Voices from Russia

Monday, 10 August 2015

European Dairy Industry in Crisis Due to Russian Food Embargo

00 cows in european dairy farm 100815

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European dairy farmers are facing their most serious economic crisis in decades, largely because of the continuing sanctions war between the EU and Russia. In a recent report on the subject, Radio Sweden explained that most expect the current Russian embargo of European agricultural products to lead to a new wave of lowering milk prices in the near future. It noted, “The current crisis is [already] regarded as one of the most serious in the last 40 years”, noting that with global milk prices already falling to a 30 year low, the current price of 2.65 krona (20 Roubles. 2 Renminbi. 20 INR. 0.30 USD. 0.41 AUD. 0.40 CAD. 0.28 Euro. 0.20 UK Pound) is well-below the 3.60 krona (27 Roubles. 2.50 Renminbi. 27 INR. 0.41 USD. 0.56 AUD. 0.54 CAD. 0.38 Euro. 0.27 UK Pound) minimum necessary for Swedish dairy farmers to make ends meet. Meanwhile, subsidies to Scandinavian dairy giant Arla Foods have fallen by 1.09 krona (8 Roubles. 0.75 Renminbi. 8 INR. 0.12 USD. 0.17 AUD. 0.16 CAD. 0.11 Euro. 0.08 UK Pound) over the past year. Färanäs-area dairy farmer Tore Engström told Radio Sweden, “We can’t remember when we last experienced such a deep crisis, and no one knows when it will end”.

The Association of Swedish Farmers thinks that if someone doesn’t deal with the situation in the next six months, many of Sweden’s 4,200 private dairy farmers may simply begin go bankrupt, with 4 out of 5 already suffering serious economic difficulties. Association chairman Jonas Carlsberg told Radio Sweden that according to the data of his colleagues from Denmark, “86 percent of Danish milk producers face a critical situation. I can add that a similar situation exists in Sweden as well”. Radio Sweden noted that much of the hit to producer prices has been the result of the continuing sanctions war between Europe and Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. Carlsberg complained, “The idea that farmers must pay for political decisions is fundamentally wrong. We’re waiting for decisive actions by policymakers”.  For its part, the Swedish government promised to look into the matter later this month, with EU agriculture ministers promising to do the same in early September.

Czechs, Germans, and Balts Feeling the Pinch Too

Like their Swedish counterparts, Czech dairy farmers too felt the pinch of the embargo, forced to look for new places to dump the 500 tonnes of butter and 1,500 tonnes of powdered milk that once went to the Russian market. German dairy farmers are also struggling, losing a market for 126,000 tons of cheese, according to Thorsten Sehm, the head of the Federal Union of German Milk Producers. Sehm told RIA Novosti that whilst only 1.26 million tons of Germany’s 29 million tons worth of milk went to Russia prior to the embargo, “In any market, once the supply exceeds demand, it leads to drastic changes”. So far, in Germany, Sehm noted that this led to a drop in prices to rates lower than “the crisis years of 2012 and 2009”. German Farmers’ Union spokesman Michael Lohse Lohse complained about commercial effects of political decisions, noting that for his organisation’s part, “we call on the authorities of our country to find opportunities for deepening [trade relations] with Russia”.

The Baltic States seem to be hit worst of all, with their close economic ties with Russia prior to the embargo and difficulties in finding alternative markets leading to a situation where their entire dairy industry is now on the verge of collapse. In Estonia, the sanctions war resulted in a decline in a 30 percent decline in producer prices, with Estonian milk exports falling by 17 percent in the first quarter of 2015 alone. Latvia’s dairy industry suffered a similar decline, with Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs noting that he’d appeal to the EU for additional funds to save the dairy industry from total paralysis, warning that farmers are on the verge of destroying their livestock and liquidating their farms. Latvian Association of Milk Producers Chairperson Ieva Alpa Eisenberg noted that Latvian farmers “have plunged into despair, because we don’t know when the situation will improve. One doesn’t know whether one can climb a little bit further into debt, and whether one will be able to pay it back”. He noted that the present crisis is the worst the country faced in over 15 years. In Lithuania, dairy farmers join the rest of the agricultural sector, which has faced a 30 percent decline in exports in mid-2015, compared with a year earlier. Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitiene noted that she’d ask EU Commissioner for Agriculture for 32 million Euros (2.25 billion Roubles. 217.6 million Renminbi. 2.24 billion INR. 35 million USD. 47.6 million AUD. 46 million CAD. 22.6 million UK Pounds) to help save the industry. Local experts warn that Lithuania may have to reduce dairy production by 50 percent in the near future.

