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Germany’s Merkel speaks for business contacts with Russia despite Crimea situation

By , March 28, 2014 11:24 am

Germany’s Merkel speaks for business contacts with Russia despite Crimea situation
By: Voice of Russia on: 28.03.2014 [17:10 ] (14 reads)

28 March 2014, 19:59

Germany’s Merkel speaks for business contacts with Russia despite Crimea situation

Photo: EPA

Germany’s chancellier has emphasised the need to develop relations with Russian companies despite the country’s position on Crimea.

“Angela Merkel would like economic contacts to continue in future,” the German government’s spokeswoman, Christiane Wirtz said on Friday.

Investments should be made under reliable framework conditions, she said.

Earlier reports said the head of Germany’s state railway Ruediger Grube was planning to visit Russia in the middle of April.

Grube has regular meetings with the Russian Railways leadership, the German company says.

Voice of Russia, TASS
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_28/Germanys-Merkel-speaks-for-business-contacts-with-Russia-despite-Crimea-situation-0441/

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The failure of German leadership: Merkel Whores For Washington

By , March 17, 2014 3:17 am

The failure of German leadership: Merkel Whores For Washington
By: pravda.ru on: 17.03.2014 [01:29 ] (103 reads)

16.03.2014

Washington, enabled by its compliant but stupid NATO puppets, is pushing the Ukrainian situation closer to war.

German Chancellor Merkel has failed her country, Europe, and world peace. Germany is the strength of the EU and NATO. Had Merkel said “No” to sanctions on Russia, that would have been the end of the crisis that Washington is brewing, a crisis unlikely to be ended short of war.

But Merkel has signed away the sovereignty of the German nation and assigned the fate of Germany to a province in the American Empire. Thus has Merkel and the weak

German leadership consigned the world to war. Already blamed for World War 1 and World War 2, now Germany will be blamed for World War 3.

Washington’s mismanaged Ukrainian coup has cost Washington Crimea, which Washington wanted most of all in order to deprive Russia of its warm water naval base on the Black Sea. In addition, the mismanaged overthrow of an elected government in Ukraine is threatening to also lose the Russian cities of eastern Ukraine. Like Crimea, eastern Ukraine consists of former Russian areas that Khrushchev stuck into Ukraine in the 1950s.

In what is clearly a fruitless and pointless effort to get Crimea back, Washington is demanding that Russia interfere in Crimea and prevent Crimea from seceding from Ukraine. If the Russian government refuses to follow Washington’s orders, Washington has announced that it will inflict “damaging sanctions” on Russia. Initially, EU countries expressed an unwillingness to go along with Washington, but with bribes and threats, Washington has conquered Merkel and has its European puppets lined up following orders.

Washington understands that economic sanctions are a far less threat to Russia than the loss of its Black Sea naval base. Washington also understands that Putin cannot possibly abandon the millions of Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine to the mercy of the anti-Russian and unelected government imposed by Washington in Kiev. As Washington knows that its threat of sanctions is empty, why did Washington make it?

The answer is in order to drive the crisis to war. Washington’s neoconservative Nazis have been agitating for war with Russia for a long time. They want to remove one of the three remaining restraints (Russia, China, Iran) on Washington’s world hegemony.

Washington wants to break up the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) before these countries form a separate currency bloc and avoid the use of the US dollar.

Russia will respond in kind to Washington’s sanctions. European peoples and Western banks and corporations will suffer losses. It would be at least two or three years before Washington has in place means of delivering US natural gas achieved by fracking and contamination of US water supplies to Europe to take the place of Russia’s cutoff of energy to Europe.

The Western presstitute media will dramatize the Russian response to sanctions and demonize Russia, while ignoring who started the fight, thereby helping Washington prepare Americans for war. As neither side can afford to lose the war, nuclear weapons will be used. There will be no winners.

All of this is perfectly clear, just as was the obvious conclusion of the march of events leading up to World War 1. Now, like then, the people who see the outcome are powerless to stop it. Delusion rules. Arrogance and hubris overflow. Statements and actions become ever more reckless, and then there is hell to pay.

Americans and Europeans, if they had any awareness at all, would be in the streets violently protesting the coming war toward which the insane criminals in Washington are driving the world.

Instead, the German chancellor, the French president, the British prime minister and the Western presstitute media continue to lie: It was legitimate for the West to steal Kosovo from Serbia and to steal the Ukrainian government, but it is not legitimate for the Russian population of Crimea to exercise self-determination and return to Russia. Washington and its EU puppets even have the audacity to declare falsely, after overthrowing an elected government in Ukraine and installing an unelected one, that Crimean self-determination violates the Ukrainian constitution, which no longer exists because Washington destroyed it.

