To the Losers Go the Spoils?

While the tea leaves in the American press are signifying that the Biden administration is about to give up on Ukraine, the plans continue on how to profit off whatever scraps are left of Ukraine once the war does eventually come to an end.

The potential windfall for western companies could be enormous as estimates range from $500 billion to over $1 trillion in reconstruction costs.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz is holding talks with Exxon Mobil Corp, Halliburton and Chevron about projects in the country, according to the Financial Times. Italy’s private sector is gearing up to join the reconstruction game. Paris and Kiev are already signing deals.

We’ve also known for months that BlackRock will be advising Ukraine “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.”

Will Germany’s Blackrock connections help it get a slice of the pie? Friedrich Merz, currently the leader of the opposition Christian Democratic Union, previously headed the supervisory board of the German branch of BlackRock.

More importantly, the powerful chief economist in the Federal Ministry of Economics, Elga Bartsch, formerly headed economic and market research at the Blackrock Investment Institute.

Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) recently made a surprise visit to Kiev. And after the Greens Party’s central role in turning Germany into an enemy of Russia, Habeck returned to Berlin with gifts  – chief among them is Ukraine as a source of “green” energy for Germany.

Habeck signed a joint statement of intent with Ukraine that will “expand the German-Ukrainian energy partnership with a focus on green recovery.” That includes expanding the use of wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, green hydrogen – and apparently nuclear power.

While Germany just shuttered its last nuclear power plants – primarily due to opposition from the Greens – whatever is left of Ukraine is looking to get more up and running. On April 21, Ukraine’s nuclear energy generating company signed an agreement with Jupiter, Florida-based Holtec International concluded an agreement to build 20 SMR-160 reactors in Ukraine.

According to Holtec, the power output from SMR-160 is enough to light up about 100,000 homes in the US and more than 300,000 homes in the developing world and “can easily be expanded with additional units to meet current and future demand.”

Back to the German Greens and Habeck who is selling most of this as support for Ukraine, but really it’s more of a giveaway to German big business. From WSWS:

In an interview with ZDF’s Heute Journal, Habeck announced that the German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer will invest €60 million in Ukraine. In addition, the building materials company Fixit Group will “expand its capacities in building materials production in Ukraine, almost doubling it.” This is also urgently needed for the repair of roads, buildings and bridges.

In order to secure Berlin’s control over the reconstruction, Habeck promised the companies a substantial investment guarantee. “Should this factory building be destroyed, for example by missile attacks, the German state guarantees or is liable,” the economy minister promised. For war zones, “we usually don’t do that, but in this case we do.”

In order to raise the enormous sums that the reconstruction will cost – estimates range from about €400 billion to over €1 trillion – a “triad” is needed: Ukraine must “create good investment conditions,” there must “be guarantees from the public sector,” and then “private capital must want to go to Ukraine.”

“Good investment conditions” are a euphemism for the brutal exploitation of the working class.

And more German companies are seeking assurances that they will receive sweetheart deals as well. According to Reuters, the German pharmaceutical company Stada reached out to Habeck’s office requesting that he “please prevent the exclusion of international pharmaceutical companies from the Ukrainian market.”

The view from Russia remains one of shellshocked at how quickly Germany turned away from such a mutually beneficial relationship. Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs writes:

In the past, in return for ceding all security rights and privileges to its senior partner, the US, Germany was allowed to operate its own commercial sphere of influence and it had permission to pursue economic expansion to the East. Now, in exchange for Washington’s promise to maintain the security umbrella, Berlin is prepared to abandon its previous understanding of pragmatism, radically change its economic system in a direction that suits the US, and take on a greater share of the military burden.

As a result, efforts to educate the German elite in the principles of unconditional Atlanticism, in which enormous effort has been invested for decades, are now paying off 200%. Add to this the fact that Berlin is becoming the main center of the Russian anti-Kremlin diaspora, for both objective and subjective reasons, and you have a perfect picture of a 180-degree turn. Or, to use the Greens Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock’s own terminology, 360 degrees.

Valdai Club Programme Director Timofey Bordachev echoes this sentiment and holds out out hope that if the Greens are shown the door, Germany will eventually return to its senses:

The general crisis of the world economy and the West’s retreat from its position of 500 years of unconditional global domination require it to restructure itself internally. Or, at the very least, force it to search for new formats. Whoever is at the helm of Germany should be well placed to do so, but Chancellor Scholz is a weak leader and his Social Democrats are in one of their worst states as a political force. The other two parties are the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

According to respected Russian experts on German domestic affairs, the Greens are a collection of exalted moralists for whom the fight against Russia and friendship with the US is a matter of faith. Personally, I find this view difficult to accept. I think that the irresponsibility of Baerbock, for example, is nothing more than the product of pure careerism on the part of a politician who is not backed by any of the conservative groups with clear economic interests. But what the hell, maybe I am wrong, and there really is a place for pure ideology in German politics.

Even if the Greens are shown the door, they’ve accomplished their mission for now as the German media and other major political parties have even stronger views against Russia than the public. While the Greens were the key warmongering force within Germany, outside Poland has played the lead role in goading Berlin into amore hawkish stance.

Washington’s ultimatum to Berlin was seemingly that if you don’t lead central and eastern Europe against Russia, we’ll find someone who will. Warsaw was all too happy to answer the call and to lead the “new Europe” as Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recently put it a trip to the US. As Moscow-based American political analyst Andrew Korybko writes:

Despite the ideological and influence factors that were already exerting sway over German policy at the onset of this conflict, they weren’t powerful enough on their own to get Germany to play an equal role on par with Poland’s. Policymakers might have wrongly thought that it would be over in just a few weeks or one month at most, thus wagering that it’s better to retain a comparatively more pragmatic policy towards Russia, notwithstanding their compliance with the US’ sanctions demands.

It was only after it became obvious that this would likely become a protracted conflict that they began deliberating whether to change their stance by playing some sort of military role in response to the immense pressure to compete with Poland for hearts and minds in [central and eastern Europe]. From the US’ perspective, it was beneficial to encourage these dynamics in order to avoid being too dependent on Poland as its top European partner after the conflict ends as well as to get Germany to ruin its ties with Russia.

It’s the best of both worlds for Washington. Germany’s Zeitenwende will have it increase its military budget in order to take more of a leading role against Russia. While Berlin has struggled to hit the two percent target in the past, the defense ministry announced a major overhaul this week that will cut red tape and speed up the acquisition process.

It’s a good thing Berlin is increasing its efforts to militarize, too, because Poland is upping its defense budget to four percent of GDP. Morawiecki just met with US defense industry representatives to discuss financing the billions of dollars of Warsaw’s planned purchases of F-35 fighter jets, Abrams tanks, HIMARS artillery systems and Patriot missile launching units.

While such defense spending will probably mean cuts to social programs in Germany (and Poland), it appears that the country’s elites will at least get to pick over the bones of what’s left of Ukraine after “the big guy” has his fill.

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  1. Alan Roxdale

    This honestly all seems delusional on several fronts. Just call the whole thing off, just like that? And then to start talking about all the big juicy reconstruction investment contracts you are going to win — in Ukraine? This is transcendental self-delusion.

    Even if Washington about-faces, what makes anyone think the Russians would call it off? The trust is gone. Would they even trust a non-expansion treaty with Nato now? If they call a ceasefire, what stops neocons from rushing 20 Polish divisions up to the Dnieper and sparking it all off again?
    And as to the sanctions, again, would the Russians actually call these off? The ongoing blowback appears to be more damaging to the west than to them. And they still haven’t gotten their dollar assets back. And the longer they don’t the less faith and credit extends to the western financial system, even as their industrial economies decline.

    it appears that the country’s elites will at least get to pick over the bones of what’s left of Ukraine after “the big guy” has his fill.

    I just don’t see another “shock therapy” or other neoliberal intervention on Ukraine as being on the table. It implies the west retaining the very kind of control — legal, financial, cultural — which Russia is now adverse to them having. And as reconstruction contracts, does anyone seriously think Russian oligarchs haven’t been licking their chops at this prospect since the start? Notwithstanding their certain presence in most of the western contracting ventures anyway, why have a middleman?

    I just don’t see this ending or any kind of normality arriving anytime soon. I still think the main actors — US and Russia — have too much interest in keeping this going in the medium term. The Syrian war started in 2011 and is still ongoing. I think a Syriaization of Ukraine, conversion into a place of permanent conflict and lawlessness, is what is on the cards. Of course, even there, a “special kind” of businessman can still make a killing. But there won’t be too many official contracts.

    1. digi_owl

      Likely these contract house an escape clause that makes the likes of France and Germany liable for any economic losses should Ukraine implode. End result is that the corporations win either way.

  2. KD

    There seems to be mutterings that the U.S. is done, and now we can have a cease fire and some kind of agreement to freeze the lines of conflict. . . which assumes that Russia is done too. Certainly, last Spring, Russia might have been willing to quit, but events have forced the Russians to up their commitment to the conflict, and this in turns raises domestic expectations as to the results of the conflict, which changes the political calculus for Russia. It appears that Russia is economically and politically in a position to keep this war going for a significant period of time, and if the leaked information is correct, Ukraine will soon be without effective air defense and artillery support.

    From an outside perspective, it would appear that Russia has zero reason to quit, especially since it appears that “peace” means a cessation of conflict so that Ukraine can re-arm and the West can re-industrialize so that in 10 years or whenever, the war can be re-started on terms more favorable to Ukraine. It is not clear why this would seem like a good proposition to Putin or Lavrov or the Russian public who supports the SMO.

    Among the Western views is the meme that “Russia has made a big mistake” and “Russia is losing” and “Poor Vladdie is desperate for an off ramp”–that somehow the Russians are desperate to get out of this thing. This may be projection. It appears that Russia has tried to say the right things to appear to the International Community that they are sincerely interested in peace, love, and understanding and the West is being unreasonable, but it appears that they are in the process of getting the vice around Ukraine’s cojones, and it is hard to see why they would quit now without complete capitulation by Ukraine, if not the West (e.g. removal of NATO forces to 1991 lines). My guess is that if Russia intends on pushing this conflict further (which would seem to make sense strategically), we will see from maximalist proclamations from the Russians in relation to their original February 2022 ultimatum, which contained a number of demands viz. NATO and regional security, which Ukraine is fundamentally incapable of satisfying. Russia will pretend to be interested in “negotiations” and a “ceasefire” but we may see demands that are as unrealistic as Ukraine’s “no ceasefire until Russian forces pull out of Donbas and Crimea”. For example, what about the complete de-militarization of Poland that is threatening poor innocent Belarus which has tried to stay out of the conflict?

    It would be very interesting to watch the signals from the Russian side. If there is a clear signal to up the ante, it means that Russia has no interest in some peace deal with the West. Further, given air power and artillery advantages, they may have a unique opportunity to destroy most of the Ukrainian army, and it is hard to see why their leverage would not be stronger at that point. People forget Nixon was trying to get out of Vietnam for years with a fig leaf victory without success prior to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, and even that was a pretty translucent fig leaf, everyone was just basically sick of the war. It wouldn’t surprise me if Russia is wiling to engage in “cease fire” negotiations for four or five years, and unlike Vietnam, where the US was bearing the cost of military action, Ukraine is on their own. Yes they have foreign aid and weapons, but the patient is on life support, and if Western aid dries up, the regime will collapse in a couple of months. Short of “Americanization”, it is hard to see how Ukraine can hold up for much longer, and I think if the war expands, China will end up backing Russia out of geopolitical necessity, and then any advantage the West might have will disappear. Plus it substantially escalates the nuclear risk, and the political risk to the West, which even the American “Left” understands on an instinctive level, even if it doesn’t seep into their monkey brains. [And I don’t see how you do a ground war in Ukraine without mass mobilization and conscription, and a return to Vietnam-style social unrest.]

    Granted, my view from the beginning was that this was epic geopolitical blunder on the part of the West from its inception, and the above may just reflect my own geopolitical bias. But my question would be, when this conflict is actually over, when both sides are ready to cease their contest, what is going to be left for the West to rebuild?

    1. Jams O'Donnell

      I agree. One of Russia’s main goals included de-Nazification of the Ukraine, which implies at least the collapse of the current government and its replacement by a Russian friendly one. Pushing NATO back as far as possible would also be desirable. Russian spokespersons have made statements to the effect that the whole Black Sea coast of Ukraine should be absorbed by Russia, and this is probably important to them to weaken any possibility of a US base there. If (when?) the Zelensky government does collapse, there will be no physical reason why Russia cannot occupy the whole country, if they wish to. They may just take the Russian speaking parts, leaving the rump state to be an irritant to Europe, but without much wealth-producing capacity.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Given the recent news about China trying to mediate a peace deal, I would expect that any such deal would include China investing in the rebuilding of Ukraine and making sure the likes of BlackRock are told to pound sand.

      China wants a peaceful Ukraine so it can continue with its Belt and Road initiative and presumably they would have at least one route running through Ukraine. Which is precisely why the US instigated this conflict to begin with – to forcibly stop cooperation between China/Russia and Europe. If China is able to broker a peace deal, I highly doubt it would then allow the US to take the lead in reconstruction, given that doing so would allow the West to sabotage Chinese investment.

      1. hk

        For BRI, they also want a Europe that is both peaceful and is open to trade with the East, ie same thing as what Russia wants–I call this end state “Franco-German ‘capitulation'” to Russia, but the truth is it’s the best outcome for everyone, except for warmongers.

        I suspect that the Chinese envoys to Europe (they are supposedly sending them to Paris and Berlin as well as Kiev) will carry terms from the Kremlin, which I think will be very generous (for the reason above), but will leave no doubt as to who won and who lost. I wonder if Europeans will accept them.

    3. Kouros

      Great read.

      Simplicitus also has a time horizon for the war going to 2030, partly based on Russian sources…

    4. hk

      Russia won’t stop without surrender of Germany and France, it’s as simple as that. Ukraine does not matter in the grand scheme of things and, if Ukraine capitulates without Germany and France doing the same, Russia’s efforts will have been a waste.

      The real question to me is whether the Germans (and to a lesser degree, the French) are approaching the point where they might capitulate. It doesn’t really look like they are, at least not for a while, and that’s where things can get dangerous.

  3. Lex

    Given that the largest share of Ukraine’s natural resource wealth is under Russian control, I have to wonder how much fat there is to skim. I also question whether western governments will be willing to put up the reconstruction funds necessary for the investment groups to skim. Frankly, these plans sound like they were developed under Plan A conditions that saw Ukraine regaining the east and Russia bloodied.

    1. Polar Socialist

      There’s still more farmland than in Germany coming available for international corporations at the begining of next year.

      And all those nuclear power plants you can run past their best before date in a “corporate friendly” country.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        YES!! Thanks for bringing this up — again. I’m at a loss to understand the apparent lack of interest in this subject. There’s plenty of battlefield news in the independent media, along with political analysis, what the “neocons in Washington” are supposedly thinking, etc. … all while the theft, sell-off and plundering of some of the most fertile cropland on the planet flies under the radar.

        I believe it was you who responded to one of my comments months ago with a link to an Oakland Institute study that, while somewhat dated by then, was still the most comprehensive explanation. I have little time to spare these days, but I search for updates when I can. Late last night I found their new report, spent a couple of hours this morning that I really needed to be doing something else, but it was too compelling to ignore. Here’s the landing page, with links to the full report and other info:

        One of the links goes to a Ukrainian publication, unfortunately badly translated and difficult to understand. But what I was able to get was positively damning. Both the writer and interviewee, solidly Ukrainian in their anti-Russian sentiments, describe rampant corruption by the Ukrainian government resulting in harm to small farmers and the potential for Big Ag, both home-grown and foreign, to wreck the land.

        FWIW, USAID is openly calling for allowing foreigners into the market. As it stands now, the next phase of the sale starting in January 2024 allows legal entities to buy large tracts of land, but they must be majority owned by Ukrainian citizens. When the law was written and shepherded through the Parliament by Zelensky, foreign ownership was to be decided by referendum at some point in the future.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Yes, in that Ukrainian interview the President of the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners of Ukraine pretty much says Oleksiy Vadaturskyi, an Ukrainian agriculture oligarch, was killed* because he defended the small farmers when negotiating the Grain Deal.

          He also says Ukraine is not a democracy, it just has adopted some forms of a democracy. He believes Ukraine can’t have democracy without a strong middle-class farmer base. And that base is now destroyed step by step, and will be wiped out in 2024 by big agri-business.

          And apparently agriculture is now taxed in a way that practically forces small farmers to sell their harvest on the “black market” for much less – which explains the cheap Ukrainian grain flooding into Eastern Europe.

          And so on and so on. It’s actually a very sad article. Even if the man is exaggerating to make a point – although his anger comes trough as quite genuine – Ukrainian farmers don’t have much hope.

          *Vadaturskyi and his wife died when 7 missiles from S-300 air defense system hit their house in Nikolaev last summer. Ukrainian government blamed Russia for the attack.

          1. Brunches with Cats

            THANK YOU SO MUCH for adding those horrifying details. Maybe if we had more info of this nature, there would be more interest and discussion?

            FWIW, Al Jazeera did a podcast based on the Oakland Institute study, but IMO it was disjointed and kinda meh … Possibly due to constraints on what was “acceptable” to report. Certainly didn’t convey the deep corruption of the U government — cuz, you know, we’ve made great inroads in getting them to clean up their act to attract FDI (foreign direct investment, aka corporate takeover and pillaging).

            I’ve half wondered whether Z’s increasingly exasperated DC handlers are keeping him around — possibly even keeping the war going — just long enough to ram the foreign ownership referendum through the Rada. I never know whether thoughts like this mean I’ve gone totally nutzo CT, or whether it’s because not enough people are even aware of this issue, let alone the potential billions to be made and thus massive incentive for graft and corruption.

            I’ve also wondered whether climate change is upping the ante. Common wisdom says who controls the energy supply controls the world. But more and more, the discussion is turning to the food supply, and now here’s an opportunity for Big Ag to snap up some of the most valuable crop land in the world at fire sale prices, while at the same time challenging Russia’s dominance in both energy and food supplies (in addition to oil and gas, Russia has by far the most “black soil” of any country on Earth). I truly long for an ongoing discussion among the most intelligent and informed commentariat on the Internet, of the same engaged and lively nature as current debates about weapons systems, info control, political intrigue, etc

      2. Brunches with Cats

        Link to the Ukrainian interview (maybe someone else will be better able to make sense of it than I):

        A final thought for the evening: There are erroneous internet reports about the Chinese owning some huge percentage of Ukrainian farmland. IMO, the confusion likely arises from two misunderstandings: 1) Foreigners are indeed allowed to buy land in Ukraine, just not farmland, at least not yet; and 2) Agribusinesses, including foreign companies, reportedly lease large swaths of land, in some cases by pressuring many small farmers in a particular area. The way the law was written, leaseholders will get first dibs when those lands go up for sale. Presumably, this won’t apply to foreign buyers until the law is amended to allow it. But who knows? The war has complicated matters by orders of magnitude. Not only have many landowners left the country, but the Ukrainian government agency that tracks land ownership has no way to know what’s going on with plots in areas controlled by the Russians. All of the above notwithstanding, the possibility (I’d say likelihood) that Chinese companies are competing with U.S. and NATO for control of Ukraine ag land raises another whole set of disturbing questions.

  4. ChrisFromGA

    It’s definitely way premature plus in really bad taste to openly discuss plundering the remnants of Ukraine while thousands of soldiers and civilians die every week.

    It might be some form of copium for the Germans, who are watching their industrial economy slowly wither and die, thanks to Uncle Sam. Just hang on a few more years, then you’ll rise from the ashes!

  5. The Rev Kev

    Pretty bold talking about Ukrainian contracts when they don’t even know where the future borders of the Ukraine will even be. The Oblasts that the Russians are taking contain about 80-90% of where the GDP is generated so what will be left? And it should be pointed out that the bulk of the reconstruction will have to be done in those new Russian Oblasts so will not be a problem for the Ukraine. Just read a coupla days ago that the Ukrainians will be holding a fire-sale of big state-run companies. ‘Currently, more than 3,500 companies are listed as state-owned with almost 1,800 of them bankrupt and non-functional. The list for privatization includes distilleries and grain elevators, which could be of interest to investors, as well as hundreds of abandoned facilities, which will likely see limited demand.’ I wonder how many of them fall in those new Russian territories. But it does not matter. The whole reconstruction exercise will be all about a way for the Zelensky regime, investors like BlackRock and EU/US officials to get their cut of that money. So it will be a money-washing scheme and maybe the only thing that will be made better will be Kiev and Lviv – and too bad if you live in rural Ukraine. Of course it is concerning that the US will be building 20 nuclear reactors in the Ukraine. Just what will they be needed for to power up? Maybe to provide fissionable material for the Ukrainians to create nukes with? Nazis with Nukes? Would the US/West let them? Of course they would. And they will probably rebuild those biological warfare research facilities again if given the chance. Anybody think that the Russians will let them?

  6. digi_owl

    That age old “solution”, move politically troublesome topics abroad for nobody to see.

    Sweatshops, polluting industries, nuclear power, out of sight out of mind.

    1. nippersdad

      That was my impression as well. With the old third world increasingly out of reach, there is now a necessity to create one closer to home.

  7. VodkaTom

    I agree with the comments of Alan Roxdale and KD above. The west is stuck in a neo-liberal “business as usual” thinking, which hasn’t come to terms with the new underlying realities.

    I don’t have the wisdom to see the what happens to post-conflict Ukraine (besides it will be wrecked). The western elites and business leaders still seem to have no clue to the relative strength of Russian vis-a-vis the west and the resolve of the Russians. Or have they grasped how much western power has declined. Yet they are the center of world, and expect to profit off the carnage they wrought.

    Their mindset is a glory and a horror to behold. The world will be better when this thinking doesn’t rule the west.

    1. ambrit

      The Russian comment; “But what the hell, maybe I am wrong, and there really is a place for pure ideology in German politics.”
      Who says that the Russians don’t have a very subtle sense of humour? This hearkens back to the German National Socialist Era. That did not end well. Neither will this.
      Secondly, the idea of shifting the German nuclear power complex to the Ukraine is of a similar vintage. Anyone remember Lebensraum? All that is needed are “Public Private” schemes to ‘facilitate’ out of work German families moving to the Ukraine to start new lives as Mitteleuropa’s Pioneers of the New World Order.
      The scary part is that there are True Believers running this show.
      On an associated note, I am developing this new, sure fire hit stage show. The Investment Consortium calls it “Springtime for Davos.” Get in on the ground floor while there is still time!

      1. digi_owl

        Where it can be detected to this day. while the region where it is required has diminished, there are still Norwegian sheep farmers that need to follow special procedures to reduce radiation levels in their animals after the summer grazing.

  8. Keith Newman

    I also agree with the commenters above. The level of delusion among Western elites is quite stunning. I assume the contracts have force majeure outs so perhaps there is no risk real risk for investors. Still, signing a contract when there is no real world possibility of it going ahead seems pretty odd to me.
    With respect to the Ukraine proxy war being an “epic geopolitical blunder” as KD suggests, I’m not so sure, at least with respect to the U.S. Europe has been totally driven into the arms of the U.S. Russia has been bloodied at the cost of no U.S.troops at all, at least officially. U.S. oligarchs in the military industrial complex and oil and gas industries have done very well. True, U.S. dollar dominance has been shaken but that may take years to play out. Russia and China have also been driven together but that was going to happen anyway since China has always been the prime target. Perhaps to me the surprise is that Russian society may have been strengthened by the war as many of its oligarchs have been driven out and the its society has been consolidated to a more traditional position, as per Gilbert Doctorow.

  9. Susan the other

    This fire sale is carpetbaggerey, isn’t it? I’m wondering if a SMO requires a peace treaty. China stepped in just in time for the reconstruction auction. So if martial law, military law, does not really apply here and NATO effectively buys up the spoils and then Russia bombs those “assets” – what happens? this whole thing is very nutty and any logic will soon be lost to all the international smuggling and money laundering to come when the former Ukraine is morphed into another Freeport. Or financial bazaar. The central bank of the world.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      > So if … NATO effectively buys up the spoils and then Russia bombs those “assets” – what happens?

      Contractors get more money for “unavoidable” cost overruns?

      After the Romans conquered southern Gaul, they built a road through it as the long-sought land route to valued natural resources in what’s now Spain. The corrupt governor (redundant) installed by Rome gave the contract to a family member, who intentionally built it shoddily so that they could charge extra for repairs — financed by taxes on the conquered population. Not an exact parallel, but shows how old this scam is.

      Speaking of which, here’s “Toria” speaking two weeks about a $300 billion pot of reconstruction funding (starts at 8:39):

  10. Maxwell Johnston

    Many excellent comments already posted, so I’ll just add a few things that haven’t been mentioned yet.

    First: there is a lot of ongoing media noise about what a great place UKR will be for investing once the war is over and the west can pile in (China and RU are never mentioned). This one from Asia Times is a good example:

    What I find amazing about all this carnival barking for UKR is that, prior to 24-2-22, UKR was seen (correctly) as one of Europe’s 2 or 3 poorest countries and a pretty bad place to invest, beset by bad demographics, rickety infrastructure, and awful corruption. 15 months on, UKR is now unquestionably Europe’s poorest country, beset with even worse demographics (millions have fled to the EU and RU, and let’s not even talk about the birth rate or death rate since the war started), even worse infrastructure (much of it damaged beyond repair), and (if Seymour Hersh’s latest is accurate, and I’m guessing it is) a degree of corruption that would make Emperor Bokassa and Joseph Mobutu sit up in their graves and applaud. And yet, somehow, people want to invest their billions there? Really?

    Second: all of this talk about investing in UKR assumes (like the economist assuming the proverbial can opener) a peaceful outcome to the war; in this case, a total UKR victory resulting in a peace treaty and permanent security from any more threats from RU. I for one have trouble imagining any scenario that does not involve a RU military victory. Given the support that UKR is getting from the west I expect this might take several years, but I don’t see RU negotiating anything with the west over UKR. They will establish facts on the ground using military means, as they did in 1945, even if it takes years.

    Third: for all the talk about Germany’s Zeitenwende and abandonment of Ostpolitik, I don’t see how Germany’s export-driven industrial economy will be competitive without cheap RU energy and close collaboration with China. As Germany’s economy craters, where will the money come from to finance bigger defense budgets and huge UKR investments? Germany is not currency-sovereign anymore.

    In short: the UKR investment brochure looks nice, but I’m not buying any.

  11. Lambert Strether

    These ideas would seem to imply that Ukraine remains an American military protectorate indefinitely, to protect the investors. Russia might have something to say about that, or, more to the point, their artillery.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Isn’t military protection implicit in clearing the way for U.S. corporations abroad, which the State Department homepage all but admits is the agency’s raison d’être?

      Then there are the various spinoffs, such as USAID, OPIC, DFC, etc. … USAID is involved in a bunch of projects in Ukraine, in some cases coordinating or directly providing financing, in others having an on-the-ground presence. Russia certainly wouldn’t like it, but how could they prevent Ukrainian companies from including USG agencies in their “public-private partnerships,” in which case bombing them wouldn’t seem like such a good idea.

      While we’re on the subject, I meant to send the following link to a USAID PR a few weeks ago, fell off the radar, sorry. Nutshell version: USAID and three companies in Ukraine, including the country’s largest grain exporter, are making a combined investment of $44 million to expand infrastructure for grain exports through Europe rather than Black Sea ports. Apple of discord on growth hormones…

  12. samm

    UKR is going to be the latest SPAC, and you’d better get in early because if you don’t there won’t be anything left when, at an undisclosed date, all of the invested moneys that have not been stuffed into the assembled pockets will be piled into a large mound and set on fire.

  13. hk

    I suppose there’s a weird bit of irony in the head of CDU/former head of German Blackrock being named Fred Merz…..

  14. Freethinker

    So, options for a Ukrainian today are:-

    1. refugee in Europe with all the insecurity and lifetime dislocation trauma that entails

    2. defacto russian citizen in the newly annexed territory

    3. debt serf for life to global banks and other corporations in the western sector if a rump state survives

    4. die in the war before it ends

    5. end yourself if you don’t like these options

    This is what happens when you let your leaders turn your country into a kleptocracy. But, as a European currently living under neoliberal pseudo-democratic rule, I think we are one step away from the slide into oblivion, so I am not chiding ordinary Ukrainian citizens, when we are doing more or less the same thing. Looking at our economies, societies and politics, we are sleep-walking through the same process and it’s all the more terrifying for those of us who can see it; we are so few we are being pushed along with the sheeple being herded toward the cliff-edge.

  15. Susan the other

    I wonder if the peace deal by China and Russia bringing Iran and KSR together and as members of the SCO isn’t why we have quickly finished up our little insurrection in Ukraine. There’s no point wasting time and resources on a moot point. Makes Ukraine look like it was originally intended to keep Russia and China away from the Caspian and the Gulf, sort of a diversion from the fight on the ground in Syria. Interesting how quickly we shift gears from hot war to Cold War. We are clearly better at Cold War, aka aggressive capitalism, but imo China is even better still. It really kinda looks like checkmate.

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