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The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states. The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

Let’s cut to the chase and roll in the Putin Top Ten of the New Era, announced by the Russian President live at the St. Petersburg forum for both the Global North and South.

The era of the unipolar world is over.

The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it.

Russia has renewed its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority.

The EU has completely lost its political sovereignty. The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just en ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty.

Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony.

Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and euro-democracy.

Russia will supply grains to the poorer nations in Africa and the Middle East.

Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the U.S.

The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states.

The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

How does it feel, for the collective West, to be caught in such a crossfire hurricane? Well, it gets more devastating when we add to the new roadmap the latest on the energy front.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, in St. Petersburg, stressed that the global economic crisis is gaining momentum not because of sanctions, but exacerbated by them; Europe “commits energy suicide” by sanctioning Russia; sanctions against Russia have done away with the much lauded “green transition”, as that is no longer needed to manipulate markets; and Russia, with its vast energy potential, “is the Noah’s Ark of the world economy.”

For his part Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller could not be more scathing on the sharp decline in the gas flow to the EU due to Siemens’ refusal and/or incapacity to repair the Nord Stream 1 pumping engine: “Well, of course, Gazprom was forced to reduce the volume of gas supplies to Europe by 20%+. But you know, prices have increased not by 20%+, but by several times! Therefore, I’m sorry if I say that we don’t feel offended by anyone, we are not particularly concerned by this situation.”

If this pain dial overdrive was not enough to hurl the collective West – or NATOstan – into Terminal Hysteria, then Putin’s sharp comment on possibly allowing Mr. Sarmat to present his business card to “decision-making centers in Kiev”, those that are ordering the current shelling and killing of civilians in Donetsk, definitely did the trick:

“As for the red lines, let me keep them to myself, because this will mean quite tough actions on the decision-making centers. But this is an area that shouldn’t be disclosed to people outside the military-political leadership of the country. Those who deserve appropriate actions on our part should draw a conclusion for themselves – what they may face if they cross the line.”

Baby please, stop breaking down

Alastair Crooke has masterfully outlined how the collective West’s zugzwang leaves it lumbering around, dazed and confused. Now let’s examine the state of play on the opposite side of the chessboard, focusing on the BRICS summit this Thursday in Beijing.

As much as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, now it’s time for a reinvigorated BRICS to step up its game. In conjunction, these are the key organizations/instruments that will be carving the pathways towards the post-unipolar era.

Both China and India (which between them were the largest economies in the world for centuries before the brief Western colonial interregnum) are already close and getting closer to “the Noah’s Ark of the world economy”.

The G20 – hostages of the Michael Hudson-defined FIRE scam that is the core of the financialized neoliberal casino – is slowly fading away, while a potential new G8 ramps up: and that is directly connected to BRICS expansion, one of the key themes of this week’s summit. An expanded BRICS with a parallel G8 configuration is bound to easily overtake the Western-centric one in importance as well as GDP by purchasing power parity (PPP).

BRICS in 2021 already added Bangladesh, Egypt, the UAE and Uruguay to its New Development Bank (NDB). In May, at Foreign Ministry-level debates, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand were added to the 5 BRICS members. Leaders of some of these nations will be connected to the Beijing summit.

BRICS plays a completely different game from the G20. They aim for the grassroots, and it’s all about slowly “building trust” – a very Chinese concept. They are creating an independent Credit Rating Agency – away from the Anglo-American racket – and deepening a Currency Reserves Arrangement. The NDB – including its regional offices in India and South Africa – has been involved in hundreds of projects. Time will tell: one day the NDB will make the World Bank superfluous.

Comparisons between BRICS and the Quad, a U.S. concoction, are silly. Quad is just another crude mechanism to contain China. Yet there’s no question India treads on tightrope walker territory, as it’s a member of both BRICS and Quad, and made a vastly misguided decision to walk out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the largest free trade deal on the planet – opting instead to adhere to the American pie-in-the-sky Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

Yet India, long term, skillfully guided by Russia, is being steered to find essential common ground with China in several key issues.

BRICS, especially in its expanded BRICS+ version, is bound to increase cooperation on building truly stable supply chains, and a settlement mechanism for resources and raw material trade, which inevitably has to be based in local currencies. Then the path will be open for the Holy Grail: a BRICS payment system as a credible alternative to the weaponized U.S. dollar and SWIFT.

Meanwhile, a torrent of bilateral investments from both China and India in the manufacturing and services sector around their neighbors is bound to lift up smaller players in both Southeast Asia and South Asia: think Cambodia and Bangladesh as important cogs in a vast supply wheel.

Yaroslav Lissovolik had already proposed a BEAMS concept as the core of this BRICS integration drive, uniting “the key regional integration initiatives of BRICS economies such as BIMSTEC, EAEU, the ASEAN-China free trade agreement, Mercosur and SADC/SACU.”

It’s only (BRICS) rock’n roll

Now Beijing seems eager to promote “an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.”

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: BRICs, China, EU, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin 

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed \$400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)
The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: BRICs, China, Eurasia, Russia, Ukraine 
Photo: REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Photo: REUTERS/Adriano Machado

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Eurasia, India, Iran, NATO, Russia, Ukraine 
ORDER IT NOW

With The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism, Michael Hudson, one of the world’s leading independent economists, has given us arguably the ultimate handbook on where we’re at, who’s in charge, and whether we can bypass them.

