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Updated: 1 month 3 weeks ago

Putin wants 7 amendments to Constitution for strong, nuclear Russia

Wed, 15/01/2020 - 13:55
On January 15, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his 16th Address to the Federal Assembly. During this annual speech, the head of state traditionally sets out his assessment of the state of affairs in the country and his vision of main objectives for the future. This year, Putin's speech was broadcast live almost everywhere - on the facades of buildings, in public transport, at clinics, hospitals, airports, libraries, on Mount Elbrus and even on board the International Space Station. Putin paid first priority attention to such issues as increasing the birth rate in Russia, increasing the income level of citizens, supporting young families, overcoming poverty and economic stagnation.Economists, experts and many public figures believe there will be no "revolutionary" or "breakthrough" suggestions, because they are simply no such suggestions per se. Putin started his speech with saying that there is a demand for a change in the Russian society. The pace of change should increase every year, he said, with the active participation of Russian citizens in them. At the same time, he noted, it is extremely important how many people there are in the country. Thus, the problem of demography was the first one that Vladimir Putin spoke about in this speech.The fate of Russia and its historical prospects depend on demography in the first place, the president said, added that the country needs to escape from the demographic trap and ensure the country's population growth.Putin noted that it is the generation of the 1990s that builds families today. Russia experienced a significant demographic crisis during the 1990s, which has created a complicated demographic period today.The total birth rate coefficient in 2019 was 1.5. For comparison, the coefficient was 1.4 during war years.As Putin said, the point of all measures that he proposes is to create an extensive family support system.The president emphasized that the measures in the field of demographic development that the Russian authorities had taken before have already brought positive results, and there is a large new generation growing in Russia. "They are the boys and girls who go to kindergartens and study at schools now," the president said. "It is very important that they take true family values close to their hearts: that family means love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family means strong connection of several generations, where respect for elderly people and care for children always unite, that family gives a feeling of confidence, security and reliability," Putin said.If all this becomes a natural moral norm for the younger generation, then the authorities would be able to solve the historical objective to guarantee the development of Russia as a large and successful country.About 70-80% of low-income families in Russia are families with children. "Very often, even when both parents work, the income of such a family is very modest," Putin said.If incomes are low, families should receive additional payments for their first and second children, the president said and suggested implementing monthly payments for each child from three to seven years old already from January 2020. Families whose income does not exceed one subsistence rate per person will be eligible to such payments. "When the child turns three years old, the family stops receiving payments and may find itself in a difficult situation. This is what happens most of the time, and we should not make this happen. In this regard, I propose to provide monthly payments for children aged from 3 to 7 years inclusive, starting from January 1, 2020," Putin said."At this age, children "get acquainted" with viruses, they often get sick and do not go to school. So, it is often difficult for mothers to combine work and child care," he added. Initially, such payments will amount to a half of the cost of living - 5,500 rubles, and in 2021 they will be increased twice to the average amount of 11,000 rubles per month.The program of the maternity capital in Russia will be extended before 2026, while the capital will be increased. "Presently, this program embraces the period before December 31, 2021. I know that many people wonder what the state intends to do after December 31, 2021. We will extend this program, at least before December 31, 2026," Putin said. With the birth of a second child, the maternal capital will be increased by another 150,000 rubles, and then it will be indexed every year.The total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will make up more than 616,000 rubles. From January 2020, families in Russia will receive maternity capital already with the birth of their first child.For young families, the preferential mortgage rate will apply to the entire loan. Vladimir Putin called on all banks - not only the state ones - to actively participate in the program of preferential mortgage at 2% for families with children.Putin proposed that all school children studying in grades from 1 to 4 should have free hot meals at their schools.
Categories: Russia & CIS

If NATO strikes Kaliningrad, Russia will seize Baltic in 48 hours

Fri, 20/09/2019 - 15:19
Russia will not wait for the United States to launch an attack on the Kaliningrad enclave. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have preventive measures not to let this happen, military expert Mikhail Alexandrov believes.US Air Force Operations Commander in Europe, General Jeffrey Harrigian, said that the United States had a plan to break through air defense of Russia's Kaliningrad enclave in Europe. According to The National Interest, a B-52 bomber of the US Air Force practiced an attack on the Kaliningrad region in March of this year. Does Russia have similar plans?Mikhail Alexandrov, a leading expert at the Center for Military-Political Studies at MGIMO, Doctor of Political Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that "Russia is not going to sit and wait for them to break though Russia's air defenses." "The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia do not think with such notions. One can break through air defenses only as a result of a massive attack operation. This can be done by concentrating aviation into massive fire support. "As soon as we can see the concentration of American aircraft on airfields in Europe - they cannot reach us in any other way - we will simply destroy those airfields by launching our medium-range ballistic missiles at those targets. Afterwards, our troops will go on offensive in the Baltic direction and take control of the entire Baltic territory within 48 hours. NATO won't even have time to come to its senses - they will see a very powerful military buildup on the borders with Poland. Then they will have to think whether they should continue the war. As a result, all this will end with NATO losing the Baltic States," Mikhail Alexandrov told Pravda.Ru describing one of the scenarios for a possible development of events in case of Russia's response to NATO aggression. Another variant for the breakthrough of the missile defense system in Kaliningrad provides for a massive cruise missile attack on the Russian territory. According to the expert, Russia has cruise and ballistic missiles that it can launch on the territory of the United States."If the Americans launch a missile attack on Kaliningrad, then we will strike, say, Seattle, where largest US aircraft factories are located. Having destroyed those factories we will deprive the Americans of the possibility to build their aircraft. They will no longer be able to build up their fleet of military aircraft," said Mikhail Alexandrov.Russia has efficient air defense systems to intercept cruise missiles. If it goes about a ballistic missile strike, the expert reminded that Russia has a missile defense area in Moscow that can intercept at least 100 missiles and maybe even more, since there are no restrictions associated with the ABM Treaty.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia waves off threat of default and financial blackmail

Tue, 10/09/2019 - 18:50
Russia has weaned off the threat of default by fully securing possible lump payments on its public debt. In doing so, Russia has also waved off the threat of political blackmail through sanctions. For the first time since 2014, Russia's net government debt has fallen below zero into the negative zone. This became possible owing to record reserves that have covered the debt of the state, RBC said. Net debt shows company's ability to pay the entire debt at the time of analysis. To do this, specialists compare the size of long-term and short-term borrowings with available highly liquid assets.In a nutshell, if Russia found itself in need to pay off its debts immediately, it would be possible to do it at the expense of government deposits at the Central Bank and commercial banks.Oleg Alexandrov, director of CEFK GROUP, told Pravda.Ru, that such an  achievement may show positive influence on Russia's international ratings. "The state can now direct more investments into economy, including for infrastructure development," Oleg Alexandrov noted. According to the expert, the changing structure of prices on hydrocarbons, Russia may switch to developing non-oil exports and the non-oil sector of economy. Russia can now enter the borrowing market for much more favorable conditions. Gazprom, for example, has placed its bonds at 1.1% per annum. Naftogaz of Ukraine - at 12% per annum. The Ukrainian company must thus pay a higher interest to compensate investors' risk. Russia's Ministry of Finance announced that it would enter the borrowing market if it could borrow at lower interest rates than existing ones - 3.4% per annum.The accumulation of public debt in developed countries and issuing countries, especially in the United States, is not seen as a dangerous phenomenon, because those countries profit from selling their currency as a commodity. In order to repay and service previous debts, new ones are issued at lower rates. In other words, new loans keep their economies afloat. For those countries that maintain complicated relationships with the United States, the accumulation of public debt is deemed dangerous. They may lose a possibility to refinance it being unable to access short-term borrowings, for example, as a result of appropriate sanctions. Russia experienced this situation in 1998 due to the crisis of the global financial system. Russia experienced default, the collapse of the national currency rate and the impoverishment of the population.As usual, there is another side to the issue of debt stability. Against the backdrop of growing state reserves, the Russian economy is showing low growth rates. In the first half of 2019, Russia's GDP grew by only 0.7% in annual terms. The Russian government is running a tight budget policy, both in terms of control over government spending and the tax burden. The budget builds up savings by withdrawing assets from the private sector.In developed countries the debt burden grows disproportionately to economic success. There is stagnation both in the USA and in Europe. The only solution to debt problems of developed countries is devaluation of reserve currencies. Such a move will lead to inflation and a decline in the welfare of the population of issuing countries. The dollar may lose its reserve currency status in the world, which will be very difficult to restore.
Categories: Russia & CIS

