The ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine took a dangerous and tragic turn this week with the shooting down of an airliner bound by pro-Russian rebels. In a cruel twist of fate, the crash of MH17 marks the second time Malaysia's national airline has been beset by tragedy after the loss of MH370 four months ago. While the shoot-down of the passenger plane was unintended, the rebels and their sponsor Vladimir Putin have come under intense criticism from the global community. Russia likely supplied the rebels with the missile that shot down the plane and now may be actively assisting the rebels in obstructing the crash investigation.
While Putin's proxy war in eastern Ukraine had been going fairly well until now, this tragedy will likely complicate his position. In the geopolitical chess game for control of Ukraine, Putin had seemingly out-maneuvered Obama. Ukraine is not in NATO, therefore the US is less likely to defend it in the event of an attack from Russia. Ukraine, of course, falls within Russia's traditional sphere of influence. After February's Ukrainian revolution ousted the pro-Russian president, Putin helped rebels take Crimea back in March. He also aided and abetted the rebels in the eastern Ukraine region in April and May. The eastern Ukraine is now effectively in pro-Russian hands.
But the shoot-down of MH17 may change all that. Previously, Europe had been reluctant to support strong economic sanctions against Russia since it is dependent on Russian natural gas. The outrage over this accident and Putin's apparent unwillingness to facilitate an international investigation will likely increase European resolve for stronger sanctions. But how Putin was respond to stronger sanctions is unclear. It could compel Putin to reduce or even withdraw his support for the rebels. Alternatively, he could test European mettle and stop gas deliveries to Europe.
Back in March, I suggested that Putin would likely be in the driver's seat in terms of asserting himself in the region as a reaction to the loss of his client state in Kiev after the Revolution. The retrograde cycle of Mars in Virgo through April, May and June would activate several of Putin's planets, not the least of which was his powerful Sun-Saturn conjunction. While I thought Putin may have actually invaded under this influence, as it turns out there was no need to him to go that far since Donetsk is essentially now in his control anyway. His proxy war conducted through the rebels has largely achieved his goals.
While Putin's chart looked fairly strong, Obama's chart looked troubled by the Mars in Virgo transit through his 9th house -- conflict abroad. In the previous post, I suggested that Obama's fortunes had a better chance of improving in July once Jupiter moved into Cancer. This Jupiter influence would conjoin Obama's Mercury and aspect his natal Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn. Ironically, it seems that this tragic shoot-down may be part of that Jupiter influence in Obama's chart. Putin's imperial adventurism has come back to bite him and Obama is there to reap the benefit. If Obama can now get his European allies onside for stronger sanctions, then Putin may be cornered. The US is still reluctant to actively arm Ukraine lest the conflict intensifies into an all-out war with Russia, but Putin is much more isolated now as Russia begins to resemble a rogue state.
The shoot-down occurred on 17 July just after Mars (violence) had conjoined Rahu/North Node (breaking boundaries). Mars-Rahu conjunctions are classic signatures for sudden and disturbing outbreaks of violence and disruption. Mars (violent shock) squares Obama's natal Saturn (stability) and reflects the seriousness of this development. Fast-moving Mars can act as a trigger but there has to be deeper problems with slower-moving planets to reflect the magnitude of the current state of crisis. As I have noted previously, the double stations of Saturn and Uranus are very much front and center here. Saturn stations at 22 Libra today (July 20) while Uranus stations at 22 Pisces on Monday. Significantly, both planets are in an exact 150 degree alignment. The Saturn-Uranus alignment hits Obama's chart quite closely as Saturn sits atop his chart in the 10th house and squares his Ascendant. Saturn is prominent in times of intense effort and heavy burdens. Fortunately for Obama, Jupiter's influence may help him avoid the worst of it, although it is noteworthy that Obama is coming under a lot of domestic criticism for his overly detached, if not weak, leadership style.
The shoot-down shows up in Putin's chart through the Mars-Rahu conjunction. Both of these planets are conjunct his Mercury (0 Libra) indicating intense (Mars) and out of control (Rahu) situations that undermine logical expectations and force quick thinking (Mercury). The fact that this crash is so damaging to him is seen perhaps through Mercury's rulership over Virgo and Putin's Virgo planets. The double affliction of Mars and Rahu to Mercury is therefore linked back to his Sun-Saturn conjunction. The Sun-Saturn conjunction is the very root of Putin's power and ability. Rather than being a simple one-off event, the importance of Mercury and Virgo in his chart means that this Mars-Rahu to Mercury will likely contain important long term ramifications for him.
So what happens next? It is hard to say with much certainty since Putin's birth time is contested. The accuracy of the 9.30 am chart presented here has not been confirmed. However, one would have to think that the ongoing transit of Jupiter through Cancer will give more of a boost to Obama and not Putin. Jupiter will aspect Obama's Capricorn Ascendant as well as Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury for the rest of 2014 and the first half of 2015. That doesn't guarantee him positive outcomes in all matters but it is definitely favourable.
Jupiter is much less prominent in Putin's chart, however. Worse still, Saturn (obstacles, delays) will oppose his natal Jupiter (rewards, goals) for most of the rest of 2014. We can also see that Rahu (North Node) will conjoin Putin's Virgo planets in the second half of 2014. Rahu isn't always bad, but here it seems unhelpful as the Sun-Saturn pairing already gets some destabilizing Rahu energy from the natal aspect. That seems like too much Rahu to me, so Putin could be beset by problems that cause him to make more mistakes. He is more likely to do something unpredictable given all this Rahu influence. While he could hit back against the West in this conflict, it seems unlikely that he will gain any strategic advantage any time soon.
I will be paying special attention to the upcoming Mars-Saturn conjunction on August 25th. This conjunction occurs at 23 Libra and therefore will highlight Obama's 10th house (leadership, status). It will also closely align with Putin's Saturn at 24 Virgo. Although this is not a proper aspect, it may still exercise some influence on him. Given the Rahu aspect to natal Rahu (disruption) and the close alignment of Saturn and Uranus (breakdown of status quo), this may signal another important development in this ongoing geopolitical crisis.
Financial Markets Update
While markets reacted negatively to the MH17 shoot-down, stocks quickly recovered and finished generally higher on the week. In New York, the Dow climbed back above 17,000 while India's Sensex also pushed back towards its previous highs. I had been uncertain about the week as a whole although I did note the likelihood of some downside on the immediate effects of the exact Mars-Rahu conjunction early in the week. But bullishness returned as the Sun entered Cancer where it enjoyed the auspicious company of Jupiter.
The Saturn and Uranus stations loom large this week as this alignment of distant planets has the potential to mark a major trend reversal. One complicating factor is Thursday's Sun-Jupiter conjunction. This is typically a good combination for optimism although positive sentiment can disappear soon after the conjunction takes place. I would think the chances are fairly good for at least some gains ahead of this conjunction although they may not last. They are also not likely to ultimately offset the more negative effects of Saturn as it resumes forward motion.