Pepe Escobar: “Breaking bad in southern NATOstan “

THE ROVING EYE 
Breaking bad in southern NATOstan 
By Pepe Escobar 

ON THE ROAD IN PROVENCE – To quote Lenin, what is to be done? Back to Brussels and Berlin? A close encounter with dreary Northern NATOstan, consumed by its paranoid anti-Russia obsession and enslaved by the infinitely expandable Pentagon euro-scam? Perhaps a jaunt to Syria war junkie Erdogastan? 

Talk about a no contest. Joie de vivre settled it; thus The Roving Eye hooked up with Nick, The Roving Son, in Catalonia, and armed with La Piccolina – Nick’s vintage, go-go ’80s Peugeot caravan powered by a Citroen engine – we hit the road in Provence, prime southern NATOstan real estate. Instead of breaking crystal meth, non-stop breaking of fine infidel liquids and choice Provencal gastronomy. 


Call it a subterranean, non-homesick, non-bluesy investigation into the economic malaise of Club Med nations; the pauperization of the European middle class; the advance of the extreme right; and the looming prospect of an economic NATO. All within the framework of exceedingly cool family quality time. And subversively enough, with both laptop and mobile turned off. 

Does God drink Bandol? 
We were fortunate enough to catch the inaugural week of the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles – with its remarkable entrance portal inscribed with Van Gogh’s enlarged signature; its suspended garden of colored mirrors; and a crack exhibition on the master’s chromatic evolution up to the frenetic 15 months he lived in Arles. A few minutes contemplating La Maison Jaune (1888) is an intimation of immortality, revealing what exceptionalism is really all about. 

Aesthetic illuminations were a given – from Baux castle at sunset to sipping a Perrier mint on a terrace overlooking the countryside around hilltop Gordes; from a starry night in the open at the Colorado Provencal (intriguingly trespassed by a military helicopter flying low, Baghdad surge-style) to debating the merits of each variation of chevre de Banon - that Epicurean “cheese of exception” wrapped up in chestnut leaves. 

And then the crossing to the Grand Canyon of Verdon – the most American of European canyons, attacked on different angles from both the north and south rim, including a trek along the old Roman trail and a close encounter with the jagged, chaotic, ghostly rock silhouettes of Les Cadieres (chairs, in Provencal) – the Verdon’s answer to the Twin Towers. Call it a quirky Provencal take on Osama and al-Zawahiri trekking the Hindu Kush. 

As we descended from the Col de Leques, the owner of a mountainside cafe told us he had just opened for the whole season, lasting until mid-September. But here, in early April, the Verdon was bathed in silent glory, except for the occasional badass biker. 

Then – as in Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou - a dash towards La Mediterrane. First stop in Front National-controlled Toulon – so proper, so regimented, so fearful even of non-immigrant skateboarders, yet displaying a monster NATO cargo ship in full regalia. 

It’s impossible to have a plateau de moules in mid-afternoon at the port, but at the Ah-Ha Chinese restaurant there are Verdon canyons of food are available around the clock, which once again goes to show how Asia’s entrepreneurial drive has left Europe in the dust. 

Cue to a Platonic banquet at the venerable Auberge Du Port in Bandol – orgiastic bouillabaisse paired with the best local wine, which would be a close match between Bastide de la Ciselette and Domaine de Terrebrune. None of these infidel liquid marvels, by the way, have been touched by globalization. 

There’s hardly a single millimeter of free land space in the coast around Marseille – that’s part of a well-known dossier, the environmental destruction of southern NATOstan. Still we managed to find a relatively secluded grove for the appropriate Rimbaud mood (la mer, la mer, toujours recommence). 

Then the dreaded moment reared its ugly head – at Sanary-sur-Mer, where Huxley wrote Brave New World at his Villa Huley and Thomas Mann held court in the Chemin de la Colline. Brecht in fact might have sung anti-Hitler songs out of a table at Le Nautique; so after debating with Nick the comparative merits of Beneteau sailing boats, I finally decided to stop with all that Brechtian distancing and walked to the nearby kiosk to buy the papers, order a cafe au lait, and turn on the mobile. 

Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade. 

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas “as soon as possible”. Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing. 

Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the “thermonuclear option”. Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow. 

Welcome to the Brussels rat-o-drome
It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those “rose petal” bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO. 

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy. 

Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise – a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the “benign” Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by – who else – neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other – as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO – as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats. 

For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The “transparency” surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea’s King Jong-eun to shame. 

The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic “non-tariff obstacles” – as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all – implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China. 

So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won’t be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market. 

Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create “millions of well-paid American jobs”. That’s highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated. 

As for the Europeans, it’s more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society. 

European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of “price volatility” down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that “Brussels is selling us out”; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faireaccumulated over centuries. 

So long live hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and GMOs. And off with their heads in the terroir! NATO issuing threats to Russia is such a lame, convenient diversionary tactic. As La Piccolina left Provence carrying its share of sublime artisan goods, I could not but understand why the locals see an economic NATO future with such Van Goghian apprehension. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com. 

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.) 

Fonte: Asia Times

Pepe Escobar on China/Russia ‘Deal of the decade’ & Europe’s secret US deal blues

Vídeo

Publicado em 15/04/2014
While the West weighs up putting more spanners in the works with sanctions, Russia and China are getting on with business. The two are looking at a deal that could see gas pumped into the world’s most-populated nation for the next 3 decades. Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that Beijing’s stance on the global political arena is bearing fruit.

Pepe Escobar: Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia

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Why the EU can’t ‘isolate’ Russia
By Pepe Escobar

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could teach US President Barack Obama one or two things about how to establish a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As if Obama would listen. He’d rather boost his constitutional law professor self, and pompously lecture an elite eurocrat audience in the glittering Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, like he did this Wednesday, on how Putin is the greatest threat to the US-administered global order since World War II. Well, it didn’t go that well; most eurocrats were busy taking selfies or twittering.

