Yuri Chaika with wife of mobster behind notorious massacre.”  The Guardian, December 12, 2015.

Wolking, Matt.  “Six Years Ago Today: President Obama’s Failed Reset with Russia.”  Speaker of the House: Paul Ryan, March 6, 2015.

Xenakis, John J.  “World View: Mass Protests Force Moldova to Choose Between Europe and Russia.”  Breitbart, January 26, 2016.

Posted to YouTube January 26, 2016 (43:54).

Posted to YouTube May 9, 2014

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