The USSR 23 Years On

stock-footage-soviet-union-flag-waving-in-the-windThe Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) ceased to exist exactly 23 years ago on December 26, 1991 by declaration no. 142-H of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, acknowledging the independence of the 12 remaining republics of the Soviet Union, and creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

On the previous day, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and last undisputed leader of the Soviet Union, had resigned, declared his office extinct, and handed over its attributes—including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes—to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

That evening at 7:32, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the Russian tricolor. From August to December, 13 of the 15 republics seceded from the union. The week before the union’s formal dissolution, 11 republics—all except the Baltic states and Georgia—signed the Alma-Ata Protocol formally establishing the CIS and declaring that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. The dissolution of the Soviet Union also meant the end of the Cold War.

The Revolutions of 1989 and the end of the Soviet Union led to the end of decades of hostility between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact, which had been the defining feature of the Cold War.

The modern Russia now shares its western border with, from the north, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine then Georgia with Azerbaijan and Armenia are to the south west and separate the Russian Federation from Turkey.

These six countries are all that separate Russia from mainland Europe.

Although many of these countries suffered internal conflict in the aftermath of the breakup it had, on the whole, settled down. The buffer countries between Europe and Russia have become conduits to the massive trade between these two super powers. There is now an installed infrastructure connecting the Russian Federation to Europe by road, rail, pipeline, and wire and with it a lot of vested interest in keeping it all flowing smoothly.

Even with all that vested interest in harmony the compromise usually reached between the financial and political aspirations of the few has recently been out of balance. Most recently we have seen the Russian leader, Putin, shake his political fists at the world in what looks worryingly familiar to anyone who recalls Hitlers rise to power and desire to conquer the world.

When back in February the Ukrainian government fell apart under the pressure of their people who wanted the country to align with Europe while their leaders prepared to sign deals with Russia. Russia invaded Crimea.

The world, not wanting to upset the many vested interests, did nothing and Russia completed the annexation of Crimea with little or no opposition. The Ukrainian forces backed away in the face of overwhelming arrogance and formed a new front line in mainland Ukraine.

The UN, western leaders and the US swore a lot and banned the import of AK47s while still shipping everything from missile guidance systems to battleships to Russia. When Russia backed the “Ukrainian Nationalists” and invaded the south east of mainland Ukraine western powers distracted the world with other news stories in the hope that we would forget the on-going war in eastern Europe.

It was a moderate success and Putin continued to orchestrate the invasion of Ukraine while the world searched for MH370.

In truth the entire region, all those buffer countries and Poland were working with NATO to organize an escape from the threat of Russia.

On this auspicious day, the 23rd anniversary of the demise of the USSR and with it the end of the First Cold War we are on the brink of the second.

It is too late to suggest the UN should have honored the Budapest Memorandum and driven Russia out of Crimea. It is too late for the nearly 5,000 people who have died in Ukraine in the last 10 months. It may be to late too stop the Second Cold War.

And lets face it, those with the power to stop this from happening have a vested interest in a Second Cold War, most of those who could intervene are share holders in the security and weapons companies that will thrive in the Second Cold War. For them the wealth of a few is more important than the lives of so many.

 

Pedophiles And The Growth Of Isis

isis in iraq5Mr Cameron today constructed a sentence with references to both pedophiles and the growth of Isis and used it to justify the implementation of laws that are intended to replace an EU directives that was considered to infringe human rights. And he did it for your protection?

The European Court struck down an EU directive in April requiring phone and internet companies to retain communications data on the grounds that it infringed human rights.

On July 10th 2014 the government argued Emergency legislation was needed, because service providers were being threatened with legal action by campaigners if they did not start destroying data [in compliance with the European Court ruling] , some of which could prove vital to criminal investigations and court cases according to the government.

Accordingly Mr Cameron said: “We face real and credible threats to our security from serious and organised crime, from the activity of pedophiles, from the collapse of Syria, the growth of Isis in Iraq and al Shabab in East Africa.

