Remember when they said Trump was Putin’s puppet?
Ukraine Inks Infrastructure Deal with China After Biden Snubs Zelensky for Putin
Chinese government media outlets confirmed Sunday that Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce had recently signed a reportedly expansive deal to invest in nationwide infrastructure in Ukraine, following the latter’s decision not to co-sign a statement at the United Nations condemning China for committing genocide.
The Global Times and China Daily offered no details as to the new infrastructure deal between Kyiv and Beijing, reportedly signed June 30, just days after Ukraine’s surprise exit from the genocide statement. The outlets instead emphasized that the deals showed that the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky was willing to increase China’s influence in his country in the name of growing Ukraine’s economy. Ukraine has been a partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure debt trap program, since at least 2018, when China established a BRI “promotion center” in the country.
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The Zelensky administration’s abrupt shift in attitude towards Chinese investment follows the president’s condemnation of American counterpart Joe Biden last month for failing to impose sanctions on Russia’s Nordstream 2 fuel pipeline. When completed, the pipeline will grant Russia essentially unobstructed access to key European markets, icing out Ukrainian competition and making key American allies like Germany more dependent on Russian natural gas. Zelensky has asserted the pipeline is a national security threat to Ukraine — currently at war with Russian-backed separatists in its east and partially colonized by Russia in Crimea — and to the United States.
Ukraine Seeks to Become China’s ‘Bridge to Europe’ After Biden Gets Cozy with Putin
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered to help Ukraine become a “bridge to Europe” for China during a phone conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday, the Kyiv Post reported Wednesday.
“Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope that Ukraine could become a ‘bridge to Europe’ for Chinese business,” Ukraine’s presidential office wrote in an official summary of the July 13 phone call.
“The heads of state discussed the importance of developing interpersonal contacts between our countries and agreed to conclude a visa-free agreement between Ukraine and China,” according to the press release.
The agricultural land market launched as part of the land reform carried out by the government, begins to function on July 1. At the first stage of the reform, only citizens of Ukraine will be able to buy and sell land plots, one individual will be able to have no more than 100 hectares at their disposal.
The right to acquire agricultural land on January 1, 2024 will be received by legal entities created in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine, while the ultimate beneficiary of one or several legal entities will be able to consolidate through them in aggregate no more than 10,000 hectares.
With forty-two percent of Ukrainians disappointed in Volodymyr Zelensky’s performance last year and sixty-seven percent believing the country is heading in the wrong direction, it is not surprising Ukraine’s president is turning to populism. Only twenty percent believed Zelensky’s presidency was better than his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, thirty percent thought he was worse while forty-one percent were of the opinion there was no difference between the two.
The traditional populist enemy in Ukraine has always been oligarchs. During election campaigns, all Ukraine’s political forces, ranging from left to right and irrespective of whether they are pro-Western or pro-Russian, promise to ‘deal with oligarchs.’
With one eye towards the next elections, Zelensky has launched a ‘de-oligarchization campaign’ with two enemies in his sights. The first is the pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life Party who he sees as the main competitor to his own Servant of the People Party among Russian speakers in southeast Ukraine. The second is Poroshenko against whom he has a personal grudge and seeks to dampen support for the center-right European Solidarity Party that the former president heads.
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Zelensky’s ‘de-oligarchization’ is unclear about how oligarchs are to be defined and the names are restricted to a secret list of thirteen people who allegedly have inordinate influence in politics, the media, and over state officials. Zelensky seeks to remove the influence of these thirteen oligarchs over the media and political parties and deny them access to privatization of large facilities.
It is never explained how oligarchs would be forced to sell their media outlets. This would likely lead to protests in international organizations and human rights bodies about threats to media freedom in Ukraine. Similarly, with a huge shadow economy accounting for upwards of half of GDP and assets deposited overseas, Zelensky has not explained how the authorities intend to end the covert funding of political parties by big business. Big business after all provides financial donations to political parties in the US and Europe.
