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Storm clouds gather over Ukraine

As economy sinks Ukraine’s belligerent law on Donbass, point to growing instability and a return to war

Alexander Mercouris

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In a recent article for The Duran I wrote of how the economic situation in Ukraine appeared once more to be deteriorating, with economic statistics apparently being distorted to conceal the extent of the rise in inflation, making the claimed figure of 2% GDP growth in 2017 unlikely.

In a further sign of a deteriorating economic situation, recent reports from Ukraine speak of rolling electric power blackouts in some regions, suggesting growing energy shortages as the price of oil hikes.

In a symptom of how bad the situation has become, the Ukrainian government has quietly dropped its sanctions prohibiting coal imports from Russia, indicating that Ukraine is being forced to turn to Russia for imports of coal in light of the gathering energy crisis.

In this situation, as Paul Goncharoff has recently pointed out, the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal to force Ukraine to resume gas purchases from Gazprom actually helps Ukraine,  since the gas Gazprom is able to supply Ukraine is actually cheaper than the gas Ukraine has up to now for political reasons been buying in Europe.

A further sign that economic pressures are causing a certain return to economic rationality in Ukraine is shown by a recent report from Interfax that Ukraine wants negotiations with Moscow to secure the transit of Russian gas to Europe across Ukraine

Ukraine is ready to discuss future transit of Russian gas following the ruling on their gas contract dispute from the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Naftogaz Ukrainy chief Andriy Kobolev told Interfax during “Ukrainian Breakfast” at Davos.

The government and Energy and Coal Industry Ministry might represent Ukraine at those talks, Kobolev said.

“Naftogaz is ready, but there is one nuance. The government wants to engage in these talks. Therefore, there is the likelihood that [Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr] Kistion will go to the transit talks together with [Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor] Nasalyk,” he said.

Earlier, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic invited Russia and Ukraine to discuss with each other future transit of Russian gas through Ukraine following the Stockholm arbitration ruling.

Russia supplied 94 billion cubic meters of gas to the EU through Ukraine last year, witnessing to the importance of this transit route in future.

“I think this can well be considered an achievement, and the massive gas volumes signal that this transit route is very important for Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) as the supplier, for Ukraine as the transiter, and for the EU as the consumer. I will discuss with him [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] how we will operate after the Stockholm arbitration ruling in order to create a constructive atmosphere in order to be convinced that this transit route will remain an important route for supplies to Europe, that will be sufficient up to 2019,” he said.

Note the heavy lobbying for these talks by the European Commission, which is politically committed to preserving Ukraine’s role as a gas transit state.

Whether the Russians will be prepared to agree to allow Ukraine to remain a gas transit state notwithstanding the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal’s decision to uphold the provisions of Gazprom’s gas supply contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz – which Ukraine had disputed – is another matter.

With project financing for Nord Stream 2 now in place and with construction of Turk Stream already underway there seems no obvious reason why the Russians should continue to transit gas across Ukraine once the present contracts expire.

Having said this, the mere fact that the Ukrainians now say that they are prepared to discuss future gas transit arrangements with Moscow at a government level – suggesting that they are prepared to provide interstate treaty guarantees in order to ensure the safety of Russian gas transiting to Europe – is a sign of the pressure they are now under.  Whether the Russians would accept these guarantees given the total lack of trust they now have in Ukraine is of course another matter.

However the single clearest sign of the growing economic pressure in Ukraine is that Ukraine’s Central Bank – just placed by President Poroshenko under new leadership – has today hiked its key lending rate to 16%.

Here is Interfax’s report about this

The National Bank of Ukraine has decided to hike its key policy rate to 16% per annum, effective from January 26, the NBU said in a press release.

“The tighter monetary policy will help decrease the inflation and bring it back to the target range in the middle of 2019,” the NBU said.

“In 2017, headline inflation reached 13.7%, exceeding the target of 8% ± 2 pp set for the National Bank of Ukraine in the Monetary Policy Guidelines for 2017 and Medium Term,” it said.

“Inflation sped up to 12.4% compared to 2016, mainly due to factors on which monetary policy tools have only a limited effect. In particular, acceleration of inflation was mainly driven by a decrease in the supply of some foods resulting from the unfavorable weather conditions seen in the first half of last year, the unstable situation in animal breeding, and a rise in the global prices of, and demand for, Ukrainian foods, mainly meat and dairy products,” the NBU said.

