Russian Power Assets Attacked – How long will the Trans-Siberian Pipeline last?


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Power pylons supplying regions of the Crimean have been blown up, causing significant economic disruption to disputed territory currently occupied by Russian backed Ukrainian rebels.

According to Reuters;

Crimea was left without electricity supplies from Ukraine on Sunday after pylons carrying power lines to the Russia-annexed peninsula were blown up overnight.

It was not immediately clear who had damaged the pylons, but a Russian senator described the move as an “act of terrorism” and implied that Ukrainian nationalists were to blame.

Crimea receives the bulk of its electricity from the Ukrainian mainland and its seizure by Russia last year prompted fury in Kiev and the West, which then imposed economic sanctions on Russian companies and individuals.

Russia’s Energy Ministry said emergency electricity supplies had been turned on for critical needs in Crimea and that mobile gas turbine generators were being used, adding that around 1.6 million people out of a population of roughly 2 million remained without power as of 1000 GMT.

Read more: Reuters

This act of insurgency, regardless of your sympathies in the Ukrainian crisis, opens a wider question, about the vulnerability of Russian and European energy assets.

Militarily Russia appears strong. They are fighting a number of wars at the moment, including significant action against ISIS in Syria. But economically Russia is weak.

MOSCOW, November 21. / TASS /. Russia’s economy is going through a tough year, and, unlike the crises of 2008 and 2009, for the first time since the early 2000s, a decrease in real incomes, Alexei Kudrin, former Finance Minister and Chairman of the Committee of Civil Initiatives said at the third All-Russian Civic Forum in Moscow.

“We have for the first time since early 2000 have seen the decline in real incomes. In my opinion, government measures to support the economy of the population are not enough,” Kudrin said.

Read more:

A major economic shock in a weak economy might force Russia to scale down her military efforts. The Trans-Siberian Pipeline is the potential vehicle by which insurgents, Ukrainian Nationalists or ISIS terrorists, or other groups motivated to attack Russia, could deliver that catastrophic economic shock. Even a credible threat to the pipeline would force Russia to divert military resources to guarding the pipeline.

In addition, destroying a section of the pipeline would disrupt gas supplies to Europe, with possibly lethal results – fracking shy Europe is heavily dependent on gas from Siberia, especially in Winter. The pipeline supplies 30% of Europe’s gas.

The pipeline is 4500km (2800 miles long). No doubt Russia takes protecting the pipeline very seriously. But thats an awful lot of pipeline which has to be protected, from dangerous people who have a lot to gain, if Russia was crippled economically.

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November 23, 2015 12:33 am

How long will it take for the US Mainstream media to carry or even mention this story???

Reply to  tomwys1
November 23, 2015 7:05 am

They won’t. The topic is too dangerous.
We’d have to admit that our comfortable lives could very easily be disrupted in the same way. Our energy system is designed to be reliable against weather – and it just barely meets this standard. Only token efforts have been made to make it reliable against attack.
The CPP regulations that favor gas over coal will lead to lower reliability and resiliency.
When the weather is cold, there is just barely enough gas pipeline capacity to meet current peak gas demand. Last year, the Northeast and Texas were down to zero margin because of this. If anything had gone wrong on the pipeline or transmission lines, there would have been a region-scale outage during the coldest days of the year. Many of the coal plants that kept these systems running are scheduled to be retired because of EPA regulations – they’re being replaced with more gas generation.
Gas pipelines are widely distributed and easily attacked. Anyone wishing to make our lives miserable can choose between attacking the gas pipeline system or the electric transmission lines. Fairly simple attacks to either system could result in extended region-scale outages. Before gas was a used extensively for electricity generation, the electric transmission system was the only reasonable target.
Coal and nuclear plants don’t have these problems because they store months or years of fuel on site. Wind and solar create similar problems, but in ways that are harder to explain. They reduce the stability of the power system – which makes it easier for a disruption to the transmission system to result in a cascading failure.
The only reason the Metcalf substation attack didn’t cause a large blackout is because they did it at the wrong time.

Reply to  vboring
November 23, 2015 10:18 am

Of course solar and wind end up requiring generation points to be even more distant from the consumers than they are today. In addition to adding inefficiencies to the system, this will result in the system becoming even more vulnerable to disruptions. Both natural and man made.

Reply to  vboring
November 23, 2015 10:36 am

“Anyone wishing to make our lives miserable can choose between attacking the gas pipeline system or the electric transmission lines.”
I’m rather amazed it hasn’t happened already.

Reply to  vboring
November 23, 2015 1:18 pm

Very true. Years ago there was some investigative journalists who just walked along the railway tracks right into a chemical factory without being questioned or stopped. If they were so inclined and motivated they could have caused a fire/explosion that would have lead to the evacuation of millions.
There are hundreds of those plants in north America and security is minimal at best. Nobody wants to talk about it but everyone who cares (including terrorists) knows about it.

Reply to  tomwys1
November 23, 2015 9:36 am

Not while Rothschilds own Reuters and AP. The bankers who created the environmental funding scam probably aren’t going to reduce their profits on green loans by exposing the farce in the media they own. It’s about as likely as Lynne de Forest Rothschild’s Weather Channel publishing real climate info.

Reply to  matt cassidy (@b12real)
November 23, 2015 10:18 am

So it’s the bankers that are to blame for everything.
How much you want to bet Matt has no idea how banking works?

Reply to  tomwys1
November 23, 2015 9:50 am

This sounds like a Putin ploy to attack Ukraine.
Putin does the following…
1-Create a Crimean energy crisis in the dead of winter by blowing up power distribution lines.
2-Blame it on Kiev.
3-Claim ethnic Russian lives are in danger.
4-Attack Ukraine.
5-Sieze S.E. Ukraine bordering the Black Sea in order to secure the power supply to Crimea.
Obama does the following…
1-Draw red line in sand.
2-Say it wasn’t my red line.

