Russian Tanks in Ukraine

•20/11/2014 • Leave a Comment

Despite all the protests to the contrary, there are indeed Russian troops operating alongside rebel forces in Eastern Ukraine. The exact number is difficult to determine but there are several thousand, with some estimates as high as 15,000 or more. While they arrive across the border from Russia in unmarked tanks, armoured carriers, and modern trucks, it is clear that they are part of organized operations to assist Russian rebels in the dismembering of Ukraine.

Russian president Vladimir Putin left the G20 Summit in Australia early after encountering strong criticisms from his world counterparts. In typical fashion, he denied the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine, just as he had at first denied any Russian military presence in Moldova, Georgia and Crimea. However, the denial act is just that, an act, and it is getting a bit old. Nobody is fooled anymore, except perhaps those who would rather fool themselves.

When Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper greeted Mr. Putin at the G20, he reluctantly said,“Well I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,” Harper’s spokeperson Jason MacDonald confirmed that the Canadian PM had only reluctantly extended a handshake to the Russian leader.

In that spirit, the British Embassy in Kyiv (Kiev) tweeted a handy guide on how to spot which tanks belong to the Russian army. The tweet was a jab at the Kremlin, and rightly so. The hashtag read “ still denying ’s troops & hardware are in . Here’s a guide to help the spot its tanks:

Guide to Russian tanks

Even with hundreds of videos posted on UStream,YouTube, RUTube and other social media sites such as vkontake, the Kremlin seems to think that if they deny their military presence in Ukraine long enough, at some point the world will accept a lie as truth. Nothing could be further from reality.

Here is a civilian video recording of an unmarked Russian military convoy entering the Ukrainian city of Donetsk on the first of November:

The presence of organized Russian troops in Ukraine has continually escalated since this past summer. This video was filmed by Ukrainian civilians riding a public transit trolleybus near Luhansk:

Will we see a further push by Russia to establish a land-bridge to Crimea by carving up more Ukrainian territory?

Only time will tell.

Follow the Mendeleyev Journal on Twitter at: Mendeleyev Journal@Russianreport

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Russian Language Tips

•20/11/2014 • Leave a Comment

Russian language

One of our favourite tasks at the Mendeleyev Journal is to help aspiring students learn more about the Russian language. That being said, we invite readers to take advantage of our resources here at the Journal:

- The Cyrillic alphabet.

- Russian grammar.

- The Mendeleyev Journal directory of Russian language resources.

- Learning to read Russian signs.

- Learning Russian words and phrases.

- Learn all about Russian names.

Another great way to gain understanding of the Russian language is via localized sources and in this edition we turn to Sophia Tupolev. Sophia is a Russian-American, a seasoned expat in Moscow, and founder/director of the Russian Conversation Club. The club meets each Sunday, by advance invitation, and gives participants the opportunity to practice using the language in a friendly setting.

Sophia is also the Russia representative for American Citizens Abroad, an expat rights group, and most of all she is a fluent speaker of the language. We really enjoyed her recent article in the Moscow Expat Life magazine titled, Five Key Russian Words to Unlock the Soul.

Sophia suggests that the five words to unlock the Russian soul include Ремонт (pronounced reh-mont) meaning ‘renovations.’  Завтра (pronounced zavtra) means ‘tomorrow.’ Можно (pronounced mozhno) means ‘May I’ or ‘You may.’ Дача (pronounced dacha) meaning ‘country house” and the fifth word is Maмa (pronounced mah-mah), the woman who brought you into this world.

Sophia explains these terms and their unique place in Russian language, and the mysterious Russian soul. You may read the full article here.

If you’d like to know more about the Russian Conversation Club, check out the video below:

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Ukraine Elections: Voters Continue to Turn West

•28/10/2014 • Leave a Comment
Ukraine elections

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko spent election day with troops in the East.

From the Guardian Liberty Voice:

Ukrainian voters continue to look west, choosing to elect a new parliament that gives President Petro Poroshenko the opportunity to form a government committed to continuing the process of looking westward, as much of the country seeks to adopt European standards and values. Exit polling on Sunday indicated that Poroshenko will be shed of the former Party of Regions dominated parliament of ousted ex-president Viktor Yanukovich.

Ukrainian voters also rejected the idea of a majority of hard-line nationalist leaders, preferring instead to allow those minorities to have a place in parliament, ut without control. Polling data indicates that the People’s Front party of Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, a Poroshenko ally, also did well in the voting. Ukraine’s parliament is called the Verkhovna Rada, or Rada for short, a single-house legislative body with 450 seats.

