Monday, September 8, 2014

Ukraine / Russia situation ( September 8 , 2014 ) -- Russia Prime Minister summarizes the Ukraine situation , Sanctions , Asia and how Russia may proceed moving forward ...... As Death toll hits 3000 in the East Ukraine civil war , the Ceasefire largely remains in place as Kiev and the parties to the Ceasefire continue to move forward with the Ceasefire protocol...... Natural gas talks set to continue in a couple of weeks ...... An interesting point of view on the Novorussia situation ( Vineyard of the Saker )


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The self-evidently absurd "logic" of the EU

The latest EU decision against Russia is amazing it it's self-evident stupidity.  The EU has adopted sanctions which will only be put into effect if the ceasefire does not hold.

First, the obvious assumption here is that should the ceasefire not hold, it would clearly by Russia's fault.  No, not the Novorussian's fault, but Russia's.

Second, apparently, the possibility that the Ukrainians might break the ceasefire was not even considered or, if it was, then it was dismissed. 

Third, considering that the Ukies have literally been *begging* the West for anti-Russian sanctions, the EU has just given them a fantastic motive to break the ceasefire. 

Fourth, the EU apparently believes that Russia is afraid of EU sanctions even though all the signs, from senior Kremlin officials to opinion polls, show that neither the Russian rulers nor the Russian people are concerned about EU sanctions.  In fact, the only people really concerned about these sanctions are Putin's main opponents: the pro-Western, pro-EU liberal westernizing elites.

Three key documents outline the "wisdom" of the Eurobureaucrats on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions:

The "Statement by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy on further EU restrictive measures against Russia"

The "Joint letter by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on restrictive measures against Russia"

The "Conclusions of the Special meeting of the European Council (30 August 2014)".

Reading these documents it becomes clear that the EU officials are either completely out of touch with reality or completely dishonest.  For example, they speak of the "aggression by Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil" even though they offer no evidence whatsoever about this "invisible invasion" which, by the way, is even denied by the Junta in Kiev (in order to secure yet another IMF loan).

Herman Van Rompuy
This is all disgusting, amusing, pathetic, or alarming - depending on your perspective.  What it is most definitley not is serious.

Frankly, and I will admit that this immature on my part, but I cannot wait to have the EU adopt the next package of sanctions.  Why?  Because I already delight in the panic in Europe when Russia will slap them right back with a ban on EU carrier flights over Russia or, for example, sanctions against the automobile or aerospace industry.  Whatever the Russians come up with, the EU will know that it brought this upon itself and for absolutely no discernible reason at all.

Yet again, I can only wholeheartedly agree with Mrs Nuland's sentiments towards the EU.

The Saker

RIA Novosti.....

EU Formally Adopts New Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukraine

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement that The European Union on Monday officially adopted a new round of sanctions against Russia
23:14 08/09/2014
Tags: sanctionsEURussia
Updated on 23:34 p.m. Moscow Time
BRUSSELS, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union on Monday officially adopted a new round of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in ‘destabilizing eastern Ukraine,’ a statement by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said.
"A package of further restrictive measures against Russia has been adopted by the Council today (through written procedure), deepening the targeted measures of July 31," the statement said.
According to the document, the new measures will come into force in the next few days pending the assessment of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace plan.
“Depending on the situation on the ground, the EU stands ready to review the agreed sanctions in whole or in part,” the document said.
Reuters has earlier reported that the EU agreed in principle last week a new set of sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis.
The new sanctions list reportedly includes Russia’s Rosneft, Gazpromneft and Transneft energy firms, as well as state-run companies with a turnover of more than $27 billion annually.
The European Union and the United States have already imposed several rounds of economic sanctions over Moscow’s alleged participation in the Ukrainian conflict. The Russian side reacted by introducing a year-long ban on certain food imports from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway.
At the EU Summit held in Brussels on August 30, European leaders urged the European Commission to create proposals for more sanctions against Russia within one week. However, the opinion of the EU member states on sanctions remained divided and the Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico called on the European Union to put off imposing new sanctions against Russia.
On September 5, the representatives of Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk agreed to a ceasefire at the meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation in Minsk.
On September 7, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the European Union is ready to review new possible sanctions if a truce between the Kiev government and independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine holds.

