PM Borisov’s pet project – the Balkan Gas Hub has risen in prominence after his talks with President Trump. Not sure the US President got into the story behind Bulgaria’s pretense to become a regional gas hub, but good intentions and promises were in abundance. The adopted Strategic Partnership Framework document states that “our shared goal is for Bulgaria to become a true gas hub and a key source of regional energy security, free of monopolists, foreign or domestic, and operating on market principles.” Nothing specific or imminent insofar as LNG contracts boosting gas liquidity for the Balkan Gas Hub is concerned. The bottom line – Russian gas will continue its monopoly unabated. The Bulgarian State trader Bulgargas has no intention of replicating Polish, Greek, Ukrainian, Baltic,
The first round of Ukrainegate impeachment proceedings drew an audience of 13.1 million viewers in the United States. While not an insignificant figure, it’s important to note that this is down 32 percent from the 19 million viewers that tuned in for James Comey’s testimony during the nascent stage of the Russiagate proceedings. It seems more likely than not that this difference in viewership is partially due to an American public that is getting tired of the immutable disdain the left has for President Trump and anything he touches. The left regards Trump as evil incarnate. There is no doubt Impeachment would result in an immense amount of compensatory satisfaction in the minds of those who were severely let down in 2016. However, even if impeached by
The victory of Vetevendosje, the Movement for Self-Determination, in Kosova’s October elections has generated concern about the future of the planned talks with Serbia. However, the new government in Prishtina may actually provide much needed realism in the revived American approach to the most persistent frozen dispute. The White House is seeking results in the Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue before the 2020 presidential elections. President Donald Trump wants to claim a historic foreign policy success in the Balkans and lay the groundwork for the withdrawal of remaining American soldiers. Together with troop evacuations from Syria and Afghanistan, he can then declare during the election campaign that he is finally ending America’s “endless wars.” In addition to the responsibilities of Matt Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the West
Putting citizenship up for sale is a controversial endeavor. Some natural-born citizens of a country might revolt against the idea of wealthy foreign investors purchasing what is essentially their birthright. Others may be opposed to the possibility of Chinese or nationals of another state pouring into their own country. There are also geopolitical risks to weigh when a country implements a citizenship by investment (CBI) program. Some existing CBI programs, for instance, have lured Russian oligarchs. Notably, aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, purchased Cypriot, and hence EU, citizenship through the CBI program in Cyprus. Reuters reported earlier this month that Iranian nationals are making use of Turkey’s recently revamped economic citizenship program to dodge U.S. sanctions. Additionally, there are
Shortly after the October 20th visit of the head of Russia’s Civil Intelligence Sergey Naryshkin, an S-400 division and Panzer rocket-artillery system arrived in Serbia. They are supposed to take part in the second part of the joint military drills ‘Slavic shield – 2019’ that will span October 23-29th. The news generated fresh concerns about a possible permanent deployment of the S-400, leading to widespread geopolitical repercussions. More than 200 Serbian military experts were flown to Russia two months ago to take part in the first leg of the ‘Slavic Shield-2019’ military drills in the region of Astrakhan, which included training and live-fire tests with S-400. This summer, NATO-member Romania banned the river transport of Russian armored vehicles to Serbia. Russia then flew them over NATO member
The effect of LNG and newly sourced gas in the Southern Gas Corridor will spread across the CEE and the SEE and put the heat on Russia’s gas monopoly. In other words, if hidden and overt preferential treatment for Gazexport is revoked, this will result in lower prices or market shares for the incumbent monopoly. Reverse supplies via the Trans-Balkan Pipeline could start as early as January 1st, 2020, bringing gas from Turkey, Greece, and the Southern Gas Corridor to clients in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Slovakia even before Turk Stream gas crosses the Bulgarian border. Demand for Nord Stream-2 south and eastbound gas exports via Opal and Eugal gas pipelines should wane with lower price differentials amid rising competition from the Southern Gas Corridor and LNG.
Sanctions on their own won’t stop Nord Stream-2, the market, and the EU directives can obliterate the effect sought by the Kremlin and turn what President Putin perceives as an asset into a liability. Gas pipelines are not a threat – politicians like Putin certainly are. The national security line in addressing the issues starts from the basics – Is Russia a threat? Perceptions matter. For many politicians in old Europe, located in offices at a safe distance from Russia, the threat notion is vague, remote, and academic. They do not discern Putin’s Russia as a threat. Perception matter. For many politics in old Europe. For the Austrian business, born and bred in brokering deals between Russia and Eastern Europe, this is routine and legitimate “business”.
Democratic presidential hopefuls in the United States are finally beginning to get serious. By serious I mean they’re starting to drop out. The crowded field that featured over 20 candidates at the beginning of the year lost five in the past two months due to inadequate support and inability to reach necessary donor requirements to appear in the democratic primary debates. This is the only measure of the party getting serious however, the candidates who still believe they have a chance at running against Donald Trump continue to make normal people scratch our heads with bizarre stories about run ins with gang leaders like “Corn Pop”, praise for parents who use a nine year old transgender child to virtue signal, promises to “tell the public about aliens,” and claims