Both France and Belgium have moved to freeze Russian state assets on Thursday, prompting an angry response from Moscow and serving to further inflame tensions between Russia and Europe amid escalating violence in Ukraine and an increasingly aggressive stance towards the Kremlin on the part of Washington and NATO.
Greece completes stage one of the dreaded "Russian pivot" as energy ministers from Athens and Moscow ink an MOU on Gazprom's Turkish Stream pipeline. Meanwhile, Gazprom signs a deal with Shell and others to double the capacity of the Nord line, a move which will, over time, decrease the energy giant's dependence on Ukraine for transport.
"Both the US and China have a vital interest in reaching an understanding because the alternative is so unpalatable," Soros wrote in an article for the New York Review of Books, with the danger imminent if Chinese economic reforms fail forcing President Xi Jinping to "foster some external conflicts to keep the country united and maintain himself in power." These "conflicts" would present themselves in the form of a Sino-Russo alliance which could draw the entire world into war.
“We have both accumulated buffers and gold currency reserves, and we have introduced a floating currency exchange rate in order to absorb various shocks,” Nabiullina said.
The Second Nuclear Arms Race Arrives: Russia Will Add 40 ICBMs In 2015 In Response To "NATO Encroachment"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/16/2015 13:56 -0400
With the US and Russia in a state of (renewed) cold war for over a year now, it was inevitable that that "other", far more important attribute of the first Cold War would soon return: the nuclear arms race. And indeed it did just around dinner time in Russia today when speaking at an arms race fair, president Putin said that Russia will put more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles into service in 2015 as part of a wide-reaching program to modernize the military.
With his back against the wall, and with Syriza party hardliners apparently no closer to backing concessions, Alexis Tsipras looks set to once again play the ‘Russian pivot” card, as the Kremlin says a “working meeting” between the Greek PM and Russian President Vladimir Putin is now scheduled for Friday in St. Petersburg.
The US is playing a dangerous game of nuclear brinkmanship. Robert Scher, undersecretary of defense, has even floated the idea of a nuclear first strike against Russia. Claiming that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by testing a banned ground-launched cruise missile, Scher laid out possible options in testimony before Congress...
The Russian Defense Ministry is out condemning NATO plans to store heavy weapons in Eastern Europe, calling it "the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO" since the Cold War and conjuring up memories of a bygone bipolarity.
"...a bigger bundle of platitudes and insincerities has not been served up since the heyday of Nixon. As the politicians are so fond of saying these days, make no mistake, Hillary is the New Nixon."
It is fair to say, Bloomberg’s Richard Breslow dares to say - without being trite, that this really is a very interesting pivotal week we are heading into. The FOMC trying to thread the needle of moving on, keeping everyone calm and keeping a wary eye on a geopolitical landscape that isn’t getting better. Greek negotiations that layer existential questions of problem resolution paralysis on top of default and Grexit. And let’s not forget MERS, Turkey coalition issues, Hong Kong bomb makers, Ukraine and meaningful MPCs given Kuroda’s comments, CHF wariness and NOK economic projections. Feels to me like Act 4 of Macbeth, “Double, double toil and trouble.” Lots of predictions, forecasts and pronouncements, but what will it all really mean and should we beware what we ask for?
The narrative being sold through the media is that Greece is to blame, that German taxpayers are on the hook for Greek debts (while they’re really on the hook for German banks’ losing wagers). And that is, no matter how you twist it, not the same story. It’s again just a narrative. Brussels is toxic - and so is the IMF - and Greece should leave as soon as possible, as should Italy, Spain, Portugal. We should all resist the spin-induced attempts to demonize Putin, Athens and China any further, and instead focus on the rotten apples in our own basket(s). In short, the propaganda we should be worried about is not Russia’s, it’s our own. And it comes from just about every news article we’re fed. We’re much less than six degrees removed from Orwell.
Royal Dutch Shell has been considering ending its partnership with a Ukrainian energy company in a shale gas exploration venture in eastern Ukraine because of the fighting in the region and prospect of little profit from the project. In fact, at least two news reports say Shell already has notified Ukraine that it’s leaving in a formal “notice of withdrawal.”
For the first time since the Cold War, the US is set to store heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe in a stepped up effort to deter 'Russian aggression.' While this marks a very meaningful escalation in the standoff between Moscow and the US, one former NATO commander was quick to point out that "nothing is as good as troops stationed full time on the ground."
The key events on tap for next week.
IMF Says It Will Continue Lending To Ukraine Even After A Default, And Why This Is Bad News For Greek GoldSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/13/2015 23:01 -0400
As we enter Sunday and what may well be the last possibility to get deal done before the "accidental" Grexit scenario is put in play, we thought our Greek readers would be interested to learn that while Lagarde's "apolitical" IMF is digging in tooth and nail against giving Greece even the smallest amount of breathing room, the equivalent of half an our of a typical daily Fed POMO notional amount, yesterday the same Lagarde said that the IMF "could lend to Ukraine even if Ukraine determines it cannot service its debt."