Russian PM Medvedev on EU Sanctions, Asian Partners and Power-Hungry Crimea

Topic: Russia Responds to Western Sanctions

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during governamental meeting,
13:08 08/09/2014
Tags: refugeessanctionsairspaceRosneftDmitry MedvedevFar EastCrimeaEuropeRussia
MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev commented on the possible new round of the EU sanctions against Russia, cooperation with Asian partners and power shortages in Crimea in an interview in the Vedomosti newspaper released on Monday.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the Vedomosti newspaper that Russia could close its airspace in response to new Western sanctions against Moscow in the energy or finance sector.
“It is them [the West], who should be asked whether there will be new sanctions. But if there are sanctions, linked with energy, [or] further restrictions on our finance sector, we will have to respond asymmetrically. For instance, [with] restrictions in transport area. We act on the premise of friendly relations with our partners, and this is why the sky above Russia is open for flights. But if we are restricted, we will have to answer,” Medvedev said in an interview.
The prime minister said that certain Western airlines could go bankrupt if they are banned from using Russia’s airspace.
“But this is a bad option. I just would like our partners to realize it at a certain moment. Especially, [considering the fact] that the sanctions do not help to establish peace in Ukraine. They miss [beside the mark], and an absolute majority of the politicians understand it. There are just an inertness of thinking and, unfortunately, the will to use force in international affairs,” Medvedev stressed.
Speaking on the Ukrainian conflict, he said there are chances that it will be resolved if the Ukrainian leadership has the will to implement proposals recently put forward by Russia.
On September 3, Putin outlined a seven-point plan for settling the crisis in Ukraine, calling on Kiev to withdraw troops from southeastern regions of the country and the militia to cease its military advances. The plan also includes proposals for an international monitoring force, the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, a ban on the use of combat aircraft over urban areas, an exchange of prisoners in an "all for all" formula and direct access for workers to repair destroyed infrastructure in the war-ravaged areas.
“Both representatives of the adversary and the militia have accepted this plan with certain reservations. So now a delicate work should be underway aimed at preserving peace. I hope this will be a successful effort,” Medvedev said.
A number of key Russian oil and defense industry companies and banks could become subject to a new round of economic sanctions due to be imposed by Brussels Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing to EU documents.
Rosneft, Gazpromneft and Transneft are among the oil companies included in the sanction list The Wall Street Journal said it examined.
They will reportedly be banned from raising funds with a maturity period exceeding 30 days. The same restriction will be imposed on five Russian state-controlled banks, including Sberbank and VTB Bank, already forbidden from raising loans in European Union member states for longer than 90 days, the newspaper said.
In late July, the European Union and the United States imposed restrictions against Russia’s oil and banking sectors over Moscow’s stance in the Ukrainian internal conflict. In response, Russia banned certain food product imports from nations which introduced sanctions on Russia.
Further sanctions against Russia could hamper global security as economic sanctions could lead to political sanctions, Medvedev said in the interview released Monday.
“We understand that at first, sanctions are of economic character, and then political sanctions come in response and political things are always asymmetrical. And this is more threatening that limiting supplies: the security system in the world could be undermined. I hope that our Western partners do not want this and there are no crazy people among those who take the decisions,” he said, Vedomosti reported
Medvedev said Moscow counts on significant investment into Russian regions, including in the Far East, from both Russian and foreign entrepreneurs.
“We have regions which should receive most significant funds,” Medvedev said adding that some 350 million rubles ($9.4 million) will be allocated from the federal budget for the development of the Far East.
Russia’s turn to Asia is an overdue measure driven not by Western sanctions but the need to diversify commodity flows, Medvedev said.
“Russia’s trade with China currently stands at around $100 billion, while Russian trade with Europe is $450 billion. This is practically half of Russia’s total trade. It is evident that we should be actively present in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
“We should trade and receive investment, work with China, India, Vietnam and other players in the Asia-Pacific region, ” Medvedev told the newspaper, adding that he sees no major problems if reasonable decisions are taken.
Medvedev said Russia may start restricting energy supplies to Ukraine if the power cutoffs in Crimea continue.
“Certain parts of Ukraine also have power shortages and receive electric energy from Russia. And he who makes not really smart decisions about restricting power supply to Crimea, should realize that symmetrical measures are possible,” Medvedev was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Medvedev said an autonomous power system that will rely on Russia should be created in the region. “Taking into consideration that Crimea is a power-hungry territory, this also becomes a factor in the political game,” he said.
Moscow has allocated $27 million in aid for refugees from Ukraine, Medvedev told Vedomosti in the interview.
“This is a humanitarian tragedy; we are considering this and are already adding funds to the regions. And this is not a small amount of money. Over the recent time, I had to make a number of decisions, relating to funding the refugees’ presence, which already reached around $27 million,” Medvedev said in the interview published Monday.
The influx of refugees from southeastern Ukraine to Russia, who had to flee their homes due to the armed conflict between the government's forces and the pro-independence movement, has increased in recent months.
According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, around 820,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border into Russia since April. On Sunday, a representative for Russia’s emergency response center told RIA Novosti that more than 1,000 temporary accommodation facilities housing around 59,000 people have been established across the country.
Medvedev said that allocating more than $40 billion from Russia’s National Welfare Foundation for oil giant Rosneft could be reasonable, as the investment will be repaid.
“This number only seems so impressive, but this is not [supposed to be repaid] within a year,” Medvedev said, answering a reporter’s question on whether Rosneft’s request for $40 billion is feasible.
“The company needs to keep up production, since Rosneft is a major contributor to the budget. In this regard, we have to help them by maintaining the investment level,” Medvedev explained, adding that the government is considering specific ways of aiding Rosneft.
Medvedev also stressed he had no doubt in the investment's returns, considering Rosneft’s prospects in the middle and long-terms.
In August, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin requested a government loan of some $40 billion from the National Welfare Foundation due to Western sanctions. Earlier, the United States introduced another wave of economic restrictions on Moscow over its stance in the Ukrainian conflict, seriously complicating Western funding for Rosneft and a number of other key Russian oil and gas companies.

