Tag Archives: Putin

Those Trucks Putin Sent To Ukraine With ‘Humanitarian Supplies’ Were Mostly Empty


By Paul Roderick Gregory.Trucks of Russian humanitarian convoy are parked in a field outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in Rostov region, some 30 km from the Russian-Ukrainian border, Russia, on August 16, 2014. The Ukrainian military had announced that checks had begun on the near 300-truck convoy but later said only that 59 border and customs officials had arrived at a Russian border post to prepare to carry out the inspections. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV .Trucks of Russian humanitarian convoy are parked in a field outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in Rostov region, some 30 km from the Russian-Ukrainian border, Russia, on August 16, 2014. The Ukrainian military had announced that checks had begun on the near 300-truck convoy but later said only that 59 border and customs officials had arrived at a Russian border post to prepare to carry out the inspections. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV © AFP

What was supposed to be a PR bonanza is ending up as another black eye for Vladimir Putin, the heralded chess master of world politics.

Did he really expect the world community to force Ukraine to allow in Russia’s gift of humanitarian assistance, no questions asked? Did he really think that Ukraine would allow his convoy to proceed into a war zone as cameras recorded the celebratory reception by starving and suffering civilians? Did Putin really not understand that national leaders look askance at attempts to cross national borders without permission? That is the International Politics 101 lecture that Putin failed to attend.

Ukraine crisis: Russian aid trucks ‘almost empty‘ – BBC News

An official government website, Russia Behind the News, heralded the impending delivery to beleaguered Donbassians of “some 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian supplies” in 280 KamAz trucks, including “400 tonnes of cereal, 100 tonnes of sugar, 62 tonnes of baby food, 54 tonnes of medical equipment and medication, 12,000 sleeping bags, and 69 portable power generators.” What good news, but how were these supplies to get across the border, much less into an active war zone?

As would be expected, negotiations among Russia, Ukraine, and the International Committee of the Red Cross failed on August 14, after international leaders called in protest. Putin could not afford a direct confrontation so he blinked. The white-painted KamAz-truck convoy ended up parked near the Ukrainian border awaiting inspection, as some hundred curious reporters swarmed the scene, taking pictures as they urged drivers to display the contents of the trucks.

To the shock of the reporters, trucks contained a few bags of flour, a large bundle of bottled water, and other miscellaneous items – far from the cornucopia promised by Russian propaganda. In his video report, a BBC reporter reacted to what he had seen: “What strikes me most about these lorries is that they are almost empty.” When asked about another truck that remained unopened, the BBC reporter was told its manifest stated it contained eight tons of buckwheat flour – two tons in excess of the KAMaz’s maximum load. So we have near empty trucks alongside those carrying more than their allowable weight.

The “almost empty” narrative (see also reporter Courtney Weaver’s photos) has turned Putin’s humanitarian gesture into a running joke. One writer has dubbed the convoy the “Trojan Mules.” A social media commentator quips that the trucks are half empty so that they can pick up Polish vegetables and apples on the way back. Another asks why Russia would send 100 trucks that are two percent full instead of five that are 100 percent full? According to my calculation, that would have saved Russia 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

The “almost empty” convoy has conspiracy theorists looking for a rational explanation. One making the rounds is that Russia needs a large number of trucks to extract their mercenary forces from Ukraine, spelling the end or lessening of the guerilla war sponsored by Russia, at least for the time being. A second story is that the 280 transport vehicles would give pro-Russian forces a logistical boost. Sources with extensive military experience, however, tell me that such trucks would not prove of much value on the Donbass war front.

I’ll go with the simplest explanation: Putin wanted to make a big PR splash for his August 14 speech in Crimea – a speech so lackluster that the full transcript has not been published on Putin’s website. (Kremlinologists: figure that one out). He planned to present himself to Crimea and the world as the humanitarian, peace-loving Putin. The world listened, heard his usual pleas for peace, and world stock markets fell. They have heard this story too many times. Even more humiliating is that Ukrainian aid has already arrived with more to follow. To make matters worse, reporters, whiling away their time on the unguarded border, are reporting armored personnel carriers loaded with Russian troops (with Russian insignia no less) whizzing unhindered across the border. Russia’s protests that reporters should not “believe their lying eyes” seem to be falling on empty ears.

What Putin hoped to be a huge publicity triumph is turning into a PR disaster, second only to the downing of MH17. He might go down in history as “empty-truck Putin,” or “Ebenezer Putin.” Next time he should think things through before he embarks on another misadventure.

(Paul Roderick Gregory covers domestic and world economics from a free-market perspective)


Paul Roderick Gregory - Forbes.

Furious Dutch prime minister tells Putin to exert his influence #MH17


Mark Rutte addresses Reporters.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has described as ‘disgusting’ pictures of Ukraine rebels digging through the possessions of people killed in disaster.

In a short news conference, Rutte said he had just had a ‘very intense’ phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin. ‘I told him “time is running out for you to show the world that you have good intentions, that you will take responsibility”,’ Rutte said.

