Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » 2014 » March » 08

Daily Archives: March 8, 2014

Ukraine's Military Mobilizes, Prepares For Combat: Trucks, APCs, SAMs, Tanks Rolling Out | Zero Hedge

Ukraine’s Military Mobilizes, Prepares For Combat: Trucks, APCs, SAMs, Tanks Rolling Out | Zero Hedge.

Did somebody say de-escalation?

Earlier today, photos were distributed showing the latest military convoy reinforcements heading into the Crimea, accompanies by a Police car demonstrating Moscow license plate numbers, most likely providing further support to the pro-Russian forces in the peninsula.

 

Supposedly the trucks are carrying troops to reinforces the members of the new Crimean army, pictured below:

 

While at the same time along the makeshift border between Crimea and the mainland, the Pro-Russian forces are putting down minefields.

 

However, the Ukrainians, having already been mobilized for over a week, finally appear set to seize back the offensive:

The first clip below captured the 80th Airborne Regiment out of Lviv moving out, direction mainland, preparing to repel foreign attack.

 

The next video shows what are allegedly Buk SAM batteries deployed in the Donetsk region, a city in Eastern Ukraine which in the past week has swayed between Ukraine and Russian authority.

 

The clip below shows the 95th Airborne brigade also moving out of their barracks in Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, heading East, with an impressive deployment of trucks and APCs.

 

Finally, 20 T-64 tanks preparing to depart in Bila Tserkva, a city in central Ukraine:

 

So where again are all those pundits who were so eager to explain away the Ukraine confrontation as one that will promptly be forgotten, and is by now most certainly priced in?

(Source: @Ukroblogger, @SergeyPonomarev)

 
Advertisements

Ukraine’s Military Mobilizes, Prepares For Combat: Trucks, APCs, SAMs, Tanks Rolling Out | Zero Hedge

Ukraine’s Military Mobilizes, Prepares For Combat: Trucks, APCs, SAMs, Tanks Rolling Out | Zero Hedge.

Did somebody say de-escalation?

Earlier today, photos were distributed showing the latest military convoy reinforcements heading into the Crimea, accompanies by a Police car demonstrating Moscow license plate numbers, most likely providing further support to the pro-Russian forces in the peninsula.

 

Supposedly the trucks are carrying troops to reinforces the members of the new Crimean army, pictured below:

 

While at the same time along the makeshift border between Crimea and the mainland, the Pro-Russian forces are putting down minefields.

 

However, the Ukrainians, having already been mobilized for over a week, finally appear set to seize back the offensive:

The first clip below captured the 80th Airborne Regiment out of Lviv moving out, direction mainland, preparing to repel foreign attack.

 

The next video shows what are allegedly Buk SAM batteries deployed in the Donetsk region, a city in Eastern Ukraine which in the past week has swayed between Ukraine and Russian authority.

 

The clip below shows the 95th Airborne brigade also moving out of their barracks in Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, heading East, with an impressive deployment of trucks and APCs.

 

Finally, 20 T-64 tanks preparing to depart in Bila Tserkva, a city in central Ukraine:

 

So where again are all those pundits who were so eager to explain away the Ukraine confrontation as one that will promptly be forgotten, and is by now most certainly priced in?

(Source: @Ukroblogger, @SergeyPonomarev)

 

Ukraine Crisis: Just Another Globalist-Engineered Powder Keg

Ukraine Crisis: Just Another Globalist-Engineered Powder Keg.

Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:13 Brandon Smith

When one studies history, all events seem to revolve around the applications and degenerations of war. Great feats of human understanding, realization and enlightenment barely register in the mental footnotes of the average person. War is what we remember, idealize and aggrandize, which is why war is the tool most often exploited by oligarchy to distract the masses while it centralizes power.

With the exception of a few revolutions, most wars are instigated and controlled by financial elites, manipulating governments on both sides of the game to produce a preconceived result. The rise of National Socialism in Germany, for instance, was largely funded by corporate entities based in the U.S., including Rockefeller giant Standard Oil, JPMorgan and even IBM, which built the collating machines specifically used to organize Nazi extermination camps, the same machines IBM representatives serviced on site at places like Auschwitz. As a public figure, Adolf Hitler was considered a joke by most people in German society, until, of course, the Nazi Party received incredible levels of corporate investment. This aid was most evident in what came to be known as the Keppler Fund created through the Keppler Circle, a group of interests with contacts largely based in the U.S.

George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, used his position as director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation to launder money for the Third Reich throughout the war. After being exposed and charged for trading with the enemy, the case against Bush magically disappeared in a puff of smoke, and the Bush family went on to become one of the most powerful political forces in America.

Without the aid of international conglomerates and banks, the Third Reich would have never risen to power.

The rise of communism in Russia through the Bolshevik Revolution was no different. As outlined in Professor Antony Sutton’s book Wall Street And The Bolshevik Revolution with vast detail and irrefutable supporting evidence, it was globalist financiers that created the social petri dish in which the communist takeover flourished.  The same financiers that aided the Nazis…

The two sides, National Socialism and communism, were essentially identical despotic governmental structures conjured by the same group of elites. These two sides, these two fraudulent ideologies, were then pitted against each other in an engineered conflict that we now call World War II, resulting in an estimated 48 million casualties globally and the ultimate formation of the United Nations, a precursor to world government.

Every major international crisis for the past century or more has ended with an even greater consolidation of world power into the hands of the few, and this is no accident.

When I discuss the concept of the false left/right paradigm with people, especially those in the liberty movement, I often see a light turn on, a moment of awareness in their faces. Many of us understand the con game because we live it day to day. We see past the superficial rhetoric of Republican and Democratic party leadership and take note of their numerous similarities, including foreign policy, domestic defense policy and economic policy. The voting records of the major players in both parties are almost identical. One is hard-pressed to find much difference in ideology between Bush and Barack Obama, for example; or Obama and John McCain; or Obama and Mitt Romney, for that matter.

When I suggest, however, that similar false paradigms are used between two apparently opposed nations, the light fades, and people are left dumbstruck. Despite the fact that globalist financiers shoveled capital into the U.S., British, German and Soviet military complexes all at the same time during World War II, many Americans do not want to believe that such a thing could be happening today.