The criminally insane government in Washington has pushed the Russian bear into a corner. The bear is not going to surrender.

h ttp://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/16-03-2014/127113-failure_germany-0/

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Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks

By , March 13, 2014 12:13 pm

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks
By: Tyler Durden on: 13.03.2014 [15:44 ] (159 reads)

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks
Tyler Durden’s pictureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/13/2014 10:05 -0400

.
It’s crunch time for Ukraine.

With just over two days to go until the Crimea referendum, all the actors are stepping up the diplomacy to a fever pitch in a desperate attempt to talk Putin out of formally annexing the peninsula following results which are well-known in advance will show the population’s allegiance to mother Russia. But while the generic rhetoric is well-known, one surprising place of escalation over the past 24 hours has been Germany’s Angela Merkel, who for the most part had been willing to stay on the sidelines in the war of words, has suddenly stepped up her own phrasing, and warned Moscow on Thursday that it risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, saying Western leaders were united in their readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary.

Reuters reports that the chancellor, using her strongest language since the start of the crisis and removing any suspicion that Germany might seek to avoid a confrontation with President Vladimir Putin, said his actions would lead to “catastrophe” for Ukraine and much more.

“We would not only see it, also as neighbours of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia,” she said in a speech in parliament. “No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”

Merkel has acknowledged that her efforts to persuade Putin to negotiate via a “contact group” with the transition government in Kiev – which he accuses of ousting Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich unlawfully – have failed and time is running out.

“To be absoultely clear, none of us want it to come to such measures but we are all ready and determined to if they are unavoidable,” said Merkel.

Germany receives over a third of its gas and oil from Russia and over 6,000 German firms are active there. A poll last week showed that a majority of Germans oppose sanctions against Russia. So is Merkel doing the Western thing, and bluffing in a last-ditch effort to convince Putin she isn’t, or does Putin still believe he has all the trump cards, and can bring the German economy to a crawl if Merkel acts out on her threat? We will known as soon as Sunday night.

Elsewhere, John Kerry headed out to London for some last ditch Russia talks on Ukraine. Expect this “effort” too to lead exactly nowhere.

In the meantime, Russia’s response is well known, which is more of the same – and the Russian Ministry of Defense made it quite clear what the next steps are when it announced that the large-scale maneuvers near the Ukraine border now involve some 8,500 troops, 270 tanks and 180 APCs.

An indication of how “seriously” Russia takes the diplomatic threats was the news that it is ready to impose counter-sanctions. WSJ reported that Russia’s economy ministry is looking at what the consequences of possible sanctions from the West would be and stands ready to impose similar penalties, deputy economy minister Alexei Likhachev said Thursday.

“We are ready for any developments, all options are being considered. But we hope that it will impose specific political sanctions but not a wider range of some trade and economic decisions,” Mr. Likhachev said.

Mr. Likhachev said Europe is unlikely to impose harsh sanctions against Russia as both sides have strong business and trade ties.

Unlike Europe, which is Russia’s major trading partner, the U.S. has more room to impose sanctions, he added.

“Our sanctions will be symmetric,” Mr. Likhachev said.

But it wouldn’t be a Russian response if Gazprom didn’t make an announcement or two. Which it did:

•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine’s Failure to Repay Gas Deliveries Debt Puts Company Dividend Policy At Risk
•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Debt for Gas Deliveries Now at $ 1.8 Billion, Keeps Growing
•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Political Crisis Detrimental For Company’s Investment Program
•Gazprom CEO Seeking Clarity On Gas Payments From Ukraine
•Gazprom CEO Doesn’t “Want A Gas Crisis”
•Gazprom CEO Doesn’t Address Cutting Off Gas Supplies In Statement
And while diplomacy is failing all around, and a trade and all too real war are potentially on the horizon, the real issue was and continues to the money. Which is why it was surprising to learn that earlier today the a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, was arrested in Vienna this week at the request of U.S. authorities, the Austrian government sources said on Thursday. Reuters reports that Firtash, 48, is one of Ukraine’s richest men, an oligarch whose close links to Russia and involvement in the gas, chemicals, media and banking sectors gave him substantial influence, notably during the administration of recently ousted, Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich.

