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Main article: Putin

Putin: No external pressure on Russia will go unchallenged

February 20, 2015. President Vladimir Putin, front fourth left, at a gala marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Left: Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov. Third left: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.(RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)

Russia will always find an adequate response to any pressure coming from the outside, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a gala-show ahead of the upcoming Defender of the Fatherland Day, which honors those who served in the armed forces.


“Nobody should have any illusions that it’s possible to achieve military superiority over Russia – or put it under some sort of pressure – as we’ll always have an adequate response to such reckless schemes,” Putin told the audience.


The President said that Russian “soldiers and officers have proven that they are ready to act decisively, coherently, professionally and courageously, performing the most difficult unconventional tasks, as befits a modern, experienced, combat-ready army, which values its traditions and military duty.”


Defender of the Fatherland Day is an annual holiday in Russia celebrated on February 23. The holiday honors those who serve or have served in the military. It is also often referred to as Men’s Day (though the Russian military do not exclusively consist of men) to act as a counterpart to International Women's Day on March 8.


According to Putin, a lot has been done in the country in recent years to improve the effectiveness of the military administration.


“A large-scale program of rearming the Army and Navy is being successfully implemented, which includes an active development of the aerospace and nuclear forces. This is the guaranty of global parity,” the president said, adding that he will do everything in his power for the military’s potential to keep growing.

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The President also promised to continue the program aimed at creating dignified conditions for military service, including building more service housing and the development of health and social services. He noted that later this year, on May 9, the world will be celebrating 70 years since the end of World War II.


“It’s a holy date for us as it was the Russian people, the Soviet Army, which made a decisive contribution in the victory against Nazism,” he said.


The USSR lost around 26 million people in WWII, with over half of the victims being civilians.


“This is our victory; our history, which we’ll vigorously defend from lies and oblivion,” he said, refereeing to what Moscow has viewed as attempts by officials in Ukraine and Poland to rewrite history and undermine Russia’s role and sacrifice during the war.


In January, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said that it was the Ukrainian army, which liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during WWII.


Following the comment, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin reminded Schetyna that it was the Soviet Army which freed the camp. He added that the multinational front was called the First Ukrainian Front because “it liberated Ukraine from the Nazis before reaching Poland through battles.”


Moscow had earlier criticized Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who described the events of World War II as the “USSR’s attack on Ukraine and Germany.”

Михаил Пасечник feb 23 15, 22:35
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Igor Sechin: The oil man at the heart of Putin's Kremlin

Igor Sechin: The oil man at the heart of Putin's Kremlin


Exclusive: Igor Sechin runs Rosneft, the biggest publicly traded oil firm in the world. He tells City Editor Jim Armitage about sanctions, the oil price and his admiration for BP


Igor Sechin, the boss of Russian oil behemoth Rosneft and one of the most powerful men in Russia, has declared European sanctions against his giant state-controlled organisation are an illegal affront to democracy.

In a rare interview, the man widely seen as being Vladimir Putin’s closest adviser said the world economy faced “severe consequences” as a result of the sanctions, which he said were “absolutely illegal and illegitimate”.

He also spoke of how Rosneft – 20 per cent owned by Britain’s BP – will cope with the collapse in the oil price, revealing that the company will be cutting its capital expenditure programme for this year by “approximately 30 per cent”. That will represent a savage reduction on 2014’s spend, said in October to be $14bn-$16bn. It follows cuts announced recently by other major firms around the world totalling $65bn.

Although predicting continued volatility and saying he did not want to get into a “guessing game”, he said the oil price could start to rise again in the final quarter of this year. This was because the current oversupply of oil was insignificant compared with previous oil crises like 1985, so the fundamental supply and demand equation did not justify the current price slump. Moreover, demand is rising, primarily in Asia, and not falling like it was in 1985, he said.

