The cold war is on, literally, because it will determine who will survive Europe's upcoming cold winter - a Europe with decreasing Russian gas supplies, or Russia now officially starved of Western sources of funding. The "Plan Bs" - Europe has record gas inventories in storage giving it hope it can last out an entire winter without any incremental Russian gas, while Russia is increasingly reliant and hoping on China-based sources of funding. While it remains to be seen just how Russian corporations will react to the recently imposed credit starvation, the chart below shows the steps Russia is now taking ahead of the European winter. Clearly, the trend in Russian gas supplies into Europe's core distribution hub, Slovakia, is not Europe's friend.
No one disputes that the amount of Russian gas being piped through Ukraine has been cut by at least 20 percent. But who’s responsible?
As reported ealier this morning, here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are the nominees for the next European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude "If Serioues Then lie" Juncker, with one from each of the European Union’s 28 countries. Job assignments were announced today by the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. What do these appointments mean for the European Union? The attached flash analysis from Open Europe should answer most initial questions.
Europe's leaders, we assume under pressure from Washington, appear to be making a big weather-related bet with their taxpayers' lives this winter. As they unleash funding sanctions on Russia's big energy producers, Europe has pumped a record volume of natural gas into underground inventories in an effort to 'outlast' Russia and mitigate any Napoleonic "Winter War" scenario. The plan appears to be to starve Russian energy firms of cashflow - as flows to Europe are already plunging - and remove their funding ability, potentially forcing severe hardship on Russia's key economic drivers. There appears to be 3 potential problems with this plan...
As 'rumors' of European sanctions against Russia's major oil energy firms are leaked strawman-like to the market and expected to be enacted as soon as tomorrow, it appears there is a 'glitch' in the union. The FT's Peter Spiegel reports that one country is holding out on EU sanctions and that is the reason for an emergency unscheduled meeting of EU diplomats this evening. While it is unclear which country it is, something tells us its name begins with an 'A' and ends in 'ustria'... or starts with 'S' and ends in 'lovakia'...
Having promised "whatever it takes" and now doing what many thought was un-possible, Mario Draghi has managed to smash EURUSD back to 14-month lows below 1.30 (without actually buying one bond - just promising) and has sent yields on most European bonds negative to 2Y (and Germany near negative in 4Y).
More Sanctions: Europe Will Ban Purchase Of Russian Bonds; However Russian Gas Exports Remain UntouchedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2014 09:18 -0400
Over the weekend, insolvent, debt-dependent Europe thought long and hard how to best punish Russia and moments ago reached yet another milestone in deep projective thought: as Reuters reports, Europeans could be barred from buying new Russian government bonds "under a package of extra sanctions over Moscow's military role in Ukraine that European Union ambassadors were to start discussing on Monday, three EU sources said." This will be in addition to the ban on the debt funding of most Russian corporations. So as Europe's 7-day ultimatum for the Kremlin to "de-escalate" counts down, Putin has a choice: continue operating under a budget surplus and ignore Europe's latest and most amusing hollow threat which is merely a projection of Europe's biggest fears, or spend himself into oblivion as Europe has done over the past decade and become a vassal state of the Frankfurt central bank.. Somehow we doubt Putin will lose too much sleep over this latest "escalation"...
The last time Poland 'spoke' it was to accuse Russia of invasion (and the time before that it was to accuse the government of giving the USA blow jobs), but this time actions speak louder than words:
*POLAND BLOCKS FLIGHT OF RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER'S PLANE: RIA
Defense Minister Soigu's plane was forced to U-turn and land back in Bratislava.
"Anti-Putin" Alliance Fraying: Germany, Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic Urge End To Russian SanctionsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/16/2014 11:04 -0400
Greece, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany... the chorus of voices demanding an end to Russian sanctions is starting to drown out the neocon warmongering efforts of the west...
While Ukraine has long since ceased being a customer of Gazprom (for the simple reason being that it can't afford to pay for historical gas purchases let alone future ones, and with a long cold winter just 3 months ahead, Kiev is praying that its brand new Western "allies" will give it the loans it needs to buy Europe-sourced gas), the bulk of Russia-sourced gas into Europe still transits through Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Ukraine correctly understands this is the last trump card it has in any negotiation with the west, or the east. It is this trump card that went into play moments ago when Ukraine's Prime Minister who recently resigned and whose resignation was not accepted, said that Ukraine is considering banning the transit of all Russian "energy resources", i.e. European gas.
Imperial Washington is truly running amuck in its insensible confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The latest round of new sanctions is a counter-productive joke. But it is the larger narrative that is so blatantly offensive - that is, the notion that a sovereign state is being wantonly violated by an aggressive neighbor arming “terrorists” inside its borders. Once again, the American Warfare State has confected a false narrative to justify policies and missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Wooster MA. Unfortunately, false narratives are what the Warfare State does.
With 2 Russian TV journalists killed in recent days and on the heels of Russia's cutting off Ukraine's gas supply for non-payment, Interfax is reporting that:
*EXPLOSION ON UKRAINE GAS TRANSIT PIPELINE REPORTED: IFX
*INTERFAX CITES UKRAINE INTERIOR MINISTRY ON GAS PIPELINE BLAST
Witnesses say flames are reaching 200 metres high. Gazprom shares are tumbling on the news (as should European stocks) and Russia's Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Aleksei Pushkov warned relations between Ukraine and Russia have entered a new stage and are "moving closer towards a serious conflict."
"Today, from 10:00 a.m. Moscow time, Gazprom, according to the existing contract, moved Naftogaz to prepayment for gas supplies ... Starting today, the Ukrainian company will only get the Russian gas it has paid for."
For those pressed for time, here is the one-chart post-mortem of what happened in yesterday's elections for European Parliament: the malcontents block, or the anti-EU and protest parties, soar and now control nearly a third of all seats, up nearly by 33% from a fifth currently, in the parliament they all predominantly loathe.
The ECB, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the Riksbank of Sweden announced a new gold agreement this morning. They announced they have no plans to sell significant quantities of gold and reaffirmed the importance of gold bullion as a monetary reserve asset.