Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Today's Links

“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.”
— Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, “America’s Pacific Century”, Foreign Policy magazine.


1--Japan cabinet approves $130 billion in fiscal steps as part of stimulus


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet approved 13.5 trillion yen ($132.04 billion) in fiscal measures on Tuesday as part of efforts to revive the flagging economy, with cash payouts to low-income earners and infrastructure spending...

The headline figure for the package totals 28.1 trillion yen, but it includes public-private partnerships and other amounts that are not direct government outlays and thus may not give an immediate boost to growth.

2--What America's $1.35 trillion corporate cash hoard means for the economy


"Here's my observation on all this cash: I think if we were to get a little clearer fiscal picture from Washington....we would actually see stepped up buybacks or dividends and really put some of that money back to work for shareholders." (So, according to X the best case scenario is not investment in future growth, but "one-off" buybacks or dividends.)


3--Another Recession Warning Signal——The Construction Spending ‘Recovery’ Has Abruptly Stalled


...there are three important elements exhibited in construction spending that make it noteworthy where it had not been, in my view, before. The first is the connection of non-residential construction spending with the GDP non-residential FI as further confirmation of erosion and serious weakness in business investment. The second is the sudden synchronization of residential construction with non-residential, pulling overall activity lower in combined fashion that might alter real economic outlooks beyond the construction industry (higher risk of spillover). The third is that these trends unify around September 2015, once more suggesting that “something” really changed in the middle of last year concurrent to the eruption of “global turmoil” that was and is the most acute outbreak of “dollar” strangulation since 2011.

4--Koo: QE Has Failed In Europe, The UK And Japan (QE isn't working, hasn't worked, and won't work. But let's keep trying)

Quantitative easing seems to split opinions in the financial world. Some argue that the implementation of QE by central banks helped stave off a serious depression after the great financial crisis, while others argue that QE did nothing but transfer wealth from the poor to the rich and has done nothing to stimulate economic growth...

Koo points out that since 2008 (and 1999 for Japan) all of these countries have been subject to severe balance sheet recessions, with negative private sector demand for funds in spite of zero or negative interest rates. As a result, the liquidity supplied by central banks remains trapped, and absence of borrowers means that there is no way for the central bank to expand the money supply.
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In the UK, lending remains below pre-Lehman levels, there’s been no significant growth in the money supply across the Eurozone and Japan’s economic malaise has been well documented.

While the central banks of Japan, the UK and Europe have been adamant that the goal with QE is to increase the money supply, Koo notes that officials at the Federal Reserve have never (to his knowledge) claimed they would increase inflation by expanding the money supply. In fact, Ben Bernanke once stated that “all of the liquidity supplied under QE1 to address the financial crisis was still in the market but had not increased the money supply. That, he argued, was why QE2 would not lead to inflation.”

5-- Birth of a Prison Industry


Numi is one of many for-profit players in an increasingly privatized prison industry. State spending alone on corrections hit $52.4 billion in 2012. Hundreds of private-sector contractors now provide food, clothing, riot gear, phone service, computers, and health care, in addition to directly operating many correctional facilities. In addition, prisoners and their families pay for numerous services, including phone calls, a $1.2 billion-a-year business, according to The New York Times

6--The college debt crisis is even worse than you think


Is there a better way for struggling colleges to remain afloat than by sinking poor students further into debt? If not, that means college, long accepted as society’s Great Equalizer, will actually be widening the country’s yawning economic divide rather than helping close it.

7--   Junk Bond Issuance Collapses in the US and Europe


Particularly interesting – and a warning sign: US stock markets are at record highs even while junk bond issuance has been grinding down this year, from an already lousy 2015, another one of those out-of-sync movements that are becoming symptomatic for our era of incessant market manipulations by central banks and their zero- and negative-interest-rate policies, QE, and financial repression.

