US accuses Opec+ of aligning with Russia, Gulf states deny politics at play

UAE says production cut was ‘technical and not political’, but Washington says it is exploring ways to reduce Opec’s control over energy prices

By MEE staff  in New York City

Published date: 5 October 2022 16:02 UTC   Last update: 9 hours 44 mins ago

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) and Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail, arrive at the 29th annual Middle East Petroleum and Gas conference in the Bahraini capital Manama on May 16, 2022 (AFP)

Ministers from a group of oil exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on Wednesday to slash output by two million barrels a day, prompting pushback from the US and igniting fears that it could propel global inflation higher. 

The decision came despite heavy lobbying by Washington in Gulf capitals against the move. 

“It’s clear that Opec+ is aligning with Russia with today’s announcement,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One.

“The president is disappointed by the shortsighted decision of Opec+,” national security advisor Jake Sullivan and top economic advisor Brian Deese said in a statement.

‘Tell me where is the act of belligerence’

 – Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi energy minister

The cut, equivalent to two percent of daily global supply, was proposed by the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia at Wednesday’s Opec+ meeting in Vienna. It is substantially higher than the one million barrels analysts had expected, and the biggest cut since April 2020.

Saudi Arabia and Russia aim to support prices amid signs that the global economy is slowing, with the possibility of a recession on the horizon. Oil prices usually drop when global economic growth slows.

The decision to cut production is likely to put pressure on relations between the US and Saudi Arabia, with Wednesday’s move seen as a win for Russia, particularly as it has faced battlefield losses in Ukraine, and reduced revenue from falling oil prices in recent weeks.

‘Technical and not political?’

US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July, in a bid to repair strained ties with Saudi Arabia. Shortly after meeting with Saudi rulers, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Biden said he expected Riyadh to take “further steps” to boost oil supply.

The backlash against Wednesday’s production cut has already appeared in some quarters of Washington. 

US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a noted critic of Saudi Arabia, said the Opec+ decision should lead to “a wholesale re-evaluation of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia”.

Read More »
Gulf states are pushing back against that narrative.

Saudi Arabia set to support Russia’s role in Opec+ despite looming sanctions

“Tell me where is the act of belligerence,” Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said during a news conference at Opec’s headquarters in Vienna, when asked if the cut would strain ties with the US.

“We shall act and react to what is happening to the global economy in the most responsible and responsive way.”

The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail al-Mazrouei, said the cut in production was “technical and not political”.

OPEC Secretary-General Haitham Al Ghais, from Kuwait said the cartel was trying to ensure “security [and] stability to the energy markets.”

“Everything has a price,” Ghais said. “Energy security has a price as well.”

Recession headwinds

Oil prices skyrocketed above $100 a barrel earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

While they have fallen about 32 percent from their highs over the past four months, the drop has been due mainly to fears of slowing economic growth – particularly in China – as opposed to increased production.

Some say Riyadh needs little motivation outside of economics to back the production cut.

“Saudi Arabia sees a recession coming next year and they don’t want to be stuck with millions of barrels of cheap oil. They see now as the time to get the best price,” a former senior US official told Middle East Eye, on condition of anonymity. 

Egypt and Qatar find ‘synergies’ in post-Ukraine Middle East Read More »

Read More »

The kingdom’s coffers have been buoyed by high crude prices. Earlier this year, Saudi Aramco overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company.

Saudi Arabia is expected to be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, and is using its oil wealth to push ahead with pro-business reforms and mega-projects such as Neom, designed to wean the country off its reliance on petrodollars.

And with an inflation rate of 2.8 percent, the oil-rich kingdom has also been more insulated from the price rises that are sweeping the globe – a hot-button political issue for Biden’s party in the November midterm elections. 

‘Reduce Opec’s control’

In response to Wednesday’s decision, Biden called on his administration and US Congress to explore ways to “boost US energy production and reduce Opec’s control over energy prices,” the White House said.

The statement said Biden was ordering another dip into the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with 10 million barrels set to be put on the market next month, in an attempt to dampen price rises.

However, those reserves are fast emptying after record withdrawals were ordered by the administration, starting back in March. The reserves are now at their lowest level since July 1984, and it is not clear when the administration plans to purchase a refill.

Turkey doubles Russian oil imports amid western sanctions Read More »

Oil prices had risen about five percent since Friday, in anticipation of Wednesday’s meeting. International benchmark Brent was up 1.86 percent, at $93.47 a barrel Wednesday morning.

Analysts say the cut was likely to hinder western countries’ efforts to cut Russia’s profits on oil sales. The European Union has moved towards agreeing a G-7 plan to cap the price paid for Russian oil.

Also on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for EU countries to make deeper cuts to gas demand, while proposing a raft of price cap measures designed to protect consumers and businesses.   

In September, Russia cut gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in response to Western sanctions. Soaring energy prices have prompted Europe to look to alternative suppliers of gas, including Israel, Egypt, Algeria and Qatar to fill the void left by Russia. 

Recommended

Former CIA Director Petraeus Threatens Russia

InfoBrics

October 05, 2022

By Drago Bosnic

Global Research,

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On October 2, during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” retired United States Army general and former Director of the CIA David Petraeus stated that if Russian President Vladimir Putin used nuclear weapons against the Kiev regime, the United States would “quickly intervene to take out Russian forces in Ukraine, including Crimea.” He added that this would also be a collective US-led NATO response.

The retired general claims that “direct US involvement is necessary in that scenario” and that “the political West must take the Kremlin’s latest nuclear rhetoric seriously.”

Petraeus thinks that this is what the US government has in mind when it comes to the recent statements of “catastrophic consequences” for Moscow. Lately, the belligerent thalassocracy has ramped up its unfounded rhetoric that Russia was supposedly planning on using tactical nuclear weapons against the Kiev regime forces. The narrative has been heavily (ab)used by the mainstream propaganda machine.

“And what would happen?” show co-anchor Jonathan Karl asked Petraeus.

“Well, again, I have deliberately not talked to Jake [Sullivan] about this. I mean, just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a NATO, a collective effort, that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea,” former CIA chief stated.

Then, the “This Week” anchor mentioned the scenario in which the radiation fallout from the supposed Russian nuclear strike could directly impact much of Eastern Europe, including nearby NATO member states.

“Yes. And perhaps you can make that case. The other case is that this is so horrific that there has to be a response, it cannot go unanswered. But it doesn’t expand, it doesn’t — it’s not nuclear for nuclear,” Petraeus claimed. “You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear escalation here. But you have to show that this cannot be accepted in any way,” the retired general said.

While the retired US Army general and former CIA director is not speaking from a position of legal authority, as he is not officially part of the troubled Biden administration or in any capacity as an active government official, his opinion can still be considered a reflection of what the US foreign policy and military establishment think, especially considering the positions he held in the past. The very idea that such a high-ranking (former) official thinks that Russia would stand idle while NATO targets its forces is quite indicative of the deteriorating state of America’s top brass, both political and military. This is also quite terrifying for the rest of the world, as it is expected that the US, which operates the second most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world, is led by at least somewhat reasonable people whose main concern should be not to lead the world into thermonuclear annihilation.

Have We Now Reached the Precipice of World War III?

Petraeus further explained his view that Putin has “no qualms” about surrounding European countries and Western backers of Ukraine suffering too.

“Well, he’s trying to cast this in any way that he can in a way to appear threatening, to be threatening, to try to get Europe to crack. He thinks he can out-suffer Europe, if you will,” he continued. “And, you know, the Russians have out-suffered Napoleon and the Nazis and so forth. But I don’t think he’s going to out-suffer Europe. Europe’s going to have a tough winter, there’s going to be very reduced flow of natural gas, but they’ll get through it and I don’t think they’ll crack on the issue of support for Ukraine,” Petraeus stated and then went on with claims that the battlefield situation was “deteriorating for Russian forces” and that if they “continue to be backed into a corner” this would supposedly “make Putin more unpredictable and dangerous.”

In recent weeks, the propaganda machine of the political West has been producing a flurry of ominous headlines based on a false narrative that Russia is threatening everyone with nuclear weapons.

On September 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the Russian military would use everything at its disposal to defend the country and its territorial integrity, adding that the warning wasn’t a bluff. Although Putin never mentioned nuclear weapons, it’s clear that Russia could deploy them if the US tried to escalate. The statement was immediately taken out of context and the mainstream media started constructing the narrative that Russia would supposedly resort to using nuclear weapons against Kiev regime forces.

Standing at approximately 6,200 warheads, the Russian military is well-known for possessing the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal. However, unlike the US, Russia never used these weapons in war. Its nuclear weapons serve as a deterrent and this was exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin had in mind when giving the statement. Moscow has also announced low-level mobilization, clearly implying that the Russian military doesn’t plan on using nuclear weapons, as it would make no sense to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers into an area subjected to their use.

In addition, according to Pentagon sources, there have been no observed changes in Russian nuclear posture or any significant movement of the country’s nuclear forces. US intelligence services claim they have “stepped up their surveillance and monitoring“, but this has not led to any changes in America’s nuclear posture either, clearly implying that the whole narrative is a scare tactic aimed at galvanizing even more Russophobia.

*

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Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102

PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

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Copyright © Drago BosnicInfoBrics, 2022

EU Pushes For More Sanctions Which Will Come Back To Bite It

October 5, 2022

On February 22, two days before Russian troops entered the Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU put reams of sanctions onto Russia. They also confiscated some $300 billion of Russia’s reserves that were invested in the ‘west’. The sanctions had been negotiated between the EU and the U.S. and prepared for over several months.

The idea was to bankrupt Russia within a few weeks. The deluded people behind those sanctions had no idea how big and sanctions proved Russia’s economy really is. The sanctions failed to influence Russia in any way but their consequences led to a shortfall of energy in Europe and increased the already high inflation rates. Inflation in Russia is sinking and its general economic numbers are good. The now higher energy prices generate sufficient additional income to completely finance its war efforts.

A sane actor would conclude that the sanctions were a mistake and that lifting them would help Europe more than it would help Russia. But no, the U.S. and European pseudo elites are no longer able to act in a sane manner. They are instead doubling down with the most crazy sanction scheme one has ever heard of:

[T]he European Union pushed ahead on Wednesday with an ambitious but untested plan to limit Russia’s oil revenue.

If the global price of oil remains high, it would complicate the European Union’s effort to impose a price cap on Russian oil that was expected to gain final approval on Thursday, after E.U. negotiators reached an agreement on the measure as part of a fresh package of sanctions against Moscow.

Under the plan, a committee including representatives of the European Union, the Group of 7 nations and others that agree to the price cap would meet regularly to decide on the price at which Russian oil should be sold, and that it would change based on the market price.

Several diplomats involved in the E.U. talks said that Greece, Malta and Cyprus — maritime nations that would be most affected by the price cap — received assurances that their business interests would be preserved, the diplomats said.

The countries had been holding up what would be the eighth sanctions package the European Union has adopted since the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of worries that a price cap on Russian oil exported outside the bloc would affect their shipping, insurance and other industries, the diplomats said.

With oil prices at a high, Russia is raking in billions of dollars in revenue, even as it sells smaller quantities. The cap — part of a broad plan pushed by the Biden administration that the G7 agreed to last month — is intended to set the price of Russian oil lower than where it is today, but still above cost. The U.S. Treasury calculates that the cap would deprive the Kremlin of tens of billions of dollars annually.

How do you make a big producer of a rare commodity sell those goods below the general market price? Unless you have a very strong buyers cartel that can also that product from elsewhere you can not do this successfully. It is an economic impossibility.

To make the measure effective, and cut Russian revenue, the United States, Europe and their allies would need to convince India and China, which buy substantial quantities of Russian oil, to purchase it only at the agreed upon price. Experts say that even with willing partners, the cap could be hard to implement.

Russia has declared that it will not sell any oil to any party that supports the G7 price fixing regime. That is why neither China nor India nor any other country besides the EU and U.S. will agree to adhere to it.

The whole idea is crazy and way too complicate to achieve anything:

Under the new rules, companies involved in the shipping of Russian oil — including shipowners, insurers and underwriters — would be on the hook for ensuring that the oil they are helping to transport is being sold at or below the price cap. If they are caught helping Russia sell at a higher price, they could face lawsuits in their home countries for violating sanctions.

Russian crude will come under an embargo in most of the European Union on Dec. 5, and petroleum products will follow in February. The price cap on shipments to non-E.U. countries has been championed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as a necessary complement to the European oil embargo.

Under the E.U. deal, Greece, Malta and Cyprus will be permitted to continue shipping Russian oil. Had they not agreed to place their companies at the forefront of applying the price cap, they would have been forbidden from shipping or insuring Russian oil cargo outside the European Union, a huge hit for major industries.

More than half of the tankers now shipping Russia’s oil are Greek-owned. And the financial services that underpin that trade — including insurance, reinsurance and letters of credit — are overwhelmingly based in the European Union and Britain.

This is of course an open invitation to other countries to enter the oil shipping and related financial services businesses at the cost of European companies.

China and India will both it to increase their market shares in those fields. Their ships will transport Russian oil to whoever wants to buy it for the market price minus the always negotiable Russian rebate. Greek ships will sit idle or will be sold off while Indian and Chinese and other Asian tankers will be very, very busy. China’s big insurance companies will happily join that new global services business.

That European bureaucrats agreed to his stupid U.S. idea, which will foremost hurt European businesses, is another sign that Brussels has given up on having any agency.

Today OPEC+ countries, the seller cartel for oil, reacted to the crazy sanctions idea and the upcoming global depression by agreeing to decrease their daily output by 2 million barrels. This was not done out of Saudi solidarity with Russia. Saudi Arabia needs oil at above $80/bl to finance its budget.

Brent Crude, which had fallen to $83/bl on September 26, has since risen to $93/bl.

The global demand for oil is around 100 million barrels per day. Should the demand stay up the 2% reduction in OPEC+ production will have significant price effects and $100 per barrel will be in easy reach.

