Turkey swings west: the Ukraine war and domestic elections

Ankara’s rapprochement with the US has been accelerated by events in Ukraine. These ties will also shape Turkey domestically, with or without a 2023 Erdogan electoral win.

May 17 2022

While Ankara has always sought to maintain a careful balance between east and west, Turkey’s 2023 election candidates believe they need US support to win.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Erman Çete

On 7 April, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chaired a videoconference meeting with his counterparts from five other states to discuss, among other things, the pressing issue of naval mines drifting into the Black Sea.

According to Akar, the origin of the mines could not be identified, but an investigation is ongoing.

The meeting’s agenda was ultimately less notable than its curious participant list. Five of the attending countries – Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine – have borders with the Black Sea, but Russia, a major littoral state, was not invited, while Poland, which has no borders with the waterway, was present.

The mines threat has emerged amid the escalating armed conflict in Ukraine. Russia’s principal intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), warned on 21 March that several hundred mines had drifted into the Black Sea after breaking off from cables near Ukrainian ports. The claim was dismissed by Kiev which accused Moscow of disinformation and trying to close off parts of the strategic waterway.

Nevertheless, since the onset of the conflict in February, four mines have ‘drifted’ into the Black Sea, including one discovered off Romania’s coastline, and three stray mines found in Turkish waters which were safely neutralized.

Turkey’s balancing act

Throughout the crisis, Ankara has had to navigate between Russia and Ukraine and balance its diplomatic ties with both states carefully. As an important NATO member, this has not been a straightforward task for Turkey.

Between 19 to 22 April, NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) organized  Exercise Locked Shields 2022, the largest cyber defense exercise in Tallinn, Estonia. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) attended this drill with TAF-affiliated defense company HAVELSAN.

The following day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Turkey would close its airspace for a three-month period to Russian planes flying to Syria. But the Turkish minister also announced the cancellation of a pre-planned NATO drill to avoid provoking Russia.

Concurrent with this precarious balancing act, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has worked overtime to thaw relations between Ankara and Persian Gulf states and Israel. There are also plans afoot to add Egypt to Turkey’s various regional diplomatic forays.

Resetting relations with the US

At the same time, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has tried to exploit any opportunity to present itself as an indispensable ally to Washington. Talks hosted in Istanbul between Russia and Ukraine may have failed to lead to a breakthrough in negotiations, but US President Joe Biden endorsed Turkey’s role as mediator, while State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Turkey was “in full coordination and consultation with the US” during the process.

Ankara’s role as a mediator has also been encouraged by US think-tanks such as the United States Institute of Peace, which has called on the US and Europe to support Turkey as the only mediation channel between Russia and the west.

Undoubtedly, the Ukraine conflict has enabled Turkey to reposition itself with Washington as a valuable NATO ally. This has become evident with reports that US military F-16 sales to Turkey are now back on the table again after a period of doubt.

Naturally, pro-AKP media has been praising Erdogan’s role as ‘peacemaker’ and are keen to parlay his accomplishments into a domestic political bonanza. But according to Turkish journalist and commentator Murat Yetkin, AKP’s initial prognosis on the Ukraine conflict was that it would cool down around June and Turkey could shortly thereafter reverse its economic losses arising from the crisis.

It has become apparent, however, that the AKP may have been too rash with that timeframe. Ankara’s leading NATO allies appear less concerned about the destruction of Ukraine and its fallout across Europe than about ‘weakening’ Russia via proxy, with a prolonged war of attrition in mind. For the AKP brass, if the conflict continues into next year, Erdogan’s chances of eking out a victory in Turkey’s 2023 elections could be seriously jeopardized.

Ukraine, a foreign policy tool

Rear Admiral Turker Erturk, Turkey’s former Black Sea commander, believes that the US government gave Turkish military operations in northern Iraq (Operation Claw Lock) the green-light, mainly because of the war in Ukraine. Washington, according to Erturk, will need Turkey in the upcoming stages of the conflict, and has thus become more flexible and transactional with Ankara.

For Erturk, this is a major reason why Erdogan’s government is seeking a balanced approach – in order to negotiate with the US and win the upcoming elections. “Promises made to the US regarding the Ukraine War will be implemented after the election,” he predicts.

Erturk also claims that Washington favors former chief of staff and current Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as the next president of Turkey. The retired rear admiral interprets the Black Sea mines meeting led by Akar – which included the Poles and excluded the Russians – as an message of support to the US. It should be noted that even at the height of US-Turkish tensions and its accompanying leverage contest, Akar stuck his neck out by guaranteeing that Ankara would never break with the western world.

The role of the Turkish Army, post-Erdogan

Akar is not the only military man with a shot at the presidency. Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar, who masterminded the famous Turkish armed drone Bayraktar could also be a political successor. He has also openly voiced support for Ukraine, a gesture likely not intended for domestic audiences.

Bayraktar’s now deceased father, Özdemir Bayraktar, threw his support behind the jailed army officers during the highly politicized Ergenekon (2008-2019) and Balyoz (Sledgehammer, 2010-2015) ‘coup d’etat’ trials. That makes the Bayraktars respected even amongst Kemalist circles – not just for their game-changing armed drones, but also for placing their political clout against the trials.

Foreign Affairs piece earlier this year by Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, provides an insight into a hypothetical scenario involving an Erdogan-opposition deal for a transition. If a deal cannot be reached, Cagaptay says, Turkish democracy will crumble.

A possible solution to ease this transition, Cagaptay argues, is for the two sides to accept the Turkish Army’s mediation as a “non-partisan” institution, with backing from the US and the EU. The opposition ensures that Erdogan and his family will not be tried, while Erdogan transfers power to the opposition’s candidate and the TAF acts as a guarantor.

Intact foreign policy

Turkey’s opposition alliance, Millet (Nation), which consists of six parties for now, has not decided on its presidential candidate yet. The governing coalition, Cumhur (People), has accused Millet of being agents of the west.

Although both the government and opposition are pro-NATO, some parties in Millet, such as the pro-west Turkish nationalist IYI (Good) Party, want to play a more proactive role in Ukraine against Russia. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who belongs to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), sparked a debate when he was spotted out with the British Ambassador amidst a heavy fall of snow last winter.

Imamoglu once was a leading opposition figure against Erdogan. He defeated the Turkish president twice in local 2019 elections, and his right-wing/moderate political stance was influential even among Erdogan supporters. However, his recent tour in the Black Sea region where his hometown is located, unleashed angry reactions amongst Millet supporters for including pro-Erdogan journalists to cover his visit. Even his own party, CHP, criticized Imamoglu for “breaking the party discipline.”

Now an underdog, Ankara’s Mayor Mansur Yavas, also a CHP member, is leading in Turkey’s election polls. He is a former member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and popular amongst Cumhur’s voter base. Yavas gives the impression that he could be a bipartisan president, a statesman who would oversee a smooth Turkish transition to the post-Erdogan era.

But will the upcoming 2023 elections signify a sharp geopolitical shift in the country’s bearings? A close look at Turkey’s economic situation, and its government’s overtures to the west, suggests not.

Turkey’s relations with Russia, even as a bargaining chip against the west, will likely continue independently of election results, as Ankara has historically sought to maintain its east-west equilibrium. Today, however, both wings of Turkish politics seem set on soliciting western support – to different degrees and in various arenas – to secure an electoral win.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Europe´s mad ban on Russian oil

May 08, 2022

Source

By Jorge Vilches

Ursula von der Leyen

Cognitive scientists would concur in that the current performance of European leadership could be diagnosed as either myopic ignorance or — most probably — full intellectual blindness. In the case of so far happy-go-lucky Ursula von der Leyen there is no doubt it´d be the latter… but only if we first dismiss her warm on-the-record support for Bundeswehr colonial policies and military involvement… plus her praise of Third Reich famous general Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, Commander of the Führer Headquarters. But leaving that possible Nazi whiff aside, full ´intellectual blockage´ is the only kind way to dare explain a most strategic project as foolish and doomed to fail as banning Russian oil sales worldwide. Why so you may ask ? Ref #1 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/06/20/vond-j20.html

asymmetrical retaliation

The short answer is massive — ´Russian´ massive – unmitigated “asymmetrical non-military retaliation” through surgical and divisive optional sales of natural gas – and other key commodities – just leaving EU sanctioned Russian oil for sale to and re-sale by third parties. And, oh yes, weaponization is not limited to any particular means as various European war schools should have internalized already. War means war and pretty much anything is fair game. But apparently, it´d be as if through the centuries, uppity European leaders – most especially German, French, Swedish, British and Poles — have not learned a single thing despite the über-high costs already paid for by their nations large-caliber warfare experiences most especially with Russia. By the way, the UK also has the additional ( unsolvable? ) burden of its current Brexit ballast… Ref # 2 https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/eu-proposes-ban-russian-oil-imports

La candidata a presidir la Comisión Europea dijo estar dispuesta a un nuevo aplazamiento del Brexit si hay "una buena razón" - Infobae

Ursula´s softball

May I call you Ursula ? Thank you. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion [… a phenomenal bad joke of sorts… ] in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets” you said. Question: will the Russians just idly watch you trying to execute such enormity at the EU´s preferred speed and political and geopolitical sequencing? And the Russians would never dare to strike back with natural gas or other restrictions no? For starters, what about nickel, uranium, and lithium? Not having them would be like trying to prepare tasty food without salt, pepper or mustard. Without uranium no nuclear power is possible, did you know? [ more on that later ]. Ursula, your pink unicorn wishful thinking is unfathomable gal.

EU kelpers

This mad-ban requires EU approval with conditional support from Hungary, Greece, and others. So some special EU members will be exempted while regular EU ´kelpers´ will not. Now could that lead to serious friction ? How many years will it take all of Europe to reconvert its industry and supply chains? “This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within 6 months and refined products by the end of the year.” Okay, so Aunty Ursie you believe the Russians are dumb enough to let you phase this idea out nice and easy at your own pace and whenever you decide to act per your own special EU schedule. No market dynamics involved as Europe plays everybody else´s pieces too as grandpas would do with 3-year-old grandkids. Ref # 3 https://www.rt.com/business/555065-russia-oil-ban-exemption-eu/

Russian DNA

No way Ursula, the Russians play world-class professional chess while you play elementary school checkers, not even being good at that either. The instant Russia perceives the initial execution of your game plan regarding banning of Russian oil, they´ll make their moves, not yours. And those Russian moves will not be nice and pretty. For one, Europe will not have anywhere nearly ready its own diesel refining capacity by the end of 2022 while the middle distillate market is ever much tighter everywhere as demand recovers from the Covid pandemic. So the EU “plan” is to frantically search for hard-to-find or simply non-existent substitutes while investing tons of time, money, effort and risk. Well, the Russians know that already even before you start. Diesel is already in critically short supply in the EU.

Furthermore, Europe will continue buying Russian oil and distillates via third countries once it introduces any embargo only that at much higher prices than today. Such old, quick and dirty business is known as “triangulation” Ursula.

Russian hardball

The existential threat imposed on Russia by the EU with its macabre “Ukraine Plan” and sanctions has not left Russia any way out other than playing hardball for keeps. Furthermore, the Russian non-military retaliation domain is actually unlimited due to the full-scale and open-ended addiction that Europe has developed for Russian imports of different sorts including commodities of any and every imaginable type. Without such, Europe will cease to exist as we know it in a matter of a very few months, if not weeks. As Francis Fukuyama should posit, Europe´s dependency on Russian commodities is the end of its own history. The unipolar world is dying, admit it Frank. Hint: write a new book guy.

Ref # 4 https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/trump-was-right-putins-gas-strategy-gives-germany-only-bad-worse-choices

Ref # 5 https://www.rt.com/business/554968-moscow-toughens-response-western-sanction

not your dog

It seems that Ursula von der Leyden has convinced the EU that feeding a refinery or a chemical plant is pretty much like feeding your dog. But nothing can be further from the truth. Chemical plants and refineries are very closely matched and subtly calibrated to very specific supply feeds very difficult to substitute. Changes can and have been made, but it requires lots of time, effort, money, dedicated facilities, experimentation, specific expertise, risk, and most important fixed, unchanging feeds always complying with specs. This means that Russia today supplies Europe with exclusive unreplaceable oil & gas grades of very specific chemical content (even coal grades) that would be impossible to get from third parties fast enough and cheap enough. So it´s a very delicate and tight matching already achieved between European facilities and Russian fuels and other inputs that cannot be altered or replaced that easily, let alone all at the same time !! Are EU countries aware of all this ? Ref #6 https://www.ifo.de/en/node/69417

expensive divorce

So maybe after investing years, money, expertise, trials & errors, risk and lots of hard work Europe may possibly and eventually be able to partially switch from current to dirtier or far more inefficient options. But that would be (a) against the EU´s Green Deal compliance and (b) a very short-term non-sustainable “solution” (c) against the whole world.

So how can Europe transition to a 0% Russian supplies end-point as swiftly and safely as Chinese plate spinners?  Ref # 7 https://www.rt.com/business/555087-energy-warning-russia-sanctions/

No minimally informed no-nonsense mindset has thought out the foolish idea of coordinating the whole European continent in this self-destructive mission. Taking matters to an extreme, let´s assume that Europe completely weans itself – or is cut off — from Russian oil & gas imports tomorrow morning and everything else sourced in Russia. In that hypothetical case, Moscow may feel the financial problem possibly within 6 months… or maybe never. But if such event were to happen, the timing would be quite different as the EU would necessarily start imploding in 6 days and would achieve full implosion in 6 weeks. With the oil mad-ban Europe would badly need to find substitutes for Russian imports. The problem is such need cannot ever be satisfied fast enough and right enough no matter how it is diced or sliced. Triangulation means Europe will buy quality Russian imports via third countries only that at much higher prices

plug & play (not)

No, it is not anywhere near “plug & play” either. No. Several EU landlocked countries can only import nat-gas thru existing Russian pipeline unless a nightmarish and highly risky sea-land supply lines are established by different means going across complicated mountain ranges sometimes, a project which no one wants to entertain. Replacing Russian feeds & supply lines is an incommensurable task that Russia will not help out with either. Once Russia withstands the “ban Russian oil” idea, Europe will find itself in the worse of both worlds not being able to rewind back.

tit-for-tat ?

Also, the impact of the Russian reaction may most probably result to be disproportionate to the damage inflicted by an EU worldwide ban on Russian oil. Hence, ´asymmetrical´, simply because an exact ´tit-for-tat´ result is impossible to calculate for and let alone effectively achieve. If ever implemented, the unintended consequences of a haphazard decision such as proposed will necessarily mean for the EU either to (1) instantly back-pedal to square one or (2) finally suicidal Europe would follow through and achieve its goal. I kid you not. Other commodities could be included.

human food

And food for thought, as Europe would face famine in-its-face if grains from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and elsewhere are tied up or absent by Russian retaliation or impossibility to deliver. And the lack of cheap diesel and natural gas from Russia means that farmers everywhere face sharply increased costs, whereby fertilizer is either not available at all, or too expensive to use, and thus crop yields will fall worldwide increasing the price of food products. Greenhouse producers in many parts of Europe have already shut down over high energy costs as prices stand today, not even thinking of the possibility of having Russian oil banned worldwide. Banning Russian oil from Europe can only back-fire.

Ref # 8 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/worlds-largest-fertilizer-company-warns-crop-nutrient-disruptions-through-2023

Russian leverage

It´s impossible to approach all aspects involved at once, so let´s briefly touch upon part of Russia´s bargaining power.

  1. Russia does not want, let alone need, to defeat all of Europe. Just turning Germany — or Poland for that matter — into a messy mess would be more than enough for the whole EU to focus and reason out basic stuff.
  2. No uranium from Russia means the 3 remaining German nuclear power stations cannot be re-commissioned. Not having already scheduled substitute delivery of finely-tuned Russian uranium means an adaptive retro-fit with newly-sourced feed, which technically is risky and mission almost impossible which would take years.
  3. China + India + Brazil have ´free-patent-IP´ investments plans in Russia kicking off an entirely new ball game
  4. 60% of German gas consumption is Russian. Today German industry would not survive without Russian gas.
  5. A partial or total reduction of Russian nat-gas and coal supply in retaliation for banning Russian oil would negatively and instantly impact Europe in many ways and the rest of the world with irregular market dynamics.
  6. If not delivered to the EU, the Russian nat-gas can be vented or flared at well-heads as there is plenty more.
  7. Russian oil can be sold elsewhere and/or stockpiled relatively rapidly and easily, or production can be slowed down without damaging reservoirs or wells. Russia will actually increase its “drill baby drill” policy.
  8. Paraphrasing former US Secretary of Treasury John Connally “Sorry, Russian commodities, your problem
  9. Russia´s market is 85% of the world population largely under growth and just as fed up with the US-dollar reserve currency system. The EU trade embargo on Russia does not work per parallel imports from 3rd parties
  10. The defiant Russian economy is doing just fine, the Ruble is as strong as ever. US President Biden vowed “to make sure the pain of our sanctions hits the Russian economy, not ours” as if he were getting the picture…
  11. China and others definitely back Russia while the rest of the world de-dollarizes and does not sanction Russia
  12. There are $ 500 billion worth of physical Western assets in Russia that can be confiscated at any time.