Let’s jump straight into the fray. Hudson begins with an analysis of the “take the money and run” ethos, complete with de-industrialization, as 90 percent of US corporate revenue is “used to share buybacks and dividend payouts to support company stock prices.”

That represents the apex of “Finance Capitalism’s” political strategy: to “capture the public sector and shift monetary and banking power” to Wall Street, the City of London and other western financial centers.

The whole Global South will easily recognize the imperial modus operandi: “The strategy of US military and financial imperialism is to install client oligarchies and dictatorships, and arm-twist allies to join the fight against designated adversaries by subsidizing not only the empire’s costs of war-making (“defense”) but even the imperial nation’s domestic spending programs.” This is the antithesis of the multipolar world advocated by Russia and China.

In short, our current Cold War 2.0 “is basically being waged by US-centered finance capitalism backing rentier oligarchies against nations seeking to build up more widespread self-reliance and domestic prosperity.”

Hudson presciently reminds us of Aristotle, who would say that it is in the interest of financiers to wield their power against society at large: “The financial class historically has been the major beneficiary of empires by acting as collection agents.”

So inevitably the major imperial leverage over the world, a true “strategy of underdevelopment,” had to be financial: instrumentalizing IMF pressure to “turn public infrastructure into privatized monopolies, and reversing 20th century pro-labor reforms” via those notorious ‘conditionalities’ for loans.

No wonder the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), established in Belgrade in 1961 with 120 nations and 27 observers, became such a threat to US global strategy. The latter predictably fought back with a slew of ethnic wars and the earliest incarnations of color revolution – fabricating dictatorships on an industrial scale, from Suharto to Pinochet.

The culmination was a cataclysmic Houston get-together in December 19, 1990 “celebrating” the dissolution of the USSR, as Hudson reminds us how the IMF and the World Bank “laid out a blueprint for Russia’s leaders to impose austerity and give away its assets – it didn’t matter to whom – in a wave of ‘shock therapy’ to let the alleged magic of free enterprise create a neoliberal free-for-all.”

Lost in a Roman wilderness of debt

To a large extent, nostalgia for the rape-and-pillaging of 1990s-era Russia fuels what Hudson defines as the New Cold War, where Dollar Diplomacy must assert its control over every foreign economy. The New Cold War is not waged only against Russia and China, “but against any countries resisting privatization and financialization under US sponsorship.”

Hudson reminds us how China’s policy “followed almost the same path that American protectionism did from 1865 though 1914 – state subsidy for industry, heavy public-sector capital investment…and social spending on education and health care to upgrade the quality and productivity of labor. This was not called Marxism in the United States; it was simply the logical way to look at industrialization, as part of a broad economic and social system.”

But then, finance – or casino – capitalism gained steam, and left the US economy mainly with “agribusiness farm surpluses, and monopolies in information technology (largely developed as a by-product of military research), military hardware, and pharmaceutical patents (based on public seed-money to fund research) able to extract monopoly rent while making themselves largely tax-exempt by using offshore banking centers.”

That’s the current State of Empire: relying only “on its rentier class and Dollar Diplomacy,” with prosperity concentrated in the top one percent of establishment elites. The inevitable corollary is US diplomacy imposing illegal, unilateral sanctions on Russia, China and anyone else who defies its diktats.

The US economy is indeed a lame post-modern remake of the late Roman empire: “dependent on foreign tribute for its survival in today’s global rentier economy.” Enter the correlation between a dwindling free lunch and utter fear: “That is why the United States has surrounded Eurasia with 750 military bases.”

Delightfully, Hudson goes back to Lactantius, in the late 3rd century, describing the Roman empire on Divine Institutes, to stress the parallels with the American version:

“In order to enslave the many, the greedy began to appropriate and accumulate the necessities of life and keep them tightly closed up, so that they might keep these bounties for themselves. They did this not for humanity’s sake (which was not in them at all), but to rake up all things as products of their greed and avarice. In the name of justice they made unfair and unjust laws to sanction their thefts and avarice against the power of the multitude. In this way they availed as much by authority as by strength of arms or overt evil.”

Socialism or barbarism

Hudson succinctly frames the central issue facing the world today: whether “money and credit, land, natural resources and monopolies will be privatized and concentrated in the hands of a rentier oligarchy or used to promote general prosperity and growth. This is basically a conflict between finance capitalism vs. socialism as economic systems.”

To advance the struggle, Hudson proposes a counter-rentier program which should be the Global South’s ultimate Blueprint for responsible development: public ownership of natural monopolies; key basic infrastructure in public hands; national self-sufficiency – crucially, in money and credit creation; consumer and labor protection; capital controls – to prevent borrowing or denominating debts in foreign currency; taxes on unearned income such as economic rent; progressive taxation; a land tax (“will prevent land’s rising rental value from being pledged to banks for credit to bid up real estate prices”); use of the economic surplus for tangible capital investment; and national self-sufficiency in food.

As Hudson seems to have covered all the bases, at the end of the book I was left with only one overarching question. I asked him how he analyzed the current discussions between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Chinese – and between Russia and China, further on down the road – as being able to deliver an alternative financial/monetary system. Can they sell the alternative system to most of the planet, all while dodging imperial financial harassment?

