Archives‎ > ‎

Greece opposes EU sanctions against Russia; Western agri-giants snap up Ukraine | Peter Myers

(1) Greece opposes EU sanctions against Russia - showing that Syriza is not in Soros' pocket

(2) Putin says Russia must strengthen its economic & financial sovereignty

(3) Paul Craig Roberts offers to govern Russian central bank, with Michael Hudson & Nomi Prins

(4) Obama tries to use Modi to contain China - but Modi evades capture

(5) West's agri-giants snap up Ukraine


(1) Greece opposes EU sanctions against Russia - showing that Syriza is
not in Soros' pocket

Greek government objects to EU's sanctions against Russia -- Foreign

News | 29.01.2015 | 10:50

TASS - The Greek government disagrees with the EU's sanctions against
Russia, which are affecting the economy of Greece and other countries,
Greece's First Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos
Chountis said in an interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA) on

Greece's new government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on
Tuesday it was discontent with the EU's failure to make Athens-proposed
amendments to the text of a declaration, in which the heads of EU states
and governments warned Moscow of new sanctions over the escalation of
the conflict in east Ukraine.

Greece intends to raise this issue at an extraordinary meeting of EU
foreign ministers on Thursday.

"Indeed, the agenda includes the issue of sanctions, on which foreign
ministers may decide but the Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras] and the
Foreign Minister [Nikos Kotzias], i.e. our country filed a protest
because a notice declaration of the heads of state was issued without
preliminarily informing Greece or without taking into account the
opinion of the Greek prime minister," Chountis said.

The declaration mentions possible new sanctions against Russia, the
Greek first deputy foreign minister said.

"In actual fact, it will be decided at the council of ministers in the
presence of Greece Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on how they
[sanctions] will operate," the diplomat added.

"The position of the new government as we formulated it back at the time
when Syriza was an opposition party is that we don't agree with the
spirit of sanctions, which have negative consequences not only for our
agriculture and our country's economy but also affect on a wider scale,"
the Greek first deputy foreign minister said.

"Similar reactions emerge in other EU countries over the consequences of
the sanctions," he added.

"As distinct from France, which supported the sanctions, there are also
other countries like Greece, which object to the sanctions policy," the
Greek diplomat said.

(2) Putin says Russia must strengthen its economic & financial sovereignty

Russia must overcome outside pressure by strengthening economic
sovereignty - Putin

News | 29.01.2015 | 17:19

TASS - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia's
strategic objectives remain unchanged. He said that Russia "must
overcome the pressure of external factors by means of strengthening its
economic and financial sovereignty."

"Our strategic objectives certainly remain unchanged. We must ensure
high economy growth rates, efficiency and an increase in labour
productivity," the president said.

According to Putin, overcoming the external factors' pressure by
strengthening the national financial sovereignty "is an extremely
important task of which we have kind of forgotten, believing that
finances and the economy will always stay outside politics, as we've
often heard from the outside." "However we've found out that this is
quite the contrary - because this is used as a very powerful political
pressure tool," Putin said.

According to him, "The Russian economy certainly should and will remain
an inseparable, natural part of the world economy." "But we must,
without doubt, change much in its certain key aspects, ensuring
sovereignty," the Russian leader said.

"I mean, certainly, not isolation, but that our economy should acquire
additional stability against external shocks as a result of its
diversification, the growth of non-energy, high-technology sector,
agriculture and the national financial and banking sector," the
president said.

The president noted that Russia has expected the current crisis
developments in the country's economy.

"The current period is not easy, but nothing unexpected has happened.
The crisis developments were expected," the Russian president told a
seminar for regional leaders.

Putin reminded that Russia's government has approved an anti-crisis plan
to ensure the sustainable development of the country's economy and
social stability.

The president said the plan's implementation will require funds that are
to be allocated for the recapitalization of banks, which are called the
"blood circulatory system of the economy."

