jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014

Es depresión, chicos (2)

Vuelve a bajar el precio del petróleo, esta vez a cerca de U$S 70 el barril (WTI). En Astroboy hemos expuesto todo tipo de teorías al respecto. En líneas generales, se las puede dividir en dos grandes grupos: por un lado están los que piensan que esto es una cuestión política, bajo la forma de un pacto secreto entre los EEUU y Arabia Saudita, destinada a fundir la economía rusa (El rublo volvió a desplomarse hoy al conocerse la noticia de que NADIE, en la OPEP, piensa recortar la producción). Por el otro están los depresionistas, que dicen que la caída en el precio del petróleo obedece a la destrucción de demanda (básicamente, de la demanda China). A este último grupo pertenece Raúl Ilargi Meijer, quien escribe hoy esta nota en su sitio web The Automatic Earth (http://www.theautomaticearth.com/the-price-of-oil-exposes-the-true-state-of-the-economy/):

Título: The Price Of Oil Exposes The True State Of The Economy

Texto: We should be glad the price of oil has fallen the way it has (losing another 6% today as I write this). Not because it makes the gas in our cars a bit cheaper, that’s nothing compared to the other service the price slump provides. That is, it allows us to see how the economy is really doing, without the multilayered veil of propaganda, spin, fixed data and bailouts and handouts for the banking system.

It shows us the huge extent to which consumer spending is falling, how much poorer people have become as stock markets set records. It also shows us how desperate producing nations have become, who have seen a third of their often principal source of revenue fall away in a few months’ time. Nigeria was first in line to devalue its currency, others will follow suit.

OPEC today decided not to cut production, but whatever decision they would have come to, nothing would have made one iota of difference. The fact that prices only started falling again after the decision was made public shows you how senseless financial markets have become, dumbed down by easy money for which no working neurons are required.

OPEC has become a theater piece, and the real world out there is getting colder. Oil producing nations can’t afford to cut their output in some vague attempt, with very uncertain outcome, to raise prices. The only way to make up for their losses is to increase production when and where they can. And some can’t even do that.

Saudi Arabia increased production in 1986 to bring down prices. All it has to do today to achieve the same thing is to not cut production. But the Saudi’s have lost a lot of cloud, along with OPEC, it’s not 1986 anymore. That is due to an extent to American shale oil, but the global financial crisis is a much more important factor.

We are only now truly even just beginning to see how hard that crisis has already hit the Chinese export miracle, and its demand for resources, a major reason behind the oil crash. The US this year imported less oil from OPEC members than it has in 30 years, while Americans drive far less miles per capita and shale has its debt-financed temporary jump. Now, all oil producers, not just shale drillers, turn into Red Queens, trying ever harder just to make up for losses.

The American shale industry, meanwhile, is a driverless truck, with breaks missing and fueled by on cheap speculative capital. The main question underlying US shale is no longer about what’s feasible to drill today, it’s about what can still be financed tomorrow. And the press are really only now waking up to the Ponzi character of the industry.

In a pretty solid piece last week, the Financial Times’ John Dizard concluded with: “Even long-time energy industry people cannot remember an overinvestment cycle lasting as long as the one in unconventional US resources. It is not just the hydrocarbon engineers who have created this bubble; there are the financial engineers who came up with new ways to pay for it.”

While Reuters on November 10 (h/t Yves at NC) talked about giant equity fund KKR’s shale troubles: “KKR, which led the acquisition of oil and gas producer Samson for $7.2 billion in 2011 and has already sold almost half its acreage to cope with lower energy prices, plans to sell its North Dakota Bakken oil deposit worth less than $500 million as part of an ongoing downsizing plan. Samson’s bonds are trading around 70 cents on the dollar, indicating that KKR and its partners’ equity in the company would probably be wiped out were the whole company to be sold now. Samson’s financial woes underscore how private equity’s love affair with North America’s shale revolution comes with risks. The stakes are especially high for KKR, which saw a $45 billion bet on natural gas prices go sour when Texas power utility Energy Future Holdings filed for bankruptcy this year.”
And today, Tracy Alloway at FT mentions major banks and their energy-related losses: “Banks including Barclays and Wells Fargo are facing potentially heavy losses on an $850 million loan made to two oil and gas companies, in a sign of how the dramatic slide in the price of oil is beginning to reverberate through the wider economy. [..] if Barclays and Wells attempted to syndicate the $850m loan now, it could go for as little as 60 cents on the dollar.”

That’s just one loan. At 60 cents on the dollar, a $340 million loss. Who knows how many similar, and bigger, loans are out there? Put together, these stories slowly seeping out of the juncture of energy and finance gives the good and willing listener an inkling of an idea of the losses being incurred throughout the global economy, and by the large financiers. There’s a bloodbath brewing in the shadows. Countries can see their revenues cut by a third and move on, perhaps with new leaders, but many companies can’t lose that much income and keep on going, certainly not when they’re heavily leveraged.

The Saudi’s refuse to cut output and say: let America cut. But American oil producers can’t cut even if they would want to, it would blow their debt laden enterprises out of the water, and out of existence. Besides, that energy independence thing plays a big role of course. But with prices continuing to fall, much of that industry will go belly up because credit gets withdrawn.

The amount of money lost in the ‘overinvestment cycle’ will be stupendous, and you don’t need to ask who’s going to end up paying. Pointing to past oil bubbles risks missing the point that the kind of leverage and cheap credit heaped upon shale oil and gas, as Dizard also says, is unprecedented. As Wolf Richter wrote earlier this year, the industry has bled over $100 billion in losses for three years running.

Not because they weren’t selling, but because the costs were – and are – so formidable. There’s more debt going into the ground then there’s oil coming out. Shale was a losing proposition even at $100. But that remained hidden behind the wagers backed by 0.5% loans that fed the land speculation it was based on from the start. WTI fell below $70 today. You can let your 3-year old do the math from there.

I wonder how many people will scratch their heads as they’re filling up their tanks this week and wonder how much of a mixed blessing that cheap gas is. They should. They should ask themselves how and why and how much the plummeting gas price is a reflection of the real state of the global economy, and what that says about their futures. Happy Turkey.


