Ukraine Crisis Year In Review

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Back on Tuesday, Batchelor and Cohen took time to discuss the events of 2014 as well as look ahead to what promises to be a volatile 2015.

As usual, please be sure to give this a thorough listen. Nowhere else in mainstream media will you find a more balanced and educated discussion of the ongoing Ukraine Crisis.



arch stanton's picture

a first on christmas day

it bodes well for the coming year.

Maestro's picture


....story of my life

Can't Happen Here's picture

Meanwhile in Russia...

Soviet Sponge Bob and Moscow Mickey have been kicking some butt this year

In Russia, sponge mops floor with you!

tyberious's picture

Name change

"Mainstream media" is now know as "Predictive Programing"!

That is all. Please return to your regularly televised program :)

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Pro-Russian rebels agree to exchange prisoners with Ukraine

Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have agreed upon exchanging prisoners with Kyiv. Further steps to a lasting peace plan will be discussed in the coming days in Minsk.

Minsk Belarus Gespräche Verhandlung Ukraine Russland Konflikt 24.12.2014

Members of the Ukraine contact group cut a deal on swapping prisoners during their meeting in Minsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the pro-Russian rebels told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

The self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk were ready to exchange 150 Ukrainian troops for 225 prisoners who supported the rebels fighting for liberation in eastern Ukraine, Zakharchenko added, saying that the next steps for a lasting peace deal would still have to be discussed.

The Ukraine contact group, including representatives from Kyiv, pro-Russian rebels and officials from Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) met on Wednesday in Belarus' capital Minsk to discuss peace between Ukraine and rebels in its eastern region.

The talks were carried forward through video conferencing on Thursday and were to resume in Minsk on Friday, although there was no confirmation in this regard.

First discussions since September

The peace talks, which would also include agreeing upon withdrawing heavy weapons and humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine, were the first attempt to find a lasting solution to the Ukraine crisis since a similar discussion in September. Attempts to enforce a ceasefire were unsuccessful, with the warring sides blaming each other for violating the truce.

More than 4,600 people have been killed since the fighting in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk broke out in April, following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of stoking the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine by supplying the separatists with troops and weapons, something the Kremlin denies. The EU and the US have imposed sanctions# on Russia over its alleged involvement.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Putin scraps holidays for ministers

Russian president Vladimir Putin is dealing with an economic crisis (AP)

Russian president Vladimir Putin has scrapped New Year's holidays for government ministers because of the unfolding economic crisis.

Mr Putin told a televised government session today that cabinet ministers "cannot afford" to go on holiday.

Russian company employees throughout the country are entitled to holiday from January 1 to 12 when Russians celebrate the New Year, the main holiday in Russia, as well as Orthodox Christmas on January 7.

Russia's economy, battered by low oil prices and Western sanctions, is set to enter recession next year for the first time in six years, while the rouble is now worth less than half of its previous value.

Mr Putin told cabinet ministers that he expects them to keep the situation in check even during the holiday lull.

A level of integrity you would never see in the US

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russian government imposes 15% fee on exports of wheat


MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Export duty for Russian wheat will total 15% of its customs value plus 7.5 euro but not less than 35 euro per ton as of February 1, 2015, says a resolution that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed on Thursday.

“The imposition of this export duty is called upon to stabilize the situation on the domestic market of grain,” the governmental press service said in a report.

The export fees apply to the wheat taken outside the territory of the CIS Customs Union countries. The cabinet of ministers plans to publish the full text of the resolution at its official website shortly.

The government has drafted measures towards limiting the exports of Russian grain with the aid of export fees in a bid to prevent a sharp growth of domestic prices for grain, which began to climb after a sharp weakening of the ruble versus major foreign currencies, which prompted the exporters to launch amassed exports.

The growth of grain exports as of July 2014 outpaces the figures for the same period a year ago by 30%, the Ministry of Agriculture said. Over the past seven days alone, the price of wheat went up by 5%.

The Speaker of the upper house of Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko said earlier grain prices in this country rose by 80% on the whole over the past five months.

Imposition of export duties is the first restrictive step on grain exports since 2010 when the government introduced a full ban on grain exports because of a major drought, which had hit the major agricultural areas in the parts of the country to the west of the Ural Mountains. The move triggered a hike of prices on the international markets then.

Dmitry Rylko, the Director General of the Institute for the Studies of Agrarian Markets. Russian companies have exported 20.6 million tons of grain since July 1 this year, or since the date that is traditionally regarded as the start of the agricultural season. The exporters revenues totaled $ 4.5 billion.

