Russia multiplies gas routes to Europe

Russia multiplies gas routes to Europe
By Vladimir Socor

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom are announcing colossal plans to expand the capacities of existing gas export pipelines and build new ones, all in Europe beyond Russia’s territory.

Gazprom already co-owns and controls export pipeline capacities amounting to some 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year in Europe beyond Russia (Nord Stream One and Two, Yamal-Europe, the export pipelines to the Baltic States and Finland, and Blue Stream), including more than 90 bcm per year in pipelines located within the European Union.

Apart from this, Russia remains the sole user (albeit at decreasing annual usage levels) of Ukraine’s state-owned pipeline

system with its westbound transit capacity of 140 bcm per year. Moscow now proposes to build new pipelines with capacities amounting to some 130 bcm per year (Nord Stream Three and Four, “Yamal-Europe Two”, South Stream), all within EU territory.

Thanks to the recently completed Nord Stream One and Two (2011–2012), Russia has some 250 bcm per year in export pipeline capacities at its disposal in Europe; and would increase that to a grand total of some 380 bcm per year, if the new projects are completed as proposed. Meanwhile, Gazprom’s current sales in Europe are down to some 150 bcm of gas annually in the framework of long-term supply commitments, with only scant hopes to regain Gazprom’s pre-crisis export levels of some 180 bcm annually in a post-crisis Europe. Moreover, Russia faces the prospect of a net loss of overall market share due to growing competition from liquefied gas on European markets.

Why, then, does Russia offer all those new export pipelines to Europe, at colossal capacities and costs? No fully satisfactory answers to this question appear to exist (Russian steel industry’s profiteering at state expense would be one such answer). But some grand policy objectives are clearly discernible behind the various pipeline proposals.

 

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Report that Russia Has Issued Gold and Silver Coins Which Can Be Used As Legal Tender [jessescrossroadscafe]

Unfortunately I do not read Russian so I have not yet completely verified this, but I thought it was interesting enough to pass along on the face of it, since it is ‘making the rounds’ of the internet, and some have asked me about it.

Here is the reported document in Russian.

As they are not coins for general circulation but rather coins to commemorate the Russian Olympics I do not see this as signficant perhaps as the blogger quoted below. Also it appears that they will be issued in rather limited numbers so will probably price as a collectible and not as currency. That is how it is with commemoratives in limited edition.

Here is the sentence from the document that provoked such a strong reaction in some circles.

“The coins are legal tender cash payment in the Russian Federation and must be accepted at face value in all kinds of payments without any restrictions.”

I have not yet done all the math to determine the equivalent ‘face value’ of the coins in other currencies, but I have taken an initial swipe at it.

In the case of the 50 Rouble gold coin, it is 7.78 grams, or 0.25013 troy oz.

At $1700 per ounce, that would make the gold coin worth about .999 x .25013 = .25 ounce of gold, or roughly $425 for a face value coin of 50 roubles.

That is about 8.5 dollars to the rouble. And I don’t think many would take that exchange, since the US dollar is now trading at about 30.77 roubles.

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US Senate to debate Magnitsky Act [PressTV]

The tombstone of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky at a cemetery in Moscow

The tombstone of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky at a cemetery in Moscow
The US Senate is set to vote whether a law to penalize human rights violators will only be applied to Russia or to all countries around the world.

Last week, US lawmakers overwhelmingly ratified the Magnitsky Act to punish Russians considered to have violated human rights.

Ben Cardin, Democratic Senator for Maryland and the original sponsor of the Senate version of the Magnitsky, said, “I absolutely want it to be global.”

“This is a human rights tool that we have available to advance against all international human rights abusers.”

The bill is named after Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a pretrial detention center in Moscow in 2009 after allegedly being tortured by Russian authorities.

The Magnitsky Act would freeze American bank accounts and deny US visas to corrupt officials and human rights violators in Russia.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have supported the legislation, which also calls for the names of the targeted officials to be made public.

“The House should be proud of what it is accomplishing today for human rights and the rule of law for the Magnitsky family, for the Russian people, for honorable Russian officials, and for human rights defenders inside and outside Russia,” said Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, ahead of the vote.