New Russian MC-21 passenger aircraft debuts in the sky at MAKS-2019 air show

Tue, 27/08/2019 - 15:56
Russia's state-of-the-art narrow-body passenger aircraft MC-21 took part in the flight program of the MAKS-2019 air show in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow. The flight lasted for about five minutes, with presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan watching. Putin and Erdogan took part in the opening ceremony of the air show. It was the first time, when the new airliner demonstrated its beauty in the sky to the eyes of the general public. MAKS-2019 will demonstrate three MC-21 aircraft, one of them with interior design. The first test flight of the aircraft was held in 2017; the serial production of the MC-21 is to begin in 2021.Aeroflot will become the main operator of the new aircraft. The airline has already signed a contract for the supply of 50 of these aircraft with another contract for 35 more aircraft under development.Russia has been working on the MC-21 for more than ten years. Only one version of this mid-range narrow-body airliner is being developed - the MC-21-300 with a capacity of 211 seats in the two-class layout. The Irkut Corporation created the aircraft in cooperation with many foreign companies. In 2018, the company faced difficulties with the deliveries of composite materials because of sanctions. Large elongated composite wings reduce fuel consumption, thereby increasing the economic efficiency of the aircraft.The USA imposed sanctions on JSC Aerocomposite (part of the United Aircraft Corporation, UAC) and some other companies related to the same industry profile in the fall of 2018. Foreign suppliers (Hexcel (USA) and Toray Industries (Japan)) thus stopped selling composite raw materials to two Russian companies. As a result, Irkut Corporation had to localize the production of components and systems of the aircraft. The level of localization is expected to reach 97% by 2020, and the aircraft will not depend on foreign supplies. The total cost of the project until 2025 is estimated at 437 billion rubles. On July 22, 2019, the head of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, asked President Vladimir Putin for another 300 billion rubles for the financial recovery of all UAC companies to implement the MC-21 project and other programs of the Russian aviation industry. The Sukhoi SuperJet 100, Airbus A350 900 and Embraer E195 are also to be demonstrated as part of the flight program of the MAKS-2019 air show. As for military aviation, one will be able to see  the fifth-generation fighter Su-57, the latest MiG-35 of 4 ++ generation, modern combat aircraft Su-35S, Su-34, the Be-200 amphibious aircraft. For the first time, naval aviation pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces will present the program "Air combat with elements of super-maneuverability." The pilots will fly two Su-30SM fighters for the program.MAKS-2019 will also showcase the model of the Russian-Chinese wide-body long-range CR929 aircraft. Visitors will be able to see the cockpit, as well as elements of the first, business and economy class cabins.Foreign aircraft manufacturers will demonstrate in Russia the short-haul airliner Embraer E-195E2 in the Tech Lion livery, the Pilatus PC-24 business jet, and the light-engine Piper M500 aircraft. The Airbus A350-900, which was previously demonstrated at MAKS air shows, will be presented this year with new Airbus Connected Experience solutions. The solutions are designed to raise the level of passenger comfort and improve their interaction with the crew.The fifth-generation Russian fighter aircraft Sukhoi Su-57 will be presented for the first time both in the static and in the flight program. The Ilyushin Il-112VE light military transport aircraft will be another new model of military aircraft. The convertible Il-78M-90A air tanker, more than 160 modern models of military equipment and latest high-precision aviation weapons will be shown at MAKS-2019 as well.The range of products manufactured by Russian Helicopters will be widely represented too. Visitors will be able to take a look at the world's heaviest Mi-26T2V helicopter, the Mi-38T transport assault helicopter, Mi-171A2 and Mi-17V-5 medium-sized helicopters, Mi-24P and Mi-35M transport-combat helicopters, combat reconnaissance and Ka-52 Alligator assault chopper, light helicopters Ansat and Ka-226T. Ka-52K and the export version of the "Night Hunter" - Mi-28NE will be on display on the ground.Russia's Almaz-Antey aerospace defense company will showcase full-scale models of vehicles of the Tor anti-aircraft missile system and a new system for countering unmanned aerial vehicles. The company will also show the S-400 Triumph and Antei-2500 long-range systems, the Viking and Vityaz medium-range systems, and other products.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin's statement about USA's recent missile tests - Full transcript

Fri, 23/08/2019 - 12:53
Russian President Vladimir Putin made an important statement after the meeting with members of Russia's Security Council. The meeting was dedicated to USA's recent missile tests. Full transcript of Putin's statement below:"On August 18, the United States conducted the test launch of a ground-based cruise missile, which, according to the US Defense Department, struck a target at a distance of over 500 kilometers."Such weapons are classified as prohibited under the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles from 1987. In addition, the use of the MK-41 universal launcher during the test fully confirms the validity of the claims that the Russian side had expressed to the United States during the period when the treaty was valid. "We have repeatedly pointed out that the deployment of such launchers on land by the Americans, on the air defense base in Romania, and their imminent deployment in Poland comes as a direct and substantial, flagrant violation of the INF Treaty."The Americans have stubbornly rejected this, claiming that ground-based MK-41 launchers were allegedly unable to launch Tomahawk sea-based cruise missiles. Now the fact of their violation is evident, it is impossible to dispute it - they spoke about it themselves."And of course, a question arises: how do we now understand what is going to be deployed in Romania and in Poland? Is it going to be missile defense systems or missile attack systems of sufficiently long range?"It is noteworthy that the tests of the missile with characteristics prohibited under the Treaty took place only 16 days after Washington completed the denunciation of the said Treaty. It is obvious that it was not improvisation - it became another link in a chain of events that had been planned and long time in advance. "This can only confirm the validity of our concerns that we have previously expressed. We had the information that the United States had long been engaged in the creation of weapons prohibited by the INF Treaty, and we had repeatedly pointed this out to our partners."But in order to rectify this unacceptable situation and return to the observation of the Treaty, the Americans orchestrated a propaganda campaign about Russia's alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the said Treaty. As it is now obvious to everyone, its only purpose was to cover up both the work that Washington was carrying out in violation of the Treaty and the initial intention to pull out from it."All this leaves no doubt about the true plans of the United States. Having disposed of the established restrictions, they wanted to have a free hand to deploy previously prohibited missiles in various regions of the world. American politicians of a very high rank say that the deployment of new systems can be started from the Asia-Pacific region, but this also affects our fundamental interests, because all this is close to Russian borders."As you know, we never wanted, do not want and will not get involved in the costly arms race that will be destructive for our economy. Let me remind you that Russia takes a rather modest, seventh place in the world in terms of defense spending after the United States of America, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France and Japan."Our development of state-of-the-art and second-to-none arms systems was caused and, one may say,  provoked by USA's unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty on the Limitation of Missile Defense Systems in 2003. We were simply forced and were obliged, of course, to ensure the security of our people and our country. We do it now and will certainly do it in the future."At the same time, bearing in mind the newly emerging circumstances, I instruct the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and other relevant departments to analyze the level of threat posed by the aforementioned actions of the United States to our country and take comprehensive measures to prepare a symmetrical response."Russia will remain open to an equal and constructive dialogue with the United States of America to restore confidence and strengthen international security."
Categories: Russia & CIS

