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The capitalists are circling over Ukraine The war is creating massive profit opportunities

Zelenskyy goes to Davos Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty


July 5, 2023   5 mins

Two weeks ago, thousands of representatives from businesses and governments from across the world gathered in London to “support Ukraine’s recovery”. But was the gathering of all those Western corporate elites at the Ukraine Recovery Conference entirely altruistic? There are, after all, massive profit opportunities being created by the war.

Last year, the Ukrainian government essentially outsourced the entire post-war “reconstruction” process to BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. They signed an agreement to “provide advisory support for designing an investment framework, with a goal of creating opportunities for both public and private investors to participate in the future reconstruction and recovery of the Ukrainian economy”. In February, J.P. Morgan was brought on board as well.

The two banks will run the Ukraine Development Fund, which aims to raise private investment in projects potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars across sectors including tech, natural resources, agriculture and health. BlackRock and J.P. Morgan are donating their services, but, as the Financial Times noted, “the work will give them an early look at possible investments in the country”. The opportunities are significant, particularly in the agricultural sector: Ukraine is home to a quarter of the world’s chernozem (“black earth”), an extraordinarily fertile soil, and before the war it was world’s top producer of sunflower meal, oil and seed, and one of the biggest exporters of corn and wheat.

From certain perspectives, the war is clearly good for business: indeed, the greater the destruction, the greater the opportunities for reconstruction. At Davos this year, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, said he hoped the initiative would turn the country into a “beacon of capitalism”. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, also spoke cheerily of Ukraine’s post-war future. “There is no question,” he said, “that as you rebuild, there will be good economic incentives for real return and real investment.”

Seeing opportunity amid the tragedy, 500 global businesses from 42 countries have already signed the Ukraine Business Compact “to help realise its huge potential” — or secure their slice of the Ukrainian pie. “Most are standing on the sidelines for now, given the security threat,” the FT reported. “But there are already companies on the cusp of moving in — especially in the low-hanging-fruit industries of construction and materials, agricultural processing and logistics.”

Over the years, across a series of similar events, Western governments and corporate leaders have made no secret of their enthusiasm to use the post-Maidan regime — and now the war — to radically alter Ukraine’s political economy. The agenda: to open up the country and make it safe for Western capital by transforming it into a special economic zone. This neoliberal shock therapy should, in their view, include “strengthening the market economy”, “decentralisation, privatisation, reform of state-owned enterprises, land reform, state administration reform”, and “Euro-Atlantic integration”, as well as widespread “deregulation” and the slashing of “outdated labour legislation leading to complicated hiring and firing process, regulation of overtime, etc”. In short, the Washington Consensus on steroids.

This programme has, arguably, been underway since the mid-Nineties, when the West used IMF loans-cum-conditionalities to impose on Ukraine, just as it did on Russia, a series of radical free-market-minded reforms that crippled the economy. As the Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik has pointed out, the IMF played a key role in precipitating the 2014 crisis: Ukraine’s then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to accept IMF demands that he cut wages, slash social spending and end gas subsidies in order to integrate with the EU, and turned instead to Russia for an alternative economic agreement. This was the backdrop for the Western-backed Euromaidan protests and, eventually, the 2014 regime change.

After 2014, the West’s economic agenda was stepped up once again. Western multinationals had long had their eyes on Ukraine’s vast agricultural wealth, but a 2001 moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners had always represented an obstacle to unrestrained privatisation. As post-Maidan governments turned again to the IMF for financing, aid was conditioned on a series of land reforms that would finally allow foreign corporations to acquire vast tracts of the country’s farmland. In the 2015 TV series, Servant of the People — which starred Zelenskyy as the fictional president, Goloborodko — the conditions required by the IMF for a new loan are rejected and the Western delegation is expelled. But in reality, things went rather differently. In 2020, Zelenskyy gave in to the IMF’s demands and finally repealed the moratorium.

“Agribusiness interests and oligarchs will be the primary beneficiaries of such reform,” said Olena Borodina of the Ukrainian Rural Development Network. “This will only further marginalise smallholder farmers and risks severing them from their most valuable resource.” But the World Bank could barely contain its excitement, gushing: “This is, without exaggeration, a historic event.” Even though the new law isn’t set to come into force until next year, US and Western European agrobusinesses have already bought up millions of hectares of Ukraine’s farmland — with 10 private companies reportedly controlling most of it.

As war has raged, the West’s calls for “structural reforms” in Ukraine have only intensified. In mid-2022, the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), an influential European think tank, published a report, Macroeconomic Policies for Wartime Ukraine, which argued that Ukraine’s aim should be “to pursue extensive radical deregulation of economic activity”. Even more troublingly, according to the Oakland Institute economic observatory, Western financial aid “is being used as a leverage by the financial institutions to drive post-war reconstruction towards further privatisation and liberalisation reforms”. The European Union, for example, made it clear that the bloc’s decision to suspend interest payments on Ukraine’s loans would only be activated if there were “compliance with political prerequisites” with regard to labour reforms, for example, and the privatisation of state assets.