McGovern also stated that the law allows the White House to classify the names of targeted Russian officials “only if the president determines that it is absolutely vital to the national security interests of the United States and provides Congress with prior notice and justification.”

St. Pete’s new armored surveillance vehicle has cameras, not guns [wmnf]

The St. Petersburg Police Department unveiled the newest addition to their crime stopping fleet this morning – it’s an armored surveillance vehicle. The mobile monitoring device can record activity in a 360-degree radius during the day or night. The former Brinks cash truck won’t be manned by a police officer. But that doesn’t mean no one is watching the area around it. It will instead by monitored remotely by officers on an as-needed basis. St. Pete Police Chief Chuck Harmon said the idea is not to catch crime, but to deter it.

“The purpose of this thing is to be very overt so that people see it, it’s discouraging. It’s not a hidden camera where we’re trying to capture things, but there are cameras there that will capture things if things occur.”

The cameras inside are capable of rotating in a complete circle and zooming. They are equipped with night vision and even infrared technology. The city allocated $18,000 for the equipment. Political activist Leonard Schmiege said the vehicle provides a little too much spying power for his taste.

“I think it’s a waste of money. It shows a militarization of a city which is a shame and I disagree with spending that money on it.”

But according to Police Chief Harmon, the surveillance vehicle isn’t meant to monitor private residences or into windows.

“It’s really meant to look for the exterior activity going on around buildings not into buildings. So, that’s the privacy we’re speaking of. We’re not trying to target into a business, into a residence, none of those things. We will have some justification for parking it there obviously. We’re going to look at – anybody could go in there and view those areas that we’re looking at.”

But the graphics on the giant truck announce with bright green glowing eyes that the truck is watching. The design is based on student artwork submissions and was honed by the parks and recreation teen group called TASCO. Robert Norton is on the team that completed the $12,000 project.

“We met the day before – or two days before the Fourth of July – we made everything the day before, we were off Fourth of July and then we had our large Treasure Island Beach Bash and that’s where we solicited the kids with their ideas. So, we kind of threw that together really quick and then we were able to move a little slower to get everything done. We had never designed anything like this before. If you can imagine designing a graphic that’s seven and half feet wide by six and a half feet high just on one side and we had to create three sides to it in all.”

Police Chief Harmon expects to start using the mobile surveillance vehicle as soon as next week. But he doesn’t know where it will be parked yet. The agency plans to determine where it would prevent the most crime and partner with city council. What Harmon does know is officers may have to park the vehicle illegally.

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Putin reshuffles top military circle [xinhuanet]

MOSCOW, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin made a reshuffle in the country’s top military circle following the dismissal of defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov, the Kremlin said Friday.

Putin relieved the chief of the armed forces General Staff Nikolai Makarov and the first deputy defense minister Alexander Sukhorukov of their duties, the Kremlin press service reported.

He appointed Commander of the Central Military District Valery Gerasimov as the new Chief of General Staff and Commander of the Western Military District Arkaly Bakhin as the first deputy defense minister.

Gerasimov, 57, also assumed a post of first deputy defense minister.

“One of our priority tasks is to rearm army and fleet,” Putin told the new Chief of General Staff during a meeting along with the new defense head Sergei Shoigu.

“Science and technology in this sector develop fast, and new means of warfare are emerging all the time. Of course we must orient ourselves toward prospective means, but at the same time a degree of stability is also essential,” Putin said.

Meanwhile, Putin promoted Commander of the Air Space Forces, 55-year-old Oleg Ostapenko to the position of deputy defense minister and relieved several dozens of Serdyukov’s advisors off their duties.

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Russian government to finalize large-scale oil deal [xinhuanet]

MOSCOW, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to prepare documents needed to finalize the TNK-BP and Rosneft purchase deal, Rosneft CEO said Tuesday.

“Yesterday I told the president about the first stage of these deals and he gave the corresponding orders to the head of the government (Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev),” said Rosneft head Igor Sechin in a telephone news briefing.