New EU Sanctions to Include Russian State Oil Companies With $27-Bln Turnover: Reuters

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Russia's Rosneft was reportedly included in the new list of the EU sanctions against Russia.
15:23 08/09/2014
Tags: economysanctionsTransneftGazpromneftRosneftEUEuropeRussia
MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union has included Russia’s Rosneft, Gazpromneft and Transneft in its new sanctions list, Reuters reported Monday citing an EU diplomat.
EU sanctions will also be imposed on Russian state companies with a turnover of more than $27 billion annually, which would also include companies selling or transporting oil.
News agencies reported earlier that economic sanctions against Russia may include energy companies, as well as another high-profile individuals in Russia and Ukraine whose assets may be frozen and would be banned from entering the EU.

Itar Tass....

OSCE chief says he is not optimistic about current ceasefire in Ukraine

 September 08, 15:23 UTC+4
“My personal impression has not changed,” the OSCE chief
© AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov
GENEVA, September 08. /ITAR-TASS/. The OSCE chairperson-in-office, Didier Burkhalter, told a news conference on Monday he was not optimistic about the current ceasefire in Ukraine.
He said he had not been optimistic about the Ukraine crisis ever since the conflict started last spring.
“My personal impression has not changed,” the OSCE chief said.

Both sides in Ukraine conflict start exchanging prisoners — Ukraine official

 September 08, 15:32 UTC+4
Earlier on Monday, the vice-premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said that the sides could start swapping prisoners according to “all for all” principle on September 9
© AP Photo/Sergei Grits/Archive
KIEV, September 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Both sides in the Ukraine conflict have started the process of exchanging prisoners, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Andriy Lysenko told journalists on Monday.
“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took the question of prisoner exchanges under personal control the moment he was informed that the peace process had got underway,” Lysenko said.
“The process has started. It is already underway. Ukraine’s Security Service has set up a center to gather daily information about detained Ukrainian servicemen,” Lysenko said, adding some progress had already been made.
Lysenko, however, did not give any concrete figures on the number of prisoners of war or set any specific dates when concrete prisoners could be exchanged.
Earlier on Monday, Andrei Purgin, the vice-premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said that the sides could start swapping prisoners according to “all for all” principle on September 9.
“The first exchanges may take place tomorrow. I do hope that full-scale exchanges will get under way the day after tomorrow on Wednesday,” Purgin said.

Latest east Ukraine violence claims 'at least 3,000 dead'

 September 08, 15:07 UTC+4
“We remain concerned about the situation in Ukraine," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says
© AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov
GENEVA, September 08./ITAR-TASS/. The conflict in east Ukraine has taken at least 3,000 lives since April, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told an opening session of the assembly's Human Rights Council on Monday.
“We remain concerned about the situation in Ukraine," he said. "UNHCHR's latest monthly report gives a full picture of current human rights challenges, especially in the east, where at least 3,000 people have been killed since mid-April this year,” he said.
“The council will specifically deal with this situation later in the session and an official UNHCHR report will be presented at that time,” Al Hussein added. Statistics previously recorded put deaths at 2,593 and 6,000 wounded including 38 children, he said, adding that the Ukraine issue would be discussed on September 23.

