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Natural Gas: A Geo-Political Tool Or Modern Weapon?

Natural Gas: A Geo-Political Tool Or Modern Weapon?.

Fri, 03/14/2014 – 1:00am
Tom Kadala

 

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a formidable maneuver that launched a 10+ year conflict. Today, President Obama is on the verge of another conflict in the Ukraine that involves Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Unlike Bush, however, Obama and Congress are eyeing natural gas exports as their weapon of choice to rein in Vladimir Putin from reclaiming territories along the perimeter of Russia. A geo-political tool to enable a global energy transformation or a modern weapon to settle disputes, natural gas has truly evolved.

Cleaner to burn but messy to legislate, natural gas from shale holds great promise for the US and the world. This relatively clean energy source has miraculously become the ideal bridge-fuel that society desperately needs to wean itself off its addiction to dirtier coal and oil. The rapid expansion of wells drilled since 2006 has given engineers plenty of valuable field data to improve upon yields and safety standards. From these field trials, amazing, breakthrough technologies have emerged.

Now into its eighth year, the US natural gas bonanza is no longer a nascent business for wild cat investors, its unprecedented success placing it front and center on the global stage. Presently at the helm, is the US who practically overnight, has gone from being a net importer that was often subjected to the whims of OPEC, to a net exporter. For a long time, Americans have always been taught to loathe their dependence on oil-rich countries. They often accused these oligarchs of using US oil payments to wage war against the same US freedom-fighting armies that protect their regions. With this recent change of the guards, however, Americans and their leaders are finding themselves in uncharted territory. The improved situation favors the US significantly but also leaves its leaders facing a tough dilemma.

To Prohibit or To Allow Exports
While the US can boast having the cheapest natural gas on the planet and the best technology to extract it, elected leaders in Congress must deal with two opposing issues: either to prohibit the export of US natural gas so manufacturers can create more American jobs or to allow exports to threatened US allies whose economies are constantly challenged by volatile energy prices. Already, the US’s offer to export natural gas to the Ukraine in response to Putin’s invasion of Crimea has prompted a strong reaction between both sides. Seen in this manner, one might contemplate the following question:

Could natural gas become the US enabler for global sustainable economic growth and world peace? …and if so, should it be implemented as a tool or a weapon?

There are three key benefits the US could gain from exporting its natural gas.

  • First, the US could stabilize energy prices globally for a long time. Stable energy prices would help remove a fundamental uncertainty that concerns investors. Keeping investors happy is important since they are instrumental in relieving government coffers of additional financial burdens.
  • A second benefit focuses on building global awareness on climate change. Just as the US has done to limit the use of their coal-fired power plants, other countries could be further encouraged to adopt similar environmentally friendly laws and best practices.
  • Finally, for countries seeking a free trade agreement with the US, natural gas exports could earn valuable trade concessions that could lead to integrated capacity-building among government institutions, a critical component toward establishing sustainable democracies worldwide.

These lofty expectations may be too high for even the US, considering that every new encounter will introduce more complexities and unknowns. We can only hope that US elected officials will recognize this once in a millennium opportunity and use natural gas as a tool rather than a weapon to steer the world toward a sustainable energy transformation strategy that follows a common set of internationally vetted guidelines and best practices.

Tom Kadala is an internationally recognized writer, speaker, and facilitator well-versed in economics, engineering,  technology, finance, and marketing. His views are regularly published by prominent  industry publications and also distributed to an exclusive list of contacts, some of whom he has met personally during his 20+ year tenure as the founder & CEO of Alternative Technology Corporation (ATC, Inc.). 

Dianne Feinstein: CIA May Have Broken The Law To Spy On Senate Staff

Dianne Feinstein: CIA May Have Broken The Law To Spy On Senate Staff.

Posted: 03/11/2014 10:47 am EDT Updated: 03/11/2014 1:59 pm EDT

 

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) delivered a devastating broadside against the CIA Tuesday, alleging that the agency was trying to intimidate Congress and may have broken the law in spying on Senate staffers.

Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was responding to CIA charges that Senate staffers had hacked CIA computers to learn that the spy agency was in fact spying on the people charged with overseeing its activities. Those revelations surfaced last week, prompting the countercharge against the CIA and a CIA complaint to the Justice Department.

