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Friday, December 05, 2008

Putin Tries to Speak Ukrainian

Enjoy this rare video, courtesy of ICTV.

Russian PM Vladmir Putin: One of my pals, in years gone by, used to say — whenever I posed some difficult questions to him, he’d say to me: “Ty sho, z gluzdu zyikhal chy sho?” Now, if you’ll excuse my pronunciation — it may be wrong — but the translation is: “What, have you lost your mind?” Same here. Just go to Germany and sa…walk into any store and say, “I want to take this Mercedes for free.” Will they give it to you? Or at half price? Why should we then give it away at half price?

Nice try, Mr. Putin! It’s actually “Ty shcho, z gluzdu zyikhav chy shcho?” (“Have you lost your mind or what?”)

But that’s not the point. Of course, Ukraine pays less for Russia’s natural gas supplies than Europe does. Reciprocally, Russia pays less for gas transit and storage in Ukraine than it does in Europe.

Our price survey would be incomplete without mention of rent for military bases. And guess what? That’s where the reciprocity ends.

Just a few benchmark figures:

At the lower end, we have the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Annual rent: $4,085.

At the upper end, we have the Subic Bay Naval Base. Annual rent: $481,000,000.

That sum comes from the 1988 agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines and does not include the money funneled into the local economy all the while: about a billion dollars a year.

Adjusted for inflation, the sum would be even bigger. And by the way, the U.S. Navy vacated the base in 1992, fulfilling the request of the Philippine government.

By comparison, Russia refuses to discuss withdrawal plans and, since 1997, has paid Ukraine $98M a year for using the naval base in Sevastopol.

You do the math.

Video uploaded from:
Original source:


Gabriela said...

Hello Taras:
Are Ukrainian and Russian languages too different from each other? That's something I'd always wanted to know.
Buen fin de semana.

Anonymous said...

Pryvit Tarase!
Thank you for this funny video! Actually you are absolutely right when stressing the importance of transit and stockage. There have been some analysis showing that actually that was Ukraine who were subsidizing Russia through heavily under-priced tariffs for transit. Also, in one of the recent issues of "Gas Matters", there was a publication calculating what price for Ukraine should be, if one take the price on German border for basis and accounts for transport costs. If you like, I could provide you with the article.

Another thing which could be of your interest (or even merit a comment from you part on your blog):

At first, when I opened this link, sent to me by some friends, I found it particularly displeasant.

Have a nice w-e!

Anonymous said...

This is indeed rare.

Most rooshans would rather cut their tongue out and die rather than speak Ukrainian.

Reminds me of the old joke:

- what do you call a person who speaks 2 languages? bilingual

- what do you call a person who speaks 3 languages? trilingual

- what do you call a person who speaks only 1 language? rooshan

Anonymous said...

Ukraine has leverage over Russia that over 80% of transit goes through Ukraine, that's the reason Ukraine pays less, but that wont be for long once the North and South stream come along ,...

Taras said...


I’d put it this way: similar enough for virtually all Ukrainians to understand and speak Russian, different enough for most Russians to fail to return the courtesy.

The similarities between Ukrainian and Russian can be compared to those between Spanish and Portuguese or Italian.

The biggest difference comes from history: None of these languages has oppressed the other as much as Russian has oppressed Ukrainian.

In Ukraine, we have asymmetric bilingualism, the product of the tsarist and Soviet policy of Russification.

Thank you for your interest in this issue! You can learn more about it in my other posts and comments here, here, and here.

Pryvit Serhiyu,

You are welcome to provide the gas article you mentioned! Ukrainians need to know the numbers.

Thank you for the “Yushchenko funeral” pics! Very impressive! Just as these Putin-crazed kids:)


Quite frankly, I’ve heard that joke applied to Americans as well:) You don’t fit that stereotype, and I like that!


You have a good point there. It’s just a matter of time. But time is money. Plus, these projects have their problems/trade-offs.

Gabriela said...

Thanks for explaining this to me, Taras. That was exactly what I thought: there are way more issues involved than just the language ones.
All the best!

Taras said...

Yes, history, culture and language overlap. You are always welcome, Gabriela!

Saludos desde Ucrania!

Unknown said...

Hello Tarase,
just to wish you great holidays, lot of fun, and tons of inspiration for your blog:=)

The article I mentioned had appeared in the September issue of "Gas Matters".
If you are interested, I can email it to you.
Merry Christmas!

Taras said...

Salut Serhiyu!

Дякую за теплі побажання. У нас як раз сніг випав. Бажаю і тобі веселих свят!

Чекаю на статтю: political_ukraine at yahoo dot com

Joyeux Noël:)!