Ref # 9 https://www.rt.com/business/555076-moscow-allows-foreign-goods/

Ref # 10 https://www.rt.com/business/553038-russia-lifts-ban-parallel-imports/

Ref # 11 https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/russia-and-china-unveil-a-pact-against-america-and-the-west

Ref # 12 https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=39ef25c3-1bf0-4029-bac2-de0ac11965da

Ref # 13 https://www.rt.com/business/555097-russia-sanctions-recession-economist/

Ref # 14 https://www.rt.com/business/555119-russia-india-oil-sales-increase/

eyes wide shut

Agreed, it´s a multi-variable environment in a context of constant change with plenty of moving parts interacting on each other. But, for starters, no ( or less) Russian nat-gas and no Russian oil means many unsolvable things for the EU today. We´d also need to add the impact of having no oil, coal, or gas substitutes fast enough in large enough quantities. All of that put together means no (or less) refined products, no intermediate distillates, no heavy-duty machinery (think mining) no nickel nor aluminum, cobalt or lead or magnesium, no neon, no grains or edibles at large, wheat, corn, barley, rye, soybeans, timber, paper, titanium, rocket engines, nitrogen fertilizer, crop nutrients, potash, less petrochemicals, iron ore, minerals and rare-earths, uranium for nuclear power plants, lithium for batteries, no inputs for production of metals, plastics, fabrics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizer, chemicals, etc., no manganese, chromium, platinum, essential palladium for catalytic converters, copper, tin, mica, wolfram, bismuth, kaolin, talcum, tungsten, diamonds, phosphates, sulphur… and even no gold. By the way, as we should all know, none of these can be printed.

Russian vacations

By the way, fewer distillates such as diesel and fuel oil means that private and public transportation and freight would slow down lots, also affecting heavy-duty vehicles, industrial machinery, and airplane travel. Also far lower tourism. So might as well shut down the EU and go away on vacation to beautiful Russia right? You won´t find that much food or heating or A/C either, just new massive unheard of migrations all around you. With less Russian imports, very huge German industrial giants run the certainly serious risk of shutting down otherwise continuous year-round processes which cannot be re-started and would mean irreparable harm & negative impact on the German economy and the rest of the world. And it’s not only Russian produce that would be missing. Also from Belarus and Ukraine itself + the Stans

mission impossible

Only mediocre light-brained European leadership can propose such suicidal move 100% guaranteed to blowback in-their-face much harder and faster than their original strike. It´d be like poking a bear ( sound familiar ? ) with a sharply pointed pole and pretending the beast to continue munching fish unbothered by the aggression itself and the presence of the aggressor, both. Not even young unexperienced teen-aged urban Canadians would think of doing such a thing. Of course, they would know that the bear will necessarily focus attention first ( already done that… ) then would rise on his hind legs and swing his sharp deadly paw wide and fast sooner than the EU can react to what just happened.

It isn´t European David vs. Russian Goliath either. It´s a well-fed and rested Russian Goliath with hypersonic weapons under his arm vs. a worn-out underweight European David with a worn-down sling and lots of very small stones…

to “Schwedt” or not to “Schwedt

Schwedt is a key refinery for which the German government better find fast good & reliable sources of substitute Russian oil. If Schwedt does not deliver as usual, problems will be felt throughout Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.

But one problem is that Schwedt is majority-owned by Rosneft, the Russian state oil company which has control.

Now supposedly Schwedt has already dramatically reduced its dependence on Russian oil. But there´s a rub.

data laundromat

The rub is that EU member countries are very good at data laundering practices since inception of EU membership acceptance proceedings. Don´t trust me, ask Goldman Sachs they should know. So, for example, if imported Russian oil stays stationary in an EU depot for a couple of months it is “nationalized” and it is no longer considered to be ´Russian´.  Also, the official oil inflow figures cheat, as for partial mixtures of Russian oil 45%+ 55% ´oil from somewhere else´ it is considered to be non-Russian, see? So Russian oil import substitution is a topic not yet anywhere close to being solved. And if Russian oil is banned right here, well Russians might deny delivery of either Russian oil or Russian gas – or whatever — over there. They defend their interests, not the EU´s. Ref # 15 https://www.rt.com/business/555059-europe-needs-russian-gas/ Ref # 16 https://www.rt.com/business/555022-germany-petrol-shortages-russia-oil/

two to tango

Which brings us to the fact that the EU cannot dream of moving its pieces in a vacuum as if the Russian enemy were not there also playing in the same theater scenarios and moving its pieces alternatively. The instant the EU makes any headway whatsoever regarding the possible banning of Russian oil, then Russia will respond in kind or possibly before so as to carry out a pre-emptive deterrence sort of like a taste of things to come such as in Poland and Bulgaria

We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the [existing] Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. So firstly, Russia may reduce or cut off its gas exports if the West goes ahead with a ban on Russian oil”. Understand? The EU attacks Russian oil and Russia counter-attacks reducing or cutting off Russian natural gas, etc. In other words, asymmetric non-military retaliation. Ref # 17 https://www.bbc.com/news/58888451

Prices

If the Russian oil ban attempt goes ahead, agreed that the first thing that Russia may do is reduce or cut off nat-gas supplies – or other key commodities — with the stroke of a keyboard.. And it would be impossible to find replacements for Russian oils fast enough also. It would take years of adaptation and readjustments and it will still be much more expensive for European consumers. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak left on record that a “rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market causing oil prices to more than double to $300 a barrel”…possibly up to $ 500 pundits say assertively in specialized blogs. Be it $300 or $500 does the EU actually want that ? And Russia would end up earning much more by exporting far less. Trust US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, she said it, not me. And the higher the price, the higher the inflationary pressure and the higher the prices at the supermarkets already at approx. 35% p.a.. I can´t believe having to explain all this, really…

Ref # 18 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60656673

Despite sanctions, Russia has almost doubled its monthly earnings from selling fossil fuels to the EU, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. The EU has imported about $23 billion dollars of fossil fuels per month from Russia since March 2022 as oil and gas prices have soared, compared with an average of about $ 12 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, transfers of oil between tankers have surged as buyers take advantage of discounted Russian crude. Different crude blends shipped from Russia may also contain oil from elsewhere which would also be affected.

logistics & freight

Banning Russian oil also means a logistics major reversal from-East-to-West to from-South-to-North. Such cardinal change is costly and risky. New shipping freighters are unprepared for unknown delivery schedules and product specs. Ports and oceans are different, shipping lanes are different, climate is different, seasonal availability of product and ship size and type are also different. That also involves lots of negotiating time, coordination, money, expertise, risk, permanent costs, and new dependencies with yet unknown trade and business partners, new modus operandi, brokers, insurance companies, etc. That is why every EU government has failed to build a realistic energy strategy that does not depend on Russia. Continuity, LNG & LPG terminal bottlenecks, and processing, availability, cost, no weather restrictions when needed. Pipe delivery is safe, dependable, and cheap, sea freight is risky and cost-prohibitive

nuclear blues

Germany had 15 nuclear plants in operation. The last 3 operating nuclear plants in Germany were scheduled to be decommissioned permanently in 2022. Part of the “Green Agenda” in the EU is to eliminate nuclear plants. France does not approve this, but is having technical trouble with its nuclear plants. France has said it will shut down 50% of its nuclear plants for critical maintenance this year at the worst possible timing imaginable.

Ref # 19 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61298791

military impact

No readily available fuels of the right type (careful) mean no deployment no planes or other aircraft which means pretty much being stuck. Bad logistics, less food, no (or less) supplies, no heating to speak of. The European conventional military dependence on Russian fuels is beyond overwhelming, close to checkmate. Fuel imports are not anywhere near a military solution, just a way for civilians to survive if and when available and at a terribly high price.

“So the EU better be prepared to continue paying (many) billions of euros each week to Russia, supporting the Ruble and subsidizing its military in the process. It’s not just a short-term problem, either. If Germany manages over time (many years ?) to find adequate replacements for Russian natural gas, oil and coal, it will be at (tremendously) much higher prices. The era of cheap-Russian natural gas fueling the German economy is over. German energy-intensive companies, like its chemical giants, could not compete in the global market. Germany will face painful choices about the future of its industrial economy”. So without very specific and unreplaceable exclusive Russian grades of natural gas and oil and coal the European military are pretty much game-over.

Ref # 20 https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/trump-was-right-putins-gas-strategy-gives-germany-only-bad-worse-choices

unmanageable world finances

The camel is 990% overloaded and this one foolish decision may break its back. The world already rides on a wild $ 600+ trillion of a derivatives tiger that can only survive provided the corresponding counterparties do not fail.

“ Clearly, central banks in conjunction with their governments will have no option but to rescue their entire financial systems, which involves yet more central bank credit being provided on even greater scales than seen over Covid, supply chain chaos, and the provision of credit to pay for higher food and energy prices. It must be unlimited.”

Ref # 21 https://www.goldmoney.com/research/goldmoney-insights/financial-war-takes-a-nasty-turn?gmrefcode=gata

So unless something dramatically favorable happens very soon, economic-financial considerations will have highly negative socio-political impact driving the crisis to a high-pitch climax with the pitchforks roaming about European streets. Per Rabobank: “ When the ´food system´ breaks down, everything will break down with it”.

Per The Guardian, “…Come October, it’s going to get horrific, truly horrific … a scale beyond what we can deal with”.

Europe´s mad ban on Russian oil is just another perfect example of sheer Anglo-Saxon European puppeteering.

Ref # 22 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/apr/19/energy-chiefs-fear-40-of-britons-could-fall-into-fuel-poverty-in-truly-horrific-winter

Ref # 23 https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/rabobank-when-food-system-breaks-down-everything-will-break-down-it

Michael Hudson, Katie Halper and Aaron Maté

April 30, 2022

Michael starts at 23:40 and the transcript will be added to this thread when available.

Sitrep: Operation Z

April 28, 2022

Source

By Nightvision

Large amount of significant updates today.

Let’s start with the most pressing – it looks like our reporting on the Transnistria RUMINT last time were accurate, the escalations there are now getting worse. More and more info pours out from every direction that suggests an increasingly grave situation.

Poland and Ukraine both have now announced military ‘exercises’ that will conveniently move equipment towards the east of the country:

⚡️The Ministry of Defense of Poland announced that in connection with the “military exercises” from May 1 until the end of the month there will be heavy movement of columns with equipment in the north, east of the country

“Ukrainian media are reporting that a military exercise has been announced in Kotovsk (AKA Podilsk) from today to the 30th, ~20km from the Transnistrian border.”

While Transnistria reportedly announced mobilization: https://balkaninsight.com/2022/04/28/moldovas-breakaway-transnistria-orders-general-mobilisation/

And Bulgaria has warned its citizens to leave the country:

“Given the deteriorating situation in the Republic of Moldova and around it, we call on our compatriots to refrain from any trips to the country. We invite Bulgarian citizens who are on the territory of the Republic of Moldova to take measures to leave the country on currently available vehicles .”

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry asks its citizens to leave the country. The appeal is posted on the official website of the department.”

And many citizens in Transnistria were said to be fleeing already as snarled traffic was seen at border checkpoints.

A video of the likely Ukrainian terror attack on Tiraspol’s Ministry building was released, showing several masked gunmen armed with RPG’s shooting the building:

Arestovich has outright called for Moldova to take Transnistria which they “officially” declined, for now: https://www.rt.com/russia/554640-moldova-transnistria-kiev-offer/

Meanwhile the MI6 claims it is Russia that is preparing a mass assault there:

“🔥 Mi-6 sent intelligence to the Office of the President of Ukraine and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that Russia is preparing a landing in Transnistria if an escalation begins, and is also activated on the southern front. Additional forces of the Russian army are being transferred to Crimea, and the Black Sea Fleet is preparing an operation in Bessarabia. British intelligence again recommended Zelensky to refrain from plans to attack the PMR until the Armed Forces of Ukraine are strengthened with new weapons.”

And ex-Prime Minister of Moldova issued the following statement:

“If the Russians manage to get to Tiraspol, it will be the end of Moldova,” ex-Prime Minister of Moldova Iurie Leanca.

“If Bucharest and Chisinau do not implement certain scenarios. Our only scenario is unire (the name of the movement for the unification of Romania and Moldova). When Romania takes this step together with Chisinau, we immediately fall under the security umbrella of NATO and the European Union.”

In the meantime, Washington continues to escalate its involvement, offering even more intelligence assets to Kiev: https://www.rt.com/news/554643-us-intelligence-sharing-ukraine-russia/

And Biden now seeks a gargantuan $33 billion for Ukraine: https://www.rt.com/russia/554685-biden-ukraine-aid/

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/part-bidens-mammoth-33bn-spending-package-will-support-ukraines-information-warfare

Keep in mind, this is 5 times larger than Ukraine’s entire annual military budget of $6 billion.

WarGonzo reports that Moldova is holding secret consultations with NATO on a combined action to retake Transnistria:

https://zen.yandex.ru/media/wargonzoya/specoperaciia-nato-pod-nazvaniem-krovavaia-maiia-626abccc35423263458fed48 (you can autotranslate the article)

Excerpt:

“So, our high-ranking insiders in Chisinau, who are really concerned about the security of ordinary people, report that the head of Moldova, Maia Sandu, is holding closed meetings with parliamentarians in order to convince them to publicly advocate for Moldova’s participation in hostilities against the PMR and the Russian military contingent deployed there. .

Naturally, Sandu does this not out of a personal militaristic nature, but on the orders of his immediate supervisors – German citizen Hans Martin Sieg and American political strategist Jason Smart, who act on instructions and direct instructions from NATO generals who cut up the corresponding tasks.

In the scenarios proposed by the curators, the Moldovan military themselves will allegedly participate nominally, direct participation in hostilities and their deployment, as well as further military planning, will fall on the shoulders of the Romanian Armed Forces. Thus, the NATO bloc is working out another scheme based on the “proxy” principle – the Romanians are fighting, but under the flag of Moldova. In general, according to the classics.

The reconnaissance has already been carried out, heavy weapons and manpower are being pulled together, but there is a problem – Sandu’s loyal associates, realizing the possible targeted consequences for their own persons, do not want to share with her the title of “bloody Maya” and the fate of the comedian Zelensky’s team, which, as we all understand, long ago decided.”

Large Romanian military convoys spotted heading towards the eastern border:

And now, the Russian head of SVR intelligence agency has stated:

Sputnik/RT both reporting it:

https://www.rt.com/russia/554671-poland-ukraine-spy-split/

https://sputniknews.com/20220428/washington-warsaw-discuss-reunification-of-poland–western-ukraine-russian-foreign-intel-chief-1095121664.html

And at the same time, it’s being reported that:

“Washington has set up an intelligence center in Lvov where the Americans work with General Staff officers to get quick information from reconnaissance planes, UAVs and satellites that collect data around and over #Ukraine in space. The staff is about 50 people only from the USA. It is located in one of the communication buildings in Lviv.”

Washington has set up an intelligence center in Lvov where the Americans work with General Staff officers to get quick information from reconnaissance planes, UAVs and satellites that collect data around and over Ukraine in space.

Keep in mind, none of this should come as a surprise as it was weeks ago already that Poland was openly requesting a NATO mission to Ukraine: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/poland-propose-ukraine-peacekeeping-mission-nato-summit-says-pm-2022-03-18/

But now it seems things are escalating and they may take matters into their own hands. Personally, I don’t see much problem with it, why shouldn’t they take the Western part of Ukraine? Russia certainly doesn’t want it and it could be a good ‘compromise’ if something is worked out on the back end. Russia only wants Odessa and in fact would prefer not to have to expend massive manpower and lives lost to conquer the western pale of Ukraine. Of course this is an oversimplification and we don’t know what disaster could turn out from these moves, or what Poland/NATO’s ultimate aims might actually be.

On that note Britain has announced the first official British mercenary killed in Ukraine

“London confirms the death of at least one British subject in Ukraine. Another one went missing. It is known that the killed militant’s name was Scott Sibley. According to rumors, he was a retired British military man who, either out of boredom or under a contract, decided to go on a “Russian safari”. Safari didn’t work.”

Photos: https://twitter.com/DanielBerns5/status/1519726107129528323

While another group of British mercenaries seen somewhere in Ukraine:

Two American mercenaries were also badly wounded in Orekhovo, one seemingly blinded for life by Russian artillery. You can read the description in the video below for more details:

Now the most important thing to understand is that all of these escalations are happening for one reason only, and that is: Russia is completely annihilating the Ukrainian armed forces in the Donbass. It is going even more horrifically for the AFU than many imagined. Here are some new videos just from the past day or two alone showing not only possibly hundreds of losses in KIA but new mass surrenders as well:

Today’s mass surrender:

Huge losses (18+): https://www.bitchute.com/video/RFkLPDeIXdfp/

These are unsustainable losses – the AFU is getting crushed and obliterated and the long awaited heavier Russian offensive has not even started yet. It’s getting so bad that even the most infamous pro-western sources are becoming extremely worried:

Jihad Julian is chief amongst them:

Here’s the vile Anders Aslund: https://twitter.com/anders_aslund/status/1519678415456149506

“The War: Ukraine has experienced setback in the past few days. A senior Ukrainian official announced yesterday that Russian troops had taken part of the Kharkiv region. Yesterday, Russia announced that it has captured the entire Kherson region. No Ukrainian advances. Not good.”

And another: “Russia is increasing the pace of offensive in Ukraine in all directions, – Speaker of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Oleksandr Motuzyanyk. Apparently, even the Armed Forces of Ukraine are tired of the lulling lies of Arestovich.”

Not only have Russian advances been smashing Ukrainian defenses, but Russian strikes have continued their upswing on many objects of infrastructure:

“According to reliable information received in the south-west of Kharkov, the headquarters of the TRO/Azov was destroyed. There are dead and wounded.”

