SPIEF — St. Petersburg in the heart of the action: Escobar

The dogs of western fear and sanctions bark, while the Eurasian caravan passes.

And no caravanserai could possibly compete with the 19th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Thousands of global business leaders – including Europeans, but not Americans; after all, President Putin is “the new Hitler” – representing over 1,000 international companies/corporations, including the CEOs of BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, hit town in style.

Fascinating panels all around – including discussions on the BRICS; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); the New Silk Road(s); the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU); and of course the theme of all themes, “The Making of the Asia-Pacific Century: Rebalancing East,” with former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Predictably, there’s been plenty of anticipation regarding the BRICS New Development Bank, with big news coming next month at the BRICS summit in Ufa. Brazilian Paulo Nogueira Batista, the new vice-president of the bank, looks forward to the first meeting of the governors.

And on another key theme — bypassing the US dollar — it was up to Anatoliy Aksakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship, to cut to the chase; “We need to transition to conducting mutual settlements in national currencies, and we believe that all the conditions are already in place for this.”

The action was not only rhetorical. Here’s just a fraction of the deals clinched at SPIEF. Predictably, it’s been a Pipelineistan show all around.

– The pipes for the Turkish Stream pipeline under the Black Sea will start to be laid down this month, or at latest by July, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

– Gazprom’s CEO Aleksey Miller and Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis practically clinched the extension of Turkish Stream to Greece. They are “preparing an appropriate intergovernmental memorandum,” according to Gazprom.

– Gazprom also announced it will build a new double pipeline from Russia to Germany, across the Baltic Sea, in partnership with Germany’s E.ON, Anglo-Dutch Shell and Austria’s OMV.

In another crucial Eurasian front, India signed a framework agreement to create a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union. Indian Minister of Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman was euphoric: “The two regions are big, anything done together should naturally lead to bigger outcomes.”

Oh, and those were the days of Bandar Bush threatening to unleash jihadis on Russia.

Instead, a remarkable meeting took place, between Putin and Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince and defense minister (the actual conductor of the war on Yemen). This was the logical conclusion of Putin being in touch, for weeks, with the new master of the House of Saud, King Salman.

The House of Saud politely spun it as a discussion on “relations and aspects of cooperation between the two friendly countries.” Facts on the ground included Russia and Saudi Arabia’s oil ministers discussing a broad cooperation agreement; the signing of six nuclear technology agreements; and the Supreme Imponderable; Putin and the deputy crown prince discussing oil prices. Could this be the end of the Saudi-led oil price war?

If that was not enough, on the Asian front the superstar executive chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, went no holds barred to say: “It is high time for market players to invest in Russia.” Beijing, by the way, currently estimates the value of signed and almost signed agreements with Russia at a whopping $1 trillion. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov preferred to hold a “humbler” estimate.

Well, if only other sanctioned and “isolated” nations – because of their “aggression” – could be capable of such a business performance.

And where were the Masters?

Before the St. Petersburg forum, Putin was delivering an invariable message every time he met a western leader. He would talk about bilateral trade, and then remark things could be way, way better. At the forum, it’s beyond evident that the EU’s policy of sanctioning Russia is a disaster – whatever the European Council decides next week.

Those masters of Kafkaesque bureaucracy at the European Commission (EC) keep swearing Europe is not suffering. Who’re you going to believe? EC bureaucrats who only care about their fat retirement pensions, or this Austrian study?

And then there was The Big Meeting on the sidelines of SPIEF: Putin with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The question here is not Greece becoming a BRICS member tomorrow, for instance. Yves Smith at her Naked Capitalism blog may have succinctly nailed it; “The objective risk of a new Greece-Russia alliance … is whether Europeans are worried enough about this risk to change course.”

There’s no evidence – yet – there will be a change of course. Iron Chancellor Merkel is now openly brandishing the Russia card – as in Moscow getting a foothold in the EU — to keep other EU nations in tune with the German austerity obsession.

As for the Last Word at the forum, it was hard to beat Tsipras; Europe “should stop considering itself the centre of the universe, it should understand that the center of world economic development is shifting to other regions.”

So were there any real Masters of the Universe present at SPIEF?

In the real world, there are a number of institutions and conferences that serve as the basis for “coordination” policies. But the Masters of the Universe are not there. They pull the strings of the marionettes that attend the meetings — and then whatever they decided is coordinated below.

