Saturday, August 30, 2014

Winter watch ( August 30 , 2014 ) - Are Russia and Germany conniving to work around recalcitrant Ukraine regarding natural gas for Europe ? Association of European Businesses urges EU to refrain from sanctions against Russia ...... European Commission recommends Ukraine to start repaying Russian gas debt

http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/747255

Diversification of Russian gas supply to Europe to cover up to 50% of EU needs — minister

 August 29, 17:02 UTC+4
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak says Gazprom was rather actively diversifying the supply risks, pumping additional gas volumes into European underground storage facilities
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak

© ITAR-TASS/Anton ovoderezhkin
MOSCOW, August 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Diversification of Russian natural gas supplies to Europe will cover up to 50% of Europe’s gas demand, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Friday.
He said that Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom was rather actively diversifying the supply risks, pumping additional gas volumes into European underground storage facilities, which will make it possible to increase gas consumption during the winter peak season.
“Moreover, it (Gazprom) increases the gas pumping capacities in accordance with the additional technical solutions on the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline. We also discussed today the supply of additional gas volume through the OPAL pipeline, which will give a 40-50% compensation for the possible deficit if Ukraine consumes maximum gas volumes supplied for the EU,” Novak said.
The Yamal-Europe transnational gas pipeline runs through Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany. The pipeline’s total length exceeds 2,000 kilometres, capacity - 32.9 billion cubic metres per year.
The OPAL gas pipeline with the capacity of 36 billion cubic meters runs across Germany, connecting the new trans-Baltic pipeline Nord Stream with the existing gas transportation networks. Russia and Germany seek this pipeline’s exemption from the EU Third Energy Package norms that allow Gazprom to use only half of the pipeline’s capacity.


http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/747335


Association of European Businesses urges EU to refrain from sanctions against Russia

 August 30, 8:10 UTC+4
The AEB issued a news release with this call ahead of European Council meeting that will be discussing the possibility of more sanctions on Russia over the latest developments in Ukraine
© EPA/PATRICK SEEGER
MOSCOW, August 30, 3:26 /ITAR-TASS/. The Association of European Businesses incorporating several thousand companies operating in Russia or in contact with Russian partners has urged the EU heads of state to refrain from taking more economic sanctions against Russia.
The AEB issued a news release with this call ahead of European Council meeting that will be discussing the possibility of more sanctions on Russia over the latest developments in Ukraine.
“The previous sanctions were ineffective as they did not change the course of the events. Moreover they are deeply damaging to business conditions and to the markets, not only in Russia and Ukraine but also in the EU,” the AEB said.
The AEB asked the EU heads of states and government “to keep business, which creates wealth, jobs and stability, out of politics and to solve the Ukrainian crisis diplomatically.”
This is not the first time the AEB is addressing the EU and Russia to refrain from sanctions. In early August the association’s members asked the EU and Russian authorities to protect investors on both sides from any further retaliatory restrictive measures.
The Association of European Businesses was established in 1995. Currently it unites 630 companies in the EU countries and Russia. Among its members there are both transnational giants, including Bonduelle, Nestle, Valio and Auchan and medium and small businesses.
On August 7 Russia retaliated to Western sanctions imposed over events in Ukraine. It prohibited all import of beef, pork, vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union countries, Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States.

http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/747289


Ukraine does not agree to Russia’s $100 gas price discount — ministry

 August 29, 20:06 UTC+4
Ukraine Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said that Ukraine was disappointed “by the absence of a constructive approach from Russia at the talks on settling the issue of natural gas supplies to Ukraine”
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Minister Yuriy Prodan

