Voices from Russia

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Why Washington is Terrified of Russia and China

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The Russia-China strategic partnership, uniting the Pentagon’s avowed top two “existential” threats to America, didn’t come with a formal treaty signed with pomp, circumstance… and a military parade. Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi high-level meetings. Off the record, diplomats occasionally let it slip there might’ve been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if it seriously harassed one of the strategic members… be it in the Ukraine or in the South China Sea… NATO would have to deal with both. For now, let’s concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it.

Exhibit A is the imminent visit to Moscow by the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Li Zhanshu, invited by the head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, A E Vaino. Beijing stressed the talks will revolve around… what else… the Russia-China strategic partnership, “as previously agreed on by the countries’ leaders”. This happens just after President Putin received China’s First Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, one of the top seven in the Politburo and one of the drivers of China’s economic policies, in Moscow. They discussed Chinese investments in Russia and the key energy angle of the partnership. However, most of all they prepared Putin’s next visit to Beijing, which will be particularly momentous, for the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) summit on 14-15 May, steered by Xi Jinping. The General Office of the CCP… directly subordinate to Xi… only holds this kind of ultra-high-level annual consultations with Moscow and no other player. Needless to add, Li reports directly to Xi as much as Vaino reports directly to Putin. That’s as highly strategic as it gets.

That also happens to tie directly to one of the latest episodes featuring The Hollow (Trump) Men, in this case, Trump’s bumbling/bombastic National Security Advisor Lieutenant-General H R McMaster. In a nutshell, McMaster’s spin, loyally regurgitated by US corporate media, is that Trump developed such a “special chemistry” with Xi after their Tomahawks-with-chocolate cake summit in Mar-a-Lago that Trump managed to split the Russia-China entente on Syria and isolate Russia in the UN Security Council. It would have taken only a few minutes for McMaster to read the BRICS joint communiqué on Syria for him to learn that the BRICS are behind Russia. No wonder a vastly-experienced Indian geopolitical observer felt compelled to note:

Trump and McMaster look somewhat like two country bumpkins who lost their way in the metropolis.

Follow the Money

Exhibit B centres in Russia and China quietly advancing their agreement to replace the US Dollar’s reserve status with a gold-backed system. That also involves the key participation of Kazakhstan… very much interested in using gold as currency along OBOR. Kazakhstan couldn’t be more strategically positioned; a key hub of OBOR; a key member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAES); member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (ShOS); and not by accident the smelter of most of Russia’s gold. In parallel, Russia and China are advancing their own payment systems. With the Yuan now enjoying the status of a global currency, China has swiftly promoted their payment system, CIPS, careful not to frontally antagonise the internationally-accepted SWIFT, controlled by the USA.

On the other hand, Russia emphasises the creation of “an alternative”, in the words of Russian Central Bank’s Elvira Nabiullina, in the form of the Mir payment system, a Russian version of Visa/ MasterCard. What this implies is that were Washington inclined to exclude Russia from SWIFT, even temporarily, at least 90 percent of ATMs in Russia would be able to operate on Mir. China’s UnionPay cards are already an established fixture all across Asia… enthusiastically adopted by HSBC, amongst others. Combine “alternative” payment systems with a developing gold-backed system… and “toxic” does not even begin to spell out the reaction of the US Federal Reserve. It’s not just about Russia and China; it’s about the BRICS. What First Deputy Governor of Russia’s Central Bank Sergey Shvetsov outlined is just the beginning:

The BRICS countries are large economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of this precious metal. In China, the gold trade is in Shanghai, in Russia, it’s in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between the two cities in order to increase trade between the two markets.

Already, Russia and China established systems for global trade bypassing the US Dollar. What Washington did to Iran… cutting their banks off SWIFT… is now unthinkable against Russia and China. Thus, we’re already on our way, slowly but surely, towards a BRICS “gold marketplace”. We’re building a “new financial architecture”. That’d imply the eventual inability of the US Fed to export inflation to other nations… especially those in the BRICS, EEU, and SCO.

The Hollow Men

Trump’s Generals, led by “Mad Dog” Mattis, may spin all they want about their need to dominate the planet with their sophisticated AirSeaLandSpaceCyber commands. Yet, that may be not enough to counter the myriad ways the Russia-China strategic partnership is developing. Therefore, more on than off, we’ll have Hollow Men like Vice-President Mike Pence, with empurpled solemnity, threatening the DPRK:

The shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.

Forget this doesn’t even qualify as a lousy line in a cheap remake of a Hollywood B-movie; what we have here is Aspiring Commander-in-Chief Pence warning Russia and China there may be some nuclear nitty-gritty very close to their borders between the USA and the DPRK. Not gonna happen. Therefore, here’s to the great T S Eliot, who saw it all decades in advance:

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar.

21 April 2017

Pepe Escobar

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201704211052866086-washington-terrified-of-russia-china/

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/

Monday, 6 April 2015

Points from My Correspondence on Russia and Its Future

00 Work for the Soviet People! 04.04.15

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It’s up to us to describe the Russia that IS… not the one that the West wants… not the one that nostalgics want… not the one of the transitional state now in existence. My view is that VVP’s vision of the Eurasian Union is that of the old pre-1922 USSR coupled with Tsar Aleksandr I Pavlovich’s vision of the Holy Alliance. That is, VVP is thinking beyond the RF… he doesn’t want to revive the USSR of Stalin’s day… he’s thinking of the USSR of 1920 that wanted to “export” its “revolution” to the West… he’s thinking of the Holy Alliance that sent tsarist troops to Hungary to crush the ’48. He’s studied history, and knows it, unlike most Anglo Americans (especially, in the leadership).