Reply to  dam1953
November 23, 2015 10:39 am

I think you nailed it!

Reply to  dam1953
November 23, 2015 11:12 am

Than sounds spot on. Snowing like mad here in a non-El Nino-like way.

Reply to  dam1953
November 23, 2015 11:27 am

Putin has changed from a ‘baddie’ to the west’s ‘darling’ in Syria, he knows how to play the global chess-game at the grandmaster level. Russian pylon maintenance crew of (I would think about fifty will do) CO2 belching T14-s could be already warming up their engines while the US, France and soon the UK are far too busy elsewhere.

Reply to  dam1953
November 23, 2015 1:26 pm

Nope. Russia has everything that they want (Crimea) so why would they care about the rest? If they were going to invade outright they would have done it when Strelkov wanted (years ago). Yes there are hot heads in Russia but calmer minds prevail. Why invade when you have the only thing of real value already? A decent analysis of the situation can be read here (I don’t agree with all of it but I think he gets most correct)

Reply to  dam1953
November 23, 2015 10:06 pm

Sorry, TRM–it’s been obvious for a while that Putin wants far more than Crimea; he wants the Balkans and as much of Ukraine as he can get away with. In fact, Putin (and/or his minions) have said so himself.

Reply to  dam1953
November 24, 2015 2:02 am

Balkans are basket case, I should know. A navy base would be useful but not essential.

Peter Miller
November 23, 2015 12:36 am

There seems little doubt that Russia/Gazprom have been helping fund the anti-fracking activities of green activist groups, such as Greenpeace, in order to keep Europe economically dependent on Russian gas supplies. After all, if the UK government funds them for stupid economic reasons, why not the Russians for sound economic reasons as well?
The anti-fracking arguments are so spurious that only the most goofy of greenies could be taken in by them, unfortunately for Europe that means tens of millions of people.
Blowing up a Russian gas pipeline in early December at the time of the Paris-ites meeting might be considered poetic justice, but it might also be a timely reminder that fossil fuels rule, while renewables are irrelevant.

Reply to  Peter Miller
November 23, 2015 2:47 am

“There seems little doubt that Russia/Gazprom have been helping fund the anti-fracking activities of green activist groups”
Have you lost your mind? How do they benefit from low gas/oil prices? What about Greenpeace causing them big problems offshore and who funds them?
Crimea left Ukraine on their own accord as the corruption in the Ukrainian gov was no longer bearable and the overthrow of the previous president was sponsored by western powers/money. Russia is on the right side of history here and is dealing with the situation quite well IMHO.

Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 3:16 am

You sound like a Russian troll …

Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 4:30 am

“Have you lost your mind? How do they benefit from low gas/oil prices? What about Greenpeace causing them big problems offshore and who funds them?”
You seem a bit confused. Avoiding fracking in Europe keeps prices high. Natural gas is not redirectable to the same extent as oil. This allows large international price differences to persist.
See how the price of natural gas continues to increase in Europe:comment image

Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 4:49 am

Definitely a Russian troll

George Tetley
Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 5:39 am

Oh John,
your mind has gone
Too where, i ask
under the bridge
where trolls live

Ben of Houston
Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 7:55 am

Y’all, he obviously misread the post. Give him a break.
Mockery helps no one.

Julian Williams in Wales
Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 11:48 am

Ukraine is just as corrupt now as before the elected pro Russian government was deposed by riots and after agreements about ways of living together with the Russian half of Ukraine had been broken by the rioters. . The EU accounts show that in the years before the riots at Maiden Square 600 million Euros were pumped into the Ukraine by the EU into pro EU social groups who were destabilising the country and preaching against Russia. Western Ukrainians do not like the Russian East and the East do not like the west.
The Crimea was always pro Russian and wanting to be Russian rather than be part of a EU leaning Ukraine, their independence would be called self determination if it were a matter of part of Russia wanting to leave Russia to be part of the EU. It is our Western Russian bashing media that fermented and stirred up much of the problems of that unhappy country. Now partition between the East and West is a logical way to go, they should never pushed at Russian sensibilities if they really wanted the whole of the Ukraine to be part of the EU (which is run by and unelected elite called the Commission – strange choice of word that)
When Russia wanted to put missiles on Cuba America was ready to start a Nuclear war, when the EU starts to undermine the countries on the border of Russia, a country that has been repeated invaded from that area, with tied in trade agreements that include military clauses and hostility to Russia, then the bear will react badly.
Have you lot not learnt that when the media reach a consensus the truth goes out of the window? Lets hope that the divisions between Russia and America can be healed, and not continuously re-opened by people are still fighting the cold war.
By the way Putin is one of very few leaders who has stood up and told the world he thinks the has stood up and said he does not believe in CAGW.

Reply to  john
November 23, 2015 1:22 pm

But, Mike P, Wouldn’t John be Ivan . . .?
Ahhh, no, I see . . . misdirection you reckon?
Auto, a tad confused.
Is the world now black and white only. No grey?

Reply to  john
November 24, 2015 4:08 pm

Yes, by popular vote under the control of russian soldiers…

Peter Roach
Reply to  Peter Miller
November 23, 2015 5:15 am

But, Vladimir did give France a dog…..

Reply to  Peter Miller
November 23, 2015 6:08 am

agree with John below, what???too much Fauxnooze?
have you bothered to look at USGS at all?
see the daily 10kdeep or less quakes in oklahoma, and other area less often but still near weekly
in areas where theyre fracking
so, the actual frakking mightn break into water( dubious)
but the quakes after are rather possibly going to make that all too real a risk.
PS Russia didnt forcefully annexe anyone
Crimea voted and asked to rejoin ffs!

