Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ukraine updates May 15 , 2014 -- Donetsk self-defense forces set an ultimatum for the Kiev military, warning that if troops do not withdraw from block posts in the Donetsk region within 24 hours, they will be taken by force, RIA Novosti reported.........Ukraine unable to pay for gas supplies even with discount — energy minister ( He added that the Russian side does not have any guarantees that Ukraine would be able to pay for gas supplies with any discount.) ......... Kiev agrees to " decentralization talks with US , EU Kiev and Russia ( but not the Opposition in South Eastern Ukraine , which make any such talks worthless ) ......... Blowback from Sanctions will impact US card companies as much as Russia and note how badly the US wants Russia rocket engines for the US military ( imposing sanctions but not taking into consideration how those sanctions will play out ) .....


    Russia Today

Kiev protégé allegedly behind Mariupol and Odessa massacres – leaked tapes

Published time: May 15, 2014 14:25
Ihor Kolomoisky, Oleh Tsarev.(RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova / Mikhail Markiv)
Ihor Kolomoisky, Oleh Tsarev.(RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova / Mikhail Markiv)
Two leaked tapes have emerged on the internet where Kiev-appointed governor allegedly threatens an ex-presidential candidate who called for a referendum. The official may also be behind the Odessa massacre and Mariupol shootings, the leak adds.
On the first tape, which appeared on May 14, an oligarch and governor of the city of Dnepropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine, Igor Kolomoisky, allegedly called ex-presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev and started threatening him. He told Tsarev to leave Ukraine immediately, saying it was in connection with the killing of Bogdan Shlemkevich, a soldier from Ukraine’s National Guard on May 9 in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. He was shot in clashes between anti-government protesters and soldiers sent by Kiev in an ‘antiterrorist’ operation in eastern Ukraine.
Tsarev, a Dnepropetrovsk businessman and People's Deputy of Ukraine, submitted his candidacy as self-nominee for the presidential election scheduled for May 25. He is standing for federalization of the country as well as for referenda in all parts of Ukraine. He withdrew his presidential candidacy on 29 April in a protest against Kiev.
“We prayed for [Bogdan] Shlemkevich who was killed in Mariupol and they say that Tsarev is guilty,” Kolomoisky told the ex-candidate.
The Dnepropetrovsk governor says that now Tsarev and his family will be hunted down and killed.
“They put $1 million for your head, they will go after you everywhere,” Kolomoisky told him.“Tomorrow they will look for your people and relatives,” said the Ukrainian oligarch.
The second leaked conversation, which also emerged on May 14, was between Oleg Noginsky, the president of the Suppliers of Customs Union, an organization which aims at increasing the turnover between Ukraine and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and someone whom he called Yan Borisovich. Noginsky said that Kolomoisky’s actions are mad.
“Besides, it was he [Kolomoisky] who hired the guys in the Odessa [massacre]… the situation went out of control. Their task was to beat them [anti-government protesters] so they would be taken to hospital and to destroy the camp [on Kulikovo Pole Square] completely,” he said.
Kolomoisky is still in Odessa and the result of his actions is that 16 of those who survived the House of Trade Unions bloodshed in Odessa were killed during the next three days, the man who is believed to be Noginsky accuses the Dnepropetrovsk governor.
According to him, it’s not the first time the Dnepropetrovsk governor has threatened politicians. He also allegedly threatened Igor Markov, a deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.
RT could not confirm the veracity of the tapes, and Oleg Tsarev was not available for comment at the time of publication. However, he confirmed to the website of Russian TV show, ‘Man and Law’, that this conversation took place.
In Odessa violent clashes erupted on May 2 between anti-government protesters and radicals supporting the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev. The confrontation led to a tragedy that left 48 people dead and over 200 injured as nationalists burnt the protester camp and then set fire to the Trade Unions House with anti-Kiev activists trapped inside. According to witnesses, many of those who managed to escape the flames were then strangled or beaten with bats by radicals. Several victims reportedly died of gunshots, while others burnt alive or jumped out of windows in a desperate attempt to escape the deadly flames.
Although the unrest in southeastern Ukraine has already resulted in dozens of deaths, the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev are continuing their crackdown on anti-government activists following pro-autonomy referenda in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Itar Tass....

The current situation concerning natural gas........