“An increase in production costs, especially labor costs, and fast recovery of consumer demand also contributed to the growth of prices,” it said.

“In addition, the end of last year saw an increase in hryvnia exchange rate fluctuations and a noticeable easing in fiscal policy, thanks to, among other things, sharp increase in pension payments and budgetary spending being unevenly distributed over the year. This increased underlying inflationary pressure, as evidenced by a rise in core inflation, to 9.5% in December, and high inflation expectations. As a consequence, the deviation of inflation rate from the target was larger than the NBU anticipated in its October 2017 Inflation Report,” it said.

This is the NBU’s third rate hike in almost as many months: the rate went up from 12.5% to 13.5% in October 2017 and was raised to 14.5% in December. The NBU had lowered the rate prior to that.

This surge in interest rates – with the key lending rate rising from 12.5% to 16% in three stages over just three months – may be a further sign that the official inflation rate of 13.7% in 2017 is too low, and that the true inflation rate in 2017 was higher, and was really 16-17% as various Russian commentators are speculating.

Note that the Central Bank’s target range for inflation – 8% + – 2pp – is still by international standards very high, and the Central Bank does not now expect to achieve it before the middle of 2019.

I would add that if the true rate of inflation in Ukraine really is higher than is being reported, and was closer to 16-17% than 13.7% in 2017, then interest rates in Ukraine may before long rise still further.

This is happening alongside an increase in the financial burdens being borne by the Ukrainian economy.

The Central Bank’s claims that the surge in inflation in 2017 is the result of higher demand for Ukrainian foodstuffs against the backdrop of tough agricultural conditions caused by poor weather in the second half of the year has very much the look of special pleading about it and of an attempt to give a positive spin (“Ukrainian food products are in high demand”) to what is unequivocally bad news.

It seems inherently more likely that the inflation pressures within Ukraine in 2017 were caused by the rise in oil prices, the knock on effect of the blockade of the Donbass, the continued fall in production of Ukrainian finished goods, and the fiscal loosening which the Central Bank says took place towards the end of the year, which is not backed by goods or services but which Poroshenko’s government nonetheless resorted to in order to buy off growing political opposition within Ukraine from the population by increasing its pension and benefit payments.

On top of this Ukraine is now expected to make payments to its external creditors of $20 billion over the next two years.  Others put the total amount of external payments even higher, saying that they will average out at $14 billion each year over the next two years.

To these must now be added the $5 billion the courts in London and Stockholm have now said Ukraine must pay Russia and Gazprom.

In addition the government’s seizure of Kolomoisky’s Privatbank has apparently exposed a $5 billion hole in the bank’s accounts – something which will surprise no-one – with further reports that large quantities of funding provided Ukraine by the IMF cannot be fully accounted for and may have been misappropriated, something which if true will not surprise anyone familiar with the situation in Ukraine either.

Though this is a terrible situation, it should not be an irretrievable one.  Many of Ukraine’s worst problems are self-inflicted and a return to rational decision making would quickly cause them to abate.

Putting to one side the question of corruption, which is a very serious problem in Ukraine but which is also a problem that is both intractable and longstanding, it should be obvious that Ukraine’s economic problems over the last three years are the direct consequence of its conflict with Russia.

Not only has this upset much of Ukraine’s population, resulting in a civil war which has resulted in the loss of much of the Donbass – Ukraine’s industrial heartland and its economically most productive region – but the severing of economic links with Russia and the feckless spending on the military in a confrontation which can never be won are placing burdens on Ukraine’s economy which it simply cannot carry.

A reversal of these foolish policies is what Ukraine urgently needs if it is to achieve an economic stability which is sustainable.

The trouble is that despite the occasional glimmers of rationality of the sort discussed earlier in this article, reversing these policies would involve adopting the opposite course to the one which Ukraine’s Maidan establishment is determined Ukraine should follow.

This provides the background for Ukraine’s extraordinary and deeply alarming new Donbass integration law, which in flagrant violation of the Minsk Agreement treats the territories of the Donbass and Lugansk People’s Republics as territory occupied by Russia – denying the reality of Ukraine’s civil war – and which converts Ukraine’s military campaign against the two People’s Republics from an already grossly misnamed “anti-terrorist operation” into a self-depicted military conflict with Russia.

