Who Is Saker? – Margaret Steinfels

Just a brief diversion from more important matters: Who is Saker as in "The Vineyard of the Saker." As a regular reader of SST, I followed the link posted by (can't remember) to the site way back when the Crimea was still part of Ukraine. Every now and again, I look again. I found him/her/it fascinating and informative at first; now not so much. Hence, my question: Who? And What? is Saker?

–Margaret Steinfels


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96 Responses to Who Is Saker? – Margaret Steinfels

  1. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think he is a Russian equivalent to a Western neocon, of the sincere variety.
    The perspective seems intelligent enough when it’s new, but it gets tiring and repetitive, not to mention too tinged in overactive nationalism/bias very quickly.
    It may be worth a read to gleam what “the other side of the hill” might be thinking and how they are arriving at their conclusions, but not something to be relied on for “real” information value.

  2. nick b says:

    From the Saker himself:
    “While I do not distrust any specific person amongst you, I am trying to keep my “thin anonymity” up as long as possible. Once my read identity comes up (which I know will happen sooner or later), it will be a major distraction and a pain in the a** for me to deal with. I want to keep focusing on issues and topics, not personalities. If I start accepting money orders or checks even this very “thin” anonymity of mine will go down the tubes real fast.”
    “The fact is that I am the proverbial “armchair strategist”, with all the flaws which derive from that situation. This weakness is partially mitigated by the fact that I used to be a *professionally trained* armchair strategist: this is the guy who in peace time sits at the top floor of a sombre looking building and who in war time sits very deep inside a bunker. He rarely wears a uniform, even more rarely combat fatigues, but he is always surrounded by lots of electronics and communication gear and each morning he gets a big pile of paper and secure emails which he plows through and then works with big databases to assess the data which just came in to evaluate it. The closest he ever gets to a firing tank or artillery piece is on his computer screen, usually during command-staff exercises. You know the type, right? In Russian they are called “staff rats/bitch” (shtabnaia krysa/suka, штабная крыса/сука). Not a very popular type with the frontline folks. The polite word of us is simply “analyst”.”

  3. nick b says:

    My apologies, I forgot to add the attribution.
    One other data point, FWIW, the Saker at one point, played jazz guitar.

  4. The beaver says:

    I have been following him on and off since the beginning.
    From all these yrs, I believe that he is someone from the ME/Maghreb (or origins are from) who happens to be very fluent in Russian (or may be he did a stint in one of its Universities) and works either in the dept of political affairs of an organisation or govt agency.
    If I am not mistaken, in addition of Russian, he does speak French and also does know a bit about Iran.
    His own words: >

  5. The beaver says:

    Oops I forgot to add that since the beginning he was asking Americans not to trust Obama and whilst the DEMs nomination was still in play in 2007, he wrote this:

  6. William Herschel says:

    He is deeply religious, and I believe that colors his views.
    “I therefore want to ask you for your understanding and patience with me. Even if I do quote the Scripture or make religious references, please judge what I write at its face value and don’t let your past experiences obscure my message… I am just a guy how happens to be very religious and whose religion is really ancient and different from anything you have seen in your life. I am not asking you to endorse or accept that religion of mine, only to let me speak the way I normally do, without trying to look or sound like somebody else.
    In other words, let them be them and let me be me. I am a Russian Orthodox Christian, of a very traditionalist kind of persuasion and I have nothing, really absolutely nothing at all, in common with the rest of them. Please accept me as I am and judge me for what I do. That, I think, would be only reasonable and fair.
    Many thanks for your understanding and kind regards,
    The Saker”

  7. Peggy says:

    Is he just a bright Russian-knowing high school sophomore? Or Vladmir Putin’s doppelganger? I found his, “What! I can raise funds here?” charmingly griftish.
    The nationalistic, chauvinistic analysis he provides about western Ukrain is perfectly mirrored in his own comments. Are they all nationalists? And chauvinists?

  8. Valissa says:

    I have been very curious about The Saker as well, and have been reading his blog since last year. He has given tidbits here and there, and in a couple of posts (see links below) has given quite a bit of info on his background.
    Off the top of my head, he lives in Florida, he is of Russian descent but his family were anti-Soviet dissidents who left. At one point he was a military analyst during the Kosovo war, and very pro-war, pro-West until some of his experiences during that war changed him and he left that profession in disgust. He was anti-Soviet but has gradually become pro-Putin. He gets a bit effusive about his Orthodox Christianity sometimes (he is studying for a theology masters degree or something along those lines), and despite his realism and pessimism in some respects is surprisingly idealistic (about political change, etc) in others.
    Saker gives some of his background here…
    Answer to a russophobic bigot http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/03/answer-to-russophobic-bigot.html
    He mentions about his military analyst background “And while during the Bosnian war I could get UNPROFOR intelligence delivered to me every morning, now I only have access to public, and mostly unreliable and uninteresting, sources.” http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2012/07/us-subversion-model-bosnia-v4-kosovo-v3.html
    “Before the war in Bosnia I had heard the phrase “truth is the first casualty of war” but I had never imagined that this could be quite so literally true. Frankly, this war changed my entire life and resulted in a process of soul-searching for me which ended up pretty much changing my politics by 180 degrees. This is a long and very painful story which I do not want to discuss here, but I just want to say that this difference between what I was reading in the press and in the UNPROFOR reports ended up making a huge difference in my entire life. Again, NOT A SINGLE ASPECT OF THE OFFICIAL NARRATIVE WAS TRUE, not one. You would get much closer to the truth if you basically did a “negative” of the official narrative.”

