Author Topic: Russia/US-- Europe  (Read 109045 times)

ya

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #700 on: October 30, 2022, 04:56:30 PM »
Martin Armstrong quoting Reuters and the Independent newspaper

"While Russia has identified Britain as acting on behalf of the United States to blow up the Nord Stream Pipeline as Britain publicly denies it, Liz Truss' phone was hacked. One minute after the pipeline was destroyed she sent a text to Secretary Anthony Blinken "It's done." The Independent has acknowledged that Russia has hacked Liz Truss' phone. This is an act of war."

DougMacG

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #701 on: October 30, 2022, 08:53:22 PM »
Martin Armstrong quoting Reuters and the Independent newspaper

"While Russia has identified Britain as acting on behalf of the United States to blow up the Nord Stream Pipeline as Britain publicly denies it, Liz Truss' phone was hacked. One minute after the pipeline was destroyed she sent a text to Secretary Anthony Blinken "It's done." The Independent has acknowledged that Russia has hacked Liz Truss' phone. This is an act of war."

IF TRUE, this is huge (and terrible) news.  But all I find on Reuters is two denials:
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/france-says-no-basis-russian-accusations-against-britain-2022-10-30/
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-says-british-navy-personnel-blew-up-nord-stream-gas-pipelines-2022-10-29/

Hard to believe the Russians would lie...

ya

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #702 on: October 31, 2022, 04:29:38 AM »
Martin Armstrong quoting Reuters and the Independent newspaper

"While Russia has identified Britain as acting on behalf of the United States to blow up the Nord Stream Pipeline as Britain publicly denies it, Liz Truss' phone was hacked. One minute after the pipeline was destroyed she sent a text to Secretary Anthony Blinken "It's done." The Independent has acknowledged that Russia has hacked Liz Truss' phone. This is an act of war."

I have not seen "Its done" being quoted elsewhere. Not sure what his source is. Martin's predictions can be wrong (rarely), but have not found him to make things up. Now if something goes belly up in the UK, that might be telling.


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia-- France
« Reply #704 on: November 02, 2022, 06:13:14 AM »
November 2, 2022
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For France, Working With Russia Is Expensive
The Ukraine war has dashed nearly all of Paris’ hope of helming a “Greater Europe.”
By: Ryan Bridges
The worst day for France’s grand European vision was Feb. 24 as Russia invaded Ukraine, but a close second came a few weeks earlier, when Russia and China announced their unlimited friendship. French grand strategy was to avoid at all costs a Sino-Russian alignment. President Emmanuel Macron articulated this outlook well in an August 2019 address to France’s ambassadors, in which he said Western civilization is in decline and Europe will disappear, wrenched apart by the intensifying bipolarity of the United States and China – unless the French lead a revolt against American hegemony, accommodate the Russians, and fortify “Europe” (including Russia) into a third pole. Since the days of Charles de Gaulle, France has been uncomfortable with its often subordinate role in the Western alliance, particularly with respect to the U.S. and Britain. In mid-2019, with the U.S. losing interest in Europe, Russia and Ukraine in a stalemate, and China ascending, Paris sensed an opportunity to change its fortunes and create a more sovereign European bloc.

Macron never doubted the difficulty of this endeavor, but neither did the Kremlin take him particularly seriously. Since the invasion in late February, Russia’s repeated declarations of war on the West have snuffed out Paris’ dream of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The best Macron, and by extension France, can do now is strive to be the one who made the grand vision possible, perhaps even by helping to accelerate the downfall of Vladimir Putin’s regime without getting any of the credit.

Grand Vision

Much of Macron’s 2019 speech is worth reading in full, but here’s a summary: European civilization is in decline, and only France can save it. The United States is part of the West, but in the same way that Russia is. Americans are different from Europeans because they place individual freedom above everything. Russia is different because it is “deeply conservative and opposed to the EU project,” a tortuously polite way of dismissing the enormity of their differences. The rivalry between these conceptions of Western civilization, according to Macron, threatens to tear the collective West asunder.

Macron believes that the global distribution of power is shifting from the U.S. toward China. The ultimate outcome of this shift is unclear, but there will likely be two centers of power, eventually, with Russia and Europe caught in between. To him, Europe and Russia are in the same boat, even if they don’t know it yet. Macron thinks their best course of action would be to reconcile, cooperate and form a “balancing power.”

What would this balancing power look like? It would be Europe, in the form of concentric circles – emanating from Paris, naturally. The first encompasses Paris and Berlin. Next comes the 19-member eurozone, then the EU-27, and then the United Kingdom, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland and others. Each successive circle represents a progressively looser relationship, with fewer obligations to each other but less power and fewer benefits. With little fanfare, the final circle was added in October, when Macron’s brainchild, the 44-member European Political Community, held its first summit in Prague. The EPC brought in the Balkan and South Caucasus states, but it publicly withheld invitations to Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine. To join the outer circle, by implication, Moscow needs to end the war and show goodwill. The relationship can proceed from there, from general political dialogue to cooperation on transnational crises and, eventually, deeper economic ties.

From Macron’s point of view, these are not the same terms that the United States attempted to impose on Moscow at the end of the Cold War, so it’s possible the Kremlin would be more amenable to them. Though it’s not entirely clear what the differences are, Macron’s broader criticism of America’s Russia policy is a familiar one: After the Soviet Union’s breakup, Western Europe “gave the impression of being a Trojan Horse for [the U.S.], whose final aim was to destroy Russia.” This was possible because “Europe … did not enact its own strategy.” Whether and how much this is true is irrelevant. It is a widely held sentiment in some corners of the West, and it is especially popular in Russia, and that is what matters. It represented the bare minimum to get the conversation started.

Nightmares and No Choices

From the start, Macron knew this was a long shot. He described it as “a strategy of boldness, of risk-taking,” and praised the French for possessing “a spirit of resistance [that] does not give in to fate or adapt to things and habits.” But if it were ever achievable, it isn’t any longer. For starters, Putin did not believe that Macron could deliver on his promises. The Baltics, Poland and likely others would never accept a renovation of Europe’s security architecture that included an open door to Russia. As long as the U.S. supports them and has the troop presence in Europe to back up its words, revising the European order is out of the question. This is why Putin sent his December 2021 ultimatum to the United States, not France or even Germany.

Moreover, European strategic autonomy – Macron’s plan to overcome the U.S. veto on European strategy (aka NATO) – is in shambles. France cannot credibly guarantee the security of Central and Eastern Europe on its own, and in any case, it’s not as threatened by Russia as those regions are. It needs partners with the interest and capability to support it. The United Kingdom has lost the capability. This leaves Germany, ideally with Poland. But Germany and Poland are bickering, and predictably, Germany’s “turning of the times” announced in the days after the invasion has come full circle. Germany’s stockpiles are low on ammunition but overflowing with excuses, which seem to run out only when opinion polling shifts. Simply put, outside of tough rhetoric about the future relationship with Russia, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has given few indications of breaking with two decades of German grand strategy. Germany still resists the fiscal integration needed to make the euro stable and a viable alternative to the dollar, goes it alone on subsidies and energy policy, is slavishly committed to self-imposed debt rules that hamstring lasting investment in things like defense, and is doubling down on its trade-dependent economic strategy.

Putin correctly understood that dealing with Europe was a dead end. If anything, he appears to have read Macron’s repeated overtures – correctly, again – as weakness, or at least as evidence of cracks in the Western bloc. So when the U.S. rejected his ultimatum almost out of hand, Putin flew to Beijing and sealed a strategic partnership with President Xi Jinping. This was France’s nightmare scenario. If Russia truly sides with China – and it’s certainly not clear that that’s the case – then France has no choice but to commit to more time living in America’s shadow.

Surveying the Wreckage

At this point, Putin is radioactive. The number of European leaders who think it even possible to accommodate him is few and far between. Still, negotiations are inevitable. An entente with Russia is extremely unlikely before Macron’s second (and final) presidential term ends in 2027, so if Paris wants to take political credit in the here and now, its next best option is to help Ukraine reclaim territory and eventually secure the best possible outcome at the negotiating table. If this accelerates the end of the Putin regime, that may be for the best from France's perspective, so long as it does not unnecessarily destabilize Russian society and, just as crucially, attracts minimal attention to France’s role.

Central and Eastern Europeans are understandably worried by France’s commitment to not upsetting the Russians. For them, it betrays an eagerness to work with Russia that, they fear, could become a willingness to work with Putin. But more than that, the strategy is deferential toward Russian concerns about the presence of significant military force in Central and Eastern Europe. France could tell the Kremlin that it will never abandon its friends to the east, and that the right of it or anyone else in NATO to ensure their security is not up for discussion. But it hasn’t, preferring instead to offer Central and Eastern Europe’s security as a bargaining chip to get Russia to accept the seat left open for it at the top table.

This remains an insurmountable problem for the dream of a Greater Europe. The Western policy that Russia abhors and France regrets was made in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and even Berlin at least as much as it was made in Washington. It is not enough for France to excise American influence over European affairs; it must replace the Americans in the eyes of those who lived beyond the Iron Curtain, or else it must strike a deal over their heads and probably destroy a major interior ring of the system of concentric circles. Either way, the price of moving forward with Russia just got a lot higher

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Poland
« Reply #705 on: November 08, 2022, 11:06:49 AM »
Base expansion. Warsaw plans to expand its military base in Powidz, which hosts U.S. forces, according to the Polish defense minister. The expansion will include additional warehouses, hangars and a fuel reserve. Warsaw said the main goal of the enlargement is to boost the rapid response capability of U.S. and Polish troops, as well as the forces of other NATO countries.


ccp

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I agree with assessment above
« Reply #707 on: November 10, 2022, 06:40:40 AM »
"Recent reports of U.S. officials secretly encouraging Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to be open to negotiations are more than just shows of good faith. This reflects the growing fatigue and cost of the war, as well as the dawning realization that Russia has more leverage in the situation than the leaders of the West are letting on publicly."

