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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1 AM December 16. Russia Became A Banana Republic

Russia’s central bank waited until the early morning hours to raise its interest rate from 10.5 to a whopping 17 percent to encourage citizens to hold rubles and foreigners to buy rubles. Rather than building confidence, markets interpreted the move as panic. By late afternoon, it took an unprecedented 80 rubles to buy one dollar. Despite its vaunted reserves, the mighty Russia gives the appearance of a Latin American banana republic, dependent on one product, with a collapsing economy and declining living standards that can no longer support Vladimir Putin’s expensive foreign adventures or keep alive his social compact with the Russian people.


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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Battle For The German Soul: The Russia/Ukraine Narrative

Putin’s propaganda machine is fighting a desperate PR battle, at home and abroad, for control of the narrative of its war against Ukraine. The Republican victory in the U.S. mid terms has consolidated America’s anti-Russian narrative as evidenced by the Senate’s passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which supplies lethal weapons to Ukraine. Even more ominous is the finding of the Levada Center that only 5-6 percent of Russians are prepared to sacrifice for Putin’s Ukraine ventures. If anyone is to shoulder a burden, it should be Putin and Company, Russians say. These setbacks make the battle for German public opinion even more crucial, a battle that is now being conducted on the front pages of the German press.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Naïve, Dangerous, And Ill-Informed Proposal: Peace In Ukraine By Appeasing Putin

Two Washington policy wonks propose an appeasement policy that would doom Ukraine and give Putin a huge victory over the West, while offering no tangible benefits. Their “win-win-win” policy is based on a fundamental lack of understanding of the Kremlin.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trolls Peddle An Alternate Universe to Save Putin’s Regime

Germany’s Angela Merkel described Russian President Vladimir Putin, after a phone conversation, as “living in another world.” Like Merkel, we, who write on Russia’s War on Ukraine, have all had our rude introduction to Putin’s “other world.” In his parallel universe, the aggressor is the victim, strangers appoint themselves “premiers” of non-existent “republics,” hundreds of soldiers mysteriously perish in border exercises or “on vacation,” a certified nationally elected government is a “neo-Nazi junta,” and hundreds of tanks and heavy weapons crossing borders are optical illusions.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Confused Survey Says Two Russian Energy Giants Top Google And Apple In Corporate Transparency

Transparency International ranks Russia’s two state-owned energy giants in the middle of the top 124 world companies for “transparency” because both have adopted detailed anti-corruption rules. The rankings do not ask whether these companies actually comply with their rules. Stock market valuations show the nonsensical nature of the Transparency International rankings. Investors are not willing to bet on the Russian energy giants because they are non-transparent on the most important risks, and they operate as instruments of Kremlin domestic and foreign policy. As such, they must pay the price for Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine and elsewhere.

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Berlin and Washington: The Political Battles That Could Decide Ukraine’s Fate

Ukraine’s fate may depend upon the battle within Germany’s ruling coalition over its policy towards Putin’s Russia. In the United States, the new Republican Senate will battle the Obama administration over weapons for Ukraine. Powerful factions in each country believe that concessions to Putin will bring a diplomatic solution. They ignore the adage: Peace through strength. Putin will agree to a real diplomatic solution only if Ukraine is able to defend itself. In the meantime, Ukraine is justified in concluding that it has been abandoned by those allies whose battle it is fighting without their assistance.

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