Foreign countries owe $30 billion of debt to Russia

Mon, 19/08/2019 - 18:50
As many as 17 foreign countries owe Russia a total of $27 billion with Belarus, Ukraine and Venezuela being the largest debtors. According to the Ministry of Finance of Russia, the total debt on Russian state loans nears as much as $39.4 billion as of May 1, 2019. Nearly 15.8 billion of this debt accounts for the countries of the former USSR, and more than five billion is held as restructured debts of foreign countries to the former USSR (Vietnam, India, Iraq, Yemen, Cuba).The information on loans becomes public if Russia signs intergovernmental agreements that are subsequently ratified by the State Duma. Most of such loans are political, rather than commercial. They are provided as part of military cooperation that largely remains classified. Moscow gave such loans to Armenia, Venezuela, India and Indonesia.As of June 1, 2019, Belarus owes Russia $7.55 billion. Since 2012, the country's debt has doubled. In the summer of 2019, Moscow refused to refinance the current part of the Belarusian debt. It was the first incidence in the relations between the two countries. Russia's decision forced Belarus to ask for a loan from China and place Russian ruble bonds on the Russian market. The relations between Russia and Belarus have cooled since then. Ukraine follows Belarus with about $3.7 billion of debt to Russia. Kiev still owes 3.075 billion in Eurobonds, which the National Wealth Fund (NWF) acquired in December 2013. In December 2015, the new authorities of Ukraine defaulted those securities. Russia sued Ukraine in connection with that decision, but the case is still pending. Ukraine does not recognize this debt to Russia. Ukrainian officials claim that it was not an interstate loan, but commercial securities. They also say that Russia forced Ukraine to issue those bonds. Russia's Finance Ministry believes, however, that the deal was concluded as a bilateral intergovernmental loan. Ukraine takes into account only the debt of $0.61 billion, which was formed in the early 1990s for the supplies of Russian gas.In 1997, Russia and Ukraine agreed, within the framework of the division of the Black Sea Fleet, that the debt would be repaid in cashless form by offsetting $97.8 million every year for renting the base of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. The last offset was made in March 2014, and the debt was frozen at $606 million.Venezuela holds the largest debt to Russia outside post-Soviet space. Venezuela's debt to Russia amounts to $3.15 billion and is to be repaid in 2027. This debt has been growing since the 2011 loan, the purpose of which was to finance the supplies of Russian arms to Venezuela. In late September, Venezuela is to wire a regular interest payment on the loan in the amount of $200 million. Most likely, Russia will have to deal with problems to receive dollar assets from Caracas after the US imposed sanctions on Venezuela. Cuba owes about three billion dollars to Russia, but there is no precise information about the number. In 2014, Moscow wrote off 90 percent of the Cuban debt, having left $3.52 billion. Cuba repays the debt in equal payments every six months ($1.76 billion is left to pay). In 2015, Moscow gave two more credits to Cuba totalling $1.44 billion to finance local industry projects.Russia also gives export government loans to other countries for the construction of nuclear power plants. For example, a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh has been under construction since 2017. In 2016, Russia agreed to support the construction of this facility with a loan of $11.38 billion. According to the Ministry of Finance of Bangladesh, the amount of financial assistance from the Russian Federation made up almost $2 billion since 2014. Russian loans for the construction of nuclear power plants will be repaid during the period of 20 years starting from 2027.Another state loan in the amount of up to 10 billion euros (11.1 billion dollars) to finance the third stage of the construction of Paks NPP in Hungary was approved in 2014. However, according to the Hungarian Government Debt Office, only $28 million, or 0.25 percent of the total credit line, has been allocated so far.Rosatom (Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Power) is building or is planning to build nuclear power plants in Belarus, India, Turkey and Egypt. Last year, President Putin announced plans to give a loan of $25 billion to Egypt for the construction of a nuclear power plant. The fate of the project remains unknown yet. India owes Russia about $1.1 billion. This debt is denominated in Indian rupees and refers to loans from the former Soviet Union. India repays the debt by exporting goods to Russia.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Protests in Russia not going to fade

Mon, 12/08/2019 - 16:54
Recent protests in Moscow exposed the problem of deep contradictions between the authorities and citizens. The rally on Sakharov Avenue on August 10 became the largest in Moscow in the past seven years. According to unconfirmed reports, as many as 50-60 thousand people took part in the rally. Moscow has seen four actions of protest during the last few weeks. The rallies were held in support of the candidates withdrawn from elections to the Moscow City Duma. Three of those rallies (on July 14 and 27 and on August 3) were unauthorized, while the third one, which was coordinated with the authorities, (on July 20) gathered about 22,500 people.Most recently, candidates served administrative arrests for organising uncoordinated events. Famous journalists, bloggers and musicians also took part in the acts. According to journalist Leonid Parfenov, "the latest campaign has revealed so many lies and so much ensued violence that the Moscow City Duma elections were no longer the reason."The organizers of the action also said that the mayor's office tried to correct the list of speakers by banning music performances before the event. There were calls made to "take a walk" to the presidential administration after the rally. Boris Zolotarevsky, an employee of the Anti-Corruption Fund, as well as several other people who reached the Kitai-Gorod metro station, were arrested. It was later said that there were 256 people detained on August 10. With regard to third-party damage, Moscow's transport and road services evaluated the damage at 100 million rubles. It is worthy of note that participants of the riots on Bolotnaya Square in 2012 were also accused of causing damage to city infrastructure objects. For the time being, Moscow protests do not show influence on the domestic political situation in general. Fitch experts, reasoning the upgrade of Russia's rating from BBB- to BBB, noted that increased public activity and willingness to protests remained localized. The protests did not lead to the formation of the national political opposition movement, nor did they strengthen the existing opposition movement in Russia. Political scientist Mikhail Vinogradov named three components of protests: the resuscitation of Bolotnaya as a broad movement, the explicit radicalization of the actions of the authorities, and the escalation of the feeling of disappointment among the younger generation. Political strategist Sergei Polyakov believes that the protest sentiments in Russia are not going to fade, because Russian people can no longer recklessly trust the president. They want to participate in the decision-making process. For most people, the decision to deny registrations for candidates came as denial of people's right to be heard. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