Ukrainian Energy and Coal Minister Yuriy Prodan

© EPA/JULIEN WARNAND
MOSCOW, August 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine does not agree to a $100 gas price discount offered by Russia, the Ukrainian Energy and Coal Ministry said on Friday.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday after talks in Moscow with EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Gazprom head Alexei Miller that Russia was ready to offer Ukraine a $100 discount for its contractual price of $485 per 1,000 cubic meters as a compromise option to settle the gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev.
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Minister Yuriy Prodan said, however, that Ukraine was disappointed “by the absence of a constructive approach from Russia at the talks on settling the issue of natural gas supplies to Ukraine.”
“We again hear the price of $385 based on a $100 discount from the price of $485 due to the duty cancellation. This means that the Russian side considers the price of $485 to be fair and consistent with market trends. However, we believe this is a discriminatory price,” the Ukrainian Energy and Coal Ministry’s press office quoted Prodan as saying.
Prodan said Ukraine had made several proposals, including jointly with the European Commission, on really market-based pricing mechanisms.
“Our latest proposal is to calculate the price proceeding from spot prices on European gas hubs, reducing it by the amount of costs for gas transportation from the Russian border to EU countries,” Prodan said.

http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/747308

European Commission recommends Ukraine to start repaying Russian gas debt

 August 30, 0:05 UTC+4
Gazprom says Naftogaz’s debt under the “take or pay” clause has already exceeded $11 billion
© ITAR-TASS/ EPA /SERGEI KOZLOV
BRUSSELS, August 29,/ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission recommends Ukraine to start delivering payments for the supplies of Russian natural gas, Marlene Holzner, a spokeswoman for EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, said on Friday.
She said that in the course of the next weeks the European Commission would work out a schedule for Ukraine’s debt repayments to resume deliveries of the Russian natural gas.
Gazprom says Naftogaz’s debt under the “take or pay” clause has already exceeded $11 billion.
Russian energy giant Gazprom halted gas supplies to Ukraine in June over its unpaid debt and filed a $4.5 billion suit to the Stockholm arbitration court. Later, Kiev reciprocated by sending a suit to the court against Gazprom for making Ukraine overpay $6 billion for gas since 2010, setting too high prices in its contract.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that Gazprom had not received any signal from Naftogaz about the Ukrainian company’s readiness to repay debts for natural gas supplied to Ukraine in previous months. Gazprom says this debt has already topped $5 billion.
Brussels and Kiev have elaborated a joint position that gas prices for Ukraine should be at the level of $320 per 1,000 cubic meters during the summer season until mid-October and $385 per 1,000 cu m during the heating season. Ukraine however, earlier rejected a seasonal scheme proposed by Gazprom.
At a meeting held in Minsk on Tuesday between the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which form the Customs Union, EU officials and the Ukrainian president, Russian Energy Minister Novak said that Russia’s position was unchanged and Ukraine must repay its $5 billion debt to continue cooperation with Moscow.

Ukraine Updates ( August 30 , 2014 ) -- Ukraine Demands Arms, NATO Membership as Rebels Advance on Mariupol Kiev Cries 'Invasion,' But Still Has No Evidence ....... Ukraine Claims ‘Thousands’ of Russian Troops Invaded, Offers No Evidence Rebels Advance, But No Sign of Putative Russian Backing ....... Next Week’s NATO Summit to Focus on Escalations Against Russia Expected to Reach Deal on More Eastern Europe Troops ........ NATO planning 'rapid-deployment force' of 10,000 troops to counter Russia ...... Updates from the battlefield and Political minefields......

Anti War.....

Next Week’s NATO Summit to Focus on Escalations Against Russia

Expected to Reach Deal on More Eastern Europe Troops

by Jason Ditz, August 29, 2014
The upcoming NATO summit in Estonia is expected to focus heavily on new military buildups for the alliance, with a buildup in Eastern Europe expected to be finalized, including commitments for new bases in Poland and the Baltic States.
The deployments underscore rising tensions between NATO and Russia, with many in the alliance having designs on a new Cold War, and seeing such deployments as a way to further that narrative.
The other topic of discussion is expected to be ISIS, with claims of a “threat” posed by the Islamists to Turkish territory, after years of Turkey letting them use their southern border as a staging ground for attacking Syria.
With alliance-wide involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan on the decline, NATO is looking for new conflicts to justify their continued existence. With the US already on its way to a full-scale war with ISIS, expanding the war to cover the whole of NATO could give them a major, open-ended battle to fight.