In response, I present the crisis in Ukraine versus the crisis in Syria…

Ukraine Versus Syria

It seems as though much of the public has already forgotten that at the end of 2013, the U.S. came within a razor’s edge of economic disaster — not to mention the possibility of World War III. The war drums in Washington were thundering for “intervention” in Syria and the overthrow of Bashar Assad. The only thing that saved us, I believe, were the tireless efforts of the independent media in exposing the darker motives behind the Syrian insurgency and the bloodlust of the Obama Administration. The problem is that when the elites lose one avenue toward war and distraction, they have a tendency to simply create another. Eventually, the public is so overwhelmed by multiple trigger points and political powder kegs that they lose track of reality. I often call this the “scattergun effect.”

The crisis in the Ukraine is almost a carbon copy of the civil war in Syria, culminating in what I believe to be the exact same intent.

The Money

Money from globalist centers has been flowing into the Ukrainian opposition since at least 2004, when the Carnegie Foundation was caught filtering funds to anti-Russian political candidate Viktor Yushchenko, as well as to the groups who supported him.

The Ukrainian Supreme Court called for a runoff due to massive voter fraud and the rise of the pro-Western Orange Revolution, determining the winner to be Yushchenko over none other than Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych went on to win the 2010 elections, and the revolution returned to oust him this year.

It has been discovered that the current revolution has also been receiving funds from NATO and U.S. interests, not just from the State Department, but also from billionaires like Pierre Omidyar, the chairman of eBay and the new boss of journalist Glen Greenwald, the same journalist who is now famous for being the first to expose National Security Agency documents obtained by Edward Snowden.

Much of the monetary support from such financiers was being funneled to men like Oleh Rybachuk, the right-hand man to Yanukovych during the Orange Revolution and a favorite of neoconservatives and the State Department in the U.S.

The International Monetary Fund has also jumped at the chance to throw money at the new Ukrainian regime, which would prevent default of the country and allow the opposition movement to focus their attentions on Russia.

The revolution in Syria was also primarily driven by Western funds and arms transferred through training grounds like Benghazi, Libya. There is much evidence to suggest that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was designed to possibly cover up the arming of Syrian rebels by the CIA, who had agents on the ground who still have not been allowed to testify in front of Congress.

After this conspiracy was exposed in the mainstream, globalist-controlled governments decided to openly supply money and weapons to the Syrian insurgency, instead of ending the subterfuge.

The ‘Rebels’

Some revolutions are quite real in their intent and motivations. But many either become co-opted by elites through financing, or they are created from thin air from the very beginning. Usually, the rebellions that are completely fabricated tend to lean toward extreme zealotry.

The Syrian insurgency is rife with, if not entirely dominated by, men associated with al-Qaida. Governments in the U.S. and Israel continue to support the insurgency despite their open affiliation with a group that is supposedly our greatest enemy. Syrian insurgents have been recorded committing numerous atrocities, including mass execution, the torture of civilians and even the cannibalism of human organs.

The revolution in Ukraine is run primarily by the Svoboda Party, a National Socialist (fascist) organization headed by Oleh Tyahnybok.  Here is a photo of Tyahnybok giving a familiar salute:

So far, the opposition in Ukraine has been mostly careful in avoiding the same insane displays of random violence that plagued the Syrians’ public image. It is important to remember though that mainstream outlets like Reuters went far out of their way in attempts to humanize Syrian al-Qaida. Their methods were exposed only through the vigilance of the independent media. With the fascist Svoboda in power in the Ukraine, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see video reports of similar atrocities, giving Russia a perfect rationalization to use military force.

John McCain?

I am now thoroughly convinced that John McCain is a pasty ghoul of the highest order. He claims to be conservative yet supports almost every action of the Obama Administration. He is constantly defending anti-Constitutional actions by the Federal government, including the Enemy Belligerents Act, which was eventually melded into the National Defense Authorization Act; NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens; and even gun control.

And for some reason, the guy makes appearances like clockwork right before or during major overthrows of existing governments. McCain was in Libya during the coup against Moammar Gadhafi.

McCain showed up to essentially buy off the rebels in Tunisia.

McCain hung out with al-Qaida in Syria.

And, what a surprise, McCain met with the Ukrainian opposition movement just before the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych.  Here is a photo of McCain giving a speech to the opposition with none other than Neo-Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok standing over his left shoulder.

Why McCain? I have no idea. All I know is, if this guy shows up in your country, take cover.

Russia In The Middle

The great danger in Syria was not necessarily the chance of war with Assad. Rather, it was the chance that a war with Assad would expand into a larger conflagration with Iran and Russia. Russia’s only naval facility in the Mideast is on the coast of Tartus in Syria, and Russia has long-standing economic and political ties to Syria and Iran. Any physical action by the West in the region would have elicited a response from Vladimir Putin. The mainstream argument claims that the threat of Russian intervention scared off Obama, but I believe the only reason war actions were not executed by the White House and the globalists was because they didn’t have even minimal support from the general public. For any war, you need at least a moderate percentage of the population to back your play.

In Ukraine, we find the globalists creating tensions between the West and the East yet again. Russia’s most vital naval base sits in Crimea, an autonomous state tethered to the Ukrainian mainland. Currently, Russia has flooded Crimea with troops in response to the regime change in Ukraine. The new Ukrainian government (backed by NATO) has called this an “invasion” and an act of war, while Western warmongers like McCain and Lindsay Graham spread the propaganda meme that Russia made such a move only because Putin believes the Obama Administration to be “weak.”

Clearly, the idea here is to engineer either high tensions or eventual war between Russia and the United States. Syria failed to produce the desired outcome, so the Ukraine was tapped instead.

Energy Markets And The Dollar At Risk

In Syria, any U.S. led military action would have resulted in the immediate closing of the Straight of Hormuz by Iran, threatening to obstruct up to 30% of global petroleum shipments.  Foreign resentment could have easily led to the abandonment of the U.S. dollar as the petro-currency.  Both China and Russia implied the possibility of an economic response to American intervention, though they did not officially go into specifics.  In all likelihood, the dollar’s world reserve status would have been damaged irrevocably.

In the Ukraine, the chance of intervention has been countered with VERY specific threats from Russia, including a freeze on natural gas imports to the European Union through Gazprom, which supplies approximately 30% of the EU’s fuel.  In 2009, a temporary Ukranian pipeline closure led to widespread shortages across Europe.  While some in the mainstream claim that Russia’s influence over EU energy has “diminished” the fact is a loss of 30% of natural gas reserves for an extended period would inflate energy prices wildly and cripple the EU’s economy.

