By Pepe Escobar
Vast swathes of NATOstan have been corralled into behaving like a Russophobic lynch mob. No dissent is tolerated.
By now it’s abundantly clear that the neo-Orwellian “Two Minute Hate” Russophobic campaign launched by the Empire of Lies after the start of Operation Z is actually “24/7 Hate”.
Vast swathes of NATOstan have been corralled into behaving like a Russophobic lynch mob. No dissent is tolerated. The full psyops has de facto upgraded the Empire of Lies to the status of Empire of Hate in a Total War – hybrid and otherwise – to cancel Russia.
Hate, after all, packs way more punch than mere lies, which are now veering into abject ridiculousness, as in U.S. “intelligence” resorting to – what else – lies to fight the info war against Russia.
If the propaganda overdrive has been lethally effective amidst the zombified Western masses – call it a “win” in the P.R. war – in the front where it really matters, inside Russia, it’s a major fail.
Public opinion support for both Operation Z and President Putin is unprecedented. After videos of torture of Russian POWs that caused widespread revulsion, Russian civil society is even bracing for a “Long War” lasting months, not weeks, as long as the targets of the Russian High Command – actually a military secret – are met.
The stated aims are “demilitarization” and “denazification” of a future neutral Ukraine – but geopolitically reach way beyond: the aim is to turn the post-1945 European collective security arrangement upside down, forcing NATO to understand and come to terms with the concept of “indivisible security”. This is an extremely complex process that will reach the next decade.
The NATOstan sphere simply cannot admit in public a series of facts that a military analyst of the caliber of Andrei Martyanov has been explaining for years. And that adds to their collective pain.
Russia can take on NATO and smash it to bits in 48 hours. It may employ advanced strategic deterrence systems unmatched across the West. Its southern axis – from the Caucasus and West Asia to Central Asia – is fully stabilized. And if the going gets really tough, Mr. Zircon can deliver his hypersonic nuclear business card with the other side not even knowing what hit it.
“Europe has chosen its fate”
It may be enlightening to see how these complex processes are interpreted by Russians – whose points of view are now completely blocked across NATOstan.
Let’s take two examples. The first is Lieutenant General L.P. Reshetnikov, in an analytical note examining facts of the ground war.
Some key takeaways:
– “Over Romania and Poland there are airborne early warning aircraft of NATO with experienced crews, there are U.S. intelligence satellites in the sky all the time. I remind you that just in terms of budgets for our Roscosmos we allocated $2.5 billion a year, the civil budget of NASA is $25 billion, the civil budget of SpaceX alone is equal to Roscosmos – and that is not counting the tens of billions of dollars annually for the entire U.S. feverishly unfolding the control system of the entire planet.”
– The war is unfolding according to “NATO’s eyes and brains. The Ukronazis are nothing but free controlled zombies. And the Ukrainian army is a remotely controlled zombie organism.”
– “The tactics and strategy of this war will be the subject of textbooks for military academies around the world. Once again: the Russian army is smashing a Nazi zombie organism, fully integrated with the eyes and brain of NATO.”
Now let’s switch to Oleg Makarenko, who focuses on the Big Picture.
– “The West considers itself ‘the whole world’ only because it has not yet received a sufficiently sensitive punch on the nose. It just so happened that Russia is now giving him this click: with the rear support of Asia, Africa and Latin America. And the West can do absolutely nothing with us, since it also lags behind us in terms of the number of nuclear warheads.”
– “Europe has chosen its fate. And chose fate for Russia. What you are seeing now is the death of Europe. Even if it does not come to nuclear strikes on industrial centers, Europe is doomed. In a situation where European industry is left without cheap Russian energy sources and raw materials – and China will begin to receive these same energy carriers and raw materials at a discount, there can be no talk of any real competition with China from Europe. As a result, literally everything will collapse there – after industry, agriculture will collapse, welfare and social security will collapse, hunger, banditry and chaos will begin.”