Global Factors

This spring, the EU lifted national quotas on milk production, with each country now able to increase dairy production at will, resulting in growing production and a glut in the market. This exacerbated the crisis in the loss of exports to Russia. Furthermore, China significantly reduced its purchase of powdered milk from EU sources, which only deepens the crisis. German Farmers’ Union spokesman Lohse explained, “Of the 10 cent drop in milk prices, 2-3 cents are the result of the Russian embargo, with the rest resulting from other factors. These include the decline in exports to China… as well as general overproduction of milk in the EU”. Federal Union of German Milk Producers chairman Sehm complained that local politicians “aren’t undertaking any efforts to create an appropriate regulatory environment for the milk market”, adding that the same problem exists in France, Spain, and Italy, and in other EU countries.

In August 2014, Russia introduced an embargo on several categories of food products from the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia, and Norway, in response to the anti-Russian sanctions introduced earlier by these countries over the Ukrainian Civil War. This June, the Russian government decided to extend the embargo until August 2016, responding to the EU’s extension of sanctions.

10 August 2015

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/business/20150810/1025581375.html

Sunday, 31 May 2015

UN sez More than 80 percent of Ukrainians Under the Poverty Line

00 Bread or the Lack of It. 07.05.14

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UN standards state that people are below the poverty line if they have less than 5 USD (262 Roubles. 31 Renminbi. 320 INR. 6.25 CAD. 6.50 AUD. 4.60 Euros. 3.25 UK Pounds) per day for food and lodging. Therefore, People’s Deputy Andrei Shipko stated, “The minimum wage should be about 3,750 Grivnya (9,330 Roubles. 1,100 Renminbi. 11,360 INR. 178 USD. 222 CAD. 233 AUD. 164 Euros. 117 UK Pounds) in the Ukraine, using the official forex rate at the National Bank. In Africa, the poverty threshold is 1.25 USD (66 Roubles. 8 Renminbi. 80 INR. 1.50 CAD. 1.65 AUD. 1.15 Euros. 0.80 UK Pounds) per day; in the Ukraine, the cost of living is 1.50 USD (79 Roubles. 9.30 Renminbi. 96 INR. 1.90 CAD. 2 AUD. 1.40 Euros. 1 UK Pounds) per day. Today, the minimum wage in the Ukraine is 1,176 Grivnya (2,930 Roubles. 347 Renminbi. 3,560 INR. 56 USD. 70 CAD. 73 AUD. 52 Euros. 37 UK Pounds)… about 50 USD (2,620 Roubles. 310 Renminbi. 3,190 INR. 62 CAD. 65 AUD. 46 Euros. 33 UK Pounds) a month, which is about 1.50 USD a day. What is the subsistence level? It’s not just food, its public transportation, personal services, utilities, and clothing. However, this subsistence minimum doesn’t take into account health services and education. If we analyse these factors, it is possible to recognise that the majority of Ukrainians are below the threshold of absolute poverty”.

Noted nutritionist Galina Anokhina said, “Poverty doesn’t allow Ukrainians a healthy diet. It means that the people have an unbalanced diet. Mostly, its fats and carbohydrates… Ukrainians eat a lot of bread and potatoes, but don’t eat much animal products. For a long time, the hunger in the population remained hidden… this can harm our adolescents and children. Such a meagre diet will lead to serious irremediable problems. We can’t correct such deficiencies in children up to 14-16 years merely with a change in diet”. Experts concluded that if the government wants to surmount this problem, it should set the “poverty threshold” at 5 USD per day for each family member. In addition, it should reduce the tax on the importation and sale of products from 20 percent to 7 percent, as well as implement a programme to subsidise medical costs.

