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Would America Go to War with Russia?

Would America Go to War with Russia?.

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March 22, 2014

Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?

President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.

NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.

Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”

This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?

Mr. Biden stood with Estonian president Toomas Ilves Tuesday to “reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5.” He wanted to make it “absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people” and that “President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor—we will honor.” Shortly thereafter, Moscow “expressed concern” about the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Mr. Putin justified his actions in Crimea as “restoring unity” to Russian people. Estonia’s population is 25 percent ethnic Russian, compared to 17 percent in Ukraine, mostly in the north and east part of the country. Suppose anti-Russian riots “spontaneously” broke out in Estonia. What would the United States do if Moscow invoked a “responsibility to protect” these people and bring them “back” to the Motherland? Would President Obama take military action against Russia over a small, secluded piece of a tiny, distant country? Would it be like the Polish Corridor in 1939? This is highly doubtful—highly doubtful.

Aren’t we obligated by treaty to intervene? Mr. Biden mentioned the “absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor.” It was so important he said it twice. However, Article 5 says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It doesn’t take a White House lawyer to see the gaping loophole—President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but Estonia would lose some, if not all of its territory. And in practical terms it would mean the end of NATO, which is one of Moscow’s longstanding strategic objectives. Mr. Putin’s chess game does not end in Crimea.

James S. Robbins is Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.

Take These Steps Today To Survive An International Crisis

Take These Steps Today To Survive An International Crisis.

Thursday, 20 March 2014 08:00 Brandon Smith

With the Crimea referendum passed and Russia ready to annex the region, the United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions. The full extent of these sanctions is not yet known, and announcements are pending for the end of March. If these measures are concrete, they will of course be followed inevitably by economic warfare, including a reduction of natural gas exports to the EU and the eventually full dump of the U.S. dollar by Russia and China. As I have discussed in recent articles, the result of these actions will be disastrous.

For those of us in the liberty movement, it is now impossible to ignore the potential threat to our economy. No longer can people claim that “perhaps” there will be a crisis someday, that perhaps “five or 10 years” down the road we will have to face the music. No, the threat is here now, and it is very real.

The loss of the dollar’s world reserve status will destroy the only thread holding up its value, namely, investor faith. There are only two possible outcomes from that point onward:

A) The U.S. will be forced to default because no nation will purchase our Treasury bonds and support our debt spending, causing the dollar’s value to implode.

B) The Fed will choose to restart and expand quantitative easing measures, confiscate pension funds, raid bank accounts or issue new taxes in order to keep the system afloat; this will also end in the eventual collapse of dollar value and hyperinflation.

The consequences will lead to an explosion in prices — first in commodities and necessities like petroleum, imported raw materials, food, electricity, etc. and then in all other goods and services. Austerity measures will be instituted by Federal and State governments. Cuts to social welfare programs, including food stamps, are probable. Civil infrastructure will suffer. The cost effectiveness of maintaining public utilities could become unrealistic. Anyone relying on such services may find themselves cut off for days, weeks or indefinitely. Public suffering will invariably rise, along with public crime.

If events like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are any indication, the Federal government’s response will be inadequate, to say the least. The Federal Emergency Management Agency clearly cannot be relied upon to provide food, shelter, medical care or protection for communities. In fact, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Feds did far more harm than good, corralling people into camps where death was rampant and disarming outlying neighborhoods so that they could not defend themselves. Tens of millions of dollars in donated and Federally purchased necessities were never delivered to aid survivors. Trucks were turned away, and help from civilian sources was denied.

The point is, if you find yourself in the midst of a national or international catastrophe, you should assume that you will be on your own with whatever preparations you made beforehand. To assume otherwise would be foolish, given our government’s track record.

There are some people who will argue that during an international crisis, such as an economic war or a world war, there is no purpose to preparedness. They will argue that there is nothing an individual or family can do to weather the storm or fight back, because the scale of the threat would be “too great.” There is no place for such defeatism in the life of the liberty-minded. The scale of the threat is irrelevant, and only cowards give up a fight before it even begins. Survival and freedom require an unwavering conviction. Nihilists will fulfill their own prophecies, suffering a fate exactly as they imagine for the rest of us; living in fear, slavery, and obscurity.