 

Discreetly, as under the radar as a looming virus, the 68th Bilderberg meeting is currently underway in Washington, D.C. Nothing to see here. No conspiracy theories about a “secret cabal”, please. This is just a docile, “diverse group of political leaders and experts” having a chat, a laugh, and a bubbly.

Still, one cannot but notice that the choice of venue speaks more volumes than the entire – burned to the ground – Library of Alexandria. In the year heralding the explosion of a much-awaited NATO vs. Russia proxy war, discussing its myriad ramifications does suit the capital of the Empire of Lies, much more than Davos a few weeks ago, where one Henry Kissinger sent them into a frenzy by advancing the necessity of a toxic compromise named “diplomacy”.

The list of Bilderberg 2022 participants is a joy to peruse. Here are just some of the stalwarts:

  • James Baker, Consigliere extraordinaire, now a mere Director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Pentagon.
  • José Manuel Barroso, former head of the European Commission, later the recipient of a golden parachute in the form of Chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
  • Albert Bourla, the Pfizer Big Guy.
  • William Burns, CIA director.
  • Kurt Campbell, the guy who invented the Obama/Hillary “pivot to Asia”, now White House Coordinator for Indo-Pacific.
  • Mark Carney, former Bank of England, one of the designers of the Great Reset, now Vice Chair of Brookfield Asset Management.
  • Henry Kissinger, The Establishment’s Voice (or a war criminal: take your pick).
  • Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
  • Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, which will duly relay all major Bilderberg directives in the magazine’s upcoming cover stories.
  • David Petraeus, certified loser of endless surges and Chairman of KKR Global Institute.
  • Mark Rutte, hawkish Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
  • Jens Stoltenberg, NATO top parrot, sorry, secretary-general.
  • Jake Sullivan, Director of the National Security Council.

The ideological and geopolitical affiliations of these members of the “diverse group” need no further elaboration. It gets positively sexier when we see what they will be discussing.

Among other issues we find “NATO challenges”; “Indo-Pacific realignment”; “continuity of government and economy” (Conspirationists: continuity in case of nuclear war?); “disruption of global financial system” (already on); “post-pandemic health” (Conspirationists: how to engineer the next pandemic?); “trade and deglobalization”; and of course, the choice wagyu beef steaks: Russia and China.

As Bilderberg follows Chatham House Rules, mere mortals won’t have a clue of what they actually “proposed” or approved, and none of the participants will be allowed to talk about it with anyone else. One of my top New York sources, with direct access to most of the Masters of the Universe, loves to quip that Davos and Bilderberg are just for the messenger boys: the guys who really run the show don’t even bother to show up, ensconced in their uber-private meetings in uber-private clubs, where the real decisions are made.

Still, anyone following in some detail the rotten state of the “rules-based international order” will have a pretty good idea about the 2022 Bilderberg chatter.

What the Chinese say

Secretary of State Little Blinken – Sullivan’s sidekick in the ongoing Crash Test Dummy administration’s Dumb and Dumber remake – has recently claimed that China “supports” Russia on Ukraine instead of remaining neutral.

What really matters here is that Little Blinken is implying that Beijing wants to destabilize Asia-Pacific – which is a notorious absurdity. Yet that’s the master narrative that must pave the way for the US to muscle up its “Indo-Pacific” concoction. And that’s the briefing Sullivan and Kurt Campbell will be delivering to the “diverse group”.

Davos – with its new self-billed mantra, “The Great Narrative” – completely excluded Russia. Bilderberg is mostly about containment of China – which after all is the number one existential threat to the Empire of Lies and its satrapies.

Rather than wait for Bilderberg morsels dispensed by The Economist, it’s much more productive to check out what a cross-section of fact-based Chinese intelligentsia thinks about the new “collective West” racket.

Let’s start with Justin Lin Yifu, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and now Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, and Sheng Songcheng, former head of the Financial Survey and Statistic Dept. a the Bank of China.

They advance that if China achieves “dynamic zero infection” on Covid-19 by the end of May (that actually happened: see the end of the Shanghai lockdown), China’s economy may grow by 5.5% in 2022.

They dismiss the imperial attempt to establish an “Asian version of NATO”: “As long as China continues to grow at a higher rate and to open up, European and ASEAN countries would not participate in the US’s decoupling trap so as to ensure their economic growth and job creation.”

Three academics from the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and Fudan University touch on the same point: the American-announced “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”, supposed to be the economic pillar of the Indo-Pacific strategy, is nothing but a cumbersome attempt to “weaken the internal cohesion and regional autonomy of ASEAN.”

Liu Zongyi stresses that China’s position at the heart of the vastly inter-connected Asian supply chains “has been consolidated”, especially now with the onset of the largest trade deal on the planet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Chen Wengling, Chief Economist of a think tank under the key National Development and Reform Commission, notes the “comprehensive ideological and technological war against China” launched by the Americans.

But he’s keen to stress how they are “not ready for a hot war as the US and Chinese economies are so closely linked.” The crucial vector is that “the US has not yet made substantial progress in strengthening its supply chain focusing on four key fields including semiconductors.”

Chen worries about “China’s energy security”; “China’s silence” on US sanctions on Russia, which “may result in US retaliation”; and crucially, how “China’s plan of building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Ukraine and EU countries will be affected.” What will happen in practice is BRI will be privileging economic corridors across Iran and West Asia, as well as the Maritime Silk Road, instead of the Trans-Siberian corridor across Russia.