Indeed, it is perhaps not surprising Zelensky’s ‘de-oligarchization’ populism ignores Ukraine’s huge shadow economy as attempts to reduce its size would be unpopular among his base. Anti-establishment populists like Zelensky prefer to attack ‘elites’. The shadow economy contributes to widespread lower levels of corruption and widespread disrespect for the rule of law. Of the thirty million ‘economically active’ Ukrainians only 37 percent (10.9 million) pay taxes. 11.8 million Ukrainians who are able to work do not officially make any money; in other words, they work in the shadow economy where they earn unofficial salaries. Compounding this are high rates of tax avoidance in western Ukraine which does not see this as a contradiction in its claim to be the most patriotic region of the country. Tax avoidance is also high in the port city of Odesa and to a lesser degree in the capital city of Kyiv.
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Who stands to benefit from Zelenskyy’s election populism?
‘De-oligarchization’ will benefit oligarch Igor Kolomoysky who was instrumental in bringing Zelensky to power in 2019 and remains untouchable. Oligarchs close to Tymoshenko were also untouchable during her populist ‘de-oligarchization.’ Zelensky has never once in his two years in power criticized Kolomoysky even though the oligarch has opposed all of his reforms. Kolomoysky controls a quarter of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People parliamentary faction which has blocked government reforms. Kolomoysky directly interferes in Ukrainian politics through his For the Future political party which came fourth with twelve percent of the vote in last year’s local elections.
Kolomoysky faces numerous lawsuits abroad but none at home where the Zelenskyy controlled prosecutor’s office has initiated no criminal cases. In August 2020, the FBI raided companies owned by Kolomoysky in Cleveland and Miami and seized properties in Kentucky and Texas. On March 5, 2021, the U.S. sanctioned Kolomoysky ‘due to his involvement in significant corruption.’
To ingratiate himself with President Joe Biden, Zelensky could follow through with Ukrainian sanctions against Kolomoysky, although this is unlikely. Ukrainian gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who the U.S. has been seeking to extradite since 2014 from Vienna on corruption charges, was sanctioned by Zelensky last week. President Biden told Zelensky after this month’s NATO summit that Ukraine has to clean up its corruption to be invited into a Membership Action Plan (MAP). Cleaning up President Zelensky’s inner circle would be a very good place to start Ukraine’s drive to enter a MAP as a stepping stone to joining NATO.
Ukrainians’ fear that ‘de-oligarchization’ will benefit Zelensky’s circle seems, therefore. to be true. Kolomoysky would certainly attempt to take over large companies which went bankrupt from populist high taxes and loss of markets. It is interesting to note the manganese ore sector, already controlled by Kolomoysky, faced a mere twenty-five percent tax rate since 2020 at which time iron ore taxes increased to fifty percent. Inexplicably, manganese ore escaped any tax increase in Zelenskyy’s populist tax hikes.
Zelenskyy’s populist ‘de-oligarchization’ has four fundamental problems. Firstly, it is poorly thought out because it is more geared to increasing the president’s popularity than undertaking any real change of the type long demanded by the U.S. in return for its support. Secondly, selectively targeting one of the key sectors of Ukraine’s economic growth and exports will only incentivize more companies to join the already large shadow economy. Thirdly, allowing Russia to take over Ukraine’s export markets would be unwise when nearly three quarters of Ukrainians believe their country is at war with Russia. Fourthly, Zelensky’s ‘de-oligarchization’ will benefit Kolomoysky at a time when he is sanctioned by the U.S. Fifthly, ‘de-oligarchization’ is impossible without reducing Ukraine’s huge shadow economy, reducing widespread tax avoidance among Ukrainian citizens and fighting deep levels of corruption in the judiciary.
For everyone who believed the propaganda that Trump was the pro-Putin candidate.
Russia demands cancellation of annual Sea Breeze 21 exercise in Black Sea https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2021/06/23/7298135/
Russian Defence Minister Shoygu blames Ukraine for tension ahead of NATO summit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27qsFIW9n0s
Russian navy fire warning shot at British naval vessel in the Black Sea https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2021/06/23/7298176/; https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/11727447
Ukraine reacts: https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2021/06/23/7298185/
Deputy Mayor of Mariupol Sergey Zakharov said that the city authorities plan to purchase the Iron Dome missile defense system from Israel.
According to him, the opening of the airport in Mariupol requires that the distance from the zone of demarcation of the warring parties was more than 160 kilometers, but it is only about 40. Since the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the international community do not consider the flights to the city located near the conflict zone safe, the mayor’s office of Mariupol decided to acquire an effective Israeli missile defense system.
We’ll see what happens with this. Earlier, Russian pressure on Israel prevented them from selling arms to Ukraine.