That said, it is also important to acknowledge the truth that the majority of Americans today are utterly unready for a minor localized disaster, let alone a national or global crisis. This problem, though, could be easily remedied with a few simple beginning steps. I find that most people are not averse to the idea of preparedness, but many have trouble taking the first steps in the right direction. For longtime preparedness champions, the information listed here might seem like old-hat. However, I challenge each liberty movement member to approach at least one friend or family member who could benefit from the steps below. Prepping appears daunting to the uninitiated; show them how simple it can actually be.

Below is a list of goals that every liberty movement member and American can easily achieve starting today and continuing over the course of the next month. If enough citizens were to take the initiative to do these things, all threats — no matter how imposing — could be overcome.

Buy Three Months Of Food Stock

Food supply is the greatest Achilles’ heel of the American populace. Most homes store less than one week’s worth of food items at any given time. The average person needs between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day to maintain sufficient energy for survival. It takes around four to six weeks for a person to die of starvation and malnutrition. In a collapse scenario, most deaths will likely occur within the first few months, either by weakness and illness, or by looting and violence. The idea is to at least get through this first catastrophic phase without becoming a villain, or falling victim to one. One person removed from starvation is one possible threat removed from the equation.

Three months of supply is not ideal by any means, but it will buy you precious time. Start with 2,000 calories per day per person. Bulk foods can be purchased cheaply (for now) and can at the very least provide sustenance during emergencies. A 20-pound bag of rice, for instance, can be had for less than $15 and provides about 30,000 calories, or 2,000 calories per day for 15 days for one person. Supplement with beans, canned vegetables and meats, honey for sugar, or freeze-dried goods, and you will be living more comfortably than 90 percent of the population.

Food stockpiling is one of the easiest and most vital measures a person could take. Yet, sadly, it is one of the last preparations on people’s minds.

Buy A Water Filter

Do not count on city water to remain functional. Even during a drawn-out economic downturn rather than an immediate crisis, there is a good chance that some utilities will be sporadic and unreliable. This means you will have to focus on rainwater collection, as well as water from unclean sources. Boiling the water will kill any bacteria, but it will not kill the taste of sediments and other materials floating around. A high-grade survival filter is the best way to get clean water that tastes good.

The average person needs about a gallon of water per day to remain healthy and hydrated. I highly recommend the Sawyer Mini Water Filter, which is a compact washable filter that can cleanse up to 100,000 gallons of water. It uses no moving parts, making it harder to break; and it costs only $20.

Buy A Small Solar Kit

Try going a week or two without electricity, and you may find how dismal life can truly be. The very absence of light at night reduces one’s productivity time drastically, and using fuel for lanterns is not practical in the long term. Solar power is truly the way to go for a grid-collapse scenario.

I’ve heard much whining about the cost of solar power, but small systems that will serve most electrical needs can be set up for less than $1,000. Two 100-watt panels, a power inverter, charge controller and four to six 12-volt deep-cycle batteries are enough to deal with most electrical needs in a survival situation; and all these items can be contained in a portable foot locker for minimal cost. New solar panels are much more effective in low-light conditions and winter weather as well, making solar a must-have prep item.

Store A Fuel Source

Twenty gallons of gasoline treated with fuel saver is not expensive to purchase today, but in the midst of hyperinflation, it may be impossible to obtain tomorrow. Kerosene is useful for heating and cooking. Propane can be stored for decades and runs numerous appliances. If you live in a forested area, dried wood can be had for free, and can keep you warm throughout the winter months (keep in mind the your local danger factor when using fire). It is vital to have a means to stay warm and fed during the most difficult seasonal changes, especially during a grid down scenario.

Find Alternative Shelter

There are no guarantees during a full-spectrum disaster. Having all your eggs in one basket is not only stupid, but unnecessary. Always have a plan B. That means scouting an alternative location for you and your family in the event that your current shelter comes under threat. This location should be far enough away from large population centers but still within a practical range for you to reach them. It should also have a nearby water source, and be defensible. Establishing supply caches near this site is imperative. Do not assume that you will be able to take all of your survival supplies with you from your home. Expect that surprises of a frighteningvariety will arise.

Buy One Semi-Automatic Rifle

At this point I really don’t care what model of rifle people purchase, as long as they have one, preferably in high capacity and semi-automatic. AR-15, AK-47, Saiga, SKS, M1A: just get one! Every American should be armed with a military-grade rifle. If you are not, you are not only negligent in your duty as a free citizen, but you are also at a distinct disadvantage against the kind of opponents you are likely to face in a collapse situation.

