Friday, October 24, 2014


The Power Vertical

Podcast: Hybrid Warfare And Russia's New 'Great Game'

Armed pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic pledge an oath during a ceremony in Donetsk on June 21.
Armed pro-Russian separatists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic pledge an oath during a ceremony in Donetsk on June 21.

An invasion that's not quite an invasion. Operatives who aren't quite troops. Aggression no doubt, albeit aggression with plausible deniability.

We've been in this place before, although it didn't always make international headlines. We were here in the conflicts in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the early 1990s.

We were here in the conflict in Moldova's separatist Transdniester province. We were here dramatically in the run-up to Russia's August 2008 war with Georgia.

And here we are again today, in Ukraine.

It's been called hybrid warfare, asymmetrical warfare, and ambiguous warfare. But warfare it is, and Russia appears to have perfected using it to achieve its geopolitical aims.

The Little Green Men are probably here to stay. Is there any way to counter them?

In the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss this phenomenon and its implications. Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russia's security services, and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows" and Merhat Sharipzhan, a senior correspondent and analyst with RFE/RL's Central Newsroom.

Enjoy...

Power Vertical Podcast -- June 27, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- June 27, 2014i
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Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.

Tags: Ukraine,Russia,Power Vertical podcast,Hybrid Warfare

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Comments
     
by: George from: uk
June 27, 2014 17:27
Ref. Yanukovych and Crimea, what of the Crimea medals manufactured before he fled, check the dates imprinted on them, what was behind this?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 27, 2014 17:39
Well, the "Great Game" is much bigger of course than suggested above. What is happening right now is the formation of two global alliances. On the one hand, the traditional but decadent NATO states and their friends (US, UK, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel etc), who are losing influence globally and are hectically trying to save the remnants of the latter by trying to destabilize the states where they do not have influence (such as Venezuela, Libya, Syria or Ukraine).
On the other hand, you have the alliance between Russia and China with a number of smaller states who resist the attmepts of the US to impose their domination on them (such states as Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Ecuador, Cuba, the DPRK, Argentina and many other ones).
So, all in all, pretty much the same trend that one could have observed 100 years ago on the eve of WWI. And the armed conflicts in such failed states as Libya, Iraq or Ukraine are to be understood exactly through the prism of the confrontation between the two mentioned camps: the US desperately tries to achieve at least something in the Middle East and for this reason finances sunni islamic terror in such countries as Iraq and Syria. Russia (and China) do not want to allow the US achieve anything in this region and support the govts who fight against the sunni islamic terror.
In this context, starting the war in Ukraine serves the only US purpose: creating an area of permanent instability on the border to Russia to tie Russia's hand up in this specific area, and then to use the US ability to keep the conflict going (thus creating problems for Russia, obviously) and use it as a bargaining chip. For example, a US argument a couple of months from now may go, "we will stop supporting the Kiew junta in exchange for you (Russia) stopping to support the govt of Bashar in Syria".
So, this is the "Great Game". Transdnistria or Abkhazia are just peanuts in this context really...
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 27, 2014 19:59
Thank you rferl for using my name for your brilliant post.
In Response

by: The False Evgeniy Wiensky
June 29, 2014 20:31
Now we have pretenders? Soon we will have our "time of troubles" here on the comment forum.
In Response

by: America NOT NWO Firster from: USA
June 30, 2014 00:48
Initially peaceful protesters backed by violent activists trained in Baltic states and Poland, with the Poles denying that Svoboda and Right Sector street fighters were trained at their top police academy outside Warsaw well before EuroMaidan:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38297.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDPJ-ucnyPU

Snipers (according to German TV) shooting both sides at Maidan including Berkut riot police who conveniently get away it all, according to Parubiy and Avakov who say they fled to Russia.