30 May 2015

Finance.ua

http://news.finance.ua/ru/news/~/351307

Editor:

Here’s the problem… the IMF pigs are demanding “austerity”… therefore, the government will do nothing to correct the situation, as the banksters won’t let them. The people in Kiev are looking at the people in Donetsk and Lugansk and they’re concluding, “They don’t have a lot, but they have more than we do. Their government ain’t perfect, but it does more for them and they don’t pay out-of-pocket for everything. The Peoples Republics want the USSR back… hey, so do I! We lived better than we do now, and we didn’t have any of those oligarch shits thieving from us”. In short, the people in junta-controlled Banderstan have already broken from the junta in their hearts. It’s only a matter of time…

BMD

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Russia and Greece… This Move Could Change History’s Course Before Our Very Eyes

00 russia-greece. 25.04.15

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Editor:

This is a rare Western analysis that mentions the Orthodox angle. It’s a good read. I suggest that you read it twice… it’s a good sober wake-me-up to all the shit spouted by Psaki and Harf and seconded on CNN and Fox (and in Reuters and the NY Times). Russia’s day as leader of Eurasia is coming… that’s why Washington is so desperate… it wants to derail it. I don’t think that’s in the cards…

The emphasis is kept as it was in the original post.

BMD

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It’s becoming more clear by the day that Greece has just about reached the end of the road. Several months ago, I wrote that SYRIZA’s election victory in Greece was a game changer for European nations, and the EU project in particular. Then, it seemed to me that it wasn’t just the rhetoric of SYRIZA (especially, of its financial minister, Varoufakis) that was an utterly different strain… but their strategy itself, which indicated that this wasn’t just politics as usual. Whether one agrees with them or not, these folks really mean many of the things they say. Recently, though, the government in Athens was in quite a pinch, cash-wise. In fact, early April’s IMF payment was particularly a narrow escape, as they owed roughly 500 million USD (25.4 billion Roubles. 3.1 billion Renminbi. 31.89 billion INR. 609 million CAD. 639 million AUD. 460 million Euros. 329.3 million UK Pounds) in one lump sum. However, after “borrowing” everything not nailed down (including pension funds), they made that large IMF payment… barely. “Ya see, Watchman? Everyone freaked out over the 9 April IMF payment, but Greece paid its creditors on time, so there’s nothing else to worry about!” Really? You think so? Then, there’s the slightest possibility you’ll wanna take a look at this…

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00 what greece owes and when. 25.04.15

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That, my friend, is what we call, “running the gauntlet!” I mean, good grief! Just when you avert one debt blow, two more colossal blows come from behind! Let’s put it this way… if this ugly line of payments was a four-course meal, then, April’s payments are just the appetizer and salad! May is really the main course, and June is dessert! Now that things are coming to a head, the government in Athens is attempting to put in some capital control measures, to try to centralise the nation’s banking funds. In response, the ECB and Troika are busy putting the final icing on their majestic “Mistake Cake”, as they tighten the screws on collateral rules in Greece. In other words, the end of the line is here, they must make a historic decision, and soon. The Greek banking system is out of funds, and Athens has exhausted all other options within the EU. I guess it’s time for SYRIZA to call it a day, accept whatever horrific terms the Troika draws up for them, and resign themselves to being a provincial outpost of Brussels, right? Wrong!

The Ace Card

Notice that I merely said “all options within the EU”, because there are a growing number of options outside of it. You may remember that 10 weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Greece’s “wild card”, which Brussels was very nervous about. That wild card question was this… What scenarios, agreements, or treaties did Greece and Russia discuss or draw up? Well, we’ve now begun to have some answers to that all-important question, brothers… and they’re game-changers! I’ve always believed that SYRIZA’s hard rhetoric wasn’t just tough talk, but that their confidence stemmed from their preparations they’d been making with Russia for years. This is why the hardline strategy of Brussels and Germany came up so short in the Greek talks, and why DC’s hardline strategy of Russian sanctions failed. The countries of earth now have multiple financing options. The IMF and DC are no longer the only places where they can turn to for solutions! In fact, it is now very likely that Moscow will offer over 5 billion USD (254 billion Roubles. 31 billion Renminbi. 318.9 billion INR. 6.09 billion CAD. 6.39 billion AUD. 4.6 billion Euros. 3.293 billion UK Pounds) worth of advance payments to Greece, in exchange for greenlighting Russian natural gas pipelines through its country!