Bob Burban
Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 7:46 am

“have you bothered to look at USGS at all?
see the daily 10kdeep or less quakes in oklahoma, and other area less often but still near weekly”
I had absolutely no idea that the awesome New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 & 1812 were due to frakking … ditto for the more recent catastrophic quakes in Nepal.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 7:59 am

Bob, my family’s from Oklahoma, and they can attest to the quakes. They are real, though very small. The thing is, we have no good idea as to their origin. Is it fracking, or a natural change? The biggest thing is to know that small quakes can’t charge up to a big quake (if anything, they relieve stress and prevent one from occurring), so there is no danger from them.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 8:34 am

Fracking per se, is not the problem. It is the disposal of waste water, some of which is frac recovery, too close to the faults that is the problem. Interesting article on this in today’s Tulsa World.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 9:09 am

For those not so sure about the Okla. earthquakes and other areas of waste water disposal. There is occasionally some damaged such as cracked brick facade.
Governor Fallin has finally admitted that it is a problem and is reducing “injections inputs”.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 9:10 am
Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 9:15 am
Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 10:23 am

The anti-news trolls are getting into it big time today? You know you are dealing with someone who’s mental abilities are limited to repeating the propaganda they have been fed, when they start spouting off about fauxnews.
Oklahoma has always had earthquakes, and many were much bigger then the tiny tremblors being felt recently. Secondly, the source of the tremblors is hundreds of miles away from the regions being fraked.
I love the way trolls actually believe that votes taken under fascist regimes are legitimate.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 10:25 am

BFL, your graph shows that the increase in quakes started about 3 decades prior to the introduction of fraking.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 10:55 am

Earthquakes In Oklahoma (The Office of the Secretary of Energy and Environment):

Most seismologists, including the Oklahoma Geological Survey, agree that the primary suspected source of triggered seismicity is not from hydraulic fracturing but from the subsequent disposal of produced water.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 10:58 am
Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 23, 2015 11:36 am

Nothing like a Russian free election. Even Stalin, arguably the most incompetent leader in history, managed to get elected in Russia. Those wily Russians, the way they cleverly murder, starve and deport entire populations to be replaced by Russians. No wonder everybody wants to be a Russian!

Reply to  Peter Miller
November 23, 2015 6:48 am

Curious where your lack of doubt came from. If it was the Driessen article here – I pointed out that the source article actually only listed a bunch of hedge funds with interests in Russia as funding anti-fracking.
I’d also note that low US natural gas prices have zero impact on European natural gas prices.

Reply to  ticketstopper
November 23, 2015 8:00 am

The discussion was about the powerful anti-fracking lobby in Europe, not America. Prices aren’t the issue so much as supply. Russia has a stranglehold on European gas, so large locally sourced gas would severely undercut their power as well as weaken one of their few reliable income sources.

November 23, 2015 1:01 am

Redirection of interconnection flows to a stricken Germany would have immediate consequences for the UK where the Department of Energy will preside over a Climate Change of their own manufacture.
The anthropogenic fraction of this will be more than 97 percent.

November 23, 2015 1:05 am

Crimea was part of Russia. Fact is that ‘communist comrade’ Hruschov who was Ukrainian by birth (remember him, one from Cuban crisis, who thought it was OK to put Russian missiles in Cuba) , gave Crimea to Ukraine, case as if an American president decides to give Texas to Mexico.
Perhaps people should read history, at least the Europeans who should know something about Crimean war.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 1:14 am

PS. For younger readers ‘communist comrade’ Hruschov brought world to hours away from a nuclear war, and it was due to the steadfastness of a new young American president that forced ‘communist comrade’ Hruschov to back away. Accepting past rearmament of borders by dictators regardless where they come from it was eventually bound to cause problems in future.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 1:29 am

past rearmament of borders

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 2:27 am

Hruschov = Nikita Khrushchev = Никита Хрущёв
I suspect that the spelling you used will confuse most American readers.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 3:23 am

At least they should know that Russia lost the war …

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 5:41 am

Yep, Russians lost, and allies Turks, English and French won, but at what cost. British and French won battle of Alma, but that is not what is remembered, it was inconclusive battle of Balaklava and disastrous charge of the light brigade. The siege of Sebastopol eventually forced Russians to abandon the city, but allied forces were no longer in state to pursue them into Russia proper. War achieved very little for either side; the war was concluded by treaty of Paris 1856. Just over half a century later English and French were allied with the previous enemy Russians, waging war among others against the old ally Turkey.

Michael Spurrier
Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 7:26 am

And people should know what a massive role Russia played in the second world war – without the Russians Hitler would not have been beaten……..
As for Crimea the people overwhelmingly voted to return to Russia…..
(To be honest though who knows the truth about it as the press is “owned” on both sides of the debate).

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 8:00 am

Michael Spurrier … you should know that the vast majority of casualties in WWII were not Russian. Even if you count those appropriated by the Russian state afterwards, to enhance the perception of Russian valor. If you want to be more correct, although still a bit misleading, you should say Soviet.
As for Crimea, don’t forget the “little green men” and the local mafia they collaborated with to get the election results they wanted.

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 8:03 am

A vote that no one trusts because it was a Russian controlled electrion held after the Russian tanks rolled through.

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 10:06 am

The war is not over as long as they still exist.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 5:33 am

Khrushchev was not Ukrainian by birth. This is an urban legend. He was born 11km east of what was the Ukrainian SSR / Ukraine border (before Crimea was reannexed). Kalinovka was always in the Russian SSR. That said, he spent a lot of time in the Ukraine SSR.

Reply to  Andrew
November 25, 2015 11:43 am

True, but he was a Ukrainian party apparatchik…

It’s often said that Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea as a “gift” to his adopted country. Khruschev’s relationship with Ukraine is a complex one: He was an ethnic Russian from a town that is now part of Russia, but he rose through the ranks of the Ukrainian communist party and led the region as head of the the party during the worst years of Stalin’s purges.