Red armband wearing 'pro-Russian provocateurs' who also conveniently escape on May 2, without a single Odessa rioter who fired or hurled a Molotov cocktail into the Trades Union Building getting arrested or indicted. Naturally pro-Maidan PR outlets forget all about the 'red armband wearers' since none of them got arrested:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4dJRnI-X8Q

Anglophone Greystone mercs who aren't there despite Russia insisting it has intel that they're America's plausible deniability boots on the ground in Ukraine -- despite footage of Ukrainian National Guardsmen speaking perfect Italian or who can't speak Russian.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOw8O0JvW_I

Ads for English-speaking translators with Donbass Battalion that disappear:

https://twitter.com/NinaByzantina/status/483292841138225152

The Erik Prince aka the top military mercenary paymaster of Poland caught in a photograph with Turchinov outside Slovyiansk. Ukrainian aircraft/chopper losses over the Donbass to MANPADS that would likely be impossible to sustain without Polish, Lithuanian or other NATO operating country ground crews and even pilots. A Swedish speaking neo-Nazi named 'Mike' who 'volunteers' with the Azov Battalion. But of course there is no ratline for European fascists to fight on Kiev's side:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKfIn6iOh-E

There is only one way left to fluster the 'little green men' or have a chance in hell of Kiev retaining the Donbass within a federated state. But that would require the ability to unscramble the egg known as a Galicianized or Banderized Ukraine based on an eternal victimhood complex towards Russia and utopian views of what 'Europe' can offer Ukraine after it mercilessly looted and pillaged the PIIGS with no sane basis in economics. Both of which NATO and the US can't accept since they're out to hurt Russia not to save a completely broke, failed Ukraine.

I'm probably wasting my time trying to publish this comment, since RFE/RL will delete whatever doesn't fit the Narrative.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 02, 2014 08:46
Eugenio did it in 2012, for couple of month, when Russian
and Belorussian assassins were poisoning and infecting my
mother and I didn't pay attention to this forums, he put such
comments that one would accuse him for being enemy and
a terrorist, which tried assassinate Putin and Obama and
destroy USA.
After each of such comments, he added another comment,
saying it is not him but I, Konstantin, wrote it under his
name - till my mother was bestially murdered 7/7/2012.
For two weeks I tried save her life in Prosvetarian Hospital,
being threatened my mother be killed as enemies of USA,
wile one of the spies, looking like big British skinhead,
always showing to some German-looking spy something on
internet monitor, as a prove that I was an enemy and my mother and we must be killed. Only after her murder by
nurses and doctors, all of Russian or Russian-Armenian extraction, I found what Eugenio and his accomplices did!
_______________________________________________
Whose mother Eugenio and his partners are going to murder
this time?
He and his partners likely doing it for restoration of Russian,
Austrian, German and British colonial empires.
I am against it, as they assassinating me since I was 4 years
old, in 1947, or at least since secret pact in 1954 among Prussians from Russia, Brits and Bechtel, in which this guys took part.
________________________________________________
By the way, Jewish Levite Lubavich took place in organizing
blackmail and murder of my mother and covering it up.
Just after that Queen of Brits gave them honorary medal!
Got Eugenio medal too, at least from Vienna imperial resurrect?
_______________________________________________
Long live the Queen!
I hope, if all around and under her say she is about to die,
from what I see as normal health elements of age and not too healthy diet and exercise, she would take my advise and with help of modern health science will outlive my mother far beyond 100!
Long live the Queen!
In Response

by: Mark brown from: USA
June 28, 2014 11:53
What a load of nonsense.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 01, 2014 14:19
Let start from Eugenio’s cacophony of “possible deny-ability”.
I heard it since 1950-th on streets from criminal ethnic Russians, melting with other Russian occupiers in non-Russian republics.
______________________________________________
He said "Great Game is much bigger”, as “formation of two global alliances”.
Russia would wish so, divide and rule!
However, game is even bigger than "much bigger"!
In 1954, in little place “Vaduluy Vody”, I happened to be an unwilling witness of pact, of guys like Eugenio, with British and Bechtel, whose son was kidnapped and exchanged for technology make a lot of small A-bombs, personally for ethnic Russia – bomb non-Russian nations - as conquering them to restore Russian colonial empire and repopulation, than divide World with Germany-Austria and Britain.
IT IS THE “GRAET GAME” OF ETHNIC RUSSIA AND GUYS LIKE EUGENIO ARE PLAYING, WITH BAG OF LIES FROM MOSCOW, VIENNA, BERLIN AND LONDON.
______________________________________________
He said “NATO states and their friends (US, UK, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel)” are “losing influence globally” and “destabilize the states (Venezuela, Libya, Syria or Ukraine).
JUST OPPOSTE IS TRUE!
RUSSIA, WITH WAITING FOR RUSSIAN SUCCES AUSTRIA, GERMANY AND BRITAIN, SEE USA AS BICON OF LIGHT THAT PREVENT THEM TO CONQUER THE WORLD, RESTORE SERFS AND REPOPULATE IT BY VARAG, PRUSSAK, NORMAN AND SATRAPS, BABILONIAN SNAKES.
_______________________________________
He said “alliance between Russia and China” and some
“smaller states” resist “US domination on them (Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Ecuador, Cuba, the DPRK, Argentina).
JUST OPPOSITE IS TRUE!
ALL THIS ALLIES OF RUSSIA ACCEPTED RESTORATION OF EMPIRES, OR JUST USEFULL TO RUSSIAN AGGRESSION, OR PROPAGANDA, OR BOTH.
China encouraged by Russia.
See movie about an emperor that united China, where all other kings with their provinces killed themselves, for one united
Great Empire – it is what Russia wants, all nations kill themselves - so that Great Russia breed in their place!
____________________________________________
USA MAKES ERRORS, BECAUSE RUSSIAN PROXIES,
PROMOTED BY BRITISH, GERMANS AND AUSTRIANS,
CONTROLL USA MEDIA, PRESS, THINK-TANKS AND MANY GOVERNMENT OFFICES WITH APARATUS OF VIOLANCE.
THEY MADE USA START IRAK WAR, KILL HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS OF MUSLIM, OPEN THEMSELVES FOR
JIHAD, CHANGE IT BY SUPPORTING "MOSLEM SPRING",
TURNING ON STABLE COUNTRIES OR ONE RACE
DESTROYING ANOTHER, LIKE CAUCASIANS IN SYRIA,
OR SUNNY IN IRAK, OR PUSHTUN IN AFGHANISTAN...
THEY STILL MAKING ERRORS, AS MANIPULATING THEM
IMPERIAL RESURRECTION TRASHING THE WORLD...

(will continue)


by: PermReader
June 28, 2014 17:04
These permanent talkings remind me the anecdote about the theorist who have easily explained the one experimental curve but casually turned it over.When he was told about the mistake he have easily explained the turned over curve agan.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 29, 2014 15:58
Iraq takes delivery of Russian fighter jets - http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/iraq-takes-delivery-russian-fighter-jets-201462944837214478.html
Just as I was saying: In Iraq the US promotes sunni islamic terrorism with the purpose of removing the pro-Iranian govt of Nuri al-Maliki. Whereas Russia (and Iran) supplies the shia govt of al-Maliki with weapons in order to successfully resist the US-Saudi destabilization attempt. This is the Great Game and the US is going to lose it...
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 02, 2014 09:19
What an march of cannibals-termites-lies of Eugenio!