He repeatedly expressed his concerns that there could be a global shortage of oil if companies did not return to investing in production and output.President of Russian petroleum company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, participates in a press conference in 2013President of Russian petroleum company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, participates in a press conference in 2013

If investment levels recovered, next year’s price would be $60-$80 a barrel, he said. However, if they do not, and the supply-demand equation was not rebalanced, it could bounce back to $100-$110 as the lack of investment in drilling caused a shortfall in production.

He talked for the first time of his close bond with the senior management of BP, particularly Bob Dudley, the US-born chief executive who famously fled Russia in fear of his safety during BP’s battle with the oligarch partners of its BP-TNK joint venture.

And, speaking after Rosneft’s legal case against EU sanctions was sent from the High Court in London to the European Court of Justice, he declared: “We are fighting: the knot will be untied.”

Mr Sechin said Rosneft was prepared for a long haul in its battle to overturn the sanctions, placed on both him and the company by the US and EU authorities in response to the Ukraine conflict.

Asked about the prospects of the time extension of the case’s move from London to the European Court, he said wryly: “Instead of three years, the case may be a year and a half… What can you do? I don’t know if the case will be tried on merit and our claims will be justly reviewed and evaluated.”

He attacked the European authorities for the way the sanctions were applied in such a way to ban legal appeals against them: “That is what concerns me most… The EU imposed a ban in the European Court on accepting claims from Russian entities and individuals that have been subjected to sanctions. [This] has severe consequences, including consequences for European democracy. Is there an independent rule of law?”

Asked what his message would be to the governments of Europe, Britain and the US about the sanctions situation, he declared: “I am not a politician. I am just a manager. I can only wish them success in building a multipolar world for the benefit of all countries and nations.”

Biggest oil producers (IEA figures)
1 of 10
  • 1. USA (12.35 million barrels per day)
  • 1. USA (12.35 million barrels per day)
  • 2. Russia (10.95 million barrels per day)
  • 3. Saudi Arabia (9.51 million barrels per day)
  • 4. (4.21 million barrels per day)
  • 5. China (4.13 million barrels per day)
  • 6. Iraq (3.38 million barrels per day)
  • 7. Iran (2.76 million barrels per day)
  • 8. UAE (2.71 million barrels per day)
  • 9. Kuwait (2.66 million barrels per day)
  • 10. Mexico (2.64 million barrels per day)


He added: “The sanctions have reverse effects: they damage international shareholders and international stakeholders, they damage partners that manufacture process equipment, they damage banks and investment funds who will not be able to invest in the development of industries in Russia. All those will face severe consequences.”

He added: “The world economy will face severe consequences. The application of sanctions against the company cannot be justified. We are not a subject of political decisions, so the extension of sanctions to the corporate level is absolutely illegal and illegitimate.”

He said it was not just Russians who suffered: 300,000 German jobs rely on equipment supplies to Russia.

Mr Sechin spoke at length about the current turmoil of the global oil market, saying the speed of the 2014 crisis exceeded anything before. Oil has crashed from $115 a barrel in June to just $57 today.

But despite Rosneft’s plans to reduce expenditure, he declared there would be no job cuts among its 235,000-strong workforce because the company is hiring crews to develop its in-house capabilities so as to rely less on outside contractors.

In the UK oil industry, Mr Sechin is best-known for the way he drove negotiations to strike a $53bn deal with BP and a group of Soviet-born oligarchs.

BP had tried with Mr Sechin to form an alliance with Rosneft in 2011 to jointly develop Russia’s Arctic shelf. But BP was already in a joint venture on Russia called TNK-BP with a group of oligarchs and Russia’s Alfa Bank. These partners, known as the AAR consortium, were outraged at the proposed BP-Rosneft alliance and successfully had it overturned in court. It was seen as a severe blow both to Mr Dudley and Mr Sechin.

Relations between the oligarchs and BP went from bad to worse until BP eventually declared it wanted to sell its stake in TNK-BP.