The Federal Criminal Office, had identified the man taken into custody only as Dmitry F. and said he had been under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2006.

As a reminder, Stratfor’s take on the richest Ukrainians was that they would play a “decisive role” in the conflict:

With presidential elections set for May 25 and parliamentary elections likely to be held later in the year, Ukraine’s current administration will need the continued support of the oligarchs. More immediately, with Crimea on the verge of leaving Ukraine, the new government’s urgent challenge is to keep mainland Ukraine together. Eastern Ukraine is crucial to this — the region is a stronghold for pro-Russia sentiment and the main site of opposition, after Crimea, to the Western-backed and Western-leaning government.

The oligarchs are key to keeping control over eastern Ukraine, not only because Ukraine’s industrial production is concentrated in the east — thus anchoring a shaky economy — but also because many of the oligarchs have a stronger and more manageable relationship with Russia than the current government, which Moscow sees as illegitimate. Many of these business leaders hail from the industrial east. They have business ties to Russia and decades of experience dealing with Russian authorities — experience that figures such as Klitschko and Yatsenyuk lack.

So far, the new government has been able to maintain the support of the country’s most important oligarchs. In general, the oligarchs want Ukraine to stay united. They do not support partition or federalization, because this would compromise their business interests across the country. But this support is not guaranteed over the long term. There have been recent complaints about the new government, for example over the arrest of former Kharkiv Gov. Mikhail Dobkin. Akhmetov came out in Dobkin’s defense, saying the government should not be going after internal rivals right now, but rather focusing on concerns over Russia. This can be seen as a warning to the new administration: The oligarchs’ loyalty to the current regime is conditional and should not be taken for granted.

Ultimately, the biggest threat to the oligarchs is not the current government, over which they have substantial leverage, but Russia. The oligarchs stand to lose a great deal if Russia intervenes in eastern Ukraine. If Russia takes over eastern territories, it could threaten the oligarchs’ very control over their assets. Therefore they have an interest in bridging the gap between Russia and Kiev, but it is Moscow they fear more. The oligarchs have substantial power to shape the Ukrainian government’s decision-making as it moves forward. Their business interests and the territorial integrity of the country are at stake.

As always, follow the money, especially when some of the richest money ends up directly in prison in a country far away, under the orders of that global moralizer, the United States.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-13/merkel-warns-putin-massive-damage-russia-continues-piling-troops-pro-russia-oligarch

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Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks

By , March 13, 2014 9:29 am

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks
By: Tyler Durden on: 13.03.2014 [15:44 ] (28 reads)

Merkel Warns Putin Of “Massive Damage”, Russia Continues Piling Troops, Pro-Russia Oligarch Arrested, Gazprom Speaks
Tyler Durden’s pictureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/13/2014 10:05 -0400

.
It’s crunch time for Ukraine.

With just over two days to go until the Crimea referendum, all the actors are stepping up the diplomacy to a fever pitch in a desperate attempt to talk Putin out of formally annexing the peninsula following results which are well-known in advance will show the population’s allegiance to mother Russia. But while the generic rhetoric is well-known, one surprising place of escalation over the past 24 hours has been Germany’s Angela Merkel, who for the most part had been willing to stay on the sidelines in the war of words, has suddenly stepped up her own phrasing, and warned Moscow on Thursday that it risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, saying Western leaders were united in their readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary.

Reuters reports that the chancellor, using her strongest language since the start of the crisis and removing any suspicion that Germany might seek to avoid a confrontation with President Vladimir Putin, said his actions would lead to “catastrophe” for Ukraine and much more.

“We would not only see it, also as neighbours of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia,” she said in a speech in parliament. “No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”

Merkel has acknowledged that her efforts to persuade Putin to negotiate via a “contact group” with the transition government in Kiev – which he accuses of ousting Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich unlawfully – have failed and time is running out.

“To be absoultely clear, none of us want it to come to such measures but we are all ready and determined to if they are unavoidable,” said Merkel.

Germany receives over a third of its gas and oil from Russia and over 6,000 German firms are active there. A poll last week showed that a majority of Germans oppose sanctions against Russia. So is Merkel doing the Western thing, and bluffing in a last-ditch effort to convince Putin she isn’t, or does Putin still believe he has all the trump cards, and can bring the German economy to a crawl if Merkel acts out on her threat? We will known as soon as Sunday night.

Elsewhere, John Kerry headed out to London for some last ditch Russia talks on Ukraine. Expect this “effort” too to lead exactly nowhere.

