THE WAKE-UP CALL gives you the latest news and original Vimy Report columns weekly.
What we’re watching: August 20 to August 26, 2018
♦ The first meeting in a long time between top security professionals in the US and Russia to agree on an agenda to rebalance the US-Russia relationship. US National Security Advisor John Bolton and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev are to meet in Geneva this week, officially to follow up on the Helsinki summit but in effect to explore common interests in dealing with several vexed international security issues. Patruschev is a KGB veteran who replaced Putin as director of the FSB when Putin moved over to Boris Yeltsin’s presidential office. He was in the job until made Security Council Secretary in 2008. Both the US and EU have him on their sanctions list. Britain named him “probably” culpable in the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
♦ To keep open lines of communication and avoid an extreme trade war, the US and China will be holding low-level trade talks Aug 22-23. They won’t affect the US 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese industrial goods going into effect this week, but they may have a mitigating effect on the US plan to impose 25% tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. Public hearings on these begin this week.
♦ It won’t help Beijing’s cause that Reuters is reporting China intends to continue purchasing Iranian oil using vessels owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. China is currently Iran’s biggest oil customer. Other major Iranian oil importers have already slashed operations, including Japan, South Korea, India and EU countries. French oil major Total has reportedly abandoned Iran’s South Pars gas project. With the Iranian rial having dropped 70% in value since May, Iran appears headed for a full-blown economic crisis — with a political crisis not far behind.