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: Bilderberg, China, Eurasia 

The first Eurasia Economic Forum, held last week in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, should be regarded as a milestone in setting the parameters for the geoeconomic integration of the Eurasian heartland.

Sergei Glazyev, Russia’s Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), is coordinating the drive to design an alternative monetary-financial system – a de facto post-Bretton Woods III – in cooperation with China.

According to Glazyev, the forum “discussed the model of a new global settlement currency pegged to baskets of national currencies and commodities. The introduction of this currency instrument in Eurasia will entail the collapse of the dollar system and the final undermining of the US military and political power. It is necessary to start negotiations on signing an appropriate international treaty within the framework of the SCO.”

Glazyev described the initiative to upend the western global financial system in more detail during an exclusive interview with The Cradle in April.

It’s particularly relevant to understand how Glazyev interconnects the EAEU’s drive with the increasing geopolitical and geoeconomic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which unites at the same table key Eurasian powers: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Iran.

That connects directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, supporting the extension of a temporary free trade agreement between the EAEU and Iran, which is the newest (and only West Asian) full member of the SCO. Putin said this should go ahead despite the “confrontation by the collective West.”

The EAEU, inaugurated in 2015 with five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – represents a market of 184 million people and a collective GDP of over \$5 trillion. The next step with Iran will be to implement a full free trade agreement, possibly before the end of the year, according to Iranian deputy trade minister Alireza Peymanpak. Egypt, Indonesia and the UAE are also candidates to strike deals with the EAEU.

Iran, which has for over four decades now been forced to find creative solutions to bypass serial, imperial sanction packages, may have a conceptual lesson or two to teach Russia. Barter arrangements are gaining ground: Tehran is offering spare parts and gas turbines to Moscow’s power plants in exchange for much needed zinc, aluminum, lead and steel for its metal and mining industries, according to Iranian trade and industries minister Reza Fatemi Amin.

And more barter on a wide range of commodities is ahead, as discussed during a recent visit to Tehran by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

The other ‘RIC’

Slowly but surely, the new RIC (Russia-Iran-China) – as opposed to the old RIC in BRICS (Russia-India-China) – is attempting to integrate their financial systems. Iran is a matter of national security strategy for China, as an energy provider and essential partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in West Asia.

Russia-China, though, is a much more complex matter. Extremely fearful of provoking US sanctions, Chinese banks are refraining – at least for the moment – to increase their deals with Russian banks, which brings us to the case of UnionPay:

The Chinese bank card provider – increasingly popular, especially across Asia – declined from partnering with Sberbank even before Russia’s largest bank was excluded by the EU and the US from the global bank messaging platform SWIFT. UnionPay also canceled plans with other Russian banks to issue UnionPay cards linked with the Russian Mir payment system, profiting from the exit of Visa and Mastercard from the Russian market.

This is still a careful balancing act for China. Earlier this year at the Boao Forum in Asia, President Xi Jinping was adamant in opposing the “wanton use of unilateral sanctions.” And over 80 percent of Chinese companies already established in Russia appeared to continue their business as usual.

Yet in practical terms, there are serious problems. The Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have restricted financing for Russian commodities. Even the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), absolutely essential for sustainable development projects, linked or not with BRI, decided to freeze all lending to Russia and Belarus in early March to “safeguard” its “financial integrity.”

On the financial front, cautious Chinese banks, with enormous western exposure, are always balancing the fact that nearly 80 percent of global cross-border transactions are still in dollars and euros, and only two percent in yuan. So the Russian market is not exactly a priority.

In parallel, the Russia-Iran front is quite lively. They are turbo-charging mutual settlements in their national currencies to “the highest possible level,” as highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak: “We discussed together with central banks the spread and operation of the financial messaging system, as well as the connection of Mir and [Iranian] Shetab payment cards.”

As it stands, the Mir card is still not accepted in Iran, but that’s about to change – just as in Turkey, which this summer will start accepting Mir card payments from legions of Russian tourists. What this means in practice is that Russia and Iran will be connecting their banks to the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), the Russian equivalent to SWIFT. The Chinese will obviously be examining how seamlessly the transition works.

Now compare all of the above with the prospect that soon there won’t be any SWIFT at all, as Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach let slip in Davos.

Miebach was participating in a panel on Central Bank Digital Currencies, discussing cross-border payments, when he suggested that SWIFT might soon be a thing of the past. No question about it: Moscow is eyeing crypto and digital currencies already, and Beijing is dead set on setting up the digital yuan to work around SWIFT and its linked CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payment System).

The Sanctioned Ones, now moving fast

The Russia-Iran front has been fast evolving since January this year, when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, on a visit to Moscow, handed a draft agreement to Putin on strategic cooperation for the next 20 years, building on “the very good experience of cooperation between Iran and Russia in Syria in combating terrorism,” and expanding to “economy, politics, culture, science, technology, defense, and military spheres, as well as security and space issues.”

Raisi also explicitly thanked Putin “for facilitating Tehran’s entry into the SCO.”

Iranian Oil Minister Javad Ouji went straight to the point in his meeting with Novak in Tehran last week: “Our countries are under strict sanctions, and we have the potential to neutralize them through the development of bilateral relations…We have created joint committees on banking, energy, transport, agriculture issues, as well as the issue of creation of nuclear power plants.”

And that brings us once again to the seemingly eternal soap opera of the Vienna-based Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov now signaling the final draft “is at a high degree of readiness for adoption. There are some political problems, which are not related to the finalization of the text.”

