Monday, December 31, 2018

Because of Putin, 2019 will Be a Repeat of 1939, Muzhdabayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – No one should be confused by the calendar, Crimean Tatar commentator Ayder Muzhdabayev says. The coming year will be a reprise of the horrors of 1939 because Vladimir Putin will move to absorb Belarus, expand his war against Ukraine, and use terrorist acts to promote a Russian presence in the Baltic region.

            “The Anschluss of Belarus is not simply inevitable; for Fuehrer Putin it is a requirement,” he continues. “That is the logic of any Reich, and the Russian one is no exception. There was Austria; here is Belarus. All is clear, explicit and logical. The long ago programmed Anschluss is occurring now before our eyes” (

            Soon, Muzhdabayev says, “everything will become clear: a common hymn, coat of arms, flag, and president (tsar)” in addition to “the common borders and common security and intelligence institutions which already exist.” For Putin, the Belarusians don’t exist as a separate people just as for Hitler, the Austrians did not.

            And those who fail to see the direction Putin is driving toward and who believe that Lukashenka will resist completely fail to see that the Russian “fuehrer needs ‘a reborn Union’ as air; this was always clear; but with the annexation of Crimea, it became a100 percent certainty,” Muzhdabayev says.

            Those who are paying attention certainly recognize that the recent release of a Levada Center poll showing 66 percent of Russians as nostalgic for the USSR was “no accident.”  It sent exactly the message that the Kremlin wants sent. 

            And there is another compelling reason for assuming that things will continue to deteriorate, the commentator continues.  As close analysts of Russia should know, “always predict the worse and you’ll be right. This rule has never failed me,” Muzhdabayev says. And things aren’t going to end with Belarus.

            Putin will seek a Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea to “defend” North Stream 1 and he will expand his military actions against Ukraine.  At the present time, “Ukraine is the only country which is seriously opposing the Reich.” It must continue its build up and not think that it will avoid a major war.

            For Ukraine, because of Russia, “war is inevitable and obligatory. If we will resist, the West will be forced to help us and itself. Otherwise it won’t wake up” until it is too late, Muzhdabayev says. Ukraine can’t avoid this war and should focus on building up its strength, sacrificing anything that gets in the way of defeating the invader.

            “Martial law should not be dropped but made tougher, elections should be held only if the entire military-political situation is under control. If it isn’t, then elections should be sacrificed. The country and each and every one of us must survive.”  Everything else is secondary in the battle against the Russian Reich.

            Ukraine’s “enemy is unprincipled, tactically unpredictable and treacherous,” Muzhdabayev says. “It won’t give us any excuses.  Therefore, we must be prepared for everything, on both the real and hybrid front.” And we must remember that the year ahead will be more like 1939 than any recent one.

Two Views on Belarusians and a Russian Anschluss Both of Which May Be Correct

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – Most of the discussion about the possibility that Vladimir Putin will seek to annex Belarus to provide him with a position as head of a new union state that will allow him to remain in power for life and reaffirm the existence of his “Russian world” have focused on the high politics of the situation.

            But what may ultimately prove to be the determining factor will be the reaction of the Belarusian people whose relationship with Russia and the Russian nation is complicated. Two Belarusian commentators provide diametrically opposed views on how Belarusians may react – and it is entirely possible that both might prove true.

            One suggests that many Belarusians accept Putin’s notion that Russians and Belarusians are one nation and won’t resist any Russian move, while another argues that there are a large number of Belarusians who are fully prepared to go into the woods and conduct a partisan war against any Russian occupiers.

            Svetlana Kalinkina, a Belarusian opposition journalist and commentator, says that the danger Belarus now faces “is not in the plans of Putin but in the fact that in Belarus itself there are a sufficient number of people who think he is right” (

            That isn’t something new, she continues, but rather the result of “the errors of all 25 years of Lukashenka’s presidency. It is a mistake to say that Belarusians and Russians are one people, that we are brothers, and that we cannot live without one another. But our people are trusting, not into conflict, listen to this and as a result we have a situation when even those opposed to Lukashenka today love Putin.”

            “And today,” Kalinkina continues, it seems to many that Belarusians feel that they need money and therefore need Russia, and they are prepared to believe that we are “one people.” “If the Kremlin knew that Belarus would rise as one against them,” she says, it wouldn’t even be talking about an Anschluss.

            But according to Nikolay Statkevich, a leader of the Belarusian National Congress, that is exactly what the Belarusians would do, thus guaranteeing that Belarus would  not be “a second Crimea” but rather “a second Afghanistan” in which the Russians would suffer serious losses and then be forced to withdraw (

            “I do not think that Belarus will be swallowed up,” he says, because Belarusians overwhelmingly value independence – 90 to 95 percent do – and they recognize that Lukashenka has been selling them off piecemeal. If the Belarusian dictator tries to sell them off wholesale, they will go into the streets in opposition – and not just into the streets.

            According to polls, Statkevich says, one million Belarusians are prepared to defend their country’s independence with arms in their hands.  They can look back on a 500-year-long tradition of partisan wars.  As a result, if Putin and Lukashenka try something, they won’t get “a second Crimea” but rather “a second Afghanistan.”

Putinism, Not Gas Explosion, Killed Russians in Magnitogorsk, Larionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – The deadly gas explosion in Magnitogorsk last night, the 20th such disaster in Russia in 2018, was no accident, Victor Larionov says, but rather the direct result of Vladimir Putin’s policies of pulling money out of the country rather than ensuring that basic infrastructure is maintained for the Russian people. 

            But even more, the commentator says, there is “the most direct” connection between the blowing up of apartment blocks in 1999 “that brought Putin and his friends to power” and the destruction of the apartment block in Magnitogorsk that the same people caused by stealing from the people (

            Statistics fully confirm that the situation with housing in Russia is getting worse, Larionov says. Between 1995 and 2000, there were only 10 serious gas explosions in apartment blocks; between 2014 and 2018, there have been “more than 50,” with 20 taking place in this year alone.

            According to figures for 2015 – more recent ones haven’t been published, about 60 percent of all housing blocks had deteriorated to the point that they required major repairs; and in some places, as many as 80 percent fell into this category.  “Today,” Larionov suggests, “this statistic may be equal to 70 percent.”

            Other forms of infrastructure such as electric generating and heating plants have deteriorated at least as much during Putin’s time in power. And this has not been an accident but the direct result of Putinism and its theft of resources from the population for the Kremlin elite and its friends. 

            “Despite the colossal incomes received from the sale of oil and gas abroad,” Larionov says, the Putin regime has failed to put money into housing, preferring to pocket it all itself.  As a result, “infrastructure as a whole has radically decayed,” in some sectors and regions with twice as many buildings in trouble than were when Putin came to power.

            The Russian government, of course, doesn’t put out statistics on this theft. But other governments do. The US estimates that Russian elites have exported a trillion US dollars in resources to North America alone. British experts say that “another 500 billion dollars” have flowed from Russia to London.

            That is 1.5 trillion US dollars; and there is more elsewhere in Switzerland, Cyprus, and Malta to name just three, Larionov continues.  Had just a fraction of this flow been retained in Russia and spent on housing, no Russian would be dying from a gas explosion.

            “Therefore,” he says, “the answer to the question --‘who killed people in Magnitogorsk?’ – is simple: the very same man who had just flown there in order to see with his own eyes, the real result of his 19 years in power.” 

            Many more Russians will draw that conclusion, if as Znak news agency is reporting, Putin delivers his New Years message from Magnitogorsk rather than Moscow, the first time he will have done so other than from the Kremlin, a form of reaching out to the population that certainly is too little too late for those who have died (