Eurasia is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia. The division between Europe and Asia as two different continents is an historical and cultural construct, with no clear physical separation between them; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is considered the largest of five or six continents. (See How many continents are there?) Eurasia covers around 52,990,000 square kilometres (20,460,000 sq mi), or around 36.2% of the Earth’s total land area. The landmass contains around 4.6 billion people, equating to 72.5% of the human population.
The Obama administration may – and “may” is the operative word here – have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving – as well as its myriad links to Europe. So what’s left for the Obama administration is this spanner in the works [Ukraine] – still trying to scotch the full economic integration of Eurasia. … Still the Kremlin won’t be dragged into a military quagmire. It’s fair to argue Putin has identified the Big Picture in the whole chessboard, which spells out an increasing Russia-China strategic partnership as crucial as an energy-manufacturing synergy with Europe; and most of all the titanic fear of US financial elites of the inevitable, ongoing process centered on the BRICS-conducted (and spreading to key Group of 20 members) drive to bypass the petrodollar. - Brazilian reporter Pepe Escobar, April 17, 2014
America’s diplomats and generals aren’t alone in watching the unfolding conflict between Russia and neighboring Ukraine. The U.S. agriculture sector is following the faraway events closely for reasons of both opportunity and risk. From rising global commodity prices to potential supply disruptions, there’s a lot at stake in the conflict for American farmers and producers. - Kevin G. Hall, Far off? Russia-Ukraine clash echoes through U.S. farm belt, McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 16, 2014
People walk past an Ukrainian Army combat vehicle parked near a railway in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia and have seized numerous government facilities in at least nine eastern cities to press their demands for broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press
Items: Ottawa situation report: Harper does the chicken hawk
Duncan Cameron rabble.ca Canada March 25, 2014
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Embassies around the world routinely prepare situation reports or sitreps: assessments of host governments and their leaders. Foreign offices request these reports be updated prior to bilateral consultations or international meetings. In advance of the emergency G7 meeting held in Holland on Monday March 24, an Ottawa embassy sitrep was circulated among European Union foreign ministries. This portrait of PM Harper and Canadian foreign policy under his direction is reproduced below.
It will be recalled that Canada was admitted to what became the G7 at the behest of U.S. president Gerald Ford. The U.S. was concerned about being isolated within the G5 group first brought together in 1975 by French president Giscard d’Estaing to address persistent economic differences among Japan, France, the U.K., West Germany (as it was then) and the U.S.
In 1976 Canada was added….
In advance of the emergency G7 meeting March 24, 2014, Prime Minister Harper visited Ukraine. He has been making a number of extra-ordinary statements which if taken seriously would imply putting Europe and the U.S. on a war footing against Russia. Harper wants to reverse the Russian takeover of Crimea, see national (sic) security issues take precedence over commercial relations, expel Russia from the G8, and “stand with the people of Ukraine” (apparently this does not include Canada offering major financial aid to Ukraine).
Canada has talked about the need to beef up Ukrainian defence capacity and argued that the takeover of the Crimea peninsula is an act of military aggression that must be answered by the West, which Harper has taken to calling “the free world.”
In informal conversations with EU embassies, the subject of dropping or downgrading the G7 comes up more and more frequently. At the world level, a new G4 format would allow the U.S. the EU, China and Japan to address important global economic issues, and forestall looming security issues between Japan and China. Such a gathering would also help restrain the U.S. after its announced “pivot” towards Asia.
Canada would be left in the G20 where it would have a status more appropriate to its current diplomatic weight, i.e. downgraded to reflect how its foreign policy is now subservient to domestic electoral considerations.
The already annoying tendency for Canada to simply echo U.S. concerns has become more pronounced since Harper took office in 2006. His recent attitude mirrors closely the position taken by the notorious U.S. neoconservatives (or chicken hawks) who provoked the second Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan, major foreign policy reversals for the U.S.
Amazingly, Harper has not managed to establish a solid working relationship with the U.S. president, preferring to support Republican Party initiatives on a host of issues tied to energy and climate change denial. While it is rare for a Canadian PM not to establish a good relationship with a U.S. president, it is unprecedented for a Canadian government to line up with the U.S. opponents of the president.
In the case of the Ukrainian crisis, Harper has been sounding like an advance man for U.S. Republicans who already control the U.S. House of Representatives and are predicted to take control of the U.S. Senate following mid-term elections this coming November.
A case can be made for allowing the U.S. and Canada to address their domestic constituencies through the G7 meeting, and seeing if both countries can be persuaded to provide major aid as part of a package for Ukraine. The EU has no intention of matching the amount of money ($15 billion) that Russia put on the table before the crisis, but something must be done to keep Ukraine afloat and encourage its democratic development.
