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Russia oil production

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Russian oil production considered to be at "over peak" stage with increases mainly due to offshore drilling. In 2014 total petroleum and other liquids production in 2014 were 10.8 Mb/d  (EIA). Russia crude oil production in late 2015 was around 10.20M, up from  10.08Mb/done year ago. That's was an unanticipated, even by Russian Ministry of Energy result of activities of small companies. which managed to increase of  production by  1.12% from one year ago, when most analysts expected a slight decline (Russia Crude Oil Production (Monthly, Barrels per Day).

Despite severe depreciation of ruble and sanctions, in 2015 Russia managed to reach the level of production that exceed the level of former USSR period. At the same time most of Russia's fields are mature fields and the production from them is declining for long time,  offset only by new more expensive projects with less total volume. Unless Arctic oil and other expensive oil are economical to produce (which requires over $100 bbl price) the national path for Russian production is iether long plato fed by projects coming online, which were started during "good times" (and now face losses, not profits)  or straight down as capital expenses were slashed in 2015 tot he bones.  

Russian oil extraction (red) and oil exports (green) in metric tons

 

In 2015 Russia managed to increase exports the first time in six years, but that does not change general situation: internal consumption is growing pretty robustly with growth of car fleet and decline of production due to national depletion of  conventional oil wells. The latter became more and more difficult to compensate with new discoveries. And new fields, even if such exist, can't be now tapped because capital expenditures by most Russian oil companies now are slashed to the bone (Russia is more like the USA in this respect with over dozen of major oil companies producing  oil).

At current oil prices Arctic oil now is out of reach and only existing platforms will remain in production. All of them are losing money. conventional wells are still profitable with same remaining profitable up to $20 per barrel. Still for the next several years Russia probably will be able to keep the current level of production due to huge previous investments dome in 2010-2014 in a few new fields (Bloomberg Business, December 20, 2015):

The other big boosts to Russian production this year have come from a few mid-sized new fields like those of Severenergia in the Arctic Yamal region. Co-owners Novatek OJSC and Gazpromneft PJSC invested in the $9.2 billion project back when oil prices were high. With most of the capital already committed, operating costs now are relatively low and output of gas condensate, a light and especially valuable form of crude, is up five-fold this year.

One side effect of falling oil prices -- the 52 percent plunge in the ruble over the last two years -- has helped Russian oil producers, chopping their costs in dollar terms since between 80 and 90 percent of their spending comes in rubles.

... ... ...

To be sure, few in the industry expect Russia to be able to sustain the current performance for more than a few years. Tax hikes and lack of financing have cut deeply into exploration drilling, which is down 21 percent this year, and handicap the larger new projects that are needed to replace the country’s older fields as they run dry.

... ... ...

In some parts of the Russian oil patch, low prices are already causing pain. At $40 a barrel, “half of our fields could be stopped. Heavy oil, low horizons, mature horizons are all unprofitable at a price of $40-45. We are waiting for better times,” Russneft OJSC Board Chairman Mikhail Gutseriev said in an interview on state television early this month.

Unfortunately just before the oil prices crush Russia was engaged in several high cost drilling projects in Arctic and was caught naked when oil price dropped. ( see Petroleum industry in Russia - Wikipedia).  Timing can't be more bad as this is a really expensive oil, probably around $60 per barrel or higher at wellhead.  Which are now sold at a huge discount.  Igor Sechin proved to be a weak leader of the Russia major state owned oil company Rosneft.  Government refused to bail out the company which faces large external debt and it was saved by some "white knife" billionaire.

Moscow Exile, December 19, 2015 at 11:19 am

Undeterred by OPEC’s decision to keep pumping and drive out U.S. shale rivals, Russian oil output continued to grow, in October setting a new monthly record for the post-Soviet era. Explorers have remained profitable under a friendly tax system and low production costs.

Mystery Benefactor

Rosneft assuaged concerns over the sustainability of Russia’s biggest corporate debt load after the company received a $15 billion advance payment for oil supplies from a source the company didn’t identify, according to quarterly reports published Nov. 13. The inflow of cash will help Rosneft meet $2.5 billion in debt due in the fourth quarter, $13.7 billion in 2016 and $11.3 billion in 2017, according to a presentation on its website.

See: One Year Into New OPEC Era, You Made 12% Buying These Oil Bonds

It looks like the board is in denial of the blunder with overinvest they made:

18 December 2015
Rosneft Holds Board of Directors Meeting

On December 18, Rosneft Board of Directors considered in Vladivostok interim results of its 2015 operations, the business-plan for 2016-2017, the Long-term development program and the energy efficiency program of the Company.

The following decisions were taken:

1. The Board of Directors considered and acknowledged 2015 Rosneft interim results and the intermediate results of the implementation of the long-term development program of the Company. The Board of Directors welcomed the results of the implementation of programs aimed at raising efficiency in challenging economic environment: the Company maintained low levels of OPEX and eased its debt burden.

2. The Board of Directors considered and acknowledged the business-plan for 2016-2017, structured in accordance with a conservative macroeconomic scenario and focused on the implementation of the Long-term development program of the Company, approved by the Government of the Russian Federation.

Within the ambit of delivering strategic goals of boosting production, securing deliveries of oil and oil products, maintaining a market share (both in Russia and abroad), the Company plans to increase capital expenditures by a third (compared to 2015 levels). The investment development program envisages the achievement of strategic goals of hydrocarbon production growth by means of accelerated commencement of oil and gas greenfields whilst exercising a balanced external financing program. After the completion of transition to Euro-5 motor fuels production in December 2015, refineries’ modernization program will be focused on increasing processing depth. Also, the program of cutting operating costs and enhancing operating and financial efficiency will be continued. Hence the leadership in the industry by the operating costs and capital costs will be guaranteed.

... .... ...

Commenting on the results of the Board meeting, Rosneft Chairman of the Management Board Igor Sechin said: “Measures taken by the Company for strengthening its oilfield services business dimension in 2015 enabled Rosneft to increase production in order to guarantee supplies to its traditional markets while keeping operating and capital expenditures at the record-low levels. The Company consistently generates free cash flow, providing funding sources for its investment decisions in accordance with 2015-2016 business plan approved by the Board of Directors and the Long-term Development Program”.

In August 2014, it was announced that preparations by the Russian government to sell a 19.5 percent stake in the company were underway and would most likely be sold in two tranches. So far this chunk of the company was not sold, probably because of low oil prices. 

Russia oil internal consumption is generally more or less stable and growling at a very slow page outside several 'abnormal" years. In 2016 it will not probably grow much as the economy remain is conditions close to recession. Lukoil chairman has said that he  expects Russia to produce less oil  in 2016 than in 2015

Russia internal oil consumption is currently around 3.3 Mb/d, up from 3.2 Mb/d one year ago. This is a change of 3.15% from one year ago.

2005 2,785.14 1.25 %
2006 2,803.47 0.66 %
2007 2,885.10 2.91 %
2008 2,981.92 3.36 %
2009 2,888.53 -3.13 %
2010 3,081.82 6.69 %
2011 3,352.11 8.77 %
2012 3,395.11 1.28 %
2013 3,320.00 -2.21 %

It is expected that it will continue to grow by around 0.1 Mb/d per year as car fleet is rapidly growing.. Also Russia will process more raw oil in 2016 then in 2015 which also negatively influence export of raw oil. Russia oil consumption per capita is still four times less then in the USA (15 vs 60 bbl/day per 1000 people)

Russian leadership have found itself unprepared to the dramatic drop of oil prices and now will take moves to refine more oil at home, and selling less raw oil. The fact that Russia sells mostly unprocessed oil was a blunder that costs Russia billions and Putin had shown ability to learn from mistakes. 

Russia's Key Energy Statistics world rank
Total Primary Energy Production
2012
55.296
Quadrillion Btu
3
Total Primary Energy Consumption
2012
31.522
Quadrillion Btu
3
Dry Natural Gas Production
2011
22,213
Billion Cubic Feet
2
Total Petroleum and Other Liquids Production
2014
10,853
Thousand Barrels Per Day
3
Total Primary Coal Production
2013
388,013
Thousand Short Tons
6

Compare that with the USA

United States' Key Energy Statistics world rank
Total Primary Energy Production
2012
79.212
Quadrillion Btu
2
Total Primary Energy Consumption
2012
95.058
Quadrillion Btu
2
Dry Natural Gas Production
2011
22,902
Billion Cubic Feet
1
Total Petroleum and Other Liquids Production
2014
13,973
Thousand Barrels Per Day
1
Total Primary Coal Production
2013
984,842
Thousand Short Tons
2

 


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[Sep 19, 2018] Washington's goal is to reduce Russia's gas market share in Eastern Europe by 20% by 2020

Sep 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com


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Russia and the West are facing the worst crisis since the Cold War. According to US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein, Washington's goal is to reduce Russia's gas market share in Eastern Europe by 20% by 2020.

Russia cannot be allowed to build a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine, as it would pose a threat to Europe's energy security


kirill September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am

Pipeline bypassing Ukraine = threat to Europe's energy security

That is a total non sequitur. Also, Russia is part of Europe. The EU is not the whole of "Europe". In fact, the EU is not even the EU as evidenced by Hungary and Italy.

Mark Chapman September 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
And Washington can have Eastern Europe. Go ahead – take them as customers, and sell them expensive LNG they can't afford. Russia would probably be glad to be shut of Poland and the Baltics. And having to pay way more for their gas would teach them a lesson. Win/win.
kirill September 16, 2018 at 4:43 am
Pipeline bypassing Ukraine = threat to Europe's energy security

That is a total non sequitur. Also, Russia is part of Europe. The EU is not the whole of "Europe". In fact, the EU is not even the EU as evidenced by Hungary and Italy.

Mark Chapman September 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
And Washington can have Eastern Europe. Go ahead – take them as customers, and sell them expensive LNG they can't afford. Russia would probably be glad to be shut of Poland and the Baltics. And having to pay way more for their gas would teach them a lesson. Win/win.
et Al September 17, 2018 at 4:57 am
Doesn't the pipeline via the lo-land of Po-land go via Belarus? Warsaw buying gas from elsewhere would starve Minsk of transit fees, no? Maybe the idea is similarly to undermine Belarus and thus impose further costs/indirect sanctions on Russia?

[Sep 15, 2018] The problem there is that the USA cannot sell LNG at a competitive price against pipeline gas and still make money

Another problem is how much gas for sale the USA actually has? Or they want to resell gas they buy for Russia Sakhalin? They already did a couple of times.
Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Oh, please, God, let the USA impose sanctions on European companies in an attempt to stop the building of Nord Stream II (which, incidentally, has begun and is already underwater).

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/09/10/trumps-energy-secretary-heading-to-moscow-to-discuss-more-energy-sanctions/#2ea293071b80

I can't think of anything more likely to incite European fury against America, and while we're on the subject, under what authority would the USA fine European companies for not obeying sanctions imposed by the USA? I can see how they could get away with further penalizing Russia – they are piggybacking on the Skripal affair, that's why they pretend so fervently to believe Britain's accusations even though it has offered no proof at all, just more accusations. The legal instrument it is using is a national-security clause (big surprise) meant to stop the spread of chemical-warfare threats. But how is it going to justify imposing a big fine on BASF-Wintershall, for example, and what would it do if the latter simply said, "Cram it up your chuff!" and refused to pay?

Anyway, the calling-out of Britain's 'evidence' in front of the UN is going to be extra-special, in that light. Because the Skripal thing is the USA's whole basis for further sanctions. Without it – if the case is demolished, and I frankly can't see how the UK government could sensibly respond to all the discrepancies picked up at sites like Slane's 'Blogmire' – they've got nothing; no grounds for further sanctions.

James lake September 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm
Russia invited American energy secretary to Moscow to discuss the USA sanctions on Russian energy markets.

They say hope dies last!

Patient Observer September 11, 2018 at 3:49 pm
Is that your interpretation? Defeat, doom?
James lake September 12, 2018 at 11:30 pm
The Americans thinking they can talk or bully Russia into Submitting by sanctions.

The USA energy policy needed a cheap product, Infrastructure across Europe, and of course investment to make this all happen beginning years ago.

Mark Chapman September 13, 2018 at 8:20 am
And that was perfectly possible, had it been started years ago, and had the USA come to Europe with a business plan which answered the question, "What's in it for me?" Everybody in business likes to make money; it's kind of what keeps business going. And if the USA could still sell to Europe under those circumstances – because it has a lot of a product it can sell at a competitive price and still make money – it would still be possible to do it. The problem there is that the USA cannot sell LNG at a competitive price against pipeline gas and still make money. A further problem is that in business dynamics, the guy who has control in a business relationship is the guy who supplies you with a product you can't get anywhere else at the same or a lower price.

The USA wants the profits realized by selling gas to Europe, and right away, that's not going to work, because shipborne LNG cannot compete with pipeline gas for price. The USA would have to sell it for a lot less than it takes to recover and ship it, and it's not willing to do that because it is contrary to every principle of business. But that's a big problem, because the profit is actually secondary. What Washington really wants is the power conveyed by being Europe's main supplier – then it can play energy politics like it constantly accuses Russia of doing, although actual evidence of Russia threatening to cut off Europe's gas if it does not, let's say, drop sanctions against Russia, is zip, Nada. No evidence. But Washington would do it, and you know they would, and so does Brussels. So it is trying to muscle Europe's main supplier out of the market by coercion, because it can't do it simply by offering a better price.

Which leaves it in the ridiculous position of arguing, "We should be your supplier instead of Russia, because ain't we the bestest of friends and allies?", at the same time it is conducting a trade war for American business advantage and threatening to impose sanctions against European companies who participate in the pipeline project as investors.

[Sep 15, 2018] Ukraine attacks Russia on legal field and score points against Gasprom

Sep 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

Here we go again with reliable pot-stirrer the UK, in the form of a ruling by the UK Court of Appeals that Ukraine does have a valid case, after all, of grieving the ordered repayment of $3 Billion it was lent by Moscow after Yanukovych decided to reject the European Association Agreement, and petitioned Russia for assistance.

Some facts that should be recalled here; Ukraine has to the very best of my knowledge never paid this debt, although the IMF grudgingly backed Russia's claim that it was a bilateral loan . Then Ukraine imposed a moratorium on further payments, trying to squeeze Russia into accepting a 'restructuring' of the debt, a colourful euphemism for 'write off some of it and give us until forever to pay the rest', allowing Ukraine to simply roll over its outstanding debt each year and put off payment until the promised western flood of incredible prosperity finally arrives.

The ever-helpful IMF then rewrote its own laws so that it could continue lending to Ukraine although it exhibited all the classic symptoms of a bad debtor. Most of us said it would all end in tears for the IMF, and where is it now, again? How much of that $17 Billion aid package has been disbursed?

Georgetown University Professor Anna Gelpern offered Ukraine an out , stating that in her legal opinion, the obligation amounted to 'odious debt', which consequently did not have to be repaid. Longtime kook Anders Aslund enthusiastically embraced that view, bleating that really Russia should be repaying Ukraine, for invading and plundering it.

Let me give you my not-legal opinion; Ukraine does not have a hope of winning this case. The UK is just trying to help it kick the can a little further down the road, and put off repayment for another year or two while the courts wrangle the issue out all over again, and lawyers pocket hefty fees. It also serves the British hobby of sticking its thumb in Russia's eye every chance it gets to do it. The money is probably not a big issue to Russia; it's the principle, and it would probably suit the Kremlin to duke it out in court again just on the probability that Ukraine will suffer another humiliating defeat, although that will make no difference at all to its willingness to pay. I propose, though, another option; one to be exercised immediately, and one down the road a bit. First, communicate to Kuh-yiv that if it goes ahead with this, Russia will pull out all foreign investment in Ukraine, immediately and finally. I personally do not think the economy could sustain that kind of hit, since it is on life support now. Second, Russia should communicate to Britain that once Brexit becomes operative, the UK will have to negotiate with Europe for energy supplies and pay their asking price, since there will be no direct transfers of energy to the UK. That might have been the case anyway, since to the best of my knowledge no systems serve the UK directly from Russia except LNG cargoes. But it would not hurt to remind them.

It occurs to me that the west has only itself to blame for Ukraine's current and ongoing dysfunction and 'cutie-pie' criminality, since the west keeps encouraging it to greater heights of irresponsibility, covering for it and then rewriting its own rules so that behaviour previously illegal is magically permissible.

Moscow Exile September 14, 2018 at 10:41 am
THE COURT OF SWEDEN HAS OVERTURNED A DECISION BLOCKING THE COLLECTION OF "NAFTOGAZ" ASSETS OF "GAZPROM"
September 13, 2018

Ukraine's Naftogaz to proceed with Gazprom asset seizures after court ruling
14 Sep 2018 |

Court overturns order to freeze Gazprom assets in England, Wales
14.09.2018

Funny how these things seem to happen all at once, innit?

Moscow Exile September 14, 2018 at 11:16 am
Russia to challenge decision of English Court of Appeal on Ukraine's debt
September 14, 18:48 UTC+3

Russia bought Ukrainian Eurobonds worth $3 bln in December 2013

and now, in line with the "Western Values" that they have embraced, the Yukie toe-rags do not want to pay up.

Mark Chapman September 14, 2018 at 11:41 am
The London High Court is not going to like being reversed; such reversals often do not look good for the judges, although there certainly cannot be any murmuring of 'political motivation' here, since the court was most decidedly motivated to rule for Ukraine in the original judgment if it could. As I said, this is just kicking the can down the road a piece, and buying time for Kuh-yiv. And that might be a valid strategy, if a burgeoning economy was about to break free in Ukraine. Is that the case? I'm afraid I don't think so. In fact, Ukraine is broke and living on handouts, its reserves down to record lows; it doesn't have the money, so the UK is trying to rig the judgment so as to head off its having to pay, at least temporarily. More short-term thinking, such as is characteristic of crisis management.

The Appeals Court is likely ruling on a technicality because it believes (or has been encouraged to believe) it deserves further examination. But, again, I have to believe that in such a politically-charged case, the court which rendered the original verdict would have carefully picked over every argument which might have worked in Ukraine's favour, since the UK was highly motivated to support Ukraine if there were any way it could legally do so. The efficacy, reliability and non-volatility of Eurobonds is at stake here, and a ruling now for Ukraine is likely to provoke a drawback from Eurobonds and European financial instruments by every nation that perceives it is or might one day be perceived as a foe of a Europe still in thrall to the United States. Russia chose such an instrument precisely because of the high risk of a Ukrainian default even if Yanukovych had remained in power, and that was a wise decision to the extent that the west has had to completely rewrite the book in order to challenge the stratagem. That, too, will play to its great disadvantage down the road, as every debtor nation has the right of precedent to exercise such options.

The funny thing is that if Europe simply laid out the situation bluntly to Moscow, as an equal and a respected partner to the deal, and asked for mercy for Ukraine, there is every chance Moscow would find a way to accommodate, provided it was given due credit for its magnanimity. Instead, as usual, Europe has gone with a strategy of creating the appearance that Moscow fucked Ukraine, breaking the law in the process. It will be interesting to see what Alexander Mercouris has to say about this, and I am sure he will offer an opinion, but I'm afraid I haven't time now as I have to get ready for work. But I should like to once more point out that all the advantage lies with Russia here, if it only remains patient and keeps its temper; it is Russia which is keeping Ukraine alive now, through transit fees and significant FDI. It can choose to withdraw one at any time it pleases, and the other as soon as Nord Stream II is completed. The west's attempts to change the beloved 'facts on the ground' amount to no more than scrabbling at the noose that is tightening around Ukraine's throat.

[Sep 09, 2018] The centrepiece of Trump's economic policy is weapons, oil and LNG exports

Aug 24, 2018 | www.newsilkstrategies.com

Below is a New Silk Strategies translation from the Russian site teknoblog.ru .

It is clear from Trump's enthusiastic sales talk to the Polish authorities on July 6, 2017 (as we reported here ) that the centrepiece of Trump's economic policy is LNG exports. The US has no major economic projects even remotely comparable to China's One Belt One Road initiative, the biggest infrastructure project in history. But worse, all of the energy companies involved in fracking are running in the red with no prospects of ever making profits unless oil prices skyrocket to new highs and stay there. The wells are short-lived and by the time they are producing steadily, they are already drying up, necessitating new drilling and more borrowing. Worse, that big deal with China to sujpply a major portion of their gas needs may be about to fizzle, thanks to Trump's tough guy act.

In 2016, Henry Kissinger floated the idea of using Russia to oppose China and shared the idea with an enthusiastic Donald Trump. Kissinger had entertained this idea in the 1970s as Nixon's national security adviser. The problem is, the whole notion of granting China "most-favoured nation" status, ie, doing essentially free trade with it, was based on just the opposite mission of opposing Russia using China as a club, and both ideas have their die-hard supporters in Washington. Keen observers know neither approach will succeed. In fact, recently the National Interest reported that China and Russia are planning joint military drills.

[Sep 08, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

Notable quotes:
"... In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas ..."
"... About the Author ..."
"... Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War ..."
"... Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 ..."
"... Russia's Islamic Threat ..."
"... The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond ..."
Jun 25, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev.

The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ).

Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine.

In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe.

Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ).

The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

Implications

Thus, EU energy diversification policies are transforming Turkey, Azerbaijan and perhaps even Bulgaria into key players on the southern gas transit front, while Ukraine falters to Germany, and eastern Europe to Western Europe on the northern front.

Tensions between Ankara and Sofia on these grounds cannot be excluded, and they could draw in Turkey's semi-ally Azerbaijan. US, EU, Russian and Ukrainian energy diplomacy is likely not only to be focused on each other, therefore, but also on Ankara, Baku, and Sofia over the next year.

Unless, the US can rapidly reduce the cost of extracting and shipping LNG to Europe, it is unlikely to be able to become a major alternative to these players, and Russia will continue to dominate the European gas market, with a balance of competition and cooperation with Azerbaijan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California, www.cetisresearch.org .

Dr. Hahn is the author of Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the 'New Cold War (McFarland Publishers, 2017) and three previously and well-received books: Russia's Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002); Russia's Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007); and The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia's North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media and has served as a consultant and provided expert testimony to the U.S. government.

Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. He has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Kennan Institute in Washington DC as well as the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

[Sep 06, 2018] Paradise Papers Reveal US Selling Russian LNG In Europe by Irina Slav

Notable quotes:
"... If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom. ..."
Nov 10, 2017 | oilprice.com

The documents suggest that a company with US ownership is buying Russian gas from petrochemical giant Sibur, and then selling it -- at a profit, of course -- to the European Union, which is in a rush to build as many LNG terminals as it can in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

If the reports are true, the situation is an ironic one for Europe: while trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas it is inadvertently increasing it and is even paying more for it than it would if it bought the extra loads directly from Gazprom.

One might wonder how a U.S. company is able to do business with a Russian one. It's simple: Wilbur Ross himself said earlier this week that Sibur is not a subject to sanctions, so for Navigator Holdings and the petrochemical giant, everything is business as usual.

[Sep 05, 2018] Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG

Sep 05, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 2, 2018 at 11:36 pm

OilPrice.com : Melting Arctic Creates New Opportunities For LNG
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Melting-Arctic-Creates-New-Opportunities-For-LNG.html

According to Balmasov, while the number of voyages via the Northern Sea Route so far this year has been roughly the same as last year, the main difference compared to 2017 is LNG traffic out of the port of Sabetta, the port that Russia's gas producer Novatek uses to ship the Yamal LNG cargoes to Europe and to Asia.

Arctic Logistics data compiled by Bloomberg shows that by early July, a total of 34 tankers made the voyage from Sabetta to Europe, and one to the east. Since early July, another two LNG tankers have shipped the fuel to Asia

In mid-July, Novatek said that it had shipped its first LNG cargoes from Yamal LNG to China via the Northern Sea Route, with the voyage from Sabetta completed in 19 days, compared to 35 days for the traditional eastern route via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca
####

Tut tut! Cannot have LNG going via Russia's northern passage (fnar! fnar!).

Vis ship pollution, why simply hold LNG carriers up to much higher environmental standards? After all most of them are much newer and are specialist vessels. Or are they already? Indeed they are, the use of duel-fuel engines that can make use of boil-off:

https://www.brighthubengineering.com/naval-architecture/111619-propulsion-methods-for-modern-lng-tankers/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier

As of 2005, a total of 203 vessels had been built, of which 193 were still in service. At the end of 2016, the global LNG shipping fleet consisted of 439 vessels.[3] In 2017, an estimated 170 vessels are in use at any one time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LNG_carrier#Reliquefaction_and_boil-off
According to WGI, on a typical voyage an estimated 0.1–0.25% of the cargo converts to gas each day, depending on the efficiency of the insulation and the roughness of the voyage.[16] In a typical 20-day voyage, anywhere from 2–6% of the total volume of LNG originally loaded may be lost.[16]

Normally an LNG tanker is powered by steam turbines with boilers. These boilers are dual fuel and can run on either methane or oil or a combination of both. ..

Mark Chapman September 3, 2018 at 10:16 am

I love how an eventuality we were all raised to dread – the melting of the polar ice caps – is now spun as a net positive. Make hay while the sun shines! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Pick your metaphor. We are destroying the planet we live on, inch by irrecoverable inch, but the merchants of Stay-Positive maintain it is AWESOME.

I don't know if you heard – probably not, since it was never much of an international story – but the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals, in a surprise decision, overturned the government's commitment to the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2018/08/trans-mountain-court-quashes-approval-contentious-pipeline-180830180555077.html

Alberta's Rachel Notley reportedly bent spoons with her teeth, since she had just jubilantly reported that the court challenge by the city of Burnaby (British Columbia) was defeated. "To date, Alberta has won every case brought against Trans Mountain. Your Alberta government will not back down until this pipeline is built and the national interest is secured", she crowed on Twitter; the modern equivalent of a legislature, I guess, since all politicians who are anybody turn first to Twitter to get their message out.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/977566130351960064

That one, of course, was "a victory for all Canadians". Except for British Columbia's crybabies, of course, who did not want to play host to Alberta's tanker armada, considering Alberta has no seacoast. So you would think she would quietly accept this later decision by the legal system she purports to revere. Not a bit of it. She immediately withdrew Alberta from the national climate-change plan, and restarted her rhetoric about cutting off BC's gas supply.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/ready-and-prepared-to-turn-off-the-taps-notley-issues-stark-warning-to-b-c-as-pipeline-fight-escalates/wcm/59f845c2-b13e-46f5-bb08-15e0fb37ec84

Get it? When the court rules in Alberta's favour, it is just – the solemn power of the law makes you want to weep with awe. When it rules against Alberta, it is a clown show of unevolved primates. That's modern politics.

All this theatre when the completion of the pipeline is inevitable – the very day, almost to the hour that the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, the shareholders of Kinder-Morgan Canada voted 99% in favour of selling the pipeline to the government of Canada. So now the government owns it, and although it may be delayed a couple of years, it's down but not out. Now the government has to re-do its consultations with all the native bands, this time selling the impression that it is actually listening and the consultative process is real, and it has to conduct a review of the environmental impact of increased tanker traffic (which it formerly declaimed as outside its purview). I'd say if there is agreement on changing some routes and perhaps permissible speed until well offshore, it will almost certainly pass next time.

[Sep 02, 2018] The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

Sep 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: September 1, 2018 at 10:48 pm GMT

@AquariusAnon

You seem ignorant about economic issues. For example, when it comes to natural gas market, European countries are not in the same boat. Britain and Spain import virtually no gas from Russia. These countries built lots LNG terminals and import from Qatar.

Germany, Italy and France have a well-diversified supply from multiple sources. The countries that are truly dependent on Russia are in ex-communist Eastern Europe. They still rely on a network of pipelines built by USSR, and would go into energy crisis if Russia suddenly ended supply.

There is no Chinese FDI in Belarus, and in Russia it accounts for 1% of the total FDI. Nobody is learning Chinese in Russia or Belarus. I don't know what you're smoking.

[Aug 31, 2018] US is an oligarchy not a democracy

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Circe , Aug 30, 2018 9:06:13 PM | 54

Somebody @40:

Your comment implies that people should continue to bang their heads against a wall.

In fact, no one has said NOT to participate in politics. To be effective, it's important to understand the reality of politics and the power structure.

Landmark Princeton University Study: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens demonstrates that US is an oligarchy not a democracy:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination ...

That's why candidates like Ron Paul on the Republican side and Denis Kucinich on the Democratic side never stood a chance. They made way too much sense; they dared speak truth to power so they had to be marginalized by their respective parties so no one would take them seriously. They were literally swallowed up by the duopoly and relegated to quasi-obscurity.

[Aug 31, 2018] Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

Aug 31, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Aug 30, 2018 3:50:33 PM | 29

I would say 'contra-Russia'. Trump is just the current vessel.

Let us not forget, that under the mighty and loved O-bomber, a group of US Senators back in 2014 made Bulgaria drop South Stream with god knows what threats, whereas Brussels had previously failed (intentionally?) to do so. Guess who was the lead Senator?

RT.com: Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####


See, nothing has changed. At least it looks like U-rope has learned its lesson. Not so the US. Russia hatin' is a too good 'dead cat on the table' to give up.

Posted by: et Al | Aug 30, 2018 1:55:58 PM | 8

Underneath everyone's observations/comments lurks the basic question: Why?

Enter the Big Picture provided yesterday by Pepe Escobar who also links to and cites the controversial Alastair Crooke ideological essay I linked to last week. Part of the Big Picture is the #1 policy goal of the Outlaw US Empire--Full Spectrum Dominance of the Planet--and its recently published National Defense Strategy(NDS) related to that goal:

"The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model -- gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions."

Do please note the combination of prevarication with ideology in the above as it's reflective of the point Crooke tried to make in his piece. A strategy based upon lies to oneself is a sure recipe for defeat as you're deceiving yourself which violates the first law of war as pronounced by so many: "All war is based on deception." But then given the political-economic nature of the USA's Keynesian Militarism, perhaps this deception is aimed domestically so as to transfer even more tax dollars upwards to the 1%. So, actions must be closely observed even more than usual.

During the election campaign, it was speculated that Trump's desire to ease tensions with Russia was a last-ditch gambit suggested by Kissinger to split the Chinese-Russian alliance. So, Russiagate served to defeat that gambit while pushing China and Russia even closer together. With the Syrian regime change ploy rapidly being defeated and Ukraine going nowhere, Deep State planners were left without an oar, so the reversion to Cold War Russophobia with an occasional bout of Sinophobia thrown in for good measure--neither of which is any sort of strategy.

Another quote from the NDS:

"Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military
advantage has been eroding."

That was realized before Putin's display of highly advanced Russian weaponry, which was announced in March, the NDS was released in January. What's amazing is "strategic atrophy" with budgets beyond $600 billion must mean a massive portion's being wasted--delivered to the 1%--such that it's corruption that's caused the erosion of "our competitive advantage." I'd opine much of the chaos we see being played-up is done to obscure interpretations like mine so that even more $$$ can be wasted, although lip service is given to improvements.

So, who/what's really in charge? Big Money rules as it has since the Civil War within the USA and much earlier when we include London and Amsterdam. Big Money's angry because it's locked out of BRI, BRICS, EAEU, and developing nations are mostly on to IMF's and World Bank's disingenuous "development" plans because it abhors the notion that it's not Top Dog. So, the dollar got weaponized and the Trade and Financial War--the Hybrid Third World War--was finally begun in earnest after earlier fits and starts. Yet it appears that the effort will fail since Big Money is finding itself trapped inside a web of its own making that's based on a fiat currency supported by Junk Economics.

[Aug 31, 2018] It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

ET AL August 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

It is reported that the German company and partner in Nord Stream II, Uniper, may pull out of the project due to the risk of US sanctions (previously it said Uniper will pull out sic see link.).* In related news, construction has been started in German waters. Still silence from Denmark as to whether they will block it or not.

If I were Moscow, I would announce that the pipeline's route will avoid Danish waters and sit back to see the reaction. Why? Coz you can bet that some will claim it is punishment/bribe/threat/anti-competitive to Denmark, to whit, Russia can simply reply that Denmark has XXX days to provide the permits before it is no longer economically feasible for the route to go through its waters.

* https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/german-company-fully-committed-to-nord-stream-2-despite-fear-of-us-sanctions/

Euractiv: With attacks on Nord Stream 2, Washington ignores collateral damage
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/with-attacks-on-nord-stream-2-washington-ignores-collateral-damage/

####

What p* me off about the reported 'threat from NSII' and even in articles like the one above that point out it is in Europe's interest, none of them mention the preceding sabotage of South Stream II under the mighty Obama and the impact from that led directly to Nord Stream II.

A blast from the past:
Bulgaria halts Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project after visit by US senators
https://www.rt.com/business/164588-brussels-bulgaria-halts-south-stream/

At this time there is a request from the European Commission, after which we've suspended the current works, I ordered it," Oresharski told journalists after meeting with John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson during their visit to Bulgaria on Sunday. "Further proceedings will be decided after additional consultations with Brussels."

McCain, commenting on the situation, said that "Bulgaria should solve the South Stream problems in collaboration with European colleagues," adding that in the current situation they would want "less Russian involvement" in the project.

"America has decided that it wants to put itself in a position where it excludes anybody it doesn't like from countries where it thinks it might have an interest, and there is no economic rationality in this at all. Europeans are very pragmatic, they are looking for cheap energy resources – clean energy resources, and Russia can supply that. But the thing with the South Stream is that it doesn't fit with the politics of the situation," Ben Aris, editor of Business New Europe told RT .
####

Yes kids. Warmonger McCain was at the forefront of getting it killed after interference from Brussels failed to shift the asshole Borissov's government. So when a European asks "What has John McCain done for us? , he's already f*ed you over for the benefit of the US and U-ropean poodle Krazy K**t Klan.

[Aug 31, 2018] Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely no compensation for cancelling the South stream to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

And let's remember what a hard lesson Bulgaria learned from its leap of faith into Brussels' arms.

On May 30, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the joint press conference, Borisov apologized to Putin for the failure of South Stream and for his responsibility in causing the deterioration of relations between the two countries. Borisov said: "We know about the difficult relations in the past and are grateful to our colleagues for not being vindictive and the fact that Russian-Bulgarian relations do not depend on the extent of guilt of some politicians

"I would like to thank President Putin for his attitude once again. I am to blame for creating certain tensions When it came to the worst and I wanted to talk, my calls were always answered. And I really accept part of the guilt for those developments."

Putin then added that he regrets that the South Stream project has not been implemented, since it would have "greatly benefited" Bulgaria.

In response, Borisov blamed the EU of having imposed Bulgaria diktats that other countries do not respect anyway. Borisov said: "We are the most loyal and the most disciplined country in the European Union. This is the reason why all the pipelines bypassed our territory. We hope that today we have redressed an injustice.

https://www.memri.org/reports/russia-world-%E2%80%93-russia-bulgaria-reconciliation-%E2%80%93-bulgarias-president-radev-no-sanctions-are

Bulgaria stepped up when the European Commission called and got absolutely fuck-all in the way of thanks or compensation – to the contrary, the decision cost Bulgaria a great deal of money. Let that be a lesson to other EU countries; Brussels is big on ideas, but it does not have your back and if your stepping-up causes your country grief and it turns out you made a terrible mistake, and want to talk about it

ET AL August 31, 2018 at 2:58 am

There is absolutely nobody else to blame but Borissov himself, a third rate playa . The position of neither Brussels nor Washington was a surprise at all. They are very well known quantities. Big surprise. Not.

Borissov vacillated and played the same failed and weak gambit we have seen for years in the Ukraine. That he is still around as the biggest fish in the local fish shop is that he is the biggest spineless shit that floats to the surface while the opposition is little more than useless. That is repeated elsewhere in the neighborhood to various degrees and where it is not, it's a choice between two sides of the same gangster/clan coin. To misquote Douglas Adams, So long, and thanks for none of the fish.

KIRILL August 30, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Denmark has already been bypassed. And Gazprom said it could finish the project without any partners.

Like

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Well, I don't think a decision has been made yet. But the consortium has 'applied to Denmark for an alternate route' – which, since the alternate route would not go through Danish territorial waters, implies Denmark does not really have any say over it, and is essentially a challenge to Denmark to either veto the original route on security grounds (you never know, Putin might hide submarines in it, or Novichok or something) or get on with it. But Denmark is presented with more or less the Bulgarian Alternative: do Washington's bidding and get a pat on the head, or defy it and get transit fees.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/energy/91657/nord-stream-2-will-bypass-danish-waters

All the news on the subject that I saw announced that the consortium is 'exploring' an alternate route. It seems they are still hopeful the original route will be cleared, but are getting it on the table that denying it will not stop the project.

But of course western 'analysts' continue to squeal that Putin and the Kremlin are using the Nord Stream II pipeline to 'invade Europe'. Curiously, the same people who once smirked scornfully that Nord Stream II was not needed because the current pipeline is only running at half-capacity now claim "even with Nord Stream 2 on line Russia would still need to send substantial amounts of gas through Ukraine – at least until the upcoming TurkStream pipeline is also finished." Whoa – wut? Even both legs of Nord Stream running at full capacity will not be enough? You don't say.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/with-nord-stream-2-pipeline-putin-waltzes-into-the-heart-of-europe-20180821-p4zyod.html

Once again, nobody is forcing Europe to take more Russian gas than it needs, although the draw-down of domestic supplies suggest it will need more all the time unless 'green energy' becomes more commercially viable and reliable. Certain players want Europe's gas to go through Ukraine for two reasons – one, Ukraine badly needs the money from transit fees to prop up its calamitous economy. Two, it is a ready tickle-trunk of conflict whenever the west wants to make problems for Russia; presto! Ukraine is in a new fight with Russia over gas prices, and Europe is trembling with fear that its gas supplies will be shut off.

Here, you numpties – let me solve the problem for you. Soon there is going to be a perfectly good (according to Ukraine and the west) pipeline network idling without much to do. Why not let all those competitors Europe is always gibbering about use Ukraine's pipeline network to send their gas to Europe? They could have the whole thing all to themselves, completely cutting Gazprom out of Ukraine! What a victory that would be! And they could pay Ukraine transit fees, saving the day there and bringing enormous comfort to Ukrainian economists! It's win/win!

No charge for my consulting.

[Aug 31, 2018] It occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out.

Aug 31, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

See, this is why I enjoy Leonid Bershidsky's writing . Despite his idealistic prattling that Russia is actually guilty of all the things America says it is – his ultimate loyalty is still to his adopted homeland, the land of milk and honey – he remains essentially a realist. And his take on the economic dynamics is brutally realistic; the United States cannot 'bring the Russian economy to its knees'. Once again, America's ridiculously-high opinion of itself and its power fail to take account of consequences.

Oh, it could, I suppose, in a way. A way that would see the world's largest economy – arguably, and certainly in its last days if it is actually still the world's largest economy – wreck the global economy and its own trade relationship with the world in order to damage Russia. Is it willing to go that far? You just never know, as decades of feeding itself exceptionalism have addled its thinking.

Bershidsky points out – correctly, I think – that Russia has held off on punishing American companies in Russia just as the USA has not dared to sanction the energy industry in Russia. Neither wants to take that step, although one will certainly provoke the other.

In fact, it occurs to me that if Russia were really as malignant and evil as Washington pretends it is, Russia would be first to take that step, booting American companies out of Russia, perhaps giving them 72 hours to clear out their desks and get out. What would happen then? America would be bound to drop the sanctions hammer on oil and gas. And what would happen then? Europe would say, it's been a lovely party, but I must be going. I give that an 8 of 10 chance of happening, and solely because of the stupid actions heretofore by the Trump government. Had America been reasonable, it would have stood a chance of carrying Europe with it to a war against Russia. But Trump and his blowhard bullying have hardened European resolve against the USA.

[Aug 25, 2018] Is Trump Pushing Germany And Russia Together by Tom Luongo

This "Trump vs Davos globalists" theme is unconvincing. Trump actions are ruthless globalist actions, who wnat to preverse the US status of superpower at all costs, even by abrogating important treaties. He might be not a neoliberal globalist thouth -- he does not offere equl seats on the table to vassals.
Trumpo statement that if Germany buy Russian gas it does not need NATO is very shroud indeed.
Notable quotes:
"... Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better. ..."
"... The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline. ..."
"... But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar ..."
"... Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ? ..."
"... If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive. ..."
"... SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics. ..."
"... This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent. ..."
"... And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits. ..."
"... I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again. ..."
"... It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex. ..."
"... And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war. ..."
"... By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia? ..."
Aug 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Vladimir Putin's charm tour of Germany and Austria last weekend is a significant sign of change to come.

To the U.S. and European press Putin is only a step or two away from Hitler reincarnated (thanks chiefly to Bill Browder). It serves the purpose of maintaining the post WWII institutional order.

But, Putin is always nothing but relentlessly patient in his diplomatic efforts, even when European leaders, like Merkel, treat him and Russia poorly. She is, after all, the leading mouthpiece and political ally of The Davos Crowd that believes they run the world.

The conduct of his Foreign Ministry under Sergei Lavrov always strikes the perfect balance between bluntness and diplo-speak.

So, color me surprised when I see the official photos of his meeting with Merkel carefully framed to paint him in a positive light.

Putin in light blues and grays, Merkel in green, the fountain in the background, leaning in looking directly at each other and a simple Sunday morning chat.

If I didn't know better I'd be expecting them to share photos of their grandkids, well, Putin's grandkids anyway.

Optics are important and this image captures what both parties wanted to convey. This meeting is the beginning of a shift in the relationship between Germany and Russia for the better.

And the question is why?

The obvious answer is necessity brought about by pressure being placed on both countries by Donald Trump through sanctions and tariffs and their shared interests represented by the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

But, this meeting went far deeper than that, especially since Merkel's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas boldly proclaimed that Europe needs an alternative to the SWIFT system of international electronic payments so as to keep global trade alive while the U.S. further weaponizes the U.S. dollar.

The U.S. just seized another $5 billion of Russian 'oligarch' money using Credit Suisse as its enforcement arm.

Again, the question is why?

Why would Merkel allow Maas to state this publicly and why was it picked up by that establishment stenographer The Financial Times ?

Why is Merkel, their main mouthpiece, making googly eyes with Putin who, like Trump, represents an existential threat to their continued rule and is the leader of the pendulum swing away from globalism?

If Trump's goal, as presented by much of the European press (as presented here by Gilbert Doctorow), is to regain complete subjugation of Europe to American dominance, then this seems counter-productive.

SWIFT Justice?

SWIFT is the main lever on which much of the U.S.'s sanctions power rests. Because it is through SWIFT that transactions can be tracked, payments halted and fines imposed. That none of this is strictly legal is irrelevant in the game of power-politics.

Banks like Credit Suisse can't function without access to SWIFT.

So they will roll over to the pressure. That's why the response from EU leadership to Trump's abandoning the JCPOA has been far more bark than bite. Because the measures implemented to protect European businesses from U.S. retaliation against them hold no weight with the companies staring at billions in losses.

Case in point: France's Total pulling out of a multi-billion exploration deal with Iran.

Merkel's response? $18 million in aid to Tehran for their troubles. Hardly seems fair does it?

This undermines the EU's credibility at a foundational level. It shows them to be the toothless and, in EU President Donald Tusk's case, witless when faced with opposition to their rule that isn't supported by The Davos Crowd, which Trump most definitely doesn't represent.

So, again, the question is why?

All of this seems incredibly contradictory, at times even to a jaded and cynical observer like me. Until you step back for a second and think bigger picture and ask the most important question of all.

What are Trump's real goals?

It's Good to Have Goals

And I've talked about these in the past. His real goal is the destruction of that post WWII institutional order which in his mind bankrupts the U.S. treasury through massive trade deficits.

And in a word that means . NATO.

Trump goal is the dissolution of NATO. He wants it dismantled because it is a massive drain on our capital base. Building weapons and maintaining bases in Europe is expensive and that money is needed here. He knows this.

Even the mere hint of this has The Davos Crowd in apoplexy. Hence, the post-Helsinki freak out. Hence, the drive to impeach him over Stormy Freaking Daniels. It's pathetic.

I said back in June that Trump's leaving the JCPOA was all part of his strategy to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. The Davos Crowd needs that deal to keep the dream of transferring the power of the world back to Europe from the U.S. via cheap, Iranian energy and keep the conflict between Israel/Saudi Arabia and Iran front and center to foment global chaos awhile keeping Russia from getting rich again.

It needs that to support the narrative we need NATO to protect us from the inevitable Russian attack after we provoke them into it. This keeps the money flowing through the banks and lobbyists while draining the U.S. dry through the military/industrial complex.

The problem is that that narrative is garbage. And despite relentless Russia bashing since before Trump was elected, the American people overwhelmingly want peace with Russia, not war.

Poland and the Baltics sound like Democrats unhinged hysterical children over the 'threat of Russian aggression.'

This is why Trump is also pressuring Turkey at the same time. He knows Europe is vulnerable to Turkey's implosion. Turkey and Germany are major trading partners and the vast bulk of Turkey's foreign currency exposure is owned by European banks, making them, as I've said previously, Ground Zero for the debt bomb.

So the final question then is this.

Has this been Trump's goal the entire time? Is this what Trump and Putin discussed behind closed doors in Helsinki?

The NATO Wedge

By driving a wedge between Germany and the US over NATO and attacking the foundations of the German economy Trump is ensuring the current rapprochement between Germany and Russia?

Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.

The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it's time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.

Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.

This outflanks Merkel's position and undermines George Soros' goals of the cultural destruction of Europe. At this point, politically, how can Merkel even argue against that without betraying her true loyalties?

And that's what makes the implications of this Summit-That-Wasn't so interesting.

If this is indeed the case then the future of the world rests on the mid-term elections and whether Trump is not indicted for having sex with a couple of porn stars.

I almost feel dirty writing that.

* * *

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[Aug 25, 2018] Trump is deliberately pushing Germany and Russia to make deals in order to shuffle the deck by Gilbert Docotrow

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support. ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... New York Times' ..."
"... I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian ..."
"... Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair. ..."
"... La Libre Belgique ..."
"... "Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people." ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that. ..."
"... Vremya Pokazhet ..."
"... Frankfurter Allgemeine ..."
"... In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news. ..."
"... When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases. ..."
"... By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . ..."
"... Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it. ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Reading the tea leaves of the Putin-Merkel meeting

During this past Saturday, 18 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a brief visit to Austria to attend the wedding of the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl. Per the Kremlin, this stop of several hours in the Styrian wine country not far from the border with Slovenia was a "purely private" side excursion "on the road to Germany" for the state visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel starting later in the day at the Meseberg Palace, the federal guest house 60 km north of Berlin.

Journalists were admitted to film the wedding party, including Putin's dance with the 53 year old bride. No questions were taken and no statements were issued by the President's Press Secretary, who also was present. We know only that on the return journey to Graz airport, Putin was accompanied by Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Presumably they had some issues to discuss that may be characterized as official talks.

Prior to their meeting both Putin and Angela Merkel made statements to the press listing the topics they intended to discuss. We may assume that these lists were not exhaustive. Comparing their lists, we find that the respective priorities of the parties were in inverted order, with economic cooperation at the head of Putin's list while regulating the Donbass crisis in Ukraine was the top concern of Merkel. Moreover, the content of issues bearing the same heading was very different. Both sides spoke of Syria, but whereas for Putin the issue for discussion is the humanitarian crisis of refugees, ensuring their return to their homes from camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey by raising funds to repair and replace fundamental infrastructure destroyed in the war. For Merkel, the number one issue in Syria is to prevent the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces from creating a new humanitarian disaster by their ongoing campaign to retake Idlib province from the militants opposed to Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, what is surely the single most urgent issue for both sides was not mentioned at all in their opening statements: namely how to respond to US President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Russia and on participants in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project that both countries support.

As was explained at the outset, there was to be no press conference or joint statement issued at the conclusion of the talks. The only information we have is that Merkel and Putin conferred for more than three hours, which is in itself quite extraordinary and suggests that some understandings may have been achieved.