It came as no surprise, then, when last year the Ukrainian government adopted wartime legislation to severely curtail the ability of trade unions to represent their members. It gave employers the right to unilaterally suspend collective agreements and effectively exempted the vast majority of employees from Ukrainian labour law — a dramatic rollback for workers but a boon for global capital. Western governments have silently consented to the reforms and, in fact, leaked documents from 2021 indicate that the UK, via its development aid arm, UK Aid, and its embassy in Kyiv, was funding consultants to assist the Ukrainian government in selling the labour market reforms to the people.

As the Ukrainian government has simplified and accelerated the privatisation of state-owned enterprises, Zelenskyy would seem to have gone out of his way to similarly express the country’s “openness” to Western capital. Last September, he virtually opened the New York Stock Exchange, symbolically ringing the bell via video stream. He used the occasion to present “Advantage Ukraine”, his government’s new investment initiative (which relies on another British firm, WPP, for its marketing side). Zelenskyy said that his country was “open for business” — that is, for foreign corporations to come and exploit its resources and cheap labour. “I committed my administration to creating a favourable environment for investment that would make Ukraine the greatest growth opportunity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. Predictably, the president of the NYSE Group, Lynn Martin, wholeheartedly welcomed Ukraine’s decision to offer “unfettered access to capital”.

In January this year, addressing the participants of the meeting of the National Association of State Chambers, Zelenskyy described American business as the “locomotive that will once again push forward global economic growth”. No one would blame Zelenskyy for choosing the lesser of two evils here: Western banks over Russian tanks. Yet, the grim fact remains that even if his nation succeeds in repealing the Russian invasion, the future in store for Ukraine is not necessarily one of sovereignty and self-determination but, most likely, one of Western economic tutelage.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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0 0
0 0
11 months ago

Zelenski and any on his teet are the first to benefit, and are doing so. Ukranian everyman’s are the one’s who lose out. At least a third of that population are Russians. Which is amusing. Financially, the mid to lower income of the US/UK countries, are the households who lose out. If you went home by home for a vote, none would have wanted to get into this nonsense. Nonsense being the US (and intensely its non elected entrenched officials) government has absolutely no interest in mediation, just sending more arms to benefit the profit of the companies who provide arms, for whom they pander for votes and money, and thus re-elect them, and in the end, send more dollars to expand their lot. This has nothing to do with the majority of people worldwide, just government officials and the corporate sponsors who vote them in. Easy class discussion of why term limits is important, not for the obvious, but also on down the deep line of non-elected people.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago
Reply to  0 0

“At least a third of that population are Russians.”
Russian speaking does not mean they are Russian.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  0 0

That is total Putin propaganda. Zelenski is anti corruption and his protections for his country after the war will bear testament to that. You need to be more careful about the source of your info. The only people selling property and land in Ukraine are those former Oligarchs who realise they can never go back to bleeding Ukraine dry because Zelensky will not allow it.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago
Reply to  0 0

“At least a third of that population are Russians.”
Russian speaking does not mean they are Russian.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  0 0

That is total Putin propaganda. Zelenski is anti corruption and his protections for his country after the war will bear testament to that. You need to be more careful about the source of your info. The only people selling property and land in Ukraine are those former Oligarchs who realise they can never go back to bleeding Ukraine dry because Zelensky will not allow it.

0 0
0 0
11 months ago

Zelenski and any on his teet are the first to benefit, and are doing so. Ukranian everyman’s are the one’s who lose out. At least a third of that population are Russians. Which is amusing. Financially, the mid to lower income of the US/UK countries, are the households who lose out. If you went home by home for a vote, none would have wanted to get into this nonsense. Nonsense being the US (and intensely its non elected entrenched officials) government has absolutely no interest in mediation, just sending more arms to benefit the profit of the companies who provide arms, for whom they pander for votes and money, and thus re-elect them, and in the end, send more dollars to expand their lot. This has nothing to do with the majority of people worldwide, just government officials and the corporate sponsors who vote them in. Easy class discussion of why term limits is important, not for the obvious, but also on down the deep line of non-elected people.

Lisa I
Lisa I
11 months ago

I’m sure the investors are buying up agricultural land at cut price too. The Ukrainians are in a very difficult position. I’d imagine they are being strong armed in to a lot of things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Joe Cowan
Joe Cowan
11 months ago
Reply to  Lisa I

The Chinese are the biggest buyers of land in Ukraine.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
11 months ago
Reply to  Lisa I

Sadly you are right. Implementing the Minsk Accords would have left Ukraine in a better position.