Algo está pasando, o está por pasar, en Ucrania. La OTAN empuja siempre un poquito más hacia la guerra. Rusia ya avisó que empieza a los tiros. Ucrania está al borde de la extinción económica. Ergo, algo tiene que pasar. Leemos en Zero Hedge:

Título: NATO To Deploy Tanks In Eastern Europe Shortly After VP Of Europarliament Says Ukraine-Russia War Imminent

Texto: Just when global financial markets had shrugged off Ukraine as yet another 'storm in a teacup', it appears events are escalating rapidly once again. This morning saw European Parliament's Vice President Saryusz-Wolski warn "Russia's pressure on Ukraine is mounting high, further war imminent," to which Ukraine's President Poroshenko rapidly responded (via Twitter) rather ominously that a "third world war does not scare us," having noted earlier than Ukraine needs to achieve NATO membership. This then promptedNATO's top military commander to warn, he is "very concerned" that Russia's military build-upin the annexed Crimean region could be used as a launchpad for attacks across the whole Black Sea region; leaving the alliance confirming that NATO plans to deploy tanks in Eastern Europe.

The European Parliament Vice President Jacek Saryusz-Wolski tweeted (rather to the point):

“Russia's pressure on Ukraine mounting high, further war imminent.”

To which Ukrainian President Poroshenko replied:

"A 3rd World War does not scare... in fact, nobody is going to start it"

However, it seems the sabre-rattling continues... As Al-Jazeera reports, NATO's top military commander has said he is "very concerned" that Russia's military build-up in the annexed Crimean region could be used as a launchpad for attacks across the whole Black Sea region.

US General Philip Breedlove's comments late on Wednesday came amid fears in Kiev that Russian-backed rebels will try to grab more land in eastern Ukraine to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March.

"We are very concerned with the militarisation of Crimea," Breedlove said, following meetings with Ukraine's top political and military leaders in Kiev.

"The capabilities that are being installed in Crimea ... are able to exert influence over the entire Black Sea," he said, highlighting the influx of cruise missiles and surface-to-air rockets.

Russia's Defence Ministry said Wednesday that it had deployed a batch of 14 military jets to Crimea as part of a squadron of 30 that will be stationed on the peninsula.

Also on Wednesday, an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in eastern Ukraine was reportedly attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft ammunition.

"These shots appear to have been fired from separatist-controlled territory," the US Department of State said n a statement on Thursday.

"Any attacks on, or threats to, OSCE monitors or equipment are unacceptable. We call on all parties to refrain from any actions that endanger the safety of the OSCE mission in Ukraine."

Which explains the decision to deploy tanks:

Sputnik: “#NATO confirms plans to deploy tanks in eastern #Europe due to situation in #Ukraine - alliance's spokesman in #Moscow”

And the Russians to respond:

“The United States is pushing Ukraine into the abyss of a civil war which has claimed thousands of lives, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told Asian counterparts on Thursday.”

“American and NATO military forces are moving closer to Russia’s threshold and the US has intensified activity in former Soviet republics," he told an inaugural meeting of the South and South-East Asian Nations Defense Chiefs’ Dialogue in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

It appears the situation is anything but contained...


Mientras tanto, leemos este cable de la Agencia TASS (rusa, obvio):

Título: US pushes Ukraine into abyss of civil war — deputy defense minister

Texto: The United States is pushing Ukraine into the abyss of a civil war which has claimed thousands of lives, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told Asian counterparts on Thursday.

“American and NATO military forces are moving closer to Russia’s threshold and the US has intensified activity in former Soviet republics," he told an inaugural meeting of the South and South-East Asian Nations Defense Chiefs’ Dialogue in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

"The latest example is pushing Ukraine into an abyss through support to Maidan (the protest movement in Kiev’s Central Independence Square - TASS) and an anti-constitutional state coup,” he added.

“The lawfully elected president was ousted from power in a military way,” the minister said. “A fraternal country for Russia was pushed into civil war. Thousands of people were killed,” Antonov said.

“Russia is ready to promote a peaceful settlement in Ukraine through broad nationwide dialogue with all regions and political forces in the country involved,” he went on, calling for "honest, consistent fulfilment of the Minsk peace deals over ceasefire in southeast Ukraine”.


Por último, dos cositas: 

(1) Para quienes quieran saber cómo está realmente la situación en Ucrania, no se pierdan este videíto. Recuerden: esto no está ocurriendo ahora en el este de la ex-Ucrania, sino en el Oeste, o sea, contra la frontera polaca:


(2) Bajo el título: "¿Así que no hay nazis en Ucrania?", el amigo The Saker manda en su blog esta fotito de los chicos de Kiev (la bandera azul de la izquierda es el emblema de la OTAN):

miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2014

Tiro al pie

A medida que decae, el Imperio va mostrando sus costados flacos, sus jirones, sus muecas menos amables al resto del mundo. También, sus crecientes limitaciones. Una de ellas es la política exterior. Pocas veces como ahora, los EEUU han mostrado tantas limitaciones en el elemento humano que les gestiona la política externa. La siguiente historia tiene que ver con la súbita caída en los precios del petróleo que viene ocurriendo desde hace unas semanas. Originalmente calculada para dañar a Rusia, comienza a dañar al mismo Imperio. Veamos esta historia a partir de tres noticias publicadas en el sitio Zero Hedge. La primera nota es del 25 de Septiembre pasado:

Título: A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing

Texto: For those to whom the recent US campaign against Syria seems a deja vu of last summer's "near-war" attempt to ouster its president Bashar al-Assad, which was stopped in the last minute due to some very forceful Russian intervention and the near breakout of war in the Mediterranean between US and Russian navies, it is because they are. And as a reminder, just like last year, the biggest wildcard in this, and that, direct intervention into sovereign Syrian territory, or as some would call it invasion or even war, was not the US but Saudi Arabia - recall from August of 2013 - "Meet Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Sultan: The Puppetmaster Behind The Syrian War." Bin Sultan was officially let go shortly after the 2013 campaign to replace Syria's leadership with a more "amenable" regime failed if not unofficially (see below), but Saudi ambitions over Syria remained.

That much is revealed by the WSJ today in a piece exposing the backdoor dealings that the US conducted with Saudi Arabia to get the "green light" to launch its airstrikes against ISIS, or rather, parts of Iraq and Syria. And, not surprising, it is once again Assad whose fate was the bargaining chip to get the Saudis on the US' side, because in order to launch the incursion into Syrian sovereign territory "took months of behind-the-scenes work by the U.S. and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh U.S. commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority."

In other words, John Kerry came, saw and promised everything he could, up to and including the missing piece of the puzzle - Syria itself on a silver platter - in order to prevent another diplomatic humiliation.

When Mr. Kerry touched down in Jeddah to meet with King Abdullah on Sept. 11, he didn't know for sure what else the Saudis were prepared to do. The Saudis had informed their American counterparts before the visit that they would be ready to commit air power—but only if they were convinced the Americans were serious about a sustained effort in Syria. The Saudis, for their part, weren't sure how far Mr. Obama would be willing to go, according to diplomats.

Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire - what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

But back to the Saudis and how the deal to bomb Syria was cobbled together:
The Americans knew a lot was riding on a Sept. 11 meeting with the king of Saudi Arabia at his summer palace on the Red Sea.

A year earlier, King Abdullah had fumed when President Barack Obama called off strikes against the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. This time, the U.S. needed the king's commitment to support a different Syrian mission—against the extremist group Islamic State—knowing there was little hope of assembling an Arab front without it.

At the palace, Secretary of State John Kerry requested assistance up to and including air strikes, according to U.S. and Gulf officials. "We will provide any support you need," the king said.

But only after the Saudis got the abovementioned assurances that Assad will fall. And to do that they would have to strongarm Obama:

Wary of a repeat of Mr. Obama's earlier reversal, the Saudis and United Arab Emirates decided on a strategy aimed at making it harder for Mr. Obama to change course. "Whatever they ask for, you say 'yes,'" an adviser to the Gulf bloc said of its strategy. "The goal was not to give them any reason to slow down or back out."

Arab participation in the strikes is of more symbolic than military value. The Americans have taken the lead and have dropped far more bombs than their Arab counterparts. But the show of support from a major Sunni state for a campaign against a Sunni militant group, U.S. officials said, made Mr. Obama comfortable with authorizing a campaign he had previously resisted.

To be sure, so far Obama has refrained from directly bombing Assad, it is only a matter of time: "How the alliance fares will depend on how the two sides reconcile their fundamental differences over Syria and other issues. Saudi leaders and members of the moderate Syrian opposition are betting the U.S. could eventually be pulled in the direction of strikes supporting moderate rebel fighters against Mr. Assad in addition to Islamic State. U.S. officials say the administration has no intention of bombing Mr. Assad's forces"... for now.
But why is Saudi Arabia so adamant to remove Assad? Here is the WSJ's take:

For the Saudis, Syria had become a critical frontline in the battle for regional influence with Iran, an Assad ally. As Mr. Assad stepped up his domestic crackdown, the king decided to do whatever was needed to bring the Syrian leader down, Arab diplomats say.

In the last week of August, a U.S. military and State Department delegation flew to Riyadh to lay the ground for a military program to train the moderate Syrian opposition to fight both the Assad regime and Islamic State—something the Saudis have long requested. The U.S. team wanted permission to use Saudi facilities for the training. Top Saudi ministers, after consulting overnight with the king, agreed and offered to foot much of the bill. Mr. Jubeir went to Capitol Hill to pressed key lawmakers to approve legislation authorizing the training.

And once the US once again folded to Saudi demands to attack another sovereign, it was merely a matter of planning:

Hours before the military campaign was set to begin, U.S. officials held a conference call to discuss final preparations. On the call, military officers raised last-minute questions about whether Qatar would take part and whether the countries would make their actions public.
Mr. Kerry was staying in a suite on the 34th floor of New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel, where he was meeting leaders attending United Nations gatherings. He called his Gulf counterparts to make sure they were still onboard. They were.

The UAE, which some defense officials refer to as "Little Sparta" because of its outsized military strength, had the most robust role. One of the UAE's pilots was a woman. Two of the F-15 pilots were members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of the crown prince. In the third wave of the initial attack, half of the attack airplanes in the sky were from Arab countries.

The best news for Obama: it is now just a matter of time to recreate the same false flag that the Saudi-US alliance pushed so hard on the world in the summer of 2013 to justify the first attempt to remove Assad, and once again get the "sympathy" public cote behind him, naturally with the support of the US media.

But how does one know it is once again nothing but a stage? The following blurb should explain everything:

Saudi players in attendance for the Sept. 11 meeting included Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who as the king's spymaster last year ran afoul of Mr. Kerry over Syria and Iraq policy.U.S. officials interpreted his presence as a sign the king wanted to make sure the court was united, U.S. officials said.

Actually, his presence is a sign that the same puppetmaster who pulled the strings, and failed, in 2013 to remove Assad, and as noted above was at least officially removed from the stage subsequently, is once again the person in charge of the Syrian campaign, only this time unofficially, and this time has Obama entirely wrapped around his finger.


La segunda fue publicada el 11 de Octubre pasado:

Título: Why Oil Is Plunging: The Other Part Of The "Secret Deal" Between The US And Saudi Arabia

Texto: Two weeks ago, we revealed one part of the "Secret Deal" between the US and Saudi Arabia: namely what the US 'brought to the table' as part of its grand alliance strategy in the middle east, which proudly revealed Saudi Arabia to be "aligned" with the US against ISIS, when in reality John Kerry was merely doing Saudi Arabia's will when the WSJ reported that "the process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh U.S. commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority."

What was not clear is what was the other part: what did the Saudis bring to the table, or said otherwise, how exactly it was that Saudi Arabia would compensate the US for bombing the Assad infrastructure until the hated Syrian leader was toppled, creating a power vacuum in his wake that would allow Syria, Qatar, Jordan and/or Turkey to divide the spoils of war as they saw fit.

A glimpse of the answer was provided earlier in the article "The Oil Weapon: A New Way To Wage War", because at the end of the day it is always about oil, and leverage.

The full answer comes courtesy of Anadolu Agency, which explains not only the big picture involving Saudi Arabia and its biggest asset, oil, but also the latest fracturing of OPEC at the behest of Saudi Arabia...

... which however is merely using "the oil weapon" to target the old slash new Cold War foe #1: Vladimir Putin.

To wit:

Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia, Iran with price of oil

Saudi Arabia will force the price of oil down, in an effort to put political pressure on Iran and Russia, according to the President of Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center.

Saudi Arabia plans to sell oil cheap for political reasons, one analyst says. 

To pressure Iran to limit its nuclear program, and to change Russia's position on Syria, Riyadh will sell oil below the average spot price at $50 to $60 per barrel in the Asian markets and North America, says Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center. The marked decrease in the price of oil in the last three months, to $92 from $115 per barrel, was caused by Saudi Arabia, according to Abanmy. 

With oil demand declining, the ostensible reason for the price drop is to attract new clients, Abanmy said, but the real reason is political. Saudi Arabia wants to get Iran to limit its nuclear energy expansion, and to make Russia change its position of support for the Assad Regime in Syria. Both countries depend heavily on petroleum exports for revenue, and a lower oil price means less money coming in, Abanmy pointed out. The Gulf states will be less affected by the price drop, he added.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which is the technical arbiter of the price of oil for Saudi Arabia and the 11 other countries that make up the group, won't be able to affect Saudi Arabia's decision, Abanmy maintained.

The organization's decisions are only recommendations and are not binding for the member oil producing countries, he explained.

