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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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Ukraine, you're crazy!

If the person loses his memory does not remember himself, forgets relatives and friends, he will inevitably be in a madhouse. Unlike humans, the country may not be in a madhouse, but it is in a state of such lunatic become.


And it will be if you try to change their identity, closing the "new" historical past from the future. It is in this state is now Ukraine, thanks to comprehensively conducted "Ukrainization".

This, in fact, and sing in this clip.

And podborochka it chic in its horror, drew in a few minutes all the corruption and vileness of Kiev mode.

Михаил Пасечник jan 20 15, 20:54
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Lavrov in Munich meets with Russian, German businesses

Before Russia’s Foreign Minister appeared at the breakfast as he was still at a meeting with Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel

MUNICH, February 7. /TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who participates in the Munich Security Conference, is having a meeting with Russian and German businesses on Saturday.
The working breakfast is closed for the media.

Before Lavrov appeared at the breakfast as he was still at a meeting with Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

Gabriel complained to Lavrov he had to get up at 4 in the morning, and yesterday woke up even at one at night.

"I had only three-hour sleep these days to see you," he said joking.

The meeting was behind closed doors.

The media could hear introductory speeches from Russian businesses.

"Our relations are facing complicated times, and under these conditions contacts between states are limited, too, thus contacts of civil society, businesses are of special importance," - head of Severstal Alexei Mordashov said. "We should offer a format [for dialogue]."

Head of VTB Andrei Kostin said the meeting in Moscow of leaders of Russia, Germany and France gives hopes for settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

"The role of businesses is very high, we have regular meetings. No results are possible without a dialogue," he said.

The breakfast features also German Gref of Sberbank, and Viktor Vekselberg, Oleg Deripaska.


Михаил Пасечник feb 8 15, 17:04
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Meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission

Meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation.

The President held a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission to discuss, among other things, the funding and resources for the State Armament Programme until 2025 and the work of the Advanced Research Foundation.

During the meeting, the President said he had signed Executive Order On the Chief Designer of Armaments, Military and Special Equipmentwithin the framework of the implementation of the single military technology policy to create and upgrade armaments, military and special equipment.

* * *

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.

At this meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission we will consider a number of key matters pertaining to Russia’s defence and security, and priority goals both for the short and long term.

I would like to begin by telling you that I have signed Executive Order On the Chief Designer of Armaments, Military and Special Equipment. As you may remember, back on September 10, 2014, we spoke of the need to draft such a document. It has been drafted and is now signed.

The chief designers will spearhead efforts to create strategically important munitions systems and will receive broad authority in terms of obtaining the resources for the projects. We expect to have no more than 20 such designers. The Military-Industrial Commission Board will carefully consider each candidate, and then they will be approved at a Commission meeting. This significantly raises both the status and the personal responsibility of the chief designer. I expect this to improve efficiency in the implementation of key national defence and security projects.

Let us now go over certain key issues that we will discuss today. First, let us consider the funding and resources for the new State Armament Programme until 2025, which we are to approve this year.

I noted in my Address to the Federal Assembly that we do not intend to get involved in an expensive arms race.  Russia does not threaten anyone and we try to resolve all disputes by means of negotiations. We will continue to follow this policy in the future as well.

At the same time, we see other states openly making their geopolitical claims, not stopping short of open interference in the affairs of independent states, at the same time actively building up and modernising their military arsenals. Under the circumstances, it is our duty to ensure the reliable protection of Russia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests.

You all know what I mean when I say that many or some states are conducting a different policy, namely that of pressure with the use of force. We have all been observing this for an extended period of time. It is all done to the accompaniment of talk about international law, about a desire to resolve disputes by means of negotiations. However, in these matters, as we all know – as a politician of the past once said – it is the potential that matters rather than the intentions. We can see the potential growing.

I have already quoted some figures illustrating the funding allocated by Russia and by other countries for military needs. These are absolutely incomparable numbers. They spend several times more than we do. However, I would like to repeat that we can and should respond to this challenge, but without, as I have said, getting involved in a costly arms race. Can we do it? Of course, we can. The focus should be on high technologies.

We will continue to strengthen our Armed Forces and the military organisation as a whole and to do everything possible to ensure that our Armed Forces are up-to-date, mobile and well equipped, capable of performing their main duty – that of neutralising risks and potential political threats to this country’s security.