But OPEC+ is committed to stable prices, not to significant price increases. During the OPEC+ session today the Saudi Prince Abdulazis showed this table:
bigger

Since the beginning of the year the prices for all forms of carbon based energy except crude oil have increased considerably. Abdulazis argued that the chart shows that OPEC+ is managing oil prices responsibly. The EU is certainly not doing similar.

The Biden administration has meanwhile nearly halved the content of the U.S Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This to keep U.S. pump prices down and the Democrats in power.
bigger

Neither is a responsible step to take.

Posted by b on October 5, 2022 at 16:48 UTC | Permalink

Ukraine’s revenge on the West 

October 05 2022

As the balance of power shifts again in Ukraine, its reverberations will impact the very unity of the EU project

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Vector politics in Ukraine has added new dimensions to the 222 day-old conflict.

Typically, any conflict behavior should end when a new balance of powers has been determined. But the ‘balancing of powers’ will not end until a balance is actually achieved – and evidence abounds that Ukraine is about to enter yet another ‘re-balancing.’ 

Russian Duma’s ratification of the annexation of four regions of Ukraine (Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions), and the adoption of the relevant laws thereof, creates a new dynamic and will take some time to create a new balance of forces on the ground within Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, the external environment is also phenomenally transforming. The deepening energy crisis in Europe following the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines becomes a serious contradiction. There is no knowing how it can be reconciled. 

Thus, a complex situation presents itself, as all this is also happening against the backdrop of a massive Russian military build-up around Ukraine in the Kharkov region and in the southern Black Sea region, with long convoys of armor reportedly heading toward Crimea from Russia.

Russia’s new borders

The Duma’s unanimous ratification of the accession of four regions to Russia on Monday was to be expected, the relevant legislation was duly ratified on Tuesday by the Federation Council (the upper house of the parliament), and possibly, President Putin too will sign off on the documents today, following which it will come into force. That is to say, as of October 5, the annexed Ukrainian regions will have become part of Russia. 

Importantly, the Duma has approved the government’s proposals on the establishment of the new regions’ borders, based on the delimitation of territories which “existed on the day of their establishment and accession to Russia.”

The relevant treaties outline that the borders adjacent to the territory of a foreign country will be Russia’s new state border. Plainly put, the old boundaries of the Soviet era are being restored in those regions. 

The determination of the Russian state boundaries has security implications. In the Donbass and Zaporozhye Regions, there are vast areas that still remain under the control of the Ukrainian forces. Liman city in Donetsk Republic was captured by the Ukrainian forces only three days ago. The Ukrainian incursions into Kherson continue. Heavy fighting is reported.  

Evidently, much unfinished business remains for Moscow to bring under control the “occupied” territories that previously formed part of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Zaporozhye Region (which also happens to be an important littoral region on the Azov Sea and forms a part of what Russians historically call “Novorossiya”), is another priority where the capital city of the oblast itself is not yet under Russian control. 

‘Nyet’ from NATO

In the emergent situation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky formally applied for Ukraine’s NATO membership on an expeditious basis, but within hours, the alliance poured cold water on that request, explaining that any decision will require support from all 30 member states.

It signals that there isn’t going to be any NATO intervention in Ukraine. Moscow will take note. The recent “loud thinking” about the use of nuclear weapons seems to have served its purpose. 

The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s meeting with the head of Ukraine’s presidential office Andriy Yermak in Istanbul on Sunday was a low-key affair. The White House said Sullivan pledged Washington’s steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and discussed with Yermak the situation at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant and Ukraine’s continued work with the United Nations to export food to the world.

The White House readout on President Joe Biden’s call with Zelensky on Monday mentioned a new $625 million security assistance package by Washington that includes additional weapons and equipment, including HIMARS, artillery systems and ammunition, and armored vehicles. Biden “pledged to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes.” 

Later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the recent aid delivery would bring the overall cost of US military aid to Ukraine to more than $17.5 billion. “Recent developments… only strengthens our resolve,” Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine.”

“The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s hand at the negotiating table when the time is right,” he added. 

Revamping Russia’s strategy

On the other hand, the Russian military command will probably have to reset the parameters of the special military operations, since its forces will henceforth be safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. What form its takes remains to be seen.

So far, the actual Russian deployment has been less than 100,000 troops. Most of the fighting was done by the militia groups such as fighters from Donbass and Chechnya and the Wagner Group of ex-special services personnel and other volunteers from Russia. 

Certainly, the induction of 300,000 troops with previous military experience will impact the overall military balance to Russia’s advantage. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that another 70,000 men have also volunteered, which will put the total strength of the additional forces at around 370,000.

Now, that is a huge increase. To get a sense of proportions, at the peak of the Vietnam War, the US deployment stood at around half a million troops. For the first time, Russia will have vast numerical superiority over Ukrainian forces. Therefore, it is entirely conceivable that the old pattern of “grinding” the Ukrainian forces may change and the objective will be to end the war quickly and decisively. 

The US decision to set up a command centre outside Ukraine (in Germany) seems to anticipate Russian attacks on command centres in Kiev and elsewhere with much bigger use of airpower, as in Syria. In fact, the new commander of the Western Military District Lt. Gen. Roman Berdnikov previously led the Russian intervention in Syria. 

Military experts anticipate that once autumn rains give way to the winter and the ground hardens, the Russian operations will intensify. Voices of dissent are heard lately within Russia that the war is meandering with no timeline as such. This may change. 

Plainly put, the point of no return is fast approaching from where Russia will have no alternative but to push for a regime change in Kiev and pave the way for an altogether new Ukrainian leadership that shakes off the vice-like Anglo-American grip, and is willing to settle with Russia. 

A Kafkaesque moment   

Unsurprisingly though, the attention in Europe is turning more and more towards the economic crisis with looming double-digit inflation and recession, which can lead to social unrest and political turmoil all across the continent. The growing public discontent is turning into protests in many European countries already. The crisis can only deepen once winter sets in. 

Conceivably, the shift in the popular mood may prompt the European governments to concentrate on their domestic issues rather than dabble in the Ukraine war. The most ardent votary of open-ended war with Russia is Britain, but even London is caught up in massive economic (and political) crises of its own. Prime Minister Liz Truss is fighting for political survival. The Conservatives have practically forfeited their mandate to rule. 

Germany’s predicament

Again, the centre-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union opposition bloc in the German Bundestag stalled a motion urging the government to “immediately” allow the export of German battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Politico reported that “A vote on weapons deliveries in the Bundestag would have risked revealing fatal cracks in the government unity and could even have led to a defeat of (Chancellor Olaf) Scholz in parliament.”

On the other hand, the German government also faces mounting pressure from the Eastern European allies in recent weeks to drastically increase the scale and type of Berlin’s military support to Ukraine. 

The influential Foreign Policy magazine in Washington wrote last week, “In the eyes of Berlin’s NATO allies in Eastern Europe, particularly the countries that border Russia, Germany, the economic and political power centre of Europe, isn’t doing nearly enough. And the longer it delays, the more it risks a long-term diplomatic fracture with those allies in the East.” 

But despite this pressure tactic, polls show that while some 70 percent of Germans are supportive of Ukraine generally, only 35 percent endorse stronger military support. 

In this situation, the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline dovetails into the energy crisis in Europe and threatens European countries with “de-industrialization.”

For Germany, in particular, the country’s economic model is riveted on the availability of abundant gas supplies from Russia, per long-term contracts, at cheap prices, through pipelines. Clearly, the sabotage of the Nord Stream has monumental implications. 

To be sure, whoever perpetrated that terrorist attack calculated shrewdly that Russian gas should not flow to Europe for the foreseeable future. The perennial fear in Washington is that a German-Russian proximity may develop if energy ties are restored. Besides, today, US oil companies are having a huge windfall of profits in the European energy market, replacing Russia, by selling LNG at five to six times the US domestic price. 

Preventing Russian-German reconciliation

What complicates matters is that Europe needs energy security in the short and medium term without also wrecking climate targets. It means heightened geopolitical sensitivity. The point is, Europe’s orderly energy transition away from fossil fuels critically needs Russian gas and was built on the earlier assumption that there would be cheap and plentiful natural gas. 

Arguably, Moscow kept hoping that Nord Stream would eventually be a catalyst to heal the rupture in German-Russian energy ties. Interestingly, on Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom proposed to European gas customers that part of the damaged Nord Stream network could still transport fuel — but only on the newly constructed Nord Stream 2. Nord Stream 1 is virtually destroyed.  

A Gazprom statement in its Telegram account said that one of the three lines of the Nord Stream 2 remains unaffected and the gas giant has lowered the pressure to inspect the link for damage and potential leaks. Nord Stream 2 has a shipment capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year, which means its line B could deliver as much as 27.5 billion cubic meters per year to Germany across the Baltic Sea.

However, the Nord Stream 2 requires EU approval, which is problematic given the tensions between Brussels and Moscow. These tensions may only increase if the EU approves the US-led decision by the G7 countries to impose a price cap on Russian oil. 

Most certainly, that is also Washington’s calculus — pin down Germany and keep Russia out. The spectre that haunts Washington is that Berlin may lose interest in the Ukraine war. The ascendancy of the Atlanticists in the echelons of power in Berlin in the most recent years – and their nexus with the virulently Russophobic EU bureaucrats in Brussels – has so far worked splendidly in Washington’s favor.

The EU is effectively over

But the ground beneath the feet is shifting, as the dramatic turn in Sweden and Italy’s politics has shown. 

Do not underestimate the “Meloni effect.” The heart of the matter is that the far-right forces invariably have more to offer to the electorate in times of insecurity and economic hardship.

In France too, President Macron is immobilized, lacking a parliamentary majority to legislate, and is being worn down by serial crises. As for Britain, the financial crisis triggered by the Chancellor of Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget highlights fundamentally the scarcity of feasible alternative economic models. Sterling is in free fall. Two consecutive Tory administrations failed to come up with a post-Brexit model, while Labour never wanted Brexit. The Truss government is the last chance to get Brexit really done, but no-one is holding their breath. And then, the Deluge — events will intrude. 

What all this means is that the three main power centers within the Eurozone and Britain are finding it hard to escape the old, dying industrial world of the 20th century and this is not the best of time to take on the half-million strong Russian allied forces in Ukraine, the Biden Administration’s bravado notwithstanding. 

Do not lend credence to the inaugural summit of the European Political Community (EPC) in Prague on Wednesday bringing together the leaders of 27 EU member states and up to 17 non-EU countries – namely, the UK, Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Israel. 

The plain truth is that the European integration project is over and done with. Any attempt to impose it will produce severe backlash. Looking back, therefore, the rupture with Russia has ushered in a new geopolitical landscape in Europe where Brussels’ conundrum regarding EU expansion stands exposed. The EPC is nothing but a disguised French ploy to slow down actual EU membership for countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. 

The EPC summit at the Prague Castle only serves to highlight that this is a Kafkaesque moment in European politics. This must be Ukraine’s revenge on Europe for staging such a cynical, violent coup in 2014 to cut its umbilical cord with Russia. 

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

EU PARLIAMENTARIAN CALLS TO SANCTION VANESSA BEELEY AND ALL OBSERVERS OF DONBASS REFERENDUMS

SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2022

By Max Blumenthal

Source

RUSSELS (THE GRAYZONE A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Louiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.

Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letteEr is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures.

“We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Louiseau declared.

The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Louiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.”

Louiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.”

Beeley responded to Louiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone: “Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.

RUSSIA’S REFERENDUMS: DRAWING A LINE WITH NATO

In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas.

The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014.

Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014.

Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population.

Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions.

The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region.

Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II.

Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia.

Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities.

The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process.

Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.

BEELEY AMONG EUROPEAN JOURNALISTS TARGETED AND PROSECUTED FOR REPORTING FROM DONETSK

Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents.

Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions.

Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria.

Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes.

Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.”

In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk.

And in Brussels, Louiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta.

Nathalie Louiseau and French Pres. Macron

WHO IS NATALIE LOUISEAU?

In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Louiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Lousieau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

Beeley also reported that Louiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria.

Louiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria.

During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

Louiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking.

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated.

Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!”

A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTE for defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament.

Now, Louiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output.

The Yemen Truce Is in Danger: The Aggressor’s Ships Are in the Crosshairs of the Yemeni Forces

Sep 30, 2022

By Mustapha Awada 

During negotiations for the extension of the armistice agreement for a fourth time in a row and before the current ceasefire expires, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement put forward three conditions.

The conditions are as follows:

“Paying salaries, ending the siege on Sana’a Airport, north of the capital, and the port of al-Hudaydah, west of the capital, and a halt to violations in order to achieve real stability.”

*Al-Hanash: If the aggressors do not abide by the terms of the armistice, we will end it.

Offering insight into the course of these negotiations, a member of the Yemeni national negotiating delegation, Abdul Majeed Al-Hanash, told Al-Ahed News that “if the aggressor does not abide by the terms of the armistice, we will end it ourselves. Sanaa would have no other choice because if the conditions are not implemented, the Yemeni people will demand their leadership resume the war.”

“The bank of objectives that the Yemeni leadership adopted before the truce is the same one that we are working on. But oil shipments will be added to that list. It is not possible for us to allow oil to cross into the Gulf to go to global markets while our people are besieged and their wealth is being stolen,” Al-Hanash added.  

“If we end the truce, we will use everything we have within the territorial waters to intercept oil tankers and stop the theft that is being conducted.”  

Abdul Majeed Al-Hanash applauded the resistance axis, stressing that “the Yemeni people are a qualitative addition to this axis and to the Palestinian cause, who pledged to always stand by its side and its resistant people.”

Anam: The forces of aggression not complying with the armistice will pave the way for an expansion of the circle of engagement.