“I am simply not prepared to be a prime minister who has to address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it.”

He added: “I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament.

“This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.” [The very ones the European Court struck down in April]

In return for agreeing to back the legislation, Labour and the Lib Dems highlighted new moves to “increase transparency and oversight”, including:

  • The creation of a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to scrutinise the impact of the law on privacy and civil liberties
  • Annual government transparency reports on how these powers are used
  • The appointment of a senior former diplomat to lead discussions with the US government and internet firms to establish a new international agreement for sharing data between legal jurisdictions
  • A restriction on the number of public bodies, including Royal Mail, able to ask for communications data under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)
  • Termination clause ensuring these powers expire at the end of 2016
  • A wider review of the powers needed by government during the next parliament

Mr Cameron stressed that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed.

But the emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill would also “clarify” the law on bugging of suspects’ phones by the police and security services, when the home secretary issues a warrant, after concerns service providers were turning down requests.

“Some companies are already saying they can no longer work with us unless UK law is clarified immediately,” said Mr Cameron.

“Sometimes in the dangerous world in which we live we need our security services to listen to someone’s phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot.”

Well hang on Mr Cameron, did not you just stress that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed? Which is it Mr Cameron?

Are The U.S. and the E.U. Deliberately Assisting Russia?

Dateline: Thursday 20th March 2014

U.S. and E.U. officials are meeting today to discuss possible further sanctions over the Russian occupation of Crimea. Sanctions so far enacted are limited to financial and visa restrictions on some 25 Russian individuals.

I wrote in The Art Of War about how military or political tacticians usually planned all possible options well in advance and kept those plans secret. In fact secrecy is an essential component of all success in this context.

The officials meeting in Brussels must be familiar with these concepts so what I do not understand is why are they meeting now, after the fact, and why are they telling the world what they are doing?

Or not doing. This may be closer to the point. So far the political tactic seems to be one of public inactivity and incompetence and when actions are to be taken plenty of warning is given to the aggressor.

This can only be explained one of two ways; Either the U.S. and the E.U. are deliberately assisting Russia in their mission to absorb Crimea or they are genuinely stupid.

I am not sure what I would prefer to believe. Either way it begs the question of where Putin will stop on his march across Europe. The Russian propaganda machine will use almost any argument if it gets them what they want.

crimea-referendum_2850933bFor example they used this poster in Crimea in the days before the referendum, the outline is Crimea, the message reads [Nazis] Or [Russia].

The Russian argument for supporting the occupation [and supply of unmarked troops] in Crimea is ethnic Russians living there need protection [from what?]. And they are preparing to use this argument for their occupation of Ukraine.

The Russian propaganda machine has also indicated they are concerned about the welfare of their nationals in Poland.

I ask again, why are the people who could do something about this doing noting?

Empty Threats

russia-ukraine-senate-address.siSo, what are you going to do then? The Russians have occupied Crimea, told the world they have a right to be there and refused to discuss it. They have their feet under the table.

Meanwhile European leaders and the US are running around like the proverbial ‘headless chickens’ making empty threats. No wonder the Russians are comfortable.

Does anyone know what EU Sanction Phase II is? what was Phase I and what will Phase III be? I don’t and to be fair I doubt Putin knows either, or cares. I looked it up but found nothing. I asked and I am still waiting for a reply, I guess they don’t know either.

All we have to go in is what the EU Leaders are saying. So this is what we ‘know’ about Phase II;

  • It might commence on Monday.
  • It might include visa restrictions.
  • It might include asset freezing.
  • It might include cancelling meetings.

Honestly, I can see Putin backing off with those ‘threats’, not. If that is Phase II I wonder what Phase III might include?

  • Not allowing flights into Russia?
  • Not paying the bill for oil and gas imports?
  • Getting very red faced and stamping our feet?

Come on people, do something!