I agree with 99 yo Kissinger
give Putin Donbas

better then thousands of people dying and more destruction
of the country
risk of nucs
risk of famine
and endless quagmire

in mho
I don't think don't think  that by doing so will encourage  Putin to invade anywhere else anytime soon

his cost was very great
we made out point

he probably would like to get the heck out of this mess too
I am thinking






Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Moldova
« Reply #708 on: November 10, 2022, 08:00:31 AM »
Courting Moldova. U.S. and Moldovan officials held meetings this week to discuss military cooperation. Also this week, the U.S. Agency for International Development pledged to help Moldova overcome its energy crisis with a $30 million grant to cover electricity costs and $19.5 million for projects to strengthen energy security and reduce the country’s dependence on Russia. On Thursday, the European Union promised 250 million euros in assistance for Moldova's energy sector. Washington and Brussels are courting Moldova, a former Soviet state in which Moscow has interests, to keep it out of Russia's sphere of influence.

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Complications of the Ukraine War
« Reply #710 on: November 11, 2022, 10:18:47 AM »
https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/complications-of-the-ukraine-war/

Filled with important facts and analysis helpful to a better understanding, though I also found it to be very one sided.

A point we can all agree on:  "This is a war with no natural stopping point."

Left out I think, though I should read it again carefully:

1) Anything about Putin not being our moral equivalent,
2) That Putin's goal is to reconstitute the Soviet Union,
3) That NATO is a threat to Russia's expansion plans, not to it's borders known on maps.
4) Russia was rightful in taking back Crimea, 2014?  And credits Putin for doing it bloodlessly.  I disagree, but what about the atrocities of this war?
5) What do the people of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine provinces want?
Everyone seems to agree the "elections" of the provinces to join Russia were a sham.  Why so? If that's what the people want, with 'common language and culture', to live under tyranny and get conscripted for the next war, why pressure anyone or cheat in the vote?
6) Crediting the US for everything Ukraine has done to defend itself is a little overdone, IMHO.
7) Does a sovereign nation have a right to defend itself, including defense agreements?
8.) Where else around the world does that argument apply, that land, that base, used to be ours?
« Last Edit: November 11, 2022, 11:31:18 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Russia-- Poland
« Reply #711 on: November 15, 2022, 12:08:27 PM »
November 15, 2022
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Ominous Explosions in Poland
Nothing has been confirmed, but some have blamed errant Russia rockets.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Days after a humiliating withdrawal from the city of Kherson, Russia launched a massive missile strike across Ukraine. There are widespread power outages in the country and likely multiple deaths, but the alarming news happened next door in Poland, where at least one missile may have landed, killing two people. All we know so far is that something caused a crater and damaged grain dryers on Tuesday afternoon near Przewodow, less than five miles from the Ukrainian border and about 40 miles north of Lviv, Ukraine.

Location of Apparent Strike

(click to enlarge)

Poland’s prime minister convened an emergency security meeting, according to a government spokesman, but he provided no reason for the meeting. No official sources in Poland, NATO, Ukraine or Russia have confirmed the attack, but an anonymous U.S. intelligence official told the AP that Russian missiles were to blame. (The Pentagon has said it could not corroborate the reports.) If it did occur, it would be the most serious moment in the nearly nine-month war because unlike Ukraine, Poland can invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, obligating every other member to come to its defense.

Possible explanations for the incident include a deliberate Russian escalation intended to coerce the West into pressuring Ukraine to submit to Russian demands; an accidental strike by Russia; an accidental strike by (or debris from) a Ukrainian air defense system; or even something totally unrelated, such as a grain dust explosion, which occurs when an ignition source meets accumulated grain dust in a confined space.

All we can say for sure is Russia has not formally declared war on Poland or NATO, and the next move will certainly come from Warsaw and Washington. The U.S. commitment to avoiding a NATO-Russia war has not changed and likely will not change because of something that could be explained away as an accident. If Russian involvement is confirmed, Ukraine, Poland and some of its neighbors will surely demand a strong response. But the West has effectively exhausted its most significant sanctions options: Europe is not ready for a gas embargo, the oil price cap is proceeding but won’t be ready immediately and Hungary has obstructed other measures. The likely response, then, would probably involve an escalation of military support for Kyiv, to include Western-made aircraft and armor.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia- Europe
« Reply #712 on: November 21, 2022, 04:16:51 PM »

What sanctions? Western countries continue to import energy from Russia despite the tough sanctions they’ve imposed on Moscow. European traders are reportedly filling storage tanks with Russian diesel before an embargo on Russian oil products comes into force on Feb. 5. Diesel from Russia accounted for 44 percent of Europe’s total fuel imports in November, up from 39 percent in October. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times newspaper reports that at least 39 shipments of Russian oil (registered as deliveries from other countries) worth $237 million have arrived in the U.K. since the start of the war in Ukraine.

More fertilizer. Russia is increasing export quotas for certain types of nitrogen fertilizers. By the end of 2022, the quota for the export of urea will be increased by 400,000 tons, ammonium nitrate by 200,000 tons and carbamide-ammonia by 150,000 tons. Russia introduced quotas for the export of nitrogen and complex fertilizers on Dec. 1, 2021, to curb rises in food prices. It's now in the process of negotiating a deal to boost its fertilizer exports, which have slumped due to sanctions.

Crafty_Dog

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Why do some Ukes want to be part of Russia?
« Reply #713 on: November 22, 2022, 05:11:38 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: Poland- peace a bridge too far
« Reply #714 on: November 22, 2022, 06:05:52 AM »
November 22, 2022
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In Poland, Peace May Be a Bridge Too Far
By: George Friedman

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to some Poles. I won’t pretend that they speak for the entire country, but my impression is that, broadly speaking, they believe a peace agreement with Russia would be a mistake. It is to be understood that many Polish people are both passionate about the subject of Russia and not directly militarily involved in the Ukraine war. Poland has provided some weapons and supplies, of course, and some Poles have chosen to enter the fight, but as a nation Poland is riveted by a war it is largely outside of.

Poland has two historic enemies: Germany and Russia. For more than a century, one (and sometimes both) threatened the country’s very existence. The German question was answered by World War II, but that conflict nonetheless resulted in Russian occupation, which lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union. Poland has thus been conditioned to distrust good fortune. The United States has guaranteed Poland’s security, placing increasing numbers of troops within its borders, yet the Poles are not at ease. Partly that’s because Washington has its own interests there, and history has taught Poland that those who do not attack you either betray you or let you down.

It’s unsurprising, then, that Poland was prepared to act in Ukraine at the outset of the conflict, and that it was disappointed when the Americans prevented them from doing so. (Washington didn’t want the war to spread anywhere else, and it didn’t want Moscow feeling more paranoid than it ordinarily does.) It’s also unsurprising that Poland doesn’t want a peace agreement. Warsaw sees this as a historic moment for Ukraine, and Kyiv’s supporters, including Poland, can use Russian weakness as an opportunity to break Russia militarily and secure Poland for generations to come. For them, the errant missile fire last week was a reminder of the threat Russia still poses.

In my opinion, this is neither militarily possible nor politically wise. The force committed to combat Russia is limited to Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has been fighting for its homeland – always a good motivator – and has been on the strategic defensive. The Russians have been on the offensive, which means their supply line is increasingly stretched and fragile as the army advances. More, extended offensive operations on multiple axes create command and control difficulties. Ukraine’s supply lines have been less stressed, and control of Ukrainian forces has thus been less strained but more effective. (This is to say nothing of the parallel U.S. supply lines.) As a result, the Ukrainians have paid a high price but have been rewarded. The Russians have paid a high price but with fewer rewards. Even then, the Russians have not been defeated. Moving into a strategic offensive posture will not yield the kinds of success Ukraine has had on the strategic defense. Attacking Russian forces in a defensive posture could readily lead to failure.

Poland may be willing to throw its military into the fray, but the Polish army is inexperienced and untested, and it depends on the United States for many critical supplies. Washington, for its part, is not interested in adopting an offensive posture. Its strategy is to keep Ukraine as a buffer zone between Russia and Europe – one designed to prevent a European war or even a new cold war. It therefore wants to avoid Russian occupation there without committing American forces to combat. If Ukrainian forces fail to hold their country, the U.S. has other military options, but Ukraine is absolutely its preferred first line of defense.

One option Washington does not have is to break the Russian army permanently. It simply lacks the resources and the will. The Russians have performed poorly in a foreign county, but it must be assumed they would fare better defending their home turf. Breaking Russia’s military demands deep penetration into Russia, and the U.S. is not going to use its military on an action that is likely to fail, let alone one that could trigger a nuclear scenario. (Not for nothing, an advance into Russia would be strategically faulty. If the attacking force were broken, a new westward thrust could work as it absorbs supplies and manpower.)

Politically, the invasion of Ukraine imposed costs on Russia, and though public opinion varies greatly, the people generally do not see the conflict as a necessary one. Attacking Russia would create political unity where there otherwise isn’t any, and the political goal should be to create dissonance. The current disagreement there has weakened Russia’s motivation to fight. Forcing Russians to fight outside the country will likely maintain that division, whereas taking the fight to Russia could have the opposite effect.

Forcing the Russians into an offensive posture has both military and political benefits. At a time when Russia appears internally fragmented and Ukraine is increasingly capable, the greatest danger is to assume that prior successes mean future success, a disease military success frequently causes.

If Moscow were forced into a peace treaty, the benefit to the West is political. A cease-fire raises questions about the prudence of the government and the competence of its military. Given that breaking the Russian army on the whole is a non-starter, a peace agreement creates a political force in Russia that must be allowed to mature. The risk of pursuing a broad victory is too high, much higher than the danger of peace. But President Vladimir Putin understands this equation too, so high-profile Russian losses inside Ukraine are key to his losing control.

DougMacG

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Re: Why do some Ukes want to be part of Russia?
« Reply #715 on: November 22, 2022, 06:48:40 AM »
Eight years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QGFZev_h7g

This (title of post) is what I want to know.  Didn't notice until after watching it was 8 years old.  I feel very sorry for these people, caught in a bad place.