Ukraine Claims ‘Thousands’ of Russian Troops Invaded, Offers No Evidence

Rebels Advance, But No Sign of Putative Russian Backing

by Jason Ditz, August 29, 2014
Ukrainian officials are now claiming a Russian invasion of four to five thousand ground troops backed by columns of tanks and other armored vehicles, a dramatic escalation from yesterday’s claims of about 1,000 such troops.
As with yesterday’s allegations, Ukraine is offering no evidence to back up the claims, and the reports coming out of the region suggest such a massive invasion is not likely to be happening at all.
Ukraine’s government not offering backup for its allegations is nothing new, but is particularly conspicuous today, as media provides images of the few hundred rebel fighters’ advance in southeastern Ukraine, but offers nothing to support the claims that thousands of Russian troops and armor are traveling with them.
The US, which had been rubber stamping Ukrainian allegations for months, seems to be particularly hesitant this time, and is saying they can’t independently confirm any of the allegations being made this time. President Obama, who was eager to exploit the claims to push more sanctions, still did not lend any credence to the claims actually being true, and yesterday said nothing the US saw happening in the east was a “shift” in Russian policy.
Ukraine’s wild allegations have become so common and so often untrue that they have very little credibility left, and indeed this is the third separate invasion they’ve alleged to have taken place in the past week.
So far, the only “invasion” that had any truth to it at all was the one where Russian trucks delivered humanitarian aid to the city of Luhansk, and while Ukraine was eager to chalk it up to a military invasion, the trucks left the following day.
As with the phantom “column” on armored vehicles Ukraine claimed to have destroyed earlier this month, the lack of photographic evidence speaks volumes, and the allegations seem to be aimed primarily at getting increased “emergency aid” as opposed to informing people about the actual situation on the ground.



Ukraine Demands Arms, NATO Membership as Rebels Advance on Mariupol

Kiev Cries 'Invasion,' But Still Has No Evidence

by Jason Ditz, August 29, 2014
Ukraine’s government continues to escalate its claims of a Russian invasion, now insisting that there are several thousand Russian troops, backed by tanks and artillery, and mysteriously totally unphotographed in eastern Ukraine.
The eastern civil war continues along the nation’s southeast coastline, where rebels areadvancing on the key Donetsk Province port of Mariupol. Hundreds of rebels were photographed making there way toward Mariupol, but again, none of the “thousands” of Russians were seen.
The Ukrainian military is now picking up calls for a dramatic increase in NATO shipment of weapons and ammunition, saying they have not been providing any weapons to the troops invading the breakaway east.
Ukraine also wants to become a member of NATO now, because then when they come up with their dubious claims of Russian “invasion” it would immediately start World War 3. NATO, needless to say, has not generally admitted members with existing territorial disputes, and would not consider Ukraine specifically because doing so would quickly escalate into a massive war.
Incredibly, while the non-credible invasion claims continue to circulate, Presidents Putin and Poroshenko met and worked out a deal on more shipments of humanitarian aid into Ukraine’s east. Russia will provide future aid by rail. The last humanitarian aid shipments Russia made, last Friday by truck, were also dubbed an “invasion” by Ukrainian officials.



http://rt.com/news/183828-nato-rapid-deployment-force/


NATO planning 'rapid-deployment force' of 10,000 troops to counter Russia

Published time: August 30, 2014 01:12
Edited time: August 30, 2014 10:24

German troops who are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)
German troops who are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)
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NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
According to the Financial Times, the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.
Although no formal announcement has been made, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare its formation at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4th.
Many specifics have yet to be worked out or announced, but planners are reportedly implementing ways to increase the number of soldiers involved even more if necessary. Air and naval units will be integrated into the group, as well as ground troops led by British commanders.
As noted by the Times, the creation of the force comes as a response to Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, with the ultimate goal being to “create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises.” NATO has accused Russia of deploying more than 1,000 troops into Ukraine to bolster separatists in the eastern part of the country.
Russia, however, insists that it does not have troops operating inside of Ukraine and has dismissed NATO’s assertions.
Despite the fact that NATO has opted not to act militarily in Ukraine – unnamed sources told Foreign Policy on Friday that there are no plans to confront Russia with anything more than stronger sanctions – Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said the group needs to demonstrate that its eastern European members are just as integral to the alliance as other states.
“We need to end the idea of different zones of security in Europe,” he told the Financial Times. “We need to be talking about prepositioning, regular rotation of troops and making it very clear that we do not accept that the eastern Europeans are in some different category of membership of NATO.”
The revelation also arrives just a few days after NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussenexpressed interest in forming “a more visible presence” in Eastern Europe in the form of facilities capable of rapidly receiving “response forces” needed to counter Russia.
For his part, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said any attempt to stretch further into the region would impact Moscow’s own security planning.