Russian oil giant Rosneft have their headquarters in MoscowRussian oil giant Rosneft have their headquarters in Moscow

Mr Sechin said Rosneft would buy it. This was seen as a tactical manoeuvre to force the oligarchs to sell their half to Rosneft as well: Mr Sechin guessed AAR would never want to be joint shareholders in a Russian state-owned company run by Mr Putin’s right-hand man. The plan worked: BP sold its stake for $22bn plus a 20 per cent stake in Rosneft – a deal totalling $28bn. Rosneft paid AAR $27.73bn in cash in a deal closed in March 2013.

However, that transaction was completed when the oil price was above $100 a barrel, leading to accusations recently that Rosneft overpaid while the oligarchs and Alfa-Bank got the deal of the century.

But Mr Sechin refuted this when asked if he regretted the price: “Regret is not the word here. I think we can be proud we had the opportunity to strike a deal this complicated. We continue to increase synergy so the efficiency of the acquisition grows.”

He denied talk of a cantankerous relationship with the oligarchs, saying of the deal process: “You need to understand how challenging that job itself was, and how different the [various parties’] interests were. And everyone was standing their ground… During the stages that led to execution of that deal we did have some rough moments and we did have some discussions but that did not lead to any tensions in terms of personal relationships.”

Asked how he felt about the oligarchs now, he said: “They are very decent people, all of them.” He recently met Alfa-Bank chief Petr Aven. “He said he was missing me,” Mr Sechin laughed.

The long period of working with BP over the years had led to a strong bond with BP chief executive Mr Dudley and his predecessor Tony Hayward, who left in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico spill. “We have known each other for a long time. I am very familiar and very well acquainted with the members of the board and directors of BP.

“That is what I call trust and mutual consideration. Those things helped us successfully go through that enormous transaction – the largest acquisition in the history of oil and gas.”

The TNK transaction has left Rosneft with huge debts to repay. Given the collapse in the oil price and sanctions on the company, some investors have been concerned whether repayments are affordable, with some speculation Rosneft may seek to renegotiate terms or even default.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin (left) push the button launching a new oil terminal at the Black Sea port of Tuapse in 2012Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin (left) push the button launching a new oil terminal at the Black Sea port of Tuapse in 2012 

But Mr Sechin said: “I do not think there is any need to renegotiate it. We are managing all the payment schedules.”

Yesterday, the company paid the latest instalment of $7bn. Mr Sechin said other payments would also be made, adding: “The basis for our optimism is the actual economic performance of the company. Last year, the company’s revenue was $146bn.”

He dismissed talk of drawing on Russian state funds, saying repayments would be met from internal company funds. Despite the pressures faced by the company, it would also continue paying its dividend at 25 per cent of net profits.

The TNK-BP deal was one of the biggest steps in the Kremlin’s regrouping of Russia’s energy assets, which were split up during the Yeltsin era and sold often on the cheap to the oligarchs.

Asked if he might consider more deals, such as a takeover of Lukoil, he laughed, saying: “What does Lukoil have to do with that? In crisis there is always a good opportunity for mergers and acquisitions, but we are not looking at Lukoil.” He later added: “We don’t comment on the rumours. There is no such offer on the market now. That is why we do not comment on it.”

Sechin also denied speculation that Rosneft aims to consolidate the sector more generally: “This is impossible, these options will never be considered. The Russian oil and gas industry constitutes a part of the global oil and gas sector, foreign investors own around 25 per cent of it. And I would like to reiterate that Rosneft did not receive its assets through privatisation but acquired them on market-based terms – by paying for them.”

Mr Sechin also warned of the risk of manipulation of the oil market by financial investors and those “paper traders” who speculate on the price. He raised parallels with Libor fixing and the bogus valuations by credit rating agencies of US sub-prime mortgages.

The shares of US shale oil producers resembled the dotcom bubble of 1999, he hinted, pointing out that European exploration and production companies’ shares fell 42 per cent last year while US shale oil producers were still at January 2014 levels.

“Is it another bubble?” he asked.

