Russia accuses EU for grain shortage

Brussels 20.05.2022 Russia can export 25 million tonnes of grain via the port of Novorossiysk starting from August 1 and until the end of this year, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said, speaking at UN Security Council meeting on conflicts and food security Thursday,May 19.

According to Nebenzya, Russia “continues to remain a responsible supplier of food and energy.”

“This year, we expect a record high wheat harvest. In this regard, we can offer 25 million tonnes of grain for export from the port of Novorossiysk starting on August 1 and until the end of this year,” the envoy said.

“We can also discuss other procurements, including considering that, between June and December, potential export of fertilizers will stand at least 22 million tonnes. But, if you have no intention to withdraw your sanctions, imposed on your own initiative, then why do you accuse us? Why do the poorest nations and regions have to suffer because of your irresponsible geopolitical games?” the diplomat pointed out, addressing the representatives of Western states.

In the current circumstances, attempts to “groundlessly shift responsibility” for deteriorating food situations in the world to Russia “are not just absurd, they are sacrilegious.”.

Nebenzya said that grain exports from Ukrainian ports have been blocked because of Ukraine’s military actions, and they are not the result of decisions of Russian Federation.

“You claim that we are allegedly blocking the possibility of exporting agricultural products from Ukraine by sea,” he said at a UN Security Council meeting on food security. “However, the truth is that it’s Ukraine, not Russia, that continues to block 75 foreign ships from 17 states in the ports of Nikolayev, Kherson, Chernomorsk, Mariupol, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhny, and it was Ukraine that mined the waterways.”

“Given that, how can we talk about grain export?” he said. “And no matter what you say here today, only you can change this situation, gentlemen.”.

Exported Ukrainian grain is not directed to countries in need, but is being loaded in EU storages – possibly as payment for arms shipments, Nebenzya accused.

“A logical question arises: where do these shipments [of Ukrainian grain] go? What do they have to do with ensuring food security in the world?” Nebenzya said. “We have justified suspicion that the grain does not go to aid the starving global South, but is being loaded in European states’ grain storages. As we understand, this is how Ukraine pays for weapons being shipped by the West.”.

Peskov denies gas boycott of Finland

Brussels 13.05.2022 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called some Finnish media reports about the termination of Russian gas deliveries to Finland “most likely just another fake.”

While conducting a press briefing in Moscow, Peskov recalled that the media mentioned Finland’s stance to join NATO as a reason for a possible rupture on supplies of energy resources and reminded that Russia delivers gas to many NATO countries, including Germany.

“Gazprom supplies gas to various consumers in Europe, including countries that are members of NATO. Gazprom has repeatedly demonstrated its reliability as a company that supplies energy resources to the European continent. Therefore, these reports are most likely just another fake,” the Peskov said.

However Peskov made a reservation, recalling the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that prescribed “unfriendly countries” to pay in rubles for Russian energy resources, and added that if Finnish companies do not abide by the new requirements, then “the decree will be implemented.”

“It is necessary to make it clear with Gazprom how it is with the payment regime. Because there is a decree of the president on a new gas payment regime. I do not know the nuances of how Finnish companies pay, when they need to make payments, and whether they carry them according to the new rules,” he said.

Putin: Russia proceeds with military operation

Brussels 12.04.2022 President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, April 12, Russia will proceed according to plan with military operations in Ukraine as the pro-Western country braces for a major offensive in the east.

“Our task is to fulfil and achieve all the goals set, minimising losses. And we will act rhythmically, calmly, according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” Putin said during a TV press conference.

Speaking to press following a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at “Vostochny” cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, Putin dismissed claims Russian army was struggling against the Ukrainian resistance and was forced to withdraw from around major cities, including the Kyiv.

“Our actions in certain regions of Ukraine were just related to containing (enemy) forces, destroying military infrastructure, creating conditions for a more active operation in Donbas,” Putin said referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

Putin also added the military operation was not going to speed up, in order to minimise casualties.

“I often hear the question: is it possible to do it a bit faster? It is. This depends on the intensity of hostilities, but the intensity of hostilities is, unfortunately related to losses,” he explained.

The Ukrainian military commanders claim that Russia’s death toll has risen to nearly 20,000, though this may well be an exaggeration. However the figures, announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence do not seem convincing either.

Russian prisoners of war killings

Brussels 11.04.2022 The evidence has emerged revealing Ukrainian soldiers killings of captured and bound Russian prisoners of war near Bucha, the small town near Kyiv where presumed massacre of Ukrainian civilians happened according to President Zelensky and the international community accusing Russia of war crimes.

Kiev is plotting, with the West’ support, provocations with massacre of civilians in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to place the blame for it on the Russian army, Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said on April 10.

“Official Kiev, with the support from several Western countries, continues to plan barbarous and ruthless actions with mass killings of civilians in the Lugansk People’s Republic to later accuse the Russian armed forces and LPR troops,” he said.

