Ukraine Crisis Update

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As has been the case since last February, this week's discussion between John Batchelor and Professor Cohen is required listening for all. As the specter of increased NATO involvement in Ukraine looms, it is incumbent upon everyone to seek out truthful and knowledgeable sources of information. To that end, these weekly podcasts are invaluable.

Again, please take the time to listen today and each week. When you're finished, please also take some time to review these links. First, this one discovered and posted by one of your fellow Turdites yesterday:

This one, which is discussed heavily throughout the podcast:

And Professor Cohen mentions this one near the end:

Finally, please be sure to listen to the entire show. Toward the end of the program, Professor Cohen once again describes the history of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia and why Russia sees this crisis as an existential threat. It is this point, that I first heard Professor Cohen make over a year ago, that you need to fully consider when contemplating the frightening significance of this worsening crisis.



CPE's picture

Bad Ideas

Turd, you were all over this from the beginning saying exactly what is now out in the open, kudos.

Another Conspiracy Theory Becomes Fact: The Entire Oil Collapse Is All About Crushing Russian Control Over Syria

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/04/2015 05:45 -0500

While the markets are still debating whether the price of oil is more impacted by the excess pumping of crude here, or the lack of demand there, or if it is all just a mechanical squeeze by momentum-chasing HFT algos who also know to buy in the milliseconds before 2:30pm, we bring readers' attention back to what several months ago was debunked as a deep conspiracy theory.

Back then we wrote about a certain visit by John Kerry to Saudi Arabia, on September 11 of all days, to negotiate a secret deal with the now late King Abdullah so as to get a "green light" in order "to launch its airstrikes against ISIS, or rather, parts of Iraq and Syria. And, not surprising, it is once again Assad whose fate was the bargaining chip to get the Saudis on the US' side, because in order to launch the incursion into Syrian sovereign territory, it "took months of behind-the-scenes work by the U.S. and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh U.S. commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority."


We concluded:

Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire - what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

Because at the end of the day it is all about energy. We made as much very clear one month later when in mid-October we said "If The Oil Plunge Continues, "Now May Be A Time To Panic" For US Shale Companies." The panic time has long since come, but only after we laid out the problem clearly enough for all to grasp:

... while we understand if Saudi Arabia is employing a dumping strategy to punish the Kremlin as per the "deal" with Obama's White House, very soon there will be a very vocal, very insolvent and very domestic shale community demanding answers from the Obama administration, as once again the "costs" meant to punish Russia end up crippling the only truly viable industry under the current presidency.

As a reminder, the last time Obama threatened Russia with "costs", he sent Europe into a triple-dip recession.

It would truly be the crowning achievement of Obama's career if, amazingly, he manages to bankrupt the US shale "miracle" next.

Of course, all of the above was purely in the realm of the conspiratorial, because the last thing the administration would admit is that the tradeoff to its bargain with Saudi Arabia to implement a (largely failed) foreign policy regarding ISIS (which has grown in size since the coalition campaign) was to put at risk the entire US shale miracle, a miracle which is evaporating in front of everyone's eyes. And all thanks to that "closest" of US allies in the middle east: Saudi Arabia.

It was conspiratorial, that is, until today, when thanks to the far less "tinfoil" NYT one more conspiracy theory becomes conspiracy fact, following a report that "Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices."

From the NYT:

Saudi Arabia and Russia have had numerous discussions over the past several months that have yet to produce a significant breakthrough, according to American and Saudi officials. It is unclear how explicitly Saudi officials have linked oil to the issue of Syria during the talks, but Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the supply of oil and possibly drive up prices."

As we predicted, correctly, in September: it was all about Syria:

“If oil can serve to bring peace in Syria, I don’t see how Saudi Arabia would back away from trying to reach a deal,” a Saudi diplomat said. An array of diplomatic, intelligence and political officials from the United States and Middle East spoke on the condition of anonymity to adhere to protocols of diplomacy.

So what would it take for the price of oil to finally jump? Not much: Putin's announcement that Syria's leader Bashar is no longer a strategic ally of Russia.

Any weakening of Russian support for Mr. Assad could be one of the first signs that the recent tumult in the oil market is having an impact on global statecraft. Saudi officials have said publicly that the price of oil reflects only global supply and demand, and they have insisted that Saudi Arabia will not let geopolitics drive its economic agenda. But they believe that there could be ancillary diplomatic benefits to the country’s current strategy of allowing oil prices to stay low — including a chance to negotiate an exit for Mr. Assad.


"Russia has been one of the Syrian president’s most steadfast supporters, selling military equipment to the government for years to bolster Mr. Assad’s forces in their battle against rebel groups, including the Islamic State, and supplying everything from spare parts and specialty fuels to sniper training and helicopter maintenance."

Will Putin relent?

"Mr. Putin, however, has frequently demonstrated that he would rather accept economic hardship than buckle to outside pressures to change his policies. Sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries have not prompted Moscow to end its military involvement in Ukraine, and Mr. Putin has remained steadfast in his support for Mr. Assad, whom he sees as a bulwark in a region made increasingly volatile by Islamic extremism."

Actually that's not it: Syria, as we have been explaining for nearly two years is the critical transit zone of a proposed natural gas pipeline, originating in Qatar, and one which would terminate somewhere in central Europe. The same Qatar which was the "mystery sponsor of weapons and money to Syrian mercenary rebels" who eventually became ISIS. The same Qatar which is now directly funding ISIS. Of course, if Putin were to handover Syria to the Saudi princes (and to Qatar), he would effectively shoot himself in the foot by ending any leverage Gazprom has over Europe.

This too is very well known to Putin. For now he has shown that he has no intention of abdicating Syria, and losing critical leverage when it comes to being the provider of last resort of European gas:

The Saudis have offered economic enticements to Russian leaders in return for concessions on regional issues like Syria before, but never with oil prices so low. It is unclear what effect, if any, the discussions are having. While the United States would support initiatives to end Russian backing for Mr. Assad, any success by the Saudis to cut production and raise global oil prices could hurt many parts of the American economy.

After the meeting in Moscow in November between Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, and Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov rejected the idea that international politics should play a role in setting oil prices.

We see eye to eye with our Saudi colleagues in that we believe the oil market should be based on the balance of supply and demand,” Mr. Lavrov said, “and that it should be free of any attempts to influence it for political or geopolitical purposes.”

Which, in retrospect puts the Ukraine conflict, and the western isolation of Russia in a very simple spotlight - the whole point is to inflict as much pain as possible, so Putin has no choice but to hand over Syria.

Russia is feeling financial pain and diplomatic isolation because of international sanctions stemming from its incursion into Crimea and eastern Ukraine, American officials said. But Mr. Putin still wants to be viewed as a pivotal player in the Middle East. The Russians hosted a conference last week in Moscow between the Assad government and some of Syria’s opposition groups, though few analysts believe the talks will amount to much, especially since many of the opposition groups boycotted them. Some Russia experts expressed skepticism that Mr. Putin would be amenable to any deal that involved removing support for Mr. Assad.

Saudi Arabia’s leverage depends on how seriously Moscow views its declining oil revenues. “If they are hurting so bad that they need the oil deal right away, the Saudis are in a good position to make them pay a geopolitical price as well,” said F. Gregory Gause III, a Middle East specialist at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.

As for Assad, the Syrian president "has shown no inclination to step aside. He said in a recent interview with Foreign Affairs magazine that the true threat in Syria comes from the Islamic State and Qaeda-affiliated groups that, in his words, make up the “majority” of rebellion. American and Arab officials said that even if Russia were to abandon Mr. Assad, the Syrian president would still have his most generous benefactor, Iran. Iranian aid to the Syrian government has been one of the principal reasons that Mr. Assad has been able to hold power as other autocrats in the Middle East have been deposed.

And as a major oil producer, Iran would benefit if Saudi Arabia helped push up oil prices as part of a bargain with Russia.

“You are going to strengthen your enemy whether you like it or not, and the Iranians are not showing any flexibility here,” said Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center who is close to the Saudi royal family.

But the military aid that Russia provides to Syria is different enough from what Damascus receives from Iran, its other major supplier, that if “Russia withdrew all military support, I don’t think the Syrian Army could function,” a senior Obama administration official said.

The conclusion:

A number of Arab nations have been pushing for the Saudis and Russians — polar extremes in their positions toward Mr. Assad — to find common ground on the matter as a step toward ending the carnage of Syria’s civil war, now almost four years old. But, as one Arab diplomat put it, “This decision is ultimately in Putin’s hands.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the great oil collapse of 2014/2015 is all about. For those who want to know when to buy oil, the answer is simple: just after (or ideally before) Putin announces he will no longer support the Assad regime. If, that is, he ever does because that act will effectively destroy all leverage Putin may ever have over Europe, and in the process, also end - quite prematurely - his career.

Until then, every single HFT-induced spike in oil is one to be ultimately faded, because as the past few months have shown, it is the Saudis who set the price, and they will not take no for an answer, even if it means crippling the entire US shale, and energy, industry in the process.

rnrjimmy's picture

Dashcam footage captures Taiwan plane crash

tyberious's picture

Coin Bill Stripping Your

Coin Bill Stripping Your Coins Of What Little Value Is Left, Reintroduced

Both pennies and nickels cost more to mint than the face value of the coins. According to the most recent report released by the U.S. Mint it costs about 1.6 cents to make a penny and 8.1 cents to produce a nickel.

from Rep. Steve Stivers:

220px-US_Nickel_2013_Rev.png The Cents and Sensibility Act, introduced by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH), was re-introduced today. The bipartisan legislation lowers the cost of producing pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters by ensuring they are minted with steel instead of minerals imported from outside the United States. Representatives Tim Ryan (D – OH) and Pat Tiberi (R – OH) signed on as original co-sponsors of the bipartisan legislation.

“This legislation is a common-sense solution to lower the cost of minting our coins,” Stivers said. “Not only will it cost less to produce, but it will also allow us to use an American resource – steel – that can be manufactured right here in our backyard.”

Since 2006, due to the rising cost of materials and labor, the manufacturing of some denominations of coins has become unprofitable. Of the coins currently in circulation today, the cost of producing pennies and nickels is greater than the actual face value of the coins.

Read More @

Dr. P. Metals's picture

Re coins

i try to avoid change but can't help noticing already picking up a quarter is now a joke. Feels like it's already a fabricated cereal box token compared to an actual quarter as I knew them. Smaller thinner lighter almost cheesy. When you don't handle one for a while the changes are very noticeable. Already. Get your roman dinars now while you can lol

Longstreet's picture

Turd, Your take on China

Turd, Your take on China becoming part of the Gold and Silver fix? and how this will play out?

James Crighton's picture

Americans should be ashamed of their 'government'

The responsibility for the atrocities taking place as I type against civilians in Eastern Ukraine lies full-square upon the shoulders of the American government.

I trust all good Americans are fully ashamed of these disgusting 'leaders'.


kardnul's picture

New competition for CEF & PHYS

BMO gold product takes aim at big ETF market, new investors

NEW YORK Wed Feb 4, 2015 12:09am EST

(Reuters) - Bank of Montreal has launched a new way for investors to buy physical gold, offering greater security than private storage while going head to head with the $60 billion exchange-traded fund industry.

The launch comes at a critical time for bullion, with investors in recent weeks making a tentative return to the market after a prolonged exodus as the oil rout and euro zoneinstability reignite gold's appeal as a safe-haven investment.

The first of its kind in the United States, the Canadian bank's new gold deposit receipt program (GOLDR) allows investors to buy and sell shares that are backed by physical bullion stored in Canada and which track the price of spot gold.

Each share represents one ounce of gold, which on Tuesday was worth about position: absolute,260. The bank said the program will issue $500 million worth of shares to start with.

The program will be similar to gold ETFs, which were created about ten years ago and have become a popular vehicle for retail and institutional investors who do not want to take physical delivery of bullion.

Unlike ETFs that trade at either a discount or premium to the spot gold market, GOLDRs will track the spot price. BMO will charge a one-time upfront fee of 2 percent and allows gold to be delivered in amounts as small as 1 ounce, the bank said.

The product is aimed at four types of investor - private ones that store their bullion in vaults, broker dealers, investment advisors as well as existing users of ETFs.

"You will probably see new cash come into this product and I will not be surprised at all to see interest that is currently held with private storage facilities, enter this type of buying," Simon Carling, managing director of Financial Products Investor Solutions for BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview.

Spot gold prices rose 8 percent in January, posting their best month in two years even as the dollar remains strong and the U.S. Federal Reserve reins in its years-long bond-buying stimulus program.

Total holdings in gold ETFs have recovered to around 46 million ounces, worth $58 billion based on Tuesday's prices, up from near five-year lows of around 44.3 million ounces two weeks ago.

GOLDRs are SEC-registered securities issued by the Vaulted Gold Bullion Trust and are Depository Trust Company eligible, BMO said.

(Reporting by Marcy Nicholson) 

Turd Ferguson's picture

I think it's likely a case of


I think it's likely a case of the Old System desperately wanting to include China.

In the end, China knows that they will control the New System.

Dr Jerome's picture


A few years ago, I heard that folks like us were stacking nickels. Anybody still doing that? Coinflation's (today's price) says that pre 82 pennies are worth 1.7 cents, but nickels are only worth .04 cents.  Didn't someone say that had a pallet of nickels?

Also, I have been tempted to sell some of my Franklins on ebay, and buy bullion with the proceeds with the hope of obtaining more ounces of bullion, but it seems that the price of doing business on Ebay shaves away any gain. Anybody have experience with arbitraging in this way? I do have a substantial number of AU Franklins that Provident used to fill my order of circulated ones some years ago.

And another thing, I have also picked up some sterling jewelry and silverware under spot over the years. I heard on an interview some time ago that when silver hit 50 in 1982 that the dealers did not want sterling and would only pay 50% of spot for it (because it had to be refined and the refiners were swamped and nobody wanted the risk of holding sterling for a few weeks).  My dealer is offering 75% of spot for sterling. I figure I should sell it now and buy .999 bullion to hold longer term.

MrMorden's picture

They used to have a word for

They used to have a word for a steel coin-shaped object. It was called a slug, and was used to fool people and machines into thinking it was actual money...

Can't Happen Here's picture

Unedited Dash cam footage

A bit easier to see without scrolling banners on screen

Looking at the aviation fora this morning some ex ATR pilots seem to believe it was a left engine flame-out plus the pilot was trying to get below the high tension power lines. The plane (ATR 72-600) was only 10 months old. Won't be able to say anything for certain  until the FDR & CVR are recovered

or just search for "pilot forums"  / "aviaton forums" and look around

James Crighton's picture


I think you are right Turd - about China.  And it explains the behaviour of the American 'elite' / government - they are scared - and scared people do desperate things - like what they (the US govt.) are sponsoring / instigating in Ukraine and the Middle East.

We surely are in the end-game.


Can't Happen Here's picture

@tyberius- The Cents and Sensibility Act?!?

Considering the attitudes of our current crop of politicians would it make more sense to call it  the Pride and Prejudice Act (trying to keep with the Jane Austen theme)?

Angry Chef's picture

New Competition For CEF And PHYS


As always you have to read the fine print. This is just another shell game to fool the dullards to lazy to read the percpectus.

This is the Royal Canadian Mint gold receipt program, so your gold is supposedly held in storage at the RCM?

HMMMM…the RCM is a Crown Corporation owned by the Queen, I wonder what happens if she wants your gold?

I wonder if the RCM uses the gold to sell coins at 60% profit and then replenishes the gold stock?  

OOOOPS, what if they do that and gold supply runs dry? Oh, sorry didn’t you read the fine print, we’ll just settle in paper cash. Just another paper gold scam!

Dr. P. Metals's picture

RE: New Compeition

if it's gold related, and starts or contains "Central Banks" in it as the owner/originator/custodian/regulator/whatever, I just stop reading instantly. Not sure why, just conditioned now laugh there's no going going further, unless you're trying to figure out what the new scam is.

Angry Chef's picture

American Should Be Ashaned Of There Governments


We all should be ashamed of our Governments. This atrocity and others has been going on far too long. If "Porky" Poreshenko wants to play finger puppets with Victoria Nuland... fine. But that is as far as this atrocity should be allow to go. You don't think they call him sausage fingers for nothing !

Angry Chef's picture

Venezuela: a Coup in Real Time

And lets remember. They hate us for our freedoms. I'm not sure how we're going to stop the Globalists but we've got to keep on fighting !

Danforth Coxwell's picture

Angry Chef...

The Queen owns the RCM???? If you are an American, your misunderstanding can be forgiven. If you are Canadian, you might consider further reading on the subject of "What is a crown corporation".

chrtoo's picture

Ashamed ... but what do you do?

I can sit here, from another country and shake my head at what passes for Government in the US.  I know I can't do anything, from afar.  I do wonder why there are absolutely no suggestions as to how to make this stop.  The US has been a proud republic and had a great constitution but all of that seems to have been bluster, only.  Is there no way to get you politicians to step up to the plate and at least take a shot at changing the direction the federal government is dragging each and everyone of you?  The world is being dragged into a war which will quickly get away from the planners; the consequences then will be dire.

The discussion needs to change from the silly idea of winning a war to focusing on how to stop a war from starting.  There will be no winners and no survivability as far as the masses are concerned.  I am afraid that there will also be very little benefit in stringing up those responsible, after the fact.  I still hear way too many US talking heads speaking with their bravado rather than any common sense.  The truth has been vanquished as we sit around waiting for Godout. This time .. I believe that Mr Godout will make an appearance and that can't be good!

Assuming we survive, how would we ever be able to explain our "inaction in the face of such a tremendous threat" to our children and our children's children?


Dr. P. Metals's picture


.5 deg of separation? same to me.

Angry Chef's picture

What Is A Crown Corporation

Danforth Coxwell,

Very astute. You are correct. The actual Corporation in this case is in fact " The City of London ". But it's simpler for people to understand if you just say the " Queen ". Or shall I say that German fraudster that pretends to represent Great Britain that sits on her duff all day while some poor buggar gets to wash her feet ?

SteveW's picture


Pete's picture

As if you didn't already know...

Worth a read:

"Ulfkotte said the aim of much of the deception was to drive nations toward war."

Silver Sooner's picture

re: The Guardian

$15 billion + $17 billion + $1-5 million/day...that's a lot, right?  What's that saying about good money after bad?  

And NATO munitions (shells) are already showing up in Donetsk and Gorlovka.  

Minister Klimkin said: "We can’t win the war against Russia … But what we need to counter the aggression and to defend our country is not to lose the war."  So you can't win, thus the plan is "not to lose?"  For all the B.S. rhetoric about "no military solution to the Donbass", it sure seems like "they" are hell-bent to scorch the earth.  

I'd also point out to the distinguished analyst, Mr Ash, that Ukraine has NOT paid their Gazprom debt.  But anyway.  When he said that Kiev is [right now] a "reform-oriented government", he lost all credibility.  

PS:  DNR is putting out warnings they expect Ukraine to conduct a false-flag event against civilians in Debaltseve between 6-8 Feb.  

PSS: 15 civilians were killed in Donetsk JUST TODAY.  Didn't hear about that, did ya?  

James Crighton's picture

@Angry Chef

Regarding the "Queen" - it continues to astound me how stupid people can be to pay mindless homage to some human being just because of their lineage.  Fools.


Turd Ferguson's picture

Gold open interest comment


It is extraordinarily important that people understand how this works...

The Specs in paper gold are being choked hard. We wrote about this criminal process last week:

The preliminary OI numbers for yesterday show another drop of over 5,000 contracts in gold to 414,492.

If confirmed, this is the lowest total gold OI since January 14, when price was $1235. See how this works??

And, at 414,492, total OI is now down over 36,000 contracts (over 8%) from the peak of January 22 when price was $1302.

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