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US professor lectures Washington: Crimea is Russian, learn history and stop risking WW3

Lyle J. Goldstein reminded American politicians that Crimea has been Russian territory as long as the US has existed – in fact much longer

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In reminding Americans the crucial historical role of Crimea to Russia, and Russia to Crimea, an American professor teaches us all the importance of history.

Among many things, Professor Lyle J.Goldstein said that:

Russia first acquired Crimea in the same year, 1783, that marked the end of the American Revolution. To put it bluntly, Russians have controlled Crimea for quite a long while now and are extremely unlikely to give it up, so let’s neither hold our breath, nor premise our strategy on absurdly ahistorical, neo-liberal premises. European security specialists have much more pressing issues to address obviously, including primarily the refugee crisis and terrorism. A more thorough knowledge of history could help American policymakers draft more responsible policies to stop the “free fall” in U.S.-Russian relations that now imperils Ukraine, Europe and the entire world.

You can read the Professor’s entire speech here. It’s very important to listen carefully to his advice. A deeper knowledge of history is truly key. While it is unlikely this will change the mind of top American policymakers, it may help the average citizen understand the historical role of Crimea in Russia.

Let’s start at the beginning of Russian history, and take a walk through geography, in order to understand the realities of Ukraine and Russia today. If people better understood this, they would be more equipt to discuss what is really happening.

Russia first emerged as a state called Rus’ or Kievan Rus’ in 862. At that time, Rus’ existed on a shared territory around northwestern Russia, Belarus, and Central and Western Ukraine. Rus’ existed long before the modern borders of the states located there today. Take a look at this map.

You can make out the modern borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia if you look closely. What you will also notice is that Crimea was not part of Rus’. Even if Ukraine wishes to claim to be the only successor of Kievan Rus’, one can see Crimea has NOTHING to do with so-called “Ancient Ukraine”.

By the 1240 century, Kiev would fall to the Mongols, and around 1362, Kiev, along with most of modern Ukraine would be ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the picture below, one can see clearly how Lithuania occupied even parts of modern Russia, for example, Smolensk.

By the 15th century, Lithuania will have joined with Poland into a single commonwealth, ruling most of Ukraine. At that same time, the eastern half of Rus’ survived, and Moscow managed to reuinte almost all of the old territories of Rus’, save for that in the west until later.

In the mid 17th century, Cossacks under the leadership of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, wishing to unite with their Orthodox and Rus(ian) brothers and sisters, accepted the help of the Russian Czar, and with him, restored freedom in the left-bank of the River Dnipro. Contrary to what it would sound like, left bank Ukraine is the right side of the River Dnipro when you look at a map.

The lands in purple above, constituted the heartland of the Cossacks, who liberated the dark green region of Malorossia (little Russia) just above. With the help of Russia, they liberated the upstream territories, however, the lavender lands below, including Crimea were sparsely inhabited still.

Eventually, the Russian Empire continued it’s advance westward liberating the rest of Ukraine. The regions it liberated in the west were called “Little Russia” and constituted many ancient lost parts of Rus’

In the south, they liberated the “Wild Fields”, and under Catherine the Great in the 18th century, they overthrew the Crimean Khanate. Under Catherine, Russia built the great cities of southern Ukraine: Odessa, Mikolaiv, Kherson, and yes, Sevastopol, Yalta, and Simferopol. This land, formerly an empty wild field, filled with Tatar raiders, was called now “New Russia”.

New Russia (Novorossia) was aptly named, because it was…well…new. It was settled by Cossacks, but also by many Russians from the territory of the modern Russian Federation. While cities above such as Kiev, Chernigov, Lviv, Lutsk, Poltava, etc. were built in a time when no one could define what was Russian vs Ukrainian, the southern cities were clearly built by Russia.

Unlike the upper territories, “Little Russia”, where the ancestors of Modern Ukrainians lived for almost 300 years separated from Russians, Novorossia was a new frontier, settled by mostly Russians. Its cities were not ancient principalities of Rus’, they were built in the Early Modern Period by the Russian Empress. There was no civilization there prior to Russia building it, so they belong as much to Russian culture as to Ukrainian. Just because they are located in modern Ukraine, does not make them any less Russian than Siberia or Kuban. Russia literally built them up from empty fields.

Ukraine is a mostly artificial invention. The land is of course, ancient, as are the people, but the name and current borders are contrived. As a matter of fact, many parts of modern Ukraine were added to the nation by Russia throughout history. Some parts of Western Ukraine were part of Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the 20th century, and they were simply stitched onto Ukraine.

This was the case with Crimea, which was a part of Russia simply added to Ukraine by Khrushchev, in as much as all of Ukraine was a part of Russia. Crimea is also crucially important to Russia because it is the site where Saint Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev was baptised Orthodox. Saint Vladimir baptised all Russia into the Orthodox faith in 988, and was considered her greatest King. The place of his baptism is not far from modern Sevastopol, in a Greek colony, so one must understand this land is sacred to Russia. It is not simply a strategic place, it has more meaning than a foreigner could possibly understand.

Saint Vladimir’s Church beside Greek Ruins in Crimea

If someone really wishes to understand Ukraine, which means “Borderland” in the old Slavic language, one must see it less as a united nation or ethnic group, and more like a territory with legal sovereignty and statehood. According to international law, Ukraine, has the right to sovereignty, but it is factually wrong to see this as a separate nation-state with internal ethnic unity. You don’t have to hate Ukraine, or oppose the right of modern Ukraine to exist as a state in order to understand the land and people itself are not homogenous.

The reality is, Ukraine like two different countries split down the centre, and even within that division, there are subdivisions. Every region practically has its own foreign policy, and one is better served talking about Kharkov people, or Lviv people, or Odessa people, or Poltava people, than grouping them together as Ukrainians. Russia and Ukraine began together, and dividing them artificially is not a permanent solution, but it will breed permanent conflict.

The sooner westerners understand this historical and cultural fact, regardless how they feel about the Ukraine crisis, the sooner they can better understand what is really happening in Ukraine.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.

Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.

For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”

Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.

Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?

It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.

Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?

The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.

Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.

A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.

It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.

What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.

In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.

On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.

As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.

Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.

The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.

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Russia Readies Own Web To Survive Global Internet Shutdown

Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

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Via Zerohedge


Russian authorities and major telecom operators are preparing to disconnect the country from the world wide web as part of an exercise to prepare for future cyber attacks, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop a threat analysis and provide feedback to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament last December.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russian internet service providers (ISP) to guarantee the independence of the Russian Internet (Runet) in the event of a foreign attack to sever the country’s internet from the world wide web.

Telecom operators (MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline brand), MTS, Rostelecom and others) will have to introduce the “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications.

Roskomnazor will observe all internet traffic and make sure data between Russian users stays within the country’s borders, and is not re-routed abroad.

The exercise is expected to occur before April 1, as Russian authorities have not given exact dates.

The measures described in the law include Russia constructing its internet system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), so it can operate independently from the rest of the world.

Across the world, 12 companies oversee the root servers for DNS and none are located in Russia. However, there are copies of Russia’s core internet address book inside the country suggesting its internet could keep operating if the US cut it off.

Ultimately, the Russian government will require all domestic traffic to pass through government-controlled routing points. These hubs will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians internet users work seamlessly, but any data to foreign computers would be rejected.

Besides protecting its internet, Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

“What Russia wants to do is to bring those router points that handle data entering or exiting the country within its borders and under its control- so that it can then pull up the drawbridge, as it were, to external traffic if it’s under threat – or if it decides to censor what outside information people can access.

China’s firewall is probably the world’s best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see,” said BBC.

The Russian government started preparations for creating its internet several years ago. Russian officials expect 95% of all internet traffic locally by next year.

As for Russia unplugging its internet from the rest of the world for an upcoming training exercise, well, this could potentially anger Washington because it is one less sanction that can keep Moscow contained.

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