 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: Dollar, Eurasia, Iran, Iran Sanctions, Russia 

The first Eurasian Economic Forum, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, took place this week at a very sensitive geopolitical juncture, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps stressing that, “the West has declared total war against us, against the entire Russian world. Nobody even hides this now.”

It’s always important to remember that before Maidan in 2014, Ukraine had the option to become a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and even balance it with a loose association with the EU.

The EAEU comprises five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – yet 14 nations sent delegations to the forum, including China, Vietnam and Latin American nations.

There was much rumbling that the proceedings would be jeopardized by the serial sanctions packages imposed on Russia by the collective West. There’s no question that some EAEU members – such as Kazakhstan – seem to be more worried about the effects of the sanctions than about fine-tuning business with Russia. Yet that’s not the point.

The crucial point is that by 2025 they have to harmonize their legislation concerning financial markets. And that’s directly connected to what the executive body of the EAEU, led by Sergey Glazyev, is working on, extensively: designing the lineaments of an alternative financial/economic system to what the West would rather coin as Bretton Woods 3.

The Eurasian Economic Forum was established by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council explicitly to further deepen economic cooperation between EAEU members. No wonder the official theme of the forum was Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, focusing on strategic development in the industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital areas.

So Many Converging Strategies

President Putin’s speech to the plenary session was quite revealing. To really appreciate the scope of what’s implied, it’s important to remember that the Greater Eurasian Partnership concept was presented by Putin in 2016 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, focused on a “more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union” and including China, Pakistan, Iran and India.

Putin stressed how the drive for developing ties “within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership” (…) “was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.”

He added, “in the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted”, the Greater Eurasian Partnership “is gaining a special meaning.”

Putin established a direct connection not only between the Greater Eurasian Partnership and EAEU members but also “BRICS members such as China and India”, “the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN and other organizations.”

And that’s the core of the whole, ongoing, multi-layered process of Eurasia integration, with the China-led New Silk Roads intersecting with the Eurasia Economic Union, the SCO, BRICS+, and other converging strategies.

Lavrov this week said that Argentina and Saudi Arabia want to join BRICS, whose next summer in China is being meticulously prepared. Not only that: Lavrov mentioned how quite a few Arab nations want to join the SCO. He was careful to describe this process of converging alliances as “not antagonistic”.

Putin for his part was careful to define the Greater Eurasian Partnership as “a big civilizational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organizations”, changing “the political and economic architecture on the entire continent.”

Thus, the necessity to “draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership”, including “a roadmap for industrialization”. That translates in practice as developing “engineering centers and research centers. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial, and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.”

Yaroslav Lissovolik at the Valdai Club is one of the top analysts tracking how this convergence may profit the whole Global South. He stresses that among the “variability and diversity in the platforms that may be launched by Global South economies, the most sizeable and comprehensive of which could include the aggregation of CELAC (Latin America), African Union (Africa)”, and the SCO in Eurasia.

And an even more diverse set of “regional blocs that targets deeper integration could feature a BRICS+ platform that comprises the South African Development Community (SADC), MERCOSUR, BIMSTEC”, the China-ASEAN free trade agreement, and the EAEU.

The Eurasian Economic Forum has shown once again that this high-speed – economic integration – train has already left the station. It’s quite enlightening to notice the sharp contrast with the endless doom and gloom afflicting a collective West prone to inflation, energy shortages, food shortages, fictional “narratives” and the defense of neo-Nazis under the banner of liberal “democracy”.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Eurasia, Russia, Ukraine 

Three months after the start of Russia’s Operation Z in Ukraine, the battle of The West (12 percent) against The Rest (88 percent) keeps metastasizing. Yet the narrative – oddly – remains the same.

On Monday, from Davos, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab introduced Ukrainian comedian-cum-President Volodymyr Zelensky, on the latest leg of his weapons-solicitation-tour, with a glowing tribute. Herr Schwab stressed that an actor impersonating a president defending neo-Nazis is supported by “all of Europe and the international order.”

He means, of course, everyone except the 88 percent of the planet that subscribes to the Rule of Law – instead of the faux construct the west calls a ‘rules-based international order.’

Back in the real world, Russia, slowly but surely has been rewriting the Art of Hybrid War. Yet within the carnival of NATO psyops, aggressive cognitive infiltration, and stunning media sycophancy, much is being made of the new \$40 billion US ‘aid’ package to Ukraine, deemed capable of becoming a game-changer in the war.

This ‘game-changing’ narrative comes courtesy of the same people who burned though trillions of dollars to secure Afghanistan and Iraq. And we saw how that went down.

Ukraine is the Holy Grail of international corruption. That \$40 billion can be a game-changer for only two classes of people: First, the US military-industrial complex, and second, a bunch of Ukrainian oligarchs and neo-connish NGOs, that will corner the black market for weapons and humanitarian aid, and then launder the profits in the Cayman Islands.

A quick breakdown of the \$40 billion reveals \$8.7 billion will go to replenish the US weapons stockpile (thus not going to Ukraine at all); \$3.9 billion for USEUCOM (the ‘office’ that dictates military tactics to Kiev); \$5 billion for a fuzzy, unspecified “global food supply chain”; \$6 billion for actual weapons and “training” to Ukraine; \$9 billion in “economic assistance” (which will disappear into selected pockets); and \$0.9 billion for refugees.

