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Interpreting Putin’s Decision | The Diplomat

Interpreting Putin’s Decision | The Diplomat.

Interpreting Putin’s Decision
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Interpreting Putin’s Decision

From Western weakness to its Eurasian Union project, a look at the factors that drove the annexation of Crimea.

By Wei Zongyou
March 23, 2014

People around the world were astounded by Vladimir Putin’s rapid decision to annex Crimea in response to the latter’s referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, which Kiev and the West view as illegal. The decision also drew worldwide criticism and vehement condemnation by the West and Ukraine, and triggered a second wave of economic sanctions from the United States, and soon afterwards Europe. Relations between Russia and the West are at their chilliest since the end of the Cold War.

So why has Putin risked Russia’s economic welfare and political space to swallow Crimea, push Ukraine out, and alienate the entire Western world? Is Putin “in another world” as German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed he is? In my opinion, there are at least two considerations behind Putin’s decision.

The first is the realist, geo-political consideration. In Putin’s world, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Russia has lost nearly one fourth of its geography, one half of its population, and more than half of its GDP. Among the “lost” territories are those that are strategically important or militarily advanced, such as Ukraine and the Baltic states. With the eastward expansion of NATO, and the integration of former Soviet satellite states and republics in Eastern Europe and the Baltics into Europe, the traditional buffer zone between Russia and the West is increasingly squeezed and Russia’s space for strategic maneuvering becomes smaller with each year. When Russia craved for entry into the West, this might not have been particularly worrisome or embarrassing for Moscow. But since Russian leaders decided long ago that joining the West was neither particularly helpful to Russia’s political standing nor particularly attractive in terms of economic gains, it has begun to view the expansion of the West at its own strategic expense as both ill-intentioned and threatening.

Ukraine holds a unique position in Russia’s geo-strategic consideration. First, it is crucial territory in the passage of Russia’s oil exports to Europe. Each year more than one third of the oil Russia ships to Europe travels via the Ukraine pipeline. Second, Crimea gives Russia’s Black Sea Fleet access to the Black Sea. If the pro-West Kiev government were to have decided to end its lease to the Russian naval base in Crimea, Russia would have lost its strategic gateway to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Third, Ukraine is deemed the most crucial member of Russia’s Eurasia Union project, an economic and strategic plan to closely connect Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Central Asia. If all goes according to plan, this union will integrate these former Soviet republics and now independent countries economically, politically, and diplomatically with Russia, and go some way to restoring the glory of the Soviet empire at its peak. The “coup d’état” in Kiev and the political orientation of the new government put all these things in jeopardy, if Russia remains disinterested and passive.

The second consideration is more psychological in nature. Following the end of Cold War, embracing the West was the first priority of Russian foreign policy. But to Moscow’s dismay, it found that the West still harbored strong reservations and considerable distrust. Years spent courting and wooing provided little of what Russia craved most: equal membership in the West and economic prosperity. Though Russia became part of the exclusive G8, it never enjoyed the full status and say of the other seven members, always remaining an “other.” Economically, the shock remedy proposed by the West and faithfully implemented by Boris Yeltsin didn’t bring the expected economic benefit. Instead, it took Russia’s economy into freefall, leaving the average Russian worse off than before. Russia’s look West ended in humiliation and disaster.

It was Putin who saved Russia from its miserable condition. He readjusted both Russia’s domestic and foreign policies, and distanced the country from the West, instead seeking opportunities to resurrect past Soviet glories. As the Russian economy improved, the West found that its time was passing. The 2008 economic crisis hit the U.S. and Europe hard and they found themselves more reliant on the emerging powers, Russia included. It is Britain, France, and even Germany who are now busy appealing to Russian oil barons to buy more and invest more. The balance of power between Russia and the West has shifted. The small war in Georgia in the summer of 2008 only strengthened this trend and the response from the West impressed Russia greatly: Europe is rotten and the U.S. has become too weak to lead. Then came the Arab Spring and the Syria crisis. In the former case, the U.S. “led from behind,” and in the latter it was Russia that decided the course of the Syria civil war.