Today's Brent closing price: $90. Russia's oil price budget for the period 2015-2017? $100. Which means much more "forced Brent liquidation" is in the cards in the coming weeks as America's suddenly once again very strategic ally, Saudi Arabia, does everything in its power to break Putin.


La tercera nota es de hoy: 

Título: US "Secret" Deal With Saudis Backfires After Oil Minister Says US Should Cut First

Texto: Who could have seen this coming? With oil prices holding at 4-year lows, heavily pressuring around half of US shale production economics, the "secret" US deal (see here and here) with Saudi Arabia to crush Russia via oil over-supply in a slumping demand world appears to be backfiring rapidly for John Kerry and his strategery team. Capable of withstanding considerably lower prices for longer, Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi proclaimed "no one should cut production and the market will stabilize itself," adding rather ominously (for the US economy and HY default rates), "Why should Saudi Arabia cut? The U.S. is a big producer too now. Should they cut?"

As Reuters reports,

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia signaled on Wednesday it was unlikely to push for a major change in oil output at the producer group's meeting this week, a day after Russia refused to cooperate in any production cut. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected the oil market "to stabilize itself eventually."

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said some OPEC members, although not Iran itself, were gearing up for a battle over market share and insisted that non-OPEC producers needed to participate in any OPEC-led output cut.

"The most important thing for all of us is the unity and solidarity of OPEC, and in this situation I believe we need to have the contribution of non-OPEC producers for managing the market," Zangeneh told reporters.

"Some OPEC members believe that this is the time where we need to defend market share ... All the experts in the market believe we have oversupply in the market and next year we will have more oversupply," he added.

Which led the Saudi Minister to comment...

"Why should Saudi Arabia cut? The U.S. is a big producer too now. Should they cut?"

With prices expected to drop to $60 on no cut, maybe the "unequivocally good" news for the US economy from lower oil prices should be rethunk.

martes, 25 de noviembre de 2014

Discurso de Sergei Lavrov

Este es el año de hablar claro, parece. (Excepto para la OTAN, que transita todavía por la nube gaseosa de autobombo y sanata, al menos hasta que los bajen de un hondazo.)  Transcribimos el discurso pronunciado por Sergei Lavrov en ocasión de la 22º Asamblea del Consejo para las Políticas Exterior y de Defensa, hace tres días (22 de Noviembre). Lamentablemente todavía no hay versión castellana del discurso. Acá va: 

"I’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.

As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.

Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.

Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.

President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.

The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.

Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime -- and practically nobody denies this.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.

We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.

However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.

It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”

Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.

According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.

He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.

I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.

Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.

All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued "tug of war" in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.

This is a major issue for the EU.

So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.

State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.

On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.

On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d'Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.

If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It's hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.

You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.

I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.

We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.

I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.

There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.

The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel. Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.


Minuto a minuto: Fallo del caso Ferguson desata fuertes protestas en EE.UU.

Texto completo en: http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/view/148290-caso-ferguson-veredicto-gran-jurado-fuertes-protestas

lunes, 24 de noviembre de 2014

El Mundo Libre

Más de una vez nos hemos referido aquí a los BRICS en general, y a Rusia en particular, como el verdadero “Mundo Libre”, en contraposición con el Imperio y su lógica de amo-esclavo. Claro, después de más de medio siglo de sanata mediática occidental en sentido contrario, el concepto suena contra-intuitivo, lo sabemos. A continuación reproducimos una interesante entrevista que realizó el sitio italiano “Contrainformazione” a nuestro amigo ruso “el Peregrino”, del blog The Vineyard of the Saker, hace pocos días. Quien hace las preguntas es un tal “Anacronista”. Las respuestas permiten ir deconstruyendo la sanata corporativa en forma clara, metódica, pausada. Acá van:

I was recently contacted by Anacronista from the website Controinformazione in Italy and we agreed to do a short Q&A which was published today here in Italian. I am posting the original English text of our exchange below.

Anacronista: Today the contrast between Russian and US foreign policies is striking: on one side moderation, common sense, respect for sovereign states; on the other side coups d'etat, threats, sanctions and lies. Is the contrasting behaviour of the two powers due to incidental political calculations or to a different underlying view of life?

The Saker: The first thing to point out is that Lavrov and Putin are extremely well educated men who come from elite institutions: Lavrov from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Putin from the former external intelligence directorate of the KGB. They are far better educated that modern US diplomats. In the past the US also had distinguished diplomats like James Baker, but now they are either total idiots (like Psaki) or arrogant liars (like Powers). The second this is that the USA truly does not have a "diplomacy". After all, US "diplomacy" is just a combination of demands, promises, threats and bombings which do not require any real diplomatic skills. Third, Russia has greatly suffered from the costs of empire, both under the Czars and under the Soviet rule. As a result, Russia does not want to be an empire, or a super power, or a world policeman or a hegemon. All Russia wants is to be a *normal* but, and this is important, a *truly sovereign* country. In order to achieve that Russia has a few basic fundamental rules she really believes in:

Turn your enemies into neutrals, your neutrals into partners, your partners into friends and your friends into allies. The US can only conceptualize two categories: vassals and enemies.

Security is always and necessarily collective. If your neighbor does not feel safe, then you also are not safe. The US only feels secure then it can threaten everybody, as a result of which, everybody feels threatened.

International law really matters to the Russians. Why? Because they want a multi-polar world and that, in turn, mandates that the "rules of the game" (international law) be upheld. The US wants a unipolar world which, therefore, has no need for international law.
For Russia, the use of military forces is the last resort and a failure of diplomacy. For the US the use of force is an integral part of what it calls "diplomacy"

What we are dealing with here is a deep civilizational conflict. These are two fundamentally incompatible views of the world, two mutually exclusive civilizational models which cannot coexist, much less so collaborate.

Anacronista: What are the substantial differences, if any, between Western capitalism and Russian capitalism? Is Russia run by "markets"?

The Saker: No, Russia has a deeply dysfunctional economy. First, Russian interest rates as so high as to completely inhibit most credit for the creation of small to medium size companies. In fact, interest rates in Russia are higher than the profitability of entire sectors of the economy. Second, a huge amount of Russian money leaves Russia every year into offshore accounts and is then returned to Russia in form of "foreign investments". Combine that with the fact that most Russian corporations are incorporated outside Russia (in the UK typically) and you will immediately conclude that the entire economic/financial system in Russia is designed to prevent Russia from diversifying the Russian economy and get off the "energy needle". Russia is also poorly regulated, has a very erratic taxation system, very limited government investments and corrupt courts (hence the use of arbitrage). The Russian market has clear signs of being an oligopoly and this is a major inhibitor to the real potential of the Russian society. Some economist say that the Russian economy is barely turning at 2/3-1/2 of its true potential.