It will rise from the dead by preserving the best of Old Russia, the Empire, and the USSR and discarding the dross. Lenin’s tomb will stay on Red Square… but he’ll be buried in a normal sarcophagus… we’ll nail down the identities of those buried in Petersburg (I think that they’ll find them to be the imperial family), and move them to their place of martyrdom, in the Church on the Spilt Blood in Yekaterinburg… most of all, Kiev, the Mother of All Russian Cities, will have the tricolour and red banner flying over its battlements (Elder Iona said so, didn’t he?). The only way to bring resurrection is to bring forth ALL of our history. ALL OF IT. If Ivan Grozny was part of our history, if Pyotr Veliki was part of our history, then, V I Lenin and I V Stalin are part of our history too. If we refuse to acknowledge the dark side of all eras, we’ll learn NOTHING. It’s ALL ours… or NONE of it is ours. That’s my stand.

If you look at the images coming out of Novorossiya, the amalgamation of Christian and Soviet imagery strikes you. People wearing crosses plant the Red Banner on buildings! People holding icons defend statues of Lenin! Priests bless soldiers who march under the Hammer and Sickle! I’d say that this is what was coming in the USSR, but the August Events aborted it. There’s a new Christian Eurasia… a Christian Socialist state… a state with an appreciation of its Orthodox/Soviet past. If you want St Vladimir, you must have V I Lenin… and VICE VERSA!

Things are unravelling right smartly in the Ukraine… it’s the same thing every day… empty shop shelves, no pay, men hiding out from the Voenkom… the Americans are stuck to a tar-baby. I’m convinced that this wasn’t ordered from Foggy Bottom… people in Langley thought they could get away with it (I think that Nuland and her husband Kagan were the ones behind it). Well… it blew up in their faces. Watch… Obama will skedaddle at the last-minute to fuck up the GOP in domestic matters. Both parties are using this situation for domestic “chicken”… it has nothing to do with the Ukraine at all. BOTH Dems and GOP are playing this for 2016 talking points. It’s a game of Liars Poker… with real people as the chips. I think that makes me (and you) sick. None of ’em gives a rat’s ass for real people’s lives.

I know that you must throw a pinch of incense on the altar in the present-day ROCOR. I’d say that you’re one of the few to understand what I’m really writing about (not only about Russia, but also about the Church, and our crying need for UNITY). BTW… Karlin isn’t as deep as he pretends to be. In his description of the Russian-American diaspora, he missed a good deal. For instance, he typified all “White Russians” as Upper Middles, “conservative”, and clueless about contemporary Russia… that’s not true. I noted that he didn’t talk about the earlier wave of working-class immigrants at all! It’s obvious that he spent no time in NEPA… would he learn if he spent a week in Mayfield or Pittsburgh? I don’t know.

BMD

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Russia Might Lift Food Import Ban from Greece if it Quits EU

money-soup

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On Friday, Minister of Agriculture N V Fyodorov told a news conference in Berlin that Russia might lift its ban on food imports from Greece if it quits the EU. Fyodorov is leading an official Russian delegation to the International Green Week public exhibition for the food, agriculture, and gardening industry. He said, “If Greece has to leave the EU, we’d build our own relations with it, we won’t apply the food ban to it”. He said that EU countries pinched from the slump in exports of foods to Russia asked Russia to cushion the impacts of Russian food import bans by expanding other types of imports, noting, “We’re looking at such possibilities… these countries offered new formats of coöperation in those areas that aren’t covered by Russian food sanctions. As concerns possible new sanctions, we aren’t looking at any such proposals from any structures”.

Earlier on Friday, Fyodorov met with his German counterpart, Christian Schmidt to discuss possible expansion of coöperation and mutual trade in agricultural products. The two ministers agreed that Russia and Germany might expand mutual trade in food products even under current laws. Schmidt said, “We can’t solve pressing political problems, but we can maintain dialogue in the current conditions. We can make trade between our countries more intensive”. Fyodorov shared this opinion, saying, “[The Berlin exhibition] was a non-political event working on problems of food security. We discussed possible expansion of coöperation and mutual trade in agricultural products and agreed to work in the new conditions strictly within the current legislation of Russia, the TS EvrAsES, Germany, and the EU”. Schmidt told journalists, “The dialogue was intensive and concrete; we spoke about how we can develop our cooperation”. Ahead of the International Green Week, German media reported that Schmidt planned to raise the subject of possible mitigation of Russia’s food sanctions at his meeting with his Russian counterpart.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, since August 2014, German exports of foods to Russia dropped by 23 percent, or 500 million USD (32.6 billion Roubles. 3.1 billion Renminbi. 30.8 billion INR. 600 million CAD. 608 million AUD. 433 million Euros. 330 million UK Pounds). At that time, Russia imposed measures to respond to economic sanctions from the USA, Australia, Canada, the EU, and Norway. Thus, Russia banned the import of fruit, vegetables, and milk and dairy products from these countries for one year. Some types of ready-to-eat meat and fish products (but not sausages) didn’t fall under the ban.

16 January 2015

ITAR-TASS

http://itar-tass.com/en/economy/771688

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