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Media: Generators produced by German concern MAN shipped to Crimea
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 18:00:21 GMT
Description:

The Crimean Zaliv factory, which was unable to purchase equipment from the Finnish company Wärtsilä on account of EU sanctions, has acquired generators produced by the German concern MAN.

This was reported by RBC with reference to a source familiar with materials relating to the Russian Ministry of Transport (the client for the ship being built at the Zaliv factory). The information was confirmed by a partner of several Russian ship construction companies.

The diesel generators are intended for the construction of a emergency rescue vessel costing 2.79 billion rubles.

A representative of MAN Diesel & Turbo (the subdivision of MAN that produces maritime equipment) told RBC that the company is not aware that its generators are being used at the Zaliv shipyard. “We are not participating and have not participated in any current or recent projects with the Zaliv factory,” he said, adding that MAN has not shipped any generators to Zaliv “in the last ten years”.

The representative of the German concern said that the current sanctions prohibit the shipment of generators to Crimean companies, and their use in Crimea. “We strictly adhere to these instructions,” he said.
The representative admitted that Zaliv may be using equipment which was built for other ships, but remarked that “MAN is unable to control or know about this”.

The Russian Ministry of Transport commissioned the construction of a 4 megawatt emergency rescue ship in 2015 from the only supplier – the Zelenodolsk Plant named after A. M. Gory (part of the Ak Bars group). According to information published by Korabel and Port News, this ship is under construction at the Kerch Zaliv shipyard.

Sources told RBC that during the construction of the ship, the Crimean shipyard encountered problems acquiring generators on account of sanctions. The Finnish company Wärtsilä refused to supply two diesel generators due to the EU sanctions on Crimea. This was confirmed by a representative from Wärtsilä.

The emergency rescue vessel is being constructed from the budget as part of the Federal Target Program, and will cost 2.79 billion rubles. A total of four such vessels have been built in Russia, all of them at the Nevsky Shipyard in the Leningrad province. Equipment produced by Wärtsilä is used in these ships. Aside from building and renovating ships, the Zaliv shipyard is also producing special metalwork for the Crimean bridge.

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Ukraine adopts Donbas reintegration bill calling Russia ‘country-aggressor’
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:00:20 GMT
Description:

On Thursday, January 18, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) approved in the second reading and overall the draft law "On the specifics of the state policy on securing the state sovereignty of Ukraine on the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions" submitted by President Poroshenko.

The law recognizes Russia as an aggressor state. At the same time, the deputies refused to support the proposal to denounce the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Russia and break diplomatic relations with it.  

280 deputies voted in favor of the adoption of the law on the reintegration of the Donbas and Crimea; 226 votes were necessary for approval. The document denies any territorial rights of Russia regarding the Crimea and the Donbas and the “temporary occupation” of these territories are called “illegal”.

The Bill states that Moscow is accountable for moral and material damage to Ukraine and its citizens, and those who took part in the armed aggression or participated in the work of the "Russian occupation administration" were promised criminal liability.

However, the deputies refused to support the amendments suggesting that the military operations in the Donbas be called a “war.” Instead, the bill contains the term "measures to ensure state sovereignty" over the territories that are currently not controlled by Kyiv. Parliament used this wording to replace the earlier term "Anti-Terrorist Operation" or ATO.

The document gives the president of Ukraine expanded powers to create a joint headquarters of the armed forces and security agencies for conducting military operations in the region.

During the discussion of the bill in the Verkhovna Rada, which began in October 2017, references to the Minsk agreements were excluded from its text. Ivan Vynnyk, Secretary of the Committee on National Security and Defense, who presented the document explained this by the "difference in nature" of those agreements and of the laws of Ukraine.

"We cannot implement in Ukrainian legislation diplomatic, political acts that tend to change depending on the negotiation process. Besides, the Minsk agreements have not been ratified by the Verkhovna Rada," Vynnyk said.