On a very different level I would also note that true capitalism has never been part of the Russian culture. Russian culture is far more collective and Russian people are not inspired by worldviews which offer little besides hopes of self-enrichment and the monetization of everything. Russian culture has always been social and social justice is an ideal which still is strong in Russia today while unbridled greed is frowned upon.

Anacronista: In Western states, money creation and management are in the hands of private banks such as the FED and the ECB. How does it work in Russia?

The Saker: Russia also have a Fed-like Central Bank which can only print Rubles in amounts corresponding to the purchase of dollars. This is a crazy idea. Officially, the Central Bank has a mission to keep the Ruble stable, but in reality all it appears to care about in inhibiting inflation which is a very bad idea, especially in times of recession and sanctions like today.

Anacronista: Does Russia plan to extend industrialization and modern infrastructure to all its territory?

The Saker: In theory yes. There are plans to re-industrialize and re-develop Siberia, the Russian Far East, Crimea and other regions. Again, in theory there is an import-substitution program being worked upon to begin developing indigenously that which was imported in the past. Major investment programs have been announced to modernize the infrastructure, especially the roads, airports, railways, etc. On paper these programs look terrific, but as long as the Russian Central Bank continues to choke down the Russian economy and the Medvedev Government continues to sabotage Presidential decisions I am not very optimistic.

Anacronista: What is Russian view on immigration and integration: how does Russia manage the many ethnicities that make up the immense Federation and the new arrivals from abroad?

The Saker: There are many tensions around this issue and lot's of disagreements. Historically, Russia has always been a multi-ethnic state thanks to which 180 different ethnic groups have survived in Russia (compare that with the USA!). Even the so-called "Russians" (roughly 80% of the people) are almost always with very mixed ethnic roots. To be "Russian" is not an ethnic/racial thing. Even Orthodoxy tends to categorize people by their worldview and values and not their biological roots. There are, however, real cultural and religious differences which create tensions: poorly educated and heavily criminalized minorities from the now independent ex-Soviet republics and Wahabi Islam which is very closely connected to terrorism. In response to these two problems, the Kremlin introduced three main policies: support for local economies in depressed regions, support for local law-enforcement and support for traditional Islam (which in the former Soviet Union is never Wahabi). There are also problems with Chinese immigrants but these are mainly local and not nearly as severe as those with immigrants from the South (Caucasus, Central Asia).

Anacronista: Drugs, family crisis, social disintegration: to what an extent is Russia affected by the evils that trouble the West, and how is it planning to heal them?

The Saker: Russia also has all the problems you list, including drugs, dysfunctional families and social disintegration. The main difference in with the West is that these were at their worst in the horrible 1990s when, as the local joke says, every boy wanted to be a criminal and every girl wanted to be a prostitute (not literally true, of course, but partially true nonetheless). Since Putin came to power these problems have begun a slow but steady process of improvement whereas in the West things are still getting worse with every passing day. The main factor is that the Russian society which in the 1990s wanted to emulate the West has now grown disillusioned and even disgusted with the West and as a result of the the entire western civilizational model is being rejected. A lot of Russians are returning to their historical, civilizational and religious roots (Orthodox Christianity and Islam) while others are looking towards an original "Russian" social/civilizational model. While there is definitely still a class of people who want to be like Europeans, the Ukrainian slogan "the Ukraine is Europe" would have zero traction in Russia. If anything, the western hostility and hypocrisy towards Russia has convinced the vast majority of Russians that the West hold no promise for Russia. I estimate that the pro-western population in Russia is at no more than 5% of the total.

Anacronista: Classics are more and more neglected in Western education, thus alienating the youth from their heritage and traditions. What is the relationship between the past, the present and the future in Russia?

The Saker: Very interesting but also very painful question. The Russian past has been very tragic, especially in the 20th century. But even before that. There are still Russians who - like Alexander Solzhenitsyn - say that the deep roots of the Russian Revolution can be found in the 18th century reforms of Peter I. I tend to agree with that. The Russian civilization has been more or less oppressed for no less than 300 years. Yet, Russian cannot simply reject 300 years of her history, take a time machine and return to the Russia of Alexei Mikhailovich. But neither can Russia simply endorse everything which was done in the past 3 centuries. There is a small movement of National-Bolsheviks who basically say that every Czar was good, and Lenin was good, and Stalin was good, and more or less everything Russian is great. But that is nonsense and this ideology has no future. And yet, Russians are also deeply attached to their roots and believe that somebody with no past has no present and no even real future. So the quest is on for a criteria, a worldview, a unifying ideology which would allow Russians to separate the good from the bad and, hopefully, keep the good. I think that nobody in Russia wants yet another revolution or a "Russian Maidan". So rather then revolution, evolution is the order of the day. But Russia needs an evolution towards higher ideals then just greed, profit, wealth and comfort. So far, no real solution has been found to that problem. If you carefully read the program statements of Putin, he does offer a consensus vision which roughly 80% of Russians support: respect for tradition, respect for individual freedom, social solidarity, national sovereignty, respect for the family and the social collective, a quest for social and economic justice and a general endorsement for traditional religions (Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism). That is, of course, only a beginning, but I personally find it a reasonable and healthy one.

Muentras tanto, en la República Popular de Lugansk...

Recordaremos a Lugansk. Junto con la otra república recientemente independizada, Donetsk, conforman el núcleo de lo que se ha dado en llamar Novorrosiya: la Nueva Rusia, una escisión de la actual “Ucrania” que incluirá, en un futuro mediato, la totalidad del este y del sur de ese ex país.  Leemos en el sitio Slaviangrad.es el siguiente artículo de Svetlana Rudenko, traducido por Nahia Sanzo:

Título: Lugansk: No hay vuelta atrás

Texto: La última vez que estuve en mi ciudad natal de Lugansk fue en agosto. La ciudad estaba prácticamente desierta y solo el esporádico fuego de artillería rompía el silencio. En las cálidas noches de verano, Lugansk caía en la más absoluta oscuridad: no hubo luz eléctrica en la ciudad en durante casi tres meses. La población local había tenido que acostumbrarse a la luz  intermitente de las velas. En la frontera había una cola solo en una dirección: hacia el puesto fronterizo de la Donetsk rusa en la región de Rostov. Ahora, casi tres meses después, hay una cola de varios kilómetros de coches y autobuses para entrar a la República Popular de Lugansk. Era prácticamente imposible viajar de Moscú a Lugansk la víspera de las elecciones al parlamento y a la presidencia de la República: había quienes estaban dispuestos a viajar 24 horas en pie para ejercer su derecho al voto. Familias con niños pequeños y maleteros llenos regresaron a su ciudad a pesar de saber que la ciudad aún intenta recuperar cierta normalidad: no todos los edificios disponen de luz, agua o gas. Y lo que es más importante, la guerra continúa, las tropas ucranianas han roto el alto el fuego.