But Feinstein, who is often a strong defender of the intelligence community, hammered the agency in a morning Senate floor speech, saying that the CIA knew of every step the Intelligence Committee staffers took and that the CIA provided all the documents that the agency later questioned.

To allege that staffers may have broken the law was dishonest, she said, and smacked of an attempt to bully civilians responsible for checking agency abuses.

“Our staff involved in this matter have the appropriate clearances, handled the sensitive material according to established procedures and practice to protect classified information, and were provided access to the [documents] by the CIA itself,” Feinstein said. “As a result, there is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime. I view the [CIA’s] acting general counsel’s referral [to the Justice Department] as a potential effort to intimidate this staff, and I am not taking it lightly.”

Feinstein also rattled her own saber, noting that the CIA official who referred the matter to the Justice Department was himself at the center of the very CIA interrogation techniques her committee is currently investigating. The Intelligence Committee has prepared a secret, 6,000-page report on the agency’s interrogation programs that is expected to outline a number of illegal activities and bring into question the value of such programs.

The remarkable flare-up stems from an agreement between the CIA and the committee that the agency could monitor the committee’s use of the agency’s computers, which were provided to Senate staffers in a secure room at the CIA. Staffers were able to analyze millions of documents on the computers in order to create the report on CIA interrogation techniques.

Feinstein also said Tuesday that she is pushing the White House to find a way to release that classified 6,000-page report so that the public can learn what the CIA has done in its name.

“I have asked for an apology, and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by this oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither,” Feinstein said. “Besides the constitutional implications, the CIA search may have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as [an executive order], which bars the CIA from conducting domestic surveillance.”

Feinstein added that the CIA’s inspector general, David Buckley, has referred the CIA’s actions to the Justice Department for investigation.

The DOJ and CIA could not immediately be reached for comment. A CIA spokesman deferred comment to CIA Director John Brennan, who was expected to speak at 11 a.m. EDT.

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m. ET — Brennan later adamantly denied that the CIA had broken any laws, but allowed that all the facts were not yet out.

“As far as allegations about CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. That’s just beyond the scope of reason,” Brennan said, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations.

But pushed by NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, who was moderating the event, Brennan admitted that there was considerable doubt about what has happened.

“Appropriate authorities right now, both inside of CIA as well as outside of CIA, are looking at what CIA officers as well as what [Senate] staffers did,” Brennan said. “I defer to them.”

Asked what he would do if Feinstein’s allegations prove true, Brennan demurred, and suggested lawmakers should cool down.

“I will deal with the facts as uncovered in the appropriate manner,” he said. “I would just encourage members of the Senate to take their time, to make sure that they don’t overstate what they claim and what they probably believe to be the truth. These are some complicated matters.”

He left whether or not he should keep his job to President Barack Obama.

“If I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him exactly what I did, and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or go,” Brennan said.

The 6,000-page report is extremely sensitive to the intelligence agency, and advocates of publicizing the report have accused the CIA of dragging its feet.

Brennan denied any intentional delays as well.

“We are not in any way, shape or form trying to thwart this report’s progression or release,” he said. Admitting that practices such as waterboarding — which Obama has banned — represent a dark chapter in the CIA’s record, he added, “We want this behind us.”

UPDATE: 1:51 p.m. — Asked later about Brennan’s pushback and how the facts of the dispute might ultimately come out, Feinstein stood her ground. “The facts just did come out,” she told several reporters on Capitol Hill.

UPDATE: 1:56 p.m. — White House press secretary Jay Carney later ducked the issue, reiterating that the investigation falls to the CIA’s inspector general.

President Obama has “great confidence” in Brennan, Carney said during his daily briefing. He added that if there has been any “inappropriate activity,” the president “would want to get to the bottom of it.”

Read Feinstein’s speech in full here.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty.

Posted: 03/06/2014 6:39 pm EST Updated: 03/07/2014 11:18 am EST


MORE:

BY BRADLEY KLAPPER & LARA JAKES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama ordered the West’s first sanctions in response to Russia’s military takeover of Crimea on Thursday, declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine. He asserted that a hastily scheduled referendum on Crimea seceding and becoming part of Russia would violate international law.