Putin, meanwhile, met with the CEO of German engineering and electrical conglomerate Siemens, Joe Kaeser, at his official residence outside Moscow. Siemens invested more than US$1.1 billion in Russia over the past two years, and that, Kaeser said, is bound to continue. Angela was certainly taking notes.

Obama couldn’t behave otherwise. The constitutional law expert knows nothing about Russia, in his (meager) political career never had to understand how Russia works, and may even fear Russia – surrounded as he is by a coterie of spectacularly mediocre aids. His Brussels rhetorical tour de force yielded absolutely nothing – apart from the threat that if Putin persisted in his “aggression” against eastern Ukraine or even NATO members-countries the president of the United States would unroll a much stiffer sanction package.

What else is new, considering this by supreme CIA asset and former Pentagon head in the first Obama administration, Bob Gates, is what passes for political analysis in the US.

The $1 trillion game-changer 
Demonized 24/7 by the sprawling Western propaganda machine as a ruthless aggressor, Putin and his Kremlin advisers just need to play Sun Tzu. The regime changers in Kiev are already mired in a vicious catfight. [1] And even Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Petrovych “Yats” Yatsenyuk has identified the gloomy times ahead, stressing that the signature of the economic part of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU has been postponed – so there will be no “negative consequences” for industrialized eastern Ukraine.

Translation: he knows this will be the kiss of death for Ukrainian industry, on top of it coupled with an imminent structural adjustment by the International Monetary Fund linked to the EU (maybe) bailing out a bankrupt Ukraine.

Asia Times Online’s Spengler coined a formulation: “A specter is haunting Europe, and that is the specter of a Russian-Chinese alliance at the expense of Europe.” The alliance is already on – manifested in the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are military technology synergies on the horizon – the ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense system is to be unveiled by Moscow, and Beijing would absolutely love to have it. But for the real fireworks, just wait a few weeks, when Putin visits Beijing in May.

That’s when he will sign the famous $1 trillion gas deal according to which Gazprom will supply China’s CNPC with 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas a day for 30 years, starting in 2018 (China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet).

Gazprom may still collect most of its profits from Europe, but Asia is its privileged future. On the competition front, the hyper-hyped US shale “revolution” is a myth – as much as the notion the US will be suddenly increasing exports of gas to the rest of the world any time soon.

Gazprom will use this mega-deal to boost investment in eastern Siberia – which sooner rather than later will be configured as the privileged hub for gas shipments to both Japan and South Korea. That’s the ultimate (substantial) reason why Asia won’t “isolate” Russia. ( See Asia will not ‘isolate’ Russia, Asia Times Online, March 25, 2014.)

Not to mention the much-anticipated “thermonuclear” (for the petrodollar) possibility that Russia and China will agree payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal may be in yuan or rubles. That will be the dawn of a basket of currencies as the new international reserve currency – a key BRICS objective and the ultimate, incendiary, new (economic) fact on the ground.

Time to invest in Pipelineistan 
Even though its centrality pales compared to Asia, Europe, of course, is not “expendable” for Russia. There have been rumbles in Brussels by some poodles about canceling the South Stream pipeline – pumping Russian gas underneath the Black Sea (and bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Austria. The Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, said no way. Same for the Czech Republic, because it badly needs Russian investment, and Hungary, which recently signed a nuclear energy deal with Moscow.

The only other possibility for the EU would be Caspian gas, from Azerbaijan – following on the trail of the Zbig Brzezinski-negotiated Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which was conceived expressly to bypass both Russia and Iran. As if the EU would have the will, the speed and funds to spend billions of dollars to build yet another pipeline virtually tomorrow, and assuming Azerbaijan had enough supply capacity (it doesn’t; other actors, like Kazakhstan or ultra-unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, would have to be part of the picture).

Well, nobody ever lost money betting on the cluelessness of Brussels eurocrats. South Stream and other energy projects will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most troubled EU nations. Extra sanctions? No less than 91% of Poland’s energy, and 86% of Hungary’s, come from Russia. Over 20% of the foreign lending of French banks is to Russian companies. No less than 68 Russian companies trade at the London Stock Exchange. For the Club Med nations, Russian tourism is now a lifeline (1 million went to Italy last year, for instance.)

US Think Tankland is trying to fool American public opinion into believing what the Obama administration should be applying is a replay of the “containment” policy of 1945-1989 to “limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power”. The “recipe”: weaponize everybody and his neighbor, from the Baltic nations to Azerbaijan, to “contain” Russia. The New Cold War is on because, from the point of view of US so-called “elites”, it never really left.

Meanwhile, Gazprom’s stock price is up. Buy now. You won’t regret it.

Notes:
1. Popcorn Please While “Putin’s Agitators” Rule in Kiev, Moon of Alabama, March 26, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Pepe Escobar: The Kerry-Lavrov chess match

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The Kerry-Lavrov chess match
By Pepe Escobar

It’s hardly a match between equals – as one is playing Monopoly while the other plays chess. It’s as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been postponing his checkmate, while US Secretary of State John Kerry increasingly realizes he’s facing the inevitable. 

Lavrov has explained over and over again, a loose federation is the only possible solution for Ukraine, as part of a “deep constitutional reform”. That would imply ethnic – and even sentimentally – Russian eastern and southern Ukraine would be largely autonomous. Kerry gave signs of agreeing around two weeks ago that Ukrainian regions need more decision power; but then the White House recharged its moral blitzkrieg – coinciding with President Barack Obama’s trip to The Hague and Brussels. Still, even after an inconclusive four-hour Kerry-Lavrov chess match in Paris, there will be a checkmate.

The Russian solution is the same plan proposed by Moscow already a few weeks ago, and again discussed on the phone by Obama and President Vladimir Putin on Friday – which prompted Kerry to redirect his flight to Paris. Each Ukrainian region, according to Lavrov, would be able to control its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and “external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions”. That’s such a sound plan that even former – or perennial, depending on spin – cold warriors such as Henry Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski reasonably agree. 