There are photos from the destroyed HQ, it looks like there could be a lot of dead.

More critical railway junctures west of Kiev were hit.

Ukraine of course continues its escalations into the asymmetric / terror warfare, hitting various sites on Russian territory. There’s still no certainty of how they’re doing it apart from clues like the fact that several ‘saboteurs’ were arrested in Russia by the FSB yesterday, who were working for Ukrainian SBU. One was in Crimea, had explosives and was planning on bombing a shopping mall in Simferopol.

Many in Russia understandably are feeling fed up, and some believe Russia may eventually designate Ukraine as a terrorist state, which could open pathways for eventual formal declaration of war and mobilization, if need be.

@SamRamani2

· 49m

Russia is likely to formally recognize Ukraine as a terrorist state The assassination attempts on Russian state media figures, which the FSB links to Ukraine’s SBU, and the attacks in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region are the pretexts for this move.

Margarita Semonyan, head of RT/Sputnik, added her voice to the mix. Western critics and some pro-Russian ‘maximalists’ believe she’s slowly softening the Russian public for the eventual acceptance of nuclear use:

“Explosions and air defense sirens in Belgorod. The Anglo-Saxons publicly offer Ukraine to transfer hostilities to the territory of Russia. And supply it with the means to implement this plan. What choice are you giving us, idiots? Complete destruction of the remaining Ukraine? Nuclear strike?”

And other prominent Russian media figures:

Meanwhile, from the MI6 in UK:

“🇬🇧🇺🇦🔥 Mi-6 have passed intelligence to the Office of the President of Ukraine and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that Russia is preparing strikes against decision-making centers in Ukraine. It is recommended not to use the command posts of the Ministry of Defense, the coordinates of which are known to the Russian special services.”

As of this writing, missiles have hit Kiev but so far it appears to have targeted the Artyom military factory and airfields in the vicinity, not decision centers, but we’ll see. The leadership is likely not worried anyway, there are reports that:

“Zelensky’s wife and children have already received British citizenship. Come on, he himself received it, although this should be contrary to the constitution of Ukraine. But the bloody clown’s parents refused allegiance. Well, at least someone in this family has a conscience.
Also, by the decision of the British government, citizenship was granted to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and his family members, as well as Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak and his family members. A number of employees of the General Staff of Ukraine and the SBU are in the process of receiving.
The Ukrainian elites have prepared an alternate airfield for themselves, but the majority of Ukrainians will be left with a nose.”

The implication is that all the top Ukrainian elite are already receiving British citizenships and are ready to work from abroad in their new home soon.

One of the new Polish Warmate suicide drones has already been shot down by Russia

Large amounts of Western weapons shipments destroyed:

https://www.zerohedge.com/military/russia-says-it-destroyed-large-batch-western-weapons-ship-launched-missiles

And numerous new TB2’s from Turkey’s fresh batch have already been shot down:

More photos: 

(another 3rd one)

There’s photos of at least 3 separate Bayraktar TB2’s shot down since yesterday online. Two of them I believe were on or near the Russian border towards Kursk.

Now as for the offensives that are generating these massive casualties posted above. Russian troops are said to be storming Lyman on the northern front while having captured several small towns NW of there, like Kymky and Oleksandrivka. There are even some reports that advance scout units have already reached the outskirts of Slavyansk through the forest, although that likely wouldn’t mean much as they are not quite ready to start assaulting yet. However residents of Slavyansk already hear heavy bombardments and blasts in the distance as the Russian advance approaches.

On the Izyum axis Russia was said to have fully cleared Zavody and is now assaulting the actual stronghold town of Velyka Komyshuvakha, while on the southern end they are still said to be pushing on Pashkove, past Kurul’ka.

Here’s a decent map: https://twitter.com/Cyberspec1/status/1519611022813720576

The AFU is already making plans for retreat in Slavyansk as there is footage of the bridge here being heavily mined and ready to blow.

Here’s the video of heavily mined bridge: https://twitter.com/Farnakyboy/status/1519762715119599616

One report: “🔥 Many residents of Slavyansk confirm the information that the Armed Forces of Ukraine mined Kupechesky Bridge in the city. Ukrainian “defenders” are preparing to surrender Slavyansk according to the scenario of Mariupol.”

As can be seen it leads to the city from the eastern end and appears to anticipate falling back and abandoning the eastern entrance.

There’s progress in Popasna and elsewhere as well but will save it for next time.

For now will turn to the final and other most important sector of Mariupol as there’ve been some big updates.

Firstly, both 2nd in Command of Azov Kalina, and 36th Brigade commander Volyna have released new videos absolutely pleading for western help.

Kalina’s message 

Volyna: https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/status/1519309276568866817 with translation of his message:

In short, he begs for a massive WW2 Dunkirk style airlift to save Azov. Unfortunately Russia has reportedly continued bombing them https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1519645150603055104

and things have gotten really desperate.

The entire northern part (cement factory, etc) appears to be under Russian control now:

Last time we noted how various forces were working to pinpoint the secret Azov lairs and hideouts. Now they’ve managed to finally do it.

“We made a complete diagram of the Azovstal bunkers, and their connections to each other. Above is the number of the defensive structure, below are the exact coordinates.

Green – transitions between protective structures (laying from 18 to 45 meters) The main headquarters of Azov is located in protective structure No. 18182, a bomb shelter for the central chemical laboratory of the plant, for 300 people. The civilians are partly located in object No. 18207 and 18170.”

This report claims negotiators have arrived:

#AZOVSTAL#Ukraine|ian (!) negotiators have arrived in #Bezymennoye settlement near #Mariupol in an effort to convince #Azov (#Ukrainian #NationalGuard regiment) to release civilians being held by them at Azovstal. Looks like Azov is getting on everyone’s nerves now. #UkraineWar

It was reported last time how there’s friction between Azov and Kiev leadership. They requested to be sent to a ‘third country’ of preferably Turkey, and I mentioned how in the past Kiev has even bombed the Azov regiment about a month ago.

https://tass.com/world/1416593

Alexander Sladkov said 2 days ago that Azov only had 9 days of food left. In his new report it was said, “The militants used the building of the sanitary and epidemiological station. 3rd floor completed.

DEFENSE FEATURES OF “AZOVSTAL”. THEY HAVE A LOT OF WATER, INSTEAD OF STOVES THEY USE BARREL WITH ANTISEPTIC, THEY DO NOT GIVE SMOKE.

Ours, moving forward, found a huge warehouse of water at the plant. The militants did not even begin to evacuate him – they have a sea of \u200b\u200bwater. They say there is 9 days of food left.”

And according to Maxim Fomkin aka Vladlen Tatarsky, a prominent DPR soldier/blogger, the Azovstal will be taken by 4/30.

Here’s Sladkov’s report showing entire northern section of Azovstal being cleared: https://twitter.com/200_zoka/status/1519631657799725056

In short, they appear to be only a few buildings away from where the Azov leadership are holed up so things are set to come to a head in some manner soon.

Russia in the meantime continues to move troops out as one western report stated:

“NEW: Russia is moving “significant” numbers of troops out of Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol to the north and northwest: senior U.S. defense official Russia is still hitting Mariupol with airstrikes. had about a dozen battalion tactical groups in the city.”

Lastly, here’s one of the many advanced things aiding Russian forces in the final capture of Azovstal:

A Russian Fara-VR tactical battlefield radar system that detects both troops and vehicles, through walls at distance, and can relay that information to tankers and troop units for immediate focus fire destruction of the enemies. It’s a very impressive piece of kit that was used by Spetsnaz in Syria but hasn’t gotten such closeup attention until now.

https://roe.ru/eng/catalog/land-forces/ground-surveillance-radars/fara-vr/

What is Ukraine fighting with?

April 02, 2022

Source

By Batko Milacic

With Russia’s military operation in Ukraine going on for more than a month now, it seems that the Ukrainian army, which has gradually been losing its positions, has an unlimited supply of weapons and ammunition. Does this mean that Zelensky’s government has been smart enough to make huge stockpiles of weapons, and numerous allegations by the Ukrainian opposition and the Russian media about most of the money allocated to Kiev for the rearmament of the Ukrainian armed forces over the past eight years having been stolen simply hold no water? Or, maybe it means that Russian shelling of military warehouses have been absolutely ineffective? No, sir, it only means that Kiev has an ideal and virtually inexhaustible source of arms and ammo.

On March 28, the well-known Bulgarian investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva published a detailed analysis of arms supplies to Ukraine, backed up by documents from the Pentagon. As it turned out, most of the weapons and ammunition for the Ukrainian army has been coming from Bulgarian military factories. Small wonder, since the pro-Western Kiev regime has done nothing for the sake of rebuilding the country’s military-industrial complex during the past eight years. Kiev lost its last remaining cartridge-making factory, along with Donetsk, in 2014. However, this did not prevent President Poroshenko and his successor Zelensky from selling their stockpiles of old Soviet-made weapons to countries in Asia and Africa. And all that time, the Ukrainian leaders were making half-hearted attempts to rearm their military according to NATO standards – something they never really succeeded in. As a result, all Ukraine could boast about at the start of the conflict with Russia were old Soviet weapons. Modern warfare requires huge outlays on ammunition, as a single day of war eats up tons of shells, cartridges, mines, etc. Without them, you simply can’t go on fighting.

Luckily for Kiev, however, some NATO and EU countries have preserved the old Soviet-era legacy, above all Bulgaria with its Arsenal, VMZ, Arcus and Emco factories. Sofia has for many years been supplying Soviet-designed weapons to African and Arab countries. Some of these weapons were even sent to anti-government militant groups in Syria.

Even though Bulgaria, which never tires of reiterating its non-participation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, is making no direct arms deliveries to Kiev, the details of the very unpretentious scheme exposed by Dilyana Gaytandzhiyeva show that Bulgarian weapons are exported to Ukraine via a network of middlemen, namely two Polish companies, “Arm Techsp. Zo.O” and “Vismag Jacek Jakubczyk,” and the Czech firm “Excalibur Army Spol.S.R.O.” Moreover, all information about these “arms deals” is openly available on government websites, which is exactly where Gaytandzhiyeva found it. The problem is, however, that according to international law, weapons can only be re-exported with permission from their country of manufacture, which has never come, at least officially.

As for the Pentagon, which is behind this whole arrangement, it considers such permission just as an empty and unnecessary formality. What really matters is that the Ukrainian buyer – Spetstechnoexport Company – is regularly receiving weapons that are desperately needed by the Ukrainian army. Moreover, this scheme was earlier tested out in Syria where supplying the jihadist rebels with familiar Soviet weapons proved cheaper than arming them with the most advanced US-made weapons. The very same scheme is now at work also in Ukraine.

In spite of all the evidence pointing to the illegal re-export of weapons, the Bulgarian government would certainly prefer to avoid a scandal over military supplies to a de facto warring country, all the more so since its arms manufacturers, who are making money hand over fist, just couldn’t care less about international law. As for Ukraine, the generous supply of arms and ammo it has been getting from Bulgarian gunsmiths will allow it to keep fighting for several more months or weeks, thus increasing the number of victims.

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

Source

12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

The head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference warned late last month against efforts to “build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West” in light of the Navalny incident and the many other disagreements between both sides, and while it’s unrealistic to expect another Berlin Wall-like physical division of Europe, there’s no denying that their different governing models have created a sharp split across the continent.

Welcome To The New Cold War

Last month will probably go down in history as the moment when the New Cold War became impossible to deny. The US has been attempting to rekindle its fading unipolarity since the onset of its coordinated Hybrid War “containment” campaigns against Russia and China in 2014, which only intensified in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The leaders of all three countries addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by video in a series of speeches that laid bare these two sides’ contradictory assessments of contemporary global affairs and related visions of the future. Their keynote speeches were preceded by UN Secretary General Guterres warning the world that “We must do everything to avoid a New Cold War.” Trump obviously didn’t listen to him, which is why the head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference (MSC) followed up that global representative’s warning with his own at the end of that historic week cautioning that “It will result in nothing if we now try to build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West because of Navalny and other sad and terrible events.” It’s his dramatic words that form the basis of the present article.

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

There are many angles through which the ongoing global competition can be analyzed, but the prospect of a new wall of some sort or another accompanying the New Cold War in Europe is among the most intriguing. The MSC head presumably isn’t implying the creation of a 21st-century Berlin Wall, but seems to be speaking more generally about his fear that the growing divisions between Russia and the West will soon become irreversible and potentially even formalized as the new status quo. The author wrote last month that “The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria”, pointing out how even the partial success of this latest “containment” campaign will greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Russia and the West. That would in turn help secure American grand strategic interests in the continent. This “decoupling” would reverse the progress that was made in bilateral relations since the end of the Old Cold War up until the Ukrainian Crisis. Taken to its maximum extent, the spiritual return of the Berlin Wall seems almost inevitable at this point.

Governing Differences

It’s true that the border between the NATO countries and Russia’s CSTO (which importantly includes Hybrid War-targeted Belarus) represents the modern-day military equivalent of the “Iron Curtain”, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. While military divisions remain (albeit pushed much further eastward over the past three decades), ideological and economic ones are less apparent. Russia no long ascribes to communism but follows its own national variant of democracy within a mostly capitalist system, thus reducing the structural differences between itself and its Western counterparts. Unaware observers might wonder why there’s even a New Cold War to begin with when considering how much both sides have in common with one another, but that overlooks their contradictory worldviews which lie at the heart of their mutual suspicions. Russia strongly believes in safeguarding its geopolitical and domestic socio-political sovereignty so it accordingly follows a more conservative path whereas Western countries mostly submit to the US’ authority and generally regard their liberal position on many social issues as universalist.

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

The reason why the thaw in Russian-Western relations failed to achieve the “Great Convergence” that Gorbachev originally hoped for was because the US wanted to impose its will onto Russia by treating it as just another vassal state that would be forced to follow its lead abroad and accept extreme liberal social mandates at home instead of respecting it as an equal partner. Nevertheless, this policy was actually surprisingly successful all throughout the 1990s under Yeltsin, but its fatal flaw was that it went much too far too quickly by attempting to dissolve the Russian Federation through American support for Chechen separatist-terrorist groups. That inadvertently provoked a very patriotic reaction from the responsible members of Russia’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who worked together to ensure their motherland’s survival in the face of this existential crisis. The end result was that Putin succeeded Yeltsin and subsequently set about to systematically save Russia. This took the form of stabilizing the security situation at home in parallel with reasserting Russia on the world stage.

The “Russian Model”

Putin, though, was always a liberal in the traditional (not post-modern) sense. He never lost his appreciation for Western civilization and sincerely wanted to complete Gorbachev’s hoped-for “Great Convergence”, though only on equal terms and not as a US vassal. Regrettably, the Russian leader’s many olive branches were slapped away by an angry America which feared the influence that a powerful “moderately liberal” state could have on its hyper-liberal subjects. All of Putin’s efforts to take the “Great Convergence” to its next logical step of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok” failed for this reason, after which an intense information warfare campaign was waged to portray Russia was a “radical right-wing state” even though it was never anything of the sort. This modus operandi was intended to prevent Europe’s indoctrinated masses from ever countenancing whether a “moderate” alternative exists whereby they’d preserve their domestic and international sovereignty despite remaining committed to traditional liberal values, just like the “Russian model” that Putin pioneered. Understandably, this would pose a serious threat to American strategic interests, hence the campaign against it.

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

As time went on, the “Russian model” was partially replicated in some of the countries of Central Europe such as Poland and even within the US itself through Trump’s election, though this wasn’t due to any so-called “Russian meddling” but was a natural result of the ideological interplay between radical and “moderate” liberals. It just so happened that Russia was the first country to implement this model not because of anything uniquely “Russian” within its society, but simply as the most pragmatic survival plan considering the extremely difficult circumstances of the 1990s and attendant limits on the country’s strategic maneuverability during that time. It was considered by the patriotic members of Russia’s “deep state” to be much too risky to reverse the direction of post-Soviet reforms, hence why the decision seems to have been made to continue with them, though doing all in the country’s power to regain control over these processes from Russia’s Western overlords in order to protect national geopolitical and domestic socio-political interests. This struggle led to Russia becoming an alternative pole of influence (in the governance sense) within the “Greater West”, rivaling the US.

