Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ukraine Watch / News and Views for May 14 , 2014 --- Gazprombank transferred client funds from Belgium and Luxembourg back to home turf, to protect against any future sanctions. The securities were moved from Euroclear Bank (Brussels) and Clearstream Banking (Luxembourg) to the Russian Central Depository at the end of April....... Moscow believes that the May 11 referendums held in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions should be taken as confirmation of the depth of the crisis in Ukraine...... US backing Ukraine Government Eurobonds - The government of Ukraine has decided to issue $1 billion in five-year Eurobonds under US guarantees, according to a resolution published by the Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday. .......

Russia Today.....

Russia’s third largest bank moves money from Europe to Moscow for safe keeping

Published time: May 13, 2014 09:02
Reuters / Leonhard Foeger
Reuters / Leonhard Foeger
Gazprombank transferred client funds from Belgium and Luxembourg back to home turf, to protect against any future sanctions.
The securities were moved from Euroclear Bank (Brussels) and Clearstream Banking (Luxembourg) to the Russian Central Depository at the end of April.
The move is intended to protect customers from any forthcoming sanctions and prevent a situation where clients’ funds are frozen, the statement on the website said.
“The transfer was done to prevent possible restrictions on transactions of customers’ assets that are kept in international deposits and settlement systems,” it stated. In preparation for sanctions, in March, the bank moved nearly $7 billion to Russia’s Central Bank for safe keeping.
Russia’s Central Bank held $486 billion in international reserves as of April 1 this year, $40 billion less than one year earlier, when holdings stood at about $528 billion.
The last round of US sanctions included 17 companies, but didn’t target Gazprombank or Vnesheconombank (VEB), both state-owned lending institutions. In March, the US imposed sanctions on Bank Rossiya and its owner, Yury Kovalchuk - both have stakes in Gazprom subsidiaries.
The bank’s total assets are $110.5 billion (3.9 trillion rubles) according to RIA bank ratings. The bank is 49.6 percent owned by a Gazprom-affiliated pension fund, Gazfond, 35.5 percent owned by Gazprom OAO, and 10.2 percent owned by VEB, Russia’s state development bank.
Bank customers will still be able to make transactions with other securities that were previously stored in the European banks.
Gazprombank is chaired by Aleksey Miller, the CEO of Gazprom. Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, Russia’s other major state-owned oil company, was included on the previous sanctions list. Miller was not.
Many US politicians have advocated placing both Gazprom and Rosneft under sanctions, in order to strike at the heart of the Russian economy – its energy.


RIA Novosti......



UN, Kiev in Talks Over UN-Marked Choppers Used in Crackdown

Ukrainian helicopters (Archive)
15:44 14/05/2014
Tags: military operationhelicoptersUNUkraine
MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – The United Nations is in talks with authorities in Kiev who apparently have been using UN-marked helicopters in a military operation against Ukraine’s restive southeastern territories, according to the RT news channel.
“It is the responsibility of troop-contributing countries that provide contingent-owned equipment to peacekeeping missions to remove all logos and signage bearing the UN's name once such equipment has been repatriated to the home country or is no longer being used for official UN purposes,” UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said Wednesday.
Footage has emerged of a white Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter with a UN logo participating in the government’s crackdown operation near Kramatorsk, Donetsk region.
According to news outlet LifeNews, three further Mi-24 combat helicopters and a transport Mi-8 chopper were also spotted in the region, which has seen weeks of anti-activist operation and scores of casualties.
The UN sought to distance itself from the incident, saying it was Ukraine’s duty to remove the organization’s insignia from military hardware that had been contributed by Ukraine for its Congo peace mission.
She added the UN’s Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support had inquired into the situation with the Ukrainian authorities.
The city of Kramatorsk, together with some other Ukrainian southeastern cities, has become the focal point of pro-federalization rallies that have been ongoing since March.
To crack down on protesters, the Kiev authorities launched a large-scale operation in the regions, a move widely denounced by Moscow, leading to violent clashes and dozens of casualties.
Earlier, the government in Kiev announced its “anti-terror” operation in Slaviansk, Kramatorsk and Krasny Liman had entered a final phase. The chief of the administration of acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchinov said Ukrainian troops had “wiped out a lot of separatists," without citing a number.

