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Showdown in Ukraine: Putin’s Quest for Ports, Oil, Pipelines and Gas

Showdown in Ukraine: Putin’s Quest for Ports, Oil, Pipelines and Gas.

By Claude Salhani | Tue, 25 March 2014 22:44 | 6

Yes, Russia is guilty of meddling in Ukraine, but then again so are the United States and the European Union. The major difference is that far less was said and much less reported by the international media over the Americans’ and Europeans’ interference than of Russia’s actions and the reactions it caused.

Where Russia is involved many in the West believe that one only needs to scratch the surface to see traces of the old Soviet Union begin to resurface. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a former KGB officer. The truth is much more complicated than that: or perhaps somewhat simpler.

The Cold War that divided the East and West maybe over but the old rivalry still lingers. The rivalry between the West and Russia is no longer one over diverging political philosophies, but purely over resources – and the capitalistic gains they produce from mainly oil, gas and pipelines.

The West and in particular the United States seems to be suffering from collective memory disorder and have forgotten all the mud they slapped onto Putin’s face during the past 15 or so years. Or at least they expected him to forget and forgive.

Related Article: Ukraine – Full Circle to the EU Integration Issue

But then again Russian troops did move in to grab control of Crimea, taking over the territory from the Ukrainians. You can counter that argument by pointing to the US and NATO, who not only interfered, but swallowed former Soviet domains bringing them into the North Atlantic alliance, pushing NATO closer to Russia’s borders.

Yes, Russia needs access to warm water ports for its Black Sea fleet and many analysts also believe that this is a major issue of concern for Moscow, which it is. But the plot, as they say, thickens.

There is also another reason for Putin’s intervention in Ukraine and that has to do with Russia elbowing for dominance of the very lucrative and strategically important “energy corridors.”
That is very likely to be the major reason why Putin is willing to risk going to war with the West over Crimea, the pipelines that traverses the Caucasus and the oil and natural gas these pipelines carry westwards to Europe.

Given the geography of the region there are only so many lanes where the pipelines can be laid; and most of them transit through Ukraine. Others travel across Azerbaijan and Turkey. Most of Western Europe’s gas and much of Eastern Europe’s gas travels through Ukraine.

If Russia has vested interest in “recolonizing” Ukraine, the United States on the other hand has its own interests in Ukraine and other former Soviet areas.

What is going on today is nothing short of a race for control of what’s going to dominate the energy markets over the next two or three decades: the energy corridors from Central Asia, the Caucuses and through Russia and Ukraine.

As stated in a report published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, “the proclamation of independence, the adoption of state symbols and a national anthem, the establishment of armed forces and even the presence on Ukrainian territory of nuclear missiles—all important elements of independent statehood—amount little if another power, Russia, controls access to fuel without which Ukraine cannot survive economically.

Related Article: This Week in Energy: How Would LNG Get to Ukraine?

That same report denotes that “Ukraine’s strategic location between the main energy producers (Russia and the Caspian Sea area) and consumers in the Eurasian region, its large transit network, and its available underground gas storage capacities,” make the country “a potentially crucial player in European energy transit” – a position that will “grow as Western European demands for Russian and Caspian gas and oil continue to increase.”

Ukraine’s dependence on Russian energy imports has had “negative implications for US strategy in the region.”

As long as Russia controls the flow of oil and gas it has the upper hand. Russia’s Gazprom currently controls almost a fifth of the world’s gas reserves.

More than half of Ukraine’s and nearly 30% of Europe’s gas comes from Russia.  Moscow wants to try and keep things going its way; Washington and Brussels find it in their interests to try and alter that by creating multiple channels for central Asian and Caspian oil to flow westwards.
Ukraine today finds itself in the center of the new East-West dispute.

Ironically, the very assets that make Ukraine an important player in the new geopolitical game being played out between Washington and Moscow is also its greatest disadvantage.

By Claude Salhani of Oilprice.com

U.S. could start energy war with Russia – Winnipeg Free Press

U.S. could start energy war with Russia – Winnipeg Free Press.

By: Washington Post

Posted: 03/23/2014 1:41 PM |

A woman holds a banner that reads:

Enlarge Image

A woman holds a banner that reads: “Putin is Occupier” during a rally against the breakup of the country in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (DARKO VOJINOVIC / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES)

Debate has raged over whether the United States can fight Vladimir Putin on the Russian president’s most favourable ground: energy politics. It can, and it should, particularly because there’s an obvious path forward that coincides with American — indeed, world — economic interests. That path is lifting irrational restrictions on exports and making it easier to build natural gas export terminals.

For years, Putin has used his nation’s wealth of oil and natural gas as a cudgel to bully his neighbours. At present, the European Union’s large imports of Russian natural gas discourage a forceful Western response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the United States is tapping massive reserves of unconventional natural gas. That has not only made the U.S. self-sustaining in gas, but also driven down the price of U.S. gas to a point well below what Europeans are paying for the Russian stuff. If the federal government allowed more of it to be liquefied and exported, would the Russians lose a share of the European market?

