Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Russia faces its biggest economic collapse since Putin rose to power

Russia is about to suffer the most severe economic collapse since Vladimir Putin rose to power at the turn of the millennium, as sanctions imposed on the country after he invaded Ukraine are expected to wreak more damage than any previous crisis the Russian strongman has faced.

On April 29, Russian central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina slashed the country's interest rates by three percentage points for the second time in less than a month, after forecasting a severe recession, soaring prices, and coming labor market upheaval as the country pays the price for its unprovoked war. 

“Supply is contracting more significantly than demand, which is intensifying inflationary pressure,” she said.

Gross domestic product is expected to nosedive by a minimum of 8% this year, and could even shrink by as much as 10%, the most since 1994, according to the World Bank.

Nabiullina dismissed the Russian government's rosy first-quarter GDP figure, which showed an expansion of 3.7%, as nothing more than a temporary effect driven by people stocking up on goods before they disappear. As inventories gradually run out, the damage will continue to worsen over the course of the year and peak in the final three months of this year, according to her analysis.

The central bank governor singled out the country’s auto industry, with its complex cross-border supply chains, as a prime casualty of the sanctions.

“Companies that used foreign raw materials or components are facing problems as they are gradually running out of stocks," she said.

No V-shaped recovery next year

Like many emerging economies dependent on raw material exports, Russia has had other sharp contractions before: The country's output experienced a 3% decline during the 2020 pandemic and a 7.8% drop in 2009 following the global financial crisis.

But even in Nabiullina's more optimistic scenario, she estimates that this year's plunge in GDP following Western sanctions will easily top those, if not blow them out of the water.

Making matters worse, Nabiullina predicted the economy would not snap back next year, as it had done previously. Instead, in a best-case scenario, it would stagnate on an annual basis in 2023, and at worse decline by a further 3%. 

Consumer prices could soar by 18% to 23% this year, with the rate of increase only set to cool significantly from next April, the bank forecasts.

On Friday, Russia's main interest rate fell to 14%, although it still remains elevated compared to the 9.5% just prior to February’s invasion.

But whether the latest cut will help animate people to spend money anytime soon amid the uncertainty over the war is another matter.

“People now prefer to save rather than consume,” Nabiullina told reporters. (


Ukraine accuses Russia of blackmail with plan to halt gas to Poland

Kyiv accused Russia of blackmailing Europe by cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as the crisis in Ukraine deepened, with tensions surging in nearby Moldova and Moscow warning the West to back off.

NATO member and staunch Kremlin opponent Poland is among the European countries seeking the toughest possible sanctions against Russia for its invasion. Fellow alliance member Bulgaria is almost completely reliant on Russian gas imports.

Poland's state-owned PGNiG (PGN.WA) said supplies from energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) via Ukraine and Belarus will be cut at 0800CET (0600GMT) on Wednesday, but Warsaw said it did not need to draw on reserves and its gas storage was 76% full.

"The gas system in Poland is balanced and customers can feel safe," Minister in Charge of Energy Security Piotr Naimski said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on "unfriendly" countries to pay for gas imports in roubles, a move only a few buyers have implemented so far.

Gazprom said it had not suspended supplies to Poland but that Warsaw had to pay for gas from it in line with its new "order of payments." It declined to comment regarding Bulgaria.

Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russia was "beginning the gas blackmail of Europe".

"Russia is trying to shatter the unity of our allies. Russia is also proving that energy resources are a weapon. That is why the EU needs to be united and impose an embargo on energy resources, depriving the Russians of their energy weapons."

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, launched on Feb. 24, has left thousands dead or injured, reduced towns and cities to rubble, and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.

Moscow calls its actions a "special operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists.

Ukraine and the West call this a false pretext for an unprovoked war to seize territory in a move that has sparked fears of wider conflict in Europe unseen since World War Two.

Russia's ambassador to the United States has warned Washington to stop sending arms to Ukraine, saying that large Western deliveries of weapons were inflaming the situation and would lead to more losses.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned late on Monday that: "NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war," saying the risks of nuclear conflict should not be underestimated.

U.S. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there was no reason for the conflict in Ukraine to escalate to nuclear war. "A nuclear war cannot be won and it shouldn't be fought," he said.

Ukraine also accused Moscow on Tuesday of trying to drag Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniestria into the conflict after authorities in the Moscow-backed region said they had been targeted by a series of attacks.

Emergency management specialists and volunteers remove the debris of a theatre building destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 25, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Reuters could not independently verify the accounts. The Kremlin, which has troops and peacekeepers in the region, said it was seriously concerned.

Meanwhile fighting continued in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia's defence ministry said its forces had "liberated" the entire Kherson region in southern Ukraine and parts of the Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions, Interfax news agency reported.