  9. The beaver says:

    Believe he is married and even has a child or children.

  10. Joe100 says:

    Please post the rest of your comment!

  11. The Twisted Genius says:

    As someone who also wishes to maintain my own thin veneer of anonymity, I have no desire to unmask the Saker. Out of courtesy, I won’t speculate or analyze.

  12. The beaver says:

    What he said about HR Clinton:
    “Hillary Clinton, the party’s leading contender for the presidential nomination, out-neocons many Republicans when it comes to Iran”

  13. The beaver says:

    I am a “legal alien”

  14. Bhagwhan says:

    An anti Semite who although he always claims to be hard up for cash, him and his kids always seem to enjoy expensive holidays

  15. FB Ali says:

    “…if I am not mistaken, in addition of Russian, he does speak French….”
    He claims he does much more than that: “Here are the languages which I can read more or less decently: very easily: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and English, of course. With some difficulties Portuguese, and Dutch. Slowly and preferably with the help of a machine translator, can also understand a text written in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Afrikaans, Slovak and Macedonian”.

  16. Grieved says:

    As an American I deeply appreciate the flavor of Russian culture and principles that comes from Saker’s blog. One of those principles we Americans used to share I think is a decent respect for another’s privacy and space.
    Personally it pleases me to know nothing about Saker and not to be curious to know more. I tremendously value his perspective and his community of commenters who as peers also offer tremendous experience and analytic judgment. As with the Moon of Alabama blog, I find Saker’s disciplined insistence on “topic-of-discussion and not persona” very rewarding. I would hate to see personality destroy this.

  17. Medicine Man says:

    I have only perused his writing sparingly. He had some good observations during the early days of the Crimean crisis, observations that mirrored/supported those made by people on SST who’s opinions I respect. On the other hand, following his blog for any length of time will reveal a tangible streak of Russophilia (tagline on his blog: Russia stands for Freedom). He has strong biases and does not hide them. While I agree with many of his observations about the clueless perfidy of the West I don’t think it is impossible that he may be a PR-person of some sort.

  18. steve says:

    I’ve read him for several years, off and on.
    He’s certainly enigmatic and one of a kind, even by internet standards, at least imho.
    I agree with the poster who stated that his take on things is overly Russian nationalistic. But I still find him interesting.

  19. All,
    I think nick b and Valissa make crucial points.
    The one qualification I would make is that if I recall right, ‘the Saker’ portrays himself as coming from an old Russian military family – and his more immediate roots would be in the post-1917 emigration, rather than the dissident movement.
    Late Tsarist Russia consisted of a thin ‘westernised’ stratum, on top of an extremely ‘unwesternised’ population. That thin stratum was deeply divided. So ‘authoritarian modernisers’ who served the Tsar were commonly suspicious of ‘liberals’, arguing that in the Russian context, the kind of Western-style reforms these wanted would play into the hands of the ‘radicals’ within the ‘westernised stratum’, and unleash a social revolution. This happened.
    In 1917, the ‘authoritarian modernisers’ split in very unpredictable ways. There were even those – including some of the best of the Tsarist General Staff officers, like Aleksandr Svechin – who joined the Bolsheviks: probably on the basis that these had become the only force that could prevent an irretrievable disintegration of Russia.
    Others of course were bitterly anti-communist, went into emigration, and not uncommonly became, after 1945, among the most ardent of ‘Cold Warriors’.
    By the mid-Eighties, it had become clear to intelligent people within the Soviet elite – including, critically, many in the security services – that the Bolshevik Revolution had led Russia into a complete blind alley. At that point, both such people and the descendants of émigrés very commonly believed that the enemy for the West in the Cold War had been communism – so that the West was unequivocally in the right.
    Politically, the ideological heirs of the pre-1917 liberals were in the ascendant. More reflective people, however, realised that some of the same reasons which had made the ‘authoritarian modernists’ sceptical of the liberals decades earlier still applied. Such people increasingly looked back not simply to figures like Stolypin, but to the intellectuals of the ‘Landmarks’ symposium of 1909, who had repudiated the ideas of the ‘radicals’.
    Quite naturally, they also looked back to figures in the emigration, such as Ivan Ilyin, who had reflected on how Russia might emerge from the dead end into which the Revolution had led it.
    (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vekhi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Ilyin )
    As anyone who bothers to read what Putin writes – as few in the West appear to want to do – should be aware, it is precisely such people to whom he repeatedly harks back. There is thus a natural basis for a rapprochement between the current leaders of Russia and people of the background from which ‘the Saker’ claims – I think quite honestly – to come.
    A further element is that Western policy since 1989 has caused both these elements to rethink the assumption that the essential enemy of the West in the Cold War was communism, and come increasingly to the view that the actual enemy was not so much Soviet Russia, but Russia as such.
    Ideologically, ‘the Saker’ represents a radical version of this view, which takes up the Huntingdon thesis of a ‘clash of civilisations’, and argues that the ‘Papist’ world – that shaped by Western Christianity – is ultimately implacably hostile to the world of the Orthodox Christian East. Bound up with this is his sympathy and identification with sections of the Muslim world, notably the Shiite Muslim world. In turn, this is bound up with the definition of ‘the AngloZionist Empire’ as the central adversary.
    For my own part, there are two reasons why I find ‘the Saker’ of great interest. One is that he is someone used to Western audiences presenting a range of ideological positions which are I think increasingly influential in Russia, and indeed elsewhere. The other is that his ‘intelligence’ on what has been happening in Ukraine has in my view been rather good.
    To me, his writing reads like the work of the kind of figure he says he is: a trained military intelligence analyst exploiting the explosion in the availability of publicly available information on the internet over the past years. And indeed, in recent weeks he has been using his readership to broaden the range of public sources on which he can draw.
    Whether is the case, as he claims, that he now only has access to ‘public, and most unreliable and uninteresting, sources’, seems to me however an open question. Precisely the kind of rapprochement I have postulated between the current regime in Russia and figures from the emigration means that such figures may become available as channels by which the regime can influence Western opinion. That said, I think it would be foolish to conclude that, if ‘the Saker’ does have Russian intelligence sources, he is likely to be being used to channel disinformation.
    The most recent Russian ‘information war’ successes have come as a result of truthful claims supported by hard evidence – notably the leaks of conversations between Nuland and Pyatt, and Paet and Ashton, and also perhaps the sarin samples supplied to the British laboratory at Porton Down.
    The reputation for credibility which ‘the Saker’ has acquired, because much of his information has turned out accurate, is a valuable asset to them, irrespective of whether they are using him as a channel. It would thus be quite likely, in my view, that if they are feeding him information, it would be accurate information. Disinformation would be fed through other channels.