He cited the example of America’s EOG, which is valued 34 per cent higher than Lukoil despite having 3.9 times lower reserves.

He also railed against the US for protectionism, saying: “Can you answer a simple question: why have the US been restricting oil exports from their country for 40 years? They are protecting their own refineries. They are providing competitive advantage for American refining.

“Can you imagine the same actions taken by someone like the Russian Federation? Let’s say Russia said ‘no more oil exports: refined products only’. What do you think the market would feel?… But we’re not taking that path. One needs to be reasonable.”

Not so green: Sechin on the environment

Igor Sechin is unlikely to win any awards from Greenpeace. He joked of how, at a conference this week where he was speaking, a member of the audience said people should be limited to alternative energy sources.

“I can tell you I am not a big expert in that area but I know a few things. First of all, we are the subject of global climate change cycles. I actually comforted the guy. I said: ‘Those cycles repeat every 30 million years, so everything is normal. The human effect on the environment is less than any volcano. A volcanic eruption produces more Co2 than any human activity. The rotting of algae in the ocean significantly exceeds any man-made effect, so one should be calm about it.”

He did praise alternative energy, but stressed that it was expensive and that consumers would have to pay extra for it. “I am confidently saying that there should be no barriers. Both oil and gas need to be produced.

“Energy security needs to be provided for economic growth and the increase of people’s wealth throughout the planet.”

Михаил Пасечник feb 14 15, 22:41
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Putin arrives in Minsk for talks on Ukraine

Other participants in the talks, French President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko came to the Belarusian capital somewhat earlier
Vladimir Putin arriving in Minsk
Participants of Ukraine settlement talks arriving in Minsk
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande
Vladimir Putin arriving in Minsk
Vladimir Putin arriving in Minsk 
Participants of Ukraine settlement talks arriving in Minsk
Participants of Ukraine settlement talks arriving in Minsk 
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande 
Francois Hollande
Francois Hollande 
Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel 
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande (background)
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande (background) 
Petro Poroshenko
Petro Poroshenko 

MINSK, February 11. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Minsk for four-partite talks on settling the armed conflict in south-eastern Ukraine that will be held in the so-called Normandy format.

Other participants in the talks, French President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko came to the Belarusian capital somewhat earlier.

The summit that is to be held on Wednesday night may signal a culmination of the intense multilateral efforts to tap clues to resolution of the crisis in south-eastern Ukraine.


Diplomatic efforts on the Ukrainian issue picked pace over the past seven days, as Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande visited Kiev and Moscow where they made public their proposals on how to settle the Ukrainian problem.

On Sunday, the Normandy Four discussed the most recent developments over the phone and appointed a meeting in Minsk for Tuesday.

In the brief interval between the meetings in Moscow and Minsk, Merkel visited Washington for talks with Barack Obama. She said after the meeting that one more attempt to settle the conflict in Ukraine should be made, adding that she would have never pardoned herself if this attempt had not been made.

Hollande told reporters before departure for Minsk he was leaving with a firm conviction a much-desired compromise solution would be found eventually.

Poroshenko said before boarding the jet in Kiev was going to Minsk to cease fire and open a political dialogue immediately and unconditionally.


Михаил Пасечник feb 11 15, 20:44
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Putin, Hollande, Merkel continuing talks in Kremlin

he leaders of France and Germany have come to Moscow to discuss possible ways of settling the situation in eastern Ukraine
© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko


MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are continuing talks in the Kremlin.

"The talks are being held in a narrow format, members of the delegations and experts are not present," Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

After 1.5 hours of tete-a-tete talks without journalists, the leaders went out to reporters.

Putin, Merkel and Hollande posed for a couple of minutes in front of photographers and cameramen. Then Putin thanked journalists and asked them to go out.

The two European leaders have arrived in Moscow to discuss possible ways of settling the situation in eastern Ukraine. On Thursday, Merkel and Hollande paid a brief visit to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. No details of their Ukrainian visit were made public.

