EU: VI Russia sanctions package blocked

Brussels 18.05.2022 The sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia has been blocked, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday, May 18, in an interview to Rai News 24 TV channel.

“We adopted five packages of sanctions very quickly and unanimously, but the sixth package is still held off for known reasons. I am optimistic about the prospects for finding a compromise,” Gentiloni said.

The Commissioner explained that the Hungarian government does not object to the principle of introducing an energy embargo, but pointed to the difficulties in terms of a certain geographical location and energy supply model.

The permanent representatives of the EU countries (Coreper) have been not able reach an agreement on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which includes a draft oil embargo – the European Commission has proposed a ban on imports of crude oil from Russia six months after the sixth package enters into force, and on oil products – from 2023. At the same time, the European Commission proposed to allow Hungary and Slovakia to purchase Russian oil until the end of 2024 in an exemption gesture.

According to sources, the European Commission already had to soften a number of its proposals on the timing, parameters, and possible exceptions to the oil embargo. Hungary opposes the oil embargo, with the support of a number of other countries who believe that the damage from the measure will be catastrophic for Europe.

Russia: G7 and border lines

Brussels 15.05.2022 Russia does not care if G7 states recognise the changes of the new borders, Russian Security Council Deputy Head Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday, May 14, adding that the only thing that matters is the opinion of the people living on these territories.

“Let’s put it mildly: out country doesn’t care about G7’s non-recognition of the new borders; what matters is the genuine will of the people living there. Do not forget the Kosovo precedent, Western friends!” Medvedev said in his Telegram channel.

The G7 decisions are interfering in China’s internal affairs and a continuation of the sanctions war against Russia, Medvedev said.

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.

Degas: Ukrainian dances from Little Russia

Anna Van DENSKY OPINION 08.05.2022 The National Gallery in London has changed the title of Edgar Degas’s drawing “Russian Dancers” (1899) to “Ukrainian Dancers” after a number of claims by Ukrainians on social media in a sympathetic but totally obscurantist gesture.

In times of the creation of the Degas masterpieces there was no Ukrainian identity, ethnicity or language. The very term “Ukraine” descended from “Ocraine” which means Rimland in Russian. The territories of the modern state of Ukraine were an integral part of the Russian Empire, and those who lived there called themselves “Maloross”, or Little Russians.
Logically, being strictly scientific and correct, the Degas’ ouvre should be named “Maloross Dancers”.
The same way we do not name Romans “Italians”, or Portuguese “Iberians”.

The pastel picture by the famed French Impressionist shows a troupe of young performers sporting hair ribbons in vivid blue and yellow, the national colours of modern Ukraine flag.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery told the Guardian, “The title of this painting has been an ongoing point of discussion for many years and is covered in scholarly literature; however there has been increased focus on it over the past month due to the current situation so therefore we felt it was an appropriate moment to update the painting’s title to better reflect the subject of the painting.”

Lavrov: no timetalbe in Ukraine

Brussels 02.05.2022 Moscow won’t set artificial timetable for its military operations in Ukraine in order to complete it by Victory Day, celebrated in Russia on May 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (pictured) said in an interview with Italy’s Mediaset broadcaster.(Image above: illustration).

“Our troops won’t artificially base their activities on a specific date, including Victory Day,” he pointed out in response to a question. “We will solemnly celebrate May 9 the way we always do,” Lavrov added.

According to the top diplomat, the pace of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine first and foremost depends “on the need to mitigate risks for civilians and Russian troops.”

Lavrov underlined that the operation was particularly aimed at ensuring the safety of civilians and making sure that there were no threats from Ukraine to civilians and Russia, “which would be related to offensive weapons and the spread of Nazi ideas that the West is trying to downplay.”

“I have seen reports on NBC, I have read the National Interest magazine. Serious articles have started to appear there that are warning against playing games with Nazis, like it happened in 1935-1938,” the Russian Minister has underlined.

Baltics non-nuclear status in question

Brussels 16.04.2022 Russia is warning of new nuclear deployments in the Baltics if Finland and Sweden join NATO, as the two countries discussing a perspective to becoming part of the military alliance.

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former President of Russia, wrote in a Telegram post on Thursday, April 14, that “there can be no talk of non-nuclear status for the Baltic” if Finland and Sweden join NATO.

The chairman said that should Finland and Sweden join NATO, Moscow would need to “seriously strengthen the grouping of land forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland.”

“In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he added, according to CNBC.

Medvedev said that previously “Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” according to Reuters.

“If our hand is forced well … take note it wasn’t us who proposed this,” he added.

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.

Romania: Russian Embassy violent attack

Strasbourg 07.04.2022 The Foreign Ministry of Romania urged not to rush to conclusions before the official investigation of the incident ends, and to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions, according to the statement from the Romanian ministry concerning a car, violently rammed into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest.

“The Foreign Ministry [of Romania] rejects the stance of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest following a dismal incident, which took place early this morning,” the statement from the Romanian Foreign Ministry reads.

“Therefore, the Foreign Ministry views any estimation of this incident as hasty, completely inappropriate and irrelevant,” the statement added.

Russian Ambassador to Romania Valery Kuzmin said earlier in the day that “a car-ramming attack at the entrance to the Russian Embassy’s building in Bucharest, should be classified as an “actual terrorist attack.”

A car rammed into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest in the early hours of Wednesday April 6 and subsequently burst into flames killing the driver behind the wheel. There were no other casualties reported in the attack.

According to pictures and videos posted earlier on Facebook – outlawed in Russia, owned by Meta Platforms, Inc. which is recognised as extremist by the Russian justice,- the burning vehicle was right in the front of the Russian Embassy’s gates.

Romanian TV channels cited their own sources that this was apparently a premeditated attack. According to some of them, the driver stopped in front of the gates and after a short exchange of words with on-duty security guards, he steered his car ahead, plowing into the gates.

The Russian ambassador in Romania said earlier that the driver of the car had several canisters in his sedan containing gasoline. After the perpetrator crashed into the gates of the Embassy building, on-duty police officers tried to drag him out of the car. “However, he directly stated to them that he would set the gasoline on fire, which he did and burnt [himself] alive inside the car,” Kuzmin specified.

The diplomat added that on the night of April 5 he was summoned to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, where he was handed a note regarding the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats from the country.

“Yesterday, I was summoned by the Romanian Foreign Ministry, where I was told about terrible protests, multiple condemnations voiced in regard to the events in [Ukraine’s] Bucha,” Kuzmin said. “I advised them to switch on the TV, which broadcasted a live session of the UN Security Council, where the Russian delegation was providing factual information and arguments.”

“However, I was told in response that we had to proceed to another issue of today’s talks and was handed a note about the expulsion of 10 diplomats from our Embassy’s staff,” the ambassador noted.

On March 29, a number of European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland, announced that they were kicking out Russian diplomats amid Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine. In particular, 21 Russian diplomats were expelled from Belgium, 17 from the Netherlands and four from Ireland. Earlier, a number of other EU states, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, also sent Russian diplomats home.

Russia denies Bucha massacre responsibility

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 The situation in the Ukrainian city of Bucha is a “false flag” operation to discredit Russian military and justify Western sanctions, and a genuine investigation into what happened is not something that NATO countries seek, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Tuesday, April 5.

“The only objective is to discredit Russia, justify the sanctions, weapons supplies and other unfriendly actions, as well as to further exacerbate the situation in Ukraine,” Volodin maintained.

According to the Duma speaker, “an investigation is of no use to NATO countries” because the perpetrators have already been found.

“There are no facts, just lies. The Ukrainian media had to delete the photo evidence posted by them, since the information is not confirmed. But no one cares about all this anymore. The accusations have been made,” Volodin regretted.

The Mayor of Bucha, Anatoly Fedoruk, has told AFP that 280 people have been buried after the Ukrainian Army found the city’s streets full of bodies after retaking it.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of carrying out a ‘massacre’ in the town of Bucha, while Western nations reacted to images of dead bodies there with calls for new sanctions against Moscow.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a video early Sunday and accused Russian forces of executing civilians before their retreat from the suburb of Bucha, where bodies in civilian clothes dotted the streets in the wake of Russian withdrawal.

The prospects for resolution from peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are more in doubt than ever with the reported discovery of hundreds of corpses of civilians in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs as Russian forces retreated.

The President of the European Parliament Robert Metsola said she was appalled by atrocities of Russian army in #Bucha other liberated areas. “This is cold reality of Putin’s war crimes. World must be aware of what is happening. Tougher sanctions must be imposed. Perpetrators & their commanders must be brought to justice”.

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.