  20. Grieved! Sorry but it was not respect for privacy but fear that was the driver for Russian solitude.

  21. Peggy says:

    Thanks for that extended history and analysis. Sounds plausible. In any case, you clarify for me what generally falls outside of my range of explanatory devices: i.e., the Papist/Orthodox struggle (I’m in the Papist tradition with U.S. Orthodox friends; apparently we have forgotten that we don’t get on); Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” seemed like meta-history when he proposed it, but maybe Putin is proving him accurate; and the sympathy for Islam from a Russian (of whatever background) is news to me (can you say more?). Thanks.

  22. David H! Great post but communism was never really the driver in the WEST just a political label to pretend world domination by Russia the fear. Using the communist label of course.
    Very very few Americans even in the elites actually read or studied Marx, Trotsky, Engels or Lenin. To teach about these men and their writings was forbidden for fear of contamination by that study. Perhaps fear of the Pagan philosophers in the 10th and 11th Centuries the only equivalent. Certainly by churchmen who then were the bulk of the literate. See early 21st Century book THE CHILDREN OF SOCRATES.
    Perhaps less then two dozen Americans today are fluent in the writings of the men mentioned. I am not but have dabbled.
    Oddly I predict Communism may well make a comeback before this century ends.
    The intelligentsia in Russia continues to be allowed to think but not act. The reverse in the USA!

  23. Peggy! Your comment is accurate in part. The problem of course is that Russia west of the Urals is part of the Western Civilization and tradition.

  24. CORRECTION: The book referenced was in fact THE CHILDREN OF ARISTOTLE!

  25. The beaver says:

    I went back to look for it-one of his pro-Putin and Mother Russia article that I remembered reading:
    I didn’t have a chance to follow his blog again because of work commitment and started on and off again when Crimea’s annexation was revived.

  26. Peggy says:

    “Very very few Americans even in the elites actually read or studied Marx, Trotsky, Engels or Lenin.”
    FYI: You may be right about “few” but in my Papist university run by Jesuits, we read Marx and Engels in parts and in a pretty straight forward (non-ideological) manner in modern philosophy. Trotsky and Lenin made appearances in my modern Europe courses. But that was way back in the sixties.

  27. Peggy says:

    To all the lightly covert “anonymouses”: Unmasking Saker is not my intent. Like most here, I read everything with a cup of salt and between the lines, especially the MSM, etc. In keeping with this practice, I would like to read Saker with a cup of salt, and now I can. So thanks for the info and insights.

