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EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs

By , April 10, 2014 4:10 am

EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs
By: Barbara Lewis on: 10.04.2014 [06:19 ] (95 reads)

EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS Tue Apr 8, 2014 9:20am EDT

(Reuters) – Ukraine’s energy minister, EU officials and industry representatives held talks on Tuesday on cutting reliance on Russian gas as tension with Moscow drove home the urgency of finding alternative energy sources and supply routes.

Concerns reached a new pitch after pro-Moscow protesters seized buildings in eastern Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking industrial heartland, which Kiev said is a replay of events in Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed last month.

At the same time, Kiev missed a midnight deadline to reduce its $ 2.2 billion debt owed to Russia for natural gas supplies.

That adds to concerns Russia could cut off Ukraine’s gas supplies, with possible knock-on effects for the European Union.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was chairing two meetings in Brussels.

One was of the EU “gas coordination group”, at which experts debate storage levels, and one brought together industry and Ukraine’s energy minister to discuss security of supply.

A copy of an invitation to industry, seen by Reuters, says Oettinger invites “relevant gas companies for a frank and open discussion” to contribute to EU energy security for the next winter and over the mid-term.

In particular, it cites the importance of including liquefied natural gas operators. Super-cooled LNG, which can be brought by ship from sources around the world, is one way to cut reliance on pipeline gas from Russia.

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Yuri Prodan was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Russia’s decision to nearly double gas prices to Ukraine was unjustified and Kiev could not pay.

“If the situation is not resolved, there will be a threat not only for the supply of gas to Ukraine, but also for the transit of gas to Europe,” Prodan said.

Following previous crises in 2006 and 2009 over Kiev’s unpaid gas bills, which led to the disruption of exports to western Europe, the European Union has already introduced some measures to improve its energy security, including increased gas storage and more renewable energy.

Although analysts say nowhere near enough has been done, EU officials say there is renewed determination to act, alongside a recognition that changing Europe’s energy system will take time.

Denmark put forward the idea, adopted by an EU summit last month, that the Commission should draw up by June a detailed plan on increasing energy security and says this time around the mood is completely different.

“There is no doubt that this is a game-changer,” Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard told Reuters by telephone late last week, ahead of the Brussels talks. “The whole Ukraine crisis has definitely changed the atmosphere during our discussions.”

Russia provides Ukraine with around half of its gas and the European Union with roughly one third of its demand, some 40 percent of which currently flows via Ukraine.

WELL STOCKED

Europe hopes to secure extra imports of LNG and is working on increasing capacity to reverse the flow through some pipelines so that gas, including some imported from Russia, can be sent back eastward to Ukraine from EU countries.

Oettinger has been trying for months to broker a deal with Slovakia to allow Ukraine to receive up to 8 billion cubic metres a year in a reverse flow of gas.

Ukraine, however, says progress on this has not been fast enough while Russia says it would be illegal.

Europe’s increased storage levels, currently around half full, mean it can cope with a short-term disruption.

The EU’s gas coordination group, with energy experts from all 28 EU member states, was set up in response to the previous pricing rows between Russia and Ukraine.

It last met in March, when officials from some EU countries, such as Poland and Greece, said they feared gas shortages and economic damage if Russia stopped pumping gas to Ukraine.

Moscow also has a great deal at stake. Its gas exports to the European Union provide state-controlled exporter Gazprom with an average of $ 5 billion per month in revenues.

(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in London and Robin Emmott and Adrian Croft in Brussels and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Editing by Anthony Barker)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/08/us-ukraine-crisis-eu-gas-idUSBREA3712P20140408

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EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs

By , April 10, 2014 1:26 am

EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs
By: Barbara Lewis on: 10.04.2014 [06:19 ] (62 reads)

EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS Tue Apr 8, 2014 9:20am EDT

(Reuters) – Ukraine’s energy minister, EU officials and industry representatives held talks on Tuesday on cutting reliance on Russian gas as tension with Moscow drove home the urgency of finding alternative energy sources and supply routes.

Concerns reached a new pitch after pro-Moscow protesters seized buildings in eastern Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking industrial heartland, which Kiev said is a replay of events in Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed last month.

At the same time, Kiev missed a midnight deadline to reduce its $ 2.2 billion debt owed to Russia for natural gas supplies.

That adds to concerns Russia could cut off Ukraine’s gas supplies, with possible knock-on effects for the European Union.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was chairing two meetings in Brussels.

One was of the EU “gas coordination group”, at which experts debate storage levels, and one brought together industry and Ukraine’s energy minister to discuss security of supply.

A copy of an invitation to industry, seen by Reuters, says Oettinger invites “relevant gas companies for a frank and open discussion” to contribute to EU energy security for the next winter and over the mid-term.