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

The Russians will take one half and Blackrock will own the rest, a massive % of Ukrainian men will be dead

And Ukrainian nationalists think that they’re winning

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Oh my ! Have I accidentally joined a sixth form arm chair activists group ?
Is this the Jeremy Corbyn Foreign Policy ‘Ya Boo’ venting space for the Islington Popular Front ? Good God people ! It’s up to us to help stop Ukraine being exploited after the war. The creation of another kleptocracy is out of the question as is allowing the rump end of Ukraine’s discredited Oligarchs to invite the kind of US vultures who descended on Iraq and Afghanistan to make all Europeans unpopular throughout the country. Repeating Putin lies about Zelensky helps no one.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Oh my ! Have I accidentally joined a sixth form arm chair activists group ?
Is this the Jeremy Corbyn Foreign Policy ‘Ya Boo’ venting space for the Islington Popular Front ? Good God people ! It’s up to us to help stop Ukraine being exploited after the war. The creation of another kleptocracy is out of the question as is allowing the rump end of Ukraine’s discredited Oligarchs to invite the kind of US vultures who descended on Iraq and Afghanistan to make all Europeans unpopular throughout the country. Repeating Putin lies about Zelensky helps no one.

zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Noone throwing around Minsk Agreements here have ever read them or followed the development across those 8 years and yet so clever to make statements. Just look honestly at yourself and ask how much do you know of the situation?

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

The Russians will take one half and Blackrock will own the rest, a massive % of Ukrainian men will be dead

And Ukrainian nationalists think that they’re winning

zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Noone throwing around Minsk Agreements here have ever read them or followed the development across those 8 years and yet so clever to make statements. Just look honestly at yourself and ask how much do you know of the situation?

Joe Cowan
Joe Cowan
11 months ago
Reply to  Lisa I

The Chinese are the biggest buyers of land in Ukraine.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
11 months ago
Reply to  Lisa I

Sadly you are right. Implementing the Minsk Accords would have left Ukraine in a better position.

Lisa I
Lisa I
11 months ago

I’m sure the investors are buying up agricultural land at cut price too. The Ukrainians are in a very difficult position. I’d imagine they are being strong armed in to a lot of things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
11 months ago

I suppose the alternative to rebuilding the country with horrible capitalism is just to let it rot in a glorious socialist nirvana. Well done Thomas, as usual your schoolboy politics offer no solutions, only agitprop slogans suitable for an “Eat the Rich” protest

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Smith

I’m so glad you posted that. I’m new here and I was beginning to wonder if this was a branch of the ‘Stop The War Coalition’.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Smith

I’m so glad you posted that. I’m new here and I was beginning to wonder if this was a branch of the ‘Stop The War Coalition’.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
11 months ago

I suppose the alternative to rebuilding the country with horrible capitalism is just to let it rot in a glorious socialist nirvana. Well done Thomas, as usual your schoolboy politics offer no solutions, only agitprop slogans suitable for an “Eat the Rich” protest

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago

I tried to imagine what he was going to write this time and, lo! It came to pass. Change the record.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

It bears repeating

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Not really. We’ve heard the same nonsense from Thomas Fazi countless times.
If all he can do is repeat the same old tune (never apparently learning anything new; and even if it weren’t such obvious nonsense), then why’s he still here ?
Get someone new and original in.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Not really. We’ve heard the same nonsense from Thomas Fazi countless times.
If all he can do is repeat the same old tune (never apparently learning anything new; and even if it weren’t such obvious nonsense), then why’s he still here ?
Get someone new and original in.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

It bears repeating

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
11 months ago

I tried to imagine what he was going to write this time and, lo! It came to pass. Change the record.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

Point 1: Ukraine has always needed Western investment and adoption of Western management, business and legal practices in order to reach its potential. This is nothing new. It’s been true for well over 100 years.
Point 2: Western (and other) investors have already bought up lots of farmland in Eastern Europe over the past 25 years. Locals didn’t have the capital or expertise to run efficient, large scale agriculture. Again, this is nothing new.
Point 3: You can hardly blame companies for taking advantage of opportunities that arise from Putin’s stupidity in invading Ukraine.
Point 4: I don’t think that your average Ukrainian would view national survival, independence and economic revival and growth as quite the disaster that Thomas Fazi seems to think it would be.
What does Mr Fazi actually want here ? The West to stand back and do nothing to help Ukraine recover and rebuild so that he’ll have a clean conscience about not “exploiting” the poor Ukrainians ? Deny them their own agency and the opportunity to judge the tradeoffs for themselves.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well over 100 years? A misprint perhaps. Before 1917 Ukraine agriculture was pretty prosperous, hence the drive against the kulaks.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Well over 100 years? A misprint perhaps. Before 1917 Ukraine agriculture was pretty prosperous, hence the drive against the kulaks.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