European leaders announced their own measures but split over how forcefully to follow America’s lead. Obama threatened further steps if Russia persists.

After announcing his sanctions at midday, Obama emphasized his resolve in a personal telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Thursday, the White House said. In a one-hour discussion, Obama affirmed his contention that Russia’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The U.S. president told Putin there was still a way to resolve the dispute diplomatically, the White House said — with Russian forces moving back to their base in Crimea, the governments of Ukraine and Russia holding direct talks and international monitors arriving.

The U.S. is also calling on Russia to recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian plans for elections in May, not the Crimean referendum a week from Sunday.

In all, signs still pointed to a continuing diplomatic battle over Ukraine and what could prove a broader fault line in Europe’s post-Cold War order.

While East and West no longer threaten nuclear war and have vastly expanded commercial ties, Russia is determined to dominate the future of the former Soviet republics along its borders. Washington, its NATO partners and others across the continent are striving to pull these nations out of Moscow’s orbit.

Underscoring his position, Obama issued an executive action slapping new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine’s government in Kiev and authorizing wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. None of the measures appeared aimed at the Russian president personally.

“Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve,” Obama said at the White House. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.”

Obama hailed U.S. cooperation with the European Union, which imposed its own sanctions on Russia on Thursday. In an emergency meeting in Brussels, EU leaders decided to suspend talks with Putin’s government on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc — a long-standing Russian objective. Yet at the same time, Europe’s presidents and prime ministers were divided on more drastic steps such as freezing assets and issuing travel bans on Russian officials.

European hesitancy reflected the reality that targeting influential Russian businessmen or major Russian companies would also harm Europe’s economic interests. Russian investors hold assets worth billions in European banks, particularly in Britain and Cyprus, and major exporters such as Germany and the Netherlands have far more at stake than the United States in Russia’s consumer economy. Many other European countries depend on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

Russian troops have seized control of much of Crimea, where ethnic Russians are the majority. Moscow doesn’t recognize the Ukrainian government that came to power after protesters ousted the country’s pro-Russian president last month. Putin and other officials have cited strategic interests as well as the protection of ethnic Russians in making the case for intervention. Russia leases a major navy base there.

The Western debate over how strongly to penalize Russia is important given that neither the U.S. nor Europe is advocating the use of force. The U.S. military has stepped up joint aviation training with Polish forces and American participation in NATO’s air-policing mission in its Baltic countries. But the Pentagon, like its NATO partners, has strictly ruled out military options.

In the latest threatening move Thursday, Crimean lawmakers voted 78-0 to schedule a referendum on March 16 on whether the region should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Obama said such a vote would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law.” Because Ukraine is a member of the United Nations, any action that is unconstitutional in Ukraine would be considered illegitimate in international law.

But the West supported Kosovo’s independence six years ago, which included no consent by Serbia’s government and occurred despite Russian objections, Obama might have been trying to differentiate Ukraine’s situation by arguing that borders shouldn’t be “redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”

The U.S. sanctions push has prompted a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and most Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

The House of Representatives voted 385-23 on Thursday in favor of the first U.S. aid bill for Ukraine’s fledgling government, following on an Obama administration promise of $1 billion in loan guarantees. The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a separate resolution condemning Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea and urging visa, financial and trade sanctions. Senators are at work on a larger bill putting together all elements of a U.S. response and hope to introduce the legislation next week.

The EU offered $15 billion in aid to help Ukraine’s cash-depleted economy on Wednesday, still far short of the $35 billion that Ukraine’s government says it needs in bailout loans through next year. The U.S., EU and others are trying to work out a package with the International Monetary Fund.

Showing greater caution than Obama on sanctions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European penalties against Russia depend “on how the diplomatic process progresses.” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit could still come. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk acknowledged “no enthusiasm” in Europe for economic sanctions.

Western leaders fear Russia is becoming entrenched in Crimea and could turn its focus to Ukraine’s industrial heart in the east, where Russian speakers similarly are a majority. Central and Eastern European countries that lived for decades under the Soviet Union’s domination are especially sensitive to the threat. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite warned, “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries.”

