Cairo to drop USD, use national currencies in bilateral trade – Putin
February 09, 2015 SOURCE:- (RT.COM)
Russia and Egypt might soon exclude the US dollar and use their national currencies in the settlement of accounts in bilateral trade, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview to Egyptian
media ahead of his Monday visit to the country.
The issue of abandoning the dollar in trade is “being actively discussed,” Putin told Al-Ahram daily newspaper ahead of his two-day trip to Egypt. The Russian president was invited for a bilateral
meeting by his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
“This measure will open up new prospects for trade and investment cooperation between our countries, reduce its dependence on the current trends in the world markets,” Putin said.
“I should note that we already use national currencies for trade with a number of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] states, and China. This practice proves its worth; we are ready to adopt it in our relations with Egypt as well. This issue
is being discussed in substance by relevant agencies of both countries.”
Egypt is a long-time and trusted partner of Russia and the relationship
between the two countries has been rapidly developing, the Russian president said.
“The volume of bilateral trade has increased significantly over the past years: In 2014, it increased by almost half compared to the previous year and amounted
to more than $4.5 billion,” he said urging for this trend to be strengthened.
He also praised the development of “mutually beneficial and effective” cooperation in the sector of agriculture. “Egypt is the major buyer of Russian
wheat, Russia provides about 40 percent of grain consumed in the country; as for us, we import fruits and vegetables.”
Moscow imposed a full ban of EU, US, Australian, Canadian, and Norwegian food exports to Russia on August 7 for one year. Amid
Russian sanctions, Egypt said in August that it was ready to boost agricultural deliveries to Russia by 30 percent.
During 2013, Egypt’s deliveries of agricultural products to Russia amounted $440 million, while during the first half of 2014,
Cairo supplied $460 million, said the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Fedorov in August 2014.
Moscow and Cairo are also engaged in energy, automobile manufacturing and transport cooperation, developing the intergovernmental
trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation commission as well.
During Sisi’s last visit to Russia in August 2014, the two leaders agreed to look at a possibility of creating a free trade zone between Egypt and the countries of the Customs
Union. Meeting in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the presidents also agreed upon the creation of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, which will be part of a new Suez Canal project.
Egypt launched a Suez Canal development project worth $4 billion
in August 2014. The project envisages the digging of a new canal parallel to the original built 145 years ago with the aim of speeding up traffic along the existing waterway and boosting the country’s economy.
Russia Would See U.S. Moves to Arm Ukraine as Declaration of War
Feb. 09 2015 SOURCE:-The Moscow Times
U.S. provision of military aid to Ukraine would be seen by Moscow as a declaration of war and spark a global escalation of Ukraine's separatist conflict, Russian defense analysts said.
With Russia-backed rebels
in eastern Ukraine seizing new territory from the Ukrainian army, voices in Washington are demanding that Kiev be given defensive weapons and hardware — including lethal equipment — to hold the line.
But if such aid were sent, "Russia would
reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict," said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center.
Speaking to The Moscow Times on a condition of anonymity, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's public
advisory board warned that Moscow would not only up the ante in eastern Ukraine, "but also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts."
Ukraine is at a crossroads. With rebel forces reportedly massing for a renewed assault on the strategically valuable railroad
hub of Debaltseve and the port city of Mariupol, the West is racing to find the best means to bring a swift end to the conflict.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Moscow last week to attempt to hash out
a peace proposal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The proposal is set to be discussed with all parties in the Belarussian capital of Minsk on Wednesday, but some consider peace talks hopeless, and advocate military measures.
NATO military alliance says Moscow has sent troops and arms to aid pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine — which Russia denies. Calls to arm Ukraine are seen as a way to even the odds for the Ukrainian army, enabling Kiev to halt rebel advances
and force them — and the Kremlin — to negotiate.
U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council called last month for Washington to give $3 billion in lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine over the next three years.
But Russian defense
analysts polled by The Moscow Times said unanimously that U.S. arms transfers to Ukraine would be interpreted in Moscow as a declaration of open proxy war with Russia and inevitably lead to escalation of the conflict.
"It would become tit-for-tat,"
said Maxim Shepovalenko, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology (CAST).
"Moscow will not just sit by calmly and see what happens, it will counteract," he said.
The Russian counterstrike could take the conflict far beyond Ukraine, according to the source on the Defense Ministry's public advisory board.
Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said
Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific.
Moscow has so far declined China's
requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said.
"That's just one example. We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the
source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses.
Who Are We Giving This to?
