Word Count: 1655
Lately, I’ve been up to my eyeballs dealing with personal problems, but even so I managed to note that Victoria Nuland, Romania’s frenemy, made a brief stop in Bucharest on Wednesday (Jan 14) for private meetings with PM Victor Ponta and newly-elected President Herr Klaus, as well as the usual coterie of interlocutors.
All that was normal, and to be expected, as Washington wants to make sure that Klaus and company are going to continue where Basescu left off, giving free reign to FBI agents, spending untold millions on worthless “NATO-compliant” killing machines, allowing the CIA to torture people in Romanian government offices, allowing American soldiers to kill Romanian citizens with impunity and all the other usual hijinks and fun stuff. But what I didn’t expect was that Victoria “I Heart Ukraine” Nuland would say this during an interview she gave to Mediafax just before she left Romania:
Now we [the American gov’t] are also discussing combating corruption, not just as a way to consolidate democracy in a country but because corruption opens the door for sinister foreign influences in your country. If someone is dirty or money is dirty, people could be persuaded to play someone else’s game.
There’s a video to the interview, which I am sure is in English, as Ms. Nuland does not speak Romanian, but unfortunately I am using an ancient computer running UNIVAC-era software and so I cannot see it. Therefore I had to “reverse translate” her remarks, so I am sure the wording is a bit off.
Nonetheless, after standard admonitions against corruption because it is bad for foreign investment and democracy and all the other typically hypocritical American platitudes, it was extremely weird to hear her mention that corruption might open the door to “sinister foreign influences”. Uh, what?
Romania, since at least the late 90’s, has done exactly everything (and I do mean everything) that the United States has wanted. Romania joined NATO, which cost several hundreds of millions of euros (or dollars, since much of the cost of bringing Romania’s military “up to NATO standards” has been spent on buying shitty second-hand American weapons and equipment). Romania has sent troops to all of the foolish wars that America started in Afghanistan and Iraq. Romania has allowed foreign troops on its soil for the first time in 60 years – apparently Soviet soldiers were anathema (even during the Communist era) but somehow it is okay if they’re American. Romania hosts a “missile defense shield” on its territory, which is officially Totally Unconnected to Russia, but obviously is all about Russia (after all, who else is going to shoot missiles at or over Romania?).
All Romanian politicians, from the president down to the various party leaders report to Washington for permission to blow their nose. Hell, even Victor “Plagiarizing” Ponta had to go to Washington to be appointed Prime Minister by a secret cabal two months before he gained the post.
There isn’t a single pro-Russian politician of any stripe in Romania, unless you count the hapless (and powerless) mandatory MP from Lipoveni, so who in the world could be so corrupt as to be influenced by “sinister foreign” influences? Is that a snide reference to a few pro-Jobbik politicians in Szekler Land? I doubt it. It’s certainly not an oblique reference to the handful of long-displaced ethnic Bulgarians in Romania, nor do I believe for a second that the centuries-old ethnic Tatar Muslim community in Romania is some kind of fifth column. Romania’s Muslims live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbors, and Romania has had decades of excellent relations with the Muslim and Arab world, stemming from the Cold War days when the USA supported Israel and the Soviet Union (and its allies) supported the Arab world.
Therefore I have no idea what Ms. Nuland is referring to, except that she made those comments in a televised press conference, so clearly someone out there in the public was meant to take it as a warning.
Who that could be, I have no idea, since Romania’s lone terrorist, Omar Hayssam, who was allowed to go (to his Romanian) home in 2006 after being convicted in a kidnapping case, then escaped to parts unknown until he was seized in a foreign country in 2013, is now back once more in jail. After being convicted of kidnapping Romanian journalists, Mr. Hayssam was then illegally kidnapped himself, since I doubt like hell he volunteered to return to Romania to face a 20-year jail sentence, but since not a single member of the Romanian press ever bothered to ask questions, we’ll never know where he was picked up and under whose authority. Either way, the guy is old, sick and behind bars, and that’s the only powerful or rich person in Romania I’m aware of that has ever conceivably been corrupt enough to be influenced by “sinister foreign” influences.