According to the Colonel, a provocation is planned in the Ragovka community in the Kiev region. The Ukrainian side, in his words, is plotting to shoot a fake video about searches of places of mass burials of civilians allegedly killed by Russian troops. “A team of Ukrainian forensic experts and police officers will be involved in the provocation to make it look more trustworthy,” he said.

“Reporters from foreign mass media outlets have arrived in the city of Kremennaya in the Severodonetsk district and have accommodated in the building of the local hospital. They are supposed to record the Ukrainian army’s provocation with the alleged selling of ambulance cars carrying patients by Russian troops,” he said.

Apart from that, he said that Ukrainian nationalists have mined reservoirs with chlorine at a water utility in the Popyasnaya district and plan to blow them up when forces of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) approach the city.

Russia-Ukraine: Medinsky continues drafting Treaty

Brussels 03.03.2022 Treaty with Ukraine is not ready yet to be discussed at the highest level, the Kremlin chief negotiator said. The Ukrainian authorities became more realistic in approaching the issues related to Ukraine’s neutral and non-nuclear status, Vladimir Medinsky continued. A draft of a Treaty between Russia and Ukraine is not yet ready “to be presented at the top-level meeting,” while Ukraine became more realistic in approaching the issue of its neutral and non-nuclear status, Medinsky who leads the Russian delegation.

“The Ukrainian side became more realistic in approaching the issues related to Ukraine’s neutral and non-nuclear status but the draft of the agreement is not ready to be presented at the top-level meeting,” Medinsky wrote on his Telegram channel on Sunday, April 3.

Commenting on the remarks by David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, who stated that Russia accepted Ukraine’s stance with the exception of Crimea, he noted that Russia’s point of view with regards to the status of Crimea and Donbass remained unchanged. Medinsky added that Moscow had been trying to achieve Ukraine’s neutral and unaffiliated status as well as security guarantees for it since 2014.

The talks between Russia and Ukraine delegations would continue on Monday April 4 while editing of the text of the agreement continued in a remote format on Friday and Saturday.

On March 29 in Istanbul, the first face-to-face talks in over three weeks between the delegations of Moscow and Kiev took place. The Russian side assessed the results of this round as “positive progress.” Following the talks, Medinsky said that Russia received Ukraine’s written proposals containing provisions on Ukraine’s non-nuclear and unaffiliated status.

However the powerful head of Republic of Chechnya, said that Kremlin would make no concessions in its war in Ukraine, deviating from the official line and suggesting the Russia top negotiator was wrong in articulating the delegation position.

Ramzan Kadyrov, who has Chechen forces fighting in Ukraine as part of Russia’s military operation, said in comments on Telegram that President Vladimir Putin would not simply stop what he had started there.

EU condemns Navalny imprisonment extension

Brussels 23.03.2022 “The European Union strongly condemns the ruling by Moscow’s Lefortovo District Court, to extend the imprisonment of the Russian opposition politician Mr Alexei Navalny by an additional 9 years. We also deeply regret that the court hearings were conducted in a de facto closed setting, inaccessible for observers in the penal colony outside Moscow, where Alexei Navalny is already serving another politically motivated sentence, which opens space for the fabrication of charges and lack of exercise of defence rights by the accused. This is the starkest indication that the Russian legal system continues to be instrumentalised against Mr Navalny” reads the Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell. on behalf of the EU on the ruling to extend Alexei Navalny’s politically motivated imprisonment by an additional nine years.

“The European Union deplores the systematic crackdown on civil society, independent media, individual journalists and human rights defenders in Russia. This internal repression is accelerating amid Russia’s ongoing military aggression against its sovereign neighbour Ukraine.

“The Russian Government continues to blatantly ignore all international obligations and commitments for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“We reiterate our call on the Russian authorities for his immediate and unconditional release. We call on the Russian authorities to comply with the interim measure granted by the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the nature and extent of risk to Mr Navalny’s life”.

Borrell regrets Ukraine NATO membership promise

Strasbourg 13.03.2022 Anna van Densky The West made a mistake by promising Ukraine NATO membership, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in an interview with LCI TV channel, France.

“There are moments in which we could have reacted better. For example, we proposed things that we could not guarantee, in particular Ukraine’s accession to NATO. This was never realised. I think it was a mistake to make promises that we could not fulfil,” the diplomat explained.

The head of European diplomacy also admitted that the West had made mistakes when building relations with Russia. “Thus, we lost the opportunity to bring Russia closer to the West in order to deter it,” Borrell continued.

Interviewed in Versailles just before the opening of the Summit of the 27, Josep Borrell said he believed that “Russia is bombarding indiscriminately”. According to him, “Mariupol is undoubtedly a war crime, but it’s not just that hospital. Russia is incapable of taking the cities, the Ukrainian resistance is very strong, so it is doing as it did in Syria or Chechnya, it bombs. The Russian army is an artillery army. So it bombs, it bombs, indiscriminately, sometimes a hospital, sometimes a pavement of a house.”

