Daily Archives: April 10, 2014

Message from the President of Russia to the leaders of several European countries

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Vladimir Putin addressed a letter to the leaders of several European countries, to which Russian natural gas is supplied via Ukraine’s territory.

The message reads:

Ukraine’s economy in the past several months has been plummeting. Its industrial and construction sectors have also been declining sharply. Its budget deficit is mounting. The condition of its currency system is becoming more and more deplorable. The negative trade balance is accompanied by the flight of capital from the country. Ukraine’s economy is steadfastly heading towards a default, a halt in production and skyrocketing unemployment.

Russia and the EU member states are Ukraine’s major trading partners. Proceeding from this, at the Russia-EU Summit at the end of January, we came to an agreement with our European partners to hold consultations on the subject of developing Ukraine’s economy, bearing in mind the interests of Ukraine and our countries while forming integration alliances with Ukraine’s participation. However, all attempts on Russia’s part to begin real consultations failed to produce any results

Instead of consultations, we hear appeals to lower contractual prices on Russian natural gas – prices which are allegedly of a “political” nature. One gets the impression that the European partners want to unilaterally blame Russia for the consequences of Ukraine’s economic crisis.

Right from day one of Ukraine’s existence as an independent state, Russia has supported the stability of the Ukrainian economy by supplying it with natural gas at cut-rate prices. In January 2009, with the participation of the then-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, a purchase-and-sale contract on supplying natural gas for the period of 2009-2019 was signed. That contract regulated questions concerning the delivery of and payment for the product, and it also provided guarantees for its uninterrupted transit through the territory of Ukraine. What is more, Russia has been fulfilling the contract according to the letter and spirit of the document. Incidentally, Ukrainian Minister of Fuel and Energy at that time was Yury Prodan, who today holds a similar post in Kiev’s government.

The total volume of natural gas delivered to Ukraine as was stipulated in that contract during the period of 2009-2014  (first quarter) stands at 147.2 billion cubic meters. Here, I would like to emphasize that the price formula that had been set down in the contract had NOT been altered since that moment. And Ukraine, right up till August 2013, made regular payments for the natural gas in accordance with that formula.

However, the fact that after signing that contract, Russia granted Ukraine a whole string of unprecedented privileges and discounts on the price of natural gas is quite another matter. This applies to the discount stemming from the 2010 Kharkov Agreement, which was provided as advance payment for the future lease payments for the presence of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet after 2017. This also refers to discounts on the prices for natural gas purchased by Ukraine’s chemical companies. This also concerns the discount granted in December 2013 for the duration of three months due to the critical state of Ukraine’s economy. Beginning with 2009, the  total sum of these discounts stands at 17 billion US dollars. To this, we should add another 18.4 billion US dollars incurred by the Ukrainian side as a minimal take-or-pay fine.

In this manner, during the past four years Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine’s economy by offering slashed natural gas prices worth 35.4 billion US dollars.  In addition, in December 2013, Russia granted Ukraine a loan of 3 billion US dollars. These very significant sums were directed towards maintaining the stability and creditability of the Ukrainian economy and preservation of jobs. No other country provided such support except Russia.

What about the European partners? Instead of offering Ukraine real support, there is talk about a declaration of intent. There are only promises that are not backed up by any real actions. The European Union is using Ukraine’s economy as a source of raw foodstuffs, metal and mineral resources, and at the same time, as a market for selling its highly-processed ready-made commodities (machine engineering and chemicals), thereby creating a deficit in Ukraine’s trade balance amounting to more than 10 billion US dollars. This comes to almost two-thirds of Ukraine’s overall deficit for 2013.

To a large extent, the crisis in Ukraine’s economy has been precipitated by the unbalanced trade with the EU member states, and this, in turn has had a sharply negative impact on Ukraine’s fulfillment of its contractual obligations to pay for deliveries of natural gas supplied by Russia. Gazprom has no intentions except for those stipulated in the 2009 contract, nor does it plan to set any additional conditions. This also concerns the contractual price for natural gas, which is calculated in strict accordance with the agreed formula. However, Russia cannot and should not unilaterally bear the burden of supporting Ukraine’s economy by way of providing discounts and forgiving debts, and in fact, using these subsidies to cover Ukraine’s deficit in its trade with the EU member states.

The debt of NAK Naftogaz Ukraine for delivered gas has been growing monthly this year. In November-December 2013 this debt stood at 1.451,5 billion US dollars; in February 2014 it increased by a further 260.3 million and in March by another 526.1 million US dollars.  Here I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in March there was still a discount price applied, i.e., 268.5 US dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. And even at that price, Ukraine did not pay a single dollar.

