Prepare for more...
Moments ago, Reuters blasted the following headline:
DECREE MAKING CRIMEA PART OF RUSSIA HAS COME INTO FORCE FROM MOMENT OF ADOPTION; RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES ARE ONLY LEGITIMATE FORCES IN REGION -DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF CRIMEA
On the surface, this would mean that the Russian annexation of the Crimea if complete (and East Ukraine is coming). Especially when one considers that earlier Crimea also said it could adopt the Russian rouble as its currency and "nationalise" state property as part of plans to join the Russian Federation, a regional official was quoted as saying on Thursday.
While the world is convinced that Putin's Tuesday press conference was an admission of blinking to the west, the reality is anything but that, and hours ago Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in what Reuters said is a "a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula." To be sure, the Crimea - which has an ethnic Russian majority - affiliation to Moscow as opposed to Kiev is well-known, yet still the sudden acceleration of moves to bring Crimea formally under Moscow's rule came as European Union leaders gathered for an emergency summit to seek ways to pressure Russia to back down and accept mediation. And now all Putin has to do is sit back and say the people have spoken and without spilling a drop of blood has effectively split the country in two parts, with the entire east of Ukraine, where pro-Russian sentiment also runs high - sure to follow Crimea. Just as we said from the very beginning.
Below is the photo that reveals why US and EU bankers despise Russian President Putin so much
Robert Serry has now agreed to go straight to the airport and end his mission in #Crimea
— James Mates (@jamesmatesitv) March 5, 2014
Just Bloomberg headlines for now which don't mesh well with the whole "detente" narrative, supposedly unleashed by Putin's conference yesterday in which he was said to "blink", which he didn't but algo-driven stocks are convinced he did and algos are always right: UN ENVOY KIDNAPPED IN SIMFEROPOL, IFX CITES UKRAINE FOREIGN MIN - It is certainly not clear who the kidnappers were. So just another provocation, simple lie, or for once, the truth? We hope to find out soon. Update: and now we know the answer - lie and borderline provocation, once again by the Ukraine foreign ministry: DEPUTY U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL ELIASSON DENIES REPORTS U.N. REPRESENTATIVE SERRY WAS KIDNAPPED, SAYS SERRY WAS THREATENED.
Minutes ago, the chief of police of the Donetsk regional state administration (in Eastern Ukraine and the home region of Yanukovych) explained how the situation was "stable" and "everything is under control"... So perhaps he better look out the window:
*RUSSIAN-FLAG WAVING CROWD SAID TO STORM DONETSK BUILDING: AP
*PRO-RUSSIAN PROTESTERS ON WAY TO STORM DONETSK TREASURY: TV5
So, apart from the protesters storming buildings and breaking into the Treasury, things are "under control."
Retweets are not endorsements... but they really usually are. Which is the reason some are wondering just why did the FTC show a specific appreciation of this particular tweet sent out yesterday by a user who appears to have a bone to pick with Herbalife, Nu Skin and other alleged pyramid schemes.
#NCPW2014 Why have you not shut down pyramid schemes like Herbalife, Nu Skin and others? What is the FTC waiting for?
— AS (@ArbitrageIt) March 4, 2014
The last few weeks have been dismally littered with two things. The virtual losses of virtual wealth from virtual currency speculation and the very real losses of very real humans with very real senior financial services positions. Sadly, as NewsWatch reports, tonight sees the two trends converge as the 28-year-old CEO of Singapore-based Bitcoin exchange First Meta has been found dead. The exact reason that may have led to the suicide is not known, and whether the Police have concluded that the cause of death is suicide is also unofficial.
UPDATE: EU is suggesting it will help Ukraine pay its $2bn Russian gas bill (to keep its spice flowing)
The question many are asking this morning is what is the iron-first of Putin thinking? With his "military exercise" over, does he believe it enough to have shown the world his potential for disruption? We suspect another reason may have been weighing on his mind. As we noted previously, Europe accounts for around a third of Gazprom's total gas sales, and around half of Russia's total budget revenue comes from oil and gas... and whatever Putin's geo-political ambitions, we suspect he did not want to jeopardize that source of revenue - no matter how much sabre-rattling and Gazprom-fear-mongering. As the following chart shows, Europe should be sighing a huge relief this morning - but remain cognizant that this, we suspect, is far from over.
While the comments by Russian presidential advisor, Sergei Glazyev, came before Putin's detente press conference early this morning, they did flash a red light of warning as to what Russian response may be should the west indeed proceed with "crippling" sanctions as Kerry is demanding. As RIA reports, his advice is that "authorities should dump US government bonds in the event of Russian companies and individuals being targeted by sanctions over events in Ukraine." Glazyev said the United States would be the first to suffer in the event of any sanctions regime. “The Americans are threatening Russia with sanctions and pulling the EU into a trade and economic war with Russia,” Glazyev said. “Most of the sanctions against Russia will bring harm to the United States itself, because as far as trade relations with the United States go, we don’t depend on them in any way.”
Amicable resolution between Russia and the Ukraine as the market seems to be suggesting, or not? Watch this clip of what happened just hours earlier at the Belbek air force base, in which Russian troops fired warning shots aat approaching Ukrainian soldiers and you decide.
Kerry Lands In Kiev, Sanctions Against Russia "In Matter Of Days", US Prepares $1 Billion Loan For UkraineSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/04/2014 08:10 -0500
While the world digests the recent Putin press conference in which he appeared to superficially soften his stance on the Ukraine, US SecState John Kerry lands in Kiev while the state department announced that sanctions against Russia are "coming in a matter of days", and as the US announces it is preparing a $1 billion aid package for the Ukraine, which despite the toned down rhetoric by Putin just lost the Gazprom discount for natgas due to non-payment meaning its reserves will be depleted even faster, suggesting a far greater urgency to providing funding for the Ukraine in what some have said is now a fight between Putin and the IMF, as the latter tries to drain what little funds remain in the nation, while the former urgently seeks to keep it afloat.
Google translated for most impact: "today the agency " Interfax-Ukraine" reported, citing a source in the Defense Ministry of Ukraine , that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia Alexander Vitko an ultimatum Ukrainian soldiers in the Crimea . According to the source agency , if, prior to 5:00 am Tuesday Ukrainian soldiers " do not give up , start a real assault units and parts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces around the Crimea." The official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry called Message agency " utter nonsense " and said that any ultimatums Ukrainian military in the Crimea was not put."
With all eyes dismally fixed on Eastern Europe and the esclating tensions between the world's most powerful nations, we thought perhaps a little levity was appropriate. "Way To Blue" trawls the social media stratosphere of intellect and calculates a "desire to win" index that summarizes who we, the lowly members of the public, would most like to win the celebrated Academy Awards. It appears, in an odd coincidence to real-life, the debt-serfs of the world would most like to see "12 Years A Slave" win for Best Film.