The key problem is that Washington immovably considers the present Kiev set up - also known as the Khaganate of Nulands, as in State Department Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands – as legitimate. Moscow sees them as a bunch of putschists and fascists. And Washington still refuses to press Kiev to accept a federal system – thus allowing, among other things, Russian as an official second language.

The latest American stunt is a massive propaganda drive of “The Reds are coming” kind, about Russian troops massing at the border(pliant corporate media spins numbers over 100,000).

Kerry, for the moment, is at least refraining from hysteria; he admits Washington and Moscow agree a diplomatic solution is a must, just to revert to the new meme – the artificial, Pentagon/NATO-spun “prelude to an invasion”.

Washington’s official position remains that Moscow must disarm its forces in Crimea (it won’t happen); admit international observers (it might happen); and pull troops back from the eastern border (Moscow argues these are exercises, with the same number as usual – fewer than 20,000). Lavrov having to stress over and over again there are no Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine sound almost like a punch line in stand-up comedy. 

Beware The Empire of Chaos 
Then there are the upcoming presidential elections. Rivers of vodka may be bet that that will be an extremely dodgy operation. The Svoboda and Right Sector goons currently in positions of power will do everything to tamper with the results (as they are not exactly popular). After German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s horse – former boxer “Klitsch” – decided to abandon the race, the leader is – what else – an oligarch: billionaire chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko. He already dismissed the federal solution, as in “somebody in the Russian government trying to tell us what type of governmental system we should have”.

images

And there’s nothing about “democracy” to start with, as the regime changers, as reported by Kommersant, are in full speed already rewriting the Ukrainian constitution, with Prime Minister “Yats” Arseniy Yatseniuk urging them to come up with the final redaction within the next two weeks.

The unspoken Siberian tiger in this room is a Russian unconditional. Kiev must officially pledge that Ukraine will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And we all know, since the Khaganate of Nulands was installed, this was always about the Pentagon-led expansion of NATO. 

Putin’s “carrot” to Obama is something that he also told him on the phone: the future of Transnistria in Moldova, on Ukraine’s south-west border, should be solved by talks in a 5+2 format; Moldova, Transnistria, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, with the European Union and US as observers. Once again, no “invasion” involved.

Glaring in all this is an already immovable fact – Crimea joining the Russian Federation. And there’s no turning back, whatever the US, the EU and Kiev may spin. 

But that poses an ulterior problem. Putin’s rationale to move on Crimea – after Russian intelligence uncovered a plot to replicate in Simferopol the coup in Kiev – was that Crimea’s autonomy was not enough to protect it from the regime changers. The same could be argued later about ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine. So the autonomy conditions – and the constitutional reform – would have to be ironclad. They probably won’t. 

Still, the stark fact is that no one gives a damn about “the Ukrainian people”, be it the US, the EU or the International Monetary Fund (Russia at least cares for Russians in Ukraine). Another even more sensitive ulterior problem, assuming Washington and Moscow reach a deal, is how far can you trust the “word” of the United States government. Russia has first-hand experience on the matter, as in Bush father promising Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand across eastern Europe. It did – like a blob in a cheap horror flick. 

We should never forget the Big Picture; as with the NSA Orwellian-panopticon complex, this is most of all about the application of the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which implies encirclement of Russia (via NATO), coupled with the pivot-style encirclement of China. And the overarching logic remains the same; this is The Empire of Chaos in action.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte: Asia Times

‘US desperate to isolate Russia on all fronts’

Pepe Escobar’US desperate to isolate Russia on all fronts’

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Published time: March 28, 2014 13:36
 
A G7 summit at the official residence of the Dutch prime minister in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). (AFP Photo / Jerry Lampen)

A G7 summit at the official residence of the Dutch prime minister in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). (AFP Photo / Jerry Lampen)

Here I outlined some reasons why Asia won’t isolate Russia. And here some reasons why the EU cannot afford to isolate Russia. Yet the Obama administration is relentless, and bound to keep attacking on three major fronts – the G20, Iran and Syria.

First, the G20. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop threw a balloon, speculating that Russia and President Vladimir Putin could be barred from the G20 summit in Brisbane in November.

The reaction of the other four BRICS member-nations was swift: “The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member-states equally and no one member-state can unilaterally determine its nature and character.”

US-subservient Australia had to shut up. For now.

The BRICS, not by accident, are the key developing world alliance inside the G20, which actually discusses what matters in international relations. The G7 – which ‘expelled’ Russia from its upcoming meeting in Sochi, transferred to Brussels – is just a self-important talk shop.

Sanction to sanction

Then there’s Iran. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov made it very clear that if the US and selected European minions would slap economic sanctions over the Crimea referendum, we will take retaliatory measures as well.” And he meant it in relation to the P5+1 negotiations over the Iranian nuclear dossier.

Here’s a fairly accurate depiction of the US establishment’s view on the Russian role in the negotiations.

It’s true that the 2009 revelation of a secret, underground Iranian uranium enrichment facility did not sit well with Moscow – which in response cancelled the sale of the S-300 air defense system to Tehran.

But more crucial is the fact Moscow wants the Iranian nuclear dossier to be kept under UN Security Council umbrella – where it can exercise a veto; any solution must be multilateral, and not concocted by psychotic neo-cons.

Conflicting political factions in Iran may harbor doubts about Moscow’s commitment to a just solution – considering Moscow has not done much to alleviate the harsh sanctions package. And yes, both Russia and Iran are in competition as energy exporters – and sanctions do punish Iran and reward Russia (50 percent less Iranian oil exports since 2011, and not even qualifying as a major exporter of natural gas).

But if the American sanction obsession engulfs Russia as well, expect fireworks; as in Moscow accelerating a swap of up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude in exchange for Russia building another nuclear power plant; extra Russian moves busting the Western sanctions wall; and even Moscow deciding to sell not only the S-300 but the S-400 or the ultra-sophisticated, upcoming S-500 air defense system to Tehran.