One, she mentioned, was more open off camera.  They wish to be Russians but not Putin totalitarian subjects or conscripts.  They feel a distance with Kiev.  Some very anti-Europe.  No one wants war.  No good choices.

They know they can't speak freely (and didn't vote freely).

I wish disputed lands could just have autonomy and peace, trade freely with both sides, keep their land and their homes, but instead they are pawns in a larger war to be traded and captured.

It doesn't seem it is Ukraine's eastern provinces Russia wants.  Putin wants to trample those areas as part of a larger expansion scheme. IMHO.  Now, if this is failure for Putin, where is the off ramp that saves face.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 06:53:54 AM by DougMacG »



Crafty_Dog

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RANE: Russia-Moldova
« Reply #718 on: November 29, 2022, 04:50:32 PM »
Russia, Moldova: Gazprom Lifts Immediate Threat to Natural Gas Deliveries Through Ukraine
2 MIN READNov 28, 2022 | 20:56 GMT





What Happened: Russian gas giant Gazprom declined to follow through on its Nov. 23 threat to reduce natural gas flows through Ukraine to Moldova, Reuters reported Nov. 28. Gazprom said it maintained flows because Moldova's Moldovagaz had since corrected payment violations for current November supplies of Russian gas, but Gazprom reiterated that it reserved the right to lower or halt flows if Moldova fails to make its contractual payments.
 
Why It Matters: The decision not to reduce flows will put downward pressure on European gas prices, which rose the week ending Nov. 26 following Russia's threats because the supply route via Ukraine is the last functioning Russian gas corridor to Western Europe. Gazprom's decision suggests Moscow is reluctant to reduce or end gas flows through Ukraine prematurely. The use of advance payment as justification not to follow through on the cutoff, however, could set up Gazprom to quickly reduce flows should Moldova fall behind on payments in the coming months, as paying on time and in full is a constant challenge for the cash-strapped country.
 
Background: On Nov. 1, Gazprom cut natural gas deliveries to Moldova and its pro-Russian breakaway Transdniestria region, which is home to Moldova's largest gas-operated power station that historically supplies about 70% of the country's electricity needs. The station sharply cut output to the rest of Moldova the same day, which precipitated widespread blackouts.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #719 on: December 01, 2022, 07:37:20 AM »
By: Geopolitical Futures
Adapting. Russia’s purchasing managers’ index increased at its fastest pace in nearly six years, from 50.7 in October to 53.2 in November. (A rating below 50 signifies a contraction.) The growth was driven by new orders and helped spur an increase in employment. Russia’s economy appears to be adapting to the tough Western sanctions regime.


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia-- Belarus
« Reply #721 on: December 19, 2022, 07:24:02 AM »
Russia in Belarus. Meanwhile, Russia’s military is also conducting battalion tactical exercises at training grounds in Belarus, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by his defense and foreign ministers, was in Minsk on Monday for his first trip to Belarus since 2019. Notably, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu “inspected” Russian troops involved in the war in Ukraine, the ministry said on Sunday.

Crafty_Dog

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FA: If/when Russia loses
« Reply #722 on: December 20, 2022, 07:52:46 AM »
FA is quintessential foreign policy establishment

Putin’s Last Stand
The Promise and Peril of Russian Defeat
By Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage
January/February 2023


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine was meant to be his crowning achievement, a demonstration of how far Russia had come since the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991. Annexing Ukraine was supposed to be a first step in reconstructing a Russian empire. Putin intended to expose the United States as a paper tiger outside Western Europe and to demonstrate that Russia, along with China, was destined for a leadership role in a new, multipolar international order.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Kyiv held strong, and the Ukrainian military has been transformed into a juggernaut, thanks in part to a close partnership with the United States and Western allies. The Russian military, in contrast, has demonstrated poor strategic thinking and organization. The political system behind it has proved unable to learn from its mistakes. With little prospect of dictating Putin’s actions, the West will have to prepare for the next stage of Russia’s disastrous war of choice.

War is inherently unpredictable. Indeed, the course of the conflict has served to invalidate widespread early prognostications that Ukraine would quickly fall; a reversal of fortunes is impossible to discount. It nevertheless appears that Russia is headed for defeat. Less certain is what form this defeat will take. Three basic scenarios exist, and each one would have different ramifications for policymakers in the West and Ukraine.


The first and least likely scenario is that Russia will agree to its defeat by accepting a negotiated settlement on Ukraine’s terms. A great deal would have to change for this scenario to materialize because any semblance of diplomatic dialogue among Russia, Ukraine, and the West has vanished. The scope of Russian aggression and the extent of Russian war crimes would make it difficult for Ukraine to accept any diplomatic settlement that amounted to anything less than a total Russian surrender.

That said, a Russian government—under Putin or a successor—could try to retain Crimea and sue for peace elsewhere. To save face domestically, the Kremlin could claim it is preparing for the long game in Ukraine, leaving open the possibility of additional military incursions. It could blame its underperformance on NATO, arguing that the alliance’s weapon deliveries, not Ukraine’s strength, impeded a Russian victory. For this approach to pass muster within the regime, hard-liners—possibly including Putin himself—would have to be marginalized. This would be difficult but not impossible. Still, under Putin this outcome is highly improbable, given that his approach to the war has been maximalist from the beginning.

A second scenario for Russian defeat would involve failure amid escalation. The Kremlin would nihilistically seek to prolong the war in Ukraine while launching a campaign of unacknowledged acts of sabotage in countries that support Kyiv and in Ukraine itself. In the worst case, Russia could opt for a nuclear attack on Ukraine. The war would then edge toward a direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia. Russia would transform from a revisionist state into a rogue one, a transition that is already underway, and that would harden the West’s conviction that Russia poses a unique and unacceptable threat. Crossing the nuclear threshold could lead to NATO’s conventional involvement in the war, accelerating Russia’s defeat on the ground.


The final scenario for the war’s end would be defeat through regime collapse, with the decisive battles taking place not in Ukraine but rather in the halls of the Kremlin or in the streets of Moscow. Putin has concentrated power rigidly in his own hands, and his obstinacy in pursuing a losing war has placed his regime on shaky ground. Russians will continue marching behind their inept tsar only to a certain point. Although Putin has brought political stability to Russia—a prized state of affairs given the ruptures of the post-Soviet years—his citizens could turn on him if the war leads to general privation. The collapse of his regime could mean an immediate end to the war, which Russia would be unable to wage amid the ensuing domestic chaos. A coup d’état followed by civil war would echo what happened after the Bolshevik takeover in 1917, which precipitated Russia’s withdrawal from World War I.

No matter how it comes about, a Russian defeat would of course be welcomed. It would free Ukraine from the terrors it has suffered since the invasion. It would reinforce the principle that an attack on another country cannot go unpunished. It might open up new opportunities for Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova, and for the West to finish ordering Europe in its image. For Belarus, a path could emerge toward the end of dictatorship and toward free and fair elections. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine could strive together for eventual integration into the European Union and possibly NATO, following the model of Central and Eastern European governments after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Though Russia’s defeat would have many benefits, the United States and Europe should prepare for the regional and global disorder it would produce. Since 2008, Russia has been a revisionist power. It has redrawn borders, annexed territory, meddled in elections, inserted itself into various African conflicts, and altered the geopolitical dynamic of the Middle East by propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Were Russia to pursue radical escalation or splinter into chaos instead of accepting a defeat through negotiation, the repercussions would be felt in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Disorder could take the form of separatism and renewed conflicts in and around Russia, the world’s largest country in landmass. The transformation of Russia into a failed state riven by civil war would revive questions that Western policymakers had to grapple with in 1991: for example, who would gain control of Russia’s nuclear weapons? A disorderly Russian defeat would leave a dangerous hole in the international system.

CAN’T TALK YOUR WAY OUT
Trying to sell Putin on defeat through negotiation would be difficult, perhaps impossible. (It would be much likelier under a successor.) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would demand that Moscow abandon its claim on the nominally Russian-controlled territories in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. Putin has already celebrated the annexation of these areas with pomp and circumstance. It is doubtful he would do an about-face after this patriotic display despite Russia’s tenuous hold on this territory. Any Russian leader, whether Putin or someone else, would resist relinquishing Crimea, the part of Ukraine that Russia annexed in 2014.

Conditions on the ground in Russia would have to be conducive to compromise. A new Russian leadership would have to contend with a demoralized military and gamble on a complacent public acceding to capitulation. Russians could eventually become indifferent if the war grinds on with no clear resolution. But fighting would likely continue in parts of eastern Ukraine, and tensions between the two countries would remain high.

Still, an agreement with Ukraine could bring normalization of relations with the West. That would be a powerful incentive for a less militaristic Russian leader than Putin, and it would appeal to many Russians. Western leaders could also be enticed to push for negotiations in the interest of ending the war. The hitch here is timing. In the first two months after the February 2022 invasion, Russia had the chance to negotiate with Zelensky and capitalize on its battlefield leverage. After Ukraine’s successful counteroffensives, however, Kyiv has little reason to concede anything at all. Since invading, Russia has upped the ante and escalated hostilities instead of showing a willingness to compromise. A less intransigent leader than Putin might lead Ukraine to consider negotiating. In the face of defeat, Putin could resort to lashing out on the global stage. He has steadily expanded his framing of the war, claiming that the West is waging a proxy battle against Russia with the goal of destroying the country. His 2022 speeches were more megalomaniacal versions of his address at the Munich Security Conference 15 years earlier, in which he denounced American exceptionalism, arguing that the United States “has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

Part bluster, part nonsense, part trial balloon, Putin’s rhetoric is meant to mobilize Russians emotionally. But there is also a tactical logic behind it: although expanding the war beyond Ukraine will obviously not win Putin the territory he craves, it could prevent Ukraine and the West from winning the conflict. His bellicose language is laying the groundwork for escalation and a twenty-first-century confrontation with the West in which Russia would seek to exploit its asymmetric advantages as a rogue or terrorist state.