Russians, and especially Putin learned a hard lesson from the post-Cold War romance with the West: For all the talk of democracy and freedom, the fact remains that the strong dictate to the weak.

With Europe rotten and United States weakened, a resurgent and confident Russia will definitely not let a geo-strategically important former Soviet republic fall entirely into the West’s camp. By annexing Crimea, Putin not only secured Russia’s naval base and its strategic gateway to the Black Sea, he also sent a powerful message to Ukraine and the West: Ignore Russia’s legitimate strategic concerns at your own peril.

Wei Zongyou, is Professor and Vice Dean of the Institute of International and Diplomatic Affairs, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China. His main research interests cover Sino-U.S. Relations, american foreign policy, humanitarian intervention and R2P

Ukraine Official Warns “Chance Of War With Russia Growing” As Mike Rogers Calls For Sending Weapons To Ukraine | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Official Warns “Chance Of War With Russia Growing” As Mike Rogers Calls For Sending Weapons To Ukraine | Zero Hedge.

Concurrently with out post on what the odds are of a war between the US and Russia over Ukraine, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, and war hawk, appeared on TV this morning saying that the United States ought to provide weapons to the Ukrainian army “so it could defend the country from a Russian invasion.” This is the same Mike Rogers who last August did everything in his power to perpetuate the lie that Syrians had used chemical weapons against “rebels” (who subsequently turned out to be mostly Qatari-funded Al Qaeda mercenaries and other Islamic extremists) “There are things that we can do that I think we’re not doing. I don’t think the rhetoric (from Obama administration officials) matches the reality on the ground,” he said.

Seemingly oblivious that all Russia desperately wants is further escalation in the conflict, which can then immediately be seen as a provocation for further incursions into either the Ukraine and/or other former Soviet counteries, Rogers said that, while ruling out the deployment of U.S. military forces in Ukraine, he called for sending small arms and radio equipment that the Ukrainian military could use to “protect and defend themselves. And I think that sends a very clear message.”

Absolutely it does: the message it sends is that US foreign policy has just hit rock bottom in terms of game theoretical escalation cluelessness. At least in Syria someone put some effort in fabricating YouTube videos and at least putting together a media campaign demonizing Assad. And still failed.

More from NBC:

Speaking from Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, a country that Russian forces invaded in 2008, Rogers said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the Ukrainians “passionately believe” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be on the move again in Ukraine, especially in the east.”

He said both Ukrainian and U.S. intelligence officials “believe that Putin is not done in Ukraine. It is very troubling. He has put all the military units he would need to move into Ukraine on its eastern border and is doing exercises.”

If Putin orders Russian forces into the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which are NATO member states and which the United States is obligated by the NATO treaty to defend — then “we (will) have allowed people who want to be free, who want to be independent, who want to have self-determination, and we’ve turned our back and walked away from them.”

In an apparent allusion to the seizure of Czechoslovakia which was a prelude to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Rogers added, “The world did that once – and it was a major catastrophe.”

The full clip:

And while US neocons are warmongering, Ukraine is all too happy to raise the tension level just a bit more, hoping that NATO will finally intervene and present Putin with at least some hurdle to overrunning all of East Ukraine, using exactly the same template as already show in Crimea. From WSJ:

Ukraine’s top diplomat warned Sunday that the chances of war with Russia “are growing” due to the buildup of Moscow’s forces along his country’s eastern border. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia said Kiev “is ready to respond” should Russia–which has already seized the Crimea–move further in Ukrainian territory.

The situation is becoming even more explosive than it was a week ago,” Mr. Deshchytsia said.

He said Ukraine’s first approach to the Russian threat on the frontier would be diplomatic. But, he said, “people are also ready to defend their homeland.”

Meanwhile, Putin is sitting back in his chair and smiling, since everything so far continues to unwind precisely according to his plan.