During the earlier years of the war (2015) Mariupol was hit by rockets several times. Here’s the viral dashcam video: http://romaninukraine.com/up-close-dash-cam-video-of-mariupol-mlrs-attack/
Though I’m not sure this isn’t a waste of money from Ukraine’s perspective. The Russians use the type of cheap missiles which are fired from Grad Rocket MLRS systems. Why counter them with $100,000 anti-missile missiles.
This is for all the people who spent years asking me how I could be in Ukraine and support Trump — who the lying press spend four years condemning as Putin’s puppet among other ridiculous nonsense.
The Biden administration has waived sanctions on a company building a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The US also lifted sanctions on the executive – an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin – who leads the firm behind the Nord Stream 2 project.
The move came in a report on Russian sanctions delivered to Congress by the Department of State.
Critics say the pipeline is a major geopolitical prize for the Kremlin.
The project, which would take gas from the Russian Arctic under the Baltic Sea to Germany, is already more than 95% complete.
The Department of State report notes that Nord Stream 2 AG and its chief executive, Matthias Warnig, a former East German intelligence officer, engaged in sanctionable activity.
Exclusive: Zelensky “surprised” and “disappointed” by Biden pipeline move
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he learned through the press — not any direct heads-up — that President Biden had decided to stop trying to block a Russian pipeline that Ukraine sees as a dire national security threat.
Driving the news: Zelensky used an hourlong Zoom interview with Axios on Friday to beseech Biden to meet with him face to face before a June 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — offering to join him “at any moment and at any spot on the planet.”
The embattled leader spoke of Putin’s psychological pressure campaign; his own anger-turned-disappointment at the U.S.; and his hope that Biden . . . can still outmaneuver Russia and rescue Ukraine.
Why it matters: Russian gas currently flows through Ukraine en route to Europe. Nord Stream 2, a Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline, would allow Russia to circumvent and isolate Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Zelensky said the U.S. is the only power capable of stopping Russia.
“This is a weapon, a real weapon … in the hands of the Russian Federation,” he said. “It is not very understandable … that the bullets to this weapon can possibly be provided by such a great country as the United States.”
To carry out the “Nuremberg for Communism” project, it is, therefore, necessary that it be received not only by people who care about political freedom, historical truth, and moral justice, and not only by the organizations and foundations that defend the values and principles of the Western tradition from any totalitarianism but also by national and international political institutions, to arrive at an official resolution condemning the crimes of communism and its ideology. For this purpose, it is necessary that it be taken up and re-launched by intelligent and sensitive political leaders who have the courage to counter the “politically correct” wave that is sweeping all Western societies.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.
I’ve been entertaining this idea:
Communism is not an economic system. The communists themselves — from the very early Bolsheviks to today’s post-modernists — claim the language is devoid of meaning, and only an instrument of power. Let’s believe them. By the late 1950s it became impossible to ignore the fact communism was hideous for the very working class in whose name revolution was made, and societies were verthrown. Millions of working class people were starved, executed, enslaved and impoverished. Judging by how easily Communists were completely unbothered by this, and abandoned their Raison D’être, as if it had never existed, should be sufficient evidence that communism was never an economic system. So what are we left with? Communism should be defined as a particular type of power. And that is the beginning of a very interesting conversation.
Communism is not an economic system. It is better understood as a particular type of power.
The committee that awards the Pulitzer Prize is facing fresh calls to revoke the top honor in American journalism from New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty over his false reporting from the Soviet Union in the 1930s.
The petition launched by the U.S. Committee on Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide Awareness calls on the Pulitzer board to rescind Duranty’s 1932 prize for correspondence.
At issue is Duranty’s minimization and denials of the forced famine in Soviet Ukraine that led to the deaths of millions in the early 1930s, and his fawning coverage of communist dictator Joseph Stalin.
Known as the Holodomor, meaning to kill by starvation, the famine followed Stalin’s collectivization and grain seizure policies, and the Ukrainian government alleges that it was an intentional genocide intended to subdue an independence movement.
The Ukrainian energy company that was paying President Biden’s son Hunter $1 million a year cut his monthly compensation in half two months after his father ceased to be vice president.
From May 2014, Burisma Holdings Ltd. was paying Hunter $83,333 a month to sit on its board, invoices on his abandoned laptop show.
But in an email on March 19, 2017, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi asked Hunter to sign a new director’s agreement and informed him “the only thing that was amended is the compensation rate.”
