Financial War: Russia & China vs U.S. & NATO

The financial war between Russia with China’s tacit backing on one side, and America and her NATO allies on the other has escalated rapidly. It appears that President Putin was thinking several steps ahead when he launched Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

We have seen sanctions fail. We have seen Russia achieve record export surpluses. We have seen the rouble become the strongest currency on the foreign exchanges.

We are seeing the west enter a new round of European monetary inflation to pay everyone’s energy bills. The euro, yen, and sterling are already collapsing — the dollar will be next. From Putin’s point of view, so far, so good.

Russia has progressed her power over Asian nations, including populous India and Iran. She has persuaded Middle Eastern oil and gas producers that their future lies with Asian markets, and not Europe. She is subsidising Asia’s industrial revolution with discounted energy. Thanks to the west’s sanctions, Russia is on its way to confirming Halford Mackinder’s predictions made over a century ago, that Russia is the true geopolitical centre of the world.

There is one piece in Putin’s jigsaw yet to be put in place: a new currency system to protect Russia and her allies from an approaching western monetary crisis. This article argues that under cover of the west’s geopolitical ineptitude, Putin is now assembling a new gold-backed multi-currency system by combining plans for a new Asian trade currency with his new Moscow World Standard for gold.

Currency developments under the radar

Unreported by western media, there are some interesting developments taking place in Asia over the future of currencies. Earlier this summer, it emerged that Sergei Glazyev, a senior Russian economist and Minister in charge of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEU), was leading a committee planning a new trade currency for the Eurasian Economic Union.

As put forward in Russian and EAEU media, the new currency is to be comprised of a mixture of national currencies and commodities. A weighting of some sort was suggested to reflect the relative importance of the currencies and commodities traded between them. At the same time, the new trade settlement currency was to be available to any other nation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the expanding BRICS membership. The ambition is for it to become an Asia-wide replacement for the dollar.

More specifically, the purpose is to do away with the dollar for trade settlements on cross-border transactions between participants. It is worth noting that any dollar transaction is reflected in US banks through the correspondent banking system, potentially giving the US authorities undesirable economic intelligence, and information on sanction-busting and other activities deemed illegal or undesirable by the US authorities. Furthermore, any transaction involving US dollars becomes a matter for the US legal system, giving US politicians the authority to intervene wherever the dollar is used.

As well as removing these disadvantages, through the inclusion of a basket of commodities there appears to be an acceptance that the new trade currency must be more stable in terms of its commodity purchasing power than exists with that of the dollar. But we can immediately detect flaws in the outline proposal. The mooted inclusion of national currencies in the basket is not only an unnecessary complication, but any nation joining it would presumably trigger a wholesale rebalancing of the currency’s composition.

Including national currencies is a preposterous suggestion, as is any suggestion that the commodity element should be weighted by trade volumes transacted between participating states. Instead, an unweighted average of energy, precious metals, and base metals makes more sense, but even that does not go far enough. The reasons are illustrated by the two charts in Figure 1.

The upper chart shows baskets of different categories of commodities indexed and priced in dollars. Between them, they represent a wide range of commodities and raw materials. These baskets are considerably less volatile than their individual components. For example, since April 2020 oil has risen from a distorted minus figure to a high of $130, whereas the energy basket has risen only 6.3 times, because other components have not risen nearly as much as crude oil and some components might be rising while others might be falling. Agriculture raw materials are comprised of cotton, timber, wool, rubber, and hides, not raw materials liable to undesirable seasonality. But the average of the four categories is considerably more stable than its components (the black line).

We are moving towards price stability. However, all commodities are priced in US dollars, which being undesirable, cannot be avoided. Pricing in gold, which is legal money, eventually resolves this problem because it can be fixed against participating currencies. The result of pricing the commodity categories in gold and the average of them is shown in the lower chart.

Since 1992, the average (the black line) has varied between 0.37 and 1.66, and is currently at 0.82, or 18% less than in January 1992. This is as stable as it gets, and even this low volatility would probably be less if the dollar wasn’t itself so volatile and the gold price manipulated by nay-saying western authorities. To further illustrate these points, Figure 2 shows the dollar’s volatility in terms of crude oil.

Before the abandonment of Bretton Woods in 1971, the price of oil hardly changed. Since then, measured by gold the dollar has lost 98% of its purchasing power. Furthermore, the chart shows that it is the dollar which is extremely volatile and not oil, because the price of oil in gold is relatively constant (down only 20% from 1950), while in dollars it is up 33.6 times with some wild price swings along the way. Critics of measuring prices in gold ignore the fact that legal money is gold and not paper currencies or bank credit: attempts by governments and their epigones to persuade us otherwise are propaganda only.

Therefore, Glazyev should drop currencies from the proposed basket entirely and strive to either price a basket of non-seasonal commodities in gold, or alternatively simply reference the new currency to gold in a daily fix. And as the charts above confirm, there is little point in using a basket of commodities priced in dollars or gold when it is far simpler for the EAEU nations and for anyone else wishing to participate in the new trade currency to use a trade currency directly tied to the gold price. It would amount to a new Asian version of a Bretton Woods arrangement and would need no further adjustment.

Attributing them to excessive credit, from recent statements by President Putin it is clear he has a better understanding of currencies and the west’s inflationary problems than western economists. Intellectually, he has long demonstrated an appreciation of the relationship between money, that is only gold, and currency and credit. His knowledge was further demonstrated by his insistence that the “unfriendlies” pay for energy in roubles, taking control of the media of energy exchange into Russia’s own hands and away from those of his enemies.