It’s false flag time

Finally there’s Syria. Once again, the BRICS are at the forefront. Russian Ambassador-at-Large Vadim Lukov nailed it when he stressedFrankly speaking, without the BRICS position, Syria would have long ago turned into Libya.”

The BRICS learned their lesson for Syria when they let their abstentions at a UN vote open the way for NATO’s humanitarian bombing of Libya into a failed state. Subsequently, Russian diplomacy intervened to save the Obama administration from bombing Syria over a senseless, self-inflicted ‘red line’ – with potentially cataclysmic consequences.

Now the plot is thickening again. UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has spun that the resumption of the Geneva II peace talks is “out of the question” for the moment. In a briefing to the UN Security Council in early March, he blamed the Syrian government for this.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (C) opens the so-called Geneva II peace talks next to UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) on January 22, 2014 in Montreux. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (C) opens the so-called Geneva II peace talks next to UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) on January 22, 2014 in Montreux. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

That’s absurd. The myriad, bickering, opportunistic opposition factions never wanted a negotiation in the first place; only regime change. Not to mention the jihadi nebulae – whic until recently has been imposing facts on the ground fully weaponized by Gulf petrodollar funds.

Now rumors abound of the Obama administration getting ready to ‘isolate’ Russia – and by extension the BRICS – on Syria.

The Obama administration, via proverbial unnamed ‘officials’, has been positioning disinformation‘reports’ about jihadists attacking Western interests, based out of north and northeast Syria. That could be the prelude for a perfect false flag, then used to justify a Western intervention – obviously bypassing the UN. Those warmongering dreamers of a no-fly zone over Syria have never stopped dreaming.

This scenario also neatly dovetails with the current Erdogan administration scandal in Turkey – as what was unveiled on YouTube is exactly a national security conversation on how a NATO member, Turkey, could set up a false flag and blame Syria.

The bottom line is that NATO has far from given up on regime change in Syria. There are enticing symmetries at play. A putsch in Ukraine. A false flag in Syria. A NATO push in Syria? A Russian push in eastern Ukraine. It may not sound as far-fetched as it seems. And then, all bets are off.

The whole New Great Game in Eurasia is getting so warped that now we have constitutional law expert Obama legitimizing the invasion and occupation of Iraq (“America sought to work within the international system, we did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory”) and wacko warmongers in Think Tankland preaching an oil embargo against Russia, Iran-style, with Washington using their minions Saudi Arabia to make up for the shortfall.

After lecturing Europeans in The Hague and Brussels over ‘evil’ Russian designs, and parading in Rome like a New Caesar, Obama finishes his triumphal tour exactly at his Saudi satrapy. We should all get ready for a nasty box of chocolates ahead.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Pepe escobar: “Russian sanctions as war and farce”

THE ROVING EYE
Russian sanctions as war and farce
By Pepe Escobar

Putin e as sanções euro-americanas.

Putin e as sanções euro-americanas.

If we come to a minefield, our infantry attacks exactly as if it was not there - Marshal Georgy Zhukov

Let’s start with the serious stuff. As Russia’s Federation Council ratifies a treaty with Crimea, concluding the formal annexation, Ukraine signs the political chapters of an association agreement with the European Union (EU). The signing of the full EU agreement will only happen later in 2014.

These are the facts on the ground. Now let’s turn to comedy hour – also known as the sanctions war.

The oh-so democratic EU has punished the democratic Crimea referendum by sanctioning 33 Russians and Crimeans with asset freezes and travel bans, according to that Magritte-style walking fiction, European Council President Van Rompuy. The EU also canceled the EU-Russia summit in Sochi on June 3. And the vast, Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the European Commission (EC) has taken time out from subsidizing European cows to prepare for “possible economic sanctions”, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 
The EU is irretrievably split on what to do. Whatever it does, Moscow’s capacity to make the EU badly hurt is stronger. There may be another meek set of sanctions next week, as Merkel advertised. But that’s it.

European poodle action mirrors His Master’s Voice – as in US President Barack Obama solemnly imposing, by executive order, further sanctions on “senior officials of the Russian government.” Other US targets are private businessmen close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Only exceptionalist logic legally allows sanctions on private individuals deemed responsible for political steps taken by the country they live in. International lawyers should have thought about sanctioning the entire US population for the Bush-Cheney junta’s disaster.

Well over 60% of Americans and Europeans are against a New Cold War against Russia. Putin’s approval rating in Russia is around 75% – and arguably similar all across the developing world. Still, no one will lose money betting on the juvenile amateurism of the Obama administration. As if they and selected European minions could intimidate Moscow with some cosmetic “message”. The American sanction religion, imposed with a conquistador/slave owner fury, did destroy Iraq for years – and was supposed to destroy Iran as well. But Russia is not Iraq or Iran.

I love a man in sanction uniform
Sanctioned Russians are not exactly quaking in their made-in-London brogues. After all, the practical impact of these sanctions is exactly zero. And most people targeted have minimal direct links with the US.

The original American list included Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin and presidential aide Vladislav Surkov. They laughed it off, loudly – adding it felt like a badge of honor. The expanded list includes key Putin advisers and even some of his friends.

Obama, Iran-style, sanctioned the Bank of Russia – a minor player (less than US$10 billion in assets; compare it with giant Sberbank at $528 billion). But Bank of Russia is used by some Gazprom subsidiaries for some low-key deals – even as Gazprom owns its own bank, GazpromBank. The “message” here is that Washington is watching Gazprom. 

Chief of Presidential Administration Sergei Ivanov is a key adviser on Ukraine and a top negotiator with the US, the EU and NATO. The – counterproductive – “message” implied here is that Moscow and Washington are not talking anything substantial in the immediate future. So much for the West’s “diplomatic efforts”.

Then there’s Yuri Kovalchuk, a board member of the Bank of Russia, a key business adviser and – allegedly, no conclusive evidence – Putin’s personal banker. The message here is of the “I’m gonna git you sucka” kind.