Recession and revolution in Russia: Discussions start now

Mon, 05/08/2019 - 15:12
Due to a series of uncoordinated protests in Moscow, analysts and experts started making forecasts about the imminent collapse of the present-day system in Russia.Valery Solovey, a former professor at MGIMO (the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations) is one of such futurologists. In general, this scholar is known for quite bizarre forecasts that sound very convincing, even though they never come true to life. This time, Mr. Solovyey predicted an "open, protracted crisis" that would end with a regime fall in 2020-2021. At the same time, as Russia is going to extricate from this political crisis, the nation will see a "new political order."In 2016, Valery Solovey spoke about early presidential election that would take place in Russia in 2017. He even named possible successors - Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Tula region governor Dyumin, and even Sergei Ivanov, the former head of the presidential administration.As we can see, the early election did not take place. Putin's most recent campaign was one of the most predictable ones. As for Mr. Solovey's forecast of the imminent collapse of the system in Russia and the protracted crisis of 2020-2021, we would like to refer to an opinion voiced on "Stukach" Telegram channel. Its authors write: "An open political crisis" is, for example, a decision of the Constitutional Court that would contradict the position of the president. If Prime Minister Medvedev refused to comply with the Putin's decrees, this would be an open political crisis as well. Today, there are no open political crisis in Russia."If the Russian Army had refused to take part in operations to extinguish Siberian wildfires, it could have technically triggered a crisis. However, Russia's sitting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu previously served as the head of EMERCOM, so the Russian army followed the orders instantly. The current political regime is not going to end in 2020-2021, because there are no prerequisites for it. The current system of power is solid. Nevertheless, some analysts speak about the brewing crisis between power and society amid growing social tensions. For example, experts at the Institute for Economic Growth named after Stolypin speak about the weak effect of national projects and the curtailment of small and medium-sized businesses in Russia. According to them, the Russian economy is sliding into a recession.Thus, negative processes in the economy are already directly associated with the implementation of national projects, which casts doubt on the competence of the government. At the same time, the expert community believes that it is impossible to improve the situation against the background of the present monetary and tax policies. The question is what the government is likely to revise first - national projects, the strategy of the Central Bank or taxation. In other words, tensions in Russia do not grow within the scope of big politics. They grow within the scope of "household" politics, so to speak. The main challenge that the Russian authorities face today is not about the desynchronization of actions. Russian people find most of those actions incomprehensible and unacceptable - this is the main challenge for the Russian authorities today.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia may face another Chernobyl, this time ecological

Wed, 24/07/2019 - 17:36
The territory of a chemical factory in the Irkutsk region of Russia needs to be ameliorated. The factory may otherwise turn into an "ecological Chernobyl." Usoliekhimprom chemical factory is an abandoned plant, on the territory of which  a huge amount of mercury-containing residues and containers (many of them pressurized) with chemically hazardous substances are still being stored.In addition, oil wastes has been pumped into the wells from which saline used to be extracted. The wells thus pose a serious threat to the Angara River nearby. A rupture in a well will lead to the contamination of vast territories along the riverbed.According to Svetlana Radionova, the chairwoman of the Federal Service for Environmental Supervision, the territory of Usoliekhimprom chemical factory is a territory of an ecological catastrophe. According to her, the agency has already appealed to the Russian government with a request to create a program for the restoration of the hazardous facility.    Usoliekhimprom plant is located in the city of Usolye-Sibirsky, the Irkutsk region (Siberia). When in operation, the plant produced chlorine and other chemicals. In 2017, the company was declared bankrupt. The factory now stands abandoned and dilapidated. In November 2018, the administration of Usolye-Sibirsky introduced an emergency situation in the town over the risk of a man-made disaster. The problem arose after it became known that metal containers with residues of pesticides posed a threat to the population. Moreover, some of those containers can often be illegally removed from the industrial site of the former chemical plant and taken to the town.Mikhail Toropkin, the mayor of Usolye-Sibirsky, said that the abandoned chemical factory was being looted. "Dozens of trucks loaded with metals and other materials leave the territory of the factory on a daily basis. There are eleven pressurized railway tanks with contents of unknown origin there," the official said. Deputies of the Legislative Assembly of the Irkutsk region announced their intention to introduce  changes to the regional budget, but only in the event the state program for the restoration of Usolyechimprom chemical enterprise is approved. Photo:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia: New Super-Weapon Exceeding the Best in the West

Thu, 04/07/2019 - 17:15
Russia Adding a New Super-Weapon to its Arsenal Exceeding the Best in the West by Stephen Lendman Russian super-weapons technologically outmatch the Pentagon's best, developed at a small fraction of the cost, using its resources efficiently.
Categories: Russia & CIS

17th Q&A conference with Putin: If you want peace, prepare for war

Thu, 20/06/2019 - 16:56
The Russians have experienced the 17th Q&A session with President Vladimir Putin. As it was predicted, Russia stopped for the time of the conference with Putin to see what he has to say to his people. However, the agenda of the last few months in Russia  is not something that may shine with positive news. Perhaps, the most negative topic is the pension reform (the raise of the retirement age). Putin spoke about the issue separately, but it seemed that it was not enough to make people understand and accept the need for such changes.According to opinion polls, the level of people's apparent concern over the topic of the pension reform in Russia was declining. A year ago, more than 40 percent of citizens admitted a possibility for mass riots in the country against the backdrop of the demise of the living standard. In  February of this year - the percentage of concerned people changed to 30 percent, and in May of 2019 - to about 25 percent.At the same time, the ratings of the Russian authorities have been declining too, including the ratings of Putin himself. Today, Putin's approval rating remains on the minimum level of the spring of 2014 (66 percent of confidence rating and 48 percent of electoral rating). A decline in the rating of confidence to the president indicates the presence of serious questions that the people of Russia want to ask to their president. Interestingly, the number of questions that have been registered prior to Putin's live conference (1.180,000) was considerably lower than during the previous years. Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov ascribed this nuance to hot summer weather, when most people do not want to stay in their homes and prefer to go somewhere. However, it appears that the lack of interest in the Q&A live conference is based on certain political and economic reasons.In addition to the acute issue of the pension reform, many point out the continuing impoverishment of the Russian population. The level of real income has been falling in the country, thus forcing many to raise more and more loans against the backdrop of growing prices on essential goods and fuel. According to spring surveys, an increasing number of Russians redistribute their income in favor of essential items and food products. About 65 percent of the population have no savings for a rainy day.Conflicts on ethnic and criminal grounds appear to be the icing on the cake. One may understand the topic of national strife as it rarely subsides, but it has exposed the level of people's distrust in law-enforcement authorities, which automatically extends to distrust in the authorities in general. This applies to the recent conflict with a gypsy community in the village of Chemodanovka and to the story of GRU special forces soldier Nikita Belyankin, who was killed in a fight with migrants in the Moscow region. When answering a question about salaries and how can one live on 10,000 rubles ($154) a month, Putin did not even believe what he heard and asked to look into the question as a salary of 10,000 rubles does not correspond to the minimum wage.A teacher from the city of Orel told Putin during the conference that her salary was 10,000 rubles. Later, an EMERCOM employee said in his address to the president that his salary was 16,000 rubles ($245). The man added that he has to take two or three jobs to survive.Putin proceeded to say that each of those reports should be looked into. He then said, however, that the average salary in Russia in 2019 increased to 44,000-45,000 thousand rubles ($700) from 33,000 ($500) in 2017. He noted that salaries differ in Russia depending on industry and region. Putin explained why people think that their income is declining: they count their money wrong. Putin noted that it is important to understand the fact that the financial burden on the Russian people increases, and their income therefore decreases.Putin then referred to the report form Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, who recently explained to the Russians why their incomes were growing, but not falling. As Putin said, a growth in real income declined because of the increase in costs on loan repayment. In other words, he said, people receive the same money, but they can keep less of it, because they have to repay their loans. Putin admitted that life in Russia has become harder, because several years ago Russia had to deal with major shocks that undermined the state of affairs in the domestic market and affected the social sphere."Several years ago we had to face several shocks at the same time - they were not even external shocks associated with so-called sanctions or external restrictions. Those shocks were about the market of our traditional export goods - oil, petroleum products, gas, hydrocarbons, metals, chemical fertilizers, chemicals in general, some other products. This caused not very pleasant consequences in the economy," Putin said. As for sanctions, someone asked Putin when Russia was going to "reconciles with all" and whether the West could lift the sanctions. "We haven't quarreled with anyone ... There's no question of reconciliation," Putin stressed noting that although there were external signals about the need to lift the sanctions, but one still did not have to wait for them to be lifted. Russia lost $50 billion, the EU - $240 billion, the USA - $17 billion, and Japan - $27 billion because of the anti-Russian sanctions, Putin said adding that those numbers did not count job losses. Russia has even acquired something as a result of the sanctions. "We learned to use our brains in high-tech areas and began developing the areas where we did not work before. For example, even in the USSR there was no naval engine-building. This is a separate industry, and we have learned to build our own engines in a few years," Putin said.Answering a question of whether Russia's recent buildup of military power implies preparations for a war, Putin referred to two proverbs and avoided a direct answer."If you want peace, prepare for war. If you don't want to feed your army, you will feed someone else's," Putin said.According to him, Russia is far from the first place in the military business. China, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France and Japan go ahead Russia at this point. Russia is ranked 7th on the list of world's biggest army spenders. He added that Russia, unlike any other country in the world, gradually reduces military spending. And at the same time, the Russian army has second-to-none weapons. It just so happens that Russia comes two steps ahead of other countries in the development of state-of-the-art military technology.Putin also drew attention to the fact that it is powerful economy, rather than nuclear weapons, that matters in the first place. Russia needs weapons for protection for the time when the country works to ensure economic growth.Russia is ready for dialogue with the United States as much as the USA is ready for this dialogue, Vladimir Putin said answering a question of whether US President Donald Trump could show influence on the relations between Russia and the USA. According to Putin, the powers of the American president are limited. Trump is running for a second term, so things are not going to be easy, Putin said adding that he would like to discuss with him such issues as the START-3 treaty and economic questions. American companies operate in Russia despite the sanctions. Russia has repeatedly offered the United States to start cooperating on the development of rules in the field of cyber security. Putin added that he considers the introduction of sanctions against Russia a huge mistake that the USA had made. He also set out a hope that this mistake will be corrected some day. Speaking about the election of comedian Vladimir Zelensky for the position of the President of Ukraine, Putin said that he considers his Ukrainian counterpart a "talented person.""He is a talented person, I remember his KVN performances (a humor show) in Moscow, it was funny. But what we have seen so far is not funny. This is not a comedy, this is a tragedy," Putin said. As long as Zelensky has found himself in this position, he needs to address problems. According to Putin, the conflict in the Donbas cannot be solved without dialogue with breakaway republics. However, "nothing is being done, the blockade is only being strengthened," said Putin. Also read: Putin: For Russians, patriotism and national identity are most important
Categories: Russia & CIS

