In a dramatic stroke of luck for the Kremlin, this morning there is hardly a person in the world who is happier than Russian president Vladimir Putin because overnight state-run run OAO Rosneft announced it has discovered what may be a treasure trove of black oil, one which could boost Russia's coffers by hundreds of billions if not more, when a vast pool of crude was discovered in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean, showing the region has the potential to become one of the world’s most important crude-producing areas, arguably bigger than the Gulf Of Mexico. The announcement was made by Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s chief executive officer, who spent two days sailing on a Russian research ship to the drilling rig where the find was unveiled today.
Germany's DAX is tumbling this morning (and back in the red for 2014) as The Moscow Times reports Russian courts could get the green light to seize foreign assets on Russian territory under a draft law intended as a response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Whether this is retaliation at Italian tax police seizing €30m in assets, including a luxury hotel in Rome and two villas in Sardinia, controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, is unclear, but the timing is highly coincidental and Rotenberg has been a longtime ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It appears Vladimir Putin is willing to hit'em while they're down. Early European equity weakness (and safe-haven flows) on asset-freeze threats have accelerated as Bloomberg reports, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak threatens gas supply disruptions if the EU continues to re-export Russian gas to Ukraine. 3Y German bond yields have plunged to -4.1bps, a record low close and European stocks are closing on their lows of the day.
At what point is a drill more than just a drill? Maybe when it is so massive it could be confused for an invasion force, involving a mindblowing 155,000 troops, more than the armies of most sovereign nations, 4,000 armoured vehicles, 632 planes and helicopters and 84 vessels. Those are the staggering numbers taking part in the Vostok-2014 strategic exercises, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, and whose main priority is ti "demonstrate that the degree of combat preparedness in Russian troops has risen." One almost wonders why...
President Obama’s neo-Cold War is not about ideology or respect for borders. It is about money and global power. The current battle over control of gateway nations - strategic locations in which private firms can establish the equivalent of financial boots-on-the-ground - is being waged in the Middle East and Ukraine under the auspices of freedom and western capitalism (er, “democracy”). In these global gateways, private banks can infiltrate resource-rich locales fortified by political will, public aid and military support to garner lucrative market advantages. ISIS poses a threat to global gateway control that transcends any human casualties. That’s why Congress decided to authorize funds to fight ISIS despite the risk. The common thread of today’s global gateway nations appears to be oil.
"In my lifetime, the USA has not blundered into a more incoherent, feckless, and unfavorable foreign policy quandary than we see today. Does any tattoo-free American adult outside the Kardashian-NFL mass hypnosis matrix feel confident about the trajectory of US policy regarding the so-called Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL)?"
Moments ago, the Goldmanite in charge of the European Central Bank delivered yet another speech, this time seeking to offset some of the hawkish comments over the weekend from his comrades, all of which suggested that no more easing, or public QE, was coming any time soon. It was, as usual, full of the same lies that have pushed European stocks to highs not seen since Lehman even as Europe's economy is now slumping into a triple-dip recession. Here is a choice selection of his comments, properly annotated.
A day after US ambassador to The UN Samantha Powers stated, "we will not do the airstrikes alone if the president decides to do the airstrikes," and Russia warned, "bombing Syria without the cooperation of Damascus can have destructive practical consequences on the humanitarian situation in Syria," it appears President Obama's grand strategy to combat IS via a 'broad coalition' of allies is flailing. While the WSJ reports, The Pentagon is preparing war plans in Syria that would include an intensive initial wave of strikes against Islamic State targets, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier explained today that providing air support or sending ground troops to fight Islamic State is "out of the question for us." For now, it appears, the only nation involved in the 'broad coalition' is France. Why? Because as we said yesterday, this is merely over fears of more BNPs. "A key component of this would be allied participation," said a U.S. official; does '1' ally count?
In order to do prove its undying commitment to the US, moments ago the French Defense Ministry took a page right out of the Pentagon/CNN playbook, and released footage of French warplanes striking targets belonging to the Islamic State after taking off from an airbase. Paris announced earlier this week it was taking part in military air strikes against the militant group in Iraq. The video shows a pilot inspecting his aircraft, a French Rafale, before takeoff. The footage also shows several craft being refueled in mid-flight as well as infrared shots of the targets being bombed.
In modern times, war is never what it seems. Mainstream historians preach endlessly about grand conflicts over territory, resources, political impasse, and revenge, but the cold hard reality is that all of these “motivations” are actually secondary, if they are relevant at all. If you really want to understand the past, or the intricacies of war, you will be lost unless you accept that most conflicts are designed; they are not random or natural. They are not the product of too much national sovereignty or individual liberty. No; traditional war is a tool for the organized ruling class. It always has been and always will be.
Just over ten days ago, as the pro-independence forces in east Ukraine were on the march with significant gains on the battlefield, a ceasefire was signed in Minsk, Belarus. It turns out to be a grotesque sleight of hand, with Kiev receiving guarantees at the September 5, NATO summit in Wales that NATO members would provide the military equipment to finish the pro-independence forces in the east after the ceasefire gave time to re-group a badly beaten, largely conscript Ukrainian army.
About a month ago, when Russia sent a humanitarian convoy to aid ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, the Western world, and of course media, screamed bloody murder, with everyone from NATO to the Kiev government declaring it, without a shadow of a doubt, an invasion, a Trojan Horse, and a convoy of arms deliveries for the rebels caught in the Ukraine civil war, not necessarily in that order. Nobody thought it could possibly be just that: a convoy of humanitarian aid delivering provisions to hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the middle of a war. Then finally, after weeks of delays, the convoy was allowed in and after unloading its cargo, promptly returned to Russia without a single incident.
- Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis (Reuters)
- Glasgow pulls no punches in welcome to 'Save the Union Express' (Guardian)
- Pound Seen Tumbling Up to 10% on Scottish Yes Vote (BBG)
- Moscow stifles dissent as soldiers return in coffins (Reuters)
- Ukraine's leader sees no military solution of crisis, eyes reforms (Reuters)
- Venezuela Threatens Harvard Professor for Default Comment (BBG)
- Australia Raises Terror Alert to Highest Level in a Decade (BBG)
- Activist Investors Build Up Their War Chests (WSJ)
"This is the worst possible time for Britain to consider leaving the EU – or for Scotland to break with Britain. The EU is an unfinished project of European states that have sacrificed part of their sovereignty to form an ever-closer union based on shared values and ideals. Those shared values are under attack on multiple fronts. Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine is perhaps the most immediate example but it is by no means the only one. Resurgent nationalism and illiberal democracy are on the rise within Europe, at its borders and around the globe."