The traders planned to supply another 11 million tons of grain until June 30, 2015, and to get $ 2.5 billion for it.

Exporting companies expected restrictions back in the summer months, saying they might come in the form of an embargo. They would cite a force majeure situation at talks with customers then, while the export fees do not give them an opportunity of this kind.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Contact Group for Ukraine to hold second round of talks in Minsk

© AP Photo/ Sergei Grits

KIEV, December 25 /TASS/. The Contact Group for Ukraine will hold the second round of talks in Minsk on Friday, Ukraine’s news agency UNN reported referring to a source close to the talks’ organizers. No other source has confirmed this information to TASS.

The Contact Group met for almost five and a half hours on Wednesday, December 24. Denis Pushilin, an authorized representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic, has described the Wednesday meeting as preliminary.

The first meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine took place in Minsk on September 5. It was attended by representatives of Kiev and Ukraine’s southeastern regions, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe /OSCE/ and Russia. The group adopted a peace settlement plan for Donbas and reached a ceasefire agreement.

The Contact Group adopted a memorandum on ceasefire in Donbas at its second meeting on September 20. The document consists of nine points including a ban on using all types of weapons and withdrawal of heavy weapons with a caliber of more than 100 mm to 15 kilometers away from the contact line.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been tasked to monitor how the memorandum is being implemented. The document was signed by OSCE envoy for Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini; Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and the head of Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR0, Igor Plotnitsky.

In a bid to implement the Minsk agreements, the sides in conflict announced a “regime of silence” in the area of security operation in Donbas on December 9. Both the authorities in Kiev and the leaderships of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics stressed the need to start withdrawing heavy weapons, exchange prisoners and carry out de-militarization in the region.

All these issues are still on the agenda. The press service of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said when reporting about a telephone conversation held by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France that they had agreed on the need to implement all the points of the Minsk agreements, including a ceasefire, the establishment of a demarcation line fixed in the September 19 Memorandum; the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons and the earliest release of all hostages.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russian Communists’ plans for re-creating monuments to Stalin


MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. While the Moscow authorities have begun preparations on instructions from President Vladimir Putin for creating a special monument to the victims of political repression Russian Communists are pressing for the idea of reestablishing the monuments to the man who more than anyone else was responsible for setting the machine of reprisals in motion - Joseph Stalin.

Earlier this month the Communist Party created on its own or supported the creation of groups of activists for erecting monuments to Stalin at least in eight territories of Russia, says the daily Novyie Izvestia. In the city of Kirov the Communists have even launched a fund-raising campaign. Once the money is collected, the regional Communist Party office will ask the local authorities for a plot of land. Similar initiatives for commemorating Stalin have been advanced by the Communists and their followers in the Oryol Region, Tula, Tyumen, Vladivostok, Saratov and other cities.

Repression in the Soviet Union peaked in 1937-1938. Some historians prefer to call this period as Great Terror. Over less than two years 680,000 “enemies of the people” were shot for political reasons and another 300,000 died in labour camps.

The personality of the Soviet leader of the first half of last century, a cruel tyrant whose policies claimed millions of Soviet people’s lives, these days, 62 years after his death, still causes turbulent and controversial emotions in society, which remains largely split over the issue. Stalin’ admirers - mostly Communists and marginal leftist and nationalist groups - tend to see him as a historical personality who steered the USSR towards a triumphant victory in World War II. They praise his managerial talent and give him credit for building a major industrialized power. The opponents and critics recall mostly the mass terror against his own people.

Of late, as economic problems in the country keep mounting, speculations about “iron hand rule,” and about “another Stalin” have been ever more frequent in the media space. “These days the interest in the personality of Stalin in Russia is growing, mostly with the loss of the country’s previous foothold on the world scene and profound economic and social problems inside the country,” says an article on the website of the Moscow city committee of the Communist Party, timed for the 135th anniversary of Stalin’s birth, which the Communists marked on December 21.

“Stalin … was a genius,” Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said at a flower-laying ceremony at the tomb of the “the leader of peoples.” “Today his policy is knocking on our door and I hope that the country does hear it.”

Last year’s Levada Centre poll, held on the eve of the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death, revealed the following change in public sentiment: the share of those who were generally positive about Stalin’s role in the country’s history was up from 27% in 1994 to 49% in 2013, while that of those who offered “generally negative” comments shrank from 47% to 32%. As for the 19% who failed to reply were mostly young people having very little idea of their own country’s history.