Another specific reaction given by Russia is the dumping of U.S. treasury bonds.  Russia’s bond holdings may not seem like much leverage, except for the fact that China has now publicly backed Russian efforts in the Ukraine, just as they backed Russian opposition to U.S. activities in Syria.  A dump of bonds by Russia would invariably be followed by a Chinese dump as well.  In fact, China and Russia have been setting the stage for a global dollar decoupling since at least 2008.   I have been warning for years that globalists and central bankers needed a “cover event”, a distraction or scapegoat imposing enough to provide a veil of chaos in which they could then destroy the greenback as the world reserve and usher in a global currency system.  The Ukraine crisis offers yet another opportunity for this plan to unfold.

The False Paradigm And The Globalist Chessboard

So far, I have outlined what appears to be a correspondence of conspiracy between Syria and the Ukraine and how each event has the continued potential to trigger regional conflict, dollar collapse, or world war. But is this conspiracy one-sided? Are only the West and NATO being manipulated by globalists to box in Russia and provoke a conflict? And what do globalists have to gain by sparking such disaster?

As with every other catastrophic fabricated war, the goal is the erasure of sovereign identity while consolidating economic, political and social power. It is not enough that global financiers dominate the banking industry and own most politicians; they want to transform the public psyche. They want US to ask THEM for global governance. This manufacture of consent is often achieved by pitting two controlled governments against each other and then, in the wake of the tragedy, calling for global unification. The argument is always presented that if we simply abandoned the concept of nation states and reform under a single world body, all war would “disappear.”

The question is whether Russia’s Putin is aware of the plan. Is he a part of it?  Are we seeing repeat theater of a puppet Russia versus a puppet NATO like that witnessed during the Cold War?

What I do know is that Putin has, a number of times in the past, called for global control of the economy through the IMF and the institution of a new global currency using the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

Loans from the IMF are what saved Russia from debt default in the late 1990s. And Putin has recently called for consultations with the IMF concerning Crimea. Remember, this is the same IMF that is working to fund his opponents in Western Ukraine.

Bottom line, if you believe in national sovereignty and decentralization of power, Putin is NOT your buddy. Once again, we have the globalists injecting money into both sides of a conflict which could morph into something nightmarish.  Putin wants global economic governance and consolidation under the IMF just as much as the supposedly “American-run” IMF wants consolidation.  Global governance of finance and money creation ultimately means global governance of everything else.

Is a war being created through the false paradigm of East versus West in order to pave the road for global government?  Are East/West tensions being exploited as a smokescreen for the final destruction of the dollar’s world reserve status?  It is hard to say if the Ukraine will be the final trigger; however, the evidence suggests that if a conflict occurs, regardless of who “wins” such a scenario, the IMF comes out on top.

Imagine you are playing a game of chess by yourself. Which side wins at the end of that game: black or white? The answer is it doesn’t matter. You always win when you control both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

You can contact Brandon Smith at:  brandon@alt-market.com

Alt-Market is an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for mutual aid and defense.  Join Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the system and build something better.

To contribute to the growth of the Safe Haven Project, and to help us help others in relocating, or to support the creation of barter networks across the country, visit our donate page here:

http://www.alt-market.com/donate

Silver and Gold are on their way back to historic highs, and now is the time to buy.  LetLibertyCPM.com help you decide how to best protect your savings and insulate you from an ever destabilizing dollar.

Do you need long term food storage but want the best quality as well?  The good people at Nuvona Premium Foods are offering discounts on their Non-GMO food storage for Alt-Market readers only!  Take advantage of this incredible deal while it lasts!

http://myfoodstoragekit.com/index2.html

Do you have enough Non-GMO seeds in case of economic collapse?  Seeds are the OTHER alternative currency, and if you aren’t stocked, then you aren’t prepared.  To buy top quality non-GMO seeds at a special 10% discount, visit Humble Seed, and use the code Alt10

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |.

March 6, 2014 | Author 

Happy Death of Chavez Day

Venezuela  commemorated the late ‘Commandante’ Hugo Chavez on Wednesday – as is so often the case, the fact that the dear leader of the revolution is no longer among the quick probably helped with a good bit of nostalgic transmogrification.

One feels reminded of the many crying babushkas in the streets of Moscow when news of Stalin’s departure from this earthly plane hit, even while his former colleagues in the party probably got ready for a week of vodka-drenched partying to celebrate the psychopathic tyrant’s demise. No longer did they have to worry about who was going to be purged next.

Chavez was of course no Stalin (not by a long shot), we merely want to highlight that no matter how bad a ruler, once he goes to his eternal reward, many of those left behind begin to see him in a better light than he probably deserves. Chavez did of course shower some of Venezuela’s oil riches on the poor, and they loved him for it. However, he incidentally ran the country’s oil industry into the ground, so it was a decidedly mixed blessing, by dint of being completely unsustainable and leaving everybody poorer in the end.

Anyway, there may be a subtle subconscious message in the fact that the rulers of Venezuela have decided to commemorate Chavez’s death rather than his birth. Just saying.

As it happens, the timing was fortuitous from president Maduro’s perspective, as he has an ongoing counter-revolution problem on his hands. He used the opportunity to try to imitate the dear departed “Commandante” by declaring Panama a lapdog of the capitalist enemy deserving to be banned from polite socialist company. Chavez’ cousin meanwhile spontaneously dispensed some valuable advice to Maduro.

Reuters reports:

“Followers of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez flooded the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday for the anniversary of his death, an emotional but welcome distraction for his successor from violent protests raging for the last month.

A year after Chavez succumbed to cancer, his self-proclaimed “son,” President Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his rule from an explosion of anti-government demonstrations that have led to 18 deaths since February.

Though the protests do not appear likely to topple Maduro, neither do they seem to be going away. A hard core of students are determined to maintain street barricades and militant opposition leaders organize daily rallies around Venezuela. Wednesday’s military parade and other events to honor “El Comandante” gave Maduro, 51, an opportunity to reclaim the streets and show that he too can mobilize his supporters.

“This anniversary is enormously sad. There’s not a single day I don’t remember Hugo,” Chavez’s cousin, Guillermo Frias, 60, said from Los Rastrojos village in rural Barinas state, where the pair used to play baseball as kids.

“He changed Venezuela forever, and we cannot go back. Maduro also is a poor man, like us. He’s handling things fine. Perhaps he just needs a stronger hand,” he told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of red-clad “Chavistas” gathered for rallies in Caracas and elsewhere in honor of Chavez, whose 14-year rule won him the adoration of many of Venezuela’s poorest, while alienating the middle and upper classes. Cannon-shots marked the precise time of his death, 4:25 p.m.

Maduro used the occasion to announce the breaking of diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama, whose conservative government he accused of joining the United States in “open conspiracy” against him.

