Europe braced for any gas crisis as Russia sanctions escalate

The showdown with Russian president Vladimir Putin comes at moment of surging global supplies of LNG, which can be diverted to European markets and reduce the Kremlin’s political leverage. The price of LNG in Asia has crashed from $20 to $11 per British thermal unit since February.

The pan-EU group Gas Infrastructure Europe said the network of LNG terminals in Britain and the Continent is currently operating at just 20pc of its full capacity. It could in theory boost flows by 160bn cubic metres (BCM), if there is available gas.

This is more than Russia’s entire shipments, which reached 155 BCM last year. The European network of pipelines does not cover every region and would leave pockets in eastern Europe without supply.

“We have a lot of free capacity in LNG in Europe. It would be extremely difficult to replace Russian gas in a just a few months but it is possible to raise supply,” said one official. Continue reading

The Alliance of the Threatened

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) – The EU and USA have expanded their sanctions against Russia and – in addition to individuals – have now also placed important Russian companies on their lists. Washington has restricted dealings, for example, with Rosneft and the Gazprombank. Brussels has announced the possibility of preventing EU companies from doing business with Russian companies and is planning to list them by the end of July. German business circles are protesting. They have already suffered billions in losses. Experts are warning that, with its sanctions against Russia, the West may experience, in the economic arena, an overreach similar to that experienced by the US in the military arena with its war on Iraq. With the power of the West obviously waning, it has already become noticeable that even close allies are defecting. Observers explain this with the Crimea conflict: NATO countries had been unable to retain the Crimea within the reign of its allied Ukrainian government; therefore it seems that an alliance with NATO countries would no longer be a reliable assurance against ones enemies. Defections can be noticed in Asia and Latin America, not least of all because of the recent founding of the BRICS development bank, rivaling the US-dominated World Bank. Russia and China are among the founders of this bank. Continue reading

‘Where Belgium goes, Europe goes’

“If you want to know how the EU will look like in about five years time, you should look at Belgium today”, writes former Belgian MEP Derk Jan Eppink in De Volkskrant. Both are “permanent construction sites where the roofs are rebuild [sic] to hide a problem with the foundations”, and share a similar outcome after the 25 May elections (general elections took place in Belgium on the same day as European elections in most of member countries) as well as the same fundamental problem: a gap between North and South. Continue reading

FBI: Chinese hacker accessed gold mine of data on F-22, F-35 and 32 U.S. military projects

A Chinese hacker allegedly broke into the network of world’s largest aerospace company and other defense contractors to steal sensitive information on the United States’ F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane.

The FBI believes that Su Bin, formerly of the Chinese aviation firm Lode Technologies, and two Chinese-based co-conspirators accessed a gold mine of information from Boeing and other contractors in Europe. The plan was to gather enough information so that the communist nation might “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders,” The Register reported Monday. Continue reading

Samaras proposes joint navy warship patrols with Chinese

As China’s presence on the international stage grows, it can rely on its ‘strategic partnership’ with Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras tells Chinese President Xi Jinping on Rhodes

Crete could serve as a regional node for the support, maintenance and repair of the Chinese Navy and the possibility exists for joint naval operations between Greece and China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, the prime minister told the visiting Chinese president on Rhodes on Sunday.

“On Crete there is all the appropriate infrastructure for refuelling, maintenance and repairs for all your country’s navy units. There is a possibility of cooperation, for example, in joint patrols of war ships. And another example, in the area of fighting piracy, where the interests of our two peoples coincide,” Antonis Samaras told Xi Jinping.

Crete is also home to a Nato miltary and navy base at Souda bay.  Continue reading

IMF warns ECB credibility at risk over deflation paralysis

The International Monetary Fund has issued a blistering attack on Europe’s authorities for allowing the eurozone to remain stuck in a low-growth trap, warning that they may have to print money with “full conviction” to head off deflation.

“Inflation has been too low for too long. A persistent failure to meet the inflation target could undermine central bank credibility,” said the IMF with remarkable bluntness in its annual health report on the currency bloc.

Continue reading

Angela Merkel ‘does not want to complete full term as German chancellor’

You have not anchored Germany to a unified Europe…You have anchored Europe to a newly unified and dominant Germany! In the end my friends, you will find it will not work.

- Margaret Thatcher

With America on the way out and committing national suicide… say hello to The Fourth Reich and the world’s next superpower.

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering quitting ahead of the 2017 elections and is interested in UN Secretary-General or President of the European Council roles, Spiegel reports

Angela Merkel does not want to complete her full term as German chancellor and is planning to resign before elections due in 2017, according to reports.

The German leader is aiming to become the first chancellor to leave of her own accord since 1949, and is interested in a new role as United Nations Secretary-General, or President of the European Council, Spiegel magazine reported.

Continue reading

David Without a Sling — ‘Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel’

It may be hard for some to believe, given the endless attacks on the Jewish state today, that in the not-too-distant past, Israel was as beloved as it is now widely reviled. More remarkable, it was especially loved on the left, where now it is scorned. The process by which Israel turned from paragon into pariah is the subject of Joshua Muravchik’s well-argued new book Making David into Goliath.

All this changed in the aftermath of the Six Day War. Muravchik documents the wide sympathy in Europe as well as in the United States—including in the media—which Israel enjoyed immediately prior to the war. At that time, it looked as if Israel might be annihilated by its Arab neighbors, who made no secret of their intention to rid the world of the Jewish State.

