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Russia’s and China’s secret weapon to take down US economic dominance

New sovereign bonds issued in currency other than the dollar pose a threat to Washington’s control of the financial system

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(New Eastern Outlook) – The Russian government has recently announced it will issue nearly $1 billion equivalent in state bonds, but denominated not in US dollars as is mostly the case. Rather it will be the first sale of Russian bonds in China’s yuan. While $1 billion may not sound like much when compared with the Peoples’ Bank of China total holdings of US Government debt of more than $1 trillion or to the US Federal debt today of over $20 trillion, it’s significance lies beyond the nominal amount. It’s a test run by both governments of the potential for state financing of infrastructure and other projects independent of dollar risk from such events as US Treasury financial sanctions.

Russian Debt and China Yuan

Since the August 1998 sovereign default triggered by the West, Russian state finances have been prudent to almost a fault. The size of the national government debt is the lowest of any major industrial country, a mere 10.6% of GDP for the current year. This has enabled Russia to withstand the US financial warfare sanctions imposed since 2014, and forced the country to turn elsewhere for their financial stability. That “elsewhere” is increasingly called the Peoples’ Republic of China.

Now the Russian Ministry of Finance is reportedly planning the first sale of Russian debt in the form of bonds denominated in Chinese yuan currency. The size of the first offering, a testing of the market, will be 6 billion yuan or just under $1 billion. The sale is being organized by the state-owned Russian Gazprombank, the Bank of China Ltd., and China’s largest state bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. The move is being accelerated by reports that the US Treasury is examining potential consequences of extending penalties, until now concentrated on Russian oil and gas projects, to include Russian sovereign debt in its sanctions warfare. The new yuan bond will be traded on the Moscow Exchange and will aim to sell to mainland Chinese investors as well as international and Russian borrowers at attractive interest rates.

Western sanctions or threats of sanctions are forcing Russia and China to cooperate more strategically on what is becoming the seed of a genuine alternative to the dollar system. The Russian yuan debt offerings will also give a significant boost to China’s desire to build the yuan as an accepted international currency.

China Petro-Yuan

The steps to begin issuing Russian state debt in yuan are paralleled by another major development towards broader international yuan acceptance vis a vis the US dollar. On December 13, Chinese regulators completed final testing in preparation for launch of not a dollar-backed, but rather, a yuan-backed oil futures contract to be traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. The implications are potentially large.

China is the world’s largest oil importing country. Control of financial oil futures markets until now has been the tightly-guarded province of Wall Street banks and the New York, London and other futures exchanges they control. Emergence of Shanghai as a major yuan-based oil futures center could significantly weaken dollar domination of oil trade.

Since the 1970’s oil shock and the 400% rise in the oil price from OPEC countries, Washington has maintained a strict regime in which the world’s most valuable commodity, oil, would be traded in US dollars alone. In December 1974, the US Treasury signed a secret agreement in Riyadh with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, “to establish a new relationship through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with the US Treasury borrowing operation” to buy US government debt with surplus petrodollars.

The Saudis agreed to enforce OPEC dollar-only oil sales in return for US sales of advanced military equipment (purchased for dollars of course) and a guarantee of protection from possible Israeli attack. This was the beginning of what then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called recycling the petro-dollar. To the present, only two oil export country leaders, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Qaddafi, have tried to change the system and sell oil for euros or gold dinars. Now China is challenging the petro-dollar system in a different way with the petro-yuan.

The difference between Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi is that far more influential countries, Russia and now Iran, with China’s implicit support, are cooperating to avoid the dollar out of necessity forced by US pressure. That is a far stronger challenge to the US dollar than Iraq or Libya could ever manage.

The China yuan oil futures contract now will allow China’s trading partners to pay with gold or to convert yuan into gold without the necessity to keep money in Chinese assets or turn it into US dollars. Oil exporters such as Russia or Iran or Venezuela—all targets of US sanctions—can avoid those US sanctions by avoiding oil trades in dollars now. This past September Venezuela responded to US sanctions by ordering the state oil company and traders to make oil sale contracts into euro and not to pay or be paid in US dollars any longer.

Gold for oil?

The Shanghai International Energy Exchange will soon launch their crude-oil futures contract denominated in yuan. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange futures contract will streamline and solidify the process of selling oil to China for yuan that Russia began after sanctions in 2014. This will also allow other oil producers around the world to sell their oil for yuan instead of dollars. The crude oil futures contract will be the first commodity contract in China open to foreign investment funds, trading houses, and oil firms. The circumvention of US dollar trade could allow oil exporters such as Russia and Iran, for example, to bypass US sanctions.

To make the offer more attractive, China has linked the crude-oil futures contract with the option to efficiently convert yuan into physical gold through gold exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong. According to Wang Zhimin, director of the Center for Globalization and Modernization at China’s Institute of Foreign Economy and Trade, the possibility of converting the yuan oil futures into gold will give the Chinese futures a competitive advantage over Brent and West Texas Intermediate benchmarks.

Now Russia or Iran or other oil producers are in a position to sell oil to China for yuan or rubles, bypassing the dollar entirely. The shift is about to take place in the coming weeks as the yuan oil futures contract is officially launched. Further in October China and Russia launched what is called a payment versus payment (PVP) system for Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions that will reduce settlement risk for oil and other trades.

Already reportedly Russian oil and gas sales to China are being conducted in Ruble and Yuan and since the foolish US effort to isolate Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Qatar, a major LNG gas supplier to China has switched to pricing in yuan. Pressure is growing that at some point Saudi Arabia breaks its 1974 pact with Washington and sells its oil to China also for yuan.

Iran to Join EEU

A new element is about to be added to the growing cooperation across Eurasia centered around China and Russia, namely Iran. According to Behrouz Hassanolfat of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, in a statement carried on Iranian state-owned Press-TV, as early as February, 2018 Iran is set to become a member of Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Presently the EEU, created in 2015, includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to create a large zone for free transit of goods, services, capital and workers among member states. Presently the EEU is a market of 183 million people. Addition of Iran with its more than 80 million citizens would give a major boost to the economies of the EEU and to its economic importance, creating a common market of more than 263 million, with skilled labor, engineers, scientists and industrial know-how.

Iran has already announced, in face of escalating threats from Washington, that it seeks ways to sell its oil for non-dollar currencies. Integration into the EEU could bring a solution to this as Iran, Russia and China inevitably draw closer in face of relentless US pressures on all three.

Increasingly in proportion to the pressure from the West the nations of Eurasia are developing modes of growing their economies independent of US Treasury financial sanctions. In retrospect, it’s likely that those US sanctions will be seen as one of the more stupid attempts of Washington to dominate the economies of Eurasia.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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