US risk agencies have downgraded Kiev to the dumpster of non-reimbursing-loan entities, so large American investment funds are ditching Ukraine, leaving the European Union (EU) and its member-states as the country’s only option.

Few of those countries, apart from Russophobic entities such as Poland, can justify to their own populations sending huge sums of direct aid to a failed state. So it will fall to the Brussels-based EU machine to do just enough to maintain Ukraine in an economic coma – independent from any input from member-states and institutions.

These EU ‘loans’ – mostly in the form of weapons shipments – can always be reimbursed by Kiev’s wheat exports. This is already happening on a small scale via the port of Constanta in Romania, where Ukrainian wheat arrives in barges over the Danube and is loaded into dozens of cargo ships everyday. Or, via convoys of trucks rolling with the weapons-for-wheat racket. However, Ukrainian wheat will keep feeding the wealthy west, not impoverished Ukrainians.

Moreover, expect NATO this summer to come up with another monster psyop to defend its divine (not legal) right to enter the Black Sea with warships to escort Ukrainian vessels transporting wheat. Pro-NATO media will spin it as the west being ‘saved’ from the global food crisis – which happens to be directly caused by serial, hysterical packages of western sanctions.

Poland goes for soft annexation

NATO is indeed massively ramping up its ‘support’ to Ukraine via the western border with Poland. That’s in synch with Washington’s two overarching targets: First, a ‘long war,’ insurgency-style, just like Afghanistan in the 1980s, with jihadis replaced by mercenaries and neo-Nazis. Second, the sanctions instrumentalized to “weaken” Russia, militarily and economically.

Other targets remain unchanged, but are subordinate to the Top Two: make sure that the Democrats are re-elected in the mid-terms (that’s not going to happen); irrigate the industrial-military complex with funds that are recycled back as kickbacks (already happening); and keep the hegemony of the US dollar by all means (tricky: the multipolar world is getting its act together).

A key target being met with astonishing ease is the destruction of the German – and consequently the EU’s – economy, with a great deal of the surviving companies to be eventually sold off to American interests.

Take, for instance, BMW board member Milan Nedeljkovic telling Reuters that “our industry accounts for about 37 percent of natural gas consumption in Germany” which will sink without Russian gas supplies.

Washington’s plan is to keep the new ‘long war’ going at a not-too-incandescent level – think Syria during the 2010s – fueled by rows of mercenaries, and featuring periodic NATO escalations by anyone from Poland and the Baltic midgets to Germany.

Last week, that pitiful Eurocrat posing as High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, gave away the game when previewing the upcoming meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Borrell admitted that “the conflict will be long” and “the priority of the EU member states” in Ukraine “consists in the supply of heavy weapons.”

Then Polish President Andrzej Duda met with Zelensky in Kiev. The slew of agreements the two signed indicate that Warsaw intends to profit handsomely from the war to enhance its politico-military, economic, and cultural influence in western Ukraine. Polish nationals will be allowed to be elected to Ukrainian government bodies and even aim to become constitutional judges.

In practice, that means Kiev is all but transferring management of the Ukrainian failed state to Poland. Warsaw won’t even have to send troops. Call it a soft annexation.

The steamroller on the move

As it stands, the situation on the battlefield can be examined in this map. Intercepted communications from the Ukrainian command reveal their aim to build a layered defense from Poltava through Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhia, Krivoy Rog, and Nikolaev – which happens to be a shield for the already fortified Odessa. None of that guarantees success against the incoming Russian onslaught.

It’s always important to remember that Operation Z started on February 24 with around 150,000 or so fighters – and definitely not Russia’s elite forces. And yet they liberated Mariupol and destroyed the elite neo-Nazi Azov batallion in a matter of only fifty days, cleaning up a city of 400,000 people with minimal casualties.

While fighting a real war on the ground – not those indiscriminate US bombings from the air – in a huge country against a large army, facing multiple technical, financial and logistical challenges, the Russians also managed to liberate Kherson, Zaporizhia and virtually the whole area of the ‘baby twins,’ the popular republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia’s ground forces commander, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, has turbo-charged missile, artillery and air strikes to a pace five times faster than during the first phase of Operation Z, while the Ukrainians, overall, are low or very low on fuel, ammo for artillery, trained specialists, drones, and radars.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, NATO, Russia, Ukraine 

Hybrid War is being fought predominantly in the economic/financial battleground – and the pain dial for the collective West will only go up.

The ironclad fictional “narrative” imposed all across NATOstan is that Ukraine is “winning”.

So why would weapons peddler retrofitted as Pentagon head Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin literally beg since late February to have his phone calls answered by Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, only to have his wish finally granted?

It’s now confirmed by one of my top intel sources. The call was a direct consequence of panic. The United States Government (USG) by all means wants to scotch the detailed Russian investigation – and accumulation of evidence – on the US bioweapon labs in Ukraine, as I outlined in a previous column.

This phone call happened exactly after an official Russian statement to the UN Security Council on May 13: we will use articles 5 and 6 of the Convention on the Prohibition of Bioweapons to investigate the Pentagon’s biological “experiments” in Ukraine.

That was reiterated by Under Secretary-General of the UN in charge of disarmament, Thomas Markram, even as all ambassadors of NATO member countries predictably denied the collected evidence as “Russian disinformation”.