Why Russia Might Consider the Advance

“Watchman, I don’t get it, why would Russia give Athens a 5 billion USD advance payment? Isn’t that just throwing good money after bad at this point?” Noooooo, friend, it isn’t at all. Let me explain. If they give an advance payment to Greece, Greece will use it to meet the next 2 months’ worth of crucial debt instalments. Whilst Greece’s larger debt problem would still be there, this would still set off a likely chain reaction of events:

  • Firstly, the “Turk Stream” gas pipeline will be a lock.A transit line, which would guarantee Russian energy hegemony and dominance, would keep Europe on the hook to Russian gas, and would ensure constant streams of income from Europe for decades to come.
  • Russia would gain yet another valuable ally within the EU, to counter any future progress on sanctions against it. SYRIZA already gave the EU some difficulty over this issue in their last meeting (likely a shot across the bow). An agreement to veto or block any future aggression against Russia could be part of the agreement.
  • Russia would gain a valuable trade partner, as they import a great deal of agricultural produce from the Peloponnese. Do you think that Greeks, who now trust Moscow more than Brussels, have looked longingly at a membership within a trade bloc like the Eurasian Economic Union? You know they have.

Yes, all this is good, but Russia would get something else even more valuable than all that.  Two months ago, I was the first person (and almost the sole person) to bring up a consideration that no one else considered: the religious consideration. Remember, I predicted that the real hidden danger to Brussels was that Moscow would use the obstinate actions of the Troika to drive a wedge between Catholic Europe and Orthodox Europe. That, my friends, was always, always, the biggest threat… and bless me, if that’s not exactly what’s happened! If Russia extends this advance payment, they’d finally have an influential foothold within the Orthodox Christian community, in a geostrategically important space on the European mainland!

We already know that Greece and Russia have talked about establishing a military base within the Greek islands. For crying out loud, if that wasn’t enough, there’s now even talk of Russia providing Greece with S-300 SAM systems! This is the extent to which Greece distrusts NATO and Brussels. “Watchman, isn’t that going a bit too far? I mean the thought that NATO or Europe would bomb a European country for taking a different approach is beyond the pale!” Brother, tell that to the Orthodox Serbs, whose lands NATO viciously bombed and partitioned during those “peaceful Clinton years!” Believe me, this left a quite a bitter taste within the Orthodox world, and they still hold it against NATO and DC to this day. Greece knows NATO is treacherous and murderous, and both they and Moscow are keen to keep another “Belgrade Bombing” from ever repeating. Putin’s job in all this has been wayyyyyy too easy, as all he’s had to do is sit back, and let the banksters do all his work for him. As of late, he’s become quite active though in stepping and creating a long-term symbiotic relationship with Orthodox countries, and his latest details of this plan takes the cake. Take a look at this:

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00 russian gas projects

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Do you see that brothers? That picture is an inspired move! Putin is doing what I thought he’d do… he’s keeping the proposed line for “Turk Stream” entirely within the Orthodox heartland of Europe for as long as possible. This line would cut through Serbia and Macedonia, and reach all the way up into central Europe, and connect with Russia’s key new strategic partner… Hungary! Amazing. This would reunite Russia and Orthodox Europe in ways that would’ve been unimaginable 20 years ago. All this will increase Eurasia’s foothold in Europe, and diminish DC’s and Brussels’ influence. To think… he can acquire all this and more for a measly investment of 5 billion bucks! It’d be the deal of a lifetime for both Moscow and Athens. No question, Moscow wants to do this, but at this point, it’s really up to Athens. Oh! There’s one more important thing that this 5 billion dollar advance payment would buy both China and Russia… time!