The plan also envisages the support of the agricultural and industrial
complex and the stabilization of the labor market, he said.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Tuesday the Russian government's
anti-crisis fund equals 170 billion rubles ($2.5 billion). The
anti-crisis plan is intended for one year and stipulates the preparation
of new structural reforms to avoid wasting reserves in just a year or
two, he said.

(3) Paul Craig Roberts offers to govern Russian central bank, with
Michael Hudson & Nomi Prins

January 26, 2015

Russia In The Cross Hairs

Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s attack on Russia has moved beyond the boundary of the
absurd into the realm of insanity.

The New Chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack,
has declared the Russian news service, RT, which broadcasts in multiple
languages, to be a terrorist organization equivalent to Boko Haram and
the Islamic State, and Standard and Poor’s just downgraded Russia’s
credit rating to junk status.

Today RT International interviewed me about these insane developments.

In prior days when America was still a sane country, Lack’s charge would
have led to him being laughed out of office. He would have had to resign
and disappear from public life. Today in the make-believe world that
Western propaganda has created, Lack’s statement is taken seriously. Yet
another terrorist threat has been identified–RT. (Although both Boko
Haram and the Islamic State employ terror, strictly speaking they are
political organizations seeking to rule, not terror organizations, but
this distinction would be over Lack’s head. Yes, I know. There is a good
joke that could be made here about what Lack lacks. Appropriately named
and all that.)

Nevertheless, whatever Lack might lack, I doubt he believes his
nonsensical statement that RT is a terrorist organization. So what is
his game?

The answer is that the Western presstitute media by becoming Ministries
of Propaganda for Washington, have created large markets for RT, Press
TV, and Al Jazeera. As more and more of the peoples of the world turn to
these more honest news sources, Washington’s ability to fabricate
self-serving explanations has declined.

RT in particular has a large Western audience. The contrast between RT’s
truthful reporting and the lies spewed by US media is undermining
Washington’s control of the explanation. This is no longer acceptable.

Lark has sent a message to RT. The message is: pull in your horns; stop
reporting differently from our line; stop contesting the facts as
Washington states them and the presstitutes report them; get on board or

In other words, the “free speech” that Washington and its EU, Canadian,
and Australian puppet states tout means: free speech for Washington’s
propaganda and lies, but not for any truth. Truth is terrorism, because
truth is the major threat to Washington.

Washington would prefer to avoid the embarrassment of actually shutting
down RT as its UK vassal did to Press TV. Washington simply wants to
shut up RT. Lark’s message to RT is: self-censure.

In my opinion, RT already understates in its coverage and reporting as
does Al Jazeera. Both news organizations understand that they cannot be
too forthright, at least not too often or on too many occasions.

I have often wondered why the Russian government allows 20 percent of
the Russian media to function as Washington’s fifth column inside
Russia. I suspect the reason is that by tolerating Washington’s blatant
propaganda inside Russia, the Russian government hopes that some factual
news can be reported in the US via RT and other Russian news organizations.

These hopes, like other Russian hopes about the West, are likely to be
disappointed in the end. If RT is closed down or assimilated into the
Western presstitute media, nothing will be said about it, but if the
Russian government closes down Washington’s agents, blatant liars all,
in the Russian media, we will hear forever about the evil Russians
suppressing “free speech.” Remember, the only allowable “free speech” is
Washington’s propaganda.

Only time will tell whether RT decides to be closed down for telling the
truth or whether it adds its voice to Washington’s propaganda.

The other item in the interview was the downgrading of Russian credit to
junk status.

Standard and Poor’s downgrade is, without any doubt, a political act. It
proves what we already know, and that is that the American rating firms
are corrupt political operations. Remember the Investment Grade rating
the American rating agencies gave to obvious subprime junk? These rating
agencies are paid by Wall Street, and like Wall Street they serve the US

A look at the facts serves to establish the political nature of the
ruling. Don’t expect the corrupt US financial press to look at the
facts. But right now, we will look at the facts.

