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Russia Grinds Out Wins In Europe

Russia Grinds Out Wins In Europe

  • Europe is finally coming to its senses five years after the coup in Kiev started what is now the new Cold War between Russia and the West.

Authored by Tom Luongo:


The first part of Russia’s win comes from Italian leader Matteo Salvini. Speaking for the under-represented in European politics, Salvini declared this week, “I continue to believe that we don’t need sanctions. The issue of their removal unites all decent people.“

Salvini is tackling, head-on, the European political establishment in this week’s European parliamentary elections. And his raising the issue of lifting sanctions on Russia imposed over the reunification with Crimea is a massive attack on them.

It means that Salvini is looking at using the extension of sanctions as a bargaining chip this summer. He is threatening to veto any extension with words this strong on the eve of an election.

The second victory for Russia, however, is far more significant. The Council of Europe has finally agreed to restore Russia’s voting rights after suspending them over the unification with Crimea.

This was a major bone of contention between Europe and Russia, who suspended their budget payments to the CoE in 2017. The deadline for dealing with their non-payment was coming up next month.

At that point PACE — Parliamentary Authority of the Council of Europe — would have to vote to kick Russia out completely or allow them back in. And that was a bridge too far.

They chose the latter and that sets the stage for a major realignment of the status quo in Europe with respect to Russia.

2019 was always going to be the year in which all of this political pressure and virtue signaling from Europe over their failure to take Ukraine would end.

There were simply too many issues coming to a head this year that this policy would continue beyond this point.

  • European Parliamentary elections in May would bring a different blend of voices to the EU
  • Nordstream 2 would be completed
  • The gas transit contract between Ukraine’s Naftogaz and Gazprom would end.
  • The Council of Europe would have to kick Russia out.
  • Ukrainian elections would bring change to Kiev
  • Power of Siberia 1 pipeline would be complete to China
  • Turkstream would be complete to Turkey
  • New power plants in Crimea would come on line

The Russians, under Putin and Lavrov, executed a perfect war of attrition against Europe and waited for events to come to them. They knew there was rising opposition to the sanctions.

They knew Angela Merkel’s political power was waning and that rising figures like Viktor Orban, Salvini and Marine Le Pen in France would change the landscape eventually.

They also knew that keeping the dialogue frank but respectful and not rising to any of the contrived and adolescent provocations by Europe’s and Ukraine’s leadership would put them in the best position to normalize relations.

It’s a testament to the Russian leadership’s ability to think the entire game board to see the Council of Europe as the means to break the deadlock. Simply by withholding their dues to the body they eventually forced the moment to its crisis exactly when it would be to their best advantage.

And this move undercuts Merkel who has been trying to salvage Ukraine’s position tying sanctions relief to a new gas transit contract. This was nothing but grandstanding on her part to try and keep Trump happy. But she washed her hands of this ages ago.

And now she needs a way to save face to get out of this mess. Because Germany’s economy, along with the rest of Europe’s, is imploding. She needs Russia’s markets and it’s now time to decide where the future lies.

Going back to 2014, the coup in Kiev was meant to be the crowning move of U.S. anti-Russian maneuvering. A color revolution meant to rip both Ukraine and it’s primacy in gas deliveries to Europe and the Black Sea from Russia.

It had the backing of Europe who was looking at a quick accession of Ukraine into the EU where it would have control over gas prices in its talks with Gazprom. NATO could put missiles on Russia’s western border.

Those plans quickly fell through as two republics broke away, a bloody civil war began and Crimea wasn’t added to NATO’s control. Vladimir Putin and Russia immediately went into attrition mode, which left the EU and the U.S. looking silly as Ukraine imploded and billions flushed into Kiev with little hope of a return.

Germany quickly realized with the defense of Crimea by Russia that Ukraine gas transit control would be tied up for years and quickly negotiated Nordstream 2 with Gazprom to secure its energy future. Angela Merkel committed Germany to this by ending its reliance on nuclear energy and negotiated the Minsk accords to freeze the conflict diplomatically.

Minsk II was an agreement which could never be implemented because of U.S. control over the Poroshenko government. Merkel knew this. It was designed explicitly to allow everyone involved a way to blame the other guy for not complying.

Unfortunately, the people of the Donbass have had to suffer years of bombing by an irrational Ukraine with the backing of the U.S. It cost Putin a lot of political capital over these past few years not overtly helping the Donbass to break completely free of Kiev.

Merkel also has an opportunity in Nordstream 2 to consolidate control of gas distribution throughout eastern Europe which could be used to secure political concessions from Visegrads who have become increasingly recalcitrant.

With the final permit for the Nordstream 2 pipeline still tied up with Danish regulators, obviously bowing to U.S. political pressure, there still remains small hope that that operation in Ukraine will not wind up in complete and abject failure for U.S. foreign policy wonks.

Since Nordstream 2 follows the exact same path as the existing Nordstream pipeline, this shouldn’t be an issue. But it is. And now the U.S. Senate is mulling legislation to sanction people and companies involved in the final stages of construction.

The goal is to hurt Gazprom by delaying the opening of Nordstream 2 and keep open the vain hope that that will give Ukraine leverage to negotiate a new gas transit deal through Ukraine later in the year.

It’s also adds more poison pills to the ones that Poroshenko left behind on his way out the door — Kerch Strait incident, breaking the Treaty of Friendship.

It’s all so childish and destructive, honestly. Now the latest bit is Poroshenko’s coalition partner just pulled out of the government.

Since there’s no government now, President-elect Zelensky can’t dissolve parliament and call for new elections now. He’ll have to wait for the regularly-scheduled ones in October.

This will keep the existing parliament in power and Zelensky a figurehead until then.

See Also

But, back to the matter at hand. The incentives are all in line for Nordstream 2 to get that final permit. U.S. control over the situation in Ukraine is fraying badly, regardless of the delaying tactics.

Because to delay any further puts Ukraine behind the eight ball as Russia has cut off coal and oil exports as well as now forbids the reselling of its gas back to Ukraine. So, this winter will be horrific if Naftogaz doesn’t come to the table or sanctions aren’t lifted which would allow Putin to lift his energy embargo.

And this is why we’ll see this supposed Gordian knot of problems trying to tie this situation up for years actually resolve itself quite quickly over the next few months.

The accession of the Council of Europe to let Russia back into the fold is your key to the whole thing. This is a major concession to Russia. Putin and Gazprom have been more than willing to open up new gas transit talks with Ukraine who have been unwilling under Poroshenko to do so.

The Trump administration still wants guaranteed market access for U.S. LNG sources. Hence the cynical moves to delay a permit which should be a rubber stamp.

Gazprom can afford to wait a few months for the opening of Nordstream 2. They have both Turkstream and Power of Siberia 1 set to begin operations by the end of the year to cover any delay.

Moreover, fiscal year 2018 was a banner one for Gazprom and 2019 looks to be similar with these pipelines coming on line. The company surprised the market recently announcing a massive raise to its annual dividend, 60% higher than the original board recommendation.

The stock popped more than 20% on the news as the yield pushed out to nearly 9%. This was a clear signal to both U.S. and European investors that the company wasn’t scared of the risks associated with a delay in Nordstream 2.

At some point one has to realize that a particular policy has failed and cut a deal. The Council of Europe bowed to internal pressure as five years of rising Euroskepticism and stagnating exports to a formerly strong market for most of Europe, especially mighty Germany, finally pushed them to end the grandstanding.

It’s too bad psychopaths like John Bolton never understand this.

This is the necessary first step to defying the U.S. over sanctions this summer when they come up again. And, what’s the point, anyway? Blocking one pipeline only to empower two others is just idiotic.

Gazprom turned east to China because of the cancellation of SouthStream and the putsch in Kiev. Then it negotiated a replacement known as Turkstream. Ukraine is destroyed and Turkey is defying the U.S. on every major policy decision in the region while looking to Russia to help correct its balance of trade, defense and energy security.

At every turn Russia under Putin has outmaneuvered the U.S. in Europe over Ukraine. It was a step too far in our quest to bottle her up.


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Joseph Dillard
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Joseph Dillard

A very nice post by Mr. Luongo. And a very optimistic one, something I needed to hear with all the deranged saber-rattling towards Iran coming from Bolton, Pompeo, and Trump, at the behest of their Zionist overlords. I have felt this was all a ruse, due to one overplayed card after another by the West toward Russia and China, with the attempted coup in Venezuela and the war on Huawei only being the most recent. My basic belief has been that if the US was going to attack Iran, it would have done so years ago, under Obama, when Iran… Read more »

regolo gellini
Guest

Couldn’t agree more ! Percfectly stated !

ManintheMoon
Guest
ManintheMoon

A really useful addendum, Mr Dillard to an excellent article. Putin and Lavrov have proved wrong those who accused them of being too compliant – even weak with the US and its erstwhile lackeys in Europe. They have managed to maintain the high ground and now can start to reap the benefit as the idiots laying siege gradually fall out among themselves. They may have gulled most of their populations with their propaganda but the reality is that the sheeple still could not care less. We in the West who supported them are a significant but growing minority and have… Read more »

Hmph
Guest
Hmph

They of little faith. Shame on them.

zeroh
Guest
zeroh

as you see how trump gangstrinicatrion (administartion) Dont have much time, thats why they want war with iran and
china NOw, but not in real.. trump use this theatro just to get to office in 2020 witch is unrealistic becouse he lost supporters pga israel support , he know its his last time in Whouse,just like state of israel have last suport, last years… also when he figt with hillary , many help him like zerohedge,wikileaks,snowden.. now trum to total oposite what he say before votes in campaing , and this make angry many trump voters,

Joe
Guest
Joe

With morons like Trump, Bolton and Pompeo in charge, it was easy for Russia to triumph.

regolo gellini
Guest

Yes, of course but these psycos are still very dangerous especially when on the losing side !

Nelson
Guest
Nelson

A fine concise EuroPoliticalAnalysis. Bravo and Viva Signore Salvini. I can’t imagine how France was gifted with Macron from Rothschild (un grand trou de cul, translating German to “arseloch). Things are beginning to feel better, even Brexit. Even Gainesville looks better.

regolo gellini
Guest

Perfectly resumed !

Guillermo Calvo Mahé
Guest

But the Ukrainian parliament has, in fact been dissolved and new elections called. At least that’s what has been reported in today’s news.

regolo gellini
Guest

Cheers !

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
Guest
Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Well now, wouldn’t that just be the icing on the cake with a nice fat cherry on top that the future’s history books will delight in……..a violent coup d’etat overthrowing a democratically elected president by a minority of fanatical ultra-rightist evil doers carrying on their grandfathers’ traditions of enthusiastic ideological, moral and physical support of Nazi Germany and with the full ideological, moral and physical support of American interventionists, only to be relegated to the back of the Ukrainian political bus after all is said and done.

Guy
Member
Guy

This article is music to my ears .Bravo to the adults in the room , Russia , with their very intelligent play in the long game.Now starting to collect the rewards.

regolo gellini
Guest

Well deserved, in fact !

regolo gellini
Guest

Since many years back I have declared Mr Putin n°1 chess master of the world ! The proof is in the pudding ! Go Russia, go !!!!!!

Smoking Eagle
Guest
Smoking Eagle

The combination of President Putin’s patience, restraint, diplomacy, intelligence, politeness, knowledge of world history, respect for other nations, empathy, and decency, and having a foreign minister like Lavrov, and being tough when occasion has demanded it, serves to highlight exactly what the U$-Israhelli combo does not have, and is not.

Geopolitics 101
Guest
Geopolitics 101

Well, he ain’t no dummy. That’s for sure.

Stop Bush and Clinton
Guest

Unfortunately Merkel is still way too powerful and will go along with any Russia-bashing that her boss in Warshington DC asks her for.
And she’s not going away, chances are she’s not running for reelection in Germany because she’s envisioning a promotion to Fuhrer of the EU Commission or something.

As the World Turns
Guest
As the World Turns

I think you’re wrong. I think Merkel must be on Putin’s payroll. Only a fool would fail to understand that Merkel’s ‘come one, come all’ RSVP to immigrants would eventually create a backlash within the EU that would ultimately favor Russia. I suspect Obama even bugged her phone, expressly to catch her in the act of taking orders from the Kremlin.

The Politics of Human Psychology
Guest
The Politics of Human Psychology

Quote: “The second victory for Russia, however, is far more significant. The Council of Europe has finally agreed to restore Russia’s voting rights after suspending them over the unification with Crimea.”

That’s called a tell. A significant crack in the EU’s dogmatic resistance. Sit back, relax and watch it grow.

My Head Hurts
Guest
My Head Hurts

Well, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to argue in the name of the EU’s national security that it would be too dependent on Russian gas through Nord Stream II and they should kill the project at all costs, in order to guarantee that the EU will continue to be dependent on the very same Russian gas through that most reliable of partners, Ukraine.

Smoking Eagle
Guest
Smoking Eagle

Russia is a reliable partner. Europe already imports Russian gas via Nordstream 1 and this has not affected energy security in the EU. 30% of Germany’s gas comes from Russia. Ukraine has proved that it is unreliable and cannot be trusted. If you recall, Russia had problems with Ukraine because it failed to pay its gas bills and was siphoning off (stealing) gas from the pipeline. It would be incredibly stupid for the EU to rely on LNG imports from the U$ because as that country has very clearly demonstrated, it cannot be trusted to keep its word on anything.… Read more »

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