Most of the three million residents living in the contested Eastern republics claimed by pro-Russian rebels were not allowed the opportunity to vote.

Read the entire article here.

As preliminary numbers began to emerge, President Poroshenko made a statement thanking Ukrainians for participating in the election, saying that he had asked citizens to vote for a democratic, pro-Ukrainian, reform-minded and pro-European majority. He thanked voters for hearing him and supporting his call.

Poroshenko had flown by helicopter to the town of Kramatorsk, a city recently liberated from pro-Russian rebels. He inspected two polling stations after first visiting fortified installations where members of the Ukrainian army are still fighting to liberate Ukrainian citizens in the area.

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First snow of 2014 – Первый снег

•19/10/2014 • Leave a Comment

first snow a In some Russian traditions, the first snow is delivered by angels; special angels sprinkle the first snow over a town or area. So, it was a pleasant exchange yesterday when a reader sent along a “first snow” greeting from Saint Petersburg.

To outsiders it may be difficult to understand why Russians welcome the beginning of winter weather. Oh, to be sure, we lament the ending of pleasant summer weather and the activities that we can enjoy in summer. But, the first signs of winter remind us that before too long the New Year will arrive. The New Year celebration is our favourite holiday.

Then today another reader, this one from Kirov, announced their first snow. A few hours later a reader from Nizhniy Novgorod informed us of snow there. Just before our publishing deadline we received reports of snow in Murmansk, Yaroslavl, and Astana. Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan. So, with this many reports of Первый снег, could this be the start of a trend?

For readers who study Russian language, this is a good time to acquaint you with some key Russian winter phrases:

Русская зима = “Russian winter” and sounds like Rus-skaya zi-MAh.

Первый снег = “First snow” and this sounds like pyer-viy synek.

Another favourite tradition is to thoroughly clean house rugs with the first good coat of snow. A common practice is to gather up those small rugs from inside an apartment, and take them outside to be cleaned in the snow. Some housewives hang their rugs out to catch the snow, but more often you can see rugs being laid  face down on the show, and then a good “beating” with a broom is administered. While this may seem superstitious to some, the snow that was under the rugs does get quite dirty in the process–so perhaps there is some logic to the practice.

With that, we will join the refrain and wish you С первым снегом (with the first snow!).

 первым снегом = "first snow."

первым снегом = “first snow.”



Photo: Olga Strakhova in Nizhniy Novgorod.

Photo: Olga Strakhova reported the first snow in Nizhniy Novgorod.


More Russian Orthodox Media Choices

•06/10/2014 • Comments Off

moscow 2 237 edIt is nice to see that the number and quality of Russian Orthodox media choices is growing. To serve readers, we have updated our page on Orthodox media and invite you to visit–and listen!

The Mendeleyev Journal Orthodox media page is here.

Are Sanctions Against Russia Working?

•02/10/2014 • Comments Off


A common question is whether the sanctions against Russia are working. So, are they? In a word, yes. During a Moscow investment conference in Moscow on Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin told attendees “…conditions have become more complicated, but, as I have already said, this stimulates us to concentrate our resources and choose the best solutions, to achieve our goals in the shortest possible time and to work more efficiently in all areas.”

When Mr. Putin says that conditions are more complicated, even he is admitting that sanctions are having an impact. As to inflation, at least in part caused by retaliatory sanctions that Russia has levied against the West, Putin tried to deflect the issue by saying that inflation was really only in the food sectors and therefore very limited. His own admission on inflation however, is revealing: “…by the end of the year it will be around 7.5-7.6, about 8 percent, which is higher than last year (it was 6.5 percent in 2013).”

Certainly one can read forums and articles in which so-called experts claim that Russia will be just fine, and that the West will be the real loser at the end of the day. Wrong. Fools are born every minute, and some have the titles or positions of experts, but that does not change their foolishness. Most of those “experts” have spent little time in Russia.

When one looks at the issue of agriculture and food, in some sectors Russian dacha owners still give professional farms a run for their money. In the month after many European and North American food products were banned, the average Russian shrugged it as if they could survive without those things. They can of course, but over time we are sensing that they do not want to do without certain things in life.

