Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
Back when most of today's Western decision-makers were in college, Sting had a hit song with “Russians.” It began:
In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Khrushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too
It sometimes seems that most Western analysis of Russia has the sophistication of this song.
The simplicity of the idea that all humans are essentially the same, and that a common understanding is thus always within reach, is seductive. Its appeal stems from the fact that few things are harder than knowing someone whose views of the world are profoundly different from yours. This is why it has been so difficult for a veritable army of Western experts to explain or predict Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in March, a narrative has emerged in the West that seems to provide a basis for understanding and negotiating with Putin. According to it, Russia is pursuing its strategic interest in keeping Ukraine unallied with the West because it needs a “buffer zone” between itself and members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Sweden's centre-left Social Democrats topped the poll in Sunday’s election but fell well short of an overall majority to the extent that it will struggle to form a strong coalition.
The Social Democrats and the Greens and hard Left, who would be natural coalition allies, garnered 43.7 percent of the vote. The anti-immigrant far right emerged as the third biggest party to hold the balance of power with nearly 13 percent.
from The Great Debate:
Since Russian troops seized Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula in late February, and separatists backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin began waging a bloody insurgency in the country's east, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has walked a fine line.
The transatlantic military alliance has sent hundreds of troops to Ukraine to train alongside Kiev's forces. But at a major summit in early September, NATO declined to offer Ukraine membership. The alliance doesn't really want to go to war over Ukraine.
The latest Scottish opinion poll puts the unionist camp ahead by 52 points to 48 – still way too close to call given the statistical margin for error.
The last two polls have given the “No” campaign clinging to a narrow lead following a dramatic narrowing of the gap and one survey giving the separatists a lead. So has the “Yes” momentum stalled? If you chart the numbers over the past two weeks you might think so but if you did so over the past two months you would say emphatically not.
from Global Investing:
By Alexander Winning
What are the chances that Western investors will rush back to Russia if a shaky ceasefire in Ukraine leads to a more lasting peace? Pretty slim, judging by a keynote speech at a recent Russia-focused investment conference in London.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, told the conference organised by Sberbank CIB, the investment-banking arm of Russia's top state-controlled lender, there was little prospect of significant Western investment in Russia over the next 5 years:
Having woken up to the very real possibility of Scotland going it alone, the leaders of Britain’s main parties have scrapped their parliamentary business and headed north to campaign in what amounts to a huge gamble.
The “No” campaign has been criticized for many things – being too negative (though no is negative by definition), being too aloof, failing to address the hole’s in Alex Salmond’s manifesto. The question is whether it is too late to do anything about it. It is risky to deploy Prime Minister David Cameron who, by his own admission, is not catnip to the Scots.
A second opinion poll in three days has put the Scottish independence vote as too close to call.
TNS gave the “No” vote 39 percent support and “Yes” 38. Its last poll in late July gave the “No” campaign a 13-point lead. Taking only those who are certain to vote, the two camps are tied at 41 percent.
The earthquake may be about to happen. Over the weekend the first opinion poll putting the independence campaign ahead landed with a resounding thump.
That prompted the UK government to rush forward to this week plans to spell out what further devolved powers Edinburgh would get if the Scots vote to stay on Sept. 18.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the main pro-Russian rebel leader said they would both order ceasefires on Friday, provided that an agreement is signed on a new peace plan to end the five month war in Ukraine's east.
Talks are due to resume in the Belarussian capital Minsk. On Wednesday, following a string of aggressive statements in previous days, Vladimir Putin put forward a seven-point peace plan, which would end the fighting in Ukraine's east while leaving rebels in control of territory.
from John Lloyd:
A few weeks after Winston Churchill became British prime minister in 1940, he had to tell the House of Commons that Britain had just suffered one of the worst military defeats in its history. He announced the setback with these words:
“The House should prepare itself for hard and heavy tidings. I have only to add that nothing which may happen in this battle (at Dunkirk) can in any way relieve us of our duty to defend the world cause to which we have vowed ourselves; nor should it destroy our confidence in our power to make out way … through disaster and through grief, to the ultimate defeat of our enemies.”