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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

How to Stop Vladimir Putin’s Mafia

Posted by hkarner - 24. April 2018

Date: 23-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The real enemy is a group of about 100 beneficiaries of the regime and several thousand accomplices.

After Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, I predicted that Russia’s stance toward the U.S. would become more antagonistic. Vladimir Putin always needs a foreign enemy to rally his nation around him and divert attention from the poor Russian economy. Mr. Putin’s aggression has indeed managed to raise tension between the U.S. and Russia. But instead of reinforcing Mr. Putin’s narrative by punishing Russia as a whole, the U.S. should target its response toward Mr. Putin and his inner circle.

Mr. Putin’s conflicts with the U.S. are clearly intended to improve his reputation among the Russian people. Through his policy and rhetoric, Mr. Putin has spread the notion that the U.S. is a cunning enemy trying to undermine Russia and is responsible for Russia’s every problem at home and abroad. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Germany to Push for Exemptions From U.S. Sanctions on Russia

Posted by hkarner - 19. April 2018

Date: 18-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

German executives say the measures could threaten long-standing joint ventures and cost hundreds of millions

BERLIN—German leaders want the Trump administration to exempt their country’s companies from tough new U.S. sanctions on Russia.

During a visit to Washington this week, Germany’s finance minister will push for special treatment and Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to raise the issue with President Donald Trump when the two meet later this month, German officials said.

In addition to voicing concerns about the sanctions, meant to punish Moscow for meddling in U.S. elections, Ms. Merkel also intends to warn Mr. Trump about the potential economic fallout from U.S. trade policies, an aide to the chancellor said. “It will not be an easy visit,” the official said.

German industry has been lobbying Ms. Merkel’s government to urge the U.S. to soften its stance or come up with arrangements to ensure German companies, many of which do substantial business in Russia, don’t fall victim to deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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U.S.-Russia Tensions Catch Up With Metals Tycoon Oleg Deripaska

Posted by hkarner - 18. April 2018

Date: 17-04-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Proximity to President Vladimir Putin helped billionaire but is now a liability

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and eight of his companies this month, among other Russian targets.

Last fall, Oleg Deripaska ramped up Russia’s presence in Western markets when he pulled off London’s second-biggest corporate listing of the year. Now the metals billionaire is on a U.S. sanctions list and that firm has lost roughly half its value.

The reversal of fortune reflects the arc of the Kremlin’s efforts to build political and financial relations with the West over the past two decades.

Mr. Deripaska’s proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin helped lure Western financiers seeking to invest in Russian commodity riches. He used wealth and influence to build bridges with Western elites, throwing lavish parties at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and rubbing elbows with senior politicians, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and George Osborne, then British member of parliament and a future chancellor of the exchequer.

On April 6, Mr. Deripaska’s ties to Mr. Putin became his biggest liability. The Trump administration levied sanctions against him and more than three dozen other Russian officials, tycoons and companies in response to what it calls Russia’s “malign activity,” including meddling in U.S. elections, which Russia denies. Mr. Deripaska said the reasons for blacklisting him are “groundless, ridiculous and absurd.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Moskauer Börsencrash trifft Wien

Posted by hkarner - 9. April 2018

Die Börse in Moskau stürzte am Montag massiv ab und riss auch österreichische Konzerne mit. Allein die OMV und Raiffeisen International verloren etwa zwei Milliarden Euro an Börsenwert.

Wien/Moskau. Seit Langem galten sie als Hauptbedrohung für den russischen Aktienmarkt und seine Konzerne. Mit der Wucht jedoch, mit der die neuen US-Sanktionen gegen Russland am Montag einschlugen, hatte dann doch kaum jemand gerechnet. Der in Dollar denominierte Leitindex RTS stürzte im Tagesverlauf um mehr als zwölf Prozent ab, sein Pendant, der Rubelindex Micex, um neun Prozent. So etwas hatte der Handelsplatz seit der Annexion der Krim im Frühjahr 2014 nicht mehr gesehen. Investoren warfen schier alles auf den Markt. Auch der Rubel verlor deutlich an Wert, obwohl der Ölpreis anstieg.

