Russia calls U.S.to unfreeze Afghan funds

Brussels 27.05.2022 Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev called for assistance in the earliest possible unfreezing of Afghan assets “illegally” blocked by the United States.

“[It is] necessary to facilitate the earliest possible unfreezing of Afghan assets illegally blocked by US in order to develop social and economic projects in Afghanistan,” the Russian Security Council Secretary said on Friday, May 27, in the city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, during the fourth round of multilateral consultations on the Afghan issue.

The statesman also spoke in favor of establishing closer coordination in order to develop a unified line on the Afghaninstan direction, intensifying efforts to increase the volume of international humanitarian aid to the society and to organize its delivery to the country.

“On the Afghan track it is important to promote the consolidation of corresponding international efforts, first of all under the aegis of the UN. We believe that the [United Nations] should be the main coordinator in solving the whole range of problems of post-conflict reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Patrushev said.

Kremlin way accept Jerusalem for talks

Strasbourg 13.03.2022 Anna van Densky A meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Vladimir Zelensky is not ruled out, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on the air of the Rossiya 1 TV channel.
The official added that in order to organise a relevant event, it was necessary to understand clearly the agenda of discussion and its possible outcome.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin touched upon the topic of a possible meeting between him and Vladimir Zelensky in a telephone conversation. Cavusoglu claims that the Russian president had no objection to such a meeting.

On March 10, 2022, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine Sergey Lavrov and Dmitry Kuleba completed negotiations in Antalya, which were held with the participation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The meeting lasted over an hour and a half.

Russia has been open to holding negotiations with Ukraine in Jerusalem, a senior diplomatic source said on March 12 to Jerusalem Post newspaper, soon after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone.

Zelensky said earlier the same day that “at present it’s not constructive to hold meetings in Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus. These are not the places where we can agree to stop the war… Do I consider Israel, Jerusalem in particular, to be such a place? I think the answer is yes.”

Russia has not rejected the idea of negotiations in Jerusalem, the diplomatic source said, but Israel is not sure it should host the talks.

Russia-Japan: blaming U.S. for failures

Brussels 08.02.2022 Washington seeks to keep Japan’s unfounded territorial claims against Russia afloat in order to prevent the two countries from full-scale cooperation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a TV interview. Japan claims the four southernmost islands, including two of the three largest ones – Iturup and Kunashir, – as an integral part of its territory along with Shikotan and the Habomai islets, which has led to the ongoing Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia.

While commenting on U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Rahm Emanuel’s statement that Washington supported Tokyo in the issue of the Northern Territories (southern Kuril Island) and recognised Japan’s sovereignty over them, the diplomat pointed out that “over the past decades, the United States has transformed Japan from an independent state into a dependent one.”

The spokesperson reminded that Moscow had repeatedly called for abandoning the “attempts to artificially pump up hysteria” and tensions around the territorial issue, while the Japanese leadership kept neglecting “the need to build normal and full-fledged economic, financial and cultural ties” with Russia. “Every time, we highlighted the artificial nature of this issue and the related tensions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman underlined.

“It is being fueled by a certain part of Japan’s political establishment. And who’s behind it? The U.S. ambassador has stepped forward and made it clear,” she added. Zakharova explained that Washington benefited from keeping the issue afloat because “this artificial problem prevents Japan from engaging in full-scale, mutually beneficial and long-term cooperation with Russia.”

The Russian diplomat recommended that the US envoy to Japan “should spend more time telling the Japanese public about the United States’ crimes.” “Particularly, about how the United States used nuclear weapons to attack the country’s civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unfortunately, the Japanese public knows little about the U.S. role in those tragic events,” Maria Zakharova concluded.

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.

U.S. response to Russia on security guarantees

Brussels 26.01.2022 The United States Ambassador John Sullivan on Wednesday, January 26, handed over Washington’s written responses to a sweeping set of security demands that Kremlin has made of the West, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

The head of the US diplomatic mission delivered a written response from the US administration to the draft bilateral agreement on security guarantees that was earlier proposed by the Russian side,” the Foreign affaires Ministry said in a statement.