In other words instead of looking for ways to end the conflict in the Donbass and to mend relations with Russia – which is what Ukraine urgently needs to do if its economy is to stabilise – the Maidan establishment in Kiev is set on doing the opposite, and has embarked on a path which can logically only lead to more war.

As anyone familiar with the Maidan movement ought to know by now, this is in fact its typical – indeed invariable – response when it comes under pressure.  Instead of moderating its policies and adjusting them to the prevailing realities, its invariable response is to intensify its policies still more.

As it drives towards the cliff edge, its impulse is to slam down the accelerator instead of the brake.

Behind this there may be a calculation on the part of some people within the Maidan movement that greater confrontation with Russia is the way to rally support for Ukraine in the West, with the hope that if the conflict in the Donbass escalates funding from the IMF and the European Union – which has now stopped – will resume.

However it is probably a mistake to look for much calculation in these actions.  My impression is that hostility to Russia on the part of the Maidan movement and its supporters is so hardwired that their actions are largely visceral, and have little calculation behind them.

How else to explain their bizarre decision to mount a totally counter productive economic blockade of the two People’s Republics which even Anders Aslund, one of their staunchest supporters, says was misguided and which was one of their actions last year which now has him wringing his hands in despair (discussed at length in my article here)?

In the meantime the responsibility of Ukraine’s Western allies for this darkening picture cannot be overstated.

Though it is Ukraine not Russia which is openly and flagrantly violating the Minsk Agreement – Russia is not a party to the Minsk Agreement, merely its guarantor – the European Union continues to reward Ukraine for its ever grosser violations of the Minsk Agreement by prolonging the sanctions against Russia.

It does so on the completely illogical premise that it is Russia – which is not a party to the Minsk Agreement – which is responsible for its implementation rather than Ukraine.

This policy is so absurd that it has been coming under growing criticism across Europe, with the right wing parties which now look set to win the March parliamentary elections in Italy calling it  irrational – which it is – and committing themselves to reversing it by vetoing any further extension of the sanctions if they win.

However both of the parties that currently form Germany’s failing ‘grand coalition’ government – Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the SPD – remain committed to this ‘irrational’ policy even though it is known that many senior members of both parties are filled with doubts about it.

Compounding this folly was a recent disastrous visit to Ukraine by Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over the course of which he publicly endorsed Ukraine’s call for a peacekeeping force to be deployed across the whole of eastern Ukraine in order to bring the territory of the two People’s Republics once more under Kiev’s control.

The Russians have repeatedly and publicly ruled out this proposal – Lavrov has just said in response to Gabriel’s comments that the proposal is intended to ‘strangle’ the two People’s Republics and is therefore unacceptable to Russia – but Gabriel appears to have deluded himself that it was a route to ending the conflict so as to get Germany off its own self-inflicted sanctions hook.

In reality, by endorsing a Ukrainian proposal the Russians have repeatedly and publicly rejected Gabriel has only managed to increase Russian suspicions of German intentions whilst giving further encouragement to the Maidan hardliners in Kiev.

However Gabriel’s folly has been far capped by that of the US administration with its recent reckless decision to supply Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

In a recent article published by The Duran on 26th December 2017 I discussed the extraordinary folly of this decision and the high probability that it will spur on the Maidan hardliners to launch more attacks on the two People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine in the coming months.

In that article I also said that the Javelin anti tank missiles do not provide the ‘magic bullet’ that will give the Ukrainians the superiority over the armed forces of the two People’s Republics that the Ukrainians and many others appear to imagine.

Since that article I have read various discussions of the Javelin anti tank missile on the internet which suggest that it is not only difficult to use but very vulnerable to counter measures of a sort that the armed forces of the two People’s Republics – by now well trained and advised by the Russians – would have no difficulty implementing in response to it.

One discussion of the Javelin anti tank missile I have read by a seemingly well-informed military technology commentator from New Zealand even says that these very simple counter measures would not only nullify the Javelin anti tank missile’s supposed advantages but would render it less effective than the Russian Metis-B missile, which supposedly costs fifty times less.

