Link back to the discussion thread.
- EU lending arm aims to raise 100 bln euros to help rebuild Ukraine Reuters
The European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union, is proposing a funding structure previously used during the COVID-19 pandemic to help rebuild Ukraine with up to 100 billion euros ($104.3 billion) of investment, according to a document seen by Reuters.
The EU-Ukraine Gateway Trust Fund (E-U GTF) would seek to have an initial 20 billion euros in contributions from EU countries and the EU budget in the form of grants, loans and guarantees.
- Baltic States Ready If Russia Cuts Off Access To Power Grid Oil Price
The three Baltic states, in coordination with the European Union, are ready to switch off from the Russian power grid in an emergency, three years before the planned switch, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting sources with knowledge of the matter.
EU member states Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are still connected to the Russian power grid, but EU members—especially those Baltic states—have been wary of relying on Russia for any energy supplies since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The three countries are prepared for any scenario and can cope with power supply even if the link with Russia is cut off, Reuters’ sources said.
I very much doubt that.
- NATO Pledges To Step Up Support For Georgia And Bosnia Oil Price
NATO has pledged to increase its support for Georgia in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine. But while the alliance is expanding to include two new members, Georgia is making little apparent progress toward its own membership aspirations. At what NATO called a “historic” summit in Madrid on June 28-30, Georgia was promised more “political and practical” support.
“In light of the changed security environment in Europe, we have decided on new measures to step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova,” member countries said in the summit declaration. “We will work with them to build their integrity and resilience, develop capabilities, and uphold their political independence.”
- Russia demands rubles for grain exports RT
The Russian government has added grain, sunflower oil and extracted meal to the list of exports that must be paid for in rubles. A resolution giving effect to the decision was adopted on Friday and published on the official portal of legal information.
It also provides for a one-year extension of duties to be paid in the national currency in respect of exported sunflower oil and sunflower meal until August 31, 2023.
As part of the new payment mechanism, the base price for calculating the export duty on wheat will be 15,000 rubles (over $267) per ton.
- G7 cap to halve price of Russian oil – Tokyo RT
The price cap on Russian oil proposed by the Group of Seven will force Moscow to sell crude to around half its current purchase price, according to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The mechanism has been designed to ensure that Russian oil “will not and cannot be bought at a higher price” than the established threshold, Kyodo News quoted Kishida as saying during a stump speech in Tokyo on Sunday.
Oh, I thought you were just gonna be simple clowns about the price cap and ask for a discount of like $10 - no, you’re actually bringing the entire circus.
- Norway strike could cut gas output by 13% next week, oil lobby says Reuters
A planned strike next week by Norwegian energy sector workers could cut the country’s gas output by 292,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 13% of output, employers' group the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association (NOG) said on Sunday.
Oil output could be cut by 130,000 barrels per day, NOG added, corresponding to around 6.5% of Norway’s production, according to a Reuters calculation.
The strike, in which workers are demanding wage hikes to compensate for rising inflation, comes at a time of high oil and gas prices, with supplies of natural gas to Europe particularly tight after Russian export cutbacks.
Members of the Lederne labour union, who make up around 15% of the country’s offshore petroleum workers, on Thursday voted down a proposed wage agreement that had been negotiated by companies and union leaders.
As a result, they plan to begin a strike at three offshore fields on July 5, and to add three more fields the following day unless a solution is found.
- No guarantees Swiss will always have enough gas, minister says Reuters
Swiss businesses would be first to have energy rationed in the event of supply shortages, Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told the SonntagsZeitung, warning that the government cannot guarantee there will always be enough gas to go around.
Switzerland has relatively low demand for gas, which covers around 15% of total energy consumption. Around 42% of gas is used to heat households, and the rest in industry and in the service and transport sectors, according to government data.
However, it is nonetheless reliant on imported oil and gas.
- Swiss inflation in June hits 29-year high of 3.4% Reuters
Swiss consumer price inflation touched a 29-year high of 3.4% in June, more than economists had expected and the first time inflation in Switzerland has topped 3% since 2008.
The reading – the fifth month in a row that inflation has risen above the Swiss National Bank’s 0-2% target range – fuelled talk that the central bank could soon tighten policy again after last month hiking its policy rate for the first time in 15 years.
- Scholz Signals Lufthansa-Like Bailout for Gas Giant Uniper Bloomberg
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his government is continuing talks on aid for gas giant Uniper SE, and signaled that bailout tools developed during the pandemic to rescue big companies like Lufthansa are on the table again.
“During the last crisis, we developed very precise instruments – and I drove this forward as finance minister – in order to support companies that have come under pressure from circumstances for which they are not responsible,” Scholz said in an interview with public broadcaster ARD on Sunday.
Uniper, the largest buyer of Russian gas in Germany, said Wednesday it’s discussing a possible increase in state-backed loans or even receiving equity investments to secure liquidity.
- Entire industries in Germany could collapse due to Russian natural-gas supply cuts: union head Business Insider
“Entire industries are in danger of collapsing permanently because of the gas bottlenecks: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry,” Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions, told Bild am Sonntag. “Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany.”