During the first reading of the bill, in the beginning of October last year, clashes between deputies occurred in the Rada. The opposition blocked the parliamentary rostrum and some of its representatives threw smoke bombs at the presidium. This time everything went quietly, although the discussions were acute as more than 670 amendments were discussed, most of which were rejected by the ruling majority.

Deputies from the factions of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP) and the People's Front party confessed to each other in private that they "received an assignment from above" to keep the main provisions of the presidential version of the bill at any cost. "We can allow only cosmetic changes, but in no way, shall the expansion of the president's powers be touched," DW reports, quoting one the deputies who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Only the Opposition Block faction, which consists of the former members of the Party of Regions that ruled during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, spoke out categorically against the adoption of the document.

"Ukraine will now find itself in international isolation. The whole world said there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements, however, those MPs who wanted to adopt this bill actually spat at Germany, France and the US, having withdrawn the mention of the Minsk agreements," said the deputy from the Opposition block, Mikhailo Papiev, as quoted by DW.

In contrast to him, representatives of the factions Samopomich (Self-Relience), Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) and the Radical Party of Ukraine calling themselves patriotic opposition supported the bill, provided it introduced more stringent language and provisions.

Thus, the non-factional deputy Andriy Ilyenko demanded to withdraw from it the right of the Cabinet to control the movement of goods and humanitarian aid between the territories under the control of the separatists and the rest of Ukraine.

Oleh Bereziuk, the head of the Samopomich faction demanded a clear definition of the date of the beginning of occupation and the narrowing of the President's right to manage the law enforcement structures and armed forces of Ukraine in the conflict zone without the consent of the parliament.

Other opposition deputies unsuccessfully tried to supplement the bill with provisions on the more severe responsibility of Ukrainian citizens who took the side of the separatists. They also demanded that the Crimea be mentioned not only in the preamble but also in other articles, and that they unequivocally determine the date of the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

 However, the deputies from the parliamentary majority answered that this law is a framework law and requires the introduction of detailed amendments to other normative acts of Ukraine.

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy said that the adoption of the law on the reintegration of the Donbas and the Crimea was a victory. According to him, the US and the EU, Ukraine’s strategic partners "positively perceive this law. The Russian Federation, as could be seen on TV channels, was simply furious with the adoption."

In turn, President Poroshenko called the law "a signal" for the part of the Donbas that is not under Kyiv's control. "We will continue to pave the way for the reintegration of the occupied Ukrainian lands by political and diplomatic means," Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page.

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Russia prepares sanctions against U.S. Special Prosecutor Mueller
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:00:19 GMT
Description:

The Council of the Federation of Russia prepared a preliminary version of a list of those implicated in Russia’s ouster from the 2018 Olympics, and sanctions are being prepared against them.

Included on the list, according to the media outlet RBK Group – citing two sources in the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament – are the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Craig Reedie, U.S. Attorney General Robert Mueller, head of the WADA commission to investigate charges of doping at the Sochi Olympics Richard Mclaren, commissioner Richard Young, and commission investigator Martin Dubbey. In total, the initial list will include more than ten people, the agency’s sources stated.

The temporary commission of the Federation Council on the Protection of State Sovereignty will propose to apply personal sanctions against foreign officials involved in banning the Russian team from the Olympic Games. These sanctions will go into force after the Winter Olympics in Korea.

It is assumed that after the list is approved, the Federation Council will apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a request to restrict those listed from entry into Russia, one source said. RBK’s second source did not rule out wider sanctions against foreign officials.

On the initiative of WADA, headed by Craig Reedie, an independent commission was established to verify the information on doping in Russian sports, headed by Richard Mclaren.

In 2016 Mclaren published a report on the use of doping by Russian athletes. It described the system of substitution of doping samples that operated in Russia, in which the staff of the Center for Sports Training of National Teams, the Ministry of Sport, RUSADA, the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory and the FSB participated.