But it is not just food that has been impacted, as rising monetary inflation is felt by every Russian, but as of yet has been left largely unspoken. The loss of purchasing power is having an impact as the government has made a conscious decision to use its only real assets against Europe: oil and gas. The Ruble has fallen over 20 percent this year against the dollar. That impacts every aspect of life from a trip to the market, to a trip overseas. Inflation or currency devaluation have the same net result–chipping away at the purchasing power for consumers.


The Russian government claims that sanctions will drive the economy to become more independent. Self reliance from the West was the same sad song during the Soviet period, and that didn’t work out too well then, either. The definition of insanity remains the same–the idea of doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. Russia could well develop a more robust agrarian economic sector, but Russia must fundamentally change in order for a truly grassroots economic base to develop and mature.

It was the American founding father Thomas Jefferson who said that farmers are “the most valuable citizens.” Jefferson understood that hard work, unconstrained by a suffocating government, was the best way to build a self-reliant and sustainable local economy. It is a lesson that our Russian friends have yet to learn.

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Where the USA is — there is sorrow and death.

•29/09/2014 • 4 Comments

Russia, Ukraine

“Where the USA–there is sorrow and death.” Don’t shoot the messenger, but just as the message is disturbing, it is also accurate.

Just as unsettling is where the message originated: a prominent Ukrainian website that has long partnered with the West for democratic change in Eastern Europe. It is a turn in attitude which may well represent a sad reality settling in for Ukrainians who had hoped that the West/USA would stand with them in time of trouble.

Top line: “Where the USA–there is sorrow and death.” Sad, but as one who has been all over the world, there has never been a truer statement about my country. We used to be a beacon of hope to the world, but for at least a couple of decades we’ve been running on fumes from the past. We are not a beacon of hope today, and have not been for quite some time. Unfortunately, we still have the power to stir up trouble.

There are five columns, top to bottom, three rows. Column one is Moldova. The USA actively championed Moldova to turn West after the collapse of the USSR, and Moldova did, with a lot of encouragement from the CIA–only to be abandoned by the USA when a larger neighbor (Russia) decided to stop that progress. Those scenes in column one are real.

Column two is Chechnya. When the USSR collapsed, they wanted to be independent again, just like so many other former Soviet republics. They have oil, so of course the USA/CIA got into the mix. Two wars later, several hundred thousand civilians had died and today this Islamic republic is tightly controlled by Moscow. The USA switched sides after “9-11″ as we thought that it was in our interest to partner with Putin to fight terrorists. Those scenes are real.

Column three is Dagestan. You likely know Dagestan from the Boston Marathon bombing, as that is where the Tsarnaev brothers were from. Dagestan is another Russian republic that wanted to regain independence from the Soviet demise. The USA quietly encouraged and aided, right up to the 1999 war with Russia. We then just as quietly exited, leaving the Dagestan people to fend for themselves against a vastly superior army. Those scenes are what really happened.

Column four is the country of Georgia. They did manage to leave the USSR, and the USA has been very active in Georgian politics ever since. When Russia decided to teach them a lesson in 2008, we pounded on the table and screamed from the mountaintops–and Georgia is a very mountainous country–but we did nothing when Russia invaded. Yes, those scenes are accurate.

Column five is Ukraine. The current administration, as stupid and useless as previous administrations, sent lots of “help” from the CIA to a parade of US Senators and cabinet officials. McCain and Nuland, damn you both, and please retire and stop running your mouths while pretending to know things that you really don’t. We tapped in to the desire of the Ukrainian people to be free. Apparently we thought that turning Ukraine over to the EU would be a cakewalk. Oops, epic fail.

Both the previous and current administrations pursued the so-called “domino theory” in which we could assist in triggering pro-democracy “spring” movements, and then step back to let the locals succeed in changing things. That doesn’t work too well when locals are left with little more than baseball bats to challenge tanks.

Both the previous and current administrations were/are dominated by naive and largely ignorant wonks, with no idea of what they started. The only difference between the former and the present is the increased effort to aid Islamic movements. Islam at the core is totally non-democratic, and any hope that we can pull such societies out of the 7th century and into modern life, is either grossly naive, or worse, purposeful.

Just like we abandoned the Czechs in 1956 and again in 1968, we rarely finish what we’ve started: Bay of Pigs or Vietnam, anyone? The question that many in the world ask today is: Why bother to stir up and start something that you don’t have the stomach to finish? In case we’ve ruffled a few feathers with this post, please don’t be offended when reminded that given our track record, the world has the right to question our motives…and our resolve.

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