The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position. Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too. The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize. From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.
While much of the media attention remains glued to Russia for various reasons, a more notable development took place in neighboring Ukraine overnight, where on Friday Ukrainian state agencies tried to arrest the head of the tax and customs service Roman Nasirov, i.e., the equivalent to the head of the IRS, over the embezzlement of around $75 million. However, their efforts were hindered when the man, Roman Nasirov, was allegedly struck by a heart attack during the detention attempt and was shown stretchered into an ambulance and taken to Kiev’s Feofania hospital late on Thursday. Anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky said investigators believe 38-year-old Nasirov helped exiled lawmaker Oleksandr Onishchenko deprive the state of 2 billion hryvnias ($75 million) in tax revenue linked to a gas deal, Reuters reports. The crackdown was seen as a landmark case following patchy anti-graft efforts from the Western-backed authorities.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 3, 2017.
Investors who piled into some of the world’s riskiest bonds to escape near-zero interest rates got a reality check this week as signs of an economic crisis in Mongolia and a flare up in the conflict in Ukraine sent their bonds tumbling. Mongolia’s $1 billion of notes due in six years fell the most on record on Wednesday after the finance minister went on television to say his critical goal was to avoid default as growth slows and the debt burden soars, prompting Barclays Plc to remove its overweight recommendation. A slump in Ukrainian Eurobonds sent yields toward their biggest one-day increase since February on Thursday after officials in Kiev warned Russia is seeking to escalate a military conflict over the disputed Crimean peninsula. ‘Central bank policy has given investors a license to move down the risk spectrum,’ Gregory Saichin, who helps manage $2.4 billion, including Mongolian bonds, as chief investment officer for developing-world fixed-income at Allianz Global Investors. ‘The risks are there. People shouldn’t come into a story like this and say they didn’t know about it,’ he said of Mongolia’s economic woes.
We are sitting atop a volcano that could erupt at any moment. Indeed, the only question is not whether it will explode, but when – and where. For this impending seismic event has multiple pathways to the surface, spread across no less than three continents. Europe – The long peace that has prevailed in Europe is coming to an end. Ukraine is a battlefield between East and West, where a proxy war between a US-backed regime and an insurgent movement that seeks separation from Kiev is tearing the country apart – and threatens to involve both the Western powers and the Kremlin. The fighting has escalated, with increased casualties on both sides – and civilian deaths are rising at an alarming rate. The Ukrainian military has sent in some of its elite units, and as this bit of propaganda from the Voice of America makes all too clear, the Ukrainian commanders at the front are champing at the bit for a more aggressive approach by their political leaders. The Ukrainian public relations machine is very active in the West, with outlets like Newsweek running their propaganda verbatim and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her surrogates accusing her Republican opponent of being a ‘useful idiot’ of the Kremlin for opposing US military aid to Kiev. The political atmosphere in Ukraine itself is provoking the regime to bypass the Minsk peace process and seek a military solution. The coup leaders in Kiev – who came to power by overthrowing the democratically-elected President – are losing support rapidly, with a tanking economy and widespread corruption and criminality: the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Oleksandr Turchynov, recentlyannounced that a declaration of martial law is in the works. This is just what the Kiev regime needs to silence its critics and crush rising internal opposition.
A foreign army consisting of 31,000 soldiers from an anti-American alliance are conducting military ‘exercises’ a few miles from San Diego. Hundreds of tanks converge on the Rio Grande, while jets from 24 countries converge in attack formation, darting through Mexican skies. It isn’t hard to imagine Washington’s response. Yet that’s precisely what has been happening on Russia’s border with the NATO alliance, as the cold war returns. Economic sanctions aimed at sinking Russia’s fragile economy, plus a propaganda campaign designed to characterize Russian President Vladimir Putin as the second coming of Stalin – or, in Hillary Clinton’s view, Hitler – have history running in reverse. Once again, an iron curtain is descending across Europe – only this time it’s the West’s doing. The European Union renewed sanctions against Crimea on Friday: their ‘crime’ – holding a referendum in which the overwhelming majority of voters opted for union with Russia, restoring what had been the status quo since the days of Catherine the Great. And the EU is slated to extend sanctions against the Russian Federation later this week. Yet dissent against this revival of the cold war is rising in Europe, notably in Germany, where Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for the ‘gradual’ lifting of sanctions to reflect progress in the implementation of theMinsk accords, which call for the demilitarization of Ukraine and elections in rebel-held territory. This reflects a division within Germany’s left-right coalition government: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are holding out for ‘full’ implementation of the accords. Yet it is the government in Kiev – held hostage by far-right crazies – that has been dragging its feet over Minsk, refusing to grant autonomy to east Ukraine and vowing to continue the war against the rebels in spite of Kiev’s lack of success in pacifying the rebellious region.
