Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

ST HSIEH

May 14, 2022

There is no end in sight for the 80-day old Ukraine war but re-drawing the post-war geopolitical map has taking shape! It is clear that the US, G7, EU and NATO etc. are forming a solid block that will contest Russia every step of the way for years to come. Of course, EU dependence on Russian energy cannot be resolved quickly so EU still has to workout a near term compromise in the face of Putin’s retaliation strategy of cutting off energy supply to EU nations now. The risk of several energy shocks for EU is very real, cold winter season is only six~seven months away. EU nations face a reality check: keep the economy going and homes warm vs a high moral ground that Russia must be defeated to the dust.

It is not clear what is a “total hybrid war,” but it sounds that Russia acknowledges the US-EU block is focused on a complete capitulation of Russia. It also means that Russia will fight back against EU with full force till the end. It is sad to realize that the Ukraine war, with all the human casualties and destructions in Ukraine, will not be about Ukraine at all. Zelensky is still popular on the internet and receiving foreign dignitaries in Kiev, but, Kiev is his only “safe heaven” where he rules. He has not ventured outside Kiev lately because it is not safe for him. As of now, Zelensky does not have any power to end the war. It is also too much to ask Zelensky about his plan to rebuild a shattered Ukraine.

The world family has more members than the EU-G7 block, so Russia is reaching out to China, India, and Africa nations. Of course, Russia-China “partnership” is of special concerns to US as it views China as the major threat to US interests and initiated tariff war, AUKUS, QUAD, pivot to Asia with the goal that US and allies would be able to contain China’s influence in the mainland along with US military challenging China over freedom of voyage.

China, like any nation in the world, faces a variety of domestic challenges, but its economy scale is only under the USA. Put it bluntly, if for any reason China’s economy crashes the global economy will also crash down. Thus, China is pursuing a global strategy that is best for China, just as US is pursuing a global strategy that is best for the US. But the US is claiming that US global strategy is also best for her allies. It is natural then “China working for peace in Ukraine ‘in its own way!’ After all, it is clear that no major party in the Ukraine war is sincerely working on a peaceful solution.

The grain or food crisis is a global emergency, only ending the Ukraine war will give people hope. Pointing finger or demand surrender will not work!

Russia forges new partnerships in face of West’s ‘total hybrid war’ – Lavrov

Mark Trevelyan Sat, May 14, 2022, 5:36 AM

LONDON (Reuters) -Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow was the target of “total hybrid war” by the West but would withstand sanctions by forging deeper partnerships with China, India and others.

In a speech on the 80th day since Russia invaded Ukraine, Lavrov pointed to the barrage of sanctions imposed by the West in an effort to portray Russia as the target, not the perpetrator, of aggression.

“The collective West has declared total hybrid war on us and it is hard to predict how long all this will last but it is clear the consequences will be felt by everyone, without exception,” he said.

“We did everything to avoid a direct clash – but now that the challenge has been thrown down, we of course accept it. We are no strangers to sanctions: they were almost always there in one form or another.

The sanctions on Russia’s top companies, banks and political elite have been imposed to punish it for a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted millions, disrupted energy markets and exacerbated a global food crisis by driving up prices for grain, cooking oils and fertiliser.

In his speech, Lavrov laid out the strategy that Moscow is pinning its hopes on as it tries to cushion the hit to its economy and build new markets elsewhere.

He cited the sanctions, which have included the seizure of nearly half of Russia’s $640 billion in foreign reserves, as evidence that no one is safe against expropriation and “state piracy”, and of the need for countries to lessen economic reliance on the United States and its allies.

“Not only Russia but many others too are reducing dependence on the U.S. dollar, western technology and markets,” he said, without stating evidence.

Efforts by the West to isolate Russia were doomed to fail, he said. Russia’s relations with China were the best they had ever been and it was developing a privileged strategic partnership with India.

Just back from a trip to the Middle East, he also cited the importance of ties with Egypt, Algeria and Gulf nations, as well as Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In one example of a sanctions-induced pivot in exports, Russia sold twice as much crude oil to India in the two months after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine as it did in all of 2021, as Western nations cut purchases of Russian oil and Indian refiners seized the chance to buy it at a discount.

Yet despite Russia’s insistence it can thrive under sanctions, its economy is on track to shrink by somewhere between 8.8% and 12.4%, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters, and not return to its pre-invasion size before 2026.

Annual consumer inflation accelerated in April to 17.83%, its highest since 2002.

(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Christina Fincher)

G7 warns of Ukraine grain crisis, asks China not to aid Russia

Published: May 14, 2022 at 6:58 a.m. ET

China working for peace in Ukraine ‘in its own way’, Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells Denmark

Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:30 AM

China has been promoting peace talks to resolve the Ukraine war in its own way, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, in response to a request from Denmark for Chinese help to stop the conflict.

Wang was speaking to his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod, who later tweeted about the “important” phone conversation and said he had “urged China to use its influence in Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine”.

According to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry, Wang told Kofod that neither war nor sanctions are the right way to settle disputes.

China’s efforts are focused on promoting peace talks. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China has been promoting peace talks and de-escalation in its own way,” he said.

“China will continue to make efforts in this direction and welcomes all efforts of the international community that are conducive to promoting peace talks.”

Wang also said China understands European countries’ concerns about the crisis, according to the foreign ministry.

At present, the most urgent thing is for all countries to form joint efforts to avoid prolonged and expanding conflicts, achieve a ceasefire and stop wars as soon as possible, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The phone call coincided with Denmark’s endorsement of Finland’s intention to join the Nato military alliance “without delay”, something Russia regards as a threat.

“Denmark will do everything for a quick admission process after the formal application,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Twitter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “the expansion of Nato and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure”.

Frederiksen’s government is also pushing traditionally Euro-sceptic Denmark towards joining the European Union’s defence cooperation.

In an interview in Copenhagen, Kofod warned voters that opting to stay outside the EU’s defence pact would sideline the Nordic nation in a “crucial area that will dominate the bloc’s agenda for years to come”, according to Bloomberg.

“Security has moved to the core of Europe as the war and the threat to our democracies are in our own continent,” Kofod said. “We are all going to spend more in years to come on defence and security to deter Russia and protect our values.”

Danes will vote on June 1 whether to end its opt-out from the EU defence pact. Of the 22 countries which belong to both the trading bloc and Nato, Denmark is the only one which does not participate in European military cooperation.

The vote echoes major changes in security policies across the continent after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the subsequent full-scale war.

China has refused to join Western nations in condemning Moscow and shares Russia’s concerns over the expansion of Nato, saying it does not benefit global security.

In the phone conversation with Kofod, Wang said China is willing to improve relations with Denmark and deepen cooperation between the two nations, including through the Green China-Denmark Joint Programme that covers climate change and environmental protection.

Kofod said the discussion included future bilateral cooperation on the green transition, and that he had also reiterated Denmark’s concerns over human rights in Xinjiang.

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