http://rt.com/news/183860-ukraine-energy-saving-gas/

With natural gas shortages central heating may not be in place in Ukrainian flats for the cold winter. While people are rushing to buy electric heaters, authorities have issued brochures with advice on how to cope with freezing temperatures.
Recognizing that it is extremely hard to keep a city flat warm with no central heating, Kiev authorities, for example, launched a campaign aimed at informing citizens on tricks and methods they could use to save energy and heat – at temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius and lower.
Firstly, the heat insulation of windows and doors is strongly advised, as well as the purchase of a personal boiler or energy-saving heating installation. In fact, people are already starting to buy the boilers: shop owners in Kiev told TCH TV channel that demand for such devices has increased at least threefold since the beginning of the crisis.
Also, it is suggested in the brochures that city residents should buy warm clothes made of natural fabric, valenki, and headwear to protect themselves from freezing temperatures.
Where there is heating in flats, the authorities advise to paint the radiators red or brown instead of traditional white, in order to increase their heat output – or wrap them in foil.
With so many heating devices power consumption will increase and may overload the grid, authorities are also giving advice on electricity savings: from switching to lower wattage light bulbs, to giving up on devices’ stand-by functions and instead unplugging them completely.
Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/
Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/

Among the more extreme advice, the authors of the brochure suggest that the Kiev residents should use their balconies as fridges, and turn on the lights only in one room, preferably pointing the source of light only on one spot – for example, a table.
There are some kitchen suggestions too: people are advised not to wash dishes in running water, and to eat only the types of food that take a few minutes to prepare.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government started an aggressive propaganda campaign called “Energy independence”, the aim of which is to inform Ukrainians about the necessity to save energy and natural gas – in order to become independent from Russian supplies. It is noted that the funds for this campaign aren’t allocated from the federal budget, but from donor programs from the EU and the US.
The vice premier of the country Vladimir Groysman has suggested the population remember how to heat their homes with wood waste, turf, and straw – and this is seriously being considered by experts.
The whole campaign sounds like a revolutionary step, but not all are convinced.
“Nowadays, the authorities say we need to switch gas for something, to reduce the gas consumption by 10-30 percent. It’s true, but they don’t tell the most important thing: we consume much more than our European neighbors. For instance, Poland consumes only 14-15 billion cubic meters of gas, while Ukraine consumes almost 50.5 billion cubic meters,” Oleg Kozalchuk, the president of Ukrainian Association of energy efficiency and energy saving, told Pravda.ru media outlet.
Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/
Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/

Warning the residents of Kiev to prepare for winter, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said he hopes they will “understand the temporary difficulties, taking into account the situation in Kiev and in the country.”
Since currently there are no natural gas supplies from Russia, all the gas extracted domestically “goes to the storages,” he told 112.ua agency explaining the decision to switch off hot running water in summer. “It’s the Cabinet of ministers’ demand, and respect it.”
Despite the mayor’s pledges that the heating is to be expected in households in October, experts aren’t so sure.
“Klitschko can promise whatever he wants, but he can’t guarantee anything. Does he have gas in storages? “Kievenergo” got the limits of gas usage of 1.2 billion of cubic meters, while last year, they used 1.8 billion over the same period, from August until March. And if the temperatures are low in autumn and winter, then they’ll surely heat the radiators, and will turn off the hot water,” the co-chairman of Fund of energy strategies Dmitry Marunich told 112.ua agency.
And while the temperatures go down, the tariffs increase – the utility rates have already grown 1.5-2 times this year.
The consumption of natural gas in Ukraine reduced in July by 30.3 per cent compared to July 2013, according to the country’s State Statistical Committee. The consumption of oil has fallen by 23.3 per cent compared with last year – and so has the consumption of coal, with figures showing a reduction by 25.9 per cent.
Nevertheless, the cabinet of ministers declared an emergency situation in the Ukrainian energy sector in June, urging the population to stock up on firewood to try their best to save energy.