The U.S. has already given a modest amount of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, such as the delivery of three counter-battery
radar systems to help identify the point of origin of pro-Russian rebel artillery fire.
The CAST think tank wrote on its Russian-language blog last week that two of the three radars had already been destroyed, citing the outfit's sources on the ground
in eastern Ukraine.
Only one of the units was reportedly destroyed by rebel fire. The other was reportedly dropped by Ukrainian soldiers — underscoring the difficulty of providing aid and ensuring it gets put to good use.
"You might give
aid to the regular armed forces, not the volunteer battalions, but you still need trained operators. Training takes time, additional money, and more than anything else — it takes practical experience," said Shepovalenko.
U.S. deployment of trainers
to Ukraine would mean sending U.S. military personnel into Ukraine — which could easily be construed by Moscow as U.S. involvement in the war.
Beyond training, there is no guarantee that weapons and hardware will not fall into enemy hands or wet
the beaks of corrupt Ukrainian army personnel.
Corruption in the ranks cannot be discounted, according to the PIR Center's Buzhinsky: "It is absolutely certain that at least fifty percent of what is delivered will be stolen and then sold on the side,"
he said. ***
I've looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes - and he won't back down
FEB 2015 SOURCE:- The Telegraph
The Russian leader doesn’t want war, and he won't take on Nato, but neither will
he give in to Merkel and Hollande if he thinks it's against his country's interests
Mr Putin rose from poor origins to be President of Russia
through ruthless self-discipline and a reputation for getting things done Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/AFP
By Tony Brenton, former British Ambassador
07 Feb 2015
The Ukraine crisis is a year old. After the initial drama the affair has taken on the aspect of a gritty soap opera. The same sub-plots come round and around: the rising death count, the accusations of atrocities from
both sides, the sanctions, the regular – and regularly broken – ceasefires.
That phase may now be ending. The Russians have rearmed the East Ukrainian rebels – who are on something of a military roll. This has inclined Washington to
supply Ukraine’s government in Kiev with lethal weaponry. The prospect this brings of a much more direct clash between Russia and the West has alarmed Angela Merkel and François Hollande enough to send them hurrying off to Moscow on what may well
prove a last-ditch peace mission.
There they will meet Vladimir Putin. A huge amount now turns on who Mr Putin is, and what he is after. I met him regularly when I was British Ambassador in Moscow between 2004 and 2008, and came away with some quite
clear impressions of the challenge they face.
Putin, born to a poor family in St Petersburg in 1952, acknowledges he was a rough kid who was held back because of his hooliganism. At that point the intense self-discipline which is still very much part of his persona evidently kicked in. He worked himself up to a law degree, a black
belt in judo, and admission to the Soviet Union’s elite organisation, the KGB. It was a bit like making it from Borstal to the Guards.
After a period working in St Petersburg following
the fall of Communism (where I first met him as a young official with a reputation for getting things done) his subsequent rise was stratospheric. It depended on two attributes which I saw in him in abundance – loyalty and ruthlessness. His close links
with former KGB colleagues took him in 1997 from St Petersburg to the Kremlin. There he recommended himself to President Yeltsin both through sheer administrative competence and by bringing down a troublesome prosecutor who was after Yeltsin’s family.
And his final selection in 1999 as Yeltsin’s successor was assisted by his successful prosecution of the second Chechen war, launched in response to a series of terrorist incidents (allegedly arranged by Russian intelligence) in which hundreds of
innocent Russians died.
Putin as president continues to display those same qualities which got him to the top. In a culture that prizes emotional excess,
I have never seen him let himself go. He is always impeccably turned out, exudes a sort of aggressive fitness which cows the flabby middle-aged men around him, and is in impressive command of the facts of whatever he is discussing. I have seen him correct British ministers on the details of the UK gas market and stun British intelligence officials
by responding to an exposition of our anti-terrorist policies with the blunt statement: “We kill them.” His annual press conferences are tours de force – three hours without notes taking questions from all-comers on all subjects.
Our politicians would never attempt it.
Fear of Vladimir Putin grows in EU capitals amid spectre of ‘total war’
Analysis: That Angela Merkel has gone to Moscow speaks to the sudden gravity of the situation in east Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande in Moscow for an urgent meeting
Friday 6 February 2015
In Brussels and other European capitals, the fear of Vladimir Putin is becoming palpable. The mood has changed in a matter of weeks from one of handwringing impotence over Ukraine
to one of foreboding.
The anxiety is encapsulated in the sudden rush to Moscow by Angela Merkel and François Hollande. To senior figures closely involved in the diplomacy and policymaking over Ukraine, the Franco-German peace bid is less a hopeful
sign of a breakthrough than an act of despair.
