While the market, and America's media, was focusing over the passage of the Cromnibus, and whether Wall Street would dump a few hundred trillion in derivatives on the laps of US taxpayers once again (it did), quietly and unanimously both houses passed The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which authorizes "providing lethal assistance to Ukraine’s military" as well as sweeping sanctions on Russia’s energy sector.
The measure mandates sanctions against Rosoboronexport, the state agency that promotes Russia’s defense exports and arms trade. It also would require sanctions on OAO Gazprom (GAZP), the world’s largest extractor of natural gas, if the state-controlled company withholds supplies to other European nations (yes, the US is now in the pre-emptive punishment business, and is enforcing sanctions on a "what if" basis).
But while one may debate if additional sanctions will do much to impact a Russian economy which is already impaired due to the plunging ruble, the clear escalation is that unlike previously, when the US limited itself - at least on paper - to non-lethal assistance to the Ukraine, now the US is finally preparing to send in weapons, and potentially "military advisors" as well. We say "on paper", because in late November hacked US documents revealed the extent of secret US "Lethal Aid" for the Ukraine army. And since America's under-the-table support for Ukraine's insolvent armed forces has been revealed, there is little point in pretending to keep a moral upper hand (especially in light of recent "other" revelations involving the US, most notably its intelligence services).
And as has happened for the entire duration of the second Cold War, any action by the US was promptly met with a just as provocative reaction by Russia. In this case, a leftist member of the Russian Duma said the US Senate’s decision to arm the Kiev regime should prompt ‘adequate measures’ from Russia, such as deploying military force on Ukrainian territory before the threat becomes too high.
In other words, in addition to the global energy meltdown which is about to send oil exporting nations into a state of shock matched only by owners of US High Yield energy bonds, the Ukraine conflict, which the algos and carbon-based Portfolio Manager forgot about, is about to re-escalate, with Russia now set to recreate the Crimea annexation after it officially sends its troops on Ukraine soil.
“The decision of the US Senate is extremely dangerous. If it is supported by the House of Representatives and signed by their president, Russia must reply with adequate measures,” Mikhail Yemelyanov of the Fair Russia party told reporters on Friday.
“It is quite possible that we should return to the decision by our Upper House and give the Russian president an opportunity to use military force on Ukrainian territory preemptively. We should not wait until Ukraine is armed and becomes really dangerous,” the lawmaker stated.
Yemelyanov also noted that in his opinion the US Senate’s decision to arm Ukraine had revealed that Washington wasn’t interested in the de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict. He then said that US actions gave him the impression they was seeking to turn Ukraine into some sort of an “international militant targeting the Russian Federation.”
“In a few years Ukraine will turn into a poor and hungry country with an anti-Russian government that will teach its population to hate Russia. They will be armed to the teeth and Ukraine and US reluctance to recognize the Russian Federation within its current borders would always provoke conflicts,” the MP said.
So does this mean that what was a lingering proxy cold civil war in east Ukraine between NATO-armed Ukraine troops and Russia-armed Separatists and local militias is about to escalate into a shooting precursor to something greater? There is still hope an all out escalation can be avoided. From Bloomberg:
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that the administration hadn’t finished reviewing the language and isn’t ready to take a position on the legislation. He said the administration wants to ensure that the U.S. and its European allies are working together, that any sanctions are effective and that they minimize harm to U.S. and European companies.
“This is delicate work,” Earnest said.
Did we say "there is hope"? Never mind.
The good news is that preparations for yet another world war are taking place, the US will "prove" it has the moral superiority by offsetting Russian propaganda.... with its own propaganda!
From the last line of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act:
"Directs the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors to submit to Congress a plan for increasing the quantity of Russian-language broadcasting into the countries of the former Soviet Union in order to counter Russian Federation propaganda. Requires such plan to prioritize broadcasting into Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova by the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."
Which can only mean one thing: the US is about to flood the airwaves east of the Dnieper river with reruns of Rocky 4 all over again.