The meeting was requested by the US ambassador, who spent slightly more than a half hour inside the Ministry building.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the State Duma earlier on Wednesday that Russia won’t publish the US response on security guarantees, if asked, but will disclose the general meaning of the replies.

Kazakhstan: CSTO sends peacekeepers

Brussels 06.01.2022 The Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) approved the decision to send peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who chairs the Council in 2022, said on Thursday, January 6.

“In view of the address of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and considering the threat to national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan, caused in particular by interference from the outside, the CSTO Collective Security Council in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty made the decision to send CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited period with the aim of stabilisation and normalisation of the situation in this country,” Pashinyan wrote in Facebook.

On January 2, crowds took to the streets in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangystau Region, in southwestern Kazakhstan, protesting against high fuel – liquid gas – prices.

Two days later, the protests engulfed Almaty, in the country’s southeast, where the police used flashbangs to disperse the crowd, as well as other cities, including Atyrau, Aktobe (in the west), Uralsk (in the northwest), Taraz, Shymkent, Kyzylorda (in the south), Karaganda (in the northeast) and even Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.

The president imposed a two-week state of emergency in the Mangystau Region and in the Almaty Region, as well as the republic’s largest city of Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan.

On January 5, the head of the state also accepted the government’s resignation, but vowed to keep his grip on power.

Reportedly 353 members of Kazakhstan’s law enforcement were injured in the clashes with protesters in Almaty, 12 were killed, the Khabar-24 TV channel said quoting the Almaty commandant’s office.

According to the TV channel, one of the victims was beheaded. “This proves the terrorist and extremist nature of criminal formations,” the commandant’s office was quoted by national media.

Russia-Turkey: Chechen war memory clash

Brussels 22.12.2021 Kremlin has conveyed its disapproval to Ankara via diplomatic channels over an attributing a name of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the leader of Chechen separatists, to one of the city parks, the spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday, December 22. (Image: Caucasus, illustration)

“We have already notified our Turkish colleagues via diplomatic channels that we, to put it mildly, do not approve of such names in Turkish cities,” he said.

The Kremlin official also said that the reaction of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to this event was quite understandable. “This is a very emotional yet understandable reaction of the head of a Russian region who suvived several wars, several wars that were provoked, started by terrorists who attempted to take control over that Russian region,” he said. Putin’s press secretary reiterated that “one of the terrorists who did it was at some point their leader Dudayev.”

“Recently, unfortunately, in one of Turkey’s regions one of the parks was named after this terrorist. Of course, this is a very painful decision for all Chechens, for the Republic of Chechnya within the Russian Federation,” the spokesman asserted. Therefore, in his opinion “such an emotional reaction is quite understandable.”

On December 21, Kadyrov addressed the Russian Foreign Ministry asking to respond to the actions of Turkish authorities. The Chechen leader also urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to determine whether he supports “transparent and honest relations with the Russian Federation.” According to the Chechen leader, the current actions by the Turkish authorities are a direct threat to Turkish-Russian relations, they should be noticed and preventive diplomatic measures should be taken.

Earlier, media outlets reported that a park was opened in Korfez, a town in Turkey’s north-west, named after Dudayev, the president of the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria who led an armed resistance after federal troops were deployed to the region in 1994. He was neutralised in a special operation in 1996.

#PandoraPapers: Ukraine President Zelensky starring

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky may have pledged to reform the country’s corrupt system of politics, but the Pandora Papers reveals otherwise.

Driving the news: Ukraine is the country with the highest number of politicians named in the leak of offshore data, which implicates hundreds of people linked to offshore companies — including President Volodymyr Zelensky, presumably fighting corruption.

Though offshore companies are not themselves illegal, they often help facilitate tax evasion or money laundering, writes the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the network of reporters and media organisations that obtained the records, revealing double-faced politicians.

While being a popular professional comedian, Zelensky had campaigned on reforming Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated system, positioning himself as an outsider of the crooked universe of the politicians, including incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who hid offshore assets.