The story is more complicated than that. Russian gas, which doesn’t need to be liquefied to move (by pipeline) into the European market, would enjoy significant price advantages over imported U.S. gas. The interaction of private buyers and sellers would probably direct U.S. exports to places where gas is more profitable to sell, such as Japan and Korea. The result would be a bounty for the U.S. economy and an improved American trade deficit — but not much direct displacement of Russian gas in Europe.

But that’s also not the end of the story. The U.S. entry into the Asian market would diminish Russia’s opportunity to profit there, as it aims to do. Contributing to an already widening and more diverse global supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would also give European importers more flexibility in sourcing their fuel — from the United States, Qatar, or others — the sort of market conditions that have already enabled Europeans to renegotiate gas contracts with Russia. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Michael Levi points out that Putin might end up with an uncomfortable choice between maintaining market share in Europe and slashing his prices more.

Ramping up U.S. exports would take years, but the effects would not only be long-term, as some critics charge. Action that communicates a certain intent to allow more LNG exports would send a signal that “the U.S. is open for business,” as the Eurasia Group’s Leslie Palti-Guzman puts it. That could deter Putin from playing the energy card and help many buyers in negotiating long-term contracts.

The economic case for allowing natural gas exports is compelling on its own. Doing so would bring money into the country and uphold the vital principle that energy resources should flow freely around the globe, making the markets for the fuels the world economy needs as flexible and robust as possible. The more major suppliers there are following that principle, the less control predatory regimes such as Putin’s will have over the market.

Is an Economic War Replacing the Cold War?: Video – Bloomberg

Is an Economic War Replacing the Cold War?: Video – Bloomberg.

End Result: "The Total Devastation of Everything That You Know"

End Result: “The Total Devastation of Everything That You Know”.

SHTFplan-logo-350-1

Mac Slavo
March 22nd, 2014
SHTFplan.com

If you are an observer of the goings-on in the world and how the political, administrative and business elite operate, you have likely come to the conclusion that the whole situation is mind-boggling.

Millions of hard working Americans and our counterparts around the world alike sit at the very brink of an unprecedented economic collapse orchestrated by the financial and economic machinations of the privileged  few. They speak of belt tightening, the need for sacrifices and often mandate extreme taxation, promising that these strategies will make life better for everyone. Yet, while we struggle to put food on the table and keep roofs over our heads they enjoy lavish multi-million dollar vacations, state dinners, and unfathomable wealth as they indenture the rest of us and our progeny to lifetimes of servitude.

On the political front, leaders from the United States, Europe, China, Russia, Iran and just about every other nation on earth often speak of cooperation and are nominated for the highest of peace honors, while behind the scenes they mobilize armies and spew rhetoric whose outcome can only lead to widespread conflict. They seem completely devoid of consideration for the billions of lives that will be affected should the world, once again, be thrust into war.

At every turn the people are being deceived and led to slaughter like sheep.

In his most recent commentary Charlie McGrath of Wide Awake News puts things into perspective, warning that it is these very behaviors of the elite and the apathy of the American people that will invariably lead to America’s apocalyptic demise:


(Via the Rense Radio Network)

The hypocrisy… the outright, no holds barred in your face deception by government and by the upper echelons of the political elite class and by the upper echelons of the financial class… the ruling elite… the brazen attack on the truth is beyond comprehension…

It’s hard to even put together these commentary videos anymore… too look at the current state of our country… the path we’re on… our financial devastation that’s being laid out before us… the pain and the suffering that’s going to come with that final devastation that is yet to be realized by the majority of the people of this country but will be realized…

The stage is being set for never ending conflict… never ending control being given to the military and security industrial complex.

To sit back and watch this happen… it’s to the point that I just don’t understand…

Where are my fellow Americans? Where are you?

Where is the outrage by the people in this country?

Are we so simply bought off by bread and circus that as long as we have some kind of regular programming on television or the beer is cold we’re not going to stand up and say enough is enough?

When are we going to realize? Is it going to be after the lights go out? After the destruction of our dollar and our way of life?

….Every single day that passes by you’re losing more and more of your freedom.

We’re giving it away to people who could care less about you, your family or your future.

…There is no other path this will lead to other than the total devastation of everything that you know.

As much as we’d like to believe things are going to change, it’s time we accept the likelihood of a continued degradation of life in America as we know it. Unless just about every single politician in Congressional buildings around the country is immediately recalled and the founding principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution restored, we will continue to slide into a calamity unlike anything we have seen before in this country.

It’s time to begin taking immediate steps to prepare for the worst, because as you well know, the people in charge already have a plan in place, and it most certainly will not benefit you and your family.