Ukrainian forces rotate, receive new equipment during lull

 September 08, 15:39 UTC+4
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko says Ukrainian troops observe the ceasefire, but in case of threat to their lives they will open retaliatory fire
KIEV, September 08. /ITAR-TASS/. An Ukrainian Security and Defense Council official admitted that new troops and equipment arrived to the zone of the military operation, while a ceasefire was declared.
“Ukraine has enough forces to repulse enemy attacks. Forces and equipment that arrive to the zone of combat operations are being prepared,” the National Security and Defense Council’s spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.
Ukrainian troops observe the ceasefire, but in case of threat to their lives they will open retaliatory fire, he said. Troops remain at deployment places where they were before last Friday, before the ceasefire agreement was signed, he said.
No movement of combat vehicles across the Ukrainian-Russian border was reported over the past 24 hours, he added.
Earlier, Vice-Premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Andrei Purgin said in an interview to ITAR-TASS that Ukraine’s armed forces during the lull actively rotated and brought new troops and weapons to their deployment places.
“Ukraine is actively rotating troops, bringing new troops in. There is various movement of vehicles. They have new armored personnel carriers. They are doing what was impossible without truce conditions. All the movements of convoys would have been impossible. During the truce, convoys of combat vehicles reach destinations and prepare for attacks,” he said.
The agreement on a peace plan and a ceasefire was reached during a meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk on September 5. Leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics repeatedly said they would observe the ceasefire.

Ukraine set for compromise on gas with Russia — Ukraine’s minister

 September 08, 14:30 UTC+4
The Ukrainian minister said he would have a meeting with the EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger to discuss supplies of Russian gas
BAKU, September 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine is set for working out a compromise with Russia on gas supplies, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan told a news conference following an informal meeting of the Eastern Partnership countries’ energy ministers on Monday.
The Ukrainian minister said he would have a meeting with the EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger to discuss supplies of Russian gas.
“We are set for working out a compromise,” he said. “Our suggestions on the issue have always been similar to those of the European Union, and we hope it will continue to be so in future.”
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a European Union initiative directed at six countries of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EaP was launched by 27 EU member states and the six partner countries at a summit in Prague on May 7, 2009. The initiative aims at tightening the relationship between the EU and the Eastern partners by deepening their political co-operation and economic integration.

Novorussia -  Surrender or victory?  

by Yuri Baranchik

So, what happened in Minsk? Surrender or victory? This is the kind of argument that not only the average citizen of our immense territory is currently having, but unfortunately, also a significant part of the expert community. There is no simple answer to this question without considering what had happened a week earlier in Brussels at the EU summit and at the NATO summit on the 4th and 5th of September in Newport, Wales. 

Russia won a political victory in Brussels: the EU (Germany and the countries of the Old Europe) refused to impose new sanctions against Russia under pressure from the United States and its most loyal vassal states (Britain, Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine). Thus, the EU chose not to escalate the conflict with Russia on the eve of winter. Furthermore, the EU itself has advised a way out of the situation on the South Stream and remove it from the sanctions of the Third Energy Package: to apply the same rules that apply to offshore projects of the EU; for example in Bulgaria, to allow Gazprom to buy them and connect them to the "South Stream".

Despite the many hints and threats from the USA’s poodles on the eve of the summit of NATO member countries (as we have discussed in detail in the article "The fate of Novorossia: the US raising the stakes": a) a threat of deployment of a European missile defense system against Russia; b) establishing five new NATO bases in Poland, Romania and the Baltic States; c) breaching the terms of the Founding Act "Russia - NATO"), the summit only concluded with an official statement, which reflects the opinion of the North Atlantic Alliance on the current events on the territory of the disintegrating Ukraine.

As expected, NATO condemned the Russian military invasion of the Ukraine; urged Russia to withdraw its military from Ukraine; to cease its assistance to the militias and intervening in the situation in Ukraine under any pretext. There was no discussion of anything else - not about the violation of the terms of the Founding "Russia - NATO" Act, the deployment of the European missile defense, or of NATO bases in the five above-mentioned countries. According to Rasmussen, he took into consideration (it can’t be said any better) the desire of the Poles, Balts and Romanians to place NATO "transit points" on their territories.

What does this tell us? The EU, despite all of the threats and cries of the U.S. and their accommodating "tough-talking" poodles, is not ready to go beyond the current level of confrontation with Russia. Germany, the countries of not only the Old Europe (Greece, Italy) but also the New Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary) have opposed the escalating level of anti-Russian rhetoric, the development of new sanctions, and especially, the inclusion of mechanisms and instruments of pressure by NATO.

Furthermore, the recent summits in Brussels and Newport showed that Europe wants to end the current tense relationship with Russia as quickly as possible and return to the previous level of cooperation, despite, let me stress, the current events in Ukraine. In fact, Europe agrees with the return to Russia of her historical territories (Crimea and those regions of Ukraine which had been given to her by the Bolsheviks) in exchange for an uninterrupted supply of gas and the continuation of mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation.