If confirmed, that would represent a significant Russian advance.

One of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies, Nikolai Patrushev, said Ukraine was spiralling towards a collapse into "several states" due to what he cast as a U.S. attempt to use Kyiv to undermine Russia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, welcoming officials from more than 40 countries to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, headquarters of U.S. air power in Europe, said: "Nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's imperial aggression."

Germany, which had come under pressure after refusing Ukrainian pleas for heavy weapons, announced it would send Gepard light tanks with anti-aircraft guns. 

Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters while flying to Tuesday's meeting in Germany that the next few weeks in Ukraine would be "very, very critical".

"They need continued support in order to be successful on the battlefield," he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in Moscow on Tuesday, made a proposal on how to evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, involving a "Humanitarian Contact Group" of Russia, Ukraine and U.N. officials.

Ukraine said no corridors were operating on Tuesday due to continued fighting.

The United Nations said Putin had agreed "in principle" during talks with Guterres to U.N. and Red Cross involvement in evacuating civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, scene of the worst fighting of the war.

Authorities in Transdniestria, an unrecognised sliver of land in Moldova bordering southwestern Ukraine that has been occupied by Russian troops since the 1990s, said explosions had damaged two radio masts that broadcast in Russian and that one of its military units had been attacked.

It provided few details, but blamed Ukraine, while Moldova's pro-Western President Maia Sandu blamed the "escalation attempts" on "pro-war" factions in Transdniestria.

Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic with close cultural ties to NATO member Romania, expressed alarm last week after a top Russian general said Moscow aims to forge a path through Ukraine to Transdniestria. (Reuters)


War: ‘It’ll begin in near future’ – Ukraine President, Zelensky exposes Russia’s dangerous plans

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky has exposed Russia’s dangerous plan amid the ongoing war between both nations.

Zelensky said Russian troops are preparing for offensive operations in the eastern region of Ukraine, adding that it will begin in the near future.

According to him, Russian troops want to literally finish off and destroy Donbas.

Zelensky said this during a video address on Sunday, according to CNN.

He said, “Russian troops are preparing for an offensive operation in the east of our country. It will begin in the near future.

“They want to literally finish off and destroy Donbas. Destroy everything that once gave glory to this industrial region. 

Just as the Russian troops are destroying Mariupol, they want to wipe out other cities and communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

The war between Russia and Ukraine began in February this year.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin had ordered the invasion of Ukraine over disagreements on some political issues.

As of today, many casualties have already been recorded as a result of the war. Dailypost


Russia to sell gas to 'unfriendly countries' in rubles – Putin

Russia will reject U.S. dollars or euros and only accept rubles for its natural gas supplied to “unfriendly countries,” including the European Union (EU) members and the United States.

Over the past few weeks, some Western countries have taken illegitimate decisions to freeze Russian assets, thus undermining the reliability of their currencies, President Vladimir Putin

said on Wednesday at a meeting with government members.

“It makes no sense for us to supply our goods to the EU, the United States and receive payments in dollars, euros, and other currencies,” he said.

Putin decided to implement a set of measures to transfer payments to rubles, starting with Russian natural gas in the shortest possible time.

He promised that Russia, nevertheless, would continue to supply gas in accordance with the volumes and prices in existing contracts.

“The changes will affect only the payment currency.

“I ask the government to issue a relevant directive to (Russian gas industry giant) Gazprom on amending existing contracts.”

The president instructed the central bank and the government to determine the procedure for settlement in rubles within a week. Vanguardngr 


War: Australia, Netherlands take action against Russia for shooting down Malaysian flight

Australia and the Netherlands have begun legal action against Russia at the United Nations, UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.

Both countries are combining to take action against Russia over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

An Australian government statement made this known on Monday, according to CNN.

All 28 passengers on board were killed when the Malaysia Airlines Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight was shot down in July 2014 by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation’s refusal to take responsibility for its role in the downing of Flight MH17 is unacceptable and the Australian Government has always said that it will not exclude any legal options in our pursuit of justice,” the statement said.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister, Marise Payne and Attorney General, Michaelia Cash, issued the statement on Monday.

The statement added that since October 2020 when Russia left the negotiations table, they have refused to return.

The negotiations were with Australia and the Netherlands regarding the shooting down of Flight MH17, but the Russians unilaterally withdrew despite repeated requests by the two countries.

Both countries said they will argue in the court that it was actually Russia that supplied the separatists with the missile system used in the attack then took it back afterward.

They said, “the missile could only have been fired by the trained Russian crew of the Buk-TELAR, or at least by someone acting under their instruction, direction or control.” Dailypost


Russia accuses US of funding biological weapons research in Ukraine

Russia on Thursday accused the United States of funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, as Moscow stepped up its campaign to gain control of key Ukrainian cities.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said during a televised briefing that “the purpose of this — and other Pentagon-funded biological research in Ukraine — was to establish a mechanism for the stealthy spread of deadly pathogens.”