“There’s nothing new in their plan, just an attempt to stop a massacre,” said one senior official.
Carl Bildt, the former Swedish foreign minister, said a war between Russia and
the west was now quite conceivable. A senior diplomat in Brussels, echoing the broad EU view, said arming the Ukrainians would mean war with Russia, a war that Putin would win.
Announcing the surprise mission to Kiev and Moscow, Hollande sounded grave
and solemn. The Ukraine crisis, he said, started with differences, which became a conflict, which became a war, and which now risked becoming “total war”.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister and until recently the head
of Nato, publicly voiced fears that Putin could expand what is seen as Soviet revisionism to countries now in Nato and the EU. In the Baltics, Putin might risk a little exercise in “hybrid warfare”, he said, just to test how the western alliance
That Merkel has gone to Moscow is telling in itself and speaks to the sudden gravity of the situation. The Russian-speaking German chancellor has talked to the German-speaking Putin more than 40 times in the past year as the main western
mediator on Ukraine. But until Friday she had never gone to Moscow. Only a few weeks ago she vetoed a summit in Kazakhstan with Putin because she believed there was no point negotiating with someone she no longer trusted.
Putin is demanding that a large tract of eastern Ukraine, taken by force by his separatist proxies in recent weeks, be granted internationally licensed autonomy and that a new frontline be recognised
as a basis for a putative ceasefire.
The parallel might be 1991 in Croatia when the Serbs took a quarter of the country and then consolidated their grip behind lines patrolled by UN peacekeepers. It crippled and destabilised Croatia.
European policymakers say this is Putin’s aim in Ukraine. In Croatia the land-grab lasted four years until Zagreb, gradually armed by the Americans and Europeans, quickly routed the Serbs militarily.
The big difference then was that the Serbs
were stretched by a bigger war next door in Bosnia where eventually Nato bombed them to the negotiating table. That will not happen with the Russians.
Arming the Ukrainians, meanwhile, will open up big divisions between the Americans and most Europeans.
Putin is playing on those divisions as he plays on splits between the Europeans. He does not need to try very hard. The divisions are ever-present over sanctions.
On Monday the EU will impose more sanctions, extending a blacklist of pro-Russia separatists
and Russians by 19 names. These penalties are minor. The broader economic sanctions in force against Russian banks and companies are more serious. They lapse in July unless extended by all EU governments.
Last year the biggest opponent was Matteo Renzi,
the Italian prime minister, whose then foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, now coordinates EU foreign policy. The new leftwing pro-Russia Greek government may be this summer’s problem.
The sanctions policy has so far held up, but is showing
acute strains. Senior diplomats from EU governments regularly say the sanctions are hurting but are not working because they have not changed Putin’s behaviour. The EU is split in two, with Britain leading the pro-sanctions side and a sizeable group
complaining that the punishment has cost the EU an estimated 15% of exports to Russia. Germany is the pivot, the swing power.
Putin is increasingly seen as a reckless gambler who calls bluffs and takes risks, and is inscrutable, paranoid and unpredictable. Trying to work out what he wants is guesswork. The Europeans sound scared.
Ukraine is a huge problem for Europe, not least the dawning realisation that fixing it will cost tens of billions and will take a very long time. But for Europe it is becoming clear that the real nightmare is not Ukraine, but Putin’s Russia.
Europe Fractures: France Pivots To Putin, Cyprus Offers Moscow Military Base, Germany-US Splinter On Ukraine
SOURCE:- Zero Hedge
By Tyler Durden
Following yesterday’s summary of the utter farce that the Minsk Summit/Ukraine “peace”
deal talks have become, the various parties involved appear to be fracturing even faster today. The headlines are coming thick and fast but most prescient appears to be: Despite John Kerry’s denial of any split between Germany
and US over arms deliveries to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier slammed Washington’s strategy for being “not just risky but counterproductive.” But perhaps most significantly is France’s continued apparent pivot towards Russia…
Following Francois Hollande’s calls for greater autonomy for Eastern Ukraine, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out in apparent support of Russia (and specifically against the US), “we are part of a common civilization with Russia,”
adding, “the interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia.” Even NATO appears to have given up hope of peace as Stoltenberg’s statements show little optimism and the decision by Cyprus to allow Russia
to use its soil for military facilities suggests all is not at all well in the European ‘union’.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier doubled down on Germany’s rejection of weapons deliveries to Ukraine in a speech here
*GABRIEL SAYS GERMAN SPD WOULD NEVER BACK ARMS TO UKRAINE
*EUROPE SEES U.S. ARMS DELIVERIES TO UKRAINE AS BAD IDEA: LAVROV
“I see this, to say it openly, as not just for risky but for counter-productive,” Mr.
