Germany Blinks First In Ongoing European Gas War

Nord Stream 2

 

The U.S. is increasingly finding itself at odds against not only Beijing as Trump executes a sledge hammer approach to ongoing trade disputes with China, but also with Moscow, a potentially more lethal and unpredictable opponent both geopolitically and on the energy front.

Much of Washington’s angst with Russia includes the country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, it’s meddling in recent U.S. elections, being on opposing sides in the ongoing Syrian Civil War and having differing views over energy security for Europe.

Russia, for its part, with its long-entrenched hold on European gas markets, seeks to solidify its grasp by keeping its gas monopoly largely unchallenged and also by pushing through with Russian energy giant Gazprom’s controversial Nord Stream II gas pipeline project. Continue reading

Report: Russia, Ukraine on Brink of War

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(Photo Credit: Ukrainian Defense Ministry)

 

Tensions are rapidly rising over the Azov Sea and the downing of MH17.

According to a new report, recent developments—none of them good—in the relationship between Ukraine and Russia are pointing toward the possibility of a new military confrontation that could inevitably drag NATO, and the U.S., into World War III. Continue reading

Russia launches biggest ever war games

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Russia launched Tuesday what it called its largest ever military drills, with hundreds of thousands of troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a show of force NATO condemned as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict.”

President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the games after hosting an economic forum in Russia’s far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the prominent guests.

The week-long war games dubbed “Vostok-2018″(East-2018) “have kicked off” in far eastern Russia, the defence ministry said. Continue reading

Europe Is Working On Alternative To SWIFT For “Financial Independence” From The US

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German foreign minister Heiko Maas

 

In the aftermath of a report that Germany was working on a global payment system that is independent of the US and SWIFT, on Monday Germany and France said they’re working on financing solutions to sidestep U.S. sanctions against countries such as Iran, including a possible role for central banks, Bloomberg reported.

“With Germany, we are determined to work on an independent European or Franco-German financing tool which would allow us to avoid being the collateral victims of U.S. extra-territorial sanctions,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday during a meeting with press association AJEF. “I want Europe to be a sovereign continent not a vassal, and that means having totally independent financing instruments that do not today exist.”

The discussions, which also involve the U.K., are a signal that European powers are trying to get serious about demonstrating a greater level of independence from the U.S. as President Donald Trump pursues his “America First” agenda. Continue reading

Russian navy in show of strength with 26 new ships this year

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Russia’s navy will deploy a total of 26 new ships this year including four carrying Kalibr cruise missiles, President Vladimir Putin said Sunday as the country celebrated Navy Day with a show of strength. Continue reading

Forget Trump: The Military-Industrial Complex is Still Running the Show With Russia

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Katz/Shutterstock

 

As the media fulminates, they fail to see how Trump has kept the usual machinery running.

President Donald Trump has strengthened, not weakened, American military and economic opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That fact has been mostly unreported and it is of the utmost importance. Irrespective of what Trump harrumphs about NATO or Vladimir Putin, the multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex (MICC) rules American-Russian relations as it has for seven decades. And the nightmare of the MICC is not to lose a friend, but to lose an enemy.

Fake news is fixated on personalities. Authentic news understands that nations have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. The executive branch in particular has a permanent interest in exaggerating threats to augment its own power and to order up more superfluous military spending. Continue reading

The U.S. Dollar: A Victim of Its Own Success

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America’s most powerful weapon of war does not shoot, fly or explode. It’s not a submarine, plane, tank or laser. America’s most powerful strategic weapon today is the dollar.

The U.S. uses the dollar strategically to reward friends and punish enemies. The use of the dollar as a weapon is not limited to trade wars and currency wars, although the dollar is used tactically in those disputes. The dollar is much more powerful than that.

The dollar can be used for regime change by creating hyperinflation, bank runs and domestic dissent in countries targeted by the U.S. The U.S. can depose the governments of its adversaries, or at least blunt their policies without firing a shot. Continue reading

Trump: ‘Germany Is Totally Controlled by Russia’

 

President Donald Trump shared on Twitter Wednesday a video of sharp words he directed toward NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about Germany being “totally controlled by Russia” regarding their energy relationship.

“Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump told Stoltenberg at a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium. Continue reading

More Dots

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Interesting Twitter thread from “Lycaon” today. It lays out a series of dots (no better use of Twitter than laying out dots) that connects Clintons, various Trump-Russia actors, and money-laundering. I think Lycaon would do well to re-examine Bill Browder’s  hole-pocked alibi as “anti-Putin avenger” but his inclusion of HSBC, presented by a US Senate committee on July 17, 2012 as a money-laundering entity, and James Comey’s arrival at HSBC as director on March 4, 2013, and then, seven months later, Comey’s appointment as FBI director by President Obama is sequencing worth recalling.

In between, of course, HSBC paid a giant fine in exchange for a clean bill of health. Continue reading

Russia Gaining Influence in Mediterranean

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Russians have a history of cooperation with many African countries, however, since the fall of the Soviet Union involvement in Africa has effectively ended. Recent years have seen the Russians engaging more with Africa, especially in northern countries around the Mediterranean Sea, where the Russians are using military operations against various rebel or terror groups as leverage against the United States. Continue reading

Struggle for Influence in the Western Pacific (I)

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – The US-led RIMPAC 2018, the world’s largest naval maneuver, began yesterday with German soldiers participating. According to the US Navy, the naval exercise will also include operations in the Western Pacific. The region of the Southwest Pacific islands will thus come into focus, which – even though largely ignored by the European public – has been gaining significant global influence. On the one hand, the influence of Western countries has shrunk recently, while that of their strategic rivals, such as Russia and China, has significantly grown. Some Pacific island nations have since then been seeking to pursue a foreign policy independent from the West. On the other hand, the Southwest Pacific has become even more important also for Australia and the Unites States: as the political economic backyard for Australia and “gateway to the Indo-Pacific” for the U.S.A. Germany is also attempting to increase its activities in the region.

Continue reading

More Countries Start Exploring Alternatives to the US World Order

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There are two countries that more than others show how the Western world order is undergoing a profound change. Japan and Turkey occupy two distinct and diverse geographical areas, yet they share many of the same strategic choices about their future. Their geopolitical trajectory is increasingly drifting away from Washington and moving closer to China, Russia, India and Iran.

Both Japan and Turkey are two important states in the US’s strategy for controlling the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Both countries have economies that are competitive in comparison to their neighbors, and both often conveniently find themselves allied to countries within Washington’s orbit. Japan has a good relationship with South Korea, and Turkey (until a few years ago) had a privileged relationship with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Keeping in mind that the US aims to prolong and consolidate its regional dominance, Washington has always tried to have excellent relations with these two countries as a way of ensuring its constant presence in regional affairs. Continue reading

US struggles to counter Chinese maritime hegemony

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has spoken out against China’s strategy of “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea, including the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers, and, more recently, the landing of nuclear-capable bomber aircraft at Woody Island. There are, Mattis warned, “consequences to China ignoring the international community.”

But what consequences? Two successive US administrations – Barack Obama’s and now Donald Trump’s – have failed to push back credibly against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, which has accelerated despite a 2016 international arbitral tribunal ruling invalidating its territorial claims there. Instead, the US has relied on rhetoric or symbolic actions. Continue reading

Some Provocative Thoughts from Bukovsky

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(Screenshot 112 Ukraine TV)

 

Vladimir Bukovsky has been giving some pretty interesting Russian-language interviews lately.

Earlier this month, he spoke with Kiev-based112 Ukraine TV. Below is an excerpt from the English translation by Alissa Ordabai that should get some attention.

Dmitry Gordon: You recently said, “If two ballistic missiles were launched at Lubyanka, the level of terrorism worldwide would drop by 80 percent.”  What did you mean by that?

Vladimir Bukovsky: The thing is that a huge part of the world’s so-called terrorism is being organized by Lubyanka (the popular name for the headquarters of the FSB on Lubyanka Square in Moscow – translator). They control Islamic terrorism, ever since the war in Afghanistan when they were supporting the most extremist parts of the Afghan resistance, people like Gulbuddin.  You wouldn’t remember these names.   Continue reading