Robert Mueller is the U.S. Special Prosecutor in the case of Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

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Budapest: Hungary will block Ukrainian relations with NATO
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:00:19 GMT
Description:

Radio Liberty reports that Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, following a meeting with Chairman of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ) and Verkhovna Rada MP Vasyl Brenzovich, stated that Hungary will not help facilitate a meeting between the defense ministers of NATO and Ukraine.

According to Szijjártó, Hungary's position remains unchanged; Budapest will not support the European aspirations of Kyiv while it "violates European and international law."

The Minister also added that Hungary is ready for consultations and to reach an agreement with Kyiv on the issue of the law on education, but only if its contents are in line with "the interests and the desires of the Hungarian minority in Zakarpattia."

Szijjártó stated that officially Budapest still considers the Ukrainian law on education to be directed against international and European norms, as "in accordance with the expectations of the EU, rights already obtained by minorities cannot be taken away."

On September 28, 2017 the law "On Education", which specifically designates that the language of the educational process in institutions of learning may only be the state language, came into force. Languages ​​of national minorities, including Russian, will only be studied until the fifth grade; and by 2020, education in Ukraine will become entirely in Ukrainian.

The document provoked sharp criticism from a number of countries, in particular Hungary. Budapest has appealed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct an investigation over the Ukrainian law.

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Syria declares its readiness to shoot down Turkish military aircraft
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:00:18 GMT
Description:

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters that the Syrian Air Defense Forces have been restored, and are capable of shooting down any Turkish aircraft in the airspace of the Syrian Arab Republic.

"We warn that Syria’s air force has completely resumed its former capability, and is ready to destroy Turkish air targets in the skies above the Syrian Arab Republic; this means that, in case of aggression against Syria, [it would be] no picnic," said Mekdad.

On Wednesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag stated that Ankara was holding consultations with Moscow and Washington over a possible operation in Afrin, Syria against armed formations of Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization associated with the currently-banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). According to media reports, Turkey has led its troops toward the border with Syria in a state of increased combat readiness.

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Washington: Russia interfering with Syria chemical attack investigation
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 13:00:17 GMT
Description:

At a session on the highest level of the UN Security Council on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the US criticized Russia concerning the chemical attacks in Syria.

Only Russia is obstructing the UN’s work to investigate the chemical attacks, said US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley. She remarked that Russia has already used its veto right three times on the extension of the corresponding resolution.

“One nation stands in the way of the Security Council fulfilling its duty. That nation is Russia. It was Russia that vetoed three Council resolutions that would have renewed the Joint Investigative Mechanism,” Haley commented.

Washington believes that Russia is covering for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is believed by the US to be responsible for the chemical attacks. Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism reached the conclusion that the chemical weapons in Syria were used either by the Syrian government or an ISIS group.

The US once again urged Russia to exert its influence on Assad to make him destroy his chemical weapon arsenal and begin cooperating with the OPCW and the UN.

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Ukrainian Parliament passes the bill on reintegration of Donbas
Published: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:00:00 GMT
Description:

The Verkhovna Rada has passed a bill outlining steps to reinstate the sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily uncontrolled territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Bill No. 7163 was passed in the second reading and was supported by 280 deputies.

The Ukrainian Parliament started considering the proposed amendments to this bill on Tuesday.

The Bill was initially presented by the MP from the Bloc of Petro Porosheno, Ivan Vinnyk, and several amendments to this bill were subsequently suggested. Some of the previously rejected amendments were approved by the deputies this time.

The bill defines the separatists LPR and DPR republics as “territories occupied by Russia”.

The purpose of the operation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donbas is defined as “measures to ensure national security and defense by deterring and repelling Russian aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions “.

Under the new bill, the term “Anti-Terrorist operation (ATO)” will not be used to refer to the military operation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donbas.

The Joint Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be in command of the military operation in the Donbas.