In particular, it cites the importance of including liquefied natural gas operators. Super-cooled LNG, which can be brought by ship from sources around the world, is one way to cut reliance on pipeline gas from Russia.

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Yuri Prodan was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Russia’s decision to nearly double gas prices to Ukraine was unjustified and Kiev could not pay.

“If the situation is not resolved, there will be a threat not only for the supply of gas to Ukraine, but also for the transit of gas to Europe,” Prodan said.

Following previous crises in 2006 and 2009 over Kiev’s unpaid gas bills, which led to the disruption of exports to western Europe, the European Union has already introduced some measures to improve its energy security, including increased gas storage and more renewable energy.

Although analysts say nowhere near enough has been done, EU officials say there is renewed determination to act, alongside a recognition that changing Europe’s energy system will take time.

Denmark put forward the idea, adopted by an EU summit last month, that the Commission should draw up by June a detailed plan on increasing energy security and says this time around the mood is completely different.

“There is no doubt that this is a game-changer,” Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard told Reuters by telephone late last week, ahead of the Brussels talks. “The whole Ukraine crisis has definitely changed the atmosphere during our discussions.”

Russia provides Ukraine with around half of its gas and the European Union with roughly one third of its demand, some 40 percent of which currently flows via Ukraine.

WELL STOCKED

Europe hopes to secure extra imports of LNG and is working on increasing capacity to reverse the flow through some pipelines so that gas, including some imported from Russia, can be sent back eastward to Ukraine from EU countries.

Oettinger has been trying for months to broker a deal with Slovakia to allow Ukraine to receive up to 8 billion cubic metres a year in a reverse flow of gas.

Ukraine, however, says progress on this has not been fast enough while Russia says it would be illegal.

Europe’s increased storage levels, currently around half full, mean it can cope with a short-term disruption.

The EU’s gas coordination group, with energy experts from all 28 EU member states, was set up in response to the previous pricing rows between Russia and Ukraine.

It last met in March, when officials from some EU countries, such as Poland and Greece, said they feared gas shortages and economic damage if Russia stopped pumping gas to Ukraine.

Moscow also has a great deal at stake. Its gas exports to the European Union provide state-controlled exporter Gazprom with an average of $ 5 billion per month in revenues.

(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in London and Robin Emmott and Adrian Croft in Brussels and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Editing by Anthony Barker)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/08/us-ukraine-crisis-eu-gas-idUSBREA3712P20140408

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Moscow urges UNSC to discuss Syrian rebels’ siege of Christian town of Kessab

By , April 2, 2014 12:15 am

Moscow urges UNSC to discuss Syrian rebels’ siege of Christian town of Kessab
By: RT on: 02.04.2014 [06:54 ] (3 reads)

April 01, 2014 22:22

Russia urged the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Syria’s Christian majority town of Kessab, after Al-Qaeda-linked militants reportedly attacked the town, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

“The UN Security Council should discuss the situation in Kessab and give it a principled evaluation,” it stated. “We condemn extremists’ actions in Syria. We believe that the Syrian government and the opposition should join efforts to eradicate terrorism on the Syrian land.”

On March 21, jihadists reportedly crossed into Syria from Turkey and seized the town in Latakia province, home to over 2,000 ethnic Armenians. The attack caused hundreds of local families, mainly Armenian, to flee their homes and seek shelter in the city of Latakia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry noted that there were no military objects on the attacked territory and added that the only fault of the families, who were forced to flee, was their loyalty to Syria’s government.

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, told RT Arabic that Syria is hoping the UN will help resolve the situation in Kessab. In the past week, Syria sent five letters to the UN Security Council and the General Secretary. “These letters contain detailed information about Turkish direct involvement in the crisis by providing protection to terrorist groups that are operating in the Kessab area,” Jaafari said.

He further added that military groups managed to get to Kessab under the cover of Turkish artillery strikes, Turkish aviation, and tanks, which were all used as a distraction.

“This allowed the terrorists to avoid direct clashes with the Syrian army…unleashed the terrorists’ hands to carry out their heinous, unspeakable crimes.”

Earlier, the Armenian government also called on the UN to protect Kessab, evoked the Armenian genocide of 1915, and accused Turkey of allowing jihadists cross its border to attack Kessab. In turn, Ankara slammed the accusations and condemned the charge as “confrontational political propaganda.”

The attack on Kessab was reportedly carried out by fighters from the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria, and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham brigade, part of the Islamic Front alliance.

Earlier this week, the Syrian army launched an operation to force the militants out of the town.

The situation escalated on March 23 when Turkey shot down a Syrian Air Force jet at the Kessab crossing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the plane was intercepted after it violated his country’s airspace.

