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NATO Sanctions and the Coming Global Diesel Fuel Disaster

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 11.04.2022 

Amid the ongoing global inflation crisis, NATO heads of state and mainstream media repeat a mantra that high energy prices are a direct result of Putin’s actions in Ukraine since end of February.  The reality is that it is the western sanctions that are responsible. Those sanctions including cutting SWIFT interbank access for key Russian banks and some of the most severe sanctions ever imposed, are hardly having an impact on the military actions in Ukraine. What many overlook is the fact that they are increasingly impacting the economies of the West, especially the EU and USA. A closer look at the state of the global supply of diesel fuel is alarming. But Western sanctions planners at the US Treasury and the EU know fully well what they are doing. And it bodes ill for the world economy.

While most of us rarely think about diesel fuel as anything other than a pollutant, in fact it is essential to the entire world economy in a way few energy sources are. The director general of Fuels Europe, part of the European Petroleum Refiners Association, stated recently, “… there is a clear link between diesel and GDP, because almost everything that goes into and out of a factory goes using diesel.”

At the end of the first week of Russia’s military action in Ukraine, with no sanctions yet specific to Russia’s diesel fuel exports, the European diesel price was already at a thirty-year high. It had nothing to do with war. It had to do with the draconian global covid lockdowns since March 2020 and the simultaneous dis-investment by Wall Street and global financial firms in oil and gas companies, so-called Green Agenda or ESG. Almost on day one of Russian troop actions in Ukraine, two of the world’s  largest oil companies, BP and Shell, both British, stopped deliveries of diesel fuel to Germany claiming fear of supply shortages. Russia supplied some 60 to 70% of all EU diesel before the Ukraine war.

In 2020 Russia was the world’s second largest exporter of diesel fuel behind USA, shipping more than 1 million barrels daily. Most of it, some 70%, went to the EU and Turkey. France was the largest importer, followed by Germany and UK. In France some 76% of all road vehicles—cars, trucks—use diesel. The EU diesel demand is far higher than in the US as most cars also use the more economical and efficient diesel fuel. In the first week of April the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proudly announced new sanctions against Russian energy that would begin with a ban on coal. The EU is the largest importer of Russian coal. Oil and gas she said would follow at a later date. That foolish move will merely boost costs of energy, already at record highs, for most of the EU, as it will force oil and gas prices far higher.

At the beginning of the Ukraine crisis global stocks of diesel fuel were already the lowest since 2008 as the covid lockdowns had done major damage to the demand-supply situation of oil and gas production. Now the stage is set for an unprecedented crisis in diesel. The consequences will be staggering for the world economy.

Diesel Moves World Trade

Diesel engines have the highest engine efficiency of conventional motors. They are based on the principle of compression developed in 1897 by Rudolf Diesel. Because of their greater efficiency and greater mileage per gallon, diesel fuels almost all freight truck motors. It fuels most all farm equipment from tractors to harvesting machines. It is widely used in the EU, almost 50% for auto fuel as it is far more fuel efficient than gasoline engines. It is used in most all heavy mining machines such as Caterpillar earth movers. It is used in construction equipment. Diesel engines have replaced steam engines on all non-electrified railroads in the world, especially freight trains. Diesel is used in some electric power generation and in most all heavy military vehicles.

A global shortage in diesel fuel, temporary or longer-term, is therefore a catastrophic event. Goods cannot be moved from container ports to inland destinations. Without diesel fuel trucks cannot deliver food to the supermarket, or anything else for that matter. The entire supply chain is frozen. And there is no possibility to substitute gasoline in a diesel engine without ruining the engine.

Until the ill-conceived global covid lockdowns of industry and transportation that began in March 2020, the demand and supply of diesel fuel was well balanced. The sudden lockdowns however collapsed diesel demand for truck transport, autos, construction, even farming. Unprofitable refineries were closed. Capacity declined. Now as world production returns to a semblance of pre-covid normal, diesel reserve stocks worldwide are dangerously low, especially in the EU which is the world’s largest diesel consumer, but also the USA.


At the start of this year world diesel stocks were already dangerously low and that drove prices sky-high. As of February, 2022 before impact of the Ukraine war, diesel and related stocks in the US were 21% below the pre-covid seasonal average. In the EU stocks were 8% or 35 million barrels below the pre-covid average level. In Singapore, the Asian hub stocks were 32% below normal. Combined all three regions’ diesel stocks were alarmingly low, some 110 million barrels below the same point last year.

Between January 2021 and January 2022 EU diesel fuel prices had almost doubled, and that, before the Ukraine sanctions. There were several reasons, but primary was the soaring price of crude oil and supply disruptions owing to global covid lockdowns and the subsequent resumption of world trade flows. To add to the problem, in early March the Chinese central government imposed a ban on its exports of diesel fuel, to “ensure energy security” amid Western sanctions on Russia. Add to that the recent Biden administration ban on imports of all Russian oil and gas, which in 2021 included an estimated 20% of all Russian heavy oil exports. At the same time the EU in its ever-ideological wisdom, is finalizing a ban on imports of Russian coal with bans on Russian crude oil, diesel fuel and gas reportedly  to follow.

On April 4 average price per liter of diesel in Germany was €2.10. On December 27, 2021 it was €1.50, a rise of 40% in weeks. Following the unprecedented USA and EU sanctions against Russia following the Ukraine military campaign after February 24, more and more Western oil companies and oil traders are refusing to handle Russian crude oil or diesel fuel for fear of reprisals. This is certain to escalate so long as fighting in Ukraine continues.