Of course, Stalin's genocide of millions of Ukrainians was not worthy of mention in the article.  It might raise questions as to why some Ukrainians are -- even to this day -- violently anti-Soviet.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia to take retaliatory measures to NATO's eastward expansion

MOSCOW, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russia would take appropriate retaliatory measures against NATO's possible eastward expansion, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

"I'd stress that the NATO's possible further enlargement eastward would inevitably lead to a very serious military- political shift not only in Europe but also around the world," Lukashevich told reporters.

This would directly affect Russia's national security interests, prompting necessary and appropriate reactions from the country, Lukashevich added.

Moreover, the spokesman warned that the trend of pro-West and anti-Russia attitudes in Kiev authorities could further complicate the bilateral relations between Ukraine and Russia.

"Cooperation in such fields as economy and energy would be obstructed," Lukashevich said.

Moscow is also perplexed by the fact that the abolishment of Ukraine's non-aligned status came right at the moment when positive trends have taken place to settle the Ukraine crisis, Interfax news agency quoted Lukashevich as saying.

"We are convinced that the Euro-Atlantic slant in Ukraine's external and internal policies is unlikely to help bring the country out of a deep internal political and economic crisis," Lukashevich said.

The Ukrainian parliament approved a bill on Tuesday to abandon the country's non-aligned status, paving the way for it to join NATO.

The new law envisages that Kiev is heading for deepening cooperation with NATO "in order to achieve the criteria which are required for membership in the alliance."

The latest move taken by the Kiev government had come under rounds of strong criticism of Russia, warning that the "big mistake" would lead to instability in the region.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia to slash oil output starting next year

MOSCOW, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russia may cut its oil output due to low global oil prices and the lack of investment into the country's energy industry, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Thursday.

Given the pessimistic scenario, Russia's oil output could shrink by 10 percent in the next two or three years, which will not produce serious effects on global oil markets, Dvorkovich told Russia's TV channel Rossiya 24.

Dvorkovich predicted that oil prices will remain at the current level or keep falling for a few more months, and afterwards will bounce to around 80 U.S. dollars per barrel.

"The oil price would finally be restored by fundamental factors and the limitation of speculative instruments," Interfax news agency quoted Dvorkovich as saying.

He added that oil demand remained weak due to the economic growth slowdown in Russia and European Union, as well as the increasing crude oil production in the United States and member states of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries.

At the beginning of December, Russian Economic Development Ministry revised down the forecast for next year's oil export by 2. 19 percent to 222.5 million metric tons, or 1.63 billion barrels. Its gas export in 2015 was also expected to go down by 1.8 percent to 186.6 billion cubic meters, while the output volume will be at 655 billion cubic meters.

The country's oil-dependent economy has hit a rough patch recently due to falling oil prices, coupled with a sharply depreciating ruble.

On Wednesday, light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 1.28 U.S. dollars to settle at 55.84 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for February delivery decreased 1.45 dollars to close at 60.24 dollars a barrel.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia says currency crisis over, but inflation set to soar

imageMOSCOW: Russia said its currency crisis was over on Thursday but warned that inflation is set to climb above 10 percent, adding to the problems facing President Vladimir Putin's government as it fights its worst economic crisis since 1998.

The rouble plunged to all-time lows last week on heavy falls in the price of oil, the backbone of the Russian economy, and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis that made it near impossible for Russian firms to borrow on Western markets.

But it has since rebounded sharply after authorities took steps to halt its slide and bring down inflation, which after years of stability threatens Putin's reputation for ensuring the country's prosperity.

Those measures included a hike in interest rates to 17 percent from 10.5 percent, curbs on grain exports and informal capital controls.

"The key rate was raised in order to stabilise the situation on the currency market. ... That period has already, in our opinion, passed. The rouble is now strengthening," Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told the upper house of parliament on Thursday.

He added that interest rates would be lowered if the situation remained stable.

Standard & Poor's credit ratings agency said this week it could downgrade Russia to junk as soon as January due to a rapid deterioration in "monetary flexibility".

Russians have tracked the exchange rate closely since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when hyper-inflation wiped out their savings over several years in the early 1990s.


Russia imports large amounts of food, high-tech equipment and cars. As the rouble weakens it has to pay more for its imports, which pushes up inflation at home and in turn encourages people to protect their earnings by buying dollars, thereby adding to the pressure on the rouble.

Putin's economic aide Andrei Belousov said on Thursday that annual inflation could reach around 11 percent by the end of 2014 - surpassing the psychologically important 10 percent mark for the first time since the 2008/09 global financial crisis.