The consequences of a Russian nuclear attack would be catastrophic, and not just for Ukraine.
Russia’s tools for confrontation could include the use of chemical or biological weapons in or outside Ukraine. Putin could destroy energy pipelines or seabed infrastructure or mount cyberattacks on the West’s financial institutions. The use of tactical nuclear weapons could be his last resort. In a speech on September 30, Putin brought up Hiroshima and Nagasaki, offering jumbled interpretations of World War II’s end phase. The analogy is imperfect, to put it mildly. If Russia were to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, Kyiv would not surrender. For one thing, Ukrainians know that Russian occupation would equal the extinction of their country, which was not the case for Japan in 1945. In addition, Japan was losing the war at the time. As of late 2022, it was Russia, the nuclear power, that was losing.

The consequences of a nuclear attack would be catastrophic, and not just for the Ukrainian population. Yet war would go on, and nuclear weapons would not do much to assist Russian soldiers on the ground. Instead, Russia would face international outrage. For now, Brazil, China, and India have not condemned Russia’s invasion, but no country is truly supporting Moscow in its horrific war, and none would support the use of nuclear weapons. Chinese President Xi Jinping made this publicly explicit in November: after he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he issued a statement declaring that the leaders “jointly oppose the use or threat of the use of nuclear weapons.” If Putin did defy this warning, he would be an isolated pariah, punished economically and perhaps militarily by a global coalition.

For Russia, then, threatening to use nuclear weapons is of greater utility than actually doing so. But Putin may still go down this path: after all, launching the invasion was a spectacularly ill-conceived move, and yet he did it. If he does opt for breaking the nuclear taboo, NATO is unlikely to respond in kind, so as to avoid risking an apocalyptic nuclear exchange. The alliance, however, would in all likelihood respond with conventional force to weaken Russia’s military and to prevent further nuclear attacks, risking an escalatory spiral should Russia launch conventional attacks on NATO in return.

Even if this scenario could be avoided, a Russian defeat after nuclear use would still have dangerous repercussions. It would create a world without the imperfect nuclear equilibrium of the Cold War and the 30-year post–Cold War era. It would encourage leaders around the globe to go nuclear because it would appear that their safety could only be assured by acquiring nuclear weapons and showing a willingness to use them. A helter-skelter age of proliferation would ensue, to the immense detriment of global security.

HEAVY IS THE HEAD
At this point, the Russian public has not risen up to oppose the war. Russians may be skeptical of Putin and may not trust his government. But they also do not want their sons, fathers, and brothers in uniform to lose on the battlefield. Accustomed to Russia’s great-power status through the centuries and isolated from the West, most Russians would not want their country to be without any power and influence in Europe. That would be a natural consequence of a Russian defeat in Ukraine.

Still, a long war would commit Russians to a bleak future and would probably spark a revolutionary flame in the country. Russian casualties have been high, and as the Ukrainian military grows in strength, it can inflict still greater losses. The exodus of hundreds of thousands of young Russians, many of them highly skilled, has been astonishing. Over time, the combination of war, sanctions, and brain drain will take a massive toll—and Russians may eventually blame Putin, who began his presidential career as a self-proclaimed modernizer. Most Russians were insulated from his previous wars because they generally occurred far from the home front and didn’t require a mass mobilization to replenish troops. That’s not the case with the war in Ukraine.


Russia has a history of regime change in the aftermath of unsuccessful wars. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5 and World War I helped lead to the Bolshevik Revolution. The collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991, came two years after the end of the Soviet military’s misadventure in Afghanistan. Revolutions have occurred in Russia when the government has failed in its economic and political objectives and has been unresponsive to crises. Generally, the coup de grâce has been the puncturing of the government’s underlying ideology, such as the loss of legitimacy of Russia’s monarchy and tsardom in the midst of hunger, poverty, and a faltering war effort in 1917.

Putin is at risk in all these categories. His management of the war has been awful, and the Russian economy is contracting. In the face of these dismal trends, Putin has doubled down on his errors, all the while insisting that the war is going “according to plan.” Repression can solve some of his problems: the arrest and prosecution of dissidents can quell protest at first. But Putin’s heavy hand also runs the risk of spurring more dissatisfaction.

If Putin were deposed, it is unclear who would succeed him. For the first time since coming to power in 1999, Putin’s “power vertical”—a highly centralized government hierarchy based on loyalty to the Russian president—has been losing a degree of its verticality. Two possible contenders outside the traditional elite structures are Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, a private military contractor that has furnished mercenaries for the war on Ukraine, and Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic. They might be tempted to chip away at the remains of Putin’s power vertical, encouraging infighting in the regime in hopes of securing a position in the center of Russia’s new power structure after Putin’s departure. They could also try to claim power themselves. They have already put pressure on the leadership of the Russian army and the Defense Ministry in response to failures in the war and attempted to broaden their own power bases with the backing of loyal paramilitary forces. Other contenders could come from traditional elite circles, such as the presidential administration, the cabinet, or military and security forces. To suppress palace intrigue, Putin has surrounded himself with mediocrities for the past 20 years. But his unsuccessful war threatens his hold on power. If he truly believes his recent speeches, he may have convinced his subordinates that he is living in a fantasy world.


The chances that a pro-Western democrat would become Russia’s next president are vanishingly small. Far more likely is an authoritarian leader in the Putinist mold. A leader from outside the power vertical could end the war and contemplate better relations with the West. But a leader who comes from within Putin’s Kremlin would not have this option because he would be trailed by a public record of supporting the war. The challenge of being a Putinist after Putin would be formidable.

One challenge would be the war, which would be no easier to manage for a successor, especially one who shared Putin’s dream of restoring Russia’s great-power status. Another challenge would be building legitimacy in a political system without any of its traditional sources. Russia has no constitution to speak of and no monarchy. Anyone who followed Putin would lack popular support and find it difficult to personify the neo-Soviet, neoimperial ideology that Putin has come to embody.

In the worst case, Putin’s fall could translate into civil war and Russia’s disintegration. Power would be contested at the top, and state control would fragment throughout the country. This period could be an echo of the Time of Troubles, or smuta, a 15-year crisis of succession in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries marked by rebellion, lawlessness, and foreign invasion. Russians regard that era as a period of humiliation to be avoided at all costs. Russia’s twenty-first-century troubles could see the emergence of warlords from the security services and violent separatists in the country’s economically distressed regions, many of which are home to large numbers of ethnic minorities. Although a Russia in turmoil might not formally end the war in Ukraine, it might simply be unable to conduct it, in which case Ukraine would have regained its peace and independence while Russia descended into anarchy.

AGENT OF CHAOS
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a first step in refashioning a Russian empire has had the opposite effect. The war has diminished his ability to strong-arm Russia’s neighbors. When Azerbaijan fought a border skirmish with Armenia last year, Russia refused to intervene on Armenia’s behalf, even though it is Armenia’s formal ally.

A similar dynamic is at play in Kazakhstan. Had Kyiv capitulated, Putin might have decided to invade Kazakhstan next: the former Soviet republic has a large ethnic Russian population, and Putin has no respect for international borders. A different possibility now looms: if the Kremlin were to undergo regime change, it might free Kazakhstan from Russia’s grasp entirely, allowing the country to serve as a safe haven for Russians in exile. That would be far from the only change in the region. In the South Caucasus and in Moldova, old conflicts could revive and intensify. Ankara could continue to support its partner Azerbaijan against Armenia. Were Turkey to lose its fear of Russian opprobrium, it might urge Azerbaijan to press forward with further attacks on Armenia. In Syria, Turkey would have reason to step up its military presence if Russia were to fall back.

If Russia descended into chaos, Georgia could operate with greater latitude. The shadow of Russia’s military force, which has loomed over the country since the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, would be removed. Georgia could continue its quest to eventually become a member of the European Union, although it was bypassed as a candidate last year because of inner turmoil and a lack of domestic reforms. If the Russian military were to withdraw from the region, conflicts might again break out between Georgia and South Ossetia on the one hand and between Georgia and Abkhazia on the other. That dynamic could also emerge in Moldova and its breakaway region Transnistria, where Russian soldiers have been stationed since 1992. Moldova’s candidacy for European Union membership, announced in June 2022, might be its escape from this long-standing conflict. The European Union would surely be willing to help Moldova with conflict resolution.


Putin’s fall could translate into civil war and Russia’s disintegration.

Leadership changes in Russia would shake Belarus, where the dictator Alexander Lukashenko is propped up by Russian money and military might. Were Putin to fall, Lukashenko would in all likelihood be next. A Belarusian government in exile already exists: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who lives in Lithuania, became the country’s opposition leader in 2020 after her husband was jailed for trying to run against Lukashenko. Free and fair elections could be held, allowing the country to rescue itself from dictatorship, if it managed to insulate itself from Russia. If Belarus could not secure its independence, Russia’s potential internal strife could spill over there, which would in turn affect neighbors such as Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine.

If Russia were to truly disintegrate and lose its influence in Eurasia, other actors, such as China, would move in. Before the war, China mostly exerted economic rather than military influence in the region. That is changing. China is on the advance in Central Asia. The South Caucasus and the Middle East could be its next areas of encroachment.

A defeated and internally destabilized Russia would demand a new paradigm of global order. The reigning liberal international order revolves around the legal management of power. It emphasizes rules and multilateral institutions. The great-power-competition model, a favorite of former U.S. President Donald Trump, was about the balance of power, tacitly or explicitly viewing spheres of influence as the source of international order. If Russia were to suffer a defeat in Ukraine, policymakers would have to take into account the presence and the absence of power, in particular the absence or severe decline of Russian power. A diminished Russia would have an impact on conflicts around the globe, including those in Africa and the Middle East, not to mention in Europe. Yet a reduced or broken Russia would not necessarily usher in a golden age of order and stability.

A defeated Russia would mark a change from the past two decades, when the country was an ascendant power. Throughout the 1990s and into the first decade of this century, Russia haphazardly aspired to integrate into Europe and partner with the United States. Russia joined the G-8 and the World Trade Organization. It assisted with U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan. In the four years when Dmitry Medvedev was Russia’s president, from 2008 to 2012, Russia appeared to be playing along with the rules-based international order, if one did not look too closely behind the curtain.