Even if these criticisms exaggerate the Javelin anti tank missile’s weaknesses, the underlying point I made in my article still stands: supplying Javelin anti tank missiles to Ukraine in whatever quantity cannot change the overall military balance on a battlefield in eastern Ukraine where former US President Obama admitted the Russians will always have “escalatory dominance” over the US.  It will however encourage the Maidan hardliners in Kiev to think that if Ukraine attacks the two People’s Republics it will have US support.

Overall it is difficult to look upon the emerging situation in Ukraine this year with anything other than a profound sense of foreboding.

The risk of further war in Ukraine has always been high.  Indeed a crisis atmosphere and lawlessness and armed conflict have been Ukraine’s continuous reality ever since the Maidan protests turned violent in December 2013.

With the political and economic situation in Ukraine steadily deteriorating, and with the Western powers once again doing everything possible however thoughtlessly to aggravate the situation, the country seems to be slipping back towards war.

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Can Zelensky bring peace to a Ukraine torn apart by Obama’s Maidan coup? (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 150.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Vladimir Zelensky’s landslide victory against incumbent Petro Poroshenko in Sunday’s historic Ukraine, second round, Presidential election.

Not much is known about Zelensky’s political acumen, but the job of uniting a country torn apart by an Obama funded Maidan coup in 2014, will prove to be a daunting task for the comedy TV star.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via TASS News…

Ukraine’s ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’ party will support Ukrainian president-elect Vladimir Zelensky only if he takes practical steps to bring peace to Donbass, Chairman of the party’s Political Council Viktor Medvedchuk said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Monday.

“Today, we can’t say that we support him because support is only possible if he truly wants peace in Donbass, if we see that he is taking actual steps to achieve this goal,” he said.

According to Medvedchuk, this is the only condition on which the ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’ party is ready to provide assistance to Zelensky if the need arises.

Ukraine’s presidential runoff took place on April 21. With 99.53% of the vote counted, leader of the Servant of the People political party Vladimir Zelensky has received 73.23% in Ukraine’s presidential runoff, while incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko gained 24.45%.

 

 

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TRUMP  –  The Reckoning

The Trump/Russia hoax has been called bigger than Watergate, in reality it dwarfs Watergate.

The Duran

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Submitted by Alexander Baron via Medium…

Now that the Mueller Report has been published and Donald Trump has been cleared of colluding with Russia, heads will roll.

Donald Trump was nearly seventy years old when he announced he was running for President of the United States. He had been asked if he would run way back in the 1980s, and ruled it out. Having literally no political experience, he was treated largely as a joke candidate, something he took in good humour, but the joke turned sour, first when he decimated a seventeen strong field of Republican hopefuls, and then when he beat Hillary Clinton losing the popular vote but winning the electoral college and thus the Presidency.

By this time, the jokes had turned to hysteria. What would any reasonable person have expected him to do at his age? With a much younger wife, a young son, an extended family, fame, and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, he could have spent his golden years playing golf, doting on his grandkids, and doing anything he wanted and was able to within reason. Instead he elected to spend six hundred million dollars of his own money on a long shot to capture the Presidency, then work like a dog afterwards. Why? Because he saw his country being trashed and figured only he could save it.

You can call that wishful thinking, arrogance, even a Messiah complex, but the fact remains he put his money where his mouth is and delivered the goods. He didn’t even take a salary. And he has clearly been enjoying himself in both the run up to the election and in his Presidency, but there has been a dark side, a very dark side. While Trump has won millions of fans, he has earned the scorn of the elites, the intellectuals, the mass media, and the leadership of the Democratic Party. To date he has been the victim of an albeit half-hearted assassination attempt by a deranged British national, he has been assassinated in effigy in imitation of the Ides of March, decapitated in effigy, slandered and libelled from pillar to post.

After his Republican enemies released the now notorious Access Hollywood tape, a gaggle of demented and simply dishonest, attention-seeking females came forward to accuse him of a variety of sexual misdemeanours. He has been branded a bigot, a money launderer for the mob, his sanity has been questioned, and crude innuendo has been directed at him about his relationship with his eldest daughter.

Not content with trashing the man himself, elements of the media have attacked his daughter, his son Donald as a Russian “colluder”, his wife has been branded a prostitute, even his young son Barron has not been spared. Fifty years from now or even twenty, future American historians will look back on his treatment in shame. But the biggest lie, one that should never have been credited, is that he was somehow in the pockets of the Kremlin, or Vladimir Putin in person. How this lie came about has now been thoroughly documented, not by the mainstream media but by Fox News and its pundits who have broadcast the findings of Gregg Jarrett, Dan Bongino, Sara Carter, Joe diGenova, the Judicial Watchteam, The Epoch Times, and other Conservative organisations. To this list must be added the names of several leading Republican politicians, including Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Louis Gohmert, Jason Chaffetz, Trey Gowdy and Lindsey Graham.