Todos con las elecciones

Nunca antes había visto tanto revuelo como el creado por las elecciones del 2 de noviembre en la RPL. Toda la ciudad estaba decorada con carteles llamando al voto: “Ve a las urnas. Toda nuestra gente estará ahí”. El día era gélido y con viento, pero la población esperó pacientemente en la cola, algunos de ellos durante horas. Débiles ancianos apoyados en sus bastones y madres jóvenes con niños en brazos se aguantaron sin dudarlo. No se produjo queja alguna porque todos comprendieron que era imposible habilitar más colegios electorales y poder garantizar la seguridad de los votantes en estas circunstancias. “No nos queda mucho tiempo de vida, pero todavía nos quedan nuestras manos para ayudar a la RPL”, dice mi vecina, una mujer de 80 años prácticamente ciega que nunca abandonó la ciudad, ni siquiera los momentos más duros del bombardeo. “Así es como mueres en tu casa”, sonríe la anciana. A pesar de las dificultades, salió de su casa pronto por la mañana camino al colegio electoral acompañada por su hija.

Los mayores han sido en estos meses los residentes más leales a la ciudad. Los más jóvenes y fuertes ayudaron a los más débiles llevándoles agua, haciendo cola para conseguir pan o compartiendo medicinas cuando todo se acabó en las farmacias. Sus hijos trataron de persuadir a muchos de que se fueran, al menos temporalmente, pero muchos se negaron. “No teníamos ni idea de que había tanta gente en Lugansk ahora”, oigo una y otra vez por todas partes. Pese a su avanzada edad, ambos se acercan a los 80 años, mis padres esperaron en la cola durante más de dos horas. “Ya no estamos en la misma línea que Ucrania”, dice mi madre, que dio a luz a mis hermanos en la región de Khmelnitsky, en Ucrania occidental. Solo tenía ocho años cuando los hombres de Stepan Bandera quemaron a sus familiares lejanos acusados de tener lazos con los partisanos. No perdonaron siquiera a unos gemelos de 7 años. “No quiero vivir en un Estado dominado por fascistas”, dice otra anciana.

Parte de la prensa ucraniana por su parte mintió descaradamente, afirmando que la población de las áreas controladas por la milicia era obligada a votar a punta de pistola. “¿Nos obligaron a esperar durante horas en la cola a punta de pistola”?, se queja Varvara Fyodorova, mi compañera de clase, que vino a las urnas con su marido y su hija de 18 años. “¿Por qué Kiev no entiende que no queremos vivir en un país gobernado por fascistas ucranianos?” A pesar de la guerra, Varvara pasó todo el verano en Lugansk, trabajando en una de las pocas farmacias que aún seguían abiertas.

Es una pena que no hubiera periodistas de la prensa ucraniana en las elecciones de la RPL: algunos tenían miedo y otros saben perfectamente que Kiev ya no busca mostrar la verdad. Puede que Kiev crea a los 70 observadores internacionales que vinieron a monitorizar el proceso. Había representantes de Italia, Rusia e incluso Estados Unidos. Ninguno de ellos denunció ninguna irregularidad. Se tuvo que extender el horario de votación primero hasta las 10 y luego hasta las 11 de  la noche para que todo el que quisiera pudiera ejercer su derecho al voto. El porcentaje de participación fue del 68%, es decir, votaron 705.605 del más de un millón de personas que conformaban el censo. Igor Plotnitsky, líder del Gobierno interino, ganó las elecciones por un amplio margen, con Oleg Akimov, representante de la federación de sindicatos de la RPL, en segundo lugar.

No hay vuelta atrás

Estamos dispuestos a soportar las dificultades y no hay vuelta atrás a Ucrania es la actitud general que se escucha de los habitantes de la nueva república. De momento, no todas las zonas de la ciudad tienen agua y luz, por no hablar de calefacción. Pero el pueblo trabaja, la mayoría de ellos acude a sus puestos caminando para no gastar lo poco que tienen. El cirujano Dmitry Filatov vivió todo el verano con su esposa Yelena, enfermera de quirófano, en el hospital regional, donde se trataba a los heridos más graves. “Había nueve civiles por cada miliciano herido”, dice. “A uno le hirieron cuando estaba en su casa, a otro cuando iba a por pan o agua”. Dmitry ayudó a rescatar a cualquiera, tanto milicianos como soldados de la Guardia Nacional. “La milicia incluso proporcionó seguridad a los soldados de la Guardia Nacional para asegurarse de que no hubiera ningún linchamiento”, dice Dmitry. “Para mí, como religioso, todos eran lo mismo: rojo o blanco, ucraniano o ruso”. Dmitry no es solo un médico. Trabaja cinco días a la semana y los fines de semana dice misa en el distrito de Mirny, junto a las topas de la frontera. Su sueño es construir una iglesia en el centro regional de tuberculosis, al que ha sido trasladado recientemente como jefe de departamento. “Los pacientes con tuberculosis activa son contagiosos, así que sería genial si pudieran tener su propia iglesia, yo los trataría y también podrían confesarse y comulgar”.

Dmitry no es el único héroe. Hay gran número de jóvenes enfermeras que arriesgan su vida cada día atravesando la ciudad, a pesar de las bombas, para acudir al trabajo y salvar vidas. Quienes limpian las calles tras los bombardeos también son héroes, al igual que los trabajadores que trataron de restablecer el suministro eléctrico o de agua. Y finalmente lo hicieron. Son héroes aquellos que no abandonaron la ciudad en un momento tan difícil. Hay que recordar que la práctica totalidad de instituciones médicas atendieron pacientes durante la batalla y que las medicinas eran distribuidas gracias a la ayuda humanitaria rusa.

Todas las escuelas de Lugansk, salvo las cinco que fueron destruidas, están abiertas. El instituto de secundaria número 21 comenzó las clases el 1 de octubre, a pesar que de un ataque con mortero destruyó una de las paredes de la escuela, dañó varias aulas del tercer piso y requirió arreglos en el tejado. Cuando visité la escuela, solo había tres profesores preparando sus clases en la sala de profesores. Tatyana Tkachenko, una profesora de química que nunca ha abandonado la ciudad durante más de un día y que ha trabajado en el instituto durante más de 40 años, está entregada de pleno. Su aula resultó dañada durante la guerra en verano. “De los 400 estudiantes, la mitad están acudiendo a clases”, dice Natalia Lukashenkova, subdirectora de estudios en el instituto. “Tuvimos que esperar al 1 de octubre por culpa de los daños en el tercer piso. “Limpiamos el instituto por nuestra cuenta, como buenamente pudimos, y algunos de nuestros niños fueron trasladados a la escuela número 20. Ahora muchos están regresando”. Por desgracia, según Natalia, algunos de los graduados no han regresado a Lugansk al no estar seguros de si los certificados de graduación de la República Popular de Lugansk serán reconocidos.

Como el resto de profesores de la RPL, los profesores de la escuela número 2 han aceptado la transición al ruso como lengua vehicular. “Te iluminas cuando ves que podemos escribir nuestra planificación y nuestros horarios en ruso”, dice el director. El otro cambio es la transición al sistema de calificación de cinco puntos. También han llegado a la ciudad libros de texto rusos. “Los estamos esperando”, dice Natalia. “Todavía no han llegado a nuestra escuela. Muchos profesores que daban clase en ucraniano temían que sus clases fueran canceladas por la RPL, pero eso no ha pasado. El ucraniano sigue siendo lengua oficial de la República junto con el ruso. Las horas dedicadas a su estudio no han cambiado”.

“Los niños han cambiado durante la guerra, son diferentes, han crecido”, dice la profesora de química. “Gracias a dios, ninguno de nuestros estudiantes ni sus familias han sufrido. Mira a Daniil, de noveno curso. Antes de las vacaciones de verano, solo era un niño. Y ahora le vemos como a un adulto. Esperemos que no vuelva a empezar”, suspira Natalia. Mientras hablamos, es constante el ruido de artillería en la distancia. La batalla no está lejos. El 6 de noviembre, murieron varios residentes de Kirovsk, incluyendo una niña de 11 años. Hay batalla a 20-30 kilómetros de Schastye. No se puede entregar esta ciudad a Ucrania: ahí está la planta que provee de energía a toda la región. Soldados del infame batallón Aidar amenazaron con volarlo y dejar a toda la RPL sin calefacción. No les importa. Dadas las circunstancias, se decidió extender las líneas de transmisión de Krasnodon al resto de la RPL, así que cuando Kiev ordenó desconectar a Lugansk de la planta eléctrica de Schastye el 7 de noviembre, la ciudad no se quedó sin luz.

El día que abandoné Lugansk, el Teatro Ucraniano inauguró su temporada con la obra “Suerte Judía”. “Había rumores  de que el teatro permanecería cerrado y de que la RPL iba a prohibir el idioma ucraniano. Gracias a dios todo era inventado”, dice la actriz Natalia Koval. “Cada uno habla la que considera su lengua materna. La milicia no está en guerra con ningún idioma sino con los fascistas”.

El joven Estado tiene muchos problemas económicos, políticos y legales. Pero ya hay una cosa clara: la nueva república ha demostrado que tiene derecho a existir y a elegir su propio camino. Será difícil, la población lo comprende, pero no hay vuelta atrás.

domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2014


La propaganda anglosajona antirusa (sí, la BBC también, chicos) es tan salvaje en estos días que, en comparación, nuestros pasquines parecen objetivos. Lo peor es que en la humareda de las chicanas y pavadas se pierde lo esencial de los hechos. Algo de todo esto señala Alfredo Jalife-Rahme en la siguiente nota de Red Voltaire:

Título: Patente ruptura del G-20 en Brisbane

Epígrafe: Para el especialista mexicano en geopolítica Alfredo Jalife, el encuentro del G20 en Brisbane no fue escenario de un supuesto aislamiento de Rusia sino que, por el contrario, reveló el distanciamiento cada vez más pronunciado entre los países del BRICS y los aliados de Washington. Los primeros tomaron inicialmente nota de la mala fe de los occidentales, quienes se habían comprometido en 2010 (en Seúl) a realizar una reforma del FMI que nunca llegó a concretarse. En Brisbane, los países del BRICS reafirmaron además sus intereses comunes y su decisión de crear un sistema internacional alternativo. Por otra parte, todo indica que la insistencia de la prensa atlantista en ridiculizar la partida anticipada de Vladimir Putin buscaba desviar la atención de los rumores sobre un posible atentado contra la vida del presidente ruso.

Texto: La cumbre de la APEC en Pekín arrojó mejores resultados que el G-20 en Brisbane, donde se profundizó la fractura entre el G-7 y el BRICS. Más allá de la supuesta fuga del presidente Putin –inflada por los desinformativos cuan pugnaces multimedia anglosajones–, quien se retiró intempestivamente del G-20, fuentes rusas susurran que se debió a las amenazas de muerte que planeaban sobre su cabeza, lo cual llevó a que Rusia hubiese colocado barcos de guerra –el crucero de misiles guiados Varyag y el destructor Mariscal Shaposhnikov– cerca de las costas australianas, hecho confirmado por la embajada rusa en Canberra [1].

Una cumbre del G-20 –organizada por Australia, miembro pendenciero de la anglosfera– sutilmente sitiada por barcos de guerra de Rusia, no es usual. El presidente Putin había señalado días antes que la economía rusa no sería dominada por la dictadura del dólar  [2], mientras se preparaba, en medio de las dolorosas sanciones, a una guerra económica (sic) después de que el Banco Central Ruso había comprado 55 toneladas de oro durante el tercer trimestre  [3].

Por menos que la doble temeridad del presidente ruso –su boicot a los petrodólares y su atesoramiento de oro–, cualquier mandatario del planeta sería un hombre muerto, como sucedió con los casos notorios del iraquí Saddam Hussein y el libio Muammar Kadafi.

Luisa Corradini, del periódico argentino La Nación [4], revela que durante el banquete que ofreció al presidente ruso, al margen de la cumbre APEC, Xi Jinping sentenció que Rusia y China deben resistir las presiones de Washington y permanecer unidas en interés del mundo entero.

Poco ha podido saberse en la prensa occidental, totalmente controlada por Estados Unidos y la anglosfera, sobre la minicumbre pentapartita del BRICS –también al margen del G-20–, donde fustigaron la postura de Estados Unidos por no haber ratificado la reforma del FMI de 2010, lo cual impacta en su legitimidad y confianza [5]. ¡Otra fractura sustancial entre el G-7 y el BRICS!

La fractura del G-20 opera a todos los niveles y es obscenamente palmaria en los multimedia de la anglosfera –Gran Bretaña/Canadá/Australia–, que han ultrajado en forma incontinente al presidente Putin en referencia al contencioso sobre Ucrania, mientras sus homólogos del BRICS han optado por una mayor mesura.

El rotativo oficioso chino Global Times  [6] diagnostica que la cumbre del G-20 en Brisbane se descarriló obviamente, cuando uno de sus principales temas era estimular el crecimiento y el empleo pero centró la atención pública en la rivalidad entre Occidente y Rusia. El rotativo chino considera que China manejó mucho mejor la cumbre de la APEC de 21 países de lo que hizo Australia en la cumbre del G-20. ¡Sin duda!

Hasta Le Monde, rotativo oficioso de la cancillería francesa, acepta que, más allá de las intensas querellas retóricas entre Occidente y Rusia, «la verdadera rivalidad hoy se sitúa entre China y Estados Unidos»  [7]. Sylvie Kauffmann, analista de Le Monde, comparte la misma opinión que Philip Stephens del Financial Times  [8], de que Rusia es una potencia declinante de ambiciones regionales. Con todo respeto, pero a nivel económico, militar y científico, Rusia es hoy mucho más poderosa que Francia y Gran Bretaña, dos potencias ex coloniales en caída libre. Tal distorsión alucinante es justamente parte nodal del problema de choque: la subestimación de Rusia y la sobrestimación de Occidente.

Mas comedido que sus pugnaces colegas británicos, Andrew Critchlow, de The Daily Telegraph [9], aduce que la economía mundial sufrirá pese a los buenos deseos del G-20 en Brisbane, cuya cumbre será recordada solamente por la salida precipitada del presidente Vladimir Putin. A su juicio, si el objetivo era hacer que Putin apareciera aislado en el escenario mundial para que fuera menos popular en su país, eso no está surtiendo efecto y también muestra un profundo desconocimiento sobre el funcionamiento de la mentalidad rusa.

Argumenta que en lugar de crecer un 2% adicional, objetivo del G-20, «el peligro para la economía global es que la disputa entre Occidente y Rusia, que ahora está siendo descrita ampliamente como una nueva guerra fría, operará como un significativo freno al crecimiento en los años que vienen», ya que Rusia es la 8ª economía más grande del mundo.

Andrew Critchlow comenta que también Occidente ha empezado a resentirse del costo de aislar a Moscú, cuando Europa necesita los petrodólares de Rusia más de lo que Rusia necesita al bloque económico disfuncional de 27 países que están riñendo entre sí para ver si permanecen juntos o no (corrección: son 28, no 27).

Dejando atrás su reyerta personal con Putin, David Cameron, primer ministro del principal país de la anglosfera, Gran Bretaña –10º lugar en el ranking del PIB global, mientras Canadá ocupa el sitial 14 y Australia el 18–, al cierre de la cumbre del G-20 advirtió sobre «la inminencia de un segundo crash global» cuando Japón –otro país muy pugnaz sin memoria histórica nuclear– acaba de caer en su enésima recesión, mientras la eurozona se encuentra al borde de una posible tercera recesión [10]. ¡Ahora se entiende el nerviosismo del G-7!

Desde Pekín (cumbre APEC) hasta Brisbane (cumbre del G-20), Obama adoptó múltiples personalidades: de la tersura seductora se transformó a la brutal dureza retórica, que alcanzó su paroxismo en la Universidad de Queensland, en donde redujo el grado de la amenaza global de Rusia al tercer lugar –después de haber ocupado el segundo sitial, detrás de los yihadistas y el ébola–, mientras pontificaba a China sobre el liderazgo estadounidense en la región Asia/Pacífico, algo que, a juicio del portal WSWS, equivale a una amenaza de guerra [11].

Obama tronó contra China sin citarla: Un orden efectivo en la seguridad para Asia debe estar basado no en esferas de influencia, coerción o intimidación, donde los grandes países someten a los pequeños, sino en alianzas de seguridad mutua, la ley y las normas internacionales.

Fuera de la realidad multipolar, no se diga del nuevo (des)orden geoestratégico tripolar, Obama garantizó el compromiso férreo con sus aliados regionales, en su calidad de única (¡supersic!) superpotencia mundial  [12].

Frank Sieren, analista de Deutsche Welle, comenta que el reciente Tratado de Libre Comercio de Australia con China «ha consternado a Estados Unidos» [13], lo cual equivaldría, a mi juicio, a una minifractura en el seno de Occidente, dentro de la macrofractura global del G-7 y el BRICS.

En forma más prudente a las bravatas huecas de la anglosfera y del insustentable solipsismo unipolar, Robert Blackwill y Dimitri Simes, en el importante portal The National Interest, aconsejan abrir un canal privado con Putin y tratar de poner fin a la confrontación Estados Unidos/Rusia sobre Ucrania antes de que se salga de todo control  [14].

El mundo peligra, sin necesidad de que lo adviertan Gorbachov y Kissinger.


[1] “Third Australian warship sent to halt Russian flotilla bound for G20 in Brisbane”; News Corp Australia, 14 de noviembre de 2014.

[2] “Putin: Russian Economy Won’t Be Dominated by ’Dollar Dictatorship’”, Sputnik News, 14 novembre 2014.

[3] “Putin "Prepares For Economic War", Buys Whopping 55 Tonnes Of Gold In Q3”, Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, 13 de noviembre de 2014.

[4] «El equilibrio del poder se reparte entre EE.UU., Rusia y China», Luisa Corradini, La Nación (Argentina), 16 de noviembre de 2014.

[5] “BRICS say failure to enact IMF reforms damages institution’s “legitimacy””, Russia Today, 15 de noviembre de 2014.

[6] “G20 will better connect China and world”, Global Times, 17 de noviembre de 2014.

[7] «A l’Est, rien de nouveau», Sylvie Kauffmann, Le Monde, 15 de septiembre de 2014.

[8] “Gorbachev is wrong about a new cold war”, Philip Stephens, Financial Times; 13 de noviembre de 2014.

[9] “Global economy to suffer as Putin quits G20 early”, Andrew Critchlow, Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2014.

[10] “Red lights are flashing on the global economy”, David Cameron, The Guardian, 17 November 2014.

[11] “Obama’s speech in Australia: A threat of war against China”, James Cogan, WSWS, 17 November 2014.

[12] “’World’s only superpower’ pledges ’ironclad commitment’ to Asia Pacific at G20 summit”, Russia Today, 15 November 2014.

[13] “Sieren’s China: US sidelined by Australia-China trade deal”, Frank Sieren, Deutsche Welle, 17 de noviembre de 2014.

[14] “Dealing with Putin”, Robert Blackwill and Dimitri Simes, The National Interest, 16 November 2014.