For his part, the advisor of the Yemeni Supreme Political Council, Dr. Muhammad Taher Anam, told Al-Ahed that “the failure of the forces of aggression to abide by the armistice will not only push the leadership to resume military confrontations, but will expand the circle of engagement, especially after it was disturbed by the theft of oil resources and the conspiracy involving the United Arab Emirates, Total and the French government that are stealing Yemeni gas from Shabwa Governorate.”

“Clear statements were issued by the Yemeni army’s official spokesman, directed at foreign companies that steal Yemeni oil and gas. He called on them to take these statement seriously if an agreement on a new truce is not reached based on the conditions we set.”

He pointed out that “the adherence to the truce by the Saudi and Emirati regimes was in the 20% to 25% range, according to our estimates. They opened Sana’a Airport to Yemeni travelers to Amman and Cairo and allowed fuel ships to enter the port of al-Hudaydah. Other than that, there was no commitment neither to paying salaries of the employees from oil and gas revenues that are exported from Shabwa nor opening roads.

“There are some mediators, such as the UN envoy to Yemen, the Sultanate of Oman, and other countries, that are trying to press Saudi Arabia and the UAE to abide by their duties. We hope that these mediations will result in the implementation of the agreement that was signed because if this is not done, we will target companies and ships that steal Yemeni gas and oil unless salaries are paid before specifying the next truce.”

The adviser to the Yemeni Political Council stressed that “the military parade that the Sana’a government recently held on the occasion of the anniversary of September 21 was not random. Rather, it carried a message that we are still carrying the rifle and are ready for war again, and on a larger scale.”

According to Dr. Anam, “the parade is a warning to the Saudi and Emirati regimes. If both of them do not abide by the agreements that are in the interest of the Yemeni people, withdraw from their lands, and pay war compensation, the upgraded missiles and naval mines will be used to protect the interests of this nation.”

Muhammad Taher Anam affirmed that “both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are still violating these agreements and the commitments presented to the UN envoy and the mediating countries, as they are trying to position themselves between Russia and the West by stealing Yemeni gas and exporting it to Europe. This is after concluding agreements on this issue with some European states at a time when they are importing their oil from Qatar and others. However, we will follow through on the threat of the leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and we will not be patient to the continuous looting of our wealth.”

EU Parliamentarian Calls to Sanction Vanessa Beeley and All Observers of Donbass Referendums

Global Research, September 30, 2022

By Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil

The Grayzone 29 September 2022

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate This Article button below the author’s name.

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***

MEP Nathalie Loiseau of France is lobbying for individual sanctions on all observers of the Russian-organized referendums in the Donbass region. She has singled out journalist Vanessa Beeley not only for her coverage of the vote, but for her reporting on the foreign-back war against Syria’s government.

A French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Natalie Loiseau, has delivered a letter to EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell, demanding the European Union place personal sanctions on all international observers of the recent votes in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and certain Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine.

Obtained by The Grayzone from an EU source, the letter is currently being circulated among European parliamentarians in hopes of securing a docket of supportive signatures.

“We, as elected members of the European Parliament, demand that all those who voluntarily assisted in any way the organization of these illegitimate referendums be individually targeted and sanctioned,” Loiseau declared.

The French MEP’s letter came after a group of formally Ukrainian territories held a vote on whether or not to officially incorporate themselves into the Russian Federation in late September. Through the popular referendum, the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which announced their respective successions from Ukraine in 2014 following a foreign-backed coup against the government Kiev, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhia, voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Russian Federation.

Loiseau singled out Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who traveled to the region to monitor the vote. Extending her complaint well beyond the referendum, the French MEP accused Beeley of “continuously spreading fake news about Syria and acting as a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin and Bashar el [sic] Assad for years.”

Loiseau, a close ally of French President Emanuel Macron, specifically demanded Beeley be “included in the list of those sanctioned.”

Beeley responded to Loiseau’s letter in a statement to The Grayzone:

“Imposing sanctions on global citizens for bearing witness to a legal process that reflects the self-determination of the people of Donbass is fascism. Should the EU proceed with this campaign, I believe there will be serious consequences because the essence of freedom of speech and thought is under attack.

Russia’s referendums: drawing a line with NATO

In mid-September 2022, Beeley and around 100 other international delegates traveled to eastern Europe in order to observe a vote to join the Russian Federation in the regions of Kherson, Zaporozhia, and the independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Why did their presence trigger such an outraged response from Western governments? The answer lies in the recent history of these heavily contested areas.

The formally Ukrainian territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia fell under Russian control earlier this year as a result of the military campaign launched by Moscow in February, while the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics declared their independence from the government in Kiev in 2014.

Russia began its special military campaign in Ukrainian territory on February 24. The operation followed Moscow’s decision that same week to formally recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (the Donbass Republics) in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region. Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass have been embroiled in a bloody trench battle with the US-backed government in Kiev since 2014.

Ukraine’s civil conflict broke out in March 2014, after US and European forces sponsored a coup in the country that installed a decidedly pro-NATO nationalist regime in Kiev which proceeded to declare war on its minority, ethnically Russian population.

Following the 2014 putsch, Ukraine’s government officially marginalized the Russian language while extremist thugs backed by Kiev massacred and intimidated ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine. In response, separatist protests swept Ukraine’s majority-Russian eastern regions.

Russia Recognizes Two Donbass Republics to Stop Ukraine’s Violence

The territory of Crimea formally voted to join Russia in March of that year, while the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region declared their unofficial independence from Kiev that same month. With support from the US military and NATO, Ukraine’s coup government officially declared war on the Donbass in April 2014, launching what it characterized as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in the region.

Russia trained and equipped separatist militias in Donetsk and Lugansk throughout the territories’ civil campaigns against Kiev, though Moscow did not officially recognize the independence of the Donbass republics until February 2022. By then, United Nations estimates placed the casualty count for Ukraine’s civil war at roughly 13,000 dead. While Moscow offered support to Donbass separatists throughout the 2014-2022 period, US and European governments invested billions to prop up a Ukrainian military that was heavily reliant on army and intelligence factions with direct links to the country’s historic anti-Soviet, pro-Nazi deep state born as a result of World War II.

Russia’s military formally entered the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, following Moscow’s recognition of the Donbass republics. While Russian President Vladimir Putin defined the liberation of the Donbass republics as the primary objective of the military operation, he also listed the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine as a goals of the campaign. As such, Russian troops have since secured control of Ukrainian territories beyond the Donbass region, including the territories of Kherson and Zaporozhia.

Facing increased Western investment in the Kiev-aligned bloc of Ukraine’s civil war, authorities in the Donbass republics announced a referendum on membership in the Russian Federation in late September 2022, with Moscow-aligned officials in Kherson and Zaporozhia announcing similar ballot initiatives. Citizens in each territory proceeded to approve Russian membership by overwhelming majorities.

The results of the referendum not only threatened the government in Kiev, but its European and US backers. Western-aligned media leapt to characterize the votes as a sham, claiming Moscow’s troops had coerced citizens into joining the Russian Federation at the barrel of a gun. Their narrative would have reigned supreme if not for the hundred or so international observers who physically traveled to the regions in question to observe the referendum process.

Observers like Vanessa Beeley now face the threat of returning home to the West as wanted outlaws. But as Loiseau’s letter made clear, the British journalist was in the crosshairs long before the escalation in Ukraine.

Beeley among European journalists targeted and prosecuted for reporting from Donetsk

Vanessa Beeley was among the first independent journalists to expose the US and UK governments’ sponsorship of the Syrian White Helmets, a so-called “volunteer organization” that played frontline role in promoting the foreign-backed dirty war against Syria’s government through its coordination with Western and Gulf-sponsored media. Beeley also played an instrumental role in revealing the White Helmets’ strong ties to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, as well as its members’ involvement in atrocities committed by Western-backed insurgents.

Beeley’s work on Syria drew harsh attacks from an array of NATO and arms industry-funded think tanks. In June 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which receives funding from a variety of NATO states, corporations and billionaires, labeled Beeley “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria prior to 2020. (According to ISD, Beeley was somehow “overtaken” by The Grayzone’s Aaron Mate that year). The group did not provide a single piece of evidence to support its assertions.

Though Beeley has endured waves of smears, French MEP Natalie Loiseau’s call for the EU to sanction the journalist represents the first time a Western official has moved to formally criminalize her work. Indeed, Loiseau made no secret that she is targeting Beeley not only for her role as an observer of the referendum votes, but also on the basis of her opinions and reporting on Syria.

Loiseau’s push to issue personal sanctions against EU and US citizens comes on the heels of the German government’s prosecution of independent journalist Alina Lipp. In March 2020, Berlin launched a formal case against Lipp, who is a German citizen, claiming her reporting from the Donetsk People’s Republic violated newly authorized state speech codes.

Prior to Lipp’s prosecution, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a media campaign portraying her as a disseminator of “disinformation” and “pro-Kremlin content.”

In London, meanwhile, the UK government has imposed individual sanctions on Graham Philips, a British citizen and independent journalist, for his reporting from Donetsk.

And in Brussels, Loiseau’s campaign against Beeley appears to have emerged from a deeply personal vendetta.

Who is Natalie Loiseau?

In April 2021, Beeley published a detailed profile of Loiseau at her personal blog, The Wall Will Fall, painting the French MEP as a regime change ideologue committed to “defending global insecurity and perpetual war.” Beeley noted that Loiseau served as a minister in the government of French President Emanuel Macron when it authorized airstrikes in response to dubious allegations of a Syrian government chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

Beeley also reported that Loiseau has enjoyed a close relationship with the Syria Campaign, the public relations arm of the White Helmets operation. This same organization, which is backed by British-Syrian billionaire Ayman Asfari, was the sponsor of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report which branded Beeley a “top propagator of disinformation” on Syria.

Loiseau has taken her activism into the heart of the European parliament, using her position as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense to silence colleagues who ask to many questions about the Western campaign for regime change in Syria.

During an April 2021 hearing, MEP Mick Wallace attempted to question Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Fernando Arias about allegations he personally aided the censorship of an OPCW investigation which concluded no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria in April 2018.

Loiseau immediately descended into a fit of rage, interrupting Wallace and preventing him from speaking.

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” Loiseau fulminated.

Wallace responded with indignation, asking, “Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more? Today you are denying me my opinion!”

A year later, Wallace and fellow Irish MEP Clare Daly sued the Irish network RTEfor defamation after it broadcast an interview with Loiseau during which she baselessly branded them as liars who spread disinformation about Syria in parliament.

Now, Loiseau appears to be seeking revenge against Beeley, demanding that she be criminally prosecuted not just for serving as a referendum observer, but for her journalistic output.

*

Note to readers: Please click the share buttons above or below. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles.

The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliathThe Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Anya Parampil is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She has produced and reported several documentaries, including on-the-ground reports from the Korean peninsula, Palestine, Venezuela, and Honduras.

Featured image: Left: French MEP Nathalie Loiseau Right: Journalist Vanessa Beeley (Source: The Grayzone)

The original source of this article is The Grayzone

Copyright © Max Blumenthal and Anya ParampilThe Grayzone, 2022

Fake Reporting on the Blown-up Pipelines and Russia’s “Annexation

Open Letter to the New York Times

September 30, 2022

Global Research,

By Peter Koenig

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate This Article button below the author’s name.

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***

Dear Editor of the once-upon-a-time Famous-for-truth New York Times,

With headlines like this, Sabotaged Pipelines and a Mystery: Who Did It? (Was It Russia?), even suggesting that Russia may have blown up their own pipeline, the NYT is killing its last vestige of credibility.

You know exactly this is a lie.

The only force that has a vital interest in doing so is the US / NATO conglomerate – to make sure, there is no way Germany could change their mind and go back on their decision to let their people freeze to death this winter, and to economically destroy Germany, THE economic force and leader of Europe.

You, and your analysts know that.

Unfortunately, there is no common people’s influence on our reporting. There are stronger forces that have bought into your mind-bending journalism.

Still, once a supporter of the NYT, I feel I want to tell you.

The Same with this reporting

Enormous U.S. Military Spending, EU Dragged into Abyss of War against Russia. Italy Out of the War!

Russian Proxies in Ukraine Push Moscow to Annex Occupied Regions

and

Vladimir Putin will sign agreements on Friday to take over four Ukrainian regions, the Kremlin said, after votes widely denounced as a sham

Here too, these are not “proxy” Russians who signed a sham petition to be annexed to Russia. You know it very well.

These are real Russians, living in the far Eastern part of Ukraine, the Donbas area mostly, who have been discriminated ever since the US instigated the Maidan coup on 22 February 2014 – when a neo-Nazi government was installed that let the Nazi Asov Battalions literally slaughter Ukraine’s own people in Donbas — at least 14,000 were reported killed – about half of them children – in the eight years since the “Victoria Nuland” (“Fuck Europe”) coup. See this.

We are talking about the same Asov Battalions, that helped Hitler during WWII fight against Russia.

Already in 2014 / 2015 the Donbas districts wanted to join Russia. President Putin did not allow it, because at that time he still believed in the “Minsk” Agreements, sponsored by France and Germany.

These agreements were principally meant to protect the Donbas people, as well as to demilitarize – de-Nazify – Ukraine, and to keep NATO out of Ukraine. None of the conditions of the Minsk Agreements (September 2014 and April 2015) were ever adhered to.

If truth-seeking geopolitical analysts around the globe know the real background, you, Editor-in-chief of the NYT, and your journalists, know the real story too. Still, you report lies and half-truths to further influence and promote people’s opinion against Russia.

The New York Times has become weaponized against Russia and China, by your mere reporting.

Don’t you think that this will eventually backfire?

*

Note to readers: Please click the share buttons above or below. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our Telegram Channel. Feel free to repost and share widely Global Research articles.

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he worked for over 30 years around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is also is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing.

Featured image is from FAIR

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2022


Quick notes from Andrei + open thread

September 27, 2022

Dear friends

Hurricane Ian approaches the Florida Peninsula

Looks like Hurricane Ian will be even dangerous for the Florida East coast.  So I don’t know how soon we will lose power.  I also am too preoccupied with preparations to write much today.