Our plans should certainly be realistic. As before, we have to take full stock of the financial and economic capabilities of the state and of the circumstances we are in, the state of our economy and the world economy. Obviously, we cannot make any defence and security plans without a serious analysis of the situation in this area. Therefore, today we will discuss the macroeconomic forecast as the basis for the draft State Armament Programme until 2025.

I would like to draw your attention here to at least two key issues. First, we must ensure continuity in the new State Armament Programme in respect to the current State Armament Programme for 2011-2020.

Second, the new draft Programme should take into consideration Russia’s Military Doctrine, approved on December 25 of last year, which specifies the military threats to this country’s security. The development, production and deliveries of new armaments and equipment should be prioritised in line with this very important strategic planning document.

The second major item is the activity of the Advanced Research Foundation in 2014. As you may remember, at our meeting in Tula a year ago we said the Foundation should become a sort of ‘technological lift’ for defence innovations; it should stimulate breakthrough, revolutionary research rather than engage in studies in areas that may be new, but have already been exhausted. This, by the way, is the only way we can ensure, as I have just said, this country’s defence capability and security without getting involved in an arms race. This Foundation is called upon to assist in the fastest possible implementation of new studies.

I would like to note that in the past year the Foundation has launched work on a range of important projects. This includes the creation of technologies and armaments that are unmatched in the world. We have actually begun creating the key elements of new armament systems and innovative production technologies. We saw some of them today at the specialised exhibition.

The Foundation should continue work on these priority areas. We know that today the Foundation Supervisory Board approved 49 projects, with 26 of them already in the implementation stage.

I would like to stress that the Foundation’s funding has to be increased this year. We will also touch upon this today. In any case, everything I have seen today shows that our colleagues are on the right track and are moving ahead towards their goals. There are some very interesting and promising studies. It sometimes seemed as though we were watching a sci-fi film.

In 2015, the Foundation should focus on expediting the development of breakthrough industrial technologies that should correspond to the new sixth technological mode. Such technologies will determine the image of our military industrial complex of tomorrow and will ensure the serial output of armaments and military equipment of a new generation. I would like Mr Rogozin [Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, President of the Advanced Research Foundation Supervisory Board] to pay special attention to such technologies in the planned adjustment of the Foundation’s activity plan.

Let us now proceed to the matters at hand.


Михаил Пасечник jan 21 15, 14:20
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Analysts Predict a Russian Descent Into Madness

Pavel Golovkin / Pool / ReutersDespite the panelists' conclusions on the Kremlin's hurdle-laden road ahead, it does not appear that Russia's economic downturn will necessarily force Putin's hand with regard to reforms.

President Vladimir Putin cannot afford at this point to reform the political system he has built up, as doing so would undermine his grip on power, a panel of political analysts said at the Gaidar Forum on Friday.

They went on to warn that without fundamental change, Russia risks an eventual descent into "revolutionary chaos." The panel, which consisted of several analysts known for their vocal criticism of Russian government policy, spoke before a packed audience.

Such heated political rhetoric may seem out of place at a high-level economic policy conference co-organized by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) and the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy. But the final day of this year's forum was marked by departures from mainstream economics, with forays into everything from politics to education.

The political panel was moderated by Leonid Gozman, who has stood at the helm of some of Russia's most prominent liberal parties over the course of the past decade.

At one point Gozman asked the panel, which included seven Russian analysts and one American, to say something nice about the ruling elite. "We have to say something good about the government, or we won't be allowed to hold this session again next year," he said facetiously.

Rapid Deterioration

Jokes aside, the speakers had a tough time finding any silver linings in what they saw as the many challenges Russia is presently facing due to the decisions Putin has made during his 15 years as Russia's central political figure.

Most of the analysts agreed that Russia's political system will likely remain inert over the course of 2015, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expected to remain in his post. At the same time, the majority agreed that the system is fragile, and susceptible to rapid deterioration.

"We have entered a stage of fantastic instability," said Georgy Satarov, former aide to Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin, and now an expert on political corruption in Russia.

According to Satarov, the current economic crisis may leave the government with only two options: launch dramatic political reforms or tighten the screws.

"The fact that everyday life in Russia is still stable prevents common people from understanding how fragile the political situation is," he said.

The second option — cracking down — could provoke widespread dissent, which could in turn propel Russia into "revolutionary chaos," Saratov said. "This is an absolutely realistic scenario," he urged.