  28. Thanks Peggy and oddly Catholicism has long been willing to study other religions–the exception Capitalism!

  29. Peggy,
    There are commonly issues between competing creeds, or competing versions of the same creed, which can sometimes be treated as matters not worth quarrelling over, at other times as reasons for hostility, persecution, and accusations that one’s competitor may actually be satanic. Quite often, the question of whether relative harmony or acute acrimony prevails is a matter of circumstance.
    For an example of an Orthodox view of Western Christianity as satanic, one need look no further than one of the greatest of Russian novelists, Dostoevsky. But unsurprisingly many other Orthodox Christians – an example would be Nadezhda Mandelstam – while revering Dostoevsky, repudiated his view of Catholicism.
    Like her husband the poet Osip, and also his fellow poet Boris Pasternak, she was a Jewish-Christian – that may have influenced her towards sympathy with Western Christianity. But her reading of Dostoevsky – that he was a great thinker inclined at key points to head over into something close to sheer insanity – seems to me essentially right.
    As to the current situation, last December ‘the Saker’, far from suggesting that Russia should intervene in Ukraine, was suggesting that it should wash its hands of the whole place and keep out. The post is interesting in all kinds of ways, among them the clear identification of the Russians as ‘Eurasian’. The conclusion is especially interesting. It reads:
    ‘One last thing to any Ukrainian nationalist reading the above: please spare me your usual crap about me being an evil Russian imperialist, Asian, Moskal or Mongol. Except for the “imperialist” part, I plead guilty to all the other charges and, like Blok’s Scythian, I make no apologies for it.’
    The poem by Alexander Blok to which he refers is a classic statement of Russian ambivalence towards the West. These ambivalences have been present at least since the time of Peter the Great – not all that much, actually, has changed.
    What the post also brings out is what I take to be a truth that lies in the background of the attitudes of ‘the Saker.’ The current shambles in Ukraine is in substantial measure the product of people with a history of victimhood at the hands of Russia and Germany – in particular Catholic Poles and Jews – collaborating with the heirs of semi-Catholic (Uniate) Ukrainian nationalist collaborators of Hitler in an attempt decisively to ‘de-russify’ the cradle of Russian culture.
    As ‘the Saker’ brings out, in a real sense the ‘post-modern’ language used in the West to discuss Ukraine – talk of ‘real democracy’, for instance – is largely an obfuscation. Unfortunately, the notion that we have transcended our pasts is a fiction which commonly takes in those who propagate it. As a result, they are simply unable to contemplate the possibility that they may be raising ghosts from the past with potentially quite uncontrollable consequences.
    In my view, Putin is likely to be quite right in thinking that the covert agenda behind all this is actually ‘regime change’ in Russia itself. In understanding his responses, a critical fact is that he is not actually a natural ‘Eurasianist’ at all – but is being pushed away from the ‘Westernising’ instincts which were originally natural to him, towards a ‘Eurasianist’ orientation.
    (That Putin should be an instinctive ‘Westerniser’ is hardly so surprising, as he comes from St. Petersburg, the most ‘Western’ of the great Russian cities – indeed, in some ways it is more ‘Western’ than Kiev.)
    As to relations with Muslims. People often refer to Putin as a Russian nationalist. It would be more appropriate to refer to him as a Russian statist. Time and again, he has emphasised that the criterion of belonging in community he is trying to construct is neither ethnicity, nor religious affiliation. It is identification with Russian culture and history.
    In April 2012, in commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the decisive defeat of Napoleon by Russian armies, a post appeared on the ‘Russkiy Mir’ website entitled ‘Two Hundred Years of Russian Intelligence.’
    It was a tribute to the figure who some of us consider a principal architect in the defeat of Napoleon, one of the ‘great commanders’ of European history, the Baltic bourgeois Barclay de Tolly. It was Barclay – Scottish by ethnic origin, German by culture, Lutheran by religion – who created the military intelligence service that allowed him to work the kind of war that Napoleon did not want to fight, and could not afford to fight, and to make him fight it.
    (See http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/articles/article0264.html )
    So, if bourgeois Lutherans can be Russian heroes, why not Muslims? In fact, one of the pivotal Russian military intellectuals of the post-war period is Mahkmut Akhmetovich Gareyev. Still alive and kicking when I last looked, he really is the ‘last of the Mohicans’ — a Tatar calvaryman from Chelyabinsk, who volunteered for the Red Army in 1939. According to Wikpedia, his religion his Sunni Muslim.
    The last thing I would want to do is to make a simplistic equation between Putin’s idealistic professions and his actual practice. Those who say that Russia is run on the basis of a corrupt system of ‘crony capitalism’ have a great deal of evidence in support of their case, to put it mildly.
    However, there is also another side to this coin. It appears to be the case that people in the West think that the likely alternative to the current Russian regime is the triumph of Western-oriented liberals.
    This, it seems to me, is as much fantasy as have been parallel assumptions made in relation to Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc etc etc. In relation to Russia, moreover, there is an element which is even more sinister: the strong suspicion that what many in the West dream of is a return to the happy days of the late 1990s, when the country was largely run by a ‘comprador elite’ – people like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky. This if a fantasy which can only be held by people who are at once intellectually incompetent and morally contemptible.

  30. All,
    Slightly, but not so far, off topic. More evidence,this time from Germany, that the sniper shootings on the Maidan on 20 February were not committed by Yanukovich’s people, but by John Brennan’s little friends.
    (See https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=725705100783621&id=161448950542575 )

  31. Fred says:

    It just gets better with every editon of the news. Svoboda and Privat Sektor aren’t anti-semitic – since the ‘revolution’ of course. Now replacing Saddam, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad. and Assad…. It’s Putin = Hitler!
    I wonder if we will get a false flag war on Good Friday or will the Administration’s operatives wait until Easter Sunday?