8--Michael O' Hanlon pushes escalation in Syria (Waiting for Hillary) Brookings video (41 min to 52:18)


"We still rely on Turkey enormously on the ground...and we are not going to be successful in Syria unless we can get to a much greater level of collaboration with Turkey ...The point is, when you try to access particular insurgent groups, especially in N Syria, you rely on Turkey. ...If you are imagining a larger operation that ultimately tries to create the type of safe havens that Secretary Clinton has talked about that Gen Petraeus has talked about, the things that we are doing with these small numbers (special ops) have to expand if we are going to be successful. So the collaboration between the US and Turkey on the ground is crucial.

Finally, "Containment" , which is essentially Obama's policy, is not working.
Extremism has its homebase is Syria..We are weak on the ground in Syria militarily and we don't have a strategy for changing that.
We don't have to do a no-fly zone like we've done it before. There are other options.
we should not start declaring safe havens, we should help them emerge ..we you see the Kurds doing well in the east, you accelerate your involvement on the ground, then, after the fact, you've seen a safe haven emerge.

9--Hmmm? Turkey’s a major Chechen base.


Turkey’s also the base for the Chechen terrorist movement seeking to overthrow and cause disruption all across Russia. Turkey’s a major Chechen base.
So neutralizing and ending the Turkish relationship with the Chechen secession, the Chechen terrorist movement, that’s a very important goal of Russian policy, and it’s more important to Russia than reducing Turkish involvement in Syria [inaud.] though. They’re too intimately connected....

PERIES: Now, John, I imagine not too much gets by the Russian intelligence and secret service. What do we know about what they knew about the coup attempt in Turkey?

HELMER: Typically we can only guess what intelligence agencies knew. And in situations as confused to the Turkish forces on both sides as they were on July 15 and 16, in situations as confusing as that you’ve got to expect that intelligence agencies are also in confusion as to what’s happening.

You’ll have seen that the NATO website called Bellingcat has produced, what they claim to have been intercepted, [inaud.] conversations between Turkish majors, lieutenants, lieutenant-colonels and colonels, engaged in the activity of the night of Friday, July 15 in Istanbul. Maybe it’s as unreliable as everything else Bellingcat produces. Maybe it’s an accurate account. But one thing it establishes: what happened was confusing to those participating in it. In addition, there weren’t as many forces engaged as there needed to be to make their coup successful. They failed. Third, you can expect that Russian intelligence was listening and monitoring the military signals that, electronic communications like the telephone, as were British intelligence, U.S. intelligence, and everybody else with the capability to listen in electronically.

So everybody was listening in. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were helping either side. Either the U.S. side, the Brits, the Israelis, or anyone else, can be accused of helping one side or the other for doing their job, which was watching and listening and trying to understand. I don’t believe, and nor do any of my sources believe, Russian military surveillance, like the other countries in surveillance, helped move the coup in any direction whatsoever. They simply listened in. And if Bellingcat, a NATO agency, can produce today–yesterday or the day before–vivid transcripts of people talking about what’s to be done and where to go, and how to coordinate when they weren’t able to coordinate themselves in one service, let alone between the army and the air–if that shows confusion, I think it’s safe to say the intelligence agencies watching were also watching confusion and confused themselves.

And you can see from the political statements that were made–Mr. Kerry was in Moscow that evening. It took hours and hours before President Obama made a statement. Everybody was watching to see what would happen and who would emerge the winner

10--Four Reasons Why Liberation of Aleppo Would Mean an End to the Syrian War  What's at stake in Aleppo?


Aleppo is of prime importance to all the parties of the conflict as it is Syria’s most important economic and trade center; the city lies on the crossroad of the country’s trade routes and holds a very advantageous geopolitical position,” he said.

“Full control over Aleppo allows one to control not only all of northern Syria but the whole territory along the border with Turkey, the district inhabited by Kurds, and the territory of northwestern Iraq,” the political analyst explained.
“Aleppo is the dominating center of this whole region. And for the Syrian government forces, for their adversaries, for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US it is the key to control over the whole Syrian territory and adjacent regions...

However the liberation of Aleppo without closure of Syrian-Turkish border crossings, first and foremost in the city of Azaz, will be a hard task,” he said.

