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Russian-American businessman says major opportunities lost in bilateral trade (PODCAST)

Paul Goncharoff told Sputnik Radio that western sanctions on Russia not only harm Europe, but increase the risk of war




(Sputnik) – We live in an age of sanctions, international tension, and wild accusations. We also live in an age of lost opportunities. An American who has been involved in the world of finance in both America and Russia talks about some of the opportunities that Americans are losing out on.

Paul Goncharoff a US citizen, who has been working in financial services, mining and energy in Russia and internationally for over 40 years participates in this program.

Paul came to be involved in Russia ‘by accident’ he says. “There was the 1998 financial crash in Russia, and I was asked shortly after that happened to take over the financial activities of AIG, the American International Group, which I did for a number of years. That brought me very closely into the [Russian] financial community.”

Paul says that there has always been an anti-Russians sentiment, “It’s always been there, and has been going up and down, like an oscilloscope, for different reasons.” Host John Harrison describes how in the 1990s there were planeloads of foreigners just itching to get to Moscow and start making money. Paul agrees: “There was no longer the great communist iron wall. Communism disappeared, it was no longer here. Russia became what America was, and very quickly had to use American and European rules of engagement commercially. Then around 2012, the tenor began to change. Things began to get more strained. …Since then we have seen more and more regulations introduced, which are very burdensome and interfering in free trade…”

As far as possible missed opportunities go, Paul talks not about America but about Americans: “I think Americans are missing out on many opportunities. Putting it nicely, it is like shooting yourself in the foot….The restrictions certainly didn’t start on the Russian side. They are a ‘measured response’ to existing restrictions, using Mr. Putin’s phrase, which I think is correct. If one side takes a certain step, the other takes a corresponding step. It’s like a snowball, it keeps gathering amplitude. In the 1990s, planeloads of the American and European businessman were coming into Russia and looking for opportunities and finding them, but now we in America we have said: we can’t take advantage let somebody else take advantage; it’s the law of unintended consequences.”

Host John Harrison brings up the point that despite all the sanctions, US-Russia trade has, in fact, continued quite nicely thank you, but that we see EU-Russia trade being hit very seriously. Paul answers that there are large ongoing US businesses here which are largely unaffected. Caterpillar, for example, has factories in China that produce the same machines with the same quality control, which can be sold to Russia from China, thus avoiding the sanctions. “Yes, Europe is suffering significantly because of the mid-market sectors that have been pretty much forced out. That’s the cheeses, the wines, the this and that. Turkey has also been badly hit, not that Turkey is in the EU, but it’s part of a similar grouping, let’s call it NATO.”

“In the financial sector, you can also see America losing out, in particular on the bond market, where you see in Europe and in Japan rates of return of half a percent or even less…  I see the present situation taking the opportunity away from American investors to buy into Russian bonds, both corporate and government bonds, where the rate of return is at least reasonable because there are certain blockages in place as to how you move money now.”

Paul stresses the present situation not only affects business transactions it also affects perceptions. “It’s alarming for me as an American, somebody who speaks Russian and yet somebody who thinks in English, to see the Incredible spin that Russia is being given in the United States; everything from the hordes of hackers to electing our president, you know it’s absurd.”

“The financial restrictions are to a certain extent backfiring. They have unintended consequences and are forcing Russia; which does feel the consequences of sanctions, and in order to lessen that pain and also to continue on a growth curve it has to find other partners, be it Saudi Arabia, Iran, be it deepening relations with India and China, with Japan, which has always been the American aircraft carrier in the Pacific, since the ends of the Second World War. Things are changing…”

Paul hopes that in time, America’s attitude towards Russia will change. “America should be a partner and a very viable partner to do business with Russia….What has remained of the ‘Go-Go’ years, the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, now have become a part of the business culture of Russia. In many ways, since I am involved in governance and transparency, Russian companies, although they don’t get credit for it in the press, are much more accountable and internally responsible than many of their western counterparts. …Countries don’t change on a financial quarter, they change in decades. This process has been going on for more than two decades. The fruits are now being seen and I’m sorry to have to say, that both the United States and Europe, now that the playing field is somewhat equal, in terms of concepts and perceptions, have decided to put a stop on the whole exercise.”

To the question of whether the present situation will lead to war, Paul says: “Let’s take a step back. What are financial sanctions? Throughout history they have always been a prelude to war. Do we want this? That’s the question. Also, I’ve seen war, and many of my countrymen have not, except those who have served, and never have we ever seen a war in our lifetime on the territory of our own country. Europe has. Russia has. There is a different perception of that reality. It is a very terminal and finite reality. It’s appreciated here. I really hope that we appreciate it in America as much.”

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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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