End Result: “The Total Devastation of Everything That You Know”

End Result: “The Total Devastation of Everything That You Know”.

SHTFplan-logo-350-1

Mac Slavo
March 22nd, 2014
SHTFplan.com

If you are an observer of the goings-on in the world and how the political, administrative and business elite operate, you have likely come to the conclusion that the whole situation is mind-boggling.

Millions of hard working Americans and our counterparts around the world alike sit at the very brink of an unprecedented economic collapse orchestrated by the financial and economic machinations of the privileged  few. They speak of belt tightening, the need for sacrifices and often mandate extreme taxation, promising that these strategies will make life better for everyone. Yet, while we struggle to put food on the table and keep roofs over our heads they enjoy lavish multi-million dollar vacations, state dinners, and unfathomable wealth as they indenture the rest of us and our progeny to lifetimes of servitude.

On the political front, leaders from the United States, Europe, China, Russia, Iran and just about every other nation on earth often speak of cooperation and are nominated for the highest of peace honors, while behind the scenes they mobilize armies and spew rhetoric whose outcome can only lead to widespread conflict. They seem completely devoid of consideration for the billions of lives that will be affected should the world, once again, be thrust into war.

At every turn the people are being deceived and led to slaughter like sheep.

In his most recent commentary Charlie McGrath of Wide Awake News puts things into perspective, warning that it is these very behaviors of the elite and the apathy of the American people that will invariably lead to America’s apocalyptic demise:


(Via the Rense Radio Network)

The hypocrisy… the outright, no holds barred in your face deception by government and by the upper echelons of the political elite class and by the upper echelons of the financial class… the ruling elite… the brazen attack on the truth is beyond comprehension…

It’s hard to even put together these commentary videos anymore… too look at the current state of our country… the path we’re on… our financial devastation that’s being laid out before us… the pain and the suffering that’s going to come with that final devastation that is yet to be realized by the majority of the people of this country but will be realized…

The stage is being set for never ending conflict… never ending control being given to the military and security industrial complex.

To sit back and watch this happen… it’s to the point that I just don’t understand…

Where are my fellow Americans? Where are you?

Where is the outrage by the people in this country?

Are we so simply bought off by bread and circus that as long as we have some kind of regular programming on television or the beer is cold we’re not going to stand up and say enough is enough?

When are we going to realize? Is it going to be after the lights go out? After the destruction of our dollar and our way of life?

….Every single day that passes by you’re losing more and more of your freedom.

We’re giving it away to people who could care less about you, your family or your future.

…There is no other path this will lead to other than the total devastation of everything that you know.

As much as we’d like to believe things are going to change, it’s time we accept the likelihood of a continued degradation of life in America as we know it. Unless just about every single politician in Congressional buildings around the country is immediately recalled and the founding principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution restored, we will continue to slide into a calamity unlike anything we have seen before in this country.

It’s time to begin taking immediate steps to prepare for the worst, because as you well know, the people in charge already have a plan in place, and it most certainly will not benefit you and your family.

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.

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.

Forget Russia Dumping U.S. Treasuries … Here's the REAL Economic Threat Washington's Blog

Forget Russia Dumping U.S. Treasuries … Here’s the REAL Economic Threat Washington’s Blog.

Russia Could Crush the Petrodollar

Russia threatened to dump its U.S. treasuries if America imposed sanctions regarding Russia’s action in the Crimea.

Zero Hedge argues that Russia has already done so.

But veteran investor Jim Sinclair argues that Russia has a much scarier financial attack which Russia can use against the U.S.

Specifically, Sinclair says that if Russia accepts payment for oil and gas in any currency other than the dollar – whether it’s gold, the Euro, the Ruble, the Rupee, or anything else – then the U.S. petrodollar system will collapse:

Indeed, one of the main pillars for U.S. power is the petrodollar, and the U.S. is desperate for the dollar to maintain reserve status.  Some wise commentators have argued that recent U.S. wars have really been about keeping the rest of the world on the petrodollar standard.

The theory is that – after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which had made the dollar the world’s reserve currency – America salvaged that role by adopting the petrodollar.   Specifically, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil and gas would be priced in dollars, so the rest of the world had to use dollars for most transactions.

But Reuters notes that Russia may be mere months away from signing a bilateral trade deal with China, where China would buy huge quantities of Russian oil and gas.

Zero Hedge argues:

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

As we noted last year:

The average life expectancy for a fiat currency is less than 40 years.

But what about “reserve currencies”, like the U.S. dollar?

JP Morgan noted last year that “reserve currencies” have a limited shelf-life:

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2013/10/Reserve%20Currency%20Status.png

As the table shows, U.S. reserve status has already lasted as long as Portugal and the Netherland’s reigns.  It won’t happen tomorrow, or next week … but the end of the dollar’s rein is coming nonetheless, and China and many other countries are calling for a new reserve currency.