But the few headlines below are, I think, quite amazing.

The thing which I find absolutely hilarious is that the Europeans DO speak of sabotage but DO NOT even mention who the obvious culprit is.  So, especially for the braindead Europeans, I have this: a video from President Brandon himself promising to stop NS2 if Russia “invades” the Ukraine.

Needless to say, I totally agree with Lira – the Anglos are willing to completely destroy Europe to maintain their dominion over the EU.

And to my great sadness, I have to say that the people of Europe RICHLY deserve what is coming their way.  Simply put: if you have no self-respect, why would anybody have any respect for you?

Okay, singing off for the time being.

Conditions permitting, I will try to drop by as often as I can.  But the next 3 days will be very tough.

Kind regards

Andrei

Giorgia on our mind

September 28, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

It’s tempting to interpret the Italian electoral results this past Sunday as voters merrily hurling a bowl of lush papardelle with wild boar ragu over the collective bland faces of the toxic unelected Euro-oligarchy sitting in Brussels.

Well, it’s complicated.

Italy’s electoral system is all about coalitions. The center-right Meloni-Berlusconi-Salvini troika is bound to amass a substantial majority in both the Parliament’s Lower House and the Senate. Giorgia Meloni leads Fratelli d’Italia (“Brothers of Italy”). The notorious Silvio “Bunga Bunga” Berlusconi leads Forza Italia. And Matteo Salvini leads La Lega.

The established cliché across Italy’s cafes is that Giorgia becoming Prime Minister was a shoo-in: after all she’s “blonde, blue eyes, petite, sprightly and endearing”. And an expert communicator to boot. Quite the opposite of Goldman Sachs partner and former uber-ECB enforcer Mario Draghi, who looks like one of those bloodied emperors of Rome’s decadence. During his Prime Ministerial reign, he was widely derided – apart from woke/finance circles – as the leader of “Draghistan”.

On the financial front that otherworldly entity, the Goddess of the Market, the post-truth equivalent of the Delphi Oracle, bets that PM Giorgia will insist on the same old strategy: debt-funded fiscal stimulus, which will turn into a blowout in Italian debt (already huge, at 150% of GDP). All that plus a further collapse of the euro.

So the big question now is who’s going to be Italy’s new Finance Minister. Giorgia’s party has no one with the requisite competence for it. So the preferred candidate shall be “approved” by the usual suspects as a sort of enforcer of “Draghistan lite”. Draghi, by the way, already said he’s “ready to collaborate”.

Marvels of gastronomy apart, life in the EU’s third largest economy is a drag. Long-term growth prospects are like a mirage in the Sahara. Italy is extremely vulnerable when it comes to the financial markets. So a bond market a-go-go selloff in the horizon is practically a given.

In case of a – nearly inevitable – financial catfight cage match between Team Giorgia and Christine “look at my new Hermes scarf” Lagarde at the ECB, the European Central Bank will “forget” to buy Italian bonds and then, Auguri! Welcome to a new round of EU sovereign debt crisis.

On the campaign trail, sprightly Giorgia incessantly pledged to keep the massive debt under control. That was coupled with the requisite message to placate the woke crypto-“Left” and its neoliberal banking owners: we support NATO and sending weapons to Ukraine. In fact everyone – from Giorgia to Salvini – supports the weaponizing, having signed a letter during the previous legislature, in effect until the end of 2022.

Deconstructing a “semi-fascist”

The Atlanticist woke/neoliberal sphere, predictably, is fuming with the advent of “post-fascist” Italy: oh, these people always voting the wrong way… The discombobulated think tank crowd is pointing to the latest in a cycle of populist waves in Italy; they don’t even know what “populist” means. But they can’t be too hysterical because Giorgia, after all, is a product of the Aspen Institute.

Giorgia is a complex case. She is essentially a trans-Atlanticist. She abhors the EU but loves NATO. In fact, she would love to undermine Brussels from the inside, while making sure the EU does not cut off those crucial flow of funds to Rome.

So she does confound primitive, crypto-“Left” American “experts”, who blame her at best for “semi-fascism” – and thus more dangerous than Marine Le Pen or Viktor Orban. Then she gets immediate redemption because at least vocally she proclaims to be anti-Russia and anti-China.

But then again, the temptation to burn her at the stake is too great: after all she’s appreciated by Steve Bannon, who proclaimed four years ago that “you put a reasonable face on right-wing populism, you get elected.” And she keeps terrible company: Berlusconi is dismissed by the woke/neoliberal Americans as a “Putin buddy” and Salvini as a “firebrand nationalist”.

It’s imperative to imbibe a strong dose of reality to form a clear picture of Giorgia. So let’s turn to a fine Turin intellectual and author, Claudio Gallo, now benefitting from being far away from the toxic fog of Italian mainstream media, mostly a fiefdom of the dreaded Agnelli/Elkann family.

Here are Gallo’s key takeaways.

On Giorgia’s popular appeal: Her support “among working people is a fact. We can see that in every survey. However, this is not a new tendency, and it started in the time of Berlusconi. At this moment, the working class began to vote for right-wing parties. But I believe this is not an Italian-only trend. If you look at France most of the representatives of the traditional working class vote for Le Pen, not the socialist parties. It is a European trend.”

On the “Draghi agenda”: “You can figure out the kind of governments we just had as a European Troika with one man only – Mario Draghi. They have proposed the most brutal economic reforms inspired by Brussels, such as extreme flexibility and fiscal austerity. These are policies that affect mainly the middle classes and poor people (…) The Draghi government decreased welfare spending by 4 billion euros next year and another 2 billion in two years. It means 6 billion less will be available for healthcare in two years. There were cuts also in the school system. Polls show that more than 50% of Italians did not support Draghi and his program. Draghi comes from the most powerful part of society, the banking sector. In the leading Italian media, it is impossible to find any critics of this agenda.”

On a possible Berlusconi power play: “He has quite a huge audience. He is accredited with roughly 8% of the vote. After all these years and all his judicial difficulties, it is still a lot (…) A few months after the election, we can imagine a situation in which Meloni is forced to resign because she cannot cope with the harsh winter (cost of living out of control, social unrest). It will be the time of a Grosse Koalizion to save the country, and Berlusconi, with his strong stance on NATO and Europe, is ready to play his cards. Berlusconi would be the key to a new coalition. He is always ready to get any compromise done.”

On “firebrand” Salvini: “He is the leader of a very divided party. He used to have a populist agenda, but at the top of his party you can also find some technocratic figures like Giancarlo Giorgetti, a staunch defender of the interests of the North Italian Confindustria. Salvini is losing consensus within his electoral base, and Meloni stole his votes along with Movimento Cinque Stelle. His party is divided between old politicians that dreamed of some federation to strengthen the autonomy of the Northern regions and others more inspired by Marine Le Pen’s right. It’s a volatile mixture.”

On Giorgia under pressure: “The pressure of the economic issues, inflation, price of gas and so on, will make Meloni, a very tough politician but not an expert statesman, probably resign. In Italy, there is a political stalemate; like everywhere in the West, democracy doesn’t work correctly. All parties are pretty much the same, with some cosmetic differences; everyone can still make a coalition with anybody else, without any regard to principles or values.”

“The more things change…”: “The man behind the foreign policy of Fratelli d’Italia is an ex-ambassador in US and Israel, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata. I cannot see how his opinion differs from Draghi’s. The same neoliberal and Atlantistic background, the same technocratic resume. Meloni is simply capitalizing that she didn’t participate in the last government, even if she doesn’t offer any alternative. Meloni repeats that nothing will change; we will send money and arms [to Ukraine]. She sends a lot of signals to NATO and the EU that they can count on her when it comes to foreign policy. I think she is sincere: she is surrounded by the people who will make it real. It is very different from the situation a couple of years ago when Meloni published a book in which she said we need to have a good relationship with Putin and build a new European order. Now she has completely changed her position. She wants to be seen as a trustworthy future premier. But the polls say that 40-50% of Italians don’t like to send weapons to Ukraine, and support every diplomatic measure to end the war. The cost of living crisis will strengthen this position among the people. When you cannot warm your house, everything changes.”

The real cage match

No one ever lost money betting on the EU oligarchy always behaving like a bunch of self-entitled, stubborn, unelected pricks. They never learn anything. And they always blame everyone except themselves.

Giorgia, following her instincts, has a decent shot at burying them even deeper. She is more calculating and less impulsive than Salvini. She won’t go for a euro exit and much less an Italexit. She won’t interfere with her Finance Minister – who will have to deal with the ECB.

But she remains a “semi-fascist”, so Brussels will want her scalp – in the form of cutting off Italy’s budget appropriations. These Eurocrats would never dare doing it against Germany or France.

And that brings to the political set up of the – supremely undemocratic – European Council.

Giorgia’s party is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists bloc, along with only two other members, the PMs of Poland and Czech Republic.

The Socialists & Democrats bloc has seven members. And so does Renew Europe (the former “liberals”): that includes the president of the European Council, the supremely mediocre Charles Michel.

The center-right European People’s Party has six members. That includes Ursula “My Grand Dad was a Nazi” von der Leyen, the sadomaso dominatrix in charge of the European Commission.

The prime catfight cage match to watch in fact is Giorgia versus dominatrix Ursula. Once again, Mediterranean swagger against the Teutonic techno-barbarians. The more Brussels harassment of Giorgia, the more she will counter-attack, with full support of her post-truth Roman legions: Italian voters. Grab the Negronis and the Aperol Spritz; it’s show time.

The Americans Declared War On Europe (Gonzalo Lira)

September 27, 2022

Will The Ukraine De-Militarise Itself?

September 26, 2022

Source

by James Tweedie

Back in August 2022 I wrote that NATO was ‘demilitarising’ itself, sending such huge amounts of arms to the Ukraine before and during the Russian special military operation (SMO) that its armies had nothing left to fight with.

That process has continued, with Slovenia, the northernmost of the former federal republics of Yugoslavia, sending its entire armoured vehicle fleet to Kiev. The last scrapings of the barrel, just announced, are 28 M-55S tanks. These are modernised Soviet-designed T-55s with some Israeli explosive-reactive armour (ERA) blocks added. But underneath that they’re still a 1950s design, four generations behind the latest Russian tanks.

The question now is: can those arms sustain the Ukrainian military effort? And if the Ukraine, the buffed-up proxy for all NATO and the Five Eyes countries too, is losing the war, when will Russia and its Donbass republican allies achieve victory?

I was born in the mid-1970s, during the Cold War, and I grew up under he shadow of the mushroom cloud. So I must confess to being one of those who were anxious for this conflict to be over quickly, before the nuclear powers came to blows. But one can’t hurry history.

War of Attrition

In his bombshell speech on the morning of 21st September 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained that the apparent slow progress of the SMO by the need to unpick the Gordian Knot of hardened defences the Ukrainian Nazi battalions built up on the front line over eight years.

“A head-on attack against them would have led to heavy losses,” Putin said, “which is why our units, as well as the forces of the Donbass republics, are acting competently and systematically, using military equipment and saving lives, moving step by step to liberate Donbass.”

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu gave a televised interview the same morning. He gave extremely specific figures for both Russian and Ukrainian military casualties. “Our losses to date are 5,937 dead,” he said, but added that 90 per cent of the wounded had recovered and returned to duty.

According to Shoigu, Ukraine has lost 61,207 killed and 49,368 wounded (a total of 110,575 casualties) from an initial military strength of 201-202 thousand. The caveat to that that the Ukraine has conscripted hundreds of thousands of men into territorial defence units since the start of the conflict. That’s greater than a ten-to-one ratio of Ukrainian to Russian casualties

Shoigu also said that over the previous three weeks — since the launch of Kiev’s counter-offensives in Kherson and Kharkov — the Ukrainians had lost more than 7,000 men and 970 pieces of heavy equipment, including 208 tanks, 245 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), 186 other armoured vehicles, 15 aircraft and four helicopters.

That amounts to about 60 per cent of the roughly 350 tanks, and three-quarters of the 328 IFVs, supplied by Western countries since February 24. If one lumps armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in with IFVs, Shoigu is still talking about 30 per cent losses of NATO-supplied heavy armour.

Kiev is preparing for or has already begun more counter-offensives towards Lisichansk in the LPR, Donetsk city, from Ugledar to the south to Mariupol and towards Berdyansk or Melitopol in Zaporozhye oblast. Russian aircraft, missiles and artillery are already hitting the groups of forces concentrated for that. If those offensives go the same way as the others, surely the Ukrainians will soon run out of both men and machines, right?

Blogger and YouTuber Andrei Martyanov, a Russian who served in the Soviet armed forces, is not worried about about how long it takes to get the SMO over and done with. He has argued that his countrymen can win simply by waiting for the Ukrainians to throw themselves onto their bayonets, until they run out of bodies.

With all due respect, allow me to sound a note of scepticism: that assumes that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his Western backers care how many die, or that the Ukrainian people (more than 8 million of whom are now scattered across Europe and even further afield) have the inclination and the opportunity to rise up against the fascist death-squad state.

The daily Russian Ministry of Defence body-count of hundreds of the miserable ‘territorial defence’ conscripts along the Donbass line — untrained and barely-armed middle-aged men press-ganged in the street — is not much of an indicator of progress.

It’s the territorial gains, no matter how slow, that matter. Russia cannot just count on the Ukrainians to suicidally ‘demilitarise’ themselves.

Putin’s announcement of a “partial mobilisation” of 300,000 army reservists was warmly welcomed by pro-Russian social media commentators. It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this, coupled with the referenda in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson on reunification with Russia.

But there are caveats. State Duma Defence Committee chairman Andrey Kartapolov clarified that those troops would be deployed to defend the country’s borders and to create “operational depth” — in other words as a second defensive echelon. Martyanov argues that will free up regular front-line troops to conquer more territory. But it remains unclear how many of them were deployed to begin with.