Hillary & Trump: Same Anti-Russian Strategy, Different Infowar Tactics

With this insight in mind, the New Cold War was inevitable in hindsight. Had Hillary been elected, then the infowar narrative would have focused more on Russia’s different “values”, seeking to present its target as a “threat to the (hyper-liberal) Western way of life”. Since Trump’s America interestingly enough shares many of the same values as contemporary Russia does, however, the focus is on geopolitical differences instead. From the prism of International Relations theory, Hillary’s angle of attack against Russia would have been more liberal whereas Trump’s is more realist. Either way, both American leaders (theoretical in the first sense and actual in the second) have every reason to fear Russia since it challenges the US’ unipolar dominance in Europe. Hillary would have wanted to portray Russia as being outside of the “Western family of nations”, though Trump can’t convincingly do that given his much more high-profile provocations against obviously non-Western China, hence why he’s basically competing with Russia for leadership of the “moderate” liberal model of Western civilization, ergo accepting their structural similarities but instead over-hyping their geopolitical differences.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

Taking all of the aforementioned into account, it’s understandable why the US wants to build a “new wall” in Europe by “decoupling” its NATO-captive subjects from Russia through a series of Hybrid Wars, though the genie is out of the bottle since some Central European countries like Poland the even the US itself under Trump already implement elements of the “Russian model”. This means that while the physical separation of Russia and Europe along military, geopolitical, and soon perhaps even economic-energy lines is practically a fait accompli at this point, the ideological-structural influence emanating from Moscow is impossible to “contain”. No “wall” will reverse the impact that the “Russian model” has had on the course of Western civilization, though it should be remembered that the aforesaid model wasn’t part of some “cunning 5D chess plan” but an impromptu survival tactic that was triggered in response to American unipolar-universalist soft power aggression on post-Soviet Russia. It’s not distinctly “Russian”, which is why the hyper-liberal Western elite fear it so much since they know very well that it could take root in their countries too, just like in Poland and the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The typical Western mind is conditioned to think in terms of models, especially historical ones, which is why they imagine that the New Cold War will closely resemble the Old Cold War simply because of the effect that neuro-linguistic programming has on their thought process. This explains why the MSC head warned against the creation of a “new wall” between Russia and the West even though no such scenario is realistic. No physical barrier like the Berlin Wall will ever be erected again, and even though the geopolitical, military, and perhaps even soon economic-energy fault lines between them might become formalized through the impending success of the US’ “decoupling” strategy, this will not address the root cause of the New Cold War which lies with Russia’s “moderately liberal” model of state sovereignty in contrast to the US’ (former?) hyper-liberal universalist one of state vasselhood. It’s this difference that’s primarily responsible for every other dimension of their competition since it placed Russia on the trajectory of supporting a Multipolar World Order instead of the US’ hoped-for Unipolar World Order.By Andrew KorybkoAmerican political analyst

THE SAKER: “CAN THE EU BECOME A PARTNER FOR RUSSIA?”

THE SAKER: “CAN THE EU BECOME A PARTNER FOR RUSSIA?”

Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

The re-nomination (albeit somewhat reshuffled) of the “economic block” of the Medvedev government has elicited many explanations, some better than others.  Today I want to look at one specific hypothesis which can be summed up like this: Putin decided against purging the (unpopular) “economic block” from the Russian government because he wanted to present the EU with “known faces” and partners EU politicians would trust.  Right now, with Trump’s insane behavior openly alienating most European leaders, this is the perfect time to add a Russian “pull” to the US “push” and help bring the EU closer to Russia.  By re-appointing Russian “liberals” (that is a euphemism for WTO/WB/IMF/etc types) Putin made Russia look as attractive to the EU as possible.  In fact, the huge success of the Saint Petersburg summit and the Parliamentary Forum is proof that this strategy is working.

This hypothesis is predicated on one crucial assumption: that the EU, under the right conditions, could become a partner for Russia.

But is that assumption warranted?  I personally don’t believe that it is, and I will try to lay out the reasons for my skepticism:

First, there is no “EU”, at least not in political terms.  More crucially, there is no “EU foreign policy”.  Yes, there are EU member states, who have political leaders, there is a big business community in the EU and there are many EU organizations, but as such, the “EU” does not exist, especially not in terms of foreign policy.  The best proof of that is how clueless the so-called “EU” has been in the Ukraine, then with the anti-Russian sanctions, in dealing with an invasion of illegal immigrants, and now with Trump.  At best, the EU can be considered a US protectorate/colony, with some subjects “more equal than others” (say, the UK versus Greece).  Most (all?) EU member states are abjectly obedient to the USA, and this is no surprise considering that even the so-called “EU leader” or “EU heavyweight” – Germany – only has very limited sovereignty.  The EU leaders are nothing but a comprador elite which doesn’t give a damn about the opinions and interests of the people of Europe.  The undeniable fact is that the so-called “EU foreign policy” has gone against the vital interests of the people of Europe for decades and that phenomenon is only getting worse.

The Saker: "Can the EU become a partner for Russia?"

Welcome to Europe!

Second, the single most powerful and unified organization in Europe is not even an EU organization, but NATO.  And NATO, in real terms, is no less than 80% USA.  Forget about those fierce looking European armies, they are all a joke.  Not only do they represent no credible force (being too small, too poorly trained, under-equipped and poorly commanded), but they are completely dependent on the USA for a long list of critical capabilities and “force multipliers“: command, control, communications, intelligence, networking, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, logistics, etc.  Furthermore, in terms of training, force planning, weapon systems procurement, deployment and maintenance, EU states are also totally dependent on the USA.  The reason?  The US military budget totally dwarfs anything individual EU states can spend, so they all depend on Uncle Sam.  Of sure, the NATO figurehead – the Secretary General – is usually a non-entity which makes loud statements and is European (I think of that clown Stoltenberg as the prefect example), but NATO is not run by the NATO Secretary General. In reality, it is run by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), who is the head of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and these guys are as red, white an blue as it gets.  Forget about the “Eurocorps” or any other so-called “European armies” – it’s all hot air, like Trudeau’s recent outburst at Trump.  In reality in the EU, as in Canada, they all know who is boss.  And here is the single most important fact: NATO desperately needs Russia as justification for its own existence: if relations with Russia improve, then NATO would have no more reason to exist.  Do you really think that anybody will let that happen?  I sure don’t!  And right now, the Europeans are busy asking for more US troops on their soil, not less and they are all pretending to be terrified by a Russian invasion, hence the need for more and bigger military exercises close to the Russian border.  And just to cover all its bases, NATO is now gradually expanding into Latin America.

Third, there is a long list of EU governments which vitally need further bad relationships with Russia.  They include:

  1. Unpopular governments which need to explain their own failures by the nefarious actions of an external bogyman.  A good example is how the Spanish authorities blamed Russia for the crisis in Catalonia.  Or the British with their “Brexit”.  The Swedes are doing even better, they are already preparing their public opinion for a “Russian interference” in case the election results don’t turn out to be what they need.
  2. Governments whose rhetoric has been so hysterically anti-Russian that they cannot possibly back down from it.  Best examples: the UK and Merkel.  But since most (but not all) EU states did act on the Skripal false-flag on the basis of the British “highly likely” and in the name of “solidarity”, they are now all stuck as accomplices of this policy.  There is *no way* they are simply going to admit that they were conned by the Brits.
  3. EU prostitutes: states whose only policy is to serve the USA against Russia.  These states compete against each other in the most abject way to see who can out-brown-nose each other for the position of “most faithful and willing loyal servant of the USA”.  The best examples are, of course, the three Baltic statelets, but the #1 position has to go to the “fiercely patriotic Poles” who are now willing to actually pay Uncle Sam to be militarily occupied (even though the very same Uncle Sam is trying to racketeer them for billions of dollars).  True, now that EU subsidies are running out, the situation of these states is becoming even more dire, and they know that the only place where they can still get money is the USA.  So don’t expect them to change their tune anytime soon (even if Bulgaria has already realized that nobody in the West gives a damn about it).
  4. Governments who want to crack down on internal dissent by accusing any patriotic or independent political party/movement to be “paid by the Kremlin” and representing Russian interests.  The best example is France and how it treated the National Front.  I would argue that most EU states are, in one way or another, working on creating a “national security state” because they do realize (correctly) that the European people are deeply frustrated and oppose EU policies (hence all the anti-EU referendums lost by the ruling elites).

Contrary to a very often repeated myth, European business interests do not represent a powerful anti-russophobic force.  Why?  Just look at Germany: for all the involvement of Germany (and Merkel personally) in the Ukraine, for all the stupid rhetoric about “Russia being an aggressor” which “does not comply with the Mink Agreements”, North Stream is going ahead!  Yes, money talks, and the truth is that while anti-Russian sanctions have cost Europe billions, the big financial interests (say the French company Total) have found ways to ignore/bypass these sanctions.  Oh sure, there is a pro-trade lobby with Russian interest in Europe. It is real, but it simply does not have anywhere near the power the anti-Russian forces in the EU have.  This is why for *years* now various EU politicians and public figures have made noises about lifting the sanctions, but when it came to the vote – they all voted as told by the real bosses.

Not all EU Russophobia is US-generated, by the way.  We have clearly seen that these days when Trump suggested that the G7 (or, more accurately, the G6+1) needed to re-invite Russia, it was the Europeans who said “nope!”.  To the extend that there is a “EU position” (even a very demure and weak one), it is mostly anti-Russian, especially in the northern part of Europe.  So when Uncle Sam tells the Europeans to obey and engage in the usual Russia-bashing, they all quickly fall in line, but in the rare case when the US does not push a rabidly anti-Russian agenda, EU politicians suddenly find enough willpower to say “no”.  By the way, for all the Trump’s statements about re-inviting Russia into the G6+1 the US is still busy slapping more sanctions on Russia.

The current mini-wars between the US and the EU (on trade, on Iran, on Jerusalem) do not at all mean that Russia automatically can benefit from this.  Again, the best example of this is the disastrous G6+1 summit in which Trump basically alienated everybody only to have the G6 reiterate its anti-Russian position even though the G6+1 needs Russia far more than Russia needs the G7 (she really doesn’t!).  Just like the US and Israeli leaders can disagree and, on occasion, fight each other, that does not at all mean that somehow they are not fundamentally joined at the hip.  Just think of mob “families” who can even have “wars” against each other, but that does not at all mean that this will benefit the rest of the population whom all mobsters prey upon.

The Ukrainian crisis will only benefit anti-Russian forces in Europe.  There is a very high probability that in the near future the Ukronazi regime will try to reconquer Novorussia (DNR/LRN).  I submit that the outcome of such an attack is not in doubt – the Ukronazis will lose.  The only question is this: to whom will they lose:

  • Option one: they lose to the combined forces of the DNR and LNR.  This is probably the most likely outcome.  Should this happen, there is a very high probability of a Novorussian counter attack to liberate most of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, especially the cities of Slaviansk and Mariupol.  Since past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we can be pretty darn sure of what the reaction in Kiev and in the West will be: Russia will be blamed for it all.  The AngloZionists will *never* admit that the Ukronazi regime lost a civil war to its own people because the Novorussians will never accept a Nazi regime ruling over them.  Thus, a Novorussian victory will result in more hysterical Russophobia.
  • Option two: the Ukronazis succeed in their attack and threaten to overrun Donetsk, Lugansk and the rest of Novorussia.  Putin simply cannot allow this to happen.  He has made that promise many times and he has recently repeated it during his “open line” with the Russian people.  If the Russians are forced to intervene, this will not be a massive ground invasion – there is no need for that.  Russia has the firepower needed in the form of missile and artillery strikes to destroy the attacking Urkonazi forces and to impose a no-fly zone over all of Novorussia.  If Kiev pushes on and launches a full-scale attack on Russia proper, the Ukrainian armed forces will be totally disorganized and cease combat in about 48 hours.  This scenario is what I call the “Neocon dream” since such a Russian intervention will not be imaginary, but quite real and the Kremlin will even confirm it all very publicly and probably recognize the two Novorussian Republics just like what happened in 08.08.08 when Saakashvili decided to invade South Ossetia.  So, AngloZionists will (finally!) have the “proof” that Russia is the aggressor, the Poles and Balts will prepare for an “imminent” Russian invasion and I think that there is a pretty good chance that NATO forces will move into the Western Ukraine to “stop the Russians”, even if the said Russians will have absolutely no desire (or even possible motive) to want to invade the rest of the Ukraine or, even less so, Poland, Sweden or the Baltic statelets.

I will admit that there is still a small possibility that a Ukronazi attack might not happen.  Maybe Poroshenko & Co. will get cold feet (they know the real condition of the Ukie military and “dobrobat” death squads) and maybe Putin’s recent not-so-veiled threat about “grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood” will have the needed effect.  But what will happen even if this attack does not take place?  The EU leaders and the Ukronazi regime in Kiev will still blame Russia for the Ukraine now clearly being a failed state.  Whatever scenario you find more likely for the Ukraine, things there will only get worse and everybody will blame Russia.

The crisis in Syria will only benefit anti-Russian forces in Europe.  It is becoming pretty clear that the USA is now attempting a reconquista of Syria or, at least, a break-up of Syria into several zones, including US-controlled ones.  Right now, the USA and the “good terrorists” have lost the war, but that does not stop them from re-igniting a new one, mostly by reorganizing, retraining, redeploying and, most importantly, re-branding the surviving “bad terrorists” into “good ones”.  This plan is backed by Saudi money and Israeli firepower.  Furthermore, Russia is now reporting that US Special Forces are already working with the (new) “good terrorists” to – you guessed it – prepare yet another fake chemical attack and blame it on the Syrians.  And why not?  It worked perfectly already several times, why not do that again?  At the very least, it would give the USA another try at getting their Tomahawks to show their effectiveness (even if they fail again, facts don’t matter here). And make no mistake, a US “victory” in Syria (or in Venezuela) would be a disaster not only for the region, but for every country wanting to become sovereign (see Andre Vltchek’s excellent article on this topic here).  And, again, Russia will be blamed for it all and, with certifiable nutcasts like Bolton, Russian forces might even be attacked.  As I wrote already many times, this is far from over.  Just as in the Ukrainian case, some deal might be made (at least US and Russian military officials are still talking to each other) but my personal opinion is that making any kind of deal with Trump is as futile as making deals with Netanyahu: neither of them can be trusted and they both will break any and all promises in a blink of an eye.  And if all hell breaks loose in Syria and/or Iran, NATO will make sure that the Europeans all quickly and obediently fall in line (“solidarity”, remember?).

The bottom line is this: currently, the EU is most unlikely to become a viable partner for Russia and the future does look rather bleak.

One objection to my pessimism is the undeniable success of the recent Saint Petersburg summit and the Parliamentary Forum.  However, I believe that neither of these events was really centered around Europe at all,  but about the world at large (see excellent report by Gilbert Doctorow on this topic here).  Yes, Russia is doing great and while the AngloZionist media loves to speak about the “isolation” of Russia, the truth is that it is the Empire which is isolated, while Russia and China are having a tremendous success building the multi-polar world they want to replace the Empire with.  So while it is true that the western leaders might prefer to see a liberal “economic block” in the new Russian government, the rest of the world has no such desire at all (especially considering how many countries out there have suffered terrible hardships at the hands of the WTO/WB/IMF/etc types).

Conclusion:

The AngloZionist Empire is not based in the USA, or in the EU, or Israel, or anywhere else on the planet.  It is a trans-national entity with regional variations and which includes different interest groups under its umbrella.  You can think of it as a gigantic criminal gang racketeering the entire planet for “protection”.  To think that by presenting a “liberal” face to these thugs will gain you their support is extremely naive as these guys don’t care about your face: what they want is your submission.  Vladimir Putin put it best when he said “They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subdue us, solve their problems at our expense”.

However, if the EU is, for all practical purposes, non-existent, Russia can, and will, engage with individual EU member states.  There is a huge difference between, say, Poland and Italy, or the UK and Austria.  Furthermore, the EU is not only dysfunctional, it is also non-viable.  Russia would immensely benefit from the current EU either falling apart or being deeply reformed because the current EU is a pure creation of the US-backed Bilderberger types and not the kind of Europe the European people need.  In fact, I would even argue that the EU is the single biggest danger for the people of the European continent.  Thus Russia should use her resources to foster bi-lateral cooperation with individual EU member states and never take any action which would strengthen (or even legitimize) EU-derived organizations such as the EU Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights, etc.  These are all entities which seek to undermine the sovereignty of all its members, including Russia.  Again, Putin put it best when he recently declared that “either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia“.

Whatever the ideology and slogans, all empires are inherently evil and inherently dangerous to any country wanting to be truly sovereign.  If Russia (and China) want to create a multi-polar world, they need to gradually disengage from those trans-national bodies which are totally controlled by the Empire, it is really that simple.  Instead, Russia needs to engage those countries, political parties and forces who advocate for what de Gaulle called “the Europe of fatherlands“.  Both the AngloZionist Empire and the EU are undergoing the most profound crisis in their history and the writing is on the wall.  Sooner rather than later, one by one, European countries will recover their sovereignty, as will Russia.  Only if the people of Europe succeed in recovering their sovereignty could Russia look for real partnerships in the West, if only because the gradually developing and integrating Eurasian landmass offer tremendous economic opportunities which could be most beneficial to the nations of Europe.  A prosperous Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals” is still a possibility, but that will happen only when the current European Union and NATO are replaced by truly European institutions and the current European  elites replaced by sovereignists.

The people of Russia, EU and, I would argue, the United States all have the same goal and the same enemy:  they want to recover their sovereignty, get rid of their corrupt and, frankly, treacherous elites and liberates themselves from the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire.  This is why pushing the issue of “true sovereignty” (and national traditional values) is, I believe, the most unifying and powerful political idea to defeat the Empire.  This will be a long struggle but the outcome is not in doubt.

The Saker

PS: just as I was sending this article away I came across this article by Paul Craig Roberts “Is Europe Too Brainwashed To Normalize Relations With Russia?” – make sure to also check it out!

INTERVIEW WITH INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER DILYANA GAYTANDZHIEVA, WEAPONS SUPPLIES TO MILITANTS IN SYRIA (START: 20:00 CEST, SATURDAY)

START: 20:00 CEST(Central European Summer Time)

TOPIC: Interview with Dilyana Gaytandzhieva on weapons supplies to Syria and the media secnsorship in Europe.

Dilyana Gaytandzhieva is an investigative reporter authored a report for Trud Newspaper, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply militants in Syria.