In the meantime, Russia’s response is well known, which is more of the same – and the Russian Ministry of Defense made it quite clear what the next steps are when it announced that the large-scale maneuvers near the Ukraine border now involve some 8,500 troops, 270 tanks and 180 APCs.

An indication of how “seriously” Russia takes the diplomatic threats was the news that it is ready to impose counter-sanctions. WSJ reported that Russia’s economy ministry is looking at what the consequences of possible sanctions from the West would be and stands ready to impose similar penalties, deputy economy minister Alexei Likhachev said Thursday.

“We are ready for any developments, all options are being considered. But we hope that it will impose specific political sanctions but not a wider range of some trade and economic decisions,” Mr. Likhachev said.

Mr. Likhachev said Europe is unlikely to impose harsh sanctions against Russia as both sides have strong business and trade ties.

Unlike Europe, which is Russia’s major trading partner, the U.S. has more room to impose sanctions, he added.

“Our sanctions will be symmetric,” Mr. Likhachev said.

But it wouldn’t be a Russian response if Gazprom didn’t make an announcement or two. Which it did:

•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine’s Failure to Repay Gas Deliveries Debt Puts Company Dividend Policy At Risk
•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Debt for Gas Deliveries Now at $ 1.8 Billion, Keeps Growing
•Gazprom CEO: Ukraine Political Crisis Detrimental For Company’s Investment Program
•Gazprom CEO Seeking Clarity On Gas Payments From Ukraine
•Gazprom CEO Doesn’t “Want A Gas Crisis”
•Gazprom CEO Doesn’t Address Cutting Off Gas Supplies In Statement
And while diplomacy is failing all around, and a trade and all too real war are potentially on the horizon, the real issue was and continues to the money. Which is why it was surprising to learn that earlier today the a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, was arrested in Vienna this week at the request of U.S. authorities, the Austrian government sources said on Thursday. Reuters reports that Firtash, 48, is one of Ukraine’s richest men, an oligarch whose close links to Russia and involvement in the gas, chemicals, media and banking sectors gave him substantial influence, notably during the administration of recently ousted, Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich.

The Federal Criminal Office, had identified the man taken into custody only as Dmitry F. and said he had been under investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2006.

As a reminder, Stratfor’s take on the richest Ukrainians was that they would play a “decisive role” in the conflict:

With presidential elections set for May 25 and parliamentary elections likely to be held later in the year, Ukraine’s current administration will need the continued support of the oligarchs. More immediately, with Crimea on the verge of leaving Ukraine, the new government’s urgent challenge is to keep mainland Ukraine together. Eastern Ukraine is crucial to this — the region is a stronghold for pro-Russia sentiment and the main site of opposition, after Crimea, to the Western-backed and Western-leaning government.

The oligarchs are key to keeping control over eastern Ukraine, not only because Ukraine’s industrial production is concentrated in the east — thus anchoring a shaky economy — but also because many of the oligarchs have a stronger and more manageable relationship with Russia than the current government, which Moscow sees as illegitimate. Many of these business leaders hail from the industrial east. They have business ties to Russia and decades of experience dealing with Russian authorities — experience that figures such as Klitschko and Yatsenyuk lack.

So far, the new government has been able to maintain the support of the country’s most important oligarchs. In general, the oligarchs want Ukraine to stay united. They do not support partition or federalization, because this would compromise their business interests across the country. But this support is not guaranteed over the long term. There have been recent complaints about the new government, for example over the arrest of former Kharkiv Gov. Mikhail Dobkin. Akhmetov came out in Dobkin’s defense, saying the government should not be going after internal rivals right now, but rather focusing on concerns over Russia. This can be seen as a warning to the new administration: The oligarchs’ loyalty to the current regime is conditional and should not be taken for granted.

Ultimately, the biggest threat to the oligarchs is not the current government, over which they have substantial leverage, but Russia. The oligarchs stand to lose a great deal if Russia intervenes in eastern Ukraine. If Russia takes over eastern territories, it could threaten the oligarchs’ very control over their assets. Therefore they have an interest in bridging the gap between Russia and Kiev, but it is Moscow they fear more. The oligarchs have substantial power to shape the Ukrainian government’s decision-making as it moves forward. Their business interests and the territorial integrity of the country are at stake.