Experts were divided on the question of where such revolutionary chaos could originate. Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Moscow-based Mercator political research group, suggested that momentum would likely start in Moscow, as the capital continues to grow increasingly gentrified and politically conscious in contrast to other Russian regions.

Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst with the Higher School of Economics, argued that such fervor could emerge in Chechnya, as its leader Ramzan Kadyrov grows increasingly independent and power-hungry.

"Kadyrov has 20,000 people that swore allegiance to him and Putin. In case there is a difficulty in Moscow, they would defend them," Petrov said. "Russia is hostage to the regime; the regime is hostage to Putin; while Putin is hostage to his decisions, which have left him without an exit strategy."

Perestroika Impossible

Tatiana Vorozheikina, a political scientist specializing in Latin American affairs, argued that fundamental political change remains an unlikely scenario for the foreseeable future in Russia, as such change would threaten the standing of the present-day political elite.

At the same time, she opined, the current structure is rooted in Putin. "I don't believe the regime can be preserved without Putin," said Vorozheikina. "The process of a negative selection among the elites did not leave anybody prominent and authoritative in the establishment, who would be able to assume power during the transition period."

Regardless of the likelihood of impending change, Vorozheikina argued that Russia's political power players are not primarily to blame for bringing about the country's current economic crisis.

Putin's Rating

Despite the panelists' conclusions on the Kremlin's hurdle-laden road ahead, it does not appear that Russia's economic downturn will necessarily force Putin's hand with regard to reforms. Recent statistics reveal that his approval ratings are no longer tied to the country's overall prosperity.

Poll results published last week by the independent Levada Center revealed that 55 percent of Russians would like to see Putin remain Russia's president after the next election in 2018. Tellingly, 54 percent of respondents said they see no alternative to Putin. The poll was conducted among 1,600 respondents with the margin of error not exceeding 3.4 percent.

According to Alexei Levinson, senior researcher at the Levada Center, approval of Putin and approval of the Russian leadership overall are two very different issues.

"Over the past 15 months, Putin has come to be seen as a symbolic and sacred figure who is not responsible for the economic situation in the country, but is responsible for the country's greatness," Levinson told the Gaidar Forum audience.

"The more Russians feel that they are threatened by the outside world, the more they will consolidate around Putin," he said.

Predictions and Advice

As the session drew to a close, Gozman asked the participants to offer words of advice to Putin, and to hypothesize about the coming year.

Most experts recommended that Putin introduce fair competition into the political system, in particular by allowing possible "successors" to emerge.

"Russia must find a mechanism that would introduce rotation into government … No regime can survive without rotation at the very top," said Timothy Colton, professor of government and Russian studies at Harvard and chairman of the university's department of government.

As for the coming year, most experts were grim, predicting that the crisis in Ukraine will likely escalate over the course of 2015, and that protest activity in Russia will likely remain small-scale and localized, even if it intensifies.

Gozman said that most of the last year's predictions failed to materialize, and that the prize — a bottle of booze — would therefore not be awarded to any of the panelists. However, next year's winner will get two bottles to distract from the dismal realities he or she correctly predicted this year — that is, if the Presidential Academy allows the same experts to hold such a panel again, he added.

Contact the author at i.nechepurenko@imedia.ru



Михаил Пасечник jan 18 15, 22:15
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Ukraine Accuses Russia's LUKoil of Financing Terror in War-Torn East

Ukraine's Security Service said Friday it is investigating Russian oil major LUKoil for allegedly financing terrorism in two breakaway regions of Ukraine's war-torn east.

LUKoil, Russia's No. 2 oil producer, and Ukrainian oil services company VETEK smuggled oil products worth $2 billion into Ukraine between 2013 and 2014, the Security Service said in a statement published on its website.

"The illegally procured funds were sent to finance terrorist activity in the so-called republics [in] Donetsk and Luhansk," it said. The oil products were allegedly smuggled through Ukrainian ports and across the western border and border with Belarus via Ukrainian companies under LUKoil and VETEK's control.

LUKoil denied the allegations in a statement on its website. "All deliveries to Ukraine were and are carried out in strict accordance with international and Ukrainian law," it said.

Kiev accuses Russia of aiding separatists in eastern Ukraine, who have waged a bloody war against the Ukrainian army since April and proclaimed two independent states. The security services last year accused several Russian banks including Sberbank, the country's largest lender, of financing fighters in the breakaway regions.