USA overslept Chaldean South Iraq expanding new empire,
being misguided by Russian controlled USA think-tanks
and propaganda of imperial resurrection, forgetting about
Sunny Arabs in Iraq.
That become a good soil for the "Halifat" army, that started in
1990-th in South Russia, as policy of Russia expanding terror;
Later used by Russian-German-British imperial resurrecting
"archeologists" and rewriting origins of nations "race-war"
Russia against genuine Caucasian majority in Syria;
Than after "Muslem Spring" stumble into Russian base interests and USA understood that the Russians turned the tables again and cooled down, "Halifatists" ran into trouble.
So they moved to Iraq, where injustice for Sunny Arabs presented an opportunity to apply themselves.
Probably Russian, German and British imperial resurrect knew
about it.
The sale by double-face "Starviatnik", Russia, to Iraq of planes
prove not her position - they are hooligans of "gadit'" to everybody, than move through may-ham, like in hokey, driving with their behinds washer into opponent gate -
usually it is USA gate - last hope to save the World from races of imperial Neanderthals, lead by Russia-"naipodleisha",
and their mechanics, like Eugenio.



In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 02, 2014 15:02
Consti, your insightful comment has been too short this time. Please explain your thought at some more length :-)).

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 29, 2014 16:44
Very frankly, judging by today's (Sunday) rally on the Maidan in Kiew, it does look like "Ukraine" is moving at full speed in the direction of an armed confrontation - and this time in Kiew itself. Por - as apparently an adequate person - realizes that "Ukraine" stands no chance of winning the war against the people of Donbass (supported by Russia). And this is the major reason for which he announced the current truce.
But the Right Sector smart guys seem to be completely out of their minds and absolutely want to (judging by their speeches on the Maidan today) continue dragging "Ukraine" into more military confrontation in which it can only lose.
So, at the end of the day - and as long as Por seems to keen on continuing with the ceasefire - the Right Sector will end up trying to depose him the same way they did with Yanek, which will turn Kiew into another Beyrouth, after which the rump "Ukraine" will desintegrate into a conglomerate of de facto independent regions.

by: Mamuka
June 29, 2014 20:30
If the oligarchs and industrialists in Russia were not firmly under the control of Putin (or at least in collusion with him), they might object to these neo-imperialist adventures which could cost them money. In the West, the wealthy power brokers enjoy influence over their goverments, so the situation is reversed: Berlin, Paris, and the mysterious "City of London" prevent decisive action against Moscow for fear of losing money.

Speaking of money, I think that as soon as Putin recoups his losses from Sochi (or as soon as his co-oligarchs are made whole), the expenditures will resume again. Look how much Misha got out of a much smaller pool of oligarchs in Georgia. I do not think that money is a problem for the Kremlin, not when they have decided at the highest levels to pursue a policy. Instead of "managed democracy," perhaps we should call this "managed capitalism."

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 01, 2014 06:53
An addition to your "article" on "desenchanted Russians" who move to Somalia, Iraq, Ukraine and other failed states: it appears that some 400 Russian marines were so desenchanted with the situation that they moved to the French shipyard of Saint-Nazaire with the purpose of getting trained there by French military instructors in order to learn how to use the French-made large troop-transporting ships (Mistral) that France is about to deliver to Russia this year already. Guess in which direction these ships will be transporting the Russian troops :-)).
VIDEO: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/06/30/actualidad/1404128492_250951.html
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 01, 2014 09:26
VIDEO: 'US fighting alongside ISIS': Direct American role in strengthening jihadists? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jElMqi2AFD8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 01, 2014 16:16
PHOTO: here you will find a picture of the French Mistral ship that will be delivered to Russia by France this coming October - http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/russen-sollen-wladiwostok-in-saint-nazaire-kennenlernen-13021031.html
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 02, 2014 15:07
VIDEO: RAW: Russian Sukhoi jets land in Baghdad to boost fight against ISIS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnXPQsUn8Ak&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

08:29

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINIAN PM WARNS OF RUSSIAN DESTABILIZATION OF ELECTIONS

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)

RUSSIA DENIES ESTONIAN AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS

By RFE/RL

Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)

RUSSIAN COURT POSTPONES RULING ON OIL FIRM BASHNEFT

A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014

THERE IS NO RUSSIA WITHOUT PUTIN?

