New records of the Myre Seadiver’s ill-fated stay at Lagos, Nigeria, have been made available, showing the Lagos port authorities and the Nigerian Navy gave permission for the Russian security vessel to enter the port with a stock of small arms, and that these remained on board at an anchorage in the Lagos roadstead for four weeks, before the 15-man crew and the vessel were arrested by the Nigerian Navy.
The documents also reveal that the Lagos shipping agent for the vessel had applied for and received the required authorizations. “There’ll be no issues”, he wrote to the vessel owner, Moran Security Group in Moscow on September 19. (more…)
The relatively new President of France is visiting Russia today for the first time since Francois Hollande’s election nine months ago. At the personal and policy levels relations between Hollande and President Vladimir Putin couldn’t be much worse. They disagree over which regimes they should support, and which they should topple. Hollande, his apparat announced through a Sunday newspaper, will be meeting Russians aiming to topple Putin.
The last time the two met – in Paris in June – they disagreed vocally over Hollande’s intervention in Syria on the side of the rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. Hollande said of Putin at the time: “We have disagreements over who is responsible for the violence and over the need for Assad to leave. The actions of the Syrian regime are intolerable. Any solution to the crisis requires the departure of Assad.” Putin said Russia is opposed to foreign armed intervention for regime change. “We are not for Assad, neither for his opponents. We want to achieve the situation where the violence ends and there won’t be large-scale civil war. What is happening in Libya, in Iraq? Did they become safer? Where are they heading? Nobody has an answer.” (more…)
Russian government relations with Nigeria have collapsed after negotiations have failed to free from five months of detention the Russian fleet tender vessel, Myre Seadiver, and its 15-man Russian crew. They have been charged with arms smuggling. The case is now viewed in Moscow as a repeat of the African Pride case, when the Russian crew of a small Greek-owned oil tanker were jailed in Nigeria between 2003 and 2005 over charges of oil smuggling. In both cases, according to Moscow sources, corrupt officers of the Nigerian Navy manipulated local court-ordered arrests of Russian crewmen to extract bribes and other concessions from the Kremlin.
In the Myre Seadiver case, sources close to the affair claim Nigerian Navy officers operate a lucrative protection scheme for oil tankers and other vessels loading at Nigerian ports or transiting through Nigerian coastal waters. Myre Seadiver, owned and operated by the Moscow-based ship security group called Moran Security, has been targeted, the sources say, because Nigerian Navy officers view it as an interloper in their sideline business. Apparently more powerful than Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs and Justice Ministries, with which the Russian Ambassador and Foreign Ministry have been negotiating, the Navy officers are said to want maximum publicity for the case, and thus protracted detention of the crew, as a way of warning other security companies out of the area. Plus compensation for the law violations, port and prison services rendered. (more…)
Rusal has lost another round in its international litigation against Andrei Raikov, the former head of bauxite and alumina supplies for Rusal’s smelters, as a New York judge ordered last week more disclosures of secret Rusal bank payments by the Bank of New York.
Raikov, a 20-year friend of Oleg Deripaska, Rusal’s chief executive, has been accused by Rusal lawyers in Moscow and Cyprus of having arranged over-market freight charges and kickbacks on shipping contracts fixed by several shipping companies – Natica Shipping, Aldi Marine, Mercury Shipping and Trading — and their owner, Dmitry Osipov. The shipments took place between 2003 and 2006. In November of 2007 Rusal signed an agreement in London releasing Osipov and the shipping companies “in respect of all claims including fraud”. In 2008 in Moscow a Russian police investigation of the Rusal allegations was terminated with a formal rejection of the allegations for lack of proof. (more…)
If you believe what the Washington and London think-tanks want you to believe, Russia’s days as the world’s dominant oil and gas exporter, blackmailer of Ukrainian independence, extortionist of the hypothermic Germans are numbered. Gazprom is on the rocks! Igor Sechin will shortly be yesterday’s man!! For those who believe, the saviour of the free gas-consuming world and the deus ex machina in this particular line of business is SGR — the shale gas revolution.