Steinmeier said at the Munich Security Conference. Mr. Steinmeier also hit back at open criticism of Germany’s position on weapons deliveries from U.S. Senators and others here on Saturday. The White House is mulling delivering weapons to Ukraine to
support the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists in the country’s east.
“Perhaps we are so insistent because we know the region a bit,” Mr. Steinmeier said.
But John Kerry says, everything’s fine…
as he denies any split between U.S. and Europe on Russia policy…
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday denied any divisions between the U.S. and Europe over how to handle Russia, as Germany announced another high-level summit aimed at stemming
the crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry told a security conference in Munich that he wanted to “assure everybody there is no division, there is no split” between Washington and its European allies amid the crisis in Ukraine.
RUSSIA PUSHING U.S. OUT OF MIDDLE EAST
Egypt turns to Moscow after another Putin visit
SOURCE:-WND FEB 9, 2015 WASHINGTON –
Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt marks a low point in U.S.-Egyptian relations.
This is clearly
weakening an alliance formed 35 years ago, when President Carter negotiated the Camp David Accords with Egyptian President Anwar
El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, contends a retired Army general.
Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, told WND the Russians filled a void after the Obama administration
cut off military supplies and equipment to Egypt in response to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, which set the stage for Gen. Abdel-Fatal al-Sisi to become president.
Vallely noted that in October 2013, after
the Obama administration suspended military aid to Egypt, Sisi turned to Russia. The move was followed by Putin’s first visit to Egypt on Feb. 12-13, 2014, which resulted in Cairo’s decision to purchase some $2 billion of weapons from Russia.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, another founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, concurred.
is amazing how fast the Obama administration has turned some of our most loyal allies against us. Egypt was the keystone of our Mideast Policy for 40 years,” McInerney said.
Egypt is “vital,” he said, “because
it controls the Suez Canal, plus airspace to enter and exit the Middle East as well as the crucial partner in the Israeli Peace Treaty, and we have now forced the Egyptians to look to Russia for support. How could we let this happen?”
senior vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, warned Putin is a “shrewd operator who, like his predecessors, prioritizes a Russian presence in the Middle East.”
“We must know that
wherever the Kremlin is able to establish a foothold will be used to the detriment of our friend and partner, Israel, to perpetuate historical KGB relationships with Islamic terror operatives, and to oppose U.S. strategic interests in the region,” said
Lopez, a former CIA officer and another current member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.
“Squandering our decades-long partnership with Egypt is dangerous, foolish and entirely unnecessary,” she said.
The Washington Institute
for Near East Politics reported that between 1979 and Obama’s decision to suspend military aid to Egypt last October, the U.S. provided Egypt with nearly $70 billion in funding. More than half went to purchase American-made equipment. The Washington
Institute further reported a $1.3 billion per year U.S. security-assistance grant accounting for 80 percent of Egypt’s military’s annual procurement budget.
“Sisi had no choice but to fill the void left by the Obama administration’s
decision with the military aid that Russia was willing to provide,” Vallely said.
Vallely said that since declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2013, Sisi has been fighting a threat to the Suez Canal, combating
ISIS in the Sinai and worrying about ISIS now aligning with the al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in Libya on Egypt’s western border.
Meanwhile, al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists are gaining strength in Nigeria and Somalia
to the south of Egypt.
WND reported an interim report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi concluded the Obama administration “switched sides” in the war on terror in Libya in 2011 when the White House and State Department under
Hillary Clinton chose to arm al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in their effort to oust Muammar Gadhafi by force.
“Russia has stepped up to provide the arms Egypt needs to defend itself against the radical
Islamic terrorists al-Sisi faces on all sides,” Vallely said.
He was referring to a report that Saudi Arabia has agreed to finance the weapons Egypt purchases from Russia.
Valley said the Obama administration has managed to reverse some
nearly 35 years of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with Egypt now returning to Russia. Egypt had a close relationship with the Soviet Union had in era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from 1956 to 1970.
“Egypt has a real concern about
security, and the United States is not there to help as we should be helping,” Vallely said.
“This is typical of the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” he said.
“With the Obama administration supporting the al-Qaida militia in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it’s a great illustration how an errant
foreign policy undertaken by the U.S. State Department and a White House national security team has managed to drag the United States down lower and lower in credibility throughout the Middle East.”