A Russia amenable to peaceful coexistence with the West may have been an illusion from the beginning. Putin projected a conciliatory air early in his presidency, although he may have harbored hatred of the West, contempt for the rules-based order, and an eagerness to dominate Ukraine all along. In any case, once he retook the presidency in 2012, Russia dropped out of the rules-based order. Putin derided the system as nothing more than camouflage for a domineering United States. Russia violently encroached on Ukraine’s sovereignty by annexing Crimea, reinserted itself in the Middle East by supporting Assad in Syria’s civil war, and erected networks of Russian military and security influence in Africa. An assertive Russia and an ascendant China contributed to a paradigm of great-power competition in Beijing, Moscow, and even a post-Trump Washington.


If Russia were to disintegrate and lose its influence in Eurasia, China would move in.

Despite its acts of aggression and its substantial nuclear arsenal, Russia is in no way a peer competitor of China or the United States. Putin’s overreach in Ukraine suggests that he has not grasped this important point. But because Putin has intervened in regions around the world, a defeat in Ukraine that tore apart Russia would be a resounding shock to the international system.

The defeat could, to be sure, have positive consequences for many countries in Russia’s neighborhood. Look no further than the end of the Cold War, when the demise of the Soviet Union allowed for the emergence of more than a dozen free and prosperous countries in Europe. A Russia turned inward might help foster a “Europe whole and free,” to borrow the phrase used by U.S. President George H. W. Bush to describe American ambitions for the continent after the Cold War ended. At the same time, disarray in Russia could create a vortex of instability: less great-power competition than great-power anarchy, leading to a cascade of regional wars, migrant flows, and economic uncertainty.

Russia’s collapse could also be contagious or the start of a chain reaction, in which case neither the United States nor China would profit because both would struggle to contain the fallout. In that case, the West would need to establish strategic priorities. It would be impossible to try to fill the vacuum that a disorderly Russian defeat might leave. In Central Asia and the South Caucasus, the United States and Europe would have little chance of preventing China and Turkey from moving into the void. Instead of attempting to shut them out, a more realistic U.S. strategy would be to attempt to restrain their influence and offer an alternative, especially to China’s dominance.

Whatever form Russia’s defeat took, stabilizing eastern and southeastern Europe, including the Balkans, would be a herculean task. Across Europe, the West would have to find a creative answer to the questions that were never resolved after 1991: Is Russia a part of Europe? If not, how high should the wall between Russia and Europe be, and around which countries should it run? If Russia is a part of Europe, where and how does it fit in? Where does Europe itself start and end? The incorporation of Finland and Sweden into NATO would be only the beginning of this project. Belarus and Ukraine demonstrate the difficulties of protecting Europe’s eastern flank: those countries are the last place where Russia would give up on its great-power aspirations. And even a ruined Russia would not lose all its nuclear and conventional military capacity.

Twice in the last 106 years—in 1917 and in 1991—versions of Russia have broken apart. Twice, versions of Russia have reconstituted themselves. If Russian power recedes, the West should capitalize on that opportunity to shape an environment in Europe that serves to protect NATO members, allies, and partners. A Russian defeat would furnish many opportunities and many temptations. One of these temptations would be to expect that a defeated Russia would essentially disappear from Europe. But a defeated Russia will one day reassert itself and pursue its interests on its terms. The West should be politically and intellectually equipped both for Russia’s defeat and for Russia’s return.

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GPF
« Reply #723 on: December 20, 2022, 08:13:31 AM »
Daily Memo: EU to Cap Gas Prices
The bloc agreed on the measure after months of negotiation.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Containing prices. EU governments agreed on Monday on a price cap for natural gas in an effort to contain rising energy prices. The cap, which will come into effect on Feb. 15, is set at 180 euros ($191) per megawatt hour. Germany voted for the measure despite raising concerns earlier. Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Russian authorities would respond accordingly.

Still buying Russian oil. Russia’s Transneft pipeline operator said it has received applications from both Germany and Poland for oil in 2023. The supplies would be transported through the Druzhba pipeline, which is exempt from EU sanctions on Russian oil that went into effect earlier this month. Both countries have said they will aim to reduce imports of Russian oil.

Russian concessions. Russia and Belarus agreed to a fixed price for natural gas for the next three years after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Monday. Moscow also agreed to restructure Belarus’ debt. During Putin’s visit, Lukashenko said Russia provided his country with S-400 missile defense systems and the Iskander ballistic missile system, which are already on combat duty.

Discount. Russian Railways, together with the railway companies from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran, will provide preferential rates for container shipments in 2023 through the International North-South Transport Corridor, which connects Russia with the Caspian Basin, the Persian Gulf and Central, South and Southeast Asia. Russian Railways earlier said it would introduce a 20 percent discount for container traffic crossing between Russia and Kazakhstan. Moscow is seeking ways to find new export markets amid the tough Western sanctions.



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GPF: 50% increase in Russian military
« Reply #726 on: December 22, 2022, 07:08:18 AM »
third
   
Daily Memo: Russia Announced Military Expansion Plan
The Defense Ministry introduced a series of changes to the armed forces.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Military expansion. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced at an annual meeting of the ministry board on Wednesday a plan to increase the size of Russia's armed forces from 1 million to 1.5 million. The age of conscription will also jump from 18 to 21. Shoigu said NATO’s expansion to Finland and Sweden necessitated the changes. President Vladimir Putin, who also attended the meeting where a series of military changes were announced, said there were no restrictions on funding for the military. Concerns are growing within the Russian population over the military campaign in Ukraine.


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Stratfor: What to make of Z's visit to Washington
« Reply #728 on: December 22, 2022, 12:57:26 PM »
What to Make of Zelensky's Visit to Washington
7 MIN READDec 22, 2022 | 19:53 GMT





Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to the United States appears unlikely to convince the White House to provide Kyiv with the weapons it needs to retake more of its territory from Russia. On Dec. 21, Zelensky made his first foreign visit since Russia invaded his country on Feb. 24 — arriving in Washington for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and top U.S. officials, followed by an address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. The visit coincided with the announcement of a new U.S. package of $1.85 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine that includes one Patriot anti-air defense system (details on the model and munitions for which were not disclosed). The visit comes at a pivotal moment, with Ukrainian forces making gains on the battlefield in recent months. But Ukraine lacks the long-range strike capability and other offensive equipment it needs to maintain its momentum against increasingly entrenched Russian forces. At a press conference with Zelensky, President Biden shot down the idea of providing Ukraine material ''fundamentally different'' from that which is already going there, saying this would ''have the prospect of breaking up'' NATO and the European Union's support for Ukraine. The remark reasserted the West's policy of refusing to provide Ukraine long-range weaponry, such as the Army Tactical Missile System (which is a surface-to-surface missile) or other longer-range munition Ukrainian forces would need to more effectively degrade Russian logistics farther from the current front line. Therefore, while the trip will likely help drum up support among U.S. lawmakers and citizens for continuing to help Ukraine, Zelensky's visit did not secure longer-range strike capabilities that Kyiv will need to maintain offensive momentum this spring — buying Russia time to train, rearm, and build fortifications for its troops in eastern Ukraine, and likely putting on the war on a path whereby Kyiv will have little chance to retake the territories Russia seized this year.

The $1.85 billion U.S. package authorizes $1 billion of additional security assistance to Ukraine, delivering equipment that is drawn directly from Department of Defense stocks. The other $850 million in assistance will come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), allowing Ukraine to purchase equipment and earmark production directly from U.S. defense contractors.

The U.S. decision to provide the Patriot defense system is the result of Russia's campaign on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure. The decision is notable due to the system's ability to help defend Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing airstrikes against the war-torn country's critical infrastructure (like its energy grid). The delivery of the Patriot system is also notable because it marks a shift in U.S. policy, as in the months immediately following Russia's invasion, the United States had repeatedly rejected the idea — often saying the system would require U.S. personnel to be stationed in Ukraine, which would pose an unacceptable risk for NATO.

The visit comes as Russia is signaling its intention to maintain the war effort in the long term, while highlighting its cooperation with China. Moscow conducted two previously unannounced events on the day of Zelensky's visit in what appeared to be an effort to signal Russia's intention to maintain its negotiating position and continue the war — no matter how long it takes and at what cost for Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu gave public remarks before an expanded meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry's Collegium. During the meeting, Putin said that there were ''no funding restrictions'' on the Russian military and that ''the corresponding results will be achieved,'' while Shoigu vaguely noted that Russia's goal for 2023 was to continue the ''special operation [in Ukraine] until its completion.'' Also on Dec. 21, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — who's a close confidant of Putin and currently serves as the deputy head of Russia's Security Council — met Chinese President Xi Jinping on an unannounced visit to Beijing, where he delivered a ''message'' from Putin, the contents of which were undisclosed beyond hailing the countries' ''unprecedented'' cooperation. Together, the two events emphasized the Kremlin's commitment to its current course, reassuring China that Russia will remain a long-term reliable partner for Beijing against the West no matter how the war evolves.

During the Dec. 21 event, Shoigu proposed and Putin accepted a controversial measure to adjust the age range for conscription in Russian military service from 18-27 to 21-30. The details of the proposal are unclear, other than it will be phased in starting next year. But its purpose appears to be making more of Russia's population subject to conscription, while also excluding teenage conscripts from being called to fight in Ukraine (which is unpopular in Russia).

Medvedev was accompanied by Secretary of the United Russia party Andrei Turchak and the head of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, Vladimir Vasiliev. Their inclusion in the China trip was likely intended to reassure Beijing of the guiding role the United Russia party will play in managing Russia's politics in the long term, and that under the party's leadership, Russia would continue its policy of confrontation with the West (even after Putin is no longer president) — thereby demonstrating to Beijing the inviolability of their close ties.