Finally, among the notables, there’s Gennady Timchenko, who has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine. He’s an energy deal operator, controlling oil and natural gas trading firm Gunvor. In this case, the “message” is that the US will target Russia’s energy deals. Message void, because the EU – which needs Gazprom badly – is not inclined to sanction Timchenko.

Other sanctioned include the head of the Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov, Chief of Military Intelligence Igor Sergun and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin.

They are all part of the Russia-US team involved in the Northern Distribution Network – the long, across-Central Asia highway that will allow NATO to flee Afghanistan. A swift Moscow counter-attack would be to leave the Americans and Europeans hanging dry – or to close the NDN altogether.

I want to be sanction-free
Moscow, predictably, struck back. The Russian Foreign Ministry has “repeatedly” stressed that using sanctions is a “double-edged thing” and it will have a “boomerang” effect against the US.

Already barred from entering Russia is a nasty bunch including the senile John McCain, plus Robert Menendez, Daniel Coats, Mary Landrieu, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Obama advisers such as the cosmic mediocrity Ben Rhodes. Vicky “F**k the EU” Nuland has not made the list – yet.

Moscow is playing it cool because it may choose among a staggering array of counterpunches. It enjoys the support of the BRICS group of emerging powers, the non-aligned movement (NAM) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Composing with the US, Moscow agreed to impose sanctions on Iran, and is a key player in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. If the sanction comedy goes on, Moscow has already announced it will play hardball with the P5+1, will cease to sanction Iran, and may even, finally, weaponize Tehran with jewels of the S-400 variety. 

Moscow – the number one oil and gas exporter on the planet – can also play further hardball with Europe’s dependency on Gazprom; clinically target US companies working in Russia; speed up the BRICS-coordinated escape from the US dollar, as in a new international payment system in a basket of currencies for the BRICS as well as other emerging markets; and even activate the ultimate economic nuclear bomb – which is to accept payment for Russian oil and gas in ruble, yuan, euros or gold, thus delivering a terminal blow to the petrodollar. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be the end of the comedy hour. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte:  Asia Tomes

Pepe Escobar: “How Crimea plays in Beijing”

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THE ROVING EYE
How Crimea plays in Beijing
By Pepe Escobar

“We are paying very close attention to the situation in Ukraine. We hope all parties can calmly maintain restraint to prevent the situation from further escalating and worsening. Political resolution and dialogue is the only way out.”

This, via Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, is Beijing’s quite measured, official interpretation of what’s happening in Ukraine, tailored for global consumption.

But here, in a People’s Daily editorial, is what the leadership is really thinking. And the focus is clearly on the dangers of regime change, the “West’s inability to understand the lessons of history”, and “the final battlefield of the Cold War.” 

Yet again the West misinterpreted China’s abstention from the UN Security Council vote on a US-backed resolution condemning the Crimea referendum. The spin was that Russia – which vetoed the resolution – was “isolated”. It’s not. And the way Beijing plays geopolitics shows it’s not. 

Oh, Samantha …
The herd of elephants in the (Ukraine) room, in terms of global opinion, is how the authentic “international community” – from the G-20 to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – who has had enough of the Exceptionalist Hypocrisy Show, has fully understood, and even applauded, that at least one country on the planet has the balls to clearly say “F**k the US“. Russia under President Vladimir Putin may harbor quite a few distortions, just like any other nation. But this is not a dinner party; this is realpolitik. To face down the US Leviathan, nothing short of a bad ass such as Putin will suffice. 

NATO – or shorthand for the Pentagon dominating European wimps – keeps issuing threats and spewing out “consequences”. What are they going to do – launch a barrage of ICBMs equipped with nuclear warheads against Moscow?

Furthermore, the UN Security Council itself is a joke, with US ambassador Samantha “Nothing Compares to You” Power – one of the mothers of R2P (“responsibility to protect”) – carping on “Russian aggression”, “Russian provocations” and comparing the Crimean referendum to a theft. Oh yes; bombing Iraq, bombing Libya and getting to the brink of bombing Syria were just innocent humanitarian gestures. Samantha The Humanitarian arguably gives a better performance invoking Sinead O’Connor in her shower.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin was polite enough to say, “these insults addressed to our country” are “unacceptable”. It’s what he added that carried the real juice; “If the delegation of the United States of America expects our cooperation in the Security Council on other issues, then Power must understand this quite clearly.”

Samantha The Humanitarian, as well as the whole bunch of juvenile bystanders in the Obama administration, won’t understand it. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov gave them a little help; Russia didn’t want to use the Iranian nuclear talks to “raise the stakes”, but if the US and the EU continue with their sanctions and threats, that’s what’s going to happen. 

So the plot thickens – as in a closer and closer strategic partnership between Tehran and Moscow.

Secessionists of the world, unite? 
Now imagine all this as seen from Beijing. No one knows what exactly goes on in the corridors of the Zhongnanhai, but it’s fair to argue there’s only an apparent contradiction between China’s key principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and Russia’s intervention in Crimea. 

Beijing has identified very clearly the sequence of affairs; long-running Western interference in Ukraine via NGOs and the State Department; regime change perpetrated with the help of fascists and neo-nazis; a pre-emptive Russian counterattack which can be read as a by-the-book Samantha The Humanitarian R2P operation (protecting Russians and Russian speakers from a second coup planned in Crimea, and thwarted by Russian intelligence.) 

On top of it Beijing well knows how Crimea has been essentially Russian since 1783; how Crimea – as well as a great deal of Ukraine – fall smack into Russian civilization’s sphere of influence; and how Western interference directly threatened Russia’s national security interests (as Putin made it clear.) Now imagine a similar scenario in Tibet or Xinjiang. Long-running Western interference via NGOs and the CIA; a take over by Tibetans in Lhasa or Uighurs in Kashgar of the local administration. Beijing could easily use Samantha’s R2P in the name of protecting Han Chinese.

