By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted
Only self-sufficiency affords total independence. And the Big Picture has also been keenly understood by the Global South.
One of the key underlying themes of the Russia/Ukraine/NATO matrix is that the Empire of Lies (copyright Putin) has been rattled to the core by the combined ability of Russian hypersonic missiles and a defensive shield capable of blocking incoming nuclear missiles from the West, thereby ending Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.)
This has led the Americans to nearly risk a hot war to be able to place hypersonic missiles that they still don’t have on Ukraine’s western borders, and so be within three minutes of Moscow. For that, of course, they need Ukraine, as well as Poland and Romania in Eastern Europe.
In Ukraine, the Americans are determined to fight to the last European soul – if that’s what it takes. This may be the last roll of the (nuclear) dice. Thus the next-to-last gasp at coercing Russia into submission by using the remaining, workable American weapon of mass destruction: SWIFT.
Yet this weapon can be easily neutralized by rapid adoption of self-sufficiency.
With essential input by the inestimable Michael Hudson I have outlined possibilities for Russia to weather the sanction storm. That didn’t even consider the full extent of Russia’s “black box defense”
– and counter-attack – as outlined by John Helmer in his introduction to an essay that heralds no less then The Return of Sergei Glaziev.
Glaziev, predictably detested across Atlanticist circles, was a key economic adviser to President Putin and is now the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). He has always been a fierce critic of the Russian Central Bank and the oligarch gang closely linked to Anglo-American finance.
His latest essay, Sanctions and Sovereignty, originally published by expert.ru and translated by Helmer, deserves serious scrutiny.
This is one of the key takeaways:
“Russian losses of potential GDP, since 2014, amount to about 50 trillion rubles. But only 10% of them can be explained by sanctions, while 80% of them were the result of monetary policy. The United States benefits from anti-Russian sanctions, replacing the export of Russian hydrocarbons to the EU as well as China; replacing the import of European goods by Russia. We could completely offset the negative consequences of financial sanctions if the Bank of Russia fulfilled its constitutional duty to ensure a stable ruble exchange rate, and not the recommendations of Washington financial organizations.”
De-offshore or bust
Glaziev essentially recommends:
– A “real de-offshorization of the economy”.
– “Measures to tighten currency regulation in order to stop the export of capital and expand targeted lending to enterprises in need of financing investments”.
– “Taxation of currency speculation and transactions in dollars and euros on the domestic market”.
– “Serious investment in R&D in order to accelerate the development of our own technological base in the areas affected by sanctions – first of all the defense industry, energy, transport and communications.”
And last but not least, “the de-dollarization of our foreign exchange reserves, replacing the dollar, euro and pound with gold.”
The Russian Central Bank seems to be listening. Most of these measures are already in place. And there are signs that Putin and the government are finally ready to grab the Russian oligarchy by the balls and force them to share risks and losses at an extremely difficult for the nation. Goodbye to stockpiling funds taken out of Russia offshore and in Londongrad.
Glaziev is the real deal. In December 2014 I was at a conference in Rome, and Glaziev joined us on the phone. Reviewing a subsequent column I wrote at the time, between Rome and Beijing, I was stunned: it’s as if Glaziev was saying these things literally today.
Allow me to quote two paragraphs:
“At the symposium, held in a divinely frescoed former 15th century Dominican refectory now part of the Italian parliament’s library, Sergey Glaziev, on the phone from Moscow, gave a stark reading of Cold War 2.0. There’s no real “government” in Kiev; the U.S. ambassador is in charge. An anti-Russia doctrine has been hatched in Washington to foment war in Europe – and European politicians are its collaborators. Washington wants a war in Europe because it is losing the competition with China.”
“Glaziev addressed the sanctions dementia: Russia is trying simultaneously to reorganize the politics of the International Monetary Fund, fight capital flight and minimize the effect of banks closing credit lines for many businessmen. Yet the end result of sanctions, he says, is that Europe will be the ultimate losers economically; bureaucracy in Europe has lost economic focus as American geopoliticians have taken over.”
Gotta pay the “tax on independence”
A consensus seems to be emerging in Moscow that the Russian economy will stabilize quickly, as there will be a shortage of personnel for industry and a lot of extra hands will be required. Hence no unemployment. There may be shortages, but no inflation. Sales of – Western – luxury goods have already been curtailed. Imported products will be placed under price controls. All the necessary rubles will be available though price controls – as happened in the U.S. in WWII.