Kyiv's failure to shift the U.S. position on advanced and long-range strike weapon deliveries will likely force Ukraine to adopt a more cautious and defensive strategy on the battlefield, making further Ukrainian territorial gains (and peace talks with Russia) unlikely over the next year. Even if it does not get the weapons it is requesting from the West, Kyiv is unlikely to agree to any sort of a cease-fire that involves giving up Ukrainian territory to Russia, as this would be politically unacceptable for Zelensky. With little prospect of rapidly regaining its territory without long-range capabilities, Kyiv's strategy will effectively involve waiting for Russia's social, economic and political conditions to deteriorate to the point where Moscow is eventually forced to withdraw from Ukraine. But this strategy is dubious because it could take many years for Russia's domestic situation to reach that point. It also depends on events in Russia evolving in a certain way, as well as continued Western support for Ukraine (which could eventually weaken amid the mounting global economic fallout from the war).

The United States could hypothetically reverse its decision not to provide Ukraine advanced and long-range strike weapons in the future, as it did with Patriot. However, such a move is unlikely unless Moscow significantly escalates the war (by, for example, launching a renewed offensive toward Kyiv) because, as Biden indicated, it could cause increased tensions within NATO. Such a strategic reversal could also be politically costly for the Biden administration, as deciding against providing Ukraine with advanced weapon systems now only to later authorize it would pose the same escalation risks, while also giving Russia additional time to reconstitute its forces.

Following Zelensky's trip to Washington, Ukraine may shift the focus of its requests for additional Western aid to other offensive weaponry Kyiv needs, such as modern main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and NATO fixed-wing aircraft (which Zelensky assured Congress the Ukrainian military was perfectly capable of operating). But there is for now little sign that the West's stance on providing Kyiv with such systems will change anytime soon.

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GPF: Germany welches again
« Reply #729 on: December 28, 2022, 04:42:57 AM »
December 28, 2022
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In Germany, the Era That Didn’t Turn
Russia’s decline and America’s assurances weaken the rationale for rearmament.
By: Ryan Bridges

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivered his historic “Zeitenwende” – literally, “turn of an era” – speech three days after Russia invaded Ukraine. The world was at an inflection point, Scholz said, and Berlin had to adapt. Foremost, Germany needed a forceful but prudent answer to the Russian attack. Scrapping his coalition’s ban on the delivery of lethal weapons to conflict zones, Scholz announced the shipment of thousands of shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine – a very big deal among German officials, though less so among their allies. He also endorsed sanctions against Russia’s elites, and he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the defense of its NATO allies. Scholz would flesh out his Ukraine policy later, but for now he had committed Germany to containing the war and exerting pressure to bring the Kremlin back to the negotiating table.

But what made Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech famous were two other commitments. First, the chancellor said Germany would “overcome” its dependence on Russian energy. Second, he promised to transform the Bundeswehr into a capable, modern fighting force by launching a 100 billion-euro ($106 billion) special fund for defense projects and investments. And “from now on, year after year,” Germany would spend more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, he said.

Germany has undergone a sea change when it comes to its energy security, though both it and Europe are still far from independent of Russia. But the stories – and the data – regarding defense modernization and rearmament are roughly the same as before. Clearly, there are some dependencies Germany is not ready to leave behind.

Energy Security

In the spring, German officials warned that the sudden loss of Russian gas supplies would trigger a recession on par with 2009, when the German economy shrank 5.7 percent. Yet the latest official estimates for 2023 assume little to no Russian gas and still project a fall in gross domestic product of half a percent or less.

How did this happen? First, Europe made refilling gas storage an emergency priority. At the time of writing, Germany’s gas storage is 88 percent full, 11 percentage points above the five-year average for this time of year. EU storage as a whole is more than a third higher than at this point last year. Second, demand destruction and conservation efforts contributed to a 20 percent drop in EU gas consumption from August to November relative to previous years. Germany cut its consumption by more than a quarter. This was just as Russia was escalating the gas war, stopping delivery in September through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which along with its sister project was sabotaged in October by unknown actors.

Finally, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany had no capacity to import liquefied natural gas. After the invasion, Germany in just 10 months built the infrastructure to host its first floating LNG terminal. (This in a country that routinely uses fax machines and where a capital airport project missed its deadline by nine years.) Germany will launch two more floating LNG terminals soon, enabling it to replace about a third of the gas it imported from Russia last year – without needing to rely on its neighbors. More terminals will open around next winter for a total LNG import capacity of approximately 30 billion cubic meters, a little over half what Germany bought from Russia in 2021. It’s not exactly the picture of German efficiency – the LNG terminals are costing well over double the government’s estimate – but by German standards it was swiftly done, especially for a project of this magnitude.

And of course, there are Germany’s inherent advantages – its access to the North and Baltic seas and its centrality in Europe, and especially its strong finances, which enable it to compete with wealthy Asian buyers of LNG. This is why Germany was so reluctant to accept proposals for an EU price ceiling on natural gas imports. Germany, if not its energy-intensive industry, is better positioned than most of the region to weather high gas prices. It worries that an effective cap would undermine government efforts to reduce energy consumption while potentially diverting LNG shipments to non-European buyers and rattling markets. On Dec. 19, Berlin relented and supported a cap, but the myriad safeguards mean it is questionable whether it will ever be activated.

This is not to downplay the risks, the most immediate of which is that without adequate energy savings, Europe could suffer blackouts. Especially vulnerable are landlocked states in Central and Eastern Europe and anyone that can’t outbid the wealthier northwest for gas. Mild temperatures have helped reduce consumption, and in a best-case scenario German gas storage could enter April more than 70 percent full. By this time, Europe will have shifted from drawing down stockpiles to replenishing them. However, the consensus is that restocking will be extremely difficult for Europe next year, with Russian gas potentially unavailable and the anticipated return of Chinese demand following the end of its zero-COVID policy. The Paris-based International Energy Agency warned recently that the EU could fall 27 bcm short of meeting its estimated demand of 395 bcm next year.

If worse comes to worst, and if political cooperation in the EU breaks down and gas-sharing agreements fail, it’s safe to assume the bloc’s wealthiest member state would suffer a relatively smaller share of the pain. As with the economic response to COVID-19, the main challenge for the German government will probably be balancing its narrow national interests with its EU obligations.

Defense U-Turn

As for Scholz’s defense spending commitments, there is no suspense. Germany will not spend 2 percent of GDP on defense in 2023, and based on current plans, after hitting the mark in 2024-25, it will fall back below it in 2026. Scholz’s term ends in 2025, so he will be able to campaign on (temporarily) meeting the target. Winning elections is, ultimately, what the 2 percent target is for. The real measure of whether a NATO member is meeting its minimum obligations is not so easily quantifiable, but no one disputes that Germany is falling short. Early returns on the Zeitenwende are hardly better.

In a recent exercise, all 18 new Puma infantry fighting vehicles failed. Before that, amid unsourced reports that the Bundeswehr had ammunition for only a couple of days of war, the co-leader of Scholz’s Social Democrats traded blame with defense industry officials for the shortage. The government says industry is failing to invest; industry says it does not trust the government to make investing worthwhile. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, also of Scholz’s party, asked the finance minister to urgently provide funds to buy ammunition. The finance minister said Lambrecht had never mentioned this supposed emergency before and pointedly suggested she get her own house in order. The Finance Ministry also denied the request, which drew less attention, and said bureaucratic hurdles were to blame.

But the real culprit is Germany’s own interests and strategy, which, evidently, has not changed as much as Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech indicated. The reason is that the catalyst for the change – the looming threat of a Russian attack on a German ally – is no longer credible. In the last days of February, officials in Ukraine and the West were anticipating Kyiv’s encirclement. No one knew if the Ukrainian state would survive. No one knew how dependable the U.S. response would be, nor even whether EU or trans-Atlantic unity would hold if the Kremlin took any number of plausible actions, such as cutting off Europe’s gas supplies.

Ukrainian strength and American support have greatly exceeded expectations in Berlin as well as in Moscow. By April, Russian forces had withdrawn from around Kyiv. Not long after, the grumbling started in Berlin about whether all the new defense spending was really necessary. The Greens argued that more of the new 100 billion-euro special military fund should go to non-military elements of security, such as cyber and infrastructure protection. The cost-conscious Free Democrats felt emboldened to make the process as painful as possible to prevent its being repeated. And Scholz’s own Social Democrats returned to navel gazing. Over the summer, a senior Social Democratic lawmaker and chair of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee wrote an essay outlining “a new Ostpolitik for the Zeitenwende.” This new Ostpolitik, or eastern policy, would be everything to everyone: “realistic and value-based, underpinned by military resilience and willingness to engage in dialogue.” And he said it should be coordinated with some three dozen German allies, with the close involvement of civil societies – which is good for diplomatic relations and democracy but a recipe for inaction.

The More Things Change …

The loss of Russian piped gas is a seismic event for Europe. Gazprom’s pipelines to Germany under the Baltic Sea are dead and buried, and the Yamal pipeline through Belarus and Poland isn’t operating. Shipments are occurring only via Turkey and Ukraine, both in small quantities. As a result, European gas prices are four to five times the norm.

But over time, the expansion of European LNG import capacity will help globalize the LNG market, with prices on the American, Asian and European markets converging. Persistently high prices will also transform the European industrial landscape, bankrupting weaker firms and driving some energy-intensive manufacturing out, but also creating the painful conditions that tend to drive innovation. (Some manufacturers have already defied expectations and found novel ways to boost their energy efficiency.) The crisis has renewed interest in the deepening of European energy cooperation, and it could accelerate the discovery and development of breakthroughs in green technology. It could also provoke social unrest and civil strife. Or the war could end suddenly, and Russia could begin restoring gas supplies. Only time will tell.

But when it comes to security policy, Germany is not convinced that it needs to do much more. If the Putin regime survives its misadventures in Ukraine, it will still be years before it can threaten any defensive coalition Poland, Finland and Sweden – let alone NATO – could put together. Poland especially has been bolstered by the war in Ukraine, and Warsaw is determined to build Europe’s strongest army. Whether it succeeds or not, Polish power is rising relative to Russia, providing Germany a stronger layer of protection. Most important, the Biden administration is determined to provide stability, eager to show partners and rivals in Asia that it is a reliable and valuable ally.