Major street demonstrations in Madrid this past weekend are an indication of trouble to come from the austerity program being applied in EU countries. Ukrainians are proud people with strong democratic impulses; leaving them dependent on U.S.” leadership” in this difficult time should be unthinkable for the EU.
Russia-EU relations are best addressed directly rather than in the presence of the U.S. and/or Canada. European interests dictate that there can be no return to a Europe divided between East and West. Russia must be seen as a European partner of the EU, one that may eventually have associate status and even full membership in a long-term perspective.
On no account can a regional conflict, however significant, be allowed to generate great power hostility. The EU was founded to prevent the escalation of regional conflicts into all-out war.
Below: Jim Miles is a Canadian educator. His original interest in global affairs came from the environmental perspective, with the realization that ultimately it is the corporate-military agenda that determines the human impact on the environment and on human cultures around the globe. Miles’ work has been published globally on a wide range of websites and in print. In the following he comments on Ukraine and Canada’s chicken hawks, particularly the cry of Stephen Harper..
Canada rants against Russia: Harper on Ukraine
Jim Miles Foreign Policy Journal USA April 15, 2014
It is aggravating to see our little banty Rooster chicken-hawk Stephen Harper strut his stuff while he spouts the false corporatist philosophy about freedom and democracy in the Ukraine.
What it is really about – as I have already mentioned several times – is US hegemonic control of global finances and corporate control of a country’s resources in order to harvest the wealth for the empire’s centre.
Cargill has a deal already signed that would position them to control large tracts of land for agricultural purposes – but you can be assured it is not for the benefit of the Ukrainian people.
Chevron has been awarded a large fracking contract, another step in corporate control of global energy resources and a partial means to counteract Russia’s large share of gas and oil wealth vis a vis Europe. Behind Victoria “F**ck the EU” Naland as she spoke at the National Press Club in Washington about the Ukraine was a large Chevron logo.
Another aspect is the rejected EU trade deal, that would have placed the Ukraine under the same ‘austerity’ crap that the IMF/EU have demanded of other EU countries, once again extracting wealth, in this case primarily financial. Russia offered a trade deal that did not demand the austerity measures considered normal by the IMF and its coterie of financial predators and, immediately after that was accepted by the Ukrainian government, the US supported neonazi skinheads in Kiev made their coup – against a democratically elected government.
Yeah, yeah, sure sure it would be nice to have a referendum concerning a federated constitutional setup for the Ukraine, but that is not what the corporate west really wants. What is desired is full financial-political control of the Ukraine in order to advance the US/NATO military right up to Russia’s borders and then to start agitating inside Russia in order to tear apart that country.
As for Banty Rooster’s language about “provocateurs sent by the Putin regime” it is essentially propagandistic bullshit. …
And while it is aggravating to see Harper strut his stuff, it is equally aggravating to see that apparently everyone else is swallowing the wests corporate-militaristic line as well, both Liberals and New Democrats. I wonder whether it has to do with posturing for the Ukrainian vote, or whether it has to do with ignorance of the realities of the situation (seen by most outside of the increasingly smaller sphere of US political-financial influence), or whether some are simply afraid to speak up against the status quo that keeps them in comfort at the expense of most of the rest of the world.
Truly Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” is being applied in full force in the Ukraine, as the corporate state is lined up ready to take its treasure from yet another country devastated by the caprices of the Washington consensus (WTO/World Bank/IMF/NATO et al).
Mr. Harper, cut the bullshit. Get yourself your commander in chief uniform and then you can directly lead the Canadian military into action in the Ukraine against Putin and his provocateurs. You have bragged about the abilities of the Canadian military before, now is time to put it into action.
Your wimpy little sanctions will only speed up the demise of the current financial house of cards built on hugely over leveraged debt, backed by the US military and its revolving door of corporate interests. Quit clucking and let’s see some real action, some real leadership – enough false bravado. Then you can stand on your pedestal, hand in lapel, laurel wreath upon your head, and be proud to be a part of the corporate-military elite that rule the world.
Canada absent in NATO moves on Ukraine
Murray Brewster The Canadian Press/Cambridge Times Canada April 16, 2014
OTTAWA – NATO has laid out plans to beef up its presence in eastern Europe, and Canada is noticeably absent from the list of countries that have acknowledged they’ll send military forces.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces to former East Bloc countries in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine.