Though, frankly, it puzzles me why there is so much animosity between the two peoples. In many ways, Ukrainian is just a very old kind of Russian, preserving some case / tense /vocabulary from older times.

Ukrainian Listeni/juːˈkreɪniən/ (українська мова ukrayins’ka mova, pronounced [ukrɑˈjiɲsʲkɐ ˈmɔwɐ]) is an East Slavic language.[…]

Until the 20th century it was known in Russia as Little-Russian language (Russian: малорусский язык, малороссийский язык), while in Poland as Rusyn language or Ruthenian language (Polish: język rusiński).

Historical linguists trace the origin of the Ukrainian language to the Old East Slavic of the early medieval state of Kievan Rus’. After the fall of the Kievan Rus’ as well as the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, the language developed into a form called the Ruthenian language. The Modern Ukrainian language has been in common use since the late 17th century, associated with the establishment of the Cossack Hetmanate. From 1804 until the Russian Revolution, the Ukrainian language was banned from schools in the Russian Empire, of which the biggest part of Ukraine (Central, Eastern and Southern) was a part at the time. It has always maintained a sufficient base in Western Ukraine, where the language was never banned, in its folklore songs, itinerant musicians, and prominent authors.[6][7]
[…] Lexically, the closest language to Ukrainian is Belarusian (84% of common vocabulary), followed by Polish (70%), Serbo-Croatian (68%), Slovak (66%) and Russian (62%). The Ukrainian language retains a degree of mutual intelligibility with Belarusian and Russian.

So rather like American English vs Shakespearean English. You can read it, but it takes a bit of work to catch onto the thing and many of the words are a bit different now… English, too, has a load of new words from other languages (as Ukrainian picked up from Polish and German). So a mix of older and ‘foreign’ structures and words.
Oh Well. People have a remarkable capacity to hate each other, especially when closely related…
For those who are language hounds, a couple of the preserved old forms:

Like all Slavic languages with the exception of Russian, Belarusian, Slovak and Slovene, the Ukrainian language has preserved the Common Slavic vocative case. When addressing one’s sister (sestra) she is referred to as sestro. In the Russian language the vocative case has been almost entirely replaced by the nominative (except for a handful of vestigial forms, e.g. Bozhe “God!” and Gospodi “Lord!”).
The Ukrainian language, in common with all Slavic languages other than Russian, Slovak and Slovene, has retained the Common Slavic second palatalization of the velars *k, *g and *x in front of the secondary vowel *ě of the dative and locative ending in the female declension, resulting in the final sequences -cě, -zě, and -sě. For example, ruka (hand) becomes ruci in Ukrainian. In Russian, the dative and locative of ruka is ruke.

So mix up some Old Slavic with a bit of Polish and season with some loan words… Almost mutually intelligible, and from the same root as Russian. Yet they go at each other like cats and dogs instead of having dinner as cousins.

Reply to  Andrew
November 25, 2015 12:15 pm

Simple really, same as Serbs and Croats, language 80-90% same, but one lot is Orthodox Christians and the other lot Catholic. One lot went with Allies, some of the other lot with the N..azis.
Roman Catholicism in Ukraine

November 23, 2015 1:08 am

Whilst vulnerable to physical attacks, these days the greater danger probably comes from cyber attacks.
A concerted effort on electronically destroying power, communications and financial infrastructure that is so dependent on computers would leave petrol in the tanks at petrol stations, would disrupt the food chain and prevent supermarkets checking out stock in their shops, leave people unable to access their money and curtail power, with all that entails.
Britain has started to wake up to this with funding and an examination of the vulnerability of our infrastructure to such attacks. To me this is a far more potent threat than AGW s it could bring down civilisation in a few days. Over to you Brandon….

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  climatereason
November 23, 2015 1:20 am

From what I have seen of Russian industrial equipment I seriously doubt there is much internet connected equipment along the pipeline. My brother worked in Siberia in 2003 and considered the control equipment old fashioned by the standards of the 1960’s. The system is however now supervised by closed circuit TV installed by the French Alcatel company.

Reply to  climatereason
November 23, 2015 3:55 am

It’s a bit late for the UK government to wake up now, after they have sold off a good part of the national infrastrucure to overseas buyers and are now asking China to build us some nuclear power stations

Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 1:15 am

Well the Crimean situation is a bit odd. Russia annexed the Crimea over a year ago but Ukraine continued to supply power until the pylons were blown up. The Ukrainian Power companies have announced they are repairing the lines and expect to be finished in 4 days but are hampered by the security situation as both the Crimean Tartars and Russian separatist militias have been making access difficult. Quite why Russia never bothered to provide alternate power sources and chose to rely on Ukraine supplying power to territory stolen from them is an interesting question. As one local resident was reported to have said
“I had no electricity all night. These useless officials can’t run the city and they still haven’t built a local power station,”
Note the Crimean Tartars have a long term beef with the Russians. They are the original ethnic inhabitants but were displaced In 1944 when ‘in the interests of State Security’ they were shipped off to Central Asia in what is now Uzbekistan. Some were allowed to return in the late 1960’s and even the state Parliament of USSR in 1989 condemned the removal of Crimean Tatars from their motherland as inhumane and lawless.
Needless to say they are not be pleased at being back under Russian control. As for the media it has been extensively covered here in the UK where there is a sizable Ukrainian expatriate community.

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 1:32 am

Ottoman empire ruled by Ahmet Pasha conquered Crimea and subsequently Russian Christians were slowly pushed out by new arrivals Tartars, the turkic ethnic group. Similar situation was evident through the SE Europe, in the lands conquered by Turks. One of the bloodiest wars in human history (WWI) was initiated by demise of the Ottoman empire and subsequent machinations over their province of BosniaHercegovina.