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Russia calls Ukrainian bill on reintegration of Donbas ‘preparation for war’
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 04:37:00 GMT
Description:

The bill on the reintegration of Donbas, adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the second reading, legally allows Kyiv to solve the problems in the region by force, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that the joint operational headquarters, the creation of which is envisaged by the bill, will be able to use the armed forces “against civilians throughout the country” and “without the formal introduction of martial law.”

“Poroshenko is receiving unlimited – close to dictatorial – powers to suppress dissent and discontent. This cannot be called anything other than preparation for a new war,” the Ministry concluded.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Kyiv of attempting to relieve itself of responsibility for “the destruction and suffering that are brought upon the people by the actions of the Ukrainian authorities.” “The authorities of Ukraine are also trying to shift the blame for what is happening to Moscow,” the ministry said in a commentary.

“There is no question of any ‘reintegration.’ On the contrary, everything is done in order to divide Ukraine even further and alienate citizens residing in the Donbas. Kyiv is burying the agreements reached in Minsk and the entire existing mechanism for finding mutually acceptable solutions to overcome the intra-Ukrainian crisis, including the Normandy Format,” said Moscow. It also stressed that the adoption of the bill on the Donbas coincided with the decision of the United States to supply Kyiv with lethal weapons.

On Thursday, January 18, the Ukrainian parliament approved the bill in the second reading. A total of 280 deputies voted in favor of it. The bill calls the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and the LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic) “occupied territories,” and Russia is called the “aggressor state” which is responsible for the damage caused to Ukraine and Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian government is permitted to use all necessary means to resist “Russian aggression.”

The country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, welcomed the adoption of the bill.

In the separatist DPR, the adopted bill was seen as a violation of the Minsk agreements. The head of the self-proclaimed republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said that now the “Ukrainian military” can introduce martial law.

Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko said she was worried and concerned about the adoption of the bill. According to her, it has “buried the Minsk agreements” and does not contribute to the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

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Net сapital outflow from Russia increased to $31.3 billion in 2017
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 01:00:05 GMT
Description:

The net outflow of capital from Russia in 2017 grew to more than 1.5 times what it was in 2016, according to information from the Central Bank of Russia.

“The net capital export by the private sector, according to the estimates of the Bank of Russia, was $31.3 billion ($19.8 billion in 2016),” reported the regulator. The message from the Central Bank notes that the main source of net capital export was the banking sector’s operations to reduce external liabilities. “Capital outflows associated with operations of other sectors were generally mutually compensating,” added the Central Bank.

In December of last year, the Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin said that the outflow of capital from Russia in 2018, with higher oil prices, could exceed the $7 billion that was previously predicted by the Ministry of Economic Development.

For 11 months of 2017, the net capital outflow from Russia amounted to $28 billion. For the same period in 2016 it amounted to $8.2 billion. “Because of higher oil prices, a greater inflow of currency is coming, and the more is accumulated by the Ministry of Finance – the lower than the price of oil, the lower the outflow,” noted Oreshkin. He added that the macro forecast for 2018 will be clarified in February 2018.

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NATO Commander: Alliance may lose 'dominance' in certain fields because of Russia
Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:04 GMT
Description:

NATO may lose "dominance" in some fields in five years, if it cannot modernize its armed forces and adapt to the threat from Russia, said General Curtis Scaparotti, the chief commander of the forces of the North Atlantic alliance in Europe, during the meeting of the NATO Military Committee.

Scaparotti stated, "I think that as an alliance we dominate. There are challenging fields. I reckon that cyberspace is one of them. They [Russians – ed.] are very competent in this."

Addressing the NATO Military Committee, he pointed out that "the revival of Russia as a strategic competitor, the growing anxiety and instability in Africa and the Middle East, as well as terrorism are restructuring our strategic environment."

Relationships between Moscow and Western countries have become strained after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and the outbreak of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and the West accuse Russia of armed support for the separatists. According to the UN, over 10,300 people have died during the conflict.

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