Buy 1,000 Rounds Of Ammunition

Again, this is by no means an ideal stockpile, but it is enough to get you through a couple rough patches if you train furiously. Cheap AK-47 ammo can be had for $5 for a box of 20 rounds. Get what you can while you can, because the prices are only going to skyrocket in the near term.

Approach One Friend Or Neighbor

Community is what will make the difference between life and death during a SHTF collapse. I challenge everyone in the liberty movement to find at least ONE other person to work with in the event of disaster. Lone-wolf operations may be strategically practical for short periods of time; but everyone needs rest, and everyone needs someone else to watch his back. Do not fall into the delusion that you will be able to handle everything on your own.

Learn One Barter Skill

Learn how to fix one vital thing or provide one vital service. Try emergency medical training, gunsmithing or metal working, as long as it is an ability that people will value. You have to be able to produce something that people want in order to sustain yourself beyond the point at which your survival stockpile runs out. Be sure that you are seen as indispensable to those around you.

Grow A Garden

Spring is upon us, and now is the perfect opportunity to grow your own food supply. If you have even a small yard, use that space to grow produce. Focus on high-protein and high-vitamin foods. Buy a dehydrator or canning supplies and save everything. Use heirloom seeds so that you can collect new seed from each crop to replant in the future. If every American had a garden in his backyard, I wouldn’t be half as worried about our survival as I am today.

Prepare Your Mind For Calamity

The most valuable resource you will ever have is your own mind. The information held within it and the speed at which you adapt will determine your survival, whether you have massive preparations or minimal preparations. Most people are not trained psychologically to handle severe stress, and this is why they die. Panic equals extinction. Calm readiness equals greater success.

The state of our financial system is one of perpetual tension. The structure is so weak that any catalyst or trigger event could send it tumbling into the abyss. Make no mistake; time is running out. We may witness a terrifying breakdown tomorrow, in a year, or if we are lucky, a little longer. The path, though, has been set and there is no turning back. All of the items above can be undertaken with minimal cash flow. If you receive a regular paycheck, you can establish a survival supply for yourself and your family. There are no excuses.

Take the steps above seriously. Set your goals for the next four weeks and see how many of them you can accomplish. Do what you can today, or curse yourself tomorrow. What’s it going to be?

 

 

 

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

Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce "Holy Grail" Gas Deal With China | Zero Hedge

Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce “Holy Grail” Gas Deal With China | Zero Hedge.

If it was the intent of the West to bring Russia and China together – one a natural resource (if “somewhat” corrupt) superpower and the other a fixed capital / labor output (if “somewhat” capital misallocating and credit bubbleicious) powerhouse – in the process marginalizing the dollar and encouraging Ruble and Renminbi bilateral trade, then things are surely “going according to plan.”

For now there have been no major developments as a result of the shift in the geopolitical axis that has seen global US influence, away from the Group of 7 (most insolvent nations) of course, decline precipitously in the aftermath of the bungled Syrian intervention attempt and the bloodless Russian annexation of Crimea, but that will soon change. Because while the west is focused on day to day developments in Ukraine, and how to halt Russian expansion through appeasement (hardly a winning tactic as events in the 1930s demonstrated), Russia is once again thinking 3 steps ahead… and quite a few steps east.

While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the “Holy Grail” energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may regain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.

Here is what will likely happen next, as explained by Reuters:

Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.

 

The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances. 

 

The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West.

More details on the revelation of said “Holy Grail”:

State-owned Russian gas firm Gazprom hopes to pump 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year to China from 2018 via the first pipeline between the world’s largest producer of conventional gas to the largest consumer.

 

“May is in our plans,” a Gazprom spokesman said, when asked about the timing of an agreement. A company source said: “It would be logical to expect the deal during Putin’s visit to China.”

Summarizing what should be and is painfully obvious to all, but apparently to the White House, which keeps prodding at Russia, is the following:

The worse Russia’s relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you’re isolated,” said Vasily Kashin, a China expert at the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) think thank.

Bingo. And now add bilateral trade denominated in either Rubles or Renminbi (or gold), add Iran, Iraq, India, and soon the Saudis (China’s largest foreign source of crude, whose crown prince alsohappened to meet president Xi Jinping last week to expand trade further) and wave goodbye to the petrodollar.