War: Russia planning to use chemical weapons against Ukraine – US warns

The United States has warned that Russia could deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine or manufacture a “false flag” operation that uses them.

White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, made this claim on Wednesday while lambasting Russia over what she described as false claims that the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.

“Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern,” the spokesman said.

Psaki further noted that Russia has a “long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons”.

The Spokesperson also said that Russia has a pattern of “accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating.”

Today makes it exactly two weeks since Russian forces began their invasion of Ukraine, with up to 6,000 Russians said to have been killed in Ukraine so far, according to US official estimates.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian troops may have been killed in just the first two weeks of the invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. official estimated Wednesday. Dailypost 


War: US, Europe plan escape routes for Ukrainian President, Zelensky as Russia pushes harder

The United States of America and Europe are weighing up plans for President Volodymyr Zelensky to escape Kyiv and establish the Ukrainian government in exile.

According to CNN, the US and European officials are in discussion on how the West would support a government-in-exile led by Zelensky should the President have to flee Kyiv, western officials tell CNN.

The discussions included how to help the Ukrainian leader and his aides and top government officials move to Lviv in western Ukraine.

Also, among other things, is the possibility that the Ukrainian President and his aides would be forced to flee the country entirely and establish a new government in neighbouring Poland

No decisions have been reached on this at the moment as the discussions are only preliminary.

The top U.S and European officials are said to have been wary of presenting this issue directly before Zelensky, who reportedly wants to stay in Kyiv and defend his country.

The President is said to so far turn down conversations that focus on anything other than boosting Ukraine in its fight against Russia, two western diplomats explained.

Also, there have also been discussions about sending one or two members of the Ukrainian government to an external location where a government could be set up in case the country’s capital city and Zelensky is unwilling or unable to escape.

“The Ukrainians have plans in place that I’m not going to talk about or get into any detail about to make sure that there is continuity of government one way or another, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS on Sunday. Dailypost

War: Joe Biden reveals only when U.S forces will attack Russia

President of the United States of America, Joe Biden has vowed that US forces would protect every single inch of NATO nations.

Putin said that while the U.S would not send forces into Ukraine to confront the Russian military, the US would join NATO allies to defend the alliance.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has entered its seventh day, with sanctions on Moscow increasing every minute.

Biden said this at his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday night where he also announced closing U.S airspace to Russian aircraft.

“Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” Biden said.

“Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO Allies – in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west. Every single inch,” he said. Dailypost


In Arms Race For Air Superiority, Russia Challenges US Hegemony

Five years since its return to the Middle East with a military base in Syria, Russia is moving into weapons markets left vacant by the United States and boosting sales to traditional clients.

Moscow’s expanding arms sales bring money and geopolitical influence, as it seeks to challenge US hegemony.

On February 25, Russia officially announced that Egypt had received five Sukhoi Su-35 advanced multi-role fighter aircraft, the first of an order of 24.

Egypt ordered the planes despite threats of US sanctions after Washington refused to sell Cairo its fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber.

Turkey, a NATO ally, is in talks with Russia to buy the Su-35 and eventually the state-of-the-art Su-57 fifth generation combat plane, after being shut out of the US’s F-35 programme.

On March 12, Russia announced it was ready to open official negotiations with Ankara, and to help Turkey develop its own fifth-generation fighter, the TF-X.

Algeria, Russia’s biggest customer in the MENA, is to receive 14 upgraded Sukhoi-34 light bomber jets this year, and is also reportedly interested in the Su-57.

Iran, an historic client of Russian weaponry since the days of the Shah, is free to consider Russian goods again, since a decade-long UN arms embargo against the Islamic republic expired in October.

In part, Russia is marketing its weapons because they are a major source of foreign currency, experts said.

“Weapons exports are critical for the Russian economy, unlike the US which is such a huge market on its own that it doesn’t really care about exports,” said Kostas Grivas, professor of weapons systems at the Hellenic Military Academy.

Russia’s share of global weapons exports was 21 percent in 2015-19, making it the world’s second largest exporter after the US, according to figure from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The 1979 Camp David Accords, which awarded Israel diplomatic recognition from an Arab country for the first time, elevated Egypt to the status of a key US ally.

Since then, the US provided more than $80bn in military and economic aid to Egypt.

That changed in 2011, when then-President Hosni Mubarak was deposed by a popular uprising and a 2012 election saw Mohamed Morsi win. The US then withheld deliveries of weapons systems, fearing a threat to Israel.

Morsi’s removal by a military coup after a year in office did little to assuage US concerns about underlying political instability, and there were added worries over President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood Morsi hailed from.