Rosneft’s eventual benefits from the deal could amount to 3 to 5 billion U.S. dollars, according to Sechin.

The oil giant buys out 100 percent of the TNK-BP from its two owners, the British Petroleum (BP) and the Russian group Alfa- Access-Renova (AAR) for 61 billion dollars, the company said on Monday.

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Russia slashes African debt and increases aid [RT]

AFP Photo / Alexander Joe

AFP Photo / Alexander Joe

Russia is writing off $20bln in African debt coupled with a $50mln donation to the poorest countries. This is part of a diplomatic move to help the African Continent.

“We take part in peacekeeping operations on the continent. We expand programmes to train African peacekeepers and law enforcers,” Vladimir Sergeyev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Department of International Organisations, told the UN General Assembly.

 

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US missile defense: ‘global, mobile and threatening’ – Russia [RT]

Russia has warned that the US missile defense system in Europe could spark another arms race. Reuters /  U.S. Navy / Handout

Russia has warned that the US missile defense system in Europe could spark another arms race. Reuters / U.S. Navy / Handout

NATO’s missile defense system presents a threat to Russia’s national security and may trigger the militarization of Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation on Thursday.

“This missile defense concept is global and mobile, and it creates unpredictability,” Rogozin said at a meeting with NATO officials at the Federation Council. “That is the real Figaro; Figaro here and Figaro there.”

Rogozin said Moscow is “awaiting explanations from NATO and Washington concerning the real purpose [of the system],” he stressed.

The Deputy Prime Minister remarked on the military defense components “that are being deployed around Norway, the bases in Romania,” which are aimed at intercepting “strategic rockets according to speed, range and altitude characteristics.”

 

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Moscow rejects Council of Europe resolution over domestic policy [xinhuanet]

MOSCOW, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Moscow is not going to follow recommendations made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) regarding the state of democracy in Russia, the Kremlin said Thursday.

“We don’t consider these definitions and urges to be appropriate and, undoubtedly, will not bend an ear to them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told local media.

On Tuesday, during the PACE autumn session in Strasbourg, France adopted a tough resolution calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to democratize the political system in his country.

The Russian delegation in PACE, led by Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, failed to soften the wording of the document, local media reported.

“This is discrimination against the Russian Federation and a sheer example of double standards,” Alexei Pushkov told the Assembly.

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Russia supports Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan, drone attacks [thenation]

Russia supports Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan, drone attacks

 

Russia supporting Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan said there should be national reconciliation and the process should be driven by Afghans themselves for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Addressing a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar here on Thursday Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said the two countries today had detailed discussions on bilateral relations both at economic and political planes.

” We are longing for better ties with Pakistan”, he said.

About postponement of the visit of President Putin to Pakistan‚ he said the Russian President has already conveyed to President Zardari that he was unable to visit Pakistan due to tough schedule.

He has also expressed his desire to have meeting between the two Presidents at the earliest.

On Afghanistan‚ he said any solution imposed from outside would not work. He said there should be national reconciliation and the process should be driven by Afghans themselves.

To a question he said Russia was encouraged by confidence building measures between Pakistan and India. He said the two countries are capable of resolving their problems.

 

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Russia Is Printing Money For Syria To Pay Government Expenses [businessinsider]

assad russia

Wikimedia Commons

Syria is using a new currency printed in Russia to pay its soaring deficit, reports Suleiman Al-Khalidi of Reuters.

 

Four Damascus-based bankers told Reuters that the new cash has entered circulation because international sanctions have derailed oil exports and other government revenues.

Consequently, the central bank has exceeded borrowing limits from public banks while private banks are reluctant to buy government bonds.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-is-printing-money-for-syria-to-pay-government-expenses-2012-6#ixzz28VUgldq4

Russia’s Lavrov says “reset” with U.S. cannot last forever [Reuters]

Russia and the United States must do more to strengthen relations because the “reset” in ties cannot continue forever, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama called for the reset in ties before taking office in 2008 but relations have been strained by differences over issues such as missile defense, human rights and the conflict in Syria.