The CEO of the Rotterdam-based Vitol, the world’s largest independent energy trading company, warned on March 27 that rationing of diesel fuel in the coming months globally was increasingly likely. He noted, “Europe imports about half of its diesel from Russia and about half of its diesel from the Middle East. That systemic shortfall of diesel is there.”

On April 7, David McWilliams, a leading Irish economist formerly with the Irish national bank, sounded an alarming note. “Not only is oil going up, diesel is going up and there’s a real threat diesel will run out in Western Europe over the course of the next two or three weeks, or maybe before that… We import a significant amount of our diesel, it comes from two refineries in the UK where it’s first processed. Those refineries do not have any crude at the moment. So we are basically running the economy on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis.” He added: ‘We have not just an oil crisis, we have an energy crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in 50 years.” According to him the reason diesel stocks are so low is that the EU countries found it far cheaper to outsource oil and diesel to Russia with its huge supply.

The situation in the USA is not better. For political reasons the true state of the diesel fuel crisis is reportedly being downplayed by the Biden administration and the EU. Inflation is already at 40 year highs in the US. What the unfolding global diesel fuel crisis will mean, barring a major turnaround, is a dramatic impact on all forms of truck and auto transportation, farming, mining and the like. It will spell catastrophe for an already failing world economy. Yet governments like the German “Ampel” (traffic light) coalition, with their insane Zero Carbon agenda, and their plans to phase out oil, coal and gas, or the Biden cabal, privately see the exploding energy prices as further argument to abandon hydrocarbons like oil for unreliable, costly wind and solar. The real industrial interconnected global economy is not like a game of lego toys. It is highly complex and finely tuned.That fine tuning is being systematically destroyed, and all evidence is that it is deliberate. Welcome to the Davos Great Reset eugenics agenda.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | 3 Comments

UK censorship bill will impact small, independent media outlets while giving large media outlets a pass

By Tom Parker | Reclaim The Net | April 11, 2022

The UK government is currently pushing a sweeping online censorship bill, the Online Safety Bill, which will force tech giants to censor content based on the vague, subjective term “harm.”

One of the government’s main arguments when attempting to defend these controversial censorship requirements has been that “news content will be completely exempt from any regulation under the Bill.” However, the rules that govern these exemptions are written in a way that favors large media outlets and makes it difficult for small, independent outlets to qualify.

For starters, the state-funded media outlets the BBC and Sianel Pedwar Cymru (S4C) automatically qualify as “recognised news publishers” – the standard that determines whether a publisher is exempt from the bill’s regulations.

Other outlets need to either hold a license under the Broadcasting Act 1990 or 1996 or meet numerous conditions which include “publishing news-related material that is created by different persons,” having a registered office or business address in the UK, making the name and address of the outlet’s owner public, being subject to a standards code and editorial control, and having a complaints procedure.

Obtaining a license under the Broadcasting Act 1990 or 1996 creates additional costs for small outlets, such as the £2,500 ($3,300) license application fee and the minimum annual license fee of £1,000, ($1,320). It also gives Ofcom the power to decide which outlets can get a license.

The provision for news-related materials from non-license holders to be created by “different persons” also prevents individual journalists from qualifying as recognized news publishers. Furthermore, the requirement for non-license holders to make their name and address public shuts out anonymous or pseudonymous publishers from these recognized news publisher exemptions.

Additionally, these non-license holder conditions create additional compliance burdens which disproportionately impact smaller news outlets with fewer staff and resources.

The disproportionate impact this censorship bill has on small, independent media outlets is just one of the many areas of concern. The bill also includes proposals that will jail people whose posts cause “psychological harm” with “no reasonable excuse,” tasks Big Tech with deciding when something is “illegal” or “fraudulent,” and more.


You can get a full overview of all the free speech and privacy threats posed by the Online Safety Bill here.

You can see a full copy of the full Online Safety Bill here.

The bill is currently making its way through Parliament and you can track its progress here.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Twitter is questioned over Hunter Biden laptop story censorship

By Christina Maas | Reclaim The Net | April 11, 2022

In October 2020, just before the election, the New York Post published a story about Hunter Biden’s potentially corrupt dealings when his father, Joe Biden, was vice president. The story was based on damning emails obtained from a laptop Hunter left at a repair shop in Delaware.

Twitter censored the story over the “origins of the material” and suspended the New York Post’s account for two weeks. The online platforms also prevented users from sharing the story.

A few weeks ago, The New York Times confirmed the authenticity of what the New York Post called the “laptop from hell.”

Now, Republican members of the House Election Integrity Caucus, led by Rep. Claudia Tenney, in a letter addressed to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, are asking for answers about the censorship of the story.

“Big Tech oligarchs have grown far too powerful, censoring free speech that challenges their preferred narrative and their handpicked politicians,” Tenney told FOX Business. “In 2020, this reached a new low.”

“Twitter’s actions to silence the New York Post and others undoubtedly swayed the outcome of the presidential election. The free flow of information is key to a healthy democracy and to free and fair elections. Congress must be unequivocal in its response and hold Big Tech accountable.”

The Republicans want Twitter to “provide answers to the American people.” They also want Congress to “break up big tech, take an axe to Section 230, and ensure Silicon Valley elites can no longer interfere in our elections.”

They argue that the laptop contained damning emails that could have worked in President Trump’s favor.

“The laptop reportedly contained damning emails from Hunter Biden, showing how he exploited his connections to his then-vice president father to further his own career interests, leveraged his connections for massive paychecks from foreign entities, and much more,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Twitter then suspended the New York Post’s account for more than two weeks and blocked users from sharing the article because of what it called concerns about the ‘origins of the material.”

They added that the suspension prevented people from “reading a news article that could have had serious consequences for the presidential election.”

The New York Times confirming the authenticity of the laptop has “renewed concern over Twitter’s interference in a presidential election,” according to the lawmakers.

In the letter, the legislators demand answers to several questions from Agrawal, including who “made the decision to censor the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s ‘laptop from hell.’” They also want to know if Twitter collaborated “with any individuals directly or indirectly involved with the Biden campaign” when it censored the story.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

CIA Admits Feeding Americans False Info About Ukraine

By Ron Paul | April 11, 2022

Late last year, a Gallup poll showed that Americans’ trust in the mainstream media has fallen to its second lowest level on record. Only seven percent of Americans responded that they have a “great deal” of trust in the media.

That loss of trust has been well-earned by the mainstream media, and it explains the massive growth of independent media and alternative voices on social media. The response to the rise of independent media voices has been a rush to “cancel” any voice outside the accepted mainstream narrative.

Citizens of the Soviet Union would read manipulated media like Pravda not because the regime reported facts, but because truth was hidden between the lines of what was reported and what was not reported. That seems to be where we are in the US today.

Last week an extraordinary article appeared in, of all places, NBC News, reporting that the US intelligence community is knowingly feeding information it does not believe accurate to the US mainstream media for the American audience to consume.

In other words, the article reports that the US “deep state” admits to being actively engaged in lying to the American people in the hopes that it can manipulate public opinion.

According to the NBC News article, “multiple US officials acknowledged that the US has used information as a weapon even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high. Sometimes it has used low-confidence intelligence for deterrent effect…”

Readers will recall the shocking headlines that Russia was prepared to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, that China would be providing military equipment to Russia, that Russian President Putin was being fed misinformation by his advisors, and more.

All of these were churned out by the CIA to be repeated in the American media even though they were known to be false. It was all about, as one intelligence officer said in the article, “trying to get inside Putin’s head.”

That may have been the goal, but what the CIA actually did was get inside America’s head with false information meant to shape public perception of the conflict. They lied to propagandize us in favor of the Biden Administration’s narrative.

Those pushing the “Russiagate” hoax through the Trump years claimed that the goal of “Russian disinformation” was to undermine Americans’ trust in our government, media, and other institutions. Isn’t it ironic that the CIA itself has done more than the Russians to undermine Americans’ faith in the media by feeding false stories to establish a particular narrative among the American people?

After the Bay of Pigs disaster, President Kennedy has been quoted as wanting “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” That didn’t work out too well for him. As Senate Majority Chuck Schumer famously told Rachel Maddow in 2020, responding to the-President Trump’s criticism of the CIA, “let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

As more information about the activities of the US Intelligence Community in trying to bring down Trump come out, it appears that, for once, Schumer was right.

It’s time to revisit President Kennedy’s post-Bay of Pigs wish. The CIA using lies to propagandize the American people toward war with Russia is just one of thousands of reasons to scatter a million pieces of that agency to the wind.

Copyright © 2022 by RonPaul Institute.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

SAS and Delta Force part of “secret war”: French intelligence source

Samizdat | April 11, 2022

Elite special forces from the UK and the US have been present in Ukraine since the beginning of hostilities with Russia in late February, a source in the French intelligence community reportedly told a Le Figaro reporter, last week.

The claim was reported by the newspaper’s senior international correspondent Georges Malbrunot on Saturday, the day when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his surprise visit to Kiev. The British leader was reportedly surrounded by guards from the elite SAS force, though this claim was not officially confirmed.

SAS units “have been present in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, as did [sic] the American Deltas,” Malbrunot tweeted citing a French intelligence source. He added that according to the source Russia was well aware of the “secret war” waged against its troops by foreign commandos. Le Figaro included his report in their updates on Ukraine.

The UK and the US have been among the most active military supporters of Kiev. Johnson reportedly personally urged his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to keep on fighting against Russia and not settle for peace until better terms are offered.

Western pro-fighting consensus was apparently confirmed last week by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said on Saturday that the “war will be won on the battlefield” as he too was visiting Kiev.

British media earlier reported that dozens of “retired” SAS soldiers had gone or planned to go to Ukraine to contribute their expertise in reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare to Kiev’s cause. Their services were allegedly paid for by “a country in Europe, still to be named, via a private military company” rather than by the British government, according to the UK tabloid the Daily Mirror.

The Russian military reported action against what it described as “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine on several occasions. One of the recent instances was on Saturday, just as Johnson and Borell were in Kiev.

The Russian defense ministry said Kiev attempted to use a civilian ship in its latest failed attempt to evacuate high-value personnel from the port city of Mariupol, which saw some of the most intensive fighting during the conflict. The individuals intended for evacuation were identified as leaders of the ultranationalist Azov battalion and foreign mercenaries. There are unconfirmed reports that hundreds of foreign nationals could be blocked in Mariupol along with several thousand Azov troops.

The US and the UK have publicly stated they had no plans to involve their troops in the fighting in Ukraine. Both are major suppliers of arms to Kiev and were training soldiers in Ukraine before the Russian offensive. The experts were reported pulled out of the country in the run-up to the hostilities.

Britain’s Defence Ministry banned active service members from traveling to Ukraine in early March, saying that violating the rule could result in prosecution. Kiev called on volunteers abroad to join the ranks of its newly-created “foreign legion” after the Russian attack.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

The Great Russian Restoration, IX: The Military Establishment Factor

By Rolo Slavski | Occidental Observor | April 11, 2022

I have resisted the urge to write much about the actual war in Ukraine up to this point for several reasons.

First, I am not a military expert, although I have spoken to several retired military men to get their take on the situation since the start of the conflict. This is made easier by the fact that I come from a military family.

Secondly, I saw Russian military dominance and victory a foregone conclusion and still do. This was always a war for the Russian politicians to lose, not for the Ukrainian military to win.

Thirdly, I do not believe that anyone has any real inside information on Russian troop movements and strategic goals. The Ministry of Defense has kept a very tight lid on that sort of thing. Therefore, all we really have to work with is speculation based on Telegram and Twitter videos and reports from embedded journalists. Or, we rely on the reports of Western intelligence agencies, which do not have a good track record.

We should instead consider Putin’s goals going into this war. The most obvious factor to consider is the fact that Putin has no political future should he fail to achieve his objectives in Ukraine. One way or the other, he needs a victory of some sort or another to hang his hat on. This is perhaps the best metric that we have for figuring out what Putin’s intentions are in Ukraine and since this series of essays is focused on internal changes occurring in Russia as a result of the showdown with the West, we should consider what exactly Russian civil society is demanding from Putin.

First and foremost, the so-called “Atlanticist” faction, which seems to be a euphemism for Jews and their puppets as far as I can tell, did NOT want Putin to intervene in Ukraine. He did so anyway. And he did the same in Crimea, Syria and Georgia. Now, many of the most prominent Atlanticists have fled the country. In other words, there is no proof whatsoever that Putin is willing to bend to their demands when it comes to Russia’s security and so, we can safely disregard the opinions and demands of these people and their supporters in Moscow and St. Petersburg because it is quite clear that Putin has already done so.

The largest block in society is what we can broadly call the “Patriots.” They come in all ideological shades and stripes — some are red flag-waving Communist nostalgists, others prefer the black, yellow and white aesthetics of the Russian Empire. Most simply fly the red, white and blue of Russia and have no ideology to speak of other than what we can understand as generic patriotism. They all support the military operation in Ukraine, but they have various goals that they want the intervention to achieve. These people make up 80+% of Russian society and we know this because Putin’s approval rating has soared into the 80s because of the military intervention. The hardliners want an incorporation of the entire territory of Ukraine into the Russian Federation, but are willing to settle for everything east of the Dniepr. The majority of patriotic Russians just want a victory in Ukraine, and have no idea of what exactly that will entail. Liberating the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and reincorporating them into Russia while giving the Ukrainian army, the “Nats-bats” (mercenary “nationalist” militias), and Zelensky a good thrashing is good enough for them. Russia’s official stated goals in this conflict are just that, simply phrased another way: the “de-nazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine and the liberation of Donetsk and Lugansk. To achieve this limited victory, all Putin has left to do is to dislodge the Ukrainian army in the East, where they were massing up to attack the DNR and where they are hunkered down in their fortified positions now.

But let’s examine the military operation in greater detail for a moment. If we’re going to speculate on Russia’s military plans and objectives, we have to focus on the facts and not on the narratives that we can spin based off these facts. For example, we know for a fact that the Russian army reached Kiev within the first three days of the conflict. Now, was this a feint or part of a psychological operation to get Kiev to surrender, or an attempt to prevent a planned Ukrainian offensive on Donbass by splitting the Ukrainian army or the first stage in a preparation to storm the capital and cut the head off the snake? Here, we can only speculate.

We can also add to our speculations that there may have been an attempt to activate Russian assets within the city and take it from within. Russian bloggers are speculating that this was the Russian plan for Kharkiv, which failed to materialize for one reason or another. In fact, there are rumors that Kharkiv’s officials feigned surrender only to lure Russian troops in and then open fire on them, leading to a similar repeat of the Grozny ambush during the Chechen wars. I hesitate to hang my hat on this claim, but it strikes me as having a ring of truth to it. After all, what was the Russian plan for taking the cities if they refuse to bomb and then storm them into submission? Clearly, negotiating with the officials and activating sleeper agents within the cities would be a far more cost-effective method of taking these cities. If that is the case, Russian spooks and diplomats failed spectacularly in Kharkiv, Kiev, and Mariuple.

More facts: the Russian military plowed through the Ukrainian in-field defenses and parked themselves outside these cities or simply went around them. No immediate storming occurred. While they surrounded these cities and continued their targeted destruction of the Ukrainian military, a bloodbath began in these cities targeted at Russia-sympathizers and officials who spoke up about entering negotiations or surrendering ending up being assassinated by the SBU and the “Nats-bats.”

So: were the Russians planning on taking all of these cities but failed because their sleeper cells were poorly prepared/neutralized? Or was the Ministry of Defense and Putin telling the truth when they said that they weren’t interested in taking territory or these cities but simply in knocking out Ukraine’s military potential and liberating the DNR and LNR?

Choose your own narrative as you see fit or wait until the dust settles. Either way, we simply don’t know the answer yet.

Back on the home front, Putin hasn’t even called up Russia’s reserves. Young men are NOT being drafted to go fight in the Ukraine. Again, this is another fact. What does it tell us? That the war is not popular? Hardly. Not only do we have the polls to prove that the war is, in fact, popular, but we have Western media lamenting the fact that this is the case. Why then not call up the reserves? Perhaps because they were deemed unnecessary for the goals of the operation. This indicates that the goals of the operation were limited, does it not?

And now a few words on the Russian Ministry of Defense.

We can start with Anatoly Serdukov, the former minister of defense. Serdukov was probably one of the least qualified ministers of defense in Russian history. He was widely reviled and hated by the officer corps in the military and his replacement with Sergei Shoigu was seen as a much-awaited step in the right direction. In the 90s, Serdukov was a furniture salesmen (fine, a general director) in St. Petersburg and it was widely believed in military circles that he was as corrupt as they came. For example, his significant other got caught with millions of dollars in her bank account. There was also regular run-of-the-mill corruption associated with his five-year reign which ended in 2012, such as the use of military resources to build roads to oligarchs’ villas and the like. I suppose one could make the argument that there was no proof of direct embezzlement, but he ended up getting sacked for involvement in corruption all the same. The silver lining was that no one in the West could take Russia seriously with him at the helm, and so NATO relaxed. It was around this time that President Obama declared Russia a regional power and declared that a pivot to China was the path forward for ensuring US hegemony in the world. Russian patriots believe that Serdukov was partially to blame for this insulting demotion from superpower status. Most notably, the army during this period was drastically cut as part of a money-saving campaign that was branded as an anti-corruption effort.

With Sergei Shoigu taking over in 2012, Russia slowly began reinvesting in the military. Shoigu, like many other Russian public figures, was considered a legacy of the Yeltsin kakistocracy that once ruled the country. That being said, he demonstrated actual competence during his time in political office and his time at the Ministry of Emergencies — a rare trait in the Russian government over the last 30 years, to be sure. All that being said, he is not, strictly speaking what the military circles would consider to be a true-blue military man. There are rumors circulating now that he is about to be sacked, which are largely the result of him having dropped out of the public eye since March 11 of this year. Shoigu is widely known as a media enthusiast who enjoys putting himself in front of the cameras, which also lends credence to the rumors. I was hesitant to bring them up or give them any credence, but these rumors aren’t being promoted solely by the Ukrainians and Russian Liberals, but by Russian military men, who would like to see him replaced with one of their people, and ideally, a man with actual combat experience from either the Afghanistan or Chechen campaigns.

Firing Shoigu would be bad PR for the Kremlin now, but in terms of improving Russia’s military capabilities and continuing Russia’s move away from the legacy of the 90s, it’s really not the worst thing that could happen — in fact, military circles would rejoice at the news. This is also partially why the military experts and veteran officers have been so critical of the war effort so far. Russian military people believe that this war is being fought with political considerations in mind, and not as a strict military operation. Clausewitz once famously said that war is a continuation of politics by other means and that has certainly been the Kremlin’s approach to this operation. But now, having exhausted the possibility of taking Ukraine without any major bloodshed through other, more political methods involving diplomacy or subterfuge, the only way forward is to fall back on old-fashioned military force. The Russian army has abandoned Kiev and several other cities and is concentrating in Donbass to surround and destroy the hunkered down Ukrainian army. This is not exactly good news for Russia’s foreign policy and her political ambitions. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are going to die now. Civilians will die as well. Relations with Ukraine will never be the same.

But, internally, this is not the worst possible outcome by any means because what the politicians bungled, the military men are being called in to fix now. This will translate into an increased share of power and prestige for the Russian military establishment within the country. A deeply conservative, militaristic and “old-school” faction is about to start flexing its muscles in Russian society now. This is not too dissimilar to the situation that existed in Tsarist Russia and the USSR, where the military was very much involved in politics and formed a hardcore conservative bulwark in society. This is simply a part of Russia’s pre-Yeltsin political tradition. In contrast, in much of the West, the military simply doesn’t have much to do with internal politics as an institution. But, in many other nations in the world, the military either significantly influences politics or simply runs the country outright. Remember: Post-Soviet Russia was run by a coalition of the office of the Presidency, the Federal Security Service, and the Oligarchs. If all goes well, the power vacuum caused by the shutdown of many oligarchs in recent months will be filled by the military.

Any genuine Russian restoration will have to involve the restoration of the prestige of the military — its reintegration into political life and it’s re-elevation within civil society. Much depends on the success of the Russian offensive in the Donbass.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Russia seeks to end US-dominated world order – Lavrov

Samizdat | April 11, 2022

Russia’s military action in Ukraine is meant to put an end to the US-dominated world order, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has explained. Washington has been seeking supremacy by imposing ad-hoc rules and violating international law, he claimed, in an interview aired by Russian television on Monday.

He was referring to America’s attempts to impose its own so-called “rules-based international order,” which have met with strong resistance from Moscow and China.

“Our special military operation is meant to put an end to the unabashed expansion [of NATO] and the unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage,” Lavrov told Rossiya 24 news channel.

“This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,” he added.

Russia is among the nations who would not submit to Washington’s will, the Russian diplomat added. It will only be part of an international community of equals and will not allow Western nations to ignore its legitimate security concerns, Lavrov said.

Lavrov blasted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for appearing to encourage more fighting in Ukraine. The bloc’s top diplomat said the conflict “will be won on the battlefield” as he announced more military aid to Kiev last Saturday. Lavrov called the statement “outrageous.”

“When a diplomatic chief … says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action… Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making a statement that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark,” Lavrov added.

The EU’s role has shifted during the Ukraine security crisis, the minister believes. Previously it didn’t act as a military organization “fighting collectively against an invented threat.” Lavrov said the change was the result of pressure put on the bloc’s members by Washington, which has pushed it closer to NATO.

For its part, Russia wants to negotiate peace with Ukraine, Lavrov added.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

Asian fault lines of Biden’s war on Russia


The tremors of the United States’ tensions with Russia playing out in Europe are being felt in different ways already in Asia. The hypothesis of Ukraine being in Europe and the conflict being all about European security is delusional.

From Kazakhstan to Myanmar, from Solomon Islands to the Kuril Islands, from North Korea to Cambodia, from China to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fault lines are appearing.

To be sure, extra-regional powers had a hand in the failed colour revolution recently to overthrow the established government in Kazakhstan, a hotly contested geopolitical landmass two-thirds the size of India, bordering both China and Russia, Washington’s sworn adversaries. Thanks to swift Russian intervention, supported by China, a regime change was averted. 

Equally, the Anglo-American project to embroil Myanmar, bordering China, in an armed insurgency has floundered for want of a sanctuary in India’s northeastern region and due to the perceived congruence of interests among the surrounding countries in Myanmar’s stability. 

In comparison, the North Korean fault line has aggravated. North Korea moves on its own timetable and has probably decided that the Ukraine crisis offers useful cover while it ramps up its testing program. Pyongyang explicitly supports Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, commenting that “the basic cause of the Ukraine incident lies in the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the United States, which has ignored Russia’s legitimate calls for security guarantees and only sought a global hegemony and military dominance while clinging to its sanctions campaigns.” 

North Korea’s objective is to enhance its security and leverage by increasing the quality and quantity of its deterrent capabilities and strengthening its bargaining position.  

On another plane, the Ukraine crisis injected a new urgency into the US efforts to cultivate new Asian partners. But Washington has run into headwinds and had to indefinitely postpone a special summit with the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that was initially scheduled for end-March. No new date has been proposed, although the US had hyped up the summit as “a top priority.” 

Showing some ire, Washington has since sanctioned Cambodia, currently the ASEAN Chair. Clearly, the southeast Asian countries are chary of taking sides between the US and China or of voicing criticism against Russia.

Perhaps, the most direct fallout of the Ukraine crisis in Asia so far is the sharp deterioration in Japan’s ties with Russia. It is an unwarranted development insofar as Tokyo simply did a cut and paste job, copying all the US sanctions against Russia (including against President Putin). Prime Minister Kishida wantonly destroyed what his predecessor Shinzo Abe had carefully cultivated as a cordial, friendly relationship. 

Japan now openly refers to Russian “occupation” of the Kuril Islands — something it hasn’t been doing in the past. Moscow retaliated by designating Japan as an “unfriendly” country. Yet, analysts were estimating until recently that Russia and Japan had congruent interests in blocking China’s Arctic ambitions and were, therefore, moving toward solving their dispute over the Kurils.

Suffice to say, Kishida’s motivations in an abrupt turnaround to make Kurils a potential flashpoint in relations with Russia are, to say the least, to be traced to the broader US strategy to isolate Russia.

Meanwhile, a contrarian development has also appeared in China’s challenge to the US’ Island Chain strategy in the Western Pacific by negotiating a new security deal with Solomon Islands. This game-changing development may have extensive consequences and is dangerously interwoven with the Taiwan issue. Biden is reportedly dispatching a top White House official to Solomon Islands to scuttle the deal with China. 

The Biden administration is now doubling down on India to roll back its ties with Russia as well. That becomes a fault line in the US-Indian strategic partnership. What must be particularly galling for Washington is the likelihood of India pursuing its trade and economic cooperation with Russia in local currencies. Indeed, China and India have taken a somewhat similar stance on the Ukraine crisis.  

Given the size of the Chinese economy and the high potential of growth for the Indian economy, their inclination to bypass the dollar would be a trend-setter for other countries. Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the BRICS group of emerging economies to extend the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems.

Suffice to say, the “weaponised dollar” and the West’s abrasive move to freeze Russia’s reserves sends a chill down the spine of most developing countries. Nepal caved in to ratify the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement following threat by a middle ranking US official! 

There is no conceivable reason why the NATO should become the provider of security for the Asian region. That is why Afghanistan’s future is of crucial importance. Without doubt, the regime change in Pakistan is partly at least related to Afghanistan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has disclosed certain details of the US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and its pressure on former Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

But time will show how realistic are Washington’s  expectations of inducting Pakistan into the US orbit and making it a surrogate to leverage the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Russia and China are making sure that the door remains closed to NATO’s return to Afghanistan. They have undercut Washington’s recent efforts to co-opt the Taliban leadership in Kabul. (See my blog US pips regional states at race for Kabul.) 

The message out of the recent Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Afghan Issue Among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, China, is that in that country’s transition from chaos to order, the regional states hope to undertake a lead role. Thus, the regional states have incrementally marked their distance from the West’s exceptionalism and are instead adopting a persuasive track through constructive engagement. The joint statement issued at Tunxi reflects this new thinking. 

The developments over Afghanistan provide a signpost that any attempt at imposing Western dominance over Asia will be resisted by the regional states. Most Asian countries have had bitter experiences with colonialism in their history. (See my blog India’s dilemma over West vs. Russia

Although the American analysts underplay it, the fact remains that the conflict in Ukraine is bound to impact the “Asian Century” very significantly. The US is determined to transform NATO as the global security organisation that will act beyond the purview of the United Nations to enforce the West’s “rules-based order.” 

The West’s desperate push to weaken Russia and tilt the global strategic balance in the US’ favour aims to clear the pathway leading to a unipolar world order in the 21st century. In a recent interview, Hal Brands, Henry Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at Johns Hopkins, put across the US strategy behind the war in Ukraine as very logical: 

“Well, there’s long been a debate in the United States over whether we should prioritise competing with Russia or China or treat them as co-equals. And that debate has flared up again in the context of this war. I think what the war indicates, though, is that the best way of putting pressure on China, which is the more dangerous and the more powerful of the two rivals, is actually to ensure that Russia is defeated, that it does not achieve its objectives in this war, because that will result in a weaker Russia, one that is less capable of putting pressure on the United States and its allies in Europe and thus less useful as a strategic partner for Beijing.

“The United States simply can’t avoid the reality that it has to contain both Russia and China simultaneously.” 

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NATO member-supplied S-300 launchers obliterated – Russia

Samizdat | April 11, 2022

Russian forces have destroyed foreign-supplied S-300 anti-aircraft launchers in a number of precision strikes on Ukraine, the Defense Ministry, in Moscow, claimed on Monday. Days earlier, Slovakia reported the donation of a battery of old Soviet-made S-300 air defense missiles to Kiev.

In its regular briefing on the ongoing military action in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry reported hitting a hangar “on the southern outskirts of the city of Dnepropetrovsk,” where “equipment from an S-300 battery supplied to the Ukrainian regime by one of the European nations” was hidden.

The barrage of sea-launched Kalibr missiles destroyed four S-300 launchers and as many as 25 Ukrainian troops in the Sunday strike, ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov claimed. He used the old name of the city, which Ukrainian authorities renamed Dnepro in 2016 to distance it from the Soviet period of the country’s history.

The Russian official also reported destroying an S-300 targeting radar in a separate overnight precision airstrike near Uspenovka. The general didn’t specify which of the multiple villages of that name in Ukraine he was referring to, and didn’t say whether the radar was part of the battery supplied by the foreign nation.

Last Friday, Slovakia announced that it had donated its only S-300 battery to Ukraine. The weapon system was part of the NATO member’s legacy from the Warsaw Pact days, when it formed part of Czechoslovakia. It was not clear how many vehicles were sent to Ukraine. A regular S-300 battery can have as few as four and as many as 12 launchers using a single radar to identify targets, and is controlled by a single command post.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger assured citizens that the country’s national security would not be compromised since “allies” agreed to boost its air defense in return. US President Joe Biden said his country would provide an American Patriot missile battery as a replacement and thanked Bratislava for agreeing to give the S-300 to Kiev. Elements of the Patriot system started arriving in Slovakia three weeks ago, according to its defense minister.

Responding to Russian claims on Twitter, Prime Minister Heger called them a “hoax” and “Russian propaganda.” The statement was apparently based on a denial that Slovakia received from Kiev.

Washington reportedly wanted another NATO member, Turkey, to strike a similar deal with Ukraine and send it a Russian-supplied S-400, which is more advanced than the S-300. Ankara rejected the idea, saying the system would remain in its possession. In 2020, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying the S-400s from Russia under a deal signed in 2017.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

How Biden’s Huge Strategic Oil Release Could Backfire

By Irina Slav | | April 3, 2022

This week, the Biden administration revealed that it will release as much as 180 million barrels of crude oil in a bid to calm oil prices, which have remained above $100 per barrel for an extended period of time. The International Energy Agency, meanwhile, is coordinating a smaller but international reserve release of some 60 million barrels and has called an emergency meeting to discuss how exactly to go about it.

It remains unclear whether part of the 180 SPR release in the United States will be a completely separate endeavor or if some of these barrels will be part of the IEA release. Earlier this year, the U.S. had agreed to release 30 million barrels as part of the IEA push. What is clear is that the success of these releases in calming down oil prices is quite unlikely.

The United States last year announced the release of 50 million barrels in an effort to bring down prices t the pump, which were eroding Americans’ purchasing power and weighing on the President’s approval ratings.

This pressured prices for a few days before they rebounded, driven by continued discipline among U.S. producers, equal discipline in OPEC+, and a relentless increase in demand for the commodity.

Then Russia invaded Ukraine, and the U.S. banned imports of Russian crude and fuels. It also sanctioned the country’s financial system heavily, making paying for Russian crude and fuels too much of a headache for the dollar-based international industry. Prices soared again before retreating some, but remain firmly in three-digit territory.

As of mid-March, the Department of Energy said, some 30 million barrels of crude from the strategic petroleum reserve had been sold or leased. That’s more than half of the 50 million barrels announced in November, and it appears to have had zero effect on price movements.

But the new reserve release is a lot bigger, so it should make a difference, shouldn’t it? It amounts to some 1 million bpd over several months, per reports about White House plans in this respect. Unfortunately, but importantly, oil’s fundamentals have not changed much since November.

U.S. shale oil producers, the companies that a few years ago prompted talk among analysts that OPEC was becoming increasingly irrelevant, have rearranged their priorities. They no longer strive for growth at all costs. Now they strive for happy shareholders.

This has given more opportunities to smaller independent drillers with no shareholders to keep happy. Yet these have also run into challenges, mainly in the form of insufficient funding because the energy transition has had banks worrying about their reputations and their own shareholders.

Pandemic-related supply disruptions have also affected the U.S. oil industry’s ability to expand output. Frac sand, cement, and equipment are among the things that have been reported to be in short supply in the shale patch. Now, there’s a shortage of steel tubing, too.

Meanwhile, OPEC is doing business as usual, sticking to its commitment to add some 400,000 bpd to oil markets every month until its combined output recovers to pre-pandemic levels. Just this week, the cartel approved another monthly addition of 432,000 bpd to its combined output despite increasingly desperate calls from the U.S. and the IEA for more barrels.

OPEC has been demonstrating increasingly bluntly that its interests and the interests of some of its biggest clients may not be in alignment right now. It has refused to openly condemn Russia for its actions in Ukraine and has not joined the Western sanction push.

On the contrary, OPEC is gladly doing business with Russia. And Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two OPEC members that actually have the capacity to boost production beyond their quotas, have deemed it unwise to undermine their partnership with Russia by acquiescing to the West’s request for more oil.

In this environment, releasing whatever number of barrels from strategic reserves could only provide a very short relief at the pump. Then, it may make matters even worse. As one oil market commentator on Twitter said about the SPR release news, the White House will be selling these barrels at $100 and then may have to buy them at $150.

Indeed, one thing that tends to get overlooked during turbulent times is that the strategic petroleum reserve of any country needs to be replenished. It’s not called strategic for laughs. And a 180-million-barrel reserve release will be quite a draw on the U.S. SPR, which currently stands at over 580 million barrels. If oil’s fundamentals remain the same, prices will not be lower when the time to replenish the SPR comes.

This seems the most likely development. The EU, the UK, and the United States have stated sanctions against Russia will not be lifted even if Moscow strikes a peace deal with the Ukraine government. This means Russian oil will continue to be hard to come by for those dealing in dollars or euros.

According to the IEA, the shortfall could be 3 million barrels daily, to be felt this quarter. OPEC+ is not straying from its course. In some good news, at least, U.S. oil production rose last week for the first time in more than two months, by a modest 100,000 bpd.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | 1 Comment

Energy Affordability: The Issue Everyone Is Ignoring

By Irina Slav | | April 4, 2022

The U.S.-EU deal for the import of an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas this year made headlines earlier this month, with both sides praising their own political prowess and quick action. What nobody talked about was how much this LNG would cost.

Meanwhile, another piece of news that grabbed headlines was the House hearing of half a dozen U.S. and international oil executives on allegations of price-gouging and not helping regular Americans “to relieve pain at the pump, instead lining their pockets with one hand while sitting on the other,” according to two legislators.

These two events are indicative of something that no politician in power would want to admit openly but is nevertheless happening: the cost of living in Europe and the United States is rising. And the root cause of this is not the war in Ukraine. It’s high energy costs.

It was the energy minister of the UAE who shone a light on the problem earlier this week. Speaking to CNBC at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Suhail al Mazrouei said that politicians are focusing too much on geopolitics and ignoring the issue of energy affordability, which is affecting both developed and developing economies.

If they continue to ignore this issue, he said, politicians risk seeing large parts of the world plunged into energy poverty, which would, in turn, lead to economic slowdown for much of the world and global stagnation.

Noting that OPEC+ was doing its best to provide a reliable supply of energy to global markets, Al Mazrouei said, “For that to happen, we need resources – financial resources – we need to invest and we need to decouple politics from energy availability and energy affordability.”

By “politics”, the Emirati official likely means energy transition agendas in Europe and the United States. These depend on lower investment in oil and gas production, and the European gas crunch was the first clear sign what the consequences of this approach could be, because, in all fairness, the European cost of living crisis began a lot earlier than the war in the Ukraine.

In November last year, for instance, six in ten Britons said they had seen an increase in their cost of living. This month, this has risen to eight out of ten as energy costs continue higher. From next month the number could rise further after the energy market regulator introduces the new energy price cap by close to $1,000 per household for some 22 million households.

In Germany, inflation is seen accelerating to 6.1 percent this month, from 5.1 percent in February, according to the Ifo Institute. Soaring energy costs are at the root of this inflation trend, with the Ukraine war now adding inflationary pressure on some food staples as both Ukraine and Russia are big producers. According to Ifo, Germans could lose more than $6 billion in purchasing power by the end of this month alone.

In France, the rising cost of living has boosted the election chances of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who is betting strongly on messaging that addresses the purchasing power concerns of French citizens who, like their fellow EU-members in Germany and Britons in newly “exited” UK, have been struggling with rising costs of living.

In the United States, the Fed is preparing for an aggressive push into rate hikes to rein in inflation, which has led several economists, among them Mohamed El-Erian, to warn that such an aggressive step could lead to a cost-of-living crisis. Meanwhile, the White House has announced yet another release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve in an attempt to cool prices at the pump.

Right now, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are happily blaming everything on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. However, sooner or later, the dust will settle, and people will start asking why even though the war is over, energy is still more expensive than it was before. That would be one tough question to answer unless those who may have to answer it heed the warning made by the UAE’s Al Mazrouei.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology | Leave a comment

UK growth falters amid historic cost-of-living surge

Samizdat | April 11, 2022

The UK is facing the biggest decline in living standards since comparable records began in the 1950s, according to an independent forecast.

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) released a report on Monday, saying that the “cost of living crisis” has “well and truly” arrived in the UK. CEBR cites the recent uprating of the energy price cap – reflecting the global rise in energy costs – as the reason, saying that average UK households will be paying a whopping 73% more for their energy bill than compared to a year ago. In addition, petrol prices are up by 30% on the year and diesel prices are 36% higher, the report says.

According to the consultancy, in the coming months the consumer price inflation will far outstrip wage growth, jumping by a further 2.5% from its February level of 6.2%, which was the highest in 30 years. While most forecasts expect the UK economy to grow in each quarter of 2022, the energy price crisis will still see the households notably worse off, CEBR notes.

The Bank of England warned in March that inflation in the country is set to hit a 40-year high of 8.7% at the end of the year due to a rise in global energy prices over the past few months. The governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, also said last month that Britain was heading for the biggest single shock from energy prices since the 1970s, with the economy set to suffer a growth slowdown.

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | Leave a comment