So how did the Russian collusion hoax begin? It is based entirely on a spurious so-called dossier written ostensibly by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, a man who had excellent credentials, although in view of its contents one is entitled to ask if those credentials should not now be scrutinised carefully. The most outrageous claim of this dossier is that while he was in Moscow, Trump hired a brace of prostitutes to urinate on a mattress in the hotel suite that had been used by the Obamas.

Although there is little or no chance of his ever submitting himself to questioning by Congress, Steele has now admitted (ie claimed) in civil proceedings that he didn’t actually visit Russia to “research” this dossier but did so by telephone. This has led some people to claim the Russians have played the Democratic leadership for fools, but we have no proof that any Russians much less any working for the Russian Government had anything to do with the Steele dossier. Dan Bongino has pointed out that this Russian collusion stupidity actually originated as far back as 2007 and has simply been rewritten and tailored to fit Trump. Dick Morris, who knows how a certain person’s sick mind works, suggests it was written in-house by two Clinton henchmen.

Whoever actually wrote the dossier, most of this so-called opposition research was funded by Hillary Clinton who disguised its funding by paying for it through the law firm Perkins Coie. This is not so much a campaign violation as money laundering, but as with her e-mail scandal, laws are for the little people.

Although Clinton was responsible for the Steele dossier, Republicans were initially involved, including the late John McCain. McCain may have been a war hero, but that was the limit of his humanity. If he had beaten Obama in 2008, the Middle East would quite likely have gone up in flames.

The dossier was used not only to spread disinformation in the mainstream media but to dupe the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court into issuing warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. Its contents were fed to the Yahoo! News hack Michael Isikoff, a so-called investigative journalist, and the resulting news reports were used to bolster its authenticity, a classic case of circular reasoning. This allowed rogue operators to spy on Carter Page, and in effect on Trump himself.

If the Steele dossier and spying on Page had been the limits of the conspiracy, that would have been bad enough, but the extent of it and the names of the major players is breath-taking. We know now for certain that in addition to Hillary Clinton, the following people were involved: James Comey, John Brennan and James Clapper — the top men of the three major intelligence agencies; Andrew McCabe, the number two man at the FBI; Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, also top FBI agents; Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, the former being a senior Department Of Justice official; Susan Rice, a top aide to Barack Obama; Loretta Lynch, Attorney General in the same administration; and Sally Yates, an Obama holdover who was sacked by Trump for insubordination.

The Trump/Russia hoax has been called bigger than Watergate, in reality it dwarfs Watergate, this was America’s Gunpowder Plot because its intention was nothing less than to destroy a duly elected President and topple his administration. That amounts to sedition, some would even call it treason.

Not content with simply spreading disinformation about Trump/Russia, the conspirators used agents provocateurs to infiltrate the Trump campaign and try to set up innocent men as Russian assets. Two we know of are the academic Stefan Halper and the mysterious Joseph Mifsud.

The attempt to set up Donald Trump Junior by arranging a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was blatant. Don Junior was clearly gullible, otherwise he would have arranged for his attorney to be present, or better still his attorney and a video camera. Adam Schiff made much of this claiming it was an attempt to collude to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Then he was hoist by his own petard when two Russian comedians phoned him at his office and offered him photographs of Trump naked! Schiff was enthusiastic, but he is so far gone he doesn’t see the double standard.

How did they expect to get away with this? As Joe diGenova has pointed out, under President Hillary Clinton, all this would simply have gone away; the problem is, she didn’t win. The conspirators also had other, greater aims besides taking down Trump, in particular covering up Clinton’s earlier crimes, stopping any future Trumps, and, some of them, of reigniting the Cold War.

It is not difficult to understand why the Deep State and its operatives hate Trump so much and moved Heaven and Earth to get rid of him. Trump is a businessman, he knows how big business operates, how it plays the system and buys influence. He intended to put a stop to that, and has done to a certain extent. He was also intent on downsizing so-called capitalist America’s massive bureaucracy. A simple but spectacular example of this is his simplification of the tax system which especially benefits small companies and the self-employed. Now, most Americans filing their tax returns need fill out only one double-sided sheet of paper instead of thirty or so pages. Think of the bureaucracy and make-work jobs that destroys.