It is essential for cooperation with the Syrian Kurds


“Azaz — is a Turkish crossing gate and a whole load of arms, ammunition and thousands of militants have got into Syria through this crossing. It must be closed and it could be dome only in alliance with the quasi-state [known as] the Federation of North Syria – Rojava, or otherwise the Syrian Kurds,” Bagdasarov explained
...
Control over Aleppo would allow for the completion of the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority over most of the country

The political analysts agree that the liberation of the city would mean the liberation of Syria and the end of the war.
“Control over Aleppo would allow for the completion of the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority over most of the country, the most densely populated and the most economically developed part of the country” said Vladimir Shapovalov.
“After establishing control over Aleppo, control over the rest of Syria would only take a couple of weeks", he concluded.

11--Good point


President Erdogan believes that Fethullah Gulen, an Islamist preacher currently living in exile in the US, was behind the failed coup. On July 19 Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that he had requested the extradition of Gulen.
“The Americans argue that they can’t extradite Gulen as long as there is no hard proof  of his alleged role in the coup attempt. This could undermine the efficiency of the US military campaign against Daesh as the Americans widely use Turkish military airfields to strike terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq,” Mayu Kaneko continued.

12--25 Nazi Waffen-SS veterans found living freely in Britain


Following the war, the Foreign Office deemed the task of screening all 8,000 SS men who were offered settlement in Britain to be too challenging.

13--The Forever War


But the war was far from being `almost won.’ The US-installed puppet regime in Kabul of President Ashraf Ghani, a former banker, holds on only thanks to the bayonets of US troops and the US Air Force. Without constant air strikes, the US-installed Ghani regime and its drug-dealing would have been swept away by Taliban and its tribal allies.

So the US remains stuck in Afghanistan. Obama lacked the courage to pull US troops out. Always weak in military affairs, Obama bent to demands of the Pentagon and CIA to dig in lest the Red Chinese or Pakistan take over this strategic nation. The US oil industry was determined to assure trans-Afghan pipeline routes south from Central Asia. India has its eye on Afghanistan. Muslims could not be allowed to defeat the US military.

Look what happened to the Soviets after they admitted defeat in Afghanistan and pulled out. Why expose the US Empire to a similar geopolitical risk?

14--Russian helicopter shot down in Syria as battle rages over Aleppo


While it remains unclear how the helicopter was shot down, there is a very real danger that this event could escalate into an all-out diplomatic or even military confrontation between Russia and the United States. There are multiple reports that the embattled Islamist forces in the area, which are linked to Al Qaeda, might have shot down the Russian helicopter with a missile provided by the US government.

“I’ve heard some local sources where the helicopter was downed speaking of the possibility of MANPADs—shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles—being used in that context,” freelance journalist Alaa Ibrahim told Russian state-owned Russia Today .

The Reuters news agency wrote that there was a “prospect—which could cause a major diplomatic incident—of the helicopter having been brought down by a US-supplied weapon.” It continued: “The United States has equipped some rebel groups with TOW anti-tank missiles, which can also be used against helicopters.”

It is quite possible that Washington provided such weapons to the Islamist opposition for use against Russian and Syrian government forces. The US is growing increasingly desperate as the situation facing its Islamist proxies, whom it has supported for five years in a bloody war for regime-change against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, grows darker by the day.

The military situation appears to be turning decisively against the Islamist opposition militias. The noose around east Aleppo has been tightening ever since July 7, when Syrian regime forces cut the Castello road going north from Aleppo to Turkey.

Decimated by Russian air power, the anti-Assad forces were stunned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement earlier this month that he would seek better relations with the Syrian regime. They now fear that Turkey may permanently cut off their supply lines.
The opposition faces being crushed across the entire north of Syria and is mounting a desperate last-ditch offensive to try to break the encirclement of its forces in Aleppo....

the attempts of Washington and its NATO allies to posture as humanitarians, shocked by the violence of the forces led by Moscow and Damascus, are shot through with hypocrisy. It was they who launched the proxy war that has now cost an estimated 400,000 lives. Airstrikes by US war planes in northern Syria have killed more than 200 civilians in just the last two weeks.