“If we talk about the ‘reset’, it is clear that, using computer terminology, it cannot last forever. Otherwise it would not be a ‘reset’ but a program failure,” Lavrov told the Kommersant business daily.

“Instead of dwelling on the name of this or that stage, we should think about how to develop our relations. Or, again using computer specialists’ terminology, we should update the software.”

Lavrov said deepening economic cooperation would help improve ties between the former Cold War enemies but that some moves would have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election next month.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has accused Obama of being soft on Moscow during his four-year term and described Russia as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

 

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Russian weapons chief launches own political movement [RT]

Russia must use all modern political and PR techniques to counter its foreign enemies Dmitry Rogozin told the founding convention of the movement for support of the military forces and defense industry.

The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the military-industrial complex said Russian authorities must be one step ahead of those who consider Russia an irritating and visible obstacle. He added that campaigns in new media were aimed at the destruction of Russian state power.

“The state power is always destroyed when the cultural code is destroyed, the heart of people’s culture. This is done by means of social networks, through the new tools and we must understand that these tools are aimed against us, against our country,” Rogozin noted.

He added that Russia is currently facing the crumbling of the foundations that ensured peace and security in the whole post-war period, and urged the authorities to arm the people with the newest political and PR technology that are used by the enemies of the Russian state.

In the speech before the convention Rogozin talked of the movement’s objectives – to assist the course for modernization of the military forces and weaponry currently undertaken by Russian Military leaders.

He also said that a number of well-planned scandals had recently taken place in the country, including “the outspoken trick of certain damsels in the Christ the Savior Cathedral”.

 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin addresses a constituent convention of the Special Purpose Voluntary Movement DON in support of the army and the navy. (RIA Novosti/Sergey Mamontov)

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Russia Forgives $11 Billion In North Korean Debt [BusinessInsider]

Kim Jong Un Ladyfriend

AP

Russia has signed a compact with North Korea that will write off 90 percent of the debt the DPRK has accrued since the Cold War, and will reinvest the remaining 10 percent back in the reclusive Asian country.

 

The total debt forgiven is approximately $11 billion.

Negotiations have been ongoing throughout the last four years, but have not yielded any result until now, according to the Russian news outlet RIA Novosti.

AFP reports that in May, Russian Finance Minister Sergei Storchak made a rare visit to discuss settling the outstanding debt. Storchak said that the remaining $1 billion left will be invested in a “debt-for-aid” program, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Storchak said he $11 billion figure was calculated by using the Soviet conversion rate of 60 kopecks to the dollar.

Analysts expect that the deal will help spur new energy projects, infrastructure investment, and the development of new railroads and power lines in the worlds poorest country.

The deal could also help pave the way for a new gas pipeline, that could possibly run through North Korea and help supply the Asian market.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-forgives-11-billion-north-korean-debt-2012-9#ixzz26qm2wzoR

 

Why is Putin stockpiling gold? [MarketWatch]

I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

It emerged last month that financial gurus George Soros and John Paulson had also increased their bullion exposure, but it’s Putin that’s really caught my eye.

No one else in the world plays global power politics as ruthlessly as Russia’s chilling strongman, the man who effectively stole a Super Bowl ring from Bob Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, when they met in Russia some years ago.

Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.

On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.

You can forget claims that it’s “real” money. There’s no such thing. Money is just an accounting device, a way of keeping track of how much each of us produces and consumes. Gold is a shiny and somewhat tacky looking metal that is malleable, durable and heavy. A recent research paper by Duke University’s Campbell Harvey and co-author Claude Erb raised serious questions about most of the arguments in favor of gold as an investment.

 

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‘Unilateral sanctions against Iran could damage Russian-US ties’ – Foreign Ministry [RT]

Vladimir Putin (R) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AFP Photo / RIA Novosti Pool / Alexey Druzhinin)

The Foreign Ministry has warned of a possible blow to Russian-American relations if the US pursues unilateral sanctions against Iran that affect Russian economic interests there.

“Washington should understand that our bilateral relations will suffer considerably if the American restrictions affect Russian economic entities cooperating with partners in the Islamic Republic of Iran in strict compliance with our legislation and UN Security Council resolutions,” the ministry said on its website on Monday.