On February 24 President Vladimir Putin announced a special Russian military operation in response to a request for help from the heads of the Donbass self-proclaimed Republics. The head of state has pointed out that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, but aims to “de-militarise and de-nazify” the neighbour. Later he added that one of Moscow’s key demands was that Ukraine remain neutral, and rejected plans to join NATO. As Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin had earlier confirmed, it is critical for Russia because it is the “minimum territorial barrier” the country needs to preserve the existing security system.

UK: Seven Russian oligarchs under sanctions

The UK has added Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich (pictured) to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vlamidir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — throwing the sale of the London club into doubt and prohibiting the buying or selling of players until further notice.

In a statement Thursday, March 10, the UK government said it was adding seven further oligarchs and politicians — including Abramovich — to its list of sanctioned individuals.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government as part of efforts to “isolate” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich announced this month he plans to sell Chelsea, as it is “in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.” This came after he declared he gave “stewardship” of the club over to trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.

But the new sanctions will see his assets frozen and will prohibit “transactions with UK individuals and businesses,” the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement Thursday. The billionaire will also face a travel ban forbidding him to enter the UK.

According to the UK government Chelsea will be given a special license to continue to “fulfil its fixtures and carry out football business” — including the payment of players and club staff — but certain actions will not be permitted, such as buying and selling new players and selling tickets for games beyond those already sold to fans.

Existing season ticket holders will be allowed to attend matches as well as fans who purchased tickets prior to Thursday, March 10.

Fans can buy food and drink at these matches, according to the statement, and under the sanctions, third party retailers who bought or produced club merchandise prior to Thursday will be allowed to sell their existing stocks as long as no money is given to Chelsea. For now, the special license lasts until May 31.

“Abramovich won’t be allowed to put any money into the club or take any money out of it. As we know, he has funded Chelsea to the tune of billions of pounds and has a £1.5 billion ($1.98 billion) loan that Chelsea currently owes to Abramovich,” said Ben Peppi, sports commercial expert at JMW Solicitors, while discussing at CNN Sport programme that unless the UK government introduces a new license, Chelsea can’t be sold.

“after seeing a leaked 2019 UK government document that said Abramovich was of interest due to his “links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices,” the MP said in a Twitter post.

Abramovich is worth is an estimated £9.4 billion ($12.36 billion), according to the UK government.

The UK is “absolutely determined” to sanction Russian oligarchs, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said this month, adding that the UK was working through “a further list” of oligarchs to sanction.
“There is nowhere for any of Putin’s cronies to hide,” Truss continued.

Russia and Ukraine top diplomats meet

Strasbourg 09.03.2022 Kiev has confirmed that a meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will take place on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Turkey’s Antalya on Thursday, March 10, so Moscow expects that the meeting will indeed be held, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said to Russian journalists.(Image: Istanbul, Turkey).

“We believe that since Ukraine has confirmed it, the meeting will indeed take place, particularly because it was initiated by Turkey, the host of the event on the sidelines of which the meeting is expected to be held,” she pointed out.

Zakharova emphasized that Russia was making preparations for the talks but there was no need to rush things. She added that Lavrov’s flight to Antalya was scheduled for Wednesday March 9.

Lavrov and Kuleba are expected to meet on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Antalya on March 10, the meeting will also involve Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” based on a request from the heads of the Donbass self-proclaimed Republics. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territories and the goal of the operation was to “de-militarise and de-nazify” the Ukranian state.

Russia-Ukraine: Olaf Scholz ready to react

Brussels 07.02.2022 Anna van Densky Germany and NATO allies are ready to take “all necessary steps” if Russia “invades” Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview published by the Washington Post on Sunday, February 6, when asked if the German government could halt the process to open the Nord Stream2 pipeline.

“We are ready to take together with our allies all necessary steps,” Scholz clarified. “We have a very clear agreement with the United States government on gas transit and energy sovereignty in Europe.”

“We already also agreed that we will support Ukraine,” Scholz went on to say. “Also, it is absolutely clear that in a situation like this all options are on the table.”

“I will not get into any specifics, but our answer will be united and decisive,” the chancellor added.

“We are working very hard with our allies in NATO and in the European Union to make clear what we can do in the specific situation,” Scholz said. “But we are also clear about the necessary strategic ambiguity.”

“This is also critical for giving this strong message that it will be very costly — so they cannot go to a computer and count whether it will be too expensive or not,” he said. “It would be too high a price to intervene in Ukraine.”

“On the other hand, that we are working very hard to use all the channels of talks that we have now: talks between the United States and Russia, the NATO-Russia Council, the OSCE and obviously it’s also the Normandy format,” the chancellor said.

The interview came out ahead of a visit by Scholz to the US where he is set to meet with US President Joe Biden on February 7.

There has been a various statements in the West and Kiev lately that Russia could invade Ukraine soon. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were unsubstantiated escalation and that Russia doesn’t threaten anyone. At the same time, he didn’t rule out provocations to corroborate these Western statements and warned that the use of force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine will have serious consequences.