In such conditions, in accordance with Articles 5.15, 5.8 and 5.3 of the contract, Gazprom is compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries, and in the event of further violation of the conditions of payment, will completely or partially cease gas deliveries. In other words, only the volume of natural gas will be delivered to Ukraine as was paid for one month in advance of delivery.

Undoubtedly, this is an extreme measure.  We fully realize that this increases the risk of siphoning off natural gas passing through Ukraine’s territory and heading to European consumers. We also realize that this may make it difficult for Ukraine to accumulate sufficient gas reserves for use in the autumn and winter period. In order to guarantee uninterrupted transit, it will be necessary, in the nearest future, to supply 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas that will be pumped into Ukraine’s underground storage facilities, and this will require a payment of about 5 billion US dollars.

However, the fact that our European partners have unilaterally withdrawn from the concerted efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, and even from holding consultations with the Russian side, leaves Russia no alternative.

There can be only one way out of the situation that has developed. We believe it is vital to hold, without delay, consultations at the level of ministers of economics, finances and energy in order to work out concerted actions to stabilize Ukraine’s economy and to ensure delivery and transit of Russian natural gas in accordance with the terms and conditions set down in the contract. We must lose no time in beginning to coordinate concrete steps. It is towards this end that we appeal to our European partners.

It goes without saying that Russia is prepared to participate in the effort to stabilize and restore Ukraine’s economy. However, not in a unilateral way, but on    equal conditions with our European partners. It is also essential to take into account the actual investments, contributions and expenditures that Russia has shouldered by itself alone for such a long time in supporting Ukraine. As we see it, only such an approach would be fair and balanced, and only such an approach can lead to success.

President of Russia.

European countries, to which Russian natural gas is supplied via Ukraine’s territory

Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey

 

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Donetsk protesters prepare for Kiev military attack, referendum

A photo taken on April 10, 2014 shows a view of the barricade of pro-Russian protesters outside the regional state administration building in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

As the armed storming of the Donetsk administration building seized by the protesters seems imminent, the anti-government movement is preparing for the referendum set to form their new way of life and the country they’re going to live in.

Masked men, who are mostly civil volunteers, but also police and army defectors, say they “defend their motherland from the fascist army that’s going to kill them.” They also demand “a referendum to be independent from Kiev” and are in favor of “being with Russia.”

In the local administration building, the protest movement makes Molotov cocktails: they say they want to avoid any violence, but if there is a crackdown on them, they will be forced to use whatever they have.

“I only have a stick to defend myself. They are coming armed with machine guns, and all I had yesterday for example was a chair leg,” a masked protester said.

The Donetsk protesters fear the repetition of Kharkov scenario, where police cleared the demonstrators in a very violent way, detaining at least 70 people.

Donetsk is known to be the Ukrainian industrial capital, with about 1 million people living there. The Donetsk region is home to 10 per cent of the country’s population.

Female pro-Russian protesters guard a barricade outside the regional state administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 10, 2014.

In the local administration, there are representatives of almost every big town or city in the Donetsk region, and each city or town occupies a floor in the building.

The protesters explained their position to RT.

“The protest in Donetsk is against nationalism, we are for social justice, the creation of our republic means drastic changes in the way our territory is organized. We are for equality of languages. We are against the oppression by the majority by the nationalist minority, and against threatening ethnic Russians.”

Another protester, wearing a mask, spoke about the industrial wealth of his region that seems to vanish in Kiev for the most part.

“Donetsk region sends about 470 million dollars to Kiev, and less than 150 million returns. All the mines and enterprises in Donetsk are prosperous.”

Watch more in RT’s Maria Finoshina’s report.

 RT News.

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US destroyer Donald Cook enters Black Sea amid Ukraine tension (VIDEO)

US warship USS Donald-Cook sails through the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2014, en route to the Black Sea.

USS Donald Cook, a destroyer equipped with the powerful Aegis missile defense system, has crossed through the Bosphorus and entered the Black Sea, with Russia claiming that NATO is assembling a battle fleet in the region.

Earlier, the US Defense Department said the ship’s mission was “to reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners” following the events in Ukraine.

“It demonstrates our commitment to our … allies to enhance security, readiness and capabilities,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said in a statement.

But sources in the Russian military believe the move is part of a systematic build-up of naval forces.

“What we are seeing is that for the first time since 2008, NATO is creating a naval battle group outside the Russian borders,” a source told Interfax news agency, citing the entry of French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome and destroyer Dupleix – both expected within the next week.

The French rescue vessel Alize has been inside the Black Sea basin since late last month.

“The purpose of this is to provide moral support for the regime in Kiev, but also as a demonstration of power to make Russia come to heel. But the ship will also collect information on Russian military activity in Crimea and on the Ukrainian border,” the source said.

Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed in Sevastopol in Crimea, which was incorporated into Russia following a referendum last month.