The case of Ivan Golunov: Who made a mistake?

Mon, 10/06/2019 - 19:20
Dmitry Peskov, Putin's official spokesman, told reporters on June 10 that the Kremlin was watching the development of the investigation of the case of journalist Ivan Golunov. Peskov added, though, that he was not ready to comment on the case. He only said that the case of Ivan Golunov is supposed to attract "close attention of the Office of the Prosecutor General and other services." He declined to answer questions about possible resignations and the objectivity of the investigation.Putin was informed about the case of Ivan Golunov on Friday, Peskov said. He also said that the Kremlin fully trusts the Office of the Prosecutor General in terms of reaction to possible incidents of abuse of human rights. Speaking on the problem of distrust to law enforcement and judicial systems, Peskov acknowledged that the Golunov case "gave rise to a large number of questions," but one did not have to talk about distrust to the system in general. He also declined to comment on the question of possible resignations and possible violations made on the part of law-enforcers. "A mistake is possible because it's people who work everywhere. Mistakes may take place anywhere. Journalists can also make mistakes when they write their materials. They can make many mistakes, but the main thing is to acknowledge those mistakes and explain, how they were made not to let them happen again," said Peskov.Ivan Golunov, a special correspondent of Meduza website, was detained in the afternoon of June 6 in Moscow. His detention was legally registered only on the night of June 7 - i.e. 13 hours  later. Golunov was not allowed to call either his relatives or a lawyer. The journalist's relatives were notified of his detention only after 13 hours, while the lawyer was allowed to talk to Golunov only in 16 hours.Golunov suffered injuries during his detention. In response to his requirements for a lawyer, a law-enforcement officer punched the journalist in the head twice. When the journalist was lying on the pavement, a policeman put his foot on the young man's chest.Golunov was charged with an attempt to sell large batches of drugs. Illegal substances were found in his backpack and in his apartment. Law-enforcement authorities later exposed nine photographs allegedly made in Golunov's apartment, although it later turned out that eight of those pictures were made in completely different premises.The journalist claims that the drugs were planted on him; his colleagues support his words on the matter. Golunov is known for his high-profile investigations of corruption among metropolitan and federal officials. Other journalists believe that Golunov was arrested in response to his another investigation, which was devoted to the funeral business in Moscow. The journalist had received a number of threats in this connection during the recent months.On the afternoon of June 8, a Moscow court was supposed to gather for a meeting to choose a measure of restraint for the arrested journalist. However, Golunov did not feel well as he had hardly slept and eaten before. ER doctors insisted on hospitalizing Golunov, but law-enforcers prevented this to happen, nor did they let medical specialists examine the journalist. Ivan Golunov was eventually taken to a hospital for examination. Several hours later, the head physician of the hospital said that there was no reason to hospitalise the journalist, because his condition was satisfactory. Nearly all Russian media outlets, except for clearly pro-Kremlin ones, supported Golunov. His case received an extensive coverage in Russia and attracted attention to many public figures and activists. On June 8, a Moscow court decided to put Golunov under house arrest, while prosecutors insisted on two months of arrest. Golunov is not allowed to leave his home, he is not allowed to talk to anyone related to his case. He is not allowed to use means of communication either. Golunov's lawyers intend to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia closes Northern Sea Route for foreign warships

Thu, 30/05/2019 - 17:21
Russia has been actively strengthening its defense capability in the Arctic region lately. The gradual melting of Arctic ice makes the passage of foreign warships near Russia's northern borders possible. In light of this, a set of rules was introduced for the passage of ships along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).All foreign countries must comply with the rules, and there can be no exception made. For example, for a destroyer or an aircraft carrier to enter the zone of the Northern Sea Route, the captain of a foreign ship is supposed to warn the Russian Navy 45 days in advance.Foreign submarines are required to pass the NSR only in the surface position. In addition to the information about the time, the commander of the submarine is obliged to give information about the type of the sub, its displacement, type of power plant and equipment. The commander is also required to report his rank and full name. A Russian marine pilot will need to stay on board a foreign vessel. If there is a probability that the ship is poorly maintained or may pollute waterways of the Northern Sea Route, Russia has a reason to deny the passage of the foreign vessel. In the water area of the Northern Sea Route, NATO ships and submarines pose the greatest threat. Therefore, if someone decides to break the rules, foreign vessels will be arrested. At least ten military bases have been deployed to defend the northern part of the country. Some of them are designed for air defense systems, while others are designed for surface vessels and submarines.It goes without saying that the new rulebook applies only to warships. Civilian ships can still pass the Northern Sea Route as before. Russia can only profit from assisting foreign merchant ships in passing hazardous areas.A sea journey from Western Europe to Japan or China is 40% shorter through the Arctic than through the Suez Canal. The countries of East Asia are interested in delivering goods via the Arctic. There are frequent cases of pirate attacks while passing through the Suez Canal.Therefore, the prospects for the development of the Arctic region are enormous. Yet, in order to keep influence and control on this geostrategic area, Russia needs energy and brains in the first place.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Ukraine forces Russia to lose goodwill spirit in releasing Ukrainian sailors