“The relative fortunes of the United States, Russia, and China — and their ability to exert influence in the world — are tied in no small measure to global gas developments,” a report from Harvard University’s Belfer Center and Rice University’s Baker Institute claimed last July. (more…)
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander — the English proverb is not about birds or cooking, but about equal treatment. When it comes to operating tanker fleets in and out of Russia’s ports, foreign-owned vessels have been enjoying equality of access for some time. That may be about to change, at least in Arctic waters.
Russia’s Sovcomflot, the state-owned oil and gas fleet operator, has proposed to form a consortium with gas producer Novatek to build and operate a fleet of new gas carriers for the Northern Sea Route. Details were disclosed last week by Dmitry Rusanov, an executive in Sovcomflot’s gas fleet division. In interviews with reporters in Moscow, Rusanov said that competing fleet operators would be ineffective and should not be selected by Novatek. “If everyone would keep their own technical management, the effectiveness of the project as a whole will decline. Shipowners will fight among themselves for trained crews, race each other for salaries. In the end it will not benefit anyone, especially Novatek. and therefore a single operator is needed.” (more…)
Ziyavudin Magomedov’s hold on the ports of Novorossiysk and Primorsk, and the oil which flows into and out of them, deteriorated suddenly and publicly this week. This has triggered new concern in The Netherlands that Magomedov’s Summa Group will be unable to find the money to break ground, as scheduled next month, at their new oil terminal project at Rotterdam. There is also concern among Rotterdam traders that if Magomedov cannot get the Russian crude oil he needs to fill his new tanks, he may substitute it with a flood of ship (bunker) fuel that will push down on the price of Rotterdam bunkers. Magomedov’s troubles in Moscow are thus causing a negative domino impact on his Dutch business allies.
The story of how Magomedov won a Rotterdam competition in 2010 for Tank Terminal Europort West (TEW), with a promise to deliver 600,000 barrels a day of Russian crude, can be read here. Last week, the state crude oil pipeline company Transneft went public in a direct attack on Magomedov and his Summa group, hinting that there will no Russian crude oil for the Rotterdam project, at least not from Primorsk port, whose pipelines Transneft controls, but whose management Magomedov runs through the Novorossiysk Commercial Seaport Company (NCSP). Recent disclosures from oil companies working with Magomedov’s oil trading subsidiaries, such as Souz Petrolium (not a spelling mistake), suggest that Magomedov is switching to trade of large volumes of Bunker C, the ship fuel with the highest sulphur content. (more…)
Yury Borisovich Rogov was such a long, close and faithful friend of Oleg Deripaska’s that he was invited to stand on Deripaska’s right at his wedding in 2001. To the left of Deripaska’s wife, Polina Yumasheva, are her parents, Valentin Yumashev and Tatiana Dyachenko — the former aide to ex-President Boris Yeltsin and Yeltsin’s second daughter. Rogov was also identified last year as a documentary witness with crucial evidence about Deripaska’s business dealings, assets, borrowings, and partnership with Michael Cherney (Chernoy). According to a UK High Court submission by Cherney’s lawyers, presented on July 9, 2012, “these documents will repay careful study, and will undoubtedly be the subject of significant focus at trial. Taken together, they constitute a substantial body of evidence in support of Mr Cherney‘s case, confirming that Radom held a number of entities which owned aluminium assets, including Sibal when that was incorporated in July 1999, and that Mr Cherney was in partnership with Mr Deripaska.” Rogov’s involvement is identified in footnote 386. (more…)
Last week Mother Nature delivered a once-in-a-billion-geological-year event — one of the largest natural diamonds ever found in Russia, at Alrosa’s Yubileynaya (Jubilee) mine in fareastern Sakha (Yakutia) (image right). The American diamonds found to date have been peanuts by comparison.