Ukraine unable to pay for gas supplies even with discount — energy minister

 May 15, 14:41 UTC+4
According to Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the Russian side does not have any guarantees that Ukraine would be able to pay for gas supplies with any discount
© AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky
MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia does not see that Ukraine has any possibilities to pay for natural gas supplies even if discount provided due to the economically complicated situation in the country. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated this on Thursday.
He added that the Russian side does not have any guarantees that Ukraine would be able to pay for gas supplies with any discount.
“We do not have guarantees that even if a price of $100 will be set, these bills would be paid by the Ukrainian side. What we see today is a complete insolvency,” the minister noted.
Earlier, parliament-appointed Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine Yuriy Prodan stated that Ukraine was ready to pay the debt for supplied Russian gas “within 10 days, if Russia goes back to the price of $268.5 for 1,000 cu. m”.
Ukraine is ready to pay about $4 billion of debt for Russian gas until the end of May in case if the price is set at $268.5  for 1,000 cu. m, Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy of Ukraine Ihor Didenko said.

Replacement for Crimean gas

The national oil and gas company of Ukraine Naftogaz addressed to Gazprom with a proposal to fill subterranean storages of Ukraine with about 2 billion cu. m of fuel as a compensation of similar amounts of natural gas, which are located in storage in Crimea and belong, as Kiev believes, to the Ukrainian side. This was also stated by Ihor Didenko May 15.
“Unfortunately, there are 2 billion cu. m of gas on the territory of the Crimean peninsula, which are economical property of Naftogaz,” he said. Didenko informed that within the framework of pre-trial proceedings (Naftogaz earlier sent an official notification to Gasprom about the intention to strive for decrease in the price of Russian gas import with the Stockholm arbitrary court. — ITAR-TASS) the Ukrainian side has addressed Gasprom with a proposal “to fill subterranean storages of Ukraine with about 2 billion cu. m”, which would be particularly used for residential users in Ukraine.

Switch to prepayment mode

May 13, Gasprom forwarded a provisional invoice to Ukraine for gas supplies in June proceeding from supplies volume of 114 million cu. m per day. Inclusive of weekends, Naftogaz should pay the invoice until June2, and from June 3 on, the company would be receiving natural gas for supplying Ukrainian consumers only in the amount of volumes paid, according to Gasprom spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov. The Ukrainian company should prepay $1.66 billion.
All in all, Naftogaz is supposed to import 3.42 billion cu. m of Russian gas in June. The gas price for Ukraine currently makes $485.5 for 1,000 cu. m. 

Ukraine’s gas debt

Since the beginning of May, Ukraine’s Naftogaz has acquired 1.350 billion cu. m of Russian gas. In April, Ukraine has imported 2.7 billion cu. m, according to Gasprom.
To date, the outstanding debt of Naftogaz amounts to $3.508 billion, therefore “no one has a doubt that this is a substantial and non-biased reason for applying the relevant paragraph of the contract on prepayment,” Kupriyanov said May 13.
“If you buy natural gas, you should pay for it. All gas companies have specific payment conditions,” said Gertjan Lankhorst, head of International Gas Union, commenting on the issue of Nagtogaz’s nonpayment for Russian gas, its debt and the switch to prepayment mode. He believes that the switch to prepayment mode “may be more difficult for the client in terms of payments”. “If as a result of that, consumers will not receive gas, this would surely affect Ukraine, and, I’m afraid, Europe as well,” Lankhorst said.

Crimea related news.....

Crimean ports of Feodosia, Yevpatoria to be halted

 May 15, 9:49 UTC+4
SIMFEROPOL, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Crimean ports of Feodosia and Yevpatoria will be halted and the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Kerch will be connected by a railway line, Crimean First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev said on his Facebook page with the reference to a Crimean territorial planning scheme which will be submitted to the Russian government for approval by June 1, 2014.
“I will cite some interesting details of the transport part of the project under which the ports of Feodosia and Yevpatoria located within city boundaries will gradually cease to exist; additional ring roads will be built in the cities of Simferopol and Feodosia; the cities of Simferopol and Kerch will be connected by a direct railway line (now the railway line runs through Dzhankoy); a Yalta-Alushta-Feodosia modern highway is planned to be built; aeroexpress trains will run between a new terminal of the Simferopol airport and the city,” Temirgaliyev said.