For the U.S. and its allies, the specter of Georgia’s 2008 schism looms large. After a nine-day war between Russia and Georgia’s then pro-Western government, the Kremlin supported two regions in breaking away from Georgia. Most of the world doesn’t recognize their independence, but Russia protects their autonomy. Then, as now, the U.S. and EU reaction was limited in scope and included no military moves. In the United States, Obama initiated a “reset” of ties with Russia less than a year later.

With Ukraine at risk of a similar fate, the U.S. has suspended talks on an investment treaty with Russia. NATO has halted military cooperation with Russia and has decided to review all aspects of the relationship with Moscow. The U.S. and European countries have halted preparations for a planned June summit in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

But so far Putin hasn’t budged. His government claims that Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, remains the leader of Ukraine. The pro-Russian Yanukovych fled to a location near Moscow for protection.

Also Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met again with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Kerry stressed a need for a direct Russian-Ukrainian dialogue and the importance of allowing international monitors into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Diplomatic progress appeared elusive.

___

Lara Jakes reported from Rome. AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and AP writers Juergen Baetz and Mike Corder in Brussels and Yuras Karmanau in Simferopol, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine's Sovereignty

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty.

Posted: 03/06/2014 6:39 pm EST Updated: 03/07/2014 11:18 am EST


MORE:

BY BRADLEY KLAPPER & LARA JAKES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama ordered the West’s first sanctions in response to Russia’s military takeover of Crimea on Thursday, declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine. He asserted that a hastily scheduled referendum on Crimea seceding and becoming part of Russia would violate international law.

European leaders announced their own measures but split over how forcefully to follow America’s lead. Obama threatened further steps if Russia persists.

After announcing his sanctions at midday, Obama emphasized his resolve in a personal telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Thursday, the White House said. In a one-hour discussion, Obama affirmed his contention that Russia’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The U.S. president told Putin there was still a way to resolve the dispute diplomatically, the White House said — with Russian forces moving back to their base in Crimea, the governments of Ukraine and Russia holding direct talks and international monitors arriving.

The U.S. is also calling on Russia to recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian plans for elections in May, not the Crimean referendum a week from Sunday.

In all, signs still pointed to a continuing diplomatic battle over Ukraine and what could prove a broader fault line in Europe’s post-Cold War order.

While East and West no longer threaten nuclear war and have vastly expanded commercial ties, Russia is determined to dominate the future of the former Soviet republics along its borders. Washington, its NATO partners and others across the continent are striving to pull these nations out of Moscow’s orbit.

Underscoring his position, Obama issued an executive action slapping new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine’s government in Kiev and authorizing wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. None of the measures appeared aimed at the Russian president personally.

“Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve,” Obama said at the White House. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.”

Obama hailed U.S. cooperation with the European Union, which imposed its own sanctions on Russia on Thursday. In an emergency meeting in Brussels, EU leaders decided to suspend talks with Putin’s government on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc — a long-standing Russian objective. Yet at the same time, Europe’s presidents and prime ministers were divided on more drastic steps such as freezing assets and issuing travel bans on Russian officials.

European hesitancy reflected the reality that targeting influential Russian businessmen or major Russian companies would also harm Europe’s economic interests. Russian investors hold assets worth billions in European banks, particularly in Britain and Cyprus, and major exporters such as Germany and the Netherlands have far more at stake than the United States in Russia’s consumer economy. Many other European countries depend on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

Russian troops have seized control of much of Crimea, where ethnic Russians are the majority. Moscow doesn’t recognize the Ukrainian government that came to power after protesters ousted the country’s pro-Russian president last month. Putin and other officials have cited strategic interests as well as the protection of ethnic Russians in making the case for intervention. Russia leases a major navy base there.

The Western debate over how strongly to penalize Russia is important given that neither the U.S. nor Europe is advocating the use of force. The U.S. military has stepped up joint aviation training with Polish forces and American participation in NATO’s air-policing mission in its Baltic countries. But the Pentagon, like its NATO partners, has strictly ruled out military options.