According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

11:01 October 23, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

MOSCOW AIRPORT MANAGERS RESIGNED, MORE SUSPECTS DETAINED OVER CRASH

Top managers at a Moscow airport have resigned and four more airport workers have been detained over a plane crash that killed the chief executive of French oil giant Total.

Christophe de Margerie and three French crew members died when a corporate jet collided with a snow-removal machine at Vnukovo Airport late on October 20.

The Investigative Committee said on October 23 that prosecutors had detained an air-traffic controller intern, her supervisor, the head of air-traffic controllers, and the chief of runway cleaning.

Meanwhile, the airport announced the resigntion of its director-general, Andrei Dyakov, and his deputy, Sergei Solntsev.

And a Moscow court ordered that the snowplough driver remain in custody until December 21.

The driver says that he has lost his bearings before the collision.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, Interfax, and TASS)

And these items from Reuters:

COURT POSTPONES RULING ON BASHNEFT SHARES

By Denis Pinchuk

MOSCOW, Oct 23 (Reuters) - A Russian court decided on Thursday to postpone to next week a hearing on a move to wrest control of an oil company from oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a case that has deepened investors' fears the Kremlin wants to reclaim prized assets.

Russian prosecutors filed the suit last month to regain state ownership of Bashneft, saying there had been alleged violations in the privatisation and subsequent sale of the oil producer to Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema in 2009.

On Thursday, the judge at the Moscow Arbitration Court ruled in favour of the prosecutors who had requested more time to prepare their case and said the next hearing would take place on Oct. 30.

Sistema's shares, which lost 70 percent after it reached a peak this year in July, traded down nearly 5 percent in early trading in Moscow. Bashneft's shares were down 1.3 percent on the day.

In September, a Moscow court ordered the seizure of Sistema's majority stake in Bashneft a day after a judge refused to release Yevtushenkov, who is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition.

The case centres on the privatisation of oil production and refining assets in the Russian republic of Bashkortostan in the Ural mountains in the early 2000s and Bashneft's subsequent sale to Sistema.

The Russian investigators say the privatisation and the sale was illegal.

Sistema, which directly owns almost 72 percent of Bashneft's voting rights and has a stake of 86.7 percent, including 12.6 percent which it owns through its subsidiary Sistema-Invest, has denied the allegations.

Yevtushenkov is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

Some analysts have said that state-controlled Rosneft , Russia's biggest oil producer run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, was interested in buying Bashneft.

The company, Russia's sixth largest crude oil producer, extracted more than 16 million tonnes (320,000 barrels per day) of crude oil last year, increasing output by more than 4 percent - the best results among domestic majors after launching production at new deposits in the Arctic.

Its oil refining capacity stands at 24.1 million tonnes a year. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; writing by Katya Golubkova and Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Elizabeth Piper and William Hardy)

NATO, SWEDISH FIGHTERS SCRAMBLE TO INTERCEPT RUSSIAN PLANE

BRUSSELS, Oct 22 (Reuters) - NATO and Swedish fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian intelligence-gathering plane that briefly entered Estonian airspace on Tuesday, the alliance said on Wednesday.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry called the Russian ambassador to the ministry and gave him a protest note over the incursion, the Estonian defence forces said.

Fighters from Denmark as well as Portuguese F-16s from NATO's air policing mission in the Baltics took off after radar detected an unidentified aircraft flying close to NATO airspace in the Baltic Sea, NATO said.

The plane was identified as a Russian IL-20 intelligence-gathering aircraft that had taken off from Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, heading towards Denmark.

The Russian aircraft was first intercepted by Danish F-16s and later, as it headed further north, by fighters from Sweden, which is not a NATO member.

The Russian aircraft turned south again, entering Estonian airspace for less than one minute, a NATO statement said.

Portuguese F-16s, which had been scrambled from their base in Lithuania, escorted the Russian plane away from NATO airspace.

Interceptions of Russian military aircraft by NATO planes over the Baltic region have increased since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March, but usually Russian planes only approach NATO airspace and do not enter it, a NATO source said.