In a word, the potentially very important diplomatic developments of Saturday remain, for once, a state secret of the parties, with no leaks for the press to parse. And yet there is material here worthy of our consideration. I have in mind the interpretations of what might transpire before, during and after the events of Saturday in the news and commentary reportage of various countries having greater or lesser interest in Russian affairs. Indeed, my perusal of French, Belgian, German, British, American and Russian news media shows great diversity of opinion and some penetrating and highly pertinent remarks based on different information bases. This material is all essential if we are to make sense of the behavior of the parties on the international stage in the coming weeks.

In this essay, I will set out what I have found per country, starting with the least attentive to detail - the United States - and ending with those who offered the best informed and most interested reportage, Germany and Russia. I will conclude with my own reading of the tea leaves.

* * * *

Let us take The Washington Post and The New York Times as our markers for how US mainstream media reported on Putin's meetings this past Saturday.

On the 18th, The Washington Post carried in its online edition two articles dealing with the Putin diplomatic doings. "At Austrian foreign minister's wedding, Putin brings the music, the flowers and the controversy" was written by the newspaper's bureau chief in Berlin, Griff Witte. It is accompanied by video clips of Vladimir Putin dancing with the bride and speaking, in German, to the wedding party seated at their banquet table. The journalist touches very briefly on the main political dimensions of Putin's visit to Austria, including the party relations between United Russia and the far right Freedom Party in Austria's ruling coalition which nominated Kneissl for her post, the criticism of Putin's participation in the wedding coming from the Opposition parties in Austria who see it as a violation of the government's own ambition to be a neutral bridge between East and West, and the issue of Putin's sowing division on the continent. The only criticism one might offer is that the article is superficial, that each of the issues raised deserves in-depth analysis separately.

The newspaper's second article online, which spread its net more broadly and covered the meeting with Merkel in Germany as well as the visit in Austria, came from an Associated Press reporter, not its own staff. Here again, the problem is that issues surrounding the meetings are not more than bullet points, and the reader is given no basis for reaching an independent finding on what has happened..

The New York Times' feature article "Merkel and Putin Sound Pragmatic Notes After Years of Tension," also published on the 18th and datelined Berlin was cited by Russian television news for a seemingly positive valuation of the talks in Meseberg Palace. However, the content of the article by reporter Melissa Eddy is more cautious, highlighting the pattern of "conflicts and reconciliations" that have marked German-Russian relations over the centuries and seeing the present stage not as a warming of relations but instead as reaching for compromises "on Syria, energy and other key issues while maintaining their differences over Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine." She sees the Syrian issue as one where German and Russian interests may be closest given that refugees from the Middle East are now a German preoccupation with political weight. The reporter cites several experts attached to well-known institutes in Germany that are generally skeptical about Russia's intentions. But the end result is better informed than most NYT reporting on Russia even if it leaves us wondering what will result from the Saturday diplomacy.

In both mainstream papers there is no attempt to find a link between Putin's two visits on Saturday.

I close out this little survey of English-speaking media by pointing to an article in The Guardian from the 18th entitled "Putin urges Europe to help rebuild Syria so refugees can return." This piece comes from the Agence France-Presse in Berlin. It is not much more than a recitation of the lists of topics for discussion that Putin and Merkel issued before their talks. But the reporter has made his choice for the most important of them, Syria and refugees.

The French-language press does not seem to have been very interested in Putin's "private" trip to the wedding of the Austrian foreign minister, but was definitely keen to discuss Putin's trip to Berlin. On the day preceding the Putin-Merkel meeting, the French press offered a clear concept of where things were headed. We read in Figaro , "Merkel receives Putin Saturday to renew a difficult dialogue." A caption in bold just below is more eye-catching: "While the German Chancellor has become the main opponent to the Russian President within the EU, the policy of sanctions conducted by Washington has led to a rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow with regard to numerous issues."

The reporter notes that following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, relations between the two heads of state had become quite bad and in four years they met only when obliged to do so during international summits.

"But starting three months ago, their diplomatic exchanges have intensified: in May Angela Merkel met the chief of the Kremlin in Sochi, Russia. In July, she met the head of the Russian diplomatic corps, Sergei Lavrov, in Berlin. By inviting Vladimir Putin this time, the German Chancellor has promised 'in-depth discussions.' "She is pursuing a pragmatic attempt at normalization of German-Russian relations, because the international realities have changed,' explains Stefan Meister, director of the Robert Bosch Center for Russia."

And how has the calculus of international relations changed? Both Merkel and Putin are now facing the same challenge: US foreign policy has become unpredictable, both for its allies and for rivals like Moscow. Notwithstanding the warm discussions Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the American administration has just announced a new wave of sanctions on Russia relating to the Skripal affair.

"The American policy represents a danger for the Russian economy and a threat to German interests."

A spokesperson from Merkel's CDU party responsible for foreign policy is quoted on the possible dangers of secondary sanctions being directed at Germany through the application of US extraterritoriality against those failing to respect the new sanctions on Russia.

The article explains the issues surrounding the Nord Steam 2 pipeline, and in particular Trump's hostility to the project for its locking in German dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

And the author points to the common interests of Germany and Russia over maintenance of the Iranian nuclear deal as a factor powering the rapprochement of the two countries. Here again the common threat is Donald Trump and American sanctions against those companies which continue to trade with Iran.

The article concludes that divergent views of Russia and Germany over Ukraine and Syria exclude any breakthrough at the meeting on Saturday. But nonetheless the dialogue that was lacking these several past years is being recreated.

In its weekend edition issued on 18 August, the Belgian mainstream daily La Libre Belgique was even more insistent on interpreting the Merkel-Putin meeting as a consequence of the policies of Donald Trump. Their editorial captures the sense very nicely in its tongue-in-cheek headline: "Trump is the best 'ally' of Putin."

La Libre sees Vladimir Putin's latest diplomatic initiatives as directly resulting from the way his host at the White House has annoyed everyone. Moreover, his outreach is welcomed:

"Germany is not the only 'Western' nation to return to the Kremlin. Putin is taking full advantage of the boomerang effect caused by the policies of Donald Trump, who, by hammering away at his customary allies is pushing them to other interlocutors. By looking for confrontations, imposing taxes and sanctions while thinking that this rampant isolationism will make the United States 'great again,' Trump is helping to build a wall that he no doubt did not imagine, that of the anti-Trump people."
The editors point to Turkish President Erdogan's clear signal that he is now looking for other allies. He has done his calculations and has said he has more to gain with Moscow than with Washington.'

The editorial concludes that a summit on reconstruction of Syria might even take place at the start of September between Moscow, Ankara, Paris and Berlin. The conclusion? "Putin has taken center stage on the chessboard. Thank you, Mr. Trump."

The article filed by La Libre 's correspondent in Berlin, Sebastien Millard, bears a heading that matches the editorial view of the newspaper: "Merkel and Putin - allies of convenience facing Trump." The author credits Donald Trump with being the catalyst for the resumption of dialogue between Germany and Russia; they are telling Washington that they do not accept its blackmail. He notes that we should not expect any reversal of alliances. There are too many differences of view between Berlin and Moscow on a variety of issues.

* * * *

The German press paid a good deal of attention to Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria for the wedding of Foreign Minister Karin Kreissl.

In an article posted on the 16th entitled "Suspicion that Austria is a Trojan horse," Die Welt highlighted the negatives of Putin's presence. Quoting an "expert from the University of Innsbruck" this does not cast a good light on the country. They anticipate political fall-out. This will impair Austria's ability as chair of the European Council to play a role of intermediary in the Ukraine conflict. The only beneficiary of the visit will be the the Russia-friendly be the Russia-friendly Freedom Party. For Putin, being a guest provides him with the opportunity to demonstrate that he is not isolated but is instead highly welcome in society of an EU country.

As for the coming meeting with Merkel on Saturday evening, Die Welt in a related article of the same day lists the issues for discussion. Without taking a position, it cites experts for and against the Nord Stream II pipeline and other issues on the list.

Welt's report from the wedding party on the 18th was gossipy and unfriendly, comparing it to a wedding of some European royal family because of the extraordinary guest list that included the country's chancellor, vice chancellor, and defense minister as well as the head of OPEC and...Vladimir Putin. With typical German petty financial accounting, they reckon that the 500 police and other security measures needed for the safety of the highly placed guests cost the Austrian tax payers 250,000 euros.

A separate article in Die Welt deals with Putin's meeting with Merkel at the Meseberg Palace. The emphasis here is on Merkel's remarks during the Statement prior to the talks that cooperation with Russia is "vital" to deal with many conflicts globally and that both sides bear responsibility to find solutions.

The article quotes from the opening statements of the leaders on all the issues in their list for discussion - Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream II. We are given bare facts without any analysis to speak of.

The other major mainstream daily Frankfurter Allgemeine in its Saturday, 18 August edition offered separate articles on Putin's visits to Austria and Germany.

The article on Karin Kneissl's wedding heads off in a very different direction from the reporting in other media that I have summarized above. FAZ notes that Kneissl is rarely in the headlines and it asks: who is she? They answer the question with some curious details. We learn that Kneissl was once active in competitive sports and even now swims a kilometer every day. For many years she has lived on a small farmstead with a couple of boxers, two ponies, hens and cats. Each morning her chauffeur takes her and the dogs to her office in Vienna, to return in the evening. Regrettably, FAZ does not take this curious biographical sketch further. No connection is drawn between her personality and the Russian President's acceptance of her invitation to her wedding.

FAZ similarly has chosen to amuse rather than inform in its coverage of the meeting in Berlin entitled "Sparkling wine in Austria, sparkling water in Meseberg." They comment on how Putin arrived half an hour late, on how it is hard to see how the meeting could be characterized as a success. They stress that we know nothing about the content of the consultations. Then they tick off the opening positions of the sides as set out in their statements before the talks.

Spiegel online risks more by giving more interpretation and less bare facts. Its article entitled "Something of a new start" suggests that a rapprochement is underway and that both Merkel and Putin have a lot in play. Unlike the other German press we have mentioned, Spiegel sees a direct link between Putin's attending the wedding in Styria and his visit to Merkel.

Putin is under economic pressure to find closer ties with Europe. In Austria, which now chairs the European Council, he has allies in the government, namely the extreme right populists of the Freedom Party which installed Kneissl. But the way to Europe passes by way of Merkel and Putin knows that.

Meanwhile, says Spiegel , Germany also is interested in improving relations with Russia despite all the controversy, namely due to the growing conflicts with US President Donald Trump. We don't know the exact content of the talks which were confidential, but there is some movement now between Germany and Russia.

Spiegel remains cautious. Cordiality does not enter into the relationship. The parties keep their distance. There is no laughter to lighten the atmosphere. Yet, it concludes: "The talks have prospects and we can see the wish to make progress through common positions, and without being silent about contradictions. Diplomatic normality, as it were. A step forward."

* * * *

If the great bulk of commentary in the West about Putin's diplomatic weekend was reserved and stayed by the bare facts without speculation, Russian television more than made up for dryness. I point in particular to two political talk shows which invited a mixture of experts from different backgrounds.

Let us begin with the show Vremya Pokazhet (Time will tell) on state television's Pervy Kanal . Their Friday, 17 August program focused on Putin's forthcoming visit to the wedding 'on the road to Berlin,' which several panelists saw as a strong signal to Germany that Russ1+
ia had other channels to the EU if Germany refuses to be its intercessor.

The visit was said to be breaking new ground in diplomatic practice. According to panelist Andrei Baklanov, deputy chair of the association of Russian diplomats, this kind of positive, human diplomacy is Russia's answer to the negative behavior in international affairs that has occupied center stage in the recent past - sanctions, fake news, etc. As another panelist interjected, this is the first time that a Russian head of state attended a wedding abroad since Tsar Nicholas did so in Germany in 1913.

Baklanov proceeded to provide details about the bride, however, bringing out aspects of her career that are far more relevant to her attracting the attention of Putin than the Frankfurter Allgemeine produced. We learn that she grew up in Amman, Jordan, that she speaks 8 languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Magyar, French, Spanish, Italian, English as well as her native German. She studied Near Eastern languages in Vienna University, in the Jewish University of Jerusalem, in the University of Jordan and also graduated from the National School of Administration in France. She holds a doctorate in law. She is a non-party minister, which also attests to her generally recognized professionalism. For all of these reasons, she is a good fit with Putin's determination to find supporters in Europe for investments to restore Syrian infrastructure and enable the return of refugees.

The country's most prestigious talk show, "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," had a couple of Duma members and a well-known politician from Liberal circles comment on the diplomacy of the day before.

Sergey Mironov, leader of the socialist party Fair Russia said that despite Merkel's warning in advance not to expect breakthroughs it is likely progress was made in agreeing how to deal with US sanctions. This would be tested in the coming days.

As for the link between the visits to Austria and Germany, the representative of a pro-business party Sergey Stankevich reminded viewers that Germany and Austria are the market makers in Europe for Russian gas. Nord Stream II gas may land in Germany but a large part of it will be pumped further to Austria's hub for distribution elsewhere in Europe. Whatever may have been said publicly, Stankevich believes that Merkel and Putin did agree on many if not all the subjects named before the start: Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Nord Stream.

Russian media coverage of the Saturday travels of their President continued on Russian news programs into Monday, with video clips of Putin dancing at the wedding and speaking alongside Merkel before entering into their talks at Meseberg Palace.

* * * *

Looking back at the media coverage of Putin's visits to Austria and Germany on 18 August, and with all due respect to those who opinions are different from mine, I find that the most helpful for our understanding of the present day international situation were the report and editorial in Belgium's Libre Belgique and the unruly, risky but at times brilliant insights on Russian television.

What comes out of this is the understanding that the visits to a wedding in Austria and to the federal Chancellor outside Berlin were directly linked in Russian diplomatic strategy, that Russia is playing the Austrian card during the country's six months at the helm of the European Council in Brussels, that Russia is pushing for a multi-party relief effort for Syria to facilitate the return of refugees to their home and pacification of the war-torn country. The web of common interests that Russia is pursuing has at its core the fragility of the current world order and generalized anxiety of leading countries due to America's aggressive pursuit of narrow national interest under Donald Trump as seen in his tariff wars and sanctions directed at friends and foes alike.

Where I differ from the interpretations set out in the foregoing press reports is in my understanding of what Trump is doing and why.

The nearly universal assumption of commentators is that Trump's policies known as "Make America Great" are ignorant and doomed to fail. They are assumed to be isolationist, withdrawing America from the world community.

However, Trump did not invent bullying of US allies. That was going strong under George W. Bush, with his challenge "you are either with us or against us" when he sought to align the West behind his invasion of Iraq in 2003 without authorization of the UN Security Council. His more urbane successor Barack Obama was no kinder to U.S. allies, who were slapped with crushing fines for violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, just to mention one way in which they were kept in line. And the U.S. Congress today is no more reasonable and diplomatic than the President in the brutal unilateral sanctions it has on its own initiative advocated against not just Russia but also against Turkey and other states which are not snapping to attention with respect to purchases of military materiel from Russia.

What made U.S. bullying tolerable before Trump was the ideological smokescreen of "shared values," namely democracy promotion, human rights and rule of law, that all members of the alliances could swear to and which set them apart from the still unenlightened parts of the globe where autocrats hold sway.

In my view, Trump's use of sanctions and tariffs here, there, everywhere has a totally different logic from what is adduced in the writings of my peers in the analyst community. He invokes them because 1. they are within his sole power as Chief Executive and 2. they are in principle as American as apple pie and do not require grand explanations in Congress or before the public. As to why he invokes them, there you have to look at Trump's foreign policy from a 360 degree perspective and not merely as it relates to Putin or to Erdogan or to any of the small slices we see discussed in the news.

When viewed in the round, it is obvious that Trump is reshuffling the deck. He is doing what he can to break up NATO and the other military alliances around the world which are consuming more than half of the U.S. defense budget and do not arguably provide greater security to the American homeland than the country can do for itself without fixed alliances and overseas bases.

The first two presidencies of this millennium undid the country's greatest geopolitical achievement of the second half of the 20th century: the informal alliance with China against Russia that put Washington at the center of all global politics. Bush and Obama did that by inattention and incomprehension of what was at stake. That inattention was an expression of American hubris in the unipolar world which, it was assumed, was the new normal, not a blip.

By contrast, what Trump is now doing is not a blunder or a bit of bluster. Even if he is not conversant with the whole of the Realist School of international relations, as surely he is not, he does grasp the fundamentals, namely the centrality of the sovereign nation-state and of the balance of power mechanism by which these states are constantly changing alignments of these nation-states to ensure no one enjoys hegemony . We see this understanding when he speaks about looking out for American interests while the heads of state whom he meets are looking out for the interests of theirs.

In his tweets we find that our allies are ripping us off, that they are unfair competitors. His most admiring remark about Russia is that it is a strong competitor. The consistent element in Trump's thinking is ignored or willfully misunderstood in the press.

Accordingly, I insist that the possible rapprochement of Russia and Germany will be in line with Trump's reshuffling of the deck not in spite of it.

Good Optics · about 3 hours ago

This nuanced analysis rings true and speaks to the fact that - though Trump may not exactly be playing 47D chess - he certainly does have some good intentions that, left to follow their course, would have a chance of making the world a better place. But that will not be allowed to happen by those in the US with firm commitments to pursue the world's subjugation through any means possible.

The Cs did tell us that Trump's heart is in the right place, unlikely though that does appear a lot of the time . . .

[Aug 24, 2018] Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream.

Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

MARK CHAPMAN August 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Gazprom leads the world in capital expenditure (capex) on global energy projects, by a wide, wide margin – $160 Billion to be spent on 84 projects worldwide, including Nord Stream II and Turkish Stream. That's nearly double the spending of its next-closest competitor, Sinopec, at $87 Billion. Royal Dutch Shell is third, and Exxon a distant fourth.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/08/22/russias-gazprom-is-worlds-biggest-energy-investor/#5a7465fb3553

If you add Rosneft, that's another $50 Billion in capex for Russia. Odd behaviour for an isolated country whose economy is in tatters. One whose government debt is 12.6 % of GDP and declining.

https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/government-debt-to-gdp

Speaking of government debt, how's that parameter looking for The Exceptional Nation? Whoa: that's exceptional. Not even much point in expressing it as a percentage of GDP, I guess.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-debt

Just to drive the point home for any who might not have gotten it, Russia – friendless, alone against the world, and reeling from the bite of American sanctions – is outspending the USA nearly three to one on global energy investments, although its debt is a tiny fraction of America's out-of-control spending on other important things, like its bloated defense budget.

Oh, that's right – Vladimir Putin is a tyrant and a dictator, squeezing the country dry in neverending pursuit of self-enrichment. I almost forgot.

[Aug 19, 2018] Fate Of Key Gas Pipeline In The Balance As Putin, Merkel Begin Meeting

Aug 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

"Russian influence will flow through that pipeline right into Europe, and that is what we are going to prevent," an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal just as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel meet outside of Berlin on Saturday centered on the two countries moving forward with the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but also involving issues from the Iran nuclear deal to ending the war in Syria.

Intense pressure from Washington is overshadowing the project, construction of which is already in advanced stages, as the WSJ cites current and former US officials who say sanctions are under discussion and could be mobilized in a mere matter of weeks .

These potential sanctions, ostensibly being discussed in response to US intelligence claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, could target companies and financial firms involved in the massive pipeline's construction . This comes after comments from President Trump at the opening of a NATO summit in July made things uncomfortable for his German counterpart when he said that Germany is so dependent on Russia for energy that it's essentially being "held captive" by Vladimir Putin and his government.

"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia. They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we have to defend them against Russia," Trump told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg at a televised opening breakfast.

The pipeline has been opposed by multiple US administrations, who have long accuse the Kremlin of seeking to accrue political leverage over Europe given the latter's already high dependence on Russian natural gas. The pipeline has been a frequent talking point and target of attacks by Trump, who has threatened to escalate the trade war against Germany going back months if it supported the construction of the pipeline. US officials have also expressed concern that Russia will pull pack significantly from delivering natural gas via Ukraine when its Gazprom tranit contract expires by the close of 2019. Ukraine is currently the chief Russian natural-gas export point to the EU and depends heavily on levying fees on this trade.

Both Russia and Germany have sought to calm US concerns over the Ukraine issue, with Putin himself reportedly telling both Merkel and Trump that he is "ready to preserve" gas transit through Ukraine even after Nord Stream 2 was completed.

US officials speaking to the WSJ , however, downplayed the Ukraine issue, instead focusing on the urgency of allowing such significant and irreversible Russian economic, political, and infrastructural inroads into the heart of Europe .

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, told the WSJ , "We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy export-pipeline sector are engaging in a line of business that carries sanctions risk," -- something which he's repeatedly emphasized with officials in Berlin. President Trump himself has also reportedly raised the issue directly with Chancellor Merkel on multiple occasions. But for all the shrill US media claims that Trump is somehow doing Putin's bidding, the WSJ has this illuminating line : "Officially, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, is coordinating the gas-transit talks, but Ms. Merkel also has played a leading role because of her regular contacts and longstanding relationship with Mr. Putin, European officials say ."

Meanwhile, it appears that Washington has a losing hand even while making threats of sanctions in an attempt to block the pipeline project.

Crucially, the WSJ report provides further confirmation of the following previously known but hugely significant detail :

A European energy executive familiar with the discussions said company representatives had told John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Energy Resources, that the five European companies and Gazprom had already provided €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion) in financing and that the project wouldn't be stopped even if the U.S. were to impose sanctions .

The Nord Stream 2 project was started in 2015 and is a major joint venture between Russia's Gazprom and European partners, including German Uniper, Austria's OMV, France's Engie, Wintershall and the British-Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell.

The pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea - doubling the existing pipeline's capacity of 55 cubic meters per year, and is therefore critical for Europe's future energy needs.

Currently, the second phase involves utilizing an existing pipeline already channelling smaller amount of gas from Russia to Germany. Construction for the second phase started in May of this year.

GlassHouse101 -> Winston Churchill Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:29 Permalink

More Sanctions!! Sanction all of the countries!

07564111 -> GlassHouse101 Sat, 08/18/2018 - 13:35 Permalink

will lead only to war with Russia..take that as fact.

[Aug 19, 2018] Economics

Notable quotes:
"... each click brings us closer to the bang ..."
"... Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ..."
"... there will be no war and no negotiations ..."
"... carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ..."
"... Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme ..."
"... This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course) ..."
"... Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster. ..."
"... If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger ..."
"... Shaytân-e Bozorg ..."
"... It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel . ..."
"... As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting. ..."
"... So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave! ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | www.unz.com


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We can all thank God for the fact that the AngloZionists did not launch a war on the DPRK, that no Ukronazi attack on the Donbass took place during the World Cup in Russia and that the leaders of the Empire have apparently have given up on their plans to launch a reconquista of Syria. However, each of these retreats from their hysterical rhetoric has only made the Neocons more frustrated and determined to show the planet that they are still The Hegemon who cannot be disobeyed with impunity. As I wrote after the failed US cruise missile strike on Syria this spring, " each click brings us closer to the bang ". In the immortal words of Michael Ledeen , " Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business ". The obvious problem is that there are no "small crappy little countries" left out there, and that those who are currently the object of the Empire's ire are neither small nor crappy.

Having now shown several times that for all its hysterical barking the Empire has to back down when the opponent does not cower away in fear, the Empire is now in desperate need to prove its "uniqueness" and (racial?) superiority. The obvious target of the AngloZionist wrath is Iran. In fact, Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the Empire ever since the people of Iran dared to show the AngloZionists to the door and, even worse, succeed in creating their own, national and Islamic democracy. To punish Iran, the US, the USSR, France and all the other "democratic" countries unleashed their puppet (Saddam Hussein) and gave him full military support, and yet the Iranians still prevailed, albeit at a terrible cost. That Iranian ability to prevail in the most terrible circumstances is also the most likely explanation for why there has not been an overt attack on Iran for the past four decades (there have, of course, there has been plenty of covert attacks during all these years).

I won't list all the recent AngloZionist threats against Iran – we all know about them. The bottom line is this: the US, Israel and the KSA are, yet again, working hand in hand to set the stage for a major war under what we could call the " Skripal-case rules of evidence " aka " highly likely ". And yet, in spite of all this saber-rattling, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has summed up Iran's stance in the following words " there will be no war and no negotiations ".

First, let's first look at Iranian rationale for "no negotiations"

The obvious: "no negotiations"

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been very clear in his explanations for why negotiating with the US makes no sense. On his Twitter account he wrote:

The Iranian Supreme Leader even posted a special graphic summary to summarize and explain the Iranian position:

Finally, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his fundamental approach towards the AngloZionist Empire:

The contrast between the kindergarten-level low-IQ bumbling hot air and threats coming out of the White House and the words of Ali Khamenei could not be greater, especially if we compare the words the two leaders decided to post all in caps;

Trump : To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Khamenei : THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S..

Notice first that in his typical ignorance, Trump fails to realize that Hassan Rouhani is only the President of Iran and that threatening him makes absolutely no sense since he does not make national security decisions, which is the function of the Supreme Leader. Had Trump taken the time to at the very least check with Wikipedia he would have understood that the Iranian President " carries out the decrees, and answers to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state ". It is no wonder that Trump's infantile threats instantly turned into an Internet meme !

In contrast, Khamenei did not even bother to address Trump by name but, instead, announced his strategy to the whole world.

Trump's ALL IN CAPS meme

Of course, issuing ALL IN CAPS threats just to be treated with utter contempt by the people you are trying to hard to bully and having your words become a cause of laughter on the Internet will only further enrage Trump and his supporters. When you are desperately trying to show the world how tough and scary you are, there is nothing more humiliating as being treated like some stupid kid. Therein also lies the biggest danger: such derision could force Trump and the Neocons who run him to do something desperate to prove to the word that their "red button" is still bigger than everybody else's.

ORDER IT NOW

It is important to note here that making negotiations impossible is something the Trump administration seems to have adopted as a policy. This is best illustrated by the conditions attached to the latest sanctions against Russia which, essentially, demand that Russia admit poisoning the Skripals. In fact, all the western demands towards Russia (admitting that Russia is guilty for the Skripal case, that Russia shot down MH-17, that Russia hand over Crimea to the Ukronazis, etc.) are carefully crafted to make absolutely sure that Russia will not negotiate. The sames, of course, goes for the ridiculous Pompeo demands towards the DPRK (including handing over to the US 60 to 70 percent of its nukes within six to eight months; no wonder the North Koreans denounced a "gangster-like" attitude) or the latest US grandstanding towards Turkey. Sadly, but the Neocon run media has successfully imposed the notion that negotiations are either a sign of weakness, or treason, or both. Thus to be "patriotic" and "strong" no US official can afford to be caught red-handed negotiating with the enemy of the day.

Under these conditions, why would anybody want to negotiate with the US?

Frankly, the "no negotiations" approach makes perfectly good sense, and while the Iranians are the only ones who have openly said so, the Russians have hinted to the same on many occasions (see their words about the US being "non-agreement capable" or about US diplomats confusing Austria and Australia). To any objective observer it should by now be completely obvious by now that a) the US cannot negotiate (due to intellectual, cultural and political limitations) and b) the US has no desire to negotiate. This is, of course, a highly undesirable and dangerous situation, but it would only make things worse to pretend that civilized negotiations with the US are possible.

So, if both sides agree on "no negotiations", what about war?

The not so obvious: No war?

This is where Ali Khamenei's stance is more puzzling, at least to me: when he says that there will be no war, does he mean that the US threats are not credible or does he mean that Iran has the means to deter a US attack? His words make it sound like he is quite certain that there will be no war. How can he be so sure? I am especially amazed by the apparent Iranian confidence that the AngloZionists will not attack them when I compare it with the obvious Russian policy of actively preparing for war since at least 2014 (also see here , here , here , here , here and here ). Of course, Iran has been preparing for war with the US for almost 40 years now whereas the Russians only woke up to reality comparatively recently. I see several potential explanations for Ali Khamenei's statement (there might be more, of course):

Personally, every time I think of a possible US attack on Iran I think of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 which happened in spite of the fact that it was plainly visible to everybody that the Israelis were waltzing straight into a conflict which they could not win and which, in fact, resulted into one of the most abjects defeats in military history. Conversely, while Hezbollah did win a truly historical victory, it also remains a fact that Hezbollah leaders did not expect the Israelis to launch a full-scale ground offensive. Finally, history is full of examples of wars which were started in spite of all objective factors indicating that they would end up in disaster.

It seems to me that in purely military terms (not in political ones!) Israel could be seen as a stand-in for the US and Hezbollah as a stand-in for Iran and that the outcome of any future US-Iranian war will be very similar to the outcome of the war in 2006, albeit on a much larger (and bloodier) scale. I am confident that the folks in the Pentagon realize that, but what about their Neocon bosses – do they even care about Iranian or, for that matter, US casualties? I highly doubt it: all they care about is their power and messianic ideology.

If it weren't for its nuclear arsenal, the US could be dismissed as a particularly obnoxious country led by ignorant leaders with bloated and mostly ineffective armed forces. Alas, the US nuclear arsenal is very real (and still very capable) and we know that top-level US Neocons have already considered using tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state's conventional force in the past . In a twisted way, this makes sense: if you are a megalomaniac infused with a sense of messianic superiority then international or even civilizational norms of behavior are of no interest (or even relevance) to you. Listening to US Presidents, pretty much all of them (but especially Obama and Trump) it is pretty clear that these folks consider themselves to be the Kulturträger and the Herrenvolk of the 21st century and their messianism is in no way less delusional than the one of their Nazi predecessors (or, for that matter, the one of the Popes of the past 1000 years). And why would the people who nuked two Japanese cities under the (entirely fallacious) pretext of "shortening the war" (almost a humanitarian operation!) not do the same thing in Iran?

Of sure, they probably realize that using nukes will result in a massive political backlash, but they are confident that no matter what happens in the end, they will always be able to say "screw you!" to the rest of the planet. After all, this is something which Israel and the US have been doing with almost total inpunity for decades already – why would they stop now? As for the fact that the Persian people have been dealing with all kinds of invaders since no less than 2500 years will not stop the AngloZionists from trying to crush them. After all, having laid waste to a country which many see as the cradle of civilization, Iraq, why not do the same thing to Iran? Iraq, Iran – what's the difference, they are all just "sand niggers" and our red button is bigger than theirs, right?

Standing up to Shaytân-e Bozorg (almost alone?)

It would be a big mistake to dismiss the US because of its incapable military or moral bankruptcy. The truth is that in terms of aggregate national power, the US still remains the most powerful country on the planet (even if we don't include nuclear weapons). Anyone doubting that needs to look how how the currencies of the countries the US is singles out for attack suddenly began slipping: the Russian ruble (which has since bounced back), the Iranian rial, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Turkish lira , etc.) or how little time it took Trump to bring the (admittedly spineless) Europeans to heel .

As for Russia, for all her military might, she remains only a semi-sovereign country in which the pro-US/pro-Israeli "Atlantic Integrationists" continue to try to sabotage (often successfully) everything Putin and his supporters are doing . I would not place big hopes in China either, especially considering the lack of meaningful Chinese action in Syria where Russia and Iran did all the heavy lifting.

Sadly, but the only ally Iran can truly count on is Hezbollah. And while Hezbollah is considered a "non-state actor", it has a formidable capability to strike at the US's colonial masters, especially in terms of missiles .

This will not protect Iran, but it could serve as a very real deterrent to the Israelis, especially since Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah he has made it clear that Hezbollah more than capable of taking on Israel .

For the time being, the Israelis are already preparing for a re-match against Hezbollah and they are massing forces in the north to prepare for a war against Hezbollah .

Does that look to you like there will be no war against Iran?

I hope so. But to me it very much looks like an attack is pretty much inevitable. I have been predicting such an attack since 2007 and, so far, I have been completely wrong (and thank God for that!). The very first article I ever wrote for my blog was entitled " Where the Empire meets to plan the next war " ended with the following words:

So count with yet another imperial war of aggression, a barrel of crude at over 100$ and oil shortages, rocketing inflation, job losses, a stagnant real estate market and stock exchange, and a national debt and government deficit which would make even Reagan proud. And plenty of dead Americans (nevermind the Iranians, right?). But don't worry: there will still be a huge supply of Chinese-made US flags to wave!

And yet, 11 years later, the AngloZionist attack which looked so imminent in 2007 has not happened yet. Could it be that this time again an attack on Iran can be avoided? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to be very confident that it will not happen. I am not so sure, but I fervently hope that he is right.

[Aug 19, 2018] Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia but expects that Russia will transport gas via its territory

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 17, 2018 at 3:39 pm

With much joviality and humour, Ukraine prepares to sever all remaining public-transit links with Russia. I suppose there are still roads, and if you have a car and can afford gas, you can still drive there.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/no-more-trains-or-buses-to-russia-only-bears-says-ukraine-transport-minister-2wvj9xzgz

This, according to the transport minister, is 'like the good old days'. I'll tell you something else that's like the good old days, Mr. Minister – the living wage in Ukraine.

And yet Ukraine still seems to think Europe must force Russia to continue transiting Russian gas through Ukraine, and paying Kuh-yiv for the privilege.

[Aug 19, 2018] Guess who invested in Naftogaz?

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 16, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Well, well; guess who has money in Naftogaz?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-08/how-george-soros-singlehandedly-created-european-refugee-crisis-and-why

[Aug 15, 2018] Deciphering The New Caspian Agreemen

Aug 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com,

It took more than 20 years for littoral states of the Caspian Sea to reach an agreement that would lay the legal foundations for the full utilization of the region's resources. The Fifth Caspian Summit in Aktau, Kazakhstan, brought the long-sought breakthrough after leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea – a remarkable feat considering that heretofore, barring bilateral deals, the Caspian has been governed by an obsolete 1940 convention between the Soviet Union (of which four current littoral states were a part) and Iran.

As the current Convention incorporates a plethora of tradeoffs between countries, let's look at them in greater detail so as to grasp the implications of the deal.

The Convention stipulates that relations between littoral states shall be based on principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality among members, non-use of threat of force (it was only 17 years ago that Azerbaijan and Iran almost started a full-blown naval war over contested fields) and non-intervention.

The military-related clauses of the document can be considered a net diplomatic success for the Russian Federation as it prohibits the physical presence of any third-party armed forces, along with banning the provision of a member state's territory to acts of aggression against any other littoral state. Since Russia is by far the most power nation in terms of both general military clout and military presence around the Caspian, this will placate Russian fears about any potential US (or other) encroachment in the area.

Then there's energy... Although the Convention establishes a general legal framework for territorial disputes to be solved, it refrains from any particularities. Therefore prolonged negotiations are to be expected with regard to many disputed oilfields, stemming predominantly from Irani and Azerbaijani claims . Iran advocated throughout the entire negotiation process an egalitarian approach to delimiting the seabed (each nation would get 20% of the coast), running counter the other countries' aspirations. The things is that when Russia concluded its seabed delimitation agreements with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in 2001 and 2003, respectively, the parties split their parts using the median line. Point 8.1. effectively keeps the delimitation task in the hands of relevant governments, thereby providing a very modest boost to the demarcation of the Southern Caspian (the Northern part is fully delimited).

There are two main territorial conflicts to be settled – the Irani-Azerbaijani and the Azerbaijani-Turkmen disputes. The row between Baku and Teheran revolves around the Araz-Alov-Sharg field (discovered in 1985-1987 by Soviet geologists), the reserves of which are estimated at 300 million tons of oil and 395 BCm of natural gas. Even though the field is only 90 kilometers away from Baku and should seemingly be under Azerbaijan's grip, if one is to draw a straight line from the Azerbaijani-Irani border most of the field ought to be allotted to Iran (the median would keep most of it in Azerbaijan). As those old enough to remember the 2001 naval ship hostilities would attest, it does matter at what angle the final line is drawn.

The Serdar/Kapaz field (estimated to contain 50 million tons of oil) is the bone of contention between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Considered to be an extension of Azerbaijan's main oil-producing unit, the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field, Baku sees it as an indispensable element in its quest to mitigate decreasing oil output numbers. Geographically, Serdar/Kapaz is closer to Turkmenistan, yet here too Azerbaijan might come out the ultimate winner. The Apsheron peninsula stretches out some 60km into the Caspian Sea, in effect extending Azerbaijan's geographical reach. Absent previous demarcation agreements between Baku and Ashgabat, the settlement will once again boil down to getting the angles right, as in the case of Araz-Alov-Sharg. However, it must be said that a resolution might come about as a by-product of new gas endeavors.

Clause 14, dealing with laying subsea pipelines and cables, is the one most coveted by energy analysts , since it has the potential to significantly alter Europe's gas supply options.

According to point 14.2., all parties have the right to construct subsea pipelines given that they comply with environmental standards (which are particularly strict in the Caspian Sea). With no further caveat included, some analysts might be tempted to think that Russia will inevitably use the "environmental protection" card when trying to stop the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP) from Turkmenistan, a pipeline it spent many years to halt . Under current circumstances, when US-Russian relations falling ever deeper into an insurmountable ditch, Moscow's decision to allow for the construction of the mightily Washington-backed TCP to take place might be perceived as a massive omission.

Since the Turkmen gas is unlikely to find demand in Azerbaijan or Turkey, it would need to take the whole route via the South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP. Merely the transportation tariffs from these pipelines would render any transportation economically unviable unless European gas prices rise substantially to levels above $300/MCm. Moreover, the estimated cost of building the subsea TCP of $2 billion is a disabling burden for either Türkmengaz or SOCAR. Thus, allowing the construction of Trans Caspian gas pipelines might be a brilliant ruse from the Russians – cognizant of all the deficiencies above, they can wield it as a sign of good will in their never-ending negotiations with the European the economics for supplying gas to Europe via the Southern Gas Corridor are far from being Union.

This being said, there are natural impediments to see the TCP implemented anytime soon. Azerbaijan might be interested in getting transit fees for Turkmen natural gas, yet it lacks the required infrastructure to include the above volumes in its traditional conduit via Turkey.

All in all, the Caspian convention is a good basis for further negotiations, even though it falls short of being an all-encompassing legal framework. Territorial disputes will most likely remain frozen for quite some time and no new gas pipeline projects will see the light of day unless market conditions change.

[Aug 15, 2018] Imperial brainwashing works very well: Many US citizents were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to save 20,000 U.S. soldiers.

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 1:28 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3wxWNAM8Cso?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2018/8/6/17655256/hiroshima-anniversary-73-nuclear-weapons-proliferation-arms-control

Like Like Reply

  1. Patient Observer says: August 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm Public opinion polling suggests that many Americans would not think twice if there were a great many casualties against evildoers. For example, a 2017 survey found that 60 percent of Americans would support a nuclear attack on Iran that would kill 20 million civilians, to prevent an invasion that might kill 20,000 American soldiers.

    Yup, exceptional people of an exceptional nation.

    Like Like Reply

    1. Northern Star says: August 6, 2018 at 2:22 pm Yes the psychos were planning mass murder a decade ago under Bush.

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/07/06/nuking-iran-is-not-off-the-table/

      https://original.antiwar.com/jorge-hirsch/2006/10/16/nuclear-strike-on-iran-is-still-on-the-agenda/

      A more detailed analysis of some of the background material relating to your comment:
      https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/ISEC_a_00284

      "We were not surprised by the finding that most Americans place a higher
      value on the life of an American soldier than the life of a foreign noncombatant.
      What was surprising, however, was the radical extent of that preference.
      Our experiments suggest that the majority of Americans find a 1:100 risk ratio
      to be morally acceptable. They were willing to kill 2 million Iranian civilians to
      save 20,000 U.S. soldiers. One respondent who approved of the conventional
      air strike that killed 100,000 Iranian civilians candidly expressed even more extreme
      preferences regarding proportionality and risk ratios, while displacing
      U.S. responsibility for the attack onto the Iranian people: "I would sacrifice
      1 million enemies versus 1 of our military. Their choice, their death."

[Aug 15, 2018] China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

But the state of American 'journalism' is such that the media must portray America as winning, and will not acknowledge catastrophe until major damage has already been done, because it is patriotic to report on American success.

Patient Observer August 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

FYI
Officials from three leading US groups that support increased exports of US LNG separately addressed concerns on Aug. 3 over the Chinese Ministry of Commerce's announcement that tariffs ranging 5-25% will be imposed on US LNG.

"China's retaliation will hit America's energy industry particularly hard," said American Petroleum Institute Vice-Pres. for Regulatory and Economic Policy Kyle Isakower. "American oil and gas already hit by US tariffs on industrial products and specialty steel essential to our industry will now be faced with Chinese tariffs on critical US exports, affecting American jobs that rely directly and indirectly on the energy industry."

https://www.ogj.com/articles/2018/08/us-groups-express-concerns-about-china-plans-to-impose-lng-tariffs.html?cmpid=enl_ogj_ogj_daily_update_2018-08-06&pwhid=893d521578abd67c7c1f2e0a59badfa53c05bf4701daba6f7a15095c797ff1cfb5e197eb4a367ebf6d74c0bead3e4836e2e5763a138164741673f9a08d508cc3&eid=397564233&bid=2197384

[Aug 15, 2018] Mark Chapman

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

August 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm Oh, look; Ukraine already is down to about half the gas in storage that it will need for winter. Turning to the west certainly made it 'energy-independent' at least to the extent that the west must 'lend' it money to buy gas which is reverse-flowed from eastern-European countries so that all the Russian is squeezed out of it, and it becomes European freedom gas. Nice work if you can get it, and since Ukraine will not be able to pay it back, it becomes a gift! Why worry, as long as Uncle Sugar is paying the bills?

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSL5N1US27X

Speaking of gas, once-bitten-twice-shy Bulgaria is eager to get a piece of the action, signifying up front its willingness to tap into Turkish Stream for transit to Europe.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-6023431/Bulgaria-expands-pipeline-Turkey-bid-Russian-gas.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

And that's another route through Ukraine which is pretty likely to go dry next year.

[Aug 15, 2018] US production of natural gas for export might well be a wishful thinking

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

There seems to be a tremendously broad American – and western – assumption that US production is going to 'soar' and continue to ramp ever upward. Is it? Bear in mind that the USA's own consumption of natural gas is growing steadily, at least partly based on this assumption that natural-gas bounty will just continue to increase. What if it doesn't? Then America will have refashioned itself as another huge natural-gas market which has insufficient domestic supply to sustain itself.

[Aug 15, 2018] Dezinformation from Euractive intended to block North Stream II

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al August 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Two pieces by Euractive with Neuters, though curiously no byline or attribution is given . Why so shy?

BS1: Friendship no more: How Russian gas is a problem for Germany
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/friendship-no-more-how-russian-gas-is-a-problem-for-germany/

####

The headline is pure tabloid and not supported in the body of the article apart from 'opinions' by certain people or through use of qualifiers. This is not journalism . Only further proof in my opinion that Euractiv has become part of the EU's unofficial channels of hybrid warfare . Euractiv/Neuters has also expanded in to the Balkans to provide 'services' in Croatia/Serbia etc. which just so happens to coincide with all the shrill headlines about Russia 'influencing the Balkans' – which are of course BS. Just look at the map. Short of Macedonia (not for long) and Serbia, they are all NATO states . Russia only helps states who want to help themselves (Syria/Serbia – more or less).

Not a shred of proof, nay evidence, that Germany is shifting away from NordStream II. FAKE NUDES!

bs2 with Neuters & crAP: https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/
https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/russia-used-lessons-from-georgia-war-in-ukraine-conflict/

Languages: Slovak

Ten years ago, in August 2008, Russia and Georgia went to war over South Ossetia, a small separatist Georgian region which Moscow would later controversially recognise as independent, in the face of international criticism.

Ten years later, Moscow has still not softened its position towards its neighbours and its rift with the West has only deepened.

Russia launched armed action against Georgia to come to the rescue of South Ossetia, a small pro-Russian separatist region where Tbilisi had begun a military operation. The Russian army rapidly outnumbered the Georgian forces and threatened to take the country's capital.

A peace treaty was finally hammered out by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy that led to the withdrawal of Russian forces. But Moscow recognised as independent the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where it has stationed a large military presence ever since.

Russia demonstrated its military might over the five days and showed its readiness to defend – by force, if necessary – its interests in the region it considers its sphere of influence .
####

Well shove that in your pipe and smoke it!

Yet again, no attribution, no name. It smacks of a thinktank piece peddled through their Slovak branch.

But this is how things work in the West. No-on is ordered on pain of death to produce certain items, but is is made very clear that it is in their interests to do so, from without & from within, but remember kids, it is voluntary ! Neither self-censorship exists. Those in positions of influence may convince themselves, but for the rest of the great unwashed, no so much. We've already seen the system fail and produce not only BREXIT, but other referendums contrary to EU dogma. The evidence is all around us and plain to see, but still the structures persist in the same old ways, which only bodes ill. Apparently they still think the sheeple are too stupid to notice let alone act.

[Aug 15, 2018] Countermove in Caspian see: no NATO allowed

Notable quotes:
"... It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.' ..."
"... Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox. ..."
"... Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:06 am

Apologies if somebody already posted, the legal partitioning of the Caspian Sea is finally complete and constitutes good news for Russia:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-says-deal-to-settle-status-of-caspian-sea-reached-a8486311.html

yalensis August 13, 2018 at 2:10 am
The other backstory being that NATO wanted to stick its nose in the Caspian Sea, but has been pushed out. Not sure exactly what the pretext was. I have a piece in VZGLIAD that explains the whole thing, but I haven't worked through it yet, will probably do a piece on my own blog in the near future. But I have a couple of other projects in the queue first.
Mark Chapman August 13, 2018 at 8:39 am
Dick Cheney, among others, was convinced that the Caspian Basin holds massive deposits of oil and gas and is strategically significant for that reason.

http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue46/articles/real_reasons_quotes.htm

"Central Asian resources may revert back to the control of Russia or to a Russian led alliance. This would be a nightmare situation. We had better wake up to the dangers or one day the certainties on which we base our prosperity will be certainties no more. The potential prize in oil and gas riches in the Caspian sea, valued up to $4 trillion, would give Russia both wealth and strategic dominance. The potential economic rewards of Caspian energy will draw in their train Western military forces to protect our investment if necessary."

Mortimer Zuckerman
Editor, U.S. News and World Report

"This is about America's energy security. Its also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We are trying to move these newly independent countries toward the West. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political interests. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian and it's important that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right."

Bill Richardson
Then-U.S. Secretary Energy (1998-2000)

It looks as if Zuckerman's 'nightmare situation' has come about. I don't know that these were ever proven reserves, and in fact I have the impression that the supposed energy bounty of the Caspian did not turn out quite as imagined, but Washington once thought – not long ago, either – that it was imperative America controlled the Caspian region because it was about 'America's energy security'. Which is another way of saying 'America must have control over and access to every oil-producing region on the planet.'

Richardson was correct, though, that Russia 'does not share America's values'. In fact, Americans do not share America's values, in the sense that most Americans by far would not support the actions of the Saudi military in Yemen, the clever false-flag operations of the White Helmets in Syria, the deliberate destabilization of Venezuela, regime-change operations to the right and left in order to obtain governments who will facilitate American commercial and political control, and many other things that official America considers just important tools in the American Global Dominance Toolbox.

Washington has long nurtured the dream of being Europe's primary, if not only, energy supplier, and owning the Caspian (had the reserves expectations played out) would have brought them closer to their dream. A pipeline network would have carried Caspian oil and gas to Europe. Agreement among the Caspian nations was most definitely not in American interests, and if you dig you will probably find American interventions to prevent that from coming about.

[Aug 07, 2018] Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics by Rob Urie

Notable quotes:
"... The Great Satin (sic) ..."
"... Source: gulfbusiness.com ..."
"... Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe. ..."
Feb 19, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

The indictments are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller's indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment. The FBI has been America's political police since its founding in 1908. Early on former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led legally dubious mass arrests of American dissidents. He practically invented the slander of conflating legitimate dissent with foreign agency. This is the institutional backdrop from which Mr. Mueller proceeds.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the FBI's targets included the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Black Panther Party and any other political organization Mr. Hoover deemed a threat. The secret (hidden) FBI program COINTELPRO was intended to subvert political outcomes outside of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and with no regard for the lives of its targets . Throughout its history the FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order.

