MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said it had successfully test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Tuesday, with tensions running high over its military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
A U.S. official said the United States had received proper notification from Russia ahead of the test and that the initial notification pre-dated the crisis in Crimea. The Russian Defence Ministry could not be reached for comment. Continue reading
Calling Obama’s bluff and showing how incapable both America and Europe all in one step. The repercussions for this are likely nothing as they will have a limited or no effect. Obama can do nothing but continue to make hollow threats of ‘economic sanctions’. Russia does not care, nor do they think the same, as they are awash in oil and gas export profits.
Put on your seat belts, we’re in uncharted territory with an angry Putin bent on retaking the Ukraine that was destabilized by Berlin and Washington.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, pro-Russian demonstrators raise the Russian flag on government buildings; speaker of Russia’s lower parliament house said that ‘for now, there is no need’ to send armed forces.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 A.M. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry as saying.
The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander. The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.
“If they do not surrender before 5 A.M. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as saying. Continue reading
With tensions in Ukraine nearing a breaking point, the world is collectively looking to the Western powers for resolution. But, not surprisingly, the response so far has consisted of little more than a wag of the finger, with NATO and other world leaders unanimously condemning Russia’s military action in the Crimea.
While the reasons for this muted response are manifold, it’s difficult to ignore the leverage the Russians hold in this standoff. For starters, the U.S. and other Western powers have little to gain from bringing the Crimean conflict to a head; Russia, on the other hand, greatly benefits from controlling the region, with its strategic access to the Black Sea and concentration of Russian-speaking peoples. Continue reading
BERLIN/KIEV/BERN (Own report) – In the aftermath of the Western-oriented putsch in Kiev, German politicians are preparing German public opinion for the disastrous deterioration of the Ukraine economic situation. Even though it was most recently suggested that the country could only expect a thriving development by linking up to the EU, it is now – truthfully – being announced that Ukraine is practically bankrupt. The CDU European parliamentarian, Elmar Brok, predicts “difficult times” ahead: “It has never rained gold coins, except in fairy tales.” In fact back in the fall, experts had already indicated that, because of its out-dated industry, the Ukraine would have to expect dramatic economic slumps if it signs the EU Association Agreements – unemployment and poverty would dramatically rise. In a position paper, the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is now proposing the introduction of a special status in EU ties for the Ukraine as well as other countries, such as Turkey. This sort of EU “second ring” would also permit the economic integration of such countries as Switzerland, which politically resists joining the EU. The SWP contends that these plans could also be used for Catalonia, should it secede from Spain and Scotland, from Britain. Continue reading
(Reuters) – Germany views Iran as a potential threat not just to Israel, but also to European countries, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The German chancellor visited Jerusalem with her cabinet to mark almost 50 years of bilateral ties with Israel, which was founded in part as a haven for survivors of the Holocaust.
“We see the threat not just as a threat for the state of Israel but as a general threat for Europe as well,” she said of a potential Iranian bomb, adding that Germany would pursue international talks with Tehran on its nuclear activities. Continue reading
Berlin and Washington upped the ante, had the current Kiev regime overthrown and now Moscow has responded. In addition to what DEBKAfile had reported, the Russians are now preparing for potential conflict in the nearby sea. To what extent this will play out is not yet known.
According to Russian news site flot.com, Russian military ships carrying soldiers have arrived on Ukraine’s Crimean coast in what some are claiming could be the early signs of a Russian coup in the hotly disputed autonomous region of the Crimea.
Russia’s large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov has arrived near the Russia Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol, which Russia has leased from Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Continue reading
Remember that the EU is led by Germany, therefore America is encouraging Germany to take center stage — and it has.
In allowing the EU to mediate Ukraine’s peace accord, the US achieved its objectives and lightened its own burden. Whether it can stay in the shadows depends on the likelihood of a Ukrainian financial crisis.
The US had two priorities in Kyiv, says Charles A. Kupchan, who under the first Clinton administration directed the National Security Council’s (NSC) European affairs.
“Number one, to stop the killing and the loss of life. And number two, to bring to an end a political stalemate and find a way forward for Ukraine,” he told DW.
“From the perspective of Washington, it’s important that the Atlantic community move to a new division of responsibility in which Europe shoulders a greater burden,” Kupchan said. “And in the first instance, those burdens should be in Europe.” Continue reading
JERUSALEM — Three hundred kilometers by high-speed rail between the cities of Eilat and Ashdod, connecting the Red Sea coast to the Mediterranean: They call it the “Red-Med” Project.
Financed by Beijing and launched from Jerusalem, China has revealed its strategy for “West Asia” — the term that the China Shipping Container Lines company uses to delineate the area of operations between Hormuz, Suez and Haifa.
The use of the term West Asia rather than Middle East is no accident — this gives precedence to the size of the economic link with China rather than the ever troublesome geopolitics of the region. Continue reading
Combine this with Bank of America’s warning that “the US Dollar is in trouble” and you can see that the cliff America is heading towards without brakes isn’t too far away.
While we will have more to say about the disastrous December TIC data shortly, which was released early today, and which showed a dramatic plunge in foreign purchases of US securities in December – the month when the S&P soared to all time highs and when everyone was panicking about the 3% barrier in the 10 Year being breached and resulting in a selloff in Tsy paper – one thing stands out. The chart below shows holdings of Chinese Treasurys (pending revision of course, as the Treasury department is quite fond of ajdusting this data series with annual regularity): in a nutshell, Chinese Treasury holdings plunged by the most in two years, after China offloaded some $48 billion in paper, bringing its total to only $1268.9 billion, down from $1316.7 billion, and back to a level last seen in March 2013! Continue reading
Russian energy giant Gazprom provided a record share of 29.9% of gas supplies to the European and Turkish markets in 2013.
Gazprom broke a record set in 2011 of 150 billion cubic meters of gas, or a share of 27%, according to reports of Interfax, as cited by dnevnik.bg. Continue reading
BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – The derogatory German campaign against Russia and its President Vladimir Putin has persisted even after the Olympic Games have opened. The campaign is not only aimed at mobilizing German public opinion; it seeks to also further incite the emerging Russian middle strata against their government. These middle strata are gaining in strength and are seen as a potential leverage for Western influence in Moscow since the 2011 and 2012 mass demonstrations against the current President Vladimir Putin. German government advisors are proposing that Berlin establish new channels of influence through contacts to oppositional milieus of these middle strata. The German government is not only exploiting liberal but also national chauvinist circles of the opposition – just as it does in the Ukraine, where it also relies on the fascist milieu’s potential for protest. A Russian opposition leader, who is popular in Berlin, refers to natives of the Caucasus as “cockroaches” and recommends the pistol as the means for dealing with them. He is praised as an “anti-corruption expert” in German media reports on the Sochi Olympic Games. Continue reading