LUKoil last year sold off many of its Ukrainian assets, saying it needed to concentrate on Russian projects. Its majority stake in an Odessa oil refinery was bought by VETEK.

VETEK is owned by Sergei Kurchenko, a 29-year-old multimillionaire that Ukraine's secret service has described as the "chief financial officer" of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his close associates, collectively known as "the family."

Kurchenko fled to Russia shortly after Yanukovych was ousted from power last year. He is now under investigation in Ukraine for allegedly stealing from investors and avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes with the help of the former regime.


Михаил Пасечник jan 17 15, 19:03
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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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No oil, no ‘protection’? Boko Haram massacre in Nigeria sees little reaction from US

Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (AFP Photo / Boko Haram)

Boko Haram has massacred thousands of civilians in Nigeria, but US officials' response towards the horrific crimes have been strangely muted. RT’s Manila Chan explores a potential link to oil, which the US no longer receives from Nigeria.

To many, the lack of Washington's strive to aid the people of Nigeria – the biggest African economy – seems to follow simple geostrategic logic: no oil, no security support. While diverting funds to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, the US seems unwilling to address Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.

READ MORE: Satellite images reveal ‘horrific’ scale of Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

As US is trying to master shale gas exploitation; it has moved away from some of its traditional trade partners, with Nigeria – an OPEC-member state – becoming the first country to stop selling oil to the US, statistics from the US Department of Energy reveal. Nigeria was one of the top five suppliers to the US at the height of trade, less than a decade ago supplying it with 1.3 million barrels of oil every day.



Yet despite Boko Haram’s territorial gains and promising outlook for jihadi domination of the whole region, the US – and the world – focuses on terror attacks in Europe and IS advances, completely neglecting the imminent threat stemming from the Nigerian terrorist network.

Some in Washington are already calling for strategy change.

"If we don't stop it in its tracks, we are destined for this horrible group to not step back but to continue to be in power," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

“It is clear that the United States needs a comprehensive strategy to address Boko Haram’s growing lethality,” Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Peter King, R-N.Y., wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

While the US spends an average of $8.2 million daily to battle the Islamic State in Iraq in Syria, it is spending almost zero to fight extremism in Nigeria.

Last year, Washington offered surveillance drones and 30 intelligence experts to help the Nigerian military rescue nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls. But in December, the Nigerian government stopped Washington's minimal strive to train its troops to fight Boko Haram.

"We regret premature termination of this training, as it was to be the first in a larger planned project that would have trained additional units with the goal of helping the Nigerian Army build capacity to counter Boko Haram," State Department spokesman Rodney Ford said in an email to the Military Times in December.

"The US government will continue other aspects of the extensive bilateral security relationship, as well as all other assistance programs, with Nigeria," he said. "The US government is committed to the long tradition of partnership with Nigeria and will continue to engage future requests for cooperation and training."


Boko Haram fighters parading on a tank in an unidentified town. (AFP Photo / HO / Boko Haram)

Boko Haram fighters parading on a tank in an unidentified town. (AFP Photo / HO / Boko Haram)


Boko Haram, which now controls an area the size of Slovakia, became widely known to the public last spring after kidnapping nearly 300 female students in northeast Nigeria. The US Department of State designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations in November 2013, despite it being operational from 2002.

READ MORE: Another ‘Islamic State’? Boko Haram’s captured area about size of Slovakia

In addition to mass murders in the ongoing and brutal campaign against Nigeria's military, government, and civilian targets, Boko Haram engages in massive oil theft from the resource-rich Niger Delta. It is estimated that national losses from oil theft rose from 10,000 barrels a day to 100,000 during the past five years of the current Jonathan administration.

Nigeria, which relies on oil for 70 percent of government revenues while fighting a major Islamist insurgency, is now looking to alternative buyers to compensate the loss of US market share. As a chain reaction, falling global oil prices are threatening Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram and the overall stability in West Africa.

China – which has become Africa’s biggest trading partner, with some $160 billion worth of goods exchanges a year – is trying to fill in the US-left vacuum in Nigeria. Even though China's demand for raw materials has declined, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced in May a plan to double bilateral trade to $400 billion by 2020. Stretching back to 2012, Beijing offered a $1.1 billion loan to Nigeria and announced an investment of over $10 billion for hydrocarbon prospecting close to Boko Haram’s zone of influence.

