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Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Choosing Sides in the New Cold War

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2022

by Ted Snider

Outside the US, UK and Europe, the war in Ukraine looks more complicated than it does in the US. And many of those countries want to reserve the right to remain nonaligned and want to push for a diplomatic solution to the war. It is not true that the US does not ask those countries to choose sides, that it does “not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner.”

antiwar.com

In his September 21 address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden said “We do not seek a Cold War. We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner.”

It took a lot of courage to make that claim.

On October 5, OPEC+ announced that they were cutting oil production by two million barrels a day. That represents a 2% reduction of the daily global supply, larger than expected and the biggest cut in over two years.

That cut in oil production comes despite Biden’s plea to Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to offset rising prices caused by Russian sanctions and, crucially, boost the efficacy of sanctions on Russia. Biden offered Saudi Arabia an expanded “strategic partnership,” a “commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s security and territorial defense,” and a further commitment to uphold Saudi Arabia as the dominant power in the region.

Biden welcomed the pariah kingdom back into the world community in a trade for siding with the US by increasing oil production. He got rejected. And that is when the White House proved that they do ask nations to choose sides: “It’s clear that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia with today’s announcement,” announced White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

And there is a penalty for not being on America’s side. Several members of congress have called for the US to respond by putting an end to all US military aid to Saudi Arabia. Senator Bob Mendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, promised that, because of Saudi Arabia’s “decision to help underwrite Putin’s war,” he “will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine.” Legislation has been introduced to remove US troops and missile systems from Saudi Arabia and to stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The price that Saudi Arabia will pay is not for its decision’s effect on oil markets or anything other than choosing sides: the military relationship could be restarted if Saudi Arabia “reconsiders its embrace of Putin,” said Senator Richard Blumental and Representative Ro Khanna, describing the legislation they have proposed.

The experience of Saudi Arabia is not an isolated example that refutes Biden’s claim that the US does not ask countries to choose sides.

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Sanctions On Russia Lead To More Ship Emissions, Says Cargill

Posted by M. C. on September 23, 2022

The very fact that Europe has to source LNG from Asia on longer routes while vessels burn dirtier fuel is entirely hypocritical to the bloc’s stance about saving the planet. For some context, shipping is responsible for almost 3% of man-made carbon-dioxide emissions. 

Like Slow Joe says, we all have to suffer to save the EU from itself …err…stop Nord Stream 2 …err…save Ukraine.

Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/sanctions-russia-lead-more-ship-emissions-says-cargill

The unilateral sanctions that Western countries slapped Moscow with are igniting even more man-made carbon-dioxide emissions from the shipping industry as Europe rejiggers energy supply chains away from Russia by sourcing energy products from far away.

Jan Dieleman, Cargill Inc.’s head of ocean transportation business, told Bloomberg that European importers are hiring tankers for long-distance hauls of energy products from countries halfway around the world. If it weren’t for the sanctions, natural gas and other refined energy products would flow via pipelines from Russia to Europe. 

But since Europe is hellbent on rapidly shifting its entire energy supply chain away from Russia. EU importers are hiring tankers to source liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Asia. 

In a recent note, we outlined the insanity behind the EU’s panic buying of LNG from China. It’s so idiotic because China is just reselling Russian LNG… 

Dieleman said higher fuel costs for vessels mean ship operators are switching to dirtier-burning fuels like diesel or crude oil on these long-haul trips. 

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The US-Led World Order Is Faltering… Here’s Why It’s Bad News for Europe

Posted by M. C. on September 14, 2022

by Chris MacIntosh

The effect on the West of U.S. sanctions and military operations against Russia has been to lock Europe into a political and economic Iron Curtain of dependency on the United States, while driving Russia to form closer ties with the US enemies, namely China and Iran.

It is so myopically and comically stupid that only bureaucrats in their ivory towers suffering massive hubris, at the tail end of the Empires days could think such a strategy had any merit whatsoever.

