Eastring vs. Balkan Stream: The Battle For Greece, by Andrew Korybko

Russia wasn’t bluffing when it said that Turkish Stream would be the only route for Ukrainian-diverted gas shipments after 2019 , and after dillydallying in disbelief for over six critical months, the EU has only now come to its senses and is desperately trying to market a geopolitical alternative. Understanding that its need for gas must absolutely continue to be met by Russia for the foreseeable decades (regardless of trans-Atlantic rhetoric), the EU wants to mitigate the multipolar consequences of Russia’s pipeline plans as much as it feasibly can. Russia wants to extend the Turkish Stream through Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia, in a project that the author has previously labelled as “ Balkan Stream ”, while the EU wants to scrap the Central Balkan route and replace it with one along the Eastern Balkans via Bulgaria and Romania, the so-called “Eastring” line.

Although Eastring could theoretically transit Caspian gas being shipped through the TAP pipeline, the proposal being thrown around most lately is for it to link to Turkish Stream instead, likely because the possibly projected 10-20 bcm a year from the former (Azerbaijan’s reserves may not be capable of meeting the demand without Turkmen assistance, which is far from assured at this point) is dwarfed by the guaranteed 49 bcm from the latter. If Europe does intend for Eastring to connect to Turkish Stream, then Russian gas supplies would reach the continent regardless of the route involved (Central Balkans or Eastern Balkans), meaning that it’s a win-win for Russia…supposedly. The strategic differences between Eastring and Balkan Stream are actually quite acute, and coupled with the implied motivational impetus revealed by the EU’s Eastring-Turkish Stream connective proposal in the first place, it means that they must be analyzed more in-depth before anyone jumps to a predetermined conclusion about Eastring’s ‘mutually beneficial’ nature.

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Hell hath no fury like Ash: The Pentagon goes Nuclear on Russia!, by Pepe Escobar

In only fifteen years Russia has jumped two generations ahead of the US on missiles and may be on the verge of a first strike nuclear capacity, and the US is freaking out.

Make no mistake, this man is pushing for war with Russia
Make no mistake, this man is pushing for war with Russia

We all remember how, in early June, President Putin announced that Russia would deploy more than 40 new ICBMs “able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.”

Oh dear; the Pentagon and their European minions have been freaking out on overdrive ever since.

First was NATO Secretary-General, Norwegian figurehead Jens Stoltenberg, who condemned it as “nuclear saber rattling.

Then there’s Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the head of US Global Air Strike Command – as in the man responsible for US ICBMs and nuclear bombers – at a recent briefing in London; “[They’ve] annexed a country, changing international borders, raising rhetoric unlike we’ve heard since the cold war times…

That set up the stage for the required Nazi parallel; “Some of the actions by Russia recently we haven’t seen since the 1930s, when whole countries were annexed and borders were changed by decree.”

At His Masters Voice’s command, the EU duly extended economic sanctions against Russia.And right on cue, Pentagon supremo Ashton Carter, out of Berlin, declared that NATO must stand up against – what else – “Russian aggression” and “their attempts to re-establish a Soviet-era sphere of influence.

Bets are off on what this huffin’ and puffin’ is all about. It could be about Russia daring to build a whole country close to so many NATO bases. It could be about a bunch of nutters itching to start a war on European soil to ultimately “liberate” all that precious oil, gas and minerals from Russia and the Central Asian “stans”.

Unfortunately, the whole thing is deadly serious.

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US To Begin Invasion of Syria,by Tony Cartalucci

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Unbeknownst to the general public, their elected politicians do not create the policy that binds their national destiny domestically or within the arena of geopolitics. Instead, corporate-financier funded think tanks do – teams of unelected policymakers which transcend elections, and which produce papers that then become the foundation of legislation rubber stamped by “legislators,” as well as the enumerated talking points repeated ad naseum by the corporate-media.

Such a policy paper has been recently written by the notorious US policy think-tank, the Brookings Institution, titled, “Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country.” The signed and dated open-conspiracy to divide, destroy, then incrementally occupy a sovereign nation thousands of miles from America’s shores serves as a sobering example of how dangerous and enduring modern imperialism is, even in the 21st century.

Pretext ISIS: US Poured Billions Into “Moderates” Who Don’t Exist

The document openly admits that the US has provided billions in arming and training militants fed into the devastating and increasingly regional conflict. It admits that the US maintains – and should expand – operations in Jordan and NATO-member Turkey to provide even more weapons, cash, and fighters to the already catastrophic conflict.

It then recounts the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), but fails to account from where its money, cash, and weapons came. It should be obvious to readers that if the United States has committed billions in cash, weapons, and training on multiple fronts to alleged “moderates” who for all intents and purposes do not exist on the battlefield, a state-sponsor of greater magnitude would be required to create and sustain ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front who Brookings admits dominates the “opposition” uncontested.

In reality, ISIS’ supply lines lead right into US operational zones in Turkey and Jordan, because it was ISIS and Al Qaeda all along that the West planned to use before the 2011 conflict began, and has based its strategy on ever since – including this most recent leg of the campaign.

The US Invasion of  Syria

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After arming and funding a literal region-wide army of Al Qaeda terrorists, the United States now plans to use the resulting chaos to justify what it has sought since the beginning of the conflict when it became clear the Syrian government was not to capitulate or collapse – the establishment of buffer zones now called “safe zones” by Brookings.

These zones once created, will include US armed forces on the ground, literally occupying seized Syrian territory cleared by proxies including Kurdish groups and bands of Al Qaeda fighters in the north, and foreign terrorist militias operating along the Jordanian-Syrian border in the south. Brookings even admits that many of these zones would be created by extremists, but that “ideological purity” wound “no longer be quite as high of a bar.

The US assumes that once this territory is seized and US troops stationed there, the Syrian Arab Army will not dare attack in fear of provoking a direct US military response against Damascus. The Brookings paper states (emphasis added):

The  idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able.American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would actin support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the  presence  of  special  forces  as  well.The  approach would  benefit  from  Syria’s open desert  terrain  which  could  allow  creation  of  buffer  zones  that could  be  monitored  for possible  signs  of  enemy  attack  through  a  combination  of  technologies, patrols,  and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal  of  the  outside  special  forces,  he  would  be  likely  to  lose  his  air power  in ensuing  retaliatory  strikes  by  outside  forces,  depriving  his  military  of  one  of its  few advantages over ISIL.Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

In a single statement, Brookings admits that the government of Syria is not engaged in a war against its own people, but against “ISIL” (ISIS). It is clear that Brookings, politicians, and other strategists across the West are using the threat of ISIS in combination with the threat of direct military intervention as a means of leverage for finally overrunning and seizing Syria entirely.

The Invasion Could Succeed, But Not for US Proxies

The entire plan is predicated on America’s ability to first take and hold these “zones” and subsequently mesh them into functioning autonomous regions. Similar attempts at US “nation building” are currently on display in the ravaged failed state that used to be North Africa’s nation of Libya, Syria’s neighbor to the southeast, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the list goes on extensively.

The folly of this plan both in attempts to use non-existent credibility and military will to actually implement it, as well as in terms of those foolish enough to place their trust in a nation that has left a swath of global destruction and failed states in its wake stretching from South Vietnam to Libya and back again, can be described only as monumental.

This strategy can almost certainly be used to finally destroy Syria. It cannot however, be used to do any of the things the US will promise in order to get the various players necessary for it to succeed, to cooperate.

Almost certainly there are measures Syria, its allies Iran and Hezbollah, as well as Russia, China, and all other nations facing the threats of Western hegemony can take to ensure that US forces will not be able to take and hold Syrian territory or ultimately succeed in what is essentially an invasion in slow motion. Already the US has used their own ISIS hordes as a pretext to operate militarily within Syrian territory, which as predicted, has led to this next stage in incremental invasion.

An increase in non-NATO peacekeeping forces in Syria could ultimately unhinge Western plans altogether. The presence of Iranian, Lebanese, Yemeni, Afghan, and other forces across Syria, particularly bordering “zone” the US attempts to create, may offer the US the prospect of a multinational confrontation it has neither the political will, nor the resources to undertake.

The ability of Syria and its allies to create a sufficient deterrence against US aggression in Syria, while cutting off the logistical lines the US is using to supply ISIS and other terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq will ultimately determine Syria’s survival.

Source: Neo Eastern Outlook

Tony Cartalucci is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

He also maintains the Land Destroyer Report and is an independent American geopolitical analyst based in Thailand. Land Destroyer can be followed on Twitter here and Facebook here. Comments, questions, corrections, and article submissions should be sent to cartalucci@gmail.com, or through the Contact LD page.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.


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When Free Speech Hurts: Top German Politician Tells Ash Carter to “go F**K” Himself. Finally!

Source: Russia Insider

Oskar Lafontaine is a major force in German politics. When he comes out swinging this way, you know something is changing.

He has been an outsized figure in German politics since the mid-70s. He was chairman of the SPD (one of Germany’s two main parties) for four years, the SPD’s candidate for chancellor in 1990, minister of finance for two years, and then chairman of the Left party in the 2000s. He is married to Sarah Wagenknecht, political heavyweight, who is currently co-chairman of Left party.

So it caught people’s attention when he excoriated Ash Carter and Victoria Nuland on his Facebook page yesterday.

Lafontaine’s outburst came a day after his wife, Sarah Wagenknecht, blasted Merkel’s Russia policy in an interview on RT.

Here is the full translation of the post:

“The US ‘Defense’ secretary, i.e., war minister is in Berlin.  He called on Europe to counter Russian ‘aggression’.  But in fact, it is US aggression which Europeans should be opposing.

“The Grandmaster of US diplomacy, George Kennan described the eastward expansion of NATO as the biggest US foreign policy mistake since WW2, because it will lead to a new cold war.
“The US diplomat Victoria Nuland said we have spent $5 billion to destabilize the Ukraine. They stoke the flames ever higher, and Europe pays for it with lower trade and lost jobs.
“Nuland says ‘F*ck the EU’. We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism.
“F*ck US imperialism!”
Here is the post in German:
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
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The St. Petersburg’s International Forum in the Heart of the Action, by Pepe Escobar

The dogs of western fear and sanctions bark, while the Eurasian caravan passes.

And no caravanserai could possibly compete with the 19th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Thousands of global business leaders – including Europeans, but not Americans; after all, President Putin is “the new Hitler” – representing over 1,000 international companies/corporations, including the CEOs of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, hit town in style.

Fascinating panels all around – including discussions on the BRICs; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); the New Silk Road(s); the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU); and of course the theme of all themes, “The Making of the Asia-Pacific Century: Rebalancing East,” with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Predictably, there’s been plenty of anticipation regarding the BRICs New Development Bank, with big news coming next month at the BRICs summit in Ufa. Brazilian Paulo Nogueira Batista, the new vice-president of the bank, looks forward to the first meeting of the governors.

And on another key theme — bypassing the US dollar — it was up to Anatoliy Aksakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship, to cut to the chase; “We need to transition to conducting mutual settlements in national currencies, and we believe that all the conditions are already in place for this.”

The action was not only rhetorical. Here’s just a fraction of the deals clinched at SPIEF. Predictably, it’s been a Pipelineistan show all around.

– The pipes for the Turkish Stream pipeline under the Black Sea will start to be laid down this month, or at latest by July, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

– Gazprom’s CEO Aleksey Miller and Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis practically clinched the extension of Turkish Stream to Greece. They are “preparing an appropriate intergovernmental memorandum,” according to Gazprom.

– Gazprom also announced it will build a new double pipeline from Russia to Germany, across the Baltic Sea, in partnership with Germany’s E.ON, Anglo-Dutch Shell and Austria’s OMV.

In another crucial Eurasian front, India signed a framework agreement to create a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union. Indian Minister of Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman was euphoric: “The two regions are big, anything done together should naturally lead to bigger outcomes.”

Oh, and those were the days of Bandar Bush threatening to unleash jihadis on Russia.

Instead, a remarkable meeting took place, between Putin and Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and defense minister (the actual conductor of the war on Yemen). This was the logical conclusion of Putin being in touch, for weeks, with the new master of the House of Saud, King Salman.

The House of Saud politely spun it as a discussion on “relations and aspects of cooperation between the two friendly countries.” Facts on the ground included Russia and Saudi Arabia’s oil ministers discussing a broad cooperation agreement; the signing of six nuclear technology agreements; and the Supreme Imponderable; Putin and the deputy crown prince discussing oil prices. Could this be the end of the Saudi-led oil price war?

If that was not enough, on the Asian front the superstar executive chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, went no holds barred to say: “It is high time for market players to invest in Russia.” Beijing, by the way, currently estimates the value of signed and almost signed agreements with Russia at a whopping $1 trillion. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov preferred to hold a “humbler” estimate.

Well, if only other sanctioned and “isolated” nations – because of their “aggression” – could be capable of such a business performance.

And where were the Masters?

Before the St. Petersburg forum, Putin was delivering an invariable message every time he met a western leader. He would talk about bilateral trade, and then remark things could be way, way better. At the forum, it’s beyond evident that the EU’s policy of sanctioning Russia is a disaster – whatever the European Council decides next week.

Those masters of Kafkaesque bureaucracy at the European Commission (EC) keep swearing Europe is not suffering. Who’re you going to believe? EC bureaucrats who only care about their fat retirement pensions, or this Austrian study?

And then there was The Big Meeting on the sidelines of SPIEF: Putin with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The question here is not Greece becoming a BRICs member tomorrow, for instance. Yves Smith at her Naked Capitalism blog may have succinctly nailed it; “The objective risk of a new Greece-Russia alliance … is whether Europeans are worried enough about this risk to change course.”

There’s no evidence – yet – there will be a change of course. Iron Chancellor Merkel is now openly brandishing the Russia card – as in Moscow getting a foothold in the EU — to keep other EU nations in tune with the German austerity obsession.

As for the Last Word at the forum, it was hard to beat Tsipras; Europe “should stop considering itself the centre of the universe, it should understand that the center of world economic development is shifting to other regions.”

So were there any real Masters of the Universe present at SPIEF?

In the real world, there are a number of institutions and conferences that serve as the basis for “coordination” policies. But the Masters of the Universe are not there. They pull the strings of the marionettes that attend the meetings — and then whatever they decided is coordinated below.

Putin did not miss anything by being snubbed at the G7 in the Bavarian Alps (actually G1 + “junior partners”). He would be meeting with figureheads, anyway.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), featuring the key central bankers, they meet once a month for “coordination purposes.” The Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission, and Davos also meet for coordination purposes. A case can be made that SPIEF is now the key coordination forum for Eurasia. Masters of the Universe – real or self-perceived – may snub it at their own peril.

Source: Global Research

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RT and Sputnik, and a Sputnik regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Paul Craig Robert’s address to the conference on the European/Russian Crisis in Delphi, Greece on June 20-21

Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster.

The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence in the US government. The neoconservatives have interpreted the Soviet collapse as History’s choice of “American democratic capitalism” as the New World Order.

Chosen by History as the exceptional and indispensable country, Washington claims the right and the responsibility to impose its hegemony on the world. Neoconservatives regard their agenda to be too important to be constrained by domestic and international law or by the interests of other countries. Indeed, as the Unipower, Washington is required by the neoconservative doctrine to prevent the rise of other countries that could constrain American power.

Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neoconservative, penned the Wolfowitz Doctrine shortly after the Soviet collapse. This doctrine is the basis of US foreign and military policy.

The doctrine states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Notice that Washington’s “first objective” is not peace, not prosperity, not human rights, not democracy, not justice. Washington’s “first objective” is world hegemony. Only the very confident so blatantly reveal their agenda.

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