Ukraine Official Warns "Chance Of War With Russia Growing" As Mike Rogers Calls For Sending Weapons To Ukraine | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Official Warns “Chance Of War With Russia Growing” As Mike Rogers Calls For Sending Weapons To Ukraine | Zero Hedge.

logo

Concurrently with out post on what the odds are of a war between the US and Russia over Ukraine, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, and war hawk, appeared on TV this morning saying that the United States ought to provide weapons to the Ukrainian army “so it could defend the country from a Russian invasion.” This is the same Mike Rogers who last August did everything in his power to perpetuate the lie that Syrians had used chemical weapons against “rebels” (who subsequently turned out to be mostly Qatari-funded Al Qaeda mercenaries and other Islamic extremists) “There are things that we can do that I think we’re not doing. I don’t think the rhetoric (from Obama administration officials) matches the reality on the ground,” he said.

Seemingly oblivious that all Russia desperately wants is further escalation in the conflict, which can then immediately be seen as a provocation for further incursions into either the Ukraine and/or other former Soviet counteries, Rogers said that, while ruling out the deployment of U.S. military forces in Ukraine, he called for sending small arms and radio equipment that the Ukrainian military could use to “protect and defend themselves. And I think that sends a very clear message.”

Absolutely it does: the message it sends is that US foreign policy has just hit rock bottom in terms of game theoretical escalation cluelessness. At least in Syria someone put some effort in fabricating YouTube videos and at least putting together a media campaign demonizing Assad. And still failed.

More from NBC:

Speaking from Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, a country that Russian forces invaded in 2008, Rogers said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the Ukrainians “passionately believe” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be on the move again in Ukraine, especially in the east.”

He said both Ukrainian and U.S. intelligence officials “believe that Putin is not done in Ukraine. It is very troubling. He has put all the military units he would need to move into Ukraine on its eastern border and is doing exercises.”

If Putin orders Russian forces into the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which are NATO member states and which the United States is obligated by the NATO treaty to defend — then “we (will) have allowed people who want to be free, who want to be independent, who want to have self-determination, and we’ve turned our back and walked away from them.”

In an apparent allusion to the seizure of Czechoslovakia which was a prelude to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Rogers added, “The world did that once – and it was a major catastrophe.”

The full clip:

And while US neocons are warmongering, Ukraine is all too happy to raise the tension level just a bit more, hoping that NATO will finally intervene and present Putin with at least some hurdle to overrunning all of East Ukraine, using exactly the same template as already show in Crimea. From WSJ:

Ukraine’s top diplomat warned Sunday that the chances of war with Russia “are growing” due to the buildup of Moscow’s forces along his country’s eastern border. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia said Kiev “is ready to respond” should Russia–which has already seized the Crimea–move further in Ukrainian territory.

The situation is becoming even more explosive than it was a week ago,” Mr. Deshchytsia said.

He said Ukraine’s first approach to the Russian threat on the frontier would be diplomatic. But, he said, “people are also ready to defend their homeland.”

Meanwhile, Putin is sitting back in his chair and smiling, since everything so far continues to unwind precisely according to his plan.

Ponzi World (Over 3 Billion NOT Served): The Last Empire: Protecting the Ponzi Scheme

Ponzi World (Over 3 Billion NOT Served): The Last Empire: Protecting the Ponzi Scheme.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Last Empire: Protecting the Ponzi Scheme

No one trusts the U.S. government. Even Americans don’t trust the U.S. government.

The darkest form of evil always comes falsely packaged as something “good”…

This Ukraine situation shows that NeoCon buffoons still haven’t given up running around telling the world how to run its local affairs. They still somehow believe that Uncle Sam is the last defender of “Freedom” (that’s trademarked *freedom*, not to be confused with the real version). You have to laugh. The only morons who believe that bullshit are the ever-dwindling number of demented geriatrics who haven’t stepped outside the U.S. in the past 50 years and have been watching Faux News 24×7. The NSA situation of course is just the latest example proving that the U.S. government doesn’t respect the rights of its own citizens much less people outside of the U.S. Therefore, trust plays no part in this entire equation.
Uncle Sam’s credibility in overseas matters has been systematically squandered over the course of decades:
Iran
– The CIA orchestrated a coup of Iran’s democratically elected government in order to reinstall the Western-aligned Shah of Iran, at the behest of the oil industry (aka. British Petroleum)
 