  32. The beaver says:

    The real story :
    Google translation will be of help.
    Anyways, this story has been spreading like wild fire but it ain’t the truth.
    Some provocateurs, similar to the skin head episode in the Crimean Tatar Muslim community before the annexation referendum. And then some complain about Pravda 🙂

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Islam is not part of the Western Civilization; it cannot be.
    Leave things separated out as they are.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In fact, you are not going far enough in your speculations.
    Let us assume for the sake of argument that a covert war is being waged to overthrow the Russian state in its current form – by US, EU, Canada, and Australia.
    Furthermore, let us entertain the notion that this war could succeed in state destruction or weakening in Russia, in a similar manner to what has happened since 1995 in Serbia.
    So, US, EU, Canada, and Australia would be victors in this war.
    Then what?
    It is here that Reality will assert itself; Russians will not accept a position similar to Japanese, Germans, Italians, and Koreans with respect to NATO countries and Australia.
    They will reassert their national power again.
    And we will be back with a much much worse situation in which the Russian State and people – having in effect been shabbily treated by NATO and Australia – will be virulently anti-US, anti-EU, anti-Canada, and anti-Australia.
    There would be and could not be a middle ground.
    In other words & in my opinion, any success by US, EU, Canada, and Australia in their current efforts against the Russian Federation as her leaders perceive them to be will be a pyrrhic victory.
    It would be very analogous to the victory of US-UK against Iran in 1953 – and almost certainly the Russian reaction – in time – would have very similar strategic, religious, and cultural consequences.

  35. Babak! Believe what you want but the long “tension” of Islam and the West shaped both Islam and Christianity! Point me materials that believe Asia shaped Islam or Africa! The tension still shapes the West and Islam IMO!

  36. Fred says:

    the beaver,
    Yes, that should have been immediately apparent to an average observer, but we did get to see the intense ‘fact checking’ effort of USA Today..
    It is more ‘information management’ with the intellectual laziness, if not collusion, of the modern American press.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I despair at the lack of sensibility. It is well known that to faithfully reply to an equiry about russian assets in proper coldwarinesque ambiance one must start in a fairy tale manner.
    “Once upon a time there was a defector called Stanley…”

  38. Will says:

    Antisemitism is easily bandied about. Any criticism of the AngloZio empire is automatically anti-Semitic. So is also any criticism of the Judea-Samaria settlement enterprise- this is called NEW antisemitism.
    I like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s approach
    – that the Russians and Russian Jews both take collective responsibility for communism and engage in truth and reconciliation. Of course there was a disproportionate number of Jews in the communist cadres just like today there are in the U.S. NeoCon (as well as the Progressive) crowd. Just a natural consequence of the IQ curve. A 15 point IQ spread results in a huge spread in the outlier. One of every 4 Americans with an IQ over 140 is Jewish.
    Good luck finding an English translation of that book.

  39. will! There seems to be a growing consensus that there may be at least seven kinds of intelligence in humans.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You see to be know saying something else: “…Islam and the West”, and later “…still shapes West and Islam”
    I rest my case – West is not Islam and Islam is not West.
    OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,.

  41. ALL: To overthrow Putin and change the nature of modern Russia may well have blowback and change the nature of the US and its oligarchs many interlocked with the Russian ones.
    That is why I refuse to believe destabilization of Russia is a FP aim of the US. Putin actually helped cover up the US role in privatizing Soviet State assets.

  42. Castellio says:

    WRC, can you source your last sentence? Thanks.

  43. different clue says:

    Does an IQ test test someone’s intelligence? Or does it just test someone’s ability to take an IQ test?

  44. different clue says:

    It’s certainly a FP aim of Zbigniew Brzezinski. For the purpose of dividing Russia into several colonizable sections.
    Does his advice carry any weight in government circles?

  45. Castello! My source is analysis from those writing about the privatization effort in Russia after the wall fell. The KGB in the middle of that privatization with the design led by someone named Larry Summers on loan from Harvard and others. Many of the Americans were enriched personally by their self-dealing. Mags such as the Harvard Business Review and Economist and newpapers such as WSJ and Financial Times discuss the privatization. But my real sources are friends in the FBI, multilateral orgs housed in DC, and senior accounting officials of major USA accounting firms who actually traveled to Russia in that time frame to set up the books of the privatized or about to be privatized firms. A number of them traveled to Russia over two dozen times in the 90’s. One longstanding friend in that group told me personally that it was no use trying to have honest accounting in Russia due to IOC and corruption generally. And he stated US business interests of no help either.
    Note that the KGB actually controlled some percentage of business in the Soviet Union just as some other friends suggest to me over 1/3 of the Chinese economy actually held and managed by the PLA!
    Try googling Putin world’s richest man and see what you turn up!

  46. Fred says:

    There was no coverup of the US role in privatization of soviet assets. Any ignorance about the matter is due to lack of effort.

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I tried “Putin world’s richest man” on Google and the Bloomberg article came up on top. Which was basically rumor and innuendo.
    So, he is the world’s richest man and is not using that wealth on a personal level to live in luxury and comfort?
    LBJ was living better than him.
    I think he actually stated the truth – he is wealthy in that he has a vast amount of power – men who have power are quite willing to live in a hovel – but have power.
    They do not need bimbos, luxury goods, and houses and cars – those are trinkets for children compared to “executive power”.
    Real men have or aspire to power – the rest dissipate themselves in money or hobbies.