In short, Putin appears to understand that gold is money and that the rest is unreliable, weaponizable, credit. So, why does he not just command a new trade currency to be created, backed by gold?

Enter the new Moscow gold standard

Logic suggests that a gold-backed currency will be the outcome of Glazyev’s EAEU committee’s trade currency deliberations after all, because of a subsequent announcement from Moscow concerning a new Russian bullion market.

In accordance with western sanctions, the London Bullion Market refused to accept Russian mined and processed gold. It was then natural for Russia to propose a new gold market based in Moscow with its own standards. It is equally sensible for Moscow to set up a price fixing committee, replicating that of the LBMA. But instead of it being the basis for a far larger unallocated gold deposit account offering by Russian and other banks, it will be a predominantly physical market.

Based in Moscow, with a new market called the Moscow International Precious Metals Exchange, the Moscow Gold Standard will incorporate some of the LBMA’s features, such as good delivery lists with daily, or twice daily fixings. The new exchange is therefore being promoted as a logical replacement for the LBMA.

But could that be a cover, with the real objective being to provide a gold link to the new trade currency planned by Glazyev’s EAEU committee? Timing suggests that this may indeed be the case, but we will only know for sure as events unfold.

If it is to be backed by gold, the considerations behind setting up a new trade currency are fairly straightforward. There is the Chinese one kilo bar four-nines standard, which is widely owned, has already been adopted throughout Asia, and is traded even on Comex. Given that China is Russia’s long-term partner, that is likely to be the standard unit. The adoption of the Chinese standard in the new Moscow exchange is logical, simplifying the relationship with the Shanghai Gold Exchange, and streamlining fungibility between contracts, arbitrage, and delivery.

Geopolitics suggest that the simple proposition behind the establishment of a new Moscow exchange will fit in with a larger trans-Asia plan and is unlikely to move at the glacial pace of developments between Russia and China to which we have become accustomed. The gold question has become bound up in more rapid developments triggered by Russia’s belligerence over Ukraine, and the sanctions which quickly followed.

There can be little doubt that this must be leading to a seismic shift in gold policy for the Russian Chinese partnership. The Chinese in particular have demonstrated an unhurried patience that befits a nation with a sense of its long history and destiny. Putin is more of a one-man act. Approaching seventy years old, he cannot afford to be so patient and is showing a determination to secure a legacy in his lifetime as a great Russian leader. While China has made the initial running with respect to gold policy, Putin is now pushing the agenda more forcefully.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the strategy was to let the west make all the geopolitical and financial mistakes. For Putin perhaps, the lesson of history was informed by Napoleon’s march to the gates of Moscow, his pyrrhic victory at Borodino, and his defeat by the Russian winter. Hitler made the same mistake with Operation Barbarossa. From Putin’s viewpoint, the lesson was clear — Russia’s enemies defeat themselves. It was repeated in Afghanistan, where the American-led NATO enemy was conquered by its own hubris without Putin having to lift so much as a finger. That is why Russia is Mackinder’s Pivot Area of the World Island. It cannot be attacked by navies, and supply line requirements for armies make Russia’s defeat well-nigh impossible

Following the Ukraine invasion, Putin’s financial strategy has become more aggressive, and is potentially at odds with China’s economic policy. Being cut off from western markets, Putin is now proactive, while China which exports goods to them probably remains more cautious. But China knows that western capitalism bears the seeds of its own destruction, which would mean the end of the dollar and the other major fiat currencies. An economic policy based on exports to capitalistic nations would be a passing phase.

China’s gold policy was aways an insurance policy against a dollar collapse, realising that she must not be blamed for the west’s financial destruction by announcing a gold standard for the yen in advance of it. It would be a nuclear equivalent in a financial war, only an action to be taken as a last resort.

Developments in Russia have changed that. It is clear to the Russians, and most likely the Chinese, that credit inflation is now pushing the dollar into a currency crisis in the next year or two. Preparations to protect the rouble and the yuan from the final collapse of the dollar, long taught in Marxist universities as inevitable, must assume a new urgency. It would be logical to start with a new trade settlement currency as a testbed for national currencies in Asia, and for it to be set up in such a way that it would permit member states to adopt gold standards for their own currencies as well.

Possession of bullion is key

The move away from western fiat currencies to gold backed Asian currencies requires significant gold bullion ownership at the least. The only members, associates, and dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the EAEU whose central banks have not increased their gold reserves since the Lehman failure when the credit expansion of dollars began in earnest, are minor states. Since then, between them they have added 4,645 tonnes to their reserves, while all the other central banks account for only 781 tonnes of additional gold reserves.

But central bank reserves are only part of the story, with nations running other, often secret national bullion accounts not included in reserves. The appendix to this article shows why and how China almost certainly accumulated an undeclared quantity of bullion, likely to be in the region of 25,000 tonnes by 2002 and probably more since.

Since 2002, when the Shanghai Gold Exchange opened and China’s citizens were permitted for the first time to own gold, gold delivered into public hands has totalled a further amount of over 20,000 tonnes. While the bulk of this is jewellery and some has been returned to the SGE as scrap for re-refining, it is clear that the authorities have encouraged Chinese citizens to retain gold for themselves, which traditionally has been real money in China.

According to Simon Hunt of Simon Hunt Strategic Services, as well as declared reserves of 2,301 tonnes Russia also holds gold bullion in its Gosfund (the State Fund of Russia) bringing its holdings up to 12,000 tonnes. This is significantly greater than the 8,133 tonnes declared by the US Treasury, over which there are widespread doubts concerning the veracity of its true quantity.

