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Putin Says The Petrodollar Must Die
by Tyler Durden

On one hand, despite initial weakness following Europe's triple-dip red alert, futures declined only to surge higher after some headline or another out of Russia was again spun to suggest imminent Ukraine de-escalation (something which Russia whose only interest is to keep crude prices high, has absolutely zero interest in), perpetuating a rumor which was set off by a Russian media outlet tweet last week that has sent S&P futures over 50 higher in less than a week on... nothing.

On the other, Putin just said the following, which no matter how one spins it, shows precisely how Russia is inclined vis-a-vis future (un-de-counter) escalations.

Reuters adds:

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia should aim to sell its oil and gas for roubles globally because the dollar monopoly in energy trade was damaging Russia's economy.

"We should act carefully. At the moment we are trying to agree with some countries to trade in national currencies," Putin said during a visit to the Crimea region, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine earlier this year.

Countries such as China, India, Iran, Brazil, and virtually every other non-insolvent, that is to say "developed, Western" country.

And now, bring on the Russian "isolation" (which is about to push Europe, not Russia, into a triple-dip recession) and further de-escalation.

Two Thirds of Russians Believe Putin Is Restoring Peace in Ukraine
by Damien Sharkov

63% of Russians believe President Vladimir Putin’s actions in contribute to the peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, according to the country’s oldest polling agency VTSIOM.

9% believe Putin’s policies on the Ukraine do not contribute to the escalation of the conflict, while 18% do not believe the Russian president’s position has an impact on neighbouring states.

The poll was initially conducted between 26-27 July of this year, surveying 1,600 Russian citizens across the country’s 42 regions and was published by Russian news agency Itar-Tass today.

Out of the respondents, 47% think that the Russian head of state’s priorities in the region are to “ensure peace and stability in Donbass and Ukraine as a whole”.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has announced Putin is due to hold meetings of the National Security Council in the annexed Crimean region today and tomorrow.

The council last met on 8 August to discuss the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, before announcing Russia would send 287 lorries full of 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplies from Moscow and the Moscow area for Ukraine’s Luhansk province.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insists Russia has agreed terms for the inspection of the convoy’s contents with the Red Cross, OSCE and Kiev once the convoy has arrived in Eastern Urkaine.

Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement addressing suspicions over the humanitarian convoy’s contents today, dismissing claims it may hold arms as “absurd”.

Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk, expressed scepticism about the contents of the convoy, insisting it will not be allowed to cross the Ukrainian border if it is not searched on entering the country.

“First they send tanks, Grad missiles and bandits who fire on Ukrainians and then they send water and salt,” Yatseniuk said at a government meeting on Wednesday.

"We, as a state, are looking after, and are capable of looking after, our citizens," he said.

Ukrainian Red Cross said they are yet to receive information about the destination of the convoy or a full inventory of its content.

The aid convoy is currently travelling through Russian territory to the Ukrainian border and is expected at the Russian border town of Belgorod between 7pm and 8pm, Reuters reports.

Suspicions greet Russian convoy on humanitarian mission to eastern Ukraine
by Whitney Eulich

One day after an agreement was struck on an international relief effort in war-torn eastern Ukraine, fears are rising that Russia could use aid as a cover for military intervention.

Today a fleet of 280 Russian trucks carrying 2,000 tons of supplies – including baby food and sleeping bags – was headed toward the Ukrainian border, according to Russian media. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is spearheading a separate aid mission, said it was not aware of where the trucks were headed or what they were carrying.

“This convoy is not a certified convoy,” Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told the Associated Press, referring to the fleet of Russian trucks. “It is not certified by the [ICRC],” and will not be allowed to cross the border.

The ICRC is coordinating an aid mission on behalf of the United States, the European Union, Ukraine, and Russia. A spokesman for the Red Cross mission in Ukraine said: “At this stage we have no agreement on this, and it looks like the initiative of the Russian Federation."

Ukrainian officials say Russia has placed some 45,000 troops along the border with eastern Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces have claimed more than 1,100 lives since April. NATO reports a smaller number of Russian troops on the border with approximately 20,000. NATO said there was a “high probability” that Russia could turn to military intervention in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of arming and training the rebels, a claim Moscow denies. On Monday, EU President José Manuel Barroso warned Russia “against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian,” according to an EU statement.

Western powers have warned Russia “against mounting a stealth invasion under the guise of humanitarian aid, and have looked on with growing alarm as Russian officials have spoken in ever-stronger terms about the humanitarian plight of eastern Ukrainians,” reports The New York Times.

“We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation, and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine,” the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told Reuters in an interview Monday.

A Russian intervention would almost certainly provoke another round of economic sanctions by the West, further isolate the Kremlin diplomatically and strain already icy relations with Washington nearly to the breaking point. Apparently calculating that Moscow is unwilling to shoulder those costs, Ukraine has been pressing ahead with its military offensive despite the Russian military buildup.
There’s no denying the need for humanitarian assistance in eastern Ukraine: Nearly a million people have been displaced in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and those who stayed in the homes mostly lack electricity and water. The number of refugees crossing the border into Russia has been estimated at close to half a million, straining local services and facilities there, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

Violence continues as Ukrainian troops continue their offensive, cutting off supply lines and shelling outlying districts. On Monday stray rockets hit the gate at a high security prison; more than 100 convicts escaped, according to The New York Times.

In an opinion column for The Boston Globe, Gary Samore and Simon Saradzhyan, directors at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs encouraged the international community not to "corner" Russian President Vladmir Putin, and to work together to establish a non-military end to the Ukrainian conflict.

Leaders in Kiev, Moscow, and Western capitals need to understand the costs of trying to solve the conflict with force and the benefits of finding a negotiated solution. Such a solution could incorporate elements of Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko’s own peace plan, such as amnesty for the rebels, decentralization of power within Ukraine and robust protection of rights of minorities, along with disarming of all the illegal armed formations, a legally binding affirmation of Ukraine’s military neutrality, and unequivocal guarantees (rather than assurances) of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, perhaps, while deferring final resolution of Crimea’s status.

The United States and the European Union should encourage Poroshenko to revive his peace plan. Russia should also press the separatists to negotiate in good faith and aim for realistic goals, such as reintegration into a decentralized Ukraine.

The goal of these collective efforts shouldn’t be total victory for any military alliance, nation, region, or leader. Instead, what eventually emerges ought to be a Ukraine at peace with itself and its neighbors, outside of any military pact, and capable of sustaining itself economically.
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