The United States, Britain, Denmark, Poland, Portugal and Germany are all planning to contribute fighter jets to increase air patrols over the Baltic region. France and the Czech Republic have also offered aircraft, but they might be employed in missions over Poland.
“We do have the necessary capacity to implement these measures that have been recommended by our military authorities,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.
“We already know that some Allies will come forward with concrete contributions and I’m sure that more will follow.”
Canada to send 6 CF-18s for NATO operation in Eastern Europe
Hannah Thibedeau CBC News Canada April 17, 2014
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Canada is sending six CF-18s and military personnel to assist NATO in operations in Eastern Europe.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the measures Thursday morning. The move comes following a request from NATO amid increasing tensions in Eastern Ukraine.
Harper said the military assets will be used on enhanced operations in Eastern Europe.
“This is in response to the situation that’s developing there, and frankly, more generally to the concern that we have on what really is expansionism and militarism on the part of Russia under the presidency of Mr. Putin,” Harper said during a photo op with senior military officials.
“I believe this to be a long-term serious threat to global peace and security and we’re always prepared to work with our allies in NATO and elsewhere to try and bring whatever stability we can to the situation.”
The fighter jets will be based at Lask, Poland.
Sources tell CBC News that this is “incremental posturing,” meaning there will be a small number of support staff to fly and maintain the planes.
Canada will also provide a contingent of approximately 20 Canadian Armed Forces officers to NATO headquarters in Brussels. These officers will be a part of security planning.
There is no word on when the assets are to be deployed.
Harper was meeting with the chief of Canada’s defence staff, Gen. Tom Lawson, and other military leaders in Ottawa.
Earlier this week, Harper sat down with Marcin Bosacki, the Polish ambassador to Canada, and envoys from Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic and condemned Russian “provocateurs” for fomenting untrest in eastern Ukraine. Harper called the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin “aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic” and a grave threat to world peace.
Harper said the situation in Ukraine is getting worse.
“You can certainly be sure that Canada will take additional measures. We’ve already imposed a number of sanctions, and we will clearly be taking further action,” he said.
Related: The interim president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, wants to beat the Russians into intervening and provoke war between NATO and Russia, as it’s the only reason he can hold power, foreign affairs analyst Daniel Patrick Welch told RT Wednesday.
Vladimir Putin admits for first time Russian troops took over Crimea, refuses to rule out intervention in Donetsk
Yuras Karmanau, Vladimir Isachenkov Associated Press/National Post USA/Canada April 17, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers.
Putin expressed hope for a political and diplomatic solution of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, saying he hopes that he won’t have to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, which has been engulfed by violent protests against the new authorities in Kyiv.
Putin poured scorn at the West, accusing it of trying to weaken and isolate Russia and made it starkly clear that he doesn’t fear further Western sanctions.
From other sources: Putin criticized Ukraine’s coup-appointed government for using tanks and jets against its own people, during a live Q&A session. Branding Kiev’s approach as a “crime,” Putin said they must open dialogue with eastern Ukraine. “Have they lost their minds?!” said Putin during his annual question and answer session. “They are deploying tanks, armored vehicles and weaponry! Against whom? Are they nuts?!” NATO’s reinforcement of its presence in eastern Europe was also touched upon during Putin’s Q&A session. The head of the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselev, said that Putin felt like NATO was “suffocating him” and described the organization as “a cancerous tumor.” In spite of the fact the interim Kiev government is illegitimate, Russia is still prepared to open dialogue with them, said Putin.
Below: Joie de vivre and fine wines won out as the Roving Eye and Roving Son spurned NATO’s anti-Russian paranoia in Brussels in favor of breaking out to Provence. The road passed through towns strong in culture and artisan delights yet paved with malaise, revealing why – at a time China and Russia are forging ahead with mega-deals – locals in NATO’s southern territory view its economic march with Van Goghian apprehension.
Breaking bad in southern NATOstan
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong April 14, 2014
ON THE ROAD IN PROVENCE – To quote Lenin, what is to be done? Back to Brussels and Berlin? A close encounter with dreary Northern NATOstan, consumed by its paranoid anti-Russia obsession and enslaved by the infinitely expandable Pentagon euro-scam? Perhaps a jaunt to Syria war junkie Erdogastan?
Talk about a no contest. Joie de vivre settled it; thus The Roving Eye hooked up with Nick, The Roving Son, in Catalonia, and armed with La Piccolina – Nick’s vintage, go-go ’80s Peugeot caravan powered by a Citroen engine – we hit the road in Provence, prime southern NATOstan real estate. Instead of breaking crystal meth, non-stop breaking of fine infidel liquids and choice Provencal gastronomy.