Tue, 28/05/2019 - 14:25
The release of Ukrainian sailors could be a gesture of goodwill, but Ukraine does not contribute to this possibility, Anatoly Salutsky, writer, publicist and expert of the UN Alliance of Civilisations believes. The Kremlin responded to the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg on Ukraine's claim about the incident in the Kerch Strait. "Russia's position cannot change. The investigation in connection with the violation of the law on the border should be completed, and a trial should take place," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's official spokesman said on May 27.The Hamburg court ruled Russia should release three Ukrainian ships and 24 Ukrainian servicemen and let them to return to Ukraine. However, the court did not consider it necessary to demand the Russian Federation should cease the criminal prosecution and refrain from initiating new cases against them, as was requested in Ukraine's lawsuit. The court also ordered both parties to refrain from any actions that could aggravate the dispute.Ukrainian media outlets spread a fake news story, in which the Hamburg court also found Russia guilty of violating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Even if it was a question of the territorial waters of Russia, warships and their crews cannot be arrested by security forces of foreign states and subjected to the jurisdiction of foreign ships. However, this is an opinion of Ukrainian deputy foreign minister, Elena Zerkal, but not of the Hamburg International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Roman Kolodkin, the Russian judge of the tribunal, voted against the resolution of the court. Kolodkin said that Russia and Ukraine, when signing and ratifying the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, made special statements in which they excluded the consideration of the Kerch incident within the framework of the procedures stipulated by the convention.Roman Kolodkin also noted that Ukraine conducted a provocative act trying to cross the border of the other party to the dispute in violation of well-known procedures. Ruslan Khomchak, the new head of the Ukrainian General Staff, confirmed that it was dangerous to send ships to the Kerch Strait at that time. According to Khomchak, one needs to ask questions to commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Igor Voronchenko.Russia may not execute the court decision, because during the ratification of the Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1997, it was stipulated that Moscow had no obligation to adopt dispute settlement procedures provided for by the convention that lead to binding decisions on the implementation of sovereign rights and jurisdiction. The case in question carries an aspect of the status of the Kerch Strait.Aleksander Vylegzhanin, a professor at the Department of International Law at the Moscow State Institute for Foreign Relations, told Pravda.Ru that residents of the Crimea voted for the reunification with Russia after the coup in Kiev in 2014. Accordingly, the Kerch Strait remains under the jurisdiction of Russia, whereas this water area used to be considered the internal waters of Russia and Ukraine. "The Hamburg Tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider the status of the Kerch Strait, because one needs to consider a number of other issues, namely, whether the United States intervened in the coup in Ukraine in 2014, and whether Crimea's territorial sovereignty changed," Alexander Vylegzhanin told Pravda.Ru. According to the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, it could have been possible to avoid the crisis in the Kerch Strait if the Ukrainians had observed the requirements of the Russian legislation concerning navigation in the given region. "We urge the Ukrainian side to act accordingly henceforth," a representative of the department said. Anatoly Salutsky, a writer and expert at the UN Alliance of Civilizations, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Russia and Ukraine had made all necessary legal reservations when the countries signed the convention. Ukraine turned to Europe with a request to impose sanctions on Russia, but they are not likely to follow. "The utterly wrong thing to do here is to threaten Russia. If Ukraine had not done so, Russia could have freed the sailors as a gesture of goodwill. Yet, Ukraine wants to impose sanctions, Ukraine threatens Russia, which makes a possibility for a goodwill gesture unlikely. We need to choose a moment and release the Ukrainian sailors, but it should only be a gesture of goodwill, rather than submission to the ruling of the International Tribunal of the United Nations," the expert told Pravda.Ru. Also read: Arrested Ukrainian navy man admits Kerch incident was provocation
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia's growing gold reserves may crush US dollar in a few years

Wed, 22/05/2019 - 18:24
The fact that Russia is buying gold is "bad" for the West, because Western currencies may lose their value in a few years, while the Russian ruble will be backed by gold, economist Valery Maslennikov believes.  In April of 2019, Russia's international reserves exceeded the country's foreign debt. As of April 1, Russia's gold and currency reserves made up $487.8 billion, a report from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation said. At the same time, Russia's gold assets make up less than 20 percent of the country's currency reserves.  Moscow has been accumulating gold and foreign exchange reserves while decreasing the share of  investment in US securities. The Russian authorities work to reduce the dependence of the Russian economy on the US dollar.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia's Black Sea Fleet to embrace vast waters to Red Sea and Persian Gulf

Mon, 13/05/2019 - 20:03
On May 13, 2019, The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation turns 236 years old. The first squadron of military sailing vessels under St. Andrew's flags entered the Akhtiar Bay on May 13, 1783 - three weeks after the publication of the manifesto signed by Catherine II about the annexation of the Crimea to the Russian Empire. Over the years, the Black Sea Fleet had been divided and destroyed several times. Today, Russia's Black Sea Fleet serves as the country's main instrument of influence in the area of Black and Mediterranean seas.Over the past four years, the Black Sea Fleet has seen a major upgrade. It has received three artillery ships, six diesel submarines, two small missile ships, more than a dozen anti-sabotage and patrol boats, as well as several support vessels, including modular diving platforms and a floating crane. Before 2020, the Black Sea Fleet will get three guard ships, four missile ships and several patrol boats. A collection of new amphibious ships is being built for the fleet too. After the base in Syria's Tartus has been reconstructed and strengthened, the influence of the Black Sea Fleet embraced the Mediterranean basin. Russian navy men have learned to use Russia's state-of-the-art Caliber missiles that showed their effectiveness in Syria. Formally, Caliber cruise missiles do not belong to strategic armaments, but their appearance in the structure of the Black Sea Fleet considerably changed the regional balance of forces in Russia's favour. Almost all of Russia's new surface ships and submarines of the Black Sea Fleet are now armed with Caliber missiles. Naval aviation is reviving too. The air regiment of multifunctional Su-30SM fighters and Su-24MR bombers, formed in 2016 at Novofedorivka air base in the Crimea, has established control over the entire Black Sea area. Coastal forces have been reinforced with new Bal and Bastion systems. Several years ago, the state of affairs was a lot worse. Twenty years ago, the fleet found itself on foreign shores. The powerful Soviet strategic operational group tumbled down like a house of cards during the 1990s. It consisted of about 100,000 personnel, more than 800 warships and submarines. Naval bases and aviation airfields in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova had been sued for support. The 5th operational squadron was operating in the Mediterranean Sea, while a part of the Black Sea Fleet were patrolling the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. All that Soviet legacy was shared with Ukraine, but Russia got only a few dozen efficient ships.Due to chronic financial problems, the Black Sea Fleet was degrading and falling apart quickly. By mid-1990s, it had become inferior to its main potential rival in the region - the Turkish Navy. There were almost no submarines capable of going to sea. Warships were rusting at the docks, while their crews were losing their combat skills.The situation started improving in the beginning of the 2000s, when ships of the Black Sea Fleet would be periodically used in international anti-terrorism exercises and operations, including in the Mediterranean area. During that time, it was BLACKSEAFOR international naval operational group that was controlling the Black Sea. The group consisted of naval ships of coastal states: Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine, and Turkey.The Americans did not like such a development, because the Black Sea was formally closed to their ships, and they could not clearly substantiate the need for the presence of US warships in the Black Sea. In 2008, after the Russian operation to force Georgia to peace, the interaction in the Black Sea had reached an impasse. The coup in Ukraine subsequently put and end to the practice. In 2014, the Crimea and Sevastopol returned to Russia. Already in 2015, the fleet started receiving new ships against the growing number of NATO military exercises in the region. Today, warships of the Black Sea Fleet can conduct high-precision missile attacks from places of their deployment to distances of up to 1,700 kilometres.Russia currently considers an opportunity to expand the influence of the fleet to the waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf, as well as to the western part of the Arabian Sea, for which the Pacific Fleet is now responsible.To accomplish this goal, Russia will need to solve plenty of problems, such as to restore the stationary system of surface and underwater surveillance on the Black Sea coast, deploy over-the-horizon detection systems, create a reliable anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-aircraft defense of the areas where carriers of cruise missiles are based.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin addresses social issues, threatens USA with Russia's new missiles in his 15th Federal Assembly speech

