This article was written by Michael Snyder and originally published at The Economic Collapse
So much for “isolating” Russia. The Chinese government is publicly siding with Russia on the crisis in Ukraine, and that is very bad news for the United States. Not only does it mean that the U.S. is essentially powerless to do anything about the situation in Ukraine, it also means that Russia and China are starting to understand how much economic leverage that they really have. Yes, the Obama administration can threaten to slap “sanctions” on Russia or threaten to kick Russia “out of the G8“, but those actions would not actually hurt too much. On the other hand, Russia and China hold approximately 25 percent of all foreign-owned U.S. debt, and if they started massively dumping U.S. debt it could rapidly create a nightmare scenario. In addition, it is important to remember that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world. And China now imports more oil than anyone else on the planet does, including the United States. If Russia and China got together and decided to kill the petrodollar, they could do it almost overnight. So when it comes to Ukraine, it is definitely not the United States that has the leverage.
If China and the rest of the world abandoned Russia over Ukraine, that would be one thing. But that is not happening at all. In fact, China has chosen to publicly stand with Russia on this issue. The following is from a Sky News article entitled “Russia And China ‘In Agreement’ Over Ukraine“…
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Monday, and claimed they had “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation there, according to a ministry statement.
And Chinese state news agency Xinhua is publicly rebuking the West for their handling of the Ukrainian crisis…
China’s state news agency Xinhua accused western powers of adopting a Cold War- like mindset towards Russia, trying to isolate Moscow at a time when much needed mediation is need to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Crimea.
“Based on the fact that Russia and Ukraine have deep cultural, historical and economic connections, it is time for Western powers to abandon their Cold War thinking. Stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate, and respect Russia’s unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine,” Xinhua wrote in an opinion piece.
Apparently clueless as to how the geopolitical chips are falling, the Obama administration is busy planning all sorts of ways that it can punish Russia…
Behind the scenes, Obama administration officials are preparing a series of possible battle plans for a potential economic assault on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, an administration source close to the issue told The Daily Beast. Among the possible targets for these financial attacks: everyone from high-ranking Russian military officials to government leaders to top businessmen to Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine. It’s all part of the work to prepare an executive order now under consideration at the Obama administration’s highest levels.
Does the Obama administration really want to start an “economic war” with Russia and potentially against China as well?
Considering how much money we owe them, and considering the fact that we desperately need them to continue to use the petrodollar, we stand to lose far more than they do.
This is one of the reasons why I have always insisted that the national debt was a national security issue. By going into so much debt, we have given other nations such as Russia and China a tremendous amount of leverage over us.
Unfortunately, the debtmongers in Washington D.C. never have listened to common sense.
When it comes to Ukraine, there are other economic considerations as well.
For example, about 25 percent of the natural gas that Europe uses comes from Russia, and Ukraine only has about four months of natural gas supplies stockpiled.
If Russia cut off the natural gas, that would create some huge problems. Fortunately, winter is just about over or the Russians would have even more leverage.
But of course the biggest concern is that the Ukraine crisis could ultimately spark a global war.
Unfortunately, there is a treaty that requires the United States to defend Ukraine if it is attacked…
President Bill Clinton, along with the British, signed in 1994 a nearly forgotten agreement to protect Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine now is appealing to the countries that signed the agreement.
As the British Daily Mail points out, it means that, technically, if Russia were to invade Ukraine, it would be difficult for the U.S. and Britain to avoid going to war.
Given that the late Russian president, Boris Yeltsin also signed it, it was apparent that it wasn’t expected that the Russians would take the action that Putin now is undertaking.
And top Ukrainian politicians are now asking western nations to come to the aid of Ukraine militarily…
Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has appealed for the West to adopt ’strongest means’ to intervene in Russia’s occupation of Crimea if diplomacy fails.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Tymoshenko, freed last week after the riots throughout the nation, said if Russia is allowed to ‘take away’ Crimea, life will change ‘practically everywhere in the world.’
She added: ‘Then we have to accept… an aggressor, can violate all the international agreements, take away territories, whenever she likes.’
On the other side, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has formally requested that Russia militarily intervene in his nation…
Russia’s U.N. envoy said Monday that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Russia to send troops to “establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defending the people of Ukraine.” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin read a letter from Yanukovych at the U.N. Security Council meeting.
“Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. In the country, there is chaos and anarchy. The life, the security and the rights of people, particularly in the southeast part in Crimea are being threatened. So under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terrorism and violence. People are being persecuted for language and political reasons,” the letter said. “So in this regard, I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defending the people of Ukraine.”
And it is very important to note that Yanukovych would have never issued this letter if the Russian government has not asked him to.
So the stage is set.
Russia has already grabbed Crimea, and it is eyeing other territories in eastern Ukraine.
China is publicly backing Russia, and collectively they have a tremendous amount of economic leverage.
The Obama administration is barking loudly about what Russia has done, but the reality is that the U.S. has very little economic leverage at this point.
What the U.S. does have is the strongest military on the entire planet, but let us hope and pray that Obama does not decide to get the U.S. military involved in Ukraine. That would be absolutely disastrous.
In the end, the U.S. has no good options in Ukraine. The Obama administration helped aid and organize the violent revolution that overthrew the Ukrainian government, and now we have a giant mess.
Nobody is quite sure what comes next, but one thing is certain…
The relationship between the United States and Russia will never, ever be the same again.
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