The sanctions against Russia have accelerated the fragmentation of systems while backfiring spectacularly. Consider that India is now buying Russian oil, then exporting it to Europe – at a premium. China is buying Russian crude, refining it in China, and selling it to Europe – at a premium. And the head-choppers (Saudi’s) are buying Russian oil, swapping it out for their own and selling theirs to Europe – at a premium.

Europe is the loser in all situations. They still get Russian energy, they just pay far more for it, eroding their own manufacturing competitiveness, while sending Europeans’ capital to Riyadh, Beijing, Delhi and Moscow for the privilege. Swaps on oil within OPEC are already taking place and will continue.

The effect on the West of U.S. sanctions and military operations against Russia has been to lock Europe into a political and economic Iron Curtain of dependency on the United States, while driving Russia to form closer ties with the US enemies, namely China and Iran.

It is so myopically and comically stupid that only bureaucrats in their ivory towers suffering massive hubris, at the tail end of the Empires days could think such a strategy had any merit whatsoever.

So not only do these sanctions destroy Europe economically, while pushing US enemies closer together but they will inevitably cause Europeans to hate the US…

Take. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, who accurately said that Brussels has “shot itself in the lungs” with its sanctions.

But for Europe, it is obvious that it is too late. 

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Europe Commits Suicide-by-Sanctions

Posted by M. C. on September 13, 2022

Prison time for heating your home? In the “free” world? How is it possible in 2022, when Switzerland and the rest of the political west have achieved the greatest economic success in history, that the European continent faces a winter like something out of the dark ages?

Sanctions.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/eusanctions-116257?e=4e0de347c8

Sept. 12 – A Swiss billboard is making the rounds on social media depicting a young woman on the telephone. The caption reads, “Does the neighbor heat the apartment to over 19 degrees (66F)? Please inform us.” While the Swiss government has dismissed the poster as a fake, the penalties Swiss citizens face for daring to warm their homes are very real. According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, those who violate the 66 degree heating limit could face as many as three years in prison!

Prison time for heating your home? In the “free” world? How is it possible in 2022, when Switzerland and the rest of the political west have achieved the greatest economic success in history, that the European continent faces a winter like something out of the dark ages?

Sanctions.

While long promoted – often by those opposed to war – as a less destructive alternative to war, sanctions are in reality acts of war. And as we know with interventionism and war, the result is often unintended consequences and even blowback.

European sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year will likely go down in history as a prime example of how sanctions can result in unintended consequences. While seeking to punish Russia by cutting off gas and oil imports, European Union politicians forgot that Europe is completely dependent on Russian energy supplies and that the only people to suffer if those imports are shut down are the Europeans themselves.

The Russians simply pivoted to the south and east and found plenty of new buyers in China, India, and elsewhere. In fact, Russia’s state-run Gazprom energy company has reported that its profits have increased by 100 percent in the first half of this year.

Russia is getting rich while Europeans are facing a freezing winter and economic collapse. All because of the false belief that sanctions are a cost-free way to force other countries to do what you want them to do.

What happens when the people see dumb government policies making energy bills skyrocket as the economy grounds to a halt? They become desperate and take to the streets in protest.

This weekend thousands of Austrians took to the streets in a “Freedom Rally” to demand an end to sanctions and the opening of Nord Stream II, the gas pipeline on the verge of opening earlier this year. Last week an estimated 100,000 Czechs took to the streets of Prague to protest NATO and EU policy. In France, the “Yellow Vests” are back in the streets protesting the destruction of their economy in the name of “defeating” Russia in Ukraine. In Germany, Serbia, and elsewhere, protests are gearing up.

Even the Washington Post was forced to admit that sanctions on Russia are not having the intended effect. In an article yesterday, the paper worries that sanctions are inflicting “collateral damage in Russia and beyond, potentially even hurting the very countries that impose them. Some even worried that the sanctions intended to deter and weaken Putin could end up emboldening and strengthening him.”