The chemical industry, which employs about 346,000 people, is the third-largest industry in Germany, according to Germany Trade & Invest, the country’s investment promotion agency.
- Germany’s 15 billion euro credit line for gas might not be enough, regulator warns Reuters
The head of Germany’s energy regulator warned that the 15 billion euros' ($15.64 billion) worth of credit lines provided by the government to buy gas for storage facilities may not be enough, according to an interview in the WirtschaftsWoche magazine on Monday.
Germany has sounded the alarm over gas shortages in response to dwindling supplies from Russia, in an escalating energy standoff between the West and Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine in February.
- Germany Has First Monthly Trade Deficit Since 1991 on Exports Bloomberg
Germany reported its first monthly trade deficit in three decades after exports unexpectedly fell in May.
The shortfall of 1 billion euros ($1 billion) was the first since 1991. Cross-border sales declined 0.5%, compared with an economist forecast of an increase of 0.7%. At the same time imports rose 2.7%, much more than anticipated.
America’s war on Germany is going apace.
- Strike ends at Exxon refinery in France Reuters
A workers' strike at Exxon Mobil’s Esso refinery in Fos-sur-Mer in southern France stopped on Saturday and the halted units are being restarted, the company said on Sunday.
The strike resulted in the refinery being temporarily shutdown on Friday.
- Confidence drains from UK companies as economic woes mount: BCC Reuters
British companies have turned increasingly glum about the outlook, with inflation surging and investment plans looking stagnant, according to the latest business survey that shows momentum rapidly draining from the economy.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said 54% of more than 5,700 companies it surveyed between May 16 and June 9 expected turnover to increase over the next 12 months. This is down from 63% in the previous survey and the lowest share since late 2020, when many businesses were under some form of COVID restrictions.
Asia and Oceania
- Airbus secures mega-order from four Chinese airlines EuroNews
Four Chinese airlines have placed a mega-order for 292 single-aisle A320 family aircraft from airbus.
The deal, for Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Shenzhen Airlines, total nearly $37 billion (€35.4 billion) at the rarely applied list price.
Despite air traffic being paralysed in China by the pandemic, the need for aircraft remains immense.
For Airbus, these orders, which have yet to be finalised, “demonstrate the positive recovery momentum and prosperous prospects of the Chinese aviation market.”
- China ramps up Russian coal imports RT
Russian seaborne coal deliveries to China soared 55% to 6.2 million tons in the first 28 days of June compared to the same period last year, S&P’s Commodities at Sea database shows. In May, supplies were also up, rising 20% year-on-year to 5.5 million tons.
- China’s yuan is making headway a global reserve currency, with 85% of central banks keen on holding the asset Business Insider
Central banks are increasingly keen to hold China’s yuan as a reserve currency, as the country’s growing economic and political power threatens to erode the US dollar’s global dominance.
Some 85% of central banks said they are invested, or are considering investing in, China’s yuan in UBS Asset Management’s annual reserve manager survey, released Friday. That’s up from 81% a year earlier.
Foreign exchange managers at central banks are on average looking to hold 5.8% of their reserves in the yuan in 10 years' time, up from 5.7% last year. That would be a sharp increase from the 2.9% level reported by the International Monetary Fund last week.
The US and its allies' freezing of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves in response to the invasion of Ukraine has driven speculation that countries will diversify away from the dollar, so as to be less exposed to Washington’s power over the global financial system.
- Laos Inflation Reaches 22-year High at 23.6 Percent Laotian Times
- 13-year high core inflation: How Singapore is coping with rising prices Asia News
From a tighter monetary policy to longer-term electricity contracts, measures have been put in place to blunt the impact of rising prices on households and businesses here.
Last month, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) committed $1.5 billion on inflation relief for businesses and households, as global prices climbed faster than projected and are likely to stay high.
MOF said the support package will be funded from Singapore’s better-than-expected fiscal position in financial year 2021, with no drawdown on the nation’s reserves.
Prices are expected to rise over the coming months, despite the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) tightening its monetary policy three times since last October to tame inflation.
MAS tightened its monetary policy in April in a double-barrelled move.
To allow the local dollar to strengthen against currencies of its trading partners, the central bank re-centred the midpoint of the exchange rate policy band at the prevailing level. It also slightly increased the slope or rate of currency appreciation.
- Australia forecasts record mining, energy export sales for 2023 Reuters
Australia’s mining and energy export revenues are forecast to climb 3% to a record A$419 billion ($286 billion) in the year to June 2023, buoyed by surging coal and gas prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Monday.
- Thousands ordered to evacuate from Sydney floods Iraqi News
- Iran’s daily refining capacity exceeds 2.2m barrels: OPEC Tehran Times
Iran’s refining capacity has increased by more than 480,000 bpd from 2011 to 2021, according to OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin. Iran’s refining capacity in 2011 was reported to be 1.715 million bpd.