Am Ende erfassten die Schockwellen dann auch Wien. Ebendort kam es bei jenen Firmen, deren Geschäft stark mit Russland zusammenhängt, zu einem wahren Kursgemetzel. Allen voran bei der Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), deren Aktie gleich um zwölf Prozent absackte. Der Öl- und Gaskonzern OMV, der eng an Gazprom gebunden ist, gab um etwa vier Prozent nach. Die Aktie des Baukonzerns Strabag, der zwar nur einen marginalen Teil seines Umsatzes in Russland erwirtschaftet, aber zu einem Viertel dem russischen Tycoon Oleg Deripaska gehört, verlor mehr als dreieinhalb Prozent. Der Wiener Aktienindex schloss als nahezu einziger westlicher Index tief im Minus.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What about next time?

Posted by hkarner - 25. März 2018

Date: 23-03-2018
Source: The Economist

Britain pulls off a diplomatic coup against Russia at the EU
After Brexit, it will be a lot harder

ONE question confronting Britain and the European Union is how to maintain foreign-policy and security co-operation after Brexit. Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, often notes that failure to find agreement would harm the security interests of both sides. On March 22nd that observation found a pointed form of expression at an EU summit in Brussels, following the recent nerve-agent attack on a Russian émigré and his daughter in Salisbury. After some agile British diplomacy the EU’s 28 leaders issued a joint statement declaring that the only plausible explanation for the attack was that Russia was responsible for it.

This language, tougher than Mrs May had dared to hope, clears the way for further collective EU action, including on beefing up defensive instruments against Russian hybrid warfare, later this year. Nor was the European response limited to words. The EU’s ambassador to Russia has been temporarily withdrawn to Brussels, and on March 26th several countries, possibly including France and Germany, are expected to announce that they are following the British example and expelling Russian diplomats. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, reportedly asked her fellow leaders to state which of them would agree to do so. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What Putin Won in Russia’s Election

Posted by hkarner - 23. März 2018

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics and The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, is Professor of International Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute.

Over the course of his 18 years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has veered from embracing the West to vilifying it. His reelection – with record-high turnout and support – suggests that his bet on nationalism has paid off handsomely, and that Russia is headed for a long period of stagnation.

MOSCOW – At the beginning of his presidency in the early 2000s, Vladimir Putin was a pro-Western island in a sea of anti-Western Russian elites. As I observed at the time, his desire to “anchor Russia firmly to the West” stood in stark contrast to the country’s traditional notions of security. But after Sunday’s presidential election, in which Putin cemented his vision of Russia as a military bastion, it is clear that now his island is nationalism, and will remain so for as long as he rules the Kremlin.

The danger this poses is all too clear. After 18 years in power, Putin now goes even further than his Soviet predecessors in casually raising the prospect of a nuclear conflict with the West. This aggressive rhetoric seems to have served him well in the election, the result of which has essentially granted him carte blanche for his fourth term. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Russian disinformation distorts American and European democracy

Posted by hkarner - 23. Februar 2018

Date: 22-02-2018
Source: The Economist
Subject: Turning politics up to 11

The Mueller indictment reveals some of the Kremlin’s tactics

HAD Barack Obama looked out of the right window in the White House on May 29th 2016, he might have seen someone holding up a sign that read “Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss”. The felicitations were not for Mr Obama (whose birthday is in August); they were for Yevgeniy Prigo zhin, a Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef”. The sign-carrying well-wisher did not know Mr Prigozhin. But over the course of 2016, many people who were strangers to Putin’s cook nonetheless did what he wanted them to do, both in America and elsewhere.

This bizarre story is one of the details which make the grand-jury indictment filed in Washington, DC, on February 16th so fascinating, as well as deeply troubling. The indictment was filed by Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI who is now the special counsel charged, as part of his investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with America’s election in 2016, with finding any links between Donald Trump’s election campaign and the Russian government. It charges three companies Mr Prigozhin controlled, including the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and 12 other named Russians with identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and conspiracy to defraud America by “impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Russia’s Economic Stagnation Is Here to Stay

Posted by hkarner - 2. Februar 2018

Konstantin Sonin

Konstantin Sonin is a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a visiting professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and an associate research fellow at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.

The Russian economy is stagnating across almost all sectors, meaning that boosting growth will be impossible without deep structural reforms. But with President Vladimir Putin approaching a fourth term after having shown little appetite for such reform, there is no reason to expect much to change in the foreseeable future.

CHICAGO – In the early days of 2018, the Russian economy is stagnating. This is no statistical blip: the average annual growth rate in 2008-2017 for Russia was just 1.2%. Last year, Russia’s GDP-growth rate was 1.5%, compared to 2.5% in the eurozone and 2.3% in the United States – both developed economies that should be growing 2-3 percentage points slower than a developing economy like Russia. And, as the Russian economic ministry, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund all recognize, this poor performance seems likely to continue.

Boosting Russia’s growth will be possible only with deep structural reforms, because the economy is stagnating at full capacity. With unemployment at around 5.5% for the fifth consecutive year – a rate that almost any developed country would envy – there are few unemployed to be put to work. Likewise, capacity utilization in manufacturing is roughly at the same level as in the previous two peaks (2007-2008 and 2013), meaning that there is almost no spare capacity to be put to use. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How Eastern European Populism is Different

Posted by hkarner - 1. Februar 2018

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw.

Only in Europe’s post-communist east do populists routinely beat traditional parties in elections. Of 15 Eastern European countries, populist parties currently hold power in seven, belong to the ruling coalition in two more, and are the main opposition force in three.
WARSAW – In 2016, the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency created an impression that Eastern European-style populism was engulfing the West. In reality, the situation in Western Europe and the United States is starkly different.

As political scientists Martin Eiermann, Yascha Mounk, and Limor Goultchin of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change have shown, only in Europe’s post-communist east do populists routinely beat traditional parties in elections. Of 15 Eastern European countries, populist parties currently hold power in seven, belong to the ruling coalition in two more, and are the main opposition force in three.

Eiermann, Mounk, and Goultchin also point out that whereas populist parties captured 20% or more of the vote in only two Eastern European countries in 2000, today they have done so in ten countries. In Poland, populist parties have gone from winning a mere 0.1% of the vote in 2000 to holding a parliamentary majority under the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s current government. And in Hungary, support for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has at times exceeded 70%. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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U.S. Oil Output Expected to Surpass Saudi Arabia, Rivaling Russia for Top Spot

Posted by hkarner - 21. Januar 2018

Date: 20-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Boosted by shale industry, rising U.S. production could undermine OPEC’s efforts to shore up oil prices

The International Energy Agency said in its monthly report that it expects U.S. oil production to overtake Saudi Arabia’s in 2018.

U.S. oil production is expected this year to surpass Saudi Arabia’s output, upending a global pecking order that has been a basis for U.S.-Middle Eastern policy for decades.

Crude output in the U.S. will likely climb above 10 million barrels a day in 2018, which would top the high set in 1970, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

The IEA, a Paris-based organization that advises governments and companies, raised its outlook for U.S. crude supply this year by 260,000 barrels a day, to a record 10.4 million barrels a day, largely a result of the recent rally in crude prices.

Saudi Arabia produces just under 10 million barrels a day, under an agreement with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The kingdom said it has the capacity to produce 12 million barrels a day. But it has never pumped more than 10.5 million daily and has pledged to limit output this year.If the U.S. reclaims the No. 2 production spot, leaving it behind Russia, that could signal a fundamental change in the diplomatic relationship between Washington and Riyadh. For decades, the two countries relied on an exchange of cheap Saudi crude for U.S. military defense.

“It’s a seismic change—the Saudis are no longer the deciding voice in setting world oil prices,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s like we’ve gone back to the early 1970s.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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