In response, Damascus accused Ankara of “blatant aggression,” saying the fighter jet had been over Syria. The Syrian pilot said a Turksih aircraft fired a missile at him while he was pursuing terrorists within Syrian territories, SANA news agency reported.

h ttp://rt.com/news/moscow-un-syria-kessab-693/

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Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow

By , March 13, 2014 6:46 am

Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow
By: trend on: 13.03.2014 [07:03 ] (76 reads)

Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow

12 March 2014, 16:23 (GMT+04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 12

By Umid Niayesh – Trend:

Iranian deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi left Tehran for Moscow on March 12, ahead of the second round of nuclear talks with P5+1, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.

Araqchi is scheduled to meet with Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Rybakov.

Iranian deputy foreign minister also will pay a visit to China after Russia.

Russia and China are members of the P5+1 group (five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) which reached an interim nuclear deal with Iran in November 2013.

Under the agreement which took effect on Jan 20, the six major powers agreed to give Iran access to its $ 4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if the country fulfills the deal’s terms which offer sanctions relief in exchange for steps on curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

The two sides held meetings in Vienna in February to work out a comprehensive deal.

Iran and P5+1 intend to continue their talks to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.

The second round of nuclear talks is scheduled to start in Vienna on March 17 with a meeting between EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon – something that Iran denies. The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons, using nuclear energy for medical research instead.

http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2251980.html

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Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow

By , March 13, 2014 1:19 am

Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow
By: trend on: 13.03.2014 [07:03 ] (31 reads)

Iranian top nuclear negotiator visits Moscow

12 March 2014, 16:23 (GMT+04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 12

By Umid Niayesh – Trend:

Iranian deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi left Tehran for Moscow on March 12, ahead of the second round of nuclear talks with P5+1, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.

Araqchi is scheduled to meet with Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Rybakov.

Iranian deputy foreign minister also will pay a visit to China after Russia.

Russia and China are members of the P5+1 group (five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) which reached an interim nuclear deal with Iran in November 2013.

Under the agreement which took effect on Jan 20, the six major powers agreed to give Iran access to its $ 4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if the country fulfills the deal’s terms which offer sanctions relief in exchange for steps on curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

The two sides held meetings in Vienna in February to work out a comprehensive deal.

Iran and P5+1 intend to continue their talks to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.

The second round of nuclear talks is scheduled to start in Vienna on March 17 with a meeting between EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon – something that Iran denies. The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons, using nuclear energy for medical research instead.

http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/2251980.html

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The Axis of Hope: Beijing to Beirut, Via Moscow, Tehran and Damascus

By , March 12, 2014 2:26 pm

The Axis of Hope: Beijing to Beirut, Via Moscow, Tehran and Damascus
By: André Chamy /Voltaire Network on: 12.03.2014 [20:24 ] (31 reads)

9 March 2014

The U.S. strategy, devised by Zbigniew Brzezinski, using support for Islamist obscurantism to fight both progressive Muslim policies and against Russia, sparked an alliance to resist it. Now, China, Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are forced to stick together to survive. Ultimately observed André Charny, the trap has sprung on those who set it.

Doku Umarov, the Emir of Al- Qaeda in the North Caucasus, was responsible for crippling Russia during the Olympic Games in Sochi, while NATO changed the regime in Ukraine.

Islam against Islam …

Iran, Syria and Lebanon thanks to Hezbollah and its allies, considered by Westerners for years to be a source of evil because of their support for what they call “terrorism” have not finished being talked about. After individual treatment for each of them according to political divisions in the region, an axis has set itself up that starts at the gates of Russia and China to end at those of Tel Aviv.

This axis is rooted in Western politicies reserved for this region. The United States, followed by major Western countries, have declared how its economic interests must be preserved at all costs. This biased policy has generated tensions over the years, the source of armed conflicts and street fights that incessantly feed the televised news.

This policy, enshrined for some time, was implemented with the support of local stakeholders. However, an acceleration took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall, lived as an historical event, which it obviously was, but that marked the advent of an aggressive and contemptuous strategy toward the Middle East.

The USSR having disappeared, the countries of the region could not hope for anything other than to rely on Western control, notably that of the United States. Instead of taking advantage of this privileged position as arbitrator, the latter and some other Western countries would favor the crash and the domination of the “extended Middle East” through direct interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Lebanon, in Yemen and the Maghreb with the declared intention of intervening in Syria and in Iran.

The United States has known, since the seventies, following the oil shock, that they must control the sources of raw materials, especially oil, as well as routes for accessing these resources, because they had the bitter experience of discovering this vital necessity both for their economy and for the comfort of their citizens.

