Author Topic: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?  (Read 30175 times)

LMNO

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #240 on: May 06, 2014, 04:06:21 pm »
By the way, did I hear correctly this morning on the radio that Putin is somehow blaming the creation of  Internet for all of their country's woes?

Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #241 on: May 13, 2014, 08:53:47 am »
Not heard that.

This, however, is interesting:

Quote
When most people think about offshore finance, they don’t think about the future of Europe: They think about palm trees, about shell corporations headquartered in a P.O. Box, and about secret Swiss bank accounts. But this is not what people in Eastern Europe think.

When Russians, Ukrainian, Azerbaijanis—I will spare the reader from a roll call of the 15 fraternal republics—when these countries think offshore finance, they think about their stolen futures. But isn’t that a good thing? Won’t that make them realize that West is best?

Not so fast. First, a few figures. The offshore economy has grown into a gargantuan parallel financial system. There may be more than $20 trillion hidden in more than fifty tax havens. The colossal treasure hidden in British tax havens alone is more than $7 trillion. And a disproportionately large share of that money is Eastern European. Take Russia’s missing $211.5 billion: That’s the conservative estimate for illicit financial flows out of Russia alone between 1994–2011…

East European corruption fighters are discovering that Western countries and their systems of offshore economies have enabled the colossal theft of their countries’ resources. Bubbling up from beneath the surface of both the Russian opposition and the Ukrainian Maidan is a new sense of disdain for the West…

This is what happened to Daria Kaleniuk at Kiev’s Anti-Corruption Action Centre. The director of one Ukraine’s most important NGOs battling corruption spent years investigating how corruption actually works. But the more she learned, the more she viewed both America and the European Union as hypocrites.

Kaleniuk explains:

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What we found was that the money stolen in Ukraine was heading into British and European tax havens and hidden using shell companies inside the European Union. This was very uncomfortable to find out. What we felt is the Western elites were being hypocritical to us—preaching anti-corruption but allowing this offshore world to flourish.

…..Ukrainian MP Lesya Orobets is running for Mayor of Kiev on a platform that flirts with nationalist outrage. She is enraged by Western complicity with the offshore black hole into which Ukraine’s national wealth has long disappeared:

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What you need to understand is that Western tax havens have resulted in Ukrainian deaths. Take for example the theft of Ukraine’s HIV budget. The national budget for fighting HIV was stolen and hidden in tax havens and in Great Britain. But this has consequences—we are now approaching a 2 percent HIV infection rate in Ukraine, which is near the no-return point of pandemic. This corruption will kill British men too. I hear they come to Ukraine. But they also return home. What will happen if the British do not close down their tax havens? I will be deeply, negatively, impressed.

….The West has gotten used to enjoying a hero’s reputation amongst Eastern European democrats. But get to know the Moscow opposition or the Maidan and you soon learn that London is now a byword for corruption, and the names of whole European countries—Luxemburg, Cyprus, Switzerland, Andorra, and even the Netherlands—are synonymous with “theft.”

LMNO

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #242 on: May 13, 2014, 12:03:35 pm »
Forgive me, being dense here, but how is the Ukranian money being stolen in the first place?

Are we talking Ukranian corruption and grift?

Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #243 on: May 13, 2014, 12:07:00 pm »
Yup.

Government contracts siphoned off by oligarchs and then put in western banks. 

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #244 on: May 13, 2014, 12:22:22 pm »
Gotcha.  Thanks!

Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #245 on: May 14, 2014, 10:51:04 am »
Oh Roger, here's more on the economic angle in Ukraine

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/04/24/beneath-the-ukraine-crisis-shale-gas/

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Ukraine has Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While for years U.S. oil companies have been pressing for shale gas development in countries such as Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria only to be rebuffed by significant opposition from citizens and local legislators concerned about the environmental impacts of shale gas extraction – including earthquakes and groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – there has been considerably less opposition in Ukraine, a country that has been embroiled in numerous gas disputes with the Russian Federation in recent years.

Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, controlling nearly one-fifth of the world’s gas reserves, supplies more than half of Ukraine’s gas annually, and about 30 percent of Europe’s. It has often used this as political and economic leverage over Kiev and Brussels, cutting gas supplies repeatedly over the past decade (in the winters of 2005-2006, 2007-2008, and again in 2008-2009), leading to energy shortages not only in Ukraine, but Western European countries as well. This leverage, however, came under challenge in 2013 as Ukraine took steps towards breaking its dependence on Russian gas.

On Nov. 5, 2013 (just a few weeks before the Maidan demonstrations began in Kiev), Chevron signed a 50-year agreement with the Ukrainian government to develop oil and gas in western Ukraine. According to the New York Times, “The government said that Chevron would spend $350 million on the exploratory phase of the project and that the total investment could reach $10 billion.”

Oh, would you look at that.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/hunter-biden-ukraine-gas-board-106631.html

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Hunter Biden, the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden, will be joining Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, the company announced in a statement.

