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28 June 2015


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There is that joke that when America offers carrots, they're speaking about orange sticks.


thanks, David.

Come to think of it, I may in fact encountered 'krysha' in Russian crime fiction. ...

The rest will take time. ;) Starting with the Major Melnichenko link, matters like these always demand a pretty high level of concentration. ;)

As you may have noticed, recenttly I look more for distraction. ;)


Not import really, David, but Max Fisher is on my to be handled with care list longer now. I usually don't store the context.


Catherine Belton:





on the limits of internet Google search. I tried to narrow in results via your hints searching the Moscow Times part of Belton's articles:

adding "Christopher Samuelson" "Christian Michel" or "Valmet".

No returns.

OK, could it be you get "laudered money" at slightly better conditions than from respective Western banks?


I found this via another site search that Google for whatever technical reason does not narrow in on the Moscow Times site:



Are there any articles by her that would deserve more attention then others, notice: I hate to do this, but our special case it may be helpful.


Tidewater to Confused Ponderer and Babak Makkinejaad,

Thank you both for your comments.

"Die hards and younglings" CP? So that means you think there will be no change in leadership or pushback against the direction Germany is going? Do you have an opinion about AfD? Aren't they a significant new force? I take it that you think it will be more of the same.

To Dr. Makkinejad I would reply, "Yes, of course." The bidness of America is bidness! But it seems to me that Germany and Russia cooperating to build a new pipeline is a puzzlement. If this is done with American assent then you might see doubling down on Russian LNG is backup in the event that Qatar LNG to the Mediterranean and northern Europe is cut off due to an attack on Iran.

If this is done in the face of American opposition, is it not a sign that the whole thrust of American foreign policy is being successfully challenged and subverted by powerful members of the German establishment? Business in particular, media as well. That in fact, sooner or later Germany and Russia are going to get right back to serious business deals? Before Brown Sahib got his tail caught in a crack the trade was 30 billion Euros a year wasn't it?

It was Sir William Temple to whom the credit is given (in English) for the old French expression: "Perhaps the play is not worth the candle."

Interesting that Germany, by building a new gas hub on its own turf, or so I understand it, seems to be sticking it to Rotterdam. Where there are expensive new regassification facilities for the big LNG carriers from Qatar. These facilities are not prospering at the moment. How can the Russia deal be helping a fellow NATO country? Or is there a need for both, regardless?

What has surprised me is the extent to which eastern Spain has committed itself to LNG. Again, we see the Big Change. (I have in mind 'Only Yesterday' by Frederick Lewis Allen.) There is now a pipeline from Sagunto down through Valencia to Denia, which is near Cabo San Antonio, the most eastern part of Spain. From there this pipeline goes some sixty miles out to Ibiza and on to Majorca. This remarkable changeover in heating and energy means that LNG ships from somewhere have to come in to Sagunto (a reshipment hub, it seems) on a regular basis. Otherwise, frankly, economic hardship, even ruin. The supplier to Sagunto is Qatar.

Now, suppose this. Iran has developed and refined over a decade, a new missile called the Khalij Fars. This is an antiship ballistic missile. Launched from air or surface. It is a version of the Fateh 110. The Khalij Fars has a range of about 180 miles, which covers most of the Persian Gulf. Its speed is Mach 3, some 2300 miles per hour. It carries a warhead that weighs 1200 pounds. The kinetic force of this rocket alone could disintegrate a large ship. (It might be remembered that Wade McClusky destroyed the Kaga at Midway with a 1,000 pound bomb.)

There have been evaluations of the Khalij Fars by American specialists which argue that because the missile has no adequate over-the-horizon radar it is a weapon that cannot hit a moving target. Suppose that it is true. Even then this missile could wreak havoc on the north end of Qatar, where there are all kind of petrochemical complexes which are quite vulnerable. What if this Iranian missile hit a billion dollar Q-Max at its berth on Ras Laffan? What if it hit a Q-Max anywhere in the world? What if it hit the command ship and other ships along the pier at NCSO, Bahrain? What if a number of these hit the desalination plants at Jubail or at Ras Khair? What if a carefully coordinated attack was made on the Operations Coordination Center at Dharan? This no doubt hardened building (so what) controls 102 fields, 48 gas oil separators, 11,000 miles of pipeline, 7 refineries and chemical plants, 19 tank farms, 3 terminals, a dozen supertankers. Some 9.4 million gallons of crude a day. Hey! All that is old news!

If ever a martyrdom operation was called for... Plus hit that spot with at least ten missiles and wash it down with some chemicals. If that computer building can be taken down, the Saudi oil and gas industry is going to take a rest for a long, long time.

Twenty years ago tankers in the Gulf could sustain a hit from a missile of that era. Say an Exocet. I don't think that is possible anymore. Talk about shock and awe. Suppose a LNG Q-Max is hit and doesn't go off. But rather spills its slurpee out in the Gulf for twenty hours. And then suppose the ship is hit again. By that time you have slurpee still in the great steel chambers of the Q-Max. But there is also a vast, invisible gas cloud above it. It would go off instantly and there would be a burning cloud above the ship being now constantly fed from the ship. The cloud could very well move with any kind of breeze or wind. Any area below this cloud will be burned and destroyed. There is a chance that this could go on for miles. That is why the possible explosion of a Q-Max is considered to be potentially as devastating as a nuclear weapon.

It seems to me that Iran might just be able to completlely stop the movement of both crude carriers and LNG carriers out of the Gulf. In fact, I would think that Q-Maxes should be warned to be out of the Gulf in the event of an attack.

I can't get it out of my mind that an attack on Iran would mean a world-wide economic crash.

Now I know that haggling is not statesmanship; so why not just put a diplomatic fix in. In the DOC it is called "being master of the Triple-Cross."

different clue

David Habakkuk,

For the longest time I was thinking that Patrick Bahzad was American. The English he writes in seemed so very American to me. I didn't get that he is from France until he started writing about internal French thinking in such detail that one would have to be French and part of particular parts of the French world to have such knowledge.

(Did anyone else here think his English is/was highly conversant with American ways and means or is that my personally skewed dis-perception)?

William R. Cumming

Respectfully disagree that deal will be consumated!

William R. Cumming

Agree! And there is little understanding of Germany by American despite American occupation from 1945-1990!

Even now US Armed Forces in Germany isolated from German Culture AND SOCIETY.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for this comment and links! And win or lose for Hillary her husband's
standing in history on rapid decline IMO!

William R. Cumming

IMO the Obama Administration has largely abandoned the UN! Samantha Powers just an apologists for whatever is administration FP.

William R. Cumming

This is an excellent and informative comment.

William R. Cumming

EURO collapse very possible this decade IMO!

William R. Cumming

P.L. and ALL: Does Russia?

David Habakkuk


The last thing I would expect is that you would want to involve yourself in the detail of claims and counter-claims about the activities of Putin and his opponents. Having, for a variety of reasons, spent a good deal of time doing this, I know from experience that doing so can leave one feeling that, as it were, one has sprained one's brain!

And in any case, the pieces to which I linked are the only ones by Catherine Belton I know of which deal with Valmet, Samuelson, and related matters.

A few remarks on the background may however be relevant. The term 'deep state' has become commonplace in recent years – so much so that the idea is even treated seriously in the FT. It is I think potentially misleading, in that it leads easily to the notion that intelligence agencies are monolithic and have clear ideas about the nefarious purposes they are pursuing, which I think not infrequently involves imposing a coherence which does not exist.

What is however very much the case, in my view, is that a great deal of foreign and security policy is driven by covert and semi-covert actors, in the U.S. and U.K. as well as in Russia, and on our side of the fence these actors make more extensive use of 'information operations' than would have earlier been the case. Moreover, for a whole range of reasons, the role of the mainstream media in checking these covert and semi-covert actors is very much weaker than it once was.

(So for example, in the 'Seventies and early 'Eighties British television current affairs departments – including the one in which I worked at the time – repeatedly got into deep water over programmes about Northern Ireland.)

There have still been exceptions. For example, an invaluable piece which by Thomas Catan which was published in the FT in May 2004, under the title 'Before the Crash', deals with the mysterious death of another of the lawyers associated with Yukos, Stephen Curtis. This appears to have happened shortly after he started 'singing sweetly' to our National Criminal Intelligence Service – and the report does not suggest that what he was likely to have been telling them provided a motive for Putin to murder him.

(See http://www.offshorenet.com/before_the_crash/ .)

If however one attempts to follow the history of Menatep money-laundering further, it becomes clear that it is intimately involved with very curious intrigues.

So if you search in the transcripts of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee on Russian money-laundering back in 1999, you will find testimony on a crucially important piece of Menatep money-laundering – the so-called 'Konanykhine' affair – from the same Yuri Shvets whom Belton quoted in relation to the Litvinenko mystery. Further testimony on the affair comes from an American lady called Karon von Gerhke.

The testimony from Shvets covers the same ground – the involvement of sections of the KGB in large-scale money-laundering as the Soviet system was disintegrating and thereafter – covered in the Belton reports to which I linked in my earlier post. In these, she relied heavily on evidence from a former GRU operative called Anton Surikov – as have many other Western journalists. As it happens, Surikov had another name – Mansour Nathoev – and was a Circassian nationalist.

My point is not to prejudge the rights and wrongs of separatisms in the former Soviet space – it is to say that people should not go around presenting people who may have their own 'axes to grind' as independent witnesses. If Belton knew who Surikov was and did not tell her readers, she is corrupt. If she did not know, a question arises as to whether she – and others – were not innocents abroad in the murky worlds of a collapsing state system.

As to Shvets, the name is Ukrainian (it means 'tailor') and as I have noted he would later be involved with the Melnichenko tapes. Someone who had earlier in essence denounced Menatep, and later worked for Berezovsky, is clearly somewhat complex. None of this means that the accounts he and Surikov/Nathoev gave of money-laundering were necessarily false. It does mean that these may give a very selective view of some of the intrigues involved.

In relation to your question about other articles by Belton that 'might deserve more attention than others' I would point to the 21 November 2006 piece 'The Agent Who was Left Out in the Cold', and the 22 November 2006 piece 'A Lethal Web of Spooks, Oligarchs, and Spin'. Both deal with the Litvinenko mystery, and both quote Shvets.

These however need to be read in conjunction with a piece by myself and my Italian collaborator Mr David Loepp entitled 'Fact, frame-up, or fiction – Litvinenko's ''deathbed testimony' which we posted on the 'European Tribune' site back in December 2012.

(See http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2012/12/18/171030/73 .)

This establishes beyond reasonable doubt that when she wrote these pieces Belton had in her possession e-mails from Shvets to Karon von Gerhke which directly contradicted the claims she recycled in her 'Moscow Times' reports.

That these e-mails are part of a mass of evidence which I have supplied to the inquiry team, which has been studiously ignored, is one aspect of things. In relation to this discussion, however, the more important question is why this happens.

One key reason, I have come to think, is that the elements in Western security services who get involved in Machiavellian intrigues, alike in the Middle East and the former Soviet space, are – much of the time – not very good at them. In particular, they operate on the principles that these intrigues can, as it were, be controlled on a top-down basis.

In fact, it is in the nature of what is going on that, very often, initiative passes to the supposed instruments – for a whole range of different reasons: tails wag dogs. When the intrigues run out of control, moreover, those involved have little practical option but to cover-up.

In so doing, they commonly exploit the willingness of contemporary journalists to act as stenographers for official – and in particular intelligence – sources. When moreover circumstances develop in such a manner that a judicial investigation becomes inescapable, the pressures are overwhelming to avoid this developing in a way that would expose what has actually happened.

Over time, the effect is to create a world which is very unOrwellian in some respects – notably the prosperity and lack of violent repression – but very Orwellian in others: the metaphor of 'the Borg' is to the point. It also becomes an oddly Kafkaesque world, in that there is a world of 'insiders' – like the inhabitants of 'das Schloss' – and messages sent in from outside produce only a rare and imperfect response.

Babak Makkinejad

I think you need to carefully look at the details of the European gas market. There the consumption of natural gas is shrinking.

Furthermore, there are other suppliers beside Russia and Qatar; Algeria is one such supplier and so is Norway.

So, given the reduction in demand and the 4 major suppliers, I cannot see EU states becoming critically dependent on supply of LNG from Qatar.

War in Persian Gulf likely will benefit the other 3 producers - Russia, Norway, and Algeria - that will then increase their supplies to EU.

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