Geneva Talks on Ukraine situation status  , Sanctions and Retaliation watch.....

Ukraine ready for talks in Geneva format — Deshchytsia

 May 15, 13:46 UTC+4
Ukraine's parliament-appointed Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia says Geneva format is the most appropriate
Andrii Deshchytsia

Andrii Deshchytsia

KIEV, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine is ready for negotiations on the crisis resolution in the framework of the Geneva format, parliament-appointed Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia told journalists.
“Formats other than four-party talks are unacceptable for Ukraine. We do not raise a question of expanding the Geneva format, we want to keep the existing format as it is the most appropriate. We also stress that the decisions taken in Geneva must be fulfilled,” Deshchytsia said.
He noted that integration into the European Union will be a hard task for Ukraine if the situation in the country’s south-east is not stabilized.

No new meetings on Ukraine planned
On May 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said no new meetings on Ukraine had been planned yet. Lavrov noted that new four-party talks on ways to resolve the Ukrainain crisis are not promising.
Efforts to settle the Ukrainian crisis will go nowhere without the participation of opponents of the Kiev authorities in the dialogue, Lavrov added. 
“I have heard statements by Ukraine’s Acting Foreign Minister (Andrii) Deshchytsia and While House spokesman (Jay) Carney to the effect that the four-party format of the talks should be preserved (with Russia, the United States, the European Union and representatives of the Kiev regime), but I shall say once again that, without including the regime’s opponents into the direct dialogue over ways of settling the crisis, the efforts will go nowhere,” Lavrov said.

US asks Russia’s Energomash to increase supplies of rocket engines

 May 15, 12:26 UTC+4
MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. The United States has asked Russian rocket engine producer Energomash to increase supplies of rocket engines RD-180 from 29 pieces to 37 up to 2018, Energomash Executive Director Vladimir Solntsev told ITAR-TASS on Thursday.
“The US asks us to increase the overall number of rocket engines by eight pieces. They want us to augment annual delivery for some number of engines. In particular, it is planned in 2015 that we will supply eight rocket engines instead of five,” he noted.

For Visa, MasterCard cheaper to quit Russia than to stay — Morgan Stanley

 May 15, 15:15 UTC+4
Costs for MasterCard and Visa to keep their operations in Russia are also reported far higher than the financial results of their Russian business
© AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
MOSCOW, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Recent amendments to Russian legislation will cost Visa and MasterCard at least $1 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, to keep their business in Russia compared with exit costs of $160 million and $350-470 million, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Thursday, citing a limited-access survey by US investment bank Morgan Stanley.
The survey, “The Russian Bear: Impacts on V and MA,” prepared for Morgan Stanley subscribers on May 6, evaluated consequences of stricter controls on international payment operators. These are to neutralise risks for Russian banks if card operations are blocked by international systems through sanctions imposed by western countries over Russian policy on Ukraine.
Amendments required Visa and MasterCard to place security deposits into special accounts with Russia's Central Bank equal to the value of their two-day transactions in Russia, Kommersant quotes the report as saying.
Based on total daily turnover of $1.6 billion in cash and cashless card payments in Russia, it goes on, Morgan Stanley estimated MasterCard being obliged to deposit $1 billion and Visa as much as $1.9 billion with the bank.
Security deposits represented the primary and most obvious costs that MasterCard and Visa faced to continue operations in Russia, said the analysts' quoted findings.
“Payment systems will also have to build processing centres in Russia and pay penalties of up to 10% of the security deposits with the Russian Central Bank in the event of their unilateral refusal to provide services,” the study is said to reveal.
Costs for MasterCard and Visa to keep their operations in Russia are also reported far higher than the financial results of their Russian business. The share of their Russian divisions in total revenues equalled 3-4% for Visa and 2% for MasterCard, the report said.
Based on these estimates and also financial statements by MasterCard and Visa, net earnings of their Russian units represented $160 million and $350-470 million, respectively.

Al Jazeera.......

Ukraine agrees to 'decentralisation' talks

Kiev launches dialogue as part of OSCE plan, but its success remains doubtful as separatists are excluded.

