Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Ukraine-Russia Proxy War and the U.S. Election

by Oui Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 10:49:45 AM EST

For decades a strong Ukrainian-American diaspora has been exploited by NGOs and U.S. government agencies (USAID) to intervene in the Ukraine. The Orange Revolution of 2004 has been well covered. Due to established corruption, all US supported candidates proved to be just as corrupt as their predecessors. Under the Obama administration the U.S. in collusion with the EU and NATO succeeded to overtrhow a democratically elected president.

The Ukraine Affair has been used by anti-Russian forces in right-wing conservative groups and political parties in the U.K. and the U.S. to force an economic separation with Russia. Ukraine to be used as a crowbar to push the EU and NATO to the border with the Kremlin and in the end to accomplish regime change in Russia. A "united" Europe has been split with Rumsfeld's New Europe of the Visegrád group of nations.

In 2016 both Ukraine and Russia were active to intervene in the U.S. presidential election. Conveniently the efforts by the Ukraine got no attention in the West. Nevertheless, the acts by the corrupt state of Ukraine effects the stability of Europe and its security. The intervention in the Ukraine is and will become a matter of war or peace in Europe. Fortunately with Brexit, the British shot themselves in the foot and will become more isolationist quite similar for the U.S. with Trump in the White House. Both events are tied together by  underlying right-wing conservative forces. It amazes me that the Democratic party is moving towards the right on foreign policy and further from progressive values of non-military intervention and abiding by International Law.

Quite likely now that the U.S. House of Representatives has moved the goal posts on sanctions on Russia by an overwhelming majority - read with no opposition whatsover by a dictatorial vote of 419 for and 3 against.

    Voting against the measure were three House Republicans known to break with the majority: Reps. Thomas Massie, Justin Amash and John J. Duncan Jr.

    The sanctions come in response to reports of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections and Russia's actions in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, Hoyer said. The bill also imposes new sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile program.

It has become clear the sanctions have become part of U.S. monopolizing the energy market and demanding their share of exports to Europe. Thus, whether it was the Persian coup d'état of 1953, the Iraq War of 2003 or the regime overthrow in Libya and Syria in 2011, the value of fossil fuel is an important argument of U.S. and Western foreign policy.

Refreshing European Energy Security Policy: How the U.S. Can Help | Brookings Inst. - March 2014 |
Nord Stream 2's opponents look for legal ammunition | Politico EU - Dec. 30, 2015 |

Continued below the fold ...

[Some links added to articles below are mine - Oui]

Ukraine Goes On Anti-Russia Pipeline Offensive As Europe Goes Nuts | Forbes - June 20, 2017 |

On June 14, the Senate passed a bill by a margin of 97 to 2 in favor of extra-territorial sanctions on Russian oil and gas. That means the Senate wants to give the President powers to punish companies doing certain types of business with sanctioned Russian firms outside of Russia instead of only those inside of Russia. Nord Stream II is on the hit list.

Five days later, Naftogaz [pdf] gave a hint to its lobbying efforts in the E.U. against Nord Stream. They said in a note that the European Commission "should use its mandate as a guardian of the interests of the European consumers and insist on the application of the Third Energy Package to the Nord Stream II project."

Europe's so-called Third Energy Package was adopted in 2009 to promote investments in energy infrastructure like liquefied natural gas terminals and alternatives to fossil fuels. The goal was not to punish Russia -- which accounts for 30% of Europe's natural gas --but to avoid local energy monopolies in the European Union. The idea was to break up the power generators from the transmission and delivery firms, of which Gazprom sits squarely on the Nord Stream line. Although it partners with Engie of France, Shell Oil and Whiteshall of Germany to name a few, the gas is all Russian.

In Ukraine, the gas is also primarily Russian, but the transit lines belong to Naftogaz and Ukraine. Ukraine is the traditional route into Europe for Russian natural gas. There are four major pipeline arteries going through Ukraine. They connect mainly to old Warsaw Pact nations like Poland and Bulgaria.

"This legal framework shall ensure proper regulatory and anti-trust safeguards against market manipulations and abuse of dominance," Naftogaz said in a statement in a nod to Russia's dominance as sole supplier via those pipelines.

US 'will become one of the world's top gas exporters by 2020' | The Guardian - July 13, 2017 |

A New York Times article written by James Risen on Dec. 8, 2015:

Hunter Biden's Fracking Job in Ukraine for Oligarch Zlochevsky Accused of Money Laundering

Before bill passed the House vote, the deliberations ...

House punishes Russia, blocks Trump from waiving sanctions |Politico EU |

The U.S. Senate is on the verge of a bipartisan deal to strengthen sanctions against Russia -- throwing an elbow at President Donald Trump, who has dismissed Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election.

Their biggest stumbling block is how hard a punch to throw at Russia.

Democrats are pushing a harsh plan to let Congress block Trump from easing up current sanctions against Vladimir Putin's government. But tying Trump's hands on Russia may be too much of a rebuke for Republicans who have been loath to criticize the president even as he slams investigations into Russian electoral interference that threaten to derail their shared agenda.

A successful vote to punish Moscow would give a key win to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a longtime Russia hawk who telegraphed his interest in a deal when he agreed to combine the issue with an Iran sanctions bill teed up for passage this week. If negotiators can't agree on a strong Russia sanctions package, however, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has warned that Democrats would defect from an Iran bill that most of them otherwise support.

"Any member of the Congress who doesn't want to punish Russia for what they have done is betraying democracy," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday. "And if the president doesn't sign the bill to punish Russia, he would be betraying democracy."

Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker last week predicted the Senate is "going to end up with something really, really strong on Russia that can be supported in a very bipartisan way," adding that "we understand all of the itches that are trying to be scratched" by senators furious about Russian cyberattacks during last year's presidential election.

Corker also acknowledged to reporters that Trump's administration, and any other, "obviously would not" want to see Congress force a legislative review of changes to Russia sanctions. Yet lawmakers set a precedent of sorts in 2015 when they forced then-President Barack Obama to submit his Iran nuclear deal for their eventual disapproval, the Tennessee Republican added.

The White House's role in the Russia sanctions talks appears to lie in the eye of the beholder. Corker said Trump's team has not gotten involved. One Democratic source described the administration as a "silent participant" in negotiations that include both parties' leadership as well as senior Foreign Relations and Banking Committee members.

The struggle between U.S. Congress and presidential powers under Obama about the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 ...

Stop Raising Unrealistic Expectations by BooMan on Sept. 16, 2015

    Conservatives continually press the Republican leadership to fight battles that they cannot win. This is a natural instinct, and many progressives continually urged President Obama to fight harder for things that would never happen or encouraged him to pursue things that would amount to Pyrrhic victories, at best. However, perhaps even to a fault, the president almost never wages a fight he knows he cannot win.

    What Buchanan is doing is petitioning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the nuclear option to allow debate and a vote on disapproving the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. But, even if McConnell agreed to make this change in the Senate rules, the president would just veto the bill, the nuclear deal would go on as planned, and the conservative base would taste another defeat.

On Russia, the Democrats are laying their heads to rest on the laps of Republicans and conservative America. What a disgrace!

Next diary will cover ...

Ukrainian influence: DNC, CrowdStrike, Clinton, Chalupa sisters and its aftermath  

Truth or Consequences! Or just more disinformation, lies and fake news?

It amazes me that the Democratic party is moving towards the right on foreign policy and further from progressive values of non-military intervention

WW1. WW2. Vietnam. Etc. The Democrats have  traditionally been the party of intervention, and the Republicans have been (very occasionally) against.

As for progressive values, surely the way they dealt with Sanders should have convinced you that there's anything but.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 11:27:45 AM EST
EU launches proceedings against Poland over judicial reform | DW |

The EU has taken issue with one particular piece of legislation because it introduces different retirement ages for male and female judges, which the Commission claims is a breach of EU anti-discrimination law. The law would see female judges retire at 60 and males at 65.

Brussels' move underscores deep concern about a raft of legal reforms that also allow the country's justice minister to hire and fire heads of Poland's lower courts. The legislation [one of three] was signed into law by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Brussels also sent a set of recommendations to Poland and threatened that the country's voting rights in EU decision-making could be suspended - under Article 7 of the EU treaty - if certain changes are implemented.  

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 01:38:01 PM EST
From BooMan's front page story - no, the Trump administration is no prank!

U.S. energy secretary duped into fake interview with Russian comedians | Reuters |

Perry said the Trump administration opposes Nord Stream 2, a Russian project [A joint European-Russian project - Oui] to bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic and that U.S. technology could help Ukraine develop gas [fracking no doubt! - Oui].

"Giving Ukraine more options with some of our technology is, I think, in everyone's best interest with the exception of the Russians, but that's OK," he said.

Perry also discussed the Paris climate accord and coal exports on the call.

The call, first reported by E&E news, was recorded and posted online.

It happened about a month after Perry met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his delegation at the Energy Department.  

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 02:09:43 PM EST
From Holland, Michigan - founder of Tea Party - against gay rights - opposes women's rights - loves Geert Wilders and his stance on immigration and Islamophobia. A representative of the other half of America ... not our moral compass as we live by in "Old Europe".

Gay rights opponent picked as ambassador to Netherlands by Trump | The Guardian |
American Freedom Alliance: Pete Hoekstra and Geert Wilders

In anticipation perhaps of a new U.S. ambassador to The Hague, the Dutch have moved the embassy out of the city center for security reasons to a lovely pasture surrounded by sport fields and across the from the parks where the Dutch Royal family will soon live. Not much of the embassy building can be seen from the outside as the main levels are subterrain in bunker facility. A wise decision. Well, at least it's a green construction for sustainability. The building is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification.

Peter Hoekstra  [1953] - Exploring Dutch Heritage

Hoekstra has been honored by a number of organizations for his work in the U. S. Congress. In 2004 he received the U. S. Chamber of Commerce "Spirit of Enterprise" award. Also in 2004, Americans for Tax Reform, awarded him the "Hero of the Taxpayer" award. Earlier, in 2003, Citizens against Government Waste awarded him the "Tax Payer Super Hero" award. And in the year 2000 Habitat for Humanity named him "Public Official of the Year".

I guess the Dutch got a worse deal in the past ...

Obama nominates bundler Timothy M. Broas

To be the U.S. ambassador to a foreign country, it's not necessary to speak the native language or even to have visited the place. Like many presidents before him, President Obama has nominated numerous major campaign fundraisers and political allies to represent the United States overseas.

In fact, in his second term in the White House, Obama has nominated 23 so-called bundlers for plum diplomatic posts. This  map from the Center for Public Integrity shows where these well-connected figures are headed.

Paul L. Bremer III was U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands from 1983-1986. Bremer had served under Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig in the Reagan administration. He was known as a security and terrorism expert (counterterrorism). He callled Iran a nation funding and supporting terrorists across the globe. Bremer must have loved the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, just as Donald Rumsfeld and CIA's support for intelligence. Use of poisonous gas in attack on Halabja.

Former Amb.  to the Netherlands Paul Bremer security analyst ran CPA office in Baghdad, Iraq

The former diplomat published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, titled, "Only America Can Prevent a Disaster in Iraq." In the opinion piece, Bremer criticized President Barack Obama for his 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, saying that the U.S. lost considerable political influence over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and left behind an unprepared Iraqi military.

"Only the Americans can help the Iraqis broker across these sectarian and ethnic lines," he said on MSNBC. "There is nobody else who can do it."

Bremer also spoke out against the potential partition of Iraq into three regions based on ethnic lines, a proposal outlined by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 2006.

Where did ISIS come from? The story starts here. | Boston Globe |

Soldiers of Misfortune? | U.S. Army War College |

Another diplomat used similar language to describe what he observed: Blackwater guards "behave like Iraq is the Wild West and Iraqis are like `Injuns,' to be treated any way they like," he observed. "They're better-armed and -armored than the military, but they don't have to follow military rules, and that makes them dangerous."

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by L. Paul ("Jerry") Bremer did much to encourage what some have called a "culture of impunity." In June 2003, Bremer issued CPA General Order No. 17:

    1. Coalition contractors and their sub-contractors, as
    well as their employees not normally resident in Iraq,
    shall not be subject to Iraqi laws or regulations in matters
    relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts
    in relation to the Coalition Forces or the CPA.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 05:09:33 PM EST
French diplomacy: United States - Adoption of sanctions (26 July 2017)

The U.S. Congress adopted a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. If this bill is passed, it will make it possible to impose measures against European natural or legal persons due to situations that have no connection with the United States.

Consequently, the extraterritorial scope of this text appears to be unlawful under international law. We have challenged similar texts that may have been adopted in the past.

In order to protect ourselves from the extraterritorial effects of U.S. legislation (and other legislation), we need to adapt our national mechanisms and update European mechanisms. During the previous legislature period, the National Assembly accomplished valuable work in that respect.

In any event, this issue should be discussed with the institutions [such as the G7], especially the European Commission, and our EU partners.

Good Grief! Iran Sanctions and the Expansion of American Corporate Liability for Non-U.S. Subsidiary Violations Under the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012

The New Deterrent? International sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis | Clingendael - The Hague |

Sanctions in place against Russia, imposed in light of its 2014 annexation of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in south-east Ukraine, present a monumental challenge to policy-makers. Never before has such a powerful and strategically-important target been sanctioned to this degree. Its high level of integration in the global economy facilitates sanctions circumvention, while heightening political stakes. Russia's retaliatory counter-sanctions have proven divisive in Europe and led to calls by some member states and business lobbies for their lifting, irrespective of a political settlement.

In emphasising that sanctions never operate in isolation and must always be considered alongside other policy instruments, our report brings to the fore the following findings ...

Possible countermeasures by the EC needs unanimity of all nations to go into effect immediately.  Nest step would be to lodge a complaint with the WTO but that proces will take years. Most likely the US will be hit by a most similar countermeasure which will sour relations anyway. The isolation of the US and the UK after Brexit is already upon the rest of the world.

This Is How Trade Wars Start - EU Threatens To Retaliate Against US Sanctions On Russia | Forbes - 5 hrs ago |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 08:05:05 PM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]