Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ukraine: That Tears It

Russia’s gone and taken over Crimea. If I were Turkey, I’d be scared. If I were Ukrainian I’d be absolutely terrified. So far as I can see Russia wants two things: control of the Black Sea and its warm-water port and control of the nexus of natural gas lines located in Ukraine and there isn’t going to be much left of Ukraine if Russia gets them. Is the EU willing to fight for that gas?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ukraine: Tug of Pipeline

(This post has been corrected and combined with two other posts, to create the more complete Ukraine: The Great Game, v2.0. I am leaving it here so that links and references stand.)

Visualize tug-of-pipeline, with a whole crowd of creatures on the west, a pipeline, and a bear on the east, and all of it taking place on Ukrainian soil.

Ukraine was the origin of the Soviet national gas industry in the 1920s. Ukraine's fossil fuel economy has grown hugely since then, and Ukraine into a nexus of pipelines and a home to refineries and gas storage facilities. The pipelines cross the country, carrying fuel from east to west.

From Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence, author Jerome a Paris. Full figure at link.

Russia, because of this, which is huge, and because of its port on the Black Sea and its agricultural productivity, not unnaturally wants to control Ukraine. The European Union, fearing dependence on Russian gas supplies, not unnaturally wants to control Ukraine. There are some fine points, which Jerome a Paris (presumably a pseudonym) spell out in Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence.

But the other point, which is not at all fine, is that Russia has twice forced genocidal famines in Ukraine, first in 1921-2 under Lenin and again in 1932-3 under Stalin. The Ukrainian people, because of this, and because of a longer history of oppression, for perfectly obvious reasons hate Russia. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych apparently sold out to Russia, and party because of this Yanukovych is now a hunted man.

And, where does Russia fit in? It appears that stories of emergent fascism in Ukraine are Russian disinformation (in this connection, it is perhaps useful to remember that Vladimir Putin was for many years a KGB officer.) There is a fascist faction in Ukraine but, so far, it is not in charge. When asking about fascism, however, I ask where it is that the government has chosen a group to oppress, and put the full power of the state behind that oppression. And that, of course, is Russia, with it tormenting of gays.

And yet the geopolitics will not be denied. Europe wants gas. Russia has gas. Ukraine is in the middle. It is hard for this bird to see much hope of a positive outcome for Ukraine in this.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More Bitcoin Snark

The smart cryptoanarchists took over the global banking system. It’s the wannabes that use Bitcoin.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ukraine and Russia, a few notes

(This post has been corrected and combined with two other posts, to create the more complete Ukraine: The Great Game, v2.0. I am leaving it here so that links and references stand. I have struck out my exceptionally egregious errors so that misinformation is not spread, but am leaving them for completeness.)

Situation, as I so far understand it:

  1. Russia wants Ukraine firmly under control because of its agricultural productivity and its ports on the Black Sea.
  2. Ukraine wants out of the Russian sphere of influence because of over a century of oppression, culminating in a genocidal famine, the Holodomor, which was the work of Stalin.
  3. Ukraine is currently energy-dependent on Russia. Fuel shipments from Russia to the rest of Eastern Europe also pass through Ukraine. Pipelines from Russia to Milan and Frankfurt also run through Ukraine.
  4. Chernobyl is in Ukraine, making nuclear power an unlikely method for achieving Ukrainian energy independence.
A few links: There seems to me a risk of Russian invasion, or Russia simply cutting off the fuel next winter. How will the world react?