UPDATE 2 below
Today is the referendum vote for the citizens of Crimea, where they will chose whether or not to join Russia. Obama has said the US and the international community will not recognize the results of this vote, whatever these results may be. I suspect that if the Crimeans reject Russia, however, we will hear how the “people” “voted democratically” and the results will be acceptable enough, all right. The coup in Ukraine, engineered by the US government, the CIA, and various NGOs, all supporting what have turned out to be neo-Nazi groups, and which has resulted in an unelected government replacing a democratically elected one, is a sign of “democracy at work”, while the people of an autonomous region holding an actual vote on whether or not to secede from this new government is not democratic. I also find it interesting that Obama mentions that the vote in Crimea is not in accord with the Ukrainian Constitution. Does that constitution even exist any more?
Following a White House meeting with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk designed to underscore US support for the newly installed government and ratchet up pressure on Russia, President Barack Obama issued new threats against Moscow.
Obama declared that Washington and the “international community” would “completely reject” the referendum to be held Sunday in Crimea on secession from Ukraine and affiliation with the Russian Federation. He reiterated the US demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Crimea and recognize the new right-wing, anti-Russian regime in Kiev, which was installed last month in a US- and European Union-backed coup led by armed fascist militias.[…]
Obama also declared that Ukraine “cannot have an outside country dictate to them how to manage their affairs,” and added that the “interests of the US are solely to ensure that the people of Ukraine are able to determine their own destiny.” This is presumably why the US poured billions of dollars into assembling proxy forces in the country and hand-picked “Yats”—in the memorable words of US State Department official Victoria Nuland—to succeed Yanukovych.[…]
On the ground, the US is all but running Ukraine through its representatives in Kiev. Announcing Yatsenyuk’s visit on Sunday, Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that teams from the Treasury and Justice departments and the FBI were in Kiev working to unravel the “kleptocracy” of Yanukovych’s deposed government.[…] [Teri’s note: Having fairly recently watched in silence as the global economy was looted by a couple of big banks and ensuring that none of the criminals would face charges, I imagine that the US Treasury and Justice departments, along with the FBI – an agency I thought only handled internal US crimes – are certainly the best equipped to recognize kleptocracy when they see it. Perhaps the Ukrainians will receive greater benefit from their investigations than we did.]
As well as funding the government and running its campaign against its political opponents, the US is expected to whip Ukraine’s army into shape.
On Tuesday Ukraine’s president, Oleksandr Turchynov, declared, “The parliament’s primary task is to ask countries that are guarantors of our security to fulfil their commitments” so that Ukraine could re-forge its armed forces. Turchynov stated that there were presently only 6,000 combat-ready infantry in the army out of a nominal force of 90,000.
The US has already effectively taken operational control of the military activities of Ukraine’s neighbours, launching joint exercises with Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and dispatching Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jets from airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany and Waddington in Britain. The AWACS flights were recommended by NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove.
On Monday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told PBS that Russia’s interference in Ukraine “exposes Eastern Europe to some significant risk.” He did not rule out US military intervention…
In a funny little “as an aside”, Paul Craig Roberts notes the following:
[…] Having falsely accused Russia of invading Crimea, the Obama regime now demands that Russia interfere in Crimea and prevent the referendum set for next Sunday. Unless Russia uses force to prevent the people of Crimea from exercising their right of self-determination, John Kerry declared that the Obama regime will not discuss the Ukrainian situation with Russia.
So, Kerry has given Russia the green light to send in troops to prevent Crimean self-determination.
The presstitute Western media has not noticed that out of one corner of his mouth Kerry denounces Russia for intervening and out of the other corner of his mouth Kerry demands that Russia intervene in behalf of Washington’s interest and suppress Crimean self-determination. […]
Oh, and it turns out we have money to burn. Not for anyone in the actual United States of America, you understand; we are undergoing austerity due to budget constraints. No, Congress is working on an aid package (this is beyond the $5 bb we already spent over the past several years in Ukraine doing some “nation building”):
[…] Aid package clears early hurdle
Eight U.S. senators, led by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, are scheduled to travel to Ukraine in coming days. [Teri’s note: Ever notice how any time we wreck a country, John McCain is the first one in afterwards to pass out cookies on behalf of American business interests?]
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a package of loans and aid for Ukraine on Wednesday, along with sanctions against Russia for its military intervention. The measure, which now heads to the full Senate, also includes the approval of long-delayed reforms at the International Monetary Fund.
The aid package includes $1 billion in loan guarantees from the United States as well as $50 million to boost democracy-building in Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and some of its neighbors. [Teri’s note: Wait, didn’t the $5 bb we already spent go for “democracy-building”? Didn’t that go far enough? And “enhanced security cooperation” – would that be more money for NATO forces and nuclear armament in the area? If so, just say it out loud.]