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 2:29 am

Well no.
Crimea was part of the Byzantine Empire until captured by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev when it became part of the Kievan Rus’ principality of Tmutarakan. In 988, This included the Byzantine town of Chersonesos (now Sevastopol) where he later converted to Christianity. The Russian Orthodox cathedral their marks the location of this historic event.
It remained part of the Kievan Rus until the Mongol invasions in 1238 when it first fell under the rule of the Golden Horde and then the Crimean Khanate. The coastal cities of the Crimean were mainly inhabited by Byzantine Greeks even after the Ottomans took over from the Crimean Tartars. The Russians only arrived in 1783 when they seized the territory and evicted the Greek settlers who had been living there. The Crimean Tartars were still around 25 of the population until the Russian revolution when both Lenin and Stalin began large scale Russian resettlement and the deportation of the inconvenient locals to less salubrious places in Central Asia.
The whole sorry saga is in fact a classic example of 18th/19th century Imperialism.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 2:48 am

So, Mongols conquered Crimea, Turks conquered Crimea, Russians conquered Crimea, Ukrainians got it from Hruschov, Russians conquered it under rule of V. Putin, so what do you think should have Crimea: Ancient Greeks, Byzantines, Mongols, Tartars, Turks, Russians or Ukrainians; or perhaps the referendum, of what now appears to be the majority population, should be accepted or retaken under international supervision?
I think last option (referendum retaken under international supervision) is the only sensible solution but would a new referendum or its result be accepted, I doubt it. History says ‘whose boots, whose land’.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 3:28 am

Thank you to Keith for providing some history.

Reply to  vukcevic
November 23, 2015 4:04 am

Crimea wasn’t really Byzantine. Most of it was part of the Khazarian Khaganate.
= = = = = = =
For some three centuries (c. 650–965) the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus” (wiki, Khazars)comment image
The prison outpost of Chersonesus was the only Byzantine possession on the peninsular.

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 2:40 am

Ukraine does NOT supply power to Crimea. It transits power generated in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and collects hefty transit fees for so doing (to offset against the $3 billion due-debt that it refuses to repay plus other energy related consumption fees that it seems to think it should be provided for free. But not for much longer. The Kerch Straight bridge will be complete in a few months, with submerged power lines not far behind.

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  Wikispooks
November 23, 2015 5:24 am

Wrong Ukraine does indeed supply power from the Dnieper and Uglegorskaya conventional thermal plants and two nuclear power plants Zaporozhskaya NPP and the South Ukrainian NPP. All had to close down under an emergency load shedding procedure. The effects of the crash shutdown (Xenon poisoning in the core) make it unlikely the nuclear power plants will be able to restart for a couple of weeks. When Dungeness B scrammed its reactors following storm damage to its pylons it was out for 3 weeks.
The Krasnoyarsk installation is owned by RUSAL and most of the power generated goes to the massive aluminium smelter which has an output of over 1 million tonnes per year, most of which is exported to China

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 7:58 am

Keith, you don’t suppose that Ukraine’s vulnerability in terms of needing Russian gas might help explain their relying on power from Ukraine?

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 9:04 am

“expect to be finished in 4 days but are hampered by the security situation as both the Crimean Tartars and Russian separatist militias have been making access difficult”
Since it happened near the Kherson region, over 100 km west of Mariupol, you should check a map before implying there are “Russian separatists militias” there! In fact efforts were hampered by Tatars and Praviy Sektor militants, hardly Russians and hardly separatists.

November 23, 2015 1:32 am

The Russians are capable of doing this type of sabotage themselves, and then using it as a pretext to attack Ukraine. Remember they did the same thing in 1939 when they attacked Mainila, a Russian village close to the Finnish border, and blamed the Finns.

JJM Gommers
Reply to  rubberduck
November 23, 2015 3:25 am

It happened on Ukraine territory and most probably by Ukraine nationalists and this was not the first attempt.

November 23, 2015 1:45 am

Jim Rogers is particularly bullish about Russia. quite interesting:
VIDEO: 23 Nov: Russia Today “Cross Talk”: Returning to growth
It is happening, slowly but surely – Russia’s economy is expected to return to growth some time next year. How has this recession changed the country, and is there a strategy to end the boom or bust cycle?
CrossTalking with Jim Rogers, Yaroslav Lissovolik, and Eric Kraus

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  pat
November 23, 2015 2:47 am

With oil at $40 a barrel and headed down I doubt major recovery is happening anytime soon. The only real success is Russia’s IT sector and that is currently being hurt by western sanctions.
People in Europe are getting rather concerned about their dependence on Russian gas and are building new LNG import terminals. The UK government is now rather gung ho on fracking and there was an interesting development on that front last week with pro fracking demonstrations at proposed sites in Northern England. My home country folk know that where there’s muck theirs brass.
The overwhelming response in my home town to the possibility of fracking may be summarized by one letter to the local paper.
“The unwashed hippy tree-hugging idiots are only out to cause bother. Why not get the jobs up here? We need them “

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 6:08 am

I am in Europe and I am not concerned the way you describe it. I am concerned about entirely different things.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 8:05 am

Keith, it’s $40/bbl but in Russia, with the ruble halved, it only affects foreign based goods. If the sanctions were lifted, Russia could recover quickly with goods produced at half price.