“We’re not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama,” Maduro said in fiery language reminiscent of Chavez.”

(emphasis added)

Poor Maduro just ‘needs a stronger hand’. Doesn’t every good leader? Well, he sure showed that ‘despicable lackey’, the president of Panama. We have no idea what the latter actually did to become the target of such opprobrium. However, Panama reportedly has a great deal more economic freedom than either Venezuela or the US. You may therefore regard us as part of the despicable lackey’s fan club.

Meanwhile, although there seems to be widespread agreement that Maduro cannot be toppled by the protests, the demonstrations actually seem bigger than those seen in Kiev recently (judging just from a quick glance at the pictures, mind). The Kiev protests were probably only more visually arresting due to the constant Molotov cocktail throwing. Here is a picture from an anti-government march in Caracas last Saturday:

Venezuela Protests

A tiny handful of counter-revolutionary malcontents disturbs traffic in Caracas last Saturday. Yes,  Maduro may need a ‘stronger hand’.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

Elsewhere, currency traders on the black market seemed to celebrate Chavez’ death day as well, by temporarily pushing the bolivar’s true exchange rate higher:

black market bolivar

The ‘parallel’ bolivar strengthens to 79,50 to the dollar from its recent record low of about 90.

We have little doubt it is a selling opportunity, given that Maduro is demonstrably utterly clueless about matters economic.

For all its faults, Venezuela still has a stock market though, which gives those with assets to protect a chance to escape the effects of the inflation of the currency. Recently, the index was subject of a cosmetic 1000:1 split (an index value of 2,700 looks more credible than one of 2,700,000):


 

caracas, decade, log

A bubbly decade on the Caracas Stock Exchange. A similar stock market boom occurred in Zimbabwe, in spite of the economy imploding completely, with formal economy unemployment reportedly soaring to 80%. As Kyle Bass remarked about that particular boom: ‘In the end, you could buy three eggs with your gains’ – click to enlarge.


El Commandante Didn’t Die – He ‘Multiplied’

The celebrations were apparently not exactly lacking in unintentional comedy either:

“Maduro presided over a parade in the capital before leading crowds up to the hilltop military museum where Chavez led a 1992 coup attempt that launched his political career. His remains have been laid to rest in a marble sarcophagus there.

“Hugo Chavez passed into history as the redeemer of the poor,” the president said, comparing his mentor to both Jesus and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Prominent leftist allies including Cuban President Raul Castro joined the lavish ceremonies in Caracas.

[…]

State media have rolled out round-the-clock hagiographical coverage of the late president. Some Chavez loyalists seem barely able to use the word “death,” preferring euphemisms such as his “physical disappearance” or “sowing in the sky.”

“Chavez didn’t die; he multiplied!” said state TV.

(emphasis added)

Well, if he is comparable to Jesus, then it is presumably no wonder that he ‘multiplied’. Look at it as a kind of Chavista selfie version of the luxury miracle at the Wedding of Cana.

What is less funny is that so far, 18 people have died in the protests. The government meanwhile tried to take the edge off the demonstrations by declaring a 6 day-long carnival holiday. As one protester remarked:

“A long six-day national holiday for Carnival and now the anniversary of Chavez’s death have taken some wind out of the protests, but a rump of demonstrators stay out daily.

“Various presidents are here and we want to show them that Venezuela is sick,” said Silvana Lezama, a 20-year-old student, standing in front of a Venezuelan flag as she stood guard at a barricade in the upscale El Cafetal district of Caracas.

“We’re not insulting Chavez, but when he died last year there was a week of mourning. Now we have 18 people dead from protests and they declared five days of Carnival holiday.”

(emphasis added)

Evidently, not everybody feels like there is a good reason for celebrations at this time.

A Chicken in Every Pot Becomes a Plasma TV in Every Home

One wonders what the malcontents are complaining about. After all, Maduro promises the provision of endless material delights, the establishment of the long promised socialist Land of Cockaigne in our lifetime:

In order to combat the country’s massive inflation of over 50 percent, Maduro has introduced price controls. Shops that demand prices that he believes are too high are simply occupied. “We will guarantee everyone has a plasma television,” the president has said, and has forced stores to sell them cheaply.

“It is plundering under the aegis of the state,” says Diego Arriaformerly Venezuela’s UN ambassador. “Maduro is destroying the private sector.”

Many shops are empty, with even corn flour, milk and toilet paper subject to shortages. Lines like those seen in Cuba have become common and people are desperately trying to get their hands on dollars. “A perfect storm is brewing in Venezuela,” says Arria.

The government has been having difficulties supplying even the basics in the slums of Caracas. In the vast quarter of “23 de enero,” people stand in long lines in front of the state-run supermarket; they are issued numbers on strips of cardboard. Chavistas control entry to the store and glorify Maduro and the revolution to shoppers. Most of those waiting remain silent. Every three days, they mumble quietly when the guards aren’t paying attention, their food coupons will get them chicken from Brazil and two kilograms of flour, but nothing more.

(emphasis added)

No wonder Arria is a ‘former’ ambassador, he obviously doesn’t properly grasp the  wisdom of supplying everybody with a Plasma TV with a wave of the presidential magic wand (but not, apparently, with toilet paper and other staples). Those silent shoppers who only “mumble quietly when their guards aren’t paying attention” would make us nervous if we were a guard…

Here is a recent photograph of a store in Maracaibo:

store-empty-shelves

Maracaibo, Super Lider store. Image via @orlandobuesomir: Empty shelves in a PDVAL store in Venezuela.


Maracaibo! In the early days of personal computing we regularly conquered its fortress as one of the freebooters in Sid Meyer’s ‘Pirates’ game. Don’t worry, it was all legal, we had a letter of marque. Moreover, we managed to win the hand of the governor’s daughter after convincing her of our dancing prowess (it was a simple, but really funny game).

For some reason not all Venezuelans seem equipped with Plasma TVs yet, so something has apparently gone wrong. Could it be the fault of global warming? After all, it was just identified as being responsible for the budding ‘guacamole crisis‘, among approximately 5,000 other things it is held to be the cause of. So why not the appalling lack of Plasma TV saturation in Venezuela? Makes more sense than the old ‘socialism just doesn’t work’ canard, right?

We can however confidently state that Maduro is not completely without cunning. He sure knows whom he needs to keep on his side, even it that is allegedly not really working out the way it was supposed to either:

“Venezuela’s military has more power under Maduro, a civilian, than it did under the former officer Chávez. Maduro has handed out senior jobs to some 2,000 soldiers and the military now occupies key positions in business and controls entire companies. Late last week, Maduro sent a parachute battalion to Táchira to curtail the protests there.