Last updated: 14 May 2014 17:09
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The Ukrainian government has launched talks on decentralising power as part of a European-backed peace plan, Reuters news agency reported.
Interim President Oleksander Turchynov opened the talks on Wednesday by saying Kiev was ready to listen to pro-Russian rebels in the east but would not bow to blackmail.
The meeting of political leaders government figures and regional officials did not include the pro-Russian separatists who have declared independence in two eastern regions. Without this inclusion, it was unclear what the negotiations might hope to accomplish.
The talks are part of the peace plan drafted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a trans-Atlantic security and rights group that includes Russia and the United States, but require the attendance of anti-Kiev groups under the proposal.
Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk thanked the OSCE for its efforts but said Ukraine has its own plan to end the crisis.
In a speech in Brussels on Tuesday, he gave no details of that plan.
Opening the talks on Wednesday, Turchynov said, "Those with weapons in hand who are waging a war against their own country and dictating the will of a neighbouring country will answer before the law. We will not yield to blackmail."
"We are ready to listen to the people of the east but they must not shoot, loot or occupy government buildings."
Many separatists in the east shrugged off the round-table talks as meaningless.
"The government in Kiev does not want to listen to the people of Donetsk," said Denis Patkovski, a member of a pro-Russian armed group in Slovyansk, which has seen some of the most intense fighting in recent weeks.
"They just come here with their guns."
'Civil war'
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pushed for the separatists to be included in the round-table talks during an interview with Bloomberg television.
"We believe that for this national dialogue to succeed it is absolutely necessary to ensure equal participation of all regions of Ukraine," he said.
This included not only separatists in the east and south "but also the regions of the west where we also have some issues related to self-determination of minorities".
Inside Story: Self-rule in Ukraine?
Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where armed groups have seized administrative buildings, fought government forces and declared independence for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions after a self-rule vote last weekend that Ukraine and Western powers called a "sham".
The self-declared leaders of the regions also said that a planned May 25 presidential election would not happen in the "newly-independent states".
Lavrov on Wednesday said the worsening situation in Ukraine was another impediment to the upcoming election, AFP news agency reported.
"When Ukrainians kill Ukrainians I believe this is as close to a civil war as you can get," he said.
"And if this is conducive to free and fair elections then I don't recognise what free and fair is."
Ukrainian forces have mounted an offensive against the separatists, and dozens have died in the fighting across the east.

Russia Today.....

Donetsk self-defense forces give Kiev troops 24 hours to withdraw

Published time: May 15, 2014 02:24
Slavyansk self defense forces at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Slavyansk. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Slavyansk self defense forces at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Slavyansk. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Donetsk self-defense forces set an ultimatum for the Kiev military, warning that if troops do not withdraw from block posts in the Donetsk region within 24 hours, they will be taken by force, RIA Novosti reported.
The pro-autonomy militia of Donbass region in eastern Ukraine made the statement on Wednesday.
"If the armored vehicles are not pulled back, the roadblocks of the so-called legitimate authorities are not removed, I will have enough power and means – the commander supported me today – to destroy and burn everything. Reconnaissance and sabotage groups are ready to move and some are steady,” deputy commander of the pro-autonomy militia of Donbass, Sergey Zdrilyuk, told RIA Novosti.
“I give 24 hours for them to withdraw all troops, all forces,” he added.
The statement follows referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which showed that the majority of voters support self-rule amid an intensified military operation by Kiev.
Almost 90 percent of voters in Donetsk region have endorsed political independence from Kiev, the head of the Central Election Commission of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Roman Lyagin, previously announced.
In Lugansk region, 96.2 percent of voters supported the region’s self-rule, according to final figures announced by the local election commission.
After the referendum, the Donetsk People's Republic proclaimed itself a sovereign state and asked Moscow to consider its accession into Russia.
RIA Novosti....

Moscow Says Ukraine Unable to Pay for Gas Supplies

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak
14:57 15/05/2014
Tags: gas debtAlexander NovakUkraineRussia
MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow doubts Kiev will be able to pay for Russian gas supplies even if provided discounts because of the economic crisis in the country, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Thursday.
“We do not have any guarantees that even with a price of $100 [per thousand cubic meters] … for example, the Ukrainian side will be able to pay,” Novak said.
Novak emphasized that the economic situation in the country is currently characterized by “total insolvency.”
According to Gazprom, Ukraine’s accumulated debt for previous deliveries totals $3.5 billion. On April 1, the price of Russian gas for Ukraine rose to $485 per thousand cubic meters from $268.50, as Russia withdrew two major discounts. Ukraine refuses to recognize the new gas price, which is fully in line with the contract that the two states signed in 2009.
Gazprom said it would stop deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine if Kiev failed to prepay for future deliveries by June 2. The company also voiced concerns that Ukraine’s Naftogaz could fail to fulfill its commitments on gas transit, siphoning off gas destined for European consumers.

