What Russia Does Well

I'm not falling for this whole "Ukraine invasion" thing. Russia isn't fooling me. Just after hosting a highly-successful Olympic games, complete with super-modern stadiums and technology, Putin sends the "Russian Army" into Ukraine. Have you seen these guys? They are kitted-out to the nines and are well-trained and well-disciplined, and very motivated. Top notch soldiers.

It's all smoke and mirrors, though. Russia has a conscript army with very low pay and even lower morale. Those guys in Ukraine were probably Spetznatz (special forces), the cream of the army and volunteers to a man. The regular Russian army is in a shambles, much like the rest of the country.

So the Russkis in Crimea aren't fooling me.

Politics

But it goes to show that Russian maskirovka is something that Russia does very well. Maskirovka is the art of masking, distracting and confusing, and is a Russian political-military specialty that goes back to the Second World War.

Russia as a country is a great manipulator and always plays towards an end-game. This is why it can often seem that Putin is two steps ahead of Obama at every turn; because he is. Obama has no defined goal and can only react, while Putin has studied his opponents well and knows exactly what he wants and how he's going to get it. This is a great Russian specialty, served on a silver platter.

Sweets

Another thing Russia does very well is sweets. Yes, the delicious candies you can buy at any store. Russia has the best damn sweets I've ever had. I particularly fell in love with these tube-like sour things that had delicious sweet innards. No idea what they were called but man were they good!

Bakeries

Russia also does cakes and pastries very well. I like shopping for cakes in Russia because every one of them has a name is based on some traditional recipe. Think Black Forest cake. The "Napolean" is particularly good. As for pastries, damn!

The secret to Russian cakes and pastries, I think, is that they are made fresh with fresh ingredients and based on proven recipes. Cakes and pastries here have taken a real nosedive in quality over the past decade or so, and like Putin's realpolitik, Russia's realpastrytik is freakin' amazing.

Aviation

Russia is also very good at making airplanes and training pilots. Some of the best machines in military aviation have come out of Russia (think the Mig-15, Mig-25, Mig-29, SU-33) and even civil aviation has benifitted with beasts like the Antonov-124. The pilots that go along with these airplanes are top-notch and graduate from one of the world's best military pilot-training schools.

The only problem with Russian aviation is that they don't maintain the airplanes (or pilots) once they're built. So you can have the best machine in the world in the hands of the best pilot in the world, and it don't mean jack when the engines fall off!

Architecture

Russians used to do architecture very well. The huge, solid kremlins that dot the countryside are testament to Russian building, and the palaces and solid buildings of St Petersburg, Moscow and Ekaterinburg are proof of what Russia used to be able to do. Today they've gone the same route as everyone else: cheap buildings slapped together by cheaper labor.

Dairy

Finally, Russia is very good at dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt and sour cream are top-notch in Russia. Here in Canada Katya is exasperated that she can't find yogurt with more than 0% fat! We've seriously looked up and down aisles in at least ten different grocery store chains across the country, and everything is "0% fat! Get healthy today! No fat in our yogurt so we're just like every other piece of garbage yogurt on the shelf! Woohoo us!" It must be a conspiracy that yogurt in this country sucks.

Russia has better yogurt, better cheese, better sour cream (60% fat, baby) and better butter. I'm guessing their cows are better, too.

Mooo.

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