The opinions of experts differ on the assessment of gas reserves and hydrocarbons, but an idea remains constant, that of the finite nature of these treasures that lie in greedy Bedouin hands who have no need of their gold as long as their leisure and fun are funded.

At a time when Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” has replaced the Cold War, Islam has become for the United States the new useful enemy, an “ally” of sorts, against Europe. Pragmatic and opportunistic, they have seen in the Islamic movement a “groundswell” and chose to play the Muslim card to better control the arteries of black gold. They had sensed the usefulness of this dangerous ally long before the implosion of communism.

Starting also in the 1970s, the United States supported Islamist extremists, from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to the Islamist Bosnians and Albanians, from the Taliban to the Egyptian Jamaa Islamyah. There was even talk of their relationship with the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) which became the violent “GIA” in Algeria. They pampered the Wahhabis at the head of the pro-US Saudi monarchy which finances almost all Islamist networks in the world. They played the sorcerer’s apprentice and fundamentalist movements they believed they could handle sometimes turned against the “Great Satan ” to achieve their own goals.

In contrast, the U.S. has abandoned or wanted to neutralize Muslim countries likely to gain political power and relative autonomy. Consider President Jimmy Carter’s abandoning the Shah, while Iran was becoming master of its oil. To this is added the will to crush any hint of intellectual independence for even secular Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt and Iraq.

Playing with Islamism came to the detriment of secular movements representing an alternative to radical political Islam, the latter representing a safe haven after each failure in this area. However, this “Islamism” is obviously not to be confused with the “Islamic” Republic of Iran which has an unusual genesis. Moreover, several authors of distinction studying Islamist movements sometimes make the mistake of confusing the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Islamists, though they have nothing in common, except the fact they reference Islam and Sharia. The fundamental difference is the very definition of political Islam advocated by one and the other.

Everything separates them fundamentally and if indeed the Americans didn’t do much to save the Shah, this attitude was justified by them for strategic reasons, because Iran for them could in no way be permitted to become a major regional power. Which explains that some time after the fall of the Shah, the U.S. initiated the war waged by Saddam Hussein against his neighbor, which led to the ruin of the only two countries that could have a decisive influence in the Gulf region.

However, the developments in Iran after its war with Iraq allowed the former to become a real regional power, feared by certain Gulf monarchies, who preferred to entrust their security to the West, most particularly to the USA. In exchange, they entrusted their “resources” to Western economies and funded activities and movements designated by Washington’s secret services.

These same monarchies were to turn a blind eye to current events in some regions including Palestine, even though they claimed to support the aspirations of the Palestinian people. They became the first Arab countries to have direct or secret contacts with the State of Israel, which later led to the rapprochement of Palestinian resistance movements with the Iranians.

The latter appear today as the only ones willing to defend the holy places of Islam with the men of Al-Quds, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards, and through their support for Hamas. The US magic has turned against the magician.

The Arab-Muslim world must remain for North America a world rich in oil, exploitable at will, but poor in gray matter and kept in a state of total technological dependence, a market of a billion consumers incapable of political, military and economic independence. The Qur’anic yoke is, according to this view, conducive to intellectual poverty.

On the night of March 1 to 2, 2014 , while Russia was preparing to intervene in Crimea, an Islamist group attacked passengers at a station in Yunnan (a region where Muslims are very rare), killing at least 29 people and seriously injuring 130. The United States thus sent a message to the Chinese government not to intervene in the conflict. To everyone’s surprise, the Chinese ambassador to the Security Council the next day limited himself to a few general phrases in the debate on the situation in Ukraine.

The Rules of the Game

A Tehran-Beirut axis through Baghdad and Damascus materialized progressively at the expense of Washington’s strategy in the region. It was essential over the years that this axis adopt allies and partners in particular because of sanctions against Iran and Syria.

Moreover, historically, the Damascus-Moscow line has never been suspended despite the disappearance of the Soviet Union, despite the tumultuous period crossed by the Russian Federation. But the arrival of President Vladimir Putin, aspiring to restore Russia ’s role on the international scene and preserve its strategic interests, was not to the liking of the United States.

For its part, Iran would develop its relations with Russia, become its objective ally in negotiations with the West about its nuclear program. China has also strengthened its ties with Tehran, especially following the embargo on the Iranian economy.

These two great powers became by force of circumstances the strategic rear bases of the “Axis of Hope”. It is obvious that everyone is benefiting, but the Russians and the Chinese are not unhappy to have partners who queen the pawns of their historical opponents, while enjoying the Iranian oil and gas and strategic positions offered by Syria’s situation over U.S. forward positions.