Yet Beijing (silently) agreeing to the Russian response to the coup in Kiev by getting Crimea back via a referendum and without a shot fired does not mean that “splittists” Tibet or Taiwan would be allowed to engage in the same route. Even as Tibet, more than Taiwan, would be able to build a strong historical case for seceding. Each case bears its own myriad complexities.

The Obama administration – like a blind Minotaur - is now lost in a labyrinth of pivots of its own making. A new Borges – that Buddha in a gray suit – is needed to tell the tale. First there was the pivoting to Asia-Pac – which is encircling of China under another name – as it’s well understood in Beijing. 

Then came the pivoting to Persia – “if we are not going to war”, as that Cypher in Search of an Idea, John Kerry, put it. There was, of course, the martial pivoting to Syria, aborted at the last minute thanks to the good offices of Moscow diplomacy. And back to the pivoting to Russia, trampling the much-lauded “reset” and conceived as a payback for Syria.

Those who believe Beijing strategists have not carefully analyzed – and calculated a response – to all the implications of these overlapping pivots do deserve to join Samantha in the shower. Additionally, it’s easy to picture Chinese Think Tankland hardly repressing its glee in analyzing a hyperpower endlessly, helplessly pivoting over itself.

While the Western dogs bark …
Russia and China are strategic partners – at the G-20, at the BRICS club of emerging powers and at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Their number one objective, in these and other forums, is the emergence of a multipolar world; no bullying by the American Empire of Bases, a more balanced international financial system, no more petrodollar eminence, a basket of currencies, essentially a “win-win” approach to global economic development. 

A multipolar world also implies, by definition, NATO out of Eurasia - which is from Washington’s point of view the number one reason to interfere in Ukraine. In Eurasian terms, it’s as if – being booted out of Afghanistan by a bunch of peasants with Kalashnikovs – NATO was pivoting back via Ukraine.

While Russia and China are key strategic partners in the energy sphere – Pipelineistan and beyond – they do overlap in their race to do deals across Central Asia. Beijing is building not only one but two New Silk Roads - across Southeast Asia and across Central Asia, involving pipelines, railways and fiber optic networks, and reaching as far as Istanbul, the getaway to Europe. Yet as far as Russia-China competition for markets go, all across Eurasia, it’s more under a “win-win” umbrella than a zero-sum game. 

On Ukraine (“the last battlefield in the Cold War”) and specifically Crimea, the (unspoken) official position by Beijing is absolute neutrality (re: the UN vote). Yet the real deal is support to Moscow. But this could never be out in the open, because Beijing is not interested in antagonizing the West, unless heavily provoked (the pivoting becoming hardcore encirclement, for instance). Never forget; since Deng Xiaoping (“keep a low profile”) this is, and will continue to be, about China’s “peaceful rise”. Meanwhile, the Western dogs bark, and the Sino-Russian caravan passes. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Pepe Escobar: Kiev coup is tequila sunrise revolution with neo-Nazi flavor

Vídeo

Publicado em 10/03/2014
A referendum in Crimea will say in a week if the region wants more autonomy from Kiev, or if it sees itself a part of Russia. To discuss the upcoming vote, RT speaks to foreign affairs journalist, Pepe Escobar.

FOLLOW LIVE UPDATES on Ukraine turmoil: http://on.rt.com/xhz2zu

Pepe Escobar: “Fascists/neo-nazis Will Never Allow Real Elections In Ukraine”

Fascists/neo-nazis Will Never Allow Real Elections In Ukraine

C’mon baby, light my (Crimean) fire

By Pepe Escobar

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March 08, 2014 “Information Clearing House - “Asia Times” - March 16 is C Day. The Crimean parliament – by 78 votes with 8 abstentions – decided this is the day when Crimean voters will choose between joining the Russian Federation or to remain part of Ukraine as an autonomous region with very strong powers, according to the 1992 constitution. 

Whatever “diplomatic” tantrums Washington and Brussels will keep pulling, and they will be incandescent, facts on the ground speak for themselves. The city council of Sevastopol – the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – has already voted to join Russia. And next week the Duma in Moscow will study a bill to simplify the mechanism of adhesion.

Quick recap: this is a direct result of Washington spending US$5 billion – a Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland official figure – to promote regime change in Ukraine. On the horizon, Crimea may be incorporated into Russia for free, while the “West” absorbs that bankrupt back-of-beyond (Western Ukraine) that an Asia Times Online reader indelibly described as the “Khaganate of Nulands” (an amalgam of khanate, Victoria’s notorious neo-con husband Robert Kagan, and no man’s land).

What Moscow regards as an illegal, neo-nazi infiltrated government in Kiev, led by Prime Minister Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk – an Ukrainian Jewish banker playing the role of Western puppet – insists Crimea must remain part of Ukraine. And it’s not only Moscow; half of Ukraine itself does not recognize the Yats gang as a legitimate government, now boasting a number of oligarchs imposed as provincial governors.

Yet this “government” – supported by the US and the European Union – has already declared the referendum illegal. Proving its impeccable “democratic” credentials, it has already moved to ban the official use of the Russian language in Ukraine; get rid of the communist party, which amassed 13% of the votes in the last election, more, incidentally, than the neo-nazi-infested Svoboda (“Freedom”) party, now ensconced in key government security posts; and ban a Russian TV station, which happens to be the most popular on Ukrainian cable

Amid all the hysteria from Washington and certain European capitals, what’s not explained to puzzled public opinion is that these fascists/neo-nazis who got to power through a coup will never allow real elections to take place in Ukraine; after all they would most certainly be sent packing. 

This implies that “Yats” and his gang – on top of it reveling at their red carpet welcome at a pompous yet innocuous EU summit in Brussels – won’t budge. For instance, they used heavy muscle to send pro-Russian protesters in front of the Donetsk government building running. Heavily industrialized Donetsk is very much linked commercially to Russia.

Then there’s an even more sinister possible scenario looming in the horizon; an instrumentalization of the lunatic jihadi fringe of the 10% of Tatars in Crimea, from false flags to suicide bombings. The House of Saud, according to a solid Saudi source, is immensely interested in Ukraine, and may be tempted to do a few favors for Western intelligence.