Crimea Ready to Provide Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk Regions

Сhairman of the Supreme Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov
17:50 14/05/2014
Tags: humanitarian aidCrimeaDonetskLuhansk
SIMFEROPOL, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – Crimea is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov said Wednesday.
"For our part, we, as their compatriots, will support the people [of Luhansk and Donetsk regions] and provide any assistance at the humanitarian level that will be necessary to protect the people from shortage of food and other daily necessities," Konstantinov said.
Residents of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions were forced to hold independence referendums because Ukraine “turned into an aggressive establishment not willing to carry on a dialogue with its people,” he said.
“Today the regional initiative to convene referendums is a means of survival for these regions,” the politician said, underlining that Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have to go through the complicated process of legitimation.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared independence from Ukraine based on the results of referendums held on Sunday. The decision was immediately declared illegal by the interim authorities in Kiev. The self-proclaimed republics have now begun establishing governments.
The Kremlin said in a statement Monday it respected the will of the people in Ukraine’s southeast and urged the regime in Kiev to do the same. The Kremlin said it condemned “the use of force including military hardware against peaceful citizens which led to deaths” during the referendums.
Crimea and Sevastopol, which has a special status within the region, became subjects of the Russian Federation on March 21 following the referendums.

Russia Has Strong Suspicions of US Mercenary Activity in Ukraine – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
17:39 14/05/2014
Tags: mercenariesSergei LavrovUkraineRussia
MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow believes information that Western, first and foremost American, mercenaries are operating in Ukraine to be true, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“We are waiting for answers, because we … have very strong suspicions that this might be true,” Lavrov said during an English-language interview with Bloomberg.
He added that Russia has always sought to ease concerns and answer questions that arise in the international community. At the same time, the country’s Western partners and the government in Kiev chose to keep silent on issues that are of concern for Russia.
“The questions that we asked remain unanswered,” Lavrov said.
According to Lavrov, information on mercenaries from US security companies in Ukraine appeared in the press earlier, but Washington has always denied this. The same information has begun appearing again.
“We would like to see whether it is true or not,” Lavrov said.
According to the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, around 400 elite commandos of notorious US private security firm Academi are allegedly helping Ukrainian authorities in a punitive operation against federalists in the country’s eastern regions.
The newspaper said the Academi mercenaries have taken part in attacks against federalists near Slaviansk, one of the strongholds of pro-federalization supporters in Ukraine. It is unclear who hired them, the newspaper added.
Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service informed Berlin about the involvement of Academi commandos in Kiev’s military operations in eastern Ukraine in late April. Academi, formerly known as Blackwater, gained notoriety for murdering civilians in Iraq.


EU Expects Moscow to Guarantee Gas Transit Despite Ukrainian Crisis

Gas compressor station
16:01 14/05/2014
Tags: gas suppliesEURussia
BRUSSELS, May 14 (RIA Novosti) – European companies believe the current Ukrainian crisis will not disrupt the flow of Russian gas to Europe, Eurogas President Jean-Francois Cirelli said Wednesday.
“Russian companies, in particular Gazprom, never stopped supplies to the European companies before. It has never been the case since 1975 so we do believe and we do think that this should not be the case in this ongoing crisis," Cirelli said at a conference on EU-Russian energy cooperation in Brussels.
He underscored that for 40 years Russia has been Europe's most reliable energy partner.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month addressed EU leaders in a letter where he expressed concerns about possible disruptions of gas transit to Europe if Ukraine fails to meet its obligations and pay off its gas debt to Gazprom, which currently stands at $3.5 billion.
Gazprom earlier said it would stop deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine if Kiev failed to pre-pay by June 2. The company also voiced concerns that Naftogaz could fail to fulfill its commitments on gas transit, siphoning off gas destined for European consumers.





Russia Today....




​UN-marked strike helicopter ‘used by Kiev against militia’ sparks scandal

Published time: May 14, 2014 07:33
Edited time: May 14, 2014 09:04

Screenshot from a video showing a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter allegedly used by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia.
Screenshot from a video showing a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter allegedly used by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia.
The UN has voiced concerns over the apparent use of UN-marked helicopters by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia. A video of a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter with UN logo has emerged.
When inquired about the United Nations’ stance on the use of peacekeeper-marked military hardware in non-peacekeeper operations, the office for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson said such use would violate UN rules.
“It is the responsibility of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) that provide Contingent Owned Equipment to peacekeeping missions to remove all logos and signage bearing the UN's name once such equipment has been repatriated to the home country or is no longer being used for official UN purposes,” the office told RT.
It added that UN-marked aircraft can be used for missions tasked by the UN and that UN’s Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities to clarify the issue.
A video of a UN-marked Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter was published on Tuesday by LifeNews television. It said its correspondents covering Kiev’s military operation in the Donetsk Region took the video near Kramatorsk. LifeNews said at least three combat Mi-24 and one transport Mi-8 helicopters carrying UN colors were spotted in the area.The Ukrainian military has provided equipment for several UN peacekeeping missions, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Voice of Russia...

