FREEDOM, WHERE ARE YOU? NOT IN AMERICA OR EUROPE

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by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | INFOWARS.COM | JANUARY 26, 2015

When the former Goldman Sachs executive who runs the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that he was going to print 720 billion euros annually with which to purchase bad debts from the politically connected big banks, the euro sank and the stock market and Swiss france shot up. As in the US, quantitative easing (QE) serves to enrich the already rich. It has no other purpose.

The well-heeled financial institutions that bought up the troubled sovereign debt of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain at low prices will now sell the bonds to the ECB for high prices. And despite depression level unemployment in most of Europe and austerity imposed on citizens, the stock market rose in anticipation that much of the 60 billion new euros that will be created each month will find its way into equity prices. Liquidity fuels the stock market.

Where else can the money to go? Some will go into Swiss francs and some into gold while gold is still available, but for the most part the ECB is running the printing press in order to boost the wealth of the stock-owning One Percent. The Federal Reserve and the ECB have taken the West back to the days when a handful of aristocrats owned everything.

The stock markets are bubbles blown by central bank money creation. On the basis of traditional reasoning there is no sound reason to be in equities, and sound investors have avoided them.

But there is no return anywhere else, and as the central banks are run by the rich for the rich, sound reasoning has proved to be a mistake for the past six years. This shows that corruption can prevail for an indeterminable period over fundamentals.

As I demonstrated in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, first Goldman Sachs deceived lenders into over-lending to the Greek government. Then Goldman Sachs former executives took over Greece’s financial affairs and forced austerity upon the population in order to prevent losses to the foreign lenders.

This established a new principle in Europe, one that the IMF has relentlessly applied to Latin American and Third World debtors. The principle is that when foreign lenders make mistakes and over-lend to foreign governments, loading them up with debt, the bankers’ mistakes are rectified by robbing the poor populations. Pensions, social services, and public employment are cut, valuable resources are sold off to foreigners for pennies on the dollar, and the government is forced to support US foreign policy. John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man describes the process perfectly. If you haven’t read Perkins book, you have little idea how corrupt and vicious the United States is. Indeed, Perkins shows that over-lending is intentional in order to set up the country for looting.

This is what Goldman Sachs did to Greece, intentionally or unintentionally.

It took the Greeks a long time to realize it. Apparently, 36.5 percent of the population was awoken by rising poverty, unemployment, and suicide rates. That figure, a little over one-third of the vote, was enough to put Syriza in power in the just concluded Greek election, throwing out the corrupt New Democracy party that has consistently sold out the Greek people to the foreign banks. Nevertheless, 27.7 percent of the Greeks, if the vote reporting is correct, voted for the party that has sacrificed the Greek people to the banksters. Even in Greece, a country accustomed to outpourings of people into the streets, a significant percentage of the population is sufficiently brainwashed to vote against their own interests.

Can Syriza do anything? It remains to be seen, but probably not. If the political party had received 55% or 65% or 75% of the vote, yes. But the largest vote at 36.5% does not show a unified country aware of its plight and its looting at the hands of rich banksters. The vote shows that a significant percentage of the Greek population supports foreign looting of Greece.

Moreover, Syriza is up against the heavies: the German and Netherlands banks who hold Greece’s loans and the governments that back the banks, the European Union which is using the sovereign debt crisis to destroy the sovereignty of the individual countries that comprise the European Union, Washington which backs EU sovereign power over the individual countries as it is easier to control one government than a couple of dozen.

Already the Western financial presstitutes are warning Syriza not to endanger its membership in the common currency by diverting from the austerity model imposed from abroad on Greek citizens with the complicity of New Democracy.

Apparently, there is a lack of formal means of exiting the EU and the euro, but nevertheless Greece can be threatened with being thrown out. Greece should welcome being thrown out.

Exiting the EU and the euro is the best thing that can happen to Greece. A country without its own currency is not a sovereign country. It is a vassal state of another power. A country without its own currency cannot finance its own needs. Although the UK is a member of the EU, the UK kept its own currency and is not subject to control by the ECB. A country without its own money is powerless. It is a non-entity.

If the US did not have its own dollar, the US would be of no consequence whatsoever on the world scene.

The EU and the euro were deception and trickery. Countries lost their sovereignty. So much for Western “self-rule,” “freedom,” “democracy,” all slogans without content. In the entire West there is nothing but the looting of people by the One Percent who control the governments.

