Thursday, December 18, 2014

Russia Week

I didn't plan ahead of time for this to be "Russia Week" at the blog. But it has wound up that way.

Robert Parry continues to warn of neocon hubris and adventurism over US relations with Russia in The Crazy US ‘Group Think’ on Russia Consortium News 12/18/2014. Parry doesn't necessarily pay as much attention to internal Russian political dynamics in this situation as one might wish. But he's raising some very important considerations, including his cautions about economic sanctions.

Paul Krugman provides some wonky observations about the Russian debt situation, charts included, in Notes on Russian Debt 12-18-2014.

Nikolas Gvosdev in Russia's Moment of Crisis: Moscow Might Be Down, but Not Out The National Interest 12/18/2014 cautions against Western triumphalism with Russia right now:

Western commentators reporting on events in Russia have a tendency to swing from one extreme to the next. Seven months ago, when oil prices were high and the Kremlin had seemingly amputated Crimea off from Ukraine without firing a shot, the narrative was about an unstoppable Vladimir Putin who would soon be overrunning all Eastern and Central Europe. Today, he is being placed on deathwatch, with prognosticators speculating about precisely when the Russian economy will collapse and Putin will be overthrown. With the precipitous fall in the value of the ruble—something a major interest-rate hike by the Russian Central Bank seemed unable to reverse—some pundits are even crowing that the Ukrainian hryvnia is doing better than the Russian currency.

It helps to step back and put the larger picture in perspective.
It would help. But neocons don't real real-world "perspective" well.

And in Ukraine, now applying the neoliberal prescriptions of the EU and the IMF to their economy, they are facing some big challenges, as Jeffrey Michels explains in Whither Ukraine’s Revolution? Foreign Policy in Focus 12/17/2014:

If this feels like déjà vu, that’s because it is.

Ten years ago, Ukraine was in a similar position — hoping to reform itself after kicking the very same man, Viktor Yanukovych, out of the presidency — in the so-called Orange revolution of 2004. Yet after a few years of disappointing “reformist” government, Ukraine found itself back where it started. To break the cycle, the newly elected officials will need to learn from the past and devolve power from themselves and their corporate allies.

Yet it’s a particularly challenging time to do so: Ukraine’s economy is disintegrating. Its foreign debt is growing as its currency’s value shrinks. Russia continues to embed itself in Crimea as it pushes separatists forth over Ukraine’s industrial heartland. And winter accentuates the need to keep energy flowing from Ukraine’s hostile neighbor in the east.

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