Point 1: Ukraine has always needed Western investment and adoption of Western management, business and legal practices in order to reach its potential. This is nothing new. It’s been true for well over 100 years.
Point 2: Western (and other) investors have already bought up lots of farmland in Eastern Europe over the past 25 years. Locals didn’t have the capital or expertise to run efficient, large scale agriculture. Again, this is nothing new.
Point 3: You can hardly blame companies for taking advantage of opportunities that arise from Putin’s stupidity in invading Ukraine.
Point 4: I don’t think that your average Ukrainian would view national survival, independence and economic revival and growth as quite the disaster that Thomas Fazi seems to think it would be.
What does Mr Fazi actually want here ? The West to stand back and do nothing to help Ukraine recover and rebuild so that he’ll have a clean conscience about not “exploiting” the poor Ukrainians ? Deny them their own agency and the opportunity to judge the tradeoffs for themselves.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
11 months ago

Bankers are greedy and amoral? Thanks for the insight Mr. Fozi 😉 Where’s the Unherd question? For example, is the West purposely going slow in helping Ukraine achieve a military objective to favor its financial ones? Are there examples of other post-Soviet nations who have been taken advantage by Blackrock or JPMorgan, etc? Try again!

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
11 months ago

Bankers are greedy and amoral? Thanks for the insight Mr. Fozi 😉 Where’s the Unherd question? For example, is the West purposely going slow in helping Ukraine achieve a military objective to favor its financial ones? Are there examples of other post-Soviet nations who have been taken advantage by Blackrock or JPMorgan, etc? Try again!

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

The 2014 Trade and Association Agreement devotes about half of its length to measures to protect the EU against cheaper Ukrainian agricultural / food exports.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

The 2014 Trade and Association Agreement devotes about half of its length to measures to protect the EU against cheaper Ukrainian agricultural / food exports.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
11 months ago

The criticisms in the comments of this article are quite interesting. There are of course many ‘realities’ . Maybe the writer should have linked his worry to what big farming has done to land elsewhere. If one is concerned about health, one needs to be concerned about farming in the wide sense of the word = including the people involved in the farming, and the food that is produced. This then becomes a much more complex discusion.
I suspect it is not unsafe to assume that the large entities who own or are interested in owning the farming land in Ukraine will just apply the model that is exhausting farming land elsewhere and producing low quality food that yes delivers calories but often not necessary much nutrition.
interesting film: https://grow.foodrevolution.org/?uid=10&oid=3&affid=171

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
11 months ago

The criticisms in the comments of this article are quite interesting. There are of course many ‘realities’ . Maybe the writer should have linked his worry to what big farming has done to land elsewhere. If one is concerned about health, one needs to be concerned about farming in the wide sense of the word = including the people involved in the farming, and the food that is produced. This then becomes a much more complex discusion.
I suspect it is not unsafe to assume that the large entities who own or are interested in owning the farming land in Ukraine will just apply the model that is exhausting farming land elsewhere and producing low quality food that yes delivers calories but often not necessary much nutrition.
interesting film: https://grow.foodrevolution.org/?uid=10&oid=3&affid=171

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
11 months ago

The same essay was written about Poland when it left the Soviet sphere and chose capitalism over continued leftist interventions in their economy. Look at Poland today.

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Very much agree, been working there since 2008 in our Swedish company. But there’s too many differences in comparing Poland to Ukraine or, God forbid, Russia. Poland are 1500 years (except the in/famous partitions) ahead of the vast lands to the east. Except for western Ukraine.

Their character is not near their so called slavic brethren, actually it’s only the language that would somehow “unite” them, but that’s also a stretch. Poland has slowly and methodically put it’s inhabitants through a de-communisation, they still do. They have invested in education heavily and are world leaders (with some other nations) producing a well educated mass. Look at the latest Pisa results, Finland, Estonia and Poland are top nations in Europe. They have also been clever in not only bring Investments from EU but also from Asia, primarily Korea.

US companies are also investing largely, and not least they are not in any way dependant on Russia, which most Central and East European countries are. Hungry is a good example. Give it another 10 years and they will also have their energy made by their own reactors. I’m really looking forward to the next 15 years, as long as they keep it homogeneous and don’t make the mistakes we have done. And keep Russia at an arms length.

Cheers

Thomas Bengtsson
Thomas Bengtsson
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Very much agree, been working there since 2008 in our Swedish company. But there’s too many differences in comparing Poland to Ukraine or, God forbid, Russia. Poland are 1500 years (except the in/famous partitions) ahead of the vast lands to the east. Except for western Ukraine.

Their character is not near their so called slavic brethren, actually it’s only the language that would somehow “unite” them, but that’s also a stretch. Poland has slowly and methodically put it’s inhabitants through a de-communisation, they still do. They have invested in education heavily and are world leaders (with some other nations) producing a well educated mass. Look at the latest Pisa results, Finland, Estonia and Poland are top nations in Europe. They have also been clever in not only bring Investments from EU but also from Asia, primarily Korea.

US companies are also investing largely, and not least they are not in any way dependant on Russia, which most Central and East European countries are. Hungry is a good example. Give it another 10 years and they will also have their energy made by their own reactors. I’m really looking forward to the next 15 years, as long as they keep it homogeneous and don’t make the mistakes we have done. And keep Russia at an arms length.

