In my latest piece for RT, I discuss Joe Biden’s recent statement that Russia has ‘an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wealth and nothing else. Nothing else.‘ The Russian economy does indeed have many problems, I point out, but failure to produce anything other than nuclear weapons and oil isn’t of them.
Opinion polls suggest that a) most Russians don’t believe that Alexei Navalny was poisoned, and b) far more Russians think that his imprisonment is fair than think it is unfair.
Why is this?
I discuss various theories in my latest piece for RT, which you can read here. Possible answers include:
a. Russians’ brains have been addled by state propaganda.
b. ‘The slave soul of the Russians’, which makes them resent anything that represents freedom.
c. Navalny himself – just not a very likeable guy.
d. Navalny’s association with the liberal opposition, a group that, in light of the experience of the 1990s, is considered by many to be irredeemably corrupt, as well as lackeys of the West.
e. Crying wolf – Russians don’t trust the source of the story that Navalny was poisoned, i.e. the West. This may be due to the extreme hyperbole that Western media and politicians have used in recent years.
Take your pick as to which you think is correct.
Short answer – No. The press has been full of hype this past week about an alleged ‘massing’ of the Russian army near the Ukrainian border, although the number of troops involved (supposedly about 4,000) is well below that needed for an invasion force. I discuss the issue in a new article for RT, that you can read here.
Suffice to say, as so often, the hype is overblown. If Russia does attack Ukraine, it won’t be something that happens out of the blue. The only credible scenario for such an attack would be if the Ukrainian army launched an all-out assault on the rebel forces in Donbass, killing large numbers of civilians. Were such an assault to take place, the possibility of Russian intervention is quite high. It would be catastrophic for Ukraine, whose army would almost certainly be crushed in short measure. Imagine what happened in Georgia in 2008 – the result would be much the same.
The consequences would also be bad for Russia – not only because of the inevitable loss of life, but because one can imagine that it would lead to an almost total severing of relations with the West. It’s best for everybody that this scenario be avoided. This means that Western powers should do what they can to make it clear to Ukraine that they would not support it in the event of war, and that Ukraine should not therefore attempt to regain its lost territories in Donbass by force. I don’t get the sense that they are doing this. If so, it is very regrettable.
Hopefully, sanity will prevail in Kiev. As I mention in my article, there seems to be some awareness of the risks. I reckon that the probability of all-out war is fairly low. But the fact that we are even talking of the possibility is a sign of how dangerous the situation has become.
Continuing on the theme of the military industrial boondoggle, in my latest piece for RT (which you can read here) I discuss how the Western security community has long been inventing or exaggerating threats. The nature of the threat continually changes, but one thing remains constant – the claim that the world is becoming ever more dangerous. Having shifted from failed states to ethnic conflict to rogue states to terrorism to hybrid warfare, the threat generation industry has now returned to state-on-state warfare as the scenario designed to frighten people, with a focus on the allegedly military superiority that the Russian Federation enjoys over NATO. I look at some of these claims, and demonstrate why they are nonsense. The Russian army has improved in recent years, but an attack on NATO would be suicidal. Efforts to suggest anything else are scaremongering, pure and simple.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation lawsuit against the former Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times, Catherine Belton, and her publisher. This follows accusations in her book Putin’s People concerning Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea Football Club. You can read my thoughts on the case in an article on RT here. I decline to say whether the accusations constitute defamation – that’s for the courts to decide – but I do point out that the claim ‘is not well supported by evidence.’ I conclude that while journalists have a right to be concerned about libel suits, they should be equally concerned about publishing scurrilous rumours based on dubious sources. But are they? Or is that what constitutes ‘excellent journalism’ when it comes to Russia?
In my latest article for RT, I discuss Vladimir Putin’s denunciation of ‘caveman nationalism.’ I note how commentators have regularly called Putin an ‘ultranationalist’, but a careful reading of his public statements reveals something very different You can read the article here.
I have written a piece for RT paralleling Alexei Navalny’s trial for defaming a WW2 veteran with the arrest of someone in Scotland on similar charges, and link it all to the place of WW2 in national mythology. You can read it here.
Meanwhile, my morning newspaper brought me this story of a fellow professor at the University of Ottawa whom a Polish court has just ordered to apologize for allegedly defaming someone (long dead, I believe) in relation to WW2. Is this a new trend?
In my latest piece for RT, which you can read here, I discuss the decision of Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky to shut down three opposition TV stations. I point out that Western pundits had said that post-Maidan Ukraine would be a model of liberal democracy that would serve as an example for Russia. The reality, I argue, is the direct opposite.
In an article today for RT, I discuss the latest Russian population statistics, which show a fall in the population of over 500,000 in 2020. You can read it here.
My latest article for RT is now available online here. Hopefully, this is the last Trump-Putin piece I ever have to write, and we can now move onto something different. But who knows?