Despite a promising future of China-Niger relations, security in the African country is lacking. For now, Boko Haram is in de-facto control of much of Borno state – including three border crossings with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

Watch the report by RT’s Manila Chan.


Михаил Пасечник jan 18 15, 10:48
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Merkel Said to See Tsipras Ready to Deal as Crunch Looms

Chancellor Angela Merkel is convinced that Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras will do business with other euro-region governments if he wins next week’s election, German officials said, as a cash crunch looms for his country.

Greece is set to run out of money by mid-year if it can’t break the deadlock over its rescue program, according to two different officials from the international community with knowledge of the matter.

That looming deadline will put the new government under immediate pressure to negotiate over an aid extension and how to trigger debt relief. With polls showing Tsipras’s Syriza alliance holding its lead, Merkel is confident that, once in power, he would scale back demands that put him on a collision course with creditors, two German government officials said.

The nation could probably stretch past the end of February -- the limit Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has hinted at during campaigning -- so long as tax flows continue and there’s no disruption to emergency liquidity support for Greek lenders, said the international officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the analysis is private. But in July and August, two bond repayments to the European Central Bank totaling 6.7 billion euros ($7.7 billion), probably would overwhelm available buffers, they said.

Greece’s Finance Ministry, the European Commission in Brussels and the International Monetary Fund declined to comment.

Conditional Offer

“There is already a commitment of the euro area, dating from late 2012, to take a look at debt sustainability in Greece if the country implements all agreed reforms,” Klaus Regling, head of the European Stability Mechanism firewall fund, said in a Jan. 13 interview with Diario Economico. “This may happen.”

While Tsipras has called for a debt cut and an easing of austerity conditions, he has retreated from some of the positions that unnerved investors after Samaras called early elections in December. At the same time, Merkel is sticking to her position that the next government is tied to the commitments its predecessors made to the rest of the euro region, whoever wins the election.

Greece’s aid program, set to expire at the end of last year, won an extension through February to allow time for talks with its international creditors.

One of the German officials said Greece already enjoys a favorable debt structure, with 30-year repayment periods on loans from European governments and a multiyear waiver on interest payments, leaving little space for further relief on interest or maturities. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment on possible Greek election outcomes.

Easing Terms

After years of austerity for Greeks, Syriza has promised voters it will seek to reduce the state’s debt burden and do more to combat economic weakness. The party reached out to investors by pledging to avoid unilateral decisions on obligations to creditors.

From Germany to Brussels, officials are signaling that while Greece’s official creditors won’t write down outstanding debts, easing the terms of aid loans are a possibility. As leader of the biggest country contributor to euro-area bailouts, Merkel’s blessing is required for any changes.

“There’s no reason to discuss a debt cut right now,” Bartholomaeus Kalb, a lawmaker in her governing Christian Democratic bloc, said this week.

Offering concessions to a Tsipras government that creditors withheld from Samaras, a Merkel ally, would suggest that countries can get special treatment and risk encouraging anti-austerity campaigners in other euro countries, according to the German officials.

‘Reasonable’ Haircut

Syriza’s demand for a “significant haircut” on public debt is “reasonable and shared by many investors, analysts, academics and even European officials,” Panos Skourletis, the party’s spokesman, said by phone. “We will put on the table the force of our arguments and the experience of the total failure of the conditions attached to the Greek bailout.”

Greece’s government could get through to June by beefing up regular revenue with treasury-bill auctions, drawing on deposits from social security funds and other state entities, and increasing the stock of overdue tax rebates and arrears to its suppliers, according to one official directly involved in monitoring Greece’s financing.

That person’s estimate is based on the assumption that cash flow from taxes and other revenue will not be disrupted by political uncertainty, and that the elections won’t spark a massive outflow of deposits and capital from the country.

Following the biggest debt restructuring in history, most of Greece’s debt is now held by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF. Only a fourth of the 322 billion euros of Greek public debt outstanding at end-September was tradable, according to the Finance Ministry’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Arne Delfs in Berlin at adelfs@bloomberg.net; Nikos Chrysoloras in Athens at nchrysoloras@bloomberg.netRebecca Christie in Brussels atrchristie4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.netTony Czuczka, Ben Sills




Михаил Пасечник jan 17 15, 16:15
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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.

View image on Twitter


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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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!