Wed, 20/02/2019 - 12:57
On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, President Vladimir Putin delivered his address to the Federal Assembly, in which he presented his assessment of the state of affairs in the country and announced his vision of most important objectives for the near future. It has become Putin's 15th address to the Federal Assembly as President. Unlike last year's speech, in which Putin presented Russia's new outstanding developments and achievements in the field of defence, his present address was expected to be people-oriented. Putin's ratings have been declining as citizens are tired of waiting for the authorities to deal with a plethora of social and economic problems in Russia. Indeed, in the beginning of his speech, Putin declared that it was necessary to focus attention on internal issues of the country's development. According to him, all Russians will see improvements already in the coming months. About 95% of Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly was devoted to social issues, but he also spoke about Russia's military power, her state-of-the-art weapons, and did not miss a chance to intimidate the United States. "For people, it's important what is being done and how it can improve their lives, the lives of their families - now, rather than sometime. We don't need to repeat our mistakes of past decades and wait for the advent of communism. We must change the situation for the better, and the work of executive authorities at all levels must be coherent, meaningful and vigorous. It is up to the Russian government to set such a tone," Putin said. About 19 million Russians are living below the poverty line now, and this is too much, Putin said. "Solving demographic problems, increasing life expectancy, reducing mortality are directly related to overcoming poverty. Let me remind you that in 2000, over 40 million people were living below the poverty line. Now it is about 19 million, but this is too much still," Putin said during his annual Address to the Federal Assembly.The President said that he knows that citizens of Russia have to save on most essential things, such as clothes, medicines and even food. "In the near future, already this year, we should see real changes in people's assessments of the situation. Early next year, we'll summarize first results of the work on national projects," Putin said.The president proceeded to specific tasks that the Russian authorities are facing. According to him, the key objective is to protect people and support families. "Russia has entered a very difficult demographic period. The birth rate has been declining. The reasons behind this are purely objective. They are associated with enormous human losses and failures that our country suffered in the 20th century, during the Great Patriotic War and during dramatic years after the collapse of the USSR. We were able to reverse negative demographic trends in the early 2000s, when the country was in a very difficult situation, when it seemed that it was impossible to do anything, but we did it. We can do it again - to make the natural population growth resume by 2023-2024," Putin said in his message to the Federal Assembly.Speaking further about the need for social changes in Russia, Putin noted the following: - social allowances for children and for disabled individuals will be raised;- property tax exemptions for families with children will be raised;- mortgage rates will be below 8%, whereas special benefits will be provided for families with children;- large families will receive 450 thousand rubles to pay off their mortgage. Thus, taking into account the maternity capital, they will receive more than 900 thousand rubles to pay off the mortgage, which is a significant part of the apartment value in most regions of the Russian Federation.The President also drew attention to the need to immediately index pensions and annual cash payments beyond the subsistence rate.In conclusion, Vladimir Putin threatened the US leadership by saying that Russia's new missiles will be able to reach Washington and New York. However, Putin noted that Russia was not interested in confronting the United States. Russia is not a threat to the US  - instead, Russia wants to have equal friendly relations with Washington. He urged the White House to abandon illusions about gaining global military superiority.Putin said that Russia's new weapons, about which he spoke in his Address to the Federal Assembly in 2018, were capable of ensuring "unconditional security" for Russia. Russia is ready to take mirror and asymmetric measures should the US deploy medium- and short- range missiles in Europe."Russia does not intend to be the first to deploy such missiles in Europe. If they are made and delivered to the European continent - and the United States has such plans, in any case we have not heard rebuttals to that -  this will sharply aggravate the situation in the sphere of international security and create serious threats to Russia, because it takes some of those missiles 10-12 minutes to reach Moscow. This is a very serious threat for us. If it happens, we will be forced, I want to emphasize this, we will be forced to take mirror and asymmetrical measures in response," Putin said. Also read: Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly transforms to address to the whole nation
Categories: Russia & CIS

Three ways of Russia's response to USA's INF Treaty pullout

Mon, 04/02/2019 - 14:20
Russia and the United States have announced their pull out from the Treaty on Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). It is believed that the treaty is going to end its existence in six months. US President Donald Trump said that the USA would prepare a response to Russia's alleged violation of the INF Treaty not to give Moscow military advantage over Washington. Trump's statements about the INF Treaty did not take Russia by surprise. Representatives of the Russian administration said that the announcement from Washington was an attempt to present cheap ultimatum to Russia, but Moscow was prepared for such a development. According to Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, the Americans were determined to cast the INF Treaty aside. "For the USA, this game is over. Their pullout from  the treaty will enable the United States to deploy 48 missiles in Europe, and those missiles will be capable of reaching the territory of Russia.Washington accuses Russia of violating the INF Treaty because of the missile known as 9M729. Washington claims that the range of this missile falls within the limits of the 500-5500 kilometres, which is prohibited by the treaty. On January 23, the Russian Defense Ministry arranged a special presentation of the missile to NATO military officials, but the latter showed a reluctant reaction to it. According toVladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of the Council of  Federation, Washington's withdrawal from the Treaty on Short and Medium-Range Missiles will give free rein to Russia, and Moscow will be able to show adequate reaction to the States. According to Dzhabarov, the United States has already withdrawn from the INF Treaty, and Russia needs to take adequate measures, as the Americans have been developing and introducing prohibited weapons for long already. The ball is in Russia's court. Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for the Cabinet of Ministers o Germany, said that Germany would discuss with its NATO partners whether any measures were needed to ensure security of the allies and their ability to defend themselves. "We need to try to conduct a direct dialogue with Russia, as we do on many other issues, for example, on the situation in Ukraine, the Paris climate agreement, the crisis in Syria. Therefore, we need to find ways to work on non-proliferation issues. The best way is the multilateral framework, and the EU needs to try to play a big role here," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said. "The withdrawal from the treaty is not the best solution. We would prefer the resumption of the dialogue," he added. According to Russian military expert Konstantin Sivkov, "Russia needs to create ultra-long-range missiles based on the X-101/X-102 missile and deploy about 400-500 of them. These missiles will be inexpensive, they are relatively small in size. The Americans do not have the air defence system, which would be capable of neutralising those missiles."According to him, Washington expects Russia to build medium-range missiles. However, Russia, as Mr. Sivkov believes, should eye the development of ultra-long-range missiles to create an adequate threat to the United States. According to the expert, the range of these missiles will reach about 10-12 thousand kilometres. Another option is the creation of mobile medium-range ballistic missiles based on the Soviet "Pioneer" missile. The upgraded version of the Pioneer-UTTH was capable of carrying three independently-targetable nuclear re-entry vehicles at a range from 600 to 5,000 km, with the probable circular error reaching 450 meters. That was a very good result for those years. Modern technologies can considerably improve the performance of the missile. Thirdly, Russia could develop an anti-ship medium-range ballistic missile similar to the Chinese DF-21D, designed to destroy enemy carrier strike groups at distances of up to 1500-2000 kilometres. Such a weapon can help Russia level out the enormous advantage of the US surface fleet in a possible scenario of defense of the Russian coastline. Also read: Without INF Treaty, USA can destroy Russian nuclear weapons easily
Categories: Russia & CIS