- Iran is cutting its oil prices to compete as cheap Russian crude draws Chinese buyers: report Business Insider
As China steps up its purchases of Russian oil, Iran has been forced to slash the price of its already cheap crude to to compete with Moscow’s steep discounts, Bloomberg reported Monday.
Iranian oil is now priced $10 a barrel below global benchmarks such as Brent futures, commodities traders told Bloomberg. That represents a $5 to $6 price cut since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Itself under US sanctions and on the hunt for crude buyers, Tehran is slashing its oil prices to compete with Russian crude in China.
- U.S. seeking to disrupt talks under Israeli pressure: senior MP Tehran Times
Ali Reza Salimi, who is a member of the Parliament’s presiding board, told state news agency IRNA, “Under the pressure of the Zionist lobby, America wants Iran not to secure its interests in the negotiations and wants the implementation of commitments for Iran to be a one-way street.”
He added, “The news from Qatar says that the Americans are obstructing the negotiations.”
Salimi said, “The disruption of the Americans in the negotiations has reached the point where the representative of the European Union has reacted to this behavior of the United States and stated that the United States does not follow the path of the negotiations.”
He added, “The Americans have focused all their efforts on the issue that Iran does not achieve the benefits intended for it in the JCPOA and only fulfills its commitments. And in fact, they are trying to limit Iran in various scientific, nuclear, economic, missile, and other fields.”
- Ukraine says Turkey has detained Russian ship carrying stolen grain MEE
Turkish customs authorities have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain that Ukraine says is stolen, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday.
Ukraine had previously asked Turkey to detain the Russian-flagged Zhibek Zholy cargo ship, according to an official and documents viewed by Reuters.
Reporters saw the Zhibek Zholy anchored about 1 km from shore and outside of the Turkish Black Sea port of Karasu on Sunday, with no obvious signs of movement aboard or by other vessels nearby.
“We have full cooperation. The ship is currently standing at the entrance to the port, it has been detained by the customs authorities of Turkey,” Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, said on his country’s national television.
Bodnar said that the ship’s fate would be decided by a meeting of investigators on Monday and that Ukraine was hoping for the confiscation of the grain.
- Saudis Unwilling To Upset Putin As Biden Begs For More Crude Oil Price
The world’s largest crude oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, continues to keep close ties with Russia while the top oil consumer, the United States, pleads with major producers—including the Kingdom—to boost supply to the market and help ease consumers’ pain at the pump. While the U.S. and its Western allies are sanctioning Moscow and banning oil imports from Russia, U.S. President Joe Biden is also turning to Saudi Arabia to ask it to pump more oil as Americans pay on average $5 a gallon for gasoline.
The Saudis prefer to keep close ties with Russia in oil policy as the OPEC+ pact and the control over a large portion of global oil supply has benefited both OPEC+ leaders—the Kingdom and Russia—over the past half a decade. Saudi Arabia, however, could use a little thaw in Saudi-U.S. relations under President Biden, who is no longer talking about the world’s top crude exporter as a “pariah” state.
The Saudis are carefully maneuvering to keep Russia as an ally in the OPEC+ group and possibly improve relations with the United States.
- Algeria Says It’s Agreed Hike in Gas Prices With Three Partners Bloomberg
Algeria said it reached a deal with three “partners” to increase prices of its natural gas exports, as Europe races to boost supplies from the North African country.
“We are confident that we will soon reach agreements to review the prices with other partners,” Toufik Hakkar, the chief executive officer of state energy firm Sonatrach, told reporters on Sunday, without naming the three counter-parties with which a deal’s already been struck. “Negotiations are hard and very tiring and require more time.”
Algeria is Europe’s biggest gas supplier after Russia and Norway, sending the fuel via pipelines to Spain and Italy, and also shipping it in liquefied form. The European Union is trying reduce imports from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and officials have traveled to Algeria to try and secure commitments for higher production.
- Govt Prioritizes Sustainable Farming Practices to Build Resilience Against Climate Change Shocks All Africa
- Libya Declares Force Majeure On Oil Exports Oil Price
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on crude exports from its oil terminals amid continued blockades of production and ports, which have severely crippled Libya’s oil exports.
The force majeure comes after weeks of protests and closures amid the new rift in Libya’s political class over who should be governing the country.
- Production at Venezuela’s largest refinery hit by blackout Reuters
Production at Venezuela’s largest refinery, which can process about 645,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), was halted late on Saturday by an electrical fault that caused a blackout, according to five people familiar with the matter.
Amuay is the only refinery producing gasoline at the Paraguana Refinery Center (CRP) following a halt in some operations at the neighboring Cardon refinery while a reformer fault is fixed.
“Blackout in the Amuay refinery. An electrical problem. Total blackout. In Amuay, the distilling and catalytic plants might be affected, which is currently producing about 80% of the country’s gasoline,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
- Nickel Prices Surge As UK Sanctions Major Russian Miner Oil Price
Nickel prices jumped by 6% following news that the UK government has added Vladimir Potanin, Norisk Nickel’s president, to its list of sanctioned individuals.