As reported previoisly, China has already implicitly backed Putin without risking it relations with the West. “Last Saturday China abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution declaring invalid the referendum in which Crimea went on to back union with Russia. Although China is nervous about referendums in restive regions of other countries which might serve as a precedent for Tibet and Taiwan, it has refused to criticize Moscow. The support of Beijing is vital for Putin. Not only is China a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with whom Russia thinks alike, it is also the world’s second biggest economy and it opposes the spread of Western-style democracy.”

This culminated yesterday, when as we reported last night, Putin thanked China for its “understanding over Ukraine.” China hasn’t exactly kept its feelings about closer relations with Russia under wraps either:

Chinese President Xi Jinping showed how much he values ties with Moscow, and Putin in particular, by making Russia his first foreign visit as China’s leader last year and attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi last month.

 

Many Western leaders did not go to the Games after criticism of Russia’s record on human rights. By contrast, when Putin and Xi discussed Ukraine by telephone on March 4, the Kremlin said their positions were “close”.

The punchline: “A strong alliance would suit both countries as a counterbalance to the United States.” An alliance that would merely be an extension of current trends in close bilateral relations, including not only infrastructure investment but also military supplies:

However, China overtook Germany as Russia’s biggest buyer of crude oil this year thanks to Rosneft securing deals to boost eastward oil supplies via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline and another crossing Kazakhstan.

 

If Russia is isolated by a new round of Western sanctions – those so far affect only a few officials’ assets abroad and have not been aimed at companies – Russia and China could also step up cooperation in areas apart from energy. CAST’s Kashin said the prospects of Russia delivering Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets to China, which has been under discussion since 2010, would grow.

 

China is very interested in investing in infrastructure, energy and commodities in Russia, and a decline in business with the West could force Moscow to drop some of its reservations about Chinese investment in strategic industries. “With Western sanctions, the atmosphere could change quickly in favor of China,” said Brian Zimbler Managing Partner of Morgan Lewis international law firm’s Moscow office. 

 

Russia-China trade turnover grew by 8.2 percent in 2013 to $8.1 billion but Russia was still only China’s seventh largest export partner in 2013, and was not in the top 10 countries for imported goods. The EU is Russia’s biggest trade partner, accounting for almost half of all its trade turnover.

And as if pushing Russia into the warm embrace of the world’s most populous nation was not enough, there is also the second most populated country in the world, India.

Putin did take time, however, to thank one other country apart from China for its understanding over Ukraine and Crimea – saying India had shown “restraint and objectivity”.

 

He also called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the crisis on Tuesday, suggesting there is room for Russia’s ties with traditionally non-aligned India to flourish.

 

Although India has become the largest export market for U.S. arms, Russia remains a key defense supplier and relations are friendly, even if lacking a strong business and trade dimension, due to a strategic partnership dating to the Soviet era.

 

Putin’s moves to assert Russian control over Crimea were seen very favorably in the Indian establishment, N. Ram, publisher of The Hindu newspaper, told Reuters. “Russia has legitimate interests,” he added.

To summarize: while the biggest geopolitical tectonic shift since the cold war accelerates with the inevitable firming of the “Asian axis”, the west monetizes its debt, revels in the paper wealth created from an all time high manipulated stock market while at the same time trying to explain why 6.5% unemployment is really indicative of a weak economy, blames the weather for every disappointing economic data point, and every single person is transfixed with finding a missing airplane.

Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce “Holy Grail” Gas Deal With China | Zero Hedge

Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce “Holy Grail” Gas Deal With China | Zero Hedge.

If it was the intent of the West to bring Russia and China together – one a natural resource (if “somewhat” corrupt) superpower and the other a fixed capital / labor output (if “somewhat” capital misallocating and credit bubbleicious) powerhouse – in the process marginalizing the dollar and encouraging Ruble and Renminbi bilateral trade, then things are surely “going according to plan.”

For now there have been no major developments as a result of the shift in the geopolitical axis that has seen global US influence, away from the Group of 7 (most insolvent nations) of course, decline precipitously in the aftermath of the bungled Syrian intervention attempt and the bloodless Russian annexation of Crimea, but that will soon change. Because while the west is focused on day to day developments in Ukraine, and how to halt Russian expansion through appeasement (hardly a winning tactic as events in the 1930s demonstrated), Russia is once again thinking 3 steps ahead… and quite a few steps east.

While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the “Holy Grail” energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may regain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.