Apparatchiks are extremely well paid, have excellent terms of service, fat pensions, and are all but unsackable. All that is changing under Trump. Now imagine he gets only so much done, and ten, twenty years from now someone like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg comes along, someone who like him is wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice so cannot be bought, bribed or intimidated. The Hell Trump has been put through was designed to ensure that never happens. The Deep State and their allies have also sought not only to punish Trump but anyone who has the temerity to work with him.

This is why we have seen people on the fringes prosecuted for process crimes like lying to the FBI, crimes that would not have been committed but for the Mueller investigation, and crimes that are extremely minor. This is why Paul Manafort and Roger Stone were arrested by armed agents in dawn raids, tactics that may be suitable for taking down terrorists but not for men accused of white collar crimes. Manafort is now serving a heavy prison sentence for such crimes committed years before Trump announced his Presidential run. The arrest and pressurising of Roger Stone and others was done in the words of Alan Dershowitz, not only to make them sing but to compose.

Trump’s lawyers wisely advised him not to sit down for a formal interview with Mueller because it was clearly a perjury trap. In situations like this, perjury is anything the “investigators” say it is. Their utter ruthlessness is proof positive of that.

Another reason his enemies have gone all out to stop Trump is to cover up the crimes of Hillary Clinton. When she was Secretary of State, she set up a private e-mail server in her home on which she conducted Government business. This was uncovered accidentally by Judicial Watch. This is such a big thing because the e-mails of a public servant belong to the state. A humble police constable or low level local government administrator who did what she did would be sacked. But Hillary Clinton was using her private e-mail to for correspondence that must remain secret because lives could literally be at stake. And, as theYouTube vlogger HA Goodman has pointed out repeatedly, Clinton or someone close to her found a way to transfer top secret information from JWICS onto the regular Internet. JWICS is a high security American Government Intranet, so communications cannot be transferred onto the Internet accidentally; such transfers must have been manual. This alone constitutes serious espionage, and it begs the question why?

The answer to that question is simple, Clinton was peddling influence through the foundation she and her husband set up after he left office. Eric Trump summed it up with a question, what service or goods did they supply that made them so rich? The Clintons are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars, yet when they left the White House, he had lost his law license and was at best looking forward to making a living on the rubber chicken dinner circuit, a perk of the Presidency. That would certainly have kept him in cigars, but would it have stretched to a private jet? If Jason Goodman and especially Charles Ortel are right, the corruption of the Clintons and their associates is off the scale.

The third reason the Deep State was and remains so anxious to take down Donald Trump is because there are lunatics in high places who seek to reignite the Cold War. Indeed, there are some who even want to see war with China. How insane is that? It isn’t for those who make money out of it, only for us peasants, especially those who are sacrificed in these obscene, never-ending, no-win wars.

It is difficult to assess how much damage these people have already done. We know for example that Chinese agents hacked Clinton’s e-mails while she was Secretary of State. And this absurd mantra of “Russia, Russia, Russia” has even pushed Trump in the direction of confrontation instead of cooperation with Russia because every time he backs off , he is attacked as a Putin puppet, absurd as that is.

There are signs though that big change is coming, and it may be coming sooner than anybody thinks. Trump himself has said what happened to him cannot be allowed to go unpunished, and that nothing like this must ever be allowed to happen to a future President. The Democratic leadership and the mass media may howl and scream in unison, but there is already more than enough damning information in the public domain for Trump and his new Attorney General to do what he promised back in 2016: drain the Swamp.

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The Second Belt and Road Forum: A Transformation of the World Economic Order

Rather than embrace this new potential, western “old paradigm” forces representing the entrenched deep state have screamed and hollered against the “dangers of China and Russia threatening our democratic way of life”.

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From April 25-27 Beijing will host a second international forum on the Belt and Road Initiative and it won’t be a small deal.