This does not mean nothing has changed in Germany. The urgency to break the country’s reliance on Russian piped gas is real – in fact, energy experts warn that Germany is overbuilding LNG import capacity. Moreover, dreams of an entente with Russia have been shattered, and Germans are more conscious of the risks of dependence on authoritarian states. For example, 84 percent of Germans agree that it is important that the country reduce its economic reliance on China, though the government is divided on this. But for a while longer at least, the U.S. is willing to provide the relatively minor resources necessary to stonewall Russia, which is paying an exorbitant price in Ukraine. Until this changes, Germany is betting against the Zeitenwende.

ccp

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #730 on: December 28, 2022, 05:31:24 AM »
"The loss of Russian piped gas is a seismic event for Europe."

not a peep about who did it

it had to be us.....

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #731 on: December 28, 2022, 05:35:53 AM »
I saw it asserted that the methane from the explosion/leak was greater than all other global warming emissions.  Anyone have anything on this?

DougMacG

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #732 on: December 28, 2022, 06:03:05 AM »
I saw it asserted that the methane from the explosion/leak was greater than all other global warming emissions.  Anyone have anything on this?

That was my first impression, all the gas in two pipelines goes out with a major breach, but then we learned one pipeline was not yet in service and the other was closed for maintenance (not in service) so I don't know much leaked, if any.

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Tyler Durden: Merkel did what?
« Reply #733 on: January 03, 2023, 06:23:47 AM »
Posting this does not mean I agree with it:
====================================

Wait A Second! Merkel Did What?
BY TYLER DURDEN
MONDAY, JAN 02, 2023 - 09:20 AM
Authored by Natasha Wright,

Even if Merkel had not been accomplice to this grande feat of political mirage and deception, she should be praised for her honesty.


Otherwise, merely as a set of mitigating circumstances for ‘the Merkel on the political court of justice of history’ we could just acknowledge her honest admission that she was a participant in that grand Minsk Agreements delusion, which led the world into a conflict of huge proportions, the result and the aftermath of which the world cannot even see the outlines of at this point, and in its less favourable variant it can mean its complete destruction (the world’s destruction that is). The issue is certainly much more deep-rooted than that. Merkel has recently, seemingly totally unprovoked, divulged the well-hidden truth that the Minsk Agreements with Russia about Ukraine, signed seven years ago with the presidents of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, Merkel and the then President of France, Francois Hollande reached within the framework of the Normandy Format were just a deceptive political ploy.

Sadly, some of the signatories (i.e. Germany, France and Ukraine) seem to have never even considered fulfilling all the signed contractual clauses and its pertaining elements. That agreement, Merkel admitted, was signed merely to consolidate and reinforce Ukrainian military might and buy more time so that they could use it for their ‘final reckoning’ with Russia. The Minsk Agreement, says the already retired Merkel during her ‘sitting on her political laurels’ pension days, Merkel disclosed to the general public and her political counterparts, that it was a mere concerted effort to give Ukraine time, which many have subliminally known already. Ukraine used that time to consolidate its military position, as is so blatantly obvious at this moment in time. The Ukraine from 2014 and 2015 is certainly not the Ukraine of the year 2022. The Battle for Debaltseve at the beginning of 2015 has patently proven that Putin’s army could have rolled over them in a nanosecond back then and crushed them to pieces militarily.

I sincerely doubt that the NATO member states could have done more back then than what they are doing now. Clearly, it was bound to turn into a frozen conflict and not solved at all. Ukraine has just been given a precious time it badly needed. As if Poroshenko wanted to reinforce what Merkel was about to disclose a few months later, NATO Secretary General, Stoltenberg, has boastfully gloated that NATO allies have given much needed support for Ukraine for years on end, particularly since 2014 so that its armed forces were much bigger and more powerful in February 2022 than in 2014. Moreover, Stoltenberg. ‘A wannabe-Adolf’ admitted at the NATO Summit in Madrid this summer after a series of belated admissions, they have been preparing for this for quite a long time now. This plausible though an oblique admission that the Minsk Agreements did not serve the purpose of a peaceable solution to the conflict but so as to simply arm and train Ukraine en route its military preparation for the war yet to come against Russia. The ‘kudos filled with irony’ for this should go straight to Petro Poroshenko that exactly what happened. Admittedly though ironically, that was a very talented document, which is how Poroshenko described it i.e. written with great political panache because they needed the Minsk Agreements to gain four more years as their head start, to form, consolidate and train Ukrainian armed forces, and together with NATO build the best military combat readiness army in Eastern Europe in line with the high-profile NATO standards. That was what Poroshenko trotted out inadvertently in front of the Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus, who made him believe that he was in fact talking to Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassador in Russia. Poroshenko, out of sheer negligence and ignorance, was way more straightforward, up until Angela Merkel with her official though unanticipated admission and confirmation of all Russian suspicions on this matter, outplayed them in all her honesty. She even appears to have told the truth. Which possibly makes matters much worse for her. That’s it, Sergey Lavrov gave a succinct response. Vladimir Putin rose above it all though with overwhelming subtle derision. How one is supposed to feel if he and Russia had been viewed as the main culprits for the ongoing war of massive proportions but it turned out that he was right all along. Vladimir Putin gave a straightforward response. ‘This is disappointing, Truth be told, I did not expect to hear any such thing from the former German Chancellor because I have always thought that the German leaders were honest with us. Apparently, they resorted to ‘grand deception’ tactics. The situation is not just horrible but abhorrent as well, said Alexander Lukashenko, the disappointed host of the then Minsk Agreements.

Poroshenko, Hollande, whom Merkel led along holding his ‘politically rickety’ hand as if he were her political lapdog in front of Putin’s eyes, carried out a secret operation and deceived everybody. In doing so, they got a long period of a pseudo ‘truce’ so as to prepare Ukraine. After Merkel’s admission, nobody has the right to blame Russia for what happened. What is even worse, the Minsk Agreements and its great pretenders in all their feats of delusional pretence, is not an exception to the rule but it occurs as a rule for the Collective West.

‘The hidden agenda behind the Minsk Agreement additionally demolishes the credibility of the Collective West to tatters’ – the Chinese Global Times concludes. Merkel’s admission goes to prove that some countries in the Collective West, particularly the USA, fail to perform their contractual obligations. They breach contracts, they break their own words with utmost dismissive frivolity. They deem any agreement as useful only if they see their chance to promote their own selfish interests. Otherwise, Washington DC and their vassals are always on the ready ‘to fail to perform’.

One has to wonder why the Collective West keeps doing this? What is the rest of the decent world to do and how are we to move on from this after this admission by Merkel? Are we supposed to sign any future agreements and business deals with the Collective West? Does that mean that there will not be peace in the world as long as one great power is driven to a complete defeat? What got into Merkel to give away those precious details? We are yet to find out in Merkel’s memoirs.

There is no need to pardon Merkel for anything she has done but her admission is hugely important particularly for Moscow for the reasons of any future peace negotiations. All these great deceptions carried out under false pretences appear to come with a long tradition back in history. In the history of diplomacy it is not odd that political personages of huge importance break their promises. The history of international relations has witnessed such instances of statesmen and political figures giving their words and then breaking them. Even the formal pledges and written agreements. Especially in the 20th century. Hitler comes to mind. James Baker’s pledge ‘Not one inch eastward‘ given to Michael Gorbachev as well still resonates in our historical memory and certainly in the political archives

Crafty_Dog

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GPF
« Reply #734 on: January 09, 2023, 08:41:03 AM »
Moscow claims that it killed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers in retaliation for a massive New Year's strike.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Strikes in Ukraine. Following a Moscow-declared cease-fire over Orthodox Christmas celebrations, Russia launched an airstrike on the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk in retaliation for a Ukrainian strike on Makiivka in Donetsk on New Year’s Eve. The Russian Defense Ministry said 89 Russian soldiers died in the Makiivka strike. There are no signs of casualties from Russia's own attack on Kramatorsk, according to reports, despite Moscow claiming to have killed 600 Ukrainian troops. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said reinforcements would be sent to Bakhmut and Soledar, the site of heavy fighting between the two sides.

Drills in Belarus. Russia and Belarus announced that they will conduct joint air exercises from Jan. 16 to Feb. 1. All of the Belarusian air force's airfields and training grounds will be involved in the drills, and the aviation component of Russia’s Military Space Forces have already arrived in Belarus to take part. The two countries earlier agreed to deploy a joint “regional grouping of troops” in Belarus, amid President Alexander Lukashenko's repeated references to a rising threat from the West.

Grain for Africa? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to send grain for free to Turkey via the Black Sea corridor for delivery to poor African countries. Erdogan said he agreed to turn the grain into flour in Turkish factories before shipping it to Africa, noting that 44 percent of the agricultural products exported from Ukrainian ports from the corridor are actually destined for European countries.

Crafty_Dog

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Russian economic resiliance
« Reply #735 on: January 16, 2023, 09:33:45 AM »
GPF

Resilience. Russian industries continue to show signs of resilience despite sanctions. In the first 10 months of 2022, fertilizer exports totaled $16.7 billion, a 70 percent increase compared with the same period in 2021, despite a 10 percent drop in sales. Exports of liquefied natural gas to the European Union also grew, with the Yamal LNG project’s supplies to the bloc increasing by about 13.5 percent in 2022. According to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, oil production rose last year by 2 percent and exports by 7 percent, while budget revenue from the oil and gas industry increased by 28 percent.

Boosting cooperation. Russia and Belarus began joint air exercises on Monday amid a buildup of forces in Belarus. Minsk called the drills, which will use all of the country's airfields, “defensive in nature.” Though this could be preparation for Belarus’ official entry into the Ukraine war, Minsk has other reasons to cooperate with Moscow: In a new interview, Belarus’ finance minister discussed the possibility of refinancing the country's Russian loans, some of which were granted last year to fund its import substitution projects following the West's imposition of severe sanctions.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF-- Europe's mild winter
« Reply #736 on: January 17, 2023, 01:58:14 PM »
Europe's Warm Winter Minimizes the Impact of Russia's Gas Cut-Offs
8 MIN READJan 17, 2023 | 21:46 GMT



A mild winter will not only help Europe withstand the rest of the season with low levels of Russian natural gas, but will also reduce the risk of an energy crisis next winter by leaving the Continent with larger-than-usual gas stockpiles. According to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, European gas storage was 81.49% full as of Jan. 15 — the highest recorded level for this time of year since 2011. The ten-year median for Jan. 15 is historically about 63% full. Germany's storage levels actually increased from 87.2% to 91.4% between Dec. 20 and Jan. 8. These high storage levels, combined with relatively low demand, saw Europe's main gas benchmark — the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) — dip under 55 euros per megawatt hour in mid-January for the first time since late 2021 (and trade below that level on Jan. 17).

