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"Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands.


The Ukrainian independence movement actually predated the Stalin era. Ukraine, which measures about the size of France, had been under the domination of the Imperial Czars of Russia for 200 years. With the collapse of the Czarist rule in March 1917, it seemed the long-awaited opportunity for independence had finally arrived. Optimistic Ukrainians declared their country to be an independent People's Republic and re-established the ancient capital city of Kiev as the seat of government.


However, their new-found freedom was short-lived. By the end of 1917, Vladimir Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, sought to reclaim all of the areas formerly controlled by the Czars, especially the fertile Ukraine. As a result, four years of chaos and conflict followed in which Ukrainian national troops fought against Lenin's Red Army, and also against Russia's White Army (troops still loyal to the Czar) as well as other invading forces including the Germans and Poles.


By 1921, the battles ended with a Soviet victory while the western part of the Ukraine was divided-up among Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviets immediately began shipping out huge amounts of grain to feed the hungry people of Moscow and other big Russian cities. Coincidentally, a drought occurred."



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I Hitler hadn't been such a lunatic, he quite possibly could have beaten Stalin. When Nazi troops entered the Ukraine, they were welcomed as liberators. Statues of Lenin were toppled and Soviet commissars were hunted down and killed. Hitler could easily have had a major ally in Ukraine, but his insistence that the Slavs were an inferior people would not allow it. The SS began their usual atrocities and soon made enemies of those who had once welcomed them. But Putin has not forgotten the welcome Ukrainians gave to the invaders.



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"After Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned on December 31st, 1999, Putin became the acting President of the Russian Federation and thereby launched a nearly 15 year reign of absolute power and control. During his reign, many Russian insiders and experts believe that Putin has used his power to do a little more than improve life for the common Russian citizen. While many previously state-owned industries were privatized, Putin allegedly has used his power to build large secret ownership stakes several multi-billion dollar commodity firms. His most vocal critics assert that Putin has leveraged his power to acquire a 4.5% ownership stake in natural gas producer Gazprom, a 37% stake in oil company Surgutneftegas and 50% stake in Swiss oil-trader Gunvor. Gazprom alone does over $150 billion in revenue annually, Guvnor does $80 billion and Surgutneftegas over $20 billion. Using their most recent market capitalizations, Putin's combined ownership stakes would give him a personal net worth of $70 billion!


So what evidence is there of Putin's secret obscene fortune? Let's start with the small stuff. Putin is known to sport a $150,000 Patek Philippe watch on most occasions and his total collection has been valued at $700,000. He also has full access to a $40 million ultra-luxury yacht that features a wine cellar, Jacuzzi, helipad and outdoor barbecue area. In terms of living accommodations, Putin has access to 20 mansions throughout the world including a lavish ski lodge and Medieval castle. The crown jewel of his property portfolio is a $1 billion palace overlooking the Black Sea that he allegedly owns through an anonymous trust. Furthermore, Putin makes frequent use of 15 Presidential helicopters and more than 40 private jets, many of which feature gold plated interiors.


If Vladimir Putin's net worth truly sits at $70 billion, that would be enough to make him the third richest person on the planet right behind Bill Gates and Carlos Slim Helu (Tracfone)."



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China Isn’t Overtaking America




MAY 13, 2014



NEW YORK — A report last month that China’s economy will soon become the world’s largest has sparked worries. Normally calm observers are taking the news as a sign that China is overtaking America as an economic power.


But much as counting warships or troops often provides a misleading measure of military might, tallying up gross domestic product — the figure behind the latest headlines — yields a warped picture of China’s economic rise.


By most meaningful yardsticks, China is still less economically powerful than the United States. The problem with the new numbers starts with how they compare economies’ sizes. The World Bank tables that show China passing the United States compare the two countries using “purchasing power parity,†which measures national incomes in terms of what they can buy at home.


Because domestic spending is dominated by items such as food and housing that aren’t traded internationally, and because most goods and services are cheaper in China than in the United States, this comparison boosts China’s apparent economic strength.


Yet compared using market exchange rates, which measure incomes in terms of what they can buy on international markets (where every country pays the same price), the United States’ economy remains nearly twice as big as China’s. Indeed it is this latter measure that matters most when comparing economic power.


After all, one would never compare two countries’ military strengths on the basis of how well each could suppress a domestic rebellion rather than fight a foreign war, and one should not compare countries’ economic power on the basis of what a worker in each country can buy at home.


When American and Chinese companies bid against each other to acquire resources or companies abroad, what matters is their wealth as measured by the global market. Oil suppliers, for example, don’t care if the $100 they get for a barrel sold to China can buy more rice in a Beijing market than at a shop in New York — they care about what their revenues are worth in the world market.


Similarly, the attractiveness of the Chinese and American markets to foreign firms depends on the profits to be made in international terms, not as measured by purchasing power.


The alarmism about China surpassing America also ignores the critical role of political and institutional strength and flexibility. One wouldn’t compare countries’ arsenals while ignoring their different states of disrepair — yet Chinese G.D.P. numbers ignore severe pollution problems that are driving successful Chinese abroad. Nor would one compare numbers of aircraft or troops without asking about the training, doctrine and organization necessary to mobilize them effectively in combat. China faces real challenges translating its economic resources into international influence.


The need to maintain political stability and the Communist Party’s grip on power constrains what the Chinese government can do to capitalize on the country’s economic heft. The difficulty of getting recalcitrant provincial and local governments to enforce Beijing’s edicts can make it tough for China to take full advantage of its economic power. The Chinese government, for example, has tried to forge packages of infrastructure and resource investment in strategically attractive developing countries, only to have the Chinese companies that would need to implement the schemes refuse to participate.


Certainly, China has its advantages. There are some things that matter for international power — notably military personnel — that can be paid for domestically, making lower Chinese prices (and wages) a meaningful advantage.


The American market may be larger than China’s, but China’s is growing more rapidly, often creating more new opportunities for international firms. And Washington faces political and institutional constraints just like Beijing does. America’s economy can’t compete with a state-dominated behemoth when it comes to rewarding favored partners with economic opportunities. And the United States is less able to direct its outward commerce toward political ends than China is: Beijing is more capable, for example, of persuading Sinopec to pursue geopolitically attractive investments than Washington is of mobilizing ExxonMobil.


Twenty-first century rivalry between the United States and China will be as much about economic might as military power. Judging the economic balance correctly will be as essential a foundation for effective international strategy as proper assessment of the military balance was during the Cold War. Avoiding overreaction in the face of the latest headlines about China’s economic triumph would be a great place to start.




Michael A. Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is co-author of “By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World.â€




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