by Pepe Escobar
18 Sep, 2015
RT

Let’s start with some classic Russian politics. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is drawing up Russia’s economic strategy for 2016, including the government budget. Siluanov – essentially a liberal, in favor of foreign investment – will present his proposals to the Kremlin by the end of this month.

So far, nothing spectacular. But then, a few days ago, Kommersant leaked that Russia’s Security Council asked presidential aide Sergei Glazyev to come up with a separate economic strategy, to be presented to the council this week. This is not exactly a novelty, as the Russian Security Council in the past has asked small strategy groups for their economic assessment.

The Security Council is led by Nikolai Patrushev, the former head of the Federal Security Service. He and Siluanov are not exactly on the same wavelength.

And here’s where the plot thickens. Glazyev, a brilliant economist, is a Russian nationalist – sanctioned personally by the US.

Glazyev is arguably going no holds barred. He is in favor of barring Russian companies from using foreign currency (which makes sense); taxing the conversion of rubles to foreign currencies (same); banning foreign loans to Russian firms (depending if they are not in US dollars or euro); and – the smoking gun – requiring Russian companies that have Western loans to default.

Predictably, some sectors of US ‘Think Tankland’ went bonkers, stating with utmost certainty that “the Russian energy sector would not be able to find much financing without connections to the West.” Nonsense. Russian firms would easily find financing from Chinese, Japanese or South Korean sources.

Whatever measure of attention Glazyev will get inside the Kremlin, the whole episode already means that Moscow harbors no illusions in the near future regarding the exceptionalists (one just has to look at the presidential candidates, from ‘El Trumpissimo’ to ‘The Hillarator’); as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov recently put it, “[we] should expect toughening of the sanctions pressure.”
Once thing though is absolutely certain; Moscow won’t bend over backwards to “pacify” Washington.

Neo-Tsarism, anyone?

One might be tempted to see Glazyev drawing up plans to return to some sort of Tsarist self-sufficiency while cutting off ties with the West. Assuming some version of that would be approved by the Kremlin, what’s certain is that it may turn into a huge blow the EU might not recover from.

Imagine Russia defaulting on all its foreign debt – over $700 billion – on which Western sanctions have raised extra, punitive costs in terms of repayment.

The default would be payback for the twin Western manipulation of oil prices and the ruble. The manipulation involved unleashing on the oil market over five million barrels a day of excess reserve production that were held back by a few usual suspects, plus derivative manipulation at the NYMEX, crashing the price.

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