This is the second piece for the day…
Things are moving in different directions….
Russia is STILL getting paid to ship Europe natural gas, sanctions withstanding …..
This is blunting efforts to hurt the Russian economy more….
Putin’s insistence on rubles may be more about forcing European countries to scramble at his behest than about shoring up his country’s currency, some economists and energy experts suspect. European Union countries have been touchy about the notion they might violate their sanctions on Russia, and questions about the arrangement tested European unity, leading to weeks of chaos and contradictory guidance from Brussels. It also got countries talking about how much they still need Russian gas, even as they debate a Russian oil embargo.
In the short term, they are willing to jump through some hoops to avoid an energy crisis….
Henry Kissinger says the obvious ….
After saying that Western countries should remember Russia’s importance to Europe and not get swept up “in the mood of the moment,” Kissinger also pushed for the West to force Ukraine into accepting negotiations with a “status quo ante,” which means the previous state of affairs.
“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante,” said Kissinger, 98, according to the Daily Telegraph. “Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”…
Putin is countering sanctions with trying to corner the world’s wheat markets….
World leaders called on Tuesday for international action to deliver 20 million tons of grain now trapped in Ukraine, predicting that the alternative could be hunger in some countries and political unrest in others, in what could be the gravest global repercussion yet of Russia’s assault on its neighbor. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where worries about the war’s consequences have eclipsed almost every other issue, speakers reached for apocalyptic language to describe the threat.
“It’s a perfect storm within a perfect storm,” said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Calling the situation “absolutely critical,” he warned, “We will have famines around the world.”
The world’s food distribution network was already strained by pandemic-related disruptions, and exports from Ukraine, ordinarily among the world’s biggest suppliers, have plummeted because of the war. Russia has seized some the country’s Black Sea ports and blockaded the rest, trapping cargo vessels laden with corn, wheat, sunflower seeds, barley and oats.
Russian forces have taken control of some of Ukraine’s most productive farmland, destroyed Ukrainian infrastructure that is vital to raising and shipping grain, and littered farm fields with explosives….
China and Russia hold a jnoint miltary exercise ….
China and Russia on Tuesday held their first joint military exercise since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, sending bombers over the seas in northeast Asia in an apparent show of force as President Biden was visiting the region, according to American, South Korean and Japanese officials.
The U.S. government was tracking the military exercise as Mr. Biden met in Tokyo with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India, nations in the so-called Quad coalition that was formed in part to counter Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region. The military activity was a significant sign that the partnership between China and Russia has not weakened even as the three-month-old war in Ukraine has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths.
The bombers flew over the Sea of Japan early Tuesday and continued south toward the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea, a senior American official said in an interview soon after the start of the exercise, speaking on the condition of anonymity. South Korea issued a statement hours later confirming the exercise, saying that two Chinese military aircraft and four Russian warplanes had entered its air defense identification zone off the country’s east coast, without intruding into its airspace. Joint exercises involving strategic bombers are complex and are typically planned well in advance.
The American official also said U.S. agencies had evidence that Chinese naval vessels most likely took part in the joint exercise….