Robert Mueller became FBI Director only days before the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of his first acts as Director was to arrest 1,000 persons without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None of those arrested were ever charged in association with the attacks. The frame in which the FBI acted -- to maintain political stability threatened by 'external' forces, was ultimately chosen by the George W. Bush administration to justify its aggressive war against Iraq.

It is the FBI's legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller's indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are 'sowing discord,' and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent.

The posture of simple reporting at work in the indictment -- that it isn't the FBI's fault that the Russians (allegedly) inserted themselves into the electoral process, runs against the history of the FBI's political role, the tilt used to craft criminal charges and the facts put forward versus those put to the side. Given the political agendas of the other agencies that the FBI joined through the charges, they are most certainly but a small piece of a larger story.

In the aftermath of the indictments it's easy to forget that the Pentagon created the internet , that the NSA has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, that the CIA has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and that the FBI is only reputable in the present because of Americans' near-heroic ignorance of history. The claim that the Russian operation was sophisticated because it had corporate form and function is countered by the fact that it was, by the various agencies' own claims, ineffectual in changing the outcome of the election.

I Have a List

While Robert Mueller was busy charging never-to-be-tried Russians with past crimes, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, declared that future Russian meddling has already cast a shadow over the integrity of the 2018 election. Why the Pentagon that created the internet, the NSA that has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, the CIA that has been heavily involved in funding and 'using' social media toward its own ends and the FBI that just landed such a glorious victory of good over evil would be quivering puddles when it comes to precluding said meddling is a question that needs to be asked.

The political frame being put forward is that only these agencies know if particular elections and candidates have been tainted by meddling, therefore we need to trust them to tell us which candidates were legitimately elected and which weren't. As generous as this offer seems, wouldn't the creation of free and fair elections be a more direct route to achieving this end? Put differently, who among those making the offer, whether personally or as functionaries of their respective agencies, has a demonstrated history of supporting democratic institutions?

The 2016 election was apparently a test case for posing these agencies as the meddling police. By getting the bourgeois electocracy -- liberal Democrats, to agree that the loathsome Trump is illegitimate, future candidates will be vetted by the CIA, NSA and FBI with impunity. It's apparently only the pre-'discord, ' the social angst that the decade of the Great Recession left as its residual, that shifts this generous offer from the deterministic to the realm of the probable. The social conditions that led to the Great Recession and its aftermath are entirely home grown.

More broadly, how do the government agencies and people that spent the better part of the last century undermining democracy at home and abroad intend to stop 'Russian meddling?' If the FBI couldn't disentangle home grown 'discord' from that allegedly exploited and exacerbated by the Russians, isn't the likely intention to edit out all discord? And if fake news is a problem in need of addressing, wouldn't the New York Times and the Washington Post have been shut down years ago?

The Great Satin (sic)

While Russia is the villain of the day, week and year due to alleged election 'meddling,' the process of demonization that Russia has undergone has shown little variation from (alleged) villain to villain. It is thanks to cable news and the 'newspaper of record' that the true villainy of Vladimir Putin, Muammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Nicolas Maduro and the political leadership of Iran has been revealed. In the face of such monsters, questions of motivation are moot. Why wouldn't Mr. Putin 'sow discord?'

The question as yet unasked, and therefore unanswered is: is there something besides base villainy that brought these national leaders, and the nations they lead, into the crosshairs of America's fair and wise leadership? This question might forever go unanswered were it not for the secret list from which their names were apparently drawn. No, not that secret list. This one is publicly available -- hiding in plain sight, as it were. It is the list of proven oil reserves by country (below). This is no doubt unduly reductive -- evil is as evil does, but read on.

The question of how such a list could divide so evenly between heroes and villains I leave to the philosophers. On second thought, no I won't. The heroes are allies of a small cadre of America's political and economic elite who have made themselves fabulously rich through the alliances. The villains have oil, gas, pipelines and other resources that this elite wants. Reductive, yes. But this simple list certainly appears to explain American foreign policy over the last half-century quite well.

Source: gulfbusiness.com

It's almost as if America's love for humanity, as demonstrated through humanitarian interventions, is determined by imperial competition for natural resources -- in this case oil and gas. Amongst these countries, only one (Canada) is 'democratic' in the American sense of being run by a small cadre of plutocrats who use the state to further their own interests. Two -- Iraq and Libya, were recently reduced to rubble (for the sake of humanity) by the U.S. Nigeria is being 'brought' under the control of AFRICOM. What remains are various and sundry petro-states plus Venezuela and Russia.

Following the untimely death of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, the horrible tyrant kept in office via free and fair elections , who used Venezuela's petro-dollars to feed, clothe and educate his people and was in the process of creating a regional Left alliance to counter American abuse of power, the CIA joined with local plutocrats to overthrow his successor, Nicolas Maduro. The goal: to 'liberate' Venezuela's oil revenues in their own pockets. At the moment Mr. Maduro is down the list of villains, not nearly the stature of a 'new Hitler' like Vladimir Putin. But where he ends up will depend on how successfully the CIA (with Robert Mueller's help) can drum up a war against nuclear armed Russia.

What separates Russia from the other heroes and villains on the list is its history as a competing empire as well as the manner in which Russian oil and gas is distributed. Geography placed it closer to the population centers of Europe than to Southeastern China where Chinese economic development has been concentrated. This makes Europe a 'natural' market for Russian oil and gas.

The former Soviet state of Ukraine did stand between, or rather under, Russian pipelines and Europe until Hillary Clinton had her lieutenants engineer a coup there in 2014. In contrast to the 'new Hitler' of Mr. Putin (or was that Trump?) Mrs. Clinton and her comrades demonstrated a preference for the old Hitler in the form of Ukrainian fascists who were the ideological descendants of 'authentic' WWII Nazis. But rest assured, not all of the U.S.'s allies in this affair were ideological Nazis .

Chart: Demonization of Russia centers on competition for oil and gas revenues. Pipelines to deliver oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe run through North Africa (Libya) and Syria and / or Turkey. These pipelines are substantially controlled by Western interests with imperial / colonial ties to the U.S., Britain and 'developed' Europe. Russian oil and gas did run through Ukraine, which is now negotiating to join NATO, or otherwise hits a NATO wall before entering Europe.

In contrast to the alternative hypotheses given in the American press, NATO, the geopolitical extension of the U.S. military in Europe, admits that the U.S. engineered coup in Ukraine was 'about' oil geopolitics with Russia. The American storyline that Crimea was seized by Russia ignores that the Russian navy has had a Black Sea port in Crimea for decades. How amenable, precisely, might Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his friends be if Russia seized a major U.S. naval port given their generous offer to take over the U.S. electoral system because of a few Russian trolls?

Although Russia is toward the bottom of the top ten countries in terms of oil reserves, it faces a problem of distribution that the others don't. Imperial ties and recent military incursions have left the distribution of oil and gas from the Middle East to Europe largely under Western control. Syria, Turkey and North Africa are necessary to moving this oil and gas through pipelines to Europe. That Syria, Libya and Turkey are now, or recently have been, militarily contested adds credence to the contention that the 'international community's' heroes and villains are largely determined by whose hands their oil and gas resources are currently in.

Democratic Party loyalists who see Putin, Maduro et al as the problem first need to answer for the candidate they put forward in 2016. Hillary Clinton led the carnage in Libya that murdered 30,000 – 50,000 innocents for Western oil and gas interests. Russia didn't force the U.S. into its calamitous invasion of Iraq. Russia didn't take Americans' jobs, houses and pensions in the Great Recession. Russia didn't reward Wall Street for causing it. Democrats need to take responsibility for their failed candidates and their failed Party.

Part of the point in relating oil reserves to American foreign entanglements is that the countries and leaders involved are incidental. Vladimir Putin certainly seems smarter than the American leadership. But this has no bearing on whether or not his leadership of Russia is broadly socially beneficial. The only possible resolution of climate crisis requires both Russia and the U.S. to greatly reduce their use of fossil fuels. Reports have it that Mr. Putin has no interest in doing so. And once the marketing chatter is set to the side, neither do the Americans.

By placing themselves as arbiters of the electoral process, the Director of National Intelligence and the heads of the CIA, NSA and FBI can effectively control it. Is it accidental that the candidate of liberal Democrats in the 2016 election was the insiders' -- the intelligence agencies' and military contractors,' candidate as well? Implied is that these agencies and contractors are now 'liberal.' Good luck with that program if you value peace and prosperity.

There are lots of ways to create free and fair elections if that is the goal. Use paper ballots that are counted in public, automatically register all eligible voters, make election days national holidays and eliminate 'private' funding of electoral campaigns. But why make elections free and fair when fanciful nonsense about 'meddling' will convince the liberal class to deliver power to grey corpses in the CIA, NSA and FBI for the benefit of a tiny cabal of stupendously rich plutocrats. Who says America isn't already great?

[Jul 29, 2018] Russia, the West, and Recent Geoeconomics in Europe's Gas Wars by Gordon M. Hahn

The USA can't compete on price and volume. But dir to dvassal status of EU can still force "diversification"
Notable quotes:
"... As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | gordonhahn.com

Russia has advanced forward in something of a tactical and potential strategic victory in the Russo-Western gas war. This is a three-party war, with the US, EU, and Russia each promoting separate interests. It is one sphere where a united West has failed to 'isolate Russia.' The US seeks move in on the European energy market with LNG supplies and replace Russian pipeline-delivered natural gas supplies to Europe. Washington is using the risks of dependence on Russian gas and Russia's 'bad behavior' as leverage in attempting to convince Europeans to reject Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russia is said to be unreliable and prone to shut off gas supplies to Europe.

Due to past Russian-Ukrainian gas crises, the Ukrainian crisis, and general Russian-Western tensions, Europe has decided on a gas diversification policy in which each EU member should have at least three sources of natural gas supply. One additional option that could facilitate this diversification policy is US liquified natural gas (LNG), but the US is still unable to supply enough LNG to offset Russian gas supplies that might be rejected by Europe. In the process, Washington is looking less like a 'team West' player and more like a solely self-interested power maximizer in European eyes and therefore no more reliable than Moscow. As a result, Europeans are deciding to stick with the Russians while finding new options in the east, such as Turkey and Azerbaijan. This is creating competition if not tensions in present and potential gas transit countries in southeastern and eastern Europe, for example.

The Battle Over Re-Sale: No Victors

One recent battle was largely inconclusive, but if a victor has to be designated it may be Moscow. In May, the European Commssion concluded a settlement with Russia's Gazprom in May ending a seven-year anti-trust dispute. In return for the EU dropping billions of dollars in penalty fees, GazProm agreed to end limitations on the use of gas purchased by EU members, allow them to re-sell the gas. Some EU members, such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have re-sold or wanted to re-sell gas. Moscow frowned, for example, on Slovakia's resale of natural gas to Ukraine at cheaper prices than Moscow sought to charge Kiev. The agreement will also restrict Moscow's ability to charge different countries different prices. So EU members in central and eastern Europe can get a price close to that paid by Germany and appeal to an arbitration court in case of a dispute. The agreement guarantees Russia's presence on the European gas market at a time when the latter's reliance on the former has peaked.

The Northern Front: Nord Stream 2

At the same time, the battle over Russia' Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline has heated up. When it comes on line in 2019, the 759-mile pipeline will carry GazProm natural gas along the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany and double the supply Nord Stream pipeline's current annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The Trump administration has threatened yet more sanctions on third-party companies, this time with those that work on the pipeline. The US sanctions threat is an attempt to promote American LNG interests as well as to protect Ukrainian interests, though it contradicts the view that Ukraine should eschew its dependence on Russian gas.

US officials have been hammering home to Europeans the 'Russian threat' in tandem with the risk of reliance on Russian gas may pose, which will increase with Nord tream 2, but to no avail. Public opinion is not working in the US favor, with Germans trusting Moscow more than Washington, despite all the crimes laid at the Kremlin's door by the West. A recent ZDF Television opinion survey found that only 14 percent of Germans regard the U.S. as a reliable partner, while 36 percent view Russia as reliable ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/trump-s-global-disruption-pushes-merkel-closer-to-putin-s-orbit ). Thus, notwithstanding Ukraine, Syria and alleged chemical attacks, Russiagate, and the Skrypals, GazProm's supplies to Europe have risen to hold nearly 40 percent of its gas market, growing last year by 8.1 percent last year to a record level of 193.9 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Nevertheless, with the EU decision, the U.S., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others have stepped up their pressure on Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and other western Eureopean EU members to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project. Germans and other western Europeans are unlikely to give up the short-term gain of energy security for the US LNG given the higher price and unproven nature of Washington's numerous allegations against the Kremlin. German officials say they still have no proof from 10 Downing on Russia's culpability for the Skrypal poisoning so loudly trumpeted by British PM Theresa May.

One motivation for the Russians in building Nord Stream 2 is to obviate the need to transport gas through Ukraine, which will hurt Ukraine's own energy supply – given Ukrainian skimming -- and overall economy beyond the present non-sale of Russian gas to Ukraine. Another Russian motivation is to avert the unreliable Ukrainians, who have failed to make payments according to contract in the past causing Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine and thus Europe with the resulting crises blamed solely on Moscow. The Trump sanctions threat has put Germany and the other Nord Stream 2 supporting countries between a rock and a hard place, between Russia and the US. Therefore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while supporting Nord Stream 2, has called for guarantees from Russia that Ukraine will remain a gas transit country. Ukraine's current contract with Russia ends in 2019 at the very time Nord Stream 2 is to go on line and the EU has urged re-starting EU-mediated negotiatons now in order to avoid another gas crisis. Putin agreed to do this at his meeting with Germany's merkel in late May. Nord Stream 2 significantly strengthens Putin's hand in any such talks.

The Southern Front: Turkish Stream, SGC and the Azeri and Bulgarian Factors

Russia is strengtheining its position on the European gas war's southern front by building the Turkish Stream (TS) gas pipeline to Europe. TS consists of a sea and a land leg. The former runs under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and is built, with Russo-Turkish talks on the land leg ongoing.

Russia's Turkish Stream is being challenged by the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) backed by Western powers, including the EU (along with Turkey and Azerbaijan), which sees the SGC as a means of diversifying from dependence on Russia. Not just Turkey, but Azerbaijan is emerging as a major player on the EU gas market, with a shift in policy accenting gas supplies to Europe as well as oil supplies as in the past. The SGC consists of three components: an expanded South Caucasus Pipeline and the to be constructed Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). TANAP is 51 percent Azerbaijani owned, 37 percent Turkish, and 12 percent belonging to British Petroleum. The SGC will carry Azerbaijani gas through Turkey to Europe and will be able to supply up to one-third of the gas consumed by Bulgaria, Greece and Italy ( https://en.trend.az/business/energy/2910573.html ). However, the source of the gas supplying the pipeline demonstrates the limits of Western attempts to isolate Russia (and Iran). Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field is co-owned by British Petroleum (29 percent), Turkey's Turkish Petroleum (19 percent), Azerbaijan's SOCAR (17 percent), Malaysia's Petronas (15 percent), Russia's LukOil (10 percent), and Iran's NICO (10 percent). Moreover, Russia's LukOil is negotiating with SOCAR a stake in Azerbaijan's second-largest gas field, Umid-Babek, which also includes Britain's Nobel Upstream ( https://newsbase.com/topstories/lukoil-talks-join-umid-babek-project?utm_campaign=466286_GERD%2031%20May%202018&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NewsBase%20LTD&dm_i=4NTN,9ZSE,2Q5R2D,13DVS,1 ).

Again the Ukrainian issue is part of the picture here, as a good portion of GasProm supplies to Bulgaria go through Ukraine. Turkish Stream can replace at least some of that supply should Moscow decide to entirely avert Ukraine's pipeline system. It is of interest that no one in the West has offered to include in any of these projects or attempted to fashion a pipeline or pipeline extension that could link up with the Ukrainian network.

During Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's late may visit to Moscow, Putin reported to Radev that during his meetings with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, the latter said he would pose no oppsotion to extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria. In response, Radev seemed to suggest making Bulgaria a "a gas redistribution center, a hub" for the Turkish Stream's supplies further into Europe ( http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57608 ). Moreover, one gets the impression that Bulgaria is wary more about its dependence on Turkey and Ankara's new offensive energy policy in Europe than on Russia and might help Moscow detour Ukraine. In 2015, Erdogan declared a major policy initiative of making Turkey a, if not the major energy transit hub for supplies heading from the east to Europe. Russia's annexation of Crimea could help Russia in its talks both with Erdogan over the Turkish Stream and pose the threat of undermining the SGC. It may also help Putin deal with Merkel, Kiev and the EU over the Ukraine pipeline system's future role. Bulgarian President Radev also said in Moscow that Sofia supports building a direct gas pipeline under the Black Sea to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria ( https://echo.msk.ru/news/2206394-echo.html ). The Bulgarian option could be used by Putin to threaten Erdogan with reducing the Turkish Stream's supplies or abandoning it altogether in favor of a Black Sea Russian-Bulgarian Stream and to reduce Russia's dependence on Ukraine as well.

... ... ...

[Jul 27, 2018] Transformed Gas Markets Fuel US-Russian Rivalry, But Europe Plays Key Role Too by Morena Skalamera

US wants to leverage his dominance in Europe into gas market. That's can work as long as gas is plentiful. As soon as it became a scarcity the situation will radically change.
May 30, 2018 | www.russiamatters.org
This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressuring Germany to drop its support for a major new Russian gas pipeline if Europe wants to avoid a trade war with Washington, while a senior U.S. diplomat warned that the project could be hit with U.S. sanctions; Russian President Vladimir Putin responded defiantly . This development, sadly, fuels the further politicization of the European gas market -- a space that, in many ways, has reflected the triumphs of a depoliticized, pro-market technocracy, which has managed to stimulate competition and lower prices irrespective of changing political trends. Just last year, Trump called on European countries to buy American liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which, for now, remains more expensive than Russia's pipeline gas. Certainly, the U.S. has much to gain on the global gas market, which has changed drastically over the past decade, as America rapidly transformed from an importer to an exporter. Europe's gas market, meanwhile, has much to gain from additional supply. But Trump's approach, especially if the latest reports are true, both alienates Western European partners and feeds into a sensationalist, simplistic portrayal of the new U.S. role's effect on Russia -- as a zero-sum game, in which these new, plentiful U.S. gas supplies serve as an antidote to Russia's "gas dominance" in Europe and hence to Moscow's political leverage.

In fact, even if Russia remains Europe's dominant gas supplier in the coming years -- as is likely -- it now has to play by EU rules and vie hard for market share, ultimately benefiting European consumers. America's gas boom has catalyzed this thriving competition, but an equally important factor has been a massive, long-term investment in infrastructure and regulation by Brussels. These EU efforts have done a great deal to weaken Moscow's geopolitical "gas power," which has never been uniform across the continent. Today, gas is a prized commodity but not a major weapon in East-West relations: Russia's gas leverage cannot harm the West, and neither does competition with U.S. gas pose a major threat to Russia as a state or, for now, to its gas behemoth, Gazprom. Moreover, in the near to medium term, Russian and U.S. gas companies may face many challenges in common : Both will be competing against new, price-lowering producers and grappling with ever "greener" regulations on the European market, while also trying to profit from Asia's thirst for energy.

[Jul 27, 2018] 3rd Russian LNG shipment to USA to arrive 26th July

Jul 27, 2018 | community.oilprice.com

Simon Hauser said:

How cheap could Russia produce to compete with growing US LNG exports?

Gazprom needs price around 4 $ per mmbtu in Europe to be profitable. Today in Europe are close to 8 $. US LNG long term imho need about 8 to 9 $ per mbbtu.

[Jul 25, 2018] Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

Jul 25, 2018 | twitter.com

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Twitter

Donald J. Trump ‏ Verified account @ realDonaldTrump 1h 1 hour ago

European Union representatives told me that they would start buying soybeans from our great farmers immediately. Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!

[Jul 16, 2018] Trump Is Right - NATO Is Obsolete, and if Europe Wants to Fight Imaginary Enemies, It Should Pay Its Own Way

Jul 16, 2018 | russia-insider.com

Hysteria is at fever pitch. After the NATO summit in Brussels, the definitive Decline of the West has been declared a done deal as President Trump gets ready to meet President Putin in Helsinki.

It was Trump himself who stipulated that he wants to talk to Putin behind closed doors, face-to-face, without any aides and, in theory, spontaneously, after the preparatory meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was canceled. The summit will take place at the early 19 th century Presidential Palace in Helsinki, a former residence of Russian emperors.

As a preamble to Helsinki, Trump's spectacular NATO blitzkrieg was a show for the ages; assorted "leaders" in Brussels simply didn't know what hit them. Trump didn't even bother to arrive on time for morning sessions dealing with the possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia. Diplomats confirmed to Asia Times that after Trump's stinging "pay up or else" tirade, Ukraine and Georgia were asked to leave the room because what would be discussed was strictly an internal NATO issue.

Previewing the summit, Eurocrats indulged in interminable carping about "illiberalism" taking over, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Sultan Erdogan in Turkey, as well as mourning the "destruction of European unity" (yes, it's always Putin's fault). Trump though would have none of it. The US President conflates the EU with NATO, interpreting the EU as a rival, just like China, but much weaker. As for the US "deal" with NATO, just like NAFTA, that's a bad deal.

NATO is 'obsolete'

Trump is correct that without the US, NATO is "obsolete" – as in non-existent. So essentially what he did in Brussels laid bare the case for NATO as a protection racket, with Washington fully entitled to up the stakes for the "protection".

But "protection" against what?

Since the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, when NATO was repositioned in its new role as humanitarian imperialist global Robocop, the alliance's record is absolutely dismal.

That features miserably losing an endless war in Afghanistan against a bunch of Pashtun warriors armed with Kalashnikov replicas; turning functional Libya into a militia wasteland and headquarters for Europe-bound refugees; and having the NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council lose its bet on a galaxy of jihadis and crypto-jihadis in Syria spun as "moderate rebels".

NATO has launched a new training, non-combat mission in Iraq; 15 years after Shock and Awe, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Yazidis and even Kurdish factions are not impressed.

Then there's the NATO Readiness Initiative; the capacity of deploying 30 battalions, 30 battleships and 30 aircraft squadrons within 30 days (or less) by 2020. If not to wreak selected havoc across the Global South, this initiative is supposedly set up to deter "Russian aggression".

So after dabbling with the Global War on Terror, NATO is essentially back to the original "threat"; the imminent Russian invasion of Western Europe – a ludicrous notion if there ever was one. The final statement in Brussels spells it out, with special emphasis on item 6 and item 7.

The combined GDP of all NATO members is 12 times that of Russia. And NATO's defense spending is six times larger than Russia's. Contrary to non-stop Polish and Baltic hysteria, Russia does not need to "invade" anything; what worries the Kremlin, in the long term, is the well being of ethnic Russians living in former Soviet republics.

Russia can't be both threat and an energy partner

Then there's Europe's energy policy – and that's a completely different story.

Trump has described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as "inappropriate", but his claim that Germany gets 70% of its energy (via natural gas imports) from Russia may be easily debunked. Germany gets at best 9% of its energy from Russia. In terms of Germany's sources of energy , only 20% is natural gas. And less than 40% of natural gas in Germany comes from Russia. Germany is fast transitioning towards wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy, which made up 41% of the total in 2018. And the target is 50% by 2030.

Yet Trump does have a sterling point when, stressing that "Germany is a rich country", he wants to know why America should "protect you against Russia" when energy deals are on the table. "Explain that! It can't be explained!" as he reportedly said to Nato Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

In the end, of course, it's all about business. What Trump is really aiming at is for Germany to import US shale gas, three times more expensive than pipeline-delivered Russian gas.

The energy angle is directly linked to the never-ending 2% defense spending soap opera. Germany currently spends 1.2% of GDP on NATO. by 2024, it's supposed to reach at best 1.5%. And that's it. The majority of German voters, in fact, want US troops out .

So Trump's demand for 4% of GDP on defense spending for all NATO members will never fly. The sales pitch should be seen for what it is: a tentative "invitation" for an increased EU and NATO shopping spree on US military hardware.

In a nutshell, the key factor remains that Trump's Brussels blitzkrieg did make his case. Russia cannot be a "threat" and a reliable energy partner at the same time. As much as NATO poodles may be terrified of "Russian aggression", the facts spell out they won't put their money where their rhetorical hysteria is.

Foreign ministers attend a working dinner during the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11, 2018. They gathered to discuss Russia, Iraq and their mission in Afghanistan. Photo: AFP/ pool/ Yves Herman

Are you listening now?

"Russian aggression" should be one of the top items discussed in Helsinki. In the – remote – possibility that Trump will strike a deal with Putin, NATO's absurd raison d'etre would be even more exposed.

That's not the US "deep-state" agenda, of course, thus the 24/7 demonization of the summit even before it happens. Moreover, for Trump, the transactional gambling man's Make-America-Great-Again point of view, the ideal outcome would always be to get even more European weapons deals for the US industrial-military-intelligence complex.

Terrified by Trump, diplomats in Brussels over these past few days have conveyed to Asia Times fears about the end of NATO, the end of the World Trade Organization, even the end of the EU. But the fact remains that Europe is absolutely peripheral to the Big Picture.

In Losing Military Supremacy , his latest, groundbreaking book, crack Russian military-naval analyst Andrei Martyanov deconstructs in detail how, "the United States faces two nuclear and industrial superpowers, one of which fields a world-class armed forces. If the military-political, as opposed to merely economic, alliance between Russia and China is ever formalized – this will spell the final doom for the United States as a global power."

The US deep state (its influential bureaucrats) may be wallowing in perpetual denial, but Trump – after many a closed-door meeting with Henry Kissinger – may have understood the suicidal "strategy" of Washington simultaneously antagonizing Russia and China.

Putin's landmark March 1 speech , as Martyanov stresses, was an effort to "coerce America's elites, if not into peace, at least into some form of sanity, given that they are currently completely detached from the geopolitical, military and economic realities of the newly emerging power configurations of the world". These elites may not be listening, but Trump seems to indicate he is.

As for the NATO poodles, all they can do is watch.

[Jul 15, 2018] Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy

Notable quotes:
"... Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US. Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy. ..."
"... Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits. ..."
"... As for oil supremacy. This has been an Anglo-american joint venture for over a century and was one reason for WWI being fought as well as the Balfour Declaration to give the Brits a future pro-British state in the region at some point. ..."
"... As for Saudi oil, this was lockef up well before 1945. It was left untouched by the British after WWI and King Saud handed the concessions to the Americans in 1933 because he felt they had no imperialist designs like the British. He was not a fan of the British due to various skirmishes before he solidified power and Saudi borders. . ..."
Jul 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 4:55:33 PM | 101

The latest article at the Saker site by Rostislav Ishchenko - Trump's Geopolitical Cruise - I think is the best take on Trump's and his backers mindset. Worth a read and covers what I think was the cause of the split in the US elite.

The petro dollar, kicking off in the late 70s was a piece of creative accounting to give unlimited credit. This should have been ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but greed got the better of most. Trump and the people backing him could see that this was now in its terminal stages and US close to collapse itself.

Rostislav Ishchenko, like many thinks that Trump is pulling the US back to a form of isolation from the world, but I don't think this is the case.

Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy. Although not labeled as global, when reading through the energy dominance section of the NSS, it can clearly been seen to be global. This is not just about sell oil produced in the US. Trump is going for the Achilles heel of Eurasia - energy.

Rather than a creative accounting scam that simply racks up huge amounts of debt, Trump is looking for a monopoly or near monopoly business to take over and rake in the profits.

Russia supply energy to Eurasia from the North. The opening for the Trump mob is in the south. The meet with Putin may well be to sound out the possibilities of forming a cartel. Putin/Russia is also the only entity that can prevent Trump's US from simply walking in and taking over the rich energy hub (Mafia style) to the south of Eurasia.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 5:35:42 PM | 104
Peter @101

"Global Energy Dominance is now part of the US National security Strategy."

Yes, it absolutely is. But this is not a new "Trump policy." Certainly Zbiginew Brzezenski laid this out quite clearly in his 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives." It's really all in there, just as you're now identifying. If you can't take the time to read it, please consider at least reading some book reviews. As I've noted before, Ziggy apparently didn't foresee Putin rising to power and restoring the Russian state, which threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the globalists' plans, but really, US foreign policy has continued to follow his plans otherwise.

Kissinger has written much the same, though I don't recall in which books/articles. This page from the US Navy seems a fine reading list, designed as it appears to indoctrinate officers in AZ Empire geopolitics.

http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/CNO-ReadingProgram/partnernetwork.html#!

IMO, the US took the lead in the Empire's Global Energy Dominance quest when FDR met with King Saud on Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal in 1945 (swinging by after the final post-war world planning meeting with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta). This was when the US largely replaced Great Britain in primacy over Asian/Middle Eastern energy dominance.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:42:51 PM | 105
Daniel, I will read through the Grand Chessboard again.
Peter AU 1 , Jul 14, 2018 5:49:29 PM | 106
US setting up more bases. A base in Iraq, and a large airfreight logistics base in Kuwait.
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201807141066354147-new-us-bases-iraq/

The US is in the Persian Gulf to stay. Trumps face face meet with Putin will be so Trump can try and gauge what Putin will do - if he will run any blocking moves, his reaction to a fait accompli ect. Most likely a few more face to face meetings before any move on Iran.

Daniel , Jul 14, 2018 6:52:45 PM | 108
Peter, thanks for pointing out the new and unwanted US base in Iraq. I just read that the US was building the world's largest Embassy Compound in "Iraqi Kurdistan." I wonder it they're the same thing?

In a quick web search, failing to find an answer, I noticed that besides the "Green Zone" compound we built in Baghdad at the start of the current military occupation, the record holder was the US Embassy Compound in Pakistan.

James and I have discoursed here a bit on the history of US military occupations since WW II. Boils down to the US has never removed its military from any country it's occupied with the exception of Vietnam.

veritas semper vincit @103 linked blogpost notes that the US has 40,000 troops still occupying Germany. His (I presume) post is quite entertaining considering the severe seriousness of the topic.

Dis is a nice little country ya gotz heyah. Id be a shame if sumpin' bad was ta happen to it.

Pft , Jul 14, 2018 7:14:55 PM | 111
Daniel@104

Have to disagree on the impact of FDR meeting with Saudi Arabias King Saud. That was more about feeling him out on a future Israeli state in Palestine. His death a couple of months later may have been related because King Saud made an impression on FDR as to what an Israeli state would mean for peace in the region. Also, FDR was close to Uncle Joe and unlikely to back the planned Cold War supported by some of the same folks wanting a destabilized Middle East and preventing a rebirth of the Ottoman Empire which would control much of the worlds oil reserves.

As for oil supremacy. This has been an Anglo-american joint venture for over a century and was one reason for WWI being fought as well as the Balfour Declaration to give the Brits a future pro-British state in the region at some point.

As for Saudi oil, this was lockef up well before 1945. It was left untouched by the British after WWI and King Saud handed the concessions to the Americans in 1933 because he felt they had no imperialist designs like the British. He was not a fan of the British due to various skirmishes before he solidified power and Saudi borders. .

"The 1933 concession agreement between Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) went like this: SOCAL could search for and produce oil in eastern Saudi Arabia -- a region 20 percent larger than the state of Texas -- for 60 years; it also received preferential rights to explore elsewhere in the future. The kingdom received an immediate loan of £30,000 in gold and, 18 months later, another loan of £20,000 in gold -- an amount equivalent to about $250,000 today -- plus yearly rentals of £5000 and royalties of four shillings in gold -- about $1 -- per ton of oil produced. (Only later would oil be measured in barrels.)"

[Jul 15, 2018] Russia studying possible oil-for-goods deal with Iran - Novak

Jul 15, 2018 | uk.reuters.com

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that a deal under which Russia would provide goods to Iran in exchange for oil is still possible.

Russia is studying all legal issues related to the possible deal, he said.

[Jul 14, 2018] Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia.

The USA is "captive" of Canada (to use the terminology of trump), but don't seem to have much appreciation or respect for their position.
Jul 14, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hickory

x Ignored says: 07/11/2018 at 11:20 am
Looks like OPEC 14 peaked two years. Can they beat it?, perhaps by a small amount in a world without chaos.

Today orange fatty called out Germany for being captive to Russia. I'm pretty sure he was referring to German dependence on imported fossil energy from Russia.

As of 2015 Germany net energy imports are 64% of total [USA 12% for comparison]. If this means 'captive', then perhaps we should acknowledge that 11 of our top 13 trading partners are highly dependent on imported energy from either Russia or the big OPEC producers.

'Captives' so to speak. Better get used to that idea, and learn how to get along with others. Only Canada and Mexico aren't 'captives', but we don't look to good at being friends with them either.

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump seems to enjoy antagonizing the Europeans one way or the other. As to NATO, Trump made the same complaints during his campaign while calling it "obsolete." Sometimes it sounds like he would rather have the US out of NATO. One theory I have is that he is limited in what he can do so he works around TPTBs to get closer to his goals. So he antagonizes and threatens Europe on NATO. The same goes for Syria. He talked about wanting to pull out but kept being drawn back in by the usual suspects. So he's pulled monetary support in certain cases and refused to dig the US in any deeper than it is. And it will be interesting to see what happens with his upcoming meeting with Putin considering how much he had to backtrack on his talk of better relations during his campaign. Those who've wanted him to join the "hate Russia" team may get frustrated. ..."
"... Within this new "mulit-polar" world, only Russia is cutting its military budge. And they still seem to have at least one of the most effective conventional war-fighting capability, and their next generation nuclear deterrence looks nothing short of awesome. They have pipelines to build, and like China, long-term economic contracts to sign. ..."
"... I'm no fan of Angela, but she/Germany have been trying to tamp down this AZ Empire New Cold War against Russia since at least 2013. When she, Putin, Yanukovych (elected President of Ukraine) and the leaders of the Maidan protests got together and signed an agreement in which Yanukovych acquiesced to essentially all of the "peaceful, pro-democracy protesters'" demands, it was the Asst. Secretary of the US State (Vickie Nuland) who said, "F*ck the EU" "We can midwife this thing" and even appointed the new PM "Yats is the guy." ..."
"... The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants. ..."
"... USA govt's assessment of China and Russia as "revisionist" should be understood as a determination to remain the hegemonic power. Thus, we have Cold War II. From that perspective, European objections to more "defense" spending are considered naive (or worse) as Europe's fate is views as tied to that of the Empire. ..."
"... I think European elites are much more likely to side with USA than European people. If the Trump's talk with Putin doesn't go well, we are likely to see increased scaremongering to rectify public opinion. ..."
"... Chaos can make doing business harder, but that can also increase profits. As the posters said in the '60s, "War Is Not Good For Children And Other Living Things." But it's great for the psychopaths. ..."
"... Here is an article that explains the relationship between Russian pipelines, USA sanctions on Russia, MH17, Crimea, and Syria. It is an excellent background to comprehend Trump's accusations about Germany's purchase of gas from Russia. Patrick Armstrong and Pat Lang seem to think that Trump is about to cut NATO support, reduce/eliminate sanctions against Russia, and redirect relations with Israel, but I am not persuaded. https://www.unz.com/article/why-was-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh17-shot-down/ by Kees van der Pijl He also wrote a book on this topic. ..."
"... Everything the US does works to undermine its old power in the new world. We see this continually. Trump is an accelerator. But whether any of this is intentional and actually desired by a part of US vested interests, is still an open question. ..."
"... Nevertheless, as we watch, we see every action of the US working to cement the bonds of its opposition in the rest of the world. From the Escobar article linked by karlof1 above, we see the pressure on the Middle East to reject the US and turn for safety to the Eurasian institutions of commerce, finance and national security. The same thing is happening to Europe. ..."
"... he equation as it stands now is this: A muscle-bound USA + an anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading. ..."
"... Since Russia is no threat either way then there is no need - none whatsoever - for the Europeans to increase their military expenditure to "defend themselves" against a non-existent Russian threat. ..."
"... Indeed, the only reason the Europeans would feel that they might have to prepare to "defend themselves" would be because that muscle-bound US military is now outside the tent pissing in, not inside the tent pissing out. ..."
"... Since whenever, America has been the proxy front for the current instantiation of empire with the core of control being ongoing private finance with global tools like BIS, IMF, World Bank, etc. Since WWII and even before the goal of empire is to have all of the world under its control. Since the engine of empire is a supra-national matrix of private finance control, the enemy becomes any nations who do not want to be impregnated with the Western model of private Central Bank, an oligarchy , inheritance, private property, etc. ..."
"... The empire model of growth through wars and boom/bust expansion has reached its "logical" limits and the the existential question has become, blow everything all up or agree to a multipolar world. I think that the elite hope Trump's bluster will make it so they do not have to answer that existential question.....yet ..."
"... If Trump's fake argument gambit was intended to inspire people inside and outside the EU to think outside the box then it seems to have worked. ..."
"... I LUV how Trump stomped on all those preaning European elite scumbags. ..."
"... Agree with Patrick. It is surprising to still see so much animosity towards a president who has done more to combat the absurdity of NATO and globalism than I can remember any other President doing. The ball is in the EU elites court, now. Put up or shut up and I believe it makes no difference to Trump. We are about to find out who is REALLY to blame for marching lockstep with the current of hypercentralization (globalism): the Trump admin or the EU elitez. ..."
"... The US has been manipulating NATO ever since it was formed. Most NATO officials are vetted by the US. Trump is an idiot, like the bulk of US politicians. ..."
"... Trump's "reasoning" makes sense in an infantile sort of way, but there's more too it than meets the eye, is there not? Trump doesn't just want to Europe to "pay their fair share" for NATO, which we all know is code for buying more US mil.gear but also to buy their LNG from US too. It's like NATO is some sort of grotesque, evil franchise where the franchisees can only buy goods/services from that single source, even though it's crap & inordinately expensive, and even if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, i.e Russia. ..."
"... Wow! You don't feel that Trump has, by his mere existence and by winning the presidency, been given a platform of which to decry the myriad injustices of globalization and to utter things unspeakable by any Prez in the last fifty years? ..."
"... Europe has an arms industry of their own. I doubt European countries invest their money into US stuff - they buy their own. Most of the money does not go into weapons anyway, but personel and administration. Germany contributes to the maintenance and infrastructure of US bases, but those bases are business, too. This is not Saudi Arabia buying protection. The real news is that Trump has started a trade war negotiating by tantrum. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

kgw , Jul 11, 2018 7:37:47 PM | 35

You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia. 'Love this exchange at breakfast;

You'd have to be an idiot not to agree with Trump here.


Curtis , Jul 11, 2018 7:42:06 PM | 36

Trump seems to enjoy antagonizing the Europeans one way or the other. As to NATO, Trump made the same complaints during his campaign while calling it "obsolete." Sometimes it sounds like he would rather have the US out of NATO. One theory I have is that he is limited in what he can do so he works around TPTBs to get closer to his goals. So he antagonizes and threatens Europe on NATO. The same goes for Syria. He talked about wanting to pull out but kept being drawn back in by the usual suspects. So he's pulled monetary support in certain cases and refused to dig the US in any deeper than it is. And it will be interesting to see what happens with his upcoming meeting with Putin considering how much he had to backtrack on his talk of better relations during his campaign. Those who've wanted him to join the "hate Russia" team may get frustrated.

Will he take direct action on any of these things? I doubt it. The indirect route seems to go in the right direction.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 7:50:36 PM | 38
karlof!. Good to "see" you back. The following is specifically to you, but it does continue from your first comment. [I couldn't get some links to embed, sorry]

My best short term hope is that all this war-blustering is just to convince we commoners to bend over so the military/industrial contractors can make lots of gelt. The Global War OF Terror has been terrific for their bank accounts, but with SAA and the MoD of the RF beating the snot out of terrorists wherever they go to such an extent that the Pentagon is considering ISIS essentially defeated.

Besides, the really "big ticket products" are things like aircraft carriers, "upgraded" nuclear weapons, 5th Generation fighters, etc. etc. etc., that are harder to excuse when their targets are guys in sandals with AK47s and IEDs. That could be why the 2018 National Defense Strategy plan has shifted from fighting "terrorism" back to " the long-term, strategic competition between nations." https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

Same with our "adversary" across the big pond in China. Just the other day, the CPC warned of "China's army infiltrated by 'peace disease' requiring a major new "defense posture" just like the US and NATO.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2153579/chinas-army-infiltrated-peace-disease-after-years

China's Central Military Commission specified that much of this "posturing" will be "military reforms are aimed at expanding its military might from the traditional focus on land territories to maritime influence to protect the nation's strategic interests in a new era. "

Within this new "mulit-polar" world, only Russia is cutting its military budge. And they still seem to have at least one of the most effective conventional war-fighting capability, and their next generation nuclear deterrence looks nothing short of awesome. They have pipelines to build, and like China, long-term economic contracts to sign.

Patrick Armstrong , Jul 11, 2018 7:52:25 PM | 39
No dear b, for once I think you've got it wrong. I see Trump asking three question for all of which there is one answer.
1. Angela. You tell us that NATO ought to concentrate on the Russian threat. If Russia is a threat, why are you buying gas from it?
2. Angela, You tell us that Russia is a reliable energy supplier. If Russia is a reliable supplier, why are you telling us it's a threat?
3. Angela. I hope you're not saying Russia is a threat and its gas is cheap but the USA will save us.

The answer to all 3 questions is: we're out of here, defend yourselves. It's Trump cutting the Gordian Knot of obligations.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 7:54:11 PM | 40
Aarrgghh! Besides some continuity problems when I recut and pasted the above since the links weren't working, I also left out the following completely.

That could be why, even though the US 2018 Nuclear Posture Review observes we are changing from: "For decades, the United States led the world in efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons." To " the current, pragmatic assessment of the threats we face and the uncertainties regarding the future security environment." Which conveniently can use up, or more likely go over budget on former President CareBear's additional $10 Billion in nuclear weapons development over the succeeding 10 years.

https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:12:45 PM | 42
Patrick Armstrong @38.

I'm no fan of Angela, but she/Germany have been trying to tamp down this AZ Empire New Cold War against Russia since at least 2013. When she, Putin, Yanukovych (elected President of Ukraine) and the leaders of the Maidan protests got together and signed an agreement in which Yanukovych acquiesced to essentially all of the "peaceful, pro-democracy protesters'" demands, it was the Asst. Secretary of the US State (Vickie Nuland) who said, "F*ck the EU" "We can midwife this thing" and even appointed the new PM "Yats is the guy."

She was then an active participant in the Minsk Agreement to end the "anti-terrorism action" Which our gal Vickie shredded publicly the next day because the AZ Empire thought the Uki-Nazis would finish off those Muscovite, Colorado hicks and (can I post the Ukie terms for Jews?) in the east like they'd done in the south.

Then, Angela was involved in the Minsk II cease-fire/road to peace (when the Uki-Nazis were being driven out of the east, and were about to lose Mariupol).

I know there are others in addition to b here who know this stuff better than I. Isn't this about right?

Piotr Berman , Jul 11, 2018 8:19:07 PM | 43
"It is extremely hypocritical for Poland to lobby against Nord Stream when it significantly contributes to Poland's energy security."

There are other explanations that could be better documented, like stupidity and insanity. BTW, Poland has big pollution problem, and a major part is that many older multifamily buildings and new single family building has polluting heating with coal furnaces and stoves. Natural gas does not generate pollutants except for CO2 which is not affecting health, plus it uses less than half of carbon than coal.

On the other note, merely to get enough gas for internal needs, Poland could get enough through Belorus. But if you need to add re-export to Ukraine, that is not enough. So Poles can pride themselves of not being as stupid and insane as their southeastern neighbors.

james , Jul 11, 2018 8:24:21 PM | 44
publius tacitus at sst take on this..
james , Jul 11, 2018 8:26:42 PM | 45
@41 daniel.. patrick has quite a good handle on this topic... https://patrickarmstrong.ca/
financial matters , Jul 11, 2018 8:27:15 PM | 46
Patrick Armstrong@38

Well stated. There are many gordian knots. The BIS should be dissolved ""Responsible fiscal practice requires a government to fill spending gaps left by fluctuations in non-government spending patterns. In that way, the government takes responsibility for maintaining full employment. What the Troika did in Greece was the exemplar of irresponsible fiscal practice.""

Tannenhouser , Jul 11, 2018 8:28:19 PM | 47
I really really like the way you include a 'solution' to a global problem in this analysis b. To many times we just speak to the choir and rarely are solutions presented regardless where they lie on the possible/probable line. Did I mention I really like this SA. Thanks.
Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:28:38 PM | 48
karlof1 @7. In graph 1, of actual dollar expenditure, NATO spending was going down until 2012, then it started to rise again, and has been a net increase every year since 2015.

In graph 4, per nation spending relative to GDP went up from 2014 to 2017 in almost all member states notably, except the US and UK, but even then, US went from 3.58% to slightly over 3.5% and UK from 2.14% to a touch over 2.1%, so both are above the 2% "minimum."

Graphs 5, 6, 7 all show actual dollar expenditures dropping from 1010 to 2014, but then increasing every year since then.

Perhaps I misunderstood your point. But it sure looks like NATO spending has been rising since this "New Cold War" really kicked into gear in 3024/2015.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 8:54:30 PM | 49
Pft @ 27

"One big reason they deposed the Shah who was planning to go big with nuclear power with orders for about 20 French and /or German reactors"

Another hat in the ring for CIA/MI6/Mossad helping to install the Islamic part of the Iranian Revolution? WooHoo!

"China basically has a monopoly on these metals"

Yes. Bear in mind though that "discovered" after the US invasion/occupation is that Afghanistan has perhaps the world's largest reserves of lithium. And the "Democratic Republic" of Congo also has much rare earth wealth. As in fact do other parts of central Africa. Hence, the AZ Empire's new "AfriCom" military classification and the reinstallation of French Colonialism.

I'm not so up on this whole tariff thing. Hasn't Germany had substantial tariffs on automobiles for years now? Do those tariffs apply to other EU states?

Peter AU 1 , Jul 11, 2018 9:02:50 PM | 50
Daniel
I have read in the past that Afghan is very rich in a number of minerals and China was looking at development there as part of it road belt intuitive. Going by the state Afghanistan is in I can't see the US extracting minerals there. US squatting in Afghanistan may be simply to deny Chinese access to the mineral deposits.
/div
/div
Chipnik , Jul 11, 2018 9:07:45 PM | 52
10

If NS2 goes online and EU goes dark to Qatar, especially if Iran corks Qatar with a South pipeline, the Middle East economies will collapse into chaos, and nobody will be buying either US guns or butter.

US'own economy is going down the crapper with No Taxes for the Rich running an $800B Deficit, and private Fed Bank ratcheting up $50B at a gulp in interest-only Debt financing ...forever. Collapse of MediCare and MediCaid will bleed even more out of the retsil economy, which will increase the Deficit, into a National Debt death spiral, and collapse of the public pensiin systems.

If you project MIC arms spendung and Fed interest-only bleed out, Trump's illegal 25% Fed VAT sales tax (aka 'tariffs) and EU/RU/CH counter-tariffs, all US health and human services will be insolvent by 2025.

When that happens, and could happen much sooner, the world we knew in 20C will be inverted, upended, chaos, albeit, only chaos for the Lower Classes, Workers and Private Pensioners/401Ks. The Deep Purple Mil.Gov UniParty will...uhh...find a way!

gda , Jul 11, 2018 9:10:23 PM | 53
@kgw
"You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia."

Well shit or get off the pot why don't you - "idiot" Trump is calling your bluff - stop freeloading off a (by your assessment) non-existent threat, or he'll stop it for you. Can't have it both ways. The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants.

Methinks this guy has a good take on this. "Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/07/nato-a-naked-emperor-by-publius-tacitus.html/

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 9:23:02 PM | 54
James, @44. I largely agree with (and have called for) Patrick's recommendations for what Ukraine should do now. I don't see anything in there that contravenes what I wrote about Germany's role in the AZ Empire's coup and resulting war, though.

Do you remember those events, or should I dig out citations? I was following it pretty closely from mid/late 2013 until it quieted down in 2015. Since then, I just pick up articles here and there.

like, did you see that Israel is providing assault rifles and ammo to the Azov Battalion (the naziest of the neo-nazis)? And then, of course, the Zoo-nazis whine about a couple of Jewish journalists reporting on it.

