Monday, April 21, 2014

The West and Russia: a tit for tat game. Part 3


 By Tatiana Yugay 




The the third post of a series on the crisis in Ukraine by Tatiana Yugay, Professor at the Moscow State University of Economics.




“Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death”
Otto von Bismarck


While the U.S. and the EU entertain themselves introducing more and more sanctions against Russia, their target doesn't participate in this petty game. If I were the Western leaders, I would be worried, why Putin does not respond to their attacks? From the recent events, they might know that Putin's silence is a frightening sign. Yes, they are rather nervous that the Russian bear would come to Ukraine and bite off its eastern and southern provinces. At the same time, some of them have been actively provoking Russia, possibly in order to step into a military conflict. Though the atmosphere is very tense there, I strongly believe that Russia won't provide military aid to the east-Ukranian federalists. All this anxiety about Russian possible invasion of Ukraine are caused by the incapability of the West to think strategically and foresee Putin's geopolitical moves, even though they are very obvious.

Russia's U-turn to a multipolar world

Being a Eurasian superpower, Russia, as a two-faced Janus, has been looking to the West and to the East throughout its history. During two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Janus was looking with hope to the West. Janus's turn to the East has been developing gradually as Russia has gradually realized that the West would never regard the country as an equal partner, but will rather continue treating it as a mere source of raw materials. The recent US hysteria about Putin's letter to the EU leadership has made it particularly clear. Putin has warned the EU about possible difficulties of gas transit from Russia due to Ukraine's $2.2 billion debt to Gazprom. 

Furthermore, the West has become less attractive for Russia from an economic point of view, since it has been weakened by the Great Recession. Meanwhile, the emerging markets have been demonstrating dynamic economic growth. Thus, the imprudent Western sanction policy has served as a strong catalyst for Russia's geopolitical shift to the East. In my opinion, we are observing not only a temporary turn, but a long-term U-turn of Russia toward the East. 
 
On March 18, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov voiced the Russian position, "If an economic partner on the one side of the globe imposes sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners".
In fact, Russia's new partners aren't that new. Russia has been gradually strengthening economic and political ties with two mighty non-Western clubs - the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and BRICS. According to Alexei Likhachev, Russia's Deputy Minister of Economic Development, “the ASEAN countries are attractive for Russia because their markets are "complementary" to the Russian economy unlike the European ones. Though the trade volume with Europe is significant, European exports don't contribute to the creation of high-tech jobs in Russia. Concentrating on Asia is warranted because exports in this region include high tech machinery and military equipment not only hydrocarbons. Also, Asian markets, unlike the markets in Europe, have a tremendous growth potential and significant synergies with Russian economy”. 

 
AFP Photo / Sergei Karpukhin

During the past 13 years, Russia has been developing close relations within BRICS organization, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Currently, BRICS represents 42 percent of the world’s population and about a quarter of the world’s economy, which means that this bloc of states is an important global actor. Today, in total, there are more than 20 formats of cooperation within the BRICS. In February, the member-states came to an agreement about 11 possible projects of scientific and technical cooperation, from aeronautics to bio- and nanotechnology. Last year, Russia's trade turnover with BRICS has reached $105 billion. One of the most potent Russia's partners, which holds a membership in both clubs (ASEAN and BRICS), is China.

During the Direct Line on April 17, Vladimir Putin, responding to a question about the Russian-Chinese relations, admitted that ”they are progressing very successfully in terms of trust and collaboration, which are unprecedented. This includes political cooperation and our shared views on international affairs and global security, which is the basis for these intergovernmental relations... We have never had such trust-based relations in the military industry. We began holding joint drills at sea and on land, in both China and the Russian Federation. This gives us reason to assume that Russian-Chinese relations will be a significant factor in global policy and will substantially influence modern international relations”.

In 2013, the trade volume between Russia and China has reached $89 billion. Leaders of two states called for annual bilateral trade between the two countries to be boosted to $100 billion by 2015. Meantime, China has already overtook Germany as Russia's biggest buyer of crude oil this year, thanks to Rosneft securing deals to boost eastward oil supplies via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline and another one through Kazakhstan. Last year, relations between Russia and China have been actively developing in different fields. In particular, in 2013 the states signed 21 trade agreements, including a new 100 million ton oil supply deal with China’s Sinopec. On October 2013, the two governments signed an agreement to build, jointly an oil refinery in Tianjin, east of Beijing. In addition, China is ready to invest $20 billion in domestic projects in Russia, focusing on transport infrastructure, highways, ports, and airports, and it hoped to increase investment in Russia fourfold by 2020.

