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Et Tu, Mullah? ...Did Iran Just Knife Putin in the Back?

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Cross-posted from Counterpunch

From Vladimir Putin and the Invasion of the Ukraine
Vladimir Putin and the Invasion of the Ukraine
(image by YouTube)

On Thursday, Ukraine's parliament passed a law that will allow foreign investors to lease up to 49 percent of Ukraine's transit pipelines and underground gas storage facilities. The bill, which had failed to pass just weeks earlier, was approved by the slimmest of margins -- 2 votes -- suggesting that there might have been some arm twisting or bribery behind the scenes. The new law is a victory for the Obama administration and western elites who want to control the flow of gas from Russia to the EU, set prices, and make sure that transactions continue to be denominated in dollars. Here's a little more background from an article in Reuters:

"Ukraine's parliament approved a law on Thursday to allow gas transit facilities to be leased on a joint venture basis with participation from firms in the European Union or United States....The government has said the joint venture will bring in investment and remove the need for the South Stream pipeline, which Russia's Gazprom is building to take gas to southeastern Europe across the Black Sea, avoiding Ukraine.

"If South Stream is built, it threatens to deprive Ukraine's badly strained budget of the transit fees that it currently receives from Russia for gas heading towards Europe.

"The EU imports 30 percent of its natural gas needs from Russia, and about half of that comes via Ukraine, with some already having been diverted through the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea." ("Ukrainian parliament backs bill to open gas pipelines to EU, U.S. firms," The Star)

You can see that the bloody, fratricidal conflict in Ukraine has nothing to do with democracy, sovereignty or even "evil" Putin. It's all about gas and pipelines. It's all part of Washington's grand plan to put a wedge between Russia and the EU, control the flow of vital resources, and establish NATO bases on Russia's western flank. The fact that the article mentions South Stream is particularly revealing. The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to sabotage South Stream so that Russia will be unable to bypass troublemaking Ukraine and sell its gas directly to countries across Europe. (Here's a map of South Stream.)

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Washington doesn't want free trade between neighbors. Washington wants every drop of Russian gas to pass through its toll booth so it can maintain a stranglehold on Europe's economy and on Moscow's revenues. Here's more on South Stream from Bloomberg:

"The $46 billion South Stream project, spearheaded by OAO Gazprom, is on hold and will probably remain in limbo for years as Russia continues to foment armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the EU retaliates with bans, Eurasia Group said.

"That means the war-torn country will remain a key transit point for about half of Gazprom's shipments to Europe, according to the New York-based risk research group. The EU previously had mixed positions on South Stream. With Russian troops massing near the Ukraine border, the bloc now has little choice but to stand united in opposition.

"'There's no way Europe is going to put South Stream negotiations back on the table now, given the larger geopolitical context of the Ukraine crisis,' Emily Stromquist, a Eurasia analyst in London, said in an interview.

"The proposed 2,446-kilometer (1,520-mile) pipeline would run under the Black Sea and enter the EU in Bulgaria. That would end Gazprom's dependence on the Ukrainian gas-transit system." ("Putin's Pipeline Bypassing Ukraine Is at Risk Amid Conflict," Bloomberg)

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So, you see, the US is using every trick in the book to prevent Russia from selling its gas to the EU.

But, why?

Because the US is left out, that's why. Washington doesn't want what's best for the EU or Russia. Washington want what's best for Washington. What they want is to pivot to Asia by pitting Moscow against Brussels, thus, creating the pretext for deploying cat's-paw NATO to Ukraine so they can point their missiles at the Russian capital and bully everyone in the region. That's the plan.

By the way, the claim that "Russia is massing troops by the Ukrainian border" is nonsense. An International team of inspectors was sent to Russia to check things out and here's what they found:

"'No instances of violations by Russia along the Ukrainian border had been registered by the inspectors,' the ministry said. 'The last four months have witnessed 18 separate inspections along the Ukrainian border with the Russian Federation, all in line with the Vienna Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna agreement of 2011.'" (RT)

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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