Dear friends, you can ask questions about the live stream topics and other issues related to SF in the Youtube chat. (It’s available if you open the live stream in a separate browser tab)

JOURNALIST INTERROGATED, FIRED FOR STORY LINKING CIA AND SYRIA WEAPONS FLIGHTS

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Dilyana Gaytandzhieva

Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

A months-long investigation which tracked and exposed a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has resulted in the interrogation and firing of the Bulgarian journalist who first broke the story. This comes as the original report is finally breaking into mainstream international coverage.

Investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva authored a bombshell report for Trud Newspaper, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting tons of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Those weapons, Gaytandzhieva found, ended up in the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

While it’s long been understood that the US-Gulf-NATO coalition arming rebels inside Syria facilitated the rapid rise of the Islamic State as the group had steady access to a “jihadi Wal-Mart” of weapons (in the words of one former spy and British diplomat), the Trud Newspaper report is the first to provide exhaustive documentation detailing the precise logistical chain of the weapons as they flowed from their country of origin to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. Gaytandzhieva even traveled to Aleppo where she filmed and examined labeled weapons shipping containers held in underground jihadist storehouses.

The Bulgaria-based journalist obtained and published dozens of secret internal memos which were leaked to her by an anonymous source as part of the report. The leaked documents appear to be internal communications between the Bulgarian government and Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Sofia detailing flight plans for Silk Way Airlines, which was essentially operating an “off the books” weapons transport service (not subject to inspections or tax under diplomatic cover) for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Silk Way Airlines has been the subject of other recent investigations involving weapons supplies for the Saudi war on Yemen. In addition, the military monitoring site Balkan Insight has exposed similar weapons cargo flights in and out of neighboring Serbia.

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Silk Way Airlines flight over Birmingham (UK). Image source: Flickr

But perhaps the more explosive finding involves private American companies contracting with the US government to help train and equip militants in Syria. An investigative series by Buzzfeed – the first of which was published in 2015 – named military contractor Purple Shovel LLC as the recipient of two no-bid contracts totaling more $50 million as part of the US train and equip program for Syria. Gaytandzhieva’s report definitively links Purple Shovel and other private American military contractors to the Azerbaijan Silk Way Airlines shipments. One leaked memo includes a cargo manifest for multiple tons of anti-tank grenades purchased in Bulgaria by Purple Shovel which were ostensibly designated for the official consignee – the Ministry of Defense of Ajerbaijan – but which never made it to Ajerbaijan. The documents, however, reveal that the military cargo was offloaded at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, which is one of the US and NATO’s main command centers for covert operations in Syria.

Though Gaytandzhieva’s report is months old and began through a series of smaller investigations, it gained little traction in Western or international press, even though it was promoted on social media and discussed among some of the world’s foremost experts on Syria and the Middle East. However, on Sunday Qatar-based Al Jazeera featured the story while reporting the shocking news that Gaytandzhieva had been interrogated by Bulgarian authorities before being fired from her newspaper:

Gaytandzhieva said on Thursday in a tweet that she was fired from her job at Trud after she was interrogated by the Bulgarian national security which tried to find out her sources.

She said she first got suspicious of the weapons transferred to Syria when she found Bulgarian-made weapons at the hands “terrorists” in Aleppo while reporting on the Syrian war there.

She said that she then traced those weapons to its Bulgarian manufacturer only to find out that those weapons were legally exported to Saudi Arabia, which in turn supplied it to “terrorists” in Syria.

Photo published for 350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists

350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists

At least 350 diplomatic Silk Way Airlines (an Azerbaijani state-run company) flights transported weapons for war conflicts across the world over the last 3 years. The state aircrafts of Azerbaijan…

trud.bg

I’ve just got fired for telling the truth about weapons supplies for  in  on diplomatic flights https://trud.bg/350-diplomatic-flights-carry-weapons-for-terrorists/ 

Al Jazeera is now belatedly highlighting the story in the midst of the current Qatari-Saudi diplomatic war which has resulted in a general airing of dirty laundry as each side continues to accuse the other of supporting terrorism. Regardless, Al Jazeera’s coverage constitutes the first time this story has entered the mainstream. While we’ve reported the recent Trump decision to end the CIA covert program of regime change in Syria, it appears the apparatus for external weapons shipments to jihadists in Syria remains in place through the continuing Silk Way Airlines weapons pipeline. As Al Jazeera reports:

Speaking to Al Jazeera by phone on Sunday from Bulgaria, Gaytandzhieva said: “Saudi Arabia, UAE and the US must stop using the cover of Silk Way Airlines diplomatic flights to supply Eastern European weapons which end up in the hands of terrorists around the world. Diplomatic flights are exempt from checks and inspection.”


Tracking weapons from Eastern Europe to Syrian al-Qaeda: December 2016 Bulgarian news broadcast by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. Brief English commentary begins at 1:00 mark. The report investigates Bulgarian origin rockets and weaponry said to have been in possession of Nusra Front (AQ in Syria). Leaked documents would later confirm Bulgarian weapons shipped to Saudi Arabia as part of the covert Syria program.

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) also carried out their own lengthy investigations which are consistent with Trud News journalist Gaytandzhieva’s findings. Infographic source: Balkan Insight

The CIA program relied heavily on US ally Saudi Arabia to arm anti-Assad jihadists, and while it appears that the White House recently ended the CIA side of things, there’s no evidence to suggest that Saudi Arabia or other participating allied countries ever ceased or even slowed their part of the operations. Also, given that both the CIA and Pentagon contract with private firms acting as middle men to get weapons to the Syrian battlefield, it is uncertain if all aspects of the CIA program have really been shut down. Historically, the CIA has sometimes farmed out legally questionable activities to private contractors for the sake of ‘plausible deniability’. Furthermore, the Pentagon side of the program, which supplies Kurdish and Arab groups in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) appears to be ramping up of late.

Given the latest development of Trud Newspaper firing its own journalist and Bulgarian authorities attempting to locate her sources, it is entirely possible and likely that pressure is building for Trud to remove the story from its website. The new Al Jazeera story has brought fresh international attention to Gaytandzhieva’s findings, which is sure to increase the controversy.

*****

Below are excerpts from the original Trud report with images of select leaked documents. The original report contains dozens of downloadable leaked memos which were translated with contents summarized by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva.

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Government docs leaked by hackers (“Anonymous Bulgaria”) reveal weapons pipeline to terrorists in Syria:

According to these documents, Silk Way Airlines offered diplomatic flights to private companies and arms manufacturers from the US, Balkans, and Israel, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq. Diplomatic flights are exempt of checks, air bills, and taxes, meaning that Silk Way airplanes freely transported hundreds of tons of weapons to different locations around the world without regulation. They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes.

U.S. sends $1 billion worth of weapons

Among the main customers of the “diplomatic flights for weapons” service provided by Silk Way Airlines are American companies, which supply weapons to the US army and US Special Operations Command. The common element in these cases is that they all supply non-US standard weapons; hence, the weapons are not used by the US forces.

According to the register of federal contracts, over the last 3 years American companies were awarded $1billion contracts it total under a special US government program for non-US standard weapon supplies. All of them used Silk Way Airlines for the transport of weapons. In some cases when Silk Way was short of aircrafts due to a busy schedule, Azerbaijan Air Force aircrafts transported the military cargo, although weapons never reached Azerbaijan.

The documents leaked from the Embassy include shocking examples of weapon transport. A case in point: on 12th May 2015 an aircraft of Azerbaijan Air Forces carried 7.9 tons of PG-7V and 10 tons of PG-9V the supposed destination via the route Burgas (Bulgaria)-Incirlik (Turkey)-Burgas-Nasosny (Azerbaijan). The consignor was the American company Purple Shovel, and the consignee – the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. According to the documents, however, the military cargo was offloaded at Incirlik military base and never reached the consignee. The weapons were sold to Purple Shovel by Alguns, Bulgaria, and manufactured by Bulgaria’s VMZ military plant.

According to the federal contracts registry, in December of 2014 USSOCOM signed a $26.7 million contract with Purple Shovel. Bulgaria was indicated as the country of origin of the weapons.

US covert program sent Bulgarian weapons to Al Qaeda via private military contractor 

On 6 June 2015, a 41-year old American national Francis Norvello, an employee of Purple Shovel, was killed in a blast when a rocket-propelled grenade malfunctioned at a military range near the village of Anevo in Bulgaria. Two other Americans and two Bulgarians were also injured. The US Embassy to Bulgaria then released a statement announcing that the U.S. government contractors were working on a U.S. military program to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria. Which resulted in the U.S. Ambassador to Sofia to be immediately withdrawn from her post. They very same weapons as those supplied by Purple Shovel were not used by moderate rebels in Syria. In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehoused full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN).

Saudi Arabia – sponsor and arms distributor

Besides the USA, another country that has purchased huge quantities of Eastern-European weapons and exported them on Silk Way Airlines diplomatic flights is Saudi Arabia. In 2016 and 2017, there were 23 diplomatic flights carrying weapons from Bulgaria, Serbia and Azerbaijan to Jeddah and Riyadh. The consignees were VMZ military plant and Transmobile from Bulgaria, Yugoimport from Serbia, and CHIHAZ from Azerbaijan.

The Kingdom does not buy those weapons for itself, as the Saudi army used only western weapons and those weapons are not compatible with its military standard. Therefore, the weapons transported on diplomatic flights end up in the hands of the terrorist militants in Syria and Yemen that Saudi Arabia officially admits supporting.

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Report links internationally transported weapons to ISIS

On 5 March 2016, an Azerbaijan Air Force aircraft carried 1700 pcs. RPG-7 (consignor: Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan) and 2500 pcs. PG-7VM (consignor: Transmobile Ltd., Bulgaria) for the Defense Ministry of Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic flights from Burgas Airport to Prince Sultan Airport on 18 and 28 February 2017 each carried a further 5080 psc. 40 mm PG-7V for RPG-7 and 24 978 psc. RGD-5. The weapons were exported by Transmobile, Bulgaria to the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia. Such munitions and RPG-7 originating in Bulgaria can often be seen in videos filmed and posted by the Islamic State on their propaganda channels.

Weapons on Silk Way flight manifests appear on the Syrian battlefield months after arrival in Turkey and Saudi Arabia

The 41.2-ton cargo from Baku and Belgrade included: 7.62 mm cartridges, 12 pcs. sniper rifles, 25 pcs. M12 “Black Spear” caliber 12.7x108mm, 25 psc. RBG 40×46 mm/6M11, and 25 pcs. Coyote machine gun 12.7×108 mm with tripods. The same heavy machine gun appeared in videos and photos posted online by militant groups in Idlib and the province of Hama in Syria a few months later. The aircraft also carried: 1999 psc. M70B1 7.62×39 mm and 25 psc. M69A 82 mm. On 26 February 2016, a video featuring same M69A 82 mm weapons was posted on YouTube by a militant group calling itself Division 13 and fighting north of Aleppo.

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

Interestingly, the aircraft that carried the same type of weapons landed in Diyarbakir (Turkey), 235 km away from the border with Syria. Another type of weapon, RBG 40 mm/6M11, which was from the same flight and supposedly destined for Congo too, appeared in a video of the Islamic Brigade of Al Safwa in Northern Aleppo.

After Turkey, the aircraft landed in Saudi Arabia and remained there for a day. Afterwards it landed in Congo and Burkina Faso. A week later, there was an attempted military coup in Burkina Faso.

Full report and downloadable copies of leaked documents are also available here.

Russian Sappers Discover US-Made Weapons in Aleppo in Militant Arms Cache

usa-made-weaponry-for-terrorists-3

Russian sappers deployed to Aleppo made a sensational discovery this week, uncovering a weapons cache left behind by anti-government militants filled to the brim with ammo for heavy weapons manufactured in countries including the US, Germany and Bulgaria.

Major Ivan Gromov, the commander of the mine-clearing group, told the Rossiya 24 television news channel that his group has been discovering Western-made ammunition, from large-caliber rounds for small arms to rocket artillery shells, littered across the city. Heavy rounds and shells include ammunition manufactured in the United States, Germany and Bulgaria, he added.

In a sensational discovery, Gromov’s team and local pro-government militia also found brand new, pristine 122 mm mortar shells, hand grenades and grenade launchers, missiles for multiple rocket launch systems and howitzer shells in a rebel hideout. The source of many of these weapons is clearly marked, with some of the ammo boxes featuring stickers marked ‘From USA for Mutual Defense’.

usa-made-weaponry-for-terrorists-4

Russian sappers arrived in eastern Aleppo at the beginning of December. Since then, they have cleared over 966 hectares (2,387 acres), including 350 km (about 217 miles) worth of roads and 2,149 buildings from explosive devices. A total of nearly 14,700 explosive devices had been found and defused, including over 6,700 IEDs. Just in the last day, the engineers cleared four schools, a kindergarten and nine mosques of explosive devices.


SOURCES:
SputnikNews
Submitted by Lone Bear 
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/sappers-us-weapons/
~

Related Articles


Americans Better Take a Look at This…

Those presently running America have wrecked the country for their own ends, and in the process they have turned us into a nation widely feared and despised in the view of a large portion of the world’s population. The videos I’m posting here offer a sobering view of the extent to which this now seems to be the case.

The video above shows a huge march which took place in Belgrade, Serbia on February 20, 2016. The march was a massive show of solidarity with Russia. You can kind of tell that by the Russian flags and St. George banners proliferating everywhere, but another giveaway is the music. The song is called “The Sacred War.” It is a Russian patriotic song that has been around for a number of years and is mostly associated with World War II.

You need to know the lyrics of this song. Below  is a performance done in St. Petersburg in 2009 and which includes English subtitles:

A little more from the Belgrade march:

 

And now take a deep breath and prepare yourself. Here you will see “The Patriotic War” being performed in China:

And another performance in China:

And another:

And now let’s move on to Bulgaria. Here is a march in support of Russia that took place in front of the Turkish embassy in Sofia on November 28, 2015. Keep in mind, Turkey is our “ally” and a NATO member:

And here is another protest in Bulgaria, this one from February 15, 2015, or roughly a year ago. A machine-translation from the video might be informative: “The Bulgarian people started intense struggle for the withdrawal from NATO andfor the expulsion of NATOus military bases from the territory of Bulgaria.Meetings will take place every Sunday, until the Government listens to the voice of the people and did not fulfill his requirements! Peaceful Bulgarian peopleAnnounces Bulgaria as a zone of peace, and advocates the sovereignty of Bulgaria and countries all over the world! At the beginning of the columns carried hugeBulgarians Bulgarian banner, church bannershorugvii, Great George’s Ribbon,as a symbol of the struggle for sovereignty.”:

And finally one more from Bulgaria:

It would seem that a sizable number of people are beginning to view a “sacred war” against the US and NATO as a coming inevitability and one carrying with it a patriotic duty for all of humanity to fight.

Contact your imbecile, moronic senators and representatives and tell them to stop trying to foment a war with Russia and stop trying to overthrow the government of Syria before the blowback from all this hits us squarely in the face.

Russia Has Iran, Greece Approval for Syria Flights

Local Editor

Iran and Greece granted Russia the right to use its airspace for humanitarian flights to Syria, news agencies reported on Wednesday as Moscow confirmed it military presence in the crisis-hit country.

The press attache of the Russian Embassy in Iran, Maxim Suslov said that has granted permission to Russian aircraft with humanitarian aid on board to fly above the territory of Iran to Syria, Pravda.Ru reported with reference to ITAR-TASS.

Russian aircraftMeanwhile, Greece has also authorized the flyover of Russian airplanes to Syria via Greek airspace, officials at the Russian Embassy in Greece said Wednesday.

“The press service of the embassy of the Russian Federation confirms the receipt of the permission from the Greek authorities for the flyover of Russian airplanes via the airspace of Greece,” a representative of the Russian diplomatic mission in Athens told Interfax.

TASS said that the request covered the period from Sept. 1 to Sept. 24.

Reuters news agency also reportetd that Tehran and Athens granted Moscow such permission.

Earlier, he authorities of Bulgaria officially announced their decision not to grant such a permission to two Russian aircraft to fly in the Bulgarian airspace to Syria.

Representatives of the State Duma of the Russian Federation said that Russia would find an adequate response to such a move from Bulgaria, Pravda.Ru reported.

Russia Confirms Military Presence in Syria


Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed that Russian military experts are in Syria.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the experts are coordinating arms deliveries to Syrian forces aimed at combating “terrorism”.

“We have never made a secret of military-technical cooperation with Syria,” she said, according to TASS.

“We’ve long been supplying weapons and military equipment to Syria. We do this under the existing contracts and in full conformity with international law,” Zakharova said.

“I can confirm and reiterate that there are Russian military specialists in Syria who help to use arriving equipment.”

Zakharova said that Russia would consider providing further anti-terrorism support to Syria if necessary.

“I can reiterate that if additional measures in the interests of boosting anti-terrorism efforts are required, then, undoubtedly, these issues will be additionally considered, but exclusively on the basis of international law of Russian legislature,” she said.

Source: Agencies

09-09-2015 – 14:54 Last updated 09-09-2015 – 14:54

Related Articles

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian 

  

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Hungary: Next Stop on the Putsch Express

Via The Saker

Submitted by Andrew Kahn for Voice of América
(Twitter @akahnnyc)

Once is a conspiracy theory. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice gets people wondering. Four times and the polished denials begin as conspiracy theory has become neoliberal reality.

So it is in the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet regions. Yugoslavia, Croatia, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine. And where next? The number has gone way beyond four – the time of polished denials. To deny the conspiracy is meaningless at this point for it is not merely a conspiracy shrouded in the minds of tin-hat quacks but it is in the open for all to see; that is, whoever wishes to open their eyes to what is happening.

