“Operation Y” to Steal Ukrainian Black Earth? – Part I

I saw this piece in PolitNavigator, about an American project to “reform” Ukraine’s Agro-Industrial Complex (АПК).

The title of the piece is American Operation “Y” on Ukraine’s Black Earth.

Now, I am not 100% positive about this, but I believe the “Operation Y” bit is a reference to the popular Soviet sketch comedy (1965) called “Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures”.

The 3 thieves: “Fool”, “Coward”, and “Old Pro”

In a series of sketches, the nerdy university student Shurik (a modern version of the classic Russian hero, Ivan Durak), gets himself in and out of various misadventures.  Including the “Operation Y” adventure, which involves a crooked warehouse manager hiring thieves to steal his own product.  And in Rusisan, there actually is not a letter “Y”, it’s actually Операция «Ы».  To learn the name of this letter and how to pronounce this particular allophone, watch this youtube video:  It’s right near the end of the Russian alphabet, so the dictor doesn’t get to this sound until :54 seconds in.  And then again, at 4:36 minutes in, the dictor gives some examples of how this allophone is pronounced in context of specific words such as мыло (“soap”).

Again, I believe that the Shurik comedy provides the allusion of the PolitNavigator piece to Ukrainian efforts to sell off their own communally-owned Black Earth to foreign investors.  But again, I am not 100% sure about this, it is just a guess.

Moving Right Along….

So, what is this scheme all about? According to Westie sources, such as this one, it’s a wonderful plan to “unleash Ukraine’s potential” as an agricultural superpower.

In the end, it’s all about the basics: Land and Water

Ukraine’s black soils are legendary, yet average productivity remains lower than many other European countries with less fertile soils. Why is Ukraine not fully leveraging its comparative advantage in agriculture? The answer lies in the administration of the country’s farmland. Today, more than 25 percent of the farmland is still in state hands—10.5 million ha of 40.9 million ha of agricultural land with about 8 million ha being arable land. By comparison, Germany’s total arable farmland is about 12 million ha, and in Switzerland it is just a fraction of Ukraine’s with about  500 thousand ha.

Yes, clearly Ukraine’s problem is that too much of her land belongs to the people, and not enough of it to the oligarchs.  And by the way, that Tourettian repeated hickup “ha” in the quote above is not the writer cracking himself up with his own sanctimoniousness — although it could be — it stands for “hectare“.

3 + 5 = ?

Now, the Ukrainian Agricultural Ministry has named this operation something other than “Operation Y”, otherwise, Ukrainians might get the joke.  They call it “Operation 3 + 5”.    The American side of this partnership to “develop” Ukrainian agriculture is a man named Michael Scuse, here is his official bio.  Scuse (which I believe is Italian for “Excuse Me”) is the U.S. Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, and he owns his own soybean farm in Delaware.  Recently Scuse met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Taras Kutovyi, who, as the linked piece shows, is very bullish to dispose of state-owned land.  And that piece also helps to decode the meaning of “3 + 5”, as follows:

  1. Priority #1 = Finalization of Land Reforms and support for small farmers
  2. Reforming of State support system
  3. Development of rural areas

Then:

  1. Development of domestic and regional markets
  2. Support for organic food production and niche crops
  3. Development of irrigation systems
  4. Food Safety and Consumer Protection
  5. ???

Even though Point #5 is kind of glossed over here (if 1-4 are what scam artists call “the hook”, then Point #5 is most likely the reeling in), well, the (3+5) plan still sounds great on paper.

Scuse shows Ukrainians what he can do to them with a corncob.

However, Alexander Linnik, the writer of the PolitNavigator piece is suspicious of the intentions of Scuse, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, and the other Americans involved in this plan to reform Ukrainian agriculture.  Linnik is most likely an overly-suspicious man who has been scammed before, and now suspects everyone.  Probably just last week he received one of those emails about the plight of a Nigerian princess, and he rushed to give the poor girl his bank account number, in the hopes of securing a much greater fortune, after she has been restored to her throne.  Only to find out, alas, that some team of grifters just waltzed away with his retirement account.  And now he is bitter and doesn’t trust anyone, not even the American Ambassador to his country.

Linnik Breaks Down “3 + 5”

  • Government support for small farmers – what this means, in reality, is this:  Small farmers will be able to take out government loans, using their own land as collateral.  They will be placed in a position where it is impossible to pay off their debts; hence, they will lose their small farms.  According to Linnik:  “Ukraine is losing its external markets, and the elasticity of the internal market has plunged, due to the impoverishment of the population.  Thanks to which, the rentability of agro-business has entered negative numbers.  Agro-technology never gets any cheaper, because it is mostly imported.  In 2004 the proportion of agro-technology produced in Ukraine itself and in the CIS countries was 80%; but nowadays it is no more than 30%.  Already by 2015 the proportion of imported agro-technology was up to 85%.  The small farmer will be liquidated as a class within the next two years, due to indebtedness.”

[to be continued]

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