The French leader said earlier he and the German Chancellor were bringing some proposals to Moscow. No details of these proposals have been revealed so far. The British media say this peace plan is based on reworded proposals the Russian leader previously referred to the European leaders.



Earlier on Friday, Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said Friday’s meeting between the three leaders had been prompted by an aggravating situation in Ukraine. "But also the numerous initiatives the Russian president voiced in phone conversations with Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko in recent weeks have been good incentives [to the process]," Ushakov said, referring in particular to Putin’s letter to Poroshenko on January 15, in which he suggested an immediate pullback of heavy artillery.

"We are ready for a constructive conversation aiming to achieve certain agreements which will help to stabilize the situation and to establish direct contacts between official representatives of Kiev and Donbass," the presidential aide said, adding these agreements "should facilitate the more effective work of the Contact Group and assist in restoring economic ties between the Ukrainian government and the country's south-east."


Михаил Пасечник feb 7 15, 00:19
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West seeks to isolate, overthrow Putin while demanding he resolves Ukraine crisis – presidential spox

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)

The West is attempting to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin in the international arena and even topple him, while simultaneously demanding that he resolve the crisis in Ukraine, Putin’s spokesman said in an interview with a Russian newspaper.

Currently in Western diplomacy, with reference to Ukraine“there is a substitution of concepts, which is leading to an escalation of the conflict” in the country, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the chief editor of the “Argumenty I Fakty” (“Arguments and Facts”) weekly on Tuesday.

“In the meantime, to put it simply, the West is trying to play Putin off as a party to the conflict, to isolate him in international politics, to strangle Russia economically in their own interests, to get him overthrown, while demanding that he resolves the crisis in the neighboring country,” he said.

READ MORE: Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail 

The conflict in Ukraine has “unmasked” the nature of international diplomacy, international relations and laws, he added.

There is no chance Putin will be invited to the next meeting of G7 leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. “The former G8 group has always viewed itself as a community of values,” she said. Peskov said that the Russian President is not expecting an invitation.

According to Merkel “supposedly Putin does not fit into this system of values with his world view,” he remarked.“Is this the system, which, for example, allows the recognition of the results of a coup d’etat the next day [after it happened]? If so, Putin surely does not fit into such a system with his understanding that such a revolution can hardly be legal,” he said.

Moscow is already doing everything it can to end the conflict in Ukraine, Peskov assured. Russia “is helping Ukraine’s economy, ensuring the coal supply, electricity and so on, and sending humanitarian convoys to the people in need in the south-east.”

However, Russia cannot resolve the conflict as it is an “inter-Ukrainian issue” and the dialogue can be “launched only by...[officials in] Kiev”, he added.

The attempt to solve the crisis using force is a dead end. Over 7,000 people have already died in the war. Until Kiev starts communicating with its regions, people will continue dying,” Peskov said.

Ukrainian troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas in eastern Ukraine after an order from Kiev on Sunday morning. The assault came despite Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko receiving a proposal on Thursday night from Putin, suggesting that both sides of the conflict withdraw their heavy artillery in accordance with the Minsk agreements.

READ MORE: Poroshenko rejected Putin’s artillery withdrawal plan, began assault – Kremlin

On Tuesday Peskov expressed hope that the Minsk group will continue its efforts and discussions will bear fruit in order for talks in the so-called “Normandy format” to take place as planned in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The Normandy Four platform – Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany – was created in June 2014 when the leaders discussed the Ukrainian crisis on the sidelines of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.


Михаил Пасечник jan 24 15, 14:05
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Last comments

Ser korz
Ser korz
West Fascist Ukraine is a lunatic's lunatic ( AND all thanks to the USA -NATO- EU).

Poor fascist …
Ser korz Ukraine, you're crazy!

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Ser korz
Ser korz
West Fascist Ukraine is a lunatic's lunatic ( AND all thanks to the USA -NATO- EU).

Poor fascist …
Ser korz Ukraine, you're crazy!