A wave of nationalization of assets may be ahead. ExxonMobil announced it will withdraw from the $4 billion Sakhalin-1 project (they had bailed out on Sakhalin-2, deemed too expensive), producing 200,000 barrels of oil a day, after BP and Norway’s Equinor announced they were withdrawing from projects with Rosneft. BP was actually dreaming of taking all of Rosneft’s participation.
According to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the Kremlin is now blocking asset sales by foreign investors looking to divest. In parallel, Rosneft, for instance, is bound to raise capital from China and India, who are already minority investors in several projects, and buy them out 100%: an excellent opportunity for Russian business.
What could be construed as the Mother of All Counter-Sanctions has not yet been announced. Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev himself hinted all options are on the table.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, channeling the patience of 10,000 Taoist monks, still expecting the current hysteria to fade away, describes the sanctions as “some kind of a tax on independence”, with countries barring their companies from working in Russia under “huge pressure.”
Lethal counterpunches though are not excluded. Apart from completely de-dollarizing – as Glaviev recommends – Russia may ban the export of titanium, rare earth, nuclear fuel and, already in effect, rocket engines.
Very toxic moves would include seizing all foreign assets of hostile nations; freeze all loan repayments to Western banks and place the funds in a frozen account in a Russian bank; completely ban all hostile foreign media, foreign media ownership, assorted NGOs and CIA fronts; and supply friendly nations with state of the art weapons, intel sharing and joint training and exercises.
What’s certain is that a new architecture of payment systems – as discussed by Michael Hudson and others – uniting the Russian SPFS and the Chinese CHIPS, may soon be offered to scores of nations across Eurasia and the Global South – several among them already under sanctions, such as Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the DPRK.
Slowly but surely, we are already on the way to the emergence of a sizeable Global South bloc immune to American financial warfare.
The RIC in BRICS – Russia, India and China – are already increasing trade in their own currencies. If we look at the list of nations at the UN that voted against Russia or abstained from condemning Operation Z in Ukraine, plus those that did not sanction Russia, we have at least 70% of the whole Global South.
So once again is the West – plus satrapies/colonies such as Japan and Singapore in Asia – against the Rest: Eurasia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America.
The coming European collapse
Michael Hudson told me, “the U.S. and Western Europe expected a Froelicher Krieg (“happy war”). Germany and other countries haven’t begun to feel the pain of gas and mineral and food deprivation. THAT’S going to be the real game. The aim would be to break Europe away from U.S. control via NATO. This will involve “meddling” by creating a New World Order political movement and party, like Communism was a century ago. You could call it a new Great Awakening.”
A possible Great Awakening certainly will not involve the NATOstan sphere anytime soon. The collective West is rather in serious Great Decoupling mode, its entire economy weaponized with the aim, expressed in the open, of destroying Russia and even – the perennial wet dream – provoking regime change.
Sergey Naryshkin, the head of the SVR, succinctly described it:
“Masks have dropped. The West is not just trying to enclose Russia with a new ‘Iron Curtain’. We are talking about attempts to destroy our state – its ‘abolition’, as it is now customary to say in the ‘tolerant’ liberal-fascist environment. Since the United States and its allies have neither the opportunity nor the spirit to try to do this in an open and honest military-political confrontation, sneaky attempts are being made to establish an economic, informational and humanitarian “blockade”’.
Arguably the apex of Western hysteria is the onset of a 2022 Neo-Nazi Jihad: a 20,000-strong mercenary army being assembled in Poland under CIA supervision. The bulk comes from private military companies such as Blackwater/Academi and DynCorp. Their cover: “return of Ukrainians from the French Foreign Legion.” This Afghan remix comes straight from the only playbook the CIA knows.
Back in reality, facts on the ground will eventually lead entire economies in the West to become roadkill – with chaos in the commodities sphere leading to skyrocketing energy and food costs. As an example, up to 60% of German and 70% of Italian manufacturing industries may be forced to shut down for good – with catastrophic social consequences.
The unelected, uber-Kafkaesque EU machine in Brussels has chosen to commit a triple hara-kiri by grandstanding as abject vassals of the Empire, destroying any remaining French and German sovereignty impulses and imposing alienation from Russia-China.
Meanwhile, Russia will be showing the way: only self-sufficiency affords total independence. And the Big Picture has also been keenly understood by the Global South: one day someone had to stand up and say, “That’s Enough”. With maximum raw power to back it up.