Putin Strikes Back: Russia's Sanctions List Said To Include US Senators, High Ranking Administration OfficialsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2014 17:12 -0400
Ever since the theatrical announcement of asset freezes and other related sanctions of various Putin aides, Russian military and pro-Russia Ukrainian leaders earlier today by both the US president and the EU, the nagging question was when and how would Vladimir Vladimirovich retaliate, with tomorrow's Putin address to the joint session of Parliament seeming as a probable time and place. It now appears that Putin's personal retaliation has been leaked in advance, and according to the Daily Beast's Josh Rogin, it will involve an in kind response where various US senators and highly placed officials will be banned from visiting Russia, and likely also see their particular assets - if any- in Russian custody promptly frozen.
Russia-Ukraine Agree "Truce" Until March 21st; White House Warns Putin Stop Playing "Russian Roulette"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/16/2014 12:05 -0400
"President Putin has started a game of Russian roulette and I think the United States and the West have to be very clear in their response," states Sen. Foreign Relations Committed Chair Robert Menendez among a slew of Sunday morning talk-show rhetoric from US politicians with the White House's Dan Pfeiffer adding "President Putin has a choice about what he's going to do here. Is he going to continue to further isolate himself, further hurt his economy, further diminish Russian influence in the world, or is he going to do the right thing?" As the "sham referendum" continues, Reuters, however, reports that Ukraine's acting defense minister believes Russia and Ukraine have agree a truce until March 21st.
From March 1: "Obama did not attend the meeting, but he has been briefed about it by his national security adviser, Susan Rice, and his national security team, an official said."
From March 15: "Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council."
In a rather concerning (though not entirely surprising) turn of events, the United Nations (which may well need to be renamed after this) is making headlines:
- *RUSSIA REJECTS U.S. DRAFT RESOLUTION ON UKRAINE, CHURKING SAYS
- *U.S. DRAFT DOES NOT DIRECTLY BLAME RUSSIA FOR CRISIS IN UKRAINE
- *RUSSIA VETOES UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON UKRAINE CRISIS
- *CHINA ABSTAINS ON UN RESOLUTION ON UKRAINE
And then the US comes over the top:
- *POWER SAYS UN VOTE SHOWS RUSSIA 'ISOLATED, ALONE, WRONG'
Well "isolated and alone" with China?
Utah state prosecutors have received accusations of wrongdoing and gathered evidence in a wide-ranging corruption scandal involving Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Senator Mike Lee. However, as The Washinton Times reports, FBI agents have been thwarted in their efforts to launch a full federal investigation by the Justic Department. "DOJ risks creating the perception of a cover-up," warned one senior FBI official.
- Ukraine anxiety triggers flight to safety, stocks tumble (Reuters)
- Woodrow Wilson’s Ukraine Failure Foreshadows West’s Dilemmas (BBG)
- Fortress Executives Join Peers Selling Stock After Rally (BBG)
- 303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags (NYT)
- Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Russia blocks internet sites of Putin critics (Reuters)
- China Bond Risk Exceeds Ireland as Defaults Unavoidable (BBG)
- China H-Shares Post Biggest Weekly Drop Since October (BBG)
- Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries (WSJ)
- Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge (BBG)
The Real Reason Why Ukraine is Key
- Malaysia Says Stolen Passport User Had No Links to Terror Groups (BBG)
- Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast (Reuters)
- Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions (Reuters)
- Top German body calls for QE blitz to avert deflation trap in Europe (Telegraph)
- Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash (BBG)
- Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine (WSJ)
- Lenovo says China strike an IBM matter, but it won't cut wages (Reuters)
- Congress to Investigate GM Recall (WSJ)
- New hedge funds face life or death battle for funding (FT)
- Muni Bond Costs Hit Investors in Wallet (WSJ)
- BOJ keeps stimulus in place, cuts view on exports in warning sign (Reuters)
- ECB Homes In on Risky Assets as Inspectors Fan Out Across Europe (BBG)
- Snowden: "The Constitution was violated" (Reuters)
Officially, US debt stands at more than $17 trillion. In reality, it is many times more. So who in his right mind would think it is a good time to start a war with Russia over Ukraine? And worse, who would commit the United States to bail out a Ukraine that will need at least $35 billion to survive the year? Who? The president and Congress, backed by the neocons and the so-called humanitarian interventionists! Cooler heads in the United States are not currently prevailing. There is a danger of an unimaginable conflict between the US and Russia. We must demand a shift away from a war footing, away from incendiary rhetoric. We are broke and cannot afford to “buy” Ukraine. We certainly cannot afford another war, especially with Russia!
The Russian occupation of Crimea has raised concerns about the European Union’s dependence on its eastern neighbor for natural gas. The EU gets about 34% of its natural gas imports from Russia, a large portion of which transits Ukraine through a web of pipelines. For Eastern Europe, that dependence is much greater. In the brutally cold winter of 2009 Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe allegedly over a pricing dispute with Ukraine. However, it was also a lesson to Western Europe on its dependence on Russia for energy. The economic damage of energy supply disruptions cuts both ways. Putin likes to play the role of bully, but Russia is not exactly in a strong position in terms of using energy as a political weapon. Whether or not the Ukraine crisis deepens, it is unlikely that Moscow would intentionally turn off the taps for any prolonged period of time.
If there is a new cold war with Russia, many observers believe the U.S. is losing it. First under President George W. Bush and now under President Obama, the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s Russia have engaged in a series of foreign policy battles — and Putin has repeatedly got his way. The Russian president’s objective is clear. He wants to reassert Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe while preventing NATO’s further expansion toward Russia. Lawmakers and experts across the political sphere warn that if the Obama administration and its western allies are not effective in dealing with Putin this time, it could have serious consequences going forward. And the dangers go beyond Putin.
When one studies history, all events seem to revolve around the applications and degenerations of war. Great feats of human understanding, realization and enlightenment barely register in the mental footnotes of the average person. War is what we remember, idealize and aggrandize, which is why war is the tool most often exploited by oligarchy to distract the masses while it centralizes power. With the exception of a few revolutions, most wars are instigated and controlled by financial elites, manipulating governments on both sides of the game to produce a preconceived result. Every major international crisis for the past century or more has ended with an even greater consolidation of world power into the hands of the few, and this is no accident.
The U.S. government and the Russian government have both been forced into positions where neither one of them can afford to back down. If Barack Obama backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for having been beaten by Vladimir Putin once again. If Putin backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for abandoning the Russians that live in Crimea. In essence, Obama and Putin find themselves trapped in a macho game of "chicken" and critics on both sides stand ready to pounce on the one who backs down. But this is not just an innocent game of "chicken" from a fifties movie. This is the real deal, and if nobody backs down the entire world will pay the price.
- Spot the inaccuracies: Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation (Reuters)
- Bank of England Extends Record-Low Rates Into a Sixth Year (BBG)
- China's Chaori Solar poised for landmark bond default (Reuters), explained here previously
- EU leaders meet in Brussels to address Ukraine crisis (FT)
- Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say (Reuters)
- China Raises Defense Spending 12.2% for 2014 (WSJ)
- China Stock Index Rises as Developers Jump on Policy Speculation (BBG)
- VTB Cancels New York Forum as U.S. Relations Sour (BBG)
- IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover (FT)
- College Board Redesigns SAT Exam Making Essay Portion Optional (BBG)