13 May 2014, 13:23

May 11 referendums should be treated as signals of deep Ukraine statehood crisis - Moscow

May 11 referendums should be treated as signals of deep Ukraine statehood crisis - Moscow

Moscow believes that the May 11 referendums held in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions should be taken as confirmation of the depth of the crisis in Ukraine. "The referendums recently held in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine should be perceived as a clear signal to Kiev indicating a deep crisis of mutual understanding, [a crisis] of Ukraine's own statehood in the broad sense of the word," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and head of the European Union Delegation to Russia, Vygaudas Usackas.

Grigory Karasin described the EU's continuing sanctions policy against Russia as an outdated, overused approach that fails to help resolve serious political problems, but only serves to deepen disagreements further and hampers the joint search for a way out of the really critical situation in Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The issues of Ukraine's state system should be discussed prior to the presidential election to be held in the country on May 25, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"Moscow expects that, in accordance with the Geneva agreements of April 17 and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) roadmap given by [Swiss President, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office] Didier Burkhalter, that our EU and US partners will use their influence on the current Kiev authorities so that issues of the state system and respect of regions' rights are discussed in the short term, prior to the election scheduled for May 25," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, Interfax reports.
The crisis in Ukraine can't be resolved, while the Ukrainian government refuses to hold a dialogue with citizens of the southeastern regions of the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry says. Grigory Karasin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Russia, met with Head of European Union's delegation in Russia Vygaudas Ušackas on May 13.
Radicals, army and heavy weapons were used in Ukraine to disrupt referendums, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"The turnout was high despite attempts to disrupt the vote, including attempts to do so using ultra-radical militants, the army and heavy weapons against civilians. There were casualties," Sergei Lavrov said, commenting on Sunday’s referendums in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions after talks with his Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa.
The roadmap for Ukraine, prepared by the OSCE chairman, has not been unveiled due to positions held by Washington and Kiev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
"We are convinced that this must be done as soon as possible. It’s a pity that some people in Washington and Kiev are against including [Ukrainian] the regions in dialogue. That’s why, despite our readiness, the roadmap prepared by the OSCE chairman, has not been unveiled," he said.
This is further proof of Kiev’s failure to "realize the need to engage in dialogue with its own people," Lavrov said.
Lavrov said he had heard Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia and White House spokesman Jay Carney saying that it was necessary to continue negotiations on Ukraine in the quadripartite format including the United States, the European Union, Russia and Kiev.
The OSCE proposals on Ukraine envisage the launch of a national dialogue along with investigations into crimes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"I am not sure it can be done in the near future, but we believe it is extremely necessary to call for a national dialogue on the basis of the proposals elaborated by the OSCE chairman," Lavrov said after meeting with his Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa in Moscow on Monday.
"This needs to be done simultaneously with investigations into the crimes that have been committed. It is also envisioned by the 'roadmap,' which is promoted by the Swiss chairmanship," the minister said.
"No new meetings on Ukraine have been planned as of yet but we would like the efforts to continue, without slowing down, and shortly materialize into a certain process, because another meeting in the quadripartite format is not quite promising," Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday, according to Interfax.
Efforts to settle the Ukrainian crisis will go nowhere without the participation of opponents of the Kiev authorities in the dialogue, Lavrov added, TASS reports.
Russia calls for Ukrainian settlement principles agreed upon in Geneva to be realised in practical actions, Lavrov said.
"All key players agreed that main principles of settlement (in Ukraine) were agreed upon at Geneva talks on April 17 and now it is needed not to recur past events, but translate these principles in practical actions that conflicting parties should take," the Russian top diplomat said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are calling for direct dialogue between the Kiev regime and its opponents.
"Nothing will work without involving the opponents of the regime in a direct dialogue on solutions to the crisis, and the people I have talked to, including US Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who call for the use of the Geneva principles in a direct dialogue between the Ukrainian parties," Lavrov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described as "an utter lie" the statement on the Donetsk People's Republic, which Facebook postings said he allegedly made.
"What you have quoted as part of my statement is a direct, utter and brazen lie," the Russian foreign minister said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.
"I know that lies and half-truths - which are even worse than lies - are being actively used during the Ukrainian crisis by both the Ukrainian figures who have seized power in Kiev, and by their Western patrons. But they have never gone down to such a crude lie is this one before," Lavrov said.
"It looks like the mere silencing of facts is no longer sufficient for them - the truth finally makes its way into the open after all," he said.
"Much credit for this must be given to Russian journalists' intensive activity in very uneasy conditions, sometimes at a risk to their lives," Lavrov said.
Journalists read out at a press conference a statement, attributed to Lavrov, which describes the Donetsk People's Republic as "a terrorist organization that does not represent the interests of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine."
The fake statement also says that, "Russia will never recognize the Donetsk People's Republic's independence."