The four weeks preceding this event have seen an incredible surge of nations and institutions joining the BRI framework beginning with Italy’s Memorandum of Understanding as the first G7 nation in March, followed soon thereafter by Luxembourg and Switzerland. Weeks later, China won another victory by consolidating billions in infrastructure deals with the 16+1 Central and Eastern European Nations who have signed onto the BRI. This particular forum was especially important as it saw Greece join the alliance changing the name to the 17+1 group. Greece’s official participation in this bloc extended the group beyond its nominal “central and eastern” geographical limits and the importance of Greece- whose Port of Piraeus and emerging rail infrastructure funded by China provide a key bridge in the Maritime New Silk Road to Europe.

If that wasn’t enough, China participated in the April 9-10 International Arctic Forum in Russia whereby the first treaty was signed between Russia and China on scientific cooperation in the Arctic, and sweeping agreements were made around Chinese-Russian infrastructure development on a policy which has become known as the “Polar Silk Road”- again extending the limits of the BRI beyond its “east-west framework”. Just as the Arctic conference was ending, an unprecedented Canadian Arctic Policy Report was publicized calling for a transformation of Canada’s Arctic doctrine towards a pro-development orientation in response to the “changing geopolitical rules” initiated by Russia and China.

While China and Russia consolidated the BRI-Eurasian Economic Union treaty in June 2018, a major leap was announced towards the finalization of a China-Eurasian Economic Partnership with the Deputy Director of Eurasian Affairs Wang Kaixuan stating on April 19:

 “Now it has to be endorsed by the specialized agencies. China has already completed its internal procedures. We are now waiting for our Russian counterparts, after that we can immediately start the negotiations. I believe that will happen soon,”

From April 15-16, China initiated a sweeping array of treaties with Arab countries during the 2nd Arab Forum on Reform and Development under the heading “Build the Belt and Road, Share Development and Prosperity.” The Arab nations already have over $200 billion trade with China and 18 Arab countries have signed MOUs with the BRI. China’s capacity to bring long term infrastructure to nations torn by western-funded wars and regime change is seen as a vital stabilizing influence not only to alleviate poverty and de-radicalize but also to provide a framework for genuine independence from western intrigues. Commenting on the forum, the President of Lebanon stated “The Arab countries have huge markets. We regard China as a good friend and are willing to further consolidate the relationship with China. We would like to draw the experience from China’s reform and development so as to benefit our people and seek our opportunities for development”.

Rather than embrace this new potential, western “old paradigm” forces representing the entrenched deep state have screamed and hollered against the “dangers of China and Russia threatening our democratic way of life”. Exemplifying this outlook was the Washington Post’s April 20th feature article “How Washington can beat China’s Global Influence Campaign”, calling for an “alternative to the BRI” controlled by the western elite. This plan is entirely absurd since America has not only permitted its own infrastructure and productive powers to rot for 50 years, but has created no relevant infrastructure that has benefited nations abroad during that same time frame. All that has been created under decades of IMF-World Bank lending has been debt slavery, impoverishment, and a $700 billion derivatives bubble that is ripe to explode.

Although incredible efforts were made over two years by the Five Eyes/Mueller led witch hunt to destroy the potential alliance Trump was proposing to form with Russia and China, the now published Mueller report turned out to be little more than a goose egg failing to  prove any of the claims of Russian collusion. Jumping off that victory, Trump called loudly on April 5 for a conversion of vast military expenditures which only risk world war three towards a program of long term investments between Russia, China and the USA:

“Between Russia, China and us, we’re all making hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including nuclear, which is ridiculous… I think it’s much better if we all got together and didn’t make these weapons… those three countries I think can come together and stop the spending and spend on things that are more productive toward long term peace.”

Going into to this month’s BRI Forum (titled “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”), 5000 participants, including 37 heads of state, and 100 heads of organizations will discuss the megaprojects that will give vitality to the coming century with the Chinese leadership and business community. There is no doubt that the collapse of the Trans-Atlantic banking system will be on everyone’s mind as opportunities to tie our destiny to long term projects that benefit all nations will be presented as open offers for all to join. Will the West follow Italy, and Greece’s lead by joining the BRI, or continue to party like its 2008?


BIO: Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review. His works have been published in Executive Intelligence Review, Global Research, Global Times, The Duran, Nexus Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Veterans Today and Sott.net. Matthew has also published the book “The Time has Come for Canada to Join the New Silk Road” and three volumes of the Untold History of Canada (available on untoldhistory.canadianpatriot.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

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