Russia Rushes To Seal Ukraine-Bypassing Gas Pipeline: Lavrov Pays Bulgaria A Visit

Putin chess

Russia Rushes To Seal Ukraine-Bypassing Gas Pipeline: Lavrov Pays Bulgaria A Visit (ZeroHedge, July 7, 2014):

As we remarked two weeks ago, when observing the recent developments surrounding the suddenly all-important South Stream gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine entirely, and instead traversing the Black Sea before crossing Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and terminating in the Austrian central European gas hub of Baumgarten, we said that all of Europe is suddenly focused on if and how Russia will make headway with a project that may be the most important one for not only Europe’s energy future but the impact Russia will continue to have over Germany et al. And of course, Ukraine. Because should Russia find a way to completely bypass Kiev as a traditional transit hub for Russian gas, it would make the country, and its ongoing civil war, completely irrelevant not only for Russia, but worse, for Europe, the IMF, and Ukraine’s staunch western “supporters and allies” as well.

South Stream Map

Showing just how Europe perceives the Russian “South Stream” threat was a comment from a recent NYT article, in which Günther Oettinger, Europe’s top energy official, was quoted as saying that the Ukraine crisis “has slowed down our progress on South Stream considerably… We can’t just give in to the Russians every time.” Alas, since the Russians control the all important gas, Europe has zero choice.

This explains why even as the western media finally remembered over the weekend there was a Ukraine civil war going on following an advance by the Kiev army to retake some rebel strongholds in the Donbas region, with some wondering what if anything Putin would do in retaliation, what Putin, or rather his envoy Sergei Lavrov were actually doing, was completely ignoring the Ukraine situation (where the West has long since conceded the loss of Crimea to the Kremlin) and instead focusing on securing the successful launch of the South Stream (remember: the second South Stream goes online, Ukraine becomes irrelevant). And since Russia already signed another historic agreement with Austria in June, which positioned the AAA-country (with some surprising emerging bank troubles subsequently) squarely against its fellow European peers, it was the turn of the other South Stream countries, namely Bulgaria.

Read moreRussia Rushes To Seal Ukraine-Bypassing Gas Pipeline: Lavrov Pays Bulgaria A Visit

And In Retaliation For Outright EU Stupidity … Russia Reveals ‘Plan B’: Gazprom Says Gas Transit Via Ukraine May Be Stopped Completely

Before:

EU Gives Russia Three Days to De-Escalate Ukraine Crisis, Threatens Sanctions

Again, it’s Ukraine vs East Ukraine, but Russia is now told to solve the problem the U.S. and the EU have created in the first place???

Reader Marilyn commented:

“The EU receives E120 billion a year from Russia. Any threats are hot air, nothing more. They better shut up before they start sounding like the mendacious cries of the US.”

Reader squodgy commented:

“This is blatant intimidation.

Vlad has used International Law to prove his stance in the past.

Western MSM presstitutes ignore the other’s argument.

His only option is to fight fire with fire & cut off the gas completely.”

And as predicted here comes Putin’s retaliation.

And this, unlike the EU’s empty intimidation talk, IS a real threat.

The EU seems to feel an urgency to go back to the Neolithic Age. (And I am not joking!!!)

And that is what the EU will get if it is not stopping to act like the US puppet that it is.

If  the gas transit will be stopped completely, then prepare for energy prices (and food prices) to skyrocket.


Putin chess

Russia Reveals “Plan B”: Gazprom Says Gas Transit Via Ukraine May Be Stopped Completely (ZeroHedge, June 30, 2014):

A few days ago, when we wrote our “explainer” on the need for Russia to have an alternative pathway for its gas, one which bypasses Ukraine entirely and as the current “South Stream” framework is set up, crosses the Black Sea and enters Bulgaria before passing Serbia and Hungary on the way to the Central European energy hub located in Baumgarten, Austria, we said that “one short month after Putin concluded the Holy Grail deal with Beijing, he not only managed to formalize his conquest of Europe’s energy needs with yet another pipeline, one which completely bypasses Ukraine (for numerous reasons but mostly one: call it a Plan B), but scored a massive political victory by creating a fissure in the heart of the Eurozone, after Austria openly defied its European peers and sided with Putin.”

Major_russian_gas_pipelines_to_europe

Today we find just what said Plan B is.