Indeed, we will put the facts in context with the US debt situation.

According to the debt clocks available online, the Russian national debt
as a percentage of Russian GDP is 11 percent. The American national debt
as a percentage of US GDP is 105 percent, about ten times higher. My
coauthors, Dave Kranzler, John Williams, and I have shown that when
measured correctly, the US debt as a percent of GDP is much higher than
the official figure.

The Russian national debt per capita is $1,645. The US national debt per
capita is $56,952.

The size of Russia’s national debt is $235 billion, less than one
quarter of a trillion. The size of the US national debt is $18 trillion,
76.6 times larger than the Russian debt.

Putting this in perspective: according to the debt clocks, US GDP is
$17.3 trillion and Russian GDP is $2.1 trillion. So, US GDP is 8 times
greater than Russian GDP, but US national debt is 76.6 times greater
than Russia’s debt.

Clearly, it is the US credit rating that should have been downgraded to
junk status. But this cannot happen. Any US credit rating agency that
told the truth would be closed and prosecuted. It wouldn’t matter what
the absurd charges are. The rating agencies would be guilty of being
anti-american, terrorist organizations like RT, etc. and so on, and they
know it. Never expect any truth from any Wall Street denizen. They lie
for a living.

According to this site:
the US owes Russia as of January 2013 $162.9 billion. As the Russian
national debt is $235 billion, 69 percent of the Russian national debt
is covered by US debt obligations to Russia.

If this is a Russian Crisis, I am Alexander the Great.

As Russia has enough US dollar holdings to redeem its entire national
debt and have a couple hundred billion dollars left, what is Russia’s

One of Russia’s problems is its central bank. For the most part, Russian
economists are the same neoliberal incompetents that exist in the
Western world. The Russian economists are enamored of their contacts
with the “superior” West and with the prestige that they image these
contacts give them. As long as the Russian economists agree with the
Western ones, they get invited to conferences abroad. These Russian
economists are de facto American agents whether they realize it or not.

Currently, the Russian central bank is squandering the large Russian
holdings of foreign reserves in support of the Western attack on the
ruble. This is a fools’ game that no central bank should play. The
Russian central bank should remember, or learn if it does not know,
Soros’ attack on the Bank of England.

Russian foreign reserves should be used to retire the outstanding
national debt, thus making Russia the only country in the world without
a national debt. The remaining dollars should be dumped in coordinated
actions with China to destroy the dollar, the power basis of American

Alternatively, the Russian government should announce that its reply to
the economic warfare being conducted against Russia by the government in
Washington and Wall Street rating agencies is default on its loans to
Western creditors. Russia has nothing to lose as Russia is already cut
off from Western credit by US sanctions. Russian default would cause
consternation and crisis in the European banking system, which is
exactly what Russia wants in order to break up Europe’s support of US

In my opinion, the neoliberal economists who control Russian economic
policy are a much greater threat to the sovereignty of Russia than
economic sanctions and US missile bases. To survive Washington, Russia
desperately needs people who are not romantic about the West.

To dramatize the situation, if President Putin will grant me Russian
citizenship and allow me to appoint Michael Hudson and Nomi Prins as my
deputies, I will take over the operation of the Russian central bank and
put the West out of operation.

But that would require Russia taking risks associated with victory. The
Atlanticist Integrationists inside the Russian government want victory
for the West, not for Russia. A country imbued with treason inside the
government itself has reduced chance against Washington, a determined

Another fifth column operating against Russia from within are the US and
German funded NGOs. These American agents masquerade as “human rights
organizations,” as “women’s rights organizations,” as “democracy
organizations,” and whatever other cant titles that serve in a
politically correct age and are unchallengeable.

Yet another threat to Russia comes from the percentage of the Russian
youth who lust for the depraved culture of the West. Sexual license,
pornography, drugs, self-absorption. These are the West’s cultural
offerings. And, of course, killing Muslims.