Washington Denies Involvement of US Mercenaries in Ukraine

The White House, Washington
13:04 15/05/2014
Tags: mercenariesUnited StatesUkraine
MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council has denied German media reports that claim hundreds of well-trained US mercenaries are involved in the Ukraine conflict, the LifeNews agency reported.
The news came after the German newspapers Bild am Sonntag and Der Spiegel said last week some 400 elite commandos from the notorious military firm Academi, previously known as Blackwater, were taking part in the “anti-terror” operation mounted by the self-styled Ukrainian interim government against its own people in the country’s east and south.
According to Bild am Sonntag, Academi troops participated in the regime’s punitive operation near the restive city of Slaviansk, one of the strongholds of anti-coup activists in the Donetsk region.
It also claimed the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) was informed about the American involvement in the crisis by US officials and on April 29 shared the information with the Merkel administration, in particular with the Head of the Federal Chancellery Peter Altmaier, who was present at a series of intelligence consultations.
Following reports on its secret presence in Ukraine, US National Security Council spokeswoman Laura Magnuson cited the military firm’s official denial published on its webpage on March 17. In its statement, Academi blamed some “irresponsible bloggers and an online reporter” for posting “rumors” that its employees are present in Ukraine.
“They are not and Academi has no relationship with any entity named Blackwater or with the former owner of Blackwater, Erik Prince,” the statement emphasized.
The message acknowledged that Prince formerly owned the company, but vowed that its new management had made “tremendous efforts to build a responsible, transparent company ethos.”
Blackwater was renamed to Academi in 2010 after its mercenaries were implicated in a brutal shooting of Iraqi civilians in a helicopter incident during the US campaign in Iraq. It was also accused of smuggling arms and other crimes.
According to Der Spiegel, many Blackwater employees were tried in the United States for murdering Iraqis, while the private security firm ransomed itself with a fine worth millions of dollars.
In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry also reported that some 150 US commandos from Greystone, a private military contracting firm, had been deployed to Ukraine to help authorities suppress protest movement in the country’s east.
Greystone was quick to refute the accusation, claiming that although it “has the ability to deploy world-class security staff and trainers anywhere in the world,” it “does not currently, nor do we have any plans to, send personnel to the Ukraine.”
The news came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed in an English-language interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday that Moscow had received further indications of a US military presence in Ukraine.
“The reports about the foreign mercenaries involvement in this operation once again raises a grave issue of external interference in Ukrainian affairs and the role of the West in provoking this situation instead of sending the necessary limiting signals to the Kiev authorities, instead of encouraging them to rein in all those unbridled extremists and radical nationalists,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, recently told RIA Novosti.

One Dead, Four Hurt in Kramatorsk Shootout in Ukraine

Barricades made from automobile tires in Kramatorsk (Archive)
11:14 15/05/2014
Tags: military operationcasualtiesKramatorsk
KIEV, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – One pro-federalization activist was killed and four others wounded in a gunfight near the Ukrainian city Kramatorsk, in the north of the Donetsk region, a Ukrainian TSN news website reports.
“One was killed, four severely injured. [They] were admitted to the Slaviansk City Hospital No 1,” the website announced Thursday.
Last Sunday, Ukraine’s Western-backed interim government announced its “anti-terror” operation in Kramatorsk, Slaviansk, and Krasny Liman had entered the final phase. The chief of the Turchinov administration said Ukrainian troops had “wiped out a lot of separatists," but didn’t cite any figures.
The announcement came as the region of Donetsk went to polls in a bid for greater autonomy, after it refused to recognize the legitimacy of the coup-imposed regime in Kiev.
Following a regime change in late February, the citizens of the predominantly Russian-speaking southeastern regions of Ukraine refused to recognize the country’s interim authorities and called for federalization and self-rule referendums, with rallies sweeping through the region.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the launch of a special operation last month to crack down on pro-federalization protests that have been spreading across southeastern Ukraine since a regime change in Kiev in February.