In the latest threatening move Thursday, Crimean lawmakers voted 78-0 to schedule a referendum on March 16 on whether the region should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Obama said such a vote would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law.” Because Ukraine is a member of the United Nations, any action that is unconstitutional in Ukraine would be considered illegitimate in international law.

But the West supported Kosovo’s independence six years ago, which included no consent by Serbia’s government and occurred despite Russian objections, Obama might have been trying to differentiate Ukraine’s situation by arguing that borders shouldn’t be “redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”

The U.S. sanctions push has prompted a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and most Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

The House of Representatives voted 385-23 on Thursday in favor of the first U.S. aid bill for Ukraine’s fledgling government, following on an Obama administration promise of $1 billion in loan guarantees. The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a separate resolution condemning Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea and urging visa, financial and trade sanctions. Senators are at work on a larger bill putting together all elements of a U.S. response and hope to introduce the legislation next week.

The EU offered $15 billion in aid to help Ukraine’s cash-depleted economy on Wednesday, still far short of the $35 billion that Ukraine’s government says it needs in bailout loans through next year. The U.S., EU and others are trying to work out a package with the International Monetary Fund.

Showing greater caution than Obama on sanctions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European penalties against Russia depend “on how the diplomatic process progresses.” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit could still come. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk acknowledged “no enthusiasm” in Europe for economic sanctions.

Western leaders fear Russia is becoming entrenched in Crimea and could turn its focus to Ukraine’s industrial heart in the east, where Russian speakers similarly are a majority. Central and Eastern European countries that lived for decades under the Soviet Union’s domination are especially sensitive to the threat. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite warned, “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries.”

For the U.S. and its allies, the specter of Georgia’s 2008 schism looms large. After a nine-day war between Russia and Georgia’s then pro-Western government, the Kremlin supported two regions in breaking away from Georgia. Most of the world doesn’t recognize their independence, but Russia protects their autonomy. Then, as now, the U.S. and EU reaction was limited in scope and included no military moves. In the United States, Obama initiated a “reset” of ties with Russia less than a year later.

With Ukraine at risk of a similar fate, the U.S. has suspended talks on an investment treaty with Russia. NATO has halted military cooperation with Russia and has decided to review all aspects of the relationship with Moscow. The U.S. and European countries have halted preparations for a planned June summit in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

But so far Putin hasn’t budged. His government claims that Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, remains the leader of Ukraine. The pro-Russian Yanukovych fled to a location near Moscow for protection.

Also Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met again with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Kerry stressed a need for a direct Russian-Ukrainian dialogue and the importance of allowing international monitors into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Diplomatic progress appeared elusive.

___

Lara Jakes reported from Rome. AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and AP writers Juergen Baetz and Mike Corder in Brussels and Yuras Karmanau in Simferopol, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge.

Just in case Obama’s Friday message of “costs” should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting he issued the following statement:

I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. It threatens peace and security in EuropeRussia must stop its military activities and its threats.

Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security, and for NATO’s relationship with Russia.

Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.

Ukraine is our neighbour, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.

We urge all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation. In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened “very serious repercussions” from the United States and other countries, including sanctions to isolate Russia economically.

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Kerry, however, added that Russia still has “a right set of choices” that can be made to defuse the crisis.

It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations,” Kerry added.

Kerry said U.S. President Barack Obama told Putin in a 90-minute phone call on Saturday that “there will be serious repercussions if this stands. The president … told Mr. Putin that it was imperative to find a different path, to roll back this invasion and un-do this act of invasion.”

Kerry said G8 nations and some other countries are “prepared to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” with a “broad array of options” available.

They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically, the ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” Kerry said, as he also mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

Some great soundbites: we can’t wait for the White House to release the obligatory photo op, which we assume would look somewhat different than this.

Russia’s response?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Sunday when asked for a response to harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine. “No comment at the moment,” Peskov said.

Just laughter.

John Kerry Slams "Incredible Act Of Aggression", NATO Says Russia "Must Stop" | Zero Hedge

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge.

Just in case Obama’s Friday message of “costs” should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting he issued the following statement:

I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. It threatens peace and security in EuropeRussia must stop its military activities and its threats.

Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security, and for NATO’s relationship with Russia.

Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.

Ukraine is our neighbour, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.

We urge all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation. In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened “very serious repercussions” from the United States and other countries, including sanctions to isolate Russia economically.

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Kerry, however, added that Russia still has “a right set of choices” that can be made to defuse the crisis.

It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations,” Kerry added.

Kerry said U.S. President Barack Obama told Putin in a 90-minute phone call on Saturday that “there will be serious repercussions if this stands. The president … told Mr. Putin that it was imperative to find a different path, to roll back this invasion and un-do this act of invasion.”

Kerry said G8 nations and some other countries are “prepared to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” with a “broad array of options” available.

They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically, the ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” Kerry said, as he also mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

Some great soundbites: we can’t wait for the White House to release the obligatory photo op, which we assume would look somewhat different than this.

Russia’s response?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Sunday when asked for a response to harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine. “No comment at the moment,” Peskov said.

Just laughter.

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge.

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to “defend” citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

And in other news, Ukrainian boxer, vocal leader of the EuroMeidan opposition movement and potential future president, Vitali Klitschko just called for a general mobilization. After all he has the most to lose if the countercoup quickly sweeps away from power those who organized the original coup in the first place. From Reuters:

Vitaly Klitschko, a senior Ukrainian politician and likely presidential candidate, called on Saturday for a “general mobilisation” following Russian parliament’s decision to approve deploying troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

 

“Klitschko calls for a declaration on a general mobilisation,” the retired boxing champion’s political party UDAR (Punch) said, making clear he favoured a military mobilisation.

Finally, the world’s most useless organizations, the UN and European finance ministers, are pretending to be relevant:

  • UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET 2PM TODAY TO DISCUSS UKRAINE
  • EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING ON UKRAINE IN BRUSSELS ON MONDAY -EU DIPLOMAT

Time for another Obama appearance to explain just what the “costs” that he mentioned are in his opinion. Because Putin seems to have missed the message.

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge.

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to “defend” citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

And in other news, Ukrainian boxer, vocal leader of the EuroMeidan opposition movement and potential future president, Vitali Klitschko just called for a general mobilization. After all he has the most to lose if the countercoup quickly sweeps away from power those who organized the original coup in the first place. From Reuters:

Vitaly Klitschko, a senior Ukrainian politician and likely presidential candidate, called on Saturday for a “general mobilisation” following Russian parliament’s decision to approve deploying troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

 

“Klitschko calls for a declaration on a general mobilisation,” the retired boxing champion’s political party UDAR (Punch) said, making clear he favoured a military mobilisation.

Finally, the world’s most useless organizations, the UN and European finance ministers, are pretending to be relevant:

  • UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET 2PM TODAY TO DISCUSS UKRAINE
  • EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING ON UKRAINE IN BRUSSELS ON MONDAY -EU DIPLOMAT

Time for another Obama appearance to explain just what the “costs” that he mentioned are in his opinion. Because Putin seems to have missed the message.

Obama To Deliver Statement On Ukraine At 4:45 PM – Live Stream | Zero Hedge

Obama To Deliver Statement On Ukraine At 4:45 PM – Live Stream | Zero Hedge.

Obama is scheduled to speak on the Ukraine 4:45pm. He may not even be half an hour last this time. And while we are waiting, we just got this:

  • U.S. BELIEVES GROUND TROUPS IN CRIMEA ARE INDEED RUSSIAN: CNN

Perhaps this confirms there are no Russian troops on the ground after all.

Well that was quick:

  • OBAMA SAYS ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ BY RUSSIAN MILITARY MOVEMENTS
  • OBAMA SAYS “THERE WILL BE COSTS” FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN UKRAINE
  • OBAMA SAYS “UKRAINE PEOPLE DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN FUTURE”
  • OBAMA SAYS HE COMMENDS RESTRAINT OF UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT
  • OBAMA SAYS BIDEN HAS SPOKEN WITH PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE
  • OBAMA SAYS U.S. SUPPORTS UKRANIAN SOVERIGNTY

And… that’s it: no statement on what if anything the US will do if Russia keeps its presence there and continues piling troops and equipment.

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