Cheers

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
11 months ago

The same essay was written about Poland when it left the Soviet sphere and chose capitalism over continued leftist interventions in their economy. Look at Poland today.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I’d go a step further and speculate that the main prize is Russia and that longer term this drives Biden’s humanitarian intervention. Capital’s fingers will be twitching in anticipation at picking over the remains of Putin’s fallen fiefdom.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

Because there was nothing capitalistic about Putin’s Russia; the Western capitalist running dogs aim to fill this void.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What would you do – send in the Sally Army?

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Eh? I’m just pointing out that the capitalists had already found their way into Putin’s fiefdom, to the point of defining it – capitalists I would argue who are far more ‘red in tooth and claw; than our own. Russia has had the worst form of monarchy, under the Tsars, followed by the worst form of communism, followed by the worst form of capitalism.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Eh? I’m just pointing out that the capitalists had already found their way into Putin’s fiefdom, to the point of defining it – capitalists I would argue who are far more ‘red in tooth and claw; than our own. Russia has had the worst form of monarchy, under the Tsars, followed by the worst form of communism, followed by the worst form of capitalism.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What would you do – send in the Sally Army?

Rupert Steel
Rupert Steel
11 months ago

Exactly right. Putin never imagined that he was putting Russia into play, but that’s what he did when he invaded Ukraine. The stakes are simply massive and the outcome will determine global dominance for years to come. Luckily, China is almost certainly odds-on to lose, although as strategists, the Chinese are first-class. Their control of most of the water resources in Asia gives them enormous leverage.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Rupert Steel

Why is China odds-on to lose? Because of their shrinking population? Or some other reason?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  Rupert Steel

Why is China odds-on to lose? Because of their shrinking population? Or some other reason?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

Ukraine was always the US’ ‘baby’. As Madeline Albright remarked, it was hard to resist the temptation to make shedloads of money out of it. Hunter was just the tip of the iceverg. And people forget: in the book McMafia you wont find any mention of Russia, only Ukraine. The prison sentences handed out to some members of the HarvardIID in the early 1990s in Russia were outliers.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

I was thinking much the same

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

If only the collective west had just done capitalism in Ukraine… but they didn’t. Hence all the strange F2F visits by foreign “leaders”… and endless donations of unaccounted for cash and weaponry.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

Because there was nothing capitalistic about Putin’s Russia; the Western capitalist running dogs aim to fill this void.

Rupert Steel
Rupert Steel
11 months ago

Exactly right. Putin never imagined that he was putting Russia into play, but that’s what he did when he invaded Ukraine. The stakes are simply massive and the outcome will determine global dominance for years to come. Luckily, China is almost certainly odds-on to lose, although as strategists, the Chinese are first-class. Their control of most of the water resources in Asia gives them enormous leverage.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
11 months ago

Ukraine was always the US’ ‘baby’. As Madeline Albright remarked, it was hard to resist the temptation to make shedloads of money out of it. Hunter was just the tip of the iceverg. And people forget: in the book McMafia you wont find any mention of Russia, only Ukraine. The prison sentences handed out to some members of the HarvardIID in the early 1990s in Russia were outliers.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

I was thinking much the same

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

If only the collective west had just done capitalism in Ukraine… but they didn’t. Hence all the strange F2F visits by foreign “leaders”… and endless donations of unaccounted for cash and weaponry.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

I’d go a step further and speculate that the main prize is Russia and that longer term this drives Biden’s humanitarian intervention. Capital’s fingers will be twitching in anticipation at picking over the remains of Putin’s fallen fiefdom.

Jimjim McHale
Jimjim McHale
11 months ago

check out what Max Blumenthal has to say:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq4643bsH8w

Allan Meats
Allan Meats
11 months ago
Reply to  Jimjim McHale

Thank you!

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Jimjim McHale

He’s evidently a good journalist, but he is not a leader or politician; he does not even attempt to interpret why the US supports Ukraine, or engage with the possibility that it might be in the US’s interests. Reminds me of the adage about accountants knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Allan Meats
Allan Meats
11 months ago
Reply to  Jimjim McHale

Thank you!

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago
Reply to  Jimjim McHale

He’s evidently a good journalist, but he is not a leader or politician; he does not even attempt to interpret why the US supports Ukraine, or engage with the possibility that it might be in the US’s interests. Reminds me of the adage about accountants knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Jimjim McHale
Jimjim McHale
11 months ago

check out what Max Blumenthal has to say:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq4643bsH8w

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

The vultures are circling.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago

The vultures are circling.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Because the pre-Maidan oligarchs before the war were so much better at running things and corruption was nonexistent. The quote from Ms Borodina is almost Putinesque – opening up land sales to foreigners helps the oligarchs. Difficult circle to square. At least the author gets his last paragraph right.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
11 months ago

Because the pre-Maidan oligarchs before the war were so much better at running things and corruption was nonexistent. The quote from Ms Borodina is almost Putinesque – opening up land sales to foreigners helps the oligarchs. Difficult circle to square. At least the author gets his last paragraph right.

