E Abkhazia, Sochi, Ukraine

Today many markets in Europe are closed for Assumption, notably Germany and Switzerland, and naturally there will be no trading tomorrow so people can have a long weekend. However, in Berlin tomorrow, the fraught negotiations between Ukraine and Russia over the price of Gazprom gas deliveries past and future are due to conclude. Russia wants $485 per 1000 cubic meters, up from the old price of $268.50 which included offsets for use of ports in the Crimea, which Russia has now seized. The final deal is impossible to predict now and if it not reached there will be an appeal for international arbitration in a Swedish court.

The good thing about the current crisis is that it is summer so nobody will freeze for want of gas; and that it is stiffening the backbone of Euroland buyers who now depend on Russia for more than a third of their fuel. Reversing pipelines to feed Ukraine, and building facilities for liquefied natural gas in the Balkans are among the measures for energy security the Europeans are now supporting.

Meanwhile an uprising in a Russian-controlled part of former Georgia, Abkhazia, shows that just grabbing territory is not necessarily a way to increase Russian power. The disputed territory Russia snatched, which declared “independence” in 2008, is between Georgia and the Russian Olympic site of Sochi, on the Black Sea. It is just a short sail to the Crimea. (We were booked on a Black Sea cruise this summer which was to hit many of these places; it was canceled.)

More on Britain, Spain, Brazil, Ireland, Denmark, Mongolia, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Israel, Thailand, Pakistan, and Singapore today.

*To start with the most ephemeral news, both Banco Santander and Reckitt Benckiser hit new 52-week highs in European trading today, SAN and RBGLY.

SAN is being sued because its sub in Providence RI failed to lend in minority neighborhoods while boosting mortgages to white ones in the period after it took control of Sovereign in 2009. Given that Santander is Spanish, were Latinos discriminated against?

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