News from Londongrad

The news that UK prime minister David Cameron wants to urge the EU to exclude Russia from the SWIFT system is a few days old by now. As an aside, we note the rebels in the Eastern Ukraine and by implication their “surplus military hardware store” next door apparently aren't worried overly much, as the rebels just attacked two Ukrainian military vessels in the Sea of Azov, one of which was reported to have gone up in flames as a result (see also brief video below).

Anyway, here is what Bloomberg reported regarding Cameron's proposal:


“The U.K. will press European Union leaders to consider blocking Russian access to the SWIFT banking transaction system under an expansion of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, a British government official said.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, is one of Russia’s main connections to the international financial system. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government plans to put the topic on the agenda for a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels today, according to the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

“Blocking Russia from the SWIFT system would be a very serious escalation in sanctions against Russia and would most certainly result in equally tough retaliatory actions by Russia,” said Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow-based consulting firm Macro Advisory. “An exclusion from SWIFT would not block major trade deals but would cause problems in cross-border banking and that would disrupt trade flows.


(emphasis added)

In other words, this is a really bad idea. It isn't going to alter the Russian government's approach to the civil war in Ukraine – it will keep supplying the rebels with arms, help them with intelligence, etc. – but it will most assuredly lead to a reaction that is bound to harm the already wobbling euro area economies even more.

It is simply not possible for the EU to impose sanctions on Russia without shooting itself into the foot concurrently. While the EU can certainly greatly harm Russia economically as well, Putin enjoys enormous popularity in Russia right now, so sanctions sure won't hurt him or his government. In fact, economic sanctions always have this effect. Iran's clerical leaders have become more firmly entrenched than ever since the country has become subject to sanctions, to name an example. It is always the citizens who suffer, never their political leaders. In every country subject to sanctions, the population views them as an attack from  outsiders against which it must unite – instead of harming the political leadership, its position is as a rule strengthened.

In short, escalating what is already a useless policy just to be seen to be “doing something” is really not very sensible, to put it politely. Of course, the UK is in a better position than the continental EU with respect to dependency on Russian gas, which may explain why Mr. Cameron is especially eager to invent new sanctions (it is presumably also a great distraction from his growing political problems at home – politicians always try to milk such situations, especially when it doesn't seem to cost them much). Anyway, what actually prompted us to write about this was mainly this Steve Bell cartoon we recently came across:


Steve Bell 23.07.2014Londongrad only welcomes responsible oligarchs!

(Cartoon by Steve Bell)


Russia,  Nato and Whatever Happened with MH 17?

In case of the Ukraine, Putin's overarching goals were, and always have been, to a) hang on to Sevastopol and b) to keep NATO out. Even the Western press has just been informed of this, as Bloomberg's report on the latest rebel attacks shows:


“Pro-Russian rebels attacked two Ukrainian coastal guard vessels for the first time, just hours after European Union governments agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia if the conflict worsens.

Fighting in southeast Ukraine continued and the situation there remains “tense,” according to military officials in Kiev. While EU leaders disagreed about possible military assistance to Ukraine, they gave the European Commission a week to deliver proposals for the penalties that may target Russia’s energy and finance industries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said talks on the “statehood” status of southeast Ukraine are needed to resolve the crisis, according to a Channel One TV interview taped ahead of the EU summit and aired today. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told reporters in Chelyabinsk, Russia, that Putin isn’t seeking “statehood” for the region.

“We must strive toward implementing the plan we agreed upon,” Putin said. “We must immediately commence substantive talks and not only on technical issues, but also on the political organization of society and the statehood status of southeast Ukraine in order to serve the interests of people living there.”

Putin’s statehood statement isn’t surprising and is “in line with Moscow’s plans of creating an autonomous region in eastern Ukraine that potentially will have a right to self-determination, which could then be a leverage on Ukraine, particularly in preventing the country from joining NATO,” Lilit Gevorgyan, senior analyst at IHS Global Insight in London, said by e-mail.”


(emphasis added)


This seems to be a video filmed by locals that shows the cost guard boat burning in the distance


As Jason Ditz notes, what Putin actually said was either misunderstood or misrepresented. He continues to request that the rebels should be part of negotiations, a demand Kiev has rejected up until now:


“Russian President Vladimir Putin is once again fueling Western ire by pushing for a negotiated settlement of the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, calling in the rebels to allow troops to flee the area and calling on Ukraine’s government to enter into negotiations  on a final settlement deal.

Even the proposal for talks was subject to considerable spin, for while Putin focused on a call for greater autonomy for the ethnic Russian east, the coverage mostly presented it as a demand for independence .