Events this week serve to remind us that Ukraine is very much still the epicentre of the New Cold War. Batchelor lists the fall of Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk, a death threat to President Poroshenko by a Right Sector sympathizing member in the Rada, while in Europe, a Dutch referendum sunders the chances for Ukraine ever becoming a member of the E.U. But this week even more disasters are enveloping Poroshenko’s presidency. Saakashvili, ‘imported’ governor of Odessa Oblast, threatened to resign and also, according to Cohen (as seen on facebook), ‘take measures into his own hands’ if Poroshenko does not address reforms for corruption in government. This is pure sedition, Cohen points out. (And this writer finds it is most curious behaviour for ‘Washington’s man’ in Ukraine to heap more instability on the Kiev government.) Cohen, speculates that Saakasvili has personal designs on the presidency. The Panama papers scandal hi-light all these problems. The IMF will not bail out the government because of them, and Poroshenko is facing a potential loss of support by Washington and Europe. Cohen feels that a failure of this government would complete the failure for the whole country. Cohen begins an extensive discussion about how that government declined over the years due to its own ineptness, corruption and a hate based civil war against its own people -’the worst seen in Europe since the Second World War’. Somewhat more worrisome is the news of U.S. troops, elements of the California National Guard and air components, going to Ukraine. Officially this is a cooperative program between governments called the U.S. European Command State Partnership Program (SPP), and is one of 65 such programs worldwide. The Ukrainian relationship began in 1993. The danger in this New Cold War environment is that infrastructure sharing, and training with different weaponry between these two military groups allows a quick reaction force ability to be deployed to Ukraine. This can easily be expanded into a ‘Vietnam scenario’, and this American military presence in Ukraine may be that reality in process. On the face of it the U.S. sending units of its military to Ukraine for training does not make sense when the national army of Ukraine is in drastic decline – essentially in step with the economy there; it does not want to fight and has a serious desertion rate. But does Washington have a plan? There appears to be so much chaos that on the surface this only seems to be another Washington failure.
Every week we post these podcasts and, every week, you need to find time to listen. There is no doubt that 2016 is going to be a consequential year and this weekly discussion is the only one you will find that offers a consistently fair and balanced review of events in The New Cold War. Last evening’s discussion began with a review of the current situation in Ukraine, which looks to be heating up. Did you know that Russia is due $3B from Ukraine on December 20? Do you think that might cause a renewed spike in the fighting? John and Steve then go on to discuss and connect the dots surrounding the latest visit to Kiev by Vice President Plugs. “Plugs” blames the entire event on the “corruption” caused by Russia when, in fact, the real corruption can be found in Washington. Zero Hedge had this story a year and a half ago…at least the veritable New York Times is finally getting up to speed:
The media narrative about Ukraine – that the ‘Maiden revolution’ was a democratic European-values oriented revolt against a tyrannical Russian-controlled puppet – has always been a fairytale, largely perpetrated by the Western media in complicity with the US State Department and the European Union. Yet now that same media is being forced to reexamine their bias in the wake of the Ukrainian government’s banning of 34 journalists and seven bloggers from entering the country. The list of the banned includes journalists from Britain, Switzerland, Israel, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Estonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Macedonia, and Serbia. Unlike most of the rest of the English-speaking news media, the Committee to Protect Journalists is reporting that the list of banned journalists represents but a portion of a larger blacklist consisting of 388 individuals and over 100 organizations forbidden from entering the country on the grounds of ‘national security’ and an alleged threat to Ukraine’s ‘territorial integrity.’ Here is the complete list (in Ukrainian). The Guardian is reportingthat the list also includes businesspeople and journalists from the United States. After an uproar – not over the existence of such a list, but over the fact that three BBC reporters were included, along with two Spaniards who have been captured by the Islamic State in Syria, and a German writer – the six Western journalists everyone was making such a fuss about were removedfrom the list. The rest remain.
Ukraine Begs for More Money The IMF foolishly agreed to give Ukraine a four-year $40 billion bailout on March 12. Already, Ukraine’s Finance Minister Begs for More Money. Natalie Jaresko told the Financial Times in an interview that a four-year, $40bn, IMF-led bailout finalised this month – including restructuring $15bn of debt – was enough to stabilise the financial and banking system. But that was a ‘first step’. Ukraine needed billions more to restart growth, rebuild shattered infrastructure, and deal with the effects of the eastern conflict that has killed at least 6,000 people, wounded 15,000 and displaced more than a million. ‘I believe strongly that the G7, and frankly speaking the broader G20, has a responsibility now to support Ukraine in a much bigger way financially,’ Ms Jaresko said. Interesting Debate ‘I end up hearing this burden-sharing argument between different parties. The Americans say the Europeans should do more, the Europeans say the Americans should do more. That’s an interesting debate, but no one’s paying a greater cost than the Ukrainian people,’ said Jaresko. Yes, it is an interesting debate. But missing form the debate is a Ukraine civil war that is still ongoing. Money to rebuild shattered infrastructure will do no such thing. Instead it will go for more war-mongering. Money will also go straight into the pockets of the corrupt officials running the country and the corrupt oligarchs battling to take over the country.