Chipnik , Jul 11, 2018 9:23:59 PM | 55
34

When you'd have to be an idiot to agree with Trump ($1 TRILLION MIC arms profiteering slash National Police State slash MIC Indefinite Detention Gulags), but now you'd have to be an idiot NOT to agree with Trump (drag EU into the funeral pyre)m then you know it must be the Red Army v Blue Army media spewfest and the National Novitiate in November is near. Rahhh.

E pluribus now get back to work. Your 2Q ONE TRILLION Deep Purple State tithe-tibute is due in 3 more days, ONE TRILKION that you and your hiers will never see again.

Jackrabbit , Jul 11, 2018 9:29:23 PM | 56
USA govt's assessment of China and Russia as "revisionist" should be understood as a determination to remain the hegemonic power. Thus, we have Cold War II. From that perspective, European objections to more "defense" spending are considered naive (or worse) as Europe's fate is views as tied to that of the Empire.

I think European elites are much more likely to side with USA than European people. If the Trump's talk with Putin doesn't go well, we are likely to see increased scaremongering to rectify public opinion.

Daniel , Jul 11, 2018 9:31:41 PM | 57
Peter AU 1 @49

Well, the opium is sure getting out ok. ;-)

Not to mention those same rare earth metals are getting out of DRC despite millions of murderous deaths and disease.

And the oil started flowing out of Libya before Gaddafi was even lynched. Oil's been flowing out of "Kurdish" Iraq into Israel come hell or high water. And of course, ISIL was shipping Syrian oil through Turkey and Jordan (if not Israel) throughout.

Chaos can make doing business harder, but that can also increase profits. As the posters said in the '60s, "War Is Not Good For Children And Other Living Things." But it's great for the psychopaths.

Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 9:35:30 PM | 58
Trump's native approach I suspect may be something like that of fellow-New Yorker and great American chess player Bobby Fischer who famously said: "Try something!"
Jackrabbit , Jul 11, 2018 9:46:02 PM | 60
Daniel @41

That sounds about right. I would only add that Minsk Accord is another example of a non-agreement. Ukraine never signed yet Russia is accused of not implementing this non-agreement whenever people feel the need for some more Russia-bashing.

mauisurfer , Jul 11, 2018 10:31:07 PM | 61
Here is an article that explains the relationship between Russian pipelines, USA sanctions on Russia, MH17, Crimea, and Syria. It is an excellent background to comprehend Trump's accusations about Germany's purchase of gas from Russia. Patrick Armstrong and Pat Lang seem to think that Trump is about to cut NATO support, reduce/eliminate sanctions against Russia, and redirect relations with Israel, but I am not persuaded. https://www.unz.com/article/why-was-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh17-shot-down/ by Kees van der Pijl He also wrote a book on this topic.
Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 10:40:00 PM | 62
I'm not so up on this whole tariff thing.

Trump follows the footsprints of the post-USA Civil War Republican Party policy. From Chapter 1 of The Politicos 1865-1896 by Matthew Josephson (published in 1938)

"The new industrialist and financial class and the farmers of the North emerged the greatest gainers by far among the mixed coalition of classes which fought to win the social revolution underlying the War Between the States. But no less triumphant and dominent was the war party itself, the youthful organization of professional politicians and officeholders known as the Republican Party. A minority party in 1860, and victor in a three-cornered electoral contest, it knew during the war the intoxication of unchallenged power and fortune beyond calculation, leaving it in command of all the offices of the Federal Government!"

From Beard, Contemporary American History, p.91

It had the management of the gigantic war finances, through which it attached to itself the interests ... of the great capitalists and bankers throughout the North. It raised revenues by a high tariff which placed thousands of manufacturers under debt to it and linked their fortunes also with its fate ... Railway financiers and promoters of all kinds had to turn to it for privileges and protection...

mauisurfer , Jul 11, 2018 10:48:49 PM | 63
jackrabbit@59
surprised to hear you say Ukraine did not sign MinskII. On the contrary, I read that it was signed by LD Kuchma, Second President of Ukraine. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Signatories

The document was signed by:[23]

Swiss diplomat and OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini
Former president of Ukraine and Ukrainian representative Leonid Kuchma
Russian Ambassador to Ukraine and Russian representative Mikhail Zurabov
Separatist's leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk_II#Signatories

All-night negotiations on Wednesday ended with the signing of the Declaration of Minsk in support of the "Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements" by Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin of Russia and release of the full agreement. The talks, according to some reports, almost collapsed near the end as Ukraine and rebel leaders balked at signing.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2015/02/13/putin-comes-out-on-top-in-new-minsk-agreement/#21ffe18f4ede

Guerrero , Jul 11, 2018 11:34:57 PM | 64
From Chapter 1 of The Politicos 1865-1896 by Matthew Josephson (published in 1938):

"The prosecution of the war against rebellion had been associated with a protective tariff levied against a hated England. which profited and sought to profit further from our disaster. With the close of the war, a cry arose from the Northeastern region that high tariffs were needed to pay the war debt. and an outburst of high Protectionism followed in 1866."

V , Jul 11, 2018 11:44:37 PM | 65
# 20

Trump is factually correct; but it doesn't make him right.

Grieved , Jul 11, 2018 11:51:06 PM | 66
Everything the US does works to undermine its old power in the new world. We see this continually. Trump is an accelerator. But whether any of this is intentional and actually desired by a part of US vested interests, is still an open question.

Nevertheless, as we watch, we see every action of the US working to cement the bonds of its opposition in the rest of the world. From the Escobar article linked by karlof1 above, we see the pressure on the Middle East to reject the US and turn for safety to the Eurasian institutions of commerce, finance and national security. The same thing is happening to Europe.

Some days I think that Trump was a brilliantly inspired choice of some deep state players to further their agenda of fragmenting the old arrangements to allow new alignments to come into place - to modernize the elite control of the world. But most days I just don't know. What can one say about a force this magisterial and still this enigmatic?

I was talking with a friend today about Trump. She said she sees his approach as quite typical of US business style. You come out with the big stick, knowing it will get chopped in half by the time you get to agreement. But at least you end up with half a stick. Gotta start big. You don't ask, you don't get.

This style worked perfectly with North Korea, which was a standout among the nations of the world, in my opinion, for understanding superbly well how Trump played the game, and played it right back. The result was a meeting of equals, where something could actually get done. But NK worked hard to develop the bargaining chip to put on the table too. Words without substance don't work.

I'm not seeing many other countries responding with this same kind of exaggerated bravado - it is a very US way of doing business. Most countries are simply working to go around the US. Europe seems to be doing the same thing, simply rejecting and turning away. But the European countries could certainly create bargaining chips if they wanted to play the Trump game of negotiation. I truly suspect his style is something they're still getting to grips with. Perhaps they should call Kim for pointers.

I think ultimately we are seeing two things at work, and in tandem: the natural style of Trump, and the very real and unstoppable current of history. Whether either force is aware of the other, I can't say. Like the success or failure of the French Revolution, it's too soon to tell.

dh , Jul 11, 2018 11:56:34 PM | 67
@65 Good summary. I think the Europeans simply don't know what to make of him. The look on Stoltenberg's face said it all. They just don't know how to respond to someone so direct. Maybe Putin is the only one who can talk his language....but not in public.
karlof1 , Jul 11, 2018 11:57:58 PM | 68
Daniel--

China's taking a page from Mahan regarding sea power. NATO graphs: I mentioned Obama ordered an increase in spending and the chart shows the compliance. The ups and downs correlate well with wars and major recessions.

james , Jul 12, 2018 12:07:22 AM | 69
@53 daniel... what you said earlier - i think much the same way... i would be curious to know more of how patrick armstrong sees all that, but i think it is much the same as us too.. those links @53 reflect how messed up ukraine is at present.. having a failed state on your doorstep doesn't sound like fun and that works both ways for europe and russia.. i guess that was the usa ( and israels?) plan... screw up countries so they don't function properly, so you have to spend a lot of imf money to fix them.. works for wall st, lol..
Yeah, Right , Jul 12, 2018 12:07:56 AM | 70
@38 "The answer to all 3 questions is: we're out of here, defend yourselves"

Patrick, I'm confused: they are meant to defend themselves against whom, exactly? T he equation as it stands now is this: A muscle-bound USA + an anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading.

Remove the muscle-bound Americans from the equation and this is what remains: An anaemic Europe "deterring" a Russian Federation that has no intention of invading.

Since Russia is no threat either way then there is no need - none whatsoever - for the Europeans to increase their military expenditure to "defend themselves" against a non-existent Russian threat.

Indeed, the only reason the Europeans would feel that they might have to prepare to "defend themselves" would be because that muscle-bound US military is now outside the tent pissing in, not inside the tent pissing out.

dh , Jul 12, 2018 12:17:13 AM | 71
@68 Maybe they thought Ukraine would join the EU at some point but Crimea was the prize. The plan was to turn Crimea into a NATO base. Putin spoiled everything.
Jackrabbit , Jul 12, 2018 12:19:28 AM | 72
mauisurfer @62

Wikipedia also says (as part Leonid Kuchma's bio):

Since July 2014, Kuchma has been Ukraine's representative at the semi-official peace talks regarding the ongoing War in Donbass.
Why are they "semi-official"? Because Ukraine would not talk to the rebels directly. They believe that the rebels are sponsored by Russia so the dispute is between Russia and Ukraine. They would not talk to the rebels as that might convey legitimacy to the rebels. That's why the Trialteral Contact Group was set up. The signers of Minsk II (Russia, Germany, France, Kuchma/Ukraine) are merely "guarantors" of an agreement between Ukraine and the Donbas rebels - neither of which has actually signed.

Kuchma "represents" Ukraine but can't bind Ukraine. Although Poroschenko attended some of the talks, he never signed the agreement.

Minsk and Minsk II have reduced conflict somewhat but Ukraine has dragged its feet every step of the way. For example: they were slow to pull back heavy artillery as called for under the accord, then they wouldn't pass laws that were necessary for other provisions of the accord.

Recently, Ukraine has passed a law that essentially negates Minsk/Minsk II and treats the rebels as terrorists (as Ukraine has always claimed them to be) .

The Minsk accords outlined a detailed procedure through which Donetsk and Luhansk would receive "special status," hold internationally-recognized elections, and then negotiate their reintegration into Ukraine directly with Kiev, including basic constitutional reforms to federalize the country. No substantive steps have ever been undertaken by either side to implement these terms, and the new "Donbass Integration Law" now makes clear that Kiev expects the country to be re-united on its terms alone, though probably not anytime soon.

Ukrainian lawmakers, who overwhelmingly passed the bill on Jan. 19, argue that it simply normalizes a situation that has long existed but was clouded by misleading jargon and official fealty to the non-functioning Minsk accords .

Poroschenko signed the bill into law in February 2018.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 12, 2018 12:22:41 AM | 73
@dh "Maybe Putin is the only one who can talk his language"

Going by what Putin said of Trump after their 2 1/2 hour meeting in Vietnam, it seems more likely Trump talks in Putin's language when meeting actual leaders. Same would go for his meeting with KJU, and I would guess Xi.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 12, 2018 12:25:05 AM | 74
Within the US west, there would be no one Trump could meet as a leader and equal. They are all hired help.
psychohistorian , Jul 12, 2018 12:52:59 AM | 75
@ Grieved with his observations

Since whenever, America has been the proxy front for the current instantiation of empire with the core of control being ongoing private finance with global tools like BIS, IMF, World Bank, etc. Since WWII and even before the goal of empire is to have all of the world under its control. Since the engine of empire is a supra-national matrix of private finance control, the enemy becomes any nations who do not want to be impregnated with the Western model of private Central Bank, an oligarchy , inheritance, private property, etc.

The empire model of growth through wars and boom/bust expansion has reached its "logical" limits and the the existential question has become, blow everything all up or agree to a multipolar world. I think that the elite hope Trump's bluster will make it so they do not have to answer that existential question.....yet

The EU has always been a bastard child with little chance of growing up because there was no finance core agreements to manage the national variations within. I am surprised it has lasted as long as it has given the historical tension between the nations. The US has similar social tensions but our structure has homoginized the economy enough that we haven't imploded...yet

The key to this process which I believe is being managed by the elite is at what point are the big decisions made and by whom. Given the accelerated nature of the managed deconstruction, I suspect the elite believe they will retain their mystique of power long enough to not lose grip on private finance running the Western world. The EU countries will have to come to terms with their oligarchs and determine what path forward works for all of eurasia. I don't see the current leadership of any EU countries as having the public's best interest in mind or action.

Are we seeing Western plutocracy fail of its own "weight"? Perhaps so.....nice

Hoarsewhisperer , Jul 12, 2018 1:03:22 AM | 76
If Trump's fake argument gambit was intended to inspire people inside and outside the EU to think outside the box then it seems to have worked.
Fernando Arauxo , Jul 12, 2018 1:05:36 AM | 77
I LUV how Trump stomped on all those preaning European elite scumbags. He's my hero for pooping all over their little pride parade. Tell em like it is Donald they call you stupid and all those other useless names. Your stinking GENIUS. MORE and an ENCORE!!!!
NemesisCalling , Jul 12, 2018 1:25:27 AM | 78
@39 Patrick

Agree with Patrick. It is surprising to still see so much animosity towards a president who has done more to combat the absurdity of NATO and globalism than I can remember any other President doing. The ball is in the EU elites court, now. Put up or shut up and I believe it makes no difference to Trump. We are about to find out who is REALLY to blame for marching lockstep with the current of hypercentralization (globalism): the Trump admin or the EU elitez.

Sorry for the break in the Trump-bashing. Let's all get back to that good ol' America-hatin' catharsis.

Den Lille Abe , Jul 12, 2018 1:55:52 AM | 79
So nothing is really new, sigh!

Since the start of the 70ties I have heard exactly the same tune from the US and the blathering idiot in charge now has not changed the tune; ever since have I had to listen to this "The Russians are coming" tune, with the rhetoric getting ever more shrill and false, 1989 brought a brief and marvelous, albeit very short pause to this tune, and for a few years the US Kleptocracy was happy plundering the former USSR. When Russia resisted the plunder i. e. Putin was elected, the tune started over again from where it was paused, disregarding the fact that Russia does not in any way compare to the former USSR.

N, noooe , it is still "The Russians are coming" playing, but with a new beat, pepped up, but same substance. But we are not listening anymore, the disgraceful actions and evil behavior of The United States of Mordor, have come into the open (The internet, appreciate it, we will not for long have it in its present form), even the most daft of us quietly starts wondering.

Well I am not daft, and the questioning ended 4 decades ago, The US must be resisted. Our politicians here on the continent must wake up and reject US imperialism and militarism, and devise our own defenses if deemed necessary, many European nations are not at the living standards we enjoy in Scandinavia, surely the money were better spent on that.

If the Poles and Baltic's want American troops on their soil, withdraw EU spending, we do not need their insane sabre rattling. (Especially the Poles are vile, they forget that when Hitler invaded, they had been a fascist dictatorship for years).

V , Jul 12, 2018 2:36:38 AM | 80
Den Lille Abe # 79
N, noooe , it is still "The Russians are coming" playing, but with a new beat, pepped up, but same substance.

Two things; a total lack of imagination combined with a failure to apply intelligence; the I.Q. kind.

Pft , Jul 12, 2018 2:54:07 AM | 81
Nemesisiscalling@78

What exactly has Trump done to combat the absurdity of globalization and NATO besides talk? While he stopped TPP and TIPP he is negotiating similar agreements bilaterally. Also his Personal Empire benefits from globalization.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/28/five-ways-donald-trump-benefits-from-the-globalization-he-says-he-hates/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.daf25165315b

US only contributes 1% of their defense budget to NATO's direct costs so pulling out of NATO would make hardly a dent in the budget except to increase costs to relocate all the personnel and hardware. Those bases are invaluableHis calling for NATO countries to increase defense spending benefits US and Israeli companies who make up the military and security industrial complex and wont do squat to lower the defense budget

kgw , Jul 12, 2018 3:05:25 AM | 82

Born and raised in Southern California, been here 70 years... The US has been manipulating NATO ever since it was formed. Most NATO officials are vetted by the US. Trump is an idiot, like the bulk of US politicians.

@kgw
"You are agreeing with an idiot, no matter what...Europe has nothing to worry about with regards to Russia. Unless they threaten Russia."

Well shit or get off the pot why don't you - "idiot" Trump is calling your bluff - stop freeloading off a (by your assessment) non-existent threat, or he'll stop it for you. Can't have it both ways. The US can't keep funding your crappy little joke of a disintegrating "European Union" for ever. Sooner or later you'll have to put on big-boy pants. Methinks this guy has a good take on this.

"Trump, like the innocent child in the tale of the naked emperor, has stated the obvious truth that the elite and the experts have refused steadfastly for years to publicly acknowledge. Way to go Trump. You hit a home run."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/07/nato-a-naked-emperor-by-publius-tacitus.html/

rcentros , Jul 12, 2018 4:42:16 AM | 83
You're assuming Europe's leaders aren't bought and paid for by Wall Bank Street Banksters. The system is rigged. I wouldn't doubt that they go into lapdog mode and bow to blowhard Trump.
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 5:58:30 AM | 84
83 Trump has just offically blown up NATO.

This was worked out before - there will be a " European Defense Union " including Britain.

Mrs Merkel emphasised that the German armed forces would remain commanded by parliament and not the government, and "would not take part in every mission".

This is theater.

somebody , Jul 12, 2018 6:18:14 AM | 85
add to 84

This here is a clear description of the issues involved . Of course, in the rivalry between the US and Russia, Europe's interest is best served playing the two off each other united. It is no surprise both - the US and Russia - have a strategic interest to split Europe. You don't believe Russia doing this, too? This here is from Greece . No, their government is not anti-Russian.

Macedonia is expecting an invitation at the NATO summit in Brussels this week to join following its landmark deal with Greece whereby it will change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia. Moscow strongly opposes NATO expansion.

...

The Greek diplomatic source told Reuters Athens would expel two diplomats and bar two other Russians from entering the country due to concerns that they were involved in rallies in Greece against the deal with Macedonia and that they had attempted to offer money to Greek state officials.

Becoming a "neutral" military force would end this type of nonsense. Trump acting like mafia is another strong incentive.

ralphieboy , Jul 12, 2018 6:20:14 AM | 86
@AH #37:

"The U.S. military is the biggest socialist organization of the world. It is egalitarian and its citizens, i.e. the soldiers, are extremely well cared for. It runs its own healthcare system through the Veterans Health Administration."

A wonderful conclusion b.

Does anyone know of any in-depth economic analysis of the U.S. military as a state welfare system for its members, as well as the impact of aggregate military spending on the general purchasing power of citizens within the society at large?

And US military spending is also an enormous job-creation and wealth-redistribution program in the form of defense contractors spread all over the nation, where they are especially vital for areas with weak employment.

The US winds up with a lot of projects it does not need because Congresspeople are not about to kill a program that employs thousands in their districts.

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 6:43:32 AM | 87
Why should Germany spend 4% on its military? Didnt see that coming from this blog. Are germany facing an enemy? If not, its a waste of more money. All this useless money could be spend to actually strenghten the welfare state. Something that actually matters and are much needed. So which enemy is Germany facing? Either Trump is right that Russia is a threat to Germany or hes not. What is it?
V , Jul 12, 2018 6:54:14 AM | 88
#87
So which enemy is Germany facing?

The U.S., of course...

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 7:18:45 AM | 89
This is absurd, Nato leader kick out EU leader during talks with Trump...
https://www.rt.com/usa/432844-trump-nato-leave-congress/
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 7:31:37 AM | 91
Posted by: ralphieboy | Jul 12, 2018 6:20:14 AM | 86

Therefore Trump needs NATO more than Europe needs NATO. How else defend the defense spending?

Senate votes to support NATO ahead of Trump summit

The nonbinding motion, which came as the Senate voted to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with that of the House, expresses the Senate's support for NATO and calls on negotiators to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to it. The 97-2 vote in the Senate comes as Trump heads to Brussels.

That is bi-partisanship.

Zanon , Jul 12, 2018 7:34:27 AM | 92
Lol watching Trump asking questions, pretty only fanatical eastern-European journalists pretty much urging war with Russia,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb9Snz6ivdY
Mark2 , Jul 12, 2018 7:34:59 AM | 93
The last time they debated a missing 21 trillion defense money at the pentagon, they got a cruse missile through the door! Figure that out! 911
somebody , Jul 12, 2018 8:12:36 AM | 95
It looks like Germany caved on the Iran deal

Helaba is a state bank.

xLemming , Jul 12, 2018 8:27:20 AM | 96
@21 gda

Trump's "reasoning" makes sense in an infantile sort of way, but there's more too it than meets the eye, is there not? Trump doesn't just want to Europe to "pay their fair share" for NATO, which we all know is code for buying more US mil.gear but also to buy their LNG from US too. It's like NATO is some sort of grotesque, evil franchise where the franchisees can only buy goods/services from that single source, even though it's crap & inordinately expensive, and even if you can get it cheaper elsewhere, i.e Russia.

I would love to see those fence-sitting NATO countries tell the US "sure, we'll increase our mil. spending, but after what we saw in Syria, we'll be buying our gear from Russia" (more bang for the buck too!) - that would be game, set & match right there!

LeaNder , Jul 12, 2018 8:33:38 AM | 97
I think you are wrong, Bernard. It will sell well in Europe too. To what extend were the themes of the Brexit campaign based on Germany as the slave master of Europe, to exaggerate slightly? It will also sell well in the US.
NemesisCalling , Jul 12, 2018 8:40:01 AM | 98
@81 pft

Wow! You don't feel that Trump has, by his mere existence and by winning the presidency, been given a platform of which to decry the myriad injustices of globalization and to utter things unspeakable by any Prez in the last fifty years?

I don't think you've been paying attention. The proof is in the pudding but what will be the benefit of raising the spectre of doubt over bad deals like NATO, the current iteration of world trade, and for animosity towards Russia? Evidently, it ain't worth shit to predictable TDS-sufferers that hang around here.

Circe , Jul 12, 2018 9:01:34 AM | 99
So much for those who projected that Trump's demands for an increase in the defense spending of other members and his scolding of Germany would lead to a weaker Nato! Nato members just caved to Trump and are increasing their spending and Trump is touting that Nato is stronger and everyone's doing the kumbaya.

When I say that Trump is establishment on steroids; it's an understatement. Trump is doing the kissy, kissy with Putin because the plan is to pull Russia away from collaborating with China. Zionist oligarchs are in league with Trump and Russia will eventually be under their complete control.

@98 You just don't get it. Trump is fascist establishment. Trump is separating kids from their mothers. Who does that??? He's a sick sadist.

somebody , Jul 12, 2018 9:14:59 AM | 100
Posted by: xLemming | Jul 12, 2018 8:27:20 AM | 96

Europe has an arms industry of their own. I doubt European countries invest their money into US stuff - they buy their own. Most of the money does not go into weapons anyway, but personel and administration. Germany contributes to the maintenance and infrastructure of US bases, but those bases are business, too. This is not Saudi Arabia buying protection. The real news is that Trump has started a trade war negotiating by tantrum.

[Jul 13, 2018] Trump's False Arguments about Russian gas will not sell well in Europe

But Trump has a great point: if you claim that Russia is ready to invade you, why you are buying gas from potential occupier?
Notable quotes:
"... Russia is a near neighbor to Germany. Commerce between relatively close countries is the normal course of events, so what is Trump suggesting, a 1970's style energy embargo on Russia? Depriving Russia the opportunity all trade with her neighbors 'because we said so' is no better than a blockade. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Donald Trump, the 'America First' salesman, came to Brussels today to demand more tribute to the empire. He wants Europe to buy more U.S. made weapons and to use U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). But his arguments are all wrong. The people in Europe are not impressed by them and they will reject his appeals.

His first talk in Brussels was a profoundly wrong bashing of Germany to push it into buying very expensive LNG from U.S. fracking producers. Trump, Putin's puppet according to the 'resistance', used the Russian bogeyman to set the scene:

Well, I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
...
So we're protect you against Russia, but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that's very inappropriate. And the former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that's supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.

So you tell me, is that appropriate? I mean, I've been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should have never been allowed to have happened. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia , because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
...
Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply. They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.
...
I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story. I think energy is a much different story than normal trade. And you have a country like Poland that won't accept the gas . You take a look at some of the countries -- they won't accept it, because they don't want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia, because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. And it can't be explained -- you know that.

Trump was talking about the Nordstream II pipeline which will supply Germany and other European countries with natural gas from Russia.


bigger

Nord Stream I has been operating for a while. Nord Stream II is currently being build by private Austrian and German companies.

Cont. reading:

Posted by b at 02:50 PM | Comments (161)

bevin , Jul 11, 2018 3:41:00 PM | 3

It is indeed hard to believe that western european governments would agree to what Christopher Black calls a "US shakedown". Except that they have been doing so since 1949.

It is important to remember that the US Embassy exerts at least as much influence on the government as Parliament does. And that Parliaments are full of agents of the the US empire, in some cases they are actually on the payroll, many more are either US educated, marinated in the imperialist ideology or in the service of corporations which know that the Empire is the final guarantor of their survival and capable of crushing them with ease.

That having been said, things are changing, The imperialists cling to power only by exerting the most extraordinary, and unsustainable, pressure. An example of which is the ludicrously over-wrought campaign against the left in the UK being waged by the Israeli Embassy, with the assistance of the entire MSM.

B's arguments are correct but it will take a mobilised and politically conscious public opinion to impose them on governments full of people who see themselves as Washington's servants and expect to be rewarded one day for being loyal to the US and for betraying their countrymen and, of course, women.

SomeGuy , Jul 11, 2018 3:41:41 PM | 4

The question is if Europe will truly continue to bark and bite at the deep state or if this is all just for show and they'll eventually capitulate. I'm worried that this is nothing more than political theatre. I'm not expecting much from the Europeans. But we'll see.
karlof1 , Jul 11, 2018 6:45:07 PM | 25
Europe buying LNG from the US just makes no sense at all. Aside from the cost, LNG is difficult to transport and work with; the whole idea is just nuts, especially considering the quantities involved. In addition, Russian gas is plentiful and cheap, so to expect Europe not to use it is also nuts.

Could it be that Trump fully understands this and the hidden agenda is to get out of NATO and bring home the troops?

jack Leavitt | Jul 11, 2018 3:53:59 PM | 5

An Act of War against Russia

Russia is a near neighbor to Germany. Commerce between relatively close countries is the normal course of events, so what is Trump suggesting, a 1970's style energy embargo on Russia? Depriving Russia the opportunity all trade with her neighbors 'because we said so' is no better than a blockade.

One of these days, my country is going to get a taste of, 'no soup for you' and we will be screaming like stuck pigs.

Yes, I am obsessed w/Sean Hannity

It's his earnest, self-righteous, mind numbingly idiotic voice, I'm hypnotized. Ollie North was on his show and they were going on about 'Iran's' saber rattling by threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz. Sean rattled off how the EU would wake up and it would be the end of Iran's belligerence.

He neglected to mention that this 'threat' is only coming after our act of war by actively trying to cut off all of Iran's oil exports which is no better than a naval blockade.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Jul 11, 2018 4:25:37 PM | 6

Much can be gleaned from this NATO Defence Expenditure pdf with special attention given to graphs 5, 6 & 7. Since the dissolution of the USSR, military spending as share of GDP by EU & Canada decreased about 50% as shown in Graph 5. It should also be noted that the demand made by the Outlaw US Empire for EU NATO members to increase their wastage of monies on military equipment began with Obama in 2015, with compliance noted by the graphs in 2016. When Obama gave his orders, very little squawking was heard from EU/Canada governments, although it was quite different from the public. Of course, EU/Canada are caught in a trap of their own design--Russia's quite obviously not the "aggressive" nation that must be defended against using all necessary means as promoted by Russophobic Media Propaganda as they all trade and benefit from commercial interactions; thus, bean counters see NATO as a wastage of vital, finite monies that ought to be spent on productive endeavors advancing the human condition. In national legislatures: "Russia's a growing threat to humanity!!--BUT--No, I'm voting against any increase in military spending as there's no need for it."

European members of NATO don't need such an organization. If they were to join the Russian and Chinese enterprises to unite Eurasia into a common economic zone, then the need for NATO would become indefensible. And their finally becoming independent of the Outlaw US Empire's diktats would provide the impetus required to finally solve the status of Palestine and reaffirmation of the paramountcy of International Law as a greatly expanded Multipolar Order would be established. The United Nations might actually begin to function as designed.

Is Trump trying to push NATO apart by injecting it with a dose of American Chaos? Force EU/Canada to declare their independence from the Outlaw US Empire for numerous reasons? All of which would force the contraction of the Overseas element of the Empire and install an actual defense policy, not one aiming to control the world? Is this Trump's way to force a Neocon retreat?

Meanwhile, China charms Arabia "Under the radar,..., the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), established in 2004, sailed on in Beijing, hosted by President Xi Jinping." Please note the article's citing of new demands made to Iraq by the Outlaw US Empire, which has their roots in Trump's appraisal of the situation.

karlof1 | Jul 11, 2018 4:36:16 PM | 8

I'd say this is why you do not mix a military alliance with politics. Nor allow federal presidents to command and represent an army. Trump's retarded bullshit aside the USA shouldn't be holding committee meetings with allies without an war. An alliance shouldn't be considered active during peacetime. An ally is a figment of political imagination until military necessity requires it in actuality. Historically and currently a military alliance is treated as a contract for warmongering against an outnumbered enemy while at peace or at war. Which is why honorable people (currently very few) eschew alliances or non-aggression agreements until they become a defensive requirement. If President Trump want's to crash NATO with no survivor's, more power to him.

Posted by: anon | Jul 11, 2018 4:44:41 PM | 9

How could a deal like nordstream happen anyway? Are puppets now allowed to make high-level strategic contracts on their own?

Posted by: radiator | Jul 11, 2018 6:10:23 PM | 18

We should also recognize that to some degree Trump is posturing before meeting Putin.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 11, 2018 6:15:11 PM | 19

The bright side of Trump bullying is revealing NATO astronomical hypocrisy as they join psychotic delusions about Russian menace they refuse to put money where their mouth is and shamelessly disclose their vassal status begging for American military support for free.

All that knowing well that there is no threat from Russia that cannot be eliminated simply by good neighborly relation with Russia not by spending $billions on otherwise useless fraudulent US MIC junk.

Is that nor reverse psychology that is in play here, put up or shut up, let me make deal with Russia so you do not have to spend on military rediculous sums to match your delusional rhetorics about Russian threat.

Trump is s gambling man, wants to make money for US MIC on anti Russian lies or make money for US industry on Russia peace and cooperation truths.

Posted by: Kalen | Jul 11, 2018 6:31:42 PM | 20

Love this exchange at breakfast;

"Stoltenberg: [ ] I think that two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart.

Trump: But how can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection?

Stoltenberg: Because we understand that when we stand together, also in dealing with Russia, we are stronger. I think what we have seen is that --

Trump: No, you're just making Russia richer. You're not dealing with Russia. You're making Russia richer."

You'd have to be an idiot not to agree with Trump here.

Posted by: gda | Jul 11, 2018 6:34:15 PM | 21

A notable difference between the way Trump treats the likes of Putin, Xi, and Kim Jong Un - all leaders in their own right - to the way he treats the EU poodles. Zero respect for the poodles.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jul 11, 2018 6:40:20 PM | 22

"... The big advantage for Germany is that (Nordstream I and Nordstream II] pipelines do not run through any other country ..."

That's because idiot EU / NATO countries like Denmark, who would gladly accept having the pipelines pass through their land and maritime territories (and the transit fees that go with them) if Russian gas were not flowing through them, prefer to support the Nazi whacko Banderites ruling Ukraine who whine that all Russian gas should transit Ukrainian territory in deteriorating pipelines. So Denmark and others refuse to host any part of the pipelines at all.

When Gazprom starts sending all gas through Nordstream I and II and pipelines through the Black Sea, completely bypassing Ukraine, then that country will be close to bankruptcy. Denmark and everyone else in the EU and NATO had better be ready to rescue the Banderites.

Posted by: Jen | Jul 11, 2018 6:43:45 PM | 23

Der Speigel 's fact-checking article of Trump's assertions provides some interesting facts, all in German, which I used Yandex to translate. To counterargue Trump's most pointed assertion that Germany's a captive of Russia, the author provides this rebuke: "Russland ist auf den Abnehmer Deutschland angewiesen. Die Deutschen benötigten die Russen vor allem als Lieferanten für Erdgas." (Russia is dependent on the customer Germany. The Germans needed the Russians mainly as suppliers of natural gas.) Overall: "Für Russland ist Deutschland als Handelspartner wichtiger als andersherum. Von allen deutschen Importen kamen 2017 nur drei Prozent aus Russland - und lediglich zwei Prozent der Exporte gehen in Putins Reich. Für die Russen war die Bundesrepublik mit einem Anteil von 8,6 Prozent ihres gesamten Außenhandels der zweitwichtigste Partner hinter China. Und mehr als zwei Drittel der russischen Exporte nach Deutschland waren Erdgas, Öl und Steinkohle." (For Russia, Germany is more important as a trading partner than elsewhere. Of all German imports, only three percent came from Russia in 2017 - and only two percent of exports go to Putin's Reich. For the Russians, Germany was the second most important Partner behind China, accounting for 8.6 percent of its total foreign trade. And more than two-thirds of Russian exports to Germany were natural gas, Oil and coal.)

Clearly, the total trade turnover between Russia and Germany represents just a small fraction of their totals, and both nations would likely find a replacement if a total embargo was to ensue.

Pft , Jul 11, 2018 7:03:43 PM | 28
The US began pressuring countries to forego nuclear power to support the Petro Dollar in 1978. One big reason they deposed the Shah who was planning to go big with nuclear power with orders for about 20 French and /or German reactors

The TMI accident was likely a false flag run by the newly established FEMA.

If the restrictions on recycling nuclear fuel rods were eliminated there would not be a disposal problem.

Germanys decision to phase out nuclear makes US happy. Germany will only accept Nord Stream 2 if it does not bypass Ukraine. This also makes US happy although they would prefer no Nord Stream 2. As said up thread this is as much about posturing before the Putin meeting and gaining leverage.

A bit O/T but it appears rare metals needed by US military and tech industries are on the list of products subject to tarrifs. China basically has a monopoly on these metals so the only short term purpose is to drive up prices for weapons and tech gadgets which get passed onto the taxpayer/consumer. In effect the tarrifs are just another revenue source to finance tax cuts to corporations and the rich.

Longer term of course the tarrifs make mining some of these metals in the US more feasible, at some cost to the environment , seeing as EPA has been gutted. But for that to happen the tarrifs need to be more or less a permanent thing. Its not like they dont have tarrifs on food and clothes from China. Just expanding the revenue base. The middle class takes the hit in the end, whats left of it anyways

Den Lille Abe , Jul 11, 2018 7:12:41 PM | 29
Trump as a used car salesman does not make much sense either. In fact I don't think he can spell to sense. It telling that he is impervious to the mood in both NATO and the EU.

His middle name should be clueless. He is truly clueless, he will not get an increase in defense expenditure, it would be political self goal (Hello Engeland, no not football, that's more like clueless) for any major political party to demand that, the electorate across Europe are firmly against it. Ohh and who cares about Perfidious Albion, they are not part of Europe anymore, they are some Islands with bad weather in the North Sea.

Seabird sanctuary ?

Europe hopefully comes to its senses and casts of the American yoke, and fashion its own defences, based on ITS needs.

BTW: F the Poles and the Baltics!

dh , Jul 11, 2018 7:37:45 PM | 34
thanks b.. informative and interesting comments from everyone too.. thanks..

trump is a hard guy to read in some respects... he is like a blunt object on the one hand, but he might have some alternative purpose in mind, which would include the meet with trump in 5 days..

if he wants to get rid of nato, i think he is going about it the right way.. i can't see why he would though as that wouldn't benefit the mil complex...i can't see the purpose of nato either way and perhaps it would be best if the poodles let go of having the usa as it's leader in the 21st century.. consider a different approach... i am not sure what canada and other western type poodles can do with all this..

@7 karlof1.. thanks for the pepe link... i just don't see the approach - bullying - taken by the usa to iraq, as working out.. i am listing the demands for others to see firsthand..
"
1. 30% of all the oil in Iraq should be American-controlled – and it's up to the US do what it wants with it.

2. Washington must have full access and control of Iraqi banks.

3. All business and trade with Iran must cease right now.

4. The Hashd al-Shaabi, known as People Mobilization Units (PMUs), instrumental in the victorious fight against Daesh (Islamic State),

must be immediately disbanded."

the usa takes this approach based on weakness, not strength... in fact - if one was to read trumps comments on the surface here - it is the same thing that b has highlighted in this post.. again - the usa is not working from a place of strength.. it is like a wild animal in the last phase of it's life - not good..

Posted by: james | Jul 11, 2018 7:21:18 PM | 30

Lost in the story is fact it is not new supply of natural gas to Europe. It is new pipe lines including two others with the sole intent of bypassing Ukraine. Presently near all Russian natural gas passes through Ukraine on its way to Western Europe and particularly .. Germany. The Ukraine regime has been reaping the benefit of transmission fees and stealing billions of cubic meters of gas, on which they also charged transmission fees. This was the basis behind a recent dispute panel finding in favor of Ukraine and the gas theft. The Americans and willing European Poodles would very much like to keep the gas flowing through Naziville where they would maintain a strangle hold. Gazprom, the principle Russian supplier, more or less said f**K you and formed consortiums to build new pipe lines

Posted by: ger | Jul 11, 2018 7:23:58 PM | 33

@32 So if Germany gets gas through Nordstream they are 'controlled by Russia' but if they get it via Ukraine they aren't. Seems Nordstream would be good insurance against Ukrainian meddling. Cheaper too, a very sound business strategy that Trump should appreciate.

[Jul 09, 2018] Why Was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Shot Down, by Kees van der Pijl

Notable quotes:
"... Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster ..."
"... Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. ..."
"... Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 ..."
"... Self-Determination in the New World Order ..."
"... The Grand Chessboard ..."
"... Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. ..."
"... The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go. ..."
"... To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure. ..."
"... The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid. ..."
"... Patriot of Ukraine ..."
"... if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative ..."
"... If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. ..."
"... Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later ..."
"... weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. ..."
"... Anti-Terrorist Operation ..."
"... Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. ..."
"... The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum. ..."
"... 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' ..."
"... Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic. ..."
"... The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. ..."
"... Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure. ..."
"... whether managed or violent ..."
"... cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Russia Project Strategy ..."
"... In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large. ..."
Jul 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

Four years ago, on 17 July 2014, in the midst of a civil war raging in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed with all 298 passengers and crew. On 25 May last, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) entrusted with the criminal investigation of the downing and composed of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and paradoxically, given its possible involvement, Ukraine, presented its second progress report. Like the first report in September 2016, it took the form of a press conference, with video animations supporting the investigation's findings. This time there was even less to report; the main conclusion was that elements from the Russian 53rd Buk missile brigade were the culprits, a claim already made by the London-based investigative group Bellingcat two years before. In February 2016 that assertion had still been dismissed as unfit for evidence by the Dutch chief prosecutor on the JIT, Fred Westerbeke, in a letter to victims' relatives. How can it possibly have become the core component of the case for the prosecution two years and two months later?

The JIT press conference was immediately followed by a formal declaration on the part of the Dutch and Australian governments that held Russia responsible. However, JIT member Malaysia dissociated itself from the accusation, whilst Belgium has remained silent. The obviously over-hasty conclusion, on the heels of the alleged Skripal nerve gas incident in Salisbury and the likewise contested Syrian government gas attack on jihadist positions in Douma, all point in the same direction: Putin's Russia must be kept under fire and there is no time to wait for a court verdict.

ORDER IT NOW

In my book Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (Manchester University Press), I have refrained from entering the slippery terrain of making claims about who pulled the trigger, intentionally or by accident, in the late afternoon of 17 July, or even which type of weapon was used. For the downing of the Malaysian plane has become part of a propaganda war that was already heating up prior to the catastrophe. Instead the book is about what we do know about the events surrounding it, in the preceding months, weeks, and days, indeed even on the day itself. Subsequent events have only underlined that it is this context that lends meaning to the tragedy.

Refocusing US Supremacy After the Soviet Collapse

Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Right from the Soviet collapse in 1991, the US global perspective was articulated in several new strategic doctrines. The first and perhaps foundational one is the Wolfowitz Doctrine, named after Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence in the Bush Sr. administration, who commissioned a Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 (DPG) of 1992. It proclaims the United States the world's sole superpower, which must remain ahead of all possible contenders in arms technology and never again accept military parity, as with the USSR during the Cold War. The newly self-confident European Union, too, was obliquely warned that the US alone would handle global policing.

Additional doctrines, specifying on which grounds armed US intervention might be undertaken and justified, added elements such as humanitarian intervention (a Carnegie Endowment report of 1992, Self-Determination in the New World Order ); it was applied in Yugoslavia and again in Libya. Next, the'War on Terror', originally floated at Israeli Likud/US Neocon conferences between 1979 and 1984, was revived after the collapse of the USSR as the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Cold War strategist Samuel Huntington; Afghanistan and Iraq stand as monuments of the application of this doctrine. Finally, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard of 1997 specifically dealt with reorganising the former USSR, including Ukraine.

Through the different episodes, NATO was transformed into a global policing structure serving the interests of Atlantic capital. 'Out of area operations', unthinkable in the Yalta epoch, were first tried out against the Bosnian Serbs in the mid-1990s. The enlargement of the alliance into the former Soviet bloc, which began around that time too, was obviously motivated to prevent European departures from US tutelage, hence its bold forward surge. Already in 1994, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to join the Partnership for Peace, the newly created waiting room for NATO membership. To quell Russian concerns about the advancing West, the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 laid down that no nuclear weapons and permanent troop deployments would take place in new member states. Yet Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova not long afterwards joined a low-key organisation of former Soviet republics (after the initials, GUAM), another oblique link up with NATO.

Mobilising Georgia and Ukraine against Resurgent Russia

Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, the country began to mutate back to a society led by a directive state, assisted by rising oil prices. After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and announced a missile defence system deployed in the CzechRepublic, Poland, and Rumania, Russia shifted to a more robust international position. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go.

Yet even a colour revolution means little if there is no accompanying make-over of the fundamental state/society relation. Hence, the incoming policy planning director at the US State Department, Stanford professor Stephen Krasner, and Carlos Pascual, former US ambassador in Kiev, developed a comprehensive regime change doctrine in 2004. This would prove a key element in the subsequent Ukraine intervention. To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure.

At the Munich Security Conference in January 2007, Putin reminded his audience of the promises made to Gorbachev in 1991 not to expand the Atlantic alliance and warned that further attempts at enlargement (the Baltic states having been included in 2004) would imply great risks. Yet NATO and the EU were inexorably pressing forward. At the Bucharest NATO summit in April 2008 the Americans made the offer of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, only to have the offer vetoed by Germany and France. Possibly to force the issue, the pro-Western president brought to power by the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, armed and encouraged by the US and Israel, later that year embarked on a military adventure to recapture the breakaway province of South Ossetia. It ended in a complete debacle, as a Russian army stood ready in North Ossetia to deal the invaders a major, if very costly, blow. This, then, was what Richard Sakwa calls, 'the war to stop NATO enlargement'. From now on, every post-Soviet republic tempted to join the Atlantic alliance would have to reckon with Russian protection for groups resisting such integration, irrespective of whether it concerned actual Russians or any other of the almost two hundred nationalities of the former USSR.

The EU-Russian Energy Equation and Ukraine

The gas from Russia that feeds Europe today was discovered back in the 1960s; the Friendship oil pipeline was built in 1964 and the Soyuz, Urengoi and Yamal pipelines followed after West Germany started purchasing Soviet gas. The link-up culminated in 1980 with the contract for a gas pipeline from Urengoi in north Siberia to Bavaria, signed by a heavy-industry consortium headed by Deutsche Bank.

After the collapse of the USSR, Russian gas had to pass through the pipeline grid of independent Ukraine, which in the meantime had become the prey of rival clans of oligarchs. For most of them, gas was the key source of rapid enrichment -- directly, as in the case of subsequent prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, 'the Gas Princess', or indirectly, by supplying steel pipes for gas transport, as in the case of president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law, Victor Pinchuk, the 'Pipeline King'. The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid.

After Putin had come to power, he disciplined the Russian oligarchs as part of the restoration of state sovereignty. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the energy oligarch and richest of all Russian billionaires at the time, at the time was buying support in the Duma to build a trans-Siberian pipeline to China; whilst negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron about US participation in his Yukos concern, which he planned to merge with Sibneft into the world's largest oil company. In 2005 he was convicted to a long prison sentence. Yukos was brought back into the Russian patrimony via a proxy construction involving state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, as part of broader subordination of the economy to the state.

Gazprom meanwhile began building alliances to avoid future disruption of supplies via Ukraine and secure its European market. In 2005 it agreed with the outgoing government of Gerhard Schröder to build a pipeline across the Baltic directly to Germany, 'Nord Stream', with a consortium of German companies. Schröder was made the chairman of the board of the joint venture, Achimgaz, and two years later, a South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria was contracted with ENI of Italy. It was to be extended into south-eastern Europe as far as Austria. In this way Gazprom and the Russian state were outmanoeuvring various EU projects for pipelines aimed at by-passing Russia. Indeed it was the EU's plan to use a Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to connect to the Caspian energy reserves that prompted the $40 billion South Stream project. Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy, who first discussed South Stream with Putin in late 2006, was offered the chairmanship, which he declined, perhaps in the knowledge the project would become highly contested.

The Eurasian connection by now posed a direct threat to the cohesion of the enlarged Atlantic bloc. Besides Nord Stream and South Stream, Gazprom's collaboration with NIOC of Iran and a joint venture with ENI in Libya set all alarm bells ringing in Washington. Already in May 2006, a few months after the gas shutdown to Ukraine, the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution calling on NATO to protect the energy security of its members and have it develop a diversification strategy away from Russia. Senator Richard Lugar in a much-noted speech prior to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006, argued in favour of designating the manipulation of the energy supply as a 'weapon' that can activate Article 5 of the NATO treaty (common defence).

In a report to the European Parliament in 2008, the director of the EurasianPolicyCenter of the Hudson Institute in the US recommended that the EU should assist in liberalising and modernising the Ukrainian grid instead of supporting South Stream. Tension in the Black Sea area, her report noted candidly, might serve the purpose of blocking that pipeline altogether. However, after the 2010 election of president Victor Yanukovych, the front man of the powerful eastern and southern oligarchs, the lease of Russia's Crimean naval base at Sebastopol, home of its Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, so the prospects for stirring up unrest there were mitigated by Moscow's enduring naval preponderance.

Regime Change in Kiev

One aspect of the resurgence of a sovereign Russia was the plan for a Eurasian economic union to rebuild relations with former Soviet republics (Ukraine obtained observer status early on). The EU's Eastern Partnership was a direct response. It was offered to former Soviet republics in 2008, in a gesture that signalled that Europe now effectively acted as a subcontractor to the larger anti-Russian design drafted in Washington. Concretely, the EU offered Ukraine and other former Soviet republics an Association Agreement that also included provisions for the country's alignment on NATO security policy, besides a neoliberal make-over in the spirit of the Krasner-Pascual doctrine. The envisaged reforms would be devastating for the country's existing power structure, not least for the Donbass oligarchs whose front man was Yanukovych. Their heavy industry assets would be swept away by EU competition, the country turned into an agricultural supplier, and Russian gas cut off.

Hence, when both the EU and Russia sought to win over Yanukovych to join their respective blocs and Brussels ruled out the triangular arrangement by which the Ukrainian president had hoped to postpone the choice, he could not but step back from signing the EU Association Agreement in November 2013 and accept a Russian counteroffer. By then, 'Europe' had become a code word for an end to oligarchic rapaciousness, in which Yanukovych and his sons had become involved as well. The president's decision triggered mass demonstrations and occupations, which this time included an armed insurrection by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in the historically anti-Russian west of the country. It created the space for actual fascists to hijack the protests and prepare a coup. By their use of deadly force at the Maidan central square (ascribed by the coup plotters and in the West to the riot police), the Ukrainian ultras demonstrated they were ready to kill their own compatriots to achieve their aims.

