The West’s Covert War With Russia

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The West’s Covert War With Russia

by David Reavill

In business, I’ve found that the most difficult people to deal with are the ones who do not understand your side of the negotiations. They are the ones who come into the process with an already established set of expectations. Expectations that they will not change.

The standard set of expectations with these people is that you’re out to “get them.” And, no matter what you do, it’s assumed that you’re out to take advantage of them. People like that are nearly impossible to deal with. There’s no use trying to deal with people who, from the get-go, think that you are a crook. And if that’s how things went, I would get up from the table and leave.

Summit meeting of Ukraine, Germany, and France, Oct. 2014

We are seeing just such a “bad faith” negotiation currently on the world stage. It is the back-and-forth dialog between the leaders of Western Europe and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.

Before we even begin, I don’t have to tell you that Putin is a bad guy. We see it daily in the Press. They tell us that he, and hence his country, are unscrupulous characters and not to be trusted.

Less than a month ago, Putin offered to begin negotiations regarding shipping wheat out of Ukraine. His only requirement was that if he allowed grain shipments, the West would lift its sanctions. Newspapers from England to Germany to England responded with the coordinated headline: Putin “Claims” to have made progress in lifting Ukraine wheat sanctions.

It’s as if Putin has tried to deceive by implying that progress is being made in their negotiations. The negotiations fell apart shortly after that.

And most pertinent to the discussion. What was preventing the Ukraine shipments, it turned out, was not Russia. But a phalanx of floating mines outside the ports of Odessa, among others. These mines were set by the Ukraine Navy and designed to prevent a Russian sea invasion.

But, facts seem to hold little sway over most of the West. And Putin remains in the dog house.

As we’ve discussed before, Western Europe and especially Germany rely on Russian oil and gas to provide much, if not most, of their energy. Especially for those long German winters, where three-quarters of their winter heating comes from Russian oil and gas. That’s why this week’s action by the Russian President must be so difficult to explain.

And that gas is delivered through the Nord Stream Pipelines. These two pipelines are the longest undersea pipelines in the world. They are submerged under the Baltic Sea, transporting oil and gas from Russia to Europe.

And Russia delivers their various petroleum products under the terms of a contract, which I believe expires in 3 or 4 years. Earlier this week, Russia, acting in good faith, agreed to fulfill the terms of that contract by re-opening the pipeline after it was closed for repair.

Here’s the issue: while Russia is acting in good faith, it’s hard to see how that’s reciprocated. The West seems bound and determined to fight a covert war. Europe and America have gone out of their way to provide all of the economic sanctions and material support to Russia’s enemy Ukraine.

Today’s conflict began when President Biden acting unilaterally, cut Russia off from the international settlements hub, the Swift System. It escalated to freezing bank accounts, capturing yachts, a complete economic boycott by America of all Russian oil imports, and somewhere over $600 Billion in direct military and financial aid to Ukraine.

In short, the European Union, the United States, and NATO have done everything short of declaring war in their effort to defeat Russia.

It’s clear where the collective West stands, and it’s not behind Russia.

Today’s covert war is part of a more significant conflict that has raged in Ukraine since at least October 2014. When the leader of Ukraine, Victor Poroshenko, the leaders of Germany and France, and Putin all sat down to negotiate for the first time, these negotiations were partly to protect the native Russian living in Ukraine. But Poroshenko would not agree to terms. And each time that Russia has come to the table since they’ve always come away empty-handed.

Thus we came to yesterday, when, once again, Russia offered to act in good faith. After the Nord Stream pipeline shut down for ten days for maintenance, Russia again allowed gas to flow freely to Europe. Did that mean that the Europeans accepted this move as a good faith move by the Russian leader to deal with them during this trying period?

Certainly not!

Europe, America, and especially the America Press reacted as if Putin had something up his sleeve. Some nefarious strategy to get at Europe. As the MSNBC newscast reported: it was all part of “Putin’s Gas Offensive.”

Really?

In today’s environment, it’s hard to see how this can come to a negotiated settlement.

Economic News

Just to underscore today’s focus on this very tenuous relationship between Russia and Europe, both the International Monetary Fund, the IMF and the International Energy Agency, the IEA are warning Europe of very dire consequences if Russia were to shut off oil and gas supplies this winter. If Russia were to do so, the IMF predicts recession in Europe. While the IEA says that no matter what happens, at current levels Europe needs to cut consumption by 20%.

Increasingly it’s looking like a cold winter for Europe.

In overnight news, Germany announced that their Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to the lowest level since the Pandemic, While Great Britain also announced a milder decline in their PMI for June.

In earnings today, all eyes have been on Twitter which just announced its results; the stock is trading lower currently. Also reporting somewhat disappointing earnings have been Verizon Communications and Nextera Energy. While American Express, HCA Healthcare, and Schlumberger all are seeing their stocks rise on their results.

~~~
BIO

David Reavill

David Reavill

Financial Writer

writer + finance +iconoclast + hiker + Pennsylvania

#valueside
daily podcast + comment + thinker
valueside.com/links


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