http://rt.com/news/eastern-ukraine-army-operation-680/

Saturday, August 30

10:44 GMT:
The situation in Ukraine is very serious, and may soon reach "a point of no return," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Brussels at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Barroso added that the EU is not interested in a confrontation with Russia, but expects European leaders to approve a new round of sanctions against Moscow if Russia does not start work towards deescalating the crisis in Ukraine.
The EU was prepared to toughen sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis but also that it wanted a political deal to end the confrontation, Barroso said:
"We are ready to take very strong and clear measures but we are keeping our doors open to a political solution."
He described any tightening of sanctions as intended not to escalate the crisis but to push Moscow to negotiate.
10:29 GMT:
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appealed to the European Union to give an "appropriate response" over Russian forces being brought into Ukraine, his spokesman said in a Twitter post.
Referring to meetings in Brussels between Poroshenko and EU leaders on Saturday, the spokesman said: "Poroshenko expressed the hope that the leaders of EU members will give an appropriate response to the act of aggression towards Ukraine."
"The bringing of Russian forces onto Ukrainian territory requires an appropriate response from the EU." (Reuters)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) shakes hands with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, prior to an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, August 30, 2014.(Reuters / Yves Logghe)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) shakes hands with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, prior to an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, August 30, 2014.(Reuters / Yves Logghe)

09:56 GMT:
The US Department of State has warned US citizens against traveling to eastern Ukraine due to escalating fighting between self-defense forces and the Kiev military. "The Department of State warns US citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine due to ongoing violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk," the State Department said in a statement Friday. US citizens were also advised not to travel to the Crimean Peninsula, “occupied … in support of the Russian Federation's attempted annexation of Crimea,” as well as to the regions of Odessa, Kharkhiv, Zaporizhia and Kherson.
08:04 GMT:
The first 28 Ukrainian troops blockaded in the east of the country by anti-government forces have left the encirclement, according to a Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

Several hours earlier, the commander of the Donbass battalion, Semen Semchenko, said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and representatives of the anti-government forces in east Ukraine have agreed upon a safe corridor to let the blockaded servicemen out.
06:31 GMT:
On Friday night, the shelling of Donetsk has left the city’s railway station severely damaged, a RIA Novosti correspondent on the ground reports. The first floor of the station building has been partially burned out. The front of a nearby hotel and some pavilions of a nearby market have been badly damaged. One of the missiles hit a trolleybus, setting it on fire. The driver and passengers had time to escape from the burning vehicle.
05:55 GMT:
More than 130,000 Ukrainians have asked for either refugee status or temporary asylum in Russia since the conflict in the country’s east started in April, according to the Federal Migration Service.

A total of 820,000 Ukrainian citizens have moved to the Russian Federation since April 1, 2014,” officials at the agency told Itar-Tass.
Ukrainian refugees.(RIA Novosti / Alexandr Kryazhev)
Ukrainian refugees.(RIA Novosti / Alexandr Kryazhev)

01:35 GMT:
The Ukrainian army is in violation of international law by deploying "Grad" rocket systems in places where civilians live, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia, Rachel Denber said in an interview to the Latvian radio Baltkom.
"We recorded the facts of direct shelling by the Ukrainian military. They also used 'Grad' missile systems, which cannot be used in areas where people live," she said.
00:01 GMT:
The OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine reported that an 82-year-old woman was reportedly shot by a member of the Ukrainian ‘Aidar’ battalion in the village of Oleksandrivka in the Lugansk region.
“The chief surgeon in Severodonetsk (97 km north-west of Luhansk) hospital confirmed to the SMM that an 82-year-old woman with bullet wounds had been brought to the hospital on 23 August, and was in intensive care,” the mission says.
Aidar Battalion is a detachment of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine that currently fights in the east. The unit with roughly 400 members is gaining fame for looting and killings of civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.


Reuters / Maks Levin
Reuters / Maks Levin








Reuters Maks Levin