If Russians want to kill people for the fun of it and to solidify US
hegemony over themselves and the world, they should support “Atlanticist
integration” and turn their backs on Russian nationalism. Why be Russian
if you can be American serfs?

What better result for the American neoconservatives than to have Russia
support Washington’s hegemony over the world? That is what the
neoliberal Russian economists and the “European Integrationists”
support. These Russians are willing to be American serfs in order to be
part of the West and to be paid well for their treason.

As I was interviewed about these developments by RT, the news anchor
kept trying to confront Washington’s charges with the facts. It is
astonishing that the Russian journalists do not understand that facts
have nothing to do with it. The Russian journalists, those independent
of American bribes, think that facts matter in the disputes about
Russian actions. They think that the assaults on civilians by the
American supported Ukrainian Nazis is a fact. But, of course no such
fact exists in the Western media. In the Western media the Russians, and
only the Russians, are responsible for violence in Ukraine.

Washington’s story line is that it is the evil Putin’s intent on
restoring the Soviet Empire that is the cause of the conflict. This
media line in the West has no relationship to any facts.

In my opinion, Russia is in grave danger. Russians are relying on facts,
and Washington is relying on propaganda. For Washington, facts are not
relevant. Russian voices are small compared to Western voices.

The lack of a Russian voice is due to Russia itself. Russia accepted
living in a world controlled by US financial, legal, and
telecommunication services. Living in this world means that the only
voice is Washington’s.

Why Russia agreed to this strategic disadvantage is a mystery. But as a
result of this strategic mistake, Russia is at a disadvantage.

Considering the inroads that Washington has into the Russian government
itself, the economically powerful oligarchs and state employees with
Western connections, as well as into the Russian media and Russian
youth, with the hundreds of American and German financed NGOs that can
put Russians into the streets to protest any defense of Russia, Russia’s
future as a sovereign country is in doubt.

The American neoconservatives are relentless. Their Russian opponent is
weakened by the success inside Russia of Western cold war propaganda
that portrays the US as the savior and future of mankind.

The darkness from Sauron America continues to spread over the world.

(4) Obama tries to use Modi to contain China - but Modi evades capture

Obama Hustles Modi, Did He Succeed?

Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | 30.01.2015 | 00:00

The three-day state visit by the United States President Barack Obama to
India has been extraordinarily rich in political symbolism. It followed
an initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invite Obama to be the
chief guest at India's national day celebrations on January 26.

Modi himself had visited Washington only four months ago and Obama's
acceptance of the invitation also signified an unprecedented second
visit by an incumbent American president to India.

With the dust settling down on the colorful visit, stocktaking begins.
There are three templates to consider - one, how to decipher the
political symbolism as such; two, what has been the substantive outcome
of the visit and what lies ahead for the India-US relations; and, three,
how the upgrade of the relationship impacts the power dynamic in

Without doubt, New Delhi and Washington have signaled a political
resolve to re-energize the relationship, which has been under the
weather in the past 2 to 3 years. Looking back, the high expectations
raised by the former prime minister Manmohan Singh to Washington in 2009
and Obama's return visit in 2010 could not be fulfilled, which took the
shine off the India-US relationship.

Essentially, the Obama administration was waiting till the political
uncertainties in India cleared up after the April-May 2014 election.
Modi himself went the extra league during his September visit to
underscore that he not only carried no ill will, but was eager to
energize the ties with the US. And Washington has estimated that it can
do business with Modi whom it not only sees as 'pro-reform' like his
predecessor but also as someone who would make a more meaningful,
effective and resolute interlocutor than Manmohan Singh.

For Modi, a lavish display of friendship with 'Barack' holds advantages
in domestic politics. Obama, who has a reputation for being aloof, is
willing to play along. Meanwhile, for Obama, whose presidency is under
relentless attack at home, resuscitation of the US-Indian relationship
is a foreign-policy legacy. The Modi-Obama bonding is a match made in

Having said that, Obama's visit failed to produce a substantive outcome.
He made no commitments regarding US investments. No accord could be
reached on climate change (which was apparently a priority). The
India-US defence agreement has been renewed for another ten-year period
but no flagship project was announced on co-production or joint
development of military technology. Nor did India sign any new contracts
for American weaponry.

A significant outcome devolves upon the <<breakthrough>> in finding a
formula that could remove the discord between the two governments over
India's nuclear liability law. But there is no clarity whether the
understanding reached at the governmental level (details of which
haven't been divulged) would stand scrutiny in a court of law or even
prompt the American companies to shed their inhibitions over the Indian
law (which, they say, does not conform to the international covenants on
liability in nuclear commerce.)

In short, the balance sheet is poor, but the media hype is that this has
been a 'transformative' visit. The truly transformative visits in the
relationship have been two - visit by Bill Clinton in March 2000,
auguring a historic course correction in the US' unfriendly cold-war era
policies, and by George W. Bush in March 2006 against the backdrop of
the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which promised a
paradigm shift in the strategic ties. In comparison, Obama's visit falls
in a category by itself - an earnest joint effort to salvage the
relationship and put it on a forward-looking trajectory.

How far Modi and Obama succeeded, time only will tell. The Indians are
notorious for praising their leaders' 'personal chemistry' with western
statesmen, blithely overlooking that convergence of interests is the
bedrock of inter-state relationships. The sustainability of the
excellent climate in the India-US relations will depend on the
follow-up. What can be said for the present is that there is enormous
interest on both sides to do this, but, equally, there is a sense of
déjà vu among dispassionate onlookers.

The heart of the matter is that the sort of market access that the US is
demanding and the high Indian expectations regarding American
investments are unrealistic in a near term. The testimonies by the IMF
and World Bank that India is on a high growth path exceeding China's
within a year or two must add up - and there is no empirical evidence.
Systemic issues are many, and the international economic environment is
not encouraging. The recovery of the US economy has not stabilized.

Delhi claims that <<investor perception about India has reversed
dramatically after years of stagnation>> - to quote the Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley. But Jaitley also candidly admitted that such optimism is
<<tempered with caution>> as regards the government's ability to deliver.

Regional tensions and fatcats

The only foreign-policy statement to come out of Obama's visit has been
a 'joint strategic vision statement' regarding Asia-Pacific and the
Indian Ocean. Interestingly, the statement had nothing to say regarding
Pakistan, which is an obsessive foreign-policy issue for the Hindu
nationalists who mentor the Modi government. Obama said not a word
regarding Pakistan or its alleged support for terrorism, which is a big
departure from his 2010 visit to India. Profound differences remain
between the two countries regarding Pakistan, the most vexatious
regional issue in Modi's foreign-policy calculus at the moment.

The 'joint strategic statement' turned out to be a rehash of the
positions articulated in the joint statement issued after Modi's visit
to Washington and it, once again, contains a tendentious reference to
the South China Sea. The American side has given the spin that the
Obama-Modi talks on regional issues heavily focused on China's
'assertive' policies.

The pro-American analysts in the Indian media have rushed to the
conclusion that under Modi, India is veering round to <<an eventual
amalgamation of India's Act East (policies in south east Asia) and the
US' Asia pivot>>. Their preposterous thesis is that Modi is jettisoning
India's inhibition about the US' containment strategy against China.

Indeed, the US objective has always been to recruit India in its
containment strategy against China. The idea of a 'quadripartite
alliance' between the US, Japan, Australia and India is at least a
decade old, dating from the high noon of the neocon ideology in the
George W Bush presidency. Obama's former defence secretary Leon Panetta
once famously named India as a 'lynchpin' in the US' rebalance strategy
in Asia.

However, the moment Obama and the spin doctors in his entourage took off
for home, Indian officials scrambled to do fire-fighting, distancing
themselves from their <<strategic misinterpretation>> of the joint
strategic vision statement. According to them, Modi made it clear to
Obama that India's independent foreign policies would not allow any
<<third power>> (read US) to forge a common front against China.

Delhi is anxious that the Americans and their lobbyists in India do not
choreograph Modi's forthcoming visit to China. A senior Indian diplomat
briefed the media that Indian External Affairs Minister is leaving for
China on Friday and on her return, the National Security Advisor will
also travel to Beijing to prepare for Modi's visit. The diplomat has
been quoted as saying, <<President Xi is keen to host him [Modi] in his
hometown Xian>>.

Why are the Americans spreading such <<strategic misinterpretation>> of
Modi's thinking on China? Washington seems acutely conscious that the US
cannot match China as an investor in Modi's 'Make in India' project. The
US' big worry is that if the proposed railway project by China in India
involving $32 billion goes through (on top of the offer made by China
during Xi's visit to India in September on a $20 billion investment plan
to set up industrial parks), the Sino-Indian relationship would
profoundly transform.

The heart of the matter is that Modi's development agenda (on which his
mandate in the 2014 election rests) focuses on the infrastructure and
manufacturing sectors, since they only hold big potential to generate
jobs for India's millions of unemployed youth - and it is China that
makes an ideal partner, given its vast experience in these sectors.

On the other hand, the bottom line has always been that the verve and
swagger of the India-US 'strategic partnership' needs as fodder an
incessant supply of Sino-Indian tensions. Such tensions vitiate the
regional security environment and create acute anxieties in the Indian
mind and in turn would provide the ideal business climate for the
fatcats in the US military-industrial complex. It is a vicious cycle.

The great American fear today is that Modi might break this cycle and
put India-China relations on a predictable footing. From the Chinese
commentaries on Obama's visit, Beijing is aware of the American attempt
to hustle Modi towards the US' rebalance strategy in Asia. And Delhi is
hastening to clarify that proximity to the US will not translate as
alliance against China. An element of strategic ambiguity has appeared.
Much will now depend on the outcome of Modi's forthcoming visit to China.

(5) West's agri-giants snap up Ukraine

Jan 28, '15

By Frederic Mousseau

OAKLAND, United States - At the same time as the United States, Canada
and the European Union announced a set of new sanctions against Russia
in mid-December last year, Ukraine received US$350 million in US
military aid, coming on top of a $1 billion aid package approved by the
US Congress in March 2014.

Western governments' further involvement in the Ukraine conflict signals
their confidence in the cabinet appointed by the new government earlier
in December 2014. This new government is unique given that three of its
most important ministries were granted to foreign-born individuals who
received Ukrainian citizenship just hours before their appointment.

The Ministry of Finance went to Natalie Jaresko, a US-born and educated
businesswoman who has been working in Ukraine since the mid-1990s,
overseeing a private equity fund established by the US government to
invest in the country. Jaresko is also the CEO of Horizon Capital, an
investment firm that administers various Western investments in the country.

As unusual as it may seem, this appointment is consistent with what
looks more like a takeover of the Ukrainian economy by Western
interests. In two reports - "The Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian
Agriculture" and "Walking on the West Side: The World Bank and the IMF
in the Ukraine Conflict" - the Oakland Institute has documented this
takeover, particularly in the agricultural sector.

A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually
to president Viktor Yanukovych's removal from office in February 2014
was his rejection of a European Union Association agreement aimed at
expanding trade and integrating Ukraine with the EU - an agreement that
was tied to a US$17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After the president's departure and the installation of a pro-Western
government, the IMF initiated a reform program that was a condition of
its loan with the goal of increasing private investment in the country.

The package of measures includes reforming the public provision of water
and energy, and, more important, attempts to address what the World Bank
identified as the "structural roots" of the current economic crisis in
Ukraine, notably the high cost of doing business in the country.

The Ukrainian agricultural sector has been a prime target for foreign
private investment and is logically seen by the IMF and World Bank as a
priority sector for reform. Both institutions praise the new
government's readiness to follow their advice.

For example, the foreign-driven agricultural reform roadmap provided to
Ukraine includes facilitating the acquisition of agricultural land,
cutting food and plant regulations and controls, and reducing corporate
taxes and custom duties.

The stakes around Ukraine's vast agricultural sector - the world's
third-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat -
could not be higher. Ukraine is known for its ample fields of rich black
soil, and the country boasts more than 32 million hectares of fertile,
arable land - the equivalent of one-third of the entire arable land in
the European Union.

The maneuvering for control over the country's agricultural system is a
pivotal factor in the struggle that has been taking place over the last
year in the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.

The presence of foreign corporations in Ukrainian agriculture is growing
quickly, with more than 1.6 million hectares signed over to foreign
companies for agricultural purposes in recent years. While Monsanto,
Cargill, and DuPont have been in Ukraine for quite some time, their
investments in the country have grown significantly over the past few years.

Cargill is involved in the sale of pesticides, seeds and fertilizers and
has recently expanded its agricultural investments to include grain
storage, animal nutrition and a stake in UkrLandFarming, the largest
agribusiness in the country.

Similarly, Monsanto has been in Ukraine for years but has doubled the
size of its team over the last three years. In March 2014, just weeks
after Yanukovych was deposed, the company invested $140 million in
building a new seed plant in Ukraine.

DuPont has also expanded its investments and announced in June 2013 that
it too would be investing in a new seed plant in the country.

Western corporations have not just taken control of certain profitable
agribusinesses and agricultural activities, they have now initiated a
vertical integration of the agricultural sector and extended their grip
on infrastructure and shipping.

For instance, Cargill now owns at least four grain elevators and two
sunflower seed processing plants used for the production of sunflower
oil. In December 2013, the company bought a "25% +1 share" in a grain
terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk with a capacity of 3.5
million tonnes of grain per year.

All aspects of Ukraine's agricultural supply chain - from the production
of seeds and other agricultural inputs to the actual shipment of
commodities out of the country - are thus increasingly controlled by
Western firms.

European institutions and the US government have actively promoted this
expansion. It started with the push for a change of government at a time
when president Yanukovych was seen as pro-Russian interests. This was
further pushed, starting in February 2014, through the promotion of a
"pro-business" reform agenda, as described by the US Secretary of
Commerce Penny Pritzker when she met with Prime Minister Arsenly
Yatsenyuk in October 2014.

The European Union and the United States are working hand in hand in the
takeover of Ukrainian agriculture. Although Ukraine does not allow the
production of genetically modified (GM) crops, the Association Agreement
between Ukraine and the European Union, which ignited the conflict that
ousted Yanukovych, includes a clause (Article 404) that commits both
parties to cooperate to "extend the use of biotechnologies" within the

This clause is surprising given that most European consumers reject GM
crops. However, it creates an opening to bring GM products into Europe,
an opportunity sought after by large agro-seed companies such as Monsanto.

Opening up Ukraine to the cultivation of GM crops would go against the
will of European citizens, and it is unclear how the change would
benefit Ukrainians.

It is similarly unclear how Ukrainians will benefit from this wave of
foreign investment in their agriculture, and what impact these
investments will have on the seven million local farmers.

Once they eventually look away from the conflict in the Eastern
"pro-Russian" part of the country, Ukrainians may wonder what remains of
their country's ability to control its food supply and manage the
economy to their own benefit.

As for US and European citizens, will they eventually awaken from the
headlines and grand rhetoric about Russian aggression and human rights
abuses and question their governments' involvement in the Ukraine conflict?

Frederic Mousseau is Policy Director at the Oakland Institute.

Peter Myers