  48. Excellent analysis IMO!

  49. Zbig is an old man and old men still dream!

  50. Agree! Including the $30B the US transferred to the Yeltsin crew to assist his campaign!

  51. Agree! And having gained and secured vast wealth Putin is trying on the mantle of Saviour of Russia and securing its place in history. And his of course.
    My guess is the Eastern Ukraine will “vote” to become part of Russia after the mid-term US elections.
    The levers of official power in the USA much more in doubt than in Russia. IMO of course.

  52. Castellio says:

    I traveled to Kyiv and Odessa in 1992 as part of a University delegation that met with cultural institutions to discuss financial survival in a mixed economy. Making a long story short, while Ukrainians in North America were busy celebrating Ukrainian independence, many in Ukraine were selling anything and everything (literally) to survive. The cultural “industries” were among the hardest hit.
    Trying to have a practical conversation with the diaspora upon return was exceptionally difficult. They didn’t want to know about the lawlessness and suffering that was actual, and found it simplest to blame the Soviets for everything.
    This is part of the enduring situation. For some, there is no problem which can’t be laid at the foot of the ‘Soviets” (read either Russians or ‘traitors’), and for others, the social and economic breakdown came with ‘independence’.
    The gulf between these groups has only widened, and in terms of ‘nation building’, Ukraine is a disaster. Much more could be said about that, but let’s leave it there for the moment.
    The point is this, in 1992 there was an openness in the middle of the general euphoria/despair to listen to “the west”. By my return in 2000, that had dissipated to the point of invisibility. Again I spent time in Kyiv and Odessa, and the social fault lines in the country were, if anything, more pronounced than before.
    In Ukraine there are nationalist movements which honour Jabotinsky (one of the key founders of Israeli ‘hard’ Zionism), seeing him as an analyst of the failures of both Soviet and Liberal thought, and a realist in the creation of ethnic national states. Such thought is much more widespread than I think most people realize, and is also found among many in the Ukrainian diaspora. In other words, there is a natural link between the American neocons and the nationalist right in Ukraine, actively mediated by the diaspora.

  53. Castello! Thanks for your insights from several trips to the Ukraine!

  54. G. Hazeltine says:

    Yes. I am surprised that he was not taken up on that.
    “In Ukraine there are nationalist movements which honour Jabotinsky (one of the key founders of Israeli ‘hard’ Zionism), seeing him as an analyst of the failures of both Soviet and Liberal thought, and a realist in the creation of ethnic national states. Such thought is much more widespread than I think most people realize, and is also found among many in the Ukrainian diaspora.”
    Seems deserving of more engagement.

  55. Anonymous says:

    How many of them were Jewish?

  56. I know i’m being very late with my personal contribution to this topic, so not sure if and wether there’s gonna be any reply to it. but even though i have neither the will nor the ability to unmask anybody, i wonder why the Saker is posting from within or very nearby a joint US civil-military installation ? Is he just being cheeky and clever about hiding his actual whereabouts or am I missing something here ?

  57. Fred says:

    Your hyperlink appears to be a virus site. You note sounds like BS. How do you know where ‘Saker’ is posting from?

  58. My hyperlink a virus site ? Don’t worry, nothing of the sort and your computer hasn’t been infected ! you may think what you like about my question, but dismissing it out of hand (and not knowing that you can easily find out the IP address of a server, i.e. being able to say where this server is physically located) probably disqualifies you from answering the question, no offence.
    However, you’re right to point out that I don’t actually know where the Saker posts his updates from, I was just talking about the location of his site’s web server. So I agree, there’s a difference, but I stand by my basic statement (and question).

  59. Fred says:

    Ah, I’m disqualified because I didn’t track the server id, which of course can be faked. Nice to know. Yes, you are missing something and you should re-read the post above from others with actual expertise in both military affairs, intellegence and IT issues. But thanks for the dismissal.

  60. Fred, I wasn’t dismissing you, just your comment which I thought was a bit rude. If I misread the situation, apologies …
    As for my expertise in the areas you mention, i’m certainly no IT wizzard but i’m “fluent” enough to check wether a proxy site or a form of “onion router” is being used. This is not the case here.

  61. Valissa says:

    Patrick, Saker has occasionally mentioned that he lives in Florida.
    Military Bases in Florida http://militarybases.com/florida/
    Does this fit with what you’ve observed?

  62. turcopolier says:

    If Saker is an active duty officer or civilian employee at one of the major headquarters located in Florida he/she will be severely punished if caught in the act. pl

  63. Valissa,
    For all I know he might be located next door to you and connect to a server hundreds of miles away, which he probably does, because as everybody knows, you don’t sh*t where you eat.
    It’s just that the location of the server did strike me as odd, but I’m not familiar enough with US government facilities to judge wether private subcontractors might be allowed to operate their servers from federal property. So I’ll just leave it at that. Failing official authorisation by his superior, for reasons i could only second guess at best, I don’t see the possibility of this being a legit thing to do.
    Personally I had to ask for written approval just to be allowed to post on Col. Lang’s blog, in a way that doesn’t reflect my identity or the organisation I work for (and I’m not even in the military). So imagine what the security clauses/provisions could be regarding creation of a blog on ongoing conflicts where the US have an interest in.
    But as Saker says himself, revelation of his identity will be a major pain in the ass for him, so guess he knows what he’s doing.