But even in the military, dissatisfaction is spreading. “The soldiers just haven’t yet had the courage to open their mouths,” says one administrative employee who works in Fuerte Tiuna, a military base on the outskirts of Caracas.

Even Chávez had begun to realize that the enemy was within. He had officers and a former defense minister who had been critical of him arrested and imprisoned on charges of corruption. Some of them remain locked up in the Ramo Verde military prison not far from Caracas — just a few cells away from Leopoldo López.”

(emphasis added)

Still, buying off the military by handing its leaders ‘senior jobs’ and letting them occupy key positions in business is a strategy that has e.g. worked extremely well in Egypt, where the military controls 40% of the economy and in spite of a temporary setback continues to rule as if Mubarak had never gone away.

venezuela-0218-horizontal-galleryPolicemen during protests in Caracas. So far, they are being hit with stuff that looks a lot more harmless than the Molotov cocktails thrown in Kiev.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

As one Chavista told reporters (also dispensing advice to the hapless Maduro, so that he may ‘find his own voice’ one day):

Maduro’s had it tough. He has to find his own path, his own ideas, his own speech. He’s not Chavez. The commander is gone; we can’t mourn him permanently. There’s so much work to do, errors to correct,” said Marisol Aponte, a diehard “Chavista” and community activist from a poor zone of west Caracas.

She urged Maduro to purge his cabinet and modernize Chavez-era social programs.”

(emphasis added)

There you go! A good, old-fashioned purge! Even if Chavez failed at this task,  Maduro has an opportunity to one-up him that he only needs to firmly grasp, by ruthlessly employing that ‘strong hand’ Chavez’ cousin is pining for. Can he perhaps become like Stalin?

Naah. Not with that attire:

 


 

maduro-bird-hat

Nicolas Maduro, wearing a landing pad for errant birds.

(Photo via Reuters)

 


 

 

Charts by: BigCharts, dolares.eu

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |.

March 6, 2014 | Author 

Happy Death of Chavez Day

Venezuela  commemorated the late ‘Commandante’ Hugo Chavez on Wednesday – as is so often the case, the fact that the dear leader of the revolution is no longer among the quick probably helped with a good bit of nostalgic transmogrification.

One feels reminded of the many crying babushkas in the streets of Moscow when news of Stalin’s departure from this earthly plane hit, even while his former colleagues in the party probably got ready for a week of vodka-drenched partying to celebrate the psychopathic tyrant’s demise. No longer did they have to worry about who was going to be purged next.

Chavez was of course no Stalin (not by a long shot), we merely want to highlight that no matter how bad a ruler, once he goes to his eternal reward, many of those left behind begin to see him in a better light than he probably deserves. Chavez did of course shower some of Venezuela’s oil riches on the poor, and they loved him for it. However, he incidentally ran the country’s oil industry into the ground, so it was a decidedly mixed blessing, by dint of being completely unsustainable and leaving everybody poorer in the end.

Anyway, there may be a subtle subconscious message in the fact that the rulers of Venezuela have decided to commemorate Chavez’s death rather than his birth. Just saying.

As it happens, the timing was fortuitous from president Maduro’s perspective, as he has an ongoing counter-revolution problem on his hands. He used the opportunity to try to imitate the dear departed “Commandante” by declaring Panama a lapdog of the capitalist enemy deserving to be banned from polite socialist company. Chavez’ cousin meanwhile spontaneously dispensed some valuable advice to Maduro.

Reuters reports:

“Followers of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez flooded the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday for the anniversary of his death, an emotional but welcome distraction for his successor from violent protests raging for the last month.

A year after Chavez succumbed to cancer, his self-proclaimed “son,” President Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his rule from an explosion of anti-government demonstrations that have led to 18 deaths since February.

Though the protests do not appear likely to topple Maduro, neither do they seem to be going away. A hard core of students are determined to maintain street barricades and militant opposition leaders organize daily rallies around Venezuela. Wednesday’s military parade and other events to honor “El Comandante” gave Maduro, 51, an opportunity to reclaim the streets and show that he too can mobilize his supporters.

“This anniversary is enormously sad. There’s not a single day I don’t remember Hugo,” Chavez’s cousin, Guillermo Frias, 60, said from Los Rastrojos village in rural Barinas state, where the pair used to play baseball as kids.

“He changed Venezuela forever, and we cannot go back. Maduro also is a poor man, like us. He’s handling things fine. Perhaps he just needs a stronger hand,” he told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of red-clad “Chavistas” gathered for rallies in Caracas and elsewhere in honor of Chavez, whose 14-year rule won him the adoration of many of Venezuela’s poorest, while alienating the middle and upper classes. Cannon-shots marked the precise time of his death, 4:25 p.m.

Maduro used the occasion to announce the breaking of diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama, whose conservative government he accused of joining the United States in “open conspiracy” against him.

“We’re not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama,” Maduro said in fiery language reminiscent of Chavez.”

(emphasis added)

Poor Maduro just ‘needs a stronger hand’. Doesn’t every good leader? Well, he sure showed that ‘despicable lackey’, the president of Panama. We have no idea what the latter actually did to become the target of such opprobrium. However, Panama reportedly has a great deal more economic freedom than either Venezuela or the US. You may therefore regard us as part of the despicable lackey’s fan club.

Meanwhile, although there seems to be widespread agreement that Maduro cannot be toppled by the protests, the demonstrations actually seem bigger than those seen in Kiev recently (judging just from a quick glance at the pictures, mind). The Kiev protests were probably only more visually arresting due to the constant Molotov cocktail throwing. Here is a picture from an anti-government march in Caracas last Saturday:

Venezuela Protests

A tiny handful of counter-revolutionary malcontents disturbs traffic in Caracas last Saturday. Yes,  Maduro may need a ‘stronger hand’.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

Elsewhere, currency traders on the black market seemed to celebrate Chavez’ death day as well, by temporarily pushing the bolivar’s true exchange rate higher:

black market bolivar

The ‘parallel’ bolivar strengthens to 79,50 to the dollar from its recent record low of about 90.

We have little doubt it is a selling opportunity, given that Maduro is demonstrably utterly clueless about matters economic.