14 May 2014, 14:23

Authorities of Crimea want to cooperate with Donetsk, Lugansk people's republics

Authorities of Crimea want to cooperate with Donetsk, Lugansk people's republics

The Republic of Crimea has recognized the outcomes of the referendums held in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and declared its wish to develop relations with their new administrations, Acting Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksenov said.

"People expressed their will in the referendum, just as people of Crimea had done earlier. So, we recognize these referendums. This is the opinion of the territorial community, which now needs to be legalized. They are creating new administrations and as soon as this is done and it will be clear with whom relations should be developed, we will start to establish these relationships," Aksenov told reporters in Simferopol on Wednesday, while answering an Interfax question.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine held a referendum on the status of those regions on May 11. Residents were asked a question whether they supported the act on state independence of the regions.
The organizers claimed 96.2% of voters in the Lugansk region chose state independence (3.8% voted against) and the indicators stood at 89.7% for and 10.19% against in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine to issue $1bln of 5-year US-backed eurobonds

Ukraine to issue $1bln of 5-year US-backed eurobonds

The government of Ukraine has decided to issue $1 billion in five-year Eurobonds under US guarantees, according to a resolution published by the Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday.

"Foreign-loan government bonds of 2014 to be issued for the total of one billion dollars," the statement said. The redemption date of the bonds is set at May 16, 2019.
On April 14, Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak signed an agreement on borrowing safeguards between Ukraine and the United States Agency for International Development, including a provision for economic assistance to Ukraine in the form of $1 billion in loan guarantees to ensure Ukraine can meet its debt obligations this year.

Ukraine ready to resume water supply to Crimea on its own terms

 May 14, 15:06 UTC+4
Water supplies to Crimea may be resumed after a debt of $146,500 is paid, an official letter from the Ukrainian authorities says
Artesian wells brought back into operation in Crimea

Artesian wells brought back into operation in Crimea

© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov
SIMFEREPOL, May 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine is ready to resume water supply to Crimea through the North-Crimean canal on certain terms, the Chairman of Crimea’s Committee for Water Resources Development and Irrigated Farming, Igor Vail, told ITAR-TASS.
He said the Ukrainian side had sent a letter with a proposal to resume the supplies of freshwater from the River Dnieper to Crimea through the canal upon repayment of a debt of around $146,500, coordination of the price and return of the vehicles used in the Crimean system of water development.
“We have an official letter and no other conditions have been specified so far,” Vail said
April 26, 2014, Ukraine shut the North-Crimean canal, by which Crimea receives 85% of the freshwater it needs.
May 6, Crimea’s First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev said the region is fully independent from the supplies of Ukrainian freshwater today.
He said efforts were being made along several directions to ensure this independence, including the diverting of rivers and the Tagansky freshwater reservoir to the North-Crimean canal.
‘The most troubled districts in our republic — Sudak, Feodosiya and Kerch - will be getting water from an intake located in the Crimean Mountains,” Temirgaliyev said.
The North Crimea Canal links the main body of the River Dnieper and the peninsula. About 700 million cubic meters of water used to flow into the region through it, thus meeting 80% to 85% of the local demand. The 402 km long canal was built from 1961 through 1971. It begins at the Kakhovka water reservoir in the Kherson region of Ukraine and reaches the city of Kerch. Its maximum throughput capacity stands at 300 cubic meters per second.
The poor technical condition of the canal reduced the standard throughput of water to just 16 cubic meters by April 26, 2014, when the Ukrainian side blocked the water flow to avenge for Crimea’s reunification with Russia.