NATO also believes that Moscow is massing troops on its border with eastern Ukraine, which has experienced uprisings by pro-Russian activists calling for secession from Kiev. On Thursday, NATO released satellite shots of Russian border bases heaving with troops and equipment, though Moscow has said that the shots are from last year, and in any case, show no unusual activity.

USS Donald Cook had already aroused the anger of Moscow when it arrived in Europe earlier this year, as it carries the sophisticated Aegis weapons and radar system and will form a key part of NATO’s missile defense shield in Europe. Moscow has vehemently opposed the project, saying it is a direct security threat and alters the nuclear balance of power in the region.

Moscow has said that NATO naval movements since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis at the end of last year have violated the Montreux Convention on naval movements in the Black Sea.

According to the treaty, warships from non-Black Sea states can only stay in the basin for up to 21 days consecutively. USS Taylor spent 11 more than that in the region in February and March.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “bemusement” over the supposed violations.

Turkey [which administers the treaty] did not inform us about the overstay. We have expressed our concern to the Turkish and US side in a verbal note,” said a statement on the ministry website.

US warship, USS Donald Cook, sails through the Bosporus in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10, 2014, en route to the Black Sea.

But even if Washington complies with the terms of the treaty, it is unlikely to reduce its military presence beyond the Bosphorus.

“Since February, whenever one US ship leaves the Black Sea, one or more replace it. It is possible that this rotation will be kept up for ships operating the Aegis system,” the Russian military source said.

RT News

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Shoe thrown at Hillary Clinton during Las Vegas speech (VIDEO)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ducks after a woman threw an object toward her while she was delivering remarks at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries conference on April 10, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Former US Secretary of State was nearly hit by a shoe during a speech in Las Vegas Thursday, dodging the object at the last second as an usher escorted a young woman from the audience.

Clinton had only been on the stage at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting near the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino for moments when an object flew toward her from the crowd. Clinton, also a former New York State senator and First Lady, stepped out of its path and joked, “good thing she didn’t play softball like I did,” as quoted by the Associated Press.

The young woman was not identified, although security personnel at Mandalay Bay told reporters the police had been called and she would likely be arrested.

Considered likely to run as the Democratic candidate for president in 2016, Clinton is touring the country and delivering a series of speeches while at work on a book about her time in the State Department, a term that stretched across the first four years of the Obama administration. She appeared at the Las Vegas conference alongside Steve Wozniak, an Apple co-founder.

Gennifer Flowers Confirms : Hillary Clinton’s Homosexuality | dailymail | WORLD NEWS.
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Russia withheld intel on Boston bombing suspect

People attend the Boston Marathon memorial exhibition, “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” at the Boston Public Library April 7, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts . View photo People attend the Boston Marathon memorial exhibition, “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” at the Boston

New York (AFP) – Russia declined to provide the FBI with information about one of the Boston marathon bombing suspects two years before the attack, The New York Times reported.

Three people were killed and about 260 wounded on April 15 last year when two bombs made of explosives-packed pressure cookers went off near the finish line of the marathon.

US authorities are seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, then 19, for his alleged role in the blasts. His brother Tamerlan, 26, died after an exchange of fire with police after the Chechen Muslim brothers went on the run, sparking a four-day manhunt.

Citing an inspector general’s review of how American intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing, the Times said that Russian officials told the FBI in 2011 that Tamerlan “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer.”

The Russian side said that Tamerlan “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

But, according to The Times, after an initial investigation by FBI agents in Boston, the Russians declined several requests for additional information they had about him.

The inspector general’s report found that it was only after the bombing that the Russians shared the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Tamerlan and his mother in which they discussed jihad, the Times said.

“They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the FBI did all that it could,” the Times quoted a senior American official briefed on the review as saying.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial begins in November.

The one-time student has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the bombings, including 17 serious charges that can carry sentences of death or life in prison.

These charges include using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, as well as conspiracy and bombing of a place of public use resulting in death, and carjacking.

He is also charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the brothers’ wild overnight getaway attempt.

 Yahoo News.

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Car bomb explodes outside Bank of Greece in Athens

Forensic experts search for evidence on a street where a car bomb went off in Athens April 10, 2014.

A car explosive has detonated outside a Bank of Greece building in central Athens. The blast smashed windows in shops, but left no injuries.

The explosion came as the country prepares to enter the international bond market for the first time in four years, since the debt crisis in 2010, and a day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the Greek capital.

The warning about the car bomb came with an anonymous call 45 minutes before the blast. The caller said that the bomb contained 70kg of explosives, a police official told Reuters.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but security forces believe it could be leftist or anarchist groups.

Makeshift bomb and arson attacks have hiked dramatically since Greece implemented unpopular austerity measures in exchange for multibillion euro bailouts by the EU and IMF four years ago.

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