However the Pandora Papers revealed that Zelenski was involved with a network of offshore companies, which he co-owned with friends and business partners.
Zelensky is one of several politicians who campaigned on anti-corruption platforms — others include Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan — who will now be facing questions over undisclosed wealth tied to them or their close associates, Axios’ eidotor Dave Lawler said.

By the numbers: Ukraine leads with 38 politicians named in the Pandora Papers. The top five are …

– Ukraine: 38
– Russia: 19
– Honduras: 11
– United Arab Emirates: 11
– Nigeria: 10

#PandoraPapers: $32 trillion tax evasion

Strasbourg 05.09.2021 More than 600 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ @ICIJorg 2021 have conducted a vast investigation named #PandoraPapers which reveals how the offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies.
The Consortium @ICIJorg has uncovered tax evasion and corruption totaling up to $32 trillion involving:

– 35 current/ex-world leaders;
– 336 politicians/public officials;
– 130 billionaires, mostly from Russia, Brazil, UK, Israel.

The Washington Post, owned by the American billionaire Jeff Bezos, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) gained an unprecedented look into the money flowing into trusts in the United States by examining a trove of more than 11.9 million confidential documents maintained by trust and corporate services providers around the world.

The records, presented to public under the name of the Pandora Papers, expose how foreign political and corporate leaders or their family members moved money and other assets from long-established tax havens to U.S. trust companies.

The investigation identified 206 U.S.-based trusts linked to 41 countries holding combined assets worth more than $1 billion. Nearly 30 of the trusts held assets connected to people or companies accused of fraud, bribery or human rights abuses in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The cache of confidential files, obtained by @ICIJ and shared with more than 150 media partners, describe only some of the trusts in the United States but is the most significant set of records ever made public from inside America’s trust industry.

The trust documents come mostly from the Sioux Falls office of Trident Trust, a global provider of offshore services. In a written statement, Trident said it is committed to compliance with all applicable regulations and routinely cooperates with authorities. The company declined to answer questions about its clients.

On Monday, October 4, the European Parliament included Council and Commission #PandoraPapers statements to agenda of the Plenary in Strasbourg. On October 6 at Strasbourg plenary of the European Parliament – implications on the efforts to combat money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance will be presented at 15h00. The MEPs will vote on the resolution at the next part-session.

“Western Bishops” welcome Afghans

Brussels 19.08.2021 Vatican News ‘Western Bishops’ Conferences are speaking out on the situation in Afghanistan, urging their governments to welcome those fleeing the country, and praying for peace through dialogue.

In view of the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as the Taliban ascended power, Bishops in Western nations are calling on their governments to help people fleeing the country – especially those who risked their lives to assist the military mission that began 20 years ago. The address has been issued after the Taliban declared the general amnesty, underlining that they have “forgiven all those who fought” against them.

From the United States, Bishop Mario Dorsonville and Bishop David Malloy, chairs respectively of the USCCB’s Committees on Migration and on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement calling on the US government “to act with the utmost urgency, considering all avenues to preserve life.” They note that Catholic organizations and partners have been assisting the government in welcoming Afghan refugees and their families, and add that they “will continue to work as long as necessary until those who are in harm’s way are brought to safety.”

With Pope Francis, the statement says, the US Bishops are “praying for peace in Afghanistan – ‘that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue.’”

In Europe, the chairman of the German Bishops Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing said he was “outraged by the widespread suffering and helplessness of those whose future is being stolen from them.”

He said, “The takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan represents a disastrous defeat for the United States and the countries that until recently were committed to its side,” including Germany. He warned that the “life and limb of thousands and thousands of people are endangered and the flame of hope that has nourished them is extinguished” by the surrender of the country to the Taliban.

Bishop Bätzing insisted that western countries must evacuate Afghans who assisted their military forces and international aid organizations, saying “generous admission offers” should be granted, especially to those most at risk. He urged them to help countries in the region accept and care for refugees from Afghanistan, and said the European Union must be prepared to welcome refugees who arrive in Europe.

Bishops insisted on the power of prayer, and invited “everyone to join in prayer with the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan, and to call on God for His gracious help.”