Reply to  pat
November 23, 2015 3:29 am

Russia Today is not a credible news source …

Roy Jones
Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 6:54 am

“Russia Today is not a credible news source …”
I agree – but it’s more credible than the BBC

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 9:23 am

How about Sputnik News where they claim that the PBS is using Russian footage of airstrikes and claiming that they are American. I think that they beat Reuters on this one:

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 10:06 pm

I find it quite usable. Along with Al Jazeera and CNN. Oh, and MSNBC. They have their bias, often worn predominantly on their sleeve, but they usually have video from places that others do not carry. So just turn the sound down and observe….
Often, also, leave the sound up and “interpret critically”.
One can not say “I Think Him A Liar!” without displaying your own point of view.
On can not say “I Shot Him Because He Was A Bastard!” without saying “I shot him”….
ALL information informs…. it is just a question of how you use it.
So I find Russia Today highly informative about all sorts of things…. outside of Russia…
It provides a marvelous insight into the USA and EU from a non-USA non-EU POV…
(Full Disclosure: I also watch BBC, NHK , CNN, DW, Fox, MSNBC, News Max, RT, and when I can find it feeds from India TV and Brazil along with various Spanish Language networks, and the odd Irish TV when I can find it. Among others. Drink broadly and deep… it only burns on the first shot or two… 9-)

November 23, 2015 1:48 am

23 Nov: RT: Ukraine nuclear power plants ‘dangerously’ without power as towers feeding energy to Crimea blown up
In an eerie reminder of a possible nuclear catastrophe, a senior Ukrainian energy official revealed that the attack on transmission towers that cut off the delivery of electricity from Ukraine to Crimea also created an emergency situation at nuclear power plants.
The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich.
Russia’s Crimea was forced to switch to autonomous reserve power after transmission towers in the adjacent Ukrainian region were blown up, causing a blackout. Meanwhile, the repairs were delayed by Right Sector and Crimean Tatar “activists” attempting to block crews from getting to the scene. None of the groups have accepted responsibility…READ ALL

Reply to  pat
November 23, 2015 3:31 am

Russia Today … enough said …

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 5:27 am

Here’s PBS attributing Russian air strikes on “ISIS” oil tankers and refineries to the United States:

RT correctly identified the actions as Russia. (I’m guessing they noticed the Russian writing on the cockpit display.)
What is a credible news source in your opinion?

Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 7:17 am

USAF A-10s destroyed an ISIS tanker convoy a week ago, the Russians have attacked some since. Both air forces are attacking the tanker convoys.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  MikeP
November 23, 2015 8:11 am

MikeP: So what news source do you stake your understanding of current events on? BBC(?), CNN(?), NYT(?). Russia Today and Al Jazeera certainly are better than what EU, US, CDN and OZ MSMs have been over the last few years.

Patrick MJD
November 23, 2015 3:12 am

The start of WW3.

JJM Gommers
Reply to  Patrick MJD
November 23, 2015 3:47 am

At least the Cold War goes on, the US will supply LNG to Lithuania(Litva), port of Klaipeda(previously Memel) by 2016. The purpose is to reduce gas output of Russia e.g reduce hard currency income for Russia.

November 23, 2015 4:05 am

Any idiot with explosives can and will wreak hellish mayhem to long haul gas or oil pipelines and there are no practical countermeasures. Floating oil and LNG on the oceans is the next level of drooling insanity. Transmitting energy as electricity and generating as local as possible is the best in, frastructure response to this problem With a well connected grid and many mid-size power plants supplying it there are far fewer targets of opportunity, and none which create instant chaos and economic disaster.
If the human race had committed to perfecting nuclear energy some 50 years ago using molten salt fuel, low pressure operation and Brayton cycle heat engines… and built plants that are mostly underground and walk-away safe… we would on this day be taking strides to shut coal plants and end this Age of Steam. Then shoring the grid and hardening our last-mile electric infrastructure so these power plants, with years’ worth of fuel on hand, could help us to survive a long brutal Winter even if rail and road become impassable. That is the kind of world humans could have built by now, if survival was a high priority.
A molten salt nuclear power plant makes a poor terrorist target. Blow it apart and the stuff just sits there solidified, waiting for cleanup.
But what’s another 50 years of war for oil? Here’s looking forward to the next 50 years of natural gas mayhem. Instead of just setting everything on fire, natural gas can toss things through the air.

Reply to  HocusLocus
November 23, 2015 4:15 am

Your name should actually be ” Hocus Pocus “

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  HocusLocus
November 23, 2015 5:31 am

Given that the salts used typically are based on lithium, fluorine and beryllium I am a little less sanguine about its safety after being blown up.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 23, 2015 8:13 am


Reply to  Keith Willshaw
November 24, 2015 3:00 am

Just as dangerous sodium and chlorine are content to remain table salt, FLiBe salts are happily bonded in a way that is neither explosive nor reactive to water. The result of planted explosives even if they shattered the containment structure, would be a radioactive mess that is confined to its immediate blast radius. No out of control chemical reactions, runaway fission and no scenario in which radioactivity could spread over a wide area. The solidified salts, once gathered may be processed and re-used in another reactor. One could not hope to do fission any safer than that.
FLiBe salts, especially when they contain fission products are not safe to eat and should be kept out of reach of small children.

John Stover
November 23, 2015 5:41 am

As an Army officer one of my specialties was what is called “The Rear Area Battle.” There are two sides to this battle–offense and defense. On offense you send your special ops teams into their rear to attack strategic bridges, oil and gas pipelines, railroads, power lines and such. Many of these are “linear targets,” very hard to defend as they stretch for many kilometers and each section is vulnerable. During the Gulf War we had teams destroying fiber optic lines along Iraqi pipelines and railroads. We didn’t damage the pipelines or railroads just disrupted command and control communications to force them onto radios. With prepackaged destruction charges it took only seconds to put the packages down and withdraw. Not so much fun when you are trying to protect your own assets from similar attacks.
Good luck defending those kinds of facilities from even moderately competent attackers. With the Daesh having captured lots of military explosives from Iraqi and Syrian stocks I hope Europeans are laying in alternative heating and power arrangements to see them through the winter.

Reply to  John Stover
November 23, 2015 12:19 pm

A small oxy torch will bring down a tower in around 5 mins. Don’t need explosives anyone can do it. With planning one man could down 6 towers in a night, it’s scary stuff.