Late Friday, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions against Iran which aims to penalize those parties aiding Iran’s insurance, financial, petroleum, petrochemical and shipping sectors.

Moscow considers US sanctions against Iran unacceptable, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova said on Monday.

“Russia is fully committed to the restrictions on cooperation with Iran that were established by the UN Security Council,” the spokeswoman said. “However, we do not recognize the unilateral sanctions that were imposed by Washington on the plea of serious concern about Iran’s nuclear program and run counter to international law.”

Zakharova called US efforts to punish countries that do business with Tehran “blackmail.”

“We refute methods of undisguised blackmail,” she said, “which is used by the US towards banks and companies of other countries.”

Earlier, the US passed legislation that targets any party doing business with Iran’s central bank.

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Gazprom to boost export to EU by 50% [RT]

Russia plans to boost gas exports to Europe by up to 230 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2030 from the current 150 billion, the Russian Ministry of Energy has announced.

Gas production in Russia is expected to increase by 30-50% by 2030, while consumption is expected to grow by only 20-30%, according to the Ministry. They say it would create opportunities to boost exports. Currently the country produces 670 bcm per year.

At the end of the month Gazprom reported increase in production and supply to the local market in the first quarter. The production was up to 141.8 bcm and the supply grew by 3.5 bcm to 104.6 bcm.

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Putin: The richest man on earth? [thebureauinvestigates]

putin flowers shutterstock

 

Back in 2011, surrounded by press, Vladimir Putin emerged from the murky waters of the Black Sea clutching the discovered remnants of ancient buried treasures. The discovery later turned out to be nothing more than a PR stunt. He hadn’t found the artefacts after all. But the stunt had achieved its purpose. Putin was once again seen as the bare-chested, judo-master, tiger-pacifying, untouchable leader of Russia.

But it was another apparent PR stunt – the spontaneous gifting of a £5,500 watch to a peasant boy – which led some to question whether Putin did not have buried treasure of his own.

How could a politician with a declared annual salary of around $140,000 (£88,000) afford to live a life seemingly full of luxury watches, as well as yachts and palaces?

The Bureau decided to investigate and has produced a documentary for Al Jazeera’s People & Power. We travelled from Moscow to St Petersburg looking into the origins and scale of Putin’s wealth.

Declared earnings
On March 6, Putin was once again elected president of Russia. He regained the role he had relinquished in 2008, when he had stepped down because of rules preventing more than two consecutive terms, becoming prime minister instead.

As part of his latest election bid, Putin was required to declare his worth. His declaration seems modest for a world leader.

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Gazprom seeks the status of “exclusive supplier” to European customers [Asiatimes]

By Vladimir Socor

Russian state-controlled companies, Gazprom and Rosneft, mapped out far-reaching expansion programs in bilateral deals with Western companies at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 21-22. Russian President Vladimir Putin coordinated the overall process.

In parallel with mineral exploration and production agreements, Gazprom is pioneering a new type of vertical integration at the expense of European companies and consumers. Under this new concept, Gazprom seeks part-ownership of natural gas-based electrical power plants in Europe, in exchange for gas supplies

from Gazprom’s fields via Gazprom pipelines.

Gazprom seeks the status of “exclusive supplier” of gas to such power plants under these deals, thereby ruling out competition. If this implies (as it seems) price fixing as opposed to market pricing, it follows that European companies acquiescing in such terms would expect to pass on the onerous cost burden to their consumers.

At the St Petersburg Forum, Gazprom advanced discussions on this type of deal with Electricite de France (EDF, signing a memorandum of understanding), Italian ENEL (Ente Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica), and Danish DONG (Dansk Olie og Naturgas) – national champions majority-owned by their respective governments. The ongoing discussions focus on generating capacities owned by these companies in EU territory outside their home countries.