Were the choice words of Victoria Nuland not enough? Was the feting of John McCain by Ukrainian fascists not enough? Or the continuous duplicity in the words of any official tasked with parroting the lines of democracy devised by the most undemocratic geopolitical Machiavellis? When duplicity and hypocrisy mix in the cauldron of Washington’s witches’ brew being stirred in Brussels’ kitchen and served at tables in Tbilisi, Kiev, Grozny, and now Budapest.

And why Budapest? Why now? Why Hungary? Perhaps George Soros sees his days being numbered and he has saved his country for last. A collusion with the elites to rule his own country. Rather ironic that the NATO operations for liberty are now knocking on the door of Mr. Soros’ country. Or, perhaps, less conspiratorial – for who wants to peddle in conspiracies? – it is simply the latest salvo in the war to prolong the life of a dying United States-NATO hegemon.

One wonders whether the denizens of think tanks in Europe and the United States lay their heads down at night and count Russians and Chinese and any member of the Global South jumping over rapidly shrinking stacks of US dollars and Euros. One Russian Nationalist, Two Chinese Communists, Three Iranian Scientists. Like a drumbeat they see the alliance of Russia and China, Russia and its former allies, China and Africa, Iran and South America – the world with itself, devoid of a cowering pandering to the dictates of the post-WW2 leaders of freedom. Perhaps they see this as their eyes close on feather down pillows. They see this and they know the nightmare is nigh. A pill they need. A pill called Putsch that is branded and copyrighted with its own bold imprint on the pill – “Civil Society Democracy”. 

But I digress…why Hungary? Just a few years ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was going to become the darling of Washington. He was a right-leaning centrist of sorts whose views on immigrants would make Republican xenophobes proud but was sufficiently in agreement with the European Union and global capitalism when it came to economics and foreign policy. He was our buddy who could be counted on to serve as a bulwark against a possibly rising Russia under Vladimir Putin. But time passed and we find ourselves in the mid-20teens with the European Union in free-fall, wracked by a collapsed economy and Western European nations caught between liberal nebbishes and xenophobic rightists. And as time passed, Prime Minister Orban cleverly decided to see which way the winds were blowing and they were blowing towards the Kremlin. Center-right governments in Europe are being outflanked on their Right yet still slavishly remain within the EU paradigm – a suicide wish when farther-right populism is rightfully (if from the wrong ideological rationale) calling them out as puppets of Brussels. Public support for austerity is not that fashionable among blue-collar workers in Europe it should be noted and Orban was attuned to this.

So whether from a desire to stay in power or an actual interest in helping his right-leaning Christian-minded constituency that had been left to rot by Europe in the new post-Soviet world of liberalism, Orban decided to shift from ally of the West alone to hedging his bets between the West and Russia. Yet 2012 may have been the turning point when he left puppet status and he spurned IMF demands (more on this later) and began growing closer to President Putin who by this time had become the ultimate thorn in the side of NATO. A resurgent Russia was always being countered by the West – whether in Chechnya or Georgia – but the game had suddenly intensified with President Putin deciding that Syria would not be lost, Crimea would be re-unified with Russia and Russia would stand up once again to the West. 

This move by Orban to become part of the Russian orbit – defined as any country that does not swallow any fact-free attacks on Russia – marked him for targeting. Not only was Orban talking to Russia and attempting to navigate a non-aligned course but he was supportive of the boogeyman South Stream pipeline that Russia was planning – a pipeline that would navigate territory not controlled outright by the West. For a former Communist country to put this red flag in front of the West was, of course, verboten. Nevermind that Hungary had every economic reason to be non-aligned and find economic benefit from wherever it could in the face of EU collapse. In realpolitik, non-aligned means sleeping with the enemy – the Russian Bear.

Some may see Hungary’s moves – both its warming relations with Russia and support for the South Stream pipeline – as meaningless but for the United States every little country, every little leader, every little rebel group that opposes hegemony is a threat to be dealt with whether they are true rebels or are former allies like Orban who are now merely asking for some economic wiggle-room outside of IMF and Brussels dictates. And if there is really an honest questioning as to whether one country looking to have Russia as an economic partner is considered a threat one needs only to see the fate of the other Viktor – Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine. 

Indeed, even before Orban’s moves towards Russia, it was his steps in regards to the banking industry that first set the international world – or at least the “world” as defined by the borders of Europe and the United States – on its head.

At the end of 2011, the Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of banking changes which would place the national bank under closer control of the elected government with the vice presidents of the bank to be selected by the prime minister as opposed to appointment by the Bank’s president. It should be noted clearly that this was a 293-4 vote and not merely a party-line vote dominated by Orban’s Fidesz Party. When complaints are made by Hungarian opposition that Orban was taking dictatorial control remember this 293-4 number. Additionally approved at that time was a merger between the national bank and its financial regulator – essentially, Hungary had decided that the Bank would be under civilian control as opposed to an “impartial” leader which, as we recognize, is often determined not by impartiality but rather by subservience to international Capital’s wishes.

It was at this time the European Central Bank (ECB) began voicing concerns about the “independence” of the Hungarian National Bank and in the previous year of 2010, Orban did not renew a previous standby loan from the IMF, “opting instead for market financing and to keep the IMF out of government economic policies”i.

For Western Capital, this was clearly a slap in the face and a troubling sign that Hungary under Viktor Orban would use the IMF as it suited them as opposed to other way around. Orban had decided that taxes on the banking sector as well the nationalization of private pension funds was more important than renewing IMF standby loans.

The usual key words are being bandied about by the guardians of democracy. Orban is destroying civil society, cracking down on NGOs, opposing liberal democracy and he is becoming a dictator. Of course, no small reason for this Western claptrap is Orban’s decision to spurn IMF suggestions to cut pensions and remove a tax on banks. Again, one must recall that Orban is not anti-IMF by nature – having been negotiating with the IMF – but realizes that at a certain point, manure is simply manure. As he noted in 2012 in regards to IMF loan conditions he spurned: the deal “contains everything that is not in Hungary’s interests.”ii This was followed in 2013 by the head of Hungary’s Central Bank, Gyorgy Matolcsy, writing a letter to IMF head Christine Lagarde and telling her to shutter the IMF’s Budapest office as its services were no longer needed.iii Hungary would fully repay its IMF loan with a bold “Adios” on the final check.

In a 2013 article in the New York Times, it notes, regarding the then-newly appointed National Bank Director Gyorgy Matolcsy:

There is also concern among economists that Mr. Matolcsy will seek to emulate the economic stimulus

known as quantitative easing used by the U.S. Federal Reserve or Bank of England – essentially, a way

of pumping money in the economy. That, economists warn, could prove perilous in a small country

like Hungary that cannot finance itself without foreign capital.iv

In essence, in the name of banking freedom and independence, the European Union, IMF and ECB were looking to keep their own monopolistic control over Hungary and perpetuate a master-servant dynamic that they promulgate and enforce with an iron fist in most of the developing and post-Soviet world. Hungary’s decision to break from this was seen by the West (a grouping that should not be seen as including its stepchildren in Eastern and Central Europe) as tantamount to revolt. As the New York Times article hinted at, Hungary was looking for self-reliance and had begun to chart a course that would not lead to IMF loans or independent loans from Western European countries that it was in the process of politely spurning.

Not only was Hungary moving to economic independence – despite protestations that it was losing independence – but Hungary had made a conscious decision, as noted before, to be non-aligned in the rapidly deteriorating relations between the West and Russia. Strategically placed near Russia and within the region of an expanding NATO, this too was not to be accepted. The NATO encirclement of Russia could not be allowed to hit a roadblock with a pesky right-populist government in Hungary.

So it is that Viktor Orban has gone from reportedly praising U.S. Senator John McCain in 2008 as a “national hero in the most original sense of this expression” to John McCain now speaking of Hungary under Orban as “a nation that’s on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-Fascist dictator”.v

Warming relations with Russia, taxes on banks, nationalizing pension funds, spurning the IMF, traditionalist morality…all left for Orban to do to antagonize his former allies would be to send troops to support Hezbollah or some such effrontery.

Now there is never a country or leader who tries to break free of neoliberal policies and align with the enemies of Western freedom that is not marked for regime change for lack of a more diplomatic term. So it is that the question arises as to who in Hungary would take up the mantle as the reformer who will save Hungary from running headfirst – and intentionally – down the path to an illiberal democracy. In the words of Orban himself:

“…the new state that we are building is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not deny foundational values of liberalism, as freedom, etc.. But it does not make this ideology a central element of state organization, but applies a specific, national, particular approach in its stead.”vi

This is the point where it gets difficult for the United States and Brussels. Finding a neoliberal apparatchik in Hungary will be a wee bit harder than it was in Ukraine. While Ukraine had neoliberals who had no qualms about using fascist muscle and US State Department funds to gain power, Hungary is not so simple. Hungary has fascists in the form of the surging Jobbik Party that is pushing Orban from the right, a Fidesz Party of which Orban is a member that is charting a self-proclaimed illiberal path, a Socialist Party that barely registers 10% support and several minor parties with minimal support.

The likely attempt at this point will be a cobbled-together coalition of Fidesz officials who will bought back to support right-leaning liberal policies that Orban once supported, “reformed for the camera” Jobbik blue collar voters, apolitical but corruption-opposing college students, random members of the nebulously-defined civil society and most valuably capitalist technocrats to round out the bit. Blue collar workers as the goon squads fighting for a dystopic utopia where civil society’s technocrats will rule with a punch to the buttocks of the workers in the name of fiscal responsibility. Welcome back IMF.

Enter the Two Vs – Zsolt Varady and Gabor Vago – one the entrepreneur and the other the technocrat-politician.

To begin with, we have Mr. Varady, the capitalist tech entrepreneur and founder of the now-defunct Hungarian social media website iwiw.hu. If his name means nothing to you, etch it in your mind as his name was quietly making the rounds in reports on Hungarian protests in early 2015.

Politically, Mr. Varady came to (im)maturity this past October in his novel lawsuit against every Hungarian political party for the crime of “creating and maintaining a tax system that compels enterprises to commit tax fraud and tax evasion”. No real complaints with the dismantling of social welfare programs following the collapse of the socialist bloc. No. Simply a lawsuit blaming political parties for forcing corporations into tax fraud and evasion. Of all the complaints that could be laid before the feet of successive Hungarian governments, Mr. Varady decided on this.

Mr. Varady noted that his purpose in filing the legal proceedings – which he notes are merely “of secondary importance {to}…the related PR” was to improve “tax-paying morale”vii “To achieve an optimum tax system the state should be radically reformed. I cannot do that alone,” he says. “We need the support of considerable sections of society. The activities of civil society can serve the much needed umbrella for these messages.viii To paraphrase: Business doesn’t like Orban’s taxes so the working class which we will call “civil society” will serve our interests by being the democratic face for our plans to change the tax code in support of a minority.

Strike one in favor of Mr. Varady in the eyes of the West and IMF. Reform the tax code. Yet what of his political plans? Is he an idealist who wants to push a political agenda that may eventually conflict with foreign support for an Orban putsch? Well not at all. Indeed, he promotes as his next step in politicking the creation of “a website that helps people in civil society organization” which will be funded by “crowd-funding” and, here’s the kicker: “Perhaps we can also receive assistance from foreign foundations and probably émigré Hungarians will also chip in.”ix

One can see the wheels turning in Mr. Varady’s eyes. He of the recent “civil society” protests in Hungary. He of the white knight status who can step into the void as the bridge between all the necessary groups to bring democracy to Hungary and freedom from fascism to civil society. The strategy of street protest led by “civil society” is classic for who can oppose the desires of civil people? But keep his above comment in mind. “We” – meaning his class of neoliberal entrepreneurs seeking help from “foreign foundations” – “need the support of considerable sections of society” who will be the “umbrella for these messages”. Yes my friends, the pictures of civil society will be broadcast while the true agenda will be hidden. The goal, as Mr. Varady notes will be “new foundations” led by “teams of experts that are competent in their respective fields and are committed”x otherwise known as malleable technocrats.

Mr. Varady will be the counterpoint to Orban. An unelected Western-friendly gentleman simply looking to aid civil society against an elected modern-day “Mussolini” as Newsweek so appellated him.xi Mr. Varady will reverse the so-called “Putinisation of Hungary” and return ill-defined liberal democracy to the nation.

Lest anyone question Mr. Varady’s bona fides in being ready for the struggle, he has set the stage for force to be used by noting, despite lack of concrete examples, that “the Establishment” (read: the Orban government) “only understands the language of force”.

Not to be outdone by Mr. Varady is Gabor Vago, the fresh-faced but apparently politics-weary technocrat who bolted from the Politics Can Be Different (LMP) Party in early 2014 after alleged intra-party power struggles. Similar to Mr. Varady, his is a belief that politics is apparently déclassé and that a non-partisan movement is required. Anti-politics is the modus operandi of such civil society figures and one that plays perfectly into the hands of outside influences which will use the feint of anti-politics to push what ultimately becomes a purely economic-political putsch.

Many of the same talking points used by Mr. Varady were echoed by Gabor Vago in an interview with the business weekly Figyelo. Speaking of a December protest that he organized, Mr. Vago noted that the protest which included a punk concert – which he referred to as a “meta message” – was held for the purpose of promoting “a shift in the attitude of the tax authority”xii while using the protestors free-floating discontent as the muscle/street voice of the protest.

Mr. Vago, when asked about the next step replied: “Emphasis should gradually shift onto building communities…With time those micro communities can form a network.”xiii Perhaps based on his former political background, Mr. Vago was less circumspect than Mr. Varady in terms of speaking of the need for “power”. When queried regarding this issue he answered: “True, a change would require power. But that will only become a relevant question later.” When asked “When” he replied: “Perhaps within a year, perhaps in three or seven years’ time. One has to wait until the opportune moment.”xiv

As noted before, the amalgam protest movement requires technocrats and as Mr. Vago noted, without using the word “technocrat”:

Any change of elites would require the participation of experts. We need the support of people who took part in the transition [from Communism to the multi-party system] but not necessarily as politicians. People who have proved their talent in whatever field and think that the present regime is not viable. People who think their integrity puts them at a disadvantage and wish to turn Hungary into a country where you can be honest and competitive at the same time. Building from grass roots does not mean that we only organize ourselves in student clubs and romkocsma (alternative art pubs). We wish to approach people in all walks of life, ranging from top managers to unskilled rural workers.xv

In the same interview he was questioned as to how these groups will be coordinated:

Q: During the demonstrations against the Internet tax you were pleased to have involved young people who had been unaffected by politics until then. But only a few weeks on, only a fraction of those young people took to the streets. How can you involve people in long-term processes that hardly have any affinity to politics?

A: We need to identify the opinion leaders in existing groups and train them how to run such communities. Once we have won those opinion leaders, they will bring along their friends and the friends of friends. Demonstrations as such are not our ultimate goal, instead, to shape a democratic political community throughout Hungary.xvi

In essence, there will be a politico-technocrat elite overseeing the organization and release into society of nebulously-defined “opinion leaders” who will train people to run civil society “communities”. In theory it sounds wonderful – civil society having its rights. Yet rhetoric aside, the track record of Western-backed democratic upheavals needs to be viewed. The picture, as we know, is not too pretty of a sight whether in Georgia, Ukraine or elsewhere in the region.

Hungary is next in line for “democratic change” brought by the winds of the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy mixed with a touch of destabilization tactics from the CANVAS playbook of Srda Popovic.xvii

The question as to whether Hungary will meet the wrath of Washington and Brussels is not so much “if”, but “when”.

Once is conspiracy theory. Twice is coincidence. And now it has become reality.


i http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2011/12/201112316843684157.html
ii http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-19514325
iii http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/hungary-calls-on-imf-to-close-its-budapest-office-a-911250.html
iv http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/business/global/selection-of-hungarian-bank-chief-raises-fears.html
v http://budapestbeacon.com/politics/senator-john-mccain-calls-viktor-orban-neo-fascist-dictator/
vi http://budapestbeacon.com/public-policy/full-text-of-viktor-orbans-speech-at-baile-tusnad-tusnadfurdo-of-26-july-2014/
vii http://www.budapesttelegraph.com/news/814/zsolt_varady_on_demonstrations_and_plans_for_a_civil_website
viii Ibid.
ix Ibid.
x Ibid.
xi http://www.newsweek.com/hungarys-mussolini-vows-make-eu-member-illiberal-state-262127
xii http://www.budapesttelegraph.com/news/830/“our_goal_is_a_democratic_political_community_”_an_organizer_of_demos_says
xiii Ibid.
xiv Ibid.
xv Ibid.
xvi Ibid.
xvii http://www.occupy.com/article/exposed-globally-renowned-activist-collaborated-intelligence-firm-stratfor

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Why Syria, The Saudis,The Middle East, Russia And The West…..