Washington and its allies have worked closely and openly with “rebel” forces such as al-Nusra that are linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist group that carried out the September 11 attacks in the US. They continue to shield them as part of their drive to topple Assad and deprive Russia of a key ally.
Whatever embarrassment al-Nusra's ties to Al Qaeda may cause in Washington, powerful sections of the US ruling elite are signaling that they will continue backing the opposition. There is a grave danger that, in order to rescue its Islamist proxies from defeat, the US government will launch a broader intervention in Syria and the Middle East that could provoke an all-out military collision with Russia.

15--CIA also behind failed coup attempt: Former Turkish army chief


Turkey’s former army chief, İlker Başbuğ, has commented on the July 15 failed coup attempt, believed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), saying the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was also behind it.

“There was foreign support in this uprising. It’s against its nature if there isn’t. Where does [U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah] Gülen live? In the U.S. Who gives him the opportunities? The CIA,” Başbuğ told private broadcaster CNN Türk on Aug. 1, as he added that the CIA planned to use FETÖ in order to harm the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

“Does Gülen have a residence permit in the U.S. for nothing? Did you think that the intelligence wouldn’t use him?” he asked....

The Gülen movement planned and masterminded the July 15 uprising. The second were the ones not acting immediately, the ones that were late and hesitant. Were those Gülenists? No. The third group could consist of the people who weren’t Gülenists, but who wanted to take advantage of the events,” he said.


16--West stands by coup, terrorists: President Erdoğan


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has strongly accused the West of supporting terrorism and coup plotters, expressing his resentment at the unsatisfying support from Turkey’s allies in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup attempt.

“Now I ask: Does the West give support to terror or not? Is the West on the side of democracy or on the side of coups and terror? Unfortunately, the West gives support to terror and stands on the side of coups,” Erdoğan said in an address to international investors on Aug. 2 in Ankara.

The resentment stems from long-running rift between Turkey and a number of European countries on the fight against terror which seems to have deepened in the aftermath of the coup attempt after the support the Turkish government expected failed to arrive.

“We have not received the support we were expecting from our friends, neither during nor after the coup attempt,” he said.

Erdoğan lamented that no Western leader had come to Turkey to express condolences and show solidarity with the Turkish people. “It’s sufficient to look at the statements issued during and after the coup to see this.”

The statements issued by the Western countries summarily condemned the coup attempt but mostly addressed concerns about the measures the Turkish government has been taking against the Gülenists, Erdoğan said, calling on all European politicians to come to Turkey to see the parliament, National Police Department and other state facilities that were bombed by the coup plotters....

Turkey handed over terrorists to US without evidenceTurkey was also disappointed by comments that question whether Fethullah Gülen was behind the coup attempt, Erdoğan said. “Documents have been sent to the U.S. When you demanded the handover of a terrorist we have not asked for documents from you,” the president said, recalling Ankara’s expectation of the extradition of Gülen from the U.S. in line with the strategic nature of the countries’ relationship.

17--Hillary's war whoop


the Oval Office?  Well, more war, of course. Check it out:
The United States and our international coalition has been conducting this fight for more than a year. It’s time to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria. That starts with a more effective coalition air campaign, with more allies’ planes, more strikes, and a broader target set…..And we should be honest about the fact that to be successful, air strikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS.
Like President Obama, I do not believe that we should again have 100,000  American troops in combat in the Middle East. (“A Conversation With Hillary Clinton“, Council on Foreign Relations)

18--Hillary introduces "the pivot"


Clinton who first introduced “pivot” to the strategic lexicon in a speech she gave in 2010 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Clinton’s presentation laid out the basic themes that would later become America’s “top priority”, the rebalancing of US power to the Asia Pacific. Here’s an excerpt from the speech that appeared in Foreign Policymagazine:
“As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.” (“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

19--a tectonic shift in Turkish politics, and in the geopolitics of the region. Eric Draitser on Turkey coup


Ultimately, the failed 2016 coup in Turkey will have lasting ramifications that will impact the years and decades ahead.  With Turkey now clearly breaking with the US-NATO-EU axis, it is rather predictable that it will seek to not only mend fences with both Russia and China, but to place itself into the non-western camp typified by BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China’s One Belt One Road strategy, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, etc.

what the 1980 coup demonstrates more than anything is that the Turkish military, as well as the far right fascist terror gangs such as the Grey Wolves, are in various ways assets of the US, and under the thumb of US intelligence.  To be sure, one could quibble about the degree to which they are entirely assets, proxies, or simply longtime collaborators, but this distinction is of minor importance.  What matters is that the historical record clearly indicates collusion between the Turkish military and deep state and the CIA....

So, let’s see if we got it all down.  Gulen leads a multi-billion dollar business empire and charter/private school network with global reach.  He is directly connected to two of the most notorious CIA operatives in the recent history of US-Turkish relations.  He has a political lobbying network whose tentacles stretch from Washington to Central Asia.  Oh, and by the way, according to former Turkish intelligence chief Osman Nuri Gundes, Gulen’s network of schools in the Central Asian nations of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan provided the cover for at least 130 CIA agents in the mid to late 90s....

Despite his commendable service to US imperialism in Syria, including hosting both terrorist and Syrian expatriate proxies of the US, Erdogan has clearly upset the apple cart with Washington.  Perhaps his most egregious crime came just recently when he issued an apology for the November 2015 downing of a Russian jet.  But, of course, it wasn’t the apology itself that set off official Washington, it was the reorientation of Turkish foreign policy away from the US, NATO, and Europe, and towards Russia, China, and the emerging non-western power bloc. This was his grave sin. And it wasn’t the first time, though undoubtedly Washington wanted to make sure it would be his last.
One must recall that Erdogan has a nasty habit of making deals with US adversaries, including the signing of the massive Turk Stream pipeline deal, the decision to purchase missile systems from China (which Erdogan later reneged on), the signing of a lucrative nuclear energy deal with Russia, and many others.  In short, for Washington, Erdogan proved to be an unreliable ally at best, and a dangerous political manipulator at worst.  So, as with so many leaders who came to be seen that way by the US political elites, he had to go.  And Gulen’s network would come in handy.
Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the events of the failed coup was the use of the NATO base at Incirlik.  As the Los Angeles Times noted:
“Turkish officials said the organizers of the uprising were given crucial aid from officers at Incirlik Air Base, a facility that hosts most of the 2,500 U.S. military personnel stationed in Turkey and is a key base for the U.S.-led coalition’s ongoing air campaign to defeat the Islamic State militant group in neighboring Iraq and Syria… official media reported the arrest of the top Turkish military official at Incirlik, Gen. Bekir Ercan Van. Van was among 10 soldiers arrested at the base, part of an operation Turkish officials say provided air-to-air refueling for F-16 fighter jets…[which] were a crucial part of the coup attempt, used to intimidate government supporters in the streets.”
The implications of this information should not be understated.  While it is entirely possible that the story was concocted by Erdogan’s people in order to carry out a purge of top military officials perhaps seen as disloyal to Erdogan or much too loyal to secular Kemalists, it is also plausible that the Turkish government’s narrative is correct.

Were that to be the case, then the obvious implication would be that Incirlik was a base of operations for the coup, the locus of Turkish military power behind the coup, and US intelligence and military behind them.  Considering the centrality of Incirlik to NATO operations in the Middle East, it is not unreasonable to assume that aside from just military personnel, Incirlik is a node in the global CIA network.  In fact, considering that the base is home to both US drones conducting operations in the Syria-Iraq theater, as well as a hub of the US “extraordinary rendition” program, it almost goes without saying that Incirlik houses significant CIA assets

20--US MANPADS used to shoot down Russian helicopter?


It was the third Russian helicopter lost this year, giving rise to speculation in Moscow that insurgents have acquired shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, known as Stingers or “Manpads”.
Such a development could have strategic ramifications for Russia and its allies.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which possess stocks of Manpads, had been urging the US to authorise their provision to insurgent factions fighting the government in Syria. Washington refused, fearing the weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic State

However, a covert “Plan B” for Syria advocated by US military experts involved the supply of Manpads to “moderate” rebels to counter Russia’s efforts to support Damascus. It is unclear if that plan has been activated.


21--US lied about lifting sanctions on Iran


“Today, even the diplomatic officials and those who were present in the [nuclear] negotiations reiterate the fact that the US is breaching its promises, and while speaking softly and sweetly [to Iran], is busy obstructing and damaging Iran’s economic relations with other countries,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday.

The JCPOA between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia -- plus Germany envisages Tehran scaling back its nuclear program in return for the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
However, months after the agreement went into effect on January 16, the United States and the European Union continue to maintain some sanctions on Iran, scaring off companies from resuming trade with the country.

22--Turkey Demands to Stop Bombings on Aleppo City


All attacks on the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, including air strikes, must be stopped immediately, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Monday.
“All attacks on Aleppo, including air strikes, must be discontinued immediately. Turkey’s support for the Syrian people will be continued,” the Anadolu news agency quoted the words of Cavusoglu.
The statement was made during the meeting between Mevlut Cavusoglu and the General Coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee (the main opposition bloc in Syria), Riad Hijab.
It seems that the resetting of relations between Russia and Turkey has ended before it could properly begin

23--Can the US be trusted?


The Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei today acknowledged that the nuclear agreement with the U.S. is a failure. The U.S. did not deliver on its end. Iranian money is still blocked in U.S. controlled accounts and no international bank wants to do business with Iran because the U.S. is threatening to penalize them. The conclusion, Khamenei says, is that no deal with U.S. over any local issue in the Middle East is possible and that all negotiations with it are a waste of time. This new public position may finally free the limits the Rouhani government of Iran had put on Iranian deployments to Syria. Why bother with any self-limitation if the U.S. wont honor it?

24--Putin's pivot to asia


The imprimatur of President Vladimir Putin is unmistakable, as evident from the Russia-ASEAN summit meeting he hosted in Sochi in mid-May. The Sochi Document adopted at the summit affirms that the protagonists are moving toward a “strategic partnership for mutual benefit” in a broad range of areas, especially security and trade.

It said ASEAN and Russia agree to deepen political, security, counter-terrorism and economic cooperation, “based on principles of equality, mutual benefit and shared responsibility to promote peace … development and social progress in the Asia-Pacific region with a view to working a strategic partnership.”
Russia is positioning itself as an eligible partner for the ASEAN countries, should they ever feel the urge to diversify partnerships and enmesh more players in the multilateral regional framework, both as a means to whittle down the overbearing Chinese presence and/or to insulate from the perils of Sino-US competition.

Conceivably, the Russian drive aims at regaining some of its past Soviet-era global presence and stature, but then, the mercantile impetus cannot be overlooked, either. The Sochi Document mentions that Moscow proposed a ‘comprehensive’ free trade area between the EEU and the ASEAN, envisaging a single market with a GDP estimated at $4 trillion, and that the Southeast Asian grouping agreed to consider the proposal.

This could be Russia’s answer to the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Interestingly, several ASEAN countries, on their part, conveyed at the Sochi summit their expectation that Moscow will remain neutral over the South China Sea.
Russia rejects the strategic rationale for the retention of post-Cold War US-led alliance structures in Asia-Pacific. Nonetheless, Russia’s actual role in Asian security remains minimal. The ‘pivot to Asia’ may seem a milestone in Russia’s strategic and security engagement, historically speaking, but Moscow’s success in turning its hopes and expectations into reality remains to be seen....

The press release issued in Moscow stated that Washington’s steps to unilaterally develop a strategic missile defense system “that is deployed across the globe, including Northeast Asia, adversely affect the international and regional strategic balance” and can cause serious damage to the strategic security of Russia and China.
It underscored that Moscow and Beijing have discussed the “possibility of coordinating more closely” on the issue.

Suffice it to say, South China Sea territorial disputes are not the leitmotif of the Sino-Russian partnership. The raison d’etre of that partnership lies in moulding the evolution of the world order toward multi-polarity.
Russia would see South China Sea – or, Ukraine (Crimea) and Syria for that matter – as back-to-back geopolitical issues where the US is advancing its ambitions as a global hegemon.

25--Journalist Udo Ulfkotte, The CIA controls EU media
















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