Several factors have contributed to Europe's gas storage levels declining at a slower-than-normal pace this winter, including:

An unseasonably warm start to winter: The weather across Europe has been unusually warm since November, which is the start of the Continent's winter heating season. In the first ten days of January, a number of European countries saw record-high temperatures. On Jan. 1, temperatures in the Polish capital of Warsaw reached 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit), far surpassing the city's previous record for the hottest day in January by 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit). Since Oct. 1, Germany's average temperature has been nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal levels. Northwestern Europe is expected to experience cooler-than-normal temperatures by mid-January, but due to milder temperatures elsewhere, weather forecaster Maxar Technologies is still projecting next week's total heating-degree days to be below the ten-year average across the Continent.

Gas-saving measures: The European Union agreed to target a voluntary 15% decline in gas demand between August 2022 and March 2023. This has been backed up by individual EU governments lowering the thermostats in their buildings, which has prompted many companies in Europe to follow suit. Gas prices across the Continent also remain relatively high (even if partially subsidized by various EU governments and lower than the record levels seen last summer), which has helped further dampen demand. The European economics think tank Bruegel estimated that demand for natural gas among the 27 EU member states was 13% lower in December compared with the 2019-21 average.
Lower industrial demand: High prices have led to an increase in feedstock costs for industrial consumers of natural gas. This led to a number of gas-intensive industries, such as zinc smelting, to cut back or suspend their output, especially after being hammered with record-high prices over the summer. In an effort to cut costs, power generators and other industrial consumers of natural gas have also shifted some consumption to other fuels where possible, such as coal and crude oil. As a result, European industrial natural gas demand is also down more than 15% from normal levels.

Increased LNG and piped natural gas capacity: In recent months and weeks, several new pieces of infrastructure to boost the Continent's access to natural gas have also come online. In October, the BalticPipe pipeline — which connects Poland to Europe's biggest natural gas producer, Norway — came online. On Dec. 17, Germany's first import facility for liquified natural gas (LNG) opened up after the arrival of a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) that the German government and companies contracted earlier in 2022. On Jan. 13, energy giant TotalEnergies announced the start-up of another FSRU in Germany.

The slow start to the winter will alleviate concerns about Europe entering a gas crisis-induced economic recession over the next three months, which will undermine what little leverage Russia has over the Continent with low amounts of Russian gas still being piped to European countries. The European economy is still at risk of slowing due to rising interest rates designed to choke off inflation. But warm weather and lower-than-normal gas demand have reduced the likelihood of severe shortages and/or sustained sky-high energy prices triggering a gas crunch in Europe that exacerbates inflation and forces companies to either declare bankruptcy or conduct massive layoffs. Lower gas prices, as well as relatively low oil prices compared to mid-2022, will also reduce political pressure on European governments and the potential for demonstrations like those seen in Vienna last month, where participants called on the Austrian government to weaken sanctions on Russia in response to high energy prices. This reduced risk of political backlash makes it even less likely that European governments will consider offering Russia concessions in the coming months. It will also give governments more confidence to authorize weapons transfers to Ukraine without concerns about natural gas and energy price consequences. Over the course of 2023, some European leaders may slowly start pressuring Ukraine to negotiate a peace deal with Russia that ends the war, but the lack of a major gas crisis won't force European leaders to do so prematurely.

A Russian kinetic attack or a cyberattack on Europe's gas infrastructure, while unlikely, could result in a crisis. As high gas stockpiles eat away at its leverage over Europe, the Kremlin could opt for more drastic measures to directly sabotage the Continent's infrastructure this winter.
A mild winter will make it easier for Europe to withstand the next winter without an energy crisis. But natural gas prices will remain above pre-2021 levels, which will continue to undermine the Continent's industrial and manufacturing base. Europe will likely enter this spring with near or at record levels of gas storage, barring a series of major winter storms that quickly exhaust its stockpiles by increasing demand and/or disrupting supply. Typically, the Continent's gas storage levels fall below 40% full during the winter; in 2022, they dropped to 27.5%. But during the winter of 2020 (which is so far the most comparable to this winter in terms of gas storage levels), total European gas storage never fell below 70% full. If inventories remain relatively high, Europe will thus have an easier time filling storage back to above 95% in preparation for the 2023-24 winter compared with last year, even with limited amounts of Russian natural gas (which was still flowing through the Nord Stream I pipeline for much of the first half of 2022 uninterrupted). This will, in turn, mitigate the risk of greater global gas shortages this year by reducing the number of LNG cargoes Europe will have to import to replenish its stockpiles. China's LNG needs are slated to rebound substantially in mid-2023 amid the recent easing of the country's strict ''zero-COVID'' policy, which had depressed demand in 2022 due to occasional lockdowns. High Chinese demand and high European demand to refill storage could overwhelm global LNG supplies, which are relatively inelastic since no major LNG export facilities are expected to come online this year. But Europe's high gas reserves will reduce the chances of this happening by lessening its need for imports. However, despite the lower risk of European and Chinese demand-induced LNG price spikes later this year, gas and electricity prices in Europe (and around the world) will likely remain at abnormally high levels.

Higher gas and electricity prices in Europe will undermine its industrial and manufacturing competitiveness vis-a-vis Asia and North America, even though an outright energy shortage is unlikely. While Asian consumers will pay similar prices to Europeans for natural gas, they will no longer be paying higher prices. This is because Europe previously imported Russian natural gas at lower prices, while Asian countries like Japan and South Korea paid what was described as the ''Asian premium.'' As a result, natural gas prices in Europe were relatively lower than in Asia before 2021. The continued period of high gas prices is thus more disruptive to Europe, where businesses and households had grown accustomed to cheaper gas. The United States, for its part, has been well-insulated from the global gas crunch thanks to its high levels of domestic shale gas production, which saw the country's major pricing benchmark, Henry Hub, trade at below $4 per million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) this month — or roughly a fifth of the European gas price.

Europe's warm winter is sparking fears about lower levels of rainfall and snow cover, which in the summer could result in lower hydropower generation, drought conditions impacting agriculture and low river levels. Low hydropower generation could force power companies to rely more heavily on thermal power — coal or natural gas-fired — during the hot summer months. While this may not significantly impact Europe's ability to fill storage back to high levels, it could result in more LNG cargoes being needed to be imported. Low river levels can have a more drastic impact on some European economies if it disrupts river transport and/or increases river freight costs. In 2022, drought conditions in Europe forced shippers on the Rhine — Germany's critical river artery — to lighten their load so that they didn't run aground amid low water levels, with some vessels carrying just 25% of their normal tonnage in August.
image of globe

ccp

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nordstream pipeline
« Reply #737 on: January 17, 2023, 03:06:38 PM »
totally off the airwaves

latest thing I could google about it :

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-63636181

Must have been US or UK

« Last Edit: January 17, 2023, 06:00:04 PM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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A convo with a Russian born friend who listened to this clip in Russian
« Reply #738 on: January 23, 2023, 03:05:18 PM »
MARC: Serious sounding convo on Russian TV with some subtitles in English:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russian-tv-warns-new-big-war-coming-after-putin-ultimatum/ar-AA16EhGT?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=a92936610f194fb3927be05522964d7c

Russian TV Warns New 'Big War' Coming After Putin Ultimatum

FRIENDa
Besides for that lady, all of them are anti open war.  But they are all convinced that this has nothing to do with Ukraine and that the main objective of the US is to destroy Russia completely no matter what it costs Ukraine or anyone else.  There are a lot of cultural references that are not well translated. I think the English all of them sound belligerent and like Russia is on the verge of using Nukes. 

Even the title is so misleading.  No one there is warming that a big war is coming. The lady said that she thinks that something might happen by the end of the winter bc in December Putin mentioned that he is willing to negotiate but that Ukraine is not. And that with Putin there is no need to read between the lines. A few months before he attacked, he said he would attack if he felt threatening..nothing changed and he did attack. She thinks that if he said that he's willing to negotiate and that he will strike if the US sends troops there, then he will.

But these people are not politicians and have no say in anything. They are just sharing their opinions..and they all agree that if they were to get into a "hot" war, that it would destroy the world and that their allies like China and India will turn away from them.  They don't want that.

I read that Julia Davis is a native Russian speaker. She must understand what is actually being said.

Now I see an article that "Russia threatens to kill 10,000 American soldiers" based on this video
You sent


One of the men said that America is willing to sacrifice a certain amount of soldiers before they give up. Like in Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan.  He didn't say let's go kill them. He said that this is the amount of sacrifice America is willing to make in a war if they were to go to war with Russia.

And the lady in the video is a complete dummy. Now i understand why she was chosen to run a propaganda newspaper. She's a total ditz.. proposing to play a game of chicken with America and telling those other guys who said that an open war would destroy the whole world "who needs a world without Russia"

But just to mention that she is not Russian..she is Armenian and lived and was Educated in a city in Caucaus mountain where all the Chechen and Cherkassi and Gerogian tribal leaders go.

So she has that tribal "I will blow myself up to kill the enemy" mentality.  That is not how most Russians think.

But the titles of these articles are very incendiary. Which is very scary.

What's the purpose?

MARC Click bait.


FRIEND
Oh and they Joked that if they attacked US, they would spare Tucker Carlson

So then of course, now I'm reading that Russia wants to kills all Americans except Tucker Carlson

It was obviously a joke!

Did you catch the part when they quoted a movie about killing someone and the character says " don't worry, we won't kill you painfully "

Not sure what the subtitles said.