Eyes on the Prize

So what is Russia trying to achieve in the Ukraine? Putin said in his Wednesday morning speech that the main task was to defend the Russian-speaking people of the Donbass. That implies capturing the whole of the oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk.

But some ‘stretch goals’ may be added, including forging a land corridor to the Crimea and maybe even Transnistria, the Russian protectorate in Moldova.

Russia’s other main aim was to stop the Ukraine from joining NATO. That would allow the US to base nuclear weapons just 300 miles from Moscow in a position to launch a first strike attack.

US President Joe Biden’s response to Putin at the UN General Assembly later that day included the comment that “a nuclear war cannot be won — and must never be fought.” While true, that observation was shamelessly hypocritical. It was likely only made out of fear after Putin’s warning that Russia takes national defence and nuclear deterrence seriously.

Securing the Ukraine’s neutrality is not just part of “demilitarisation”: it could also be called “de-Nazification”, since NATO and its shadow the European Union (EU) were behind the 2014 coup by the Azov battalion and their ilk.

But Russia needs a legitimately-elected head of state to sign up to that, and right now that man is Zelensky. A peace deal struck with any military junta which might depose the comedian-turned-president would only be denounced by the next elected leader.

Even if a new civilian government was elected on a pro-peace, non-alignment platform (as Zelensky was), it would only last as long as it took the US, UK and EU to organise a repeat of the 2004-05 ‘Orange Revolution’ and the 2014 ‘Euromaidan’ coups d’etat.

The crazy Ukro-Nazis and their enablers have to ‘own’ the peace and the agreement to cede the Donbass and Crimea — and thereby lose all credibility.

But the Ukraine had already lost the Crimea and effective control over the Donbass before the SMO even kicked off. Kiev won’t sign any peace deal unless it has something else to lose. If Moscow is also serious about readmitting Zaporozhye and Kherson to the Russian motherland following a ‘Yes’ vote in the coming referenda, then there’s nothing to bargain with there either. Russia may need to capture other territories to use as bargaining chips.

To do so, it would have to inflict a defeat on the Ukrainian armed forces that would force them to retreat — not only from Donetsk and Lugansk but from other areas, maybe all the way back to the Dnieper river that divides the country in two.

Such a victory can’t be won unless Russia regains the initiative and actively starts pushing the Ukrainian armed forces back.

The Great M.I.C. Cash-In

The Kiev regime’s aims are clearly to keep grifting off its Western sponsors as long as possible, before fleeing to the sunny tax havens where they have billions stashed. But what does the West really want out of this war?

The stated aims of Washington and friends are to defend Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty (code for invading the Donbass and Crimea and ethnically cleansing them), along with its non-existent “right” to become a NATO launchpad, to “weaken” Russia militarily (by causing as many casualties as possible) and to put “international pressure” on Putin (economic warfare with the goal of regime change).

One should avoid making predictions, but let’s say the US and its satellites fail in all of that (since they have done so far). What will they try to win as a consolation prize?

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, an unelected bureaucrat who made a huge mess of her previous job as German defence minister, has vowed that sanctions on Russia will continue for years to come. That the sanctions are crippling the economies of EU member states, especially her home country, doesn’t seem to bother UVDL. And seeing the EU and its appointed commissioners are increasingly imposing their foreign policy diktats on the 27 governments, she might get her way.

More importantly, NATO desperately needs to save face — now that it has exposed by Russia as a paper tiger. Hence the triumphant crowing over moves, far from complete, to grant existing de-facto allies Sweden and Finland formal membership.

The West may try to claim a kind of moral victory on the basis that it may take Russia more than a year to defeat ‘brave little Ukraine’, or be forced to wipe out most of its military-age male population to win. But whose idea was that? Zelensky, Biden and all other Western leaders have made that bed.

But NATO is really just a pyramid scheme to sell overpriced Western, especially US, arms to its vassals. And therein lies a contradiction, because the US military-industrial complex (MIC) has competition from those of the UK, Germany, France and even Sweden — a country with a smaller population than the city of Moscow.

The Ukraine has used the referenda on unification with Russia as the latest pretext to demand Germany donate its newest models of Leopard 2 tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles. But why doesn’t Kiev ask the US for some of its M1 Abrams and M2 Bradleys instead? The Pentagon has many more to spare.

The truth is that neither Germany nor the US can afford to have its supposedly-invincible wunderwaffen shown up, and blown up, in battle with Russian forces. Despite weighing only two-thirds as much as the US and German behemoths, the Russian tanks have about the same effective armour protection — thanks to state-of-the-art ERA technology — and guns of equal destructive power. And there are a lot more Russian tanks, anti-tank missiles, attack jets and helicopters on the battlefield in the Ukraine.

The US has only managed to sell the M1 to eight other countries, compared to 18 for the Leopard 2. The export model of the Abrams is ‘Nerfed’ by removing the depleted uranium rods from its composite armour, so countries like Australia and Saudi Arabia get sub-par tanks. The only overseas customer for the British Challenger 2 is Oman, while the French Leclerc tank has been exported to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

By contrast, the Russian T-72 is currently in service in 40 countries, including both Russia and the Ukraine. Like the Russian intervention in Syria, the war in the Ukraine could prove to be a serious marketing tool for the Russian arms industry — eating the US MIC’s lunch.

Who profits from Pipeline Terror?

Secret talks between Russia and Germany to resolve their Nord Stream 1 and 2 issues had to be averted at any cost

September 29 2022

By Pepe Escobar

The War of Economic Corridors has entered incandescent, uncharted territory: Pipeline Terror.

A sophisticated military operation – that required exhaustive planning, possibly involving several actors – blew up four separate sections of the Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gas pipelines this week in the shallow waters of the Danish straits, in the Baltic Sea, near the island of Bornholm.

Swedish seismologists estimated that the power of the explosions may have reached the equivalent of up to 700 kg of TNT. Both NS and NS2, near the strong currents around Borholm, are placed at the bottom of the sea at a depth of 60 meters.

The pipes are built with steel reinforced concrete, able to withstand impact from aircraft carrier anchors, and are basically indestructible without serious explosive charges. The operation – causing two leaks near Sweden and two near Denmark – would have to be carried out by modified underwater drones.

Every crime implies motive. The Russian government wanted – at least up to the sabotage – to sell oil and natural gas to the EU. The notion that Russian intel would destroy Gazprom pipelines is beyond ludicrous. All they had to do was to turn off the valves. NS2 was not even operational, based on a political decision from Berlin. The gas flow in NS was hampered by western sanctions. Moreover, such an act would imply Moscow losing key strategic leverage over the EU.

Diplomatic sources confirm that Berlin and Moscow were involved in a secret negotiation to solve both the NS and NS2 issues. So they had to be stopped – no holds barred. Geopolitically, the entity that had the motive to halt a deal holds anathema a possible alliance in the horizon between Germany, Russia, and China.

Whodunnit?

The possibility of an “impartial” investigation of such a monumental act of sabotage – coordinated by NATO, no less – is negligible. Fragments of the explosives/underwater drones used for the operation will certainly be found, but the evidence may be tampered with. Atlanticist fingers are already blaming Russia. That leaves us with plausible working hypotheses.

This hypothesis is eminently sound and looks to be based on information from Russian intelligence sources. Of course, Moscow already has a pretty good idea of what happened (satellites and electronic monitoring working 24/7), but they won’t make it public.

The hypothesis focuses on the Polish Navy and Special Forces as the physical perpetrators (quite plausible; the report offers very good internal details), American planning and technical support (extra plausible), and aid by the Danish and Swedish militaries (inevitable, considering this was very close to their territorial waters, even if it took place in international waters).

The hypothesis perfectly ties in with a conversation with a top German intelligence source, who told The Cradle that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND or German intelligence) was “furious” because “they were not in the loop.” 

Of course not. If the hypothesis is correct, this was a glaringly anti-German operation, carrying the potential of metastasizing into an intra-NATO war.

The much-quoted NATO Article 5 – ‘an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us’ – obviously does not say anything about a NATO-on-NATO attack. After the pipeline punctures, NATO issued a meek statement “believing” what happened was sabotage and will “respond” to any deliberate attack on its critical infrastructure. NS and NS2, incidentally, are not part of NATO’s infrastructure.

The whole operation had to be approved by Americans, and deployed under their Divide and Rule trademark. “Americans” in this case means the Neo-conservatives and Neo-liberals running the government machinery in Washington, behind the senile teleprompter reader.

This is a declaration of war against Germany and against businesses and citizens of the EU – not against the Kafkaesque Eurocrat machine in Brussels. Don’t be mistaken: NATO runs Brussels, not European Commission (EC) head and rabid Russophobe Ursula von der Leyen, who’s just a lowly handmaiden for finance capitalism.

It’s no wonder the Germans are absolutely mum; no one from the German government, so far, has said anything substantial.

The Polish corridor

By now, assorted chattering classes are aware of former Polish Defense Minister and current MEP Radek Sirkorski’s tweet: “Thank you, USA.” But why would puny Poland be on the forefront? There’s atavic Russophobia, a number of very convoluted internal political reasons, but most of all, a concerted plan to attack Germany built on pent up resentment – including new demands for WWII reparations.

The Poles, moreover, are terrified that with Russia’s partial mobilization, and the new phase of the Special Military Operation (SMO) – soon to be transformed into a Counter-Terrorism Operation (CTO) – the Ukrainian battlefield will move westward. Ukrainian electric light and heating will most certainly be smashed. Millions of new refugees in western Ukraine will attempt to cross to Poland.

At the same time there’s a sense of “victory” represented by the partial opening of the Baltic Pipe in northwest Poland – almost simultaneously with the sabotage.

Talk about timing. Baltic Pipe will carry gas from Norway to Poland via Denmark. The maximum capacity is only 10 billion cubic meters, which happens to be ten times less than the volume supplied by NS and NS2. So Baltic Pipe may be enough for Poland, but carries no value for other EU customers.

Meanwhile, the fog of war gets thicker by the minute. It has already been documented that US helicopters were overflying the sabotage nodes only a few days ago; that a UK “research” vessel was loitering in Danish waters since mid-September; that NATO tweeted about the testing of “new unmanned systems at sea” on the same day of the sabotage. Not to mention that Der Spiegel published a startling report headlined “CIA warned German government against attacks on Baltic Sea pipelines,” possibly a clever play for plausible deniability.

The Russian Foreign Ministry was sharp as a razor: “The incident took place in an area controlled by American intelligence.” The White House was forced to “clarify” that President Joe Biden – in a February video that has gone viral – did not promise to destroy NS2; he promised to “not allow” it to work. The US State Department declared that the idea the US was involved is “preposterous.”

It was up to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to offer a good dose of reality: the damage to the pipelines posed a “big problem” for Russia, essentially losing its gas supply routes to Europe. Both NS2 lines had been pumped full of gas and – crucially – were prepared to deliver it to Europe; this is Peskov cryptically admitting negotiations with Germany were ongoing.

Peskov added, “this gas is very expensive and now it is all going up in the air.” He stressed again that neither Russia nor Europe had anything to gain from the sabotage, especially Germany. This Friday, there will be a special UN Security Council session on the sabotage, called by Russia.

The attack of the Straussians

Now for the Big Picture. Pipeline Terror is part of a Straussian offensive, taking the splitting up of Russia and Germany to the ultimate level (as they see it). Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America: A Critical Appraisal, by Paul E. Gottfried (Cambridge University Press, 2011) is required reading to understand this phenomenon.

Leo Strauss, the German-Jewish philosopher who taught at the University of Chicago, is at the root of what later, in a very twisted way, became the Wolfowitz Doctrine, written in 1992 as the Defense Planning Guidance, which defined “America’s mission in the post-Cold War era.”

The Wolfowitz Doctrine goes straight to the point: any potential competitor to US hegemony, especially “advanced industrial nations” such as Germany and Japan, must be smashed. Europe should never exercise sovereignty: “We must be careful to prevent the emergence of a purely European security system that would undermine NATO, and particularly its integrated military command structure.”

Fast-forward to the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, adopted only five months ago. It establishes that Kiev has a free lunch when it comes to all arms control mechanisms. All these expensive weapons are leased by the US to the EU to be sent to Ukraine. The problem is that whatever happens in the battlefield, in the end, it is the EU that will have to pay the bills.

US Secretary of State Blinken and his underling, Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, are Straussians, now totally unleashed, having taken advantage of the black void in the White House. As it stands, there are at least three different “silos” of power in a fractured Washington. For all Straussians, a tight bipartisan op, uniting several high-profile usual suspects, destroying Germany is paramount.

One serious working hypothesis places them behind the orders to conduct Pipeline Terror. The Pentagon forcefully denied any involvement in the sabotage. There are secret back channels between Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

And dissident Beltway sources swear that the CIA is also not part of this game; Langley’s agenda would be to force the Straussians to back off on Russia reincorporating Novorossiya and allow Poland and Hungary to gobble up whatever they want in Western Ukraine before the entire US government falls into a black void.

Come see me in the Citadel

On the Grand Chessboard, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan two weeks ago dictated the framework of the multipolar world ahead. Couple it with the independence referendums in DPR, LPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye, which Russian President Vladimir Putin will formally incorporate into Russia, possibly as early as Friday.

With the window of opportunity closing fast for a Kiev breakthrough before the first stirrings of a cold winter, and Russia’s partial mobilization soon to enter the revamped SMO and add to generalized western panic, Pipeline Terror at least would carry the “merit” of solidifying a Straussian tactical victory: Germany and Russia fatally separated.

Yet blowback will be inevitable – in unexpected ways – even as Europe becomes increasingly Ukrainized and even Polandized: an intrinsically neo-fascist, unabashed puppet of the US as predator, not partner. Vey few across the EU are not brainwashed enough to understand how Europe is being set up for the ultimate fall.

