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Will April 8 be Greece’s date with destiny or the final nail in its EU debt slave coffin?

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is headed to Russia April 8 to meet President Putin. With Russia and China emerging as an alternative to US-World Bank economics, the safe bet could be on a Russo-Greco bridge.

Alex Christoforou



Post originally appeared on Russia Insider.

Greece’s Industrial Reform Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and Syriza MP Thanasis Petrakos were in Moscow the last two days laying the groundwork for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ meet with Vladimir Putin. As a squirming cauldron of edgy bankers, politicians, and generals west of the Bosporus look on with prescience at the prospects, Russia and China have a singular opportunity. As a caveat, Petrakos told Spiegel Online and other media:

“This visit is very important for Greece. We intend to deepen our relationship with Russia in the energy sector and thereby hope to gain a significant advantage.”

A couple of weeks ago I reported on Tsipras’ acceleration of his meetup with Putin. With talks in Berlin and with Brussels upcoming, the Greek Prime Minister set out to play his country’s economic hand with the cards he had been dealt. Holding a Russo-Greco deal over the bankers’ heads, this was not genius, only deal-making 101. The follow up report the other day asking if Brussels had “warmed” to Tsipras’ ideas of debt consolidation spoke of potential cooperation between Greece and Russia in terms of commodities like gold, and “collateral” to ensure Russia’s “yield” on any deal would be guaranteed. What I did not speak of was long term gain for Russia, and all her investment interests, should Athens cement relations with Moscow. Here are some keen observations for predictive measures on the coming meetup.

To glimpse these other possibilities, a short lesson in geostrategy may be in order. Greece occupies a supremely strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean. The country’s control over the Aegean Sea, and the subsequent control of sea lanes in between Mediterranean and Black Sea ports, as well as islands close to Syria and to shipping lanes coming out of Egypt’s Suez Canal, make her crucial to any NATO or regional defense strategy. Added to this, the Aegean Sea is estimated to hold over four billion barrels of oil, not to mention key potential in other sectors. To fully understand this, a brief geography and politics reminded is necessary.


Hellenic Air Force F16’s sortie – Greece spends billions on western weapons

Nixon Doctrine Backfire

In the centuries old game of European geostrategic maneuvering Greece and Russia have a special value. For the former, the theories of General Karl Haushofer and a new model of German lebensraum bear out Frau Angela Merkel’s Greece bailout dilemma in the coming weeks. As for Russia, at least in the case of Greece today, Alfred Thayer Mahan’s “The Problem of Asia” writings seem to be coming to fruition. For the sake of simplification, the United States, Germany, and especially NATO need Greece firmly in their grasp. Nay I’ll content here, the so-called western nations, will be in an untenable situation without the Greeks. That is, if some form of continued American-British hegemony is desirable. You see Mahan conceived of strategy before 1900 aimed at denying Russia commerce and emergence. His further theories also described “balancing” the Russia “threat” by creating a “force” in Turkey, Syria, and Mesopotamia (Iraq) to further prevent Russian expansion.

As we can easily see today, the “force” being exerted in 2015 is conflict and chaos. Truth be told, what we are witnessing is a backfire of a doctrine dreamed up by none other than Dr. Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, and the man you see defended by Senator John McCain in Senate hearings. It was Kissinger and Nixon who planned the realignment of power in the modern world, setting Russia and China against one another. His theories were later continued and expanded by Zbigniew Brzezinski, whom we see advising presidents continually since the Nixon years. Fast forward to today and a Russia benefiting from globalization, and the old game is not working so well any more. Unable to curtain Russia’s inevitable growth any longer, owing to the country’s vast untapped resources and emergent society, the NATO group have effectively lost (by their leaderships’ standards) the great Russophobic war. Now you’ve an admission ticket for what’s really set to happen in Moscow one month before the May 9th victory in WWII celebrations.


U.S. President Richard Nixon (left) and Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, at the White House.

On April 8th Greece is set to become the most valuable piece of real estate among NATO nations. The people there having suffered long because of corruption inside and outside their borders, they’ve nothing to lose, no love lost for Germany or her NATO companions. In fairness, Greeks adore no nation so much as their own. I expect Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping have already set their minds as to what the “offer” will be. Having already agreed to join China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on April 14, Russia will in all likelihood make Tsipras a deal he cannot refuse. Some combination of massive Chinese money investment, a Gazprom deal from Russia of equivalent value, and Greece will be back in the game sans NATO, the euro, and worries about defense spending.


