Pentagon using spectre of war with Russia to stave off budget cuts, media complies

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This piece from The Daily Beast is getting a lot of Twitter reaction today —  mostly because it is absolutely ludicrous on at least three different levels.

The first bit of reaction I saw came from FAIR.org writer Adam Johnson, who pointed out a.) that the claim is obviously a massive exaggeration and b.) the propagandistic nature of the headline. Continue reading

Toilet roll theft as barometer of economic decline

I just had to post a link to Paul Robinson’s latest (brilliant) blog post, A Bum Rap.

The post is in reference to an article published by Paul Goble in The Interpreter, which Robinson writes “regularly plumbs the depths of Russophobia” but this time may have “hit rock bottom”.

Goble’s piece tells the story of a 21-year old man, arrested in Russia for stealing a roll of toilet paper from a shopping centre. The piece uses the incident to illustrate how poor Russians are “driven to despair by deteriorating economic conditions [and are] seeking to take care of themselves and their families by turning to crime”.

Ah yes, the heinous crime of stealing a roll of toilet paper! Continue reading

Russia round-up #4: International studies, military doctrines and the KGB

This week’s good reading on Russia:

1. Getting Russia RightJonathan Power, Daily Times

“What is now needed in western capitals is an acknowledgement that they have not always gotten Russia and Putin right. For example, in the Ossetian/Georgian war in 2008, Russia was accused of starting it. In fact, as is now widely accepted in the west, it was Georgia’s bombing of the South Ossetian capital that triggered the war. Today many western observers believe that the degree of Russia’s intervention in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine is grossly overstated. Not long ago, the US commanding general in NATO warned that Russia was about to invade — an ill-informed or deceitful (depending on one’s perspective) viewpoint that was quickly shot down by the head of French intelligence.”

Continue reading

Thoughts on Russia’s decision to burn contraband Western produce (spoiler: bad idea)

cheese

This week Russian authorities began destroying products that fall under its embargo on Western food imports.

A decree for the destruction of the products was signed by Putin on July 29 and will apply to countries that have introduced sanctions against Russia over the situation in Ukraine.

Those sanctions are a form of economic warfare, and are in my opinion, wrong.

But incinerating good food is also wrong. Continue reading

Russia round-up #2: The BRICS, neo-Nazis, Babitsky and Ukraine

As promised, here is this week’s list of Russia-related content from around the interwebz. A lot of good stuff worth reading.

The BRICS

1. 5 factors limiting the impact of the BRICS nations – Andrey Movchan, The BRICS Post

The question here is: Are the BRICS members too different to represent a solid economic and political power?

Movchan lists five reasons why the believes their impact is limited — and it’s worth reading. There’s a lot of hysteria over the BRICs in anti-US circles; a lot of loud excitement about how they are creating a ‘New World Order’ and damning the unipolar world to hell etc.

But I think we ought to be more thoughtful and realistic about this. The BRICS are hugely important — I’m a big fan of the whole enterprise, and their expanding role is more than welcome and necessary — but they have their problems, which require proper scrutiny and analysis. Continue reading