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Russia and Japan finally coming together

With no peace treaty since 1945, realtions between the two nations have long been strained, but progress is being made

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Courteous and professional diplomacy may not be entirely dead in our brave new world. To appreciate the nuances of this sentence one only has to look back a bit into history.

Since World War II ended, there still is no peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo to this day. The key fly in the ointment to peace has been the unresolved territorial dispute around the southern part of the Kuril Islands chain – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai group. This matter has been both emotional and pragmatic over the years, rising and ebbing like tides influenced by a geopolitical moon.

The Kuril Islands impasse gathered steam during the cold war in the aftermath of World War II and finds its roots in the wording and intent of the Yalta agreement (February 1945), the Potsdam Declaration (July 1945) and the Treaty of San Francisco (September 1951). The Soviet Union refused to sign the Treaty of San Francisco and stated that the Kuril Islands issue and the new iterations were one of the reasons for its opposition to that Treaty.

The original Yalta Agreement, signed by the major allied powers set out the following:

The leaders of the three great powers – the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain – have agreed that within two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that

  1. The former rights of Imperial Russia violated by the attack by Japan in 1904 will be restored.
  2. The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union.
  3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.

In the years following the dissolution of the “Great Alliance” other factors came into play, geopolitics, domino theories, wars in Korea and Vietnam, and spheres of influence. In sum the whole cold war bouquet of changing military perceptions, viewpoints, evolving economics, and shifting political positions. The initial clarity of the Potsdam Declaration was picked at, amended and interpreted by a gaggle of legislators, resulting in these various declarations becoming “clear as mud”.

Fast forward – the “communist threat” posed by the Soviet Union disappeared over 25 years ago along with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Out of the ruins of the USSR, a number of sovereign nations emerged, the largest of which is the Russian Federation, which also is the inheritor of the rights, and obligations of what was once the Soviet Union. Still, no peace treaty with Japan.

Meanwhile, historical enemies such as Japan and China with the blessings of the USA managed to come to terms in developing a working relationship. Today there are over 30,000 Japanese businesses registered and doing business with China. With Russia the number fluctuates between 300 and 400 which I am sure has something to do with the lack of a defined and clear relationship, partly to do with the Islands, and partly due to western geopolitical pressures to keep the relationship a long term work in process, usefully for some to remain unresolved and unblessed.

That being said, almost all of the major Japanese companies (just like the USA) are well represented in Russia, have a very active trading relationship with everything from automobiles, electronics to oil, and gas developments for more than a quarter century. What has been missing are the midsized and small Japanese companies who are at the cutting edge of agriculture, alternative energy and a host of niche businesses, which would find ready cooperation and markets in Russia.

The unparalled beauty of the Kurils

At the start of this February the Japanese government made it known that it has prepared and will present to the Russian government an urban development project for the city of Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia. This is part of the two countries’ economic partnership planning which is an outgrowth from the meetings between Putin and Abe these past two years. It has come together as there are national interests involved best addressed between two sovereign nations, and not by a multinational committee.

The Vladivostok project includes several subsets, among which are a Japanese AI traffic signal system that automatically adjusts signals in real time to reduce congestion, a technology to renew old sewage pipes without the need for excavation and a new Japanese technology for ecologically responsible garbage incineration that reduces air pollution. These projects, together with improving urban infrastructure, aquaculture, wind energy, greenhouse agriculture, tourism and property development form a strong and serious business foundation. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and other sources within both Russia and Asia shall provide funding and financing.

It looks like common sense and pragmatic business can in fact lead the diplomatic horse to water. Without the noise, show, spin and drama so popular today. Both the Russians and Japanese are actively preparing to engage in new consultations at the deputy minister level specifically to iron out ways to expand joint economic activities in the southern Kurile Islands. It is hoped that by enhancing two-way business and joint investments in these common territories that the political and diplomatic frictions will over time be resolved to the benefit and interests of both.

A great deal of planning and development work is ongoing in the Far East of Russia that is not making news in the western world. Partly because some of the projects like the Power of Siberia pipelines extending into China and planned for Japan, or the mainland to Sakhalin then to Hokkaido land bridge, may not meet the narrative desired by the various press services. Perhaps it is because these initiatives do not have a US Dollar component, or are not being led by US supported initiatives. Whatever the reasons, this region will be a global economic game changer for the 21st century and the parts needed to make it a reality are now finally coming together.

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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

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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.

RT

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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.

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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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