Putin did not miss anything by being snubbed at the G7 in the Bavarian Alps (actually G1 + “junior partners”). He would be meeting with figureheads, anyway.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), featuring the key central bankers, they meet once a month for “coordination purposes.” The Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission, and Davos also meet for coordination purposes. A case can be made that SPIEF is now the key coordination forum for Eurasia. Masters of the Universe – real or self-perceived – may snub it at their own peril.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Categories: AT Top Writers, Empire of Chaos, Pepe Escobar

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  • Double Standard

    Pepe ,the world of understanding geopolitics would be a very very sad place without your brilliant and insightful analysis.

  • Skalla

    I love this column. It should be compulsory reading for all EU “leaders” !…

  • teddyfromcd

    how true.

    it is of course an unnecessarily sad place – BECAUSE of the US empire…which will go down in history as the greatest and most exceptional ABERRATION of great evil among nation — presenting itself as THE KING of obstacles to global peace and harmony.

    many thinkers and writers have said that the general trend of human history has been towards greater understanding and co-existence and cooperation.
    that conflicts are in fact more ‘localized’ than being great wars…and many ways can be found to solve them and save energy and human ingenuity towards solving real challenges of existence and sustainability.

    this IS proven by the coming together of such great nations – and rivals — as china and russia , and even efforts between india and china. etc…

    the ANOMALY in all of this is the BLOODTHIRSTY, narcissistic, selfishness and greed of the american empire whose only true ‘strength’ is DESTRUCTION . ..whether it gets what it wants or not. either way — it DESTROYS.

  • The notion that the United States – even with the aid of its vassals here in Europe, whose countries are suffering greatly due to US policies, but whose leaders seem to see no alternative but to bend the knee to Washington – can «isolate» Russia is simply absurd. The world is a larger place than the current perspective from the White House – or should I say, K Street ? – seems to understand….


  • Infidel007

    Oh come on get off your high hobby horse. Stalin killed tens of millions of Russians and Mao killed what 50-60 million Chinese. This was done without the assistance of the evil American Empire. , Us evil Americans created the world wide web, electricity, modern aviation, TV, ect the list goes on. What utter nonsense. Yes America has made many mistakes, but to paint us as the evil empire akin to Nazi Germany is nonsense as well.

    The evil American empire and Western civilization itself created the modern world as we know it. As it stands now we are being sold out and some of those doing the selling are responsible for many of our bad policies. Just imagine if America never intervened in WW2, Japan would have conquered China, and Nazi Germany much of Europe and beyond. The complete demonetization of America is idiotic. The twin bastions of freedom and Democracy Russia and China are the hope for humanity… Right.

  • Steven Conn

    your expertise in history is off. US role in W.W.II in Europe is rather exaggerated. Study Eastern Front battles, deployed forces, and look at the sequence of Soviet victories and actual US involvement. As for Stalin killing tens of millions of “Russians” (actually Soviet citizens), this is another exaggeration and gross simplification. I agree that US has played a role that was not always negative and destructive, but lets not falsify history at the same time.

  • Skalla

    If Merkel had any sense, she would side with Russia, as this is what most German businessmen want anyway. The future is with China and Russia, not with the US which is slowly imploding because of the unfairness of its social and economic fabric. Only the brutality of its police inside and its army outside keeps the lid on this overstressed pressure cooker.

  • omas bioladen

    I missed the state of the art decisoinmkaker Bilderberger conference. The club of losers not even being mentioned as conspiracy theory makes the freemason rats really angry.

  • Skalla

    Infidel007 is a fanatic. He will not listen to logical arguments. He will only believe in his own perception, which is colored by his faith. We need to show some tolerance …

  • Skalla, I don’t think it’s «sense» that Frau Merkel lacks – her biography would indicate that she’s not unintelligent – but rather courage. For a leader of a country like Germany to stand up to the United States requires, I suggest, an extraordinary degree of the latter. If the United States can exert as much economic pressure on Russia (not least via Germany) as it is presently doing, consider the amount of pressure it could bring to bear on Germany, eight percent of the exports of which export-dependent country go to the United States. I submit that Frau Merkel, like no doubt, other EU leaders, doesn’t dare cross the United States, no matter how much she – and many others as well – might like to do so….

    Prudence is a necessary quality of statesmanship – but it also requires courage….


  • Infidel007

    How am I a fanatic? Did you read some of teddy’s posts? I’d argue the fanatic would be a person whose posting history mostly how evil the U.S is, and how we are the demonic empire from the underworld. I’ve read a bunch of your posts too, another anti American all the wall type. Your views on America are way off too. Another anti American fanatic.

  • Infidel007

    So we didn’t defeat Japan more or less by ourselves? How am I falsifying history? I understand others helped to a lesser extent, but when it came to fighting Japan we did the vast majority of the fighting I understand the Soviets who were allied with Hitler at one time took the brunt of the German invasion, and imagine if he didn’t have to fight a war on multiple fronts, especially against the U.S,

    I don’t think you would have won. I believe you’re the biased one. If you want to compare what nation contributed to the betterment of the world, the U.S did by a large margin. Stalin was the cause of tens of millions of deaths, the amount differs but even using the conservative estimate of 20 million, that’s still a lot of senseless death. How do you feel about the former Soviet Union, and communism itself?

    Also Putin isn’t the saint many here portray him as, he is just another gangster in power. Don’t get me wrong most of the leaders in power these days are gangsters in one form or another, but people here treat him like he is the 2nd coming.

  • Konstantin Paramonov

    people here are kremlin bots, don’t waste your time on them

  • Infidel007

    I know he had 3 posts one of which was in Russian. A throw away Trollski account is my guess. I didn’t outright accuse him though due to entertaining the possibility of him just having creating a new account.

    Does Putin pay by the post like Soros, or does he pay an hourly wage for his trolls? Is this information considered a state secret, or is there any information out there about this? I’m quite interested in this piece of data.

    Would any Putin Trollski’s care to tell me if this doesn’t break some kind of confidentiality agreement with your employer. I’m not trying to get a blue collar working man or women fired, or sent to a Gulag, or poisoned, but if you can tell me I’d appreciate it.

  • Qiaobao

    I think Pepe Escobar and David Goldman deserve to be the most commented writers of this website

  • AriusArmenian

    Since 1990 US policy has directly murdered about three millions and still counting: one-half million in Iraq in the 1990’s, another one million in 2000 to 2008, and another million since 2008, and this doesn’t count other untold thousands in other regions.

    As an Armenian everywhere I look from the Balkans to Ukraine to the Middle East to East Asia I see the US aiding and abetting jihadis and fascists and mass murder. I see the blood of my people dripping from the hands of US leaders.

    For the US and its Anglosphere and EU vassals I have nothing but loathing and hatred. The West is the past that will drown in a super debt cycle collapse, while the East is the future that is being born. The West will attempt to stillbirth the East but will not succeed.

  • AriusArmenian

    Steven Conn, you can’t argue with someone that stands on the past and sees everything in our time through the filter of past. His America no longer exists.

  • Skalla

    You certainly have a point there, but everyone can see that what the EU leaders are presently doing under the diktat of the US is a dead-end. They are betraying our nations. If she is under such pressure and cannot act as she would see fit, then she should step down and explain why …

  • Now that – resigning and explaining why – would really take guts !… 😉


  • Catine

    Skalla, only for EU “leader’s?” OMG and Heavens Above, Pepe has been, ruthlessly, telling the
    world for a long time what is “acomin” but only
    now, Uncle Sam mentions BRIC but faintly.

  • Catine

    Oh my, Henri,these posting from
    the reader’s also can be so didactic. How well informed many are, especially, here. Amazing!

  • Cronos Sin Apellidos

    Don´t see too many problems with Russia for now. Greek and his next move are more interesting for the time being. Really hope they don`t accept EU austerity impositions.

  • godadada


    I always read eagerly whatever you write.

  • Dan Kuhn

    I see this morning that the EU is already making nice to Greece. I guess a tiny move by Russia brought this about. We won´t be hearing any more tough talk about debt. The Greeks just like the Russians faced with an overbearing EU and US showed that yes indeed it had options and looked East where the smart money is going.

  • cyanotic

    None of this was reported by the Western media. Thank goodness for Pepe’s accurate and insightful reporting and international websites so we in North America can discover what is really happening in the rest of the world.

  • cyanotic

    You sound like a brainwashed Republican. Note also that America did not discover electricity, TV or the internet and you did not win WWII single handedly and have not won a war since then but have started several just to feed your military/industrial complex and boost your feeling of “patriotism”.

  • jo6pac

    To the new owners of the site thanks for changing your comment area.
    Pepe, Thanks

  • jo6pac


  • mulga mumblebrain

    Long may the Western thugocracy snub Eurasia. That will just hasten their fall, so richly deserved after 500 years of terrorising humanity.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Your numbers are a little underestimated. 500,000 children alone died under the sanctions of mass destruction inflicted on Iraq long after it was known that they had dis-armed. The 500,000 children under five whose deaths Madeleine Albright that flower of Western womanhood declared a price that was ‘worth it’.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    The USA is the lousiest foreign aid donor of all rich countries, most of the aid is spent in the USA or on dumped agricultural product that destroys farmers’ livelihoods. Then they screw the poor countries in return by unfair terms of trade, ‘intellectual property’ rip-offs and sanctions, blockades, invasions etc. Uncle Satan is by very far the greatest force for evil in all history.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Always big-noting yourselves! The Chinese tied down vastly more Japanese troops inside China, than you did in your island-hopping side-shows. And suffered tens of millions of casualties. Conquering Grenada was more the USA’s sort of martial triumph.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Then why don’t you piss off to some friendly Murdoch sewer?

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Pathetic and vicious nonentity with no arguments, accusing others of his own failings.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    As Oscar Wilde observed, ‘America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without an intervening period of civilization’.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    It also requires staying alive.

  • Indeed !… 😉


  • Jack Temujin

    So what’s your point after your long, tedious, pro-American/European rambling?
    The white race saved humanity?

  • true-teller

    I’m very concerned or even scared because it looks like it is going to get ugly before it gets better as the US tries to defend its hegemony status against Russia and China. Russia and China have made it clear that they will never ever accept US Hegemony. And the US will never ever accept giving up its hegemony position it has enjoyed since 1945. We’re heading to something really really ugly.

  • fawdawi

    They won’t read it, never… EU “leaders”, this is, all those Troika employees love money, not reality.

  • John Liozeris

    You may be an Asian but you write just like a jew.

  • Infidel007

    I’ll take that as a compliment, there are quite a number of brilliant Jews in the world, I’m not Asian I’m as white as can be, though I have interest in Asia, both Geo Politically, as well as culturally. I especially enjoy Asian history, and a lot of eastern writing and philosophy.

    For such a small group of people, they contribute quite a lot to society, I’ve never understood the insane hatred for the Jews. I chalk it up to jealousy. There has been and are many fine Jewish scientists, and doctors, not to mention some good Jewish entertainers, or film makers/producers as well.

    As to the vast Dr. Evil grand Jewish conspiracy of Reptilian Rabbi’s from Remulak trying to conquer the galaxy, I’m more concerned about the Lot Lizards from planet Y and their dastardly plan to turn the whole Multiverse into one giant truck stop. You think I’m joking? They are out there, I see their grand design. As the esteemed Riley Martin once said, they are clearly Reptilian.

    As to the Dark Sith Lord Soros, he gives humanity a bad name not just Jews. Don’t forget he is a Nazi collaborator, and was involved in stealing property from his fellow Jews. He was once asked on live T.V if he felt remorse for his actions, and he said he felt no remorse.

    Even if the choice was death or help them, any non sociopathic human would feel remorse. I know I would. Knowing Soros, I’m sure he went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to betraying and selling out his fellow Jews too. Actually Soros gives sociopaths a bad name as well. I expect when he meets his end there will be a massive miasma of evil that seeps from his body, like when the Emperor met his end in Star Wars.

  • Biff Kress

    Good to know that Liberals destroying our schools’ History Books for the last 50 years does indeed have consequences-you, twit head. Just W-T-F are you BABBLING about? Whom did we ever colonize, like the Brits and Russians have? Whom did we ever conquer then NOT release them to their own aspirations? Other than a few jag-off Dicktaters like Adolph and Saddam Hussein, WHAT COUNTRIES have we destroyed? We re-built Japan and Germany after WWII basically single-handedly. You need to get Daddy to pay for another College Degree for you, perhaps in Gay and Liberal Studies, topics you probably know about during your formative flag-burning and defecating days. Because you FOR SURE DON’T know jack about World History or Politics.

  • Biff Kress

    Yes, and fairly large Percentages on BOTH sides of the Aisle want to give Ovomit free hand with future Trade Deals. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ah-ha-ha-a joke like the Great Impostor President is himself.