Author’s Note… I created the maps below early last year (April) with the help of a friend who works as an energy analyst. After hours of research and creation, it became clear to me why the majority of  events and countries involved in the region were playing out as they were. Oil and natural gas, and the access or distribution of the resource dictates the actions of a number of regional countries and beyond. Going forward, I hope these maps can shed some light as to why there seems to be so much (coordinated) chaos in the recent past and present. Thanks -Trpintel

____________________________________________________________

TRPINTEL | TRPINTEL

HD View Of Image Above: HERE

________________________________________________________

TRPINTEL | TRPINTEL

HD View Of Image Above: HERE

______________________________________________________

TRPINTEL | TRPINTEL

HD View Of Image Above: HERE

______________________________________________________

TRPINTEL | TRPINTEL

  HD View Of Image Above: HERE

_______________________________________________________

TRPINTEL | TRPINTEL

HD View Of Image Above: HERE

_______________________________________________________

My Points Of Note (To Consider)…. Or Not

– Its now apparent to see why Turkey and The Saudis have been so persistent in toppling Syria… To get a direct pipeline through Syria to tap into ( no pun intended) the TANAP/TAP pipeline… Signifying an undercut to Russia and a monopoly to Western Europe’s supply of hydrocarbons. Interesting to note that the Saudi’s decision to flood the market with cheap oil becomes clear as their original plans have not come to fruition and their adversaries are poised to reshuffle the world order in regards to energy supply.

– Turkey’s meddling is clear as their geographical location makes them an integral part of any plan to bring hydrocarbons to the EU and beyond. Erdogan has a desire to re-instate the Ottoman empire by being the major hub of distribution East and West. Like the Saudi’s they thought their plan would go accordingly fast, but the resistance in Syria has made them a pariah on the world stage. Interesting to note that a recent massive pipeline deal with Russia is a significant shift in this geo-political war and I believe signified a shift in their future plans in Syria and the region. They understand where their bread is buttered and want to switch sides as they see the writing on the wall. The Saudi’s are the opposite and will continue their disastrous foreign policy, but they do have alot of money to throw at a sinking ship.

– If one remembers Senator MCcains forays into Syria and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria) to strongarm nations to aquiesce to “Democracy”. The inter-connectors map shows the real reason he was so adamant to push for action here and nearer to Russia (Ukraine). Quite simply, out-right economic war against Russia and the anger at their position to control the supply of fuels west.

– Iran has lots and lots of LNG reserves and the EU knows that and desires some way to receive those supplies. They are in a predicament because of past demonization of Iran into a false monster. The fact is that Iran is poised to explode economically(good way). If they are allowed into the legitimate economic world, sans sanctions, that would also facilitate a reshuffling of the regional order. That frankly scares certain powers, because they would be left out in the cold.  Therefore the toppling of Syria is also an attack on Iran and its potential to dictate the future happenings in the region.

– The above fact is the reason we have seen the softening up to Iran and idea of lifting sanctions, but on the other hand the failure of recent talks to come to concrete agreements, because both sides to Iran are battling to have their results.  The truth is that physical realities will dictate the future and religious/philosophical ideals will fall to the wayside as countries have to feed and fuel their people.

– The Qataris are another interesting facet to this chess game as they were at first adamant regime changers in N Africa and Syria, but as they saw the writing on the wall and had a lot to lose if they went down with the sinking ship, have changed their tune and backed away from the fray (per say) to reinstate relations with whom they see as the eventual victors in this conflict.

– ISIS is nothing but blow-back and an alternative plan to carve up Syria for the benefit of Turkey and The House Of Saud. I will refer to my article I wrote early last year (HERE) and the idea of blow-back. Israel and Jordan (their leaders) better be careful with their foreign policy desicions because the more and more they play in the mud, the dirtier they become and eventually something they will not be able to clean up. I am under no illusion the power behind these forces and their ability to continue the facilitation of pure evil ( I always refer to this conflict as the most evil in history and ever put upon a people and nation).

In closing, things will happen as they are supposed to and the powers that be will eventually conclude this war when their interest are no longer viable in the long term. The important thing to note, who sees the writing on the wall and accepts the inevitable outcome and those that are too far gone to change their actions. These things have already happend and we who are looking on from the outside must watch. These events and actions are playing out in terms of decades and not months or weeks. Therefore, it is important for one to watch these events and think  in that context to better understand why things happen the way they do and not to get caught up in the everyday hysteria tha seems perpetual in all information outlets. Thanks for reading and stay tuned… Trpintel

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Ukrainian crisis news. Latest news of Ukraine, Russia, Serbia ,Bulgaria

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The Real Reason Russia Cancelled South Stream

20140818_southstream-2

The Russians called the EU’s bluff by pulling out of the project instead of accepting the EU’s conditions and are cutting deals with China and Turkey instead.

By Alexander Mercouris ~ Russia Insider

The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.

In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe.   This was the period of Europe’s great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies of gas.  It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy.  Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies.  This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world.  The EU calls this “energy security” – a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.

It never happened that way.  Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands.

After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatization in the oil industry was reversed.

One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because it reversed this trend of privatization in the oil industry.

In the gas industry the process of privatisation never really got started.  Gas export continued to be controlled by Gazprom, maintaining its position as a state owned monopoly gas exporter.  Since Putin came to power Gazprom’s position as a state owned Russian monopoly has been made fully secure.

Much of the anger that exists in the west towards Putin can be explained by European and western resentment at his refusal and that of the Russian government to the break up of Russia’s energy monopolies and to the “opening up” (as it is euphemistically called) of the Russian energy industry to the advantage of western companies.  Many of the allegations of corruption that are routinely made against Putin personally are intended to insinuate that he opposes the “opening up” of the Russian energy industry and the break up and privatisation of Gazprom and Rosneft because he has a personal stake in them (in the case of Gazprom, that he is actually its owner).  If one examines in detail the specific allegations of corruption made against Putin (as I have done) this quickly becomes obvious.

This agenda of forcing Russia to privatise and break up its energy monopolies has never gone away.  This is why Gazprom, despite the vital and reliable service it provides to its European customers, comes in for so much criticism.  When Europeans complain about Europe’s energy dependence upon Russia, they express their resentment at having to buy gas from a single Russian state owned company (Gazprom) as opposed to their own western companies operating in Russia.

This resentment exists simultaneously with a belief, very entrenched in Europe, that Russia is somehow dependent upon Europe as a customer for its gas and as a supplier of finance and technology.

This combination of resentment and overconfidence is what lies behind the repeated European attempts to legislate in Europe on energy questions in a way that is intended to force Russia to “open up” its the energy industry there.

The first attempt was the so-called Energy Charter, which Russia signed but ultimately refused to ratify.  The latest attempt is the EU’s so-called Third Energy Package.

This is presented as a development of EU anti-competition and anti-monopoly laws.  In reality, as everyone knows, it is targeted at Gazprom, which is a monopoly, though obviously not a European one.

This is the background to the conflict over South Stream.  The EU authorities have insisted that South Stream must comply with the Third Energy Package even though the Third Energy Package came into existence only after the outline agreements for South Stream had been already reached.

Compliance with the Third Energy Package would have meant that though Gazprom supplied the gas it could not own or control the pipeline through which gas was  supplied.

Were Gazprom to agree to this, it would acknowledge the EU’s authority over its operations.  It would in that case undoubtedly face down the line more demands for more changes to its operating methods. Ultimately this would lead to demands for changes in the structure of the energy industry in Russia itself.

What has just happened is that the Russians have said no.  Rather than proceed with the project by submitting to European demands, which is what the Europeans expected, the Russians have to everyone’s astonishment instead pulled out of the whole project.

This decision was completely unexpected.  As I write this, the air is of full of angry complaints from south-eastern Europe that they were not consulted or informed of this decision in advance.  Several politicians in south-eastern Europe (Bulgaria especially) are desperately clinging to the idea that the Russian announcement is a bluff (it isn’t) and that the project can still be saved.  Since the Europeans cling to the belief that the Russians have no alternative to them as a customer, they were unable to anticipate and cannot now explain this decision.

Here it is important to explain why South Stream is important to the countries of south-eastern Europe and to the European economy as a whole.

All the south eastern European economies are in bad shape.  For these countries South Stream was a vital investment and infrastructure project, securing their energy future.  Moreover the transit fees that it promised would have been a major foreign currency earner.

russian_gas_in_europe_-final

For the EU, the essential point is that it depends on Russian gas.  There has been a vast amount of talk in Europe about seeking alternative supplies.  Progress in that direction had been to put it mildly small.  Quite simply alternative supplies do not exist in anything like the quantity needed to replace the gas Europe gets from Russia.

There has been some brave talk of supplies of US liquefied natural gas replacing gas supplied by pipeline from Russia.  Not only is such US gas inherently more expensive than Russian pipeline gas, hitting European consumers hard and hurting European competitiveness.  It is unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity.  Quite apart from the probable dampening effects of the recent oil price fall on the US shale industry, on past record the US as a voracious consumer of energy will consume most or all of the energy from shales it produces.  It is unlikely to be in a position to export much to Europe.  The facilities to do this anyway do not exist, and are unlikely to exist for some time if ever.

Other possible sources of gas are problematic to say the least.  Production of North Sea gas is falling.  Imports of gas from north Africa and the Persian Gulf are unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity.  Gas from Iran is not available for political reasons.  Whilst that might eventually change, the probability is when it does that the Iranians (like the Russians) will decide to direct their energy flow eastwards, towards India and China, rather than to Europe.

For obvious reasons of geography Russia is the logical and most economic source of Europe’s gas.  All alternatives come with economic and political costs that make them in the end unattractive.

The EU’s difficulties in finding alternative sources of gas were cruelly exposed by the debacle of the so-called Nabucco pipeline project to bring Europe gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia.  Though talked about for years in the end it never got off the ground because it never made economic sense.

Meanwhile, whilst Europe talks about diversifying its supplies, it is Russia which is actually cutting the deals.

Russia has sealed a key deal with Iran to swap Iranian oil for Russian industrial goods.  Russia has also agreed to invest heavily in the Iranian nuclear industry.  If and when sanctions on Iran are lifted the Europeans will find the Russians already there.  Russia has just agreed a massive deal to supply gas to Turkey (about which more below).  Overshadowing these deals are the two huge deals Russia has made this year to supply gas to China.

gazprom-3

Russia’s energy resources are enormous but they are not infinite.  The second deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe.  The gas volumes involved in the Turkish deal almost exactly match those previously intended for South Stream.  The Turkish deal replaces South Stream.

These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe.  Though it will take time for the full effect to become clear, the consequences of for Europe are grim.  Europe is looking at a serious energy shortfall, which it will only be able to make up by buying energy at a much higher price.

Russia-China-Gas-Supply-Route-690

These Russian deals with China and Turkey have been criticised and even ridiculed for providing Russia with a lower price for its gas than that paid by Europe.

The actual difference in price is not as great as some allege.  Such criticism anyway overlooks the fact that price is only one part in a business relationship.

By redirecting gas to China, Russia cements economic links with the country that it now considers its key strategic ally and which has (or which soon will have) the world’s biggest and fastest growing economy.  By redirecting gas to Turkey, Russia consolidates a burgeoning relationship with Turkey of which it is now the biggest trading partner.

Turkey is a key potential ally for Russia, consolidating Russia’s position in the Caucasus and the Black Sea.  It is also a country of 76 million people with a $1.5 trillion rapidly growing economy, which over the last two decades has become increasingly alienated and distanced from the EU and the West.

By contrast, by redirecting gas away from Europe, Russia leaves behind a market for its gas which is economically stagnant and which (as the events of this year have shown) is irremediably hostile.  No one should be surprised that Russia has given up on a relationship from which it gets from its erstwhile partner an endless stream of threats and abuse, combined with moralising lectures, political meddling and now sanctions.  No relationship, business or otherwise, can work that way and the one between Russia and Europe is no exception.

I have said nothing about Ukraine since in my opinion this has little bearing on this issue.

South Stream was first conceived because of Ukraine’s continuous abuse of its position as a transit state – something which is likely to continue.  It is important to say that this fact was acknowledged in Europe as much as in Russia.  It was because Ukraine perennially abuses its position as a transit state that the South Stream project had the grudging formal endorsement of the EU.  Basically, the EU needs to circumvent the Ukraine to secure its energy supplies every bit as much as Russia wanted a route around Ukraine to avoid it.

Ukraine’s friends in Washington and Brussels have never been happy about this, and have constantly lobbied against South Stream.  The point is however that it was Russia which pulled the plug on South Stream when it had the option of going ahead with it by accepting the Europeans’ conditions.  In other words the Russians consider the problems posed by the Ukraine as a transit state to be a lesser evil than the conditions the EU was attaching to South Stream .

South Stream would anyway take years to build and its cancellation therefore has no bearing on the current Ukrainian crisis.

The reason the Russians decided they could cancel it is because they have decided Russia’s future is in selling its energy to China and Turkey and other states in Asia (more gas deals are pending with Korea and Japan and possibly also with Pakistan and India) than to Europe.  Given that this is so, for Russia South Stream has lost its point.  That is why in their characteristically direct way, rather than accept the Europeans’ conditions, the Russians pulled the plug on it.

In doing so the Russians have called the Europeans’ bluff.  So far from Russia being dependent on Europe as its energy customer, it is Europe which has antagonised, probably irreparably, its key economic partner and energy supplier.

Before finishing I would however first say something about those who have come out worst of all from this affair.  These are the corrupt and incompetent gaggle of politicians who pretend to be the government of Bulgaria.  Had these people had a modicum of dignity and self respect they would have told the EU Commission when it brought up the Third Energy Package to take a running jump.  If Bulgaria had made clear its intention to press ahead with the South Stream project, there is no doubt it would have been built.  There would of course have been an almighty row within the EU as Bulgaria openly flouted the Third Energy Package, but Bulgaria would have been acting in its national interests and would have had within the EU no shortage of friends.   In the end it would have won through.

Instead, under pressure from individuals like Senator John McCain, the Bulgarian leadership behaved like the provincial politicians they are, and tried to run at the same time with both the EU hare and the Russian hounds.  The result of this imbecile policy is to offend Russia, Bulgaria’s historic ally, whilst ensuring that the Russian gas which might have flown to Bulgaria and transformed the country, will instead flow to Turkey, Bulgaria’s historic enemy.

The Bulgarians are not the only ones to have acted in this craven fashion.  All the EU countries, even those with historic ties to Russia, have supported the EU’s various sanctions packages against Russia notwithstanding the doubts they have expressed about the policy.  Last year Greece, another country with strong ties to Russia, pulled out of a deal to sell its natural gas company to Gazprom because the EU disapproved of it, even though it was Gazprom that offered the best price.

This points to a larger moral.  Whenever the Russians act in the way they have just done, the Europeans respond with bafflement and anger, of which there is plenty around at the moment.  The EU politicians who make the decisions that provoke these Russian actions seem to have this strange assumption that whilst it is fine for the EU to sanction Russia as much as it wishes, Russia will never do the same to the EU.  When Russia does, there is astonishment, accompanied always by a flood of mendacious commentary about how Russia is behaving “aggressively” or “contrary to its interests” or has “suffered a defeat”.  None of this is true as the rage and recriminations currently sweeping through the EU’s corridors (of which I am well informed) bear witness.

In July the EU sought to cripple Russia’s oil industry by sanctioning the export of oil drilling technology to Russia.  That attempt will certainly fail as Russia and the countries it trades with (including China and South Korea) are certainly capable of producing this technology themselves.

By contrast through the deals it has made this year with China, Turkey and Iran, Russia has dealt a devastating blow to the energy future of the EU.  A few years down the line Europeans will start to discover that moralising and bluff comes with a price.  Regardless, by cancelling South Stream, Russia has imposed upon Europe the most effective of the sanctions we have seen this year..

~

SOURCES:

~

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Russia, Turkey pivot across Eurasia

 

By Pepe Escobar 

The latest, spectacular “Exit South Stream, Enter Turk Stream” Pipelinistan gambit will be sending big geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia for quite some time. This is what the New Great Game in Eurasia is all about.

In a nutshell, a few years ago Russia devised North Stream – fully operational – and South Stream – still a project – to bypass unreliable Ukraine as a gas transit nation. Now Russia devises a new sweet deal with Turkey to bypass the “non-constructive” (Putin’s words) approach of the European Commission (EC) concerning the European “Third Energy Package”, which prohibits one company from controlling the full cycle of extraction, transportation and sale of energy resources.
Background is essential to understand the current game. Already five years ago I was following in detail Pipelineistan’s ultimateopera – the war between rival pipelines South Stream and Nabucco. Nabucco eventually became road kill. South Stream may eventually be resurrected, but only if the EC comes to its senses (don’t bet on it.)

The 3,600 kilometer South Stream should be in place by 2016, branching out to Austria and the Balkans/Italy. Gazprom owns it with a 50% stake – along with Italy’s ENI (20%), French EDF (15%) and German Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF (15%). As it stands, these European energy majors are not exactly beaming – to say the least. For months, Gazprom and the EC were haggling about a solution, but in the end Brussels predictably succumbed to its own mediocrity – and relentless US pressure over weak-link and European Union member Bulgaria.

Russia still gets to build a pipeline under the Black Sea, but one now redirected to Turkey and, crucially, pumping the same amount of gas South Stream would. Not to mention Russia gets to build a new LNG (liquefied natural gas) central hub in the Mediterranean. Thus Gazprom has not spent US$5 billion in vain (finance, engineering costs). The redirection makes total business sense. Turkey is Gazprom’s second-biggest customer after Germany; much bigger than Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria combined.

Russia also advances a unified gas distribution network capable of delivering natural gas from anywhere in Russia to any hub alongside Russia’s borders.

And as if it was needed, Russia gets yet another graphic proof that its real growth market in the future is Asia, especially China – not a fearful, stagnated, austerity-devastated, politically paralyzed EU. The evolving Russia-China strategic partnership implies Russia as complementary to China, excelling in major infrastructure projects from building of dams to laying out pipelines. This is trans-Eurasia business with a sharp geopolitical reach and not subjected to ideology-drenched politics.