In America, the looting does not rely on indebtedness, because the US dollar is the reserve currency and the US can print all the money needed in order to pay its bills and redeem its debt. In America the looting of labor has been through jobs offshoring.

American corporations discovered, and if they did not they were informed by Wall Street to move offshore or be taken over, that they could raise profits by moving their manufacturing operations abroad. The lower labor cost resulted in higher profits, higher share prices, huge managerial bonuses based on “performance,” and shareholder capital gains. Offshoring greatly increased the inequality in income and wealth in the US. Capital succeeded in looting labor.

The displaced well-paid manufacturing workers, if they were able to find replacement jobs, worked part-time minimum wage jobs at Walmart and Home Depot.

Economists, if they are entitled to the designation, such as Michael Porter and Matthew Slaughter, promised Americans that the fictional “New Economy” would produce better, higher-paying, and cleaner jobs for Americans than the “dirty fingernail” jobs that we were fortunate our corporations were moving offshore.

Years later, as I have proven conclusively, there is no sign of these “New Economy” jobs. What we have instead is a sharp decline in the labor force participation rate as the unemployed cannot find jobs. The replacement jobs for the manufacturing jobs are mainly part-time domestic service jobs.
People have to hold 2 or 3 of these jobs to make ends meet. These part time jobs offer no medical or pension benefits.

Now that this fact, once controversial believe it or not, has proven completely true, the same bought-and-paid-for spokespersons for robbing labor and destroying unions claim, without a shred of evidence, that the offshored jobs are coming home.

According to these propagandists, we now have what is called “reshoring.” A “reshoring” propagandist claims that the growth of “reshoring” over the past four years is 1,775 percent, an 18 times increase.http://www.manufacturingnews.com/news/2015/A.T.Kearny-No-Data-Supporting-Reshoring-0112151.html

There is no sign whatsoever of these alleged “reshoring” jobs in the monthly BLS payroll jobs statistics.

What reshoring is all about is propaganda to counteract the belated realization that “free trade” agreements and job offshoring were not beneficial to the American economy or its work force, but were beneficial only to the super-rich.

Like people throughout history, the American people are being turned into serfs and slaves because the fools believe the lies that are fed to them. They sit in front of Fox News, CNN, and whatever. They read the New York Times. If you want to learn how badly Americans have been served by the so-called media, read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States.

The media helps the government, and the private interests that profit from their control of government, control the brainwashed public. We have to invade Afghanistan because a faction there fighting for political control of the country is protecting Osama bin Laden, whom the US accuses without any proof of embarrassing the mighty US with the 9/11 attack. We have to invade Iraq because Saddam has “weapons of mass destruction” that he surely has despite the reports to the contrary by the weapons inspectors. We have to overthrow Gaddafi because of a slate of lies that have best been forgotten. We have to overthrow Assad because he used chemical weapons even though all evidence is to the contrary. Russia is responsible for Ukraine problems, not because the US overthrew the elected democratic government but because Russia accepted a 97.6% vote of Crimeans to rejoin Russia where the province had resided for hundreds of years before a Ukrainian Soviet leader, Khrushchev, stuck Crimea into Ukraine, at the time a part of the Soviet Union along with Russia.

War, War, War, that is all Washington wants. It enriches the military/security complex, the largest component of the US GNP and the largest contributor, along with Wall Street and the Israel Lobby, to US political campaigns.

Anyone or any organization that offers truth to the lies is demonized. Last week the new chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, listed the Russian TV Internet service Russia Today as the equivalent of Boko Haram and the Islamic State terrorist groups. This absurd accusation is a prelude to closing down RT in the US just as Washington’s puppet UK government closed down Iran’s Press TV.http://rt.com/usa/225819-rt-isis-point-view-competition/

In other words, Anglo-Americans are not permitted any different news than what is served to them by “their” governments.

That is the state of “freedom” in the West today.

Politics: Not even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews & Andrea Mitchell are buying the BS in Obama’s State of the Union…

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    He’s “not close to reality.”

For five years, Barack Obama has been able to count on two things. The first was a disorganized, timid GOP. The second was the sound of constant, fawning, almost orgasmic adulation coming from the MSNBC studios. While the jury is still out on Republican efforts to mount a successful resistance to Obama’s policies, it looks like MSNBC is getting tired of talking about his alleged foreign policy “successes.” In the wake of the State of the Union address it appears the “tingle” is gone.

Check out what left-wing stalwart Chris Matthews had to say about the President’s self-described foreign policy victories:

    I kept thinking tonight that there’s a real world out there he didn’t really talk about, and had perhaps overambitious notions about where we stood in the war against ISIL – the Islamic State. He doesn’t want to call it the Islamic State, but that’s what they call themselves. Those two Japanese people, with no guilt on their shoulders – just staring there out of the desert – who are going to be apparently decapitated. …That reality – what’s going on in Nigeria is reality. How close was the President to reality overall, globally, tonight?

Wow. That’s actual skepticism from Chris Matthews! He must be back on his meds. Andrea Mitchell replied:

    I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality. They have not come up with a strategy. And they built a global coalition but, again, he’s talked about Ukraine, he’s talked about Putin being isolated. Yes, Putin is isolated economically and the falling oil prices have hammered his economy. But at the same time, there’s renewed fighting in Donetsk, and we haven’t figured out Ukraine, we haven’t figured out how the NATO alliance can push back. Sanctions have not really worked, and Ukraine is going to need more weaponry, and they have not reached that point. So… you’re right, Chris, it doesn’t match the reality.

Could it be that, despite everything we’ve assumed, there actually is a breaking point for the folks at MSNBC? Has the moment arrived where, despite their love for their fringe liberal ideals, they’ve realized how ridiculous they sound when they laud this President’s nonexistent “accomplishments?”

Probably not.

More likely, the Charlie Hebdo attack finally stripped them of their faith in progressive invulnerability. It sounds like they’ve finally figured out that their usual plan – involving politically correct maneuvering and sympathy for the enemy – isn’t working anymore.

How sad to think that the brilliant minds at the left wing network of record were loathe to acknowledge the President’s detachment until the media became a target of radical Islam. …But it appears that may be what’s happened.

OBAMA TO DELIVER STATE OF UNION ADDRESS—Obama invites illegal to address

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    Obama invites illegal to address

by SPUTNIK | JANUARY 20, 2015

US President Barack Obama will be delivering his State of the Union address on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. local time (4:00 GMT), laying out his policy agenda before the Republican-controlled US Congress, discussing tax hikes for the rich, cybersecurity legislation, criminal justice and immigration reforms.

Over the past month Obama has traveled across the United States, giving a preview of what he will present when he addresses Congress, and allowing members of the Republican opposition in the House and Senate to mount a response.

White House Guest List Indicates President’s Agenda

On Monday, the White House published a list of 22 guests from the general public that will be attending the State of the Union speech, giving some sense of the president’s priorities entering 2015.

“These guests exemplify the themes and ideals that the President lays out in his address,” the White House press release stated.

Among the individuals, invited to attend the State of the Union and watch the president’s speech with First Lady Michelle Obama, are an individual enrolled in a community college, an African-American teenager from Chicago, focused on safety in his community, prisoners released from Cuba late last year, patients who received care through the Affordable Care Act, a wounded veteran from Afghanistan, individuals struggling with the current US minimum wage, and young immigrants to the United States.

Domestic Issues Top the Agenda

On Tuesday, the president is expected to raise a number of domestic issues with members of Congress, including raising the minimum wage, providing students with two years of free community college, tax hikes for the rich and extended tax breaks for lower income families, alongside cuts to mortgage insurance rates.

There has already been opposition from the Republican majority in both the US House and the Senate to a number of the president’s initiatives. The proposal leaked out of the White House last week announced $235 billion in additional taxes, collected from top earners, and has created some sore feelings on the right and left, with some US media pundits calling the initiative a “Robin Hood Tax.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesperson referred to the president’s tax proposal as “redistributing wealth,” arguing that the president’s proposed reforms, explained in a Friday White House fact sheet, will overcomplicate the US tax code, rather than simplify it.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch also blasted President Obama for “slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes” with his new tax proposal that will be fully unveiled on Tuesday.

The president has also taken criticism from Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner over his proposal for two free years of community college for qualifying students.

“With no details or information on the cost, this seems more like a talking point than a plan,” Boehner’s spokesperson told the press when the plan was revealed last week.

One area of the Obama administration’s domestic agenda that may receive broad support is the possibility of the president putting criminal justice reform on the agenda. The issue has grabbed national headlines in the wake of numerous police killings of young, African-Americans. Currently there are multiple pieces of legislation to address racial inequality in the US criminal justice system that enjoy bipartisan congressional support.

National Security, International Issues

In the national security arena, President Obama appears positioned to gain traction on his agenda, which was outlined in the president’s Friday press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

At the top of the list of national security initiatives is Obama’s recently announced cybersecurity legislation, a proposal that is likely to garner extensive bipartisan support from the Congress, following high level cyber hacks against US companies and government agencies in recent months.

“I’m glad [Obama] is pushing to address cyber legislation,” said Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire when the president rolled out his cyber initiative last week. Ayotte, a leading member of the Senate Armed Services Committee added that the US has stalled such legislation in the past, noting, “I think we can’t afford to stall anymore.”

However, on issues of homeland security, the Congress and the president still remain divided, with a temporary spending limit looming over the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until February. Republican lawmakers imposed the spending limit on the DHS at the end of last year as a mechanism to defund President Obama’s November executive action on immigration reform.

Obama has stated on multiple occasions that he will veto any DHS appropriations bill, defunding his immigration action, creating uncertainty both on the status of the executive action and the continued funding for the third largest US federal agency, DHS.

Last year, the US Congress was united in their support for tougher measures against Russia, including new sanctions and weapons provisions to the government of Ukraine. The Obama administration has so far maintained its position of prohibiting the transfer of offensive weapons to the government of Kiev, but the president announced in his Friday speech with Cameron that he would keep up the pressure on Russia, saying the transatlantic alliance agrees “on the need to maintain strong sanctions against Russia.”

Presidential Veto Threat

“There is so much we can get accomplished for the American people, if the president’s willing to work with us,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press release last week.

President Obama has made similar overtures for collaboration to the new, Republican-controlled Congress, but has so far stood his ground on key policy positions. In the first week the US Congress was in session, Obama threatened to veto nearly half a dozen pieces of legislation, including new sanctions on Iran, and legislation for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

During his six years in office, Obama has vetoed only two pieces of legislation, but has also enjoyed majority support in both houses of Congress in his first term, and a Democratic majority in the Senate for the first two years of his second term.

The upcoming congressional work session, following Tuesday’s State of the Union address, will last until the late-February district working session. The legislative agenda will be set by House and Senate Republicans, but also informed by initiatives introduced by President Obama in his Tuesday address.

Food Stamp Beneficiaries Exceed 46,000,000 for 38 Straight Months

    The 46,674,364 on food stamps in October was an increase of 214,434 from the 46,459,930 on food stamps in September.

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By Ali Meyer

(CNSNews.com) – The number of beneficiaries on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—AKA food stamps–has topped 46,000,000 for 38th straight month, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In October 2014, the latest month reported, there were 46,674,364 Americans on food stamps. Food stamp recipients have exceeded 46 million since September 2011.

The 46,674,364 on food stamps in October was an increase of 214,434 from the 46,459,930 on food stamps in September.

As of July, the national population was 318,857,056, the Census Bureau estimates. Thus, the 46,674,364 on food stamps equaled 14.6 percent of the population.

The number of households on food stamps increased from 22,749,951 in September to 22,867,248 in October, an increase of 117,297.

As of September, according to the Census Bureau, there were 115,831,000 households in the country. Thus, the 22,867,248 households on food stamps in October equaled 19.7 percent of the nation’s households.

The 46,674,364 people on food stamps in the United States also exceeded the total populations of Columbia (46,245,297), Kenya (46,245,297), Ukraine (44,291,413) and Argentina (43,024,374).

They were slightly fewer than the population of Spain (47,737,941).

Households on food stamps got an average benefit of $261.44 during the month, and total benefits for the month cost taxpayers $5,978,320,593.

In 1969, the average participation in the SNAP program stood at 2,878,000. In 2014, average participation grew to 46,536,000 showing an increase of 1516.96 percent.

FINANCIAL AGENCY DOWNGRADES RUSSIA’S CREDIT RATING TO 1 NOTCH ABOVE JUNK LEVEL

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    The international ratings agency has knocked Russia’s credit rating down a peg, while warning that ‘growth may not return until 2017,’ as the national economy struggles amid sanctions and tumbling oil prices.

Fitch Ratings Inc, with dual headquarters in New York and London, downgraded Russia’s credit rating to BBB- from BBB, which is just one step away from the non-investment field.

While not yet the worst rating, Fitch nevertheless predicted a rough road ahead for the Russian economy, which has witnessed a dramatically weakened ruble together with steadily declining oil prices.

Fitch said Russia’s Gross Domestic Product will decrease by four percent this year, which is significantly worse than the 1.5 percent decline it had anticipated.

“Growth may not return until 2017,” Fitch warned.

A storm of factors, including plummeting oil prices, turbulence with the national currency and sanctions slapped against the country in the aftermath of the Ukrainian debacle, have made the Russian economy particularly vulnerable.

In June, Brent crude was trading at more than $111; on Friday, it was less than $50 a barrel, while the ruble was trading at 63 against the dollar. In an intervention effort to offset the declining ruble, Russia’s dollar reserves took a hit, tumbling from $511 billion to $388 billion over the course of a year.

“Plunging oil prices have exposed the close link between growth and oil price [in Russia],” Fitch added.

It then lectured on Russia’s overdependence on natural resources: “Commodity dependence is high: energy products account for almost 70 percent of merchandise exports and 50 percent of federal government revenue, exposing the public finances and the balance of payments to external shocks.”

The ratings agency also warned that Russian inflation, which hit 11.4 percent at the end of 2014, would remain stuck in the double-digits before dropping to 8.5 percent next year.

The prospects of the [Russian Central Bank] realizing its end-2015 inflation target of 4.5 percent now look remote, particularly if the exchange rate falls further, potentially leading to still higher interest rates,” Fitch predicted.

There were some silver linings, however, in the cloudy report with the ratings agency predicting that oil prices will increase to about $70 a barrel this year.

In the event that oil stays at its present historic lows, “it could precipitate a deeper recession and put further strain on public finances, severely limiting the authorities’ room for maneuver.”

Russia’s economic woes aren’t limited to the country itself. Europe, Russia’s largest trading partner, is feeling the pressure from loss of trade with its huge neighbor.

This week, French President Francois Hollande expressed deep concern over what sort of impact Russia’s economic downturn might have on Europe, going so far as to demand an end to the sanctions.

“If Russia has a crisis, it is not necessarily good for Europe,” Hollande said during a two-hour interview with radio station France Inter. “I’m not for the policy of attaining goals by making things worse, I think that sanctions must stop now.”

MCCAIN & OTHER TOP OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF ILLEGALLY VISITING SYRIA

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McCain reportedly did not have proper visa

Several senior US and French officials, including US Senator John McCain, entered Syria illegally – without proper visas – on separate occasions, thus violating the country’s sovereignty, Syria said in a complaint submitted to the United Nations.

The list of officials also included former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and former US diplomat Peter Galbraith, according to a letter dated December 30 cited by Reuters and AFP.

In the letter, Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Ja’afari urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council to put additional pressure on governments to implement “the necessary measures against their nationals who enter Syrian territory illegally.”

“Such actions are a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and of the resolutions of the Security Council concerning Syria,” Ja’afari said.

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The letter included complaints from “certain journalists and prominent figures” entering Syria illegally, pointing out McCain’s visit to the country in June 2013, as well as Kouchner’s visit in November 2014 and Galbraith’s in December 2014, along with other US political and military leaders.

Former Kuwaiti politician Walid Tabtabai is also mentioned as making an illegal visit in September 2013.

At the time, McCain’s spokesperson only confirmed that the former Republican presidential candidate visited Syria in May 2013 to meet with Syrian rebels.

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Several senior US and French officials, including US Senator John McCain, entered Syria illegally – without proper visas – on separate occasions, thus violating the country’s sovereignty, Syria said in a complaint submitted to the United Nations.

The list of officials also included former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and former US diplomat Peter Galbraith, according to a letter dated December 30 cited by Reuters and AFP.

In the letter, Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Ja’afari urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council to put additional pressure on governments to implement “the necessary measures against their nationals who enter Syrian territory illegally.”

“Such actions are a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and of the resolutions of the Security Council concerning Syria,” Ja’afari said.

The letter included complaints from “certain journalists and prominent figures” entering Syria illegally, pointing out McCain’s visit to the country in June 2013, as well as Kouchner’s visit in November 2014 and Galbraith’s in December 2014, along with other US political and military leaders.

Former Kuwaiti politician Walid Tabtabai is also mentioned as making an illegal visit in September 2013.
At the time, McCain’s spokesperson only confirmed that the former Republican presidential candidate visited Syria in May 2013 to meet with Syrian rebels.

McCain responded to the complaint by downplaying the accusations, and in turn accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad of the “massacre” of his own people.

“It is a sad but unsurprising truth that the Assad regime is less concerned with its massacre of more than 200,000 men, women and children than it is my visit with those brave Syrians fighting for their freedom and dignity,” McCain’s statement said. “The fact that the international community has done virtually nothing to bring down this terrible regime despite its atrocities is a stain on our collective moral conscience.”

According to earlier media reports, McCain crossed into Syria in May 2013 from Turkey with General Salem Idris, who was in charge of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, and stayed there for several hours before returning.

During the visit, the senator met with leaders of Free Syrian Army units in Turkey and Syria.

McCain’s visit created a media storm, especially after a picture surfaced of him posing with allegedly IslamicState-linked jihadists (formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The original claim came from Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, who accused McCain of unknowingly meeting with Islamic State fighters.

Among the Senator’s other controversial visits was a trip to Ukraine in December 2013 amid mass anti-government protests. During the visit, McCain met with Ukrainian opposition leaders in the country’s capital of Kiev, voicing his support for the protests, adding that he saw Ukraine’s future with Europe.

Also, back in 2011, McCain visited Benghazi to meet the Libyan rebels, calling them “my heroes.” McCain boldly stated that the fall of the ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would inspire people all over world – including in Russia – which raised eyebrows globally.

“We believe very strongly that the people of Libya today are inspiring the people in Tehran, in Damascus, and even in Beijing and Moscow,” said McCain.

McCain’s travel tendencies landed him on Russia’s black list in March, part of Russia’s retaliation against US-led sanctions. The list bans the Senator along with other individuals from traveling to Russia as well as freezes any of his assets there.

MORE RUSSIA SANCTIONS TO PROVOKE ‘DANGEROUS SITUATION’ IN EUROPE – GERMAN VICE-CHANCELLOR

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Following Western restrictions, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imported food

Tougher sanctions against Russia could destabilize the country and provoke an “even more dangerous” situation in Europe and have negative consequences for the entire world, German Vice-Chancellor Economic Affairs and Energy Minister has warned.

“Those who want it, provoke an even more dangerous situation for all of us in Europe,” Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

“Those who are seeking to even more destabilize Russia from the economic and political point of view are pursuing quite different goals.”

The goal of sanctions against Russia was to return Moscow to the negotiating table to find ways for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, he said.

He elaborated that additional sanctions may exclude Moscow from partnership in the resolution of conflicts which “will have very dangerous consequences for the entire world.”

Though there are some in the US and EU that “would like to floor their superpower rival,” but it is not in the interest of Germany or Europe, he stated.

“We want to help solve the conflict in Ukraine, not to force Russia to its knees,” he stressed.

The US and EU slapped Russia with several rounds of sanctions, starting in March after Crimea joined Russia. Western nations have accused Russia of annexing Crimea, though Moscow has denied the claims stressing that residents of the peninsula voted in favor of the notion in a referendum that was in line with the international law and the UN Charter. The first round of Western sanctions targeted Russian officials and companies and included visa bans and asset freezes.

The second round of sanctions that put pressure on financial, energy, and defense sectors was announced in July with the US and EU blaming Moscow for involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has denied the claims.

Following Western restrictions, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the US and Norway in August.

France’s largest farming association – the National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Operators (FNSEA) – said in August that Russia’s ban could push Europe into a market crisis.

The Netherlands, Germany, and Poland were Russia’s biggest food suppliers in the EU. The US shipped $1.6 billion worth of food to Russia in 2013. Prior to the sanctions Russia imported 36.7 percent of its meat, 32.6 percent of dairy, eggs, and honey, 30.4 percent of vegetables, and 24.2 percent of fruit from the EU, according to 2014 trade data.

A new sanctions package was pushed by the West a few days after the Minsk agreement was signed on September 5, which included a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to France 24 in Moscow in December that “if this is what Europe has as a reaction to something positive, then I once again can only say that we hugely overestimated European independence in foreign policy.”

He recalled the public statement made by US Vice President Joe Biden that America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion. “I don’t believe [the sanctions] help Europe,” Lavrov said.