As Itar-Tass reports, citing Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, “Russia’s gas giant Gazprom does not rule out gas transit via Ukraine may be stopped completely.”

Read moreAnd In Retaliation For Outright EU Stupidity … Russia Reveals ‘Plan B’: Gazprom Says Gas Transit Via Ukraine May Be Stopped Completely

Austria Signs Russian Pipeline Deal, Hosts Rare Putin Visit

Austria signs Russian pipeline deal, hosts rare Putin visit (Reuters, June 24, 2014):

VIENNA, June 24 (Reuters) – Austria gave its final approval to a controversial Russian gas pipeline project on Tuesday, defying EU officials and welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin to the neutral country that has been a long-standing energy customer for Moscow.

The chief executives of Russia’s Gazprom and Austria’s OMV sealed the deal to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline to Austria, a staunch defender of the project in the face of opposition from the European Commission.

South Stream, which will cost an estimated $40 billion, is designed to carry Russian gas to the centre of Europe, a continent already dependent on Russia for a third of its gas needs, on a route that bypasses current transit country Ukraine.

Read moreAustria Signs Russian Pipeline Deal, Hosts Rare Putin Visit

Gazprom Ready To Drop Dollar, Settle China Contracts In Yuan Or Rubles

Gazprom Ready To Drop Dollar, Settle China Contracts In Yuan Or Rubles (ZeroHedge, June 26, 2014):

A little over a month ago, when Russia announced the much anticipated “Holy Grail” energy deal with China, some were disappointed that despite this symbolic agreement meant to break the petrodollar’s stranglehold on the rest of the world, neither Russia nor China announced payment terms to be in anything but dollars. In doing so they admitted that while both nations are eager to move away from a US Dollar reserve currency, neither is yet able to provide an alternative. This changed rather dramatically overnight when in a little noticed statement, Gazprom’s CFO Andrey Kruglov uttered the magic words (via Bloomberg):

  • GAZPROM READY TO SETTLE CHINA CONTRACTS IN YUAN OR RUBLES: CFO

In other words just as the US may or may not be preparing to export crude – a step which would weaken the dollar’s reserve status as traditional US oil trading partners will need to find other import customers who pay in non-USD currencies – the world’s two other superpowers are preparing to respond. And once the bilateral trade in Rubles or Renminbi is established, the rest of the energy world will piggyback.

Read moreGazprom Ready To Drop Dollar, Settle China Contracts In Yuan Or Rubles

Russia Says Ukraine Took Gas Despite Cutoff; Sends More Tanks/Troops To Border

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Russia Says Ukraine Took Gas Despite Cutoff; Sends More Tanks/Troops To Border (ZeroHedge, June 23, 2014):

The deadline passed on June 16th for Ukraine’s payment for gas already provided and upfront ‘pre-payments’ for ongoing deliveries. So what the Russian Energy Minister wants to know is how Ukraine took 3.8mcm on June 19th, 4.5mcm on June 20th, and 1mcm on June 21st. It appears Ukraine is claiming the gas supplies are reverse flow from Europe but this has not stopped Russia as The Pentagon reports more Russian troops at the Ukraine border and that they are preparing to send more tanks.

Since the cutoff on June 16th, Ukraine has ‘taken’:

  • 3.8mcm on June 19
  • 4.5mcm June 20
  • 1mcm on June 21

According to Russia’s energy minister.

As it appears Russia sends gas to Europe (via Ukraine) and Ukraine holds on to it – claiming it is “reverse flow.”

Ukraine remains open…(of course)

Read moreRussia Says Ukraine Took Gas Despite Cutoff; Sends More Tanks/Troops To Border

US ‘Ready To Act’ As Russia Looks To Ban US Consultants & Block EU Gas Transit

–  US “Ready To Act” As Russia Looks To Ban US Consultants & Block EU Gas Transit (ZeroHedge, June 19, 2014):

It appears Russia ‘retaliation’ continues for the ‘costs’ imposed by the West on Putin and his people (Russia +28%, S&P +6% since sanctions). Putin looks set to take on both EU and US as RT reports that Russian MPs are preparing a bill to ban the use of US consulting companies in Russia; and then Ukraine’s Naftogaz says Russia’s Gazprom seeks to end its accord on daily gas transit – a move which could threaten EU gas supplies. The US put its best man forward to respond and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew thretatened “US is ready to act” on Russia if Ukraine escalates…

Russia retaliation #1:

Read moreUS ‘Ready To Act’ As Russia Looks To Ban US Consultants & Block EU Gas Transit

Ukraine-Russia Near ‘Serious Conflict’ Following Explosion In Largest European Gas Transit Pipeline

Related info:

Russia Halts Gas Supplies To Ukraine

AND NOW …

Ukraine-Russia Near “Serious Conflict” Following Explosion In Largest European Gas Transit Pipeline (ZeroHedge, June 17, 2014):

With 2 Russian TV journalists killed in recent days and on the heels of Russia’s cutting off Ukraine’s gas supply for non-payment, Interfax is reporting that:

  • *EXPLOSION ON UKRAINE GAS TRANSIT PIPELINE REPORTED: IFX
  • *INTERFAX CITES UKRAINE INTERIOR MINISTRY ON GAS PIPELINE BLAST

Witnesses say flames are reaching 200 metres high. Gazprom shares are tumbling on the news (as should European stocks) and Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Aleksei Pushkov warned relations between Ukraine and Russia have entered a new stage and are “moving closer towards a serious conflict.”

As RT reports,

Read moreUkraine-Russia Near ‘Serious Conflict’ Following Explosion In Largest European Gas Transit Pipeline

Russia Halts Gas Supplies To Ukraine

Gazprom-Logo

Russia Halts Gas Supplies To Ukraine (ZeroHedge, June 16, 2014):

After weeks of worthless foreplay whose outcome was known from the beginning despite just as worthless EU middleman Oettinger assuring everyone a deal was imminent any second now, overnight we got the long-anticipated mutual defection outcome and – as we warned – negotiations between Gazprom and Ukraine/EU fell apart with the Russian energy giant halting supplies to Ukraine unless Kiev prepays any and all gas deliveries from now on. Gazprom said it hadn’t received payment for a debt it put at $4.458 billion by the Monday deadline it had set. Ukraine will receive gas only in the amounts it has paid for,” Gazprom said.

Read moreRussia Halts Gas Supplies To Ukraine

Ukraine PM Warns ‘Prepare For Russian Gas Cutoff On Monday’

–  Ukraine PM Warns “Prepare For Russian Gas Cutoff On Monday” (ZeroHedge, June 13, 2014):

Having set a deadline of June 16 (next Monday) for pre-payment of gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine, it appears Ukraine officials are willing to take the pain of no energy instead of paying what Gazprom is asking:

  • UKRAINE PM ORDERS GOVERNMENT, REGIONAL AUTHORITIES TO PREPARE ENERGY SECTOR FOR RUSSIAN GAS CUTS FROM MONDAY

The last negotiation had Ukraine willing to pay $326 and Russia asking $385, which Ukraine said “was not a market price.” There are more problems for Europe though as Ukraine’s PM has ordered the national regulator to revise ‘transportation tariffs’ for Russian gas via Ukraine (i.e. to Europe).

No deal…

Read moreUkraine PM Warns ‘Prepare For Russian Gas Cutoff On Monday’

Russia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar

Vladimir-Putin

Russia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar (Economic Collapse, June 10, 2014):

The Russians are actually making a move against the petrodollar.  It appears that they are quite serious about their de-dollarization strategy.  The largest natural gas producer on the planet, Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from U.S. dollars to euros.  And Gazprom would have never done this without the full approval of the Russian government, because the Russian government holds a majority stake in Gazprom.  There hasn’t been a word about this from the big mainstream news networks in the United States, but this is huge.  When you are talking about Gazprom, you are talking about a company that is absolutely massive.  It is one of the largest companies in the entire world and it makes up 8 percent of Russian GDP all by itself.  It holds 18 percent of the natural gas reserves of the entire planet, and it is also a very large oil producer.  So for Gazprom to make a move like this is extremely significant.

Read moreRussia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar

90% Of Gazprom Clients Have ‘De-Dollarized’, Will Transact In Euro & Renminbi

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–  90% Of Gazprom Clients Have “De-Dollarized”, Will Transact In Euro & Renminbi (ZeroHedge, June 7, 2014):

Following Obama and Putin’s “caught on tape” meeting Vine’d by the French President, we can’t help but wonder if the Russian leaders comments were something akin to “this is not over yet.” With “De-Dollarization” efforts already broadly under discussion, ITAR-TASS reports that Gazprom had signed additional agreements for clients to switch from dollars to euros and renminbi, “nine of ten consumer had agreed to switch.”

