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Checkmate Putin: Nord Stream 2 will happen, Merkel needs the pipeline to stay in power (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The calls to cancel the controversial planned pipeline Nord Stream 2 were coming from the US, Ukraine, and various EU member states, but it all fell on deaf ears. Nord Stream 2 is a reality, and no amount of US LNG dreaming appears to be changing this fact.

Germany needs Russian gas. Russian gas is substantially more cost effective than US LNG hauled all the way from the States, and at the end of the day, Angela Merkel needs Nord Stream 2 to keep her in power. Putin knows this, and so during his meeting with Merkel in Berlin, a confident Russian President laid down the positive economic realities for Germany and the precarious position of Ukraine gas transit.

Putin and Merkel did discuss a variety of hot button issues other than Nord Stream 2 including the war in Syria, the situation in Ukraine and Iran. But the most pressing issue discussed was Nord Stream 2.

Investors needed a strong signal that the project is a go…despite POTUS Trump’s rhetoric regarding the pipeline at last month’s NATO summit in Brussels.

The Trump administration has threatened to sanction European companies investing in Nord Stream 2, possibly as early as October. Washington says the Russian pipeline threatens European energy security, while Moscow points out that this latest US initiative to stop the project is nothing more than a shakedown to force European countries to buy American liquified natural gas.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris break down the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, and how Nord Stream 2 dominated the agenda between the two leaders.

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Via Forbes

Ahead of this weekend’s meeting in Meseberg, near Berlin, Merkel came under significant pressure to tell Putin once and for all that the pipeline is off – or at least demand concessions in exchange for its continued construction.

The criticism came even from leading members of her conservative bloc. Manfred Weber, head of her center-right EPP group in the European Parliament, and Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, signed a joint letter to the chancellor with politicians from other parties demanding that she call off the project. “European energy supply and solidarity with our neighbors speak against Nord Stream 2,” they wrote.

This, of course, comes in addition to the intense pressure from Germany’s Eastern European neighbors and Washington, who say the pipeline is a threat to Europe’s energy security because it will make the continent even more dependent on Russian gas.

But the ‘iron chancellor’ would not be moved. She stressed at her joint appearance with Putin that the project is still on, and Putin agreed. “Germany is one of our country’s leading economic partners,” he said.

But Merkel repeated her insistence, first made in April, that the new pipeline cannot be an excuse to bypass the existing gas route through Ukraine. Washington and Warsaw have said the purpose of Nord Stream is to punish Ukraine. “If Nord Stream 2 comes about, Ukraine must play a role in gas transit to Europe,” Merkel said.

But Putin insisted that such gas transit should only be based on economic rather than political considerations, cleverly repeating phrasing used about Nord Stream 2 by Merkel herself a year ago. “I would like to stress, the main thing is that Ukrainian transit — which is traditional — meets economic demands,” he said.

*****

Russia delivered 53.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany last year, a figure Putin pointed out during the press conference with Merkel. This is up 13 percent from the year before, and makes Russia Germany’s largest gas provider.

While this might seem at first glance to make Germany “dependent” on Russian gas, as Trump said at the NATO summit, the details are more nuanced. While Russia is Germany’s biggest gas supplier, it provides only marginally more than the other two main providers – Norway and the Netherlands. Until 2015, each contributed roughly one-third to German gas supply. Now Russia has pulled slightly ahead, but is not yet dominant.

More to the point, gas only accounts for 23% of Germany’s primary energy use – and only 13.5% of the electricity generated at power plants. That means Russian gas accounts for just 4.3% of German power generation.

But while Trump was wrong to say Germany “is dependent” on Russian gas, he would not have been wrong to say the country is “becoming dependent”.

Germany is phasing out both nuclear and coal power. Renewables are developing rapidly because of the country’s Energiewende policy, but not fast enough to fill the gap this decommissioning will cause. Many expect gas to quickly fill the gap. And if more Russian gas suddenly comes flowing in, the country could very quickly find itself dependent on Moscow for energy.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would follow the route of an existing pipeline under the Baltic Sea, would more than double Germany’s Russian gas imports, from 53 billion to a maximum of 110 billion cubic metres. Much of that gas would likely then be sold on to the rest of Europe, increasing the whole continent’s dependence on Russian gas.

Despite these concerns, following this weekend’s Merkel-Putin summit investors seem confident the project is going ahead.

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Seán MurphyVolkerWoodyBoydthomas malthausHamletquest Recent comment authors
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Seán Murphy
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Seán Murphy

Why should Russian gas to Europe have to pass through the Ukraine, when, with the Nord Stream 2, it can bypass that woe begotten land? The Ukronazies don’t want anything to do with Russia, so why should they be responsible for gas transit, especially since they have been stealing Russian gas destined for Europe? Western politics should have no say in an economic situation.

Volker
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Volker

For nearly 150 years the US+UK empires tried to sabotages any kind of
alliances between Russia and Germany (and before that with Prussia as
well), Bismarck was very well aware of that.

WoodyBoyd
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WoodyBoyd

Yeah, damn the Ukrainians and full Nord Stream 2 ahead !! I mean what’s the worst that could happen when Germany is being overrun by third world migrants on one hand and now becoming dependent on a meglomanic for a major energy source on the other? And who really cares what happens to the Ukrainians now that Putin and Russia have effectively isolated them and turned off a major source of revenue that was somewhat keeping Moscow at bay? It’s all good…….for Putin!!! But hey, isn’t that what you want??? And for some I am sure it is……

thomas malthaus
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thomas malthaus

Merkel and Nord Stream 2 means less than Merkel and migrant deportation.The former is an easy analysis. As to migrants, she and Draghi will have to sweeten debt reduction deals with nations not wanting to accept them. I’m surprised she’s still chancellor.

The country is more leftist than I realized. It’s the Soros money.

Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

Excellent analysis of the Merkel and Putin meeting by Alexander Mercouris. All of this has been completely brushed under the carpet in the WMSM.

I agree entirely with Sean’s comment above – why should the rabidly Russo-phobic Ukraine Putschists, who control the government in Kiev with the continued support of the US, think they have any claim to transit Russian oil and gas to Europe? In fact given their total hostility to Russia why would they want it? Unless they are a craven set of criminals bent on extortion?

But then that is exactly what they are!

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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