Will our love become a funeral pyre?
Arguably, for Moscow, keeping Crimea inside the Ukraine, with large autonomous powers plus the current signed agreement to keep the base in Sevastopol, is a much better deal than annexing it. It’s as if Russia was annexing what for all practical purposes was already a Russian province.

Yet the Kremlin may always decide not to annex, and use the all but certain result of the referendum as a key pawn in a complex negotiation with, not the EU, but fundamentally Germany. The EU is a mess. The “government” in Kiev is a mess. What matters is what Vladimir Putin is discussing over the phone with Angela Merkel.

Much has to do with Pipelineistan – as in the 9 billion euro (US$12.4 billion) Nord Stream, the steel umbilical cord between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. Merkel, the then Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, and former German chancellor and now Nord Stream chairman Gerhard Schroeder were very close when the pipeline project carrying Russian gas to Germany went online in 2011. The project was initially proposed in 2005 when Schroeder was chancellor and Putin was Russia’s president, first time round. Schroeder, earlier this week, said that NATO should shut up.

Moreover, two-way trade between Russia and the EU was around a whopping US$370 billion in 2012 (no 2013 data yet), with Russia exporting mostly oil, gas and cereals, and the EU exporting mostly cars, medicine, machine parts. Forget about sanctions, that sacrosanct Washington mantra; they are really bad for business.

Moscow, though, has a real, tangible and very serious red line. It does not even have to bother about Ukraine in the EU because the overwhelming majority of Europeans don’t want it as part of their club. The red line is North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases in Ukraine. Moscow might even compromise on Ukraine remaining a sort of Finland between Russia and Europe. With Crimea still inside the Ukraine, a NATO base side by side with the Russian base in Sevastopol would be nothing short of psychedelic.

So a resolution in Crimea – whichever way it goes – does send a very clear message from Moscow to the “West”. Watch our red line. And unlike others, we mean it, and we back it up with all we got. 

No time to wallow in the mire
First US President Barack Obama solemnly declared that the referendum in Crimea would “violate international law” (Kosovo, though, could merrily secede from Serbia in 2008, to wild Washington fanfare.)

And this after he declared Crimea to be an “extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the US”. What next – Crimean nationalists invading Iowa? No, just a ploy for the White House to deploy the usual financial war.

All that when the brilliant “strategy” of Team Obama – keep demonizing Putin to Kingdom Come – was reaching its apex.

But then Obama – noticing Angela Merkel was stealing the spotlight – called Putin and stayed on the phone for nearly a full hour trying to “engage” him. Why the change of heart?

A possible response may be supplied by the inescapable Dr Zbigniew “The Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, former national security advisor to that Hamlet hick Jimmy Carter; the man who gave the Soviets “their Vietnam”; the man who always dreamed that the US should rule over Eurasia; and Obama’s “invisible” top foreign policy mentor.

As Dr Zbig told WorldPost’s Nathan Gardels, “The strategy of the West at this moment should be to complicate Vladimir Putin’s planning.” Well, that didn’t work so well, did it? Then Dr Zbig advances that “NATO should invite the Russians to participate in its ongoing discussions”. It’s not happening.

Dr Zbig is adamant “we have to formally recognize the new government in Ukraine, which I believe expresses the will of the people there”. In fact, the will of perhaps half of the nation, at best. “Interference in Ukrainian affairs should be considered a hostile act by a foreign power.” That was Obama’s rationale until his phone call to Putin.

Dr Zbig got even more apocalyptic, stressing, “We should put NATO contingency plans into operation, deploying forces in Central Europe so we are in a position to respond if war should break out and spread.” No wonder US corporate media went bananas.

But then Dr Zbig falls back into sanity; “The best solution for Ukraine would be to become as Finland has been to Russia.” So in the end he may have suggested to Obama “a compromise solution that is acceptable for Russia as well as the West”. And that will involve “serious economic aid and investment”. And guess who should take the lead, as in footing the bill? “Germany, the most prosperous and strongest economy in the EU.”

So in the end we fall back, once again, on what Angela and Vlad have been discussing. Is it Finlandization? Or is it about who’s trying to set the night on fire?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). – He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved.

Fonte: Information Clearing House

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37885.htm#.Uxv3C_NRs5k.facebook

Pepe Escobar: Spring fails in Ukrainian plunderland

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Spring fails in Ukrainian plunderland
By Pepe Escobar

Here’s the US’s exceptionalist promotion of “democracy” in action; Washington has recognized a coup d’etat in Ukraine that regime-changed a – for all its glaring faults – democratically elected government. 

And here is Russian President Vladimir Putin, already last year,talking about how Russia and China decided to trade in roubles and yuan, and stressing how Russia needs to quit the “excessive monopoly” of the US dollar. He had to be aware the Empire would strike back.

Now there’s more; Russian presidential adviser Sergey Glazyev told RIA Novosti, “Russia will abandon the US dollar as a reserve currency if the United States initiates sanctions against the Russian Federation.”

So the Empire struck back by giving “a little help” to regime change in the Ukraine. And Moscow counter-punched by taking control of Crimea in less than a day without firing a shot – with or without crack Spetsnaz brigades (UK-based think tanks say they are; Putin says they are not).

Putin’s assessment of what happened in Ukraine is factually correct; “an anti-constitutional takeover and armed seizure of power”. It’s open to endless, mostly nasty debate whether the Kremlin overreacted or not. Considering the record of outright demonization of both Russia and Putin going on for years – and now reaching fever pitch – the Kremlin’s swift reaction was quite measured.

Putin applied Sun Tzu to the letter, and now plays the US against the EU. He has made it clear Moscow does not need to “invade” Ukraine. The 1997 Ukraine-Russia partition treaty specifically allows Russian troops in Crimea. And Russia after all is an active proponent of state sovereignty; it’s under this principle that Moscow refuses a Western “intervention” in Syria.

What he left the door open for is – oh cosmic irony of ironies – an American invention/intervention (and that, predictably, was undetectable by Western corporate media); the UN’s R2P – “responsibility to protect” – in case the Western-aligned fascists and neo-nazis in Ukraine threaten Russians or Russian-speaking civilians with armed conflict. Samantha Power should be proud of herself.

Don’t mess with Russian intelligence
The “West” once again has learned you don’t mess with Russian intelligence, which in a nutshell preempted in Crimea a replica of the coup in Kiev, largely precipitated by UNA-UNSO – a shady, ultra-rightwing, crack paramilitary NATO-linked force using Ukraine as base, as exposed by William Engdahl.

And Crimea was an even murkier operation, because those neo-nazis from Western Ukraine were in tandem with Tatar jihadis (the House of Saud will be heavily tempted to finance them from now on). 

The Kremlin is factually correct when pointing out that the coup was essentially conducted by fascists and ultra-right “nationalists” – Western code for neo-nazis. Svoboda (“Freedom”) party political council member Yury Noyevy even admitted openly that using EU integration as a pretext “is a means to break our ties with Russia.” 

Western corporate media always conveniently forgets that Svoboda – as well as the Right Sector fascists – follow in the steps of Galician fascist/terrorist Stepan Bandera, a notorious asset of a basket of “Western” intel agencies. Now Svoboda has managed to insert no less than six bigwigs as part of the new regime in Kiev.

Then there are the new regional governors appointed to the mostly Russophone east and south of Ukraine. They are – who else – oligarchs, such as billionaires Sergei Taruta posted to Donetsk and Ihor Kolomoysky posted in Dnipropetrovsk. People in Maidan in Kiev were protesting mostly against – who else – kleptocrat oligarchs. Once again, Western corporate media – which tirelessly plugged a “popular” uprising against kleptocracy – hasn’t noticed it. 

Once again, follow the money
Ukraine’s foreign currency reserves, only in the past four weeks, plunged from US$17.8 billion to $15 billion. Wanna buy some hryvnia? Well, not really; the national currency, is on a cosmic dive against the US dollar. This is jolly good news only for disaster capitalism vultures.

And right on cue, the International Monetary Fund is sending a “fact-finding mission” to Ukraine this week. Ukrainians of all persuasions may run but they won’t hide from “structural adjustment”. They could always try to scrape enough for a ticket with their worthless hryvnia (being eligible for visa on arrival in Thailand certainly helps).

European banks – who according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) hold more than $23 billion in outstanding loans – could lose big in Ukraine. Italian banks, for instance, have loaned nearly $6 billion. 

On the Pipelineistan front, Ukraine heavily depends on Russia; 58% of its gas supply. It cannot exactly diversify and start buying from Qatar tomorrow – with delivery via what, Qatar Airways?

And even as 66% of Russian gas exported to the EU transits through Ukraine, the country is fast losing its importance as a transit hub. Both the Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines – Russia not on-the-ground but under-seas – bypass Ukraine. The Nord Stream, finished in 2011, links Russia with Germany beneath the Baltic Sea. South Stream, beneath the Black Sea, will be ready before the end of 2015.

Geoeconomically, the Empire needs Ukraine to be out of the Eurasian economic union promoted by the Kremlin – which also includes Kazakhstan and Belarus. And geopolitically, when NATO Secretary General, the vain puppet Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that an IMF-EU package for the Ukraine would be “a major boost for Euro-Atlantic security”, this is what clinched it; the only thing that matters in this whole game is NATO “annexing” Ukraine, as I examined earlier.

It has always been about the Empire of Bases – just like the encirclement of Iran; just like the “pivot” to Asia translating into encirclement of China; just like encircling Russia with bases and “missile defense”. Over the Kremlin’s collective dead body, of course.

Let’s plunder that wasteland
US Secretary of State John Kerry accusing Russia of “invading Ukraine”, in “violation of international law”, and “back to the 19th century”, is so spectacularly pathetic in its hypocrisy – once again, look at the US’s record – it does not warrant comment from any informed observer. Incidentally, this is as pathetic as his offer of a paltry $1 billion in “loan guarantees” – which would barely pay Ukraine’s bills for two weeks.

The Obama administration – especially the neo-cons of the “F**k the EU” kind – has lost is power play. And for Moscow, it has no interlocutor in Kiev because it considers the regime-changers illegal. Moscow also regards “Europe” as a bunch of pampered whining losers – with no common foreign policy to boot.

So any mediation now hinges on Germany. Berlin has no time for “sanctions” – the sacrosanct American exceptionalist mantra; Russia is a plush market for German industry. And for all the vociferations at the Economist and the Financial Times, the City of London also does not want sanctions; the financial center feeds on lavish Russian politico/oligarch funds. As for the West’s “punishment” for Russia by threatening to expel it from the Group of Eight, that is a joke. The G-8, which excludes China, does not decide anything relevant anymore; the G-20 does. 

If a wide-ranging poll were to be conducted today, it would reveal that the majority of Ukrainians don’t want to be part of the EU – as much as the majority of Europeans don’t want the Ukraine in the EU. What’s left for millions of Ukrainians is the bloodsucking IMF, to be duly welcomed by “Yats” (as Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is treated by Vic “F**k the EU” Nuland).

Ukraine is slouching towards federalization. The Kiev regime-changers will have no say on autonomous Crimea – which most certainly will remain part of Ukraine (and Russia by the way will save $90 million in annual rent for the Sevastopol base, which until now was payable to Kiev.)

The endgame is all but written; Moscow controls an autonomous Crimea for free, and the US/EU “control”, or try to plunder, disaster capitalism-style, a back of beyond western Ukraine wasteland “managed” by a bunch of Western puppets and oligarchs, with a smatter of neo-nazis. 

So what is the Obama/Kerry strategic master duo to do? Start a nuclear war?

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Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Fonte: Asia Times

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-02-050314.html