Anthony S
Reply to  jimheath
November 23, 2015 9:16 pm
Clay Marley
November 23, 2015 5:53 am

Europe, Russia and the US all have many soft infrastructure targets: rail, highways, bridges, tunnels, energy, etc. that if hit could cause serious economic damage. But notice Jihad targets are almost always soft human targets or symbolic targets. Stadiums, schools, concerts, malls. There is good reason for this. Orthodox Islamic rules of Jihad focus on terror, killing the infidel, blood & guts, creating fear. These rules of warfare are enshrined in the Koran and Hadiths, and that is what they follow. Blowing up infrastructure is a Western war doctrine, not Islamic. For now I think such targets are relatively safe. But if they ever wise up, the West could be in for a world of hurt.

November 23, 2015 6:25 am

Let’s face it. Modern infrastructure is of ever increasing value and fragility.
In the US and western Europe “green” grids will rely upon extended transmission networks subject to physical damage and local distribution grids dependent upon millions of “smart” devices and controls with embedded firmware subject to hack and attack.
Long pipelines and huge tankers with high-energy cargoes will always present juicy targets.
Meanwhile, the “green” and socialist push for urbanization will make more of the population dependent upon a few key bits of infrastructure. I love the Paris transportation system, but imagine what damage could be done with dirty bombs at a few key Metro/RER stations.
An urban transportation system of self-driving cars for hire would seem much less concentrated and self-healing after attack, but would still be vulnerable to short term disruptions from cyber assault. Such events could present challenges for riders in rolling vehicles at the moment of disruption.
As always, the key to toughness and resiliency is simplicity: an ability to operate with reasonable efficiency and reliability without multiple dependencies. We seem hell-bent to move society in the opposite direction.

November 23, 2015 6:57 am

Seriously, I’d strongly recommend looking at a map.
Geographically speaking, Crimea’s contact with the mainland of Europe is literally *all* Ukraine.
Ukrainian saboteurs literally don’t even have to leave their own country to perform the sabotage in question.
I’d also point out that it seems unlikely that official Ukrainian government entities are involved; as noted above, the sabotage negatively affected Ukraine far more than Crimea (I’d be shocked if the Crimea didn’t have significant alternate supply means as it is largely a military base).
However, the chaos in Ukraine is such that I have no difficulty whatsoever seeing some paramilitary/neo-Nazi outfit “striking a blow for freedom”.

November 23, 2015 7:00 am

Lastly, I’d point out that the Trans Siberian Pipeline is located *deep* within Russia. To imply attacks on it is to imply that terrorists could equally strike the thousands of miles of pipelines in the US:

Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 7:56 am

Has Putin ever attempted anything which didn’t end in a mess?
The complete failure of his strategy to link Russia with Crimea has left him with an isolated peninsula to which he already had access in any case by treaty. The difference now is that he’s reliant on the goodwill of the Ukrainian government to continue supplying it with food, water and electricity. At the same time he’s guaranteed his country’s perpetual isolation from the Ukrainians and other Europeans previously happy to trade with it.
And all because of hopelessly faulty intelligence. He seems genuinely to have believed that Russian-speaking Ukrainians would welcome his invasion, The reaction of the citizens of e.g. Odessa, who describe themselves as the only free Russian city in the world, and who want to retain the Ukrainian flag in order to keep it that way, has left him, his forces and Crimea isolated and reviled on all sides.
He appears to make the mistake of actually believing his own propaganda. Perhaps he watches Russia Today

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 8:42 am

Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 at 7:56 am
The eastern third of Ukraine is de facto Russian by ethnicity and language. On a project there, I noted that statues of Lenin and hammer/sickle logos were still to be found in rural towns in 2005 – it was like a different country from the east. The area is rich in mineral resources including coal, manganese, gold, etc. and has always had a Russian ‘presence’. Ukraine is not a cohesive country by any means. You have a western MSM-like simplistic understanding of the country. You probably don’t know that the main faction being supported by the west are the very ones that were pro-German during WWII.
Russia Today doesn’t take a back seat to BBC, NYT, Guardian, CBC, CNN, ABC (Oz) in terms of propaganda and they do report on a wider range of topics (many avoided by western MSM that are more socialist than Russia) – an intelligent listener knows to take a grain of salt with issue-burdened stuff. Which ones do you rely on for your ‘knowledge’? Personally, I consider Putin superior in terms of a leader pursuing national interest to any of the soft boiled eggs running EU, USA, Canada, Australia. The leaders of India, China, Brazil and Russia are saving our bacon in this New World Order elitist push using climate change as a pretext.

Paul, Somerset
Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 23, 2015 1:40 pm

I don’t need lessons on either current events or the history of Ukraine, thank you. I have relatives living in both the west and the east of the country who speak both Ukrainian and Russian (and English and German … they are outward-looking, technologically savvy free traders who want to develop a nation free of the corruption and 1930s-style economic depression Putin has inflicted on his).
And I’m very familiar with the men who took to the Carpathian mountains in 1939 to fight a long and bitter war against the Russians who had invaded western Ukraine in conjunction with their German allies in Poland. They knew of the 6 million eastern Ukrainians who had been starved to death by the Russian occupiers in 1932-33, and the consequent Russification of that territory.
Never forget that the biggest and most enthusiastic allies the National Socialists of Germany ever had were the International Socialists of Russia. The latter simply could not believe that their Nazi friends with whom they had so beneficially cooperated could turn against them.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 24, 2015 4:34 pm

You imply that “pro-Europe” are nazis.
You probably don’t know that some pro-soviets are nazis, too.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 7, 2015 4:32 pm

Western Ukrainians were “pro-German during WWII” much like Americans and Brits were “pro-Russian.” The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Reply to  Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 9:03 am

Mr. Somerset
You got one or two things a bit wrong in there.

Reply to  Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 9:29 am

It’s just that compared to Obummer…..