  64. Valissa says:

    PL, based on all of the info I discovered about his history from his own posts, which I posted links to above (as others did) when this post first came out, it’s make no sense that he could possibly be an active duty officer in the US army.
    He certainly could be a civilian employee. He has mentioned having a day job that takes up some of this time. If he was a civilian employee, what is it that he would be punished for?
    Patrick Bahzad mentioned that it is the location of the Saker’s site’s web server that is “within or very nearby a joint US civil-military installation.” Is it possible that the web hosting company that Saker subscribes to is indeed legitimately located in such a place?
    I would think that if Saker was doing something that flouted official rules, he would have been caught by now. His site is no secret, nor is it hard to find. And he seems technically astute, and of a lawful personality. He is also working on his master’s degree in theology, which I believe based on some of his posts on the topic. I find it hard to believe he is acting in an illegal, immoral or uncautious manner in his choices regarding his website. Of course, I could be wrong in my assessment.

  65. Fred says:

    I re-read my comments. My appologies, that was rude on my part.

  66. turcopolier says:

    A civilian employee of the United States takes exactly the same oath and accepts the same strictures on his/her public expressions as does an active military officer. that obligation is in no way rendered moot by Snowden or that other creature now in prison. The implicit violation of security inherent in publication of such a blog by someone with high clearance and access would be severe. pl

  67. Valissa says:

    It appears that you and Saker are mystery men, both hiding your identities for “good reasons” 😉
    I welcome knowledge and useful insights wherever they come from.

  68. Valissa says:

    Thanks PL for the info on civilian employee strictures. I’m curious… do maintenance workers, cafeteria workers, or other low level employees at such bases take this oath too?

  69. turcopolier says:

    Only people with access to classified information. pl

  70. In reply to Patrick Bahzad
    You write, “But as Saker says himself, revelation of his identity will be a major pain in the ass for him, so guess he knows what he’s doing.”
    One supposes, given the level of surveillance of communications in the 21st century, that the Saker’s identity is known by some people in the security apparatus. They could disclose it, but don’t. Why not? It’s not worth the trouble, apparently. Maybe a calculation has been made that the website does more good (by providing a venue for data or at least allegations, and analysis) than harm – if it indeed does any harm at all. It could be that the Saker has high-placed patrons.
    I don’t wish to pry, but if you would be willing to discuss it, I’m interested in knowing more about the fact that you had to ask for written approval to post here, and that you received it.

  71. Valissa, I’m afraid I’m no mystery man … I wish I was, but it’s not the case LOL.
    I just follow rules of procedure regarding use on Internet resources in my current job.
    Don’t want to make any mystery of it, as it would give the wrong impression: my posts are just the expression of my personal opinion, which I am allowed to do, as long as it does not engage the responsibility of my employer. So I’m posting as a private citizen who’s interested in the issues treated in Col. Lang’s blog.
    As a side note, I also use this excellent blog (thx again Colonel) for OSINT purposes ;-)) … just kidding

  72. MC, I suppose you’re right in your assumption regarding the Saker’s website. I won’t engage in any more conjectures about it, plenty of possible scenarios, even the most exotic ones, however unlikely they are. Most probably, as DH pointed out to me, Saker is who he claims to be.
    As for me, it’s not very complicated: When you’re employed somewhere, what you say could be construed by some as reflecting the official view of the organisation you work for. As I just express personal opinions, I had to inform “my boss” that I would like to post on here, and waited for authorization to do so. Col. Lang knows who I work for and I can assure you, there’s nothing fancy about it.
    As for the reasons i was granted permission: a) it’s my right as a citizen (freedom of speech, within the limits of my job duties) and b) SST is an excellent OSINT source … no secret about that ;-))

  73. turcopolier says:

    PB is one of many government officials who read here. some, like he, comment as well, often with permission. I want them to do that. pl

  74. Victor says:

    What server/website are you talking about? His blog is on Google’s Blogspot, where location of server has nothing to do with a location of a subscriber.

  75. turcopolier says:

    I can read his IP address and it is in the Canadian Ministry of Defense. pl

  76. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    The Canadian Ministry of Defence!
    I hope bth sees this post so that he realises that it is not the Russian SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) that is subverting North America through the Saker, but good old Canada.
    I am greatly impressed; who’d have thought the solid, straight-shooting Canucks could be that devious?
    I hope bth does not work for the Pentagon, otherwise we may soon see the 101st Airborne descend on Ottawa.

  77. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    Surely an individual taking advantage of his government e-mail account. pl

  78. turcopolier says:

    I tried letting GAW back in and he responded with personal insults directed at me. He is gone. pl

  79. John Sumner says:

    You: “…It may be worth a read to gleam what “the other side of the hill” might be thinking and how they are arriving at their conclusions, but not something to be relied on for “real” information value….”
    Yes, of course you´re right. “REAL” information should better be obtained by truly objective media like CNN,FOX,BBC, NBC and others.
    Without those Western media I never would have learnt, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, that Ukraine had been invaded by thousands of Russian tanks and millions of Russian soldiers, that America is the source of all that´s decent and good in this world and that Russians are pure evil by nature. Thanks to “REAL” facts I would nrver have learnt Orwellian “Newspeak” (Aggression and invasions are “humanitarian missions” or >”no-flight-zones”, Nazis are “democrats”, high treason is called “revolution”, allied jihadi terrorists are labeled “moderate muslims” etc…)
    Through Western media I learnt Orwellian “Doublethink” (Fascism = Liberalism, Terrorists are “freedom fighters”, genocide is “anti-terror-operation” and so on.)
    Yes, you´re right – never rely on anything that isn´t approved by USA/EU and NATO.
    You might end up knowing the “TRUTH”, a knowledge that might turn you into a terrorist or Russian…

  80. Gamer says:

    If that’s the crap western media you read, then it’s your own stupidity for wasting your time. Try reaching out to trustworthy news sources (not gov’t influenced/controlled agencies like those, or anything from Russia or China).

  81. Robert says:

    Dear Gamer, I think that John was sarcastic.

  82. dr says:

    what a stupid thing to say

  83. BillyPilgrim says:

    I believe you can find his name on the FrontPage of his blog if you look closely enough.

  84. Vierotchka says:

    “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”
    Yet Russians are the progeny of East and West. I know. I am one, and I am (sometimes painfully) aware that I embody both.

  85. Vierotchka says:

    So much speculation, so little facts!

  86. jifster says:

    No shoot, Robert.

  87. Bimbo Plumpe says:

    Hello Jo,
    I just posted a comment on cirilizovano… mentioning among other things that the answer to this question had been found already, here.

  88. Neil Thomas says:

    Well said!!

  89. Pinky & The Brain says:

    It is my gut instinct that the Saker is controlled opposition (pretends to be in opposition of the Anglo-Zionists) but in fact misdirects people while protecting those who he is suppose to be against. He has blamed the Novorossiyans for the assassination of Arsen Pavlov instead of the actual perpetrators and protects the ‘Jews’ from any real criticism. He also goes on about 5th columnists writing comments on his blog which I believe is a deflection of who he might be, I have read these comments and in no way were they anti-Eurasian so he is at least reaching. Take him with some salt and prove for yourself.

  90. Pinky & The Brain says:

    It is my gut instinct that the Saker is controlled opposition (pretends to be in opposition of the Anglo-Zionists) but in fact misdirects people while protecting those who he is suppose to be against. He has blamed the Novorossiyans for the assassination of Arsen Pavlov instead of the actual perpetrators and protects the ‘Jews’ from any real criticism. He also goes on about 5th columnists writing comments on his blog which I believe is a deflection of who he might be, I have read these comments and in no way were they anti-Eurasian so he is at least reaching. Take him with some salt and prove for yourself.

  91. ponzillo says:

    Stumbled upon this discussion. Pardon my ESL. Saker is and was Putin’ (Goebbels’)huge machine, a huge misleading factory of so-called Olgino’trolles, who at the same huge is the army of paid false nicks on facebook and twitter, for example, one of those is very known on facebook as nick “Lev Myshkin (Kremlin)” . In Olgino (Moscow suburb)there are about 700+ of them, not to count those working from home. If you look NOW how large became Saker- larger than life- on 25 languages! But still the clones of same Saker’ media holding (quite a $ to open such net). It IS antisemitic, proPutin, leftist and is on a list of so-called “false info” or false news. I am not a politician, it is only my opinion without research, since am not going to spend any time for reading of that political lying media.

  92. Rebekah Baharestan says:

    Driving in US today, listening to the car radio 94.1 out of Berkeley,CA , I came upon an interview I found initially interesting but quickly became more strange, definitely counter to anything typical on US news radio programming.Take with grain of salt in that the KPFA /KPFB 94.1 CA radio broadcast show ” Guns and Butter” broadcasts/podcasts leave me personally completely perplexed and usually irritated with concerns that disinfo may be playing rampant ? (Based on a few other odd yet fascinating -mostly odd) programs there that Ive come across on this person’s show . But in the case that you all here chatting ( who obvioulsy or apparently seem to know more than I do -or atleast have expressed their clear opinions here ..and the in case that you may not have yet heard this recent one-
    Current day 1/10/2018 interview with this Saker fellow on Guns and Butter is linked . I have no more opinions that I wish to publicly express on the matter as I know nothing on it , although I would be interested in reading your perspectives on this particular radio show programming and Sakers talk points since I was perpelexed enough after listening to feel the need to go look up anything online as to who this guy is (or might be)
    He makes many statements about US politics and policy of the day. Worthy of some analysis?
    I do have one question that comes up when I accidentally come across this particular show (and “flashpoints”as well) this year: do we have to endure propoganda at every turn? What is the point of not having analysts and counter perspectives as additional follow up perspectives /interviews after such a broadcast?

  93. turcopolier says:

    Rebekah Baharestan
    Perhaps you do not know that the man is not part of the conversation on SST. In general I do not want to see SST used as a bulletin board for writers on other blogs. pl

  94. TopazThePoeticGem says:

    He’s put an interview on Youtube, mostly about religion.

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