At a time when tension between Russia and the West is running high over Ukraine, Swedish forces have been scouring the sea off Stockholm following reports of activity by foreign submarines or divers using an underwater vehicle. (Reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels and David Mardiste in Tallinn; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

11:12 October 22, 2014

THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF RUSSIA'S 'GAS WEAPON'

In less than a week, on October 27, Lithuania is scheduled to open its first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal at the port of Klaipeda. The terminal, which will begin receiving deliveries in early 2015, is a significant step toward changing the energy equation in Lithuania, the Baltic states, and ultimately in Europe as a whole.

Initially, Lithuania plans to buy enough LNG to cover about a quarter of its domestic needs. But once the terminal is operating at full capacity, and once Lithuania's pipelines to Latvia are upgraded, it will be able to supply 90 percent of the three Baltic states' natural gas demand.

Oh, and by the way, Lithuania's current supply contract with Gazprom expires at the end of next year.

And this is just one of the ways the gas game is changing. Poland is also building a LNG import terminal, which is scheduled to go online in mid-2015.

And as energy analyst  Wenyuan Qiu writes in "The Moscow Times" today, a steep rise in U.S. production has made it "functionally independent of offshore suppliers." As a result, "the closure of the U.S. LNG import market is forcing producers in the Middle East and Africa to look for customers elsewhere" leading to "downward pressure on prices" in Europe.

"Russia will remain an important European energy provider because its gas is relatively economic. But Russia's ability to leverage this resource as an instrument of foreign policy is diminishing," Qiu writes.

 

08:27 October 22, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

Some items from RFE/RL's News Desk:

RUSSIA-UKRAINE GAS DEAL REPORTEDLY CLOSER

European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has announced substantial progress was reached in October 21 talks between representatives of Ukraine and Russia on gas supplies, but a final deal has yet to be agreed.

A summit held in Milan October 17 had produced hopes for a breakthrough, after Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and said they had reached a preliminary agreement on a gas price until March 31.

Oettinger said as part of tentative deals, Ukraine planned to purchase some 4 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia before the end of this year.

Oettinger also said Ukraine would pay $1.4 billion of its debt to Russia for gas supplies already received before the end of October and another $1.6 billion by the end of this year.

The head of Russia's delegation to the talks, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, said the price of gas for Ukraine would be $385 per 1,000 cubic meters, much lower than the $485 that Russia's state-controlled Gazprom was demanding just weeks ago.

However, the price, which was first announced by Poroshenko following his meeting with Putin on October 17, is still higher than the average of some $350 that Gazprom charges EU companies

Novak said that price would be in force from October 2014 until late March 2015 -- provided Ukraine pays in advance.

However, Novak added the EU should take responsibility for guaranteeing Ukraine pay its $5.3-billion debt for gas to Russia before the end of 2014.

Kyiv has asked the EU for an additional loan of $2.6 billion, but a spokesman stressed on October 21 that the request was not made in connection with the ongoing gas talks.

The EU has so far offered Kyiv loans totalling more than $2 billion.

Russia cut off gas deliveries tro Ukraine in mid-June, citing the $5.3-billion debt. However, Gazprom has not halted supplies transiting Ukraine en route to EU member states.

But Novak again ruled out Gazprom's agreeing to let EU states re-export its gas to Ukraine.

Oettinger announced another meeting would be held in Brussels on October 29.

Separately, the Kremlin said Putin and Poroshenko discussed Russian gas supplies to Ukraine among other issues during a telephone conversation October 21.

It didn't provide further details.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, and Interfax)

PROSECUTORS TARGET EKHO MOSKVY

The independent Russian radio station "Ekho Moskvy" said it has been informed of an unscheduled inspection by the prosecutor's office.

The station's deputy chief editor Sergei Buntman said on October 21, "We received a document dated from yesterday (October 20) that said the main directorate of the Emergency Situation's Ministry" had requested the prosecutor's office to conduct an inspection of the radio station.