This is all predictable. Sanctions kill. Sometimes they kill innocents in the country targeted for destruction and sometimes they kill innocents in the country imposing them. The solution, as always, is non-intervention. No sanctions, no “color revolutions,” no meddling. It’s really that simple.



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Exclusions And Sanctions Help ‘Enemies’ To Build Their Own Capabilities

Posted by M. C. on July 27, 2022

The International Space Station is losing the Russian modules it needs to maneuver. The U.S. will immediately have to build new propulsion modules if it wants to save it.

Without the Russians thruster modules the station will continuously slow down and sink towards earth until it breaks up and burns in the atmosphere.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/07/exclusions-and-sanctions-help-enemies-to-build-their-own-capabilities.html#more

Moon of Alabama

The hostile behavior the ‘west’ is showing towards China and Russia has consequences.

The International Space Station is losing the Russian modules it needs to maneuver. The U.S. will immediately have to build new propulsion modules if it wants to save it.
bigger

Russia to withdraw from International Space Station after 2024

Russia has said it will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 to focus on building its own orbital outpost.

Yuri Borisov, who was appointed to lead the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos earlier this month, said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would fulfil its obligations to other partners before it leaves the project.

Mr Borisov said “the decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made.”

The U.S. had planned to operate the station until 2031:

Earlier this year NASA published plans for the ISS which could see the 444,615kg structure taken out of orbit in January 2031 and crashed into a “spacecraft cemetery”.

It said the laboratory would continue operating until 2030 but its long-term future is unsustainable.

The end date will now likely be earlier than NASA had planned. As an earlier report explained:

Russia provides the propellant and thrusters needed to periodically reboost the station, a critical capability NASA cannot currently replace. Maneuvering is provided by thrusters built into the Russian Zarya and Zvezda modules and aboard visiting Progress supply ships.

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship that arrived earlier this week is the first U.S. vehicle after the space shuttle to be capable of reboost, but it cannot on its own replace the Russian capability.

NASA astronauts are not trained to operate Russian systems and vice versa for the cosmonauts. Neither side can safely operate the lab on its own.

Without the Russians thruster modules the station will continuously slow down and sink towards earth until it breaks up and burns in the atmosphere.

For the U.S. to build its own thruster modules would very likely take more than two years. They would probably arrive too late to rescue the station.

Russia has plans to build a new space station. An alternative for it may be to hook up with the Chinese space station which was launched last year. Yesterday it received its second large module, a laboratory. A third large module will be added later this year.

China build its own space station because the U.S. had excluded it from participating in the ISS:

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The Brain-Dead Fanatic

Posted by M. C. on July 11, 2022

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Professor Mearsheimer insisted that Moscow was not interested in making Ukraine part of Russia, but in making sure it would not become a springboard from Western aggression; and that Russia could not feel safe, develop and exist while facing a permanent threat from the territory of today’s Ukraine. He insisted that despite the Western narrative about NATO, the determinant aspect to understand the root causes of this conflict is how Moscow sees the alliance’s actions.”

According to a recent New York Times article, increasing global oil and gas prices have enabled Russia to finance its war on Ukraine. US sanctions did not bring the Russian economy to its knees, as Biden promised. They actually brought the American economy to its knees while Russian profits soared.

The philosopher George Santayana said that fanaticism “consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim,” and by this definition, brain-dead Biden and the gang of neocons who control him certainly count as fanatics. Their policies have failed but they won’t stop. They go on with disastrous ideas that don’t work.

Biden wanted to choke off Russia’s economy through sanctions, but his policy has aided the Russian economy and hurt the American economy. As the great Dr. Ron Paul says, “Last week a New York Times reporter asked Biden how long he expects Americans to pay record gasoline prices over his Administration’s Ukraine policy. ‘As long as it takes,’ replied the president without hesitation.

‘Russia cannot defeat Ukraine,’ added Biden as justification for his Administration’s pro-pain policy toward Americans. The president has repeatedly tried to deflect blame for the growing economic crisis by claiming Russia is solely behind recent inflation. ‘The reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia,’ he said in the same press conference.

