Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Putin is not hard to understand, but certainly Western elites do not understand him.  It has been a long time since our oligarchs met anyone they could not simply buy for cash.  

But Putin is not playing.  He is looking ahead at the hard and uncertain task of maintaining a functioning country.  Everything he does relates to that goal.  

He knows well that the West is a declining empire specializing in short-term crazy gambles.  His main challenge, which he recognizes, is not to get sucked in.  He seems cautious because he is cautious.  

But our elites mistake caution for someone about to back down.  Putin is not about to back down on those things that matter.  He will certainly not fire on NATO troops if there is another way.  But if there is no other way?  Our elites will be shitting bricks as they watch their hare-brained, off-the-top-of-the-head, best-case policies go awry.  Then it will be NATO--not the Russians--trying to decide if they really and truly want to go nuclear.  

Think back to Syria.  What put paid to NATO's beloved no-fly zone?  Probably that Russia was offering the Syrians the real-time info to shoot NATO planes out of the sky, as well as sink the American cruise-missile ships.  

The good news was that the US Air Force was not ready to take major casualties.  They still aren't.  The rush to war is being driven by the politicians--who are clueless and desperate--not the military, who have just had a decade of bitter experience with best-case-scenerios dissolving in the face of hard reality.  


The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Apr 2nd, 2014 at 10:26:37 PM EST
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Why It's Going to Be Impossible to Isolate Russia | Alternet

Asia Times Online's Spengler coined a formulation: "A specter is haunting Europe, and that is the specter of a Russian-Chinese alliance at the expense of Europe." The alliance is already on -- manifested in the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are military technology synergies on the horizon -- the ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense system is to be unveiled by Moscow, and Beijing would absolutely love to have it. But for the real fireworks, just wait a few weeks, when Putin visits Beijing in May.

That's when he will sign the famous $1 trillion gas deal according to which Gazprom will supply China's CNPC with 3.75 billion cubic feet of gas a day for 30 years, starting in 2018 (China's current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet).

Gazprom may still collect most of its profits from Europe, but Asia is its privileged future. On the competition front, the hyper-hyped U.S. shale "revolution" is a myth -- as much as the notion the U.S. will be suddenly increasing exports of gas to the rest of the world any time soon.

Gazprom will use this mega-deal to boost investment in eastern Siberia -- which sooner rather than later will be configured as the privileged hub for gas shipments to both Japan and South Korea. That's the ultimate (substantial) reason why Asia won't "isolate" Russia. (See Asia will not 'isolate' Russia, Asia Times Online, March 25, 2014.)

Not to mention the much-anticipated "thermonuclear" (for the petrodollar) possibility that Russia and China will agree payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal may be in yuan or rubles. That will be the dawn of a basket of currencies as the new international reserve currency -- a key BRICS objective and the ultimate, incendiary, new (economic) fact on the ground.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 05:54:47 AM EST
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