After the coverage, Russian officials reiterated that they aren’t pushing full sovereignty for eastern Ukraine, but simply increases in the region’s autonomy, as part of an ongoing push for Ukraine to adopt federalism.”


Just as a reminder: in order to get Gorbachev to agree to German unity, Western leaders promised loud and clear that NATO would never expand even one millimeter eastward. Cross my heart and hope to die! Ever since, it has done nothing but. In the meantime, Russia has been encircled, but it did put its foot down in Georgia. Apparently this signal wasn't properly understood, as later events in Ukraine showed. Does anyone seriously believe Russia's government will not do whatever it thinks it takes to keep Ukraine out of NATO? It seems obvious to us that if one knows this, it should be easy to come to a negotiated settlement, provided no-one pursues ulterior motives.

Speaking of NATO, its chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who keeps regaling us with hysterical communiques about an imminent Russian invasion, said the following about Iraq in 2003:


“Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think, it is something we know.”


This just to point out that one must take whatever this guy says with a barrel-full of salt.

This brings us to our last point: whatever happened with the “urgent investigation into the MH 17 crash”?  The topic has simply died. How many weeks have passed? Last we heard, even an OECD observer at the crash site mentioned that the theory that machine gun fire strafed the plane seemed not overly far-fetched. Ever since, complete silence has descended. Are the results of the inquiry not congruent with the official narrative? Why is no journalist going after this? A Google search shows only alternative news media reporting anything on the investigation, or asking questions about it during August. The mainstream press reported only on the arrival of bodies of passengers in Malaysia. The downing of the plane remains evidently a “mystery”, as not a word about it was breathed anywhere. 


Mh-17-crash-6So … what actually happened?

(Photo via / Author unknown)




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3 Responses to “Only Responsible Oligarchs Welcome”

  • Calculus:

    Western and especially US intelligence know full well what happened to BOTH Malaysian planes. You can’t spend billions and billions a year and not know what happened whether by technology or hearing legitimate wispers.

    Take the first plane as an example, the US Navy, subs, spy ships dressed up as commercial vessles and spy satellites are ALL over the South China Sea ALL the time. And what, you don’t think the US Airforce has 1-10 intellgence gathering planes up in the air in that area 24/7? I doubt a local fisherman can even pick up a crab pot or a Chinese/Thai/Malaysian/Indonesian kid sending their boyfriend/girlfriend a picture of their dick/tits without them knowing (or having a recorded record on file) so the fact a commercial jet ‘disappears’ without a trace and nobody knows anything is beyond a joke.

    Bill says everyone has gone very quiet on the second plane, but not as quiet as the first one. The conclusion is simple, either the west was complacent somehow in one or both or they weren’t but it suits their needs that the planes both came down and everyone keeps quiet.

    Whatever the case, ALL the senior western polticians know exactly what went on. It’s all a game and most people who believe the crap we’re told are being played for mugs. I’ve said it 1001 times, so here’s the 1002 time – THESE POLITICIANS ARE VERY VERY DANGEROUS. Believe and trust them at your peril.

  • Murray Rothbard concluded in his 1972 book The Betrayal of the American Right that the threat in the cold war was always from the West and not from the USSR. I recall a friend in the 1970’s telling me we were dealing with a third world country and that they would have never posed a risk. The moving of a mutual defense pact to the borders of Russia appears to confirm the practice never stopped.

    One of the continual strikes against Putin is that he was head of the KGB. It seems Bush 41 was head of the CIA, not exactly an organization with a saintly reputation. To many in the US, that was deemed an advantage. Was the KGB any more heinous than the CIA? Seems they supposedly killed someone on an elevator with a poison umbrella back in the 1980’s.

    The real question is why are they destabilizing this region? They as in the West. If a foreign power that was potentially going to restrict American economics and maybe threaten them militarily was to move into Mexico or start making waves there, I am sure the US would react in the same manner. American bankers have looted the Mexican financial system in the past 20 or so years. I’m sure there is some of that in play in the Ukraine as well. They don’t mind proposing the idea of sucking the gas out of the US to run Europe and I am sure they would do the same, if there was any gas in the Ukraine. The Mexican oil boom of the late 1970’s was basically used to pay the interest on the debts piled upon the country during the same period. The old Standard Oil empire had another plan to get the oil, Chase Manhattan.

  • No6:

    And why was NATO not disbanded or American bases in Germany abandoned after the demise of the USSR?

    Re MH17. If the truth came out I think they fear a full blown Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

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