Brian Deese, Director of President Biden’s National Economic Council, was asked in a recent CNN interview, ‘What do you say to those families that say, listen, we can’t afford to pay $4.85 a gallon for months, if not years?’

His answer? ‘This is about the future of the Liberal World Order and we have to stand firm.’

Has there ever been an Administration more out of touch with the American people? If you asked working Americans whether they’d be happy to suffer poverty for the ‘liberal world order,’ how many would say ‘that sounds like a great idea’?

The strangest part of this idea that Americans must suffer to hurt the Russians is that these policies aren’t even hurting Russia! On the contrary: Russia has seen record profits from its oil and gas exports since the beginning of the Ukraine war.

According to a recent New York Times article, increasing global oil and gas prices have enabled Russia to finance its war on Ukraine. US sanctions did not bring the Russian economy to its knees, as Biden promised. They actually brought the American economy to its knees while Russian profits soared.

As Newsweek noted last week, Russian television pundits are joking that with the financial windfall Russia has seen since sanctions were imposed, ‘Biden is of course our agent.’

Washington’s bi-partisan foreign policy of wasting trillions on endless wars overseas has finally come home. Biden is clearly out of touch, but there is plenty of blame to go around. The only question is whether we will see an extended recession…or worse.”

Biden wants to support the Ukraine against Russia, but Russia is winning, The great military historian and friend of the Mises Institute Martin van Creveld says, “Like almost all other Westerners, at the time the Russian-Ukrainian War broke out in February 2022 I was convinced that the Russians would fail to reach their objectives and lose the war. . . Since then four very eventful months have passed. As they went on, the following factors have forced me to take another look at the situation.

First, the Ukrainians are not fighting a guerrilla war. Instead, as the list of weapons they have asked the West to provide them with shows, they have been trying to wage a conventional one: tank against tank, artillery barrel against artillery barrel, and aircraft against aircraft. All, apparently, in the hope of not only halting the Russian forces but of expelling them. Given that the Russians can fire ten rounds for every Ukrainian one, such a strategy can only be a sure recipe for defeat.

Second, a change in Russian tactics. Greatly underestimating their enemies, the Russians started the war by attempting a coup de main against the center of Ukrainian power at Kiev. When this failed it took them some time to decide what to do next; they may even have replaced a few of their top ranking generals. But then they regrouped and switched to the systematic reduction of Ukrainians cities and towns. Much as, in 1939-40, Stalin and his generals did to Finland. As in both that war and World War II as a whole they resorted to what has traditionally been their most powerful weapons, i.e, massed artillery. It now appears that the change enabled them to reduce their losses to levels that they can sustain for a long time. Perhaps longer than the Ukrainians who, by Zelensky’s own admission, are losing as many as 100-200 of their best fighters killed in action each day.

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Weekly Update — Foreign Policy Fail: Biden’s Sanctions are a Windfall For Russia!

Posted by M. C. on July 8, 2022

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Coal Emerges Victorious As Sanctions And Green Policies Backfire Spectacularly

Posted by M. C. on July 7, 2022

By Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge

Shipments are soaring as the region scrambles to replace missing Russian product amid fears of continued declines in Russian nat gas exports – and a freezing winter- said Matthew Boyle, lead analyst for dry bulks, gas and LNG at Kpler Insight. Helping to fill the gap is more coal from the US, Colombia and Australia — countries that tend to produce better-quality or so-called high-calorific value material that releases more heat and energy when burned. Of course, the high quality product is also priced accordingly, and as shown in the chart above, Australian coal just hit a record high price, something which has led to Europe’s record 29.1% PPI.

When historians look back on this chaotic and turbulent period, they will find that few individuals inflicted as much damage on the environment and promoted the interests of the “dirty fossil fuel” lobby as Greta Tunberg, who by shaming and forcing “serious” politicians to pivot toward green energy at a time when there was nowhere near enough green capacity to replace existing sources of energy, sparked what may be the most spectacular self-own in history. And today, the WSJBloomberg and Reuters all wrote about it.