However, a millennium deal between the two giants is still to be concluded, though, it is already nicknamed as "Holy Grail" by the media. The Russian Gazprom and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNOOC) are ready to strike a thirty-year gas deal on supplies of 68 billion cubic meters per year by two routes. Fast growing China desperately needs Russian gas. According to expert assessments, China's demand for gas will reach 300-350 billion cubic meters per year by 2020. China's own production can provide about 115 billion cubic meters. Experts predict that by 2030 total gas consumption in China will exceed the European one, which now makes about 600 billion cubic meters. Russia and China have been negotiating on gas deal since 2004. A stumbling block in the negotiations has been a basic price. Recently a high-level Russian delegation visited China. Following the talks, Chairman of OAO "Gazprom" Alexey Miller stated, "During this round of negotiations, we agreed on all technical issues of the project. Progress has been made in the negotiations on the price of gas. The parties agreed that the contract will enter into force before the end of 2014”. It is expected that the long-awaited contract will be signed during Putin's May visit to China (in Russia, we keep fingers crossed!).

Currently, Russian gas is not supplied to China, though in 2013 Russia’s biggest independent natural gas producer, Novatek, signed preliminary memorandums with CNPC to sell at least 3 million tons of LNG per year between Yamal LNG and PetroChina International. Another Russian company, Rosneft, which is 75 percent state-owned, is vastly expanding its LNG projects to diversify its portfolio, and is focusing heavily on eastern markets, like Japan and China.
Besides the energy sector, the two countries look forward for further partnerships in the defense sphere. It is expected that Moscow and Beijing will sign a $3.5 billion contract on the sale of 100 Su-35 fighters to China ahead of Putin's visit to Beijing in May. In 2014, Russia and China have got a full agenda for bilateral cooperation, which includes not only trade but also such spheres as energy, aircraft building, mechanical engineering, military and science cooperation, tourism, etc. 

The second largest Russia's trading partner within BRICS is India. In 2012, the volume of bilateral trade reached $11 billion, which is rather modest in comparison with China. In 2013 this index slightly decreased. It is expected that in the near future India would sign the Economic Cooperation Agreement with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In case of joining India to the free trade zone, its trade with the members of the Customs Union and, particularly, with Russia will boost. Traditionally, Russia and India have been closely cooperating in the defense sphere. At that, almost every defense contract provides for creation of joint ventures or licensed production. In 2013, India’s import of Russian weapons reached $4.78 billion. Another industry which attracts India is computer-guided weapons, produced by the Russian Morinformsystem-Agat Concern.

In February, the two states confirmed their plans to boost cooperation in nuclear energy, with the former backing the construction of more units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) and other parts of the country. Besides, India and Russia are set to sign an agreement aimed at productive cooperation in many spheres: space and military cooperation, trade, construction of a pipeline from Russia to India, and plans to set up a Joint Study Group to look into the scope of the CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) with member-countries of the Customs Union (the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus).

Brazil is a much smaller trading partner for Russia. The total trade volume between Russia and Brazil made $5.7 billion in 2013, however, the two states seek to increase it up to $10 billion in the near future. Russia imports Brazilian meat, coffee, sugar, juices and alcohol; and exports mainly fertilizers. However, in December 2012 the states signed a treaty on supplies of Russian helicopters to Brazil.

Farewell to the dollar
 
Boosting trade relations with non-western partners would inevitably raise a problem of currency for mutual settlements. Up to date, Russia has been using US dollar in its oil and gas trade by default. However, in a situation where the western partners have become less reliable and, moreover, are threatening with trade and financial sanction the instinct of economic self-preservation demands to use more secure means of payment. Since Russia sells its own raw materials, it can change the rules. In 2013, Russian exports of crude oil and oil products accounted for $283 billion, natural gas exports made $67 billion and LNG - $5.5 billion. Taking into account the future gas deal with China and other hydrocarbon projects, Russia can count on a big chunk of the pie on the global fuel and energy market which can be nominated in any type of liquid assets. Besides, Russia is close to entering a goods-for-oil swap transaction with Iran that will give Rosneft around 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day to sell in the global market.
 