It’s fair to consider Reshetnikov and Makarenko as faithfully representing the overall Russian sentiment, which interprets the crude Bucha false flag as a cover to obscure the Ukrainian army torture of Russian POWs.
And, deeper still, Bucha allowed the disappearance of Pentagon bioweapon labs from the Western mediasphere, complete with its ramifications: evidence of a concerted American drive to ultimately deploy real weapons of mass destruction against Russia.
The multi-level Bucha hoax had to include the Brit presidency of the UN Security Council actually blocking a serious discussion, a day before the Russian Ministry of Defense struggled to present to the UN – predictably minus the U.S. and the UK – all the bioweapon facts they have unearthed in Ukraine. The Chinese were horrified by the findings.
The Russian Investigative Committee at least persists in its work, with 100 researchers unearthing evidence of war crimes across Donbass to be presented at a tribunal in the near future, most probably set up in Donetsk.
And that brings us back to the facts on the ground. There’s a lot of analytical discussion on the possible endgame of Operation Z. A fair assessment would include the liberation of all of Novorossiya and total control of the Black Sea coastline that currently is part of Ukraine.
“Ukraine” in fact was never a state; it was always an annex to another state or empire such as Poland, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and crucially Russia.
The landmark Russian state was Kievan Rus. “Ukraine”, in old Russian, means “border region”. In the past, it referred to the westernmost regions of the Russian Empire. When the Empire started expanding south, the new regions annexed mostly from Turkish rule were called Novorossiya (“New Russia”) and the northeastern regions, Malorossiya (“Little Russia”).
It was up to the USSR in the early 1920s to jumble it all together and name it “Ukraine” – adding Galicia in the west, which was historically non-Russian.
Yet the key development is when the USSR broke up in 1991. As the Empire of Lies de facto controlled post-Soviet Russia, they could never have possibly allowed the real Russian regions of the USSR – that is, Novorossiya and Malorossiya – to be again incorporated to the Russian Federation.
Russia is now re-incorporating them – in an “I Did It, My Way” manner.
Vamos a bailar in European Puerto Rico
By now it’s also quite clear to any serious geopolitical analysis that Operation Z opened a Pandora’s box. And the supreme historical victim of all the toxicity finally let loose is bound to be Europe.
The indispensable Michael Hudson, in a new essay on the U.S. dollar devouring the euro, argues half in jest that Europe might as well surrender its currency, and go on like “a somewhat larger version of Puerto Rico.”
After all, Europe “has pretty much ceased to be a politically independent state, it is beginning to look more like Panama and Liberia – ‘flag of convenience’ offshore banking centers that are not real ‘states’ because they don’t issue their own currency, but use the U.S. dollar.”
In synch with quite a few Russian, Chinese and Iranian analysts, Hudson advances that the war in Ukraine – actually in its “full-blown version as the New Cold War” – is likely to last “at least a decade, perhaps two as the U.S. extends the fight between neoliberalism and socialism [meaning the Chinese system] to encompass a worldwide conflict.”
What may be seriously in dispute is whether the U.S., after “the economic conquest of Europe”, will be able to “lock in African, South American and Asian countries”. The Eurasia integration process, rolling in earnest for 10 years now, conducted by the Russia-China strategic partnership and expanding to most of the Global South, will go no holds barred to prevent it.
There’s no question, as Hudson states, that “the world economy is being enflamed” – with the U.S. weaponizing trade. Yet on the Right Side of History we have the Rublegas, the petroyuan, the new monetary/financial system being designed in a partnership between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China.
And that’s something no puny Cancel Culture War can erase.
If the US goal is to crush Russia’s economy with sanctions and isolation, why is Europe in an economic free fall instead?
The stunning spectacle of the EU committing slow motion hara-kiri is something for the ages… Like a cheap Kurosawa remake the movie is actually about the Empire of Lies-detonated demolition of the EU, complete with subsequent rerouting of some key Russian commodities exports to the US at the expense of the Europeans.