The full Senate will vote on the package after the chamber returns from a recess.
“It always takes time to make good things,” Yatsenyuk said Wednesday night, adding that his country praised the United States for its support. [Teri’s note: You betcha, Yats. No problem. Although to be honest, most of the US population is completely unaware that we were being so helpful and supportive.] […]
There is a story going around that Ukraine’s gold has been confiscated and flown out of the country. This is, as I recall, what we did to Libya: we declared that Ghaddafi had illegally hoarded his country’s money, so we seized Libya’s Central Bank funds (worth $30 bb) and there is evidence that we also stole her gold reserves. I have not heard anything about the cash or the gold being returned to the Libyan people. Where did the money go? No doubt John McCain and Bill Clinton know. But they aren’t telling. The $30 billion belonging to the Libyan Central Bank was earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects: the African Investment Bank in Sirte, Libya (Sirte was bombed to hell and back during the US’ “humanitarian intervention” in Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Cameroon, and the African Central Bank to be based in Nigeria.
A few weeks ago, evidence was discovered that Saudi Arabia’s gold holdings in London were being stolen by central banks in the West and re-hypothicated without the Arab kingdom’s permission. However,this confiscation doesn’t appear to be only theft in play as just weeks after the Western led coup helped overthrow the rightfully elected Ukrainian leader, rumors are coming out of Kiev on March 10 that show planes being loaded with what is believed to be Ukrainian gold, and flown back to either the U.S. or London for an unknown purpose. […]
Both the U.S. and London are incredibly short of physical gold, as seen last December when the U.S. was unable to deliver the 42 tons it promised Germany in 2013 to satisfy their seven-year plan of gold reclamation back to its original owner. Additionally, one well documented scandal concerning J.P. Morgan Chase and a potential default stemming from the $100 Billion London Whale bet, led the bank to have to sell their Wall Street headquarters to a Chinese conglomerate because the loss was collateralized by gold they didn’t own.
Motives behind the central bank’s gold confiscation programs in the West, which are in essence the stealing of gold holdings from other sovereign nations, may be due to a another scandal being uncovered by the German agency known as Bafin, which came out in January to declare that gold price manipulation is greater than even the mutli-trillion dollar LIBOR scandal.
“Later, in received call back, one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, which reported that, according to him, tonight, on the orders of one of the ‘new leaders’ of Ukraine in the United States has been taken all the gold reserves in Ukraine …” – Zerohedge
There is a growing trend for the U.S., and it involves covert and overt operations leading to coups and overthrows of sovereign nations with the purpose of stealing that nation’s gold supply. When you add in the validated evidence of Iraqi, Libyan, Saudi Arabian gold being stolen or confiscated after the leaders were overthrown of killed, then today’s rumor that a U.S. transport flew in under the radar and stole the gold holdings of the Ukrainian people is not a conspiracy theory, but a carefully executed chain of events that have been done by America several times in recent years.
I have no idea how reliable the above report is. But this is about oil and energy supplies, ultimately. You might have noticed, in my last post, that Chevron was immediately after the coup given a 50-year contract to develop shale oil in Ukraine.
There is much concern over the possibility that Russia will cut off her vital energy supplies to the EU over the Ukraine/Crimea events. To that end, we see the US and the EU rapidly going all-out to make sure that Russia’s natural gas supplies are replaced. Some of this involves nonsensical moves, of course, as it would take several years to put any other systems in place and all of it involves instituting major fracking plays and the concomitant destruction of water supplies in the US and Europe in order to achieve the desired ends. In any case, there are some rapid developments in the past couple of days which indicate that our leaders, here and in the EU, are more than willing to allow toxic chemicals in the water supply and use up our fresh water in an effort to thwart Russia. We would like to preemptively undermine any moves by the BRIC countries to get off the petro-dollar and stop the emerging Shanghai Co-op, as well. Fracking may eventually cause so many earthquakes that we will have destroyed our land mass altogether, but since there is no longer any concern over how many people die as a result of the toxins being dumped in our water, etc., we may not need so much land. In the long run, I mean. Look, shit happens and then you die.
EU politicians on Wednesday voted for tougher rules on exposing the environmental impact of oil and conventional gas exploration, while excluding shale gas.
Member states such as Britain and Poland are pushing hard for the development of shale gas, seen as one way to lessen dependence on Russian gas, as well as to lower energy costs as it has in the United States.
The plenary vote of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France follows a compromise deal on the draft law in December, which was struck only after negotiators agreed to leave out references to shale gas. […]
US gas production is projected to rise 44% by 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and producers have been pressing the Obama administration to expand exports of natural gas. […]
“A senior US official said the State Department was supportive of introducing substantial gas exports abroad as a move to counteract Russia’s influence. Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, told the New York Times that opening global markets to US exports ‘sends a clear signal that the global gas market is changing, that there is the prospect of much greater supply coming from other parts of the world’.”
The EIA is an organization of overpaid cheerleaders that haven’t had one prediction right in forever and a day. It’s perhaps because they have no track record to defend that they issue such double or nothing claims; it’s hardly interesting anymore. That claim that US gas production will be 44% more in 26 years than it is today is simply bonkers, and not supported by anything other than industry interests, loud as they may be. […]
[T]he early big American shale gas plays (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana, Fayettville in Arkansas) are already winding down after just ten years of production[…]
“Even the idea that we will have enough natural gas for our own needs in the USA beyond the short term ought to be viewed with skepticism. What happens, for instance, when we finally realize that it costs more to frack it out of the ground than people can pay for it? I’ll tell you exactly what will happen: the gas will remain underground bound up in its “tight rock,” possibly forever, and a lot of Americans will freeze to death. […]
BP won the right to again compete for U.S. contracts and new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, where its massive 2010 oil spill prompted regulators to bar it from new government business.
The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency will allow BP, which had been the Pentagon’s biggest fuel supplier, to seek lucrative federal contracts again and bid for oil exploration leases. Next week, a U.S. auction is set for the right to drill in the Gulf, where the London-based company is the second-largest producer.
The end of the suspension is a milestone in BP’s recovery from the worst U.S. offshore oil spill, which forced it to sell about $38 billion in assets to meet the costs of cleaning up pollution and compensating victims. A judge in New Orleans is considering BP’s degree of responsibility for the disaster and the scale of fines to impose under the Clean Water Act.[…]
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Interior Department, on March 19 plans to auction leases covering more than 40 million acres on the Gulf for oil and gas exploration.[…]
The company’s 45-page administrative agreement with the EPA announced yesterday will last five years. […]
On BP, also see: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/15 One might speculate that BP so suddenly winning its rights to bid for further ruination of the Gulf of Mexico has something to do with the US trying to persuade the UK to support sanctions on Russia. The following approval also happened within the past week:
WASHINGTON—The Interior Department endorsed seismic testing in Atlantic waters on Thursday, a first step toward allowing oil and gas drilling from Delaware Bay to Florida’s Cape Canaveral.
In its long-awaited environmental impact statement on what’s known as seismic air gun testing, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would demand that the oil and gas companies exploring in the Outer Continental Shelf meet tough environmental standards to protect marine life from the underwater seismic blasts.
Environmental groups oppose the use of the controversial geological survey technology, contending that the seismic blasts pose a significant risk to whales, dolphins, fish and sea turtles. Seismic surveys are used to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor. The guns, towed by ships, shoot compacted air to the bottom of the ocean, creating sound waves that reflect geological formations. […]
The Natural Resources Defense Council called the environmental report “a capitulation to the forces of drill-baby-drill.” […]
Oil and gas industry contractors have already submitted nine applications to do seismic surveys covering hundreds of thousands of miles, according to the Interior Department. […]
The area, particularly off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas, are estimated to hold some 3.3 million barrels of oil and 3.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though the calculations were based on outdated technology, an Interior official said.
See also this on the Cove Point [Baltimore] terminal:
While we race around the world, sacking countries and violating international law over energy supplies (and seeking hegemony over the entire globe, PNAC-style), I have to wonder who is running this show. The CIA? The Council on Foreign Relations? The oligarchs in the US? (Yes, we have them, too. Frankly, they own the place.) The Pentagon? They have the money, that’s for sure. An article by Winslow Wheeler points this out: “Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion. How can that be? The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is.” He offers a great chart to explain his numbers; see:
What are we becoming? A nation of looters and thugs? We have a President who claims the right to kill us if some secret panel decides we are “terrorists”. He claims the right to kill any person in the world. The CIA angrily avers that it doesn’t have to answer to Congress and the president backs the CIA. We spy on everyone and seek to control every living thing on the planet. Who the fuck are we? Maybe the answer is that we are simply a dying empire, angrily lashing out in our death throes. See: Roman Empire; decline of.
Many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks have offered excuse after excuse for poor Obama in regards to Ukraine. It’s the neocons he allowed into high places, his cabinet of “adversaries”; they have him in a rope-a-dope; he wants to do the right thing and work with Putin and only needs to come out and tell the public that. Or it’s the fault of the weak liberals he listens to; he needs to toughen up. Blah, blah, blah. But the truth is that we, as a nation, seem to have accepted the reemergence of the neocon point of view with some equanimity. We are not, on the whole, a nation that espouses especially “liberal” viewpoints any more. We are already turning on our weakest numbers with extreme prejudice. Hillary Clinton is considered the “natural” Democratic contender to follow Obama in 2016, as though there would be anything natural in establishing a de facto monarchy in the US. As though either Hillary or Barack represented traditional Democratic values in the first place. This would be Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died, Hillary who giggles at the thought of invading Iran, Hillary who is a neocon through and through. We seem to be moving willingly, spinelessly, in the direction that the Bush and Obama administrations and the military industrial complex, along with the media, have pushed us. Sadly, the feeling I get is not that the public is weary of war so much as tired of losing the ones we start.
I think that this is how we are seen by more and more of the world: we are the neighbors who demand what we want, never replace what we destroy, and then threaten everyone who objects to the arrangement. Sadly, we deserve this assessment.
“About 93 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia and only 7 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to first exit polls. […]”
The exit polls were very accurate. Crimea overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia, with 80% of the population voting.
Immediately upon hearing the results this morning, Obama issued a new executive order sanctioning specific individuals in the Russian government, along with several people in Ukraine; most notably the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. The EU followed suit right away. I am not sure what anyone gains by these maneuvers, which merely serve to escalate the situation. The Crimean voters went to their polling places and voted to secede from Ukraine. There were some international observers to witness the vote (despite what you may read in the American MSM), and there did not seem to be any problems or signs of intimidation. They decided to take their chances with the oligarchic system in Russia rather than facing the IMF austerity measures being demanded of Ukraine under the new neo-Nazi regime imposed there. Ironically, the White House said it is targeting “those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine” in these new sanctions, although it was distinctly the US that created the situation in the first place. In another strange piece of rhetoric, the EU and US are calling on Russia to de-escalate the situation.
It remains to be seen what Putin’s response will be, although I would think that imposing more and more sanctions against Russia, given the oil and trading she supplies to the EU and the fact that Russia may well take economic measures of its own in retaliation, would make the EU and US think twice about using such threatening postures. Let’s not forget that it would be easy enough for some of the Asian countries to join Russia in going off the dollar, and that Russia (despite its bad economy) holds a big stack of US Treasuries. I will mention in passing, as well, that Russia has nukes. Let’s hope Putin is willing to be a tad more diplomatic than the US is.
In any case, below is an article summarizing the sanctions. You may want to read the executive order and the press office fact sheet for yourself, as well as the letter Obama sent to Congress explaining them.
Executive Order — Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine:
WH Press Office fact sheet on EO:
Letter to Congress:
WASHINGTON – The White House has announced new sanctions against seven Russian officials in retaliation for Ukraine’s Crimea region voting to join Russia, as the European Union announced similar penalties.
While stopping short of singling out Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, President Obama sanctioned several members of Putin’s inner circle. The White House also announced sanctions against separatist leaders in Crimea and former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.
“We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. “We stand ready to use these authorities in a direct and targeted fashion as events warrant.”
The expanded U.S. sanctions, announced in an executive order, would target the assets of the listed Russian officials and bar them from entering the U.S. These include Putin aides Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev.
It’s unclear what other steps the U.S. might take in the coming days, as western leaders try to prevent Moscow from attempting to formally annex Crimea. Obama told Putin on Sunday that the vote “would never be recognized” by the United States, as he and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes Monday on 21 people from Russia and Crimea who they linked to the push for the secession of Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula.
The sanctions came hours after Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state, following its residents’ overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia.
The ministers meeting in Brussels did not immediately release the names of those targeted by the sanctions. [Teri’s note: Obama’s new EO does name names.]
Two diplomats said the sanctions targeted 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the breakdown of the nationalities had not been officially announced.
The 28-nation EU and the United States say Sunday’s Crimean referendum was illegitimate and unconstitutional.
The EU is walking a tightrope between punishing Moscow and keeping open lines of communication with Russia for a diplomatic resolution of one of the worst geopolitical crises in years on its eastern doorstep.
Before Monday’s meeting in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said sanctions must leave “ways and possibilities open to prevent a further escalation that could lead to the division of Europe.”
The EU has already suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and a visa agreement. The bloc’s leaders are meeting Thursday and Friday and could start slapping economic sanctions on Russia this weekend if Moscow does not back down.
Western allies are calling on Putin to “de-escalate” the crisis, support Ukrainian plans for political reform, return Russian troops in Crimea to their barracks and halt advances into Ukraine and military buildups along its borders.
Ukraine’s new government in Kiev called Sunday’s referendum a “circus” directed at gunpoint by Moscow. Putin, however, insisted it was conducted in “full accordance with international law and the U.N. charter” and cited Kosovo’s independence from Serbia as its precedent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.