Remember, China is entering into more and more major deals with other countries to settle trades in Yuans, instead of dollars.  This includes the European Union (the world’s largest economy) [and also Russia].

And China is quietly becoming a gold superpower

Given that China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest importer of oil, Saudi Arabia is moving away from the U.S. … and towards China. (Some even argue that the world will switch from the petrodollar to the petroYUAN. We’re not convinced that will happen.)

In any event, a switch to pricing petroleum in anything other than dollars exclusively – whether a single alternative currency, gold, or even a mix of currencies or commodities – would spell the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

For that reason, Sinclair – no fan of either Russia or Putin – urges American leaders to back away from an economic confrontation with Russia, arguing that the U.S. would be the loser.

Forget Russia Dumping U.S. Treasuries … Here’s the REAL Economic Threat Washington’s Blog

Forget Russia Dumping U.S. Treasuries … Here’s the REAL Economic Threat Washington’s Blog.

Russia Could Crush the Petrodollar

Russia threatened to dump its U.S. treasuries if America imposed sanctions regarding Russia’s action in the Crimea.

Zero Hedge argues that Russia has already done so.

But veteran investor Jim Sinclair argues that Russia has a much scarier financial attack which Russia can use against the U.S.

Specifically, Sinclair says that if Russia accepts payment for oil and gas in any currency other than the dollar – whether it’s gold, the Euro, the Ruble, the Rupee, or anything else – then the U.S. petrodollar system will collapse:

Indeed, one of the main pillars for U.S. power is the petrodollar, and the U.S. is desperate for the dollar to maintain reserve status.  Some wise commentators have argued that recent U.S. wars have really been about keeping the rest of the world on the petrodollar standard.

The theory is that – after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which had made the dollar the world’s reserve currency – America salvaged that role by adopting the petrodollar.   Specifically, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil and gas would be priced in dollars, so the rest of the world had to use dollars for most transactions.

But Reuters notes that Russia may be mere months away from signing a bilateral trade deal with China, where China would buy huge quantities of Russian oil and gas.

Zero Hedge argues:

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

As we noted last year:

The average life expectancy for a fiat currency is less than 40 years.

But what about “reserve currencies”, like the U.S. dollar?

JP Morgan noted last year that “reserve currencies” have a limited shelf-life:

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2013/10/Reserve%20Currency%20Status.png

As the table shows, U.S. reserve status has already lasted as long as Portugal and the Netherland’s reigns.  It won’t happen tomorrow, or next week … but the end of the dollar’s rein is coming nonetheless, and China and many other countries are calling for a new reserve currency.

Remember, China is entering into more and more major deals with other countries to settle trades in Yuans, instead of dollars.  This includes the European Union (the world’s largest economy) [and also Russia].

And China is quietly becoming a gold superpower

Given that China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest importer of oil, Saudi Arabia is moving away from the U.S. … and towards China. (Some even argue that the world will switch from the petrodollar to the petroYUAN. We’re not convinced that will happen.)

In any event, a switch to pricing petroleum in anything other than dollars exclusively – whether a single alternative currency, gold, or even a mix of currencies or commodities – would spell the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

For that reason, Sinclair – no fan of either Russia or Putin – urges American leaders to back away from an economic confrontation with Russia, arguing that the U.S. would be the loser.

Another Escalation: US Freezes Diplomatic Relations With Syria, Orders Non-US Personnel To Leave Country | Zero Hedge

Another Escalation: US Freezes Diplomatic Relations With Syria, Orders Non-US Personnel To Leave Country | Zero Hedge.

Putin 2 – Obama 0, which means it is time to go back to the one place where it all started last year, and where Putin had his most resounding victory over the US foreign policy apparatus (at least until the Ukraine, where we trampled not only over Obama’s red line… again… but where nobody quite explained the “costs” to the ex-KGB leader): Syria.  Sure enough, with the US unable to respond in Crimea, has decided to take its fight back to where Europe’s natgas reliance on Gazprom product was first truly exposed.

BREAKING: US freezes diplomatic, consular relations with Syria; Orders non-US personnel to leave country.

— The Associated Press (@AP) March 18, 2014

The US can order non-US personnel around? More from Reuters:

  • U.S.
    IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDS OPERATIONS OF SYRIAN EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON, AS
    WELL AS HONORARY CONSULATES IN MICHIGAN AND TEXAS – STATE DEPARTMENT
  • U.S.
    SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA SAYS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ FOR INDIVIDUALS APPOINTED
    BY ASSAD REGIME TO CONDUCT DIPLOMATIC, CONSULAR OPERATIONS IN U.S.

Regardless, if the bloodless Russian annexation of Crimea wasn’t enough to push the S&P to new all time highs, this surely will.

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