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How Russia will respond to America’s latest sanctions… (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 77.

Alex Christoforou

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With no evidence produced, in what has been an international embarrassment for the Theresa May government, the US is joining in on the UK’s Skripal poisoning lie by imposing new sanctions on Russia.

The new sanctions issued as punishment for a “highly likely” chance that Russia poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal, are scheduled to go into effect on or around August 22, according to the US State Department.

“The United States…determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Wednesday.

News of the sanctions left London delighted as the UK Foreign Office issued this giddy statement…

“The UK welcomes this further action by our US allies.”

“The strong international response to the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of Salisbury sends an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behavior will not go unchallenged.”

This latest sanctions row helps distract the public, if only for a few moments, away from the UK’s meddling in the US elections courtesy of “super spy” Christopher Steele, who was paid by the FBI and the Clinton campaign to derail Trump’s presidency with a ridiculous ‘dossier’ packed full of fiction.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, Editor-in-Chief of The Duran Alexander Mercouris, and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine what effect, if any, the latest US sanctions set to placed on Russia will have, and what tools does Moscow have in its arsenal to deliver some hurt back towards the DC swamp that is pushing this financial war.

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Via RT

Washington’s reported plans to ratchet up sanctions against Moscow have sparked heated debates both in the US and in Russia over which country will be hurt more.

The US has hinted that it would target exports of sensitive national security goods to Russia, stop flights by Russia’s Aeroflot airlines to the US, and could go as far as banning all US exports to Russia. According to the US State Department, the proposed measures come in response to the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK. Russia has denied the accusation and has repeatedly called for an objective international inquiry.

Considering the fact that Washington has sanctioned pretty much everything Russian there is to sanction and that Moscow has refrained from using its big guns against the US, Russia has some interesting options if it needs to respond this time around.

So far, Russian lawmakers have warned that the new punitive measures might be met with tough retaliation that would target some sensitive areas of cooperation between the countries. RT decided to look deeper into the list of potential reciprocal measures Moscow could deploy to hurt the Americans.

RT highlights five way in which Russia could respond to the latest round of US sanctions.

Titanium

In case of an all-out sanctions exchange, the Russian government could place either a ban or some other kind of restriction on exports of titanium to the US. Russian titanium monopoly VSMPO-Avisma produces a third of the world’s titanium parts for the aircraft industry. The company delivers 70 percent of its products to the global market. Avisma provides 40 percent of titanium components for Boeing and 60 percent for Airbus, and covers all titanium components for Brazil’s Embraer.

Replacing Russian titanium would be next to impossible for Boeing. Industrial work with titanium began simultaneously in the US and USSR in the 1950s. However, only Russia has been successful in producing high-quality titanium alloys.

Using other materials is also not an ideal option for Boeing. Titanium has major advantages over other alloys. Aircraft construction requires the use of materials that can withstand the severe pressures of flight at high altitudes, as well as constant exposure to the elements. Traditionally, aircraft were made of steel, but lighter, more durable materials are now used to extend the life of aircraft and make them more energy-efficient. Titanium is as strong as steel but 45 percent lighter. It can withstand long periods of exposure to salt water in marine atmospheres. The strength of titanium makes it difficult to weld, which contributes to its high price compared to steel and aluminum.

Airspace

Situated strategically between Europe and Asia, Russia could introduce higher tariffs for the transit use of its airspace for all US cargo and passenger planes, or could ban the flights altogether.

In best-case scenario, American carriers would either have to pay the higher tariffs or choose alternative air routes. But losing shorter Russian routes from Europe to Asia also means losing to the competition from European and Asian airlines.

At worst, there would be no choice but to fly around the world’s biggest country, which would significantly add to fuel costs. Either way, American carriers would bear heavy financial losses which would be a disaster for the US airline industry.

LNG & other energy

Imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other energy products from Russia to the US could also be banned. Russia’s reported exports of oil and petrochemicals to the US makes up just $8 billion worth, which is just 4.6 percent of Russia’s entire energy exports. The ban would be relatively painless for Russian producers who could easily re-channel those shipments to Asian buyers.

But it could be a different story for the US, which is trying to become a major player in energy exports. Unable to produce enough for domestic consumption and exports and not having enough LNG tankers, the US reportedly resells Russian LNG to European countries. If Russia cuts off energy supplies, American plans of becoming a major energy exporter would have to be put on hold.

US companies in Russia

Despite worsening relations between Moscow and Washington, many American corporations are continuing to work in Russia without interference from the Russian government. In retaliation to any new US sanctions, Russia could make life difficult for such corporations as PepsiCo, Procter&Gamble, McDonald’s, Boeing, Mondelez International, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Cargill, Alcoa, General Electric and many other companies. In August 2014, Russia’s consumer watchdog shut down four McDonald’s restaurants in central Moscow over “administrative violations,” launching investigations into more than 430 Russian franchises of the company.

On the other hand, there are very few Russian companies in the United States. Washington would find it difficult to respond with mirror measures. The only consideration for the Kremlin in targeting American businesses in Russia is domestic employment, since these companies provide jobs for Russian citizens.

Russian rockets

Supplies of RD-180 rocket engines are seen as one of Russia’s trump cards in retaliation to US sanctions. The engines are crucial for the US space program as NASA and the Pentagon use them to launch American satellites. Attempts to stop buying them from Russia have failed because the US has been unable to produce a domestic alternative.

The engines are used to power Atlas V rockets. Apart from RD-180 engines, the US buys Russian RD-181s. The RD-181 engine is used to power the Antares rockets that launch Cygnus cargo tugs to the International Space Station for NASA. Earlier this week, a senior Russian lawmaker said that Moscow could ban the sale of RD-180s as retaliatory measure.

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BobValdeznormski1GuyAlexander HardyAM Hants Recent comment authors
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BobValdez
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BobValdez

ALL of the above. Hit them where it really hyrts, in their wallet. Hit them. Hard.

normski1
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normski1

In the current game of sanctions poker – it appears Russia holds the trump hand! – sorry, no pun intended.

Guy
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Guy

Russia will be playing this close to it’s proverbial vest .They will be retaliating at their own time of choosing and in their own way .The problem is that it is the American people that going to end up being hurt the most in all this.Too bad most of them are too ignorant to know what is actually happening to them.Needless to say Graham and McCain and their ilk should be impeached for treason or hung by the balls if they have any.

Alexander Hardy
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Alexander Hardy

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The USA takes ACTION; Russia wonders whether to respond. The USA makes a nonsense of International Law, including the Charter of the United Nations; Russia makes vain appeals to its ‘friends’, ‘colleagues’, ‘partners’ ! This is NOT the way to treat psychopathic narcissists. Look at Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, currently, Syria and the Yemen to see what happens when they are ignored. Russian pusillanimous response to previous USA sanctions encourages further aggression. Time to take a stand. Time for decisive action. Time to call out the aggressor for what it is – it… Read more »

AM Hants
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AM Hants

I thoroughly enjoyed the video, owing to the animation, coming from Peter Lavelle, contrasting with the legal mind of Alexander Mercouris. Nice mix, from the three of them.

Bill Spence
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Bill Spence

Russia must wait until the harsh sanctions are passed by Congress in order to respond.
Who knows what those dolts will decide to do?

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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