We start with the WSJ which concedes what was obvious to most long ago (see “Will ESG Trigger Energy Hyperinflation” from last June), namely that “an energy-starved world is turning to coal as natural-gas and oil shortages exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine lead countries back to the dirtiest fossil fuel.”

Yes, contrary to the intentions of Green fanatics everywhere, their push to accelerate away from “dirty” fossil fuel has not only backfired spectacularly, but also exposed the hypocrisy and empty promises of so many virtue-signalers, as “from the U.S. to Europe to China, many of the world’s largest economies are increasing short-term coal purchases to ensure sufficient supplies of electricity, despite prior pledges by many countries to reduce their coal consumption to combat climate change.”

Adding insult to injury, the global competition for coal which is now also in short supply after years of declining investment in new mines and resources, has driven benchmark prices to new records this year. Spot coal prices at Australia’s Newcastle port, a key supplier to Asia, topped $400 a ton for the first time last month.

Hilariously, the push for coal is being led by Europe, ground zero of the “green movement” which finally realized that one can’t burn fake virtue or melt posing in front of camera in the winter to keep warm, and is boosting coal purchases to ensure it can keep power flowing to homes and factories after Russia cut gas supplies to the continent. Germany, which not long ago promised to eliminate coal as a power source by 2030, is among the nations now importing more. Economy Minister Robert Habeck called the increased reliance on coal bitter but necessary. Spoiler alert: Germany will not eliminate coal as a power source by 2030, if anything it will be more reliant on it than ever unless it also restarts its nuclear power plants which it, idiotically, shut down not long ago.

Never one to admit it was dead wrong, however, Europe has a response to everything: “Right now the sentiment is that more coal is better than more Russia,” said Alex Msimang, a London-based partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP specializing in the energy sector.

Whatever dude.

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Why Sanctions Always Fail

Posted by M. C. on June 27, 2022

The Enemy Always Adapts.

Andrew Cockburn

 The misplaced belief in the efficacy of sanctions as a weapon may partly be traced to what is generally considered to have been their greatest triumph, the British blockade of Germany in world war 1 that supposedly starved the Germans into submission, a “very perfect instrument” in Keynes’ words.  But as the late great Norman Stone pointed out, German food shortages were almost entirely due to government mismanagement, although the blockade, as usual, provided a convenient scapegoat.

https://spoilsofwar.substack.com/p/why-sanctions-always-fail

 Early in the Ukraine war, President Biden boasted on twitter that thanks to “unprecedented” sanctions, the “Russian economy is on track to be cut in half” and the ruble had been reduced to “rubble.”  All instruments of economic warfare had been deployed against Ukraine’s invader, from the freezing of central bank reserves to sanctions on Russian cats. Today, the cats may be still at home, but the ruble is at a seven year high, Russian interest and inflation rates are headed downwards, and industrial production is ticking up. Meanwhile Russian forces steadily advance in Ukraine. 

Objective: “Hunger, Desperation, Overthrow of Government.”

         All this represents a much larger defeat for sanctions than is usual in such offensives.  In a memo on Cuban sanctions back in 1960 a state department official named Lestor Mallory described the purpose of such measures with unusual frankness (the memo was of course secret.) The aim, he wrote, was  “..to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” Twenty years later, again cloaking honesty in classification, the CIA intelligence directorate studied the record and concluded that “economic sanctions…have not met any of their objective” and had furthermore strengthened the regime, providing Castro with “a scapegoat for all kinds of domestic problems.” That pattern has endured: hardship for the sanctioned population, as exemplified by the half-million toll on Iraqi children during the 1990s, or the ongoing mass hunger in Afghanistan, while the ruling elite escapes unscathed and diverts any possible local disaffection among the immiserated populace in the direction of the sanctioning powers.  This time around, the effect of sanctions has of course been double-edged. Not only has the Russian economy not collapsed, the sanctioneers, principally the Europeans, are themselves in an accelerating economic downslide, marked by rising inflation, in particular the catastrophic energy costs consequent on sanctions against Russian oil and gas.

Sanctions Work Just Like Bombing – Badly.

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Russia Is Winning the Financial War

Posted by M. C. on June 24, 2022

By Alasdair Macleod

Goldmoney

The ending of the petrodollar era

https://www.goldmoney.com/research/russia-is-winning-the-financial-war

Sanctions have backfired on those described by Vladimir Putin as the unfriendly nations. It is setting in train a series of events likely to undermine the whole Western financial system, as prices rise driving interest rates higher, and economic activity shrinks. These developments alone are leading to contracting bank credit, crashing stock markets, and sharply higher bond yields.

Last week, I wrote about the impact on the banking system and the likely consequences. Russia, China, and associated nations who depend upon them for trade and economic development are now moving to protect themselves from what is emerging as a full scale systemic and fiat currency crisis for the dollar and the entire Western financial system. 

These developments are hastening the end of the petrodollar era and the dollar’s role as a reserve currency.  A central Asian replacement is planned to be a new super-currency used for cross-border payments, based on an index of a basket of commodities and currencies of the participating nations. Including currencies is a mistake, but otherwise the proposition has merit. 

This article explains why and how a properly constructed scheme would work. I demonstrate why it could act as a de facto gold standard.

Its designers intend this new trade currency to appeal to other important nations, such as Saudi Arabia, into using a commodity-linked currency for settling their trade payments, replacing the dying petrodollar. But its success could prove to be fatal for the fiat dollar and other Western currencies. With the demise of the dollar, the new super-currency can be expected to lead eventually to some national currencies adopting gold standards.

The ending of the petrodollar era

Put Ukraine to one side, it’s not the major issue. We should realise what really matters to us all is the real war, which is Russia’s attempts to banish American hegemony in Europe. While in the West we have an image of President Putin as an evil despot determined to take Ukraine back under Russian control, in a speech at St Petersburg’s International Economic Forum this week, Putin’s diagnosis of the West’s problems was more to the point than anything you will hear from our own Dear Leaders: Joe, Boris, Emmanuel, Olaf, et al. It is worth citing relevant extracts from the official English translation of Putin’s speech to highlight his economic understanding of the pickle we in the West have got ourselves into:

“Surging inflation in product and commodity markets had become a fact of life long before the events of this year. The world has been driven into this situation, little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt. These processes intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when supply and demand for goods and services drastically fell on a global scale…

“Because they could not or would not devise any other recipes, the governments of the leading Western economies simply accelerated their money-printing machines. Such a simple way to make up for unprecedented budget deficits…

“I have already cited this figure: over the past two years, the money supply in the United States has grown by more than 38 percent. Previously, a similar rise took decades, but now it grew by 38 percent or 5.9 trillion dollars in two years. By comparison, only a few countries have a bigger gross domestic product. The EU’s money supply has also increased dramatically over this period. It grew by about 20 percent, or 2.5 trillion euros.

“Lately, I have been hearing more and more about the so-called – please excuse me, I really would not like to do this here, even mention my own name in this regard, but I cannot help it – we all hear about the so-called ‘Putin inflation’ in the West. When I see this, I wonder who they expect would buy this nonsense – people who cannot read or write, maybe. Anyone literate enough to read would understand what is actually happening.

“The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol, and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current US administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies. That is where the reasons are, and only there.”[i]

Putin shows that he has at least a superficial understanding of where the West has erred with its neo-Keynesian monetary and economic policies. While some of the economic and monetary elements in his address can be criticised, Putin’s grasp of these subjects puts him head and shoulders above his opposite numbers in the G7.

It is from this disadvantage that the US is trying to impose dollar hegemony on Russian interests in the financial and currency war. We must consider the geopolitics of the matter. 

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