Reply to  Paul, Somerset
November 23, 2015 1:36 pm

The bridge, gas & electric will be done in months (at least the temp version for important stuff) and after that he doesn’t need the Ukraine for anything.
The real question is “Has the USA attempted anything recently that didn’t end up in a mess”? Think about it. When was the last time the USA got it right? KOREA. Vietnam? Nope. Central American wars? Nope. Iraq? Nope (Iranian backed militias are taking over), Afghanistan? Nope (Taliban are taking over again). Libya? Nope (terror groups now running the place), Ukraine? Nope (lost the crown jewel of Crimea to Russia forever).
Not that Russia is perfect and doesn’t screw up but recently they are doing fine.

David L. Hagen
November 23, 2015 8:33 am

Impact of oil price “war” on Russia
Sunni Saudis and Shia Iranians are waging war by proxy. With Russia backing Iran, the Saudis have been conducting an economic war against both. Consequently:
Russian economic slump to persist as oil price languishes

Russia’s economy will slump by almost 4 percent this year and barely grow in 2016, a Reuters poll predicted on Thursday, with forecasters expecting the country’s recession to persist as oil prices remain depressed.

Oil Market Showdown – Can Russia Outlast the Saudis?

Both the Saudi and Russian governments depend on energy revenues to fund their budgets—oil funds ~90 percent of the Saudi budget and oil and natural gas ~52 percent of the Russian budget. With the decline in prices, the Saudi budget anticipates a deficit of 20 percent of GDP in 2015 and the Russian budget a deficit of 3.3 percent of GDP. . . .
They have, in effect, turned no pain no gain into intense pain no gain and set in motion the possibility neither will exit the low price Crudedome under its own power.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  David L. Hagen
November 23, 2015 8:59 am

Without sanctions, the Russian economy would be greatly improved since the ruble has also halved in value. They would have a boom in exports of their own goods. The problems for Saudi Arabia, the whole M.E. for that matter is the oil price is going to be down for a heck of a lot longer than the global recession. Indeed, low fuel prices have a buoyant effect on other economies and will help them out of recession once they get leaders in headless EU and USA to concentrate on economic recovery instead of brainless saving the planet from climate change hypochondria.
Stopping the idiots from artificially inflating fuel costs with carbon taxes will be the main task of pragmatic new governments that will inevitably take over the moribund economies of the west. For the world to have a chance to return to posterity, they will need more leaders that don’t go-with-the-flow like Putin and Modi of India and less neo Mark Cist, Kumbaya.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 23, 2015 12:24 pm

Since Russia doesn’t make anything that anybody wants (with weapons being notable exception) the halving of a ruble is only resulted in all of those good things Russians have learned to enjoy to increase in prices by a factor of 2.
Russia, even with ruble at 1/2 the price still can not compete with China for exports.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 23, 2015 1:00 pm

Udar, Russia also makes rockets that everyone else currently has to use if they are to get astronaut up to the International Space Station.

Reply to  David L. Hagen
November 23, 2015 2:50 pm

I keep wondering when somebody is going to decide “enough” and let the “Middle Kingdom” collapse upon itself. It could be any one of a number of nations not just the US or Russia. Interesting times is an understatement.

November 23, 2015 9:00 am

“…but a Russian senator described the move as an “act of terrorism” and implied that Ukrainian nationalists were to blame.”
What Reuters obfuscates is that the Praviy Sektor goons took selfies for all to see. Notwithstanding the emergency shut down of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine because of this “smart” move.
As for Crimea, people voted for reunification in front of western media, including a special broadcast by the French state television channel. It’s still better than the kind of “elections” NATO imposed in Libya in 2011 or in Syria… Therefore Crimea is not “currently occupied by Russian backed Ukrainian rebels.”

November 23, 2015 9:27 am

The attack itself is not a problem. The pilons could be repaired within hours.
The problem is, it is on the Ukrainian territory and ukrainians are not so eager to repair.
Actually, they won’t do it at all.
It will be quite interesting to see, how russians are going to resolve this dilemma.

Reply to  alex
November 23, 2015 9:50 am

Easy, send a maintenance crew driving (I would think about fifty will do) CO2 belching T14-s

November 23, 2015 12:12 pm

There are a thousand reasons why the grid can go down. If you are serious about survival get yourself some off grid power. I run all my refrigeration and communication off grid permanently. Saves money, and gives peace of mind. Ahhh, I don’t know why I bother no one listens, carry on brother rely on the government and good luck with that.

November 23, 2015 1:41 pm

Good question Eric. Infrastructure is always the most vulnerable. So why is it so seldom attacked? Here or there?
To everyone who would like some in depth writing about Ukraine this is very good and it was done at the end of 2014 and has been close to spot on:

Eric Gisin
November 23, 2015 5:00 pm

Why hasn’t Russia laid an underwater power cable to Crimea? It’s only a few miles.

November 23, 2015 5:15 pm

There are lots of us EE with experience in electric transmission and distribution networks to be able to disrupt the grid easy, easy.
Best not to speak of it in the open.
But take into account the area and one disruption will make the next one easy to spot, as the fix gets worked the next towers will fall. The lines go in deserted places too for sure.

half tide rock
November 23, 2015 5:35 pm

The Russians described the US as a cat that wants to catch and eat a fish but doesn’t want to get it’s paws wet.

November 23, 2015 5:51 pm

Interesting that, led by Hollande, Britain and the US ( both still living in the Cold War 60’s) are finally be led to a more world common sense approach, championed by Putin.

November 23, 2015 6:15 pm

Seems the ones who did the damage will only say they will not blow up more later,,,only if ,,,,,
No Power from Ukraine goes to Crimea………
double trouble……….

November 23, 2015 9:56 pm

So is that like Trans Siberian Orchestra? Just asking… Considering the season and all…

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