To prevent the situation from getting out of hand completely, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland flew to Kiev on 20 February 2014. However, whilst they negotiated a deal with Yanukovych and the opposition, the US and other NATO ambassadors met with Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of the fascist party of Ukraine and former head of its militia, Patriot of Ukraine . Parubiy, today the speaker of the Kiev parliament, was in command of the armed gangs at the Maidan; two days later these took power in the capital, installing a government of Ukrainian nationalist stripe, selected by US diplomats. Parubiy was appointed secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), a key post overseeing all military and intelligence operations, which he continued to hold until three weeks after the downing of MH17. With the Russian-Ukrainian half of the country effectively disenfranchised, the coup was responded to by the secession of Crimea and an armed insurrection in the Donbass. Stirrings of revolt in Odessa and Mariupol would be suppressed with deadly violence, in which Parubiy and other far right figures were directly involved.

Confronting the BRICS in Ukraine

From late March onwards the war party in the United States and NATO began to elaborate a strategy that would make Ukraine the testing ground for a trial of strength with Russia and China. The secession of Crimea and its re-incorporation into the Russian Federation was exploited to evoke the spectre of an impending Russian invasion on several fronts. General Philip Breedlove, commander of US Eucom (European Command, one of nine regional US military commands spanning the globe) and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), coordinated the Western position with General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Saceur at the time of the Yugoslavia wars. Clark was already advising Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine before the Donbass had actually risen in revolt. On 12April he asked Breedlove whether the NATO commander could not arrange a statement blaming Moscow for the violence because ' if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative , the Russians will see it as an open door'. Clark then elaborated on the general geopolitical situation, giving further insights into why the war party in the US believed that Ukraine was to be 'held' and chosen as a battle ground to confront Russia and China. No time was wasted on market democracy here. Claiming that 'Putin has read US inaction in Georgia and Syria as US "weakness",' Clark went on to explain that

China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask, would the US then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, the South China Sea? If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia. And what good is a NATO "security guarantee" against internal subversion? And then the US will face a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO, and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later .

On the weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO, so called because the use of military force within the country is only warranted under that label) began right after Brennan's visit; Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. Since NATO had earlier implored Yanukovych not to use force against (armed) demonstrators, Moscow now asked the alliance to restrain the coup leaders in turn. But according to foreign minister Lavrov, the answer they got was that 'NATO would ask them to use force proportionately'.

In fact even the oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, elected president on 25 May 2014 to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the coup regime, proved unable to restrain the hardliners. On 30 June, following a four-hour NSDC meeting with Parubiy, interior minister Avakov, and others whose armed followers were demonstrating outside, Poroshenko declared that the ceasefire would be lifted and a new offensive launched. Three days later NATO naval manoeuvres in the Black Sea commenced with US participation and with electronic warfare a key component. On the ground, Kiev's forces made rapid progress, apparently drawing a ring around the large rebel city of Donetsk. NATO had its own concerns: an upcoming summit in Wales in September was expected to capitalise on the trope of a 'Russian invasion', vital after the Afghanistan debacle, and dovetailing with the emerging contest with the BRICS bloc.

The BRICS, coined first as a banker's gimmick, were never more than a loose collection of '(re-) emerging economies', but from Washington's perspective, sovereign entities not submitting to neoliberal global governance are unacceptable. So when on 16 July, the BRICS heads of state, hosted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (removed by a rightwing conspiracy in May 2016), signed the statute establishing a New Development Bank, or BRICS bank, as a direct challenge to the US and Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically targeting the energy link with the EU. The creation of an equivalent of the World Bank with a capital of $100 billion with a reserve currency pool of the same size (an equivalent of the IMF), laid the groundwork of a contender pole in the global political economy challenging the West's austerity regime frontally -- or so it seemed at the time.

Still in Brazil before flying back to Moscow, Russian president Putin on the fringes of the football world cup finals also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a comprehensive Land for gas deal. Its tentative provisions included normalising the status of Crimea in exchange for a massive economic rehabilitation plan and a gas price rebate for Ukraine. However, a special European Council meeting convened on the 16th could not reach agreement on whether the EU should follow the American lead this time, since countries with export interests to Russia and dependent on its gas, were balking. Instead, the Council stressed the EU's commitment 'to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine' in order to 'safeguard the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.'

The Downing of Flight MH17 and South Stream

The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum.

Former secretary of state and then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a TV interview on the 18th called for making 'Russia pay the price' once its culpability had been established. Her to-do list for the EU included, one, 'toughen sanctions'; two, find alternatives to Gazprom, and third, 'do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians'. The 'Land for gas' negotiations were shelved and on the 22nd Europe dropped the remaining hesitations when it underwrote the US sanctions targeting Russia's role as an energy supplier. As Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a newspaper interview a year later, 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' .

In 2009 the EU had introduced a new energy policy, dubbed a 'Third Energy Package'. It does not permit gas to be transported to the EU by the company producing it, effectively forcing Gazprom to sell even the gas piped through the Ukrainian grid to other companies before it could enter the EU. Nord Stream had still been exempted from EU competition rules, but the projected South Stream was not, never mind that most contracts with Gazprom had been signed before the Third Energy Package came into force. Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic.

The Crimean secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation obviously played its own role here. Crimea is a historically Russian region; having been assigned to Ukraine by a whim of Soviet party leader Khrushchev in 1954, it never reconciled itself to being part of an independent Ukraine. After the nationalist coup in late February, the status of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol was in the balance. In 1991, the Black Sea had been a Soviet/bloc inland sea, with one NATO country (Turkey) bordering it. Now there were two more NATO/EU countries and two pro-Western, aspiring NATO members on its littoral. So when one week after the coup, three former Ukrainian Presidents, Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko, called on the coup government in Kiev to cancel the agreement under which the lease of Sebastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, the question of who would be able to project naval power over the Black Sea became acute. The question now was whether Russia would be able to provide cover for a large-scale project such as South Stream, or not.

South Stream itself came into the firing line directly. The European Parliament, which never raised the issue of why the February agreement with Yanukovych the EU brokered had been sidelined by the coup, on 17 April 2014 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the South Stream gas pipeline and recommended a search for alternative sources of gas. On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on seven Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as well as Gennady Timchenko, whose Volga Group controls Stroytransgaz, the company entrusted with building the Bulgarian section of South Stream. Nevertheless the Bulgarian parliament approved South Stream two weeks after the reincorporation of Crimea, circumventing the EU's anti-trust legislation by renaming the pipeline a 'sea-land connection'.The European Commission then instructed Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream and proceeded to cut off tens of millions of much-needed regional development funds, whilst the US ambassador warned Bulgarian companies against working with Timchenko. A final visit of US Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson, in combination with other punitive measures then led to the cancellation in early June. As Eric Draitser commented at the time, 'South Stream has become one of the primary battlegrounds in the economic war that the West is waging against Russia'.

The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. Putin earlier had hinted at moving the transit of gas for the EU to non-European countries; in August, it was reported there was a Plan B in the works to export via Turkey. On 1 December 2014, during a state visit to Ankara, the Russian president announced that in light of Western sanctions and the refusal of construction permits in the EU, South Stream would be replaced by a 'Turkish Stream' pipeline, besides the existing Blue Stream link. However, in November 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria, throwing relations between Moscow and Ankara into a deep crisis and entailing the cancellation of Turkish Stream. This was only overcome after the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan, in which Russia sided with the Turkish president, possibly even warning him in advance. Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The MH17 disaster occurred in the context of a deep crisis, in which capitalist discipline as imposed from its historic epicentre in the West, has become primarily predatory, relying to an ever-greater extent on violence. Speculative financial operations in combination with the 'War on Terror' have spread economic risk and repression at home, war and regime change abroad. Human survival itself has been turned into a global gamble played out over the head of the affected populations for private gain. The West, led by the effectively bankrupt United States, increasingly relies on force to sabotage the formation of any alternative, something its own social formation can no longer bring forth. Even the most promising, potentially revolutionary IT and media developments coming out of Silicon Valley have been mortgaged by a planetary project of communications surveillance to safeguard US imperial positions.

Back in the 1980s, when it launched the second Cold War, the Reagan administration intended to destabilise the Soviet bloc and bring about regime change in Moscow. This is also the aim of the current, new Cold War. A 2015 Chatham House report, 'The Russian Challenge', discusses this in some detail. Although it concedes that the West cannot have an interest in Russia sliding into complete anarchy, neither should the Putin presidency be protected 'against change, whether managed or violent '. Therefore, 'whether Putin was ousted by an internal coup, by illness or by popular unrest , it would nevertheless be sensible for the West to give further thought to how it might deal with the consequences of regime change in Russia.'

Effective communication with the Russian people and the defence of human values beforehand would be essential for Western credibility Planning for the future ought, lastly, to cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse .

The president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, in a piece for the Washington Post in October 2016 suggested launching a new, sustained anti-Putin campaign, for which the contract killing of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, ten years earlier, might be used as a vignette.

For such a campaign, George Soros' Open Society Foundation can be trusted to have elaborated the 'civil society'/colour revolution scenarios, whilst identifying the groups that might be mobilised for their execution. The OSF plan of action for 2014-17, titled Russia Project Strategy , identifies Russian intellectuals active in Western academic and opinion networks, the Russian gay movement, and others as potential levers for civil society protest against the conservative bloc in power in Moscow. From the OSF documents hacked by the CyberBerkut collective, Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation emerges as the key beneficiary, and discussion portals and liberal media such as Echo of Moscow radio station, RBK news agency, and the newspaper Vedomosti, as the preferred channels to disseminate content.

There is no need to repeat that all this is part a powerful offensive to derail the loose contender bloc around China and Russia, which had constituted itself in the face of Western aggressiveness and crisis. The seizure of power in Ukraine as well as the secession of Crimea and the civil war in the east, which has meanwhile cost the lives of more than 13,000 people and displaced a million, as well as economic warfare against Russia by the US and the EU, have brought the danger of a large European war several steps closer. Whether the actual downing of Flight MH17 was an intentional, premeditated act or an accident, whether it involved a jet attack, an anti-aircraft missile, or both, ultimately cannot be established with certainty. Yet both the NATO war party and the coup regime in Kiev, which on many occasions has demonstrated that its ultra-nationalist and fascist antecedents are very much alive, would have been perfectly capable of such an act and had the means for it. Most importantly, they had the motive. Those in power in Kiev had several times already attempted to draw Moscow into the civil war, directly and through a NATO intervention. If this indeed was their aim, it would also have served the Atlantic bloc's determined and long-standing commitment to force continental Europe into an antagonistic relation with Russia.

In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large.

Kees van der Pijl is a Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy and Professor Emeritus of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

[Jul 06, 2018] The possibility of Seneca cliff: Russia is certainly being creamed. The massive infill is visible from satellites and they haven't found/opened anything new of size

Jul 06, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

ProPoly 07/04/2018 at 10:28 am

More money now.

Russia is certainly being creamed. The massive infill is visible from satellites and they haven't found/opened anything new of size, yet have outlasted what everyone (including them) calculated would be the start of their decline.

Russia needs the oil revenue badly. But is their ultimate decline going to look like China? Very likely.

Hightrekker 07/04/2018 at 2:20 pm
Only Russia has more resources, a much smaller population, imports little, and is better educated.

Plus (not a given), global warming will ring some benefit. China doesn't have a chance (if one is biologist looking at it).

[Jul 03, 2018] No one actually has to act against US shale - it s something of a pretender in the real oil world anyway, and this has long been commented upon

Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Jul 1, 2018 11:31:44 PM | 30

@24 Peter AU 1

I encourage you to give the Escobar article a second reading. I just did to make sure I knew what it was saying. I think karlof1 is making the right points from it.

The collaboration between Saudia Arabia and Russia is a very small part of the article, and no one disputes that this collaboration is occurring. Russia may even be part of OPEC soon, if it chooses. The relationship works against the US but it's not specifically made for this reason. Read Adam Garrie's take on this to see that the moves into OPEC by Russia in recent years are clearly from its own interest as a hugely major supplier, and that Saudi Arabia needs Russia: The New Russia-Saudi Partnership Has Riyadh's US Ally Over a Barrel

I just skimmed it a third time and I don't see Escobar saying anywhere that the Saudi-Russia relationship is to kill US shale. He does say that both Russia and Iran are interested in countering it. I think the point here is that all serious oil producers with profitable reserves take alarm at the US shale oil because it's hard to say that it's a real commodity with an inbuilt profitability. It's a short-term entry into the market that can serve to disrupt the market temporarily, but it has no staying power. I suspect most nations would prefer it simply not intrude.

No one actually has to act against US shale - it's something of a pretender in the real oil world anyway, and this has long been commented upon. Escobar's point that the US shale is largely a myth is not a new concept. At best the reserve will deplete within 15 years, and that's at best - along the way it will destroy the US potable water table. And its intrinsic value is far from clear, since the entire industry is dubiously financed using relatively free Federal Reserve money. As Escobar points out, many call $100 per barrel the profit threshold for shale - that's a ludicrously high bar for profitability in the oil world.

Much of Escobar's article was about the relationship between Russia and Iran, and it served also as a very good primer in world oil and petro-currency numbers. I found it pretty sound.

In fact, I recommend it to those who may be interested: How the Iran sanctions drama intersects with OPEC-plus

[Jul 03, 2018] Clearly the reason for the Trump-Putin summit should be obvious to all by now

Notable quotes:
"... You don't need to give use Northstream 2. We will build it ourselves. ..."
"... Nordstream II only blocking party is Denmark, and they can and will bypass it at some price, if need be. ..."
"... Almost all of the countries that Nord Stream 2 passes through have signed on to its construction. The only holdout is Denmark. In response Gazprom has said it will reroute the pipeline through international waters. There is nothing the US can do about that and Denmark can say goodbye to its share of transit fees. ..."
"... A lot of that sort of crap was being pumped out by trolls and regulars alike a few weeks back on Putin, Nutty and SW Syria. Putin had done a deal and was giving SW Syria to nutty cetra cetra. Like Putin and Xi, Iran and others are too stupid to realize they have to work together against US attacks. ..."
"... Russia has to defend Iran. There is no chance that Putin will sell it to Trump. Once again we see the dreaded "US can do anything" disease arising. In fact US options are limited and evaporating. ..."
"... The most likely outcome of the 'summit'is a renewal or strengthening of old agreements on arms control and much high sounding chatter: in geopolitics the die is cast. ..."
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Julian , Jul 1, 2018 1:02:37 PM | 4

Clearly the reason for the Trump-Putin summit should be obvious to all by now

Trump to Putin: We will give you Syria & NordStream II. And in return all we ask is that you stand aside from Iran.

What will Putin do?

And what about the Ukrainian Elections coming up???

Surely Putin has to demand more to stand aside from Iran. Crimea for starters.

PutinToTrump , Jul 1, 2018 1:32:09 PM | 6

We already have Syria and the Crimea.
You don't need to give use Northstream 2. We will build it ourselves.
Šabaniri , Jul 1, 2018 2:02:23 PM | 7
@4, Syria is not Trump's to give. They already lost it.

Nordstream II only blocking party is Denmark, and they can and will bypass it at some price, if need be.

So - Trump has nothing and you think he will be given head of a Russian neigboor, SCO ally, fellow Empire target?
No way.

Yonatan , Jul 1, 2018 4:33:10 PM | 11
Julian @4

Almost all of the countries that Nord Stream 2 passes through have signed on to its construction. The only holdout is Denmark. In response Gazprom has said it will reroute the pipeline through international waters. There is nothing the US can do about that and Denmark can say goodbye to its share of transit fees.

Also Crimea is non-negotiable for Russia. It is Russian territory irrespective of what happens.

Peter AU 1 , Jul 1, 2018 11:14:41 PM | 27
Julian 26

A lot of that sort of crap was being pumped out by trolls and regulars alike a few weeks back on Putin, Nutty and SW Syria. Putin had done a deal and was giving SW Syria to nutty cetra cetra. Like Putin and Xi, Iran and others are too stupid to realize they have to work together against US attacks.

bevin , Jul 1, 2018 11:22:39 PM | 28
Russia has to defend Iran. There is no chance that Putin will sell it to Trump. Once again we see the dreaded "US can do anything" disease arising. In fact US options are limited and evaporating.

Incidentally it is very easy and probably wise to promise the US, in June, not to buy oil in November. It costs nothing and fits into bazaar bargaining strategies.

The most likely outcome of the 'summit'is a renewal or strengthening of old agreements on arms control and much high sounding chatter: in geopolitics the die is cast.

[Jun 27, 2018] jilles dykstra

Jun 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

Antony C. Sutton, ´Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution', 1974 New Rochelle, N.Y.
describes how Wall Street supported bolsjewism in order to prevent that German, suppose also Dutch and other, trade, with Russia was resumed.
WII and the aftermath created the Atlantic alliance.

Just yesterday Pieter Hoekstra, USA ambassador in the Netherlands, stated that Russia should be punished for MH17 by more sanctions, no new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

What he did not say that this implies our buying of USA gas, 20% more expensive. The MH17 show, in my opinion is run like the Sept 11 show. Or even the holocaust show, constant reminders.

The USA fear about Russia and the EU member states seems to be twofold:

Beckow , June 5, 2018 at 2:28 pm GMT

more trade with Russia, and the railway connections with China, threaten to turn the USA into an economic backwater

Precisely. US could eventually (20-30 years from now) turn into a country similar to many Latin American countries: rich in resources, demographically messy and ungovernable, weak infrastructure, but above all remote and quasi-provincial.

The 'Atlanticist' project is meant to forestall the provincial Latin American future. Washington does have some tools: dollar domination, military force, Hollywood, technology. But none of those are necessarily sustainable without also actively messing up Euro-Russia-China economic convergence. It might require a war to delay the inevitable slow descend into a backwater across the Atlantic.

[Jun 20, 2018] Best Russian oil is going to china; Europe gets only whatg is left

Jun 20, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

alimbiquated x Ignored says: 06/18/2018 at 6:30 pm

Anyone careto comment on the quality of Russianoil?

http://uawire.org/europe-cuts-back-on-russian-oil-purchases-by-20-due-to-poor-quality

Watcher x Ignored says: 06/18/2018 at 9:39 pm
read deep into the article -- the best oil goes to China. Europe gets only what is left. Haven't needed it, but the North Sea is dying. Iran is the next supplier but if sanctions eliminate them, Russian oil of whatever quality will be the only choice.

Or Europe could ignore sanctions, if they have the courage.

[Jun 20, 2018] The only four countries that have any ability to increase production -- Russia, Saudis, UAE and Kuwait

Jun 20, 2018 | peakoilbarrel.com

Don, 06/20/2018 at 11:16 am

I wanted to make a comment about the OPEC(and Russia) meeting coming up and a possible production increase. The speculation going around is that OPEC and Russia might increase production up to 1.80 mbpd. The minimum production increase would be around 500kbpd. What is the most likely production increase based on past production?

The only four countries that have any ability to increase production are

1) Russia: Current production 10.9mbpd. High production 11.3mbpd Difference -400kbpd
2) Saudi Arabia: Current production 10.0mbpd. High production 10.6mbpd Difference -600kbpd
3) UAE: Current production 2.9mbpd. High production 3.10mbpd Difference -200kbpd
4) Kuwait: Current production 2.70mbpd. High production 2.8mbpd Difference -100kbpd

The high watermark in production for these countries happened from Mid 2016 to Mid 2017. Currently these four countries are producing about 1.3mbpd below their all-time high production limits. Ask yourself what is the likelihood that these four countries will increase production to all-time highs and potentially surpass their highs which would be required to increase production to 1.80mbpd? When OPEC did announce production cuts at the end of 2016 many believe they had increased production to unsustainable levels to give each country a higher quota from the production cuts. The guys a Core Labs believed they had to cut because it would have threaten the long term integrality of their fields.

My guess is that the most OPEC and Russia can bring back for a sustainable period is about half of the 1.30mbpd they reduced from their production highs .maybe about 600kbpd

[Jun 05, 2018] The USA fear about Russia and the EU member states seems to be twofold: (1) more trade with Russia makes subjugation of Russia impossible; (2) more trade with Russia, and the railway connections with China, threaten to turn the USA into an economic backwater

Notable quotes:
"... Just yesterday Pieter Hoekstra, USA ambassador in the Netherlands, stated that Russia should be punished for MH17 by more sanctions, no new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. What he did not say that this implies our buying of USA gas, 20% more expensive. The MH17 show, in my opinion is run like the Sept 11 show. Or even the holocaust show, constant reminders. ..."
"... The USA fear about Russia and the EU member states seems to be twofold: (1) more trade with Russia makes subjugation of Russia impossible; (2) more trade with Russia, and the railway connections with China, threaten to turn the USA into an economic backwater ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.unz.com

jilles dykstra , June 5, 2018 at 7:42 am GMT

Antony C. Sutton, ´Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution', 1974 New Rochelle, N.Y. describes how Wall Street supported bolshevism in order to prevent that German, suppose also Dutch and other, trade, with Russia was resumed.

WWII and the aftermath created the Atlantic alliance.

Just yesterday Pieter Hoekstra, USA ambassador in the Netherlands, stated that Russia should be punished for MH17 by more sanctions, no new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. What he did not say that this implies our buying of USA gas, 20% more expensive. The MH17 show, in my opinion is run like the Sept 11 show. Or even the holocaust show, constant reminders.

The USA fear about Russia and the EU member states seems to be twofold: (1) more trade with Russia makes subjugation of Russia impossible; (2) more trade with Russia, and the railway connections with China, threaten to turn the USA into an economic backwater

[May 27, 2018] Russia And Turkey Reach Deal On Southern Stream Gas Pipeline, Infuriate Washington Zero Hedge

May 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Russia And Turkey Reach Deal On "Southern Stream" Gas Pipeline, Infuriate Washington

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/27/2018 - 11:00 26 SHARES

One and a half years after Russia and Turkey signed a deal to build the strategic "Turkish Stream" gas pipeline in October 2016 , putting an end to a highly contentious period in Russia-Turkish relation which in late 2015 hit rock bottom after the NATO-member state shot down a Russian jet over Syria, on Saturday Russian state energy giant Gazprom and the Turkish government reached a deal on the construction of the land-based part of the Turkish Stream branch that will bring Russian gas to European consumers.

According to Reuters , the two counterparts signed a protocol that would allow the construction, which was stalled by a legal rift over gas prices, to go forward. Gazprom and Turkey's state-owned BOTAS agreed on the terms and conditions of the project, Gazprom said in a statement , adding that the deal "allows to move to practical steps for the implementation of the project." The actual construction would be carried out by a joint venture called TurkAkim Gaz Tasima which will be owned by Gazprom and BOTAS in equal shares, Gazprom said.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish president Erdogan said that Gazprom and BOTAS resolved a long-running legal dispute over import prices in 2015-2016, and as a result Turkey would gain $1 billion as part of the gas-price settlement reached with Gazprom, in which Turkey and the Russian natgas giant agreed on a 10.25% price discount for gas supplied by Russia in 2015 and 2016.

"We agreed on a 10.25% reduction in the price of natural gas in 2015-2016," Erdogan announced while speaking at a rally on Saturday. "We got our discount. We get about $ 1 billion worth of our rights before the election," the Turkish President said, as cited by Anadolu Agency.

BOTAS had refused to approve the building of the land-based part of the pipeline until the import price issue was resolved. Until now, it only permitted Gazprom to construct the undersea part of the line. The construction is currently underway.

Russia and Turkey officially agreed on the project, which consists of two branches, in October 2016. The first branch will deliver gas to Turkish consumers, while the second one will bring it to the countries in southern and south-western Europe. The European leg is expected to decrease Russia's dependence on transit through Ukraine. Each of the lines has a maximum capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters a year.

Gazprom finished the construction of the deep-water part of the first line of the Turkish Stream in April. The first Russian gas could start flowing through both legs of the Turkish Stream by December 2019.

The greenlighting of the Turkish Stream project is sure to infuriate the US which previously announced it was considering sanctions of European firms that would participate in the Nothern Stream Russian gas pipeline.

President Trump went as far as to threaten Angela Merkel two weeks ago , telling her to either drop the Russian gas pipeline or the trade war with the US was set to begin.

How Europe reacts to US threats involving the Northern Stream and, soon, the Turkish Stream, will determine whether Europe will once again find itself a subservient vassal state to US military and energy lobbying powers, or if Brussels will side with Putin in this growing conflict, resulting in an unprecedented breach within the so-called " democratic west. "

[May 27, 2018] Turning on Russia by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Notable quotes:
"... By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould ..."
"... Copyright © 2018 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved. This article first appeared on Invisible History. ..."
"... Coming Next, Part 2: The post WWII global strategy of the neocons has been shaped chiefly by Russophobia against the Soviet Union and now Russia ..."
"... * Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story , Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire and The Voice . Visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk .com ..."
May 27, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

Turning on Russia 11/05/2018

In this first of a two-part series, Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould trace the origins of the neoconservative targeting of Russia.

By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
April 29.2018

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel last September reported that, "Stanley Fischer, the 73–year-old vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is familiar with the decline of the world's rich. He spent his childhood and youth in the British protectorate of Rhodesia before going to London in the early 1960s for his university studies. There, he experienced first-hand the unravelling of the British Empire Now an American citizen, Fischer is currently witnessing another major power taking its leave of the world stage the United States is losing its status as a global hegemonic power, he said recently. The U.S. political system could take the world in a very dangerous direction "

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the creation of the so called Wolfowitz Doctrine in 1992 during the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush, the United States claimed the mantle of the world's first and only. Unipower with the intention of crushing any nation or system that would oppose it in the future. The New World Order, foreseen just a few short years ago, becomes more disorderly by the day, made worse by varying degrees of incompetence and greed emanating from Berlin, London, Paris and Washington.

As a further sign of the ongoing seismic shocks rocking America's claim to leadership, by the time Fischer's interview appeared in the online version of the Der Spiegel , he had already announced his resignation as vice chair of the Federal Reserve -- eight months ahead of schedule. If anyone knows about the decline and fall of empires it is the "globalist" and former Bank of Israel president, Stanley Fischer. Not only did he experience the unravelling of the British Empire as a young student in London, he directly assisted in the wholesale dismantling of the Soviet Empire during the 1990s.

As an admitted product of the British Empire and point man for its long term imperial aims, that makes Fischer not just empire's Angel of Death, but its rag and bone man.

Alongside a handful of Harvard economists led by Jonathan Hay, Larry Summers, Andrei Shleifer, and Jeffry Sachs, in the "Harvard Project," plus Anatoly Chubais, the chief Russian economic adviser, Fischer helped throw 100 million Russians into poverty overnight – privatizing, or as some would say piratizing – the Russian economy. Yet, Americans never got the real story because a slanted anti-Russia narrative covered the true nature of the robbery from beginning to end.

As described by public policy scholar and anthropologist Janine R. Wedel in her 2009 book Shadow Elite: "Presented in the West as a fight between enlightenment Reformers trying to move the economy forward through privatization, and retrograde Luddites who opposed them, this story misrepresented the facts. The idea or goal of privatization was not controversial, even among communists the Russian Supreme Soviet, a communist body, passed two laws laying the groundwork for privatization. Opposition to privatization was rooted not in the idea itself but in the particular privatization program that was implemented, the opaque way in which it was put into place, and the use of executive authority to bypass the parliament."

Intentionally set up to fail for Russia and the Russian people under the cover of a false narrative, she continues "The outcome rendered privatization 'a de facto fraud,' as one economist put it, and the parliamentary committee that had judged the Chubais scheme to 'offer fertile ground for criminal activity' was proven right."

If Fischer, a man who helped bring about a de facto criminal-privatization-fraud to post-empire Russia says the U.S. is on a dangerous course, the time has arrived for post-empire Americans to ask what role he played in putting the U.S. on that dangerous course. Little known to Americans is the blunt force trauma Fischer and the "prestigious" Harvard Project delivered to Russia under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. According to The American Conservative's James Carden "As the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted back in 2011 'the IMF's intervention in Russia during Fischer's tenure led to one of the worst losses in output in history, in the absence of war or natural disaster.' Indeed, one Russian observer compared the economic and social consequences of the IMF's intervention to what one would see in the aftermath of a medium-level nuclear attack."

Neither do most Americans know that it was President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1970s grand plan for the conquest of the Eurasian heartland that boomeranged to terrorize Europe and America in the 21 st century. Brzezinski spent much of his life undermining the Communist Soviet Union and then spent the rest of it worrying about its resurgence as a Czarist empire under Vladimir Putin. It might be unfair to say that hating Russia was his only obsession. But a common inside joke during his tenure as the President's top national security officer was that he couldn't find Nicaragua on a map.

If anyone provided the blueprint for the United States to rule in a unipolar world following the Soviet Union's collapse it was Brzezinski. And if anyone could be said to represent the debt driven financial system that fueled America's post-Vietnam Imperialism, it's Fischer. His departure should have sent a chill down every neoconservative's spine. Their dream of a New World Order has once again ground to a halt at the gates of Moscow.

Whenever the epitaph for the abbreviated American century is written it will be sure to feature the iconic role the neoconservatives played in hastening its demise. From the chaos created by Vietnam they set to work restructuring American politics, finance and foreign policy to their own purposes. Dominated at the beginning by Zionists and Trotskyists, but directed by the Anglo/American establishment and their intelligence elites, the neoconservatives' goal, working with their Chicago School neoliberal partners, was to deconstruct the nation-state through cultural co-optation and financial subversion and to project American power abroad. So far they have been overwhelmingly successful to the detriment of much of the world.

From the end of the Second World War through the 1980s the focus of this pursuit was on the Soviet Union, but since the Soviet collapse in 1991, their focus has been on dismantling any and all opposition to their global dominion.

Pentagon Capitalism

Shady finance, imperial misadventures and neoconservatism go hand in hand. The CIA's founders saw themselves as partners in this enterprise and the defense industry welcomed them with open arms. McGill University economist R.T. Naylor, author of 1987's Hot Money and the Politics of Debt , described how "Pentagon Capitalism" had made the Vietnam War possible by selling the Pentagon's debt to the rest of the world.

"In effect, the US Marines had replaced Meyer Lansky's couriers , and the European central banks arranged the 'loan-back,'" Naylor writes. "When the mechanism was explained to the late [neoconservative] Herman Kahn – lifeguard of the era's chief 'think tank' and a man who popularized the notion it was possible to emerge smiling from a global conflagration – he reacted with visible delight. Kahn exclaimed excitedly, 'We've pulled off the biggest ripoff in history! We've run rings around the British Empire.'" In addition to their core of ex-Trotskyist intellectuals early neoconservatives could count among their ranks such establishment figures as James Burnham, father of the Cold War Paul Nitze, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Brzezinski himself.

From the beginning of their entry into the American political mainstream in the 1970s it was known that their emergence could imperil democracy in America and yet Washington's more moderate gatekeepers allowed them in without much of a fight.

Peter Steinfels' 1979 classic The Neoconservatives: The men who are changing America's politics begins with these fateful words. "THE PREMISES OF THIS BOOK are simple. First, that a distinct and powerful political outlook has recently emerged in the United States. Second, that this outlook, preoccupied with certain aspects of American life and blind or complacent towards others, justifies a politics which, should it prevail, threatens to attenuate and diminish the promise of American democracy."

But long before Steinfels' 1979 account, the neoconservative's agenda of inserting their own interests ahead of America's was well underway, attenuating U.S. democracy, undermining détente and angering America's NATO partners that supported it. According to the distinguished State Department Soviet specialist Raymond Garthoff, détente had been under attack by right-wing and military-industrial forces ( led by Senator "Scoop" Jackson ) from its inception. But America's ownership of that policy underwent a shift following U.S. intervention on behalf of Israel during the 1973 October war. Garthoff writes in his detailed volume on American-Soviet relations Détente and Confrontation , "To the allies the threat [to Israel] did not come from the Soviet Union, but from unwise actions by the United States, taken unilaterally and without consultation. The airlift [of arms] had been bad enough. The U.S. military alert of its forces in Europe was too much."

In addition to the crippling Arab oil embargo that followed, the crisis of confidence in U.S. decision-making nearly produced a mutiny within NATO. Garthoff continues, "The United States had used the alert to convert an Arab-Israeli conflict, into which the United States had plunged, into a matter of East-West confrontation. Then it had used that tension as an excuse to demand that Europe subordinate its own policies to a manipulative American diplomatic gamble over which they had no control and to which they had not even been privy, all in the name of alliance unity."

In the end the U.S. found common cause with its Cold War Soviet enemy by imposing a cease-fire accepted by both Egypt and Israel thereby confirming the usefulness of détente. But as related by Garthoff this success triggered an even greater effort by Israel's "politically significant supporters" in the U.S. to begin opposing any cooperation with the Soviet Union, at all.

Garthoff writes, "The United States had pressed Israel into doing precisely what the Soviet Union (as well as the United States) had wanted: to halt its advance short of complete encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army east of Suez Thus they [Israel's politically significant supporters] saw the convergence of American-Soviet interests and effective cooperation in imposing a cease-fire as a harbinger of greater future cooperation by the two superpowers in working toward a resolution of the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian problem."

Copyright © 2018 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved. This article first appeared on Invisible History.

Coming Next, Part 2: The post WWII global strategy of the neocons has been shaped chiefly by Russophobia against the Soviet Union and now Russia

* Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story , Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire and The Voice . Visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk .com

Published at consortiumnews.com

[May 23, 2018] the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens What happens when a country decides to decouple itself from the US-Saudi axis of evil

May 23, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

What happens when a country decides to decouple itself from the US/Saudi axis of evil globinfo freexchange
T he role of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East chaos is quite well known . Recall that in a letter of the Podesta email series, John Podesta admitted that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia we re helping ISIS. Podesta also mentioned that the US should exercise pressure to these countries in order to stop doing it: " ... we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region. "
Of course Hillary Clinton wouldn't do anything about this problem too, as in another letter of the Podesta email series, it was revealed that Bill Clinton was receiving "expensive gifts" from the Qataris!
As reported by Antimedia , in 2009 Qatar proposed a pipeline to run through Syria and Turkey to export Saudi gas. Assad rejected the proposal and instead formed an agreement with Iran and Iraq to construct a pipeline to the European market that would cut Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar out of the route entirely. Since, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have been staunch backers of the opposition seeking to topple Assad. Collectively, they have invested billions of dollars, lent weapons, encouraged the spread of fanatical ideology, and helped smuggle fighters across their borders.
The Iran-Iraq pipeline will strengthen Iranian influence in the region and undermine their rival, Saudi Arabia -- the other main OPEC producer. Given the ability to transport gas to Europe without going through Washington's allies, Iran will hold the upper-hand and will be able to negotiate agreements that exclude the U.S. dollar completely.
Yet, less than a year ago, a crisis erupted between 'unholy' allies, apparently because Qatar has chosen to change camp and proceed into a deeper approach with Iran.
As reported by Guardian , Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf's worst diplomatic dispute in decades. The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran , remove Turkish troops from Qatar's soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qj7RXa9bXPM


Then, apparently, Rex Tillerson tried to persuade Qatar to stay in the unholy alliance and move away from Iran a day after wrapping up discussions with the king of Saudi Arabia and other officials from Arab countries lined up against Qatar.
We can tell now that Qatar has not changed stance and chosen to continue its approach with the winning alliance in the Syrian battlefield. We have the first signs showing that the US empire and its allies in the Middle East will move against Qatar, beginning with a typical first step: propaganda war.
A Pentagon "propagandist," who previously headed a company that was paid half a billion dollars to produce fake terrorist videos in Iraq, was hired by a Dubai based company to create a film accusing Qatar of links to terrorism , the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed.
Charles Andreae, the CEO of Andreae & Associates which was contracted to produce the film, used to work for PR firm Bell Pottinger, the UK PR firm that was payed $540 million dollars to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq.
The firm was employed to produce the anti-Qatari film amidst a diplomatic row in which the Saudi and UAE governments cut ties with Doha, which it accused of supporting terrorism. Qatar has strongly denied the accusation and accused its neighbours of fabricating stories. US intelligence agencies have since confirmed that the UAE orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites to justify its unprecedented attack against Qatar.
According to the Bureau, Andreae was given over $500,000 to produce a six-part film linking Qatar with global terrorism. The film, entitled "Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance," features a number of neo-conservative pundits making the UAE and Saudi case against Qatar in a 37-minute video.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UeUMmpYZJtQ


Washington's double standards and hypocrisy are quite evident in this case too. After this crisis between allies erupted, a number of US officials immediately launched a series of statements through which they depicted Qatar as the sole supporter of terrorist groups in the Middle East. Again, Saudi Arabia, the most authoritarian regime in the region and probably the biggest supporter of jihadist extremists, was miraculously vanished from their radar and, naturally, the radar of the Western corporate media.
In case Qatar will not compromise and keep walking the path towards decoupling itself from the US/Saudi axis of evil, the next steps will be a new series of upgraded, Iranian-type sanctions, or even a military invasion as the last option. The only thing that can save Qatar for now is the fact that it hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East .

[May 20, 2018] Germany responds to USA's ultimatum about Nord Stream 2 project

May 20, 2018 | www.veteranstoday.com

https://us-u.openx.net/w/1.0/pd?plm=6&ph=2857f3e0-a998-4d70-b5c1-b19a3d6766a1

"The US is looking for sales markets. We can understand this, and we are prepared to take effort to ensure this gas reaches Germany easier. Presently, however, it remains much more expensive than the gas delivered via the pipeline," the minister told ARD.

In addition, if the US does not change its tactics of behaviour and continues thinking only of its economic interests, then Europe will act similarly, the minister added.

Earlier, Us officials said that the United Stats may impose sanctions on the companies involved in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. US Assistant Secretary of State Sandra Oudkirk said that Washington could consider retaliatory measures within the framework of Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. She explained the US position as follows: the construction of the gas pipeline will strengthen Europe's dependence on the Russian natural gas.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany regards the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a safe economic project for Europe.

Nord Stream is an offshore natural gas pipeline from Vyborg in the Russian Federation to Greifswald in Germany that is owned and operated by Nord Stream AG. The project includes two parallel lines. The first line was laid by May 2011 and was inaugurated on 8 November 2011. The second line was laid in 2011-2012 and was inaugurated on 8 October 2012. At 1,222 kilometres (759 mi) in length, it is the longest sub-sea pipeline in the world, surpassing the Langeled pipeline. It has an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet), but its capacity is planned to be doubled to 110 billion cubic metres (3.9 trillion cubic feet) by 2019, by laying two additional lines.

Source: Pravda Report

[May 20, 2018] Brussels Rises in Revolt Against Washington a Turning Point in the US-European Relationship

May 20, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

Sandra Oudkirk, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, has just threatened to sanction the Europeans if they continue with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to bring gas in from Russia across the Baltic Sea. That country is also seen by the US as an adversary and its approach is by and large the same – to issue orders for Europe to adopt a confrontational policy, doing as it is told without asking too many questions.

Iran and Nord Stream 2 unite Moscow and Brussels in their opposition to this diktat. On May 17, Iran signed a provisional free-trade-zone agreement with a Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that seeks to increase the current levels of trade valued at $2.7 billion. The deal lowers or abolishes customs duties. It also establishes a three-year process for reaching a permanent trade agreement. If Iran becomes a member of the group, it would expand its economic horizons beyond the Middle Eastern region. So, Europe and Russia are in the same boat, both holding talks with Iran on economic cooperation.

[May 04, 2018] In their March 15 letter, 39 US senators called on the Treasury and State Departments to utilize all the sanction tools at their disposal to fight the Nord Stream 2 project to bring cheap Russian gas to Europe.

May 04, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

In their March 15 letter , 39 US senators called on the Treasury and State Departments to utilize all the sanction tools at their disposal to fight the Nord Stream 2 project to bring cheap Russian gas to Europe. On March 29, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman told Russia's RBK TV that he cannot rule out the possibility that Russian assets in America could be seized over the Skripal case. If Washington goes that far, it will be pure highway robbery. And the response will not be long in coming. That interview took place right after the British parliament had announced an investigation into some money-laundering schemes allegedly associated with Russia. The UK government has unveiled its "Fusion Doctrine" to counter what it's calling Russian propaganda.

The US policy of making Europeans bow to pressure has been largely successful. The leading European powers -- the UK, Germany and France – -- are pushing to force the EU to impose new sanctions on Iran, in order to persuade the US not to pull out from the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last-minute attempt to keep the agreement in effect, as it is widely expected that President Trump will not certify it in May. Europeans may bow to American pressure in a bid to appease Washington, but Russia is also a party to the agreement, which cannot be scuttled without Moscow's consent. Adding additional conditions will violate the terms of the deal. It won't be supported internationally. If new Iran sanctions are introduced unilaterally by the West, the issue will become a bone of contention that will further worsen relations with Moscow.

[Apr 20, 2018] How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies.

Notable quotes:
"... How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition. ..."
"... And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

dumbwaiter -> Kevin Watson , 13 Apr 2018 15:31

How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition.

Israel? which is not happy with Iran and Lebanon having a presence in Syria, worried that America was withdrawing.

AlQaeda or the Syrian Rebels, many are both who are losing the war and this is a last desperate attempt to drag in America and the west?

You've also got Turkey and the Kurds (the Kurds were abandoned by the West after they had fulfilled their useful purpose), both also players in the region but I can't see a motive here.

And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid.

Any or all of the above could be the true motivation. I am no fan of Assad, Putin, or Trump or May (or the Blair clone Macron) but the question you have to ask yourself is who gains from this? And is. this in the interests of a resolution to a conflict, to your safety or is it something else?

[Apr 18, 2018] Russia retaliate Our Response to US Sanctions Will Be Precise And Painful

Apr 18, 2018 | community.oilprice.com

luckysoul777

Report post " What exactly do we get from Russian that we couldn't do without? " <== The willingness to ally with the U.S. vs the Chinese.

There is no denial of what Russia has done in the last few years, and it's wrong! However, what is entirely missing from the western media is the U.S. ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock, and George Kennan have been warning the American political elites since the 90's, prior to Putin was even known and in politics, that the American foreign policy is steering us straight into confrontations with Russia! It's not if but when it will happen REGARDLESS OF who is in Kremlin! Nobody cared to heed because we were indulging ourselves as the sole superpower in the world.

Neither has the American media reported even our old friend, Gorbachev, is praising Putin and has harsh words for the U.S. In a nutshell, the Russians don't like to be treated as a nobody country, ie. with decisions of world affairs already made and shoved at their face, and they can either put up or shut up! However, that is exactly how Washington has conducted business with Russia until the crisis in Ukraine in 2014. Would the American public put up with a revolution led by a Russian politician in Mexico City or Ottawa, even though it's Mexican or Canadians self-determination? Then what makes us think the Russians would tolerate John McCain leading an anti-Russian revolution in Kiev, even if it's Ukrainian self-determination? Don't forget the U.S. directly invaded Grenada when they were exercising their self-determination to ally with the USSR!

This is not about defending Russia. The Russians can take care of that themselves. Rather, can the U.S. afford to have Russia and China solidify their alliance again? It's already happening unless we can adopt a sensible Russian policy to turn it around. Who would you rather ally with? Someone (like the U.S.) who expects you to be a subordinate vs another (like China) who is willing to treat you as an equal?

One can certainly argue how it is possible to ally with a country like Russia, who sponsors dictators, meddles in our elections and tramples on other nation's self-determination. If you are willing to be honest with yourself, just Google it. There is not one thing we accuse of the Russians that our politicians are not doing it overseas, by MULTIPLE magnitude! The biggest gripe the Russians have toward the U.S. is "are you preaching democracy or hypocrisy?" Yes, one sin doesn't justify another, but why our politicians can't uphold this principle when they are committing treacheries overseas?

[Apr 16, 2018] I suggest that Russia act as marginal producer and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

Apr 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

honestann Sun, 04/15/2018 - 21:58 Permalink

I suggest that Russia act as "marginal producer" and refuse to sell oil, gas or raw petroleum products for less than double the price of other suppliers.

All of a sudden... thing will change.

After the treatment Russia has gotten for the past year or more, they are more than justified to adopt this policy.

[Apr 16, 2018] In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that the project undermines energy security in Europe

Apr 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spyware-free -> Pernicious Gol Sun, 04/15/2018 - 16:47 Permalink

What's going on?
Read this:
"In late March, the U.S. State Department warned European corporations that they will likely face penalties if they participate in the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on the grounds that "the project undermines energy security in Europe"

The Nord Stream 2 project and the denial of pipelines through Syria territory is what's eating at the zio-cons. This is power politics and Russia / China are too much of a threat.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:43 Permalink

@ spy,

March, 14, 2017:

The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade.

Apr 3 2017 - Europe approves Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany

April 6 2017 - need to attack Syria.

Coincidentally, with a new government a gas pipelin can be run from Qatar to Europe and cut-off Russian gas revenue.

Nord Stream 2 Project Gets Green Light From EU

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201704031052232006-nord-stream-eu-gas-pip ...

*Three Mediterranean EU countries and Israel agreed on Monday to continue pursuing the development of a gas pipeline ... EU countries and Israel ... April 3, 2017 ...*

EU, Israel agree to develop Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline

https://www.rt.com/business/383410-eu-israel-mediterranean-gas-pipeline/

The Optics of the Inter National Geo Political Crises would suggest that The Criminal Oligarch Cabal Bankster Intelligence Deep State Crime Syndicate are going "All In."

Brace YourSelves.....

spyware-free -> Chupacabra-322 Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

The petroyuan project is the key. It will smash the petrodollar zio-world. Saddam Hussien thought of doing that in the 80's by consolidating Arab oil into a basket of currencies backed by gold. The problem for him was he was a disposable puppet and not able to defend that project. China and Russia are a different matter. It's driving the zios batty.

Chupacabra-322 -> spyware-free Sun, 04/15/2018 - 18:43 Permalink

And, the Yuan is now in the IMF basket of SDR's. Ultimately, the Petro Dollar will meet its demise & it will be decided by which is the cleanest, dirtiest shirt to put on among the SDR's.

[Apr 15, 2018] Russia gas for Europe as a political tool of the USA to pressure Russia via its EU vassals

Notable quotes:
"... I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US. ..."
Apr 15, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

RaisingMac , 9 hours ago

I think the only that would really cause the Russians serious economic hardship at this point would be a total EU embargo on Russian oil/natgas. That, of course, would cause the rest of Europe a fair amount of hardship, too, as they would then have to pay 3 or 4 times as much for frack-gas from the US.
Tony -> RaisingMac , 7 hours ago
Of course, oil/gas being fungible, the EU in such an eventuality would buy higher priced gas/oil from us or someone and the Russians would just end up selling to other entities. Whatever we sell to Europe is fuel we can't sell to others and it's not like our export market is infinitely expandable. The EU has a huge need for natural gas which it mostly gets from Russia via pipeline. Even if the US had that much surplus capacity, it would take years to come up with the means to export that much LNG..

[Apr 11, 2018] I think that the read target of attack in Syria is the Nord Stream II pipeline.

Apr 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hagios | Apr 11, 2018 8:50:17 AM | 58 I think that the read target here is the Nord Stream II pipeline. They're currently unwilling to cancel it out of economic considerations, but they think that they could get away with cancelling it if NATO attacks Syria and Russia responds with "unprovoked aggression." NATO's attack IMO will be just large enough that Russia has to respond, then Trump and co. will cease further military action and continue with economic warfare.

Posted by: Timothy

[Apr 04, 2018] Russian Gas Transit Via Ukraine Set For Major Slump

Apr 04, 2018 | oilprice.com

Transit of Russian natural gas via Ukraine will be reduced to just about 10-12 billion cubic meters annually after the completion of two new pipelines -- Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2. That's what Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller told a Russian TV channel yesterday, confirming Kiev's fears that Nord Stream 2 will deprive it of a lot of income in the form of transit fees.