For all its faults, Venezuela still has a stock market though, which gives those with assets to protect a chance to escape the effects of the inflation of the currency. Recently, the index was subject of a cosmetic 1000:1 split (an index value of 2,700 looks more credible than one of 2,700,000):


 

caracas, decade, log

A bubbly decade on the Caracas Stock Exchange. A similar stock market boom occurred in Zimbabwe, in spite of the economy imploding completely, with formal economy unemployment reportedly soaring to 80%. As Kyle Bass remarked about that particular boom: ‘In the end, you could buy three eggs with your gains’ – click to enlarge.


El Commandante Didn’t Die – He ‘Multiplied’

The celebrations were apparently not exactly lacking in unintentional comedy either:

“Maduro presided over a parade in the capital before leading crowds up to the hilltop military museum where Chavez led a 1992 coup attempt that launched his political career. His remains have been laid to rest in a marble sarcophagus there.

“Hugo Chavez passed into history as the redeemer of the poor,” the president said, comparing his mentor to both Jesus and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Prominent leftist allies including Cuban President Raul Castro joined the lavish ceremonies in Caracas.

[…]

State media have rolled out round-the-clock hagiographical coverage of the late president. Some Chavez loyalists seem barely able to use the word “death,” preferring euphemisms such as his “physical disappearance” or “sowing in the sky.”

“Chavez didn’t die; he multiplied!” said state TV.

(emphasis added)

Well, if he is comparable to Jesus, then it is presumably no wonder that he ‘multiplied’. Look at it as a kind of Chavista selfie version of the luxury miracle at the Wedding of Cana.

What is less funny is that so far, 18 people have died in the protests. The government meanwhile tried to take the edge off the demonstrations by declaring a 6 day-long carnival holiday. As one protester remarked:

“A long six-day national holiday for Carnival and now the anniversary of Chavez’s death have taken some wind out of the protests, but a rump of demonstrators stay out daily.

“Various presidents are here and we want to show them that Venezuela is sick,” said Silvana Lezama, a 20-year-old student, standing in front of a Venezuelan flag as she stood guard at a barricade in the upscale El Cafetal district of Caracas.

“We’re not insulting Chavez, but when he died last year there was a week of mourning. Now we have 18 people dead from protests and they declared five days of Carnival holiday.”

(emphasis added)

Evidently, not everybody feels like there is a good reason for celebrations at this time.

A Chicken in Every Pot Becomes a Plasma TV in Every Home

One wonders what the malcontents are complaining about. After all, Maduro promises the provision of endless material delights, the establishment of the long promised socialist Land of Cockaigne in our lifetime:

In order to combat the country’s massive inflation of over 50 percent, Maduro has introduced price controls. Shops that demand prices that he believes are too high are simply occupied. “We will guarantee everyone has a plasma television,” the president has said, and has forced stores to sell them cheaply.

“It is plundering under the aegis of the state,” says Diego Arriaformerly Venezuela’s UN ambassador. “Maduro is destroying the private sector.”

Many shops are empty, with even corn flour, milk and toilet paper subject to shortages. Lines like those seen in Cuba have become common and people are desperately trying to get their hands on dollars. “A perfect storm is brewing in Venezuela,” says Arria.

The government has been having difficulties supplying even the basics in the slums of Caracas. In the vast quarter of “23 de enero,” people stand in long lines in front of the state-run supermarket; they are issued numbers on strips of cardboard. Chavistas control entry to the store and glorify Maduro and the revolution to shoppers. Most of those waiting remain silent. Every three days, they mumble quietly when the guards aren’t paying attention, their food coupons will get them chicken from Brazil and two kilograms of flour, but nothing more.

(emphasis added)

No wonder Arria is a ‘former’ ambassador, he obviously doesn’t properly grasp the  wisdom of supplying everybody with a Plasma TV with a wave of the presidential magic wand (but not, apparently, with toilet paper and other staples). Those silent shoppers who only “mumble quietly when their guards aren’t paying attention” would make us nervous if we were a guard…

Here is a recent photograph of a store in Maracaibo:

store-empty-shelves

Maracaibo, Super Lider store. Image via @orlandobuesomir: Empty shelves in a PDVAL store in Venezuela.


Maracaibo! In the early days of personal computing we regularly conquered its fortress as one of the freebooters in Sid Meyer’s ‘Pirates’ game. Don’t worry, it was all legal, we had a letter of marque. Moreover, we managed to win the hand of the governor’s daughter after convincing her of our dancing prowess (it was a simple, but really funny game).

For some reason not all Venezuelans seem equipped with Plasma TVs yet, so something has apparently gone wrong. Could it be the fault of global warming? After all, it was just identified as being responsible for the budding ‘guacamole crisis‘, among approximately 5,000 other things it is held to be the cause of. So why not the appalling lack of Plasma TV saturation in Venezuela? Makes more sense than the old ‘socialism just doesn’t work’ canard, right?

We can however confidently state that Maduro is not completely without cunning. He sure knows whom he needs to keep on his side, even it that is allegedly not really working out the way it was supposed to either:

“Venezuela’s military has more power under Maduro, a civilian, than it did under the former officer Chávez. Maduro has handed out senior jobs to some 2,000 soldiers and the military now occupies key positions in business and controls entire companies. Late last week, Maduro sent a parachute battalion to Táchira to curtail the protests there.

But even in the military, dissatisfaction is spreading. “The soldiers just haven’t yet had the courage to open their mouths,” says one administrative employee who works in Fuerte Tiuna, a military base on the outskirts of Caracas.

Even Chávez had begun to realize that the enemy was within. He had officers and a former defense minister who had been critical of him arrested and imprisoned on charges of corruption. Some of them remain locked up in the Ramo Verde military prison not far from Caracas — just a few cells away from Leopoldo López.”

(emphasis added)

Still, buying off the military by handing its leaders ‘senior jobs’ and letting them occupy key positions in business is a strategy that has e.g. worked extremely well in Egypt, where the military controls 40% of the economy and in spite of a temporary setback continues to rule as if Mubarak had never gone away.

venezuela-0218-horizontal-galleryPolicemen during protests in Caracas. So far, they are being hit with stuff that looks a lot more harmless than the Molotov cocktails thrown in Kiev.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

As one Chavista told reporters (also dispensing advice to the hapless Maduro, so that he may ‘find his own voice’ one day):

Maduro’s had it tough. He has to find his own path, his own ideas, his own speech. He’s not Chavez. The commander is gone; we can’t mourn him permanently. There’s so much work to do, errors to correct,” said Marisol Aponte, a diehard “Chavista” and community activist from a poor zone of west Caracas.