Prices for some goods, such as beef and fish, have risen 40 to 50 percent in recent months after Russia slapped an import ban on certain Western food products in retaliation for European Union and U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.

Bank officials say they saw a spike in withdrawals from rouble deposits in mid-December as Russians rushed to convert their savings into hard currencies.

The deputy head of top state lender Sberbank, Alexander Torbakhov, said this week that demand for hard currencies spiked to five times usual levels last week, when the rouble plummeted to all-time lows.

But he added that the bank had seen depositors returning in large numbers after most lenders ramped up their deposit rates, some offering as much as 20 percent in annual interest.

"We have managed to cope (with deposit withdrawals). Can the situation be repeated? Yes, it can," Torbakhov said, declining to discuss what could trigger a new flurry of withdrawals.

Analysts say that apart from oil prices, they will watch ratings agency decisions.

S&P warned this week there was at least a 50 percent chance it would cut Russia's sovereign rating below investment grade within 90 days. Moody's ratings agency warned this week that Russia's GDP could contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 and 3 percent in 2016 due to weaker oil prices and the rouble's slide.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russian reserves fall below $400bn, first time since 2009

imageMOSCOW: Russia's gold and foreign currency reserves dropped below $400 billion for the first time since August 2009 as of Dec. 19, the central bank said on Thursday.

The central bank has spent over $80 billion defending the rouble this year, as a sharp slide in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis have driven the Russian currency sharply lower, threatening financial stability.

The bank has expanded its foreign-currency repurchase agreement operations in response to market instability, offering banks foreign currency for a period of one week, 28 days and one year, to ease a deficit of dollars and euros.

Analysts said around $5 billion of the $15 billion fall in the week to Dec. 19 was because of interventions to support the rouble, while around $7 billion was due to foreign currency loaned to banks as part of repo operations.

Since that foreign currency will be returned to the central bank at a later stage, the reserves could recover some of the losses in the near or mid-term, they said, adding that the remainder of the losses were likely due to shifts in the value of the bank's foreign-currency holdings.$400bn-first-time-since-2009.html

Flying Wombat's picture

Don't hurt Turd by posting full text copyright material...

This site could be targeted and taken down given that content, and extensive posting of copyright material may have played a role in Harvey Organ's site being taken out.  It's super easy to post a sentence or two as an introduction and then the link to the source.  Be kind to the resource you're using here and protect it.  :-)

G-Rod's picture

So Deacon Benjamin

What is your agenda?

J Siefert's picture

Germany's PEGIDA discussed and explained (in English)

Mr. Fix's picture

Meanwhile in Japan:

Game Over Japan: Real Wages Crash Most In 21st Century, Savings Rate Turns Negative

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/26/2014 - 09:31

After two years of economic torture and financial destruction, Abenomics has finally claimed the Keynesian prize: real wages crash 4.3%, the most in the 21st century, and Japan's legendary savings rate, which peaked at 23% in 1975, just turned negative for the first time ever. Game over Japan.

Dr. P. Metals's picture

Speaking of Mr Organ

now in the fullness of time, what exactly was the reason for his site takedown?

Turd Ferguson's picture

This fits in here

Dr. P. Metals's picture


What do you make of the GLD stuff?

DeaconBenjamin's picture


Supplying news stories of interest

Safety Dan's picture

Half of All Children Will Be

Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025, Warns Senior Research Scientist at MIT

Why? Evidence points to glyphosate toxicity from the overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on our food.

For over three decades, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, has researched biology and technology, over the years publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles. In recent years she has concentrated on the relationship between nutrition and health, tackling such topics as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health.

Read More

ivars's picture

Revolution from above in

Revolution from above in Belarus due to economic pressures, including currency. Is this what is going to happen in Russia as well very soon?

Lukashenko has much longer autocratic experience then Putin; he can show way; remember, until 1941-1942 Mussolini was idolized by Hitler as "older brother" who was showing the way fascism should operate.

I guess some 20 key positions in the state replaced in one day! A clear message to Putin, no less!

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia's Overnight Lending Rate Hits 19%

In Russia, the overnight lending rates between banks has soared to 19%, a sign of widespread and warranted mistrust between banks, as one bank has failed. To stabilize the situation, Putin is considering bank deposit insurance up to an amount equivalent rate of about $26,000.