Here is what will likely happen next, as explained by Reuters:

Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.

 

The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances. 

 

The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West.

More details on the revelation of said “Holy Grail”:

State-owned Russian gas firm Gazprom hopes to pump 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year to China from 2018 via the first pipeline between the world’s largest producer of conventional gas to the largest consumer.

 

“May is in our plans,” a Gazprom spokesman said, when asked about the timing of an agreement. A company source said: “It would be logical to expect the deal during Putin’s visit to China.”

Summarizing what should be and is painfully obvious to all, but apparently to the White House, which keeps prodding at Russia, is the following:

The worse Russia’s relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you’re isolated,” said Vasily Kashin, a China expert at the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) think thank.

Bingo. And now add bilateral trade denominated in either Rubles or Renminbi (or gold), add Iran, Iraq, India, and soon the Saudis (China’s largest foreign source of crude, whose crown prince alsohappened to meet president Xi Jinping last week to expand trade further) and wave goodbye to the petrodollar.

As reported previoisly, China has already implicitly backed Putin without risking it relations with the West. “Last Saturday China abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution declaring invalid the referendum in which Crimea went on to back union with Russia. Although China is nervous about referendums in restive regions of other countries which might serve as a precedent for Tibet and Taiwan, it has refused to criticize Moscow. The support of Beijing is vital for Putin. Not only is China a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with whom Russia thinks alike, it is also the world’s second biggest economy and it opposes the spread of Western-style democracy.”

This culminated yesterday, when as we reported last night, Putin thanked China for its “understanding over Ukraine.” China hasn’t exactly kept its feelings about closer relations with Russia under wraps either:

Chinese President Xi Jinping showed how much he values ties with Moscow, and Putin in particular, by making Russia his first foreign visit as China’s leader last year and attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi last month.

 

Many Western leaders did not go to the Games after criticism of Russia’s record on human rights. By contrast, when Putin and Xi discussed Ukraine by telephone on March 4, the Kremlin said their positions were “close”.

The punchline: “A strong alliance would suit both countries as a counterbalance to the United States.” An alliance that would merely be an extension of current trends in close bilateral relations, including not only infrastructure investment but also military supplies:

However, China overtook Germany as Russia’s biggest buyer of crude oil this year thanks to Rosneft securing deals to boost eastward oil supplies via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline and another crossing Kazakhstan.

 

If Russia is isolated by a new round of Western sanctions – those so far affect only a few officials’ assets abroad and have not been aimed at companies – Russia and China could also step up cooperation in areas apart from energy. CAST’s Kashin said the prospects of Russia delivering Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets to China, which has been under discussion since 2010, would grow.

 

China is very interested in investing in infrastructure, energy and commodities in Russia, and a decline in business with the West could force Moscow to drop some of its reservations about Chinese investment in strategic industries. “With Western sanctions, the atmosphere could change quickly in favor of China,” said Brian Zimbler Managing Partner of Morgan Lewis international law firm’s Moscow office. 

 

Russia-China trade turnover grew by 8.2 percent in 2013 to $8.1 billion but Russia was still only China’s seventh largest export partner in 2013, and was not in the top 10 countries for imported goods. The EU is Russia’s biggest trade partner, accounting for almost half of all its trade turnover.

And as if pushing Russia into the warm embrace of the world’s most populous nation was not enough, there is also the second most populated country in the world, India.

Putin did take time, however, to thank one other country apart from China for its understanding over Ukraine and Crimea – saying India had shown “restraint and objectivity”.

 

He also called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the crisis on Tuesday, suggesting there is room for Russia’s ties with traditionally non-aligned India to flourish.

 

Although India has become the largest export market for U.S. arms, Russia remains a key defense supplier and relations are friendly, even if lacking a strong business and trade dimension, due to a strategic partnership dating to the Soviet era.

 

Putin’s moves to assert Russian control over Crimea were seen very favorably in the Indian establishment, N. Ram, publisher of The Hindu newspaper, told Reuters. “Russia has legitimate interests,” he added.

To summarize: while the biggest geopolitical tectonic shift since the cold war accelerates with the inevitable firming of the “Asian axis”, the west monetizes its debt, revels in the paper wealth created from an all time high manipulated stock market while at the same time trying to explain why 6.5% unemployment is really indicative of a weak economy, blames the weather for every disappointing economic data point, and every single person is transfixed with finding a missing airplane.

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge.

Moments ago the “absorption” of Crimea into the Russian Federation was completed after Putin signed the final previously passed by parliament. And with that, in less than a month, the Crimean “question” has been answered. The only question is whether Putin will stop here or will the ease with which he just expanded the Russian political map leave him hungry for more.

In other news, as part of the Western escalations against Russia, Bank Rossiya, the one bank exclusively identified in the sanctions list, announced that Visa and MasterCard have stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients. Another bank that saw the drop of merchant credit card services was SMP bank, co-owned by brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, who were also on the latest U.S. sanctions list.

SMP bank said in a statement that it considered the credit card giants’ move unlawful, because the U.S. sanctions targeted shareholders and not the bank itself, Reuters reported Friday.

Earlier in the day, Bank Rossiya said it was working in a “stable regime” and was taking all the necessary legal measures to defend its rights and its clients’ rights and legal interests.

“In connection with the information about U.S. sanctions being imposed on Rossiya we can report that the bank is working in a stable regime. The bank is meeting and will, without a doubt, fully meet all its obligations to its clients and partners,” the bank said in a statement.

“The management of Rossiya understands the difficulties of clients in the current situation and will do all it can to solve them,” the bank said in a statement.

These moves in turn promptly led to Putin announcing that he wants to open an account with the Bank Rossiya. From Moscow Times:

“I don’t have an account there, but I will certainly open one there on Monday,” Putin said Friday, while speaking at a Security Council meeting, Interfax reported.

Putin later asked for his salary to be transferred to Bank Rossiya and ordered Russia’s Central Bank to take the sanction-hit lender’s clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that Washington was levying a new round of sanctions affecting 20 Russian officials and businessmen, but also Bank Rossiya, which is chaired and part owned by businessman Yuri Kovalchuk, who is one of the 20.

Why was the bank singled out?

The United States Treasury Department stated that Bank Rossiya is used by senior Russian officials and that its shareholders include members of Putin’s inner circle.

Putin Signs Crimean "Absorption" Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge

Putin Signs Crimean “Absorption” Law As Visa, MasterCard Halt Payment Services For Bank Rossiya | Zero Hedge.

Moments ago the “absorption” of Crimea into the Russian Federation was completed after Putin signed the final previously passed by parliament. And with that, in less than a month, the Crimean “question” has been answered. The only question is whether Putin will stop here or will the ease with which he just expanded the Russian political map leave him hungry for more.

In other news, as part of the Western escalations against Russia, Bank Rossiya, the one bank exclusively identified in the sanctions list, announced that Visa and MasterCard have stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients. Another bank that saw the drop of merchant credit card services was SMP bank, co-owned by brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, who were also on the latest U.S. sanctions list.

SMP bank said in a statement that it considered the credit card giants’ move unlawful, because the U.S. sanctions targeted shareholders and not the bank itself, Reuters reported Friday.

Earlier in the day, Bank Rossiya said it was working in a “stable regime” and was taking all the necessary legal measures to defend its rights and its clients’ rights and legal interests.

“In connection with the information about U.S. sanctions being imposed on Rossiya we can report that the bank is working in a stable regime. The bank is meeting and will, without a doubt, fully meet all its obligations to its clients and partners,” the bank said in a statement.

“The management of Rossiya understands the difficulties of clients in the current situation and will do all it can to solve them,” the bank said in a statement.

These moves in turn promptly led to Putin announcing that he wants to open an account with the Bank Rossiya. From Moscow Times:

“I don’t have an account there, but I will certainly open one there on Monday,” Putin said Friday, while speaking at a Security Council meeting, Interfax reported.

Putin later asked for his salary to be transferred to Bank Rossiya and ordered Russia’s Central Bank to take the sanction-hit lender’s clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday announced that Washington was levying a new round of sanctions affecting 20 Russian officials and businessmen, but also Bank Rossiya, which is chaired and part owned by businessman Yuri Kovalchuk, who is one of the 20.

Why was the bank singled out?

The United States Treasury Department stated that Bank Rossiya is used by senior Russian officials and that its shareholders include members of Putin’s inner circle.

Is This The Provocation? Ukraine Soldier Allegedly Killed By Russians In Crimea | Zero Hedge

Is This The Provocation? Ukraine Soldier Allegedly Killed By Russians In Crimea | Zero Hedge.

As feared earlier, the attack by “unidentified” forces on a Ukrainemilitary base in Semferopol has resulted in fatalities:

  • *UKRAINE SOLDIER KILLED AFTER UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN STORMED BASE
  • *UKRAINE SOLDIER’S DEATH IN CRIMEA CONFIRMED BY DEFENSE MINISTRY

And two further “self-defense” fighters are injured. Once again it seems the market misread Putin’s comments and one wonders how will Turchynov respond?

The incident occurred in Crimea’s main city of Simferopol, regional defence ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said, without specifying whether the base was stormed by Russian soldiers or pro-Kremlin militia who also patrol the peninsula.

Via Interfax,

One self-defense fighter has been killed and two more injured in Simferopol, according to the Crimean news agency which cited a source in the republic’s Interior Ministry.

The self-defense fighters were shot by a sniper from an uncompleted building opposite a Ukrainian military base, the source said

We’re now easily a couple hundred meters away from base entrance “foreign journalists are liars”-Russian self defense pic.twitter.com/2xQsNyeqa5

— Ed Flanagan (@edmundflanagan) March 18, 2014

Is This The Provocation? Ukraine Soldier Allegedly Killed By Russians In Crimea | Zero Hedge

Is This The Provocation? Ukraine Soldier Allegedly Killed By Russians In Crimea | Zero Hedge.

As feared earlier, the attack by “unidentified” forces on a Ukrainemilitary base in Semferopol has resulted in fatalities:

  • *UKRAINE SOLDIER KILLED AFTER UNIDENTIFIED GUNMEN STORMED BASE
  • *UKRAINE SOLDIER’S DEATH IN CRIMEA CONFIRMED BY DEFENSE MINISTRY

And two further “self-defense” fighters are injured. Once again it seems the market misread Putin’s comments and one wonders how will Turchynov respond?

The incident occurred in Crimea’s main city of Simferopol, regional defence ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said, without specifying whether the base was stormed by Russian soldiers or pro-Kremlin militia who also patrol the peninsula.

Via Interfax,

One self-defense fighter has been killed and two more injured in Simferopol, according to the Crimean news agency which cited a source in the republic’s Interior Ministry.

The self-defense fighters were shot by a sniper from an uncompleted building opposite a Ukrainian military base, the source said

We’re now easily a couple hundred meters away from base entrance “foreign journalists are liars”-Russian self defense pic.twitter.com/2xQsNyeqa5

— Ed Flanagan (@edmundflanagan) March 18, 2014

Ukraine Prime Minister Says Crimea Conflict Has "Moved From Political To Military Stage" | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Prime Minister Says Crimea Conflict Has “Moved From Political To Military Stage” | Zero Hedge.

More headlines, more buying fuel for the algos, and apparently another step closer to all out war:

  • CONFLICT IN CRIMEA HAS MOVED FROM POLITICAL TO MILITARY STAGE – UKRAINIAN PM YATSENIUK
  • UKRAINIAN PM SAYS HAS ASKED DEFENCE MINISTER TO ORGANISE URGENT MEETING WITH RUSSIAN, BRITISH, U.S. COUNTERPARTS
  • UKRAINIAN PM: “TODAY RUSSIAN SOLDIERS BEGAN SHOOTING AT UKRAINIAN SERVICEMEN. THIS IS A WAR CRIME”

What, still reading? Run, run, run to your nearest Virtu colocated terminal and BTFWWWIIID already!

Ukraine Prime Minister Says Crimea Conflict Has “Moved From Political To Military Stage” | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Prime Minister Says Crimea Conflict Has “Moved From Political To Military Stage” | Zero Hedge.

More headlines, more buying fuel for the algos, and apparently another step closer to all out war:

  • CONFLICT IN CRIMEA HAS MOVED FROM POLITICAL TO MILITARY STAGE – UKRAINIAN PM YATSENIUK
  • UKRAINIAN PM SAYS HAS ASKED DEFENCE MINISTER TO ORGANISE URGENT MEETING WITH RUSSIAN, BRITISH, U.S. COUNTERPARTS
  • UKRAINIAN PM: “TODAY RUSSIAN SOLDIERS BEGAN SHOOTING AT UKRAINIAN SERVICEMEN. THIS IS A WAR CRIME”

What, still reading? Run, run, run to your nearest Virtu colocated terminal and BTFWWWIIID already!

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