Greece’s main battle tank – the German Leopard via Greek Military portal

A Case for Debt Do Over

Not many of the investors (except for Boeing, Raytheon, and others) who flocked to read the first of my stories (metrics tell me interest in Greece intense) are aware Greece spends more than all but one of the 27 NATO countries after the United States. By the way, the US,Germany, and France are the beneficiaries of Greece’s arms expenditures, so a chunk of the country’s current budget goes to defense contractors. No doubt news of this creates even more of an austerity sore for Greek taxpayers. Where the metal meets the meat in Moscow, I’d be dully surprised if Putin’s finance people did not advise Greece to take every advantage, then to default and return to the drachma, at which time Russia and China could easily escalate the currency buying into Greek endeavors. After all, the Obama administration’s easing off Goldman Sachs, when that firm’s involvement in the Greek crisis has yet to be resolved, leaves Tsipras’ situation as a “catch-as-catch-can ” choice.

After all is said and done, since when is cheating and defaulting on obligations a crime these days? Greece can earn €300 billion in one day, and another €300 billion in Gazprom gas, China capital, and Russian arms deals (Mr. Lavrov gives hints) to shortchange western manufacturers. Add in free flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg for the tourist season, and Greece could be the richest country in eastern Europe before summer’s end. Who could really blame the Greek people? American bankers double dipping, German arms dealers recouping revenue from EU bailouts, 30 percent unemployment and Germans here calling the Greeks “lazy” slackers? My only question is “when” will Portugal, Spain, and Italy tell Frankfurt and Washington to bugger off.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov spoke recently with Greece's FM - (The Ministry)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov spoke recently with Greece’s FM – (The Ministry)

In all seriousness, given the current situation in the United States, the UK, and in the EU debt wise, it seems clear “the west” cannot bid higher than China and Russia for Greece’s affections. The EU is in no position to either bail out Greece, or to contest Moscow in courting favor. The United States’ catastrophic foreign policy failures since 9/11, a debt bubble set to explode at home, and civil problems that would cripple any other country leave Washington scrambling to plug holes in the NATO alliance and the geostrategic limbo to come. The politicians in Washington not only have the world in a fix, but the American people are poised blindfolded on a fiscal cliff. David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget for President Ronald Reagan, says America is so addicted to debt a catastrophe is imminent. Experts from real estate legend Donald Trump to best selling author Robert Wiedemer have predicted as recently as this month a “bust” somewhere in between catastrophic and total collapse for the US economy.

All these variables and more weigh on Greece’s leader, the chorus of EU principals, and Washington looking on as the Russo-Greek summit awaits in Moscow. I was reading just now a sentient piece about Greece being able to seize opportunity in these critical times. Ideas like a Greek-Cypriote doctrine of common defense, “The New Grand Strategy of Greece and its Mediterranean Geostrategic Imperatives” by Alexander Th. Drivas, emerge as a new construct for the Greek people. It seems pertinent right here to point out Greece is actually a good investment for Putin, or anybody for that matter. The chart below shows the situation with deposits still higher than before the hyper inflated years that led to the country’s crash. An infusion of business in Greece can surely fund full recovery, especially if the country changes currency and affiliations. I’m no economists, but I know Russia’s fiscal experts have not overlooked the potential.

Via Peter Tenebrarum's Acting Man Blog

Via Peter Tenebrarum’s Acting Man Blog

It is also no insignificant that Russian Foreign Minister mentioned at a recent meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias the Orthodox religious ties Russia and Greece share. To quote Lavrov:

“In 2016, there will be another important anniversary: 1,000 years of a Russian monastic presence on Mount Athos – commemorative events have been planned.”

The gist of his ideas, rumors, and real tangible business do support my theory as to Putin’s upcoming offers to help Greece become the regional power it once was too. Clearly the Greeks stand to gain a lot more outside the EU and NATO, than they ever did clinging to bad ideas turned disastrous. Expect a big play in the news April 9th.


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Peace on Korean Peninsula within reach, if only Trump can remove Pompeo & Bolton (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou



RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the results of the Putin-Kim summit in Vladivostok, Russia, aimed at boosting bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, as well as working to contribute to a final peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.

Putin’s meeting with Kim may prove to be a pivotal diplomatic moment, as North Korea continues to work towards normalizing ties with the U.S. amidst ongoing denuclearization talks with the Trump White House.

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Via the BBC…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un needs international security guarantees if he is to end his nuclear programme.

Such guarantees would need to be offered within a multinational framework, he added, following talks near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

Mr Kim praised the summit as a “very meaningful one-on-one exchange”.

Mr Putin said North Korea’s leader was “fairly open” and had “talked freely on all issues that were on the agenda”.

The meeting followed the breakdown of talks between the US and North Korea in February, when Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Those talks reportedly stalled over North Korea’s demand for full economic sanctions relief in return for some denuclearisation commitments – a deal the US was not willing to make.

Speaking after the talks on Thursday, Mr Putin said he wanted to see full denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But he said this could only be achieved through respect for international law.

“We need to restore the power of international law, to return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world,” he said.

Mr Kim greeted Russian officials warmly when he arrived in Russia on Wednesday.

The North Korean leader was entertained by a brass band in Vladivostok before he got inside a car flanked by bodyguards, who – in now familiar scenes – jogged alongside the vehicle as it departed.

What do we know about the summit?

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment,” Mr Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

“But, on the other hand, efforts are being made by other countries. Here all efforts merit support as long as they really aim at de-nuclearisation and resolving the problem of the two Koreas.”

What do both sides want?

This visit is being widely viewed as an opportunity for North Korea to show it has powerful allies following the breakdown of the talks with the US in February.

The country has blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi summit. Earlier this month North Korea demanded that Mr Pompeo be removed from nuclear talks, accusing him of “talking nonsense” and asking for someone “more careful” to replace him.

The summit is also an opportunity for Pyongyang to show that its economic future does not depend solely on the US. Mr Kim may try to put pressure on Moscow to ease sanctions.

Analysts say the summit is an opportunity for Russia to show that it is an important player on the Korean peninsula.

President Putin has been eager to meet the North Korean leader for quite some time. Yet amid the two Trump-Kim summits, the Kremlin has been somewhat sidelined.

Russia, like the US and China, is uncomfortable with North Korea being a nuclear state.

How close are Russia and North Korea?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union (of which Russia is the main successor state) maintained close military and trade links with its communist ally, North Korea, for ideological and strategic reasons.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, trade links with post-communist Russia shrank and North Korea leaned towards China as its main ally.

Under President Putin, Russia recovered economically and in 2014 he wrote off most of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt in a major goodwill gesture.

While it is arguable how much leverage Russia has with the North today, the communist state still regards it as one of the least hostile foreign powers.

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Putin meets Kim for the first time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou



The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at the historic meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.

The meeting marks the first ever summit between the two leaders.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT…

Leaders of Russia and North Korea sat down for a historic summit in Vladivostok, expressing hope it will revive the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and talks on normalizing relations with the US.

The summit on Russky Island, just off Vladivostok, started a little late because President Vladimir Putin’s flight was delayed. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had made the trip by train, arriving on Wednesday.

In brief public remarks before the talks, the two leaders expressed hope the summit will help move forward the reconciliation process in the Korean Peninsula. Putin welcomed Kim’s contributions to “normalizing relations” with the US and opening a dialogue with South Korea.

Kim said he hoped the Vladivostok summit would be a “milestone” in the talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but also build upon “traditionally friendly ties” between Russia and North Korea.

The North Korean leader also made a point of thanking Putin for flying all the way to Vladivostok for the meeting. The Far East Russian city is only 129 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The historic summit takes place less than two months after Kim’s second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi fell apart without a breakthrough on denuclearization. The US rejected North Korea’s request for partial sanctions relief in return for moves to dismantle nuclear and missile programs; Washington insists on full disarmament before any sanctions are removed.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the main subject of the Kim-Putin summit, but there will also be talks about bilateral relations, trade, and humanitarian aid. The first one-on-one meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, followed by further consultations involving other government officials.

Following the summit, Putin is scheduled to visit China.


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Kim And Putin: Changing The State Of The Board In Korea

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.




Authored by Tom Luongo:

Today is a big day for Korea. The first face-to-face summit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un takes place.

At the same time the 2nd annual Belt and Road Forum kicks off in Beijing.

This meeting between Putin and Kim has been in the works for a while but rumors of it only surfaced last week. But don’t let the idea that this was put together at the last minute fool you.

It wasn’t.

The future of Korea could be decided by these two men today.

I know that sounds bold. But hear me out.

And while no one seems to think this meeting is important or that anything of substance will come from it I do. It is exactly the kind of surprise that Putin loves to spring on the world without notice and by doing so change the board state of geopolitics.

  • Russia’s entrance into Syria in 2015, two days after Putin’s historic speech at the U.N. General Assembly
  • 2018’s State of the Union address where he announced hypersonic missiles, embarrassing the U.S. Militiary-Industrial Complex which accelerated the Bolton Doctrine of subjugating the world
  • Flying 2 TU-160 nuclear-armed bombers to Venezuela, creating panic in D.C. leading to the ham-fisted regime change operations there.
  • Nationalization of Yukos.
  • The operation to secure Crimea from U.S. invasion by marines aboard the U.S.S Donald Cook during the Ukrainian uprising against Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are angry at the breakdown of the talks in Hanoi back in February. It was clear that everyone expected that meeting to be a rubber stamp on a deal already agreed to by all parties involved.

In fact the two meetings between Kim and Trump were only possible because Trump convinced them of his sincerity to resolve the ‘denuclearization’ of North Korea which would clear a path to rapid reunification.

It’s why they went along with the U.S.’s increased sanctions on North Korea as administered through the U.N. in 2017.

That John Bolton and Mike Pompeo destroyed those talks and Trump was unwilling or unable (who cares at this point, frankly, useless piece of crap that he is) to stop them embarrassed and betrayed them.

They are now done with Trump.

He’ll get nothing from either of them or Kim until Trump can prove he’s in charge of his administration, which he, clearly, is not.

And they will be moving forward with their own agenda for security and Asian economic integration. So I don’t think the timing of this meeting with that of the Belt and Road Forum is an accident.

And that means moving forward on solving the Korea problem without Trump.

It is clear from the rhetoric of Putin’s top diplomat, the irreplaceable Sergei Lavrov, that Russia’s patience is over. They are no longer interested in what Trump wants and they will now treat the U.S. as a threat, having upped their military stance towards the U.S. to that of “Threat.”

If Bolton wants anything from Russia at this point he best be prepared to start a war or piss off.

This is also why Russia took the gloves off with Ukraine in the run up to the Presidential elections, cutting off energy and machinery exports with Ukraine.

To put paid Putin’s growing impatience with U.S. policies, he just issued the order to allow residents of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics to apply for Russian passports.

This will send Bolton into apoplexy. Angela Merkel of Germany will be none too pleased either. Putin is now playing hardball after years of unfailing politeness.

It’s also why Lavrov finalized arms and port deals all over the Middle East in recent weeks, including those with Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and India.

Bolton, Pompeo and Pence are ideologues. Trump is a typical Baby Boomer, who lives in a bubble of his own design and believes in an America that never existed.

None of them truly understand the fires they are stoking and simply believe in the Manifest Destiny of the U.S. to rule the world over a dim and barbaric world.

Putin, Xi, Rouhani in Iran and Kim in North Korea are pragmatic men. They understand the realities they live in. This is why I see Putin willing tomorrow to sit down with Kim and flaunt the U.N. sanctions and begin the investment process into North Korea that should have begun last year.

Putin would not be making these moves if he didn’t feel that Bolton was all bark and no bite when it came to actual war with Russia. He also knows that Germany needs him more than he needs Germany so despite the feet-dragging and rhetoric Nordstream 2 will go forward.

Trade is expanding between them despite the continued sanctions.

Putin may be willing to cut a deal with President-elect Zelensky on gas transit later in the year but only if the shelling of the LPR and DPR stops and he guarantees no more incidents in the Sea of Azov. This would also mollify Merkel a bit and make it easier for her politically to get Nordstream 2 over the finish line.

There are moments in history when people go too far. Bolton and Pompeo went too far in Hanoi. He will pay the price now. Putin and Kim will likely agree to something in Vladivostok that no one is expecting and won’t look like much at first.

But the reality is this summit itself marks a turning point in this story that will end with the U.S. being, in Trump’s transactional parlance, a “price taker” since it has so thoroughly failed at being a “price maker.”

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