It helps to have a 5th columnist actress strategically placed, in this case astonishingly incompetent European Commission head Ursula von der Lugen, with a brand new vociferous announcement of an extra sanctions package: Russian ships banned from EU ports; road transportation companies from Russia and Belarus prohibited from entering the EU; no more coal imports (over 4.4 billion euros a year).
That translates in practice into the Empire of Lies shaking down its wealthiest – Western – clients/puppets. Russia of course is too powerful militarily. The Empire badly needs some of its key exports – especially minerals. Mission Accomplished in this case amounts to nudging the EU into imposing more and more sanctions and willfully collapsing their national economies, allowing the US to scoop everything up.
Cue to the coming catastrophic economic consequences felt by Europeans in their daily life (but not by the wealthiest 5%): inflation devouring salaries and savings; next winter energy bills packing a mean punch; products disappearing from supermarkets; holiday bookings almost frozen; Le Petit Roi Macron in France – maybe up to a nasty electoral surprise – announcing “food stamps like in WWII are possible”.
We have Germany facing the returning ghost of Weimar hyperinflation; BlackRock President Rob Kapito saying, in Texas, “for the first time, this generation is going to go into a store and not be able to get what they want”; farmers in Africa not able to afford fertilizer at all this year, reducing agricultural production by an amount capable of feeding 100 million people.
Zoltan Poszar, former NY Fed and US Treasury guru, current Credit Suisse grand vizir, has been on a streak, stressing how commodity reserves – and here Russia is unrivaled – will be an essential feature of what he calls Bretton Woods III (yet, in fact, what’s being designed by Russia, China, Iran and the Eurasia Economic Union is a post-Bretton Woods).
Poszar remarks that wars, historically, are won by those who have more food and energy supplies, in the past to power horses and soldiers, today to feed soldiers and fuel tanks and fighter jets.
China, incidentally, has amassed large stocks of virtually everything.
Poszar notes how our current Bretton Woods II system has a deflationary impulse (globalization, open trade, just-in-time supply chains) while Bretton Woods III will provide an inflationary impulse (de-globalization, autarky, hoarding of raw materials) of supply chains and extra military spending to be able to protect what will remain of seaborne trade.
The implications are of course overwhelming. What’s implicit, ominously, is that this state of affairs may even lead to WWIII.
Rublegas or American LNG?
The Valdai Club has conducted an essential expert discussion on what we at The Cradle have defined as Rublegas – the real geoeconomic game-changer at the heart of the post-petrodollar era. Alexander Losev, a member of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, offered the contours of the Big Picture. But it was up to Alexey Gromov, Chief Energy Director of the Institute of Energy and Finance, to come up with crucial nitty gritty details.
Russia so far was selling gas to Europe to the amount of 155 billion cubic meters a year. The EU rhetorically promises to get rid of it by 2027, and reduce supply by the end of 2022 by 100 billion cubic meters. Gromov asked “how”, and remarked, “any expert has no answer. Most of Russia’s natural gas is shipped over pipelines. This cannot simply be replaced by LNG.”
The risible European answer has been “start saving”, as in “prepare to be worse off. Reduce the temperature in households”. Gromov noted how, in Russia, “22 to 25 degrees in winter is the norm. Europe is promoting 16 degrees as ‘healthy’, and wearing sweaters at night.”
The EU won’t be able to get the gas it needs from Norway or Algeria (which is privileging domestic consumption). Azerbaijan would be able to provide at best 10 billion cubic meters a year, but “that will take 2 or 3 years” to happen.
Gromov stressed how “there’s no surplus in the market today for US and Qatar LNG.” And how prices for Asian customers are always higher. The bottom line is that “by end of 2022, Europe won’t be able to significantly reduce” what is buys from Russia: “they might cut by 50 billion cubic meters, maximum.” And prices in the spot market will be higher – at least $1,300 per cubic meter.
An important development is that “Russia changed the logistical supply chains to Asia already”. That applies for gas and oil as well:
“You can impose sanctions if there’s a surplus in the market. Now there’s a shortage of at least 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. We’ll be sending our supplies to Asia – with a discount.” As it stands, Asia is already paying a premium, from 3 to 5 dollars more per barrel of oil.
On oil shipments, Gromov also commented on the key issue of insurance:
“Insurance premiums are higher. Before Ukraine, it was all based on the FOB system. Now buyers are saying ‘we don’t want to take the risk of taking your cargo to our ports’. So they are applying the CIF system, where the seller has to insure and transport the cargo. That of course impacts revenues.”
An absolutely key issue for Russia is how to make the transition to China as its key gas customer. It’s all about Power of Siberia 2 – which will reach full capacity only in 2024. And first the interconnector through Mongolia must be built – “we need 3 years to build this pipeline” – so everything will be in place only around 2025.
On the Yamal pipeline, “most of the gas goes to Asia. If the Europeans don’t buy anymore we can redirect.” And then there’s the Arctic LNG 2 – which is larger than Yamal: “the first phase should be finished soon, it’s 80% ready.” An extra problem may be posed by the Russian “Unfriendlies” in Asia: Japan and South Korea. LNG infrastructure produced in Russia still depends on foreign technologies.
That’s what leads Gromov to note that, “the model of mobilization- based economy is not so good.” But that’s what Russia needs to deal with at least in the short to medium term.
The positives are that the new paradigm will allow “more cooperation within the BRICS”; the expansion of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC); and more interaction and integration with “Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran”.
Only in terms of Iran and Russia, swaps in the Caspian are already in the works, as Iran produces more than it needs, and is set to increase cooperation with Russia in the framework of the strenghtened strategic partnership.
It was up to Chinese energy expert Fu Chengyu to offer a concise explanation of why the EU drive of replacing Russian gas with American LNG is, well, a pipe dream. Essentially the US offer is “too limited and too costly”.
Fu Chengyu showed how a lengthy, tricky process depends on four contracts: between the gas developer and the LNG company; between the LNG company and the buyer company; between the LNG buyer and the cargo company (which builds vessels); and between the buyer and the end user.
“Each contract”, he pointed out, “takes a long time to finish. Without all these signed contracts no party will invest – be it investment on infrastructure or gas field development.” So actual delivery of American LNG to Europe assumes all these interconnected resources are available – and moving like clockwork.
Fu Chengyu’s verdict is stark: this EU obsession on ditching Russian gas will provoke “an impact on global economic growth, and recession. They are pushing their own people – and the world. In the energy sector, we will all be harmed.”
It was quite enlightening to juxtapose the coming geoeconomic turbulence – the EU obsession in bypassing Russian gas and the onset of Rublegas – with the real reasons behind Operation Z in Ukraine, completely obscured by Western media psyops.
So I submitted a few questions to a US Deep State old pro, now retired, and quite familiar with the inner workings of the old OSS, the CIA precursor, all the way to the neocon dementia.
His answers were quite sobering. He started by pointing out, “the whole Ukraine issue is over hypersonic missiles that can reach Moscow in less than four minutes. The US wants them there, in Poland, Romania, Baltic States, Sweden, Finland. This is in direct violation of the agreements in 1991 that NATO will not expand in Eastern Europe. The US does not have hypersonic missiles now but should – in a year or two. This is an existential threat to Russia. So they had to go into the Ukraine to stop this. Next will be Poland and Romania where launchers have been built in Romania and are being built in Poland.”
From a completely different geopolitical perspective, what’s really telling is that his analysis happens to dovetail with Zoltan Poszar’s geoeconomics: “The US and NATO are totally belligerent. This presents a real danger to Russia. The idea that nuclear war is unthinkable is a myth. If you look at the firebombing of Tokyo against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more people died in Tokyo than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These cities were rebuilt. The radiation goes away and life can restart. The difference between firebombing and nuclear bombing is only efficiency. NATO provocations are so extreme Russia had to place their nuclear missiles on standby alert. This is a gravely serious matter. But the US ignored it.”