But when, to general amazement, Israel defeated the Arab armies and captured lands previously held by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, it overnight became the ruler of millions of Arabs. The Arabs would take advantage of this, setting in motion a redefinition of the conflict. No longer was it tiny Israel against a vast Arab world. “Now it was Israel versus the homeless Palestinians. David had become Goliath,” Muravchik states. Continue reading

German Spy Caper Will Shake World

Fresh revelations of ongoing United States’ spying on Germany’s leadership have left the German leaders and people furious. It is at the point of becoming a game-changing event in German-U.S. relations.

In an article titled “The German-American Breakup,” the Los Angeles Times wrote, “[W]ith the fresh revelation that the cia recruited an intelligence official as a spy, and the possibility of a second spy in the Defense Ministry, the fury is reaching a tipping point. U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson was called on the carpet by the German Foreign Office on July 4 about the first incident. On Thursday, Germany ordered the cia station chief in Berlin to leave” (July 10; emphasis added throughout).

This is the type of embarrassing diplomatic reprisal reserved for rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea—not for the world’s supposed superpower. Continue reading

NATO’s Rasmussen: ‘Active Role’ for Germany ‘Decisive for Europe’s Future’

In an interview, outgoing NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discusses Germany’s postwar tradition of pacificism and his belief the country is now ready, and indeed has the responsibility, to take on a greater role in global affairs.

SPIEGEL: Twenty-five years after reunification and almost seven decades after the end of World War II, has Germany become a country just like every other in terms of security policy?

Rasmussen: Germany is a normal country today, with the kinds of rights and duties other countries have. That’s why Germany should play an important role in foreign and security policy, be it in the EU, NATO or in international politics.

SPIEGEL: So he spoke directly to your heart when German President Joachim Gauck recently called for a more active German foreign policy, military means included?

Rasmussen: I don’t want to interfere with a domestic German debate. But I do very much agree with the position expressed by the German president. I welcome this debate. And not only as NATO secretary general, but also as the former prime minister of Denmark, the small neighbor country once occupied by Germany. Germany needs this debate. I can understand Germany being very cautious when it comes to international military deployments because of its past. But the time has come in Germany for this debate. Europe is ready for it, too. The goal should be to develop a common understanding for how Germany’s new role might look. Continue reading

Germany gives green light to European banking union

Germany’s cabinet has approved draft laws that effectively give the go-ahead to Europe’s plans for banking union – its main confidence-building response to the financial sector crisis.

With the laws, Germany is pressing ahead of EU requirements in protecting German taxpayers from having to foot the bill when a bank gets into trouble. Instead, in a process dubbed a “bail-in”, creditors and owners will have to take losses from 2015, a year before EU rules take effect. Continue reading

The World’s Next Oil Shipping Corridor: The Arctic Ocean

It’s colder than the Persian Gulf, needs more icebreakers than the Suez Canal and passes less picturesque beaches than the Mediterranean, but the so-called Northern Sea route connecting Europe to Asia via the northern coast of Russia has its advantages. Continue reading

France hits out at dollar dominance in international transactions

France’s political and business establishment has hit out against the hegemony of the dollar in international transactions after U.S. authorities fined BNP Paribas $9 billion for helping countries avoid sanctions.

Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, called for a “rebalancing” of the currencies used for global payments, saying the BNP Paribas case should “make us realize the necessity of using a variety of currencies”.

He said, in an interview with the Financial Times on the sidelines of a weekend economics conference: “We [Europeans] are selling to ourselves in dollars, for instance when we sell planes. Is that necessary? I don’t think so. I think a rebalancing is possible and necessary, not just regarding the euro but also for the big currencies of the emerging countries, which account for more and more of global trade.”

Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of Total, France’s biggest company by market capitalization, said he saw no reason for oil purchases to be made in dollars, even if the benchmark price in dollars was likely to remain. Continue reading

‘Dragonfly’ virus strikes U.S. power plants

WASHINGTON – U.S. and European energy companies have become the target of a “Dragonfly” virus out of Eastern Europe that goes after energy grids, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipelines operators and energy industrial equipment providers.

Unearthed by the cyber security firm Symantec, Dragonfly has been in operation since at least 2011. Its malware software allows its operators to not only monitor in real time, but also disrupt and even sabotage wind turbines, gas pipelines and power plants – all with the click of a computer mouse.

The attacks have disrupted industrial control system equipment providers by installing the malware during downloaded updates for computers running the ICS equipment. Continue reading

The Elite Wants More

BERLIN (Own report) – The CDU and Green party-affiliated foundations have been holding conferences with prominent experts to continue Germany’s campaign by elite circles to promote a more aggressive German global policy. Ultimately, a “public discussion of the security policy’s soft and hard factors” must take place, insisted the head of the Policy Department of the German Defense Ministry, Monday at a conference held by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. At the Heinrich Boell Foundation, just shortly before, the audience was told that “a ‘pacifist Sonderweg’” (special path) cannot “be permitted.” Germany must finally “come out of the comfort zone.” According to the reader published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, it must be “accepted that it may become necessary to take action outside the current international legal framework.” The reader calls for the creation of a “national security bureau” within the chancellery, patterned after the US-American “National Security Council,” and to significantly “upgrade” the “equipment of Germany’s intelligence services.” Decisions on foreign military missions should, thereby, be structurally facilitated. Continue reading