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Russian-American businessman speaks on growing ties between Moscow and Tokyo (PODCAST)

Paul Goncharoff talks about the projects currently underway in the Far East




(Sputnik – by John Harrison) In this, the first ‘Pivot to Asia’ program we discuss a new multi-billion-dollar bridge and tunnel project from Sakhalin to Japan that has been proposed by Russia. An official announcement is expected very soon and planning has been going on over the past five years.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast

Paul Goncharoff, an American who has been working in financial services, mining and energy in Russia and Japan for over 40 years joins the program

This is a highly complex engineering project, and contains two projects: a bridge and tunnel from the Russian mainland to Sakhalin, and another bridge between Sakhalin and Japan. Paul nevertheless feels that it will happen. “…It melds very well with the ‘One Bridge One Road’ concept. This bridge and tunnel project will create a much tighter link with the Japanese market, and China is interested in that as well,… the mainland link between Russia and Sakhalin is already happening.”

The project involved huge infrastructure work. Russian railways, for example, will be laying hundreds of kilometers of track. Paul comments: “Russian Railways is no stranger to massive projects if you look at the territory of Russia. They have been sharpening their expertise as well, with high-speed rail link projects to China. The whole One Belt One Road project is largely rail…”

Host John Harrison brings up the subject of the absence of a WWII peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Japan and Russia are still technically at war. Paul replies: “This is because of the dispute over the Kuril Islands. In fact, all of Japan’s major companies have been doing business in Russia since the Soviet days, so there is politics and there is business. I believe that President Putin and Prime Minister Abe are seeking to find a compromise. How that will be packaged — I don’t now, but the Japanese are practical people, the Russians are practical people, both are pragmatic. It’s difficult for Japan, because let’s face it, even in this era of gradual de-dollarization, Japan is essentially a suburb of the USA. It’s the aircraft carrier for the USA in the Pacific…. However, you have to go with the flow. We have seen over the centuries various changes in alliances and preferences. The Japanese are practical and pragmatic and they can read the writing on the wall. China and Russia are their neighbors. America is over the pond. The Pacific is not a small lake, it is a very large body of water. One can project all kinds of scenarios, but it makes good business sense to join the region and its neighboring opportunities.”

The United States has been the major contributor to major infrastructure projects in the Asia Pacific region, however despite America’s great works, this seems to be changing. “This trend has been going on since the mid to late 1970s.” Paul comments. “The post-war years and the huge investment into Japan was really to allow for Korea and the American involvement in Korea, hence ‘aircraft carrier’ Japan. That required a very quick turnaround from the American attitude of the immediate post-war years and the whole war mentality to saying, Ah-Ha! Japan now is like our best ally in the Pacific so let’s go forward. So, Japan benefitted from a kind of Marshall plan on steroids. If you recall the ‘Japanese miracle’ that happened in the 1970s and the early 1980s. We saw the huge and incredibly rapid expansion of Japanese industry, trade, you name it. They were financing everything. I remember when they bought the Rockefeller Centre in the middle of Manhattan, and everyone was up in arms… For them it is just business.”

Paul sees the money for this new project been raised collectively for a group of countries, including Russia, Japan, China and quite possibly Korea. This is a game changer with South Korea as this is in their interests as well. This all could be seen as a sign of the formation of a new consciousness within Asia that we can group together and pull off major projects. Paul comments: “Getting back to practicalities and pragmatics — they are neighbors. When you are talking about America you are talking about projecting power economically and militarily from a very long distance. And here we are, it’s a neighborhood, and I mean that in every sense of the word….At long last it makes sense to get down to the business table and do business.”

When this project happens, it could generate a boom in investment into Sakhalin and Hokkaido islands, not to mention the Vladivostok area. Could this be the new destination for investment and pension funds? Paul comments: “Definitely yes, but don’t forget the always questionable buggy-bear — the Kuril Islands. How that will end I don’t know. There is even talk of potential joint governance. I have no doubt that it will be resolved….For Russia, this project does open up trade channels with Japan, for two-way trade. Japan is a huge market for Russian energy, resources, materials, ores, metals, you name it. Japan has an incredible technology base, systems and expertise base as well as a consumer base…. Japan will benefit from a rail link directly through Russia into Europe as well which will be cheaper than sea routes even if the Northern Sea Route opens…. It’s a win-win situation…”

There will undoubtedly be opposition to this project, however, as Paul says: “The project has certain inertia, it is inevitable. Time wise, it won’t be tomorrow, but the trend is very clear. We HAVE to go to a multi polar world, economically, politically and geographically….20 years ago, when Russia was on its needs, this could not have been done. Now a lot has changed and these countries are now able to seriously consider the possibility of building these bridges, in many more ways than one.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch



The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.





Via RT…

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.



Via Zerohedge

In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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