She urged Maduro to purge his cabinet and modernize Chavez-era social programs.”

(emphasis added)

There you go! A good, old-fashioned purge! Even if Chavez failed at this task,  Maduro has an opportunity to one-up him that he only needs to firmly grasp, by ruthlessly employing that ‘strong hand’ Chavez’ cousin is pining for. Can he perhaps become like Stalin?

Naah. Not with that attire:

 


 

maduro-bird-hat

Nicolas Maduro, wearing a landing pad for errant birds.

(Photo via Reuters)

 


 

 

Charts by: BigCharts, dolares.eu

Edward Snowden To EU: NSA Is Spying On All Of Europe : Personal Liberty – Conservative News and Political Commentary For Your Personal and Financial Freedom

Edward Snowden To EU: NSA Is Spying On All Of Europe : Personal Liberty – Conservative News and Political Commentary For Your Personal and Financial Freedom.

STRASBOURG, Germany (UPI) — European Union lawmakers received a 12-page testimony from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that says the NSA has been spying on all of Europe.

“I know the good and the bad of these systems, and what they can and cannot do, and I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this committee, as well as any ordinary citizen.” wrote Snowden in his testimony.

Snowden did not reveal any new information in the testimony but said there are more programs that would infringe on EU citizens’ rights but that information will be given to responsible journalists.

Snowden explains that the NSA exploited loopholes in data agreements with individual countries to spy on the whole of Europe. The report being considered by the European parliament could put an end to the Safe Harbor agreement, which allows U.S. tech companies to self-certify that they are following EU data-protection laws. Further action by the EU could spell trouble for companies like Google.

Snowden also added that he would accept asylum from a European country if offered and once again reaffirmed he has not worked with the Russian or Chinese governments, although he did say that the Russian secret service did approach him.

“Even the secret service of Andorra would have approached me, if they had the chance: that’s their job,” wrote Snowden, “But I didn’t take any documents with me to Hong Kong, and while I’m sure they were disappointed, it doesn’t take long for an intelligence service to realize when they’re out of luck.”

Survive Peak Oil: Survival Gardening: Composting

Survive Peak Oil: Survival Gardening: Composting.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Survival Gardening: Composting

All plant material that you don’t eat should be put on the compost heap. This includes various parts of your vegetables, but it also includes weeds. If you pull up the weeds before they go to seed, you’re not going to be re-infesting your garden when you spread the compost; also, if the compost is properly decomposed it will heat up enough to kill any seeds that have already developed. Left for 6 months or a year, the compost will turn into organic soil. As the compost heap is maturing, you might give it water from time to time, and turn it over once in a while, but don’t worry about precision. The compost heap should not be taking up land that you need right away for crops, but at the same time a central location is preferable, so that you don’t have to travel too far when it’s time to spread the compost on the garden. Of course, since valuable minerals will be leaching down into the soil from the compost heap to some extent, don’t build that heap on a piece of land you’ll never be using; it would be foolish to create fertile unused land. Ideally, you would have two or three compost heaps, started about a year apart. The oldest heap is the one that is put on the garden; if you allow that finished compost to dry out, it will be easier to carry. Put the mature compost on the garden in the fall, when you’ve finished harvesting. You might even dig it into the ground, ensuring looser and warmer soil in the following spring.
Because of composting, you don’t have to worry too much about “wasting food.” With supermarket food, anything you throw away is money out of your pocket. With food you have grown yourself, you can be fairly prodigal about throwing away plants that have grown too old or too tough, since all that unused material goes back to the compost heap to become new soil and eventually new vegetables. In fact, the more you add vegetation to the compost heap, the more you increase the organic content of the soil.
One of the purposes of recycling (composting) is to prevent the loss of essential elements. In particular, you must try to preserve nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K), not because these three are necessarily the most vital elements, but because they are the three that are most likely to be in short supply. It is helpful to bring in material from outside the farm: almost any kind of plant, animal, or mineral material will make some (although not necessarily an adequate) contribution in N-P-K. Farmers in eastern Asia used mud from irrigation canals, animal and human manure, and grass and other vegetation from the hills. Nitrogen, however, which is the most susceptible to loss by leaching, is also the one element that can literally be “got out of thin air.” Any legume, such as beans, peas, clover, or alfalfa, will draw nitrogen out of the air, and if those plants are dug back into the soil (preferably without removing their seeds for food), the nitrogen supply of the soil is renewed.

Have I reached my personal limit?

Just a quick post this morning with some thoughts on the latest geopolitical mess in Europe over the Ukraine. The following is my online comment to a HuffPost article:

*****
It’s interesting how many people have taken the role of the judge, jury, and executioner so soon into this latest geopolitical crisis. It is impossible for any of us to truly understand all the complexities involved. It is also impossible, except in hindsight usually, to develop a reasonable and balanced perspective on events. We have our own leaders involved in creating and selling a narrative that supports their actions. We know they have lied to us about many things in the past, so why would anyone trust them now? The West is so blatantly hypocritical it is embarassing. How quickly we forget the recent invasions of Libya or Iraq. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am tired of the elite (all sides) using the planet’s depleting resources and ‘wealth’ (that is always confiscated from the masses in one way or another) to fight their wars. Not to mention the fact that it is always the children of the general public (very rarely, if ever, the elite’s children) that are sent off to fight these wars. A pox on all their houses!
*****

Crimea Military Post Taken Over By Russians

Crimea Military Post Taken Over By Russians.

 

A woman passes by a WWII memorial, the actual Russian tank that was first to enter Simferopol in 1944 as the Red Army was advancing, in Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, March 7, 2014. Ukraine lurched toward breakup Thursday as lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days. President Barack Obama condemned the move and the West answered with the first real sanctions against Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)


MOSCOW/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine, March 8 (Reuters) – Russia said any U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine will boomerang back on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

“Sanctions … would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang,” it added.

Kerry stressed the importance of resolving the situation through diplomacy and said he and Lavrov would continue to consult, the State Department said.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine’s new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards’ commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared with the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

The Pentagon estimated as many as 20,000 Russian troops may be in Crimea.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea’s pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia and set a referendum for March 16. The conflict resulted from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence.

JETS, DESTROYER

Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey’s Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine’s constitution. Obama called German Chancellor Angela Merkel from his Florida vacation on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

“The leaders reiterated their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of international law through its military intervention in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute “a threat to international peace and security,” after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia’s biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties “extremely unconstructive.” It pledged to retaliate.

“GUERRILLA WAR?”

Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich’s overthrow, met Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government’s openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms such as ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being “in support of the Crimean people.” Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as “Crimea is Russian land” and “We believe in Putin.”

IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the “so-called referendum” in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev’s willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international “contact group” with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they “make us smile.”

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine’s Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

“I don’t think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can’t behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking.”

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow’s rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea’s 2 million population opposes Moscow’s rule, including members of the region’s ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

“With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo,” Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. “Everyone fully understands this is an occupation.” (Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Simferopol, Lidia Kelly in Moscow, Luke Baker and Martin Santa in Brussels, Roberta Rampton and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Lina Kushch in Donetsk and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Writing by Paul Taylor and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Lisa Shumaker)

Warning Shots Fired At OSCE Mission In Crimea; Russia Threatens Treaty Force Majeure Over "Unfriendly NATO Threats" | Zero Hedge

Warning Shots Fired At OSCE Mission In Crimea; Russia Threatens Treaty Force Majeure Over “Unfriendly NATO Threats” | Zero Hedge.

Perhaps it is time to finally admit that anyone who thought Putin’s Tuesday press conference, which the market so jubilantly assumed was a case of “blinking” and de-escalating tensions with the west, was wrong. If there is still any confusion, following yesterday’s news that Gazprom officially threatened Ukraine with cutting off its gas supplies, as well as the storming of a Ukraine base by Russian troops – luckily with no shots fired so far – then today’s developments should any remaining doubts. Moments ago AP reported that as the latest, third in a row, group of OSCE inspectors tried to enter Ukraine, they were not only barred from doing so, but warnings shots were fired to emphasize the point by pro-Russian forces.

From AP:

An Associated Press reporter says pro-Russian forces refused to let a foreign military mission enter Crimea on Saturday.

After the officers had stopped, the armed men fired warning bursts of automatic weapons fire into the air to make other unidentified vehicles halt. No injuries were reported.

The multinational group of military officers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was attempting to enter the embattled peninsula from the north. The armed men told them they had no authorization to enter Crimea.

The OSCE mission will likely return to the Ukrainian city of Kherson where it had spent the night, the AP reporter said.

Russia and Ukraine are locked in a tense standoff over Crimea.

Bloomberg adds:

OSCE tried to enter Crimea for third day, warning shots were fired as it attempted to do so today, Tatyana Baeva, OSCE spokeswoman, said by phone from Vienna.

Nobody injured in incident, OSCE mission is now back in Kherson, southern Ukraine.

OSCE 29 member states that provided people for Crimea mission may meet today or tomorrow in Vienna to discuss further action: Baeva

Then there was this overnight escalation as reported by Ukraine’s TV5 station (of questionably credibility), via Bloomberg:

Pro-Russian armed men today captured building in Simferopol, capital city of Crimea, TV5 private news channel reports, citing Vladislav Selezniov, spokesman for Ukraine’s defense minister in Crimea.

Russian soldiers seized Ukraine’s state border guard division in Shcholkino near Kerch Strait, Ukraine’s border service says in statement on its website

Russian soldiers stormed Shcholkino unit last night, seized weapons storage, beat Ukrainian border guards, took away their mobile phones and forced them and their families to leave

Currently, 11 border guard units are being blocked: Ukraine border service says in separate statement

Ukraine denied entrance to 513 “extremists” from Russia during last 24 hrs, state border guard service says in another separate statement on its website

Remember, all it takes is for one stray bullet to hit a human target, on either side of the conflict, for the market to grasp just how wrong its assessment of de-escalation has been.

Elsewhere, while inspectors were trying to make their way into Ukraine – unsuccessfully – Russia announced it was considering a further freeze of U.S. military inspections under arms control treaties in retaliation to Washington’s decision to halt military cooperation with Russia, news reports said Saturday.

Interfax blasted earlier:

  • UNJUSTIFIED U.S., NATO THREATS SEEN AS UNFRIENDLY GESTURE, ALLOW TO DECLARE FORCE-MAJEURE – RUSSIAN DEFENSE SOURCE
  • RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY CONSIDERING SUSPENSION OF RECEIVING INSPECTION GROUPS UNDER START TREATY, VIENNA DOCUMENT 2011 – SOURCE

AP has more:

Russian news agencies carried a statement by an unidentified Defense Ministry official saying that Moscow sees the U.S. move as a reason to suspend U.S. inspections in Russia in line with the 2010 New START treaty on cutting U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and the 2011 Vienna agreement that envisages mutual inspections of Russian and NATO military facilities as part of confidence-building measures.

A Defense Ministry spokesman wouldn’t comment on the reports, which are a usual way in Russia to carry unofficial government signals.

The U.S. and the European Union have introduced sanctions over Russia in response to its move to send troops that have taken control of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

So if the START treaty is suspended how long until its anti-proliferation clauses are scrapped completely once more, and the Cold War arms race returns once again.

Also, while escalations such as these threaten to transform the new Cold War into a hot one, the clock is ticking, and in favor of Russia, because the longer Ukraine remains without western aid, the quicker its foreign reserves will run out, and the faster the country will become a vassal state of Gazpromia. Add the ticking countdown to the March 16 Crimean referendum, which the west and Ukraine have both declared illegitimate yet have no power to stop, and suddenly one can see how Putin once again outsmarted everything the west had to throw at it. WSJ explains:

Gazprom’s demand raises the prospect that some of the aid Western powers have guaranteed could end up flowing into Moscow’s coffers to pay Ukraine’s gas bill. Virtually all of the country’s natural-gas imports come from Russia. Late last year it was granted a discount that Moscow has threatened to rescind since the fall of Mr. Yanukovych.

“This now becomes an EU/U.S. problem: Who is going to lend Ukraine the money to pay the gas bill? If so, what will be the conditions?” said Jonathan Stern, an analyst at the Oxford Energy Institute.

A spokesman for Gazprom said that the threatened cutoff wouldn’t affect supplies to Europe, which gets about a third of its gas from Russia, much of it via pipelines that run through Ukraine.

 

 

In 2009, after the Russian energy giant switched off the supply to Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities began using the supply transiting their territory that Gazprom said was destined for customers in Europe. Gazprom then cut off the flow altogether, causing shortages and price increases for end customers.

 

“The EU, U.S. and IMF have just about three weeks to resolve this,” Mr. Stern said.

At which point it’s game, set match Putin once more.

Finally, what certainly helped Russia is that, as expected, China took the side of Putin, not of the “free world”, in what is now a very distinct and clear axis of power the New Normal dipolar world.

%d bloggers like this: