Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'Germany'

Tag Archives: Germany

16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

map of major Russia-Europe natural gas transit lines, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, IHS EDIN, and International Energy Agency
Note: Representations of international boundaries and names are not authoritative.

Europe, including all EU members plus Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the non-EU Balkan states, consumed 18.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2013. Russia supplied 30% (5.7 Tcf) of this volume, with a significant amount flowing through Ukraine. EIA estimates that 16% (3.0 Tcf) of the total natural gas consumed in Europe passed through Ukraine’s pipeline network, based on data reported by Gazprom and Eastern Bloc Energy.

Two major pipeline systems carry Russian gas through Ukraine to Western Europe—the Bratstvo (Brotherhood) and Soyuz (Union) pipelines. The Bratstvo pipeline is Russia’s largest pipeline to Europe. It crosses from Ukraine to Slovakia and splits in two to supply northern and southern European countries. The Soyuz pipeline links Russian pipelines to natural gas networks in Central Asia and supplies additional volumes to central and northern Europe. A third major pipeline through Ukraine (Trans-Balkan) delivers Russian natural gas to the Balkan countries and Turkey.

In the past, as much as 80% of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transited Ukraine. This number has fallen to 50%-60% since the Nord Stream pipeline, a direct link between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, came online in 2011.

Natural gas flows through Ukraine vary by season, ranging from almost 12 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas per day in the winter to only 6 Bcf per day in the summer. An unusually mild winter in 2013 meant reduced natural gas flows through Ukraine and contributed to higher levels of natural gas storage in Europe (natural gas storage levels were 46% full as of March 13, compared to 23% full in the United States).

graph of Russian natural gas exports to Europe through Ukraine, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency, and Eastern Bloc Energy

For more information, see EIA’s country analysis note on Ukraine.

Principal contributor: Alexander Metelitsa

IEA.gov

16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

map of major Russia-Europe natural gas transit lines, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, IHS EDIN, and International Energy Agency
Note: Representations of international boundaries and names are not authoritative.

Europe, including all EU members plus Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the non-EU Balkan states, consumed 18.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2013. Russia supplied 30% (5.7 Tcf) of this volume, with a significant amount flowing through Ukraine. EIA estimates that 16% (3.0 Tcf) of the total natural gas consumed in Europe passed through Ukraine’s pipeline network, based on data reported by Gazprom and Eastern Bloc Energy.

Two major pipeline systems carry Russian gas through Ukraine to Western Europe—the Bratstvo (Brotherhood) and Soyuz (Union) pipelines. The Bratstvo pipeline is Russia’s largest pipeline to Europe. It crosses from Ukraine to Slovakia and splits in two to supply northern and southern European countries. The Soyuz pipeline links Russian pipelines to natural gas networks in Central Asia and supplies additional volumes to central and northern Europe. A third major pipeline through Ukraine (Trans-Balkan) delivers Russian natural gas to the Balkan countries and Turkey.

In the past, as much as 80% of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transited Ukraine. This number has fallen to 50%-60% since the Nord Stream pipeline, a direct link between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, came online in 2011.

Natural gas flows through Ukraine vary by season, ranging from almost 12 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas per day in the winter to only 6 Bcf per day in the summer. An unusually mild winter in 2013 meant reduced natural gas flows through Ukraine and contributed to higher levels of natural gas storage in Europe (natural gas storage levels were 46% full as of March 13, compared to 23% full in the United States).

graph of Russian natural gas exports to Europe through Ukraine, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency, and Eastern Bloc Energy

For more information, see EIA’s country analysis note on Ukraine.

Principal contributor: Alexander Metelitsa

IEA.gov

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks | Zero Hedge

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks | Zero Hedge.

It’s crunch time for Ukraine.

With just over two days to go until the Crimea referendum, all the actors are stepping up the diplomacy to a fever pitch in a desperate attempt to talk Putin out of formally annexing the peninsula following results which are well-known in advance will show the population’s allegiance to mother Russia. But while the generic rhetoric is well-known, one surprising place of escalation over the past 24 hours has been Germany’s Angela Merkel, who for the most part had been willing to stay on the sidelines in the war of words, has suddenly stepped up her own phrasing, and warned Moscow on Thursday that it risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, saying Western leaders were united in their readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary.

Reuters reports that the chancellor, using her strongest language since the start of the crisis and removing any suspicion that Germany might seek to avoid a confrontation with President Vladimir Putin, said his actions would lead to “catastrophe” for Ukraine and much more.

“We would not only see it, also as neighbours of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia,” she said in a speech in parliament. “No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”

Merkel has acknowledged that her efforts to persuade Putin to negotiate via a “contact group” with the transition government in Kiev – which he accuses of ousting Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich unlawfully – have failed and time is running out.

“To be absoultely clear, none of us want it to come to such measures but we are all ready and determined to if they are unavoidable,” said Merkel.

Germany receives over a third of its gas and oil from Russia and over 6,000 German firms are active there. A poll last week showed that a majority of Germans oppose sanctions against Russia. So is Merkel doing the Western thing, and bluffing in a last-ditch effort to convince Putin she isn’t, or does Putin still believe he has all the trump cards, and can bring the German economy to a crawl if Merkel acts out on her threat? We will known as soon as Sunday night.

Elsewhere, John Kerry headed out to London for some last ditch Russia talks on Ukraine. Expect this “effort” too to lead exactly nowhere.

In the meantime, Russia’s response is well known, which is more of the same – and the Russian Ministry of Defense made it quite clear what the next steps are when it announced that the large-scale maneuvers near the Ukraine border now involve some 8,500 troops, 270 tanks and 180 APCs.

An indication of how “seriously” Russia takes the diplomatic threats was the news that it is ready to impose counter-sanctions. WSJ reported that Russia’s economy ministry is looking at what the consequences of possible sanctions from the West would be and stands ready to impose similar penalties, deputy economy minister Alexei Likhachev said Thursday.

We are ready for any developments, all options are being considered. But we hope that it will impose specific political sanctions but not a wider range of some trade and economic decisions,” Mr. Likhachev said.

 

Mr. Likhachev said Europe is unlikely to impose harsh sanctions against Russia as both sides have strong business and trade ties.

 

Unlike Europe, which is Russia’s major trading partner, the U.S. has more room to impose sanctions, he added.

 

“Our sanctions will be symmetric,” Mr. Likhachev said.

But it wouldn’t be a Russian response if Gazprom didn’t make an announcement or two. Which it did:

  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine’s Failure to Repay Gas Deliveries Debt Puts Company Dividend Policy At Risk
  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Debt for Gas Deliveries Now at $1.8 Billion, Keeps Growing
  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Political Crisis Detrimental For Company’s Investment Program
  • Gazprom CEO Seeking Clarity On Gas Payments From Ukraine
  • Gazprom CEO Doesn’t “Want A Gas Crisis”
  • Gazprom CEO Doesn’t Address Cutting Off Gas Supplies In Statement

And while diplomacy is failing all around, and a trade and all too real war are potentially on the horizon, the real issue was and continues to the money. Which is why it was surprising to learn that earlier today the a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, was arrested in Vienna this week at the request of U.S. authorities, the Austrian government sources said on Thursday.  Reutersreports that Firtash, 48, is one of Ukraine’s richest men,an oligarch whose close links to Russia and involvement in the gas, chemicals, media and banking sectors gave him substantial influence,notably during the administration of recently ousted, Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich.

The Federal Criminal Office, had identified the man taken into custody only as Dmitry F. and said he had been under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2006.

As a reminder, Stratfor’s take on the richest Ukrainians was that they would play a “decisive role” in the conflict:

With presidential elections set for May 25 and parliamentary elections likely to be held later in the year, Ukraine’s current administration will need the continued support of the oligarchs. More immediately, with Crimea on the verge of leaving Ukraine, the new government’s urgent challenge is to keep mainland Ukraine together. Eastern Ukraine is crucial to this — the region is a stronghold for pro-Russia sentiment and the main site of opposition, after Crimea, to the Western-backed and Western-leaning government.

 

The oligarchs are key to keeping control over eastern Ukraine, not only because Ukraine’s industrial production is concentrated in the east — thus anchoring a shaky economy — but also because many of the oligarchs have a stronger and more manageable relationship with Russia than the current government, which Moscow sees as illegitimate. Many of these business leaders hail from the industrial east. They have business ties to Russia and decades of experience dealing with Russian authorities — experience that figures such as Klitschko and Yatsenyuk lack.

 

So far, the new government has been able to maintain the support of the country’s most important oligarchs. In general, the oligarchs want Ukraine to stay united. They do not support partition or federalization, because this would compromise their business interests across the country. But this support is not guaranteed over the long term. There have been recent complaints about the new government, for example over the arrest of former Kharkiv Gov. Mikhail Dobkin. Akhmetov came out in Dobkin’s defense, saying the government should not be going after internal rivals right now, but rather focusing on concerns over Russia. This can be seen as a warning to the new administration: The oligarchs’ loyalty to the current regime is conditional and should not be taken for granted.

 

Ultimately, the biggest threat to the oligarchs is not the current government, over which they have substantial leverage, but Russia. The oligarchs stand to lose a great deal if Russia intervenes in eastern Ukraine. If Russia takes over eastern territories, it could threaten the oligarchs’ very control over their assets. Therefore they have an interest in bridging the gap between Russia and Kiev, but it is Moscow they fear more. The oligarchs have substantial power to shape the Ukrainian government’s decision-making as it moves forward. Their business interests and the territorial integrity of the country are at stake.

As always, follow the money, especially when some of the richest money ends up directly in prison in a country far away, under the orders of that global moralizer, the United States.

Average:Select ratingPoorOkayGoodGreatAwesome

No votes yet

Subscriptions (0) 

Merkel Warns Putin Of "Massive Damage", Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks | Zero Hedge

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks | Zero Hedge.

It’s crunch time for Ukraine.

With just over two days to go until the Crimea referendum, all the actors are stepping up the diplomacy to a fever pitch in a desperate attempt to talk Putin out of formally annexing the peninsula following results which are well-known in advance will show the population’s allegiance to mother Russia. But while the generic rhetoric is well-known, one surprising place of escalation over the past 24 hours has been Germany’s Angela Merkel, who for the most part had been willing to stay on the sidelines in the war of words, has suddenly stepped up her own phrasing, and warned Moscow on Thursday that it risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, saying Western leaders were united in their readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary.

Reuters reports that the chancellor, using her strongest language since the start of the crisis and removing any suspicion that Germany might seek to avoid a confrontation with President Vladimir Putin, said his actions would lead to “catastrophe” for Ukraine and much more.

“We would not only see it, also as neighbours of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia,” she said in a speech in parliament. “No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”

Merkel has acknowledged that her efforts to persuade Putin to negotiate via a “contact group” with the transition government in Kiev – which he accuses of ousting Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich unlawfully – have failed and time is running out.

“To be absoultely clear, none of us want it to come to such measures but we are all ready and determined to if they are unavoidable,” said Merkel.

Germany receives over a third of its gas and oil from Russia and over 6,000 German firms are active there. A poll last week showed that a majority of Germans oppose sanctions against Russia. So is Merkel doing the Western thing, and bluffing in a last-ditch effort to convince Putin she isn’t, or does Putin still believe he has all the trump cards, and can bring the German economy to a crawl if Merkel acts out on her threat? We will known as soon as Sunday night.

Elsewhere, John Kerry headed out to London for some last ditch Russia talks on Ukraine. Expect this “effort” too to lead exactly nowhere.

In the meantime, Russia’s response is well known, which is more of the same – and the Russian Ministry of Defense made it quite clear what the next steps are when it announced that the large-scale maneuvers near the Ukraine border now involve some 8,500 troops, 270 tanks and 180 APCs.

An indication of how “seriously” Russia takes the diplomatic threats was the news that it is ready to impose counter-sanctions. WSJ reported that Russia’s economy ministry is looking at what the consequences of possible sanctions from the West would be and stands ready to impose similar penalties, deputy economy minister Alexei Likhachev said Thursday.

We are ready for any developments, all options are being considered. But we hope that it will impose specific political sanctions but not a wider range of some trade and economic decisions,” Mr. Likhachev said.

 

Mr. Likhachev said Europe is unlikely to impose harsh sanctions against Russia as both sides have strong business and trade ties.

 

Unlike Europe, which is Russia’s major trading partner, the U.S. has more room to impose sanctions, he added.

 

“Our sanctions will be symmetric,” Mr. Likhachev said.

But it wouldn’t be a Russian response if Gazprom didn’t make an announcement or two. Which it did:

  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine’s Failure to Repay Gas Deliveries Debt Puts Company Dividend Policy At Risk
  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Debt for Gas Deliveries Now at $1.8 Billion, Keeps Growing
  • Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Political Crisis Detrimental For Company’s Investment Program
  • Gazprom CEO Seeking Clarity On Gas Payments From Ukraine
  • Gazprom CEO Doesn’t “Want A Gas Crisis”
  • Gazprom CEO Doesn’t Address Cutting Off Gas Supplies In Statement

And while diplomacy is failing all around, and a trade and all too real war are potentially on the horizon, the real issue was and continues to the money. Which is why it was surprising to learn that earlier today the a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, was arrested in Vienna this week at the request of U.S. authorities, the Austrian government sources said on Thursday.  Reutersreports that Firtash, 48, is one of Ukraine’s richest men,an oligarch whose close links to Russia and involvement in the gas, chemicals, media and banking sectors gave him substantial influence,notably during the administration of recently ousted, Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich.

The Federal Criminal Office, had identified the man taken into custody only as Dmitry F. and said he had been under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2006.

As a reminder, Stratfor’s take on the richest Ukrainians was that they would play a “decisive role” in the conflict:

With presidential elections set for May 25 and parliamentary elections likely to be held later in the year, Ukraine’s current administration will need the continued support of the oligarchs. More immediately, with Crimea on the verge of leaving Ukraine, the new government’s urgent challenge is to keep mainland Ukraine together. Eastern Ukraine is crucial to this — the region is a stronghold for pro-Russia sentiment and the main site of opposition, after Crimea, to the Western-backed and Western-leaning government.

 

The oligarchs are key to keeping control over eastern Ukraine, not only because Ukraine’s industrial production is concentrated in the east — thus anchoring a shaky economy — but also because many of the oligarchs have a stronger and more manageable relationship with Russia than the current government, which Moscow sees as illegitimate. Many of these business leaders hail from the industrial east. They have business ties to Russia and decades of experience dealing with Russian authorities — experience that figures such as Klitschko and Yatsenyuk lack.

 

So far, the new government has been able to maintain the support of the country’s most important oligarchs. In general, the oligarchs want Ukraine to stay united. They do not support partition or federalization, because this would compromise their business interests across the country. But this support is not guaranteed over the long term. There have been recent complaints about the new government, for example over the arrest of former Kharkiv Gov. Mikhail Dobkin. Akhmetov came out in Dobkin’s defense, saying the government should not be going after internal rivals right now, but rather focusing on concerns over Russia. This can be seen as a warning to the new administration: The oligarchs’ loyalty to the current regime is conditional and should not be taken for granted.

 

Ultimately, the biggest threat to the oligarchs is not the current government, over which they have substantial leverage, but Russia. The oligarchs stand to lose a great deal if Russia intervenes in eastern Ukraine. If Russia takes over eastern territories, it could threaten the oligarchs’ very control over their assets. Therefore they have an interest in bridging the gap between Russia and Kiev, but it is Moscow they fear more. The oligarchs have substantial power to shape the Ukrainian government’s decision-making as it moves forward. Their business interests and the territorial integrity of the country are at stake.

As always, follow the money, especially when some of the richest money ends up directly in prison in a country far away, under the orders of that global moralizer, the United States.

Average:Select ratingPoorOkayGoodGreatAwesome

No votes yet

Subscriptions (0) 

Russia Warns US Against “Illegal” Ukraine Bailout; Ukraine Commences Live-Fire “Drill” With Tanks | Zero Hedge

Russia Warns US Against “Illegal” Ukraine Bailout; Ukraine Commences Live-Fire “Drill” With Tanks | Zero Hedge.

The tit-for-tat sabre-rattling and rhetoric continues to build ahead of this weekend’s planned referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region. This morning has seen 3 new threads beginning withUkraine’s “live-fire” exercises involving T-64B tanks. This was then followed by warnings from Russia of “consequences” of “unconditionally indulging radical elements” in Ukraine calling US financial aid “illegal” which was swiftly responded to by the State Department exclaiming it “unacceptable” that Russian forces take matters into their own hands and “do not create the right environment for diplomacy.” Not positive…

Ukraine did its own sabre-rattling:

  • *T-64B TANKS INVOLVED IN EXERCISE, LIVE-FIRE TRAINING: MINISTRY

The Russians are not happy

Russia says planned US financial aid to Ukraine is illegal

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that planned U.S. financial aid to Ukraine is illegal and outside American legal norms since it would be funding an illegitimate regime.

By all criteria, issuing funding to an illegitimate regime that seized power by force is unlawful and goes beyond the framework of the American legal system,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement echoed assertions made earlier in the day by ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. The ministry also warned Washington about the consequences of “unconditionally indulging radical elements” in Ukraine.

And Kerry has his own perspective:

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS RUSSIAN RESPONSES TO U.S. QUESTIONS ON UKRAINE DO NOT CREATE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR DIPLOMACY

Kerry told Lavrov it is unacceptable that Russian forces and irregulars continue to take matters into their own hands in Ukraine

Of course, this remains a constant distraction from the fact that Russian boots are on the ground in Crimea and the US (and the West) are stuck with how to “off-ramp” the escalating Russian threats without sanctions that would blow-back on to their own economies.

And then Merkel chipped in…

  • *MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA IS ANNEXING CRIMEA, PARTY OFFICIAL SAYS

Russia Warns US Against "Illegal" Ukraine Bailout; Ukraine Commences Live-Fire "Drill" With Tanks | Zero Hedge

Russia Warns US Against “Illegal” Ukraine Bailout; Ukraine Commences Live-Fire “Drill” With Tanks | Zero Hedge.

The tit-for-tat sabre-rattling and rhetoric continues to build ahead of this weekend’s planned referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region. This morning has seen 3 new threads beginning withUkraine’s “live-fire” exercises involving T-64B tanks. This was then followed by warnings from Russia of “consequences” of “unconditionally indulging radical elements” in Ukraine calling US financial aid “illegal” which was swiftly responded to by the State Department exclaiming it “unacceptable” that Russian forces take matters into their own hands and “do not create the right environment for diplomacy.” Not positive…

Ukraine did its own sabre-rattling:

  • *T-64B TANKS INVOLVED IN EXERCISE, LIVE-FIRE TRAINING: MINISTRY

The Russians are not happy

Russia says planned US financial aid to Ukraine is illegal

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that planned U.S. financial aid to Ukraine is illegal and outside American legal norms since it would be funding an illegitimate regime.

By all criteria, issuing funding to an illegitimate regime that seized power by force is unlawful and goes beyond the framework of the American legal system,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement echoed assertions made earlier in the day by ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. The ministry also warned Washington about the consequences of “unconditionally indulging radical elements” in Ukraine.

And Kerry has his own perspective:

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS RUSSIAN RESPONSES TO U.S. QUESTIONS ON UKRAINE DO NOT CREATE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR DIPLOMACY

Kerry told Lavrov it is unacceptable that Russian forces and irregulars continue to take matters into their own hands in Ukraine

Of course, this remains a constant distraction from the fact that Russian boots are on the ground in Crimea and the US (and the West) are stuck with how to “off-ramp” the escalating Russian threats without sanctions that would blow-back on to their own economies.

And then Merkel chipped in…

  • *MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA IS ANNEXING CRIMEA, PARTY OFFICIAL SAYS

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge.

A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality:

How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said “Nein” to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany’s own economy and bottom line.

But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous:

The White House has imposed visa restrictions on some Russian officials, and President Obama has issued an executive order enabling further sanctions. But Britain has already undermined any unified action by putting profit first.

It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.

At this point, in standing with the ideological framework of the host media outlet, the author takes a detour into naive idealism – a world in which it is not money that talks, but a declining global superpower, whose hypocrisy has been exposed time and again, and where extinct words like “mission” and “moral” are used with reckless abandon:

Britain, open for business, no longer has a “mission.” Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh.Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks.

The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.

British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class.

Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gets it: you pay them, you own them. Mr. Putin was absolutely certain that Britain’s managers — shuttling through the revolving door between cabinet posts and financial boards — would never give up their fees and commissions from the oligarchs’ billions. He was right.

So, let us get this straight? It is great when the Russian oligrachs “invest” their stolen money in luxury London real estate, the FTSE100, and various other inflating assets which are mistaken for an improvement in the broader “economy”, but when the alarm clock of realpolitick rings, it was all bad?

What we are more stunned by is that while London has at least figured out the quid pro quo, the US, and its leader, so far seem completely incapable of doing so. Perhaps someone should explain to Obama that with the Fed tapering, the only incremental buyer of high end real estate are precisely the oligarchs from Russia, whom he will soon alienate, as well as those from China, which also may decide it is too risky to park “hot money” in New York triplexes, and instead once again, like in 2011, park it all in gold and other precious metals.

But going back to the NYT article, the author does make the following accurate observation: “This is Britain’s growth business today: laundering oligarchs’ dirty billions, laundering their dirty reputations.

His conclusion, too, is spot on:

The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives.

Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames.

The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.

Still think Putin is ready to “blink”?

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge.

A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality:

How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said “Nein” to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany’s own economy and bottom line.

But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous:

The White House has imposed visa restrictions on some Russian officials, and President Obama has issued an executive order enabling further sanctions. But Britain has already undermined any unified action by putting profit first.

It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.

At this point, in standing with the ideological framework of the host media outlet, the author takes a detour into naive idealism – a world in which it is not money that talks, but a declining global superpower, whose hypocrisy has been exposed time and again, and where extinct words like “mission” and “moral” are used with reckless abandon:

Britain, open for business, no longer has a “mission.” Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh.Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks.

The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.

British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class.

Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gets it: you pay them, you own them. Mr. Putin was absolutely certain that Britain’s managers — shuttling through the revolving door between cabinet posts and financial boards — would never give up their fees and commissions from the oligarchs’ billions. He was right.

So, let us get this straight? It is great when the Russian oligrachs “invest” their stolen money in luxury London real estate, the FTSE100, and various other inflating assets which are mistaken for an improvement in the broader “economy”, but when the alarm clock of realpolitick rings, it was all bad?

What we are more stunned by is that while London has at least figured out the quid pro quo, the US, and its leader, so far seem completely incapable of doing so. Perhaps someone should explain to Obama that with the Fed tapering, the only incremental buyer of high end real estate are precisely the oligarchs from Russia, whom he will soon alienate, as well as those from China, which also may decide it is too risky to park “hot money” in New York triplexes, and instead once again, like in 2011, park it all in gold and other precious metals.

But going back to the NYT article, the author does make the following accurate observation: “This is Britain’s growth business today: laundering oligarchs’ dirty billions, laundering their dirty reputations.

His conclusion, too, is spot on:

The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives.

Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames.

The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.

Still think Putin is ready to “blink”?

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER.

A glance through the annals of history tells us that the Golden Age of Ukraine occurred just as western Europe was emerging from its long, dark, post-Roman coma around the 10th and 11thcenturies, A.D. After that, it was a kind of polo field for sundry sweeping hordes of mounted hell-bringers: Tatars, Turks, Cossacks, Bulgars, Napoleon’s grand army. In modern times, its population was divided between allegiance to Russia or to the Germanic states of the west. The Russian soviet regime treated it very badly. As many Ukrainians starved to death under Stalin’s “terror famine” of 1932-1933 as Jews and others were killed later in Hitler’s death camps. Stalin went on to try and totally erase Ukraine’s ethnic identity.

The Nazis wanted to go even further: to erase the Slavic population altogether so that the great fertile “breadbasket” of Ukraine could provide lebensraum for German colonizers. Stalin foolishly signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1939 — had he not read Mein Kampf?  Less than two years later, Germany turned around and invaded Russia, using Ukraine as doormat and mud-room for a horrific struggle that left Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, a virtual ashtray, and 28,000 villages destroyed.

Culture, as we know, is resilient. But given that history, one wonders what the current disposition of all these historical tides portends. The few thousand Americans not completely distracted by tweeting the content of their breakfasts or shooting naked selfies or texting behind the wheel — yea, even the gallant minority not mentally colonized by the slave-masters of Silicon Valley — must wonder what the heck happened in the streets of Kiev last week. Or, as Sir Mick Jagger famously said at the deadly Altamont Speedway festival, “Who’s fighting, and what for?” By the way, don’t count the editors of The New York Times among the aforementioned gallant minority of digital idiocy resisters. Today’s front page contained this rich nugget:

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s acting interior minister issued a warrant on Monday for the arrest of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, accusing him of mass killing of civilian protesters in demonstrations last week…. Arsen Avakov, the acting official, made the announcement on his official Facebook page Monday.

Perhaps there’s a trend in this: all government information around the world will henceforth be transmitted by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will come to lead a New World Order of universal friendship. Remind me to send a friend request to Arsen Avakov and de-friend Victor F. Yanukovych.

I suppose the geopolitical bottom-line in all this is that the Ukrainians must feel more comfortable tilting toward a de-Nazified Germany than submitting to the attentions of a de-sovietized Russia. Both would-be patrons are dangling money before a rather cash-strapped Ukraine, which is faced by bond interest payouts that it can’t possibly come up with, not to mention some scratch to just keep the streetcars running. (Forgive me for pointing out that Ukraine at least has streetcars, unlike the USA, which just has cars on streets.)

Given the International Monetary Fund’s record as the West’s official loan shark, would a Ukraine government be wise to turn there for a handout? Meanwhile, is everybody pretending that the Ukraine is not crisscrossed by a great web of natural gas pipelines? And is it not obvious that the gas flows in one direction: from Russia to Europe. So, how exactly would it benefit western Europe if Ukraine got more cuddly with them? Russia could still shut down the gas valve at the source? If the Europeans had any common sense, you’d think they would just butt out of this struggle and quit dangling money and offers of friendship to a nation whose greatest potential is to be a perpetual battleground in yet another unnecessary dreadful conflict.

Let’s hope the American government is just grandstanding in the background because we have less business in this feud than in the doings of Middle Earth. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was flogging ultimatums around on “Meet the Press” yesterday — some blather about right of the Ukrainian people “to fulfill their aspirations and be democratic and be part of Europe, which they choose to be.”

If anything, the uprising in Kiev last week should remind us that Europe’s history is long and deep in bloodshed and that one particular Ukrainian politician who employs snipers to shoot through the hearts of his adversaries is not the only person or party across that broad region capable of reawakening the hell-bringers. There are quite a few other countries over there that could disintegrate politically in the months ahead, nations faced with insurmountable financial and economic troubles. The USA has enough problems of its own. Maybe it should tweet a message to itself.

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER.

A glance through the annals of history tells us that the Golden Age of Ukraine occurred just as western Europe was emerging from its long, dark, post-Roman coma around the 10th and 11thcenturies, A.D. After that, it was a kind of polo field for sundry sweeping hordes of mounted hell-bringers: Tatars, Turks, Cossacks, Bulgars, Napoleon’s grand army. In modern times, its population was divided between allegiance to Russia or to the Germanic states of the west. The Russian soviet regime treated it very badly. As many Ukrainians starved to death under Stalin’s “terror famine” of 1932-1933 as Jews and others were killed later in Hitler’s death camps. Stalin went on to try and totally erase Ukraine’s ethnic identity.

The Nazis wanted to go even further: to erase the Slavic population altogether so that the great fertile “breadbasket” of Ukraine could provide lebensraum for German colonizers. Stalin foolishly signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1939 — had he not read Mein Kampf?  Less than two years later, Germany turned around and invaded Russia, using Ukraine as doormat and mud-room for a horrific struggle that left Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, a virtual ashtray, and 28,000 villages destroyed.

Culture, as we know, is resilient. But given that history, one wonders what the current disposition of all these historical tides portends. The few thousand Americans not completely distracted by tweeting the content of their breakfasts or shooting naked selfies or texting behind the wheel — yea, even the gallant minority not mentally colonized by the slave-masters of Silicon Valley — must wonder what the heck happened in the streets of Kiev last week. Or, as Sir Mick Jagger famously said at the deadly Altamont Speedway festival, “Who’s fighting, and what for?” By the way, don’t count the editors of The New York Times among the aforementioned gallant minority of digital idiocy resisters. Today’s front page contained this rich nugget:

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s acting interior minister issued a warrant on Monday for the arrest of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, accusing him of mass killing of civilian protesters in demonstrations last week…. Arsen Avakov, the acting official, made the announcement on his official Facebook page Monday.

Perhaps there’s a trend in this: all government information around the world will henceforth be transmitted by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will come to lead a New World Order of universal friendship. Remind me to send a friend request to Arsen Avakov and de-friend Victor F. Yanukovych.

I suppose the geopolitical bottom-line in all this is that the Ukrainians must feel more comfortable tilting toward a de-Nazified Germany than submitting to the attentions of a de-sovietized Russia. Both would-be patrons are dangling money before a rather cash-strapped Ukraine, which is faced by bond interest payouts that it can’t possibly come up with, not to mention some scratch to just keep the streetcars running. (Forgive me for pointing out that Ukraine at least has streetcars, unlike the USA, which just has cars on streets.)

Given the International Monetary Fund’s record as the West’s official loan shark, would a Ukraine government be wise to turn there for a handout? Meanwhile, is everybody pretending that the Ukraine is not crisscrossed by a great web of natural gas pipelines? And is it not obvious that the gas flows in one direction: from Russia to Europe. So, how exactly would it benefit western Europe if Ukraine got more cuddly with them? Russia could still shut down the gas valve at the source? If the Europeans had any common sense, you’d think they would just butt out of this struggle and quit dangling money and offers of friendship to a nation whose greatest potential is to be a perpetual battleground in yet another unnecessary dreadful conflict.

Let’s hope the American government is just grandstanding in the background because we have less business in this feud than in the doings of Middle Earth. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was flogging ultimatums around on “Meet the Press” yesterday — some blather about right of the Ukrainian people “to fulfill their aspirations and be democratic and be part of Europe, which they choose to be.”

If anything, the uprising in Kiev last week should remind us that Europe’s history is long and deep in bloodshed and that one particular Ukrainian politician who employs snipers to shoot through the hearts of his adversaries is not the only person or party across that broad region capable of reawakening the hell-bringers. There are quite a few other countries over there that could disintegrate politically in the months ahead, nations faced with insurmountable financial and economic troubles. The USA has enough problems of its own. Maybe it should tweet a message to itself.

%d bloggers like this: