Connect with us

Russia

Russia can help Europe and country not using gas as a weapon says Putin

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

A chimney of a China Energy coal-fired power plant is pictured in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday (13 October) Russia was not using gas as a weapon and was ready to help ease Europe's energy crunch as the EU called an emergency summit to tackle skyrocketing prices, write Vladimir Soldatkin and Kate Abnett, Shivani Singh.

Energy demand has surged as economies have rebounded from the pandemic, driving up prices of oil, gas and coal, stoking inflationary pressures and undermining efforts to cut the use of polluting fossil fuels in the fight against global warming.

China, the world's second biggest economy and its biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has boosted coal output and imports, as domestic coal prices have hit record levels and power stations have struggled to keep the lights on in homes and factories.

The energy crunch has amplified Wednesday's call by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for tripling investment in renewables to steady markets and fight climate change.

Advertisement

Europe's gas squeeze has shone a spotlight on Russia, which accounts for a third of the region's supplies, prompting European politicians to blame Moscow for not pumping enough.

Putin told an energy conference in Moscow that the gas market was not balanced or predictable, particularly in Europe, but said Russia was meeting its contractual obligations to supply clients and was ready to boost supplies if asked.

He dismissed accusations that Russia was using energy as a weapon: "This is just politically motivated chatter, which has no basis whatsoever."

Advertisement

The European Union has not asked Russia to increase supplies of gas to the bloc, a European Commission official told Reuters.

Russia and Europe have been embroiled in a dispute over a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, to supply Russian gas to Germany. The pipeline is built but awaits approval to start pumping, amid opposition from the United States and some Europeans nations that fear it will make Europe even more reliant on Russia.

Some European politicians say Moscow is using the fuel crisis as leverage, a charge it has repeatedly denied.

DE-GAS EUROPE

The European Commission outlined measures on Wednesday that the 27-nation EU would take to combat the energy crisis, including exploring a voluntary option for countries to jointly buy gas.

Ministers from EU countries hold an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 26 to discuss the price spike.

"The only way to fully decouple gas from electricity is no longer to use it to generate power," EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said. "This is the EU's long-term goal, to replace fossil fuels with renewables."

The Paris-based IEA said the world had to invest $4 trillion by 2030 in clean energy and infrastructure - triple current levels - to achieve net zero emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the target of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

"The world is not investing enough to meet its future energy needs," it said in a report, published before the United Nations COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which starts on 31 October. Read more.

As renewables have failed to fill gaps amid surging demand, oil and gas prices have roared higher.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries trimmed its world oil demand forecast for 2021 but said surging gas prices could mean customers switch to oil.

Benchmark crude was trading close to last week's more than three-year high above $84 a barrel.

Putin said that oil prices could reach $100 a barrel. "This is quite possible," he said. "We and our partners at OPEC+ are doing our utmost to stabilise the market." Read more.

The benchmark European gas price is up more than 350% this year, trading above $31 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on Wednesday, although down from last week's spike above $52.

"Current prices are above fundamentally justified levels, should remain volatile and could still reach $100/mmBtu or above this season if the weather gets very cold," Citi bank said as it also raised its forecast for European and Asian benchmark gas prices for the fourth quarter by about $3.

The United States was also likely to feel the pain, according to the Energy Information Administration, which warned on Wednesday that it would cost more to heat U.S. homes this winter. Read more.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), which monitors security of supply, said a cold winter in Europe would require an increase of gas imports by about 5% to 10% compared to previous maximum levels.

"We're reaching out to trade partners to discuss if it's possible to increase their deliveries in the market," EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said.

The Commission expects prices to remain high until April 2022. Read more.

In China, the most-active January Zhengzhou thermal coal futures touched a record high of 1,640 yuan ($254.54) per tonne on Wednesday, up more than 190% so far this year.

Local governments in top Chinese coal producing areas Shanxi and Inner Mongolia ordered about 200 mines to boost output, but rain flooded 60 mines in Shanxi. China's coal imports surged 76% in September.

Seeking to ease the power crunch, Beijing said it would allow power plants to charge commercial customers market-based prices, breaking with a policy that had allowed industry to lock in fixed-price electricity deals with suppliers.

($1 = 6.4430 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Share this article:

Armenia

Russia is trying to broker peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Published

on

The events of the last year in the long-standing confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh give some hope to believe that Russia's mediation efforts in this matter are having some success. At least, the meeting of the leaders of the three countries held on November 26 at the residence of the Russian president in Sochi was perceived with cautious optimism, writes Alexi Ivanov, Moscow correspondent.

The initiator of the trilateral meeting of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan was the Russian side. The agenda of the meeting included discussion of the implementation of the agreements of November 9 last year and January 11 this year, as well as further steps to strengthen stability in the region.

The meeting in Sochi is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the ceasefire agreement and all military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in November 2020.

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated in the fall of 2020 and quickly shifted to hostilities. Both sides suffered losses in manpower and equipment, civilian buildings were destroyed.

Advertisement

In November 2020, a ceasefire agreement was concluded with the mediation of Russia. Armenia was supposed to return to Azerbaijan part of the territories that came under the control of Yerevan back in the early 90s, leaving the Lachin corridor for communication with Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has brought peacekeepers into the region. Baku and Yerevan have agreed on the principle of "all for all" in the exchange of prisoners in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

The exchange of detained persons began in December 2020. Despite the agreement, there have been repeated clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On November 16, 2021, fighting with the use of armored vehicles and artillery took place again on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is the most serious incident between the two countries over the past year: both sides suffered losses, several Armenian soldiers were captured.

Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is ready to begin the delimitation of the border with Armenia. "We also publicly offered the Armenian side to start working on a peace treaty to put an end to the confrontation, to recognize each other's territorial integrity, sovereignty and to live in the future as neighbors and learn to live again as neighbors," he added.

Advertisement

In Sochi the leaders of the countries discussed the process of implementing the agreements of November 9 last year and January 11 this year. In addition, the heads of the three countries outlined further actions to strengthen stability and establish peaceful life in the region. As noted in the Kremlin, special attention was paid to the restoration and development of trade, economic and transport ties.

Putin also held separate talks with Aliyev and Pashinyan. Since the signing of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, clashes have repeatedly occurred.

Since November last year, the ceasefire in Karabakh has been supported by about two thousand Russian peacekeepers. There are 27 observation posts of the Russian military in the region, most of all in the zone of the Lachin corridor, which connects Karabakh with Armenia.
In addition, the Russians are engaged in mine clearance of the former war zone.

According to Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, "Russian peacekeepers and the Russian Federation play a key role in stabilizing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the region." At the same time, Yerevan believes that the situation on the line of contact with the Azerbaijani armed forces is not as stable as the Armenian side would like. After November 9 last year, several dozen people have already died on both sides, incidents occur in Nagorno-Karabakh, and since May 12, 2021, as the Armenian Government is convinced, a crisis situation has actually developed on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

In November 2021, another border dispute (this time away from Karabakh) turned into bloodshed and artillery duels and was stopped only after Moscow's intervention.

Thus, Baku today seeks to establish land communication with its enclave, the Nakhichevan Republic, the road to which should pass through Armenia. At the same time, the main task for Yerevan today is to return home all Armenian prisoners of war.

Following the talks in Sochi, the leaders of the three countries adopted a joint statement, in which, in particular, they reaffirmed their commitment to further consistent implementation and strict compliance with all the provisions of the statements of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021 in the interests of ensuring stability, security and economic development of the South Caucasus.

Both Baku and Yerevan highlight the important contribution of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to the stabilization of the situation and ensuring security in the region.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia confirmed their determination to work towards the establishment of a bilateral Commission on the delimitation of the state border between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia with its subsequent demarcation with the advisory assistance of the Russian Federation at the request of the parties.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani sides highly appreciated the activities of the Trilateral Working Group on unblocking all economic and transport ties in the region. They stressed the need to launch concrete projects as soon as possible in order to unlock the economic potential of the region.

According to President Putin, Russia will continue to provide all necessary assistance in the interests of normalization of relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia.

Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan have agreed to create mechanisms for demarcation and delimitation of the border between the two Transcaucasian republics by the end of the year. 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, after telephone talks with the head of the European Council Charles Michel, agreed to hold another round of talks this year, namely, on December 15 in Brussels within the framework of the EU and Eastern Partnership summit, the European Union said in a statement. 

"The head of the European Council Charles Michel proposed to hold a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels on the sidelines of the EU-Eastern Partnership summit. The leaders agreed to hold a meeting in Brussels to discuss the regional situation and ways to overcome tensions

Share this article:

Continue Reading

Russia

Russia and Ukraine both step up military alert with combat drills

Published

on

By

A serviceman of the Ukrainian Armed Forces takes part in military drills at a training ground near the border with Russian-annexed Crimea in Kherson region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine press service November 17, 2021. Press Service of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Russia staged military drills in the Black Sea, south of Ukraine, on Wednesday (24 November) and said it needed to sharpen the combat-readiness of its conventional and nuclear forces because of heightened NATO activity near its borders, write Maxim Rodionov, Mark Trevelyan, Alexander Marrow and Pavel Polityuk.

Ukraine, which with its ally the United States has said it believes Russia may be preparing an invasion, staged exercises of its own near the border with Belarus. Read more.

The increase of military activity on both sides follows weeks of rising tension that have raised the risk of war between the two neighbours, even though Russia denies aggressive intent and Western intelligence sources have told Reuters they do not see any invasion as imminent. Read more.

The United States and NATO have signalled their backing for Ukraine in ways that Moscow considers provocative, including through warship manoeuvres this month in the Black Sea and a delivery of U.S. patrol boats to the Ukrainian navy.

Advertisement

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Reuters on Wednesday it would be "a grave mistake from Russia" to attack Ukraine. Read more.

Russian fighter planes and ships practiced repelling air attacks on naval bases and responding with air strikes during military drills on Wednesday in the Black Sea, Interfax reported.

Separately, the news agency quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying the need for Russia to further develop its armed forces was dictated by "the complicated military and political conditions in the world and the growing activity of NATO countries near Russia's borders".

Advertisement

He said raising the armed forces' capabilities, supporting the combat readiness of nuclear forces and strengthening the potential of non-nuclear deterrence were among the priorities.

Shoigu on Tuesday complained that U.S. bombers had rehearsed a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come too close the Russian border, drills the Pentagon said had adhered to international protocols.

Ukraine on Wednesday held what it called a "special operation" at the border with Belarus, including drone exercises and military drills for anti-tank and airborne units.

It has deployed 8,500 extra troops to its border with Belarus, saying it fears being drawn into the migrant crisis, which has seen the European Union accuse Minsk of flying in people from the Middle East and pushing them to enter neighbouring Poland. Belarus denies fomenting the crisis. Read more.

Kyiv also worries that the border with Belarus, a close Russian ally, could be used by Russia to stage a military assault.

The head of Ukraine's military intelligence told the Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 troops massed around Ukraine's borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.

Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory, said it was not threatening anyone and defended its right to deploy its troops as it wished.

Intelligence sources, diplomats and analysts say Moscow may be using the escalation of tension with Ukraine as part of a wider strategy to exert pressure in Europe, including by backing Belarus in the migrant crisis and using its influence as the continent's top gas supplier to press for quick regulatory approval of its new Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany.

"It feels... more like another piece of coercive leverage that the Russians are heaping onto this strategic situation in Eastern Europe," said Samir Puri, senior fellow in hybrid warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"It may well have value in that alone, rather than having to be followed through with a full-scale invasion which would be politically disastrous for Putin."

Share this article:

Continue Reading

Russia

Kremlin accuses West of artificially whipping up Ukraine tensions

Published

on

By

People remove debris inside a machine-building plant, which local workers said was damaged by recent shelling, in the rebel-controlled town of Yasynuvata (Yasinovataya) in the Donetsk region, Ukraine November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

The Kremlin on Sunday (21 November) accused the West of artificially whipping up tensions around Ukraine with repeated statements suggesting Russia was poised to launch an attack on its neighbour and told Washington and its allies to stop a military build-up nearby, writes Maxim Rodionov, Reuters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday (20 November) his country has real concerns, widely shared with partners in Europe, over Russian activities at the Ukrainian border, after Ukraine said it feared Russia might be preparing an attack.

US, NATO and Ukrainian officials have been making similar statements for nearly two weeks, referring to what they say are unusual Russian troop movements in the proximity of Ukraine.

Advertisement

Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory and complained about what it says is increasing activity in the region by the NATO alliance.

In comments due to be broadcast later on Sunday on state TV, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "a provocation" in the area could not be ruled out given all the U.S. rhetoric.

"This hysteria is being artificially whipped up. We are being accused of some kind of unusual military activity on our territory by those who have brought in their armed forces from across the ocean. That is, the United States of America," Peskov said.

Advertisement

"It's not really logical or polite."

Peskov suggested Ukraine was probably looking for a way to solve its own problems by force.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014 and Russian-backed separatists seized a swath of eastern Ukraine that same year.

Peskov said Russia wanted NATO to stop "concentrating a military fist" near Russia's own borders and to stop arming Ukraine with modern weapons.

The Kremlin said in September that NATO would cross a Russian red line if it expanded its military infrastructure in Ukraine. Read more.

A ship carrying two refitted former US Coast Guard patrol boats designed to beef up the Ukrainian Navy transited the Dardanelles strait on Saturday. Read more.

Ukraine, which strives to become a NATO member, received a large consignment of US ammunition earlier this year and Javelin anti-tank missiles, prompting criticism from Moscow.

Share this article:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending