Monday, February 9, 2015

Putin Rejects Attempts To Contain Russia, Prepares To Move To Gold Standard, Le Pen Says Washington Attempting To Start 'War In Europe'

Putin Rejects Attempts To Contain Russia After Peace Talks Fail

Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a defiant tone a day after talks in Moscow with the leaders of Germany and France failed to achieve a breakthrough in resolving the Ukraine crisis.

Russia won’t tolerate the post-Cold War global system dominated by a single leader, Putin said Saturday at a meeting with the Federation of Independent Trade Unions in Sochi.

“That type of world order has never been acceptable for Russia,” Putin said. “Maybe someone likes it and wants to live under a pseudo-occupation, but we won’t put up with it.”

NATO plans to boost its military presence in eastern Europe risk provoking confrontation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Saturday at a meeting on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.

NATO is setting up military headquarters and command centers from the Baltic to the Black seas along Russia’s borders and plans to ultimately field a rapid-reaction force of 30,000 troops as relations with the Kremlin have deteriorated.

Mises Institute contributor Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna believes that Russia may be in the process of planning for the introduction of a gold-based currency, and would be better off for it.
The columnist notes that several factors may play into the decision, including Russia's recent partial detachment from Western economic and financial structures, sanctions, the ruble's devaluation and economic decline.

She further explains that even before the sharpening of relations between Russia and the West, economists close to Vladimir Putin have for years "been expressing [Russia's] unwillingness to remain at the monetary mercy of the US and its NATO allies," among them Sergei Glazyev, economic advisor to the president, and political ally to Deputy Premier Dmitri Rogozin.

The expert argues that "while the Russian economy is structurally weak, enough of the country's monetary fundamentals are sound, such that the timing of a move to gold, geopolitically and domestically, may be ideal." The expert echoes commentary made by Russian economists and financiers, including recently by Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina,  namely, that Russia's debt to GDP ratio is low (equivalent to $478 billion in a $2 trillion economy), with most of its external debt in private hands, which has also declined by $100 billion, and with a budget deficit projected at less than 1 percent of GDP.

More ominously, for the established order, a gold-standard-based ruble would "above all…mean the first major schism in the world's monetary order." If China follows Russia's lead, which Christoff-Kurapovna believes is likely, "it could mean the threat of a severe inflation in the United States should rafts of unwanted dollars make their way back across the Atlantic — the [Federal Reserve's] ultimate nightmare."

In her article, the columnist cites bullion exchange expert Alisdair MacLeod, who notes that Russia and China would "hold all the aces" if they moved "the currency war away from the foreign exchanges and into the physical gold market," especially in light of the current low demand for physical gold in Western capital markets. The expert points out that last month, the Shanghai Gold Exchange and the World Gold Council concluded a deal aimed at expanding the Chinese gold market via the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

The leader of France’s rightwing Front National (FN), Marine Le Pen, has called Brussels “American lackeys” over the EU's Ukraine policy. She further accused Washington of attempting to start a “war in Europe” and expand NATO towards Russia’s borders.

"European capitals do not have the wisdom to refuse to be dependent on US positions on Ukraine," Le Pen told French journalists on Sunday.
"Regarding Ukraine, we behave like American lackeys," she said, before warning that “the aim of the Americans is to start a war in Europe to push NATO to the Russian border."

"Regarding Ukraine, we behave like American lackeys," she said, before warning that “the aim of the Americans is to start a war in Europe to push NATO to the Russian border."

She went on to accuse European leaders of turning a blind eye to the Ukrainian government’s “bombing of civilians,” adding that both those in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine believed the country should be federalized.

In September, she told Le Monde that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is “all the European Union’s fault,”saying Brussels had “blackmailed the country to choose between Europe and Russia.”
In June, she similarly told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that there were “no independent states left in Europe,” saying many of their foreign policy mistakes in recent times had been made “under Washington’s influence.”
Her words echoed statements by former French Prime minister Francois Fillon, who told the public broadcaster France 5 on Sunday that the United States was attempting to “unleash a war in Europe, which would end in catastrophe.” He added that once a war broke out, the US would attempt to distance itself from it.
“Total war caused [by the] Ukrainian conflict is absolutely unacceptable. And really there is no reason for it," he said.
"The Americans have made one mistake after another and today they have simply been discredited,”said Fillon.
He added that attempting to punish Russia with sanctions was like trying to intimidate a bear with a pin prick. He further commended recent efforts by French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open a dialogue with Moscow.
“The West is trying to imagine today Russia as a threat to the whole world, while deliberately forgetting that Russia is a large and truly a great country, not to mention a nuclear power,” he said.
“Humiliating Russia is simply unacceptable.”
Also on Saturday, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Europe was part of “a common civilization with Russia,” saying they needed to avoid conflict on the continent.
“The interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia,” he said, adding that “we do not want the revival of a Cold War between Europe and Russia.”

Greece’s exit from the eurozone is inevitable, Alan Greenspan, a former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, said in an interview with BBC News Sunday. Greenspan forecast the attempt by the new Greek government to renegotiate the country’s economic bailout terms would likely be resolved only by the nation leaving the eurozone, a scenario that would increase the risk of a “much bigger breakup” of the economic union.
“I believe [Greece] will eventually leave. I don’t think it helps them or the rest of the eurozone: It is just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy,” he told BBC News. “The problem is that there there is no way that I can conceive of the euro ... continuing, unless and until all of the members of eurozone become politically integrated -- actually even just fiscally integrated won’t do it.”

But reports began surfacing last week that the Obama administration is offering Iran technical concessions on its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for Iran's use of its leverage to tamper regional turmoil.
Meeting for over two hours with Kerry, Zarif said that discussions focused on how sanctions will be lifted once a deal is reached, and how many uranium-enriching centrifuges will remain.

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