“In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran’s popular Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”[14]
 
Vietnam:
– Carpet bombing women and children for 10 years straight using cluster bombs, napalm, Agent Orange and every other unholy device invented by the Pentagon, all to support the corrupt crony capitalist South
– Then, cut and run in 1975. A colossal waste of human life, money and environmental resources.
Iraq
Pre-Gulf War
– First install Saddam Hussein
– Support him throughout the Iran War, providing him with access to chemical weapons
Post Gulf War/Iraq Invasion
– Hang him for atrocities he committed during the 1980s while supported by the U.S.
Afghanistan
Pre 9/11:
– Assist the Mujahadeen to drive out the Soviets
– Support Bin Laden
– Support the Taliban
 Post 9/11
– 180 degree reversal
Here is a Who’s who of despotic and oppressive regimes supported by the U.S. government, in addition to the above:
Highlights:
Pinochet, Chile
Batista, Cuba
Marcos, Philippines
Mobuto Seso Seke, Congo
Saudi Government
Mubarak, Egypt
Noriega, Panama
(Too many to list), Pakistan
It goes on and on, the full list is here. It would be easier to list the crony capitalist dictators NOT supported by the U.S., because I don’t know that there are any. 
To Serve and Protect Multinational Corporations
All of this is not to say that Russia doesn’t support despotic regimes as well, not the least being its own. And the Chinese government makes no apology that they will support literally any government anywhere as long as it supports their economic interests. However, the speciously packaged lies and fantasy narrative underlying the NeoCon “Pax Americana” policy are mass delusional, bordering on psychotic. Pretending to be the exact opposite of one’s true intentions is the deepest form of evil. Had they just come out and declared their true agenda i.e. to extend and protect multinational corporate interests in every corner of the globe, the NeoCons would not have commanded any more respect, however, they would at least have a vestige of credibility. Today, they have neither. 
Might is Right
The Faux News sponsored policy may well be “Pax Americana”, but the reality-based policy is the velvet fist known as “Might is Right”. Of course, everyone knows that, except for the self-delusional NeoCon psychopaths running around still pretending otherwise.

Testosterone Pit – Home – The “Sanction Spiral” Elegantly Spirals Out of Control

Testosterone Pit – Home – The “Sanction Spiral” Elegantly Spirals Out of Control.

The “Sanction Spiral” Elegantly Spirals Out Of Control

THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014 AT 11:41PM

Attorneys with the SEC’s Investment Management Division are exhorting managers of registered investment funds, such as your mutual fund, to disclose their holdings in Russia and warn of the risks associated with them, now that the Crimean debacle has turned into a magnificent sanction spiral. “Several people familiar with the matter” had been talking toReuters. The SEC is apparently fretting that the funds aren’t truthful with investors and aren’t even thinking about how to respond to the possible outcomes of the crisis.

Investment Management Division Director Norm Champ, when contacted by Reuters, didn’t even deny it. “We want to be proactive,” he said.

The Division contacted asset managers on other occasions when civil unrest erupted or when things threatened to blow up; it wanted to make sure managers weren’t omitting or misrepresenting material information – for example, during the uprising in Egypt in 2011, when the Cairo stock market simply shut down. But this time it’s different: the lawyers at the Investment Management Division were joined by another group of SEC lawyers who focus on risk examinations.

Would the White House be trying behind the scenes to give investors second thoughts about plowing money into Russia? Would it be trying to demolish Russian stocks, bonds, and the ruble? Naw.

The efforts by the SEC, which started “over a week ago,” were accompanied by a White House announcement that 5 million barrels would be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. WTI tanked. Russia, a huge energy exporter, depends on its oil and gas revenues, and knocking down the price of oil could wreak havoc on the Russian economy. It was a declaration that commodities would be used as a weapon against the Putin Regime. 

Then on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney launched another attack on the Russian markets at a press briefing. In light of the sanctions the US and the EU were slapping on Russia, its economy would pay the price, he said. “I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now, unless you’re going short.”

