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Checkmate Putin: Nord Stream 2 will happen, Merkel needs the pipeline to stay in power (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The calls to cancel the controversial planned pipeline Nord Stream 2 were coming from the US, Ukraine, and various EU member states, but it all fell on deaf ears. Nord Stream 2 is a reality, and no amount of US LNG dreaming appears to be changing this fact.

Germany needs Russian gas. Russian gas is substantially more cost effective than US LNG hauled all the way from the States, and at the end of the day, Angela Merkel needs Nord Stream 2 to keep her in power. Putin knows this, and so during his meeting with Merkel in Berlin, a confident Russian President laid down the positive economic realities for Germany and the precarious position of Ukraine gas transit.

Putin and Merkel did discuss a variety of hot button issues other than Nord Stream 2 including the war in Syria, the situation in Ukraine and Iran. But the most pressing issue discussed was Nord Stream 2.

Investors needed a strong signal that the project is a go…despite POTUS Trump’s rhetoric regarding the pipeline at last month’s NATO summit in Brussels.

The Trump administration has threatened to sanction European companies investing in Nord Stream 2, possibly as early as October. Washington says the Russian pipeline threatens European energy security, while Moscow points out that this latest US initiative to stop the project is nothing more than a shakedown to force European countries to buy American liquified natural gas.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris break down the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, and how Nord Stream 2 dominated the agenda between the two leaders.

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Via Forbes

Ahead of this weekend’s meeting in Meseberg, near Berlin, Merkel came under significant pressure to tell Putin once and for all that the pipeline is off – or at least demand concessions in exchange for its continued construction.

The criticism came even from leading members of her conservative bloc. Manfred Weber, head of her center-right EPP group in the European Parliament, and Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, signed a joint letter to the chancellor with politicians from other parties demanding that she call off the project. “European energy supply and solidarity with our neighbors speak against Nord Stream 2,” they wrote.

This, of course, comes in addition to the intense pressure from Germany’s Eastern European neighbors and Washington, who say the pipeline is a threat to Europe’s energy security because it will make the continent even more dependent on Russian gas.

But the ‘iron chancellor’ would not be moved. She stressed at her joint appearance with Putin that the project is still on, and Putin agreed. “Germany is one of our country’s leading economic partners,” he said.

But Merkel repeated her insistence, first made in April, that the new pipeline cannot be an excuse to bypass the existing gas route through Ukraine. Washington and Warsaw have said the purpose of Nord Stream is to punish Ukraine. “If Nord Stream 2 comes about, Ukraine must play a role in gas transit to Europe,” Merkel said.

But Putin insisted that such gas transit should only be based on economic rather than political considerations, cleverly repeating phrasing used about Nord Stream 2 by Merkel herself a year ago. “I would like to stress, the main thing is that Ukrainian transit — which is traditional — meets economic demands,” he said.

*****

Russia delivered 53.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Germany last year, a figure Putin pointed out during the press conference with Merkel. This is up 13 percent from the year before, and makes Russia Germany’s largest gas provider.

While this might seem at first glance to make Germany “dependent” on Russian gas, as Trump said at the NATO summit, the details are more nuanced. While Russia is Germany’s biggest gas supplier, it provides only marginally more than the other two main providers – Norway and the Netherlands. Until 2015, each contributed roughly one-third to German gas supply. Now Russia has pulled slightly ahead, but is not yet dominant.

More to the point, gas only accounts for 23% of Germany’s primary energy use – and only 13.5% of the electricity generated at power plants. That means Russian gas accounts for just 4.3% of German power generation.

But while Trump was wrong to say Germany “is dependent” on Russian gas, he would not have been wrong to say the country is “becoming dependent”.

Germany is phasing out both nuclear and coal power. Renewables are developing rapidly because of the country’s Energiewende policy, but not fast enough to fill the gap this decommissioning will cause. Many expect gas to quickly fill the gap. And if more Russian gas suddenly comes flowing in, the country could very quickly find itself dependent on Moscow for energy.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would follow the route of an existing pipeline under the Baltic Sea, would more than double Germany’s Russian gas imports, from 53 billion to a maximum of 110 billion cubic metres. Much of that gas would likely then be sold on to the rest of Europe, increasing the whole continent’s dependence on Russian gas.

Despite these concerns, following this weekend’s Merkel-Putin summit investors seem confident the project is going ahead.

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Seán MurphyVolkerWoodyBoydthomas malthausHamletquest Recent comment authors
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Seán Murphy
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Seán Murphy

Why should Russian gas to Europe have to pass through the Ukraine, when, with the Nord Stream 2, it can bypass that woe begotten land? The Ukronazies don’t want anything to do with Russia, so why should they be responsible for gas transit, especially since they have been stealing Russian gas destined for Europe? Western politics should have no say in an economic situation.

Volker
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Volker

For nearly 150 years the US+UK empires tried to sabotages any kind of
alliances between Russia and Germany (and before that with Prussia as
well), Bismarck was very well aware of that.

WoodyBoyd
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WoodyBoyd

Yeah, damn the Ukrainians and full Nord Stream 2 ahead !! I mean what’s the worst that could happen when Germany is being overrun by third world migrants on one hand and now becoming dependent on a meglomanic for a major energy source on the other? And who really cares what happens to the Ukrainians now that Putin and Russia have effectively isolated them and turned off a major source of revenue that was somewhat keeping Moscow at bay? It’s all good…….for Putin!!! But hey, isn’t that what you want??? And for some I am sure it is……

thomas malthaus
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thomas malthaus

Merkel and Nord Stream 2 means less than Merkel and migrant deportation.The former is an easy analysis. As to migrants, she and Draghi will have to sweeten debt reduction deals with nations not wanting to accept them. I’m surprised she’s still chancellor.

The country is more leftist than I realized. It’s the Soros money.

Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

Excellent analysis of the Merkel and Putin meeting by Alexander Mercouris. All of this has been completely brushed under the carpet in the WMSM.

I agree entirely with Sean’s comment above – why should the rabidly Russo-phobic Ukraine Putschists, who control the government in Kiev with the continued support of the US, think they have any claim to transit Russian oil and gas to Europe? In fact given their total hostility to Russia why would they want it? Unless they are a craven set of criminals bent on extortion?

But then that is exactly what they are!

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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