Via ITAR-TASS,

Read more90% Of Gazprom Clients Have ‘De-Dollarized’, Will Transact In Euro & Renminbi

​Yatsenyuk Demands $1 Billion Worth Of Gas ‘STOLEN’ By Russia In Crimea

​Yatsenyuk demands $1bn worth of gas ‘stolen’ by Russia in Crimea (RT, May 27, 2014):

Russia owes Ukraine about 2.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas worth around $1 billion, which was “stolen together with Crimea,” self-appointed Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Tuesday.

We have no idea what he means,” Reuters quotes Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov as saying.

Earlier on Tuesday Yatsenyuk said he was waiting for a reply from Russia on his claim 2.2 bcm of natural gas was “stolen” by Russia when it took over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and consequently local gas supplier Chornomornafrogaz (Black Sea Gas). At Gazprom prices the value of the gas is about $1 billion, Yatsenyuk calculated.

Read more​Yatsenyuk Demands $1 Billion Worth Of Gas ‘STOLEN’ By Russia In Crimea

Putin on Gazprom-China gas deal: Russia has enough resources for 50 years

Putin on Gazprom-China gas deal: Russia has enough resources for 50 years (RT, May 23, 2014):

Russia has more than the estimated 3 trillion cubic metres in natural gas reserves in its gasfields, enough to last for 50 years, Russia’s President has said commenting on the 30-year $400 billion gas deal with China.

“This deal is for 30 years, while I think there’s enough supply for 50 years. They are underestimated. Extractable reserves at the two deposits that we would introduce – Kovykta and Chayanda – are 1.5 trillion cubic metres of natural gas reserves each. Which means in total there’s 3 trillion. In reality, I repeat, there’s more,” said President Vladimir Putin talking to the representatives of global businesses at the 18th International Economic Forum in St Petersburg.

Read morePutin on Gazprom-China gas deal: Russia has enough resources for 50 years

Russia And China Finally Sign Historic $400 Billion ‘Holy Grail’ Gas Deal

Russia And China Finally Sign Historic $400 Billion “Holy Grail” Gas Deal (ZeroHedge, May, 21, 2014):

There was some trepidation yesterday when after the first day of Putin’s visit to China the two countries did not announce the completion of the long-awaited “holy grail” gas deal, and fears that it may get scuttled over price negotiations. It wasn’t: moments ago Russia’s Gazprom and China’s CNPC announced, that after a decade of negotiations, the two nations signed a 30 year gas contract amounting to around $400 billion. And with the west doing all it can to alienate Russia and to force it into China’s embrace, this is merely the beginning of what will be a far closer commercial (and political) relationship between China and Russia.

Gazprom deal

So far there have been no public pricing details on the deal which accrording to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller is a “commercial secret”, and which is believed to involve Russia supplying 38 billion cubic metres of gas per year to China via a new eastern pipeline linking the countries.

Read moreRussia And China Finally Sign Historic $400 Billion ‘Holy Grail’ Gas Deal

Gazprom To Sign Monumental Gas Deal With China

Gazprom to sign monumental gas deal with China  (RT, May 19, 2014):

Russia and China are due to sign a long-awaited gas contract on Tuesday, in which Beijing could pay up to $456 billion for Russian gas over the next 30 years.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Shanghai on May 20-21, Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are due to sign a deal for 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to power China’s growing economy, starting in 2018.

Read moreGazprom To Sign Monumental Gas Deal With China

Why Hasn’t The U.S. Gone After Gazprom?

Gazprom-Logo

Why Hasn’t The U.S. Gone After Gazprom? (OILPRICE, May 1, 2014):

Amidst the deepening war of words over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, U.S. President Barack Obama on April 28 added more Russian individuals and companies to a sanctions list that already included influential members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and Bank Rossiya, which has close ties to the Russian leadership. The new list freezes the assets of Igor Sechin, head of Russia’s major oil company, Rosneft, six other individuals and 17 companies.

Significantly, the new U.S. list does not include Alexei Miller, CEO of the Russian natural gas state monopoly, Gazprom.

Read moreWhy Hasn’t The U.S. Gone After Gazprom?

Meanwhile, Gazprom Sends Ukraine A New Invoice … $3.49 BILLION! And Its Due The 7th Day Of May!

Gazprom-Logo

Meanwhile, Gazprom Sends Ukraine A New Invoice (ZeroHedge, April 30, 2014):

As the day of the IMF’s release of funds to Ukraine draws near – solving all their problems with yet more debt, we are told to believe – Russia’s Gazprom has gently reminded the Ukrainian government that it owes them… $3.49 billion! and its due the 7th day of May!

  • *GAZPROM SAYS UKRAINE OWES $3.49B FOR GAS AS OF APRIL 30

As Bloomberg reports,

Read moreMeanwhile, Gazprom Sends Ukraine A New Invoice … $3.49 BILLION! And Its Due The 7th Day Of May!

Russia Warns Of Europe Gas Delivery Cut Over Ukraine Debt

Russia warns of Europe gas delivery cut over Ukraine debt (PressTV, April 27, 2014):

Russia says Ukraine’s failure to pay its growing gas debt may impact gas delivery to European countries.

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Saturday that Moscow may be forced to cut off natural gas supplies to Europe over Ukraine’s mounting unpaid gas debt.

According to Novak, Ukraine currently owes Russia over USD 2.230 billion in unpaid gas bills and the debt is to rise, as the figure does not include 1.3 billion for deliveries made in April.

Read moreRussia Warns Of Europe Gas Delivery Cut Over Ukraine Debt

Tit For Tat: Ukraine Blocks Crimea Water Supply With Russia Set To Halt Ukraine Gas

Tit For Tat: Ukraine Blocks Crimea Water Supply With Russia Set To Halt Ukraine Gas (ZeroHedge, April 26, 2014):

With a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis now officially out of the window as an option to de-escalate the second Cold War, and yet with both sides still leery of engaging in an overt military campaign, there is one last trump card both sides can play – natural resources. Specifically, gas for Russia, and water for Ukraine. Not surprisingly both are in play now.

Moments ago, Russia casually hinted that Ukraine should use part of the IMF aid (which has been promised in virtually all increments between $1 billion up to $18 billion, but at last check not one penny has been wired) to repay Gazprom’s debt, which is anywhere between the $2.2 billion Gazprom has said Ukraine is delinquent on for 2014 gas supplies, and an additional $11.4 billion which is what Gazprom said Ukraine’s state-owned energy firm Naftogaz owes for unused take-or-pay arrangements in 2013.

And here Russia has laid a rather unpleasant, for the interim Kiev government, covenant-trapping Easter egg. As the WSJ explained previously, the additional cash demand adds pressure on Ukraine’s already battered economy and finances, “because its ballooning debt gives Moscow the right to demand an early repayment of a loan. That could theoretically cause a domino effect on about $20 billion of Ukraine sovereign and quasi-sovereign debt.”

Read moreTit For Tat: Ukraine Blocks Crimea Water Supply With Russia Set To Halt Ukraine Gas

US Financial Showdown With Russia Is More Dangerous Than It Looks, For Both Sides

US financial showdown with Russia is more dangerous than it looks, for both sides (Telegraph, April 16, 2014):

The US Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world’s biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists and a first-strike nuclear arsenal

The United States has constructed a financial neutron bomb. For the past 12 years an elite cell at the US Treasury has been sharpening the tools of economic warfare, designing ways to bring almost any country to its knees without firing a shot.

The strategy relies on hegemonic control over the global banking system, buttressed by a network of allies and the reluctant acquiescence of neutral states. Let us call this the Manhattan Project of the early 21st century.

“It is a new kind of war, like a creeping financial insurgency, intended to constrict our enemies’ financial lifeblood, unprecedented in its reach and effectiveness,” says Juan Zarate, the Treasury and White House official who helped spearhead policy after 9/11.

‘More Sanctions Against Russia Is Mutually Assured Economic Destruction’

‘More sanctions against Russia is mutually assured economic destruction’ (RT, April 18, 2014):

Patrick L Young is expert in global financial markets working in multiple disciplines, ranging from trading independently to running exchanges.

At this juncture more sanctions is ultimately economic suicide, and mutually assured economic destruction, global financial markets expert Patrick Young told RT.

“The West is not remotely secure enough in its own economic recovery for the economy to actually withstand sanctions,” Patrick added.

“Stage one, stage two sanctions really don’t demand too much, they are the equivalent in naval warfare of firing a shot across the bows of another ship in order to warn them that there could be some other problems ahead,” he said.

On Thursday the President Barack Obama said that his administration is prepared to take further actions against Russia if the Geneva agreement concerning the crisis in Ukraine fails to bear fruit.

Patrick Young believes, the US is pursuing its own interests pressing with threats of more sanctions on Moscow.

Read more‘More Sanctions Against Russia Is Mutually Assured Economic Destruction’

US Pays Half Of Gazprom’s Overdue Invoice With $1 Billion Ukraine Loan Guarantee

US Pays Half Of Gazprom’s Overdue Invoice With $1 Billion Ukraine Loan Guarantee (Zerohedge, April 14, 2014):

With Ukraine no longer paying for Russian gaz, and with Gazprom making it clear Kiev has to a) first pay the overdue $2+ billion in invoice and then b) prepay some $5 billion in gas until the end of the year of Europe gets it, it was only a matter of time before the US Treasury stepped in and paid off part or all of Gazprom’s demands. That time is now, when moments ago Jack Lew announced a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine – very much the same way that the US provided billions in loan guarnatees for the now long overthrown Mursi regime in Egypt. And in other news, many more “costly” and “damaging” US sanctions are surely headed Russia’s way any second now.

From the Treasury:

Treasury Secretary Lew Announces Signing Of $1 Billion U.S. Loan Guarantee Agreement For Ukraine

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced the signing of a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement for Ukraine.  This guarantee, when completed, will complement the Government of Ukraine’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform program and underscores the United States’ commitment to Ukraine.

Read moreUS Pays Half Of Gazprom’s Overdue Invoice With $1 Billion Ukraine Loan Guarantee

Ukraine Misses Deadline To Pay Russia’s Gazprom Gas Debt

Ukraine misses deadline to pay Russia’s Gazprom gas debt (ITV News, April 13, 2014):

If you’ve ever been in arrears on your gas bill you will know it’s in everyone’s interests to come to some sort of agreement with your supplier. But Ukraine and Russia seem to be struggling.

Ukraine owes Russia $2.1 billion (£1.2 billion) for gas and counting. More correctly, it owes that rather staggering sum of money to Gazprom, the world’s largest gas company which is owned by the Russian state.

Read moreUkraine Misses Deadline To Pay Russia’s Gazprom Gas Debt

Ukraine Sends Special Forces To ‘Deal’ With Separatists Who Take Over Another East Ukraine City

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Ukraine Sends Special Forces To “Deal” With Separatists Who Take Over Another East Ukraine City (ZeroHedge, April 12, 2014):

Update: The regional police chief of the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk said on Saturday he was quitting his post, bowing to demands from pro-Russian protesters. Above the police headquarters, the Ukrainian flag was no longer flying, and was replaced with a separatist flag, according to a Reuters witness. “In accordance with your demands I am stepping down,” police chief Kostyantyn Pozhydayev told protesters.

So, one down?

* * *

While the primary story regarding Ukraine remains the stand off between Kiev and the Kremlin over nat Gazprom’s gas deliveries and Kiev’s overdue, and as of today – officially halted payments – not a weekend passes without some city in eastern Ukraine falling to what are now called “pro-Russian separatists” and this Saturday is no different. While last week it was the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donestk and Kharkiv that saw their government building taken over and occupied by the “separatists”, today it was the turn of Slaviansk, where masked men armed with pistols and rifles stood guard near the police station as hundreds of locals gathered around, some building barricades with car tyres.

According to Reuters, the masked men were wearing orange and black ribbons, a symbol of the Soviet victory in World War II that has been adopted by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Slaviansk is in the Donetsk region about 150 km (90 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border. Pro-Russian groups have also occupied public buildings in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and are demanding autonomy from Kiev.

Read moreUkraine Sends Special Forces To ‘Deal’ With Separatists Who Take Over Another East Ukraine City

Europe Folds As Putin Tells It To Pay Ukraine’s Gazprom Bill, Or Else

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Europe Folds As Putin Tells It To Pay Ukraine’s Gazprom Bill, Or Else (ZeroHedge, April 11, 2014):

Another day ending in “y” means another day in which Putin plays the G(roup of most insolvent countries)-7 like a fiddle.

The latest: Europe should provide aid to Ukraine to ensure uninterrupted natural-gas deliveries to the region, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said as reported by Bloomberg.

Read moreEurope Folds As Putin Tells It To Pay Ukraine’s Gazprom Bill, Or Else