The Anonymous Widower

Does President Putin Speak English?

I’ve wondered this for a few months and this article on Newsweek, which is entitled Does Putin Speak English? After Trump Meeting, The Kremlin Weighs in.

This is the first paragraph.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been praising Donald Trump’s listening skills last week but on Monday, his own abilities as a good speaker were receiving plaudits. Putin’s English, seldom heard by western audiences, is good enough to correct his translators, according to the man hired to speak on Putin’s behalf.

I think we can take the answer as yes!

April 15, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Putin: I Never Have Off-Days, I’m Not A Woman

This is the title of an article in The Times.

Any suggestions, as to who else might say the same thing?

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Russian Sex Workers Are World’s Best, Boasts Putin

This is the second headline on the front page of The Times today.

I suppose as President Putin is an important Russian, he should have access to all the statistics and know the truth!

I certainly won’t be arguing with him or going to Moscow to give the city’s highly-rated sex workers a personal rating!

January 18, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Russia ‘secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking’

The title of this post is not taken from some right-wing scandal sheet, but from this article in The Guardian.

I have an open mind on fracking, but keep these facts in mind.

  • A lot of the bad stories about fracking originate in the United States, where quite frankly a lot of get-rich-quick cowboys got involved in the process, in a manner that would be illegal in the EU and the UK.
  • The largest on-shore oil-field in Western Europe is Wytch Farm, which is close to Corfe Castle. I can’t find a report of any environmental damage around this oil-field, since production started in 1979. This proves to me, that we can extract oil and gas safely on-shore over a long period, which in Wytch Farm’s case is without fracking.
  • We have some of the best engineering Universities in the world and we should use them to develop better ways of extracting, transporting and processing oil and gas. A big project involving several European universities called SHEER, is looking at fracking on a Polish site.
  • Remember that if we need to import gas from outside Europe, we deal with countries with impeccable human rights like Qatar, Russia or the United States.
  • Fracking techniques are used in the Highlands of Scotland to extract water out of rock.
  • We need a lot of gas to keep us warm in winter.

I may have an open mind, but no-one could deny, that if Western Europe obtained the gas it needs from fracking or perhaps by finding a massive conventional gas field onshore in the UK, that the biggest loser would be Russia and President Putin.

 

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August 7, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China

This article on Global Rail News is entitled DB and Georgian Railways to cooperate on new Silk Road rail corridor.

It described how Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railways have signed an agreement to develop a new rail freight route between the Far East and Europe.

This map from the article, shows the various rail routes across Eurasia and how the new Silk Road will fit in.

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

I think the most interesting thing about the new route, is that it doesn’t go through Russia.

Vladimir Putin will not be amused!

If you read the Wikipedia entry for Georgian Railways, it does list a few problems, but it would appear that the route across Georgia is being upgraded to Standard Gauge all the way from the Turkish border to Almaty in Kazakhstan.

With Germany, Turkey and Europe at the Western end and China at the Eastern end both predominately Standard Gauge, I think that this route will be all the same gauge.

When this happens, trains will be able to go straight through, with perhaps just a change of locomotive.

How long will it be before, an enthusiastic entrepreneur starts to run a passenger service between Europe and China. Trans-Siberian Express eat your heart out!

Vladimir Putin will be even less amused!

If DB can build the Standard Gauge railway through to China via Georgia, it will give the following benefits.

  • Services will be faster than the Russian routes.
  • There will no change of gauge, which means unloading one train and loading another.
  • If the line is electrified, this will make the route more efficient.
  • Freight will move smoothly across Asia avoiding the pariah that is Russia.
  • The route avoids the more volatile parts of the Middle East.
  • Countries on the route like Serbia, Turkey, Georgia and Kazahkstan will surely benefit.
  • The route will surely be more accessible to Southern European countries, than the current Russian routes.

It is undoubtedly a good plan.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Game Were Corbyn And Milne Playing?