Shaken to its roots by these threats, Russia annexed the Crimea and picked a new target: Estonia. A Russian diplomat told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday that Russia was “concerned” by the treatment of the ethnic Russian minority “in Estonia as well as in Ukraine” … even while Vice President Joe Biden was in Lithuania to calm tattered nerves in the Baltics and the EU.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Merkel announced in Parliament, shortly before the EU summit in Brussels, that the EU would come up with new sanctions, such as expanding the list of Russians subject to travel limitations and freezing assets. And if the situation escalates, there would be “without doubt” economic sanctions, she said. Russia was “largely isolated in all international organizations.” And the G-8, which includes Russia, and whose upcoming shindig has already been cancelled, “no longer exists.”

She was immediately attacked by the parliamentary leader of the opposition Left Party, Gregor Gysi, who accused the government of double standards; the separation of Kosovo too had been a breach of international law, he said, but it had been supported by the German government at the time. The transitional Ukrainian government wasn’t legitimate, he said. “Fascists are part of this government, and we want to give them money?!” Under pressure from the US, Merkel was imposing sanctions on Russia to the detriment of Europe, he said. That’s “moral cowardice.”

The “Putin Doctrine” was what SPD parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann, who is part of Germany’s governing Grand Coalition, was fretting about. Under that doctrine, Russia could intervene if ethnic Russians were perceived to be in danger outside Russia. It would give Russia an automatic right to intervene anywhere, he said. “Such a right does not exist, and such a right cannot exist.”

Hours later, President Obama announced he’d slapped new sanctions on a “number” of oligarchs, additional Russian government officials, and a bank that provides services to them. The White House was working “closely” with the EU “to develop more severe actions that could be taken if Russia continues to escalate the situation.” Then he urged US Lawmakers to approve the aid package for Ukraine and urged the IMF to put its aid package together pronto. Alas, read…. Aid for the Ukraine “Will Be Stolen” – Former Ukrainian Minister of Economy

As Obama’s words were still echoing around the world, the Russian Foreign Ministry shot back: nine US officials, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would be barred from entering Russia. And it published the list on its website.

Delicious irony: that boring list with nine names on it, issued by a Russian ministry whose website rarely gets shared in the social media, lit up a mini-firestorm on VK.com, the second largest social network in Europe after Facebook, and one of the most popular sites in Russia. The list got, as I’m writing this, 538 VK “likes.” Not sure if Obama’s list got anyFacebook likes.

Not to be left out, Standard & Poor’s slammed Russia by lowering its outlook to Negativefrom Stable. “In our view, heightened geopolitical risk and the prospect of US and EU economic sanctions following Russia’s incorporation of Crimea could reduce the flow of potential investment, trigger rising capital outflows, and further weaken Russia’s already deteriorating economic performance.”

The Sanction Spiral works in a myriad ways and performs, as we can see every day, outright miracles. It spirals elegantly higher and higher and takes on grotesque forms. And by the looks of it, no one at the top has a clue how to back out of it. Yet stock and bond markets in the US and Europe, stuffed to the gills with central-bank liquidity and intoxicated by free money, the only thing that really matters anymore these crazy days of ours, are blissfully ignoring the entire drama, and what may eventually come of it.

The first official warning shot was fired. Not by a Putin advisor that can be brushed off, but by Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s Minister of Economy and former Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank. A major escalation. Read…. Kremlin: If The US Tries To Hurt Russia’s Economy, Russia Will Target The Dollar System

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New Executive Order: "Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets"

New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”.

Mac Slavo
March 19th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

shredding-the-constitution

On Monday the U.S. government took steps to seize the US-based assets of Russian lawmakers and anyone else that the US government deemed complicit in supporting the Crimean secession movement.

We’ve seen the U.S. government do this in countless cases surrounding drug and financial crimes, and sometimes even against foreign leaders like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega.

What makes this particular instance so unprecedented and terrifying is that President Obama went so far as to issue a new Executive Order to give himself the authorization to do so, because the laws of the United States are such that our government is not allowed to simply take someone’s bank assets, home or business without due process.

Here’s the kicker.

