Vladimir Putin has been silent lately. But if anyone thought he had been shamed into defeat or marginalized, then think again.
In the last few hours Russia has announced two key strategic decisions that show they are not going to stand idly by while their economy and way of life are destroyed by Western forces.
First, presumably in response to stiff sanctions leveled by the United States and the European Union after the “Annexation of Crimea,” (a region which, in truth voted in a referendum, overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia last year), Russia has cut off 60% of Europe’s gas supplies right in the middle of winter. This has caused an almost immediate crisis in six European nations that have seen a complete cut-off to their supplies – Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey – with more to follow. According to reports via Zero Hedge, the effect has been almost instantaneous.
Without Russia, residents across Europe have no way of staying warm.
Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine, Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis “within hours.” Perhaps explaining the higher explosion in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas. The EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable,” but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, “the decision has been made.”
Russia has taken similar steps in the past because of non-payment but turned the gas supplies back on once deals were reached.
“We have informed our European partners, and now it is up to them to put in place the necessary infrastructure starting from the Turkish-Greek border,” Miller said. “The decision has been made,” Novak said. “We are diversifying and eliminating the risks of unreliable countries that caused problems in past years, including for European consumers.”Â
Second, and perhaps even more significant than the overt move to show Europe who’s boss, Putin took a direct shot at the United States. “Together with the central bank, we are selling a part of our foreign-currency reserves,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in Moscow today. “We’ll get rubles and place them in deposits for banks, giving liquidity to the economy.” Call it less than amicable divorce, call it what you will: what it is, is Russia violently leaving the ranks of countries that exchange crude for US paper.
What we are seeing are the strategic moves that will eventually catalyze the next great war. And make no mistake, this is exactly what’s in store for the world should these escalations continue. On Saturday, December 13th, Russian media reported that U.S. President Obama evidently can’t wait to sign the congressional authorization for war against Russia (which has already been passed in draft form by 98% of U.S. House members and 100% of U.S. Senate members), and that he is already shipping military supplies into Ukraine for use against Ukraine’s ethnic Russians that the Ukrainian Government is trying to eliminate.
Russia’s ruble fell more than 6 percent against the U.S. dollar on Monday, dragged down by weaker oil prices in volatile holiday trade. The CHART OF THE DAY shows how West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, tumbled 69 percent from $31.82 a barrel in November 1985 to $9.75 in April 1986 when Saudi Arabia, tiring of cutting output to support prices, flooded the market. Prices didn’t claw back the losses until 1990. Oil has dropped 57 percent since June and OPEC members say they’re willing to let prices sink further.