Shoigu could see the call coming eons away. Reuters, merely quoting the proverbial “Pentagon official”, spun that the allegedly one-hour-long call led to nothing. Nonsense. Austin, according to the Americans, demanded a “ceasefire” – which must have originated a Siberian cat smirk on Shoigu’s face.

Shoigu knows exactly which way the wind is blowing on the ground – for Ukrainian Armed Forces and UkroNazis alike. It’s not only the Azovstal debacle – and Kiev’s all-around army breakdown.

After the fall of Popasnaya – the crucial, most fortified Ukrainian stronghold in Donbass – the Russians and Donetsk/Luhansk forces have breached defenses along four different vectors to north, northwest, west and south. What’s left of the Ukrainian front is crumbling – fast, with a massive cauldron subdivided in a maze of mini-cauldrons: a military disaster the USG cannot possibly spin.

Now, in parallel, we can also expect full exposure – on overdrive – of the Pentagon bioweapons racket. The only “offer you can’t refuse” left to the USG would be to present something tangible to the Russians to avoid a full investigation.

That’s not gonna happen. Moscow is fully aware that going public with illegal work on banned biological weapons is an existential threat to the US Deep State. Especially when documents seized by the Russians show that Big Pharma – via Pfizer, Moderna, Merck and Gilead – was involved in several “experiments”. Fully exposing the whole maze, from the start, was one of Putin’s stated objectives.

More “military-technical measures”?

Three days after the UN presentation, the board of the Russian Foreign Ministry held a special session to discuss “the radically changed geopolitical realities that have developed as a result of the hybrid war against our country unleashed by the West – under the pretext of the situation in Ukraine – unprecedented in scale and ferocity, including the revival in Europe of a racist worldview in the form of cave Russophobia, an open course for the ‘abolition’ of Russia and everything Russian.”

So it’s no wonder “the aggressive revisionist course of the West requires a radical revision of Russia’s relations with unfriendly states.”

We should expect “a new edition of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation” coming out soon.

This new Foreign Policy Concept will elaborate on what Foreign Minister Lavrov once again stressed at a meeting honoring the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy: the US has declared an all-round Hybrid War on Russia. The only thing lacking, as it stands, is a formal declaration of war.

Beyond the disinformation fog veiling the application of Finland and Sweden – call them the Dumb and Dumber Nordics – to join NATO, what really matters is another instance of declaration of war: the prospect of missiles with nuclear warheads stationed really close to Russian borders. Moscow already warned the Finns and Swedes, politely, that this would be dealt with it via “military-technical measures”. That’s exactly what Washington – and NATO minions – were told would happen before the start of Operation Z.

And of course this goes much deeper, involving Romania and Poland as well. Bucharest already has Aegis Ashore missile launchers capable of sending Tomahawks with nuclear warheads at Russia, while Warsaw is receiving the same systems. To cut to the chase, if there’s no de-escalation, they will all eventually end up receiving Mr. Khinzal’s hypersonic business card.

NATO member Turkey, meanwhile, plays a deft game, issuing its own list of demands before even considering the Nordics’ gamble. Ankara wants no more sanctions on its purchase of S-400s and on top if be re-included in the F-35 program. It will be fascinating to watch what His Master’s Voice will come up with to seduce the Sultan. The Nordics engaged in a self-correcting “clear unequivocal stance” against the PKK and the PYD is clearly not enough for the Sultan, who relished muddying the waters even more as he stressed that buying Russian energy is a “strategic” issue for Turkey.

Counteracting financial Shock’n Awe

By now it’s evidently clear that open-ended Operation Z targets unipolar Hegemon power, the infinite expansion of vassalized NATO, and the world’s financial architecture – an intertwined combo that largely transcends the Ukraine battleground.

Serial Western sanctions package hysteria ended up triggering Russia’s so far quite successful counter-financial moves. Hybrid War is being fought predominantly in the economic/financial battleground – and the pain dial for the collective West will only go up: inflation, higher commodity prices, breakdown of supply chains, exploding cost of living, impoverishment of the middle classes, and unfortunately for great swathes of the Global South, outright poverty and starvation.

In the near future, as insider evidence surfaces, a convincing case will be made that the Russian leadership even gamed the Western financial gamble/blatant robbery of over \$300 billion in Russian reserves.

This implies that already years ago – let’s say, at least from 2016, based on analyses by Sergey Glazyev – the Kremlin knew this would inevitably happen. As trust remains a rigid foundation of a monetary system, the Russian leadership may have calculated that the Americans and their vassals, driven by blind Russophobia, would play all their cards at once when push came to shove – utterly demolishing global trust on “their” system.

Because of Russia’s infinite natural resources, the Kremlin may have factored that the nation would eventually survive the financial Shock’n Awe – and even profit from it (ruble appreciation included). The reward is just too sweet: opening the way to The Doomed Dollar – without having to ask Mr. Sarmat to present his nuclear business card.

Russia could even entertain the hypothesis of getting a mighty return on those stolen funds. A great deal of Western assets – totaling as much as \$500 billion – may be nationalized if the Kremlin so chooses.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Bioweapons, EU, NATO, Russia, Ukraine 

While we are all familiar with Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher who penned the incomparable Art of War, less known is the Strategikon, the Byzantium equivalent on warfare.