Instead of feeding the U.S. with petrodollars, Russia can switch to petrorubles, regional currencies and even gold. In addition to the oil and gas trade, Rosoboronexport, state company specialized in weapon exports, can start trading in rubles. Prominent US trader Jim Sinclair believes that Russia can easily cause the collapse of the US economy. The economist, famous for his forecasts, explains that the strength of the dollar is based on the US agreement with Saudi Arabia that all contracts for fuel deliveries be in the US dollars. Now, Moscow can cancel the petrodollar and bring down a colossus with feet of clay.
As Tyler Durden justly admits, "If it was the intent of the West to bring Russia and China together - one a natural resource (if "somewhat" corrupt) superpower and the other a fixed capital/labor output (if "somewhat" capital misallocating and credit bubbleicious) powerhouse - in the process marginalizing the dollar and encouraging Ruble and Renminbi bilateral trade, then things are surely "going according to plan."

Moreover, BRICS countries have been repeatedly expressing their determination to abandon the dollar in their mutual trade. And it is not a threat which the U.S. can easily ignore. In 2012, the mutual trade between BRICS member states was about $280 billion. Besides, BRICS has an ambitious task to raise the trade volume up to $500 billion in 2015. One more bad news for the buck is in the air. It is expected that in the nearest future China will declare the yuan as a gold-backed world reserve currency. These expectations are heated by China's recent activity in accumulating monetary gold and its huge official international reserves, which reached $3,7 trillion at the end of 2013. China’s central bank may have stocked up heavily on gold in the past few years, and might own about 2,710 tons as of the end of 2013, according to an industry expert. According to Jim Rickards, next April China will shock the world announcing that it has accumulated 5,000 tonnes of gold. 
 
Besides shifting away from the dollar, emerging markets have been making further arrangements for redesigning the global finance. In order to modernize the global economic system, which now is US&EU-centric, member states have created the BRICS Stock Alliance and are working on launching their own development bank to finance large infrastructure projects. One more direct consequence of ill-considered US sanctions is Russia's strong decision to create its own payment processing system. As a result of financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russian financial institutions over Crimea, Visa and MasterCard stopped processing transactions for several Russian banks. Currently, Visa and MasterCard control about 85 percent of all card transactions in Russia. At that, 90 percent of transactions are carried out within Russia's territory. Recently, Russia’s biggest financial institute Sberbank said the PRO 100 payment system, that’s been in development for a couple of years, will be launched on a massive scale within months. Russian banking community presume that Russia can develop its own digital card payment system in cooperation with China, particularly, on the basis of the UnionPay processing system. When the national payment processing system will be created Visa and MasterCard would lose a big piece of Russia's market.

What really the West is to gain at the end of the play? 
 
Now it's pretty clear, why Russia doesn't participate in ridiculous sanctions game notwithstanding US never-ending threats. Putin and his partners are busy reconfiguring the global political and economic landscape. The biggest loser will be the U.S. since its brand new American dream or long-declared pivot to Asia would be hardly realized. Partly, because the U.S. has too much bogged down in  Ukraine and, mainly, because Russia but not the U.S. has been pivoting to Asia just now. Obama can enjoy himself building houses of cards from tons of dollars which the FRS has been printing diligently. The EU can lose its loyal and reliable partner and get instead struggling fragments of the Ukraine.

Conclusion

It is clear that the Russian economy would suffer a serious damage if the EU were to introduce a full-scale economic sanctions' regime. However, far-reaching consequences of the above-mentioned geopolitical shifts would more than compensate for this temporary damage. Russian leaders and ordinary people are fully aware of future difficulties and are ready to pay the price for regaining Crimea. When I returned from Italy to Moscow at the end of March, I spoke with a taxi driver who met me at the airport. He was very enthusiastic about the Crimea story and told me that he and his family weren't afraid of any future sanctions. “The main thing is that the Crimea is again ours. We, Russians, are accustomed to difficulties. But we don't want war”. In fact, I've never seen such a unanimity of opinions during all post-communist period. It seems that the Russian people have finally restored its self-esteem and identity. For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, we are proud of our country. I believe that further sanctions would only reinforce these feelings. Following the successful Olympic and Paralympic Games and the peaceful reintegration of Crimea with Russia, Putin's rating has skyrocketed. According to the VCIOM All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, since the beginning of 2014, Vladimir Putin’s rating has risen 15 percent and stands at 75.7 percent – the highest in the last five years. While enjoying the powerful support of his citizens, Putin can proceed with geopolitical redesigning together with the ASEAN and BRICS partners.







18 comments:

  1. Tatiana
    Thank you again.
    I have found your analysis to be valuable.
    Putin seems to have logic 'on his side'.

    Some of us have our doubts about sustainable (unconstrained) economic growth and resource consumption in China over the next 10 years. Nevertheless China (and Russia) must logically because of the risks involved, seek to reduce their recent decades of economic reliance on the USA and EU as viable economic trading blocs.

    The context of world oil and NG supplies has recently been outlined by Steven Kopits, who makes it clear who will compete more successfully for future world oil. My guess is that both you and Kopits (and others!) understand the reality, but the USA 'does not get it'.
    Kopit’s presentation is here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLCsMRr7hAg
    The slides of his presentation are here
    http://energypolicy.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/energy/Kopits%20-%20Oil%20and%20Economic%20Growth%20(SIPA,%202014)%20-%20Presentation%20Version%5B1%5D.pdf
    best
    Phil

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    1. Thank you once again, Phil, for your generous support! You've been educating me on ecological approach to the macroeconomy. For me, it's a new way of thinking. I find Kopits' slideshow very useful and will use it for teaching macroeconomics. I'm glad and honored that you've found that my opinion coincides with Kopits' one.
      It's my last guest post at Ugo's blog. He was very generous to let me annexing his blog for such a long time.
      I'll definitely miss your comments.
      Maybe you'll drop sometime at my Italian blog at santatatiana.blogspot.com.
      All the best,
      Tatiana

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    2. Will do!
      I too like Italy!

      best
      Phil

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    3. It's impossible not to love Italy! Ugo is very happy because he lives in the heart of Italy.

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  2. We all understand and agree that no one wants a war, specially the new rich Russians with their new, more or less western alike model, free democratic system, nor the west would like that, but….it is also clear that if anyone would try to overthrow the petrol-dollar, the US and his alleys will be force to prevent that event with any means as it is a matter of life or death for them.
    This crucial and very risky situation which can lead to the 3rd WW with no winners, would be a very good chance to convince the western and eastern leaders to seat down and start cooperate for facing the mutual problems related to GW that with no doubt and very soon will be hammering the all planet and the whole humanity.
    What is Tatiana thinking about that?
    Giovanni

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    1. Thank you, Giovanni, for sharing your views. Yes! I'm very much troubled about the possibilty of WWIII. Just now, I've been participating in the international project about WWI. The pre-war atmosphere and the current one are strikingly alike. First of all, the irresponsibility of world leaders who seek to foment conflicts all around the globe.
      Of course, Russia is very cautious about switching away from the petrodollar. In fact, China and Russia, as well, have huge currency reserves and we don't want to depreciate them. But in the long run a shift to other currencies in mutual trade is inevitable.
      Tatiana

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  3. Hello Tatiana, many thanks for this third and final installment of your thinking on the Ukrainian situation and the important matters related to it. In your conclusion you say that "It is clear that the Russian economy would suffer serious damage if the EU were to introduce a full-scale economic sanctions' regime. However, far-reaching consequences of the above-mentioned geopolitical shifts would more than compensate for this temporary damage. Russian leaders and ordinary people are fully aware of future difficulties and are ready to pay the price for regaining Crimea."

    I understand what you are saying and I agree with you. But why should anybody "pay" any "price"? Might there not also be some other ways forward?

    Maybe I am hopelessly idealistic but since real politics is in fact the art of the possible I wonder if it is simply NOT possible to hope to achieve some positive outcomes where both "sides" would "win"? Or can it only be about how each "side" (and who decided that they are or should continue to be different "sides" forever ?) could minimize the negative impacts to itself by various strategies while remaining divided and entrenched in its own so called "interests"?

    The world is entering a very difficult and dangerous stage of ever increasing resources depletion, higher costs, or outright supply shortages and climate change. It would be far better if it could continue into such an emerging and worsening historical situation with at least SOME of the major geopolitical problems and differences which have plagued the world since the end of world war II, in better shape than they are today.

    Something that at the worst could be seen as a compromise but at best could be seen as a true win-win outcome could perhaps be worked upon, and perhaps could even occur through real commitment, real diplomacy and a real re-definition and improved understanding of what are considered the "vital interests" of each "side".

    To start with it would be good to try to establish an overall regional system for peace and development (and preferably so called "sustainable development") for the entire Black Sea and Caucuses region; including but not limited to the Ukraine. This would require the vital and also some of the non-vital interests of the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine (and their respective elites) to be redefined and reconciled. And in fact these interests also would benefit one another reciprocally since they are NOT a zero sum game, quite the contrary.

    The alternative is a geopolitical, geo-economic and military rivalry that easily could continue to escalate and soon become very dangerous or even disastrous. Instead of dividing the world into rival blocs (e.g. the Shanghai cooperation council vs. NATO or whoever else economically) wouldn't it be more intelligent and wiser to at least TRY to gradually unite the world? So that it could collectively better face the real dangers to human survival which are just around the corner? The Ukrainian crisis could provide the perfect "crossroads" opportunity to at least start try to go down such a path. And if now is not the right time to begin, when might it be? Naturally all sides have to want this.

    Where are the leaders who have such visions and are willing to try to work hard to achieve them? In this respect my personal view is that Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavarov are more advanced in their thinking than some of the leaders of the so called "West". And also more realistic, which is a necessary pre-requisite for working towards any "idealistic" outcomes and solutions.


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    1. Thank you very much, Max, for your highly reasonable alternative to the fruitless win-win tactics!
      I entirely agree that a Pareto efficiency world is much better place to live in. As you have admitted, Putin and his key team are working in this direction. But as you know perfectly well, the Roge United States have been working on destabilizing the world, starting from the Middle East, proceding in Africa and now they have created an explosive situation in the center of Europe, next door to Russia. In Russia's view, they have crossed the red line. At that, all the international organisations pretend that nothing serios has been happening and continue blaming Russia for all the sins.

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    2. Yes, Tatiana, I agree with you. I had hoped at one point that the U.S. was serious about "pushing the re-set button" with Russia, but either it was a propaganda lie all along, or the neocons later pushed harder to go back to the status quo ex-ante. (or both)

      There are some in the U.S. who hope that a new "Yeltsin type of leader” and government might arise again in Russia. (with U.S.help of course) The U.S. has no problem with many (even most) of your oligarchs. They have plenty of their own and they know how to "bring them into" the overall “party". In fact in the U.S. they run the party. (pls. see my seven powers-that-be post which I referred to earlier)I am not referring to any political party here but rather to the kind of “happy and carefree party” that some people like to have on Saturday nights; let’s call it the “overall fossil fuels age party”.
      In Russia oligarchs and private interests are there too, and they also have an influence but Putin and his group manage to keep control over them, rather than the other way around as has happened in the U.S. So in my view the "hope" (as unrealistic and unlikely to come true as it is) of the U.S. neo-cons and the "new American century types" is not only to bring the Ukraine into the "Western camp" (without of course ever allowing the Ukraine into the EU itself) (but it's a nice false hope or "promise" to promote in the Ukraine itself) but eventually do the same thing to Russia too, and turn it into a playground for U.S. multinationals

      Namely try to get rid of Putin and any semblance of real national self-interest and then cut deals with the various oligarchs one by one (and sector by sector) so that U.S. corporations will basically end up ruling the roost in Russia and hopefully be better able to plunder the country.

      If they were able to do that (they won't be able to) and if they also could bring Iran back into the Western orbit as a subservient entity, (also highly unlikely) then the "American century" might be able to last a bit longer. Until of course climate change and resource depletion and environmental destruction bring an end to the whole game irrevocably in any case. But "the party" would have a better chance of lasting a bit longer and until such time as the Earth System as a whole is totally wrecked beyond repair.

      Last year Stephen Emmet (Head of Computational Science at Microsoft Research and leader of a broad scientific research program at the centre of which is an interdisciplinary team of new kinds of scientists and a new kind of laboratory in Cambridge pioneering new approaches to tackle fundamental problems in science) wrote a good summary of the state of the world at the moment and also going forward called “Ten Billions” addressing climate change, resources depletion, environmental destruction and related issues such as food supply, water and several others. Last night I remembered that he had said something about Russia too,and so I looked it up last night and found the following quote which I think is interesting and relevant here. And are the various right wing think tanks of the U.S. neo-cons thinking such things too? (undoubtedly yes) (CONTINUED BELOW)


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    3. “If Siberia does thaw out before we finish our ( namely humanity’s) deforestation of much of the remaining tropical forest, (an ongoing global trend along with several other highly destructive ones) it would result in a vast amount of new land being available for agriculture, as well as opening up a very rich source of minerals, metals, oil and gas. In the process this would almost certainly completely change global geopolitics. Siberia thawing would turn Russia into a remarkable economic and political force this century because of its newly uncovered mineral, agricultural and energy resources. It would also inevitably be accompanied by vast stores of methane – currently sealed under the Siberian permafrost tundra – being released, greatly accelerating our climate problem even further”.
      Personally I have little sympathy or particular preferences for any kind of nationalism, whether American, Russian, Chinese, German, Indian, Japanese, or that of any other nation. Nor am I in favor of other self-serving behaviors such as making not one but two ex Popes into “Saints” in a single day (happening right now). I view all such as fairly ridiculous stuff all pointing to humanity’s very serious problems in understand ing anything which actually matters. (naturally it could be that my own views are ridiculous instead) (it has been known to happen to both the best and the worst among us and to everyone else in between as well)

      What I am interested in is how planet earth and the human experiment on its surface might best be saved from itself and from the impending catastrophe which surely is coming in the next fifty years so that it could last a while longer in some better way. (though sometimes I ask myself why I care at all) And although there also are clear disadvantages to a so-called multipolar world (“structural” solutions seldom solve anything when fundamental strategies and cultures need to change dramatically) I think a multipolar world ma y hold more hope than a unipolar one and in particular if the unipolar one is run by the likes of Goldman Sachs, the”Seven Sisters” or the Pentagon. Therefore, I wish Russia good luck .

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  4. Hello Tatiana,
    In your previous post you mentioned a trade surplus from the EU towards Russia :
    EU->Russia : $264 bn
    Russia->EU : $152 bn
    (rosstat and eustat source)

    However eurostat shows a trade deficit towards Russia (-78.1 bn) :
    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/6-14022014-BP/EN/6-14022014-BP-EN.PDF

    Any idea where the discrepancy comes from ?

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    1. Thank you, yvesT! You are very attentive and scrupulous reader. I've controlled the official statistics. Right you are, the RT infogram had erroneously directed the arrows. You've restored the justice in Russia's favor!
      It's a good lesson for me to check twice the info. I'll ask Ugo to delete the picture.
      As for the differences in numbers, it's a matter of the reporting period; the infogram doesn't indicate any date and the Eurostats data, which you cite, updates the info for 9 months of 2013.
      All the best,
      Tatiana

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    2. Tatiana, thanks to you.
      In fact the story is that I reused them in some other comment (on le Monde) and got slapped :)
      As to the US<->Russia figures, which source did you use ?

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    3. Hi, YvesT! Then, it's a domino effect. I beg you pardon, once more.
      As for the US-RF trade I've used the official statistics of Russia's Customs. This figure is less than that of the US Trade Department because of the methodology. The US stats includes goods which came from the third countries and RF takes into account only direct trade.
      By the way, can you give me a link to your comment on le Monde?

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    4. Hello Tatiana, no problem !
      Gave me the idea to do a diagram US/EU/Russia(or RF), with shapes surfaces proportional to GDP for each entity, and arrows width proportional to exchange levels between the three "pairs" (if I find the time, this eurostat site is kind of hard to navigate ...)
      Below the link to lemonde comments page (in answer to "sirius", my pseudo "yves t") :
      http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/reactions/2014/04/22/les-etats-unis-aux-cotes-de-l-ukraine-face-aux-menaces-humiliantes_4405148_3214.html
      Direct link to the article if above doesn't work :
      http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2014/04/22/les-etats-unis-aux-cotes-de-l-ukraine-face-aux-menaces-humiliantes_4405148_3214.html
      Note : lemonde.fr is rather heavy on ads if not with paid subscription, and comments restricted to subscriber (and limited to 500 characters)
      (I think I mentioned it in another one, forgot which one)

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    5. Thank you, yvesT! You write comments in many languages. Bravo!
      As for the infogram idea, give me some time and more details and I'll help you with pleasure.
      Tatiana

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    6. Tatiana, ok I'll send you a "draft" when I get the time to make it, your email on a a blog somewhere ?

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    7. Waiting your draft at yugpole@gmail.com

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Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)