Then ПРИРОДА МАТЬ despatched a meteorite at 54,000 kilometres per hour to burn, bang, break up, and drop over Chelyabinsk city in the central Urals (image left). Not since the Tunguska event of 1908 has such a thing happened in Russia. The US reports three times more meteorite falls than Russia; but at an estimated 10 tonnes by the time it was over Chelyabinsk, the latest meteorite was bigger than most of its American counterparts. It killed noone, but flying glass and blast effects injured about 1,100. Early the same week, a combination of Mother Nature’s blizzards and tornadoes in the US killed at least 9, and inflicted far more valuable damage. (more…)
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week took a tour of Africa – Algeria, Mozambique, South Africa, and Guinea — in part because President Vladimir Putin told him to, ahead of Putin’s own visit to Africa in March. In part, Lavrov went to the Republic of Guinea at the bidding of Oleg Deripaska to settle a billion-dollar dispute Deripaska failed to fix when he and the Guinean President, Alpha Conde, were to meet in Davos, Switzerland, early this month. Lavrov does Deripaska’s bidding in Washington, too. He is generally more successful executing Putin’s requirements than Deripaska’s.
The stop in Algeria was strategic since the Libyan war began spilling American and British-armed Islamic guerrillas in every direction, threatening in particular gas and oil exporters like Algeria, Niger, Congo-Brazzaville, and Nigeria. Lavrov was discrete in saying ‘We told you so’. He said instead: “If we wish to avoid double standards, we need to stop guiding ourselves by them. I think that the recent events related to the development of the consequences of the so called Arab spring, will serve as a lesson to those who recently guided themselves by double standards.” (more…)
It is now clear, let’s say clearer, what business has been keeping the elected Russian official in charge of foreign affairs in the upper house of parliament, and in representing Russia in the affairs of Africa so active that he has been unable to respond to questions. According to his spokesman, Senator Mikhail Margelov has been just too busy. What this means, the spokesman adds, is “the very intensive agenda of his visits.”
Since December 2008 Mikhail Margelov, a senator of the Federation Council representing Pskov oblast, has been designated as a special representative of the President for different aspects of African affairs. At the start, he was troubleshooter for the Sudan. His mandate was then expanded geographically to cover pirates onshore and off the coast of Somalia. But when then-President Dmitry Medvedev made his first official visit to Egypt, Nigeria, and Namibia in June 2010, Margelov wasn’t in the delegation. Someone else, not Margelov, was then officially titled Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Relations with African Leaders, popping up to negotiate for Oleg Deripaska and United Company Rusal in the west African republic of Guinea. He was ineffective, and in March 2011, a Kremlin decree reassigned the Special Representative title to Margelov, relieving Alexei Vasiliev, an academic, of his duties. (more…)
In a hearing in federal US District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, was challenged by Judge Carla Woehrle to substantiate its court claims in London and elsewhere against the Nigerian government and a Nigerian-American company, BFI Group (BFIG). Through its US attorney, Jamie Bartlett, Rusal claimed it did not know what, if anything, is happening in the claim it has lodged in the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Bartlett also told the judge that Rusal has launched no other court claims in Nigeria or the US.
At stake is the future of Nigeria’s only aluminium plant, the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), which Rusal took from BFIG amid charges of favouritism and corruption. Click here for the full story. Rusal’s court moves are intended to discredit BFIG, which won Nigerian court approval last July for restoration of its acquisition of the plant by privatization tender in 2004. (more…)
Russian pork farmers and producers told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last week that government action is stripping them of profitability, as the squeeze between the rising price of feed grain and the falling price of pork is killing the industry’s plan to expand domestic production and replace imports. In anticipation of worsening profit reports, the London stock market has sliced the share prices of the only two listed pork producers in the top-5, RusAgro and Cherkizovo, by 56% and 46% respectively, trimming their market capitalization to the $800 million level.
A hearing on February 6 at the State Duma’s Agriculture Committee heard testimony that the pork sector was hit with the biggest concessions of any of the farm and foodstuff markets when Russian trade negotiators finalized the accession agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year. (more…)
Long after the great siege generals – Alexander, Napoleon – enunciated the principle of concentrating fire against the weakest points of an enemy’s walls – the Red Army devised the application combining the most explosives for the cheapest outlay in a saturation pattern which didn’t need to be accurate. It was the BM-13 until the secret was out. Then it was called the Katyusha. Nikolai Tokarev (upper right), chief executive of Transneft, launched an unprecedented fusillade of that this morning against Ziyavudin Magomedov (lower right). Transneft against Summa Group. President Putin’s man against Prime Minister Medvedev’s.
Transneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil pipeline company, has disclosed it wants to replace the current board chairman and chief executive of Novorossiysk Commercial Seaport Company (NCSP; other acronyms in use are NCSC and NMTP), the largest of Russia’s publicly listed port companies. In an announcement this morning, Tokarev accused Magomedov’s Summa Group of working against Transneft’s interests at the port, even though the two groups share a 50% shareholding on parity basis since they made a combined takeover of the former shareholders of the port company in 2010. (more…)
In Russian, it’s called шило в жопе; literally, a bootmaker’s awl in the arse. In New York Yiddish, it’s shpilkes in tukhas, which is a bit gentler because the sharp instrument in the posterior is a needle. The meaning, in general and in the Japanese case, is a case of self-induced agitation from which acts of aggressive and misguided frustration are likely to follow.
Yesterday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry issued this announcement to the BBC: “Today, around 03:00 (06:00 GMT), military fighters belonging to Russian Federation breached our nation’s airspace above territorial waters off Rishiri island in Hokkaido.” There has been no comparable public announcement of an alleged Russian airspace penetration since 2008. This one comes a few days in advance of the visit to Washington of the new Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. Forty-eight hours earlier, Japan’s Defence Minister, Itsunori Onodera, announced that on January 30 “something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defence Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea.” He claimed the reason for the delay between the radar signal and the public disclosure was the time required to determine that a Chinese fire-control radar had indeed locked on the Japanese vessel, and that Japanese officials, US advisors and others judged that publicity would be a good thing. (more…)
If you are a dog, then you know that 99.96% of your genes are shared with the wild grey wolf; and that both of you evolved from Papa Canid. This doesn’t mean that if you meet each other in the wilds, you’ll not turn on your fire-control mechanism, like our Chinese friends are doing to the Japanese, much to the disapproval of sentimentalists in the Anglo-American press. These also share much of their genetic material with Papa Canid, though their evolution has been retarded.
Fire-control mechanisms behave er, mechanically – click, press, scan, fire. Last month Yegor Borisov, prime minister of the Sakha republic, in Russia’s fareast, issued an order permitting the killing of up to 3,000 wolves, and paying a bounty of Rb35,000 for each kill. Rb10,000 will come from the budgets of the five uluses (municipal districts) most populated at the moment with wolves. Another Rb25,000 will be paid by the Sakha Ministry of Agriculture. They will recoup some of the outlays when the wolf skins are turned by Yakutian manufactories into wolf hats, wolf coats, and souvenirs for sale. Advance orders can be telephoned this month to Sakhabult, the store for the National Consortium for Support of Professional Hunters, 25 Lenin Avenue, Yakutsk, telephone +7(4112) 45 32 27. (more…)
Interpol publishes the names of less than a third of the people identified by Red Notices as wanted for arrest. That’s so fugitives can’t know the risks of apprehension they run when they try crossing international borders. The Red Notice for Bekhzod Akhmedov has been published because the authorities in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, want it to appear that Akhmedov is still on the run – that is to say, alive and well, and not in Uzbekistan. If after arguing with Gulnara Karimova last May or June he never made it out of the country, if he has been dead since then, Interpol is helping to cover up the crime of how he died, and who killed him.
Karimova is the senior daughter of Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan since the end of the Soviet Union in 1990. Karimova is the dominant business figure in the country. Her father, just turned 75, is serving out the last of the terms allowed by the Uzbek constitution. The next presidential election, due in December 2014, has been postponed to March 2015. That allows just two years to fix the succession on terms that will suit the Karimov family, but powerful enough to keep a lid on every variety of dissent which has been repressed in the country to date. That’s a tall order – expensive too. (more…)
Lars Nyberg (right), chief executive until Friday afternoon of TeliaSonera, the Swedish and Finnish telecommunications group, is something of an expert on the blowback effect. Firearms and forensics experts understand that blowback is what happens after a gunshot, when the vacuum inside the gun barrel draws in blood and tissue from the person who’s just been shot. Even if the corpse cannot be found, the blowback evidence can convict the shooter whose prints are on the gun, of murder. The typical defence in situations like that is no corpus delicti, no evidence of crime.
In the case of TeliaSonera’s payment of more (much more) than $320 million to a one-person company registered in Gibraltar allegedly having nothing to do with Gulnara Karimova (centre), Nyberg claims he is innocent of intending corruptly to advance TeliaSonera’s profits in its Uzbek mobile telephone concession. Karimova is the senior daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, and the dominant business figure in the country. (more…)
The Belgians like to speak of themselves as the victims when the great powers of Europe go to war. They were when the Germans invaded in 1914 and 1940.
But since 2014 when the Belgian government has been repeating it is gung-ho for the war with Russia, there has been no Russian attack, no occupation. Instead, there has been the amicable Russia-Belgium diamond trade worth more than $30 billion in annual exports and imports, supplied by the Russian state diamond company Alrosa.
If Belgian officials cut that trade off by agreeing to the European Union (EU) sanctions banning Russian diamond imports, as proposed by other EU states, that would liquidate ten thousand diamond polishing and related jobs concentrated in Antwerp, and destroy the country’s fifth largest export business forever. Alrosa would move its diamonds to Dubai, killing Antwerp as a diamond trading and cutting centre, just as Amsterdam as a diamond centre was killed by the German occupation of 1940. Antwerp took advantage of Amsterdam’s misfortune in 1946. Dubai will now do the same.
This is what Belgian government and diamond industry officials mean when they say they favour the toughest possible sanctions on Russian gas exports to Europe – but no sanctions on Russian diamonds. This is what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo meant when he told an Antwerp conference of diamantaires on September 14: “Sanctions should focus more on the aggressor than ourselves.”
Earlier, reacting to an attack on the diamond trade with Russia by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in a speech to the Belgian parliament, the spokesman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) said: “Not only are thousands of jobs in Antwerp at stake in the short term, but this decision will inevitably lead to a worldwide shift in the diamond trade in the long term. As long as international policy-makers worldwide do not adopt a unanimous position to sanction Russian diamonds in their entirety, Antwerp will be the only place that will bear the consequences of an EU sanction.”
By “worldwide shift” he meant Dubai.
De Croo has camouflaged Belgium’s resistance by repeating he will not veto a Russian diamond ban if there is “overwhelming support” for it in the EU. So a majority of the EU states have continued pressing; they are led by Poland. In March of this year, De Croo announced: “I would like to officially state that our country has never hindered any measures regarding diamonds. Our country did not interfere in this issue.” In private, however, De Croo has been casting Belgium’s veto.
The Poles have been attacking De Croo, pressing the case for an EU ban on Russian diamond imports as payback for De Croo’s insistence on imposing EU budget sanctions against the Warsaw government last year. De Croo is also refusing to accept Ukraine’s demand for accelerated membership of the EU and of NATO, and for fresh EU funding to pay Kiev’s war-fighting bills.
Instead, he has just announced €8 million in non-lethal aid to Kiev. “Ukraine can keep on counting on Belgium,” De Croo declared. “More than words, there are actions. Once again, Belgium is responding to concrete needs and will be providing essential equipment to Ukraine in the coming weeks.” The equipment is first-aid kits and pharmaceuticals produced by Belgian companies.
This week the secret Belgian veto campaign appears to have succeeded. The new draft of the eighth round of EU sanctions includes dental floss and deodorants; it leaves out diamonds. This omission is expected to be confirmed publicly on Friday of this week at the EU summit meeting in Prague.
“At the moment, diamonds are not included on the agenda for the next round of sanctions,” announced Tom Neys, the AWDC spokesman. “But things change quickly. [On] Friday [October 7] they will finalize discussions, and the EU [leaders decide] on October 6 and 7. The fact that sanctions also create other ethical problems, and that these sanctions will have no effect in Russia, are probably important elements in these debates. Now is the time to focus on international solutions.”
By “international solutions” the Belgians mean keeping Dubai from taking over Antwerp’s diamond business.
Timing is everything when you are telling jokes on stage; summing up for the jury in a murder trial; or when you are a general preparing to send your army over the top. Knock the comedian, lawyer, or general off his timing, and the laugh, the verdict, and the casualties will go against him.
John Mortimer, a London barrister and author of the Rumpole of the Bailey television show, once told the story of a friend who was coming to the end of his final jury address when he saw the judge writing a note and handing it to the usher. When it was passed to the lawyer as he was speaking, he glanced down to read: “Dear Jim, I thought you’d like to know that your flies are open and I can see your cock.”
Cocks which show or crow – like boys crying wolf – don’t comprehend the risks they create for themselves, and others. This is how it is in Berlin for Olaf Scholz and in Washington for Joseph Biden right now. They can afford to be impervious to the derision they are drawing in Warsaw; not so to the reaction to their antics in Moscow.
In this broadcast by Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio blows the final whistle before we all go over the top (Germans first, then the Poles). Even former Secretary of State John Kerry, career liar that he’s been, is revealed to be blowing on the same whistle this time round.
The official Russian reaction to the Nord Stream attack is to identify it as a US military operation, and to wait for an investigation to produce the evidence. That means wait, delay. No retaliation.
“How will we respond?” Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday in the most detailed briefing so far from Moscow. “We will respond with an investigation. This is a must, and our law-enforcement bodies have already launched it. This [the gas pipelines] is our property, resources, and infrastructure.”
“I would like to believe that the international investigation of what happened on the gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea will be objective… We will seek to conduct an honest and objective investigation… I hope that someone in the United States, or maybe someone in Europe — although, unfortunately, Europe in this case can no longer be counted on — someone from the independent investigators will have the desire to clarify the involvement of the United States, the special services and all other bodies in what happened on 25-27 September of this year in the Baltic Sea.”
This means that the Russian Government is waiting, delaying. There will be no retaliation for the time being.
The reason is that Russian officials suspect the Biden Administration of preparing an October Surprise just ahead of Election Day, November 8: an attack on domestic US infrastructure – the electricity grids, for example – which will be reported as the Russian retaliation that won’t be.
The Nord Stream attacks were a military operation of the US, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden, with additional NATO air surveillance support from bases in Italy. Politically, they were an attack on Germany, but the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has yet to say publicly what he knew in advance, what he knows now.
Who then knows what will come next except that there is now war in Europe, outside the Ukraine. Will the October Surprise begin war inside the United States?
The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.
It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.
Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.
Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points, want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.
“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification, his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”
The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.
It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.
Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.
But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.
Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”
Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”. “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added, diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February. Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace Morawiecki next year.
The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45; and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption, and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .
“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June, “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”
“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”
The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.
The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.
Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha by the Black Sea in Abkhazia. Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.
Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo. But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel. As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him. “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”
In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.