Buntman said according to the document, the inspection would start on October 22 and last for 20 working days.

"Taking into consideration days off, that means almost a month," Buntman said, and he added that the inspection should not affect the activities of the station.

Buntman said, "Of course questions arise about why this decision is taken so suddenly."

"Echo Moskvy" posted a copy of the document the radio station received that indicated the inspection was meant to determine if the station was in compliance with fire safety laws.

(Based on reporting by "Ekho Moskvy" and Interfax)

PUTIN, POROSHENKO DISCUSS CEASEFIRE AND GAS SUPPLIES

The Kremlin said the Russian and Ukrainian presidents stressed the importance of supporting the peace process in Ukraine and observing the ceasefire the country's south-east during a phone conversation on October 21.

President Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko also discussed Russian gas supplies to Ukraine after a tentative agreement reached in Milan last week on the basic terms of future supplies, the statement said.

It didn't provide further details.

Russia raised the price it charges Kyiv for natural gas after Ukraine's pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February, then halted gas supplies to Ukraine in June when Kyiv failed to pay the higher price.

Some progress was reportedly made toward resolving the issue of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine during last week's talks in Milan.

Poroshenko said a preliminary agreement had been reached on a price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters until the end of March -- $100 less than Russia had originally demanded.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, and kremlin.ru)

RUSSIAN INVESTIGATORS SAY 'CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE' BEHIND TOTAL AIR CRASH

Russian investigators say the air crash that has killed the chief executive of French oil giant Total was caused “criminal negligence” by airport officials.

Christophe de Margerie and three French crew members died when his corporate jet collided with a snow-removal machine at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport late on October 20.

The Investigative Committee warned that several senior airport officials would be suspended, adding that investigators will assess the "actions and non-action" of management.

The snow plough driver has already been detained.

Investigators have said the man was drunk at the time of the accident, which his lawyer denied.

Total is one of the top foreign investors in Russia.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin "highly esteemed" Margerie's business qualities and his "consistent devotion" to developing bilateral Russia-French relations.

(Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and TASS)

 

16:08 October 17, 2014

NEW POWER VERTICAL BLOG

I just posted a new piece on the Power Vertical blog: Putin's Class of 2014.

The iPhone-toting hipsters hanging out in their trendy downtown Moscow office are just the high-profile part of the Kremlin's new youth strategy.

Founded in November 2013, the youth group Set -- which means "Network" in Russian -- has organized patriotic fashion shows and film festivals, created an alphabet for schoolchildren that highlights the regime's accomplishments, and painted murals in seven cities on October 7 to mark Russian President Vladimir Putin's 62nd birthday....

But the rise of Set is just one side of the story. The other aspect of the Kremlin's youth strategy is stealthier -- and much more consequential.

Over the past 18 months, Putin has been quietly bringing a new cadre of officials to Moscow, reshaping the rank-and-file bureaucracy in his own image.

You can read it all here.

AND A NEW POWER VERTICAL PODCAST COMING SOON

We're in post-production for the new Power Vertical Podcast: Ukraine's Loyal Russians

A country divided between a Ukrainian-speaking west and a Russian-speaking east. An irreconcilable schism forged in history and set in stone. Lviv vs. Luhansk; Orange vs. Blue.

It's long been a truism that Ukraine was hopelessly split. It's a truism repeated endlessly by the Kremlin's propaganda machine -- and one used by Vladimir Putin to justify his Novorossiya project.

But it's a truism that the majority of Ukraine's ethnic Russians -- in cities like Odesa and Mariupol in the south to Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia in the east to Kharkiv in the north  -- are proving false. Most of Ukraine's ethnic Russians, it turns out, are loyal Ukrainian citizens.

Joining me are Andreas Umland, a professor of Russian and Ukrainian history at Kyiv Mohyla University and Natalya Churikova, Senior Editor of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. It's in post-production now and will be up soon.

 

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About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or