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
11 months ago

More concentrated wealth and ownership in private hands, leads to one world governance run by private entities. The plan by 2030 will be fully in place, then say goodbye to democracy, welcome to authoritarian governments, and if conspiracy of UN agenda 21 is true, such as all the other conspiracies, say goodbye life! You will no longer be needed, as the global number wanted is less than 1bn.

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
11 months ago

More concentrated wealth and ownership in private hands, leads to one world governance run by private entities. The plan by 2030 will be fully in place, then say goodbye to democracy, welcome to authoritarian governments, and if conspiracy of UN agenda 21 is true, such as all the other conspiracies, say goodbye life! You will no longer be needed, as the global number wanted is less than 1bn.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago

“The capitalists are circling over Ukraine. The war is creating massive profit opportunities.”
And that is an unmitigated good thing. For Ukraine to be rebuilt, it needs to become a beacon for economic opportunity, not bvllshit regulatory statism. It needs rule of law, incorruptible courts (progress on that score is remarkable but more is needed), and aggressively pro-growth light touch policies. In short, it needs to become a magnet for private capital.
It is a measure of the disconnection from reality so pervasive amongst the chattering classes in the West that is not screamingly obvious to everyone.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

Is there really no other way? Either an easy mark for Davos Man or a cave-dwelling troglodite? What if there was no war, no extreme duress? What would the Ukrainians want? I imagine that there might be aspects of their lives that they would rather not sell out to some low-ball bidder.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago

“What if there was no war, no extreme duress? What would the Ukrainians want?”
Well the ones I know (quite a few) want to be part of a market driven west (which is sadly less market driven than they imagine) as the alternative is a return to a reality dominated by local oligarchs.
As a Ukrainian once said to me: Western investors have a much lower tolerance for paying backhanders & make more noise when pressured to do so.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

There are reasons why free-market capitalists are constantly being compared to vultures, wolves and vampires. I hope your Ukraikian friends know what they’re getting themselves into. I suspect they don’t.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

There are reasons why free-market capitalists are constantly being compared to vultures, wolves and vampires. I hope your Ukraikian friends know what they’re getting themselves into. I suspect they don’t.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago

“What if there was no war, no extreme duress? What would the Ukrainians want?”
Well the ones I know (quite a few) want to be part of a market driven west (which is sadly less market driven than they imagine) as the alternative is a return to a reality dominated by local oligarchs.
As a Ukrainian once said to me: Western investors have a much lower tolerance for paying backhanders & make more noise when pressured to do so.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

Is there really no other way? Either an easy mark for Davos Man or a cave-dwelling troglodite? What if there was no war, no extreme duress? What would the Ukrainians want? I imagine that there might be aspects of their lives that they would rather not sell out to some low-ball bidder.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
11 months ago

“The capitalists are circling over Ukraine. The war is creating massive profit opportunities.”
And that is an unmitigated good thing. For Ukraine to be rebuilt, it needs to become a beacon for economic opportunity, not bvllshit regulatory statism. It needs rule of law, incorruptible courts (progress on that score is remarkable but more is needed), and aggressively pro-growth light touch policies. In short, it needs to become a magnet for private capital.
It is a measure of the disconnection from reality so pervasive amongst the chattering classes in the West that is not screamingly obvious to everyone.

james elliott
james elliott
11 months ago

Painfully, painfully naive.

james elliott
james elliott
11 months ago

Painfully, painfully naive.

Arthur G
Arthur G
11 months ago

Do people not realize where the capital came from to build the RRs and fund US industrialization in the 1900s? Hint, it started with United, but ended in Kingdom, not States. Do people think we would have been better off to stay an agrarian nation in order to avoid the “evil capitalists”?

Last edited 11 months ago by Arthur G
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Give me a minute. I’m thinking.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Give me a minute. I’m thinking.

Arthur G
Arthur G
11 months ago

Do people not realize where the capital came from to build the RRs and fund US industrialization in the 1900s? Hint, it started with United, but ended in Kingdom, not States. Do people think we would have been better off to stay an agrarian nation in order to avoid the “evil capitalists”?

Last edited 11 months ago by Arthur G
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

And your proposals for rebuilding Ukraine without capital investment are … ?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

And your proposals for rebuilding Ukraine without capital investment are … ?