The significance of the new figure can easily be seen when compared with the transit quantities for last month: Gazprom sent 8.1 billion cubic meters of gas via Russia's eastern neighbor in March, a 21.3-percent increase on the year. In other words, when Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 are ready, Ukraine will receive something like a 12th of its current annual gas transit revenues from Gazprom.

This is reason enough for Kiev to be so vocally against Nord Steam 2, but unfortunately for Ukraine, Germany is just as vocally supportive of the project, of which it will be the biggest beneficiary. The expanded Nord Stream pipeline will have a capacity of 110 billion cubic meters annually.

Still, Miller said, not all transit via Ukraine will be suspended. "We are not saying we will stop entire transit via Ukraine, since there are neighboring countries that border Ukraine on the side of Europe. Naturally, supplies to these European countries will continue via Ukraine."

While the news is bad for Ukraine, it makes sense for Russia as European countries eagerly seek alternatives to Russian gas, including the "neighboring countries that border Ukraine," notably Poland. Yet Germany is by far Gazprom's biggest client in Europe and Russian gas is the cheapest for Europe's largest economy, hence the support for a project seen as controversial by the European Commission.

Turkish Stream, for its part, will send Russian gas to the European part of Turkey up to the border with Greece, to supply gas to southeastern Europe. Its capacity is much smaller than Nord Stream's, but still larger than the future transit via Ukraine, at 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

[Mar 31, 2018] British elite started to worry about possible toxic fall out from Skripal

Russian elite already views May's government as bandits, who staged this despicable provocation. So stakes for British elite are very high.
And the way May government tried to capitalize on this "poisoning" is really like going "all in". May clearly went what French call "va bank". Reckless statement of Johnson, who is a very weak diplomat, but no fool, if a clear testament that they expect to prevail with pretty weak cards. With ultimate reliance on power of the USA to secure favorable outcome.
Looks more and more that this is a part of Russiagate, or color revolution against Trump, however you want to call the effort: the collusion between the intelligence heads of the Obama administration with British intelligence to oust President Trump.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is now openly pointing the possibility of a UK intelligence involvement. That sheds a very bad light on EU vassals who without any questioning and with any proof immediately fell into line behind Theresa May.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry even said this was a tool used by the Europeans and the United States to try to get unity at a point when they were completely disunified. And this is the old geopolitical game, that in order to create unity you create a war, and then everybody has to fall into line before attacking Iran.
Compare with Ron Paul views on this incident: www.youtube.com
Notable quotes:
"... The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, in a speech late on Wednesday waxed lyrical about how the Skripal episode represented a turning point in the west's approach to Russia, but his officials are aware that this mood can easily dissipate as other considerations, such as commerce, energy security or the Middle East come into play. ..."
"... The UK will try to push for further measures against Russia at the June meeting of the EU heads of state. If it is ambitious, it may may challenge German support for Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia that could put European energy demand at the mercy of Moscow. ..."
Mar 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

That does not mean the crisis will necessarily end there, or that the crisis is contained.

Russia, whose standing among the international community is badly damaged, is determined to do go further to clear its name, or at least throw up enough chaff so that a chunk of western public opinion doubts the British intelligence service's account of Skripal's poisoning. Moscow has already suggested a meeting on Monday of the executive of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to have "an honest conversation" about the poisoning.

The OPCW is studying samples – provided by the UK – of the novichok nerve agent allegedly used, but does not have the ability to judge the identity of the person that placed the agent by the door of Skripal's house . But the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is determined to put the UK on the defensive and has already claimed that "if our western partners dodge the meeting then it will be further evidence that every thing that is happened is a provocation".

Russia has also responded to the apparent recovery of Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned alongside her father. She may be able to provide insights into how the poisoning occurred, or even reveal whether she knows of some other motive by some other non-state actor.

The British intelligence services will be debriefing her as soon as her health permits. It would clearly be a huge embarrassment for the UK government if it emerged she believed the Russian state was not involved.

As it is, the UK government is aware that some allied leaders, despite the public show of solidarity, face skeptical voters at home who are either against a confrontation with Vladimir Putin, or expect more convincing proof to be provided.

The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, in a speech late on Wednesday waxed lyrical about how the Skripal episode represented a turning point in the west's approach to Russia, but his officials are aware that this mood can easily dissipate as other considerations, such as commerce, energy security or the Middle East come into play.

The UK will try to push for further measures against Russia at the June meeting of the EU heads of state. If it is ambitious, it may may challenge German support for Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia that could put European energy demand at the mercy of Moscow.

... ... ...

[Mar 22, 2018] If Europe continues to buy Russian gas -- that will be bad news for US. The US, however, may yet succeed in sabotaging Nord Stream II and thus, in a long run, kill European industrial competitiveness thus opening European market for US products.

Mar 22, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

SmoothieX12 -> JPB ... 22 March 2018 at 09:02 AM

... ... ...

I am not a fan of LNG. If I was a Euro there is no way I would allow LNG in, whether from Sabetta in Russia or from Sabine Pass in the US.

Being fan or no fan of specific type of energy hardly factors into economic reality of Europe and coercing it into buying American LNG. If Europe continues to buy Russian gas -- that will be bad news for US. The US, however, may yet succeed in sabotaging Nord Stream II and thus, in a long run, kill European industrial competitiveness thus opening European market for US products. At least that is the plan. Here is a small taste of what is at stake.

http://www.unz.com/article/the-russo-chinese-alliance-revisited/

Since this article publication two major things happened:

1. China released White Paper on North Sea Route calling it a strategic interest of PRC;
2. Putin gave his March 1st speech.

[Mar 22, 2018] Russian gas supplies to Europe must be verboten, in US mind, or at least pushed back.

Mar 22, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

JPB , 21 March 2018 at 11:15 AM

Turkish press is reporting that 'TurkStream' , the pipeline to bring natural gas from Russia to Turkey, is now 80% complete and to be in operation by later this year. It is expected to deliver close to 16 billion cubic meters per year from Gazprom to Turkish gas distribution networks. A second phase scheduled for next year will reportedly deliver an equal amount to Greece and other points in southern Europe.

This is in addition to the existing 'BlueStream' pipeline from Russia to Turkey, operational since 2005, that also has a 16 billion cubic meter per year throughput.

Why the Western concern about NordStream pipeline but none about TurkStream? Are there no sanction problems for the Swiss company working with GazProm? Plus I wonder if this is one of the reasons why Russia has lately become paranoid regarding US Navy FON operations in the Black Sea?

SmoothieX12 -> JPB... , 21 March 2018 at 03:57 PM
Why the Western concern about NordStream pipeline but none about TurkStream? Are there no sanction problems for the Swiss company working with GazProm? Plus I wonder if this is one of the reasons why Russia has lately become paranoid regarding US Navy FON operations in the Black Sea?

The main concern has the name Sabetta--it is the port and a hub to a largest Liquid Natural Gas operation, which also happened to be (in relative terms) next to Europe's LNG ports. I usually don't do this but I apologize, here is a link to my blog's piece on that:

http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-rather-gassy-business.html

LNG is precisely a commodity which is counted by US as a major component in possibly (and most likely not very probable) US re-industrialization. For that, the US has to sell her LNG to Europe. This implies removing Russian LNG from the EU market which dwarfs that of Turkey and some South European nations. Germany, France, UK, Holland among others are the prize here. Russian LNG must be verboten, in US mind, or at least pushed back. As per FON--it has nothing to do with FON but has everything to do with:

1. Flag demonstration--that is presence and Fleet In Being.
2. Signals collection from Sevastopol, Novorossyisk and, in general, all Russia's Southern Military District emitters.

[Mar 21, 2018] Germany's Pivot From Russian Gas Will Be Costly

Pure propaganda. Comments are interesting, though
Notable quotes:
"... When I read: "As X becomes increasingly aggressive, even reckless geopolitically," frankly Russia was not the first country that came to mind. ..."
Mar 21, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. I trust readers will be able to filter out the new Cold War assumptions in the piece to focus on the price of Germany's plans. Does anyone have an informed take on how significant the broader economic impact might be?

By Tim Daiss, an oil markets analyst, journalist and author working out of the Asia-Pacific region for 12 years who has covered oil, energy markets and geopolitics for Forbes, Platts, Interfax, NewsBase, Rigzone, and the UK-based Independent (newspaper) as well as providing energy markets analysis for subscription newsletters. Originally published at OilPrice

More problems are mounting for Russia's oil and gas sector. This time it's coming from Germany, which until recently usually gave Russia's energy sector more lead way than the U.S. or other allies.

But now it seems that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also had enough. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Merkel's government is seeking to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in Germany basically from scratch to reduce the nation's dependence on supplies arriving by pipeline from Russia and Norway.

Merkel backs "all initiatives supporting further diversification of gas supply -- whether from different regions or means of transporting gas," said German Economy and Energy Ministry spokeswoman Beate Baron.

The move comes as natural gas resources from the UK and the Netherlands are depleting, and Germany is forced to rely more on Russian gas. Merkel's newly formed coalition has a "coalition contract" that among other policies sets out energy agenda including LNG for the next four years, the Bloomberg reported added.

Germany, for its part, is Europe's largest gas consumer. In 2015, the country consumed 7.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. According to the German energy research group, AG Energiebilanzen, imports account for about 90 percent of Germany's total natural gas supply, while most imports come from three countries: Russia (40 percent of total imports in 2015), Norway (21 percent) and the Netherlands (29 percent).

Moreover, German companies are participating in Russia's controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an expansion of an existing route for gas to flow from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea. The U.S., Poland and others have recently condemned the pipeline as a threat to European security.

As Russia becomes increasingly aggressive, even reckless geopolitically, the security threat to not only the EU but to Germany is apparent, causing the country of some 83 million people to do an abrupt energy policy about face.

Germany's LNG pivot also comes as a geopolitical storm between the U.K. and Russia intensifies over an alleged Moscow-orchestrated nerve-agent attack on British soil against what the BBC called a double spy and his daughter.

British Prime Minister Theresa May retaliated last week by expelling Russian diplomats and seeking alternatives to Russian gas, including LNG produced at its new Arctic plant, the Yamal LNG export project. Addressing the UN Security Council last week, the U.K.'s deputy UN ambassador, Jonathan Allen, accused Russia of breaking its obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The U.S. for its part also condemned the nerve agent attack. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said that Washington stood in "absolute solidarity" with Britain, citing the "special relationship" between the two countries and saying that Washington would "always be there" for the UK.

Germany's Abrupt LNG Pivot

However, until recently many in Germany accused the U.S., notably President Trump, of using U.S.-sourced LNG as a geopolitical weapon to challenge Russia's decades' old dominance of European gas markets -- an accusation that played perfectly into the hands of Russian energy companies and even Vladimir Putin.

When Trump singed fresh sanctions against Russia's energy sector in August, Uniper -- a German utility and one of Europe's largest energy firms -- said the new sanctions were an American economic move as much as a political one.

"The core reason (for the sanctions) is strategic economic interests, meaning the targeted dominance of the US in energy markets," Uniper CEO Klaus Schaefer told journalists shortly after Trump signed the sanctions bill. Uniper is one of five companies that have invested in Nord Stream 2.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany's economy minister, claimed last year that the sanctions violated international law and said that the EU should take action against the U.S. "Of course we don't want a trade war. But it is important the European Commission now looks into countermeasures," she said. "The Americans can't punish German companies because they have business interests in another country."

Cost Factors Could Impede Pivot

However, any Germany pivot to LNG away from Russian gas will come at a cost. Shipping LNG by one of several suppliers, including Qatar, the U.S. or Angola to name a few, is simply more expensive than Russian piped gas. While Russia already has an extensive pipeline network in place, LNG is more expensive when transportation, liquefaction and regasification costs are added.

Using a Henry Hub gas price of $2.85/MMBtu as a base, Russian energy giant Gazprom recently estimated that adding processing and transportation costs, the price in Europe would reach $6/MMBtu -- a steep markup.

Henry Hub gas prices are currently trading at $2.657/MMBtu. Over the last 52-week period U.S. gas has traded between $2.64/MMBtu and $3.82/MMBtu.

Russian gas sells for around $5/MMBtu in European markets. Moreover, Russian gas exporter Gazprom is also moving away from oil-indexation for gas prices to a European gas hub indexation, which will allow additional price savings and unfortunately for Germany -- an incentive to stick with Russian gas, even if it's geopolitically distasteful.

Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said yesterday that Russia is Europe's most flexibly and reliable source of energy that is needed.



Self Affine , , March 21, 2018 at 10:13 am

Its a long long way from a political announcement to an industrial reality. Also, the quote:

Merkel backs "all initiatives supporting further diversification of gas supply" is telling.

Germany does not want to be caught out in a Russia/US energy squeeze while its pursuing an alternative energy path. Nor does Merkel want to overtly pick sides.

Plus if you will note, given the momentum of current German/Russian energy initiatives, I rather doubt that this "announcement" will have a lot of traction in the near future.

The Oilprice site, although very informative is somewhat shrill from day to day (everything is a BIG DEAL).

PlutoniumKun , , March 21, 2018 at 11:22 am

Yes, its a telling quote -- it can basically be paraphrased as 'if someone is willing to pay for these facilities, we would be happy to hear that'. There are quite a few stalled projects for LNG terminals in Europe -- but they are expensive and even the promise of cheap US LNG won't unlock them so long as Russia can supply relatively cheap gas. If European governments want more LNG terminals for security reasons then they'll have to pay for them. Thats not likely to happen, there are far more pressing infrastructural needs.

third time lucky , , March 21, 2018 at 11:39 am

Nimby too. Locating an LNG terminal will be a neat trick to pull off in current fractured political environment.

Watt4Bob , , March 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

Where to begin?

Is anyone considering the possibility that the US's ability to deliver LNG may not exist for long enough to pay the cost of building the infrastructure necessary to use it?

Is anyone factoring in the damage to our environment, including our fresh water when calculating the cost of poking Russia in the eye?

At first glance, this whole play appears short-sighted, at least, probably foolish.

Of course the big oil companies have never gone unrewarded for their fealty to the whims of the MIC, even when any objective analysis finds massive foolishness.

Harry , , March 21, 2018 at 11:23 am

Dont worry, Novatek already delivered a shipment of LNG from the Yamal peninsular to the UK.

I would bet that Nord Stream will not eliminate the need to export across the Ukraine. Undersea pipelines dont have great capacity. But additional marginal pipeline capacity does reduce the bargaining power of the Ukraine. Im sure LNG capacity does the same.

Synoia , , March 21, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Undersea pipelines have as much capacity as the diameter of the pipe.

They have a big enemy.. Anchors.

Scott , , March 21, 2018 at 1:16 pm

And some of that LNG was later exported to Boston.

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060076897

jsn , , March 21, 2018 at 12:24 pm

We're deep into our malinvestment phase where uneconomic industries are being sustained with monetary policy to prop up an unsustainable status quo.

The question is whether the left can coordinate collective action before the right can start WW3. It will be real events somewhere that cause real change: financialized capitalism with its own hand on the money spigot of fiat money is, with reference to itself, a perpetual motion machine.

It will either be a force of life, or thermodynamics that finally overthrow this machine. The stresses for dramatic external political events are building everywhere.

Watt4Bob , , March 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm

You see what I see.

Nathanael , , March 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm

You're correct about the malinvestment phase.

However, this is where market capitalism excels. As long as there is enough money in the hands of the average person (a major issue), the average person will install solar panels and batteries and heat pumps and buy an EV and say "to hell with you" to the oil, gas, and coal industries.

jsn , , March 21, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Less money is going to those average folks, but local EV is hopeful. Tons of money goes to supporting facking, which in the absence of QE and the spigot of free money for (mal)investors, would not be economical.

LNG ports to receive a fuel with what is approaching negative EROEI are pure mal-investment.

MMT was used to incentivize net positive public goods by Mariner Eccles making the US the richest nation in the world. We're now seeing the global financial cabal use the same tool to despoil real wealth, monetizing it along with trust wherever it can find either. It is an epic of short-termism that will ultimately destroy the money itself by liquidating the real productive social and economic constellations that support it.

Jeff , , March 21, 2018 at 10:37 am

I read the statement as that Germany is looking for a replacement of its Dutch and Norwegian gas sources. As Germany does not want to depend for 100% of its gas from Russia, they do need to look for alternatives.
It is just smart policy not to depend from a single source, for whatever purpose.

PlutoniumKun , , March 21, 2018 at 11:20 am

Dutch and Norwegian gas reserves are in long term decline , so its likely that Russian gas will become a higher proportion of supply in the medium to longer term.

Ignacio , , March 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

Two keys for natural gas markets:

i) the cost of transport is very high and there is a linear relationship between distance and transport costs

ii) both the client and the supplier would like stable long-term contracts to secure investments and supply.

There is always interdependence if you want durable supply.

Constructing some LNG facilities, besides the cost factors mentioned above won't reduce such interdependence by much given that Russia provides 40% of current consumption. Also, Russia migth seek providing NG to fast growing asian markets. I think that Germany is trying to diversify just because Norway, Netherlands, and its own production are declining. I also think that this means that fracking gas in Europe is not seen as an alternative.

I wouldn't say that Germany will "pivot" from russian gas, that is giving too much weigth to potential LNG supplies.

Ignacio , , March 21, 2018 at 10:58 am

I forgot to mention the second pipeline through the baltics. I think Merkel announcement didn't say anything about it. That is also telling

PlutoniumKun , , March 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

Another point is that if the issue is security, it would most likely be more cost effective to build up a buffer in underground storage facilities than building new LNG terminals.

The Rev Kev , , March 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

I could be that Germany is buckling under the pressure of attacks as the US is threatening to sanction European firms involved in the Russian/EU Nord Stream 2 project ( https://www.rt.com/business/421900-us-sanctions-nord-stream-companies/ ) which if true, would mean that the EU would have to ask the permission of Washington in dealings with any countries not to Washington's liking.
The Poles have already built a LNG gas delivery terminal so you would think that Germany would just pipe it in from there unless Germany wanted to build their own terminal so that they would not have to pay Poland any fees as Poland is one of the counties opposing Nord Stream 2.

Poland has already received at least one LNP shipment from the US but the price of the delivery is a state secret apparently.

The Russians could always turn around and sell their cheaper gas to China so no big loss to them. Thing is, it will take a decade to build a fleet of tankers to carry the gas that Germany needs annually as these ships would just be going back and forth like clockwork. Who pays for that? Germany would also need years just to build the LNP port facility to receive these shipments. I believe too that the US export terminal is in the Gulf so tough luck if a hurricane shut down that terminal at any time. Remember, this winter the Russians had to ship two tankers of gas to the US because of shortages so how reliable could a US supply be?

Add up the costs of building the port facility, a fleet of tankers and the infrastructure to deal with it all, then top up with the gas not only being more expensive than the Russian gas but also less reliable and the Germans will have to take a knife to their budget to pay for it all. Trump would have a fit if it was their defense budget so that means the social budget. Good luck with that. One last factor of which I have even less knowledge of is the US gas supply. I believe that it comes from shale deposits aka fracking but I know that these wells deplete rapidly so if true, would suggest that US gas as a supply source may be self limiting over time. I don't think that the economics work out here for Germany somehow.

Julia Versau , , March 21, 2018 at 10:51 am

When I read: "As X becomes increasingly aggressive, even reckless geopolitically," frankly Russia was not the first country that came to mind.

Ignacio , , March 21, 2018 at 11:02 am

I thought exactly the same. What is the author talking about?

kgw , , March 21, 2018 at 10:51 am

Pure propaganda likely written by the Christians-In-Action. Germany , kill itself? Not likely. Astronomical costs.

nervos belli , , March 21, 2018 at 10:52 am

It's not a pivot. The only important thing is North Stream 2: if the US or the transatlantic lobby manages to kill that, then there is a pivot. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

North sea gas is drying up, however we get 40-50% of our gas from there https://www.wingas.com/fileadmin/Wingas/content/05_Rohstoff_Erdgas/woher-bezieht-europa-erdgas-aufkommen_infografik.png

So unless one wants to be ~90% dependent on russian gas, there has to be some alternatives to keep the russians honest. Only realistic way is LNG. So Germany has to build the infrastructure for it to have a credible bargaining position. The marketshare of russian gas will increase over the next few years in any way.

Self Affine , , March 21, 2018 at 10:57 am

Also, I would like to add that the German Press isn't treating this like some sort of revelation.

As everywhere else, if a politician wants to get a little patriotic push on their side, they hold a speech touting "energy independence". Germany is no different in that regard and Merkel needs to appear a bit more nationalistic right now.

Current headlines are all about social issues like immigration, Facebook data breaches, internal politics, etc. No one is obsessing about LNG facilities or things like Brexit.

rd , , March 21, 2018 at 11:14 am

LNG ports on the Mediterranean also make sense as ships could traverse the Suez Canal or the the Atlantic to get there.

visitor , , March 21, 2018 at 3:08 pm

There are major offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean -- on the coast of Cyprus and all the way offshore from Syria to Egypt. Their exploitation is still largely pending resolution of local crises (Turkey vs EU re Cyprus, Israel vs Palestine and Lebanon, in Syria because of war). Once those fields come on line, the need for special-purpose ports to bring in LNG from afar to Europe no longer makes much economic sense.

Besides, Algeria continues to provide gas (and oil) to the EU.

Louis Fyne , , March 21, 2018 at 12:56 pm

nuclear fission. germany already buys a lot of french nuke electricity. might as well cut out the middleman.

not holding my breath. never going to happen though. as even bringing up nuclear fission is third rail of environmentalism

PlutoniumKun , , March 21, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Germany is a major shareholder in the EPR reactor, but isn't building any because its proven far too expensive, much more expensive than domestic renewables.

Its untrue to say that Germany buys a lot of French nuclear energy, imports from France are minor at a net of around 4 terawatt hours a year, similar to the amount of wind energy Germany buys from Denmark. Its dwarfed by the huge renewable sector in Germany which produces over 200 TWh per annum . Germany is actually a net exporter of energy to France in most summers as the inland nuclear plants often go off-line due to water shortages.

James McFadden , , March 21, 2018 at 12:58 pm

"Germany's LNG pivot also comes as a geopolitical storm between the U.K. and Russia intensifies over an alleged Moscow-orchestrated nerve-agent attack on British soil against what the BBC called a double spy and his daughter."

When one thinks about the geopolitical repercussions of this nerve gas attack on $$ for USA LNG, the control of energy supplies to the EU by the USA and its middle east puppets, the quickly identified fingerprint and emotionally charged finger pointing, a complex technical topic to which the general public has general knowledge and therefore must rely on "authorities", the high level of media attention for a relatively minor character, and the ongoing attempts to vilify and isolate Russia -- one has to wonder if this is just another CIA false flag event similar to Iraq WMDs and the Syrian chemical weapons attacks -- another false flag that will eventually fall apart after it has served its purpose. Examined in the light of past and ongoing CIA atrocities (Renditions and torture in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, droning, MKULTRA, Operation Mongoose, Phoenix Program, Iran-Contra, numerous assassinations and coups -- just to name a few), it seems quite in line with what I would expect from this criminal organization. Not that we can really know the truth at this time, but those who dutifully believe the corporate media on this topic might want to open a skeptical eye. There are likely cover stories within cover stories -- much like cover stories one finds in the Wormwood documentary.

Tobin Paz , , March 21, 2018 at 2:24 pm

This news along with Trudeau's support for Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain oil/tar sands pipeline expansion should make it clear that the Paris Accords were a cruel joke on humanity. We will keep extracting every single last drop of recoverable oil until we run out of energy to continue or we nuke ourselves.

Nathanael , , March 21, 2018 at 2:45 pm

So, it's easy enough for Germany to pivot away from gas *if* they switch to heating with electricity. However, Merkel refuses to push this. Because Merkel.

[Mar 19, 2018] It might well be that Nordstream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia to Northern Europe is the target

Mar 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

CanSpeccy , Website Next New Comment March 19, 2018 at 8:50 pm GMT

@for-the-record

More likely that Nordstream 2, the gas pipeline from Russia to Northern Europe is the target.

Senators Push to Stop Russia's Nord Stream II Natural Gas Pipeline .

The Senators' argument is that dependence on Russian gas undermines European security.

Whereas to the Russians, it is obvious that the Americans wish to replace cheap Rusian piped gas with expensive liquefied American gas, which is a bi-product of fracking for oil and currently in surplus. Some frackers in Canada are even having to pay someone to take their gas.

Surprisingly, no one has yet pointed out that Russia could deliver Novichok to the whole of Europe via Nordstream 2.

[Mar 18, 2018] The Skripal anti-Russia hysteria effort is just another step in the US/CIA campaign to interfere with North Streat II

Notable quotes:
"... This is a European energy issue. From the start. The US either wants to be the middle-man or cut Russia off from it entirely. No other options have been tabled or would be acceptable to Washington. Remember the Trump quote "Why don't we just take their oil and gas?" ..."
"... Look at the opposition gaining speed against Nord Stream II. And also look, the UK and all of Europe may be in for some cold summers and winters now, it's a trend they cannot ignore as it gets colder for longer periods, this trend isn't relaxing with the stratosphere doing some flips and turns and sending "The Beast From The East" towards the once Great Britain. ..."
Mar 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

chet380 | Mar 17, 2018 4:14:40 PM | 6

The Skripal anti-Russia hysteria effort is just another step in the US/CIA campaign to interfere with the Russian hosting of the World Cup -- the next step will be to attempt to have the qualifying European countries boycott the event ... remember, to them, every Russian loss is an American win.

However, I will go on record to predict that the US will have its Ukrainian neo-Nazi vassals mount a major attack on the Donbass within week of the beginning of the World Cup tournament.

Gravatomic | Mar 17, 2018 4:28:35 PM | 12

@chet380 | Mar 17, 2018 4:14:40 PM | 6

I agree the World Cup is on the agenda, but this effort is multi-pronged, like Octi-putin, they will want to boycott it and you will see all sorts of FIFA related articles in the coming months, corruption and so on. It's all predictable.

This is a European energy issue. From the start. The US either wants to be the middle-man or cut Russia off from it entirely. No other options have been tabled or would be acceptable to Washington. Remember the Trump quote "Why don't we just take their oil and gas?"

Look at the opposition gaining speed against Nord Stream II. And also look, the UK and all of Europe may be in for some cold summers and winters now, it's a trend they cannot ignore as it gets colder for longer periods, this trend isn't relaxing with the stratosphere doing some flips and turns and sending "The Beast From The East" towards the once Great Britain.

[Mar 16, 2018] Skripal murder also is about bankrupting Russia and trying to get European nations to turn the Russian gas tap off

Mar 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com


FBaggins -> Bud Dry Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:10 Permalink

It is about bankrupting Russia and also trying to get European nations to turn the Russian gas tap off, and so Europe will have to resort to buying gas through Western controlled natural gas resources, liquid gas shipments, and a proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline through Syria. Once most Western people discover the actual history of our wars and what ruthless, unconscionable bastards our Western power brokers actually are, they will automatically want to support Russia.

FoggyWorld -> 7thGenMO Fri, 03/16/2018 - 19:02 Permalink

This is the May-Johnson excuse for not going through with Brexit. Now they will say they need their partner in the EU to protect them. Good luck with that one.

Savvy -> 7thGenMO Fri, 03/16/2018 - 19:52 Permalink

I wouldn't write NATO off just yet. Rothschild bought Naftogaz which has an office in Egypt. Igor Kolomoisky has some interesting ties also the temporary occupation of Crimea by Russia. And who is Genie Energy?

[Mar 15, 2018] Another aspect of the British Operation Skripal provocation might be the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany

Notable quotes:
"... Another background to the British provocation might be the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Construction is to start now and once it is finished Ukraine can´t blackmail Europe anymore by holding up gas delivery. Poland, the Baltics, the US and of course Ukraine are violently opposed to Nord Stream 2. ..."
Mar 15, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Tom 15 March 2018 at 06:51 AM

...The British noise about the alleged nerve gas agent is then nothing more but another attempt to force Washingtons´s hand to increase hostility towards Russia.

Interestingly enough today Germany´s defense minister who is a close confident of Merkel echoed the outrage about the alleged nerve gas attack but called for a "UN investigation". That is she didn´t endorse the British claim.

Another background to the British provocation might be the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Construction is to start now and once it is finished Ukraine can´t blackmail Europe anymore by holding up gas delivery. Poland, the Baltics, the US and of course Ukraine are violently opposed to Nord Stream 2.


[Mar 13, 2018] China replaced the USA in russianenergy market

Mar 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

likklemore | Mar 13, 2018 7:48:34 PM | 69

@ Ian 64.

Sanctions on Russia are being ignored. China is investing its US Trillions. Under US imposed sanctions, ExxonMobil withdrew and China said "Thank You" and took the partnership.

Chinese state-controlled Huarong Asset Management has bought a 36.2 percent stake in the unit of CEFC China Energy through which CEFC is acquiring a $9.1 billion stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft.

According to CEFC filings seen by Reuters, Huarong has bought the stake in CEFC in two tranches, one in December and one in February. Huarong is controlled by China's Ministry of Finance.

In September, CEFC Energy announced plans to acquire 14.16 percent of Rosneft shares from Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

"The final structure of Rosneft's shareholders has been formed," Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin told Rossiya 24 television.

As part of a long-term agreement, Rosneft and CEFC Energy inked a deal on crude oil deliveries in 2017. According to the agreement, the Russian oil major will supply CEFC with 60.8 million tons of oil annually until 2023.

The agreement covers the development of exploration and production projects in Siberia. The two companies plan to cooperate in refining, petrochemicals and crude trading.

https://www.rt.com/business/421021-china-cefc-rosneft-purchase/

Betcha Rex is so so sorry he went to D.C.

[Mar 09, 2018] Ukraine begins seizure of Russian energy giant Gazprom's assets, citing Stockholm court decision -- RT Business News

Notable quotes:
"... "Under the current circumstances, the Ukrainian cabinet initiates action aimed at recovering [a] penalty from Gazprom," ..."
"... "very politically motivated." ..."
Mar 09, 2018 | www.rt.com

The Ukrainian authorities have started the seizure of assets belonging to the Russian gas giant Gazprom, citing its alleged non-compliance with the decision of the Stockholm arbitration court. "Under the current circumstances, the Ukrainian cabinet initiates action aimed at recovering [a] penalty from Gazprom," the Ukrainian government's press service said in a statement published on its official website. It also claimed that the move was conducted in compliance with the decision of the Stockholm court and involves collecting a fine from the Russian company over its alleged violation of Ukrainian anti-monopoly legislation. Read more FILE PHOTO: A man prepares firewood at the village © Konstantin Chernichkin Ukraine is overpaying for European gas & wants Russia to foot the bill

The Swedish arbitration body initially ruled on the three-year dispute between Gazprom and the Ukrainian energy company, Naftogaz, back in December 2017. The policy of the court prevents it from even acknowledging that it's mediating a case, which makes it impossible to obtain its own account of the final ruling. Both energy companies, which have opposing takes on the outcome, initially claimed victory in the case.

In late February, the same court ordered Gazprom to compensate Naftogaz $4.6 billion for what the latter sees as lost profit from the transit of Russian gas to Europe.

The legal battle between the two energy companies in the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce had rumbled on since June 2014. Gazprom's claims related to fines for insufficient withdrawal and use of gas by the Ukrainian side, in accordance with a 'take-or-pay' rule. The Russian gas giant also demanded payment of a debt for gas delivered to Ukraine between May and June 2014.

Naftogaz pushed for a retroactive change in the price of gas, the reimbursement of overpayments and the repeal of a ban on reselling Russian gas. The court eventually satisfied some of the Ukrainian company's demands, in particular by setting a minimum amount of gas that Naftogaz must buy from Gazprom annually (from 2018) at a volume that was 10 times lower than in the original contract. At the same time, it also obliged Gazprom to pay for the transit of the Russian gas through the Ukrainian territory between 2009 and 2017 even though the gas was not, in fact, transited over that period.

The Head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, then called the court's decision "asymmetric" and "very politically motivated." The court justified its decision by referring to a difficult economic situation in Ukraine.

[Mar 04, 2018] Ukraine Freezes After Russia Halts Gas Deliveries

Notable quotes:
"... Bullshit. The Ukrainians have been on a pay before delivery tariff from Russia for years. They have chosen war over trade. They currently prefer to spend what income they get that survives oligarch looting on trying to kill the East Ukrainians (currenly 6.9% of GDP). ..."
Mar 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Sat, 03/03/2018 - 21:13 Last week, Russia's state-run gas giant and quasi-monopolist when it comes to European natgas supplies, Gazprom, announced it would not restart shipments of natural gas to Ukraine's Naftogaz starting March 1 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement, Gazprom deputy chairman, Alexander Medvedev, told journalists.

Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine were supposed to restart on Thursday following a foreign court ruling aimed at ending years of disputes between Kiev and Moscow, including two halts to Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine. But Gazprom unexpectedly refused to resume deliveries, returning the prepayment for supplies made by Kiev, claiming amendments to a contract had not been completed.

The decision came as the sides reportedly failed to extend a supplemental agreement to the current gas contract, RT reported.

"So far, the supplemental agreement to the operating contract with Naftogaz has not been approved, and that is a compulsory condition for launching the shipments," Medvedev said. "So, we have to recover the amount paid by the company in full. And it is obvious that the shipments in March won't start."

In response, Ukraine's state monopoly said that Gazprom had failed to deliver prepaid gas. Naftogaz is reportedly planning to claim damages for supply failure from the Russian energy major.

And while the long-running dispute may, but likely won't, be resolved in court, Ukraine has suddenly found itself without heat and on Friday urged schools to close and factories to cut production, while residents shivered as the country strained to save on gas supplies.

The decision coincided with freezing temperatures all over Ukraine, and the government called on Friday for measures to reduce consumption.

" Starting today, we recommended ... to stop the work of kindergartens, schools and universities ," Ukraine energy minister Igor Nasalyk told lawmakers , while urging Ukrainian companies to adjust their operations to save gas, while power companies were ordered to switch to fuel oil where possible.

Nasalyk said these savings measures would be in effect until Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to rise.

* * *

Meanwhile, on Friday, Gazprom director Alexei Miller said that the company would immediately turn to the Stockholm arbitration court to break its contract with the Ukrainian operator Naftogaz, Russian news agencies reported. A ruling by the same court last year was meant to halt disputes over gas prices and shipments, which had often been a proxy for political disputes between Moscow and Kiev. The court set a price and ordered Kiev to resume purchases it had cancelled following the breakout in "proxy" violence between the two nations in 2014.

Also on Friday, Naftogaz said that Gazprom had not only refused to resume deliveries meant for it, but lowered the pressure in gas pipelines by 20 percent and minimized sales to other customers. In a statement, Naftogaz said that Gazprom was trying to portray Ukraine in a negative light and suggest that it was willing either to let its own population freeze or make it out to be "an unreliable transit company that takes the gas away" from European countries.

In response, Reuters reported today that Gazprom said there had so far been no impact on supplies through its pipelines to Europe, despite the sharp escalation in tensions with the key transit nation.

Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak told European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcofic in a phone conversation that gas transit would not be at risk until Gazprom and Naftogaz fully terminated their agreement.

"Minister Novak assured that the gas transit from Russia to Europe is under no threat. The transit remains as reliable as in the past," the ministry said.

* * *

Kiev and Moscow have a history of clashing over prices and obligations under contracts for the delivery of Russian gas to Ukraine as well as transit to Europe. The standoff in the winter of 2006 triggered supply disruptions, with Russia accusing Ukraine of stealing gas intended for the European market.

The gas giants are currently involved in a long-standing litigation over the terms of the current delivery contract. Ukraine's lawyers are struggling for annulment of the so-called take-or-pay provision that obliges Kiev to purchase a minimum annual quantity of gas. Earlier this week, Naftogaz claimed it had won a $2.56 billion victory in another round of its legal battle with Gazprom.


philipat -> stizazz Sat, 03/03/2018 - 19:06 Permalink

Karma can be a bitch Ukraine. Still, I'm sure your friends in Washington will immediately provide you with an endless supply of free LNG? Call Vicky.

Incidentally, to the author, your map is incorrect (i'm sure that was just an error like Goolag's deletion of Themtube sites). Crimea is no longer a part of Ukraine after 95%+ of its population excercised their right to self-determination after the Maidan coup.

Joe Trader -> IH8OBAMA Sun, 03/04/2018 - 01:43 Permalink

I'm the resident Joe of ZH.

Ukraine's already connected to Poland's LNG port. And by the way, days at sea for a ship with Qatari LNG is the same as a saudi tanker hauling oil to the U.S.

COSMOS -> Joe Trader Sun, 03/04/2018 - 02:09 Permalink

Ukraine is in a total meltdown, forget about Venezuela which at least has energy stores. Ukraine has to import most of its energy. Donbass has all the coal. Putin is a genius, he is starving Ukraine of energy. There will be mass unrest in the country. Expect a government friendly to Russia to come back into play. The only thing that can prevent this is if Europe and the USA are willing to pay for Ukraine's energy needs.

Where otherwise will Ukraine get the hard currency. Well for a while it will get it by selling off its farmland and its women. In ww2 you could buy a woman with a package of pantyhose, an MRE, or a pack of cigarettes. Now you will be able to buy them again the same way and with a lump of coal.

Right now the streets of Kiev are policed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNy8XVuBSDE

Joe Trader -> COSMOS Sun, 03/04/2018 - 04:16 Permalink

It's western countries' loss for not granting asylum to all those hot Ukrainian women

land_of_the_few -> Joe Trader Sun, 03/04/2018 - 06:14 Permalink

They already have visa-free travel to the EU and are leaving en masse as fast as they can to the EU and Russia.

Many are perfectly normal working age women, with normal qualifications, they are not all poledancers as you seem to think.

Most do language courses and marry EU citizens so they don't have to go back.

HowdyDoody -> Joe Trader Sun, 03/04/2018 - 07:47 Permalink

"Ukraine Freezes After Russia Halts Gas Deliveries"

Bullshit. The Ukrainians have been on a pay before delivery tariff from Russia for years. They have chosen war over trade. They currently prefer to spend what income they get that survives oligarch looting on trying to kill the East Ukrainians (currenly 6.9% of GDP).

On March 1, Ukraine closed all schools, colleges and universities to conserve energy. Following a Stockholm arbitration court decision on March 1, Gazprom has started the process of cancelling the contracts for supply of gas to and through Ukraine. They are at liberty to purchase it at market rates ($600 per 100 cubic metersversus the subsidised $300 from Russia) from the Europeans.

researchfix -> HowdyDoody Sun, 03/04/2018 - 09:04 Permalink

Price doesn´t matter. Important is not to pay the invoices. That´s chapter 1 of UKie business.

Does anybody believe there will be payment to Europe for gas? Of course the EU will lie about that, and sweep it under the rug.

Justin Case -> pluto the dog Sat, 03/03/2018 - 23:12 Permalink

Joe Biden's son, Hunter, was hired by a Ukraine company, Burisma Holdings Limited, promoting energy independence from Moscow. So hows it goin Hunter?? Too busy fooling around with his late brother's widow. No time for Ukraine. Murica can help fund some gas, if they can throw away a couple billion for the coup, c'mon Guys, Porky is yoar Bro.

COSMOS -> Justin Case Sun, 03/04/2018 - 02:17 Permalink

Most likely he was fooling around with her before his brother died. Some of his nieces and nephews may be his kids. The Bidens are a microcosm of the perverse behavior in DC.

land_of_the_few -> Justin Case Sun, 03/04/2018 - 06:19 Permalink

"Kathleen Biden accused estranged husband Hunter of reckless spending on 'drugs, prostitutes, and an $80,000 diamond' in divorce docs - days before his affair with widowed sister-in-law Hallie was revealed"

" Kathleen claims Hunter spends money on 'drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs and gifts for women with whom he had sexual relations' in her new motion "

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4276134/Kathleen-Biden-divorce-

swmnguy -> uhland62 Sat, 03/03/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

I live in Minneapolis. The weather here isn't too different from much of Ukraine. For early March we're having a very warm day, nearly 50 F. But next week we get back to more seasonal highs around freezing, with maybe 6" of slushy snow on Monday.

I really like it when my heat works. I do have a wood-burning fireplace but if I have to use it for heat we've got a lot of problems all at once. Ukraine is a great example of what always happens when Nazis get in charge. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket, quickly.

HenryHall -> litemine Sun, 03/04/2018 - 12:26 Permalink

>> Ukraine may have to declare war.

They already did declare war on Russia. Their problem was that Russia did not believe they were serious, thought they were joking.

BlindMonkey -> robertocarlos Sat, 03/03/2018 - 20:41 Permalink

The fools just might do that to keep the riots out of the government buildings in Kiev. Russia doesn't want the basket case either so who knows what the war would look like. Kiev is totally screwed either way this goes.

keep the basta -> BlindMonkey Sat, 03/03/2018 - 22:46 Permalink

No Russia knows that any dealings with Kiev or ukr companies are disastrous. Russia acts very carefully within the law. Hence immediate return of first gas payement since 2014, so not legally bound. Hence Gasprom requiring a signed contract under mutually agreed conditions which they did not get.

Already Ukraine is say there is a 20 percent drop off in pressure on transit gas thru. ukr. Russia says not, it is gas pressure as usual.

Looks like Ukraine is stealing 20percent of transit gas immediately.

[Mar 03, 2018] Shocking EU Reforms Ukraine's public debt doubles in 4 years, while personal incomes halve

Mar 03, 2018 | www.fort-russ.com

The Ukrainian economy is in a catastrophic state after four years of "euro-reforms," said ​​Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice – People's Right." "At the end of 2013. Ukraine's state and publicly guaranteed debt was 40% of GDP, and by the end of 2017 it had more than doubled, exceeding 80% of GDP. In 2013, Ukraine's GDP per capita was more than $ 4,075, and in 2016 decreased to $ 2221.

The average monthly salary in 2017 as a whole for the country was $ 267 (in 2013 it exceeded $ 408), pensions are also 2.3 times lower than before the euro reform. Today, it is slightly more than $ 48, while in 2013 it was almost $ 112, " Medvedchuk said.

[Feb 19, 2018] Poland opposes Nord Stream 2 - plans to build own pipeline - Fort Russ

Feb 19, 2018 | www.fort-russ.com

The Polish leadership intends to implement a project of its own with the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline - in face of the "Nord Stream - 2". This is reported by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .

The Polish party "Law and Justice" decided to revive the Baltic Pipe project and connect to the Norwegian gas network. According to press releases, at the end of last year the Polish state oil and gas company PGNiG reserved the capacity of the gas pipeline for 15 years, at a cost of two billion dollars. It is assumed that the Polish project with an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per year will begin to function in 2022, but the final decision on this project will be taken later in 2018.

Poland actively opposes the construction of the Russian "Nord Stream - 2". Earlier, the Polish Prime Minister called on the US leadership to extend American sanctions for the implementation of this project. In addition, he said that European companies involved in the construction of the gas pipeline should be fined.

Germany has rebuffed such statements, stating that the project guarantees energy security for Europe.

Nord Stream -2 is a project worth 9.5 billion euros, which involves the construction of two lines of pipeline across the Baltic Sea from the coast of Russia to Germany. The total capacity will be 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

[Feb 16, 2018] The big news is the Russian offer to the Saudi authorities to invest directly in the upcoming Aramco initial public offering

Feb 16, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Mild-ly -Facetious , February 16, 2018 at 5:42 pm

F Y I :> Putin prefers Aramco to Trump's sword dance

Hardly 10 months after honoring the visiting US president, the Saudis are open to a Russian-Chinese consortium investing in the upcoming Aramco IPO

By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR
FEBRUARY 16, 2018

[extract]

In the slideshow that is Middle Eastern politics, the series of still images seldom add up to make an enduring narrative. And the probability is high that when an indelible image appears, it might go unnoticed -- such as Russia and Saudi Arabia wrapping up huge energy deals on Wednesday underscoring a new narrative in regional and international security.

The ebb and flow of events in Syria -- Turkey's campaign in Afrin and its threat to administer an "Ottoman slap" to the United States, and the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 jet -- hogged the attention. But something of far greater importance was unfolding in Riyadh, as Saudi and Russian officials met to seal major deals marking a historic challenge to the US dominance in the Persian Gulf region.

The big news is the Russian offer to the Saudi authorities to invest directly in the upcoming Aramco initial public offering -- and the Saudis acknowledging the offer. Even bigger news, surely, is that Moscow is putting together a Russian-Chinese consortium of joint investment funds plus several major Russian banks to be part of the Aramco IPO.

Chinese state oil companies were interested in becoming cornerstone investors in the IPO, but the participation of a Russia-China joint investment fund takes matters to an entirely different realm. Clearly, the Chinese side is willing to hand over tens of billions of dollars.

Yet the Aramco IPO was a prime motive for US President Donald Trump to choose Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip. The Saudi hosts extended the ultimate honor to Trump -- a ceremonial sword dance outside the Murabba Palace in Riyadh. Hardly 10 months later, they are open to a Russian-Chinese consortium investing in the Aramco IPO.

Riyadh plans to sell 5% of Saudi Aramco in what is billed as the largest IPO in world history. In the Saudi estimation, Aramco is worth US$2 trillion; a 5% stake sale could fetch as much as $100 billion. The IPO is a crucial segment of Vision 2030, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's ambitious plan to diversify the kingdom's economy.

MORE : http://www.atimes.com/article/putin-prefers-aramco-trumps-sword-dance/

[Feb 14, 2018] UKRAINE'S NADRA YUZIVSKA AND SHELL ENTERED INTO SHALE GAS PRODUCTION PSA

Jan 24, 2013 | oilmarket-magazine.com

A production sharing agreement (PSA) between Royal Dutch Shell and Ukraine's Nadra Yuzivska for the development of Yuzivske shale gas deposits located in Ukraine's Kharkiv and Donetsk regions was signed in Davos on 24 January 2013 through the mediation of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and Netherlands prime minister Mark Rutte. The agreement was inked by Ukraine's energy and coal industry minister Eduard Stavitsky and Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser.

Prior to the signing ceremony Yanukovych told journalists that Ukraine would benefit from the agreement since it would allow attracting investments, which Ukraine could use to increase the domestic natural gas production thus creating jobs, raising the level of the country's economy as well as increasing the budget revenues and providing funds for social needs.

On 23 January Ukraine's cabinet of ministers approved a draft PSA between Shell Exploration and Production Ukraine Investments B.V. and Nadra Yuzivska for Yuzivske shale gas field (7,886m2 acreage) development.

Yuzivske field prognostic resources are estimated at 2-4trln m3 of gas, which can be a viable alternative for costly natural gas volumes Ukraine imports form Russia. In the meanwhile US Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates Ukraine's shale gas potential at 1.2trln m3 in this way making the country's shale gas reserves the 4th largest in Europe after Poland, France and Norway. Totally consuming some 60bn m3 of natural gas annually, Ukraine has to import 40bn m3 of natural gas from Russia priced $430 per 1,000 m3 based on the terms of agreements inked in 2009.

Ukraine's prime minister Mykola Azarov stated earlier that Yuzivske field commercial development over the span of a decade could give Ukraine an additional 8-10bn m3 of gas annually.

As Eduard Stavitsky put it in Davos, Ukraine could possibly meet its domestic natural gas demand in full in about 5 years of shale gas production cooperation with Shell. "According to Shell's optimistic scenario about 20bn m3 of gas could be extracted annually; according to the pessimistic one, at the very least 7-8bn m3. If the top forecasts were fulfilled, we would tackle the gas shortfall problem in Ukraine or might even go into surplus", Stavitsky was quoted as saying. He stated earlier that Shell saw investments under the deal of at least $10bn under the most likely scenario and possibly as much as $50bn.

OILMARKET Info
In May 2012 Shell was chosen the successful bidder for 7,800km2 Yuzivske acreage (Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, Ukraine) development with projected reserves estimated at 4.054trln m3 of gas of various categories. The project calls for raising at least $20mn (UAH1.6bn) in investments for the geological study phase, and $3.75bn (UAH30bn) for the industrial production phase. The agreement envisages stage-by-stage exploration, development and hydrocarbons production. Both companies (Shell and Nadro Yuzivske) will hold a 50% participation stake, with Shell chosen the project operator responsible for carrying out works under the terms of agreement.

According to Shell press service, the mentioned PSA was signed for 50 years period. The initial geological study phase at Yuzivske field implies 2D and 3D seismics as well as 15 well drilling, which is expected to enable effective exploration and assessments of hydrocarbon deposits potential especially that of natural gas trapped in compacted sandstone. Yuzivske field development will be implemented in line with the highest international HSE standards. In this way Shell is to carry out comprehensive possible environmental, social and public health impact assessment of the project prior to launch.

[Jan 28, 2018] The United States sees the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany as a threat to Europe's energy security

Notable quotes:
"... "The top American diplomat said his country is ready to help Poland continue to diversify its fuel supplies, including through the sale of U.S. liquefied natural gas, to reduce its dependence on Russia" ..."
Jan 28, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

nonsense factory | Jan 27, 2018 7:24:00 PM | 14

Tillerson apes Hillary Clinton PR lines on Russia:

WARSAW (Reuters) - The United States sees the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany as a threat to Europe's energy security, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Saturday.
The rest of the Reuters article is garbage, so I'm not bothering with a link. . . Bloomberg seems to spell out the larger rationale, at least:
"The top American diplomat said his country is ready to help Poland continue to diversify its fuel supplies, including through the sale of U.S. liquefied natural gas, to reduce its dependence on Russia"

Notice also that Secretary of Defense Mattis says that the US military is now focused on "Great Power Conflicts" - so what is this, right back to the Hillary Clinton gameplan? At least, Trump is unlikely to get any international support for reckless military actions, so that's one good thing about him over Clinton.

[Jan 20, 2018] Tanker With Russian Gas for Boston Makes Mid-Atlantic U-Turn by Elena Mazneva & Anna Shiryaevskaya

Jan 19, 2016 | www.bloomberg.com

LNG tanker Gaselys was scheduled to arrive in Boston Saturday. Vessel reversed course to Spain after almost 21 days en route

... ... ...

While unusual, it's not unheard of for LNG cargoes that aren't tied into a contract with fixed destination to change course en route as cargo owners seek the highest price and the best market. Companies with access to wide global supplies can also swap shipments between regions. What's more, the tanker may still make it to Boston with a delay, as was the case with deliveries earlier this month, according to Kpler SAS, a cargo-tracking company.

"We have still not canceled the Everett port call for Gaselys," Madeleine Overgaard, an LNG market analyst at Kpler, said by email. "Her course is currently not very different from the average delivery at Everett in 2017, she is probably just diverting to delay arrival."

Engie SA's North American unit bought the spot cargo for delivery to the U.S. from Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd. to supplement its contracted volumes from Trinidad and Tobago into its Everett terminal near Boston, it said last week. Engie declined to comment on the tanker's movement on Friday.

The Yamal LNG project, co-owned by Russia's Novatek PJSC, Total SA, China Natural Petroleum Corp. and China's Silk Road Fund, started production in December despite U.S. financial sanctions imposed in 2014 because of Russia's involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. It plans to deliver 14 spot cargoes by April, when long-term contracts kick in.

[Jan 13, 2018] Surging Russian-Chinese Trade Pressures Petrodollar

Jan 13, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

With the opening of the new ESPO oil pipeline connecting Siberia to China doubling the amount of oil China can import to 600,000 barrels per day we'll see those numbers continue to accelerate.

And that's the key. Remember, the massive $400 billion gas deal China made with Gazprom in 2014 hasn't begun delivering gas. The first Power of Siberia pipeline isn't due to be completed until 2019. The second Power of Siberia pipeline is on the table after this one.

And the two countries just agreed to a third pipeline to bring gas in from Russia's far east last month.

So, despite back-biting from western media about the profitability of these projects, they are going forward and the two countries continue to strengthen fundamental ties to one another.

... ... ...

The important takeaway is that China has created the first unassailable and above-ground challenge to the petro-dollar oil trade. To break the world's use of the dollar as the sole settlement currency for oil required the right contract issued by a country the U.S. can't immediately invade and conduct a regime change operation in – like in Iraq and Libya.

Russia wins here because now there is a path for its Urals grade to become an international benchmark like WTI and Brent. And since Gazprom prefers to price its long-term gas contracts based on underlying oil prices rather than the more volatile natural gas price, this is also a win in the long run for them.

Gold convertibility is a means to deepen China's sovereign debt markets by making it less risky to hold Chinese bonds. The lack of true yuan convertibility is the big impediment to people holding them. So, gold convertibility creates a viable exit route.

WTFUD -> BobEore Jan 13, 2018 7:53 PM Permalink

Bob, when you control 40% of the World's Oil & Gas Reserves and can turn the tap on and off then you can hardly be considered POOR, especially when you make up 20% of the world's Land Mass ( am also thinking Fresh Water ).

Vichy DC's Sanctions on Russia are in Essence, Sanctions on Exxon & the Majors (who soon won't be Majors at this rate ) and the EUROPEAN UNION.

However, i understand your thought processes.

coast1 Jan 13, 2018 7:43 PM Permalink

get real zerohedge...archaic news..you are so far behind the times...

http://www.thedailyeconomist.com/2018/01/all-eyes-may-be-fixed-on-jan-1

messystateofaffairs Jan 13, 2018 7:59 PM Permalink

The vice tightens inexorably and US foreign policy thrashes about in response to the pressure. What will the parasitic Jewish overlords do to save their declining host?

[Jan 03, 2018] Is fracking gas production in the USA is sustainable, or this is yet another "subprime" bubble?

Jan 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

likbez , January 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Are companies which produce it profitable or they survive by generating a parallel stream of junk bonds and evergreen loans?

Most of them are also shale oil producers and might well depend on revenue from shale oil to produce gas. Shale oil proved to unsustainable at prices below, say $65-$75 per barrel or even higher, excluding few "sweet spots". Also a lot of liquids the shale well produce are "subprime oil" that refiners shun.

They are not only much lighter but also they have fewer hydrocarbons necessary for producing kerosene and diesel fuel. Mixing it with heavy oil proved to be double edged sword and still inferior to "natural" oil. So right now the USA imports "quality" oil and sells its own" subprime oil" at discount to refineries that are capable of dealing with such a mix. Say, buying a barrel for $60 and selling a barrel of "subprime oil" at $30.

And without revenue from oil and liquids it can well be that natural gas production might be uneconomical.

I wonder what percentage of the total US oil production now is subprime oil.

Modern multistage shale well now cost around $7-10 million. And that's only beginning as its exploitation also costs money (fuel, maintenance, pumping back highly salinated and often toxic water the well produces, etc). So neither oil nor gas from such wells can be very cheap.

Generally such a well is highly productive only the first couple of years. After that you need to drill more.

Also there is a damage to environment including such dangerous thing as pollution of drinking water in the area,

[Jan 03, 2018] I think the only appetite for US LNG comes from the more anti-Russian eastern European countries such as Poland, which hates dependency on Russian gas.

Jan 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

PlutoniumKun , January 3, 2018 at 9:39 am

From what I can tell, in Europe there was a policy of encouraging LNG terminals in order to provide leverage against Russian supply. But there seems to have been a significant slowdown in construction – quite simply, LNG is too expensive relative to Russian and domestic (Norwegian, Dutch, UK, Mediteranean) supplies. It makes much more sense for Europe to broaden out its pipeline network. So I think the only appetite for US LNG comes from the more anti-Russian eastern European countries such as Poland, which hates dependency on Russian gas.

likbez , January 3, 2018 at 5:19 pm
Poland would suffer without revenue from pipelines that transport Russian natural gas to Western Europe. That's why they adamantly oppose North Stream II.

Not as much as Ukraine, for which it might mean the economic collapse, but still.

[Jan 03, 2018] Momentous Change in US Natural Gas, with Global Impact

Notable quotes:
"... By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street ..."
"... Exports to Mexico via pipeline have been rising for years as more pipelines have entered service and as Mexican power generators are switching from burning oil that could be sold in the global markets to burning cheap US natural gas. The US imports no natural gas from Mexico. ..."
"... This is just the Sabine Pass export terminal. In addition, there are five other LNG export terminals under construction, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with a combined capacity of 7.5 Bcf/d. This brings total LNG export capacity to over 11 Bcf/d over the next few years and will make the US the third largest LNG exporter globally, behind Australia and Qatar. ..."
"... According to the Institute of Energy Research, global LNG demand is currently around 37 Bcf per day. This is expected to grow substantially as China is shifting part of its power generation capacity from coal to natural gas. And US LNG exports to China have surged from nothing two years ago to 25.6 billion cubic feet in October (for the month, not per day): ..."
"... US natural gas production has been booming since 2009 as fracking in prolific shale plays took off, and the price has collapsed – it currently is below $3 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at the NYMEX, despite tthe majestic cold wave that is gripping a big part of the country. ..."
"... This caused some immense price differences between the US market -- where a gas "glut" crushed prices, pushing them from time to time even below $2/mmBtu -- and, for example, the Japanese LNG import market, with prices that were in the $16-$17/mmBtu range in 2013 and 2014. Even the average spot price contracted in November 2017, the most recent data made available by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry , was $9/mmBtu. US LNG exporters hope to arbitrage these price differentials. ..."
"... Meanwhile, US producers are hoping that this overseas demand will mop up the glut in the US and allow them to finally boost prices, including the prices LNG exporters pay. But funding continues pouring into the oil and gas sector to pump up production, and prices have remained low, and drillers continue to bleed. ..."
"... Poland may have one built but think about this – the Ukraine may be happy to pay for American coal which is twice as expensive as what they could buy from the Donbass regions but will Europe be happy to pay double or more for LNG from the US just to spite the Russians? ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street

Even China is Buying U.S. LNG

In 2017, the US became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time. It started small in February, when the US exported 1 billion cubic feet more than it imported. By October, the last month for which data from the Energy Department's EIA is available, net exports surged to 45 billion cubic feet. For the first 10 months of 2017, the US exported 86 billion cubic feet more than it imported. And this is just the beginning.

Exports to Mexico via pipeline have been rising for years as more pipelines have entered service and as Mexican power generators are switching from burning oil that could be sold in the global markets to burning cheap US natural gas. The US imports no natural gas from Mexico.

Imports from and exports to Canada have both declined since 2007, with the US continuing to import more natural gas from Canada than it exports to Canada.

What is new is the surging export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by sea to other parts of the world.

This chart shows net imports (imports minus exports) of US natural gas. Negative "net imports" (red) mean that the US exports more than it imports:

The first major LNG export terminal in the Lower 48 – Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana – began commercial deliveries in early 2016 when the liquefaction unit "Train 1" entered service. Trains 2 and 3 followed. The three trains have a capacity of just over 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). In October 2017, the company announced that Train 4, with a capacity of 0.7 Bcf/d, was substantially completed and is likely to begin commercial deliveries in March 2018. Train 5 is under construction and is expected to be completed in August 2019. The company is now lining up contracts and financing for Train 6. All six trains combined will have a capacity of 4.2 Bcf/d.

This is just the Sabine Pass export terminal. In addition, there are five other LNG export terminals under construction, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with a combined capacity of 7.5 Bcf/d. This brings total LNG export capacity to over 11 Bcf/d over the next few years and will make the US the third largest LNG exporter globally, behind Australia and Qatar.

In addition, there are several other export terminals that FERC has approved but construction has not yet started. And other projects are in the works but have not yet been approved.

According to the Institute of Energy Research, global LNG demand is currently around 37 Bcf per day. This is expected to grow substantially as China is shifting part of its power generation capacity from coal to natural gas. And US LNG exports to China have surged from nothing two years ago to 25.6 billion cubic feet in October (for the month, not per day):

US natural gas production has been booming since 2009 as fracking in prolific shale plays took off, and the price has collapsed – it currently is below $3 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at the NYMEX, despite tthe majestic cold wave that is gripping a big part of the country.

Exporting large quantities of LNG is a momentous shift for the US because it connects previously landlocked US production to the rest of the world. Unlike oil, the US natural gas market has largely been isolated from global pricing.

This caused some immense price differences between the US market -- where a gas "glut" crushed prices, pushing them from time to time even below $2/mmBtu -- and, for example, the Japanese LNG import market, with prices that were in the $16-$17/mmBtu range in 2013 and 2014. Even the average spot price contracted in November 2017, the most recent data made available by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry , was $9/mmBtu. US LNG exporters hope to arbitrage these price differentials.

Meanwhile, US producers are hoping that this overseas demand will mop up the glut in the US and allow them to finally boost prices, including the prices LNG exporters pay. But funding continues pouring into the oil and gas sector to pump up production, and prices have remained low, and drillers continue to bleed.

And there are already global consequences – including in Europe, where large regions, including Germany, increasingly depend on natural gas from Russia as production in Europe is declining. The new competition from the US – though it really hasn't started in earnest yet since most of US LNG goes to places other than Europe at the moment – is already reverberating through the Europe-Russia natural gas trade.

Read Russia's grip on European gas markets is tightening

The Rev Kev , January 3, 2018 at 8:48 am

The first major LNG export terminal in the Lower 48 began commercial deliveries in early 2016

Hmmm, is this a case of build it and they will come? Somebody has to sink the capital in to build a fleet of LNG containers which will take a decade to come online. Somebody also has the build the LNG terminals as well as the infrastructure to go along with it.

Poland may have one built but think about this – the Ukraine may be happy to pay for American coal which is twice as expensive as what they could buy from the Donbass regions but will Europe be happy to pay double or more for LNG from the US just to spite the Russians?

Consider this as well. That LNG terminal is in Louisiana. Which is in the Gulf. Which has all those annual hurricanes. Which is getting worse through climate change. Would the Europeans want to risk depending on American deliveries under these conditions? I will reword that.

Will the Europeans want to risk their economies over this? Last year they shut down the place for a month for repairs. What if Hurricane Harvey had slammed into the place. How will the Europeans be able to trust that a future Trump doesn't shut down LNG deliveries in winter time to get them to commit to some American policy? Too many variables with no net gain and all loss – on their part.

rjs , January 3, 2018 at 8:51 am

they started a buildout of the container ship fleet a half dozen years ago..

[Dec 30, 2017] The Gas Fight Between Ukraine and Russia is Finally Settled - Who Really Won

The key here is whether Russia will stop transit of gas via Ukraine or not.
Notable quotes:
"... A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. ..."
"... In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair. ..."
"... the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. ..."
"... The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. ..."
Dec 30, 2017 | russia-insider.com

After 2014, Ukraine claimed that it was being overcharged, and therefore Naftogaz refused to pay Gazprom their contracted price for gas. Instead, it paid unilaterally a different amount that it subjectively considered "fair."

Gazprom, in keeping with mutually contracted terms and conditions, could only issue an invoice for the resulting underpayment, and after Naftogaz still refused to pay (a debt of approx. $2 billion), made any further deliveries of gas contingent on prepayment.

The arbitration additionally upheld Gazprom's position and denied Naftogaz any right to a refund for gas priced between May 2011 and April 2014 or collect any of the claimed "overcharged gas" totaling approximately $14 billion for that period. In sum, the price Kiev claimed was "inflated" was judged as in Stockholm as baseless.

Therefore, the question of who is accountable and responsible for settling debt has been clarified in Stockholm. Naftogaz must pay Gazprom $2 billion plus a fine calculated at 0.03% per day for each day this debt remains unpaid. This fine has already reached $3 million since the court decision on December 22nd, and if it not paid can reach an annualized figure of $216 million and still keep growing daily.

Like any political and economic story, there is quite a bit that does not make the flashy headlines, but plays a role in contributing to the noise surrounding an issue. Naftogaz takes satisfaction in that the settlement allowed that the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 was to be reduced from $485 to $352 per 1000 cubic meters, or 27%, thereby "saving" Ukraine about $ 1.8 billion for 2014-2015. The price of $485 was in fact fixed for that one quarter, and it was higher than the market price. The reason was that the March referendum and subsequent reunification of Crimea within the Russian Federation happened then. Up until that time, Russia had given Ukraine a discount of $100 per one thousand cubic meters of gas as payment for renting the Crimean base for the Black Sea fleet. The Kharkov treaty with Ukraine which dealt with the naval base was therefore canceled, as Crimea was once again Russia. Without this discount, the price increased by that same discounted $100 in the contracted quarterly price fix.

Key is Stockholm's recognition that the Russian gas price for Ukraine in 2011-2014 was fair, which is much more important than the price fixed in that second quarter in question. It is worth noting in the next third quarter of 2014 Gazprom was prepared to provide Ukraine with a market price for gas again. However, as we all know today, since June 2014 Naftogaz has refused to buy gas from Russia for political reasons and calling it an "aggressor nation."

A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. Should this occur, then the future gas price for Ukraine will be linked to the cost of fuel in the European hub. This would be a major departure from the traditional pricing Gazprom has used for decades, and might set a precedent for other buyers of Russian gas, who might also want to change their price formulation. In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been buying reverse gas from Europe at such European spot hub prices, and it has so far been more expensive than the traditional Gazprom contract. It is also worth noting that spot prices are far more volatile, are seasonally demand-affected, and as winter is a peak consumption season the prices can and do increase dramatically.

Why did Gazprom take their initial large claims to court knowing beforehand that it would be impossible to get the tens of billions of dollars from Naftogaz or Ukraine without ruining both through default? The first reason is that a "take or pay" clause was a key and mutually agreed covenant of the contractual relationship, not a point to be discarded unilaterally by any single party. The second reason was as a response to Naftogaz multi-billion lawsuit on the transit of gas from Russia through Ukraine to Europe. The Ukrainian side believes that Gazprom should pay them extra for not sending 110 billion cubic meters of gas through pipelines annually across Ukraine. In the transit contract, there is no obligation for any such volumes to be transited through Ukraine's pipelines.

To sum up this drama, the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. How this volume of 5 billion cubic meters was arrived at remains a mystery, but one which will surely become clear over time. The political spin, however, will be interesting to observe since Ukraine must now buy (and pay for) this Russian gas. How will Kiev explain now having to buy Russian gas when since 2014 it stridently proclaimed it shall never buy fuel from "that aggressor nation."

The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. Now Kiev will have to find the funds to pay for Gazprom's gas, settle their debt and ever-growing fines, plus meet the rest of their energy needs by purchasing expensive reverse gas from Europe. It will take spin that is a lot more imaginative from Kiev to package this settlement into a believable political victory, and very creative accounting to get the money to pay for it.

[Dec 25, 2017] Ukraine loses gas dispute to Russia; ordered to pay $2 billion to Gazprom by by Alexander Mercouris

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period. ..."
"... Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt. ..."
"... Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | theduran.com

On Friday 21st December 2017 the Stockholm Arbitration Court made a ruling in the legal dispute between Ukraine's state owned gas monopoly Naftogaz and Russia's largely state owned gas monopoly Gazprom.

In the hours after the decision – which like all decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration Court – is not published, Naftogaz claimed victory in a short statement. However over the course of the hours which followed Gazprom provided details of the decision which suggests that the truth is the diametric opposite.

The Duran recommends using WP Engine >>

Here is how the Financial Times reports the competing claims

Both Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom both on Friday claimed victory as a Stockholm arbitration tribunal issued the final award ruling in the first of two cases in a three-year legal battle between the state-controlled energy companies, where total claims stand at some $80bn.

An emailed statement from the Ukrainian company was titled:

"Naftogaz wins the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute."

Start your own website here >>

The Stockholm arbitration tribunal -- in its final award ruling in a dispute over gas supplies from prior years -- had, according to Naftogaz, struck down Gazprom's claim to receive $56bn for gas contracted but not supplied through controversial "take-or-pay" clauses. They were included in a supply contract Ukraine signed in 2009 after Gazprom dented supplies to the EU by cutting all flow amid a price dispute -- including transit through the country's vast pipeline systems. In a tweet Ukraine's foreign minister

Pavlo Klimkin wrote: "The victory of Naftogaz in the Stockholm arbitration: It's not a knockout, but three knockdowns with obvious advantage."

But later Gazprom countered that arbitors "acknowledged the main points of the contract were in effect and upheld the majority of Gazprom's demands for payment for gas supplies", worth over $2bn. A Naftogaz official responded that the company never refused to pay for gas supplied, but challenged price and conditions.

Given the tribunal does not make its decisions public, doubt loomed over which side was the ultimate winner. Anticipation also grew over the second and final tribunal award expected early next year over disputes both have concerning past gas transit obligations.

Friday's final Stockholm arbitration ruling follows a preliminary decision from last May after which both sides were given time to settle monetary claims outside of the tribunal but failed to reach agreement.

Here is the full Naftogaz statement:

"Today, the Tribunal at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has completely rejected Gazprom take-or-pay claims to Naftogaz amounting to USD 56 billion for 2009-2017.

Gazprom said that in a separate decision on May 31 of this year, the tribunal denied Naftogaz's application to review prices from May 2011 to April 2014, ordered it to pay $14bn for gas supplies during that period, and said that the take-or-pay conditions applied for the duration of the contract. Gazprom claimed that Naftogaz would have to pay it $2.18bn plus interest of 0.03 per cent for every day the payments were late, and then pay for 5bn cm of gas annually starting next year.

When the different sides give opposite accounts of the same decision it obviously becomes difficult to say what the real decision actually is. However Gazprom says that the court upheld (1) the main provisions of the contract; (2) the contract's take-or-pay provisions, these being a particularly contentious issue in the contract; and (3) that Naftogaz has been ordered to pay Gazprom $2 billion, presumably immediately, with interest for every day the amount is unpaid.

By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period.

The key point here is that Russia agreed to reduce the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by an agreement Russia's President Putin reached with Ukraine's President Yanukovich in December 2013. After the Maidan coup the new Ukrainian government went back on the agreement causing the Russians to demand payment of the original price. However over the course of 2014, as energy prices began first to slide and then crashed, and as it became clear that Ukraine was simply not paying for its gas, Russia again reduced the price of the gas Ukraine had to pay.

What seems to have happened is that the Stockholm Arbitration Court decided to smooth out the price of gas payable by Ukraine throughout 2014, which is the sort of thing arbitration tribunals are regularly known to do, whilst leaving the essentials of the contract unchanged.

If so then this is not a victory by Ukraine but a clearcut defeat, which Naftogaz and the Ukrainian government have tried to spin into a victory by citing the reduction in the gas price in the second quarter of 2014 and the reduction in future gas import volumes, neither of which were contentious issues. By contrast it is clear that Ukraine and Naftogaz must pay the full contractual price and abide by the contract's take-or-pay provisions for the whole of the period of the contract prior to the second quarter of 2014.

What this means in terms of hard cash is that Ukraine must now pay Russia a further $2 billion on top of the $3 billion it was recently ordered to pay by the High Court in London. Just as it is holding back on paying the $3 billion it was ordered to pay by the High Court until the appeal process in London is finished, so it will try to hold off paying the $2 billion it has just been ordered to pay to Gazprom until the final decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court (thus the brave talk of Naftogaz's claims of "up to $16 billion transit contract arbitration against Gazprom") but thereafter payment of the $2 billion will fall due. I say this because the claim Gazprom owes Naftogaz "up to" $16 billion in transit fees looks like it has been plucked out of the air.

What this means is that over the course of 2018 Ukraine will have to pay Russia $5 billion ($3 billion awarded by the High Court in London and $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court). Since the $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court is technically an arbitration award, Gazprom will need to convert it into a court Judgment before it can enforce it, but that is merely a formality. At that point this debt will become not merely due but legally enforceable as well.

Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt.

Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia?

Naftogaz brags that Ukraine has saved up to $75 billion because it is no longer buying gas from Russia. However this begs the question of whether the gas Ukraine is now importing from Europe really is significantly cheaper than the gas Ukraine was buying from Russia? This is debatable and with energy prices rising it is likely to become even less likely over time.

[Dec 23, 2017] IMF demands that the price of gas be raised for Ukrainians

Dec 23, 2017 | rusnewstoday24.ru

As reported by the permanent representative of the International Monetary Fund in the Ukraine, Jost Longman, the Kiev authorities should increase Ukrainian gas tariffs to the level of import parity. Longman argues that an increase in gas prices will have a positive effect on the development of the free market and will teach the Ukrainians to use natural gas economically. "In the end, the final goal is the implementation of a free gas market. On the way to this, it is important to continue to adjust the price of gas in accordance with the price of imports", said Longman. "One price for all types of consumer also eliminates the space for corruptio," he added.

[Dec 23, 2017] Court stopped supply of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
Moscow Exile , December 21, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Court stopped supply of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine
22 Dec 2017, 00:56

On 20 Dec., a court in Slovakia stopped gas supplies to "Naftogaz of Ukraine". The decision was made pursuant to the decision of the Stockholm arbitration over a claim made by the Italian company IUGas that its Ukrainian consumer owed it money.

The total amount of the claim, including interest and penalties, is approximately $21 million. An arbitration ruling was accepted on 19 December 2012 and relates to unpaid 2007 transactions .

Under international law, if the defendant has not fulfilled the resolution of the arbitration, the plaintiff may apply to the courts of other states with a request that the ruling be executed.

"Naftogaz of Ukraine" is analyzing the situation to determine its next steps, according to the Ukrainian edition "Mirror of the Week".

For 11 months of 2017, "Naftogaz of Ukraine" had bought in Eastern Europe 20.9 billion cubic metres of gas. Most of the supplies -- more than 8 billion cubic metres -- are in Slovakia.

As written in iz.ru, arbitration is under consideration in Stockholm as regards the lawsuit made by "Gazprom" against "Naftogaz", the decision on which will be issued by the court no later than February next year. The adjusted amount of the claims made by the Russian company was more than $ 37 billion.

All this is the Aggressor State's doing!

For the sake of freedom and democracy, the Ukraine must be supported!

[Dec 23, 2017] Gazprom has responded to Naftogaz's statements about victory in court

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:24 am

https://www.rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5a3d01ed9a79471d28355203

Gazprom has responded to Naftogaz's statements about victory in court

The Stockholm arbitration has satisfied most of Gazprom's claims made against Naftogaz Ukraine regarding payment for supplied gas, the company has said in a statement. In Moscow. They stressed that the main demands of the Ukrainian side by the court had been rejected.

The court did not recognize the right of Naftogaz to review the price of gas, the deliveries of which were carried out from May 2011 to April 2014. Also, the Ukrainian side was denied recovery of overpayment. Gazprom noted that the court found it necessary to apply the "take or pay" principle (annual payment of a minimum amount of gas) before the expiry of the contract.

"Naftogaz" has to pay back $2 billion in arrears and interest for late payment to Gazprom. The Ukrainian side is also obliged from next year to take 5 billion cubic metres from Russia annually.

Earlier on Friday, Naftogaz said that the court had awarded the victory to the Ukrainian side. In Kiev, they stressed that Gazprom's "take-or-pay" requirements had been "completely" rejected by the court, and the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 had been lowered to $ 352 per thousand cubic metres.

The court considered contracts for the supply of gas from Russia to the Ukraine, as well as gas transit through the Ukraine. They were signed back in 2009. The Ukraine, insisted "Gazprom", did not get any gas 2012-2014, and also in individual quarters of 2015 and 2016. "Naftogaz" asked the court to review the gas prices, and that overpayment be reimbursed and that the ban on further resale of gas be cancelled.

Kremlin propaganda from a "Kremlin controlled" newspaper?

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:30 am Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:35 am
Reuters reports the Ukrainian "victory", of course:

Ukraine's Naftogaz: court win over Gazprom worth over $75 bln

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 7:43 am
Reuters:

Both Ukraine and Russia claim victory in gas dispute

"Naftogaz won the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute," Naftogaz said in an emailed statement.

It said the ruling was worth around $75 billion to Naftogaz in the long term, but did not give a breakdown on how it reached the estimate. [My stress -- ME]

Meanwhile Gazprom said the court had satisfied most of Gazprom's claims and ruled that the main terms of the contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom were valid.

Gazprom said the Stockholm court had ordered Naftogaz to pay more than $2 billion to Gazprom for gas supply arrears and that it had also ordered Naftogaz to buy 5 bcm of gas from Gazprom annually from 2018.

Estimated $75 billion in the "long term"?

Have to pay $2 billion to Gazprom in arrears now (not mention interest).

From 2018 (i.e. in just over a week's time) have to buy annually 5 bcm of gas off the "aggressor state".

Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 11:23 am
Western media, e.g. Deutsche Welle, is now all singing of a Naftogaz victory.
marknesop , December 22, 2017 at 4:50 pm
Of course; that's what Klimkin told them. Why should they check? Klimkin is always reliable, and I'm sure he tweeted a press statement directly to them. Let them hold a Naftogaz victory party if that's what they feel like doing. Just don't spend Russia's money on it. Because I notice Ukraine has to pay Russia. I did not see anything in there about Russia having to pay Ukraine. And so Ukraine can have all of that kind of victories it wants.
Cortes , December 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm
Is the 5 bcm a year for the domestic market? Asking because I thought the cutoff for transit for gas to Europe was 2019.
Moscow Exile , December 22, 2017 at 2:55 pm
Ultimately, the court greatly reduced the amount of gas that Ukraine is contractually obligated to buy from Russia. From 2018, "Naftogaz" should annually take and pay for up to 5 billion cubic metres instead of the original 52 billion cubic metres in any case it means the resumption of gas purchases in Russia, which stopped in 2015, since when "Naftogaz" has been buying all its fuel through reverse flow from Europe.

... ... ...

[Dec 23, 2017] Russia pipeline is investment risk, EU commissioner warns

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , December 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm

EUObserver.com: Interview: Russia pipeline is investment risk, EU commissioner warns https://euobserver.com/energy/140404

Investors should "think twice" about putting money into Nord Stream 2 due to "uncertainties" around the Russian pipeline, the EU energy commissioner told EUobserver.

"I would really think twice, or many more times, simply because there are a lot of uncertainties," Maros Sefcovic said in an interview.

"It's the decision of the project promoters if they want to proceed in this atmosphere which might lead to legal disputes down the line," he said

"Nord Stream 2 is supported by five major western European energy companies that have each committed up to almost €1 billion to the implementation of the pipeline," the consortium's Sebastian Sass said.

"It shows that there is both market demand and great confidence in Nord Stream 2," he added.

Stefan Meister, an expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in Berlin, also said Russia had little to worry about from the EU.

"In Germany the overall impression is, that the project will come Merkel is not against it. That means she supports it," he said.

Meister said the fact Gazprom was prepared to dig into its own pockets meant "the investment risks are limited". He added that energy companies were used to working "in an even more risky environment" in other parts of the world.

"Except the US sanctions, there are no real risks to stop the project," he said
####

Plenty more of Sefcovic blowing hot air out of every orifice at the link. Did someone slip him some cocaine instead of sugar in his coffee before the interview? All mouth and no trousers.

[Dec 08, 2017] Putin opens Russia's $27bn Arctic LNG plant

The US sanctions were partially anticompetitive move to block Russia selling its hydrocarbons to lucrative EU market. Now Russia is becoming a major player in LNG and things might become more complex for the USA as all US efforts to built LNG infrastructure int he USA in order to export the US LNG to Europe now are can backfire.
Notable quotes:
"... Russia plans to build 15 tankers as big as the 'Christophe de Margerie'. ..."
"... "Russia must accelerate work on development capacity to produce liquefied natural gas," Putin said at the ceremony. ..."
"... Costing $27 billion, the plant will have three production lines and a total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year. ..."
"... Shareholders of the Novatek project - Total and CNPC - will purchase LNG on a long-term basis. ..."
"... The ceremony was also attended by a member of Saudi Aramco's board of directors. The kingdom is considering taking part in Novatek's new project, Arctic LNG 2, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. ..."
Dec 08, 2017 | www.rt.com

Russia has opened a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the country's northern region of Yamal. The first tanker with LNG was launched on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ice-breaking tanker is named after the former CEO of Total Christophe de Margerie who died in a plane crash in Russia. The tanker can carry up to 173,000 cubic meters of LNG. Russia plans to build 15 tankers as big as the 'Christophe de Margerie'.

"Russia must accelerate work on development capacity to produce liquefied natural gas," Putin said at the ceremony.

The controlling stake in the enterprise belongs to Russian energy major Novatek. Twenty percent each is owned by Total, and China's CNPC, and the remaining 9.9 percent belongs to the China-based Silk Road Fund. Costing $27 billion, the plant will have three production lines and a total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year.

Almost 96 percent of the Yamal LNG plant's production has already been contracted. The main customers will be the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Novatek reported. Shareholders of the Novatek project - Total and CNPC - will purchase LNG on a long-term basis.

The ceremony was also attended by a member of Saudi Aramco's board of directors. The kingdom is considering taking part in Novatek's new project, Arctic LNG 2, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

Read more Russian LNG unfazed by US sanctions

[Nov 28, 2017] Trump Wants Peace With Erdogan - The Military Wants To Sabotage It

Notable quotes:
"... "President Trump instructed [his generals] in a very open way that the YPG will no longer be given weapons. He openly said that this absurdity should have ended much earlier ," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters after the phone call. ..."
"... The YPG is the Syrian sister organization of the Turkish-Kurdish terror group PKK. Some weapons the U.S. had delivered to the YPK in Syria to fight the Islamic State have been recovered from PKK fighters in Turkey who were out to kill Turkish security personal. Despite that, supply for the YPG continued. In total over 3,500 truckloads were provided to it by the U.S. military. Only recently the YPK received some 120 armored Humvees , mine clearance vehicles and other equipment. ..."
"... The generals in the White House and other parts of the administration were caught flat-footed by the promise Trump has made. The Washington Post writes : "Initially, the administration's national security team appeared surprised by the Turks' announcement and uncertain what to say about it. The State Department referred questions to the White House, and hours passed with no confirmation from the National Security Council." ..."
"... The U.S. military uses the YPG as proxy power in Syria to justify and support its occupation of north-east Syria, The intent of the occupation is , for now, to press the Syrian government into agreeing to a U.S. controlled "regime change": ..."
"... When in 2014 the U.S. started to use Kurds in Syria as its foot-soldiers, it put the YPG under the mantle of the so called Syrian Democratic Forces and paid some Syrian Arabs to join and keep up the subterfuge. This helped to counter the Turkish argument that the U.S. was arming and supporting terrorists. But in May 2017 the U.S. announced to arm the YPG directly without the cover of the SDF. The alleged purpose was to eliminate the Islamic State from the city of Raqqa. ..."
"... A spokesperson of the SDF, the ethnic Turkman Talaf Silo, recently defected and went over to the Turkish side. The Turkish government is certainly well informed about the SDF and knows that its political and command structure is dominated by the YPK. The whole concept is a sham. ..."
"... Sometimes it's hard to see if Trump actually believed what he was saying about foreign policy on the campaign trail -- but either way it doesn't matter much as he seems incapable of navigating the labyrinth of the Deep State even if he had in independent thought in his head. I don't expect US weapons to stop making their way into Kurdish hands as they try to extend their mini-Israel-with-oil foothold in Syria. But it would certainly be a welcome sight if the US left Syria alone for once! ..."
"... Trump personally sent General Flynn to recruit back Erdogan and the Turks right before the election. Flynn wrote his now infamous editorial "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support" and published in "The Hill". http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/305021-our-ally-turkey-is-in-crisis-and-needs-our-support ..."
"... But if you know the role he played for Trump in the campaign and then the post-election role as soon to be NSC advisor, you will see that Trump was sending him to bring Turkey back into the fold after the coup attempt by CIA, Gulen and Turkey's AF and US State Dept failed. ..."
"... Trump wanted to prevent the Turkish Stream. It was a huge rival to his LNG strategy. All these are why Flynn did what he did for Trump. Now Trump has to battle CIA and State, as well as the CENTCOM-Israeli plans for insurgencies in Syria. It's not just the Kurd issue or the other needs of NATO to hold the bases in Turkey. It's the whole southwest containment of Russian gas and Russian naval power, and the reality of sharing the Mediterranean as well as MENA with the Bear. ..."
"... Furthermore, I've always been suspicious of Erdogan's 'turn' toward Russia. Many have suspected that the attempted coup was staged by Erdogan (with CIA help?) so as to enable Erdogan to remain in office. IMO Erdogan joined the 'Assad must go!' effort not just because he benefited from the oil trade but because he leans toward Sunnis (Surely he was aware of the thinking that: the road to Tehran runs through Damascus .) ..."
Nov 28, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

President Trump is attempting to calm down the U.S. conflict with Turkey . The military junta in the White House has different plans. It now attempts to circumvent the decision the president communicated to his Turkish counterpart. The result will be more Turkish-U.S. acrimony.

Yesterday the Turkish foreign minister surprisingly announced a phone call President Trump had held with President Erdogan of Turkey.

United States President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone on Nov. 24 only days after a Russia-Turkey-Iran summit on Syria, with Ankara saying that Washington has pledged not to send weapons to the People's Protection Units (YPG) any more .

"President Trump instructed [his generals] in a very open way that the YPG will no longer be given weapons. He openly said that this absurdity should have ended much earlier ," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters after the phone call.

Trump had announced the call:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!
12:04 PM - 24 Nov 2017

During the phone call Trump must have escaped his minders for a moment and promptly tried to make, as announced, peace with Erdogan. The issue of arming the YPG is really difficult for Turkey to swallow. Ending that would probably make up for the recent NATO blunder of presenting the founder of modern Turkey Kemal Atatürk and Erdogan himself as enemies.

The YPG is the Syrian sister organization of the Turkish-Kurdish terror group PKK. Some weapons the U.S. had delivered to the YPK in Syria to fight the Islamic State have been recovered from PKK fighters in Turkey who were out to kill Turkish security personal. Despite that, supply for the YPG continued. In total over 3,500 truckloads were provided to it by the U.S. military. Only recently the YPK received some 120 armored Humvees , mine clearance vehicles and other equipment.

The generals in the White House and other parts of the administration were caught flat-footed by the promise Trump has made. The Washington Post writes : "Initially, the administration's national security team appeared surprised by the Turks' announcement and uncertain what to say about it. The State Department referred questions to the White House, and hours passed with no confirmation from the National Security Council."

The White House finally released what the Associated Press called :

a cryptic statement about the phone call that said Trump had informed the Turk of "pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria."

Neither a read-out of the call nor the statement AP refers to are currently available on the White House website.

The U.S. military uses the YPG as proxy power in Syria to justify and support its occupation of north-east Syria, The intent of the occupation is , for now, to press the Syrian government into agreeing to a U.S. controlled "regime change":

U.S. officials have said they plan to keep American troops in northern Syria -- and continue working with Kurdish fighters -- to pressure Assad to make concessions during peace talks brokered by the United Nations in Geneva, stalemated for three years now. "We're not going to just walk away right now," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week.

To solidify its position the U.S. needs to further build up and strengthen its YPG mercenary forces.

When in 2014 the U.S. started to use Kurds in Syria as its foot-soldiers, it put the YPG under the mantle of the so called Syrian Democratic Forces and paid some Syrian Arabs to join and keep up the subterfuge. This helped to counter the Turkish argument that the U.S. was arming and supporting terrorists. But in May 2017 the U.S. announced to arm the YPG directly without the cover of the SDF. The alleged purpose was to eliminate the Islamic State from the city of Raqqa.

The YPG had been unwilling to fight for the Arab city unless the U.S. would provide it with more money, military supplies and support. All were provided. The U.S. special forces, who control the YPG fighters, directed an immense amount of aerial and artillery ammunition against the city. Any potential enemy position was destroyed by large ammunition and intense bombing before the YPG infantry proceeded. In the end few YPG fighters died in the fight. The Islamic State was let go or eliminated from the city but so was the city of Raqqa . The intensity of the bombardment of the medium size city was at times ten times greater than the bombing in all of Afghanistan. Airwars reported :

Since June, an estimated 20,000 munitions were fired in support of Coalition operations at Raqqa . Images captured by journalists in the final days of the assault show a city in ruins

Several thousand civilians were killed in the indiscriminate onslaught.

The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is defeated. It no longer holds any ground. There is no longer any justification to further arm and supply the YPG or the dummy organization SDF.

But the generals want to continue to do so to further their larger plans. They are laying grounds to circumvent their president's promise. The Wall Street Journal seems to be the only outlet to pick up on the subterfuge:

President Donald Trump's administration is preparing to stop sending weapons directly to Kurdish militants battling Islamic State in Syria, dealing a political blow to the U.S.'s most reliable ally in the civil war, officials said Friday.

...

The Turkish announcement came as a surprise in Washington, where military and political officials in Mr. Trump's administration appeared to be caught off-guard. U.S. military officials said they had received no new guidance about supplying weapons to the Kurdish forces. But they said there were no immediate plans to deliver any new weapons to the group. And the U.S. can continue to provide the Kurdish forces with arms via the umbrella Syrian militant coalition

The "military officials" talking to the WSJ have found a way to negate Trump's promise. A spokesperson of the SDF, the ethnic Turkman Talaf Silo, recently defected and went over to the Turkish side. The Turkish government is certainly well informed about the SDF and knows that its political and command structure is dominated by the YPK. The whole concept is a sham.

But the U.S. needs the YPG to keep control of north-east Syria. It has to continue to provide whatever the YPG demands, or it will have to give up its larger scheme against Syria.

The Turkish government will soon find out that the U.S. again tried to pull wool over its eyes. Erdogan will be furious when he discovers that the U.S. continues to supply war material to the YPG, even when those deliveries are covered up as supplies for the SDF.

The Turkish government released a photograph showing Erdogan and five of his aids taking Trump's phonecall. Such a release and the announcement of the call by the Turkish foreign minister are very unusual. Erdogan is taking prestige from the call and the public announcement is to make sure that Trump sticks to his promise.

This wide publication will also increase Erdogan's wrath when he finds out that he was again deceived.

Posted by b on November 25, 2017 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

WorldBLee | Nov 25, 2017 12:48:12 PM | 1

Sometimes it's hard to see if Trump actually believed what he was saying about foreign policy on the campaign trail -- but either way it doesn't matter much as he seems incapable of navigating the labyrinth of the Deep State even if he had in independent thought in his head. I don't expect US weapons to stop making their way into Kurdish hands as they try to extend their mini-Israel-with-oil foothold in Syria. But it would certainly be a welcome sight if the US left Syria alone for once!
Red Ryder | Nov 25, 2017 12:49:33 PM | 2
Trump personally sent General Flynn to recruit back Erdogan and the Turks right before the election. Flynn wrote his now infamous editorial "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support" and published in "The Hill". http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/305021-our-ally-turkey-is-in-crisis-and-needs-our-support

Some interpret this act on Election eve as a pecuniary fulfillment by Flynn of a lobbying contract (which existed).

But if you know the role he played for Trump in the campaign and then the post-election role as soon to be NSC advisor, you will see that Trump was sending him to bring Turkey back into the fold after the coup attempt by CIA, Gulen and Turkey's AF and US State Dept failed.

Flynn understood the crucial need for US and NATO to hold Turkey and prevent the Russians from getting Erdogan as an ally for Syria and the Black Sea, the Balkans and Mediterranean as well as Iran, Qatar and Eurasia. Look at what has transpired between Turkey and Russia since. Gas will be flowing through the Turkish Stream and Erdogan conforms to Putin's wishes.

Trump wanted to prevent the Turkish Stream. It was a huge rival to his LNG strategy. All these are why Flynn did what he did for Trump. Now Trump has to battle CIA and State, as well as the CENTCOM-Israeli plans for insurgencies in Syria. It's not just the Kurd issue or the other needs of NATO to hold the bases in Turkey. It's the whole southwest containment of Russian gas and Russian naval power, and the reality of sharing the Mediterranean as well as MENA with the Bear.

Flynn was on it for Trump. And the IC and State want him prosecuted for defying their efforts to replace Erdogan with a stooge like Gulen. It looks like Mueller is pursuing that against the General.

Harry | Nov 25, 2017 1:18:07 PM | 3
Its not a problem for US to drop Kurds if they are no longer needed, BUT for now they are essential for US/Israel/Saudi goals, therefore you can bet 100% Kurds support will continue. Trump's order (he hasn't made it official either) will be easily circumvented.

The real question is, what Resistance will do with the backstabbing Kurds? It wont be easy to make a deal while Kurds maintain absurd demands and as long as they have full Axis of Terror support.

Go Iraq's way like they reclaimed Kirkuk? US might have sitten out that one, I doubt they'll allow this to happen in Syria as well, unless they get something in return.

alabaster | Nov 25, 2017 1:19:42 PM | 4
While America's standard duplicity of saying one thing while doing the opposite has been known for decades, they have been able to play games mainly because of the weakness of the other actors in the region.
The tables have turned now, but America still thinks it holds top dog position.
Wordplay, semantics and legal loopholes wont be tolerated for very long, and when hundreds of US boots return home in body bags a choice will have to be made - escalate, or run away.
Previous behavior dictates run away, but times have changed.
A cornered enemy is the most dangerous, and the USA has painted itself into a very small corner...
Jean | Nov 25, 2017 1:35:55 PM | 5
Gee. While reading B's article what got to my mind is: "Turkey is testing the ground". Whatever Trump said to Erdogan on the phone, it seems to me that the Turks are playing a card to see how the different actors in the US that seems to follow different agendas will react. If Turkey concludes that the US will continue to back YPG, it's split from the US and will be definitive.

Erdogan is shifting away from US/NATO. He even hinted today that he might talk to Assad. That's huge! I wouldn't be surprised if Turkey leaves NATO sooner than later. And if it's the case, it will be a major move of a tectonic amplitude.

Peter AU 1 | Nov 25, 2017 1:36:09 PM | 6
Trump.. "Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!"

General Wesley Clark - seven countries in five years with Iran last on the list = "Get it all done"?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw

Jen | Nov 25, 2017 2:36:10 PM | 7
Surely by now Erdogan must realise that whatever the US President says and promises will be circumvented by the State Department, the Pentagon, the 17 US intel agencies (including the CIA and the NSA) and rogue individuals in these and other US government departments and agencies, and in Congress as well (Insane McCain comes to mind)? Not to mention the fact that the Israeli government and the pro-Israeli lobby on Capitol Hill exercise huge influence over sections of the US government.

If Erdogan hasn't figured out the schizoid behaviour of the US from past Turkish experience and the recent experience of Turkey's neighbours (and the Ukraine is one such neighbour), he must not be receiving good information.

Though as Jean says, perhaps Erdogan is giving the US one last chance to demonstrate that it has a coherent and reliable policy towards the Middle East.

Hausmeister | Nov 25, 2017 3:37:06 PM | 8
Jen | Nov 25, 2017 2:36:10 PM | 6

Well, the US policy has been coherent and reliable in the last years. It enhanced local conflicts, supported both sides at the same time but with different intensities. Whoever wins would be "our man". Old stuff since the Byzantine period. It always takes a lot of time to prove the single actions that were done. In most cases we learn about it years later. The delay is so big and unpleasant that quite a number of folks escapes to stupid narratives that explain everything in one step, and therefore nothing. By the way: is the interest of Kurds to remain under the umbrella of the Syrian state but not be governed by Baath type of Arabic nationalism illegitimate?

stonebird | Nov 25, 2017 3:44:32 PM | 9
How can Trump have his cake and eat it?

The Kurds (PKK basically) are only necessary to give a "face" to the force the US is trying to align in E. Syria. The "fighting" against ISIS (if there really was any) is coming to a close. The Chiefs of ISIS have been airlifted to somewhere nearby, and the foreign mercenary forces sent elsewhere by convoy. ALL the valuable personnel have now become "HTS2" with reversible vests. These, plus the US special forces are the basis of a new armed anti-Syrian force. (Note that one general let slip that there are 5'000 US forces in E-Syria - not the 500 spoken of in the MSM).
So Trump may well be correct in saying that the Kurds (specifically) will not get any more arms - because they have other demands and might make peace with the Syrian Government, to keep at least some part of their territorial gains. The ISIS "bretheren" and foreign mercenaries do not want any peaceful solution because it would mean their elimination.. So The CIA and Pentagon will probably continue arms supplies to "HTS2" - but not the Kurds.