Meanwhile, and although Russia is still burning through currency reserves, the value of the Ruble has been rising.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia's ruble ends 5-day rally, drops 4 per cent

MOSCOW: The Russian currency on Friday ended its five-day rally and declined 4 per cent as the markets remain jittery over the outlook of the Russian economy.

The ruble has been the worst performing currency this year along with the Ukrainian hryvnia, having lost nearly half of its value against the dollar.

The ruble declined by 4 per cent in afternoon trading to 54 rubles against the dollar. Russian monetary officials have made stabilizing the ruble their priority, introducing a number of drastic measures to support it such as raising the key interest rate to a whopping 17 per cent.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Ukraine secures cheap Russian coal and power supplies

Moscow promised on Saturday to resume shipping coal and provide electricity to Ukraine for the first time in three years despite Kiev's failure to guarantee energy supplies to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's unexpected decision was announced just a day after Ukraine upped pressure on the breakaway Black Sea peninsula by severing all its train and bus ties with the mainland.

Both Moscow and Kiev refused to disclose the terms of the coal and electricity deal.  "Considering the critical situation with (Ukranian) energy supplies, Putin decided to start these shipments despite the lack of prepayments," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS new agency.  "This demonstrates President Putin's political will to provide real support to Ukrainians, especially on the eve of New Year."

DeaconBenjamin's picture

'Welcome to the media war': Ukraine moves to counter Russian spi

  • A TV journalist prepares to do a piece to camera on the frontline between Ukrainian forces and pro Russian separatists near Debaltseve in the Donetsk region on December 24, 2014

    AFP/Sergei Supinsky - A TV journalist prepares to do a piece to camera on the frontline between Ukrainian forces and pro Russian separatists near Debaltseve in the Donetsk region on December 24, 2014

Donning bullet-proof jackets, a score of foreign journalists clamber aboard an armoured vehicle headed for Ukraine's front line as Kiev flexes muscle in the propaganda war with Russia.

For the first time since the April start of its "anti-terrorist operation" against Kremlin-backed separatists, the Ukrainian army is staging a "press trip" to counter Moscow's powerful media machine.

Reporters, including those from AFP, have often found it easier to work with pro-Moscow rebels than with government forces, and complain about the difficulty of interviewing Ukrainian commanders in the field.  "We're trying to be open to journalists as far as is possible so people know what's happening in the conflict zone," said Stepan Poltorak, Ukraine's defence minister, ahead of the trip.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russian grain exports revive as informal curbs ease

MOSCOW, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Russian grain exports have picked up again after the decision to impose official export duties reduced the informal curbs that had all but stopped sales abroad, SovEcon agriculture consultancy said on Saturday.

The informal Russian export controls -- tougher quality monitoring by safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor and limits on railway loadings -- had all but stopped exports, according to a non-state farm lobby group.

The informal measures were then followed by a government decision to introduce duty on wheat exports from Feb. 1 until June 30, 2015.  "Since the clarity over the duty, market players have reported a decline in the informal barriers on exports," SovEcon said in a note. "Rosselkhoznadzor has started to give certificates and vessels with grain have started leaving the Azov and the Black Sea ports."  Shallow-water ports in the Azov Sea were still mostly closed, unofficially.

State-controlled Russian Railways also called off its controls on grain loadings on Friday, but said it planned to raise its tariffs for such supplies by 13.4 percent from Jan. 24.

DeaconBenjamin's picture

Russia imposes rationing in token gesture

Just when Russians thought it could not get any worse with the ruble tumbling as fast as the oil prices on which their economy depends, the people of St Petersburg are waking up to rationing.  It is not food and drink that is being rationed, but metro tokens.

In one of the most bizarre episodes of panic buying in a nation notorious for its hoarding instincts in times of trouble, people have been buying up to 85,000 extra metro tokens a day so they can save three rubles (five cents) when the price goes up on January 1.  With more than 1.8 million sold so far in December the authorities had to step in and ban cashiers from selling people more than two tokens at a time.

Signs of panic buying have emerged in recent weeks with many hard-pressed households hoarding sugar and buckwheat, one of the country's main staples, as the ruble at one point lost one quarter of its value in just two days.  Worried about rising inflation and the real value of their wages and savings plummeting, poorer Russians have been stockpiling goods they think will hold their value.

Flying Wombat's picture

Soros As Kiev’s Central Banker

The way this story developed and the nature of the sources suggest to me that we're looking at a "trial balloon."  No doubt, it will be shot down.  But still...   You just can't make this stuff up. -- Eric
Soros As Kiev’s Central Banker And Ridiculous US Laws – F. William Engdahl

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