To sabotage the Labour party’s support for Remain, as I detailed in For The Female Of The Species Is More Deadly Than The Male, seems to me a very strange thing for Seamus Milne and Jeremy Corbyn to do.

Most commentators felt that by voting Leave, it would put the country into a recession. Other commentators have stated that the EU needs the UK as a balance to Germany.

My father old me about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin , which he felt was two equally bad regimes supping together. To him, there was no difference between the extreme left and the extreme right and let’s face it Stalin’s Russia was as bad at killing people as Hitler’s Germany.

So in some ways to me, this seems like two of the hard left , have deliberately aided those to the right to remove the UK from the EU.

Perhaps, they are hoping that this will cause the EU to collapse!

And who would benefit from that?

Vladimir Putin.

I hope I’m wrong.

Certainly the pair of them have destroyed any credibility the Labour Party had left!

 

June 26, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 8 Comments

Putin And Europe’s Far Right

There was a headline in The Times yesterday of Le Pen’s party asks Russia for €27m loan.

So I searched for Putin’s links to far right parties and found this article in the Guardian entitled We should beware Russia’s links with Europe’s right. This is said.

It sounds like a chapter from a cheesy spy novel: far-right European party, in financial trouble, borrows a big sum of cash from a hawkish Russian president. His goal? To undermine the European Union and to consolidate ties between Moscow and the future possible leader of pro-Kremlin France.

Europe isn’t the problem! It’s Putin and Russia!

February 20, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Railways In North East Poland

Look at this Google Map of the Polish town of Goldap, where we stopped for supplies on our holiday.

Goldap

Goldap

Just to the North of the main road, it appears that there is the recognisable scar of a multiple-track railway.

Our Polish guide confirmed that Goldap had a large station with several platforms, and that it is still there.

Until the end of the Second World War, this area was East Prussia and was part of Germany. The railways were connected to the Prussian Eastern Railway, which connected Berlin to the major East Prussian city of Koningsberg. The Prussian Eastern Railway still exists as far as Braniewo on the Polish side of the Border, but there doesn’t appear to be a rail connection onward to Kaliningrad as Koningsberg is now called. This Google Map shows the area from Braniewo in Poland to Mamonova in Russia.

Braniewo To Mamonova

Braniewo To Mamonova

The white line across the map is the border.

You can pick out the old railway from Braniewo to Mamonova.

If we lived in a sane and reasonable world, which I’m afraid that President Putin doesn’t, it would appear that some form of direct rail connection could be created, which would connect Russia and the Baltic States to Poland.

There is the problem of gauge as like Spain, Ireland and India, Russian railways don’t use the same gauge as everybody else. At one time the platforms in Kaliningrad-Passazhirsky station, were arranged so that those facing Poland were standard gauge and the others were Russian gauge.

As a train enthusiast, wouldn’t it be nice to travel from Berlin to Kaliningrad by luxury train, spend some hours in the city, before taking a train on to St. Petersburg.

It would sadly appear that Putin doesn’t have the commercial nous to run the Russian equivalent of a whelk stall.

It is a long term ambition of the European Union to connect the Baltic States and Finland to the rest of the European Union by rail, they have funded the creation of Rail Baltica. This map shows the route.

Rail Baltica

Rail Baltica

 

The objectives are broadly as follows.

  • Build a 200 kph double-track standard gauge railway all the way.
  • By-pass Russia and Belarus.
  • Put a lot of the extensive freight traffic in the area on the railway rather than the roads.

The overall aim is to finish by 2025, although rumours persist that the section from Warsaw to Kaunas in Lithuania could open this year.

An interesting take on the project is given by this article on the Latvia Public Broadcasting web site, which is entitled Rail Baltica hits buffers at Polish border. This is said.

Even though Poland has allotted €16 billion to modernizing its railroads by 2023, not a single zloty has been earmarked to be spent on developing the connection to Rail Baltica at the Polish side of the border with Lithuania. Without this 200-kilometer section, the planned high-speed European gauge rail from Tallinn through Rīga through Kaunas won’t be connected with the rest of Europe, reported LSM’s Russian-language site on Friday.