As always, follow the money, especially when some of the richest money ends up directly in prison in a country far away, under the orders of that global moralizer, the United States.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-13/merkel-warns-putin-massive-damage-russia-continues-piling-troops-pro-russia-oligarch

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Merkel Proposes EU Counter-Espionage Network to Beat NSA

By , February 17, 2014 2:03 pm

Merkel Proposes EU Counter-Espionage Network to Beat NSA
By: Jason Ditz on: 17.02.2014 [15:00 ] (103 reads)

Merkel Proposes EU Counter-Espionage Network to Beat NSA
Discusses Plans With French President Hollande
by Jason Ditz, February 16, 2014

After their respective talks with President Obama about NSA surveillance of EU member nations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has unveiled a proposal to create a European counter-espionage-focused communications network to foil NSA and GCHQ surveillance, and is discussing those plans with French President Francois Hollande.

NSA surveillance has become a huge concern across Europe, but nowhere more than in Germany, where NSA and GCHQ surveillance operations, running out of the US and British embassies, have been enormous and well publicized.

While the US has a deal with Britain to share surveillance data, the two seem to be eagerly targeting anyone and everyone else in the EU, despite Britain’s membership, and that could make an EU-wide network difficult to pull off.

If anything, it might convince the rest of the EU that Britain simply can’t be trusted to be involved in the network, and should be cut out and treated like a “foreign” communication source, which could put them at a disadvantage in trade with other EU members.

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/02/16/merkel-proposes-eu-counter-espionage-network-to-beat-nsa/

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U.S. diplomat plays down leaked call; Germany’s Merkel angry

By , February 8, 2014 6:55 am

U.S. diplomat plays down leaked call; Germany’s Merkel angry
By: Richard Balmforth and Natalia Zinets on: 08.02.2014 [05:45 ] (127 reads)

U.S. diplomat plays down leaked call; Germany’s Merkel angry

By Richard Balmforth and Natalia Zinets

KIEV Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:11pm EST

1 of 10. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland addresses a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kiev February 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

(Reuters) – A top U.S. diplomat tried to play down the damage to Washington’s diplomacy in Ukraine from a leaked telephone call on Friday, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel called an obscene remark about the EU “absolutely unacceptable.”

U.S. officials blamed Moscow for the Internet leak of recordings of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador in Kiev discussing a possible future government for Ukraine, where Washington and Brussels back anti-Kremlin demonstrators.

On Friday Nuland tried to limit the diplomatic fall-out from her comment. “I am not going to comment on private diplomatic conversations. But it was pretty impressive tradecraft. The audio was extremely clear,” she told reporters during a visit to Kiev.

She said she did not foresee damage to relations with opposition leaders, saying they “know exactly where we stand in respect of a non-violent solution to the problem.”

Of relations with Russia, she said Washington and Moscow had “very deep, very broad and complex” discussions on a range of international issues including Iran and “frank and comradely discussions” on Ukraine.

Western officials described the leaks as a throwback to the cloak-and-dagger tactics of the Cold War, apparently aimed as much at sowing discord among Western allies as at discrediting the opposition in Ukraine, a country of 46 million people on the verge of bankruptcy, torn between East and West.

In the call, Nuland is heard using an expletive to tell the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, it would be better if a new Ukrainian government is backed by the United Nations than the EU. “Fuck the EU,” she says.

U.S. officials did not deny the authenticity of the recording and said Nuland apologized to EU colleagues for the comment.

Angela Merkel, already furious with Washington for several months over reports that U.S. officials bugged her own phone, found Nuland’s remarks “totally unacceptable”, a spokeswoman for the German chancellor said.

Merkel also expressed support for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who heads the bloc’s Ukraine policy.

In a separate leaked recording, an Ashton aide is overheard complaining about the United States for telling Ukrainian opposition members that Brussels was “soft” in its reluctance to impose measures such as sanctions to hurt the pro-Russian government.

Nuland met President Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev on Thursday before the Ukrainian leader flew off to meet President Vladimir Putin at the Olympics in Russia.

TAPPED CALLS

Some U.S. officials blamed Moscow for leaking the call, noting that the recording, posted anonymously, was first highlighted in a tweet from a Russian official.

In Washington, U.S. officials said Nuland and Pyatt apparently used unencrypted cellphones, which are easy to monitor. The officials said smart phones issued to State Department officials had data encryption but not voice encryption.

In Nuland’s call, apparently recorded about 12 days ago when Ukrainian opposition leaders were considering an offer from Yanukovich to join his cabinet, she suggested that one of three leading figures might accept a post but two others should stay out. In the end, all three rejected the offer.

The diplomatic furor with the EU drew attention to a gulf between Washington and Brussels, who agree on the goal to draw Ukraine closer to the West but disagree over how to achieve it.

Some U.S. officials want to threaten Yanukovich’s government with sanctions, including travel bans on individuals. Many Europeans worry that such tactics could be counterproductive, driving Ukraine’s elite closer to Moscow.

Relations between Washington and Moscow, frosty for years, have been bitter recently, with disputes over Syria, human rights and other issues leaving little to show for what President Barack Obama’s administration once billed as a diplomatic “reset”.

In Ukraine, economic and political events have been coming to a head three months into a political crisis that began with Yanukovich’s decision to walk away from a free trade pact with the EU under Russian pressure.

CAPITAL CONTROLS

Ukraine’s central bank imposed new capital controls overnight in a bid to shore up the sliding hryvnia currency. Officials said the measures were only temporary. The include a six-day waiting period for hard currency purchases, a maximum of around $ 5,700 for private transfers abroad and a ban on buying hard currency to pay back foreign loans early or invest abroad.

“The result will be a flourishing black market” in dollars, said Tatiana Orlova, an emerging markets strategist at RBS in London.

Central bank governor Ihor Sorkin said: “When the situation improves, these temporary measures will be removed.”

On the political front, Yanukovich must name a new prime minister after sacking a pro-Russian loyalist in a concession to demonstrators only to fail to persuade opposition leaders to take his place.

Russia, which bailed out Ukraine with an offer of $ 15 billion in cheap gas and loans after Yanukovich snubbed the EU trade pact, has cut off the funds until it learns who the new prime minister will be. Yanukovich may discuss it with Putin.

Modern Ukraine is divided between eastern provinces that were districts of Russia for centuries and where most people speak Russian, and western sections that were annexed by the Soviets from Poland and the former Austrian empire, where most people speak Ukrainian and many resent Russian domination.

Although many Ukrainians say they dream of integration with the West, the Soviet economic legacy gives Moscow extraordinary leverage. Ukraine’s heavy industry depends on imports of energy, above all Russian natural gas.

Moscow portrays the anti-Yanukovich demonstrators as paid Western agents and seems to be pushing for Yanukovich to order a crackdown to clear the streets.

In some of the sharpest language yet, the Kremlin’s point man on Ukraine, Sergei Glazyev, urged the Ukrainian leader to stop negotiating with “putschists”. He accused Washington of arming, funding and training the opposition to take power.

Nuland called the remarks “pure fantasy”.

“He could be a science fiction writer,” she said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/07/us-ukraine-idUSBREA151QL20140207

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Merkel condemns US over EU insult

By , February 7, 2014 10:46 pm

Merkel condemns US over EU insult
By: BBC (Mark Mardell) on: 07.02.2014 [20:04 ] (68 reads)

Victoria Nuland has apologised after she referred disparagingly to the EU’s role during a conversation said to be with the US ambassador to Ukraine.

A recording of the exchange was posted online, with the US hinting at Russia’s involvement in bugging and leaking it.

The EU and US are involved in talks to end months of unrest in Ukraine.

The conversation between Ms Nuland and Mr Pyatt reveals deeper tensions between America and Europe.

Washington seems to prefer a deal brokered by the UN rather than Brussels. If true, that would bruise the feelings of EU officials. They believe this is their crisis to solve.

Today’s comments and accusations are a reminder that this crisis is far from over and that it has the potential to cause division and tension even between allies.

Transcript of leaked US Ukraine call
In Kiev, Ms Nuland – an assistant secretary of state – said she would not make a public statement on the matter.

She described the leak as “pretty impressive tradecraft. The audio quality was very good”.

The state department said she had apologised in private to EU officials.

Mass anti-government protests erupted in Ukraine in late November after President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a far-reaching association and trade agreement with the EU – under heavy pressure from Moscow.

Russia has been widely accused of using its economic clout to persuade Mr Yanukovych not to pursue closer ties with Brussels.

Russia has itself accused Washington and the EU of meddling in Ukraine.

‘Not a good idea’
German government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said Ms Merkel fully supported the work done by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to find a solution to the crisis.

An opposition supporter waves an Ukrainian flag on top of a barricade in a street heading to Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicentre of the country’s current unrest, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.

The president has invited the opposition to join the government but it has declined
Opposition supporters march toward the parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.
On Thursday, some opposition protesters marched to parliament in a show of force
Victoria Nuland with (L-R) Oleh Tyahnybok, Vitaly Klitschko and Arseniy Yatseniuk, 6 Feb
On her visit Ms Nuland met opposition heads (L-R) Oleh Tyahnybok, Vitaly Klitschko and Arseniy Yatseniuk

Foreign policy is a contact sport, full of complex issues, high stakes, competing interests and palpable tensions”
“The chancellor finds these remarks totally unacceptable and wants to emphasise that Mrs Ashton is doing an outstanding job,” Ms Wirtz said.

The alleged conversation between Ms Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, appeared on YouTube on Thursday.
The video, which lasts for four minutes and 10 seconds, was entitled “Maidan’s puppets” in Russian – a reference to the square in Kiev, where pro-EU protests have been held for months.
A transcript of the whole conversation was also posted in Russian.
At one point, the female speaker mentions the UN and its attempts to find a solution to the Ukraine stand-off.
She says: “So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the UN help glue it and you know. Expletive deleted the EU.”

Ukraine unrest: Timeline

21 November 2013: Protests start after Ukraine pulls out of EU deal

17 December: Russia agrees $ 15bn deal to buy Ukraine government bonds

16 January 2014: Parliament passes law restricting the right to protest

22 January: Two protesters killed in clashes with police in Kiev; protests spread across many cities

28 January: Parliament votes to annul protest law; PM and cabinet resign

29 January: Parliament passes amnesty law for detained protesters

Leaked call shows US hand on Ukraine Ukraine’s protest leaders Q&A: Stand-off in Ukraine
The male replies: “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.”

The two people also discuss their dealings with Ukraine’s three main opposition leaders – Vitaly Klitschko, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Oleh Tyahnybok and their attempts to encourage them to work together.

However, the female speaker says that Mr Klitschko, the former heavyweight boxing world champion, should not be in any new government. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

She adds: “I think tats Arseniy Yatseniuk is the guy who’s got the economic experience.”

US officials refused to confirm or deny the tape’s authenticity and EU officials refused to comment.

‘New low’
However, state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki suggested that the tape could have been leaked by Moscow, noting that a senior Russian official was one of the first to draw attention to the audio.

Victoria Nuland: “Pretty impressive tradecraft”
“We think this is a new low in Russian tradecraft. This is something they’ve been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about,” she said.

Russian government aide Dmitry Loskutov, who was one of the first to draw attention to the posting, told the AP news agency that neither he nor the government had leaked the conversation.

Moscow has promised a $ 15bn (£9.2bn) loan to Ukraine but said it would not be released in full until the formation of a new government in Kiev.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned last month as President Yanukovych sought to calm street protests.

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The Merkel Phone Tap: Obama as “Unilateral” in His Own Way as Bush?

By , October 28, 2013 9:10 am
German Chancellor Merkel and President Obama in happier times. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

German Chancellor Merkel and President Obama in happier times. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

While some would argue that the United States and its allies routinely spy each other, it’s one thing to bug the Germany embassy in Washington, but another to tap into the phone of the leader of the country, as well as other officials. As we recently posted, spying by the Obama administration on German Chancellor Angela Merkel was a “nadir of sorts for the United States, an utter embarrassment.” Furthermore, as McClatchy reported:

The German allegations came the same week as similar charges from France and Mexico and fast on the heels of angry allegations out of Brazil.

Adding insult to injury (McClatchy again)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama was “obviously aware” that privacy was an especially sensitive issue in Germany, given the history of the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police force. Merkel grew up in East Germany.

To Gregor Peter Schmitz of Der Spiegel, though, it’s emblematic of the Obama administration’s relationship with foreign leaders in general.

During a recent visit by a European head of government to Washington, the atmosphere was described as frosty by those in the entourage from Europe. Obama didn’t find the time for even a little small talk, the sources said, and “it seemed to some like an appointment with a lawyer.”

Obama angered Nicolas Sarkozy by choosing to dine with his family instead of with France’s then-president during his visit to Paris. The Polish and Czech heads of state were informed by telephone by the president that a long-planned missile defense system would not be installed in their countries. … An African head of government said during a visit to Washington that he longed for the days of George W. Bush. At least with him, he said, one knew where one stood.

As he continues to compare Obama and Bush, though, Schmitz might be making it a little too personal.

Unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama is loved by the people of the world, but much less by their heads of government. On the heels of recent revelations that US spy agencies might have monitored Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone, the complaints about Merkel’s “lost friend” Obama are misplaced. Obama doesn’t want to be a friend.

Meanwhile, as McClatchy reported, the inevitable question arose:

“What terrorists did the NSA hope to find on the chancellor’s cellphone?” Hans-Christian Stroebele, another member of Parliament, asked during an appearance on ARD television.

And

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ARD that Washington and Berlin couldn’t return to business as usual until the scandal was sorted out.

In the end, Amy Davidson writes in the New Yorker of the NSA:

If we grant ourselves the prerogative to listen in on foreign leaders, then we can’t really mind if they decide they have the right to be outraged about it—and to share less information voluntarily, to be less good friends themselves.

Foreign Policy In Focus

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!

By , October 25, 2013 11:00 pm

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!
By: Bulov on: 25.10.2013 [04:03 ] (231 reads)

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36643.htm

• Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official
• NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’
• Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges

By James Ball

The NSA memo suggests that such surveillance was not isolated as the agency routinely monitors world leaders. Photograph: Guardian

October 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” -The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.
The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.
The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.
The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers”.
It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.
“In one recent case,” the memo notes, “a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs intelligence production centers have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”
The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: “These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”
But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”. In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.
The memo then asks analysts to think about any customers they currently serve who might similarly be happy to turn over details of their contacts.
“This success leads S2 signals intelligence to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence,” it states. “S2 welcomes such information!”
The document suggests that sometimes these offers come unsolicited, with US “customers” spontaneously offering the agency access to their overseas networks.
“From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials,” it states. “Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

The Guardian approached the Obama administration for comment on the latest document. Officials declined to respond directly to the new material, instead referring to comments delivered by Carney at Thursday’s daily briefing.

Carney told reporters: “The NSA revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.
“These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”
The public accusation of spying on Merkel adds to mounting political tensions in Europe about the scope of US surveillance on the governments of its allies, after a cascade of backlashes and apologetic phone calls with leaders across the continent over the course of the week.

Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor’s communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”
At the daily briefing on Thursday, Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the US had spied on Merkel’s calls in the past.
The NSA memo seen by the Guardian was written halfway through George W Bush’s second term, when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld was in his final months as defence secretary.

Merkel, who, according to Reuters, suspected the surveillance after finding her mobile phone number written on a US document, is said to have called for US surveillance to be placed on a new legal footing during a phone call to President Obama.

“The German federal government, as a close ally and partner of the US, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their co-operation,” she told the president.
The leader of Germany’s Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an “unprecedented breach of trust” between the two countries.
Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.
The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens’ data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

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NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!

By , October 25, 2013 3:58 am

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!
By: Bulov on: 25.10.2013 [04:03 ] (130 reads)

NSA Monitored Calls of 35 World Leaders After US Official Handed Over Contacts. Germany’s Merkel is really pissed off at Obama Regime!
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36643.htm

• Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official
• NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’
• Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges

By James Ball

The NSA memo suggests that such surveillance was not isolated as the agency routinely monitors world leaders. Photograph: Guardian

October 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” -The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.
The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.
The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.
The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers”.
It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.
“In one recent case,” the memo notes, “a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs intelligence production centers have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”
The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: “These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”
But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”. In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.
The memo then asks analysts to think about any customers they currently serve who might similarly be happy to turn over details of their contacts.
“This success leads S2 signals intelligence to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence,” it states. “S2 welcomes such information!”
The document suggests that sometimes these offers come unsolicited, with US “customers” spontaneously offering the agency access to their overseas networks.
“From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials,” it states. “Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

The Guardian approached the Obama administration for comment on the latest document. Officials declined to respond directly to the new material, instead referring to comments delivered by Carney at Thursday’s daily briefing.

Carney told reporters: “The NSA revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.
“These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”
The public accusation of spying on Merkel adds to mounting political tensions in Europe about the scope of US surveillance on the governments of its allies, after a cascade of backlashes and apologetic phone calls with leaders across the continent over the course of the week.

Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor’s communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”
At the daily briefing on Thursday, Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the US had spied on Merkel’s calls in the past.
The NSA memo seen by the Guardian was written halfway through George W Bush’s second term, when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld was in his final months as defence secretary.

Merkel, who, according to Reuters, suspected the surveillance after finding her mobile phone number written on a US document, is said to have called for US surveillance to be placed on a new legal footing during a phone call to President Obama.

“The German federal government, as a close ally and partner of the US, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their co-operation,” she told the president.
The leader of Germany’s Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an “unprecedented breach of trust” between the two countries.
Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.
The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens’ data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

What’s your response? – Scroll down to add / read comments

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