The reason for this is that Europe is not happy with the new format of Ukraine's statehood, which was established there after the February revolution. Therefore, this dangerous regime, which entails instability, has to end. In the way it was hinted at the talks in Minsk on the eve of winter.

Therefore, the achievement of the ceasefire agreement between the junta and the representatives of Novorossia in Minsk is a major victory for Russia, because it didn’t allow the United States to sever relations between Russia and Europe and gave Europe the necessary arguments for the rejection and blocking both in Brussels and in Newport, of the decisions that the US was prepared to launch against Russia. It is a big joint victory for Russia and the EU today.

Now let's go back to the long-suffering Novorossiya. Many, even such distinguished experts as Boris Rozhin, consider what has happened as a sell-out of Novorossia. Let's look at this in more detail.

First, apparently, Poroshenko and the junta are not going to abide by the terms of the truce – the shelling of Donetsk, Lugansk, and Gorlovka and the fighting in the district of Mariupol by the junta’s troops continue. Therefore, the hands of the resistance forces are no longer tied.

Secondly, if attacks by the junta’s troops were to stop and the peaceful and boring process of negotiations were to resume, where would those residents of Ukraine, who are now under the authority of a neo-banderite fascist junta, shift most of their attention to? That’s right; it’d switch to the internal problems: the price of food, gasoline, inflation; unemployment; the hryvna’s weakening exchange rate; gangsterism, and etc. etc. Poroshenko will be pretending that he is making decisions because he needs to win the parliamentary elections.

What will Kolomoisky, Lyashko, the battalions of the National Guard and all those others who are interested in kindling the fires of war, do? What are they supposed to do? There is nothing for them to do in such circumstances; therefore, tensions within the junta will increase. Even if Russia and Germany are able to continue to keep Poroshenko from the use of force in the East, sooner or later the abscess inside the junta will burst.

About the "new Transnistria". This is what the experts scare the population and neophytes with as a proof of the American party and the government’s slogan that "Putin sold out". The fact is that the phenomenon of Transnistria has only become so because of one factor - the absence of a common border with Russia. Nothing else. Abkhazia and South Ossetia have a common border with Russia which is another matter. Yes, technically they are all unrecognized states. But in reality, I emphasize, in reality Abkhazia and South Ossetia, unlike Transnistria, are under the protection of the Russian army, and no-one in his right mind would dare stick his nose in there..

Therefore, the scenario of a "new Transnistria" in relation to the DPR and LPR is out of the question - the common border with Russia rules out such a scenario. Yes, these regions will have an uncertain status for some time. However, after the bursting of the abscess in Kiev or another scenario the two regions of Novorossia will be joined by the other five that were handed over to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks. And that will be the end of Ukraine in its present form.

In conclusion, about the main question: why did Russia choose this course and not speed up events in Novorossia? The first reason has already been mentioned: it was necessary to give Germany and Europe the arguments required not to allow the US to implement their prepared-in-advance positions at the summits in Brussels and Newport.

Secondly, it is necessary to provide Europe with a calm winter and not to let those Eastern European countries that depend on gas supplies through Ukraine, to freeze. Because, if chaos begins on the territory of the Ruin and the gas pipelines begin to be blown up, Eastern Europe will freeze, and the US will then have very strong arguments with which to put pressure on the EU in regards to Russia's position in the Ukrainian crisis.

Therefore, the question of uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe in the winter is one of the most important ones. This alone is a reason for the ceasefire, not to mention the welfare of the peaceful inhabitants of Novorossia.

Besides, a cold and hungry winter will bring to their senses those in Ukraine who are now controlled by the junta. The junta will be pushed out after the winter anyway.

Thirdly, the rapid capture of all seven regions of Novorossia would give the US a pretext to build a new iron curtain. Not somewhere in Germany, but right on the border with Russia and in the form of the notorious NATO bases in the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania. At the same time, we would permanently lose the rest of Ukraine, which is unacceptable. That is, any immediate division of Ukraine gives us a victory: so much was captured and so quickly. However, from a strategic and long-term perspective, such a scenario would in the end be our defeat, because we would lose the rest of Ukraine and in addition, would allow the US to take full and complete control over Europe.


That's why we need all of Ukraine, which, similar to Belarus, will be friendly to Russia and join (with the possible exception of the three Western regions) the Eurasian Economic Union. Together we will then form a trade zone with the EU that will unite the entire Eurasian continent from France and Holland to China, Iran and India in a single trade and economic zone.