It does appear that the section between Bialystok and Trakiszki isn’t up to scratch.

There is an interesting take on Rail Baltica in this article on a blog, which is entitled Rail Baltica Project Directed against Russia’s Security, Pavlovsky Says. This is said.

The Rail Baltica project, eventually intended to link Berlin with Helsinki via Poland and the three Baltic countries is “extremely doubtful from an economic point of view” but has obvious security implications for the region and Russia’s interests there, according to Moscow commentator Igor Pavlovsky.

            The project, which will allow trains to pass from one end of the line to the other without changing from Western to Russian gage track, may never carry as many passengers or as much freight as its boosters claim, he writes on Regnum.ru; but it can carry troops and materiel from the West to the border of Russia.

Ever since I first heard of Rail Baltica, I’ve been rather surprised on the silence from Putin and his merry thugs!

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Up Yours, Putin!

I tend to think that the reports of doping by Russia’s athletes, like this report in the Guardian entitled How Russian athletics’ rotten system built a wall to conceal doping and deceit, could be more significant politically. than anybody thinks. After all it follows a very similar pattern to their dealings with Ukraine and other former Soviet possessions, where Russia thinks itself to be able to ignore the standards of the rest of the World.

They should be banned from the Olympics in Rio!

I also suspect that the bombing of the airliner in Egypt was not deliberately targeted at a Russian plane. If that is the case, as some experts have said, it was Putin’s bad luck and our good!

The sooner Putin is removed from power, the better it will be for everyone. Except perhaps for a few Russian oligarchs!

My father, who was a very strong anti-dictator and anti-fascist would rate Putin alongside Hitler and Stalin.

He would have laughed like a drain at Peter Brookes cartoon in The Times, where Putin is shown laying a wreath sfter the air crash, with a speech bubble of “What sort of a rat blows hundreds of innocent civilians out of the sky?” As he turns to walk away, you can see his rodent’s tail.

Is liking cartoons in my genes?

November 10, 2015 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Is Iceland Part Of The Solution To The Problem Of Russia?

Putin’s Russia is increasingly becoming a problem to the rest of the world, as the events in Ukraine show. I’ve also been to Poland recently and talking to Poles, some are getting quite worried about Russian intentions.

We may impose sanctions on the Russians, but the real problem with our relationship, is that many countries in Europe are highly dependent on Russian gas. Germany is especially dependent and has the direct Nord Stream link through the Baltic.

But how do we replace all of that gas?

We already have a Langeled pipeline from the UK to Norway, the Interconector to Belgium and the RBL pipeline to the Netherlands. We are also importing compressed natural gas from the Middle East. We may also see the benefits of fracking in the next few years. So as far as the UK and our near Continental neighbours are concerned, it’s probably a case of “I’m Alright, Jack”

Gas may be a cleaner fuel, than the coal the Germans are rushing to use, but it still is a fossil fuel, although it only generates about forty percent of the CO2, that coal does when you burn it.

On my trip to Iceland, I saw how you could use geothermal and hydro-electric power to create heat and electricity to power a country and energy consumptive industries like aluminium production and data centres.

But they could generate a lot more and that zero-carbon electricity could be plugged into the European electricity grid. A project called Icelink has been proposed that would link Iceland to the UK and onward to Europe.

There is even plans on the drawing board in other parts of the world, where electricity is used to convert aluminium oxide or bauxite to aluminium in a smelter. The aluminium is then transported to where you need more electricity and then burned in a conventional power station to generate that power. After burning the aluminium is turned into oxide, which is then shipped back to be re-smelted into metal. It sounds crazy, but get the designs right and it might well be financially feasible and considerably cheaper than laying an undersea cable.

Connecting all of Western Europe’s gas and electricity systems together will allow everybody to share resources to mutual advantage.

If we do bring Iceland into this network, it will all help to make Russia’s abundant energy unnecessary and give Putin the cold shoulder, he deserves.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment