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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.

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat.

Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. Will the target be Asia?

harry-kazianis
March 12, 2014

Last week I noted four lessons Asia watchers should ponder in light of the events unfolding in UkraineAs there has been no letup and various pundits warn of a new Cold War it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that any sanctions introduced by Washington against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect. And such a boomerang could have some oomph. What would such a boomerang look like? Here are five ways (beyond the one Ankit Panda pointed out last week) Putin could make life very difficult for America and its allies in Asia if tensions in Eastern Europe were to intensify and Russia sought to retaliate:

1. Russian Arms Sales to China go hog wild – Remember that deal that keeps floating around concerningRussian SU-35s and advanced conventional submarines to China? Even if things don’t get worse in Ukraine, I think we can consider that a done deal now. But, heck, why stop there! If Washington wants to keep upping the ante in Ukraine it might be a great time for Moscow to expand its dealings with China to levels never seen. Remember all that talk about hypersonic weapons in January? Since both nations are pursing such weapons, why not share the costs and the spoils? It seems 5th generation fighters aren’t easy for anyone to craft these days—so why not a joint Russo-Sino development project? If things were to get really nasty, and Russia decided to pull out of the INF treaty, maybe it’s time Moscow and Beijing exchange notes on all those lovelyA2/AD weapons systems we like to talk about here on Flashpoints? I could go on and on. The bottom line: If Russia wanted to make things hard for America in Asia at a time when its defense budget is shrinking, here is an easy way to do it.

2. Moscow goes all in on natural resource sales to Beijing – While large deals were announced late last year, China would love to purchase as much Russian oil, natural gas and any other natural resources it could get its hands on. While issues of price have slowed or halted other deals in the past, Russia this time might be a little more flexible, especially if it were to halt or slow sales to Ukraine or Western Europe. China clearly wins in such a deal as it would become less reliant on sea-borne natural resources imports that could be disrupted if things with America were to go really south.

3. Russian Arms Sales to Iran, Rebooted – While any analysis here must factor in P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal, Moscow could seek to make trouble for Washington and its allies by rebooting arms sales to Iran. With Russia and Iran already trying to work out the aftermath of an aborted sale of the S-300 air defense system, Putin may decide to put the system back on the table for Iran. In fact, he may even suggest selling Tehran the more advanced S-400 system. Consider this: if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran fears an attack by the West over its nuclear facilities, Russia could be in position to supply all the weapons it needs to make such an attack even more complicated than it would already be.

4. Syria: Give Assad all the arms he wants: While Russia may have offered an unlikely solution to the chemical weapons crisis of last summer, the U.S. and its allies should expect nothing from Moscow if Putin’s boomerang comes lunging back at them. Putin could easily begin sending even more arms to his allies in Syria, raising the stakes and a death toll that is already reaching epic if not historic proportions. While it may be hard to envision Russia being able to completely turn the tide with Assad winning a clear victory, Moscow could certainly change the calculus if it decided to go all in and arm Syria to the teeth.

5. The Death of the Pivot/Rebalance: So say tensions in Eastern Europe were to escalate even further with Russia formally annexing Crimea or worse—Russia taking large sections of Eastern Ukraine. It does not seem out of the question that Washington would be forced to consider beefing up its security commitments in Europe. While additional forces could certainly move into the region as a deterrent to further Russia troublemaking, missile defense plans scuttled in the past could be re-crafted, and U.S. naval power could make a strong comeback. All this comes at a price however. Unless the U.S. were to increase its defense spending which, short of a shooting war I consider unlikely, American forces, already stretched thin to begin with, would be even more strained. Washington may simply have no choice but to reconsider its mighty pivot/rebalance to Asia. Add in the fact that a senior defense department official may have put the final coffin in it anyway– stating that “right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen”– one more nail for good measure thanks to Russia would certainly seal its fate.

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat

5 Ways Russia’s Ukraine ‘Boomerang’ Could Strike Asia | The Diplomat.

Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. Will the target be Asia?

harry-kazianis
March 12, 2014

Last week I noted four lessons Asia watchers should ponder in light of the events unfolding in UkraineAs there has been no letup and various pundits warn of a new Cold War it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that any sanctions introduced by Washington against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect. And such a boomerang could have some oomph. What would such a boomerang look like? Here are five ways (beyond the one Ankit Panda pointed out last week) Putin could make life very difficult for America and its allies in Asia if tensions in Eastern Europe were to intensify and Russia sought to retaliate:

1. Russian Arms Sales to China go hog wild – Remember that deal that keeps floating around concerningRussian SU-35s and advanced conventional submarines to China? Even if things don’t get worse in Ukraine, I think we can consider that a done deal now. But, heck, why stop there! If Washington wants to keep upping the ante in Ukraine it might be a great time for Moscow to expand its dealings with China to levels never seen. Remember all that talk about hypersonic weapons in January? Since both nations are pursing such weapons, why not share the costs and the spoils? It seems 5th generation fighters aren’t easy for anyone to craft these days—so why not a joint Russo-Sino development project? If things were to get really nasty, and Russia decided to pull out of the INF treaty, maybe it’s time Moscow and Beijing exchange notes on all those lovelyA2/AD weapons systems we like to talk about here on Flashpoints? I could go on and on. The bottom line: If Russia wanted to make things hard for America in Asia at a time when its defense budget is shrinking, here is an easy way to do it.

2. Moscow goes all in on natural resource sales to Beijing – While large deals were announced late last year, China would love to purchase as much Russian oil, natural gas and any other natural resources it could get its hands on. While issues of price have slowed or halted other deals in the past, Russia this time might be a little more flexible, especially if it were to halt or slow sales to Ukraine or Western Europe. China clearly wins in such a deal as it would become less reliant on sea-borne natural resources imports that could be disrupted if things with America were to go really south.

3. Russian Arms Sales to Iran, Rebooted – While any analysis here must factor in P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear deal, Moscow could seek to make trouble for Washington and its allies by rebooting arms sales to Iran. With Russia and Iran already trying to work out the aftermath of an aborted sale of the S-300 air defense system, Putin may decide to put the system back on the table for Iran. In fact, he may even suggest selling Tehran the more advanced S-400 system. Consider this: if nuclear negotiations fail and Iran fears an attack by the West over its nuclear facilities, Russia could be in position to supply all the weapons it needs to make such an attack even more complicated than it would already be.

4. Syria: Give Assad all the arms he wants: While Russia may have offered an unlikely solution to the chemical weapons crisis of last summer, the U.S. and its allies should expect nothing from Moscow if Putin’s boomerang comes lunging back at them. Putin could easily begin sending even more arms to his allies in Syria, raising the stakes and a death toll that is already reaching epic if not historic proportions. While it may be hard to envision Russia being able to completely turn the tide with Assad winning a clear victory, Moscow could certainly change the calculus if it decided to go all in and arm Syria to the teeth.

5. The Death of the Pivot/Rebalance: So say tensions in Eastern Europe were to escalate even further with Russia formally annexing Crimea or worse—Russia taking large sections of Eastern Ukraine. It does not seem out of the question that Washington would be forced to consider beefing up its security commitments in Europe. While additional forces could certainly move into the region as a deterrent to further Russia troublemaking, missile defense plans scuttled in the past could be re-crafted, and U.S. naval power could make a strong comeback. All this comes at a price however. Unless the U.S. were to increase its defense spending which, short of a shooting war I consider unlikely, American forces, already stretched thin to begin with, would be even more strained. Washington may simply have no choice but to reconsider its mighty pivot/rebalance to Asia. Add in the fact that a senior defense department official may have put the final coffin in it anyway– stating that “right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen”– one more nail for good measure thanks to Russia would certainly seal its fate.

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”?

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.

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.

Memo from Moscow: What Happens in Ukraine, Stays in Ukraine » Joe For America

Memo from Moscow: What Happens in Ukraine, Stays in Ukraine » Joe For America.

The following memo was leaked by a California high school student who accidentally tapped into NSA communication files while hacking into bank records of her computer science teacher.

Memo #1

TO: Barack Obama

FROM: Vladimir Putin

SUBJECT: In Appreciation

Dear Barack-ski,

During our long phone conversation, I am forgetting to thank you for reminding me to be stand-up guy and send humanitarian aid to country when peoples cry out for help. You remind me about how America helped Libya. But, instead of bombing Ukraine back into stone age, I decide to use different technique. And I am thanking you for setting up entire situation so Uncle Vladi could step up and help the peoples of the Ukraine. 

My Parliament give “OK” to deliver humanitarian aid and protection against neo-Nazis and extremists. I am not remembering if your congress gave you OK for Libya bombing, or did Hillary Clinton make that decision? No matter, other than this action make you and America look pitiful in eyes of the world . . . what difference did it make?

Uncle Vladi also reMEMO #2call occupy Wall Street movement and decide to follow your example and take advantage of potential for photo ops. I am directing similar PR program in Ukraine. Freedom-loving citizens wave flags and signs and beg for Russian soldiers to protect them from enemies of freedom. This makes for excellent TV and social media propaganda.

Uncle Vladi got big worry about democracy outbreaks in other countries. I’m remembering how this cause you big time headache in Eqypt when military realize your Muslim Brotherhood pals are not so much about freedom as they are about chaos and oppression.

I might have same problem if Ukraine breaks for NATO and European-style democracy. Might spread throughout my country like Russian flu. So, I am making sure Ukrainian peoples not do breakaway. I remind them they have no real army and no real allies and could not push back against real Russian military who is really there to protect them.MEMO # 3

I am not meaning to sound like bully, but Uncle Vladi will have to boot you on back side of your “mommy” pants if you continue to push for economic sanctions against Russia.

Maybe you need to reset your memory. Who has hand on oil spigot for Europe? Who has missiles pointed at break-away states on Russia’s fringe? And, who doesn’t have missiles because you cancel agreement to build a missile defense system in Poland? And who can reconstitute former Soviet Union borders if parliament decides is OK action to take?

One last thing Barack-ski. I’m not even little bit insulted by your teleprompter performances. In fact, is amusing when you show angry face and point finger to make position about Ukraine “perfectly clear.” Russians laugh their a**es off listeningto political double speak from Mr. Kerry Wind Bag. Especially when he accuses Russia of telling lies and violating agreements.

(Funny thing though, you do same thing when you lie to citizens with promises about shovel-ready jobs, “like healthcare, keep healthcare,” and “like doctor, keep doctor.” You also are very fond of violating United States Constitution with your pen and phone. Is great puzzlement why citizens don’t storm White House and send you on permanent vacation? But, not to worry, if that happens, Russia’s heart is welcoming to you and family. Can put you up in nice mansion next door to your countryman, Mr. Snowden.)

Barack-ski, I insist you stick to our agreement to keep nose out of Russia’s business. Period. About the G8 Economic Summit in June? You announce to world you won’t attend? Is OK. No big deal. I’m plan to go on hunting trip in June anyway.

I tell you, play your cards right if you want Uncle Vladi to help you with little distraction, like smallish war or terrorist attack in the fall, just before your November elections. You need major diversion to take citizen’s minds off your failures so they don’t vote all jackass politicians out of office.

Gotta run. It’s time for my daily swim before scheduled parade, flag-waving demonstration, and long-range missile test.

Stay in touch. Uncle Vladi

MEMO #4

MEMO #5

*
Read more at http://joeforamerica.com/2014/03/memo-moscow-happens-ukraine-stays-ukraine/#9eTu8JztZi2U3SH8.99

As Russian Troops In The Ukraine Hit 16,000, US Department Of Defense Orders Them To Go Home | Zero Hedge

As Russian Troops In The Ukraine Hit 16,000, US Department Of Defense Orders Them To Go Home | Zero Hedge.

While it has gotten to the point where the propaganda is so bad on both sides of the Ukraine crisis, that any numbers thrown about are ridiculous, made up gibberish more fabricated than anything the Chinese Department of Truth or US Bureau of Labor can possibly goalseek, it is worth pointing out that according to APUkraine’s ambassador to the UN said 16,000 Russian troops are now deployed in the Ukraine. This was “revealed” at the third emergency Security Council session meeting in the last four days, shortly after Ukraine’s fugitive president requested Russian soldiers in the strategic Crimea region “to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order,” Russia’s U.N. ambassador said Monday, contradicting the president’s own comments last week.

However, while Russian hypocrisy is to be expected – after all they are the “Evil Empire” to quote a famous actor and president – it is the humor from the self-appointed moral watchdog of all the world’s evils, the US, that was the highlight of today’s UN session:

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power dismissed Moscow’s contention that it intervened militarily in Crimea to protect the human rights of Russian civilians there as “baseless,” insisting there is no evidence of any threats against ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

“One might think that Moscow has just become the rapid response arm of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” she told the council. “Russian military action is not a human rights protection mission.”

Speaking of high commissioners for human rights, at least Russia never invaded a country using made up WMDs as pretext, and did not almost launch World War III to satisfy a nat gas-rich ally over a fabricated YouTube clip. Oh, and all that “innocent civilian casualty” drone stuff too.

So what does the world’s most irrelevant organization do? They send in monitors:

  • OSCE MONITORS TO BE DEPLOYED TO CRIMEA TONIGHT, POWER SAYS
  • POWER CALLS ON RUSSIA TO ENSURE OSCE NOT BLOCKED IN CRIMEA
  • CHURKIN SAYS RUSSIA SUPPORTS UN OFFICIAL’S VISIT TO UKRAINE
  • CHURKIN DECLINES TO COMMENT IF RUSSIA SUPPORTS OSCE MISSION

Well, monitors did miracles during the Yugoslav war, maybe they will “work” this time too.

But the piece de resistance, regardless if the real number of Russian troops in the Ukraine is 1,000 or 100,000, was the following:

  • DOD CALLS ON RUSSIAN FORCES IN CRIMEA TO RETURN TO THEIR BASES

Wait, so the US Department of Defense, that of the United States if it was somehow unclear, suddenly has authority to control the troops… of Russia?

One wonders: did the US Department of Education tell Gazprom to maintain gas supplies to Germany no matter how many CIA agents are operating in Kiev?

Or did ACORN tell whoever is the current pre-countercoup Ukraine president to hike minimum wages?

Or maybe the Department of Justice is quietly trying to collect its Fedex guns sent “erroneously” to Ukraine mercenaries, having confused them with Mexican drug lords?

Whatever the confusion, we are confident that following this latest “escalation” in the US response narrative, that Russia will promptly CTRL-Z everything it has done in the Ukraine in the past two weeks, and say it was only kidding.

* * *

Tangentially, while it has been made abundantly clear just how terrified Russia is of NATO, of Europe and of the US, for an indication of what China thinks of the latter, the WSJ reports the following:

The departing U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke inspired mixed reactions during his two-and-a-half-year tenure. Though his unpretentious manner was widely praised, as the first American of Chinese descent to hold the job, criticism of him had a special bite… The state-run China News Service… published a derisive editorial late last week (in Chinese) that described Mr. Locke as “a banana, with yellow skin and a white heart.”

Because when America respects itself and its symbolic headpiece, the president, so very much how can the rest of the world not follow?

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