In his book, The Grand Chessboard, America and the Rest of the World, published in 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Carter and very influential in Clinton’s United States, revealed with cynical frankness the reasons at the root of the Islamic strategy of his country. According to him, the main challenge for the United States is Eurasia, a vast expanse ranging from Western Europe to China via Central Asia : “From the American point of view, Russia seems destined to become the problem … “

The United States is therefore becoming more and more interested in the development of resources in the region and seeks to prevent Russia from having supremacy. “The U.S. policy also aims both the weakening of Russia and the absence of military autonomy of Europe. Hence the NATO expansion to Central and Eastern Europe, in order to sustain the U.S. presence, while the formula for a European defense capable of countering American hegemony on the old continent would involve “an anti-hegemonic Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis.

In fact, through its choices, the US seems to have been mistaken on all fronts that were used as bases to conquer sources of oil and gas, attracting to itself stinging political failures. As for the Western countries, they virtually abandoned all strategy and have entrusted their foreign policy to the United States. Even if they try to save face by some posturing, they know that they are not the ones who run the show. The recent example of François Hollande and Laurent Fabius playing let’s-go-to-war is an illustration : they had to fold quickly, understanding that negotiations between Messieurs Lavrov and Kerry took precedence over their preemptive announcements.

The Response of the Tiger

Noting the failure of their maneuvers, the Americans wanted to raise tension against Russian authorities determined to oppose them, while China remained in ambush to assess the situation, moreover little inclined to trust Washington …

Recall that China is as much interested as Russia in the Middle East : the first sign of interest dates back to 1958 during the Lebanon crisis which led to the U.S. landing on Lebanese shores, to which Beijing strongly objected, long before the USSR.

These US maneuvers are particularly well-established, since the process is relatively simple. First it participates in the creation of NGOs supposed to advocate for human rights. It encourages some “whistleblowers”, and it provides a forum for obscure opponents without great scope to create at a given time a set of conditions for the destabilization of a country.

This is a job that is prepared for years. It has been tried during the Cold War, the most glaring example is that of Chile, and continued to the present day with the famous “color revolutions” and more recently the “Arab Spring.” The same actions are being prepared in other countries that we see in the headlines, especially in Azerbaijan.

It is in this context that “events” broke out in June 2009 in Iran, under the pretext of challenging conditions for the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Islamic Republic had to face it for nearly nine months. Hezbollah was also confronted, after the Israeli attack which lasted 33 days, by a new government plot to deprive it of a tool directly related to its security, namely its communication network. Its response was quick and effective on 7 May 2008 which the plotters considered as an affront though it was tit for tat !

There remained in the “Axis of Hope” only Syria, which had been notified by the Americans that if it did not stop its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, it would suffer the fate of other Arab countries affected by a “spring” supposed to bring the swallows of democracy but which brought only the crows of terror and instability.

It is in this context that the famous “color revolutions” impact Russia through the Ukrainian example. These revolutions have deprived Russia of most of its strategic field. Europe (UEE) was used, which was to host the Ukrainians with a promise of better economic conditions and aid. But in reality, these events have allowed the United States to establish military bases at Moscow’s doorstep. At the time, Russia, weakened by a power that had neither ambition nor scale was not able to respond.

Russia today cannot accept that this example recur throughout Ukraine. This explains its immediate reaction. Its reaction is despite appearances in accordance with the examples in the Middle East, since the idea is to say that democracy is not exercised in the street, but is won at the polls. If the opposition wanted to take power, it should have to go through elections.

Beyond this, Russia, barely out of aggression from the Chechen militias that brought death and terror in its territory with the financial support of some Gulf monarchies, of course defends its interests. This explains the veiled threat made by the Saudis saying : “We could help you avoid the threat of terrorism in Sochi, if you yield on the Syrian issue.” They were obviously turned down.

In any event , this demonstrates both the role of the Gulf monarchies and the use of Islamist movements to covertly promote U.S. policies which, through the destabilization of some states, believe they create conditions which would be more favorable to them in the region.

The Beijing Beirut axis, via Moscow, Tehran and Damascus, will only grow stronger. This is virtually a survival issue for each. According to an Eastern proverb: “Do not back a cat into a corner, at the risk of seeing it transform into a tiger.” But what can happen if we try to back a tiger into a corner? It is certain that nobody wants to know the answer.

h ttp://www.voltairenet.org/article182604.html

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Moscow denounces gun attack on pro-Russian activists in Eastern Ukraine

By , March 10, 2014 8:01 am

Moscow denounces gun attack on pro-Russian activists in Eastern Ukraine
By: RT on: 10.03.2014 [13:32 ] (78 reads)

Moscow denounces gun attack on pro-Russian activists in Eastern Ukraine
Published time: March 10, 2014 10:00
Edited time: March 10, 2014 11:11

A girl holds a banner reading “Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sevastopol” as pro-Russian supporters attend a rally under the statue of Lenin in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2014 (AFP Photo / Sergey Bobok)

A girl holds a banner reading “Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sevastopol” as pro-Russian supporters attend a rally under the statue of Lenin in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2014 (AFP Photo / Sergey Bobok)

The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized western governments and media for turning a blind eye on alarming incidents in Ukraine, including a gun attack on a pro-Russian rally in the city of Kharkov.

According to eyewitness reports, some seven or eight masked people drove a mini-van to a Saturday rally in central Kharkov, which was demanding a regional referendum on whether it should follow Crimea’s suit and seek joining Russia.

The men armed with bats and handguns ambushed three activists, who were returning from the rally.

“They threatened to kill us. I covered my head so they hit me on the hands. We barely realized what was happening,” one of the victims told Live News tabloid.

The attackers fired several shots in the scuffle, wounding one of the pro-Russian activists in the back. The injury was not life-threatening.

The aggression is one of several incidents, which, according to the Russian foreign ministry, are overlooked in the west. It also cited the detainment and deportation of seven Russian journalists from Ukraine over alleged biased reporting.

There is also the blockade of border travel for Russians living near it, which was recently reported by the Ukrainian border guard service. The service said it banned some 3,500, including 16 journalists, from entering the country, which amounts to about 500 people each day.

“The shamefaced silence of our western partners, rights groups and foreign media is baffling,” the ministry statement said.

Russia considers the government in Kiev, which was imposed following an armed coup last month, illegitimate and heavily influenced by radical forces, which played a key part in the coup.

Several regions in Eastern Ukraine share the view, while the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is to hold a referendum this Sunday over whether it should seek greater independence from the capital, or apply to join Russia.

The Crimean authorities have denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The Crimea authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.

Crimeans began protesting after the new Kiev authorities introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages for official purposes in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population is Russian and uses only this language for their communication.

Under the Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea – signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010 – Russia is allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the peninsula’s territory. The Russian Black Sea fleet is allowed to stay in Crimea until 2042. Moscow annually writes off $ 97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.

http://rt.com/news/kharkov-gun-attack-denounced-842/

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Despite its principle of non-interference, domestic and international interests have Beijing siding with Moscow

By , March 5, 2014 1:44 pm

Despite its principle of non-interference, domestic and international interests have Beijing siding with Moscow
By: Shannon Tiezzi on: 05.03.2014 [19:13 ] (43 reads)

China Backs Russia on Ukraine

Despite its principle of non-interference, domestic and international interests have Beijing siding with Moscow.

By Shannon Tiezzi

March 04, 2014

Chinese media has covered the evolving situation in Ukraine with interest, in part because China has a vested interest in Ukraine’s fate. Now, the world is returning the scrutiny. In the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to the Crimean Peninsula, it seems the world is taking sides on the Ukrainian issue. And everyone wants to know where China stands—one of the perils of being a major power.

On Sunday, after the Russian Federation Council authorized the use of armed forces in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang issued a special statement on the situation. “China is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ukraine,” Qin said. He called on “the relevant parties in Ukraine to resolve their internal disputes peacefully within the legal framework.” As for external interference in the Ukraine, Qin emphasized that China respects “the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and said that a solution should be found “based on respect for international law and norms.”

However, Qin also cryptically said that “there are reasons for why the situation in Ukraine is what it is today.” Qin didn’t go into detail about what those reasons might be, but Chinese media sources offered some suggestions. A Xinhua commentary argued that the West’s “biased mediation has polarized Ukraine and only made things worse in the country.” The article said that the West should work together with Russia to find a solution, and “stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate.”

Further, the Xinhua commentary had no criticism for Russia’s decision to send troops to Crimea. “It is quite understandable when Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian-speakers living in Ukraine,” the commentary said. Rather than opposing the move, the West should “respect Russia’s unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine.”

The Global Times took a realist (and cynical) view of the situation, arguing that “the Ukrainian situation shows us clearly that in the international political arena, principles are decided by power.” The article argued that the Ukrainian opposition and the pro-Yanukovych, pro-Russian elements both only seem to gain legitimacy after they are able to assert their dominance. The article came to a rather strange conclusion: comparing the situation in the Ukraine to the “double standards” Washington applies to U.S.-China relations. “There is no logic” in those arguments (presumably referring to U.S. human rights critiques of China), “only that the U.S. is still the more powerful player.”

The juxtaposition of U.S.-China relations with the Ukraine crisis helps clarify China’s position. It’s hard to see how Russian troops entering Crimea meshes with China’s principle of non-interference, not to mention Beijing’s avowed respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, China is far from the only nation to bend its principles in favor of realpolitik. Denouncing Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine would jeopardize the evolving partnership between Beijing and Moscow. Worse, standing against Moscow would mean China was standing with the West—which could be taken as implicit support for the Ukrainian opposition forces that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Meanwhile, China is leery of “color revolutions,” including Ukraine’s own “Orange Revolution” in 2004. The Chinese government has long speculated that the “color revolutions” were instigated by Western nations to oust unfriendly regimes—and Beijing itself remains wary that the U.S. is trying to foment another color revolution within China. Many in China now argue that Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” papered over fissures that are springing to the forefront in the current tensions. To Beijing, Western intervention (both 10 years ago and today) is directly responsible for the current violence.

As a result, China has decided to back Russia—at least according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The Voice of Russia, citing a FM statement, said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a telephone conversation Monday wherein they noted “the coincidence of Russia’s and China’s positions on the situation in Ukraine.”

China’s own Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang was a bit more circumspect in his Monday press conference. “China upholds its own diplomatic principles and the basic codes for international relations,” Qin said. However, he added that “we have also taken the historical and contemporary factors of the Ukraine issue into consideration.” In others words, Qin said, China stands fast to its principles while also “seeking truth from facts” (实事求是).

China’s ambiguous position reveals its dilemma. Beijing’s instinct is to back Moscow, both to uphold the fruitful cooperation between these two nations and to stand firm against pressure from the West. However, vocally supporting Russia would violate China’s principle of non-interference. More importantly, it could arguably set a precedent of Chinese support for military intervention to protect separatists unhappy with their government—which goes against all China’s instincts, given its own issues with Tibet and Xinjiang provinces. Yet as the Global Times put it, at the end of the day power calculations mean more than principles. China’s geopolitical strategy requires Beijing to at least tacitly support Russia, and at the end of the day that argument outweighs more abstract philosophical concerns.

http://thediplomat.com/2014/03/china-backs-russia-on-ukraine/

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Moscow to present video proving extremists responsbile for Ukraine unrest

By , February 25, 2014 12:32 pm

Moscow to present video proving extremists responsbile for Ukraine unrest
By: voiceofrussia.com on: 25.02.2014 [17:19 ] (71 reads)

25 February 2014, 19:36

Moscow to present video proving extremists responsbile for Ukraine unrest

Photo: EPA

Moscow is soon going to provide video evidence to the EU and OSCE proving that extremists provoked unrest in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry has stated on its Facebook account. “The Western media prefer not to talk about the riots for what they really were, demonstrations arranged by extremist groups. Perhaps the leaders of the European institutions do not know about the actions of these extremists who were disguised as civilians,” the statement reads.

“We are most deeply concerned about what is happening in Ukraine. We are startled to hear that some Western countries misinterpret the events, trying to influence the situation,” the Ministry said.

Russia not going to interfere in Ukrainian affairs and expects Western countries to do the same – Lavrov

Western partners should not interfere in Ukrainian internal affairs but use contacts with various political forces in that country for peacemaking, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports. “A mutual profound concern has been expressed regarding the fact that processes are not always constructive,” Lavrov said after negotiations with his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

“We reaffirmed our principled position of non-interference in Ukrainian internal affairs and we expect everyone to stick to a similar logic and use contacts with various political forces in Ukraine for the promotion of peace,” he continued.

One should not try “to gain some timeserving unilateral advantages at a stage when a national dialogue and the return of the entire situation into the legal field are required,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

It is dangerous to impose ‘either with us or against us’ choice on Ukraine – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has cautioned the West against attempts to impose some drastic choice on Ukraine, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

“Attempting to impose some “with us or against us” choice on Ukraine is counterproductive,” Lavrov said at a press conference after negotiations with Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

“We are interested in Ukraine being a member of the common European family in every sense of the word,” he said.

Decision to hold snap presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25 is deviation from gov’t – opposition deal – Lavrov

The decision to hold early presidential elections in Ukraine in May 2014 disagrees with the crisis settlement deal, which says a constitutional reform should go first, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

“The agreement of February 21 stipulates the holding of a constitutional reform before September and only after that, when a premise has been emphasized, the presidential election shall be held. So far, we have heard the decision of those in the Verkhovna Rada to hold the presidential election on May 21. This is a deviation from the agreement,” Lavrov said at a press conference after negotiations with his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn.

Ban on Russian media broadcasting in Ukraine will become serious violation of freedom of speech – Lavrov

A ban on Russian media broadcasts on Ukraine’s national frequencies, should it be introduced, will be a serious violation of human rights, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

“We are aware of proposals to prohibit broadcasts in Ukraine by companies of countries that are not signatories to the European Broadcasting Convention. Russia is not a signatory to this convention, but this circumstance has not stopped us from broadcasting across Europe. Such broadcasts have not encountered any problems in any country of the European Union,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

“If such a decision is adopted in Ukraine, it will be serious violation of the freedom of speech,” he added.

Stabilization in Ukraine is possible only in presence of close cooperation between EU and Russia – Luxemburg FM

The Ukrainian situation can stabilize only if Russia and the European Union cooperate closely, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said, the Voice of Russia correspondent reports.

Asselborn told a press conference after negotiating with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that he personally and the European Union as a whole were confident that close cooperation between the EU and Russia was the only way to achieve normalization and stability in Ukraine.

Abolition of languages law in Ukraine is a step in wrong direction – Luxembourg FM

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has criticized the abolition of Ukraine’s language law, which made Russian an official language in Ukraine, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

“A democratic state needs to respect the languages used by its people. And I totally agree with those who say that if a law restricting the use of ethnic minority languages has been passed, it is a step in the wrong direction,” Asselborn said at a press conference after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.

A democratic country ought to observe media freedoms as well, he added.

Luxembourg minister urges Moscow to join financial support to Ukraine

Ukraine is on the brink of a financial meltdown and Russia should join the international campaign for financial assistance to this country, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

He said after negotiations with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the matter concerned the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, other countries and organizations but they also thought that Russia should join that consortium for helping Ukraine’s economic and financial advancement.

The Luxembourg minister said they realized that Ukraine was very close to a financial disaster.

It would be ideal to create a group of states for rendering assistance to Ukraine and Russia should also make a contribution, he said. In the opinion of the minister, there is a need for very active cooperation between Russia and Ukraine and other international organizations.

As of now, Ukraine needs 25 billion euro, the minister recalled.

EU ready to grant financial aid to Ukraine after gov’t formed, hopes for cooperation with Russia – EU ambassador to Moscow

The European Union has not ruled out its contribution to financial and economic assistance that may be extended to Ukraine after a new government is formed in the country, saying that it relies on cooperation with Russia on this issue, the Voice of Russia correspondent Kira Kalinina reports.

Consultations on this matter are currently under way in different capitals of the European Union, the head of the EU Delegation to Russia, Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, told reporters in Moscow.

The EU will be ready to grant financial assistance to Ukraine as soon as a new government appears in the country and as soon as this government formulates a viable program needed to stabilize Ukraine’s economy and market, he said.

The EU will be prepared to do so using the financial instruments with which it has been working, including the International Monetary Fund, Usackas said.

Hopefully, the EU and Russia would be able to work together on this issue, he added.

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_25/Moscow-to-present-video-proving-extremists-responsbile-for-Ukraine-unrest-2662/

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Moscow Alarmed by Reports of New Syrian Opposition Leadership

By , February 18, 2014 9:06 am

Moscow Alarmed by Reports of New Syrian Opposition Leadership
By: RIA Novosti on: 18.02.2014 [00:20 ] (217 reads)

18.02.2014 00:16

Russia is alarmed by reports that the Syrian opposition is being reorganized around a new leadership opposed to further peace talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

“New details are emerging – and we are verifying them – that some backers of the opposition are beginning to form a new structure made up of those who have left the national coalition, out of those who do not believe in negotiations,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister warned that the reorganization of the Syrian opposition could threaten a diplomatic solution to the civil war and signals that rebels might be returning to hopes of a military victory over the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow’s longtime ally.

The second round of multiparty peace talks in Geneva that were aimed at a cessation of the hostilities in Syria concluded on Saturday with no deal reached between the entrenched sides of the ongoing civil war.

The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition invited rebel leaders to the talks in an effort to boost the body’s legitimacy among fighters on the ground, who have been growing increasingly disconnected from the civilian-led government-in-exile.

The coalition, formed in November 2012 from a number of elements of the Syrian opposition, has been facing internal discord and a key constituent, the Syrian National Council, withdrew from the group last month in protest of the peace talks with the Assad regime.

Lavrov voiced a concern that the reorganized opposition might be aiming to secure outside military support for regime change, based on the example of the Libyan rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi three years ago.

In that conflict, Moscow signed off on a UN Security Council resolution to enable American and European military assets to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians, but later chastised the US and European allies for expanding the scope of airstrikes to include the removal of the country’s leader from power.

Lavrov added on Monday that a proposed provision in a UN Security Council resolution to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria without Damascus’ permission would be a violation of international law and state sovereignty.

Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can block any resolution by the body with its veto power.

h ttp://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/02/18/moscow-alarmed-by-reports-of-new-syrian-opposition-leadership.html

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