The war, by those Straussians ensconced in the Deep State – neocons and neoliberals alike – won’t relent. It is a war against Russia, China, Germany and assorted Eurasian powers. Germany has just been felled. China is currently observing, carefully. And Russia – nuclear and hypersonic – won’t be bullied.

Poetry grandmaster C.P. Cavafy, in Waiting for the Barbarians, wrote “And now what will become of us, without any barbarians? Those people were some kind of a solution.” The barbarians are not at the gates, not anymore. They are inside their golden Citadel.

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

Keywords

A possible strategy for peace

September 28, 2022

Source

by Gav Don

We now await the results of the referenda in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhiya and Kherson to request membership of the Russian Federation. In the first three regions the result is a foregone conclusion. In Kherson the vote is also likely to be for membership, in spite of the fact that Kherson’s pre-war population was a majority ethnic Ukrainian one, but the margin may be closer. Many, indeed probably most, of Kherson’s pre-war Ukrainians have, though, left the region as refugees, and will not vote in the referendum by virtue of their absence. President Putin stated in a recent speech that Russia will immediately accept the applications for membership of the Federation that follow.

In parallel Moscow announced this week that Russia will call up army reservists for service. Russian army reserves include men in a wide range of preparedness, from people who had completed conscripted service long ago to a much smaller number of “active” reserve formations similar to western reserve formations – i.e. ones which meet regularly for paid training with regular forces. These latter are a relatively new addition to Russia’s ground forces.

RAND reported in 2019 that “active” reserves totalled only 5,000 men. In 2021 Moscow announced a plan to increase the active reserve under the headline BARS-2021 to 100,000, but no information has reached the public domain since then on how well (or not) that strategy performed. Subsequent clarification stated that reserves called up will undergo months of refresher and update training. Interpolating the limited data suggests that this reserve call-up might bring 20,000-40,000 men with material fighting power to Russia’s Orbat in the short term.

Mr Putin made no reference to the number of men (and women, presumably) to be called up, but within minutes of his speech being broadcast the number of 300,000 appeared throughout western media coverage. The most likely source for that very large number is the media briefers retained by Kyiv.

Prior to this week’s reserve call-up Moscow was already in the process of creating a new unit, the 3rd Army Corps (Luhansk and Donestk militias form the 1st and 2nd Army Corps), comprising some 40 Battalion Tactical Groups. When fully formed the 3rd Army Corps would therefore contain some 35,000 – 40,000 men, but at present is probably less than half that complement, and in an early state of formation and training which will limit its combat power to low-intensity and defensive operations only for several months to come.

Reserves are not the only news: a third insight to Moscow’s objectives has come to light, in one of Mr Putin’s replies in a Q and A at Samarkand, and again in his “reserves” speech. In both he referred for the first time to the Russia’s “main objective” in Ukraine as the full occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. This is the first time since February that Moscow has made an unequivocal statement about its objectives.

It is tempting to extrapolate that Russia’s lesser objectives must be smaller than its main objective. That extrapolation would rule out the taking of much more ground than Russia already occupies, including Odesa (or even Mikolayev), Kharkiv or the ground between the western border of Donetsk and the Dnepr River.

Building on that tentative conclusion leads to another conclusion, that Moscow’s strategic objective now is to conclude the remnants of the peace deal agreed to (and then reneged on) by President Zelensky in Istanbul in March. Much of the rest of Mr Putin’s “reserves” speech was expressing Russia’s defensive rights and plans – the protection of Russian territory and Russian people from Ukraine and the greater west. There was no talk of extending Russian occupation of Ukraine beyond Donetsk and Luhansk.

Last week, the day after the reserves announcement, President Zelensky made a recorded address to the United Nations which Moscow is likely to find discouraging for a peace deal. Mr Zelensky’s first words were a demand for “just punishment” for Russia’s aggression: “Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory”.  Mr Zelensky stated four preconditions for peace:

·         Punishment (of Russia) for the crime of aggression, to continue (a) until the borders are returned to 2013 line and (b) full financial compensation has been paid for all physical damage. The punishments, to be administered by a special tribunal, specifically include a trade embargo, suspension of Russia from the UN and of its veto, a travel ban on all Russians, and a system to obtain financial compensation from Russia.

·         “The protection of life by all available means”. It was not made clear what this term means in detail.

·         “The restoring of security and territorial integrity” – which must mean a return to 2013 borders.

·         Security guarantees for Ukraine enacted in a suite of bilateral and multilateral treaties, to supplement existing treaties (so, probably not membership of NATO per se). The new guarantees will be written to provide pre-emptive action rather than reactive action (like that in the Atlantic Charter).

To these Mr Zelensky added a fifth precondition, which had no actual provisions or form but appeared to be a call for firm adherence to the four explicit conditions to punish aggression.

Mr Zelensky finished with “I rule out the possibility a settlement can happen on a different basis than the [this] Ukrainian peace formula”.

Ukraine’s position depends entirely on continued materiel and financial support from Washington, London and Brussels. Since it will be immediately clear to even the most Russophobic members of those administrations that the only practically obtainable component of President Zelensky’s formula will be financial compensation from Russia’s frozen foreign reserves, there is probably a different peace deal, which might be imposed on Kyiv by the West. What might those preconditions be?

They would probably include:

·         A clear demonstration by the people living in the four Oblasts that they no longer wish to be part of Ukraine;

·         Clear evidence that the Kharkiv offensive is a one-off, and that it has no practical chance of being repeated elsewhere;

·         Acceptance by the voters of Europe and the United Kingdom that a bad peace is more attractive than a continued war (the voters of the United States are almost completely indifferent to the war and have already lost interest);

·         Acceptance by Prime Minister Truss and Commission President von der Leyen that the economic price of continued conflict with Russia is higher than they will, or even can, pay;

·         Acceptance by the US State Department that the EU Commission and Downing Street are no longer willing to send money and weapons to Ukraine (Mr Biden’s cognitive decline more or less rules him out of the decision process, and the Pentagon has been against the war since February);

It is possible to map last week’s Russian events and announcements against this list of preconditions.

The popular will in the occupied territories

Three of the four referenda are guaranteed to return a strong desire for a transfer from Ukraine to Russia. The fourth, Kherson, may return a less equivocal desire, though a majority for Russia is likely. Moscow may be setting up the surrender of west-bank Kherson to Ukraine as the price of peace.

The western popular consciousness (in so far as it exists as a single “thing”) readily accepts the principle of self-determination where clearly and fairly expressed. Indeed, rather more than half of the people of Europe are independent or unified by virtue of that principle (this would include all Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Greeks, Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Slovenes, Croats, Montenegrans, Dutch, Danes, Maltese, Kosovans, Macedonians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Finns, Irish, and, outside the EU, Norwegians, and in future perhaps Scots and Catalans, and of course Ukrainians themselves). Why, then, spend large amounts of money and incur acute economic pain to resist the clearly expressed desire for self-determination by ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine?

In the debate which might follow this line Moscow will undoubtedly call in aid the referendum in Kosovo, supported by the western alliance against Russian ally Serbia, as a precedent for the moral right to choose one’s parent state. It will find support from the 2010 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case, that “…international law contains no ‘prohibition on declarations of independence” (the caveats and specific circumstances of the Advisory Opinion are unlikely to gain much traction with public opinion).

So, it is possible at least that bringing the referenda forward to now is a step towards undermining popular support for the war in greater Europe.

Clear evidence that the Kharkiv success is a one-off

I covered the Kharkiv offensive here, concluding that a successful attack by some 20,000 men against a space held by 4,000 low-grade troops says little about future military prospects for Ukraine. Most of the rest of the Line of Contact is held in substantially greater force by Russian and allied troops of substantially higher fighting power. Moscow’s announcement of reserves mobilisation will shortly add to that fighting power and deepen the thinly-held Contact Line that runs west from Donetsk to Zaporizhiya.

Moscow’s change of strategy by attacking Ukrainian civil power assets for the first time simultaneously restricts Kyiv’s ability to concentrate force and demonstrates Russia’s willingness to use more violence if and when required.

Kyiv is still capitalising on the glow of the Kharkiv offensive, hoping to use it to persuade an international audience that its goal of returning to its 2013 borders is a realistic one. Indeed, the Kharkiv offensive forms a key foundation stone for President Zelensky’s plan for a peace deal articulated to the United Nations last week.

If the Kharkiv offensive is indeed a one-off and not repeatable it will take time for that truth to prevail in the strategic calculus of Washington, London and Brussels.

The economic price of resistance

The European Commission’s sanctions on Russian gas supplies (shuttering Nordstream 2, forbidding EU states from paying for gas in Roubles, obstructing Nordstream 1 by sanctioning its turbines and supporting Kyiv in its shuttering of pipelines for reasons with little engineering validity) have increased gas prices in Europe and the UK by a factor of roughly ten times, and consequently increased power prices by factor of around five times.

Spiking energy prices undercut popular support for the war while at the same time threatening almost all parts of greater Europe’s industrial and commercial sector, rendering large parts of commerce and industry unprofitable overnight (and catastrophically loss-making in the case of low-margin energy intensive primary industries).

Brussels and London have been forced to respond with a combination of massive subsidies, price controls and windfall profit taxes. In the case of the UK Ms Truss’s emergency plan has an initial (6-month) budget of some £65 bn – 2.5% of GDP to be borrowed and spent in half a year alone. While the Commission’s plan for windfall taxes and targeted subsidies is considerably more sensible, both the EU and the UK are looking at sharp GDP contractions as a result of the energy price spike alongside large adverse swings in international payments balances. The value of Sterling has crashed to its lowest level against the dollar since American independence. The Euro has also dropped by some 20% against the dollar.

Europe will weather the price spike better than the UK, which is facing another economic disaster generated by the inflation-linked coupons on some £500 bn of its government debt. With inflation running at 10-12% per year (depending on which measure is chosen), UK debt interest will leap this year from approximately £48 bn in 2019 to a likely £110 bn in 2022.

UK government debt interest will be yet higher in 2023, when, if the war and EU sanctions on Russian gas continue, the United Kingdom will need to borrow a net £200 bn (plus half as much again to roll over existing maturing debts), with a weak currency, high inflation and a shrinking economy. This toxic combination will further weaken the pound, import more inflation through rising import prices, further increase the cost of index-linked government debt, and drive the government’s budget deficit to around 10% of GDP. Unable to raise taxes (because she has promised not to) and unable to cut government spending (because an election looms in 2024) Ms Truss will be at risk of sinking under a tide of debt.

The question is how long will Downing Street accept the costs of its unequivocal support for Ukraine?

The European Commission’s plans for handling the energy price spike are more sensible than London’s, and it starts from a position of having zero debt (though European members all owe large amounts). There is a possibility of a split emerging between the strategic desires of London and the Commission, with the latter welcoming acute economic pain for the UK as part of the “punishment regime” for the UK’s departure from the European Union. Moscow may try to use that divided agenda to detach the UK from Ukraine’s life support system.

Popular rejection of support for the war

Throughout the war European and UK popular support for Ukraine has been solid. Indeed it is almost impossible to find any voice in either mainstream or niche media that is anything other than entirely on the side of Kyiv (not completely impossible – a small community of dissident thinkers and analysts does exist, led by this website, but with a repeating audience that barely breaks half a million people it has little real-world impact).

Popular support has flowed in roughly equal parts from a latent fear of and dislike for Russia born of the Cold War, from a collective view that states should not invade each other, from perhaps the most successful information war ever waged (by Kyiv) and in part from the reality that so far support has cost Europeans personally nothing in either blood or treasure.

The coming price in treasure is discussed above. It is likely that Mr Putin’s remarks this week on the circumstances in which Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons were deliberately intended to alarm European and British citizens with the concept that the distant war might become a very non-distant reality if it is allowed to continue.

Moscow can rely on Europe’s media and politicians to misrepresent and exaggerate its statements (conflating tactical with strategic weapons, eliding the question of use against armed forces or civilians, ignoring the fact the Mr Putin’s remarks were expressly preceded by a reference to Ms Truss’s bellicose statement of her willingness to use nuclear weapons during her election campaign, and neatly ignoring the subtlety of whether Russian weapons might be used in Ukraine, Russia or Europe) to cultivate panic among peoples who had more or less forgotten that nuclear weapons still exist and have no clear idea of what they do or how they work.

If that is what Moscow’s talk of nuclear weapons was intended to spark then it has quickly succeeded – the nuclear threat is now top and centre of mass media discussion, and may be creating the space within which Brussels and London can press Kyiv to a negotiated peace, however uncomfortable.

American guns and money

The final piece of the puzzle is how to persuade the US that it should stop sending weapons and cash to Kyiv.

American support for Ukraine does not require popular consent since the price is small by comparison with total US government spending, and its budgets are readily approved by Congress.

American popular consciousness is also much less responsive to the rattling of nuclear sabres, by virtue of distance, by familiarity with life in the front-line of nuclear brinkmanship and because of innate popular confidence in the size and power of US retaliative capabilities. There is no media panic about possible use of nuclear weapons in the US.

Indeed, Ukraine barely breaks into the national mainstream media consciousness, which is preoccupied with inflation, racial tensions expressed by police killings, and the “threat” posed by to US hegemonic power by China, and specifically to Taiwan.

Meanwhile the methane price spike will generate extraordinarily high profits for US LNG producers.

That combination of US circumstances presents Moscow with a wicked problem. There may be one solution to how US opinion should be persuaded to abandon Ukraine.

US popular consciousness firmly believes that Europe (including the UK) has freeloaded on US defence spending for two generations. There are few things the average American dislikes more than a freeloader.

The charge contains an element of truth. Total defence spending by the EU plus UK and Turkey was about Euros 220 bn in 2021. Total US defence spending in the same year was approximately Euros 600 bn. Even allowing for those parts of the budget allocated to strategic nuclear weapons (about 15%), Carrier Strike Groups and amphibious warfare capabilities (10%), and US power projection in Asia and the Middle East (probably another 20%), US defence spending still exceeds Europe’s by about half.