Putin now ‘has to show that he will do what is expected of him and will exert his influence,’ the Dutch prime minister said.

‘It is 35 degrees there. The bodies need to be recovered now. I want to see results, unhindered access and the repatriation of the victims.’

Personal

The phone conversation with Putin was ‘very personal’, the Dutch prime minister said.

‘I think the entire Dutch population knows people who directly or indirectly know someone who was on board. There were 80 people under the age of 18, of whom 23 were under the age of 12 and three were babies. It is too terrible for words.’

Images of rebels holding up children’s toys were ‘too disgusting for words’, Rutte said. Such action is also hindering the investigation into the crash, he said.

Investigators

Earlier on Saturday, Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans met Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in Kiev and told him the Netherlands was ‘angry, furious’ at the news that bodies were being dragged around the crash site, Reuters said.

‘Once we have the proof, we will not stop before the people are brought to justice. Not just the people who pulled the trigger but also those who made it possible. I think the international community needs to step up its efforts in this respect,’ Reuters quoted Timmermans as saying.

According to Dutch broadcaster Nos, Poroschenko in turn told Timmermans it is unacceptable that international experts are being denied access to the disaster zone.

‘We will not tolerate interference with the work of the commission and that those representatives of other countries do not have the possibility of conducting an objective investigation,’ Poroshenko is quoted as saying.

Denials

However, the separatists deny interfering, Nos television reports. It quotes ‘one of their commanders’ as saying they have promised the OSCE that they will not touch bodies or the remains of the plane.

As well as Dutch, Malaysian and Ukrainian researchers have arrived in the region to begin investigating the crash. Two German forensic pathologists are also on their way to Ukraine, as is a six strong-British team, Nos television said.

Malaysia Airlines released the full passenger list on Saturday. The Dutch death toll is now put at 193, out of 298 people on board the plane.

Rutte’s statement (Dutch only)

DutchNews.nl.

Rebel leaders in Ukraine feel ‘abandoned’ by Putin


A pro-Russian militant looks through the scope of his rifle during the storm of the regional police station in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 1, 2014.A pro-Russian militant looks through the scope of his rifle during the storm of the regional police station in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 1, 2014. © AFP

One of Russia’s best-known ultra-nationalists has claimed separatists fighting in Ukraine feel betrayed and abandoned by Vladimir Putin.

Aleksandr Dugin said he talks to some of the most prominent rebel leaders in east Ukraine “five to six” times a day by phone and that they share his disillusionment with the Kremlin.

The Australian

ZIK: #Russian tanks openly move to #Luhansk, eyewitness says


Russian tanks openly move to Luhansk, eyewitness says“While Olland, Putin and Merkel are persuading Poroshenko to extend the ceasefire, Russian tanks are openly being towed on platforms to Luhansk,” Denis Kazansky writes. [Archive Photo] © AFP

In broad daylight, terrorists are moving Russian tanks to Luhansk towed on platforms, journalist Denis Kazansky writes on Facebook today.

“Let me describe how Luhansk looks like today.

While Olland, Putin and Merkel are persuading Poroshenko to extend the ceasefire, Russian tanks are openly being towed on platforms to Luhansk, “he wrote.

The terrorists have used the unilateral ceasefire to regroup and strengthen their positions, media reports confirm.

ZIK

Russia’s ‘#Gay #Propaganda’ Law One Year On Today


By Gabrielle Tétrault-FarberJun. 29 2014 20:54

LGBT rallyEvgeniy Isaev / Flickr: A photo from Moscow LGBT rally taken on June 12, 2012. Since the adoption of “gay propaganda” law, the violent attacks against LGBT people in Russia have increased.

In the year that has passed since Russia adopted a law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” the country’s LGBT community has witnessed the erosion of its rights and freedoms, human rights activists said.

Since President Vladimir Putin approved the so-called “gay propaganda” law on June 29, 2013, only four individuals have been fined for violating it, according to Tanya Lokshina, program director and senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Russia. But, Lokshina added, the rarity of the law’s formal enforcement inadequately reflects its broader consequences for Russia’s LGBT community.

“Only a few people were fined throughout the year and this might not seem to be much of a problem,” Lokshina said. “But the fines are not what this law is about. This law is not only contrary to Russia’s international obligations but has also contributed to anti-gay violence and to creating a hostile environment for LGBT people in the country. It has contributed to stigmatizing LGBT individuals as unnatural, perverse and as acceptable targets.”

Putin has distanced himself from the issue of LGBT rights in the country. In January, he said that he was “not prejudiced in any way” and that he even had gay friends. He has also said publicly that gays face no discrimination in Russia.

Since the adoption of the country’s “gay propaganda” law, Human Rights Watch has observed an increase in violent attacks carried out against LGBT people in Russia.

U.S. advocacy group Human Rights Campaign reported that at least two men were killed because of their sexual orientation in Russia in the summer of 2013 alone and that others had been assaulted, pelted with eggs and blinded in air gun attacks in the past year.  Continue reading