The new Executive Order doesn’t just apply to just Russians or foreigners. It gets blanket coverage, so even American citizens could now face asset forfeiture if their actions are deemed to be “contributing to the situation in the Ukraine.”

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you write. President Obama has just given himself the authority to seize your assets.

According to the president’s recent Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine” (first reported by WND’s Aaron Klein), the provisions for seizure of property extend to “any United States person.” That means “any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.”

Via: The Ron Paul Institute

Like most Executive Orders and government legalese, the definitions for why an individual would have their assets seized under this directive are extremely broad and they could, for all intents and purposes, be used against anyone who supports Russian interests, or simply argues against those of the United States.

You can read the full Executive Order at the White House web site. The key points are noted below:

All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine

This new Executive Order has crossed a very dangerous line. It’s one that turns the notions of property rights and due process upside down by effectively bypassing the U.S. Constitution.

While we’re sure the President and his staff would argue that such a law would never be used against Americans who are protected by free speech, the fact is that the Executive Branch now believes it has the self-manifested authority to target any individual who engages in activities that undermine US interests abroad or at home.

If a President of the United States believes he has the authority to make it illegal for you to provide support to Russia by way of political commentary, charitable donations or other methods, could he also use similar directives to push forward other agendas?

President Obama has already re-authorized an E.O. giving him the ability to seizefarms, food, processing plants, energy resources, transportation, and skilled laborers during national emergency.

The next Executive Order could come in the form of restrictions on firearms advocacy or target those who speak out against policies like government mandated health care. All it would take is the declaration of a national emergency and they can essentially do as they please.

Is it prudent to give a single person the ability to force such actions down the throats of the American people without Congressional oversight or Judicial review?

New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”

New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”.

Mac Slavo
March 19th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

shredding-the-constitution

On Monday the U.S. government took steps to seize the US-based assets of Russian lawmakers and anyone else that the US government deemed complicit in supporting the Crimean secession movement.

We’ve seen the U.S. government do this in countless cases surrounding drug and financial crimes, and sometimes even against foreign leaders like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega.

What makes this particular instance so unprecedented and terrifying is that President Obama went so far as to issue a new Executive Order to give himself the authorization to do so, because the laws of the United States are such that our government is not allowed to simply take someone’s bank assets, home or business without due process.

Here’s the kicker.

The new Executive Order doesn’t just apply to just Russians or foreigners. It gets blanket coverage, so even American citizens could now face asset forfeiture if their actions are deemed to be “contributing to the situation in the Ukraine.”

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you write. President Obama has just given himself the authority to seize your assets.

According to the president’s recent Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine” (first reported by WND’s Aaron Klein), the provisions for seizure of property extend to “any United States person.” That means “any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.”

Via: The Ron Paul Institute

Like most Executive Orders and government legalese, the definitions for why an individual would have their assets seized under this directive are extremely broad and they could, for all intents and purposes, be used against anyone who supports Russian interests, or simply argues against those of the United States.

You can read the full Executive Order at the White House web site. The key points are noted below:

All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine

This new Executive Order has crossed a very dangerous line. It’s one that turns the notions of property rights and due process upside down by effectively bypassing the U.S. Constitution.

While we’re sure the President and his staff would argue that such a law would never be used against Americans who are protected by free speech, the fact is that the Executive Branch now believes it has the self-manifested authority to target any individual who engages in activities that undermine US interests abroad or at home.

If a President of the United States believes he has the authority to make it illegal for you to provide support to Russia by way of political commentary, charitable donations or other methods, could he also use similar directives to push forward other agendas?

President Obama has already re-authorized an E.O. giving him the ability to seizefarms, food, processing plants, energy resources, transportation, and skilled laborers during national emergency.

The next Executive Order could come in the form of restrictions on firearms advocacy or target those who speak out against policies like government mandated health care. All it would take is the declaration of a national emergency and they can essentially do as they please.

Is it prudent to give a single person the ability to force such actions down the throats of the American people without Congressional oversight or Judicial review?

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.

Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog

Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea Update | Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.