Steve White
Steve White
11 months ago

Neoliberal serfdom and narrative controlled democracy doesn’t functionally work out much different for the average person than something like people have in China. China is very capitalistic, apparently doesn’t care for some of its citizens. Like them, we sometmies have elections, but everyone in the West now is sort of at the mercy of the supposed benevolence of their supposedly fairly elected benefactors. With all the money floating around, are we to believe that things aren’t rigged to benefit a few, and use the many?
I am surprised that the narrative control allows at least the money behind everything in this Ukraine / Donbass issue to still be talked about. They are still leaving us this window to discuss for now. That mankind could in fact, be corrupt, even evil, even those in control over information and governments that we sit under.
Just because we live in a place, like we support the football teams in the area we live, we’re supposed to clannishly support whatever people claim to represent our side of everything for the good of all.
After all, all the tech we use has us under surveillance, and our bank accounts, the companies we work for, the laws we live under can be turned against us at any moment if we don’t buy the narratives that they say is all there to keep us safe. At some point, are we supposed to say it’s better to eat the bugs and live in the pod than face the evil [insert the latest foil] tanks?
At some point what I think was lost was humanity. Oh yes it’s used in images to move us, to nudge us who are not narcissists and psychopaths, but are things in our nations about blessing us, our families, our communities? They have us all looking out at foreign events, and policy, but what about domestically. Are our schools good? Are our borders safe? Do our children have a good future? They use fake virtue. They are have compassion for those who are not in front of them. Everyone but us who live under them. You see how that works?
Pragmatism took over for first-principles, and they make us look at everything except them. They make us feel like we have control over some things, but never them, somehow, none of the ones who do all the bad policy, or who are corrupt face the consequences.
Joe Biden and Zelenskyy are arguably two of the most corrupt men in political office today, and yet, no one can or will hold them accountable. No, there are apparently pragmatic reasons not to…. Really? Is there no real justice in the world, or are there more important things. Things that are too big to fail that mean these chess pieces need to stay put for now.
I would personally say that this is true if there is no God. If there is no God, or if he is not righteous, then yes, no problem. Pragmatism works just fine. 

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve White
zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Zelenskyy is corrupt how, by doing everything he can to protect his country — and fulfilling the will of electorate, who clearly don’t want to give up? Before the war he was all for a settlement, in fact he was considered a Russophile by many. I have noticed by now that all of the political realities doesn’t concern you because you just love to push your nurtured narrative.. Maybe you should be a fiction writer?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  zee upītis

Well said.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
11 months ago
Reply to  zee upītis

Well said.

zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

Zelenskyy is corrupt how, by doing everything he can to protect his country — and fulfilling the will of electorate, who clearly don’t want to give up? Before the war he was all for a settlement, in fact he was considered a Russophile by many. I have noticed by now that all of the political realities doesn’t concern you because you just love to push your nurtured narrative.. Maybe you should be a fiction writer?

Steve White
Steve White
11 months ago

Neoliberal serfdom and narrative controlled democracy doesn’t functionally work out much different for the average person than something like people have in China. China is very capitalistic, apparently doesn’t care for some of its citizens. Like them, we sometmies have elections, but everyone in the West now is sort of at the mercy of the supposed benevolence of their supposedly fairly elected benefactors. With all the money floating around, are we to believe that things aren’t rigged to benefit a few, and use the many?
I am surprised that the narrative control allows at least the money behind everything in this Ukraine / Donbass issue to still be talked about. They are still leaving us this window to discuss for now. That mankind could in fact, be corrupt, even evil, even those in control over information and governments that we sit under.
Just because we live in a place, like we support the football teams in the area we live, we’re supposed to clannishly support whatever people claim to represent our side of everything for the good of all.
After all, all the tech we use has us under surveillance, and our bank accounts, the companies we work for, the laws we live under can be turned against us at any moment if we don’t buy the narratives that they say is all there to keep us safe. At some point, are we supposed to say it’s better to eat the bugs and live in the pod than face the evil [insert the latest foil] tanks?
At some point what I think was lost was humanity. Oh yes it’s used in images to move us, to nudge us who are not narcissists and psychopaths, but are things in our nations about blessing us, our families, our communities? They have us all looking out at foreign events, and policy, but what about domestically. Are our schools good? Are our borders safe? Do our children have a good future? They use fake virtue. They are have compassion for those who are not in front of them. Everyone but us who live under them. You see how that works?
Pragmatism took over for first-principles, and they make us look at everything except them. They make us feel like we have control over some things, but never them, somehow, none of the ones who do all the bad policy, or who are corrupt face the consequences.
Joe Biden and Zelenskyy are arguably two of the most corrupt men in political office today, and yet, no one can or will hold them accountable. No, there are apparently pragmatic reasons not to…. Really? Is there no real justice in the world, or are there more important things. Things that are too big to fail that mean these chess pieces need to stay put for now.
I would personally say that this is true if there is no God. If there is no God, or if he is not righteous, then yes, no problem. Pragmatism works just fine. 

Last edited 11 months ago by Steve White
Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
11 months ago

Was there ever a more predictable opinion from a more predictable writer?

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

I knew you were going to say that

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Arta

I knew you were going to say that

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
11 months ago

Was there ever a more predictable opinion from a more predictable writer?

martin logan
martin logan
11 months ago

The Hidden Hand of World Capital!
Hunter Biden–unmasked!
Can’t people like Fazi come up with anything new? This supposedly predatory system has been around for some 200 years, and everything else seems to work far worse, as in Yanukovich’s Ukraine.
So, Thomas, just take a seat beside Noam, and wait for Godot.

martin logan
martin logan
11 months ago

The Hidden Hand of World Capital!
Hunter Biden–unmasked!
Can’t people like Fazi come up with anything new? This supposedly predatory system has been around for some 200 years, and everything else seems to work far worse, as in Yanukovich’s Ukraine.
So, Thomas, just take a seat beside Noam, and wait for Godot.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

If all that helps keep Putin out, what’s the problem?

Albert Michaels
Albert Michaels
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

FY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Albert Michaels
Albert Michaels
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

FY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago

If all that helps keep Putin out, what’s the problem?

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

Best wishes to those wishing to do business in country 404. Your pockets may actually just disappear.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

Best wishes to those wishing to do business in country 404. Your pockets may actually just disappear.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
11 months ago

I seem to have found this essay less objectionable than some other readers.
In the grand scheme of things then – assuming the war ends with a deal between Ukraine and Russia – Ukraine will become most important as an alternative model for Russia. It may have a comparable effect to that of West Germany on East Germany during the Cold War. This suggests that it makes some sense to moderate the more ruthless and alienating aspects of Capitalism in favour of a more emollient and user friendly approach – just as during the early stages of the Cold War American capitalists thought it prudent to support Social Democrats in Western Europe.
It is also worth remembering that the shock therapy of the 1990s had a disastrous effect on some ex communist economies and, in particular, on that of Russia. This may encourage a little humility for those pushing neo-liberal reform today,
Containing Russian military aggression will be an important victory in this new Cold War but the ultimate prize will be the “conversion” of Russia and, eventually, China. Amiable pragmatism not ideological dogmatism will improve the odds.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

“the shock therapy of the 1990s had a disastrous effect on some ex communist economies”
Perhaps, but it’s clear that their economic catastrophe was decades in the making. What we witnessed in the 1990s was the inevitable collapse. It’ll be the same whenever North Korea collapses.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 months ago

“the shock therapy of the 1990s had a disastrous effect on some ex communist economies”
Perhaps, but it’s clear that their economic catastrophe was decades in the making. What we witnessed in the 1990s was the inevitable collapse. It’ll be the same whenever North Korea collapses.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
11 months ago

I seem to have found this essay less objectionable than some other readers.
In the grand scheme of things then – assuming the war ends with a deal between Ukraine and Russia – Ukraine will become most important as an alternative model for Russia. It may have a comparable effect to that of West Germany on East Germany during the Cold War. This suggests that it makes some sense to moderate the more ruthless and alienating aspects of Capitalism in favour of a more emollient and user friendly approach – just as during the early stages of the Cold War American capitalists thought it prudent to support Social Democrats in Western Europe.
It is also worth remembering that the shock therapy of the 1990s had a disastrous effect on some ex communist economies and, in particular, on that of Russia. This may encourage a little humility for those pushing neo-liberal reform today,
Containing Russian military aggression will be an important victory in this new Cold War but the ultimate prize will be the “conversion” of Russia and, eventually, China. Amiable pragmatism not ideological dogmatism will improve the odds.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
11 months ago

By the time Ukraine’s natural resourses have been appropriated by China, the US and others, the country is in hock for hundreds of billions in loans, with foreign financiers dictating economic policy, and the EU displaces national sovereignty and democratic representation and controls vast swathes of policy areas, Ukrainians may well wish they had just thrown their lot in with Russia,

Last edited 11 months ago by Marcus Leach
D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

They didn’t have to join Russia, the other option was to be neutral, they could have been like Switzerland, would that have been so bad

zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

They tried enough with Russia.. Where did it get them? Maybe have a look at how Yanukovich ran the country, at his golden toilet bowl estate? Or how Donbass has been looted by Russian elites during these 8 years? Jesus wept at the Westerner naivety towards Russia.. There is a reason Eastern Europeans view the exploitation of the West as a much smaller evil — at the very least they are not trying to kill the local culture and identity.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Will the banks do to Ukraine what they did, and are still doing to Greece?

D Walsh
D Walsh
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

They didn’t have to join Russia, the other option was to be neutral, they could have been like Switzerland, would that have been so bad

zee upītis
zee upītis
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

They tried enough with Russia.. Where did it get them? Maybe have a look at how Yanukovich ran the country, at his golden toilet bowl estate? Or how Donbass has been looted by Russian elites during these 8 years? Jesus wept at the Westerner naivety towards Russia.. There is a reason Eastern Europeans view the exploitation of the West as a much smaller evil — at the very least they are not trying to kill the local culture and identity.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Will the banks do to Ukraine what they did, and are still doing to Greece?

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
11 months ago

By the time Ukraine’s natural resourses have been appropriated by China, the US and others, the country is in hock for hundreds of billions in loans, with foreign financiers dictating economic policy, and the EU displaces national sovereignty and democratic representation and controls vast swathes of policy areas, Ukrainians may well wish they had just thrown their lot in with Russia,

Last edited 11 months ago by Marcus Leach