(ex-ISIS members; Some are from Saudi Arabia, Qatar - the EU and the US, as well as parts of Russia and China. They are not farming types but will find themselves with some of the best arable land in Syria. Which belonged to Syrian-arabs-christians-Druzes-Yadzis etc. Who wil want their properties back.)

Note that the US forces at Tanf are deliberately not letting humanitarian help reach the nearby refugee camp. Starvation and deprivation will force many of the younger members to become US paid terrorists.

james | Nov 25, 2017 4:00:51 PM | 10
thanks b.. i tend to agree with @4 jean and @5 jen... the way i see it, there is either a real disconnect inside the usa where the president gets to say one thing, but another part of the establishment can do another, or trump has made his last lie to turkey here and turkey is going to say good bye to it's involvement with the usa in any way that can be trusted.. seems like some kind of internal usa conflict to me at this point, but maybe it is all smoke and mirrors to continue on with the same charade.. i mostly think internal usa conflict at this point..
A P | Nov 25, 2017 4:34:19 PM | 11
Odd that no one has mentioned the fact the US was behind the attempted coup, where Erdogan was on a plane with two rogue Syrian jets that stood down rather than execute the kill shot. I have read opinion that the fighter pilots were "lit up" by Russian missile batteries and informed by radio they would not survive unless they shut down their weapons targeting immediately. This is probably a favour Putin reminds Erdogan of on a regular basis, whenever Erdo tries to play Sultan. The attempted coup/asassination also shows Erdogan exactly how much he can trust the US/Zionists at any level.

And Edrogan must also know Syria was once at least partly in the US-orbit, as Syria was the destination for many well-documented US-ordered rendition/torture cases. It is probable Mossad (or their proxy thugs) killed Assad's father and older brother, so Erdo knows he's better relying on Putin than Trumpty Dumbdy.

Virgile | Nov 25, 2017 5:09:38 PM | 12
Erdogan is about to make a u-turn toward Syria. He is furious at Saudi Arabia for boycotting its ally Qatar, for talking about owning Sunni Islam and by the continuous support of Islamists and Sunni Kurds in Syria.
Erdogan is preparing the turkish public opinion to a shift away from the USA-Israeli axis. This may get him many points in the 2019 election if the war in Syria is stopped, most Syrian refugees are back, Turkish companies are involved in the reconstruction and the YPG neutralized. Erdogan has 1 year and half to make this to happen. For that he badly needs Bashar al Assad and his army on his side.

Therefore he is evaluating what is the next move and he needs to know where the USA is standing about Turkey and Syria. Until now the messages from the USA are contradictory yet Erdogan keeps telling his supporters that the USA is plotting against Turkey and against Islam. Erdogan's reputation also is been threatened by the outcome of Reza Zarrab's trial in the US where the corruption of his party may be exposed.

That is why Erdogan is making another check about the US intentions before Erdogan he starts the irreversible shift toward the Iran-Russia (+Qatar and Syria) axis.

dirtyoilandgas | Nov 25, 2017 6:13:37 PM | 13
missing in this analysis is oil gas ... producers, refiners, slavers, middle crooks, and the LNG crowd :Israel, Fracking, LNG and wall street... these are the underlying directing forces that will ultimately dictate when the outsiders have had enough fight against Assad over Assad's oil and Assad's refusal to allow outsiders to install their pipelines. Until then, gangland intelligence agencies will continue the divide, destroy and conquer strategies sufficient to keep the profits flowing. The politicians cannot move until the underlying corruptions resolve..
les7 | Nov 25, 2017 6:59:27 PM | 14
The word 'byzantine' has been used for centuries to describe the intricate and multi-leveled forms of agreement, betrayal, treachery and achievement among the shifting power brokers in the region. The US alone has three major and another three minor players at work - often fighting each other. If however, it thinks it can outplay people whose lives are steeped in such a living tradition, it is sadly deluded and will one day be in for a very rude surprise. Even the Russians have had difficulty navigating that maze.

When confronted with such a 'Gordian knot' of treachery and shifting alliances, Alexander the Great drew his sword and cut through it with a vision informed by the sage Socrates as taught by Aristotle.

Despite claiming to represent such a western heritage, the US has no such Socratic wisdom, no Aristotelian logic, and no visionary leadership that could enable it to do what Alexander did. Lacking this, it is destined to get lost in its' own hubris, and be consumed by our current version of that region's gordian knot.

flankerbandit | Nov 25, 2017 7:53:29 PM | 15
'Hausmaus' @7 says...
'...By the way: is the interest of Kurds to remain under the umbrella of the Syrian state but not be governed by Baath type of Arabic nationalism illegitimate?..'

...showing that he either knows only the crap spouted by wikipedia...or nothing at all about the Baath party...

...which happens to be a socialist and secular party interested in pan-Arab unity...not nationalism...[an obvious oxymoron to be pan-national and 'nationalist' at the same time...]

Of course there is always a 'better way'...right Hausmaus...?

The Baath socialism under Saddam in Iraq was no good for anyone we recall...especially women, students, sick people etc...

A 'better way' has since been installed and it is working beautifully...all can agree...

Same thing in Libya...where the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was no good for anyone...

Of course everyone wanted the 'Better Way'...all those doctoral graduates with free education and guaranteed jobs...a standard of living better than some European countries...etc...

Again...removing the 'socialist' Kadafi has worked out wonderfully...

We now have black African slaves sold in open air markets...where before they did all the broom pushing that was beneath the dignity of the Libyan Arabs...

...and were quite happy to stay there and have a job and paycheck...instead of now flooding the shores of Italy in anything that can float...

Oh yes...why would anyone in Syria want to be governed by the socialist Baath party...?

...especially the Kurds...who just over the border in Turkey are not even recognized as humans...never mind speaking their own language...

Oh yes yes yes...we all want the 'Better Way'...

It's a question of legitimacy you see...

Daniel | Nov 25, 2017 7:55:00 PM | 16
I'd really hoped that Donald Trump® would be the "outsider" that both the MSM and he have been insisting he is for the past couple of years. Other than the Reality TV Show faux conflicts with which the MSM entertains us nightly, I see no such "rogue" Administration.

This say one thing, and do the other has been US foreign policy forever.

Recall, for instance that on February 21, 2014, Obama's State Department issued a statement hailing Ukrainian President Yanukovych for signing an agreement with the "pro-democracy Maidan Protest" leaders in which he acquiesced to all of their demands.

Then, on February 22, 2014, the US State Department cheered the "peaceful and Constitutional" coup after neo-nazis stormed the Parliament.

A few months later, Secretary of State Kerry hailed the Minsk Treaty to end the war in Ukraine. Later that day, Vickie Nuland said there was no way her Ukies would stop shelling civilians, and sure enough they didn't (until they'd been on the retreat for weeks, and came whimpering back to the negotiations table).

A couple years later, Kerry announced that the US and Russia would coordinate aerial assaults in Syria. The next day, "Defense" Secretary Carter said, "no way," and within a week or so, we "accidentally" bombed Syrian forces at Deir ez Zoir for over an hour.

From my perspective, they keep us chasing the next squirrel, while bickering amongst each other about each squirrel. But the wolves are still devouring the lambs, with only the Bear preventing a complete extinction.

flankerbandit | Nov 25, 2017 8:16:50 PM | 17
Some good comments here with food for thought...

What we know with at least some level of confidence...

Dump is not the 'decider'...the junta is...he's just a cardboard cutout sitting behind the oval office desk...

And he's got no one to blame but himself...he came in talking a big game about cleaning house and got himself cleaned out of being an actual president...

This was inevitable from the moment he caved on Flynn...the only person he didn't need to vet with the senate...and a position that wields a lot of power...

This was his undoing on many levels...not only because he faced a hostile deep state and even his own party in congress with no one by his side [other than Flynn]...

...but because it showed that he had no balls and would not stand by his man...

This is not the stuff leaders are made of...

The same BS we see with Turkey is playing out with Russia on the Ukraine issue...

Now the junta and their enablers in congress want to start sending offensive arms to Ukraine...Dump and his platitudes to Putin...no matter how much he may mean it...mean nothing...he's not in charge...

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/410942-trump-putin-friendly-words/

Yeah, Right | Nov 25, 2017 9:44:37 PM | 18
I think that Jean @4 has the best take on this: Erdoğan went very public on Trump's "promise" in a classic put-up-or-shut-up challenge to the USA.

Either the word of a POTUS means something or it doesn't, and if it doesn't then Turkey is going to join Russia in concluding that the USA as simply not-agreement-capable.

Erdoğan will then say "enough!!!", give the USA the two-finger-salute, and then take Turkey out of NATO.

And the best thing about it will be that McMaster, Kelly and Mathis will be so obsessed with playing their petty little games that they won't see it coming.

ritzl | Nov 25, 2017 11:08:38 PM | 19
It's hard to tell what Erdoğan is doing or intending other than that he is navigating something - objective TBD. It'll be interesting to see if he constrains the use of Incirlik airbase should the US keep arming the YPG/PKK forces. Airpower is the enabler (sole enabler, IMO) of the/any Kurdish overreach inside Syria. Seems like Erdoğan holds the ace card in this muddle but has yet to play it.
Grieved | Nov 25, 2017 11:32:17 PM | 20
@18 ritzl

Seems like Turkey has more than one card to play. A commenter on another site mentioned recently that the US really doesn't want Erdogan to have that S-400 system from Russia. Got me thinking, could Russia have deliberately loaded Erdogan's hand with that additional card to help him negotiate with the US?

Turkey may well leave NATO and as others have pointed out, this would be a game changer far beyond the matter of the US's illegal presence in NE Syria. This possibility brings immense existential gravitas to Erdogan's position right now. He could ask for many concessions at this point, not to leave. And from the Eurasian point of view, it doesn't matter if he leaves or stays, while from the western view, it matters greatly.

Would the US give up Syria, in order to keep Turkey in NATO? It's a western dichotomy, not one that affects Asia. It would be simple to throw S-400 at that dynamic to watch it squirm.

Jackrabbit | Nov 25, 2017 11:42:26 PM | 21
The plays the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.

- Hamlet

As the endgame plays out, Erdogan's conscience may be revealed.

b has made the point that the partition that US-led proxy forces have carved out is unsustainable. But it would be sustainable if Erdogan can be convinced to allow trade via Turkey.

For that reason, I thought Trump's ceasing direct military aid to the Kurds made sense as it provided Erdogan with an excuse to allow land routes for trade/supply. Erdogan can argue that he wants to encourage such good behavior and doesn't want to make US an enemy (Turkey is still a NATO country).

Furthermore, I've always been suspicious of Erdogan's 'turn' toward Russia. Many have suspected that the attempted coup was staged by Erdogan (with CIA help?) so as to enable Erdogan to remain in office. IMO Erdogan joined the 'Assad must go!' effort not just because he benefited from the oil trade but because he leans toward Sunnis (Surely he was aware of the thinking that: the road to Tehran runs through Damascus .)

Hasn't Erdogan's vehement anti-Kurdish stance done R+6 a disservice? It seems to me that it has helped USA to convince Kurds to fight for them and has also been a convenient excuse for Erdogan to hold onto Idlib where al Queda forces have refuge. If Erdogan was really soooo angry with Washington, and soooo dependent on Moscow, then why not relax his anti-Kurdish stance so as to bring Kurds back into the Syrian orbit?

Seby | Nov 26, 2017 12:25:05 AM | 22
tRump just wants to hide the truth that he is castrated and with a tiny penis, like his hands.

Also just cares about money and soothing his narcissism. So f***'in American, in the worst sense!

Ian | Nov 26, 2017 12:29:05 AM | 23
Jackrabbit @20:
Erdogan may feel that if he relaxed his stance against the Syrian Kurds, it could embolden Turkish Kurds to further pursue their agenda. It would also make him appear weak towards his supporters.
Fernando Arauxo | Nov 26, 2017 1:45:51 AM | 24
Erdogan is NOT going to leave NATO. Why should he? It would be the stupidest chess move ever? He's in the club and they can't kick him out. He can cause all the trouble he wants and hobble that huge machine that is the western alliance. He will not get EU membership, but he has his NATO ID CARD and that ain't bad. Erdo now knows that the poor bastard Trumps is WORTHLESS that he is a toothless executive in name only. This is a wake up call, if I were Erdo, I would be very afraid of the USA and it's Syria, MENA policy. It is being run by LUNATICS and is a slow moving train wreak. So for now, Erdo must be looking at Moscow, admiring Putin for this is a man who has his shit together and truly knows how to run a country. Maybe even a sense of admiration and more respect for Putin is even present. If I were Erdo, I'd double down in my support for Russia's Syria policy.
Hausmeister | Nov 26, 2017 3:46:55 AM | 25
@ flankerbandit | Nov 25, 2017 7:53:29 PM | 14

You do not get it:
„...which happens to be a socialist and secular party interested in pan-Arab unity...not nationalism..."
According to this ideology the coherence of a society comes from where? And who is excluded if one applies it?
So your contribution is just a rant using rancidic rhetoric tools. But I will not call you „flunkerbandit". My advice is to move to this area and have a look into such a society from a more close position. Armchair type of vocal leadership does not help.

Anon | Nov 26, 2017 5:11:53 AM | 26
In the Obama years there was a:

Which policy is Trump really up against?

Jen | Nov 26, 2017 6:38:32 AM | 27
Anon @ 25: Tempted to say Trump is up against all of them plus NSA policy, FBI policy, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) policy and the policies of, what, 12 other intel agencies?
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/17-agencies-of-the-us-intelligence-community-2013-5?r=US&IR=T
Yeah, Right | Nov 26, 2017 7:27:43 AM | 28
@23 "Erdogan is NOT going to leave NATO. Why should he?"

I guess one possible reason would be this: as long as Turkey remains in NATO then he is obliged to allow a US military presence in his country, and that's just asking for another attempt at a military coup.

After all, wasn't Incirlik airbase a hotbed of coup-plotters during the last coup attempt?

arbetet | Nov 26, 2017 10:14:56 AM | 29
This came up:

SDF official: Kurds will join the Syrian Arab Army ranks!

Harry | Nov 26, 2017 10:33:01 AM | 30
@ arbetet | 29

"when the Syrian settlement is achieved, Syria's democratic forces will join the Syrian army."
"When the Syrian state stabilizes, we can say that the Americans did what they said, then withdraw as they did in Iraq and set a date for their departure and leave."

Nothing new here, nothing good either. Kurds so far are keeping up their demands of de-facto independence under fig-leaf of "we are part of federalised Syria" with weak central government and autonomous Kurds. Thats how US plan to castrate Syria. Russia offered cultural autonomy, Kurds rejected.

As for Americans "withdrawing" willfully, it never happened. Iraq had to kick them out, and then US used ISIS and Kurds to get back in.

As for Syria's stabilization part, US is doing everything in its power to prevent it.

dan of steele | Nov 26, 2017 11:00:06 AM | 31
@Yeah Right #26
Turkey is not obliged to keep foreign troops in their country to remain in NATO. De Gaulle invited the US to leave France in 1967 but is still a member of NATO
Yeah, Right | Nov 26, 2017 5:18:37 PM | 32
@31 France actually withdrew from NATO in 1966. It remained "committed" to the collective defence of western Europe, without being, you know, "committed" to it.

So, yeah, France kicked all the foreign troops out of France in 1967, precisely because its withdrawal from NATO's Integrated Military Command meant that the French were no longer under any obligation to allow NATO troops on its soil.

But France had to formally withdraw from that Command first, and the reason that de Gaulle gave for withdrawing were exactly that: remaining meant ceding sovereignty to a supra-national organization i.e. NATO Integrated Military Command.

That France retained "membership" of NATO's political organizations even after that withdrawal was little more than a fig-leaf.

After all, NATO's purpose isn't "political", it is "military".

fast freddy | Nov 26, 2017 6:21:33 PM | 33
"The Decider" is Trump's apparent self image. He can't be enjoying the Presidency and the controls exerted upon him by others among the "Deep State" (whom I suppose have effectively cowed him into behaving via serious threats).

If he already had money and power, as it appears that he had, he gained little by taking the crown. He has less power because he is now controlled by a number of forces (CIA, NSA, Media, MIC and etc.) as he remains under constant assault by his natural opposition.

Big mistake dumping Flynn.

Now you take another kind of asshole in the person of Obama - a guy that had nothing - you have a malleable character who enjoys the pomp and circumstance. Really didn't need any persuading to do anything required of him.

psychohistorian | Nov 26, 2017 11:30:16 PM | 34
Here is a recent report from the Turkish Prime Minister supporting Trump's "lie" about ending support for the Kurds....what will history show occured?

ISTANBUL, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday that his country is expecting the United States to end its partnership with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

"Since the very beginning, we have said that it is wrong for the U.S. to partner with PKK's cousin PYD and YPG in the fight against Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group," Yildirim told the press in Istanbul prior to his departure for Britain.

Ankara sees the Kurdish groups as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighting against the Turkish government for over 30 years, while Washington regards them as a reliable ground force against the Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday spoke to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the phone, pledging not to provide weapons to the YPG any more, an irritant that has hurt bilateral ties, according to the Turkish side.

Yildirim noted that Washington has described it as an obligation rather than an option to support the Kurdish groups on the ground. "But since Daesh (IS) is now eliminated then this obligation has disappeared," he added.

Julian | Nov 27, 2017 12:47:45 AM | 35
It would be nice if Erdogan when withdrawing from NATO (Assuming he does this in the next 12-18 months) would say something like.
"We really like President Trump - and we trust his word implicitly. The problem is, although we trust his word, we know he is not in control so his word is useless and best ignored. Though of course - we still trust he means well."

That would be a nice backhander to hear from Erdopig.

Quentin | Nov 27, 2017 8:48:51 AM | 36
Speculation about Turkey leaving NATO seems farfetched. Turkey has NATO over a barrel. It has been a member for decades and what would it gain by leaving? Nothing. By staying it continues to influence and needle at the same time. Turkey will only leave when NATO throws it out, which isn't going to happen.
Willy2 | Nov 27, 2017 11:53:09 AM | 37
- According to Sibel Edmonds there're 2 coups being prepared. One against Trump and one against Erdogan.

[Nov 18, 2017] The Second Russia-China Oil Pipeline Completed

Nov 18, 2017 | russia-insider.com

The 942-kilometer pipeline will become operational in January when the flow of Russian pipeline oil to China will double from 15 to 30 million tons

[Nov 10, 2017] Massive $43bn US-China gas deal seen as far from reality

That's another big set back for Russia
Notable quotes:
"... Alaska LNG, backed by the state-run Alaska Gasline Development Corp, anticipates a long pipeline carrying the fuel from the North Slope, which has proven gas reserves of over 35 trillion cubic feet. The state governor Bill Walker plans to sign final agreements by the end of next year, with groundbreaking in 2019. ..."
Nov 10, 2017 | www.rt.com

A preliminary gas deal worth over $43 billion sealed between China and the US State of Alaska is far from guaranteed, according to experts. On Thursday, China's biggest state-run energy corporation Sinopec, along with one of the country's top banks and a sovereign wealth fund agreed to go ahead with an export terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Alaska as well as a 1,290-kilometer pipeline to deliver fuel to China. The project is aimed at developing facilities so gas can be piped to the Alaska coast, where it can be liquefied and shipped to China and other Asian countries.

The announcement, which lacked any details about binding agreements or financing, was made during US President Trump's visit to China. However, some analysts are saying the project is not likely to go ahead.

"This is a typical announcement that comes out of these big summits. You really can't build, or get financing for a big project, unless all those pieces are in place," said Jason Feer of energy consultancy Poten & Partners, as quoted by Reuters.

Alaska LNG, backed by the state-run Alaska Gasline Development Corp, anticipates a long pipeline carrying the fuel from the North Slope, which has proven gas reserves of over 35 trillion cubic feet. The state governor Bill Walker plans to sign final agreements by the end of next year, with groundbreaking in 2019.

The lengthy pipeline could cost a billion dollars, according to Larry Persily, former US coordinator for Alaska natural gas projects. Persily added that multinationals such as BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips had been working on the pipeline enterprise, but stepped away.

"If companies don't think this is a good time to put their money into it, why should the state? As the governor has explained, the state has an overriding interest in getting this done -- companies have other places they can invest their money," he said as quoted by AP.

China is trying to fight pollution and get rid of its reliance on coal and is chasing more supplies of natural gas, according to Mark Barteau, director of the University of Michigan's Energy Institute, as quoted by the agency.

"They have exhibited a long-term interest in having a large and secure gas supply, and I think this is just perhaps the largest -- but by no means the first -- step they've taken to achieve that," he said.

See also

[Nov 07, 2017] Neuters via Euractiv: EU plans big rule change to snag Nord Stream 2

Nov 07, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , November 6, 2017 at 7:51 am

Neuters via Euractiv: EU plans big rule change to snag Nord Stream 2
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/eu-plans-big-rule-change-to-snag-nord-stream-2/

The EU executive sees Russia's plan to double the gas it could pump under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing traditional routes via Ukraine, as undercutting EU efforts to reduce dependence on Moscow and its support for Kyiv.

The move dovetails with the Commission's proposal for a mandate from member states to negotiate with Russia over objections to the pipeline.

Even with the changes, EU regulators say they may need to seek talks with Russia as it cannot impose its law on the stretch of the pipeline that is outside its territory.

"This proposal does not solve all the problems and some of those need to be negotiated," an EU official said.

Under the proposed changes to the gas directive, seen by Reuters, all import pipelines would have to comply with EU rules requiring pipelines not be owned directly by gas suppliers, non-discriminatory tariffs, transparent operations and at least 10% of capacity be made available to third parties.

"The Gas Directive in its entirety will become applicable to pipelines to and from third countries, including existing and future pipelines, up to the border of EU jurisdiction," the proposals says .
####

More stupidity at the link, but this looks like the same rubbish leaked to EUObserver a week or so ago that I posted here. I have a question. If this is actually becomes the case, then will Brussels rule that TAP and 'field pipes' which currently have an exemption from EU law then become illegal ?

I don't see how they could keep them as exceptions. Brussels is just trying itself in knots to make is seem relevant where it is actually powerless to do anything. As for the line above ' may need to seek talks with Russia..', WTF?

[Oct 24, 2017] Airheads like Maros Sefcovic seem to have the idea that they can force Russia to continue transiting gas through Ukraine by putting ever more stumbling blocks in its way.

Oct 24, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

marknesop , October 23, 2017 at 4:26 pm

You have to give the European Commission credit for grit and persistence; they never give up . So what should be named the Stop Nord Stream II Commission now announces it is contemplating a 'legal tweak' which will allow it to declare the Nord Stream II pipeline subject to the Third Energy Package rules, while the first pipeline was not. That would be quite a feat, and I'm betting it will never happen because too many European states oppose it. But it is significant that only the complainers get to be heard – Poland, the Baltics and Brussels. And ukraine, of course, which always has a voice because I guess it is an honorary member of the EU or something.

Keep that term in mind – 'legal tweak', because it basically means changing the law to allow you to do something it previously would not, without any requirement to show why such a change was broadly necessary. You might want to think about 'legal tweaks' of your own to announce you are arbitrarily raising the speed limit on your route home, because it will allow you to get home faster.

Airheads like Maros Sefcovic seem to have the idea that they can force Russia to continue transiting gas through Ukraine by putting ever more stumbling blocks in its way. But they should be careful. Even in the very unlikely event they achieved success, Russia could simply announce the new delivery point is the Russia/Ukraine border , and that the EU and its new bestest buddy are responsible for transit beyond that point. It could cover itself by insisting on official EU signature at the transit point that x amount had been delivered to the border, so that there could be no accusations that Russia was withholding gas. Then the EU would end up paying to fix Ukraine's rusty-teakettle pipeline network, as well as having to tolerate all its staged outages and extortion tactics to squeeze more money for itself.

kirill , October 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm
Russia should sign a deal with Germany for the latter to build a stub gas pipeline to international waters to connect to the Nord Stream II pipe. The EU has zero jurisdiction over international waters. Germany controls its own EEZ and the EU can't hijack it by definition. Germany would then buy Russian gas and resell it to the other EU members. Let's see these EU legal eagles counteract this.

[Oct 10, 2017] Central-Eastern European pipeline gets go-ahead

Oct 10, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , September 30, 2017 at 7:24 am

Euractiv: Central-Eastern European pipeline gets go-ahead
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/central-eastern-european-pipeline-gets-go-ahead/

An ambitious gas pipeline project connecting Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria received a shot in the arm on Thursday (28 September), when all of the involved parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the project, a vital part of Europe's efforts to wean itself off Russian gas

"We are at a very advanced stage with the BRUA project. We issued the building permit, we are conducting procedures for assigning the construction works, and contracts have already been signed for the design part and for the part concerning equipment for stations," Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu revealed.

"In December, the contracts for the execution part are going to be signed and pipe procurement is going to be finalised," Petcu added
####

Plenty more at the link.

Patient Observer , September 30, 2017 at 8:36 am
BRUA will be able to transport gas from the Black Sea and, when supply comes online at the end of the decade, from the Caspian too.

It is intended to cut Eastern and Central Europe's dependence on Russian gas, an important part of the European Commission's third energy package and the CESEC group's objectives.

Black Sea gas? Where again? Crimea does apparently have significant off-shore deposits of undeveloped gas. It is difficult to find an article via Google on the subject that does not have an anti-Russian slant (you know, something like just facts) but here is something on the topic:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-05-20/putins-crimea-bonus-vast-oil-and-gas-fields

I don't know if there are other sources of Black Sea gas directly accessible to the EU.

Caspian sea gas seems a looong way off, if ever it were to happen.

Patient Observer , September 30, 2017 at 10:21 am
Thinking more about the BRUA pipe line, It could be a make work project for the region with PC overtones (e.g. Crimea's little escapade will soon end bringing Black Sea gas back to Europe). The usual graft and corruption will also keep Brussels bureaucrats and local counterparts fat and happy.
et Al , September 30, 2017 at 2:00 pm
It fits in to the Energy Union progapanda that Brussels is spreading. There at least it makes some sense that where ever you are in the EU, member states will have access to energy resources from wherever else in the EU. Of course, the real question is of price and is something completely different. Does anyone else think it is insane to ship LNG to Krk off Croatia to be pipelined to the rest of the Balkans? Is this a bribe to Qatar or something? Or American LNG to say Antwerp or through the Med?

Still, the EU pipeline projects are small change compared to the amount spend on the Common Agricultural Policy and other stuff. I guess its just another 'Do Something' schtick to make Brussels seem relevant to EU citizens like me. Speaking of which, I enjoyed data and telecoms free roaming this summer when I went to the g/f's folk's place this summer. It was.. surreal. And normal. The fact that national EU telecomms operators have been shafting their own customers so hard and for so long and it took f($*ing Brussels to force it through shows which side their own states are on. A sorry state indeed!

marknesop , September 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm
It must be said again – Russia does not intend to sit idle in the LNG business either. And if the planned Kaliningrad terminal comes online by the end of this year as planned , it will not only position Russia attractively in the LNG market (does it cost more to bring European gas cargoes from Kaliningrad, or across the Atlantic?), it will bring increased energy independence to Kaliningrad itself. A cruise terminal is planned as well.
kirill , September 30, 2017 at 11:38 am
These clowns are a combination of corrupt and delusional. The only non-Russian gas coming via the Black Sea would be hypothetical sources via Turkey from Qatar/Iran and the Caspian basin. There is no source of natural gas in the Black Sea that, for example, Bulgaria could develop to feed this pipe.
marknesop , September 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm
Europe is forever bragging about weaning itself off of Russian gas, when what it is mostly doing is taking Russian gas and moving it around through connectors, and then reselling it to each other. A prime example – although not European – is Ukraine, which claims to have taken no Russian gas throughout 2015 and 2016 during which time it sourced most of its gas from Slovakia, supplied at 90% and above levels by Russia.

Ukraine claims to be getting gas from Yurrup at cheaper prices than Gazprom offered for direct supplies. If that's true, Slovakia is selling gas to Ukraine for less than it paid for it. And there's a word for people like that.

[Oct 04, 2017] The Logical (and Coming) End to the US Empire by Robert Abele

No so fast... Five years later (the article was written in 2013) the US empire is still going strong. meanwhile from 2013 to 2017 it managed to counterattack resource nationalists (killing Kaddafi) and and win in Libya, making the country a colony again. I think Venezuela is the next. Oil prices dropped more then 50% in 2014 (from over $100 to less then $50 per barrel ) and did not yet recovered...
Notable quotes:
"... For an example of the ethical problems of empire, think about the completely unjustifiable attacks on civilians done by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most prominently in Pakistan and Yemen, especially done by drones. Or consider U.S. use of torture, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. As everyone knows by now, ethical and humanitarian appeals have been completely and categorically rejected by U.S. leaders, not beginning with 9-11, certainly rejected with greater vigor since then. ..."
"... But there is another, often overlooked, analysis of U.S. actions, that is the logical result of engaging in the actions of Empire, and that concerns the logical consequence of using massive amounts of resources to attempt to control the resources being used (the second use of the term resources here includes citizens; the people of a city or nation). As the economic, logistic, and humanitarian costs all rise in direct proportion to Empire's actions, the sustaining of the Empire becomes impossible, on the basis of its own internal logic. ..."
"... When the issue of blowback is added "i.e. that other nations and peoples are unlikely to cooperate willingly in having their resources, humanity, and very lives removed from them "the end result, Empire's fall, could be hastened, and is certainly assured. We can now predict not only how it will happen, but also its imminent coming. ..."
"... First, the heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India. The Department of Defense per capita energy consumption is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa. ..."
"... Oil accounts for more than three-fourths of DoD’s total energy consumption. The Post Carbon Institute estimates that abroad alone, the U.S. military consumes about 150,000 barrels per day. In 2006, for example, the Air Force consumed 2.6 billion gallons of jet-fuel, which is the same amount of fuel U.S. airplanes consumed during all of WWII (between December 1941 and August 1945) (from The Resilience Group of the Post Carbon Institute, www.resilience.org ). ..."
"... This essays suggests that these two solid arguments should now be combined with an institutional-logical analysis to demonstrate not only the intrinsic, natural limits to empire, but to show reasons how and why empire must and will ultimately disintegrate due to the hubris of ignoring natural limitations of unbridled consumption coupled with attempts at singular control over others' resources and peoples. ..."
Jul 29, 2013 | www.counterpunch.org

There are numerous legal and ethical arguments that can and have been made in opposition to U.S. foreign policy of raw aggression. For an example of the illegalities of U.S. Empire, examine the Geneva Conventions, all four of which directly proscribe what they each call outrages to human dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment (I, 1, 3). The outrages are named specifically as torture, mutilation, cruel treatment, taking hostages, murder, biological experimentation, and passing sentences on prisoners without benefit of a regularly constituted court.

Additionally, the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 both underscore the Geneva Conventions and expand the traditional ethical concerns to rights and duties of neutral states by banning the use of poison gases or arms, destroying or seizing enemy private property, attacking towns and cities that are undefended, pillaging, collective punishment, servility of enemy citizens, and bullets made to wreak havoc once inside the human body. Prescriptions to limit the conduct of war include the requirements to warn towns of impending attacks, to protect cultural, religious, and health institutions, and to insure public order and safety.

For an example of the ethical problems of empire, think about the completely unjustifiable attacks on civilians done by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most prominently in Pakistan and Yemen, especially done by drones. Or consider U.S. use of torture, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. As everyone knows by now, ethical and humanitarian appeals have been completely and categorically rejected by U.S. leaders, not beginning with 9-11, certainly rejected with greater vigor since then.

But there is another, often overlooked, analysis of U.S. actions, that is the logical result of engaging in the actions of Empire, and that concerns the logical consequence of using massive amounts of resources to attempt to control the resources being used (the second use of the term resources here includes citizens; the people of a city or nation). As the economic, logistic, and humanitarian costs all rise in direct proportion to Empire's actions, the sustaining of the Empire becomes impossible, on the basis of its own internal logic.

In whatever historical epoch you choose, if you take your compass and draw a circle around any given tribe, you can see the desired extent of their territorial claims for resource control. One thus can see that particular group's

  1. resource consumption; and
  2. circle of desired resource control. But when two further historical developments are added, such as
  3. technologically-driven consumption (e.g. fossil-fuel guzzling appliances and cars, etc.); and
  4. now necessary desires for global resources needed to feed that group's consumption habits "then the situation expands sufficiently to become one of using extensive amounts of the very resources one is attempting to control (in the U.S. case, oil and money) for the sake of controlling the resources over which one needs to exert control! This circular logic cannot be maintained when it meets
  5. a scarcity of resources; and
  6. the natural-institutional-logical antinomy of using resources in massive amounts to control the resources you are using for control. In other words, the empire based on this pattern must end when it runs headlong into resource scarcity, and/or natural-logical contradictions involving its own internal (economic and resource) limitations.

This argument against U.S. Empire is not based on ethical or legal grounds (although those remain the best arguments in favor of voluntarily ending empire and regaining our citizenship [civil rights] and humanness) "since those arguments have been put asunder by the U.S. administrators of empire. Rather, the institutional-logical analysis argues that an empire such as the U.S. has constructed exhausts itself by being unable to expand fast enough to control everything it seeks in order to continue its dominance.

When the issue of blowback is added "i.e. that other nations and peoples are unlikely to cooperate willingly in having their resources, humanity, and very lives removed from them "the end result, Empire's fall, could be hastened, and is certainly assured. We can now predict not only how it will happen, but also its imminent coming. Here's how.

First, the heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India. The Department of Defense per capita energy consumption is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa.

Oil accounts for more than three-fourths of DoD’s total energy consumption. The Post Carbon Institute estimates that abroad alone, the U.S. military consumes about 150,000 barrels per day. In 2006, for example, the Air Force consumed 2.6 billion gallons of jet-fuel, which is the same amount of fuel U.S. airplanes consumed during all of WWII (between December 1941 and August 1945) (from The Resilience Group of the Post Carbon Institute, www.resilience.org ).

Second, concerning the global dimension of resource control, one needs only to understand the preferred method that U.S. Empire acolytes use to justify their actions abroad: the state of emergency that was declared after 9/11 has continued unabated since then, due to the ongoing threat of terrorism (see Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield , for the latest detailed instances of this process.). The domestic equivalent to his war has been well underway since 9-11. (For detail on the domestic front, see also Trevor Aaronson, Terror Factory , regarding FBI domestic use of the ongoing threat of terrorism to deny basic civil rights to citizens).

This allows U.S. government administrators to maintain a state of exception to the rule of law. Georgio Agamben, in his book States of Exception , defines this phrase as extraordinary governmental actions resulting from distinctively political crises. As such, the actions of such administrators are in-between normal political operations and legal ones. This no man's land of government policy is not only difficult to define, but brings in its wake a suspension of the entire existing juridical order. Thus, states of exception are those in which a government in fact suspends the rule of law for itself, while attempting to maintain some semblance of legal order, for the purpose of consolidating its power and control (see Georgio Agamben, States of Exception , Chapter Two).

Regarding the scarcity of resources issue, none other than the World Bank produced a detailed study of demand and supply projections for the immediate future. The study projects that, on the basis of current consumption and immediately precedent rises in it, the demand for food will rise by 50% by 2030, for meat by 85%, for oil by 20 million barrels a day, and for water by 32%, all by the same year.

This is met by alarming statistics and predictions from the supply side. In their report, they state that global food growth rates fell by 1.1% over the past decade, and are continuing to fall, while global food consumption outstripped production in seven of the eight years between 2000 and 2008. Further, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the UN Environment Program estimate that 16% of the arable land used now is degraded. Intensifying competition between different land uses is likely to emerge in future, including food crops, livestock, etc., and the world's expanding cities. Current rates of water extraction from rivers, groundwater and other sources are already unsustainable in many parts of the world.

Over one billion people live in water basins in which the physical scarcity of water is absolute; by 2025, the figure is projected to rise two billion, with up to two thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed conditions (mainly in non-OECD countries).

On oil , the International Energy Agency has warned consistently that there is a significant risk of a new supply crunch as the global economy recovers. Additionally, the IEA's chief economist argues that peak production could take place by 2020 (from the World Development Report 2011, Background Paper: Resource Scarcity, Climate Change and the Risk of Violent Conflict, www.worldbank.org ).

The conclusion from all of these points is nearly obvious: if resources are even relatively scarce, and the habits of and desires for consumption continue to rise among nations, and especially among the citizens of Empire (as has been documented in part above), and if control over those resources is the goal of Empire, but if the Empire consumes more resources than it can logistically or economically control due to natural limitations of those resources themselves, and/or to the consumption of more resources than is either available to it or that it needs to survive, then the power of the Empire will naturally-logically end in a sharp decline, and soon (For applicable details on this, see Richard Heinberg, The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism "and the Birth of a Happy Alternative, www.postcarbon.org ).

With all indicators predicting that the contradictions of Empire's resource consumption, circle of desired resource control, scarcity of resources, and contradiction in resource use and control, are all about to collide in a few years, not decades, it is time to start planning for a post-Empire future. To that end, any psychologist reading this analysis will recognize themes of realistic conflict theory, which is a theory which explains how intergroup hostility can arise as a result of conflicting goals and competition over limited resources

The key point in bringing this psychological theory into the discussion is that in this theory, it is concluded that friction between groups can be reduced only in the presence of superordinate goals that promote united, cooperative action (see Wikipedia on Realistic Conflict Theory for a good overview, summarized here. https://en.wikipedia.org ). Note the agreement of the ethical, legal, and psychological analyses of Empire's oppression: the most effective resolution to oppression, (empire) dominance, and conflict is united, cooperative action, not the attempt to control or destroy people and nations who stand in the way of our control.

We have seen that progressives have had available to them a standard two-pronged argument against empire "American or any other". Progressives have for good reason appealed consistently to the ethical and the legal arguments available to help stem the desires for world and resource domination.

This essays suggests that these two solid arguments should now be combined with an institutional-logical analysis to demonstrate not only the intrinsic, natural limits to empire, but to show reasons how and why empire must and will ultimately disintegrate due to the hubris of ignoring natural limitations of unbridled consumption coupled with attempts at singular control over others' resources and peoples.

Dr. Robert P. Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University He is the author of three books: A User’s Guide to the USA PATRIOT Act (2005); The Anatomy of a Deception: A Logical and Ethical Analysis of the Decision to Invade Iraq (2009); Democracy Gone: A Chronicle of the Last Chapters of the Great American Democratic Experiment (2009). He contributed eleven chapters to the Encyclopedia of Global Justice, from The Hague: Springer Press (October, 2011). Dr. Abele is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area.

[Sep 25, 2017] The EU is again taking the position that transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2020 is a priority.

Notable quotes:
"... I know it's an analogy I have used before – as Lucy in the Peanuts ..."
"... Washington is the big brother Poroshenko turns to when he wants help to stymie Russia's efforts to build circumferential commercial links around Ukraine, and instead for Ukraine to have an important linking role in Russia's energy business with Europe – in short, for Russia to continue using Ukraine to transit its gas to Europe. ..."
"... In Ukraine's current condition, it is at serious risk of collapse. And a country that sends its gas across Ukraine is a country that cannot afford to let Ukraine turn into a failed state, at any cost. Just to put a cherry on top of this splendiferous vision, complications actually can be introduced, at a whim, into Europe's energy supply, should they get uppity. ..."
"... This is no time for Russia to weaken in its resolve. But it is also no time for Germany to allow itself to be rolled. Somebody is going to be a major gas hub for Europe, and in the current climate it is going to be Germany or Ukraine. Germany should ask itself what Ukraine has done for it which would merit such sacrifice. ..."
Sep 25, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Originally from: The West is as Thick as the Earth's Mantle

First, I ran across an hilarious post on Interfax Ukraine, which I was just going to offer for everyone's amusement. It featured the 17-year-old CEO of Naftogaz, Andriy (it's very important to Ukrainians that they spell their names differently from the Russian spelling, because they are not ignorant Slavs like the Russians, but the descendants of billion-year-old-carbon extraterrestrials) Kobolev, blubbering about how Siemens had caved in to pressure from the Russians, and stopped the sale of compressors to Naftogaz that it needed to modernize its Gas Transit System (GTS). He's not really 17, of course; he just has that Richie Cunningham kind of face that makes him look perennially pubescent, complete with red hair. That's part of what makes the article funny. There's more, but we'll get to that, in a bit.

Then it occurred to me that I've seen a loose series of pieces lately which mention Ukraine and gas transit, such as Ken Rapoza's piece for Forbes (which I mentioned already, in the comments to the previous post), where he unaccountably suggests that Russia has discovered it still needs Ukraine. As I argued on that occasion, Ukraine's soulful big-eyed caricature of trustworthiness is unlikely to fool anyone in Russia, and merely underscores how important it is for Russia's continuing progress and uncoupling from the west that it circumvent Ukraine, and not rely on it for anything.

But then I ran across this . The EU is again taking the position, or at least it appears so from the gobbling of the human turkey Maros Sefcovic, that transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2020 is a priority. And I thought, holy shit. Are we really going to go through all this all over again? And then I thought, what's a word for people who are incapable of learning? It's plain that western bureaucrats see themselves – and I know it's an analogy I have used before – as Lucy in the Peanuts comic strips , holding the football for Charlie Brown (Russia), only to snatch it away at the last second so that Charlie Brown/Russia falls ignominiously on his ass, to great amusement. What's a word for people who are so stupid that they believe everyone else is too stupid to see through their self-interested mendacity?

So I searched "What do you call people who are incapable of learning?" This site – somewhat unkindly – suggested "thick". Fair enough, I thought.

... ... ...

But that wasn't the part that made me laugh. No, what I found funny was Kobolev's pouty insistence that Nord Stream II be opposed as a 'politically-motivated project'. Just as if leaning on the jellyfish President of the European Commission to force Russia to continue transiting Europe's gas through the slow-motion collapse that is Ukraine had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Nope, that just stands out as a solid business decision in every way, doesn't it?

Let's get something up-front and on deck right now, so that there is no ambiguity to confuse the issue. Washington was behind the Maidan turning into a violent insurrection, and the USA remains behind the scenes pulling the strings at the SBU . A very frank phone conversation between State Department neoconservative cookie-distributor Victoria Nuland and United States Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which the eventual composition of the coup government was planned in unambiguous detail should be all the evidence anyone needs that the entire process was manipulated and micromanaged. Lest anyone forget, Nuland's choice, 'Yats' – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – was such a political dung-magnet that he lasted only 26 months in the job. To be fair to him, he was tasked with implementing the IMF's favourite reform (because it's the only one the IMF really knows); austerity, in the poorest country in Europe. And it is the United States of America which continues to have its arm up the back of Kiev's shirt, making its mouth move. Washington is the big brother Poroshenko turns to when he wants help to stymie Russia's efforts to build circumferential commercial links around Ukraine, and instead for Ukraine to have an important linking role in Russia's energy business with Europe – in short, for Russia to continue using Ukraine to transit its gas to Europe.

Why is that, do you suppose? What's in it for Washington?

Dragging Ukraine into the west's orbit has long been a goal for Washington, dating back to the late and mostly-unlamented Zbigniew Brzezinski's 'grand chessboard' strategy – a geostrategic imperative, he said, to ensure American primacy in the world. Russia without Ukraine, quoth the pushing-up-daisies Pole, would never attain great-power status. And America has sort of gotten to like the feeling of being the only great power in the world.

The strategic value of Ukraine, then, is manifold. It can be stirred at any time to whip up global ire against Russia. NATO military exercises in Ukraine can be used to parade western might across Russia's doorstep. But its real value lies in continued gas transit by Russia between the source and Russia.

For one thing, it's the money – more than $ 2 Billion a year out of Russia's pocket and into Ukraine's, in transit fees. Once Russia is committed to continuing to use Ukraine as a transit country, transit fees can always be used as leverage to negotiate sweet energy deals for Ukraine, against the threat of interrupting Europe's gas supply. Europe would play its part by acting hysterically terrified and victimized. But that's still pretty small potatoes.

In Ukraine's current condition, it is at serious risk of collapse. And a country that sends its gas across Ukraine is a country that cannot afford to let Ukraine turn into a failed state, at any cost. Just to put a cherry on top of this splendiferous vision, complications actually can be introduced, at a whim, into Europe's energy supply, should they get uppity.

There is no room in this sugarplum daydream for an independent Germany which is a gas hub for Europe, perhaps not even with Mutti Merkel at the helm.

Perhaps some sort of medal could be struck for Sefcovic, for his relentless determination to herd Russia into a horrible bargain which would see it constantly bargaining and negotiating with greedy and lawless Ukraine for the expensive privilege of transiting its gas through Ukraine's whistling, creaking pipelines. In other circumstances, such dedication might be admirable. But I'm pretty confident that nobody in Russia is buying it. Europe has made an increasingly half-hearted attempt to stop Nord Stream II, and has learned instead that if it wanted to make a sensible legal argument, it should never have allowed the first pipeline; that's what, in the legal business, is known as 'precedent'.

All of which leads us to suspect that the real remaining antagonist to the Nord Stream II pipeline is somebody whom it should not by rights concern at all, since that entity is neither part of the supply chain nor the end user of the product – Uncle Sam.

This is no time for Russia to weaken in its resolve. But it is also no time for Germany to allow itself to be rolled. Somebody is going to be a major gas hub for Europe, and in the current climate it is going to be Germany or Ukraine. Germany should ask itself what Ukraine has done for it which would merit such sacrifice.

[Sep 17, 2017] Absence of common sense articles on the gas wars issue is really alaming by Nikos Tsafos

Notable quotes:
"... The critics allege that Nord Stream 2 is a political project. So what? When the Obama Administration authorised liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, did it have politics in mind? Sure. When the Lithuanians turned to LNG to lessen their reliance on Russia, were they pursuing a political project? Well, the importing vessel is called "Independence." Saying that Nord Stream 2 is a political project does not get you very far ..."
"... I can't believe it has taken this long for Euractiv to post a normal article on NordStream II. Sure, it is not the Russophobic shitrag that EUObserver carrying bs opinions from self-acclaimed 'apolitical' energy expert Srijben de Jong, but absence of common sense articles on the issue are few and far between. I'll give this a '1 Hurrah!'. Let see if if it spreads. ..."
Jul 13, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , July 12, 2017 at 11:23 am

Euractiv: Nord Stream 2 doesn't matter
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/nord-stream-2-doesnt-matter/

By Nikos Tsafos | enalytica

Nord Stream 2 continues to divide Europe. That's a pity. For all the noise, Nord Stream 2 is just a distraction – it doesn't really matter. Here's why, writes Nikos Tsafos.

Nikos Tsafos is president of enalytica, an energy consulting firm, and an adjunct lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

The critics allege that Nord Stream 2 is a political project. So what? When the Obama Administration authorised liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, did it have politics in mind? Sure. When the Lithuanians turned to LNG to lessen their reliance on Russia, were they pursuing a political project? Well, the importing vessel is called "Independence." Saying that Nord Stream 2 is a political project does not get you very far

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I can't believe it has taken this long for Euractiv to post a normal article on NordStream II. Sure, it is not the Russophobic shitrag that EUObserver carrying bs opinions from self-acclaimed 'apolitical' energy expert Srijben de Jong, but absence of common sense articles on the issue are few and far between. I'll give this a '1 Hurrah!'. Let see if if it spreads.

[Aug 26, 2017] First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker

Aug 26, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , August 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Al Beeb s'Allah GONAD (God's Own News Agency Direct): First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41037071

The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker's Russian owners.

The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea .

The Christophe de Margerie is the world's first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier.

The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick. ..
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Another misleading headline, which is a pity because I wanted to say that the downside would be that it makes for shit Gin & Tonics if there is no ice!

Just as a reminder of FAKE news by the previous President that was met with raptured adulation by the professional media:

Neuters 3 August 2014: Obama: 'Russia Doesn't Make Anything'
http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-russia-doesnt-make-anything-2014-8?IR=T

karl1haushofer , August 25, 2017 at 1:07 am
Are you sure that tanker was built in Russia?
Moscow Exile , August 25, 2017 at 1:19 am
LNG TANKER CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE sails under the Cypriot flag and is register