MH17. Before you agree that Russia's veto of the UN tribunal idea is evidence that Putindunnit, you should know two things. First, there already is a UNSC resolution calling for "full, thorough and independent international investigation" and "those responsible for this incident be held to account". It is UNSC Resolution 2166 and dates from a year ago. Who needs another? Second, that one of those calling for the new resolution – Australia's Julie Bishop – condemned Russia a year ago for refusing to accept responsibility for the shootdown. Clearly a kangaroo court (as it were) was intended. As we have seen before with Milosevic and Qaddafi. Rather than stunts, Washington should first show us its "mountain of evidence" as a group of retired US intelligence professionals demand.
SANCTIONS. The Russian counter sanctions on food are having a beneficial effect on local producers as this Austrian TV report shows. Here's a visitor's report of what he found in St Petersburg and environs. Here's what Americans are told: "Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage". Costs to the EU are still being estimated: Belgium US$500 million; Germany €600-800 million; overall maybe €5 billion. Or even €100 billion when everything is calculated. In light of Stratfor's observation that Washington is determined to keep Germany and Russia apart, one wonders which Washington wants to hurt. For the effect on Russia, Reuters reports the IMF's take: "The fund estimated the immediate effect... had been to wipe between 1pc and 1.5pc off GDP, rising to 9pc over the next few years... also forecast "weak" economic growth of around 1.5pc annually in the medium term." Does that make sense to you? Or is it an estimate of what might have been?At any rate, however you spin or measure it, this is not "tatters".
THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY is declared an "undesirable organisation". (The first of many to come. Read the WaPo piece from 1991 for suggestions). Read my piece on RI for a good laugh: there actually was a time when, rather than pretending to be about civil society and other warm and fluffy things, they openly boasted about doing openly what the CIA used to do clandestinely: "spyless coups".
LITVINENKOISM IN LONDON. Read this – a complete evidence-free farce that ignores what actual evidence there is. More war propaganda.
ARCTIC. Russia has put in its opening bid and, like Canada and Denmark, is calling the Lomonosov Ridge its own. The US, unable to do so, says it's international. I fearlessly predict the whole thing, after much negotiation, will have everyone stopping at the Pole. The amusement will be watching the spinners trying to condemn Russia for trying what everyone else is trying.
SUBMARINES. Sweden has finally found a Russian submarine. It sank in 1916. By the way, when is anyone going to notice that we only hear stories of "Russian submarines" poking around in neutral countries with interest groups that want to join NATO but not in actual NATO countries?
"FEAR GROWS..." Always amusing to see how Western news consumers are prepared for "narrative changes". FT here. "Russian officials and media have long demonised Right Sector as neo-Nazis... Now some Ukrainians who previously dismissed the threat posed by Right Sector are growing nervous". Reuters here: "Such talk and recent violent incidents involving members of unofficial armed groups have raised government concerns about radicals running out of control". So, those Russian officials were actually correct all along? The US Ambassador (of telephonic fame) is unconcerned: "exaggerated".
UKRAINE SALVATION COMMITTEE. Ukraine's former Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, has announced a Ukraine Salvation Committee; he said neither Yanukovych nor any of his associates was welcome and claimed to have members inside Ukraine. The Kremlin says it had nothing to do with it. Which may even be true: it is a little late. But, when Ukraine comes to its miserable end, it might come in handy.
RUMBLINGS. Disquiet: the "Assembly of Northern Bukovina Romanians" declares the region a “province of Romania" and a parliamentarian says the Rivne region is on the brink of civil war. True, false, who knows? But not everybody loves Bandera and the Galicia SS Division view of history.