Remember, if Greece refuses to back down, and “defaults within the EU”, a strategy that Varoufakis laid out in disturbingly interesting detail several years ago… then, Europe’s banking system is toast, as it’d trigger credit default swap payouts. When that occurs, the banking system in Europe may have mere weeks left… then, chaos would spread here to the States. In other words, a Grexit spells the likely end of the world monetary system. The question left is… are China and Russia “ready” for this to occur yet? Do they have all the gold reserves they want? Is their alternate SWIFT system ready for primetime? Have they forged the treaties and alliances they want? Have they adequately reduced their exposure to US Dollars? Brothers, I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I bring them up, because if the BRICS aren’t yet ready for the Reset to occur, every month they can buy for a few billion dollars is invaluable to them.

Conclusion

The growing “pivot to Russia” is becoming a stronger reality each day. The geniuses in Brussels dreamed of establishing a political union atop a monetary one (the latter established as a honey trap to establish the former). They dreamed of a “United States of Europe”, and overran the wills of sovereign peoples in several nations to bring it this far. However, the arrogant manner in which the Troika dictated to Greece ensured that the battle for Greek hearts and minds was lost. There were never any good options for Brussels here, but refusing to budge even the slightest bit on Greek debt amounts and repayments was the worst move they could have possibly made. These blunders aren’t just big, they’re history-altering.

The scenario I predicted of a growing influence of Moscow within the European Orthodox world is really taking off. Why wouldn’t it though? Europe has been cruel to the Orthodox world for decades. From the NATO bombing and partitioning of Serbia, to Cypriot bail-ins, to hardliner austerity in Greece, to threats and pressure on Bulgaria to kill off South Stream… everything the West has done drives the entire Orthodox world back into Russia’s arms… and more importantly… it’s brought the great Eurasian dream one step closer to its eventual reality. The Brussels line, of “Pay us or get out”… has failed. 

Everyone in DC and the EU continues to act as if they’re the only game in town. Not only are they not the only game in town, but they’re the lamest game in town. Brussels continues to offer the Greeks humiliation, austerity, and hopelessness. Whereas Moscow is offering trade, military treaties, gas transit income, and gas price reductions. Guess which one is winning? They forced Greece to cough up or auction off vast amounts of its cultural treasures and assets. They’re on the cusp of making a historic turning toward parts East. When and if they do… every Orthodox nation will follow their lead. Brussels has everything to lose, whereas Athens has already lost everything. Whether Greece defaults or leaves the EU, every scenario will now benefit the BRICS and Eurasia, and hurt Europe’s banksters. For 5 years, the Troika bled every drop they could from Greece. That process was self-defeating, and now Greece’s cash reserves have gone stone-dry. Yet, remarkably, the Troika continues to want more blood! Someone shoulda reminded the banksters… you can’t get blood from a stone.

22 April 2015

The Wealth Watchman

http://thewealthwatchman.com/were-watching-history-change-course-before-our-very-eyes/

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Ukraine Took “Honourable Mention” Second Place in the World in Terms of Inflation

01 money down toilet

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Steve Hanke, professor at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in Forbes magazine that the real level of inflation in the Ukraine is 111 percent. All that one needs to assess real inflation is the simple application of standard time-tested economic theory (in this case, purchasing power parity). Hanke used that to estimate the current annual inflation in the Ukraine. The calculations used data from black market currency transactions collected during the last 12 months as part of a joint research project on forex problems at the Cato Institute and Johns Hopkins University. These shocking figures are positive only in the fact that inflation decreased compared with estimates made on 24 February… those calculations showed Ukrainian inflation running at 272 percent. Thanks to Washington Post columnist Matt O’Brien, this assessment received much attention. He agreed with the calculations of the author in his blog Wonk Blog in the online edition. Venezuela took first place in this list; it had the dubious honour of the country with the highest inflation. According to the author’s estimates, the estimated annual inflation there is 252 percent. Now, in addition to Venezuela, there is only one state in the world with three-digit inflation… the Ukraine, where annual inflation is 111 percent. This is much larger than the “official” 34.5 percent rate is. The recently approved expansion of IMF financing and restructuring of Ukrainian public debt, negotiations on which only started, rest on erroneous data. Hanke noted that since the programmes and negotiations start with false assumptions, this invariably leads to a flop.

6 April 2015

Russkaya Vesna

http://rusvesna.su/news/1428341055

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