If Moscow can manipulate either or both of the Commission and Downing Street into abandoning support for Ukraine that would leave Washington paying the bill alone. It is not the size of that bill which might undercut support for guns and money, but the fact that it has been forwarded on by decadent and cynical Europeans, which could make US support for Ukraine unacceptably unpopular.

Whatever the American voter thinks, the American neocon will not be persuaded to accept a peace deal with Russia. Indeed, the US is escalating. Last night the pressures in Nordstream 1 and Nordstream more or less simultaneously fell to 7 Atmospheres, and a large gas leak was observed off the Danish Island of Bornholm. 7 Atmospheres is the ambient pressure of the seabed off Bornholm under which both pipelines pass – at 70 metres of water depth. There is only one possible explanation for this event – an attack on both pipelines by an unidentified submarine.

The reliable rule of Cui Bono applies here. A US (or UK, on request from the US) attack on the pipelines secures the EU LNG market for US exporters against possible future competition from Russia after a peace deal, renders Europe dependent on US LNG supplies (in the short term at least), and serves to remove a major possible Russian contribution to peace in the form of cheap gas. It is staggering to see how far US policy-makers will go to promote a continued war.

A possible strategy for peace

Notwithstanding the Nordstream attacks it is possible to see, inside the announcements and moves that have emerged this week, the skeleton of a Russian strategy towards a negotiated peace with Kyiv. An uncomfortable one, to be sure, but peace nevertheless.

If a negotiated peace is not available Moscow can still opt for an imposed one, in which it would complete the occupation of Donetsk Oblast and call a unilateral halt to offensive operations.

Presented with that fait accompli Kyiv is likely to continue its present policy of shelling civilians in Russian-occupied territory wherever its guns can reach – a policy in blatant breach of the Law of Armed Conflict but one which has been consistently and thoroughly ignored by the major media channels in both Europe and the USA, and even by Turkish and Iraq media. An enforced peace would therefore require Russia to create and police an effective artillery “no fire” zone for some 20 kms west of its new imposed border with Ukraine, and a “no-rocket” zone for another 50 kms on top.

Russia’s present artillery and rocket forces cannot do that, since Ukrainian artillery can evade counterbattery fire by the tactic of “shoot and scoot”. Russian air forces are also unable to enforce a no-fire zone because at high altitude they are vulnerable to a SAM shoot-down, and at low altitude to the widespread presence of Man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS).

To create an effective no-fire zone Russia needs a force of unmanned drones capable of delivering 20-40 kgs of high explosive within 2 metres of their targets, both stationary and evading counterfire in “scoot” mode. These drones would have to be sufficiently numerous to give saturation coverage day and night, working in pairs (so that one of the pair can engage MANPADS and SAM launchers which target the other member of the pair), and cheap enough to be disposable.

At the start of the war Russia did not have a drone with those specifications, but now it does. The 1,000 or so Shahed 136 drones ordered this month are beginning to arrive (the first examples of 136 wreckage with their distinctive wingtips have now appeared in Ukraine). Russia has renamed the model the Geranium.

The 136 is an ideal candidate for enforcing a deep no-fire zone. Its 36 kg warhead can completely destroy a heavy artillery piece, a mortar or a Multiple Launch Rocket launch truck. The 136 can loiter for some 20 hours at heights well above the reach of MANPADs, before being dived onto the target by its operator. It can also carry out a chase of a moving target (it was a 136 which hit the bridge of the merchant ship Mercer Street while under way off Oman last year), and can break away and re-attack repeatedly if the target evades successfully.

One limitation is that control systems are line-of-sight, so require the drone controller to use a very high aerial to operate the drone successfully deep behind the Line of Contact, but the 136’s operating depth is likely in most circumstances to be greater than the effective range of most of its targets.

Moscow’s drone purchase also reportedly includes an estimated forty Shahed 129 drones. The 129 is a 400 kg aircraft theoretically capable of carrying guided ground attack munitions but more likely to be used for its electro-optical reconnaissance capability to identify targets for the 136s. The 129 too has a line-of-sight control link, which also limits its operational depth capability.

With sufficient numbers of these two drones, backed up by conventional artillery and MLRS systems, Russia should be able to enforce an effective artillery no-fire zone in defence of the occupied territories.

Amidst the uncertainty one thing is certain – there is a zero probability that Moscow will entertain President Zelensky’s UN peace proposals. It may not even respond to them, on the basis that they rest on a strategic fantasy. Equally likely is that President Zelensky will not respond to peace proposals which include the detachment of the four Oblasts. At least, not until pressured to do so by at least two of his three western backers.

The most likely outcome therefore looks to this author to be a frozen conflict, once the balance of Donetsk Oblast has been taken (slowly) by Russian forces. At the current rate of progress – a few hundred metres per day – that may not happen until the spring or even summer of 2023.

Underwater explosions reported prior to Nord Steam gas leaks

Sep 27 2022 17:34

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) confirms powerful underwater explosions in the area of gas leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline.

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark, Sept. 27, 2022 (Reuters)

The Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) reported powerful underwater explosions in the area of gas leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline on Tuesday.

SNSN Director Bjorn Lund said as quoted by SVT that “there are no doubts that these were explosions.”

“One explosion had a magnitude of 2.3 and was registered by dozens of monitoring stations in southern Sweden,” he stated.

“You can clearly see the waves bounce from the bottom to the surface,” Lund added.

On his part, Peter Schmidt, an Uppsala University seismologist, said the Swedish National Seismic Network recorded two “massive releases of energy” shortly prior to, and near the location of, the gas leaks off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm.

“The first happened at 2:03 am (0003 GMT) just southeast of Bornholm with a magnitude of 1.9. Then we also saw one at 7:04 pm on Monday night, another event a little further north and that seems to have been a bit bigger. Our calculations show a magnitude of 2.3,” Schmidt said.

The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) also confirmed it had registered “a smaller explosion” in the early hours of Monday, “followed by a more powerful one on Monday evening.”

Photos taken by the Danish military on Tuesday showed large masses of bubbles on the surface of the water emanating from the three leaks located in Sweden’s and Denmark’s economic zones, spreading from 200 to 1,000 meters (656 feet to 0.62 miles) in diameter.

Earlier today, Denmark’s maritime traffic agency and Sweden’s Maritime Authority on Monday reported a “dangerous” gas leak in the Baltic Sea close to the route of the inactive Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which experienced an unexplained drop in pressure.

The leak, southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, “is dangerous for maritime traffic” and “navigation is prohibited within a five nautical mile radius of the reported position,” the agency warned in a notice to ships.

Authorities in Germany, where the undersea pipeline from Russia makes land, said the energy link had experienced a drop in pressure, while its operator suggested that a leak may be the reason.

A spokeswoman for the German Ministry of Economy indicated in a statement that there was “no clarity” over the cause of the pressure change.

The pipeline operator confirmed in a statement that the drop had been registered “overnight” into Monday and reported to national marine authorities.

Nord Stream 2’s operator mentioned pressure in the pipeline dropped from 105 to seven bars overnight.

“It is relatively likely that there’s a leak” in the underwater pipeline, Nord Stream 2 spokesperson Ulrich Lissek told AFP.

He noted that “the pipeline was never in use, just prepared for technical operation, and therefore filled with gas.”

Read more: Gazprom: Launch of Nord Stream 2 could resolve EU energy crisis

Berlin suspects a “targeted attack”: German newspaper

Following the incident, German newspaper Tagesspiegel claimed Monday that Berlin is convinced that the loss of pressure in the three natural gas pipelines between Russia and Germany was not a coincidence and suspects a “targeted attack”.

The German newspaper quoted an informed source as saying that the German government and agencies investigating the incident “can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack.”

“Everything speaks against a coincidence,” the source said.

Tagesspiegel indicated that for a deliberate attack on the bottom of the sea to happen, it has to involve special forces, navy divers, or a submarine, adding that German authorities are reportedly examining two possible explanations for the incident. The first suggests that “Ukraine-affiliated forces” could be behind the attack, while the second suggests that Russia carried out the attack as a “false flag” to blame Ukraine.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs parallel to Nord Stream 1 and was intended to double the capacity for undersea gas imports from Russia, was blocked by Berlin in the days before the start of the war in Ukraine.

Russian energy giant Gazprom progressively reduced the volumes of gas being delivered via the Nord Stream 1 until it shut the pipeline completely at the end of August, blaming Western sanctions for the delay of necessary repairs to the pipeline. 

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who signed off on the first Nord Stream pipeline in his final days in office, has called on Berlin to reconsider its position on the blocked second link.

On Monday afternoon, Nord Stream 2 was reported to have depressurized. It is worth noting that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was depressurized in the early evening, simulatnously after the second of the two spikes.

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European Spyware Investigators Slam “Israeli” Regime Over Sale of Pegasus

 September 23, 202

By Staff, Agencies

European Parliament, which is investigating the use of “Israeli” spyware by EU governments, has slammed the Tel Aviv regime for a lack of transparency in allowing the sale of Pegasus to European governments to use it against critics.

The European lawmakers condemned the approach of the Polish government for refusing to meet and talk with them during the meeting of the fact-finding committee in Warsaw, which ended on Wednesday.

“It is regrettable and we condemn the fact that the Polish authorities did not want to cooperate with our investigation committee,” Jeroen Lenaers, the head of the delegation, said at a news conference in Warsaw.

“We think it also is a telling sign of the complete lack of importance this government attaches to checks and balances, to democratic scrutiny, and to dialog with elected representatives.”

The European Union’s fact-finding committee is investigating the use of the entity’s Pegasus spyware and other invasive surveillance tools by the European governments, saying the technology poses a serious threat to democracy in European countries.

Pegasus is “Israeli” spyware that was designed and developed by the entity’s NSO group and is used to break into mobile phones and spy on a large part of personal information including text messages, passwords, locations, and microphone and camera receivers.

The “Israeli” company marketed this technology as a tool to target its desired targets in the world.

Many European governments have used this controversial software to suppress dissidents, journalists, and political opponents around the world.

In Europe, some cyber detectives have found traces of the use of Pegasus or some other spyware in Poland, Hungary, Spain, and Greece.

Sophie in ’t Veld, the rapporteur of the inquiry, said the committee found out in its research that the NSO group sold this spyware to 14 European Union member states with official permission from Tel Aviv.

According to reports, Poland and Hungary are not allowed to buy this spyware from NSO due to some political issues, details of which remain unclear.

“Why can we not say with certainty that Poland was one of the two countries of which the contract has been terminated?” she said.

“Why is it that NSO is allowed to operate in the European Union, conduct its finances through Luxembourg, sell its products to now 12 member states, products that have been used to violate the rights of European citizens and to attack democracy of the European Union?”

Recently, Greece revealed that Nikos Androulakis, a member of the European Parliament and the head of the third largest political party in Greece, was monitored using Predator software last year when he was running for the leadership of the PASOK party.

It is said that a journalist from Mali was also under surveillance.

Recently, it was revealed that Poland, Hungary, and some Catalan separatists in Spain were using this software to suppress their critics and opponents.

The 10-member delegation of the EU’s fact-finding committee during its trip that began on Monday met with Poles targeted by the Pegasus spyware, including a prosecutor and a senator, and some members of the opposition-controlled Senate.

A report of the obtained results as well as some recommendations and solutions are supposed to be published on November 8 of this year.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned of the threat posed by spying programs such as the Pegasus spyware to UN human rights activists in a report to be released next week.

In recent days, Pegasus and some other spyware have threatened a group of UN human rights activists.

Guterres warned that the increase in digital surveillance by governments and some non-governmental sources has affected the activities of civil society activists in providing reliable information to the world body and has made them vulnerable to fear and threats of retaliation.

“United Nations actors have pointed to growing and concerning evidence of online surveillance, privacy intrusion, and cyberattacks by state and non-state actors of victims and civil society communications and activities,” the UN chief noted.

“The lack of trust in the digital sphere among those sharing information and testimony with the United Nations on sensitive issues can discourage future cooperation.”

The findings are part of an annual report that tracks the challenges facing those seeking to work with the organization and focuses on April 2021 to May 2022.

During this period, much of the UN’s activities following the Covid-19 pandemic have gone digital, and at the same time, espionage threats have increased.

According to UN officials, this software has also spied on the activities of Palestinian, Bahraini, and Moroccan organizations and some human rights activists of the UN during this period.

In his recent report, Guterres warned that in 2021, the mobile phones of employees of three prominent Palestinian NGOs – Addameer, Al-Haq, and Bisan Center for Research and Development – were hacked using Pegasus spyware.

The “Israeli” NSO Group has earned notoriety for trying to have its spy apparatuses maintain an edge over their international counterparts.

The regime makes extensive use of Pegasus and other locally-made spyware for espionage.

According to observers, Tel Aviv has treated NSO as a de-facto arm of the regime, granting licenses for the sale of the spyware to countries to forge stronger security and diplomatic ties.

In January, the New York Times reported that the FBI had purchased Pegasus software in 2019.

It also stated that in 2018 the CIA had purchased Pegasus for the government of Djibouti to conduct counterterrorism operations, despite that country’s record of torturing political opposition figures and imprisoning journalists.

The real US agenda in Africa is hegemony

September 21, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, first published at The Cradle and posted with the author’s permission

Forget development. Washington’s primary interest in Africa today is keeping the Chinese and Russians out.

In a rational environment, the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) would discuss alleviating the trials and tribulations of the Global South, especially Africa.

That won’t be the case. Like a deer caught in the geopolitical headlights, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued platitudes about a gloomy “winter of global discontent,” even as the proverbial imperial doomsayers criticized the UN’s “crisis of faith” and blasted the “unprovoked war” started by Russia.

Of course the slow-motion genocide of Donbass russophone residents for eight years would never be recognized as a provocation.