“The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals,” Alan Apter, Burisma Holdings’ chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement, which was reported by The Moscow Times on Tuesday.

Just coincidence, I'm sure.

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #246 on: May 14, 2014, 12:22:25 pm »
Wasn't expecting the connection to be from Biden.  Sneaky.

Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #247 on: May 27, 2014, 04:50:54 pm »
Please.  For all his relative sensibility on US foreign policy, Delaware is about as corrupt as it gets.  Probably almost every oligarch in Ukraine has a bank account in Delaware, alongside London, and I'm fairly sure that the money and assets the Ukranian oligarchy has would give it access to the likes of Biden.

In other news, with the election now over, the violence in eastern Ukraine is escalating.  Lots more Youtube vids showing artillery strikes on residential areas...in all fairness, probably due to bad aim and training rather than actual malice, but I doubt that's much sympathy to anyone whose home gets levelled in the mean time.

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #248 on: May 27, 2014, 04:58:31 pm »
Huh. Wasn't aware of the financial corruption, though it should have drawn some red flags, now that I think of it (many, many credit companies are incorporated there).  Usually, the first thing that comes to mind is the DuPont connections.

Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #249 on: May 28, 2014, 09:56:35 am »
Well, most tax havens do tend to have better climates and links with London than Delaware.  That's why it flies under the radar so often.

Reports of Chechen mercenaries fighting for the Russians are coming in from Ukraine.  Not 100% certain of this, but I think this is a mistake based on the presence of the "Vostok Brigade" in the fighting.  There is a Chechen Vostok Brigade, which saw action in Georgia, but there is also an Eastern Ukrainian Vostok Brigade who have no known link with the former. 

That said, President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya is Putin's chief security advisor, and did send "advisors" and negotiators to Ukraine to secure the release of Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, two journalists taken hostage there recently.  Kadyrov alluded to "influence" he may have over those groups.

Just saying, treat all mention of Chechens with caution. 

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #250 on: May 28, 2014, 02:55:43 pm »
Please.  For all his relative sensibility on US foreign policy, Delaware is about as corrupt as it gets.  Probably almost every oligarch in Ukraine has a bank account in Delaware, alongside London, and I'm fairly sure that the money and assets the Ukranian oligarchy has would give it access to the likes of Biden.

In other news, with the election now over, the violence in eastern Ukraine is escalating.  Lots more Youtube vids showing artillery strikes on residential areas...in all fairness, probably due to bad aim and training rather than actual malice, but I doubt that's much sympathy to anyone whose home gets levelled in the mean time.

Wow, I had no idea. Thanks, Cain!
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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #251 on: May 29, 2014, 02:28:37 am »
(Super interesting, thanks.)

Hm, Johnny Brainwash just posted this: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27600919
Quote
The president of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia is said to have fled the capital Sukhumi after opposition protesters seized his office.
Alexander Ankvab reportedly retreated to his home town Gudauta, 40km (25 miles) away, when talks with the opposition broke down.
Many people in the Russian-backed region are unhappy with the ailing economy and lack of reforms.

Just something to keep an eye on.
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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #252 on: May 29, 2014, 09:10:50 pm »
When you are siphoning that much money into tax havens and shell corporations one has to wonder how the oligarchs plan to cash it in. With so much money in all of their back-pockets how do they not flood markets when they want to grab actual goods? Does every political crisis get turned into an opportunity for privatization? The truth may be uglier than I want to acknowledge here. Also assuming that they are really thinking through their actions and have a plan.

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #253 on: May 29, 2014, 09:34:39 pm »
When you are siphoning that much money into tax havens and shell corporations one has to wonder how the oligarchs plan to cash it in. With so much money in all of their back-pockets how do they not flood markets when they want to grab actual goods? Does every political crisis get turned into an opportunity for privatization? The truth may be uglier than I want to acknowledge here. Also assuming that they are really thinking through their actions and have a plan.

I wonder about the plan sometimes. Like, is there a point where getting more simply become the whole beginning middle and end of it?
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Cain

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Re: Anybody look at Ukraine lately?
« Reply #254 on: May 31, 2014, 05:32:46 pm »
When you are siphoning that much money into tax havens and shell corporations one has to wonder how the oligarchs plan to cash it in. With so much money in all of their back-pockets how do they not flood markets when they want to grab actual goods? Does every political crisis get turned into an opportunity for privatization? The truth may be uglier than I want to acknowledge here. Also assuming that they are really thinking through their actions and have a plan.

Fortunately for them, there is a whole economy catering to ostentatious status symbols for the financial elite.

In my own experience, many of these people are not what you would consider careful forward planners.  They tend to be risk-takers, focused on the bottom-line and on expected returns.  Legality, sensibility and long-term consequences do not figure much into the process.

Also, the goods they tend to acquire tend to be land and property and precious metals - markets with their own rules, rather distinct from the standard commercial markets.