Obviously, the Asian partnership has a very different view of gold from the American hegemon. Furthermore, in recent months evidence has confirmed what gold bugs have claimed all along, that the Bank for International Settlements and major bullion operators such as JPMorgan Chase have indulged in a price suppression scheme to discourage gold ownership and to divert bullion demand into synthetic unallocated accounts.

The secrecy that surrounds reporting of gold reserves to the IMF raises further suspicions over the true position. Furthermore, there are leases and swaps between central banks, the BIS, and bullion dealers that lead to double counting and bullion recorded as being in possession of governments and their central banks but being held by other parties.

As long ago as 2002 when the gold price was about $300 per ounce, Frank Veneroso, who as a noted analyst spent considerable time and effort identifying central bank swaps and leases, concluded that anything between 10,000 and 15,000 tonnes of government and central bank gold reserves were out on lease or swapped — that is up to almost half the total official global gold reserves at that time. His entire speech is available on the Gold Antitrust Action Committee website, but this is the introduction to his reasoning:[i]

“Let’s begin with an explanation of gold banking and gold derivatives.

“It is a simple, simple idea. Central banks have bars of gold in a vault. It’s their own vault, it’s the Bank of England’s vault, it’s the New York Fed’s vault. It costs them money for insurance – it costs them money for storage— and gold doesn’t pay any interest. They earn interest on their bills of sovereigns, like US Treasury Bills. They would like to have a return as well on their barren gold, so they take the bars out of the vault and they lend them to a bullion bank. Now the bullion bank owes the central bank gold—physical gold—and pays interest on this loan of perhaps 1%. What do these bullion bankers do with this gold? Does it sit in their vault and cost them storage and insurance? No, they are not going to pay 1% for a gold loan from a central bank and then have a negative spread of 2% because of additional insurance and storage costs on their physical gold. They are intermediaries—they are in the business of making money on financial intermediation. So they take the physical gold and they sell it spot and get cash for it. They put that cash on deposit or purchase a Treasury Bill. Now they have a financial asset—not a real asset—on the asset side of their balance sheet that pays them interest—6% against that 1% interest cost on the gold loan to the central bank. What happened to that physical gold? Well, that physical gold was Central Bank bars, and it went to a refinery and that refinery refined it, upgraded it, and poured it into different kinds of bars like kilo bars that go to jewellery factories who then make jewellery out of it. That jewellery gets sold to individuals. That’s where those physical bars have wound up—adorning the women of the world…

“We have gotten, albeit crude, estimates of gold borrowings from the official sector from probably more than 1/3 of all the bullion banks. We went to bullion dealers, and we asked, “Are these guys major bullion bankers, medium bullion bankers, or small-scale bullion bankers?” We classified them accordingly and from that we have extrapolated a total amount of gold lending from our sample. That exercise has pointed to exactly the same conclusion as all of our other evidence and inference—i.e., something like 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes of borrowed gold.”

Veneroso’s findings were stunning. But two decades later, we have no idea of the current position. The market has changed substantially since 2002, and today it is thought that swaps and leases are often by book entry, rather than physical delivery of bullion into markets. But the implications are clear: if Russia or China cared to declare their true position and made a move towards backing their currencies with gold or linking them to gold credibly, it would be catastrophic for the dollar and western fiat currencies generally. It would amount to a massive bear squeeze on the west’s longstanding gold versus fiat policy. And remember, gold is money, and the rest is credit, as John Pierpont Morgan said in 1912 in evidence to Congress. He was not stating his opinion, but a legal fact.

In a financial crisis, the accumulated manipulation of bullion markets since the 1970s is at significant risk of becoming unwound. The imbalance in bullion holdings between the Russian Chinese camp and the west would generate the equivalent of a financial nuclear event. This is why it is so important to understand that instead of being a longstop insurance policy against the Marxist prediction of capitalism’s ultimate failure, it appears that the combination of planning for a new trade currency for Asian nations centred on members of the EAEU, coinciding with the introduction of a new Moscow-based bullion standard, is now pre-empting financial developments in the west. That being the case, a financial nuclear bomb is close to being triggered.


China’s gold policy

China actually took its first deliberate step towards eventual domination of the gold market as long ago as June 1983, when regulations on the control of gold and silver were passed by the State Council. The following Articles extracted from the English translation set out the objectives very clearly:

Article 1. These Regulations are formulated to strengthen control over gold and silver, to guarantee the State’s gold and silver requirements for its economic development and to outlaw gold and silver smuggling and speculation and profiteering activities.

Article 3. The State shall pursue a policy of unified control, monopoly purchase and distribution of gold and silver. The total income and expenditure of gold and silver of State organs, the armed forces, organizations, schools, State enterprises, institutions, and collective urban and rural economic organizations (hereinafter referred to as domestic units) shall be incorporated into the State plan for the receipt and expenditure of gold and silver.

Article 4. The People’s Bank of China shall be the State organ responsible for the control of gold and silver in the People’s Republic of China.

Article 5. All gold and silver held by domestic units, with the exception of raw materials, equipment, household utensils and mementos which the People’s Bank of China has permitted to be kept, must be sold to the People’s Bank of China. No gold and silver may be personally disposed of or kept without authorization.

Article 6. All gold and silver legally gained by individuals shall come under the protection of the State.

Article 8. All gold and silver purchases shall be transacted through the People’s Bank of China. No unit or individual shall purchase gold and silver unless authorised or entrusted to do so by the People’s Bank of China.

Article 12. All gold and silver sold by individuals must be sold to the People’s Bank of China.

Article 25. No restriction shall be imposed on the amount of gold and silver brought into the People’s Republic of China, but declaration and registration must be made to the Customs authorities of the People’s Republic of China upon entry.

Article 26. Inspection and clearance by the People’s Republic of China Customs of gold and silver taken or retaken abroad shall be made in accordance with the amount shown on the certificate issued by the People’s Bank of China or the original declaration and registration form made on entry. All gold and silver without a covering certificate or in excess of the amount declared and registered upon entry shall not be allowed to be taken out of the country.

These articles make it clear that only the People’s Bank was authorised to acquire or sell gold on behalf of the state, without limitation, and that citizens owning or buying gold were not permitted to do so and must sell any gold in their possession to the People’s Bank.

Additionally, China has deliberately developed her gold mine production regardless of cost, becoming the largest producer by far in the world.[ii] State-owned refineries process this gold along with doré imported from elsewhere. Virtually none of this gold leaves China, so that the gold owned today between the state and individuals continues to accumulate.

The regulations quoted above formalised the State’s monopoly over all gold and silver which is exercised through the Peoples Bank, and they allow the free importation of gold and silver but keep exports under very tight control. The intent behind the regulations is not to establish or permit the free trade of gold and silver, but to control these commodities in the interest of the state.

This being the case, the growth of Chinese gold imports recorded as deliveries to the public since 2002, when the Shanghai Gold Exchange was established and the public then permitted to buy gold, is only the more recent evidence of a deliberate act of policy embarked upon thirty-nine years ago. China had been accumulating gold for nineteen years before she allowed her own nationals to buy when private ownership was finally permitted. Furthermore, the bullion was freely available, because in seventeen of those years, gold was in a severe bear market fuelled by a combination of supply from central bank disposals, leasing, and increasing mine production, all of which I estimate totalled about 59,000 tonnes. The two largest buyers for all this gold for much of the time were private buyers in the Middle East and China’s government, with additional demand identified from India and Turkey. The breakdown from these sources and the likely demand are identified in the table below:

In another context, the cost of China’s 25,000 tonnes of gold equates to roughly 10% of her exports over the period, and the eighties and early nineties in particular also saw huge capital inflows when multinational corporations were building factories in China. However, the figure for China’s gold accumulation is at best informed speculation. But given the determination of the state to acquire gold expressed in the 1983 regulations and by its subsequent actions, it is clear China had deliberately accumulated a significant undeclared stockpile by 2002.

So far, China’s long-term plans for the acquisition of gold appear to have achieved some important objectives. To date, additional deliveries to the public through the SGE now total over 20,000 tonnes.

China’s motives

China’s motives for taking control of the gold bullion market have almost certainly evolved. The regulations of 1983 make sense as part of a forward-looking plan to ensure that some of the benefits of industrialisation would be accumulated as a risk-free national asset. This reasoning is similar to that of the Arab nations capitalising on the oil-price bonanza only ten years earlier, which led them to accumulate their hoard, mainly held in private as opposed to government hands, for the benefit of future generations. However, as time passed the world has changed substantially both economically and politically.

2002 was a significant year for China, when geopolitical considerations entered the picture. Not only did the People’s Bank establish the Shanghai Gold Exchange to facilitate deliveries to private investors, but this was the year the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation formally adopted its charter. This merger of security and economic interests with Russia has bound Russia and China together with a number of resource-rich Asian states into an economic bloc. When India, Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan join (as they now have or are already committed to do), the SCO will cover more than half the world’s population. And inevitably the SCO’s members are looking for an alternative trade settlement system to using the US dollar.

At some stage China with her SCO partner, Russia, might force the price of gold higher as part of their currency strategy. You can argue this from an economic point of view on the basis that possession of properly priced gold will give her a financial dominance over global trade at a time when we are trashing our fiat currencies, or more simply that there’s no point in owning an asset and suppressing its value for ever. From 2002 there evolved a geopolitical argument: both China and Russia having initially wanted to embrace American and Western European capitalism no longer sought to do so, seeing us as soft enemies instead. The Chinese public were then encouraged, even by public service advertising, to buy gold, helping to denude the west of her remaining bullion stocks and to provide market liquidity in China.

What is truly amazing is that the western economic and political establishment have dismissed the importance of gold and ignored all the warning signals. They do not seem to realise the power they have given China and Russia to create financial chaos as a consequence of gold price suppression. If they do so, which seems to be only a matter of time, then London’s fractional reserve system of unallocated gold accounts would simply collapse, leaving Shanghai as the only major physical market.

This is probably the final link in China’s long-standing gold strategy, and through it a planned domination of the global economy in partnership with Russia and the other SCO nations. But as noted above, recent events have brought this outcome forward.

[i] See https://www.gata.org/node/4249

[ii] Following covid, China’s production has declined from over 400 tonnes annually to closer to 300 tonnes.

Source: GSI Exchange

Which Crime Syndicate Murdered Darya Dugina? • Pepe Escobar

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

The vile assassination of Darya Dugina, or terror at the gates of Moscow, is not really solved – as much as the FSB seems to have cracked the case in a little over 24 hours.

It’s now established that the main perpetrator, Azov batallion asset Natalia Vovk, did not act alone but had an Ukrainian sidekick, one Bogdan Tsyganenko, who provided false license plates for the Mini Cooper she was driving and helped to assemble a crude car bomb inside a rented garage in the southwest of Moscow.

According to the FSB, Vovk followed the Dugin family to the Tradition festival, and detonated the car bomb by remote control. The only missing pieces seem to be when the bomb was placed under Dugin’s SUV, and by whom; and whether such a sophisticated cross-border targeted assassination was aimed at both father and daughter.

As recalled by geopolitical analyst Manlio Dinucci, even the Los Angeles Times had made it public that “since 2015, the CIA has been training Ukrainian intelligence agents in a secret facility in the United States”.

Russian intel was more than aware of it. In fact, in an interview to Italian media in December 2021, Darya Dugina herself, based on FSB information, revealed, “they had identified 106 Ukrainian agents who were preparing attacks and massacres in 37 regions of Russia.”

Yet now a high-ranking member of Russian intel – who for obvious reasons must remain anonymous – has shed some information that, in his words, “will add the whole picture to this incident.”

It goes without saying that this is as much as he’s been allowed to reveal by his superiors. According to his analysis, “the tragedy was in the evening. In the next two days the FSB shared the whole data about SBU people who were involved with the incident. The majority of people think that it was a political kill. There are a lot of political kills in Ukraine but this tragedy has no political root. It is actually connected to organized crime money flow.”

The source asserts, “Darya was inside the patriotic movement and had connections in Moscow and Donetsk area. As you know there is a large money flow to the Donbas to restore the economy. This huge money flow provides an extreme incentive for criminal activity. Donetsk crime organizations are more dangerous than others because they operate in the war territory. Thus, someone was afraid that Darya was going to compromise money flow schemes by making this public.”

The source makes the important point that “Boris Nemtsov [a key actor in the liberal reforms imposed on post-Soviet Russia] was also killed by an organized crime group who was afraid that he might compromise some money flow schemes by making them public despite the fact that he was a quite powerful politician. Also [journalist] Anna Politkovkaya. She was given $900,000.00 in cash at Chubais election office during the election days for a political purpose. But some other guys knew it and grabbed the bag. She was slain.”

Cui bono?

Disclosure: I prize my friendship with Alexander Dugin – we met in person in Iran, Lebanon and Russia: a towering intellectual and extremely sensitive spirit, eons away from the crude stereotype of “Putin’s brain” or worse, “Putin’s Rasputin” slapped on him by Western media sub-zoology specimens. His vision of Eurasianism should be granted the merit of an ample intellectual discussion, a real dialogue of civilizations. But obviously the current woke incarnation of the collective West lacks the sophistication to engage in real debate. So he’s been demonized to Kingdom Come.

Darya, who I had the honor to meet in Moscow, was a young, shining star with an ebullient personality who graduated in History of Philosophy at Moscow University: her main research was on the political philosophy of late Neoplatonism. Obviously that had nothing to do with the profile of a ruthless operative capable of “compromising” money flows. She did not seem to understand finance, much less “dark” financial ops. What she did understand is how the Ukrainian battlefield mirrored a larger than life clash of civilizations: globalism against Eurasianism.

Back to the assertions by the Russian intel agent, they cannot be simply dismissed. For instance, at the time he came up with the definitive version of the hit on the Moskva – the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

As he emailed to a select audience, “the destruction of the flagship of the fleet was planned as a strategic task. Therefore, the operation of delivering the PKR [anti-ship missile] to Odessa took place in strict secrecy and under the cover of electronic warfare. As the ‘killer’ of the cruiser, they chose the PKR, but not the Neptune, as spread by Ukrainian propaganda, but the fifth-generation NSM PKR (Naval Strike Missile, range of destruction 185 km, developed by Norway-USA). The NSM is able to reach the target along a programmed route thanks to the GPS-adjusted INS, independently find the target by flying up to it at an altitude of 3-5 meters. When reaching the target, the NSM maneuvers and puts electronic interference. A highly sensitive thermal imager is used as a homing system, which independently determines the most vulnerable places of the target ship. A stationary container installation secretly delivered to Ukraine was used as a launcher. Thus, after the damage to the cruiser Moskva, which led to its flooding (…) the Black Sea Fleet, unfortunately, no longer has a single ship with a long-range anti-aircraft missile system. But not everything is so bad. A three-band radar ‘Sky-M’ is located in Crimea, which is capable of tracking all air targets at a range of up to 600 km.”

So there you go. The hit on the Moskva was a NATO operation, ordered by the U.S. The Russian Ministry of Defense knows – and the Americans know they know. Retaliation will come – in the time and place of Moscow’s choosing.

The same will apply to the response for Darya Dugina’s assassination. As it stands, we may have 3 hypotheses.

  • The FSB official story, pointing to the SBU in Kiev. The FSB is obviously revealing only a fraction of what they know.
  • The high-level Russian intel agent pointing towards organized crime.
  • The usual Zionist suspects – who loathe Dugin for his fierce anti-globalism: and that would point to a Mossad operation, who in many aspects enjoys way more qualified local intel in Russia than the CIA and MI6.

A fourth hypothesis would point to a perfect storm: a confluence of interests of all the above organized crime syndicates. Once again, resorting to hegemonic American pop culture, and to borrow from Twin Peaks; “The owls are not what they seem”. Black ops can also reveal themselves as much darker than what they seem.

All the Way to Odessa – Strategic Culture Foundation

Pepe Escobar

August 26, 2022

Source: https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2022/08/26/all-the-way-to-odessa/

As Eurasian integration will become an even stronger vector, Russian diplomacy will be solidifying the new normal.

Dmitry Medvedev, relishing his unplugged self, has laid down the law on the Special Military Operation (SMO). Bluntly, he affirmed there is a “one and a half” scenario: either to go all the way, or a military coup d’etat in Ukraine followed by admitting the inevitable. No tertium applies.

That’s as stark as it gets: the leadership in Moscow is making it very clear, to internal and international audiences, the new deal consists in slow cooking the Kiev racket inside a massive cauldron while polishing its status of financial black hole for the collective West. Until we reach boiling point – which will be a revolution or a putsch.

In parallel, The Lords of (Proxy) War will continue with their own strategy, which is to pillage an enfeebled, fearful, Europe, then dressing it up as a perfumed colony to be ruthlessly exploited ad nauseam by the imperial oligarchy.

Europe is now a runaway TGV – minus the requisite Hollywood production values. Assuming it does not veer off track – a dicey proposition – it may eventually arrive at a railway station called Agenda 2030, The Great Narrative, or some other NATO/Davos denomination du jour.

As it stands, what’s remarkable is how the “marginal” Russian economy hardly broke a sweat to “end the abundance” of the wealthiest region on the planet.

Moscow does not even entertain the notion of negotiating with Brussels because there’s nothing to negotiate – considering puny Eurocrats will only be hurled away from their zombified state when the dire socio-economic consequences of “the end of abundance” will finally translate into peasants with pitchforks roaming the continent.

It may be eons away, but inevitably the average Italian, German or Frenchman will connect the dots and realize it is their own “leaders” – national nullities and mostly unelected Eurocrats – who are paving their road to poverty.

You will be poor. And you will like it. Because we are all supporting freedom for Ukrainian neo-nazis. That brings the concept of “multicultural Europe” to a whole new level.

The runaway train, of course, may veer off track and plunge into an Alpine abyss. In this case something might be saved from the wreckage – and “reconstruction” might be on the cards. But reconstruct what?

Europe could always reconstruct a new Reich (collapsed with a bang in 1945); a soft Reich (erected at the end of WWII); or break with its past failures, sing “I’m Free” – and connect with Eurasia. Don’t bet on it.

Get back those Taurian lands

The SMO may be about to radically change – something that will drive the already clueless denizens of U.S. Think Tankland and their Euro vassals even more berserk.

President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu have been giving serious hints the only way for the pain dial is up – considering the mounting evidence of terrorism inside Russian territory; the vile assassination of Darya Dugina; non-stop shelling of civilians in border regions; attacks on Crimea; the use of chemical weapons; and the shelling of Zaporizhzhya power plant raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

This past Tuesday, one day before the SMO completing six months, Crimea’s permanent representative to the Kremlin, Georgy Muradov, all but spelled it out.

He stressed the necessity to “reintegrate all the Taurian lands” – Crimea, the Northern Black Sea and the Azov Sea – into a single entity as soon as “in the next few months”. He defined this process as “objective and demanded by the population of these regions.”

Muradov added, “given not only the strikes on Crimea, but also the continuous shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the dam of the Kakhovka reservoir, peaceful facilities on the territory of Russia, the DNR and LNR, there are all preconditions to qualify the actions of the Banderite regime as terrorist.”

The conclusion is inevitable: “the political issue of changing the format of the special military operation” enters the agenda. After all,
Washington and Brussels “have already prepared new anti-Crimean provocations of the NATO-Bandera alliance”.

So when we examine what the “restoration of the Taurian lands” implies, we see not only the contours of Novorossiya but most of all that there won’t be any security for Crimea – and thus Russia – in the Black Sea without Odessa becoming Russian again. And that, on top of it, will solve the Transnistria dilemma.

Add to it Kharkov – the capital and top industrial center of Greater Donbass. And of course Dnipropetrovsk. They are all SMO objectives, the whole combo to be later protected by buffer zones in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts.

Only then the “tasks” – as Shoigu calls them – of the SMO would be declared fulfilled. The timeline could be eight to ten months – after a lull under General Winter.

As the turbo-charged SMO rolls on, it’s a given the Empire of Chaos, Lies and Plunder will continue to prop up and weaponize the Kiev racket till Kingdom Come – and that will apply especially after the Return of Odessa. What’s unclear is who and what gang will be left in Kiev posing as the ruling party and doing specials for Vogue while duly fulfilling the mass of imperial diktats.

It’s also a given the CIA/MI6 combo will be refining non-stop the contours of a massive guerrilla war against Russia in multiple fronts – crammed with terror attacks and all sorts of provocations.

Yet in the Bigger Picture it’s the inevitable Russian military victory in Donbass and then “all the Taurian lands” that will hit the collective West like a lethal asteroid. The geopolitical humiliation will be unbearable; not to mention the geoeconomic humiliation for vassalized Europe.

As Eurasian integration will become an even stronger vector, Russian diplomacy will be solidifying the new normal. Never forget that Moscow had no trouble normalizing relations, for instance, with China, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel. All these actors, in different ways, directly contributed to the fall of the USSR. Now – with one exception – they are all focused on The Dawn of the Eurasian Century.

Turkey’s existential choice: BRI or bust • The Cradle

By: Matthew Ehret

Source: The Cradle • Turkey’s existential choice: BRI or bust

Two destinies are pulling on West Asia from two opposing visions of the future.

As devotees of the rules-based order laid out by Zbigniew Brzezinski 40 years ago strive to uphold their dystopic model of dividing populations to feed endless wars, a more optimistic program of cooperation is being ushered in by China’s ever-evolving Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

While many nations have jumped on board this new paradigm with enthusiastic support, others have found themselves precariously straddling both worlds.

Turkey plays footsie with great powers

Chief among those indecisive nations is the Republic of Turkey, whose leader was given a harsh wake up call on 15 July, 2016. It was on this date that Russian intelligence provided Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the edge needed to narrowly avoid a coup launched by followers of exiled Islamist leader Fetullah Gulen.

The timing of the coup has been subject to much speculation, but the fact that it occurred just two weeks after Erdogan’s letter of apology to Putin went public was likely not a coincidence. The apology in question referred to Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian fighter jet flying in Syrian airspace in November 2015, killing a soldier and very nearly activating NATO’s collective security pact.

For years instrumental in providing weapons and logistical support to ISIS in both Iraq and Syria (via Operation Timber Sycamore), it is possible Erdogan was tiring of being used to further western interests in the Levant, when it had its own, quite different, aspirations in those territories.

Whatever the case, since that fateful day, Turkey’s behavior as a player in West Asia took on an improved (though not entirely redeemed) character on a number of levels. Chief among those positive behavioral changes is Ankara’s participation in the Astana process with Tehran and Moscow to demilitarize large swathes of Syria. Turkey then purchased Russian S400 medium-long range missile defense systems, and has recently advanced plans to jointly produce submarines, jet engines and warships with Russia, while also accelerating the construction of a nuclear reactor built by Rosatom.

That said, old habits die hard, and Turkey has been caught playing in both worlds, providing continued support for the terrorist-laden Free Syrian Army and Al Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir Al Sham in Syria’s Idlib governorate. Turkey now has a total of 60 military bases and observation posts that provide protection for these and other militant groups in the country’s north.

The Middle Corridor option

On an economic level, Turkey’s ambition to become a gateway between Europe and Asia along the New Silk Road also indicates Erdogan’s resolution to break from his previous commitments to join the European Union and engage more intricately with the East.

Turkey’s 7500 km Trans-Caspian East-West Middle Corridor is an ambitious project that runs parallel to the northern corridor of the BRI connecting China to Europe.

This corridor, which began running in November 2019, has the benefit of cutting nearly 2000 km of distance off the active northern corridor and provides an efficient route between China and Europe. The route itself moves goods from the north-eastern Lianyungang Port in China through Xinjiang into Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and on to Europe via land and sea routes. Erdogan has previously stated that “the Middle Corridor lies at the heart of the BRI” and has called to “integrate the Middle Corridor into the BRI.”

Other projects that are subsumed by the Middle Corridor include the $20 billion Istanbul Canal which will be a 45km connection between the Black and Marmara Seas (reducing traffic on the Bosporus) as well as the Marmara undersea railway, Eurasian Tunnel, and the third Istanbul Bridge.

Without China’s increased involvement, not only will these projects fail to take shape, but the Middle Corridor itself would crumble into oblivion. Chinese trade with Turkey recently grew from $2 billion in 2002 to $26 billion in 2020, more than 1,000 Chinese companies have investment projects throughout the nation, and Chinese consortiums hold a 65 percent stake in Turkey’s third largest port.

Restraining Ankara’s options

These projects have not come without a fight from both internal forces within Turkey and external ones. Two major Turkish opposition parties have threatened to cancel the Canal Istanbul as a tactic to scare away potential investors at home and abroad. And internationally, financial warfare has been unleashed against Turkey’s economy on numerous levels.

Credit ratings agencies have downgraded Turkey to a ‘high risk’ nation, and sanctions have been launched by the US and EU. These acts have contributed to international investors pulling out from Turkish government bonds (a quarter of all bonds were held by foreign investors in 2009, collapsing to less than 4 percent today) and depriving the nation of vital productive credit to build infrastructure. These attacks have also resulted in the biggest Turkish banks stating they will not provide any funding to the megaproject.

Despite the fact that Chinese investments into Turkey have increased significantly, western Financial Direct Investments (FDIs) have fallen from $12.18 billion in 2009 to only $6.67 billion in 2021.

Dialing down its Uyghur project

As with Turkey’s relations with Russia, Erdogan’s desperate need to collaborate with China in the financial realm has resulted in a change of policy in his support for Uyghur extremists. Of the 13 million Chinese Uyghurs, 50,000 live in Turkey, many of whom are part of a larger CIA-funded operation aimed at carving up China.

For many years, Turkey has provided safe haven to terrorist groups like the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement, which cut its teeth fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Operatives affiliated with the World Uyghur Congress, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy and based in Germany, have also found fertile soil in Turkey.

In 2009, Erdogan publicly denounced China for conducting a genocide on Muslims living in Xinjiang (long before it became de rigueur to do so in western nations). After Turkey’s 2016 failed coup, things began to change. In 2017, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated: “We will absolutely not allow in any activities in Turkey that target or oppose China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China.”

There are many parallels to Turkey’s protection of radical Islamic groups in Idlib, but Ankara’s protection of radical anti-China Uyghur groups was more gradual. However, recent significant moves by Erdogan have demonstrated good faith, including the 2017 extradition treaty signed with China (ratified by Beijing though not yet by Ankara), an increased clampdown on Uyghur extremist groups, and the decision to re-instate the exclusion order banning World Uyghur Congress president Dolkun Isa from entering Turkey on 19 September, 2021.

Might the INSTC bypass Ankara?

Not only is Turkey eager to play a role in China’s BRI and secure essential long term credit from Beijing – without which its future will be locked to the much diminished fortunes of the European Union – but Ankara has also factored the growing International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) into its calculus.

A multimodal corridor stretching across a dozen nations, the INSTC was launched by Russia, India and Iran in 2002 and has been given new life by China’s BRI. In recent years, members of the project have grown to also include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Syria, Belarus, Oman and Bulgaria.

While Turkey is a member of the project, there is no guarantee that the megaproject will directly move through its borders. Here too, Erdogan is keen to stay on good terms with Russia and its allies.

The Middle Corridor loses its shine
Up until now, Turkey’s inability to break with zero-sum thinking has resulted in the self-delusion that Turkey’s Middle Corridor would be the only possible choice China had to move goods through to Europe and North Africa.

This perception was for many years buoyed by the war across the ISIS-ridden region of Syria and Iraq (and the relative isolation of Iran), which appeared to ensure that no competing development corridor could be activated.

However, Iran’s entry into the BRI as part of its 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership struck with China in March, and its ascension to full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in September, has provided an attractive new east-west alternative route to the Middle Corridor.

This potential branch of the New Silk Road connecting China with Europe via Iran, Iraq and Syria into the Mediterranean through Syria’s port of Latakia provides a unique opportunity to not only reconstruct the war-torn West Asian nations, but to also create a durable field of stability after decades of western manipulation.

This new route has the additional attraction of incorporating Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab states into a new strategic dynamic that connects Eurasia with an African continent desperate for real development. As of this writing, 40 sub-Saharan African nations have signed onto China’s BRI.

The first glimmering light of this new corridor took form in a small but game-changing 30 km rail line connecting the border city of Shalamcheh in Iran with Basra in Iraq. Work began this year, with its $150 million cost supplied by the semi-private Mostazan Foundation of Iran.

Foreseeing a much larger expansion of this historic connection, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq stated: “Iraq can be connected to China through the railways of Iran and increase its strategic importance in the region … this will be a very big change and Iran’s railways will be connected to Iraq and Syria and to the Mediterranean.”

Ambassador Masjidi was here referring to the provisional agreement reached among Iran, Iraq and Syria in November 2018 to build a 1570 km railway and highway from the Persian Gulf in Iran to the Latakia Port via Iraq.

Already, Iran’s construction-focused investments in war-torn and sanction-torn Syria have grown immensely, boosting estimated trade between the two nations with an additional $1 billion over the next 12 months.

Indicating the higher development dynamic that is shaping the Iraq–Iran railway, Iraq’s Prime Minister stated in May 2021 that “negotiations with Iran to build a railway between Basra and Shalamcheh have reached their final stages and we have signed 15 agreements and memorandums of understanding with Jordan and Egypt regarding energy and transportation lines.”

Indeed, both Egypt and Jordan have also looked east for the only pathway to durable peace in the form of the New Silk Road. The trio of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq began setting the stage for this Silk Road route with a 2017 energy agreement designed to connect the electricity grids of the three nations and also construct a pipeline from Basra to Aqaba in Jordan followed by a larger extension to Egypt.

Iraq and the New Silk Road
In December 2020, Iraq and Egypt agreed on an important oil for reconstruction deal along the lines of a similar program activated earlier by former Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and his Chinese counterpart in September 2019. The latter project was seriously downgraded when Mahdi stepped down in May 2020, and although PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has begun to repair Chinese relations, Iraq has not yet returned to the level of cooperation reached by his predecessor.

To date, the only major power that has shown any genuine concern for Iraq’s reconstruction – and been willing to invest actual resources toward it – has been China.

Despite the trillions of dollars wasted by the United States in its brutal invasion and occupation of the country, not a single energy project has been built by US dollars there. In fact, the only power plant constructed after 2003 has been the Chinese-built 2450 mW thermal plant in Wassit which supplies 20 percent of Iraq’s electricity. Iraq requires at least 19 GW of electricity in order to supply its basic needs after years of western bombardment strategically targeting its vital infrastructure.

To this day, hardly any domestic manufacturing exists in Iraq, with 97 percent of its needs purchased from abroad, and entirely with oil revenue. If this dire situation is to be reversed, then China’s oil-for-construction plan must be brought fully back online.

The kernel of this plan involves a special fund which will accumulate sales of discounted Iraqi oil to China until a $1.5 billion threshold is reached. When this happens, Chinese state banks have agreed to add an additional $8.5 billion, bringing the fund to $10 billion to be used on a full reconstruction program driven by roads, rail, water treatment, and energy grids, as well as soft infrastructure like schools and healthcare.

Where the western economic models have tended to keep nations underdeveloped by emphasizing raw material extraction with no long-term investments that benefit its citizenry, creating no manufacturing capabilities or an increase in the powers of labor, the Chinese-model is entirely different, focusing instead on creating full spectrum economies. Where the former is zero sum and a closed system, the latter model is win-win and open.

If Turkey can find the sense to liberate itself from the obsolete logic of zero sum geopolitics, then a bright future will await all of West and Central Asia.

There is no reason to believe that the Middle Corridor will in any way be harmed by the success of an Iran–Iraq–Syria Silk Road corridor, or by its African extensions. By encouraging the development of collaborative relations, large scale infrastructure, and full-spectrum economic networks, abundance can be created in these regions to offset the underdevelopment and stagnation of recent years.