- There Are Hungry People There Are Hungry People Popular Resistance, by Vijay Prashad.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reports that, every minute, a child is pushed into hunger in fifteen countries most ravaged by the global food crisis. Twelve of these fifteen countries are in Africa (from Burkina Faso to Sudan), one is in the Caribbean (Haiti), and two are in Asia (Afghanistan and Yemen). Wars without end have degraded the ability of the state institutions in these countries to manage cascading crises of debt and unemployment, inflation and poverty. Joining the two Asian countries are the states that make up the Sahel region of Africa (especially Mali and Niger), where the levels of hunger are now almost out of control. As if the situation were not sufficiently dire, an earthquake struck Afghanistan last week, killing over a thousand people – yet another devastating blow to a society where 93% of the population has slipped into hunger.
In these crisis-hit countries, food aid has come from governments and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Millions of refugees in these countries are almost entirely reliant upon UN agencies. The WFP provides ready-to-use therapeutic food, which is a food paste made of butter, peanuts, powdered milk, sugar, vegetable oil, and vitamins. Over the next six months, the cost of these ingredients is projected to rise by up to 16%, which is why on 20 June, the WFP announced that it would cut rations by 50%. This cut will impact three of every four refugees in East Africa, where about five million refugees live. ‘We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire’, said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
Clearly, the spike in hunger is related to the food price inflation, which itself has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are the world’s leading exporters of barley, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seed, sunflower oil, and wheat, as well as fertilisers. While the war has been catastrophic for world food prices, it is an error to see the war as the cause of the spike. World food prices began to rise about twenty years ago, and then went out of control in 2021 for a range of reasons, including:
During the pandemic, the severe lockdowns inside countries and at their borders led to major disruptions in the movement of migrant labour. […] A consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was the breakdown of the supply chain. As China – the epicentre of a considerable volume of global manufacturing – pursued a zero-COVID policy, this set in motion a cascading problem for international shipping; with the lockdowns, ports closed and ships remained at sea for months on end. […] Extreme weather events have played a major role in the chaos of the food system. In the past decade, between 80 and 90% of natural disasters have been due to droughts, floods, or severe storms. Meanwhile, over the past forty years, the planet has lost 12 million hectares of arable land each year to drought and desertification; during this period, we have also lost a third of our arable land to erosion or pollution. […] Over the past forty years, global meat consumption (mostly poultry) increased dramatically, with the increases set to continue rising despite some indications that we have reached ‘peak meat consumption’. 57% of total emissions from agriculture come from meat, while livestock production takes up 77% of the planet’s agricultural land (even though meat only contributes 18% of the global calorie supply).
- Total Global Recoverable Oil Reserves Are Falling At An Alarming Rate Oil Price
Following publication of BP’s annual Statistical Review, each year Rystad Energy releases our own analysis of the global energy landscape to provide an independent, data-based comparison and evaluation. Continuing the trend from previous years, Rystad Energy’s 2022 review shows a sizeable drop in recoverable oil resources in what could deal a major blow to global energy security.
According to Rystad Energy analysis, global recoverable oil now totals an estimated 1,572 billion barrels, a drop of almost 9% since last year and 152 billion fewer barrels than 2021’s total. Recoverable oil corresponds to the industry term “remaining technically recoverable crude oil and lease condensate”, i.e. expected volumes including fields, discoveries and risked future discoveries.
The drop in reserves is driven by the 30 billion barrels of oil produced last year, plus a significant reduction in undiscovered resources, to the tune of 120 billion barrels. The US offshore sector has contributed the largest total to that drop, where 20 billion barrels of oil will remain in the ground, largely thanks to leasing bans on federal land.
Of the 1,572 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, only about 1,200 billion barrels are likely to be economically viable before 2100 at $50 per barrel. This economically extractable oil would contribute about 0.1?C of additional global warming by 2050, and somewhat less by 2100 thanks to natural carbon sinks.
The Ukraine War
The LPR is now in full control of the Lugansk oblast after Lysyschansk, the last city, as well as the last remaining smaller settlements, have been taken by LPR and Russian forces.
As City Falls, Ukraine’s Last Hope in Luhansk Falls With It NYT; Ukraine withdraws from battered Lysychansk city; Russia claims major victory Reuters
Climate and Space
Satellites can now find the sources of methane leaks. The tech will reshape global climate accountability. BusinessInsider
Astronaut study reveals effects of space travel on human bones Reuters
A study of bone loss in 17 astronauts who flew aboard the International Space Station is providing a fuller understanding of the effects of space travel on the human body and steps that can mitigate it, crucial knowledge ahead of potential ambitious future missions.
The research amassed new data on bone loss in astronauts caused by the microgravity conditions of space and the degree to which bone mineral density can be regained on Earth. It involved 14 male and three female astronauts, average age 47, whose missions ranged from four to seven months in space, with an average of about 5-1/2 months.
A year after returning to Earth, the astronauts on average exhibited 2.1% reduced bone mineral density at the tibia - one of the bones of the lower leg - and 1.3% reduced bone strength. Nine did not recover bone mineral density after the space flight, experiencing permanent loss.
China’s Mars probe has photographed the entire red planet CNN
Explosion of life on Earth linked to heavy metal act at planet’s centre The Guardian
At the centre of the Earth, a giant sphere of solid iron is slowly swelling. This is the inner core and scientists have recently uncovered intriguing evidence that suggests its birth half a billion years ago may have played a key role in the evolution of life on Earth.
At that time, our planet’s magnetic field was faltering – and that would have had critical consequences, they argue. Normally this field protects life on the surface by repelling cosmic radiation and charged particles emitted by our sun.
But 550m years ago, it had dropped to a fraction of its current strength – before it abruptly regained its power. And in the wake of this planetary reboot, Earth witnessed the sudden proliferation of complex multicellular life on its surface. This was the Cambrian explosion, when most major animal groups first appeared in the fossil record. Now scientists have linked it to events at the very centre of the Earth.
Dipshittery and Cope
- How Food Became Putin’s New Strategic Weapon WSJ
Days before Russia invaded its smaller neighbor, Moscow published a series of nautical alerts that effectively cordoned off sections of the Black Sea near the coast of Ukraine, a top exporter of grain and cooking oil.
The subsequent steps Russia took—blocking or seizing the country’s ports with warships, destroying grain infrastructure and even taking farmers’ land and spiriting away Ukrainian wheat for sale abroad—are part of a geopolitical battle being fought in parallel with the Kremlin’s military war, according to Western and Ukrainian officials.
While the invasion has united Western allies in support of Ukraine, Russia has used its increased leverage over food exports to divide the broader international community and to expand influence over developing economies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, splitting the world in ways not seen since the Cold War. The Kremlin’s goals, Western officials say, are to use the food concerns as leverage for sanctions relief and cease-fire negotiations, to build influence and trade ties with non-Western countries and to destroy a major pillar of Ukraine’s economy.
“It’s a classic situation of using food as a weapon,” said Cary Fowler, the U.S. special envoy for global food security. “If they’re saying, ‘We’ll only ship food to you if you’re aligned with our government’s politics,’—what can you say?”
If the US, the largest (or second-largest) economy on the planet, won’t ship goods to countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, or the DPRK because they aren’t aligned with the US government’s politics - what can you say? They’re using their products and food as a weapon as a tyrannical regime on the world stage.
- Everyone’s talking about the endgame in Ukraine. Here’s how it might look. WaPo
The Ukraine war is killing hundreds of people every day, exacerbating world hunger, driving up gas prices and inflation rates, and threatening escalation between Russia and the West. It must be brought to an end as soon as possible. That task will be difficult, to be sure — but we have to try.
To be clear: It is up to Ukraine to decide its own fate. The United States and its allies should not be in the business of dictating terms. But that doesn’t preclude working to catalyze talks. The West can propose creative ideas that draw on history and our collective experiences.
Any progress toward peace would likely begin with a cease-fire, perhaps sometime this summer or fall, roughly along the lines of current combat.
With this approach, Russia would remain in control for the foreseeable future of most of the land it holds now — much of the East, the Crimean Peninsula and the land bridge between the two. No agreement would be reached on permanent borders. Kyiv and Western countries could maintain their principled position that all of the disputed land is Ukrainian. They could hold out hope that a future Russian leader after Vladimir Putin might see things the way they do and finally return the land — perhaps in the 2030s, once Putin is finally gone.
Yes, I’m sure the Russian leader after Putin will definitely not be even more hardline and anti-West than he is, as Russia absolutely does not have a Duma full of people who are braying for the blood of Ukrainians and the West and, if anything, are angry that Putin isn’t declaring all-out war on Ukraine and Europe.
Until then, Russia would remain under sanctions. As an inducement to Putin, however, the West could signal that these sanctions would not get any tougher or broader once a cease-fire was reached (ensuring, for example, that Russian natural gas exports to Europe would not be targeted).
How could you possibly make the sanctions any tougher without just outright destroying your own economies for no apparent gain? “Oh, I bet Putin will be so owned when we stab ourselves with this sword through our chest! He’ll be so traumatized by it for a few hours!"
Some type of international peace observation mission might be deployed to monitor the cease-fire lines while also making it harder for Putin to resume the attack (since doing so would risk the lives of soldiers from many countries, even if the peacekeepers did not have a mandate or the capacity to stop a Russian attack).
Ukraine might not be prepared to accept such an interim arrangement today — but Kyiv might well change its mind after a few more weeks or months of intense fighting and likely futile attempts at recapturing most of the territory Russia now holds, even after the arrival of more sophisticated Western arms like the HIMARS long-range artillery system.
Then, once a cease-fire was in place, the parties might also quickly begin discussions on a more lasting solution. Though unlikely to succeed in the near term, this option is worth investigating. During talks, materiel support for Ukraine must continue, and sanctions on Russia must stay in place.
Man, we really are a long way from the “Russia will definitely lose and Ukraine is actually winning right now, they just have to last a few more weeks!” articles, aren’t we.
Henry A. Kissinger recently made waves by suggesting that any such deal would require territorial compromise by Kyiv. But even if the 99-year-old statesman was too blunt for some, he raised a topic that should be explored. It need not boil down to outright concessions of Ukrainian land. At least three other concepts could be invoked — indeed, all three might be needed, depending on which part of Ukraine’s territory is at issue.
One approach could envision a future referendum to determine sovereignty over disputed territories, after a multiyear cooling-off period. The choices for voters could include staying in Ukraine, joining Russia or becoming independent. To be specific: This scenario would specifically exclude staged events such as the referendum that Moscow conducted in Crimea in March 2014 after Russian troops had seized the territory. A proper referendum would require international supervision of the process and would have to include the right to vote for those who formerly lived in the area in question but had to flee because of the war. Partial precedents for such an approach can be found in Kosovo, East Timor, South Sudan and elsewhere.
The idea that you could have a referendum that both sides wouldn’t attempt to cheat at is honestly a severe indictment of the intelligence of this person. A “proper referendum” that “requires international supervision of the process” would be biased towards Ukraine. Of course it would! Are you telling me that the people in charge of causing the 2014 coup in Ukraine to oust the more pro-Russian leader, WHO WE HAVE DIRECT EVIDENCE IN THE FORM OF LEAKED PHONE CALLS THAT THEY WERE THE ONES WHO DID THE COUP, would be entirely unbiased and let the result fall where it may? And even if you’re a fart-sniffing WaPo-brained moron who believes Victoria Nuland’s voice was deepfaked or something and that you COULD do this, do you think that if the result was close, that you wouldn’t want to nudge the result so that the people favoured the free and democratic and very uncorrupt and not at all neo-Nazi-infested Ukraine over this country you claim is a communist-fascist authoritarian totalitarianism regime? Would you REALLY abide by the results if, say, 60% of the people wanted to join Russia? Would you not just claim that Russia still managed to hijack the results despite it being watched by an international organization?
I fully recognize that any referendum held by Russia in Kherson or Zaporozhye oblasts and future occupied territories would obviously not be an actual, legitimate vote by the people - of COURSE it’s going to be manipulated by Russia! Every referendum that has ever happened in the history of humanity has been manipulated in one way or another by one or both sides of it! That’s what politics is! It’s a contest of power between two sides, often between the poor and the rich! And contests of power are almost never clean affairs because BOTH SIDES REALLY WANT TO WIN AND ESPECIALLY DO NOT WANT TO LOSE BECAUSE OF WHAT THE OTHER SIDE WILL DO TO THEM IF THEY WIN!
Another option would create autonomous zones where both Ukraine and Russia claimed sovereignty. This idea has been implemented in places such as Brcko in Bosnia, a town that Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks all badly wanted in the 1990s. Perhaps this idea could apply to Mariupol and other regions forming the “land bridge” from Ukraine’s east and Russia to Crimea.
Why would Russia, the country that has spent their lives and resources holding this territory, agree to this? This is even more ridiculous than the previous idea.
A third approach would simply defer some difficult situations. Under this arrangement, the two sides would agree to disagree for now. Russia would hold onto some swaths of land; Ukraine would insist that the land was still its own; negotiations could be scheduled for the future to reconsider the topic. For an instructive historical analogy, consider how the Western nations never recognized the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states — maintaining that position for half a century until those nations could work themselves free of Moscow after the Cold War.
Which would surely involve a conflict in the future? Like, that’s literally what you’re suggesting. The idea, of course, being that if Ukraine was given a decade of weaponry and money being piped in, then they would be able to take these territories back. Which Russia obviously also knows and therefore has no reason to agree to. Great three ideas, dude.
To be sure, even with some mix of the above ideas, negotiating specifics would be very difficult. But a framework could in theory be proposed and debated in the coming weeks and perhaps adopted later in the summer. The alternative — a potentially indefinite continuation of this terrible war — is so bad that we should try, working with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, to jump-start the conversation.
- German chancellor says many thought the world moved past countries trying to conquer their neighbors but that ‘agreement is now canceled by Putin’ Business Insider
“I think too many in the world were hoping that we are living in a different world that is different to the experiences of the last century and the centuries before, where might and power, were deciding on the future of countries and not the rules and the agreements we have between states,” he began.
“We have had an agreement that there should be no attempt to change territory, to change borders, to invade the neighbor. And this agreement is now canceled by Putin,” Scholz said, adding that it was a “watershed moment of international politics.”
I don’t know, it seems to be going okay for Russia so far despite these extremely durable and strong agreements you have in this very different world to a century ago.
“What is Putin thinking of? He is thinking like the imperialists in the 17th, 18th, 19th century,” Scholz said. “He is thinking that all about the nation is power, and that if you are mighty enough, you can just take territory of your neighbors. And this is an activity and an idea we cannot accept and we will not accept.”
The only difference between you and Putin is that you support taking the territory of people halfway across the world from you, but in the “new” way via business and finance and the pillaging of that country’s resources and paying the workers there slave wages. Imperialism never went away. If anything, it became even more prevalent than in previous centuries. It’s just done in a different way - Michael Hudson’s Super Imperialism, anybody?
- Start Planning the Reconstruction of Ukraine Now Bloomberg
Four months of fighting in Ukraine has brought staggering levels of destruction, from bridges to homes, hospitals and shopping malls. A recent estimate from the head of the European Investment Bank put the cost of rebuilding at more than $1 trillion.
With millions of citizens displaced and the country’s infrastructure in ruins, Ukraine will be unable to support itself for years, possibly decades, to come. An impoverished or dysfunctional state the size and importance of Ukraine on Europe’s border would be vulnerable to future aggression and a source of economic and political instability. Preventing such an outcome will require the democratic world to finance much of the country’s reconstruction, just as the US did in Europe after World War II with the Marshall Plan. Even as the conflict rages, Western governments would be wise to begin that effort now.
With what industry? With what excess funds? You’re about to enter a recession!
Perhaps the biggest challenge about the reconstruction process will be paying for it. While many governments and international financial institutions will be involved, it makes sense for the EU — which has just made Ukraine a candidate for membership — to lead this process. A few principles should guide it. First, while loans will be part of any aid package, saddling Ukraine with too much debt just risks a crisis down the road. Like the Marshall Plan, Ukraine’s reconstruction should be predominantly funded by grants, on the condition that Ukraine’s government and business match a fraction of the funds. As part of any negotiated settlement to the war, Russia should have to pay some kind of long-term tithe — just as Iraq paid to Kuwait after the first Gulf War — though simply redistributing seized Russian assets is legally dubious and a dangerous precedent. A key international conference on reconstruction starting Monday is an opportunity for Ukraine’s partners to hash through these issues and at least agree on a common platform and priorities.
Finally, maintaining public support for the reconstruction effort will require Western governments to ensure that funds are properly spent. Judicial and institutional reforms will help ensure a more stable business environment and encourage investors to return. An effective anti-monopoly committee and improved regulatory environment will help weaken oligarch influence.
Rebuilding Ukraine can serve as a potent symbol of unity within the democratic world and a message for future aggressors. Getting that work underway as soon as possible is critical to holding down costs, limiting waste, and helping Ukraine’s people realize a brighter future.
Good luck, I’m sure this will work, unlike all those other times.
- Latest Western arms will help Ukraine recapture Lysychansk, Zelensky says WaPo; Lysychansk is a battle lost, not the war - governor BBC
Good Takes that are Dope
- Yes, Nato has a new vitality. But its united front could collapse when it has to deal with Russia The Guardian
Most summits bill themselves as “historic” and those who attend invariably talk about “forging a new consensus”. But Nato’s Madrid summit can credibly make such claims, for there is no question that a military alliance that only a few years ago was famously dismissed by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, as “brain dead” has regained vitality and reaffirmed its strategic purpose.
As the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, put it, Nato’s decision to increase its rapidly deployable troops to at least 300,000 to deter any further Russian aggression “constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the cold war”.
The determination of all of the alliance’s 30 member states to increase defence spending is unprecedented. Even more significant is the reassertion of Nato’s importance as the only institution capable of offering collective defence for the European continent. It is often forgotten that Sweden and Finland already enjoyed a supposedly cast-iron joint security guarantee as part of their membership in the European Union, yet both countries deemed it prudent to seek to join the alliance at the Madrid summit because they understood the difference between EU aspirations and Nato capabilities, backed up by US military might.
Still, as Nato leaders know all too well, the alliance’s challenges remain significant. One claim made at the Madrid summit by people such as European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is that Finland and Sweden’s accession made Nato “more European”. Yet this is a blindingly obvious statement, for all the Nato enlargements since the alliance’s creation happened in Europe. Therefore, each can be portrayed as making the alliance more European.
Yet, although many allies have brought in beneficial assets, the US contribution dwarfs that of all the Europeans put together. Had it not been for the fact that US troops in Europe now number 100,000 – the highest figure since the mid-1990s – it’s doubtful that the alliance could have presented such a united front.
Recent pledges to boost defence spending have also been impressive. But, at least for the moment, only nine of the 30 members dedicate 2% of their GDP to defence, and those who fail to reach this threshold include big European nations such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The rest, as they say, remains a “work in progress”.
Nato calculates that its members have promised to spend £172.6bn in additional defence expenditure on top of existing defence budgets, with Germany accounting for perhaps half this amount. But the question is how this will be spent and over what period. The easiest way to improve European capabilities would be to use this cash to buy US equipment off the shelf: this offers substantial economies of scale and time. Yet such an approach will go against European aspirations to boost their defence industries; French diplomats are warning that the Ukraine war must not end up as a bonanza for US arms manufacturers. Chances are high that Nato’s eternal “burden-sharing” debate will continue, even if more cash is available. Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump and his disciples are poised to argue – as “The Donald” did when he was in the White House – that Nato is a scam to fleece American taxpayers. Even if he does not stage a comeback, the idea that the US is spending far more than it should to defend fat, wealthy Europeans is likely to feature prominently when a new Congress is elected this November.
In effect, all that Nato has done in Madrid is to issue a promissory note on this score in the hope that both the nature of the promise and the conditions of its redemption could be discussed later. Yet the biggest paradox for the alliance is that the glue that holds it so solidly together – the determination to stand up to Russia’s imperial intentions – remains its most significant vulnerability. Despite all the back-slapping in Madrid there is no consensus on how to deal with Russia. Everyone agrees that it must not be allowed to succeed in its current aggression. But does this mean that it should be physically defeated on the battlefield in Ukraine, as Britain and most of the central and eastern Europeans are arguing, or would it be enough if the war ends without Moscow being able to make a plausible claim to victory, as Germany’s leaders would prefer?
Bloomerism and Hope
- National Strike In Ecuador Completes 15 Days, Struggle Continues Popular Resistance
Monday, June 27 marked 15 days since the beginning of the national strike in Ecuador against the right-wing government of President Guillermo Lasso and his neoliberal economic policies. Since June 13, hundreds of thousands of people have been organizing protests and roadblocks across the country with a set of 10 demands that support the working class in the face of rising inflation and cost of living.
On Monday, under the banner of “There are 10 demands, not 10 cents”, members of various peasant, Indigenous and Afro-descendant organizations held a massive march in capital Quito to mark 15 days of the national strike and reinforce their social demands. The demands include: reduction and freeze of fuel prices; employment opportunities and labor guarantees; an end to privatization of public companies; price control policies for essential products; greater budget for public education and health sectors; protection for people from banking and finance sectors; fair prices for their farm products; an end to drug trafficking, kidnappings and violence; ban on mining and oil exploitation activities in Indigenous territories and near water resources; and respect for the collective rights of Indigenous peoples and nationalities.
Two weeks of anti-government demonstrations and discussions on a no-confidence motion in the opposition-controlled National Assembly compelled President Lasso to increase monthly payment to poor families by 10% to USD 55, subsidize fertilizers, forgive debts of small farmers, and double the education budget for schools teaching in Indigenous languages, among other measures.
This weekend, he was forced to reduce fuel prices, although not by as much as the protesters had demanded. On Sunday, June 26, he announced that cut petrol and diesel prices would be cut by 10 cents a gallon. Extra gasoline dropped from USD 2.55 to USD 2.45 per gallon while diesel went down from USD 1.90 to USD 1.80 per gallon. The movements had demanded that the price of gasoline be reduced and fixed at USD 2.10 per gallon and diesel at USD 1.50 per gallon.
- Recent Wins Inspire Organizing At Trader Joe’s, REI, Target, And Apple Popular Resistance
“Seven months ago if you asked me about a union I would’ve said, ‘I don’t know, cops have them?’” says Sarah Pappin, a shift supervisor at a Seattle Starbucks. But on June 6, she and her co-workers voted unanimously to join Starbucks Workers United, part of an upsurge of organizing by younger workers with little union experience that is breathing new life into the labor movement.
Now they’re dreaming even bigger. “We want to not just open the door for the rest of the food service industry, we want to kick it down,” said Pappin, who’s worked full-time at Starbucks for eight years. “Eventually you get tired of jumping to the next job and praying it’s gonna be better. You realize you should just take a stand where you have some good ground.”
The union wave at Starbucks and the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) victory on Staten Island have sparked a new sense of possibility among workers at some of the country’s biggest nonunion employers, where unions have struggled for decades to establish any sort of foothold.
Since their April win, ALU organizers say they’ve heard from workers at another 100 Amazon facilities across the country who want to unionize. And in recent months workers have filed for union elections at Trader Joe’s stores in Massachusetts and Minneapolis, an REI in Manhattan, a Target in Virginia, and Apple stores in Atlanta and Towson, Maryland.
Workers in other largely non-union sectors are also organizing, with workers at an Activision Blizzard subsidiary forming the first union at a major video game company in May and tech workers at The New York Times becoming the largest bargaining unit in tech in March.
- Canadian Workers Are in Revolt. Now Is the Time for Unions to Punch the Gas. Jacobin
Workers in Canada are on the march for the first time in ages. In March and April, average pay increases secured in new collective bargaining agreements averaged 3.1 percent, the highest in nearly fifteen years. That is not enough to keep up with inflation in Canada, which is now sitting at 7.7 percent — the highest it has been since 1983 — but it is a sign that the labor movement is reviving.
Another promising development has been organizing victories in retail, a sector of the Canadian economy which has been traditionally unorganized. This is especially important because it is largely thanks to high public-sector unionization that Canada’s union density is any higher than that of the United States. As in the states, private-sector union coverage has been declining for decades. These recent successes in retail unionization may well augur a reversal of fortune for private-sector organizing.
However, there are troubles ahead. Worker confidence to fight for higher pay or organize is bolstered by a tight labor market. March’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate is the lowest on record since Statistics Canada began tracking it in 1976. But with inflation at its highest level in nearly forty years, there are calls for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates above 3 percent from the current 1.5 percent. Not only will this threaten workers with unemployment but it will also put more pressure on those who are heavily indebted to not rock the boat in their workplaces.