Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent

Global Suicide MapImage Source: Chartsbin

There is plenty of discontent in Europe, North America, and elsewhere. But much of the focus of massive discontent this winter centres on Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is bleeding and apt to suffer more hardship as Putin presses his war on the east of the country. But things are not exactly coming up roses for the aggressor country: Putin’s Russia.

Russia quickly discovered that seizing Donbas was going to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. Part of the problem was the unexpectedly robust resistance by Ukrainian forces. There’s a lot more popular support in Ukraine for resisting the Russian aggression than there is inside Russia for keeping it up. In fact most of the eight million ethnic Russians in Ukraine are hostile to the Russian aggression and Russia has managed to unite Ukrainians like nothing else before. The Ukrainian anger towards Russia is real and Putin has reason to be worried about it. _Russia’s Problem with Poot

More on the reviving of the Ukrainian identity and spirit

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Russia’s serfs are still being whipped to a nationalist furor by Putin’s powerful propaganda apparatus. But as the body bags return full, and hardship in Russia deepens, what will Putin do as an encore, to stave off the growing sense of despair? Sustaining a heightened level of top-down focused popular agitation can be difficult in the setting of a failing economy combined with the rising number of deaths of scarce Russian sons in a needless war.

And so discontent is settling onto the shoulders of Putin’s shrunken and rapidly tiring Russia. A discontent that is likely to deepen with the passing weeks and the growing chill of body and soul.

Russia’s economy was struggling even before Putin’s adventurous foray into Ukraine. The country had been one of the high-fliers of the developing world, so much so that Goldman Sachs included Russia in its BRICs — the emerging economies that would shape the economic future — along with Brazil, India and China. But a feeble investment climate, endemic corruption and excessive dependence on natural resource exports eventually laid Russia low. Growth last year sunk to only 1.3%, down from the 7% to 8% rates experienced a decade ago.

Since Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, Russia’s economic situation has worsened severely. GDP inched upwards only 0.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, and the International Monetary Fund is forecasting mere 0.2% growth for all of 2014. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union in the wake of Putin’s intervention in Ukraine have blocked some major Russian banks and companies from accessing financing in the West, starving them of much-needed foreign capital. As a result, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has deteriorated by 30% against the dollar so far this year, routinely hitting new record lows along the way. __Russia Cannot Afford Putin’s Fantasies

Putin’s one demonstrable “victory,” the annexation of Crimea, is turning out to be an economic disaster — both for the Crimeans themselves, and for a diminished Russian treasury that is expected to bankroll the aggressive nationalisation of private industry underway.

Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine, is undergoing a phase of economic distress with its business and industry forced to down shutters after the Kremlin-backed administration embarked on a nationalisation spree. Though many reasons are being touted for the state takoever of businesses, analysts say it is a ruse to thwart future dissent. This has led to a serial collapse of many industries and business establishments. _Everything Putin touches turns to ash

Russia’s economy is smaller than that of the US state of California. And yet Russia is attempting to finance the imperial acquisition of lands and client states from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian oceans. Someone is not thinking clearly this winter, and frozen blood in the streets and killing fields is one likely consequence.

A plummeting rouble, falling oil prices and accelerating capital flight have unmasked Russia’s self-professed role as a major global power, leaving aside of course its nuclear capabilities. Russia’s overriding focus on petrochemicals has been to the detriment of other business sectors. In fact, the Kremlin’s much-trumpeted natural gas agreements with China should be seen more as evidence of Chinese savvy and Russian weakness.

And, in a development which may have surprised President Vladimir Putin, the Ukraine crisis has given Nato a new sense of relevancy. _Putin’s Bad Wager

Russia is built upon a gigantic propaganda machine. But propaganda can paper over despair and discontent only so long.

Imagine a “Russian internet:”

What if Russia (or China) had control of the entire internet? What fun that would be, to live under such an oppressive information regime, with monotone craziness 24/7.

Trouble finding a brain for scarecrow Russia

Modern Russia is very much like a scarecrow without a brain, and becoming more so the longer Putin is allowed to bleed the country dry.

Putin is playing a dangerous game, more for himself and Russia than for the rest of the world…

The Ukrainian aggression is costing Russia more than money, it is also severely damaging political and personal relationships built up with great effort after the Cold War ended. With the loss of those personal connections Russia is throwing away easy access to economic opportunities and diplomatic support. Russia is feeling the economic cost now, and if China turns hostile (which it eventually will), Russia will have few allies to rely on. Even India, long a reliable friend, is backing away. That leaves Russia with Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and several other international outcasts to depend on. __ Source

Look deep beneath the many layers of propaganda and see the tragedy of “addiction to empire” that Russia suffers under. Reality will show in the end.

More: Can Russia afford to cut its oil production in an effort to boost global oil prices? Russia suffers a deficit of oil & gas profits (Russian gas prices are pegged to oil prices) of between $35 and $70 bbl at current low prices for Brent. At the same time, Russia is dying for hard currency income. Russians cannot eat oil and they cannot eat Putin’s gold stash. Whatever is a barbarian tyrant and wannabe emperor to do?

More: Most westerners are oblivious to the important role played by Russian state orphanages in Russian society. Russian orphanages are “pressure relief valves” where unwanted Russian babies are dumped, when they are not simply dumped onto the streets. Life in one such institution:

… small children, wearing only underwear, lining up against the wall, waiting for their turn to be lashed. The teen girl in the video grabs the children one by one and lashes them on the buttocks with a belt. She then kicks one crying boy aside and turns to the next one in the line. The victims are under eight years of age.

It can be understood from the phrases that the assailant says that with such “preventive” beatings the teenage girls were sending smaller children to bed. “Go to bed!” she shouts while lashing the boys. The children cry hysterically and desperately attempt to cover up the buttocks with their hands. The girl orders them to remove the hands. _Pravda

After such an upbringing, life in a murderous criminal gang might seem a tremendous improvement, short though it may be. Such is the Russian reality that Russophiles wish to cover up.

The number of westerners who blindly believe what they see in “Russia Today”, “Russian Insider”, and other propaganda outlets of Russian disinformation, is a testimony to ideological indoctrination and dumbing down of education.

More: Russian “fertility rate” cold comfort in a nation growing increasingly third world muslim.

Not only do ethnic Muslims account for 21-23 million of Russia’s total population of 144 million, or 15 percent, but their proportion is fast growing. Alcoholism-plagued ethnic Russians are said to have European birth rates and African death rates, with the former just 1.4 per woman and the latter 60 years for men. In Moscow, ethnic Christian women have 1.1 child.

In contrast, Muslim women bear 2.3 children on average and have fewer abortions than their Russian counterparts. In Moscow, Tatar women have 6 children and Chechen and Ingush women have 10. In addition, some 3-4 million Muslims have moved to Russia from ex-republics of the U.S.S.R., mainly from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan; and some ethnic Russians are converting to Islam. _

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