Russian “defeat”? Really? 

Turkey also made a killing. It’s not only the deal with Gazprom; Moscow will build no less than Turkey’s entire nuclear industry, and there will be increased soft power interaction (more trade and tourism). Most of all, Turkey is now increasingly on the verge of becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); Moscow is actively lobbying for it.

This means Turkey acceding to a privileged position as a major hub simultaneously in the Eurasian Economic Belt and of course the Chinese New Silk Road(s). The EU blocks Turkey? Turkey looks East. That’s Eurasian integration on the move.

Washington has tried very hard to create a New Berlin Wall from the Baltics to the Black Sea to “isolate” Russia. And yet Team “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” in Washington never saw it coming – yet another Putin judo/chess/go counterpunch applied exactly across the Black Sea.

Asia Times Online has been reporting for years how Turkey’s key strategic imperative is to configure itself as the indispensable energy crossroads from East to West – transiting everything from Iraqi oil to Caspian Sea gas. Oil from Azerbaijan already transits Turkey via the Bill Clinton/Zbig Brzezinski-propelled BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan) pipeline. Turkey would also be the crossroads if a Trans-Caspian pipeline is ever built (slim chances as it stands), pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, then transported to Turkey and finally Europe.


So what Putin’s judo/chess/go counterpunch accomplished with a single move is to have stupid EU sanctions once again hurt the EU. The German economy is already hurting badly because of lost Russia business.

The EC brilliant “strategy” revolves around the EU’s Third Energy Package, which requires that pipelines and the natural gas flowing inside them must be owned by separate companies. The target of this package has always been Gazprom – which owns pipelines in many Central and Eastern European nations. The target within the target has always been South Stream.

Now it’s up to Bulgaria and Hungary, which have always fought the EC “strategy”, to explain the fiasco to their own populations, and to keep pressing Brussels; after all they are bound to lose a fortune, not to mention get no gas, with South Stream out of the picture. Bulgaria alone reportedly has lost more than 6,000 new jobs and over $3 billion of investment due to the loss of South Stream.

So here’s the bottom line; Russia sells even more gas – to Turkey; Turkey gets much-needed gas with a cool discount; and the EU, pressured by the Empire of Chaos, is reduced to dance, dance, dance like a bunch of headless chickens in dark Brussels corridors wondering what hit them. And while the Atlanticists are back to default mode – cooking up yet more sanctions – Russia is set to keep buying more and more gold.

Watch those spears 

This is not the endgame – far from it. In the near future, many variables will intersect.

Ankara’s game may change – but that’s far from a given. President Recep Erdogan – the Sultan of Constantinople – has certainly identified a rival, Caliph Ibrahim of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh fame, trying to steal his mojo. Thus the sultan may flirt with mollifying his neo-Ottoman dreams and contemplate steering Turkey back to its previously ditched “zero problems with our neighbors” foreign policy doctrine.

Not so fast. Erdogan’s game so far was the same as that of the House of Saud and Qatar’s House of Thani; get rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to allow an oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia and a gas pipeline from the South Pars/North Dome mega-field in Qatar. This pipeline would be Qatar-Iraq-Syria-Turkey, rivaling the already proposed, $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. Final customers: the EU, of course, desperate in its “escape from Gazprom” offensive.

So what now? Will Erdogan abandon his “Assad must go” obsession? It’s too early to tell. The Turkish Foreign Ministry is spinning to the media that Washington and Ankara are about to agree on a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syria border – even as the White House, earlier this week, insisted the idea had been scrapped.

The House of Saud is like a camel lost in the Arctic. The House of Saud’s lethal game in Syria always boiled down to regime change so that the Saudi-sponsored oil pipeline from Syria to Turkey might be built. Now the Saudis see Russia about to supply all of Turkey’s energy needs – and still be positioned to sell more gas to the EU in the near future. And Assad still won’t go.

But it is US neo-cons who are sharpening their poisonous spears with gusto. As soon as early 2015 there may be a Ukrainian Freedom Act in the US House of Representatives. Translation: Ukraine being dubbed a “major US non-NATO ally”, which means, in practice, a virtual NATO annexation. Next step: more turbo-charged neo-con provocation of Russia.

A possible scenario is vassal/puppies such as Romania or Bulgaria, pressed by Washington, deciding to allow full access of NATO vessels into the Black Sea. Who cares that this would violate current Black Sea agreements that affect both Russia and Turkey?

And then there’s a dangerous Rumsfeldian “known unknown”: how the fragile Balkans will feel subordinated to the whims of Ankara. As much as Brussels keeps Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in a strait jacket, in energy terms they will start depending on Turkey’s goodwill.

For the moment, let’s appreciate the magnitude of the geopolitical shockwaves after Putin’s latest judo/chess/go combo. And get ready for another chapter of Russia’s “pivoting across Eurasia”. Putin hits Delhi next weekend. Expect another geopolitical bombshell.

Pepe Escobar’s new book, just out, is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

 

Related

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

TURKEY’S TURN TO RUSSIA COULD SPELL THE END OF NATO

Source

The US may understand the consequences of imperial overreach sooner than anyone thought possible. Russia’s decision to drop the South Stream natural gas pipeline in favor of a deal with key NATO member Turkey may be the first of a series of events that could challenge and ultimately destroy the Anglo-American empire.  Turkey’s bold decision risks its standing with its western allies by undercutting the EU’s efforts to bully Russia, but promises enormous benefit to Turkey’s economic influence in Europe.

While President Erdogan hasn’t shown his full hand, it may play out such that the West’s quixotic quest to control the Mideast could end sooner than seemed possible. EU and US insults to Turkey have driven it into Russian arms. The anti-Putin coalition seems to have burned both bridges between Eastern fossil fuel sources and Western markets. Energy costs to citizens of EU nations will skyrocket. If they protest vigorously enough, their puppet governments may finally decide that their cozy relationships with the Anglo-American alliance are not worth the cost.

Turkey has been rebuffed repeatedly in its efforts to join the EU. That is an insult to a proud nation, a member of NATO with a stronger economy than many of the former Soviet satellites. These weaker nations joined this coalition of Western belligerents after the fall of the USSR, violating 1994 agreements by NATO not to expand toward Russian borders.  Unlike Turkey, many of them were also enticed to join the EU. None of these newer states have benefited much from inclusion in Europe’s economy. They are suffering from the same austerity measures as the rest of the EU. Like Ukraine, corruption has remained as endemic in many countries under its governance as it was under the old Soviet system.

A number of these Eastern European nations would have benefited from South Stream, getting access to cheap gas and profiting from transit fees.  Politicians in Bulgaria, which in 2013 witnessed some of the largest demonstrations in Europe since the crash, initially lobbied for the pipeline but ultimately sided with the EU against their own national interests. Now Bulgarians will pay the price along with the rest of the EU for its outrageous demand that Russia surrender ownership of the pipeline. This was a condition of the Third Energy Package, which Russia never ratified.  It was designed to punish Russia for refusing to privatize its fossil fuel industry during the looting of Russia that followed the Yeltsin coup. Some speculate that Bulgaria or Greece might make separate deals with Russia for gas via subsidiary pipelines, the price for which may be other economic and even military alliances.

According to some analysts, the last straw for Turkey was US arming of the Kurdish fighters in Syria, which Turkey considers allied with the PKK, Kurdish separatists who are listed by both Turkey and the US as a terrorist group. The US states that the change in policy was for the humanitarian purpose of protecting the residents of the Syrian border town of Kobani from ISIS siege. However, US bombing did little to effectively degrade ISIS forces before the mercenary army invaded Kobani and melted into the city. Now, air strikes that might hit the terrorist infiltrators would be as likely to kill remaining civilians.

Arming of the PYD (the Syrian Kurdish defense forces) led to the natural suspicion that Turkey was being pressured to invade Syria in self-defense. The US had been demanding that Turkey supply the ground troops to fight ISIS, which sprang from the NATO/GCC/Israeli attempt to use terrorists to topple Assad. Erdogan’s government has been deeply involved in providing routes for terrorists and weapons to enter Syria since the outbreak of the “civil war,” along with limited military assistance. He has insisted on a plan prioritizing the defeat of the Assad government rather than ISIS, over which Western intelligence agencies seem to still exercise some control. All of these conflicts have followed US finger pointing at Turkey’s complicity in the creation of ISIS, while ignoring its own role.

US foreign policy is driven by the ambitions of the psychopaths on Wall Street who virtually run the government. They are guided by the knowledge of the inevitable failure of the dollar. This is the reason that the US has been waging all-out war for global corporate domination. The manic military policies of the last two administrations are a last ditch effort to control fossil fuel supplies and transit routes not just for profit, but to continue to prop up the Petrodollar. It may be too late. Russia and China are taking the lead in weaning themselves from dependence on the dollar not only to sell or buy fossil fuels but for other goods. The two nations signed an agreement in October to settle international debts in their own currencies. That trade is projected to more than double by 2020 to $200 billion.  Meanwhile, the BRICS bank may ultimately free other nations from dollar domination by providing an alternative to the IMF, whose loan conditions include removing currency controls designed to prevent Western speculators from destabilize their national currencies.

The key event to watch out for is the response of Angela Merkel. With the largest economy in Europe, Germany has the biggest voice in the EU and weaker states are sure to follow its lead. Merkel has been largely cooperating with the sanctions on Russia, while at the same time speaking out against more draconian measures for the most part. As with Obama, her bombastic claims about “Russian imperialism” in the Ukraine are for domestic consumption. The German industrialists whose interests she represents understand this, but have been concerned about the effects of the sanctions on the national and EU economies, which have been teetering toward yet another recession. The loss of cheap gas from Russia may be the one consequence of slavish adherence to US foreign policy objectives they will not tolerate.

If ordinary Germans join influential business leaders in Germany in calling for an end to allowing the US to dictate its foreign policies, the question of the wisdom of EU support for NATO might arise with the general public. If so, the revolt could spread elsewhere. Eventually, the contagion of rebellion could even reach US shores. A lot depends on how willing normally staid German society is willing to demand an end to its government’s complicity in yet another attempt at establishing what amounts to global fascism. They are already angry at revelations of US spying on their government officials and of CIA manipulation of their corporate media. Having already experienced the consequences of allowing their government to engage in imperialist wars, they may rise to stop it this time around. We can only hope that generations of post-war prosperity have not made them as docile as their American counterparts.

The question has become one of how much Europeans are willing to bear to sustain a global system that is nearing its end. The cost of the collapse of the financialized, debt-based world economy is leaving them and the entire developed world with declining living standards and mounting debt. Meanwhile, the rich get richer. It is only a matter of time before Europe wakes up to what the developing nations have always known: Capitalism is based on exploitation and its aim is to monopolize resources for the benefit of the few. All that remains to be seen is whether the People unite to take down this system before the only way to fight the police state Europe and the US are becoming is violence.

As this global game of Monopoly winds down to its conclusion, at some point the people of the world must rise up and change the rules of the game. The alternative is economic chaos and suffering on a scale never before witnessed, followed by the consignment of our children and all future generations to debt slavery.

POSTED BY RICK STAGGENBORG, MD AT 12:30 PM


River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

CrossTalk: Turk Stream

 Russia’s cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline just may be a game changer for Russia-EU relations. Brussels threatened EU members who were keen to be part of this project. Moscow called Brussels’ bluff and Europe will probably pay a heavy price.

CrossTalking with Alexander Mercouris, Kostis Geropoulos and Matthias Dornfeldt.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

“TURK STREAM”: HUGE WIN FOR TURKEY – BIG WIN FOR RUSSIA – HISTORIC LOSS FOR EU

russia turkey

DECEMBER 5, 2014

by Pepe Escobar, Russia Insider

So the EU “defeated” Putin by forcing him to cancel the South Stream pipeline. Thus ruled Western corporate media.

Nonsense.


Facts on the ground spell otherwise.

This “Pipelineistan” gambit will continue to send massive geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia for quite some time.

In a nutshell, a few years ago Russia devised Nord Stream – fully operational – and South Stream – still a project – to bypass unreliable Ukraine as a gas transit nation.

Now Russia devised a new deal with Turkey to bypass the “non-constructive” (Putin’s words) approach of the European Commission (EC).

Background is essential to understand the current game.

Five years ago I was following in detail Pipelineistan’s ultimate opera– the war between rival pipelines South Stream and Nabucco.

Nabucco eventually became road kill. South Stream may eventually resurrect, but only if the EC comes to its senses (don’t bet on it.)

The 3,600 kilometer long South Stream should be in place by 2016, branching out to Austria and the Balkans/Italy. Gazprom owns 50 percent of it – along with Italy’s ENI (20 percent), French EDF (15 percent) and German Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF (15 percent).

As it stands these European energy majors are not exactly beaming – to say the least. For months Gazprom and the EC were haggling about a solution. But in the end Brussels predictably succumbed to its own.

Russia still gets to build a pipeline under the Black Sea – but now redirected to Turkey and, crucially, pumping the same amount of gas South Stream would. Not to mention Russia gets to build a new LNG (liquefied natural gas) central hub in the Mediterranean. Thus Gazprom has not spent $5 billion in vain (finance, engineering costs).

The redirection makes total business sense. Turkey is Gazprom’s second biggest customer after Germany. And much bigger than Bulgaria, Hungary, and Austria combined.

Russia also advances a unified gas distribution network capable of delivering natural gas from anywhere in Russia to any hub alongside Russia’s borders.

And as if it was needed, Russia gets yet another graphic proof that its real growth market in the future is Asia, especially China – not a fearful, stagnated, austerity-devastated, politically paralyzed EU.

The evolving Russia-China strategic partnership implies Russia as complementary to China, excelling in major infrastructure projects from building dams to laying out pipelines. This is business with a sharp geopolitical reach – not ideology-drenched politics.

Russian “defeat”?

Turkey also made a killing. It’s not only the deal with Gazprom; Moscow will build no less than Turkey’s entire nuclear industry, apart from increased soft power interaction (more trade and tourism).

Most of all, Turkey is now increasingly on the verge of becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); Moscow is actively lobbying for it.

This means Turkey acceding to a privileged position as a major hub simultaneously in the Eurasian Economic Belt and of course the Chinese New Silk Road(s).

The EU blocks Turkey? Turkey looks east. That’s Eurasian integration on the move.

Washington has tried very hard to create a New Berlin Wall from the Baltics to the Black Sea to “isolate” Russia. Now comes yet another Putin judo/chess/go counterpunch – which the opponent never saw coming. And exactly across the Black Sea.

A key Turkish strategic imperative is to configure itself as the indispensable energy crossroads from East to West – transiting everything from Iraqi oil to Caspian Sea gas. Oil from Azerbaijan already transits Turkey via the Bill Clinton/Zbig Brzezinski-propelled BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan) pipeline.

Turkey would also be the crossroads if a Trans-Caspian pipeline is ever built (slim chances as it stands), pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, then transported to Turkey and finally Europe.

So what Putin’s judo/chess/go counterpunch accomplished with a single move is to have stupid EU sanctions once again hurt the EU. The German economy is already hurting badly because of lost Russia business.

The EC brilliant “strategy” revolves around the EU’s so-called Third Energy Package, which requires that pipelines and the natural gas flowing inside them must be owned by separate companies.

The target of this package has always been Gazprom – which owns pipelines in many Central and Eastern European nations. And the target within the target has always been South Stream.

Now it’s up to Bulgaria and Hungary – which, by the way, have always fought the EC “strategy” – to explain the fiasco to their own populations, and to keep pressing Brussels; after all they are bound to lose a fortune, not to mention get no gas, with South Stream out of the picture.

So here’s the bottom line; Russia sells even more gas – to Turkey; and the EU, pressured by the US, is reduced to dancing like a bunch of headless chickens in dark Brussels corridors wondering what hit them. The Atlanticists are back to default mode – cooking up yet more sanctions while Russia is set to keep buying more and more gold.

Watch those spears

This is not the endgame – far from it. In the near future, many variables will intersect.

Ankara’s game may change – but that’s far from a given. President Erdogan – the Sultan of Constantinople – has certainly identified a rival Caliph, Ibrahim of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh fame, trying to steal his mojo.

Thus the Sultan may flirt with mollifying his neo-Ottoman dreams and steer Turkey back to its previously ditched “zero problems with our neighbors” foreign policy doctrine.

The House of Saud is like a camel in the Arctic. The House of Saud’s lethal game in Syria always boiled down to regime change so a Saudi-sponsored oil pipeline from Syria to Turkey might be built – dethroning the proposed, $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria “Islamic” pipeline.

Now the Saudis see Russia about to supply all of Turkey’s energy needs – and then some. And “Assad must go” still won’t go.

US neo-cons are also sharpening their spears. As soon as early 2015 there may be a Ukrainian Freedom Act approved by the US Congress. Translation: Ukraine as a “major US non-NATO ally” which means, in practice, a NATO annexation. Next step; more turbo-charged neo-con provocation of Russia.

A possible scenario is vassal/puppies such as Romania or Bulgaria – pressed by Washington – deciding to allow full access for NATO vessels into the Black Sea. Who cares this would violate the current Black Sea agreements that affect both Russia and Turkey?

And then there’s a Rumsfeldian “known unknown”; how the weak Balkans will feel subordinated to the whims of Ankara. As much as Brussels keeps Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in a strait jacket, in energy terms they will start depending on Turkey’s goodwill.

For the moment, let’s appreciate the magnitude of the geopolitical shockwaves. There will be more, when we least expect them.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

%d bloggers like this: