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Jan Winiecki compares Vladimir Putin’s short-sighted leadership to Soviet rule in the 1970’s and 1980’s. – Project Syndicate
RZESZOW – With the Winter Olympics underway in Sochi, Russia is again in the global spotlight – and President Vladimir Putin is taking the opportunity to present his country as a resurgent power. But, beneath the swagger and fanfare lie serious doubts about Russia’s future. In fact, long-term price trends for the mineral resources upon which the economy depends, together with Russia’s history (especially the last two decades of Soviet rule), suggest that Putin’s luck may well be about to run out.
Mineral-resource price cycles generally begin with a rise lasting 8-10 years, followed by a longer period of stable, relatively low prices. Given that prices have been on an upswing since the middle of the last decade, they should begin declining within two years, if they have not done so already. Moreover, the last price trough lasted more than 20 years, implying that Russia cannot expect simply to wait it out.
But, beyond acknowledging the need to cut spending – an obvious imperative, after the estimated $50 billion cost of the Sochi Olympics – Putin has not signaled any concrete plans to tackle Russia’s economic weaknesses.
Russia faced a similar challenge in the 1970’s and 1980’s – and, like Putin today, its leaders failed to do what was needed. According to former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, who led Russia’s only post-Soviet government that was oriented toward systemic change, the socialist command economy exhausted its growth potential by 1970.
Under non-totalitarian circumstances, the threat of stagnation would have generated strong pressure for systemic reform. But the Soviet Union’s aging communist leadership, encouraged by the OPEC-generated oil-price explosion and the discovery of massive hydrocarbon reserves in western Siberia, took a different tack, using natural-resource revenues to finance continued military expansion.
In an effort to appease the public, the Soviet leadership increased food imports – both directly (meat imports, for example, quintupled from 1970 to 1980) and indirectly (by increasing feedstock imports). While this strategy worked in the short term, it caused food consumption to increase far beyond what the economy could sustain.
As a result, the Soviet economy became even more dependent on resource revenues, making it extremely vulnerable to price fluctuations in international commodity markets. When mineral prices began to decline in the early 1980’s – reaching their lowest point in 1999 – the economy, which had already been stagnating for about five years, went into a free-fall.
Today, the Russian economy is no more resilient than it was in the late Soviet era, with commodities, especially oil and natural gas, accounting for around 90% of total exports and manufacturing for only about 6%. If anything, the economy’s dependence on exports of fuels and industrial minerals has increased, meaning that smaller price fluctuations have a greater impact on Russia’s fiscal and external position. Indeed, some observers – including the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) – have predicted that the country’s current account could slip into deficit as early as next year.
A lasting deficit would eliminate the major economic difference between Putin’s Russia and its Soviet counterpart during the 1980’s – namely, the financial buffer that has been accumulated over the last decade. It is this buffer – which amounted to $785 billion in the 2000-2011 period – that protected the economy from a larger shock when the global financial crisis erupted in 2009, and that has financed Russia’s foreign-policy initiatives, including its recent cooperation with Ukraine.
The CBR’s warning of twin fiscal and current-account deficits assumed that oil prices would remain steady, at $104 per barrel in 2015. But my expectation that oil prices will decline over the next 3-7 years suggests that Russia’s medium-term prospects are actually considerably worse.
In short, Russia will soon have to confront diminished macroeconomic health, with few options for restoring it. Russia’s uncompetitive manufacturing sector certainly cannot pick up the slack, and this is unlikely to change, given Putin’s unwillingness to pursue the needed shift to a more knowledge-intensive economy.
This new reality will not only affect Russia’s foreign-policy and imperial ambitions; it will also undermine the relative social and political stability that has characterized the last decade. Without resource revenues, the government will struggle to finance the policies and programs that are needed to placate ordinary Russians. In this context, the Sochi Olympics, intended to herald Russia’s triumphant return as a global power, may soon come to be regarded as a swansong.
When Russia bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, they committed to green building standards and a “zero waste” policy that promised not to add to landfills. The $51-billion Sochi Olympics – the most expensive in history – will truly have costly consequences to the environment. The area of development includes a UNESCO World Heritage site and a national park – the most biodiverse location in Russia. Eight thousand acres of preserved forests have been damaged and wetlands important for migrating birds have been buried under two metres of crushed rock. Suren Gazaryan, a zoologist with Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) who is living in exile due to criminal charges stemming from his humans rights work, says that parts of the park have been totally destroyed. He adds that much of the government’s much-vaunted reforestation efforts have been “pointless.” The planting of 1.5 million new trees was often done by unqualified personnel who violated conventional methodology.
The Associated Press reports that Russia’s state-owned rail monopoly has been using illegal landfills to dump construction waste from an $8.2-billion, 48-kilometre highway and railroad link between the airport and alpine venues. These illegal landfills are in a water protection zone, and could potentially lead to the contamination of Sochi’s groundwater. Some IOC members have reportedly admitted to making a poor choice when they selected Sochi. Former IOC member Els van Breda Vriesman told Dutch broadcaster NOS that many members would vote differently today.
The Russian government stepped up law enforcement activity against local environmentalists during Olympic construction. Activists have been detained and criminally charged, some have lost their jobs. The government plans to illegally shut down EWNC due to the group’s insistence on legal compliance during Olympic preparations.
Before we get too up-in-arms about Russia’s environmental misconduct, let’s not forget our own here in Canada.
More reason for concern: Environmental destruction and Indigenous rights abuses often go hand-in-hand. We saw this play out at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where protestors linked environmental degradation and Indigenous sovereignty, and we’re seeing it again now with the Circassian community calling Sochi “the genocide Olympics.” The Circassians are indigenous to the North Caucasus region but were driven from driven from the area in the 19th Century. Historian Walter Richmond is calling Sochi the site of Europe’s first genocidein a new book.
The Sochi Olympic Games and the Threat of a Terrorist Attack. Who is Behind the Caucasus Terrorists? | Global Research
In the weeks leading up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Western Media has released a dribble of “trustworthy reports” examining “the likelihood” of a terrorist attack at the height of the Olympic games.
In late January, the British government warned “that more terrorist attacks in Russia (following the Volgograd attack in December) are “very likely to occur before or during the Winter Olympics in Sochi”. (BBC, January 27, 2014).
As the Olympic torch reaches Sochi, CNN released, in a timely fashion, the results of an “authoritative” opinion poll (based on a meager sample of 1000 individuals): “57% of Americans think terror attack likely at Sochi Games”
Earlier news reports focussed on the mysterious menace of a so-called “Black Widow” terrorist attack emanating from Chechnya, Russia’s hotspot of Islamic terrorism. According to a so-called “catastrophe expert” Dr Gordon Woo, a Black Widow attack “is almost certain to happen”:
“Because of the history between the Russians and the Chechen people who splintered to form the Caucasus Emirate, Sochi is a prime target for terrorism,” said Woo, who has advanced insurance modelling of catastrophes, including designing a model for terrorism risk. (Business Times, UK)
The Sochi Games are occurring at the height of a Worldwide crisis marked by the confrontation between the US and Russia on the geopolitical chessboard. In turn, the ongoing protest movement in Ukraine has a bearing on Russia’s geopolitical control of the Black Sea.
What would be the underlying political objective of a terrorist attack?
Are these slanted media reports solely intended to create an aura of fear and uncertainty which causes political embarrassment to the Russian authorities?
While network TV and the tabloids have their eyes riveted on the Black Widow, the more fundamental question as to Who is behind the Caucasus terrorists goes unmentioned.
None of the news reports has focused on the fundamental question which is required in assessing the terror threat.
Both the history of Al Qaeda as well as recent developments in Syria and Libya confirm unequivocally that the Al Qaeda network is covertly supported by Western intelligence.
History: Who is Behind the Chechen Terrorists?
What are the historical origins of the Chechen jihadists, which are now allegedly threatening the Sochi Games? Who is behind them?
In the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US waged a covert war against Russia. The objective was to promote the secession of Chechnya, a “renegade autonomous region” of the Russian Federation, at the crossroads of strategic oil and gas pipeline routes.
This was a covert intelligence operation. The main Chechen rebel leaders, Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab, were trained and indoctrinated in CIA-sponsored camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The two main Chechen jihadist formations, affiliated to Al Qaeda were estimated at 35,000 strong. They were supported by Pakistan’s Military intelligence (ISI) on behalf of the CIA; funding was also channeled to Chechnya through the Wahabbi missions from Saudi Arabia.
The ISI played a key role in organizing and training the Chechnya rebel army:
“[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers (Levon Sevunts, “Who’s Calling The Shots? Chechen conflict finds Islamic roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, The Gazette, Montreal, 26 October 1999.)
Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war in 1995. (Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, “Chechen Front Moves To Kosovo”, Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000)
The Geopolitics of the Sochi Winter Olympics
The Sochi Olympics are at a strategic location on the Black Sea at the crossroads of Russia’s oil and gas pipelines.
The forbidden question (both by the West as well as by the Russian government) in addressing the possibility of a terror attack is: Who is behind the Terrorists?
While the US sponsored Chechen rebels were defeated in the 1990s by Russian forces, various Al Qaeda affiliated formations –including the “Caucasus Emirate militant group, Imarat Kavkaz (IK) — remain active in the Southern Caucasus region of the Russian Federation (e.g. Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Abkhazia).
Both the Russian based Al Qaeda groups as well as the broader network of jihadist formations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans constitute CIA “intelligence assets” which could potentially be used to trigger a terrorist event at the height of the Sochi Olympics.
Needless to say, Moscow is fully aware that Al Qaeda is an instrument of Western intelligence. And Moscow is also aware that the US is covertly supporting terror groups which threaten the security of the Olympic Games.
Within the Russian military and intelligence establishment, this is known, documented and discussed behind closed doors. Yet at the same time, it is a “forbidden truth”. It is taboo to talk about it in public or to raise it at the diplomatic level. Washington knows that Moscow knows: “I know you know I know”.
The more fundamental questions which both the Russian and Western media are not addressing for obvious reasons:
- Who is behind the Caucasus terrorists?
- What geopolitical interests would be served, were the US and its allies to decide to trigger a “False Flag” terror event before or during the Sochi Olympic Games?
The Syrian peace talks – much heralded by investors and politicians worldwide as a brave step towards a better future – are on the ropes this morning. Following the UN acquiescence to the US demand that they rescind Iran’s invite to the so-called Geneva II conference,and yet another suicide bombing in Lebanon, this morning’s incredible SNAFU is thanks to the Greeks:
- GREECE REFUSES TO REFUEL SYRIAN GENEVA TEAM AIRCRAFT: SYRIA TV
- SYRIAN AIRCRAFT DELAY CANCELS MEETING WITH UN’S BAN: STATE TV
The peace accord set to begin tomorrow will be delayed and are in further jeopardy as CNN reports further evidence of Syrian President al-Assad systematically killing and torturng around 11,000 people.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s unexpected, last-minute decision on Sunday to invite President Assad’s main foreign backer Iran – only to withdraw the invitation a day later – proved a diplomatic fiasco, undermining talks that are already given little chance of success.
The peace conference set to begin on Wednesday will include the first talks between Assad and his opponents. But hopes of a breakthrough are negligible at a time when fighting has escalated and neither side shows any sign of retreating from its demands or being able to end the war with a victory.
It has been 18 months since a previous international peace conference in Geneva ended in failure, and all other diplomatic initiatives have also proven fruitless.
“At best, Geneva 2 will reconfirm agreements made during the first Geneva conference, call for ceasefires, maybe prisoners swap and so on,” said one Western diplomat.
“At the same time, those taking part in the talks are de facto giving legitimization to Damascus. They are talking to Assad’s government on the other side of the table
“And so the show would go on while Assad stays in power.”
Via The Times of India,
Former international prosecutors said Tuesday they have evidence from a defector proving that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has systematically killed and tortured around 11,000 people.
A report by three top investigators commissioned by Qatar, which backs the Syrian rebels, examined thousands of pictures said to have been smuggled out by a former military police photographer.
The report, which was first released in Guardian and on CNN, shows evidence of starvation, strangulation and beatings, and features pictures of emaciated corpses with livid wounds.
So amid all of this one has to wonder if those warships that the US moved into position to “rescue stranded US citizen if a Sochi even happened” is nothing more than cover for a build up in front of Syria.
Just a few short weeks away, the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic may go off with a bang, literally, judging by the amount of “terrorist” chatter surrounding the games. Today however, it is more than just chatter: earlier the Russian media reported that Russian security forces had come across multiple unexplained deaths and explosive devices in a region near Sochi, resulting in an aggressive “anti-terrorism sweep.”
The developments are bizarre to say the least:
A car with a body inside exploded as police approached it in Russia’s Stavropol Territory, reported Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti, citing the Interior Ministry. In the same area, Russian authorities reportedly discovered a car containing the bodies of three men along with explosive material. The day before, two more bodies were found in the same region.
Russian officials are investigating the possible cause and motive for the deaths — a Russia analyst speculated to ABC News the deaths could be related to organized crime — but at any rate the mystery and the security sweep add to an already tense situation in southern Russia as the Olympics approach.
One person keeping a close eye on the developments is none other than president Obama, who as we reported yesterday, will unleash an ad blitz for Obamacare around the Olympics. The last thing he will want is for the participants in the games to have need of it. Which is why one can be certain that the NSA and various US security forces are already well aware of any potential sources of terrorism around the games. Sure enough, in a statement of condolences from the White House over the most recent Volgograd bombings, President Obama’s National Security Council slipped in an apparent jab at the Russian government over the security situation. “The U.S. government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and we would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants,” the NSC statement said.”
Some thoughts on who they may be:
Just 10 days ago more than 30 people were killed in dual suicide bombings in Volgograd, Russia, some 400 miles northeast of Sochi. By comparison, Moscow lies more than 850 miles north of Sochi. In October seven people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives on a bus, also in Volgograd. The Stavropol Territory lies approximately halfway between Volgograd and Sochi – approximately 150 miles away from the Olympic site.
No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombings, but in the case of the October bus bombing, Russian authorities said the bomber hailed from Dagestan, a restive region in southern Russia to Sochi’s east that, along with Chechnya, is home to a violent Islamist insurgency that has fought Russian government forces for decades.
The leader of the insurgency, Doku Umarov, sometimes referred to as “Russia’s Osama bin Laden,” last June called on his followers to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics, which he called a “satanic dance on the bones of our ancestors.” In the past Umarov has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Russian civilians, including the 2011 bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.
What is far more clear is who is providing the funding and supplies for the Islamists – the same puppetmaster who was behind the Syrian conflict. Recall:
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
Putin laughed in Bandar’s face, the Saudi natgas pipeline gambit in Syria failed, and as a result the escalation in Sochi is progressing just as Bandar implied it would. Naturally this puts Obama in a tough spot: he can’t openly act against Saudi interests once again after alieanting his ally in the region and take out the terrorist camps in Chechnya, but the last thing he would want is to cart home coffins of athletes.
Which means US participants are resorting to Plan B:
the U.S. ski and snowboard team this year will be overseen by a private security firm, which plans to have as many as five aircraft on standby in case of a medical or security emergency in Sochi. “This environment is unique,” Global Rescue CEO Dan Richards told USA Today Wednesday. “You just don’t have competitions in places like Sochi with any frequency. … In the last 10 years, there has been nothing like it.”
William Rathburn, who was the head of Olympic Security during the bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, told ABC News that while he’s confident Russian officials “have done everything they can” to secure the upcoming games, the odds of an incident are “very high.”
“It’s an opportunity for the Chechen [militants] or anyone else to embarrass Russia or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, I think,” he said. “It’s far easier to protect against attacks on somebody who might be targeted, a group or country or delegation. [But] it’s clear that the people who conducted the two bombings in Volgograd are willing to indiscriminately kill people. It’s very difficult to protect against…”
And after last year in which Putin humiliated US and most western foreign policy on virtually every front, the number of people who want to embarass Putin is quite long.
Some have dreamt of it, others have only imagined it. Now Saxo Bank, the online multi-asset trading specialist and investment advisor has released its ‘Outrageous Predictions’ for 2014. They fully admit that the probability of any of them coming to fruition is rather low. But, that hasn’t stopped them making them. Be outrageously provocative and it can be predicted that as sure as eggs are eggs the crystal ball will go cloudy on you. But, it makes for light-hearted reading along the rocky road of fortune-telling. The saving grace is that if any one of them does actually hit the truth on the nose, Saxo Bank will be saying ‘I told you so’. If they don’t come true, Saxo’s drivel will be forgotten in the mass of pages on the internet.
Predictions for 2014
- Soviet-Style Economy in EU: This one comes from Steen Jakobson, Chief Economist and CIO at Saxo Bank. It tops the list. The Soviet-Union will be back in force in style at least in the EU, when deflation causes panic amongst the leaders of the EU. Wealth Taxes will be introduced across the Union in the attempt to reduce inequalities in society. Europe will at last move into the final stages of totalitarian government from Brussels.
- Fat-Five Tech Companies: Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, Pandora Media and Yelp are all trading at about 700% above market valuation. That’s while the rest of the information-technology sector is 15% under market value. The bubble will burst in 2014 for the fat five. Some of that flab just has to come off.
- US Deflation: It’s only the US government and the Federal Reserve that are saying that the US economy is doing better. January will see the FOMC dealing with deflationary pressure on the economy as consumer confidence gets a whacking and employment and investment take a beating after Congress ends up ‘disrupting the US economy’ again.
- Brent to Fall to £80/Barrel: Sanctions against Iran are going to ease. This coupled with the problems that will seem to abate in Libya will see the price of oil fall drastically. Non-Opec supply is predicted also to increase by 1.5 million barrels per day.
- CAC40 to Drop 40%: They don’t call it the 40 for nothing. The French economy will fall like pigeons being shot out of the sky. The investors in France will be scrambling for the way out as the French government ends up taking a lashing.
- Fed Tapers: March-time will cause widespread panic on the financial markets. Apparently the prediction is that Yellen will resign and that Bernanke will be called back. Oh, there is a Hollywood film too of what happens when Yellen gets kicked out of the comfy bed.
- Germany to Need Bailout: Germany will fall into recession and end up asking to be propped up by the European Central Bank. Let’s hope the Greeks agree to that one.
- Spain to Recover: Spain is set to become the strongest economy in the EU.
- Russia to Turn Tails: Russia will turn to the Western world and end up crying in mummy’s skirts as there are escalating costs of the Olympics and plunging oil prices. Russia will give up on Syria and will cave in to Europe on energy prices.
- China to Revolt: The Chinese will become emboldened and empowered in the face of their government as the one-child policy is loosened and the residency program comes to an end. Urban cities will see demonstrations and the government will change its policies bring the country into modernity.
Outrageous Predictions for 2014
Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank states “This isn’t meant to be a pessimistic outlook. This is about critical events that could lead to change – hopefully for the better. After all, looking back through history, all changes, good or bad, are made after moments of crisis after a comprehensive failure of the old way of doing things. As things are now, global wealth and income distribution remain hugely lopsided which also has to mean that significant change is more likely than ever due to unsustainable imbalances. 2014 could and should be the year in which a mandate for change not only becomes necessary, but is also implemented”.
That’s all well and good except for the fact that looking back in history, changes rarely happen even at the crossroads of a crisis. Things carry on as they always did and it’s just business as usual. The banks haven’t changed the way they do business and governments haven’t changed the way they do theirs.
Apparently, the idea behind the predictions is to make people think of the worst-case scenarios that might possible happen in the world and to be in a position to adjust investments accordingly. Hype or outlandishly canny laughable material?
How many of the predictions do you go along with?
» Volgograd Bombings Follow Saudi Threat to Attack Russia Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!
Prince Bandar warned Putin, “The Chechen groups….are controlled by us”
Paul Joseph Watson
December 30, 2013
Twin blasts targeting a train station and a trolley bus in the city of Volgograd which killed at least 31 people follow a threat by Saudi Arabia to attack Russia using Chechen terrorists if Moscow did not withdraw its support for President Assad in Syria.
The first attack took place at Volgograd-1 station on Sunday morning, killing 17 people. CCTV footage shows an orange blast behind the main doors of the station, smashing windows and sending debris out into the street. The prime suspect is a female suicide bomber.
The second attack occurred near a busy market in Volgograd’s Dzerzhinsky district. A bus packed with people on their morning commute was ripped apart by a suicide bomber, killing 14.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, suspicion immediately fell on Islamists from the North Caucasus region who routinely attack soft targets in Russia.
While the media has concentrated on the threat such groups pose to February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, no scrutiny has been given to a warning issued by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan back in August when he told Vladimir Putin that Saudi Arabia would activate the Chechen terrorist groups it controls to target Russia if Moscow refused to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
As we reported at the time, the threat was made during a closed-door meeting between Prince Bandar and Putin at the beginning of August.
According to a transcript of the comments made during the meeting by Middle Eastern news agency Al Monitor, Bandar made a series of promises and threats to Putin in return for Moscow withdrawing its support for Assad in Syria.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year,” Bandar allegedly stated, adding, “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”
Bandar made it clear that his position was supported by the US government.
This “guarantee” to stop the Chechens from attacking the Sochi Olympics was also obviously a veiled threat that if Russia did not abandon Assad, terrorist attacks would be given the green light.
Given that Russia did not abandon Assad and indeed virtually single-handedly prevented a US military strike on Syria, much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia which is the primary supplier of anti-Assad rebel jihadists, are we to believe that the Volgograd bombings are evidence of Bandar following through on his threat?
This article was posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 5:49 am
Caught On Tape: Suicide Bombing In Russia’s Fifth Largest Train Station Kills 15, One Month Ahead Of Sochi Games | Zero Hedge
Two months ago, we reported when a female suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a bus in the Russian city of Volgograd, located 400 miles northeast of Sochi where the winter Olympic games begin in just over a month.
The explosion was caught on dashcam (the video can be seen here). But more than a mere isolated terrorist incident in a region of Russia which has historically been rife with conflict between Russia and Chechen separatists, this explosion, which took place just after Russia managed to impose its will in the Syrian conflict’s outcome, and left Saudi (and Israeli) relations with the US in tatters, we reminded readers just who is the invisible hand behind all terrorist activities in proximity to Sochi: Saudi Arabia.
Recall from our commentary on the October Volgograd explosion:
Disturbing as this video is, we believe it is only going to get worse as the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics approach. Recall from “Meet Saudi Arabia’s Bandar bin Sultan: The Puppetmaster Behind The Syrian War“:
Bandar told Putin, “…The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya…. As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us…
Was today’s terrorist explosion just a warning shot ultimately funded and organized by none other than the biggest loser from the Syrian detente: Saudi Arabia, because recall that it was Saudi Arabia which orchestrated the near-US invasion after playing Obama and Kerry like a fiddle, in hopes of getting the natgas pipeline under Syria. Following the Putin-brokered peace plan, Saudi will now have to wait at least one more year before re-escalating tensions in the Syria region with hopes of installing its own puppet regime. In the meantime, is Saudi now openly lashing out at the one country that made this delay a reality. And if so, when, where and how will Putin retaliate against the country that serves as the anchor of the petrodollar system? We look forward to finding out.
It’s two months later and if indeed Bandar bin Sultan is in funding and enabling the local terrorists, then Saudi Arabia is increasingly demonstrating its displeasure with Russia, and furthermore, sending a warning to the world that the Sochi games may be hazardous to one’s health. Overnight, another almost identical explosion rocked Volgograd, when a female suicide bomber set off a bomb in one of the five largest train stations in Russia in what is a clear warning to Russia as the Winter Olympics approach.
This is what happened earlier today:
A suicide bombing has killed at least 14 people and injured over 40 in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, raising concerns about terrorism just over a month before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The train station attacked today is one of the five largest in Russia
and is a major transit point for much of southern Russia. It was unclear
whether the train station was the woman’s intended target or whether
she planned to travel elsewhere to carry out an attack.
A female bomber carried out the blast in a Volgograd train station, 400 miles from the site of the upcoming Olympics in the Russian resort town of Sochi, Russian authorities said. The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on Feb. 7. A total of 33 people were hospitalized, with eight in serious condition and one in “extremely serious condition,” Oleg Solagai, a spokesman for the Russian health ministry, told Russian news agency Rossiya24.
Authorities in Volgograd said the attack left 27 people seriously injured, and that the death toll may increase. A police officer was among the dead, and a nine-year-old girl was injured, authorities said.
A severed head found at the site of the bombing is suspected to be that of the woman who carried out the attack, making it “possible to identify her,” a Volgograd law enforcement source told the Russian news agency Interfax. Investigators have reason to believe the woman came from Russia’s Dagestan region, the source told the agency.
The bombing took place in the same city where another female suicide bomber was blamed for an attack an October bus attack that killed seven people, including the bomber. Like the October bomb attack, today’s blast was caught on camera. Surveillance video showed the exact moment the explosion took place, just inside an entranceway to the train station.
Volgograd reeled from the attack just before the New Year’s celebrations, a major holiday in Russia that would have likely meant a high amount of traffic was passing through the train station today. Yulia Chemova with Volunteers of Russia, who was at the railway station minutes after the attack to help out, told ABC News she believed the attack was planned around the New Year holiday.
“The timing for the terrorist attack in Volgograd is perfect,” she said. “It’s holiday season; airports and train stations are packed at this time of year.”
There have been 32 terrorist attacks in Russia in the year ahead of Sochi 2014, according to Kavkazskiyuzel, a Russian think tank.
The power of today’s explosion was equivalent to at least 22 pounds of TNT, and police officers averted a much larger tragedy by stopping the woman right at the entrance to the train station, according to a committee investigating the attack. Had she made it inside, a spokesman for the committee said, casualties could have reached the hundreds. Russia’s interior ministry said it would deploy more police at all rail stations in Russia and that passengers would be subject to strict security measures.
Today’s attack bore some similarities to the October bus bombing, which authorities said was also carried out by a woman from Dagestan. Russia has for years been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, a region that encompasses the restive Russian regions of Chechnya and Dagestan, as well as the Olympic host city, Sochi.
Suicide bombers, often female, from Chechnya or Dagestan and sometimes known as “black widows,” have carried out many attacks on Russian targets in the past decade, including the dual bombing of the Moscow subway in 2010 that claimed 39 lives. Female bombers from the Caucasus were also blamed for the simultaneous bombing of two Russian airplanes in 2004, an attack that killed 90 people.
And, as noted, the explosion was caught on video and can be seen below:
So, like before, if Saudi Arabia is doing its best to poke Vladimir Putin with ever escalating provocations, how long until the former KGB spy retaliates?
A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, killing at least 13 people in the second deadly attack in the space of three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.
The state Investigative Committee said the bomber detonated her explosives in front of a metal detector just inside the main entrance of Volgograd station. Footage shown on TV showed a massive orange fireball filling the hall and smoke billowing out through shattered windows.
“People were lying on the ground, screaming and asking for help,” a witness, Alexander Koblyakov, told Rossiya-24 TV.
A spokesman for Russian investigators said at least 13 people died, although the regional governor put the toll at 15.
President Vladimir Putin ordered law enforcement agencies to take all necessary measures to ensure security, RIA news agency quoted his spokesman as saying. A federal police spokesman, Vladimir Kolesnikov, said security would be stepped up at train stations and airports.
Russian Heath Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai said 42 people were wounded and that some would be flown to Moscow for treatment.
Volgograd is a city of around 1 million people, about 690 km northeast of Sochi, where the Winter Olympics — a major prestige project for Putin — will open on Feb. 7.
Formerly known as Stalingrad, it lies close to Russia’s North Caucasus, a strip of mostly Muslim provinces plagued by near-daily violence in a long-running Islamist insurgency.
Insurgent leader Doku Umarov, a Chechen warlord, urged militants in a video posted online in July to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Olympics.
An attack by a female suicide bomber killed seven people in Volgograd on Oct. 21. On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, 270 km east of Sochi.
The station was busier than usual, with people travelling home for the New Year holidays. TV footage showed emergency services carrying out victims, with at least one body lying motionless on the ground.
Another witness, Vladimir, said: “I saw melted, twisted bits of metal, broken glass and bodies lying on the street.”
Sunday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Russia’s heartland since January 2011, when Islamist insurgents killed 37 people at a Moscow airport.