“We are very much interested in working closely together, and the remuneration is still the highest in the company and higher than the standard director’s monthly fees. I am sure you will find it both fair and reasonable.”
After the email, the amount listed on Hunter’s monthly Burisma invoices was reduced to $41,500, effective from May 2017. The amount was paid in Euros, at the rate of between 35,000 Euros and 36,100 Euros per month, based on currency fluctuations at the time.
🔵 Bucking the world recession, Ukraine’s IT exports increased by 20% yoy, to $5 billion, according to new figures from the National Bank of Ukraine. IT now accounts for 8.3% of total exports, putting it in fourth place after food, metals, and migrant labor. In 2013, IT accounted for 1.3% of Ukraine’s exports. “Ukraine has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the world’s leading IT outsourcing destinations, but many feel it is time for the country to move up the tech food chain,” Peter Dickinson wrote in an Atlantic Council blog: “Ukraine’s Booming IT Sector Defies the Coronavirus Crisis.”
🔵 Of the 100 best IT outsourcing firms in the world, 11 are based in Ukraine, according to the 2021 Global Outsourcing 100 list, a ranking compiled annually by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals. Designed to help companies find the right IT help, the list includes from Ukraine, in alphabetical order: Ciklum, Eleks, Infopulse, Innovecs, Intellias, Miratech, Nix, N-iX, Program-Ace and Sigma Software.
More at https://ubn.news/
A commander of a US Space Force unit was fired and put under investigation for anti-Marxist comments he made during a podcast.
Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, a former fighter pilot, was a commander of a unit that detected ballistic missile launches and was relieved of his duties on Friday by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Military.com reported.
Lohmeier earlier this month self-published a book titled, “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military.”
Last week Lohmeier spoke about his book and criticized Critical Race Theory with L. Todd Wood, host of the podcast “Information Operation.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a law allowing to call up reservists for military service without announcing a mobilization, his office said Wednesday.
The move comes amid a massive Russian troop buildup near Ukrainian borders and a flareup of cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014.
The new law, passed by Ukraine’s parliament in late March, will allow the country to “quickly equip the military units of all state defense forces with reservists, thereby significantly increasing their combat effectiveness during military aggression,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday that the Russian buildup across the border is continuing and is “expected to reach a combined force of over 120,000 troops” in about a week and urged the West to beef up sanctions against Moscow by targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy.
Moscow has rejected Ukrainian and Western concerns about the buildup, arguing that it’s free to deploy its forces and stressing that they don’t threaten anyone. At the same time, the Kremlin has warned Ukrainian authorities against trying to use force to retake control of the rebel east, saying that Russia could be forced to intervene to protect civilians in the region.
On April 17, the Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats it identified as spies with Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and General Directorate of the Armed Forces (GRU).
The Czech foreign affairs and interior ministries said they found evidence that Russian operatives were behind a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in the town of Vrbetice, which killed two people.
Russia has moved more than 50 fighter jets from Stavropol to the annexed Crimea, TASS reports with reference to the press service of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation.
The crews of the Su-25SM3 aviation unit of the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Southern Military District, stationed in Stavropol, are relocated to the military airfields in Crimea.
At the same time, the Su-25SM3 Squadron stationed in Crimea was relocated to the Ashuluk test site in the Astrakhan region of the Russian Federation.
“During flight tactical exercises, crews of Su-27SM, Su-30SM and Su-24M, Su-25SM3 and Su-34 bombers will carry out missile launches and bombings of naval targets,” the statement reads.
Russia has announced the that it is closing the Kerch Strait for warships of Ukraine and other countries during its military exercises, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
According to Kyiv, the decision comes into force from next week and will be in effect until October. It extends to parts of the Black Sea adjacent to the Kerch Strait.
“Such actions of the Russian Federation are yet another violation of the norms and principles of international law. They are intended to usurp the sovereign rights of Ukraine as a coastal state. It is Ukraine that has the right to regulate navigation in these areas of the Black Sea,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Kyiv believes that in this way Russia provokes not only on land, but also at sea. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called on the international community to increase pressure on the Kremlin.
A day earlier, an incident between Ukrainian and Russian border guards occured near the Kerch Strait.
According to the press center of the Ukrainian Navy, Russian FSB boats tried to block way for several Ukrainian boats on combat duty.