Citing human rights abuses, the US suspended military aid to Egypt for two years, worth an estimated $1.3bn a year.

“There is a position of the US against human rights problems in Egypt,” retired Egyptian army general Gamal Mazloum told Al Jazeera, adding, “They must drop it.”

“Since the new president [Biden] of the United States [took office] he did not call president al-Fattah el-Sisi. There is no connection between them at all … It is not good.”

Egypt’s fall from grace now contrasts with the US-Israeli relationship.

In March 2011, as revolutions swept across North Africa and Syria, Israel announced it would buy 19 F-35s.

Israel now has two combat-ready squadrons of 24 aircraft each, and in February approved the purchase of a third, along with airborne tankers to increase their range. Leadershipng 


US govt imposes sanctions on Russia over cyber-attacks, election interference

The US government on Thursday imposed new sanctions on Russia over “harmful foreign activities” against the country’s sovereignty and interest.

According to the White House, the sanctions are retaliatory moves against what the administration described as interference of the Russian government in the 2020 presidential election and cyber-attacks on federal agencies.

Sanctions were imposed on 32 entities and individuals linked to the Russian government over the attempt to influence the 2020 presidential elections.

The expulsion of 10 personnel from the Russian diplomatic mission in the US was also announced.

“President Biden signed a new sanctions executive order that provides strengthened authorities to demonstrate the administration’s resolve in responding to and deterring the full scope of Russia’s harmful foreign activities,” the White House said in a statement.

“This includes, in particular, efforts to undermine the conduct of free and fair democratic elections and democratic institutions in the United States and its allies and partners; engage in and facilitate malicious cyber activities against the United States and its allies and partner.

“Foster and use transnational corruption to influence foreign governments; pursue extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists; undermine security in countries and regions important to United States national security; and violate well established principles of international law, including respect for the territorial integrity of states.”

In 2020, several federal agencies were attacked with a software that contained malicious codes in an attempt to gather top government secrets, which was tagged, “SolarWinds”.

US cybersecurity experts alleged that the Russian government was responsible for the attack.

This is the second sanction within two months as the US government earlier sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials over the attack on Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader in Russia. TheCableng

Russia offers Egypt assistance in freeing ship blocking Suez Canal

Russia’s ambassador to Egypt on Sunday offered the country “any possible assistance”, as efforts continue to free a megaship that has been blocking the Suez Canal for nearly a week.

The MV Ever Given has been stuck diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.

In comments to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Russian ambassador Georgy Borisenko said that Moscow is ready to help any way it can.

“We hope that this problem will be overcome in the very near future, that the work of the channel will be restored, and, naturally, we are ready to provide our Egyptian friends with any possible assistance from our side,” the ambassador said.

Borisenko added that Egypt has not reached out to Moscow for support, but said Russia “empathises with what’s happening now in the Suez Canal”, describing it as “an important waterway for the whole world”.

On Saturday, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie had told reporters that the massive ship could be afloat by Sunday night.

The jam has crippled international trade and forced companies to reconsider re-routing vessels around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a longer and more expensive way to travel between Asia and Europe.

Another Russian ambassador had earlier this week seized on the Suez Canal blockage to promote Russia’s northern shipping route as a reliable alternative, part of a broader push by Moscow to develop the Arctic and capitalise on climate change.

Moscow has invested heavily in the development of the Northern Sea Route that allows ships to cut the journey to Asian ports by 15 days compared with the conventional route via the Suez Canal. Theguardianng

Russia to fine social media platforms over youth protests

Russia said Wednesday it would punish top social media platforms for failing to delete posts calling for minors to join unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Ahead of the rallies that took place across the country on Saturday, social media platforms including TikTok, which is popular among teenagers, were flooded with thousands of posts calling for Russians to demonstrate.

In response, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor warned the platforms they would face fines for failing to delete such posts and said that several had removed a significant number.

But on Wednesday the watchdog deemed they had not done enough and said platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, would be fined “for failure to comply with the requirements to suppress the spread of calls to minors to participate in unauthorised rallies”.

“Despite the request of the prosecutor general’s office and the notification from Roskomnadzor, these internet platforms did not remove in time a total of 170 illegal appeals,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement.

It added that the fines would range from 800,000 rubles ($10,520) to 4 million rubles ($52,760).

Protests in Russia are banned if they are not approved by the authorities, as are calls for people under 18 to join demonstrations.

Also on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about the growing influence of large technology companies, which he said are “competing” with states.

Hashtags dedicated to Navalny have been trending on TikTok, where they have garnered more than 1.5 billion views after the anti-corruption crusader was jailed on his return to Russia from Germany.
His allies have called for a new round of demonstrations this Sunday.



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