US Treasury takes control of Siberia

Tue, 29/01/2019 - 17:18
The US Treasury and Russian entrepreneur Oleg Deripaska concluded a deal to lift sanctions from his companies in violation of the Russian legislation. This is a dangerous precedent.On Monday, the US Treasury Department announced the lifting of sanctions against Oleg Deripaska's key energy companies - En+, RusAl and Eurosibenergo. At the same time, all sanctions against Oleg Deripaska remain in effect. Deripaska's companies came under sanctions in April 2018. As US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the time, Russian oligarchs and elites who benefit from the corrupt system will no longer be seen separately from consequences of destabilising activities of their government, such as interference in US elections. Deripaska was offered to reduce his share in the assets and thus lose the ability to control them. Deripaska reduced his share at En+ (its subsidiaries are RusAl and Eurosibenergo) from 70% to 44.95%, transferred a part of En+ shares to a charitable foundation and abjured the shares pledged to VTB.The parties also agreed on unprecedented transparency of activities, taking upon extensive, permanent requirements for auditing, certification and reporting.US Democrats tried to block the decision of the US Treasury to lift the sanctions from Oleg Deripaska's companies, but the Senate did not support the lower house. According to the BBC, various business groups put pressure on the administration to lift the sanctions from the three companies, because RusAl (Russian Aluminium) is one of the world's largest suppliers of aluminum. The imposition of sanctions on RusAl made world prices on aluminium go higher. The Board of Directors of En+ was renewed as agreed with British Lord Gregory Baker remaining its chairman. Noteworthy, it was Baker, who initiated the plan to lift sanctions from En+. New candidates were agreed with the US Treasury Department: Christopher Bancroft Burnham, Carl Hughes, Joan MacNaughton, Nicholas Jordan, Igor Lozhevsky, Alexander Chmel and Andrei Sharonov, the Vedomosti wrote. It just so happens that all members of the board of directors of the Russian company, with the exception of three, are US citizens. In general, these conditions look like a transfer of control over Oleg Deripaska's assets to the US Treasury, the Kommersant wrote. Vladimir Rozhankovsky, an expert at the International Financial Center, told Pravda.Ru, the above-mentioned agreement was concluded in circumvention of the law of the Russian Federation about the appointment of members of the board of directors in a public joint-stock company, such as En+. New members of the board of directors of a Russian joint-stock company can only by appointed at an extraordinary meeting of shareholders. "According to the law of the Russian Federation, one should prepare a dossier of candidates and provide exhaustive information about who they are and what they have to do with the aluminum industry. Afterwards, shareholders vote for or against those people," said Rozhankovsky."One should not let this case fade away, as this is a dangerous precedent. The Communist Party in the State Duma demanded an independent parliamentary investigation should be initiated into the changes, but their requirement was rejected. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and the parliament should initiate investigation," the expert said."In the US, Democrats filed a lawsuit against the move to reverse the permission to unblock En+ accounts. As long as the process continues both in Russia and in the United States, one cannot announce the winner yet," Vladimir Rozhankovsky concluded.On Wednesday, a group of MPs representing the Communist Party faction suggested appealing to the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Federal Security Bureau and the Russian government to look into the legality of the agreement between the US Treasury and Oleg Deripaska regarding the plan to lift sanctions from En+ and RusAl. "Since January 18, virtually the entire aluminum industry of the Russian Federation is moving under the control of the US Treasury. We believe that the Security Committee of the State Duma should appeal to the Office of the Prosecutor General, the FSB and the government to look into the legality of the agreement and its compliance with Russian national security interests, because in such a situation the Americans take control of Siberia," Nikolai Kolomeytsev, first deputy chairman of the State Duma's Labor Committee said. Also read: Westerners teach Russian oligarchs a few good lessons they need to learn
Categories: Russia & CIS

The Russians will soon wake up to lose two Kuril Islands to Japan

Thu, 10/01/2019 - 12:12
It seems that the issue of the delivery of two Kuril islands to Japan has been coordinated with the Kremlin. According to Japanese officials, the United States is ready to assist in the matter. Yet, the Russian side has not released any clear comments on the subject. Shinzo Abe steps up on the Kuril Islands dispute On January 1, 2019, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that peace treaty negotiations with Russia should be intensified. The delivery of two Kuril Islands to Japan can only be possible with full consent from local residents, who will have the right to stay on the islands, Abe said in an interview with Asahi TV channel.The Prime Minister of Japan also said that he had visited the grave of his deceased father, where he promised to work on the matter every day. Shinzo Abe's father - Shintaro Abe - had served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan from 1982 to 1986 dealing with relations between Japan and the USSR. This pledge that Abe gave on his father's grave was not just empty words, but an oath.Japanese media outlet Yomiuri reported that negotiations with Russia were nearing their final stage. Supposedly, the Japanese authorities will be ready to pay compensation to the people who left the islands if Moscow agrees to waive its claims for compensation.On Tuesday, Katsuyuki Kawai, Shinzo Abe's Special Assistant for Foreign Policy, said that Japan was counting on US support for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Russia, Kyodo news agency reported. Kawai noted that this would counterbalance the growing influence of China.Until recently, Japan was claiming four islands of the South Kuriles - Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup and Habomai. The Japanese side refers to the bilateral treaty on trade and borders from 1855. Russia has been keeping the islands under control after World War II, when there was no peace treaty signed with Japan. In 1956, the USSR and Japan signed a joint declaration, in which Moscow agreed to consider the possibility of delivering Habomai and Shikotan islands to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty. The treaty had never been signed - the United States threatened Japan in the midst of the Cold War that a peace treaty with Russia would affect the process of returning Okinawa to Japan's sovereignty. It is worthy of note that Okinawa returned to the jurisdiction of Japan in 1972. Moscow's stance on Kuril Islands dispute Moscow firmly believes that the islands became part of the USSR following WWII, and Russia's sovereignty over them is beyond doubt, although the mutual economic use of the islands is possible. In November, Putin and Abe agreed to speed up negotiations on the peace treaty based on the 1956 Soviet-Japanese declaration. However, the sides differ as per the transfer of sovereignty.In December 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it was possible to transfer a part of the Kuril Islands to Japan if Tokyo recognized the results of WWII. Some believe that as soon as the Japanese receive two Kuril islands, they will ask for two other islands of the chain. In addition, Japan may consider building a US army base on the islands. According to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Vladimir Putin is committed to signing the peace treaty. Yet, Putin says that the military presence of the United States in Japan complicates the search for a formal peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo.
Categories: Russia & CIS