Sixth century Byzantium really needed a manual, threatened as it was from the east, successively by Sassanid Persia, Arabs and Turks, and from the north, by waves of steppe invaders, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, semi-nomadic Turkic Pechenegs and Magyars.

Byzantium could not prevail just by following the classic pattern of Roman Empire raw power – they simply didn’t have the means for it.

So military force needed to be subordinate to diplomacy, a less costly means of avoiding or resolving conflict. And here we can make a fascinating connection with today’s Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin and his diplomacy chief Sergei Lavrov.

But when military means became necessary for Byzantium – as in Russia’s Operation Z – it was preferable to use weaponry to contain or punish adversaries, instead of attacking with full force.

Strategic primacy, for Byzantium, more than diplomatic or military, was a psychological affair. The word Strategia itself is derived from the Greek strategos – which does not mean “General” in military terms, as the west believes, but historically corresponds to a managerial politico-military function.

It all starts with si vis pacem para bellum: “If you want peace prepare for war.” Confrontation must develop simultaneously on multiple levels: grand strategy, military strategy, operative, tactical.

But brilliant tactics, excellent operative intel and even massive victories in a larger war theater cannot compensate for a lethal mistake in terms of grand strategy. Just look at the Nazis in WWII.

Those who built up an empire such as the Romans, or maintained one for centuries like the Byzantines, never succeeded without following this logic.

Those clueless Pentagon and CIA ‘experts’

On Operation Z, the Russians revel in total strategic ambiguity, which has the collective west completely discombobulated. The Pentagon does not have the necessary intellectual firepower to out-smart the Russian General Staff. Only a few outliers understand that this is not a war – since the Ukraine Armed Forces have been irretrievably routed – but actually what Russian military and naval expert Andrei Martyanov calls a “combined arms police operation,” a work-in-progress on demilitarization and denazification.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is even more abysmal in terms of getting everything wrong, as recently demonstrated by its chief Avril Haines during her questioning on Capitol Hill. History shows that the CIA strategically blew it all the way from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. Ukraine is no different.

Ukraine was never about a military win. What is being accomplished is the slow, painful destruction of the European Union (EU) economy, coupled with extraordinary weapons profits for the western military-industrial complex and creeping security rule by those nations’ political elites.

The latter, in turn, have been totally baffled by Russia’s C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) capabilities, coupled with the stunning inefficiency of their own constellation of Javelins, NLAWs, Stingers and Turkish Bayraktar drones.

This ignorance reaches way beyond tactics and the operational and strategic realm. As Martyanov delightfully points out, they “wouldn’t know what hit them on the modern battlefield with near-peer, forget about peer.”

The caliber of ‘strategic’ advice from the NATO realm was self-evident in the Serpent Island fiasco – a direct order issued by British ‘consultants’ to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, thought the whole thing was suicidal. He was proven right.

All the Russians had to do was launch a few choice anti-ship and surface Onyx missiles from bastions stationed in Crimea on airports south of Odessa. In no time, Serpent Island was back under Russian control – even as high-ranking British and American marine officers ‘disappeared’ during the Ukrainian landing on the island. They were the ‘strategic’ NATO actors on the spot, doling out the lousy advice.

Extra evidence that the Ukraine debacle is predominantly about money laundering – not competent military strategy – is Capitol Hill approving a hefty extra \$40 billion in ‘aid’ to Kiev. It’s just another western military-industrial complex bonanza, duly noted by Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian forces, meanwhile, have brought diplomacy to the battlefield, handing over 10 tons of humanitarian assistance to the people of liberated Kherson – with the deputy head of the military-civil administration of the region, Kirill Stremousov, announcing that Kherson wants to become part of the Russian Federation.

In parallel, Georgy Muradov, deputy prime minister of the government of Crimea, has “no doubts that the liberated territories of the south of the former Ukraine will become another region of Russia. This, as we assess from our communication with the inhabitants of the region, is the will of the people themselves, most of whom lived for eight years under conditions of repression and bullying by the Ukronazis.”

Denis Pushilin, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, is adamant that the DPR is on the verge of liberating “its territories within constitutional borders,” and then a referendum on joining Russia will take place. When it comes to the Luhansk People’s Republic, the integration process may even come earlier: the only area left to be liberated is the urban region of Lysychansk-Severodonetsk.

The ‘Stalingrad of Donbass’

As much as there’s an energetic debate among the best Russian analysts about the pace of Operation Z, Russian military planning proceeds methodically, as if taking all the time it needs to solidify facts on the ground.

Arguably the best example is the fate of Azov neo-Nazis at Azovstal in Mariupol – the best-equipped unit of the Ukrainians, hands down. In the end they were totally outmatched by anumerically inferior Russian/Chechen Spetsnaz contingent, and in record time for such a big city.

Another example is the advance on Izyum, in the Kharkov region – a key bridgehead in the frontline. The Russian Ministry of Defense follows the pattern of grinding the enemy while slowly advancing; if they face serious resistance, they stop and smash the Ukrainian defensive lines with non-stop missile and artillery strikes.

Popasnaya in Luhansk, dubbed by many Russian analysts as “Mariupol on steroids”, or “the Stalingrad of Donbass,” is now under total control of the Luhansk People’s Republic, after they managed to breach a de facto fortress with linked underground trenches between most civilian houses. Popasnaya is extremely important strategically, as its capture breaks the first, most powerful line of defense of the Ukrainians in Donbass.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, NATO, Russia, Ukraine 
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