More predictably, I did note that Ms. Nuland, in her press conference with Mediafax, reinforced the American government’s commitment to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. I assume by that she means the tiny PL party (13 out of 101 seats in parliament), which is the party of the mayor of Chisinau (RM’s capital), who steadfastly supports Moldova’s joining NATO, and not the Socialist Party (25 seats in parliament, the most of any party), which has strong ties to Russia and most assuredly does not favor joining NATO (or the EU, for that matter).
Elsewhere, in completely unrelated news, a number of media sites linked to this Daily Mail article published on the same day:
Russia cut gas exports to Europe by 60 per cent today, plunging the continent into an energy crisis ‘within hours’ as a dispute with Ukraine escalated.
This morning, gas companies in Ukraine said that Russia had completely cut off their supply.
Six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas shipped via Ukraine today, in a sharp escalation of a struggle over energy that threatens Europe as winter sets in.
Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine.
Obviously a complete shut-off of gas in Romania would be huge news, and so I spent the better part of the day looking for confirmation of this. None was coming, as apparently (the article is undated) that story is from 2009 and not 2015. It is entirely unclear why this got linked to as a “new” story, but with today’s 24-hour news cycle and focus on scoops and “viral” content, it got endlessly reprinted and linked to (and even translated, in a few cases).
What actually happened on Wednesday was that the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Maroš Šefčovič, was in Moscow to make sure that Russian natural gas would be flowing smoothly this winter when he got blind-sided by the head of Gazprom (the Russian company that delivers all that gas), Alexei Miller:
Russia has said it will stop EU gas transit via Ukraine and do it via Turkey instead in the second shock announcement on energy in as many months.
It said on Wednesday (14 January) that the EU should build new infrastructure to link up with a future Russia-Turkey pipeline or lose access to supplies.
For years, Russia has been working on a new pipeline to deliver gas to the EU that bypasses Ukraine. Wednesday’s announcement (which some “experts” are calling a bluff, as if Russia ever engages in bluffs) is supposedly a “shock” to the EU commissioner, but it’s not a new subject. In fact, I’ve been writing about it for years.
Since the EU, partially out of retaliation for Crimea/Ukraine, refused to certify the South Stream pipeline (which would’ve gone to Bulgaria, a pro-Russia EU member),the Russians are now saying that sometime in the unspecified future all gas that was formerly transported via Ukraine will now go to Turkey, and if the EU wants it (which they do!), they’ll have to finance their own damn pipeline or way to transport it from that point on.
That’s the real story, which somehow prompted a few twitchy fingers to link to the old 2009 piece about Russia shutting off the gas to Romania and other countries (which they did, but only for a few days). If you want to know a whole lot more about the current situation, click here, but it looks like it will have long-term consequences, not just for the EU, but for tiny and beleaguered Azerbaijan, which (among other things) wants to supply gas to Romania (as does Iran, although we all know that the United States will never allow that to happen).
Obviously the news factor triggering this reporting is because all of it involves Ukraine, and the political fighting between Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland and her hand-picked Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk versus Vladimir Putin and Evil Russia in the other corner. In a totally unshocking move, Russia has recently managed to get the IMF (controlled by Washington and its allies) to pay Russia some 1.5 billion dollars, which is a pretty neat trick if you think about it.
Ukraine (at least theoretically) makes quite a lot of money on transit fees for all that Russian gas going to Europe, and so would stand to lose a lot if those pipelines were shut off forever. But while everyone is focused on the EU vs. Russia “showdown”, I doubt very many people know this:
Ukraine in 2014 increased gas supplies from the European Union 2,4 times, and reduced gas imports from Russia almost doubled, informs on Thursday, the press service of the organization “Naftogaz of Ukraine”.
In very poor English, what (Ukrainian national gas company) Naftogaz is saying is that it increased imports from the EU of natural gas in 2014 and halved imports of gas from Russia. Yes, that’s right, Ukraine is now importing gas from the EU (“just” 5 billion cubic meters) while reducing gas imports from Russia from 25 bcm to 14.5 bcm.
Summary: in a few years the EU will get its gas from Russia by schlepping it from Turkey instead of pipelines via Ukraine while Ukraine will get its gas by importing it from the EU.