Guterres spoke of Afghanistan, “where the economy is in ruins and human rights are being trampled” – but he did not dare to offer context. In Libya, “divisions continue to jeopardize the country” – once again, no context. Not to mention Iraq, where “ongoing tensions threaten ongoing stability.”

Africa has 54 nations as UN members. Any truly representative UNGA meeting should place Africa’s problems at the forefront. Once again, that’s not the case. So it is left to African leaders to offer that much-needed context outside of the UN building in New York.

As the only African member of the G20, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently urged the US not to “punish” the whole continent by forcing nations to demonize or sanction Russia. Washington’s introduction of legislation dubbed the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, he says, “will harm Africa and marginalize the continent.”

South Africa is a BRICS member – a concept that is anathema in the Beltway – and embraces a policy of non-alignment among world powers. An emerging 21st century version of the 1960s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is strengthening across the Global South – and especially Africa – much to the revulsion of the US and its minions.

Back at the UNGA, Guterres invoked the global fertilizer crisis – again, with no context. Russian diplomacy has repeatedly stressed that Moscow is ready to export 30 million tons of grain and over 20 million tons of fertilizer by the end of 2022. What is left unsaid in the west, is that only the importation of fertilizers to the EU is “allowed,” while transit to Africa is not.

Guterres said he was trying to persuade EU leaders to lift sanctions on Russian fertilizer exports, which directly affect cargo payments and shipping insurance. Russia’s Uralchem, for instance, even offered to supply fertilizers to Africa for free.

Yet from the point of view of the US and its EU vassals, the only thing that matters is to counter Russia and China in Africa. Senegal’s President Macky Sall has remarked how this policy is leaving “a bitter taste.”

‘We forbid you to build your pipeline’

It gets worse. The largely ineffectual EU Parliament now wants to stop the construction of the 1,445 km-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda to Tanzania, invoking hazy human rights violations, environmental threats, and “advising” member countries to simply drop out of the project.

Uganda is counting on more than 6 billion barrels of oil to sustain an employment boom and finally move the nation to middle-income status. It was up to Ugandan Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa to offer much-needed context:

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU block with only 10 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa with 20 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 3 percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down the development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda.”

The EU Parliament, moreover, is a staunch puppet of the biofuel lobby. It has refused to amend a law that would have stopped the use of food crops for fuel production, actually contributing to what the UN Food Program has described as “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude.” No less than 350 million people are on the brink of starvation across Africa.

Instead, the G7’s notion of “helping” Africa is crystallized in the US-led Build Back Better World (B3W) – Washington’s anaemic attempt to counter Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which focuses on “climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality,” according to the White House. Practical issues of infrastructure and sustainable development, which are at the heart of China’s plan, are simply ignored by the B3W.

Initially, a few “promising” projects were identified by a traveling US delegation in Senegal and Ghana. Senegalese diplomatic sources have since confirmed that these projects have nothing whatsoever to do with building infrastructure.

B3W, predictably, fizzled out. After all, the US-led project was little more than a public relations gimmick to undermine the Chinese, with negligible effect on narrowing the $40-plus trillion worth of infrastructure needed to be built across the Global South by 2035.

Have YALI, will travel

Imperial initiatives in Africa – apart from the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), which amounts to raw militarization of the continent – brings us to the curious case of YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative), widely touted in the Washington-New York axis as “the most innovative” policy of the Obama years.

Launched in 2010, YALI was framed as “empowering the new generation of Africa leadership” – a euphemism for educating (or brainwashing) them the American way. The mechanism is simple: investing in and bringing hundreds of young African potential leaders to US universities for a short, six-week “training” on “business, civil leadership, entrepreneurship, and public management.” Then, four days in Washington to meet “leaders in the administration,” and a photo op with Obama.

The project was coordinated by US embassies in Africa, and targeted young men and women from sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 nations – including those under US sanctions, like Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe – proficient in English, with a “commitment” to return to Africa. Roughly 80 percent during the initial years had never been to the US, and more than 50 percent grew up outside of big cities.

Then, in a speech in 2013 in South Africa, Obama announced the establishment of the Washington Fellowship, later renamed the Mandela-Washington Fellowship (MWF).

That’s still ongoing. In 2022, MWF should be granted to 700 “outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa,” who follow “Leadership Institutes” at nearly 40 US universities, before their short stint in Washington. After which, they are ready for “long-term engagement between the United States and Africa.”

And all that for literally peanuts, as MWF was enthusiastically billed by the Democrat establishment as cost-efficient: $24,000 per fellow, paid by participant US universities as well as Coca-Cola, IBM, MasterCard Foundation, Microsoft, Intel, McKinsey, GE, and Procter & Gamble.

And that didn’t stop with MWF. USAID went a step further, and invested over $38 million – plus $10 million from the MasterCard Foundation – to set up four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal. These were training, long distance and in-class, at least 3,500 ‘future leaders’ a year.

It’s no wonder the Brookings Institution was drooling over so much “cost-efficiency” when it comes to investing “in Africa’s future” and for the US to “stay competitive” in Africa. YALI certainly looks prettier than AFRICOM.

A few success stories though don’t seem to rival the steady stream of African footballers making a splash in Europe – and then reinvesting most of their profits back home. The Trump years did see a reduction of YALI’s funding – from $19 million in 2017 to roughly $5 million.

So many leaders to ‘train’

Predictably, the Joe Biden White House YALI-ed all over again with a vengeance. Take this US press attache in Nigeria neatly outlining the current emphasis on “media and information literacy,” badly needed to tackle the “spreading of disinformation” including “in the months leading up to the national presidential election.”

So the US, under YALI, “trained 1,000 young Nigerians to recognize the signs of online and media misinformation and disinformation.” And now the follow-up is “Train the Trainer” workshops, “teaching 40 journalists, content creators, and activists (half of whom will be women) from Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, and Katsina how to identify, investigate, and report misinformation.” Facebook, being ordered by the FBI to censor “inconvenient,” potentially election-altering facts, is not part of the curriculum.

YALI is the soft, Instagrammed face of AFRICOM. The US has participated in the overthrow of several African governments over the past two decades, with troops trained under secrecy-obsessed AFRICOM. There has been no serious Pentagon audit on the weaponizing of AFRICOM’s local “partners.” For all we know – as in Syria and Libya – the US military could be arming even more terrorists.

And predictably, it’s all bipartisan. Rabid neo-con and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in December 2018, at the Heritage Foundation, made it crystal clear: the US in Africa has nothing to do with supporting democracy and sustainable development. It’s all about countering Russia and China.

When it learned that Beijing was considering building a naval base in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the Biden White House sent power envoys to the capital Malabo to convince the government to cease and desist. To no avail.

In contrast, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was received like a superstar in his recent extensive tour of Africa, where it’s widely perceived that global food prices and the fertilizer drama are a direct consequence of western sanctions on Russia. Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni went straight to the point when he said, “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us?”

On 13-15 December, the White House plans a major US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington to discuss mostly food security and climate change – alongside the perennial lectures on democracy and human rights. Most leaders won’t be exactly impressed with this new showing of “the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa.” Well, there’s always YALI. So many young leaders to indoctrinate, so little time.

Speech by the President of Russia at an expanded meeting of the SCO Heads of State Councila Plus Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

https://thesaker.is/speech-by-the-president-of-russia-at-an-expanded-meeting-of-the-sco-heads-of-state-council/I fully share the statements made by my colleagues and their positive assessments of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its growing prestige in international affairs. Indeed, the SCO has become the largest regional organisation in the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, over half of the world’s population lives in SCO member states, which account for about 25 percent of global GDP and have a powerful intellectual and technological potential and a considerable part of global natural resources.

At the same time, the SCO is not marking time but continues to develop and build up its role in addressing international and regional issues and maintaining peace, security and stability throughout the vast Eurasian space. Colleagues, this is especially important in the current complicated international situation, about which we have talked in detail during our restricted-attendance meeting.

However, I would like to repeat that global politics and economy are about to undergo fundamental and irreversible changes. The growing role of new centres of power is coming into sharp focus, and interaction among these new centres is not based on some rules, which are being forced on them by external forces and which nobody has seen, but on the universally recognised principles of the rule of international law and the UN Charter, namely, equal and indivisible security and respect for each other’s sovereignty, national values and interests.

It is on these principles, which are devoid of all elements of egoism, that the joint efforts of SCO member states are based in politics and the economy. This opens up broad prospects for continued mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, the economy, culture, humanitarian and other spheres.

Fighting terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and illegal armed formations remains a priority of our cooperation. Other key areas include providing assistance in the political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts along our external borders, including in Afghanistan.

Strengthening economic cooperation has traditionally been a critical part of the SCO’s activities. Our joint efforts are designed to expand trade and investment exchanges, carry out mutually beneficial business projects in various industries, and to increase the volume of settlements in national currencies.

As noted above, including by the President of Kazakhstan, we are open to working with the whole world. The SCO is a non-bloc association. We help addressing the energy and food problems that are growing globally as a result of certain systemic errors in the world’s leading economies in the field of finance and energy. Our policy is not selfish. We hope that other participants in economic cooperation will build their policies on the same principles and stop using the tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness to their own advantage.

The European Commission’s decision to lift sanctions on Russian fertilisers is a vivid example of such selfish behaviour. We are aware of the fertilisers’ important role in overcoming the food problem. Of course, we welcome the decision to lift the sanctions. But it turns out that, in accordance with the clarification of the European Commission of September 10, these sanctions were lifted only for EU countries. It turns out that they are the only ones who can purchase our fertilisers. What about the developing poorest countries around the world?

Taking advantage of the presence of UN Under-Secretary-General [Rosemary] DiCarlo, I would like to ask the UN Secretariat – I discussed this matter with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the day before yesterday – to use its influence on the European Commission’s decision not in word, but in deed and to demand that they, our colleagues from the European Commission, lift these clearly discriminatory restrictions on developing countries and provide access for Russian fertilisers to their markets.

Also, the day before yesterday I apprised Secretary-General Guterres of the fact that 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertilisers are stocked at the EU seaports. We are ready to make them available to developing countries for free.

I would also like to note that Russia is increasing its grain exports to international markets. This year, it is going to be 30 million tonnes, and next year it will be 50 million tonnes with 90 percent of our food exports going to the markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Undoubtedly, the ongoing summit’s decisions and documents to improve the efficiency of international transport corridors, to expand intraregional, to advance industrial and scientific and technical cooperation, and to introduce high-tech solutions in agriculture and healthcare will promote further development of business ties within the SCO.

It is also important to advance cultural and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.

Agreements and memorandums on cooperation in tourism and museology that will be signed during today’s meeting will serve as the next step forward on this path.

It appears that opportunities are good for stepping up sports cooperation and potentially holding major sporting events with SCO sponsorship. To do this, we could think about creating an association of sports organisations under our association.

Friends,

It was noted earlier today during the restricted-attendance meeting that the SCO states focus on expanding cooperation with countries that seek to establish an open and equal dialogue with our organisation and are interested in joining it. In this context, Russia, no doubt, favours the earliest possible accession of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the SCO, which is what the documents and the memorandum that will be signed today are designed to accomplish. We are convinced that Iran’s full-fledged participation will be beneficial for the association, as that country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and the world at large.

We also fully stand behind the decision submitted for approval by the Heads of State Council to start the process of admitting the Republic of Belarus as an SCO member. Let me be clear that we have always advocated that Belarus, which is Russia’s strategic partner and closest ally, should participate fully in the SCO. This will undoubtedly improve our ability to advance unity in politics, the economy, security and humanitarian matters.

Of course, we welcome the granting of SCO dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as the commencement of the procedure for obtaining this status by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the United Arab Emirates. Notably, there are more countries desirous of cooperating with the SCO in various capacities, and applications from other states and international associations deserve our utmost attention and favourable consideration.

In closing, I would like to thank President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the hospitality and excellent organisation of our work, and to congratulate Uzbekistan on its successful SCO chairmanship. I would also like to wish every success to our Indian friends who are taking over the chairmanship today.

Thank you for your attention.

Press Conference (ENG Subtitles)

This video was translated and subtitled by Michael Rossi Poli Sci
Please support him on this Patreon channel: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelRossiPoliSci

Who will run out of resources first?

September 15, 2022

Today I will keep it very short using my favorite bullet-style points:

  • By most credible accounts, the recent Ukronazi+NATO attack in the Kharkov area was even more costly in KIA/MIA, wounded and lost hardware than the attack towards Kherson.  The combined losses from these attacks are staggering.
  • Yet there are all the signs that the Ukronazi+NATO forces are preparing for even more such attacks.
  • The Ukronazi+NATO seem happy to trade human lives for territorial gains, no matter how small or how irrelevant that territory is.
  • The Russians seem happy to trade space and time to protect the lives of their soldiers and equipment.
  • We could say that the Ukronazi+NATO are trading bodies for shells.

Let’s remember the two goals set by Putin for the SMO: denazify and demilitarize.  Both of these goals are human-focused, not terrain-focused.  In other words, if a tactical-level withdrawal allows the Russian to kill scores of Ukronazi+NATO personnel and destroy their equipment, they will gladly accept the trade.

The other goal was to protect the LDNR.  Kherson is not part of the LDNR.

Territory can be reconquered, equipment is hard to replace, especially complex weapon-systems.

And soldiers cannot be resurrected.

It is absolutely clear that Ukronazi+NATO are “betting the farm” into these offensives.  Not only is the coming winter a major threat for them, but the political chaos in the EU and the US this fall and winter means that now is the time to try has hard as possible to conceal the magnitude of the disaster for the Ukronazi+NATO.

So, most of what is taking place now can be summed up in this simple question: who will run out of resources first: the Ukronazi+NATO in terms of manpower and equipment or the Russians in terms of firepower (mostly artillery, missiles and airpower)?

I think that the answer is obvious.

Andrei

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