Under the Gazprom-EDF memorandum, the two companies would jointly acquire existing European gas-based electrical power plants and build new such plants in Europe. The two companies would hold such plants in parity ownership, with Gazprom as exclusive supplier. This concept resembles in broad outline that proposed by Gazprom to German RWE (Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk) in 2011. Those negotiations eventually broke down. Meanwhile, Bavaria’s Land government has entered into discussions on such an agreement with Gazprom.

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Tens of thousands March against Putin in Russia [dawn]

MOSCOW: Tens of thousands of protesters chanting “Russia Will be Free” rallied in Moscow on Tuesday against President Vladimir Putin’s third term despite a police crackdown on their leaders a day earlier.

 

The largely youthful crowds, many wearing the movement’s symbolic white ribbons, made their way down leafy boulevards from Moscow’s central Pushkin Square as Putin warned in a speech to mark Russia’s national holiday that any upheaval would not be tolerated.

One event organiser put attendance at the so-called March of Millions at more than 100,000 while the city’s police department counted just 18,000 participants.

However aerial television footage of the main rally suggested a figure of at least double that quoted by the police.

“Dear friends, they are afraid of us and we aren’t afraid of them,” veteran protest leader Boris Nemtsov told a sea of smiling people on Moscow’s broad Sakharov Avenue — the scene of similar demonstrations more than six months ago.

“We live in occupation and we are fighting occupiers on our territory,”added prominent environmentalist and blogger Yevgenia Chirikova to cheers of approval.

The protest came just a day after the homes of its leaders were raided in a police crackdown that was condemned by Washington and sparked concerns of a new bid by the former KGB agent to turn back the clock on past reforms.

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Russia Hints At Intervention in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

Several days after apparent widespread skirmishes all along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the Nagorno-Karabakh “line of contact,” there is still very little information about what actually happened. For a while, though, at least on the internet, it seemed that a serious escalation of violence was imminent.

It’s a bit odd that, amid all the rumors of massive fighting, there doesn’t seem to have been any casualties on either side, suggesting that the reports may have been some sort of deliberate disinformation campaign. And that’s what the Armenian Defense Ministry has suggested:

The rumors spread by Azerbaijani mass media on the possible combat operations on NKR–Azerbaijan line of contact towards Aghdam and Fizulai are nothing but imagination.

In comparison to June 7-8, the ceasefire violations in different parts of the front line have become more frequent and have increased. This, however, did not affect and will not affect the general state.

All the usual suspects issued the usual statements calling on both sides to settle the conflict peacefully, etc. But one international reaction was especially notable: Russia’s. A Russian military spokesman noted that airmen at the Russian military base in Armenia have been stepping up their training flights since the beginning of the year. From the New York Times:

Russian fighter jets stationed at a base in Armenia have conducted about 300 training flights since the beginning of 2012, and have increased the number of flying hours by more than 20 percent from last year…

Colonel Gorbul said Russian fighter pilots were preparing for combat. “The main emphasis in performing aerobatic elements is made on the ability to apply them in real-life air combat conditions,” he said.

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China and Russia flex muscle at the West [Asiatimes]

Beijing and Moscow will send a clear message to the world at the ongoing Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. The leaderships of China and Russia have drawn two lines in the sand – an unequivocal “No” to bombing Iran, and another unambiguous “No” to regime change in Syria brought about through a Western bombing campaign.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing yesterday to start his first overseas visit after he was elected as the Russian leader again, which highlights the importance he attaches to his country’s relations with China. And in Beijing, no less, he is scheduled to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmud Ahmadinejad. This is indicative of the joint Russian and Chinese geopolitical strategy.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Wenmin spelled out the shared Russian and Chinese viewpoint on the ongoing crisis in Syria:

“On the Syrian issue, China and Russia have stayed in close communication and coordination both in New York, Moscow and Beijing … The position of both sides is clear to all – there should be an immediate end to violence and the political dialogue process should be launched as soon as possible”.

Besides lauding Sino-Russian cooperation on the issue, Liu explicitly made clear the two nations’ consistent objection to the use of force to resolve the Syrian issue: “China and Russia share the same position on these points and both sides oppose external intervention into the Syrian situation and oppose regime change by force.” [1]

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