By Greg Hunter On March 19, 2014

4Dmitry Orlov:  Ukraine Crisis, Russia and Crimea UpdateBy Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

Dmitry Orlov is a Russian blogger who writes about the parallel between the U.S and the USSR.  Orlov lived through the financial collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s, and he thinks the U.S. is on the same trajectory.  Orlov contends, “The trajectory is defined by this sort of incompetent militarism where more and more money results in bigger and bigger military fiascos around the world and less and less of actual foreign policy that can be pursued or articulated.  There are massive levels of corruption.  The amount of money that is being stolen by the U.S. Government and its various appropriations processes is now in the trillions of dollars a year.  Runaway debt, the United States now has a level of debt that is un-repayable.  All we’re waiting for is interest rates to go across the magic threshold of 3% and the entire budget of the country explodes.  There are also all types of other tendencies that point in the direction of collapse and systemic failure at all levels.”

So, how close are we to collapse or system failure?  Orlov contends, “I am pretty sure that anyone who makes a prediction when the collapse will happen is wrong.  Nobody can say when it will happen.  It’s the same as saying a bridge that is structurally deficient; you don’t know when a truck is going to fall through into the river below. . . . You can be chronically sick for a long time, and then one day, you go into a coma or your heart stops.  You cannot predict what day that will happen.  Orlov does say, “The United States right now, from my point of view and the point of view from observers from around the world, is on suicide watch.  It’s a country that is going to self-destruct at some point in the near future.”

On the Ukraine crisis, Orlov thinks, “The Crimea referendum was the first legal way to find out what the people wanted to do.  The turnout was remarkable, and they voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, to become part of Russia once again.  The interesting thing here is it was not just the Russians that voted to join Russia but the Ukrainians in Crimea, which makes a sizable part of the population voted to join Russia. . . Ukraine is composed of sort of a no man’s land in the West and then Russian territories in the East. . . .  If that trend holds, you are basically left with this insolvent nugget of nothingness, and it will be up to the international community to decide what to do with these people.  They are right now marching around Kiev with baseball bats and going into government offices and beating up members of local government and installing their own members.  They are basically running amok.  They don’t even have the support of the Ukrainian military at this point.  So, it will be a mop-up operation against these neo-fascists that are running amok.”  Orlov goes on to say, “In Washington, in the Obama Administration and in the Kerry State Department, we have absolutely breathtaking levels of incompetence.  These people really don’t know what they’re doing and are dangerous at any speed; and everywhere else, we have this follow the incompetent leader thing taking place, and it’s really, really frightening because the incompetents are leading the world to a really dangerous place.”

Orlov goes on to say, “What are these people doing trash talking the Russians?  What would these people do without Russia?  How would they get out of earth’s orbit and visit the international space station?  Who would negotiate international deals with Syria and Iran because all they can do is blunder and lose face.”  Russia doesn’t need the United States for anything.  The United States is the most dispensable country on earth.”

On possible war between Ukraine and Russia, Orlov contends, “They are not going to fight because the Ukraine military is part of the Russian military.  There really isn’t any opposition.  The Ukrainian military will decide what to do in a few days, and then they will inform the Russians, and after that, maybe they will inform their own government.  Maybe they will just go into the government offices and just round them up.  Last I heard, 60% of Ukrainian military accepted Russian passports already.  The remaining parts are being shipped out to the mainland.  That is happening peacefully.  So, there isn’t going to be any fight.  The really important point is the Ukrainian military all over Ukraine does not support the government in Kiev.  They are withholding support, and what they really want is to join the Russian military. . . . The best thing Russia can do is sit back and relax and let this work out.  I don’t think the government in Kiev has any legs.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Dmitry Orlov of ClubOrlov.com coming from Central America.

(There is much more in the video interview.)

 


After the Interview:
Dmitry Orlov is currently working on a new book that will be out later this year.  Orlov says, “The new book is about communities and what makes them resistant to adverse events such as financial collapse.”  Orlov adds, “The U.S., as a whole, is not resistant to shocks, but some parts of America are.”  You can find Dmitry Orlov at ClubOrlov.com.  

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