Then the dreaded moment reared its ugly head – at Sanary-sur-Mer, where Huxley wrote Brave New World at his Villa Huley and Thomas Mann held court in the Chemin de la Colline. Brecht in fact might have sung anti-Hitler songs out of a table at Le Nautique; so after debating with Nick the comparative merits of Beneteau sailing boats, I finally decided to stop with all that Brechtian distancing and walked to the nearby kiosk to buy the papers, order a cafe au lait, and turn on the mobile.
Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade.
Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas “as soon as possible”. Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing.
Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the “thermonuclear option”. Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow.
It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those “rose petal” bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO.
The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy.
Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise – a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the “benign” Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by – who else – neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other – as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO – as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats.
For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The “transparency” surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea’s King Jong-eun to shame.
The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic “non-tariff obstacles” – as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all – implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China.
So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won’t be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market.
Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create “millions of well-paid American jobs”. That’s highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated.
As for the Europeans, it’s more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society.
European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of “price volatility” down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that “Brussels is selling us out”; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faire accumulated over centuries.
Below: In a sane, non-Hobbesian environment, a neutral Ukraine would only gain by positioning itself as a privileged crossroads between the European Union and the proposed Eurasian Union, as well as a key node of the Chinese New Silk Road – not to mention of vital link in a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Instead, the present disaster is a big spanner in the works – a spanner that suits only one player: the US government. While a tentative new world order slouches towards all points Global South to be born, Robocop NATO dreams of war.
Ukraine and the grand chessboard
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong April 17, 2014
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Ukraine is for all practical purposes broke. The Kremlin’s consistent position for the past three months has been to encourage the European Union to find a solution to Ukraine’s dire economic mess. Brussels did nothing. It was betting on regime change to the benefit of Germany’s heavyweight puppet Vladimir Klitschko, aka Klitsch The Boxer.
Regime change did happen, but orchestrated by the Khaganate of Nulands – a neo-con cell of the State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands. And now the presidential option is between – what else – two US puppets, choco-billionaire Petro Poroshenko and “Saint Yulia” Timoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, ex-convict and prospective president. The EU is left to pick up the (unpayable) bill. Enter the International Monetary Fund – via a nasty, upcoming “structural adjustment” that will send Ukrainians to a hellhole even grimmer than the one they are already familiar with.
Once again, for all the hysteria propagated by the US Ministry of Truth and its franchises across the Western corporate media, the Kremlin does not need to “invade” anything. If Gazprom does not get paid all it needs to do is to shut down the Ukrainian stretch of Pipelineistan. Kiev will then have no option but to use part of the gas supply destined for some EU countries so Ukrainians won’t run out of fuel to keep themselves and the country’s industries alive. And the EU – whose “energy policy” overall is already a joke – will find itself with yet another self-inflicted problem.
The EU will be mired in a perennial lose-lose situation if Brussels does not talk seriously with Moscow. There’s only one explanation for the refusal: hardcore Washington pressure, mounted via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Again, to counterpunch the current hysteria – the EU remains Gazprom’s top client, with 61% of its overall exports. It’s a complex relationship based on interdependence. The capitalization of Nord Stream, Blue Stream and the to-be-completed South Stream includes German, Dutch, French and Italian companies.
So yes, Gazprom does need the EU market. But up to a point, considering the mega-deal of Siberian gas delivery to China which most probably will be signed next month in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits President Xi Jinping.
The Obama administration may – and “may” is the operative word here – have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving – as well as its myriad links to Europe.
Putin says oil wars with Russia will make West bleed
RT Russia April 17, 2014
Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.
If the West tries to damage Russia’s influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.
To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.
The president added he didn’t expect Saudi Arabia, which has “very kind relations” with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.
If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. “For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn’t critical,” Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.
Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which “is very complicated.”
Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.
“Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it’s impossible…Will they make themselves bleed? That’s hard to imagine,” the Russian president said.
Since oil is sold internationally on global markets cutting the price would mean lower dollar circulation, diminishing its value in the global currency market.
“If prices decrease in the global market, the emerging shale industry will die,” Putin said.
The US shale industry has boosted domestic production, helping the US become independent and situating it to overtake Russia as a producer.
Russia’s economy largely relies on energy. In 2013 more than 50 percent of the national budget was funded by gas and oil revenues. The main revenue comes from oil, as last year, oil revenues reached $191 billion, and gas $28 billion.
“Oil and gas revenues are a big contribution to the Russian budget, a big part for us when we decide on our government programs, and of course, meeting our social obligations,” the president said.