E Cornering Putin

Today the Cold War resumed as both the USA and the European Community imposed new economic sanctions on Russian companies and banks, because the Putin government had violated international treaty commitments by furnishing eastern Ukrainian separatists with banned weaponry. And because it was not changing tack despite the horrible results including the death of hundreds of innocent airline passengers.

The impact of sanctions is greatest on companies which operate in the Russian energy sector, but there are further implications affection some of our holdings as well. They are detailed for our paid subscribers below.

Having studied the Russian language for two years when in college, chatting over tea with little old Tsarist ladies who had escaped the Revolution as children, I developed what then (and now again) is called a St. Peterburg accent. But if I ever got to chat with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, I would not trust the Russian I had barely used for decades, and would revert to my first foreign language, which was German which he speaks fluently.

Cornering Putin, what I would tell him is that expansionist populist hysteria coupled with corruption masking itself as socialism is not a good long-term foundation for political power. Good propaganda produces short-term foreign and economic policies. The outcome is dangerous: embargoes, deprivation, more crude nationalism, and perhaps a slide into a war nobody wants.

Saying this has far more impact in German anyway, because that was what how the Nazis tried to run Germany.

*In a Wall Street Journal interview yesterday, the top brass at Liberty Mediaconfirmed what we have suspected, that the John Malone entities are not interested in getting into social media, but are seriously in pursuit of content. But they are also keeping their cards close to their vest. There is little doubt in my mind that LBTYA is going after more than just 6.4% of ITV in a bid to add content to its cable and telco empire. Mr Malone calls this “vertical investment”. His team also confirmed that the group along with Discovery Channel is looking into buying a slice of Formula 1. However he has no plans to buy into telcos, saying that they should be buying into cable instead. And he specifically said that neither Google nor Facebook is a likely target for Liberty. What a comfort!

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