Obama’s Obsession with Russia/Putin Urging Asian Countries to Support New Sanctions Against Russia – Reports

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Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Washington is seeking a number of Asian countries to back new US and EU economic sanctions against Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday citing a senior State Department official.

The US diplomat said he has met government officials in China, Singapore and South Korea this week to provide “a brief on what we’ve done, answering questions and seeking support,” according to the report.

“It’s certainly our hope that countries in this region — which includes many significant financial and commercial centers — would join us in putting pressure [on Russia],” the senior official said.

The diplomat didn’t give details of the results of the talks but noted that “good and open exchanges of views” took place.

The US official is to hold similar meetings in Japan on Thursday and Friday, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry told The Wall Street Journal that Seoul hasn’t committed to any sanctions against Russia. The representative added the talks with US officials involved not only Russia but also other issues, including Iran.

On Tuesday, the Chosun Libo newspaper reported that Peter Harrell of the US State Department arrived in Seoul in order to persuade South Korea to impose sanctions against Russia.

The same day, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia, once again accusing Moscow of supporting militia forces in eastern Ukraine.

Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB, the country’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank, as well as state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation.

The EU agreed on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, which will be published on July 31 and go into effect on August 1.

Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said last week that the sanctions were “a road to nowhere” and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such actions toward Russia were a way to conceal protectionist measures in the interests of certain companies.

A recent opinion poll by the Levada Center indicates that amid tensions over Ukraine and the takeover of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity rating is at its highest point since 2010. Yet the events of this year have taken place against the background of an economic slowdown. However, in the first several months of 2014, the number of Russians who approve of Putin’s actions as president rose from 65 percent in January to 82 percent in late April. At the same time, the approval ratings of the government and the prime minister received a boost, as did Russians’ readiness to vote for the ruling party and overall optimism.
Firstly, the president’s rating rose by four points on Russia’s performance in the Olympic Games. Russia’s involvement in the events in Ukraine and the takeover of Crimea gave him a further 11 points. Additionally, Putin’s televised phone-in with the nation, practically the whole of which was devoted to the situation in Crimea and Ukraine, allowed him to consolidate this success. It added a couple of more percentage points to the president’s rating at a time when other ratings [the approval of the government and the prime minister, readiness to vote for the ruling party and overall optimism.
The return of Crimea to Russia, gave the ratings a boost for several reasons. The threat of a military conflict always means that one has to choose between “us” and “them”, which inevitably prompts people to rally around the leadership of their country.
The peninsula’s return to Russia (as the president put it) is perceived by the majority of Russians not just as historical justice and as an alleviation of the ‘phantom’ pain for the lost status of “a great power”, but as a noble act. The opinion that Crimea should be returned to Russia and that the Russian leadership should defend the interests of Russians in former Soviet republics has been prevalent since the early 1990s.
An overwhelming majority of Russians are convinced that in Ukraine, Russia has extended a helping hand to the Russian-speaking population, has defended them from an inevitable death at the hand of “fascists” and “nationalists” who have come to power in Kiev, as this is what the country’s main TV channels have been saying for months. Moreover, in the opinion of the majority of Russians, Western governments are only hindering the resolution of the crisis, while pursuing their mercenary goals.
“The Ukraine story” has been effectively presented to the Russian population in a very attractive light, and is essentially unrecognizable from the way it is presented outside Russia. Finally, it matters too that, in the opinion of the majority of Russians, the annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukrainian affairs has hardly cost Russia anything.
The Crimea events took place with the loss of just one life; as for the Western sanctions, Russians do not really believe in them and cannot assess their consequences, since this is something that evening TV news broadcasts hardly ever mention. While it is evening TV news (primarily on the three main state-owned channels) that provides 90 percent of Russians with their information on domestic and world events, the internet serves as the main source of news for 15-20 percent of the population, although there too the audience of independent and good-quality information resources that represent a variety of views and opinions make up just a fraction. An overwhelming majority of Russians do not have access to information that offers other than the official line – this is not true.
Readers from the Russian Federation often visit our Music site offering information hidden by the American mainstream press.

The Crimea story has improved the image that Russian politicians have in Russians’ eyes but it has had no effect on the overall assessment of the economic situation, not as bad as the fragile European Union.  In other words, no situational mobilization of public opinion can change a long-term trend that has been established by the economy. That is why Putin’s further popularity as well as the stability of the political system as a whole will depend on how good or bad economic growth is.  In the United States,however, President Barack Obama’s popularity rating is at its lowest point – 30 percent, with most criticism directed to his lack of a foreign policy and an stagnant economy.

Russians less afraid of sanctions – Kiss My Butt Dahlinks!


“Sanctions against Russia are sanctions against me!” People participate in a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow in early March, when the first restrictions were imposed. Source: RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov



July 30, 2014 Kira Egorova  –  A new survey shows that the number of Russians concerned about economic restrictions imposed by the West is steadily decreasing.
A new poll from the Levada Center has revealed that Russians are becoming less afraid of sanctions. The most recent survey, conducted between July 18-21 after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, revealed that only 36 percent of Russians were concerned about sanctions being introduced against Russia by the United States and the EU over events in Ukraine. This number is down from early March, when 53 percent of Russians were concerned about sanctions, and April, when 42 percent of respondents admitted to being concerned. The results of the survey also showed that Russians are unconcerned about the possible international isolation of their country. In the most recent poll, 38 percent of Russians were worried about international isolation – down from 42 percent in April and 56 percent in March.
Denis Volkov, a sociologist with the Levada Center, said the results show that Russians have become used to the idea of sanctions. “After the first sanctions against Russia took place, Russians felt fear,” Volkov said. He argues that this fear is now gone, primarily because Russians do not understand the possible effect of sanctions. Additionally, Volkov said, few Russian take the situation seriously because the issue is not being properly discussed on Russian TV.
He argues that this fear is now gone, primarily because Russians do not understand the possible effect of sanctions. Additionally, Volkov said, few Russian take the situation seriously because the issue is not being properly discussed on Russian TV.
Personal ties
Russians are generally offended about the imposition of sanctions. Sixty-six percent of respondents had negative feelings about the decision by the U.S. to introduce sanctions against major Russian companies, including oil major Rosneft, state-owned banks Vnesheconombank and Gazprombank and the country’s defense enterprise while only 28 percent said that they were indifferent to the sanctions.
At the same time, only 29 percent of Russians think that these sanctions will create big problems for the entire country; 35 percent believe that the problems caused by the sanctions will not be too serious and 30 percent are certain these restrictions will not affect ordinary people, the poll showed. In Volkov’s opinion the consequences of the sanctions are unclear for ordinary people: “Russians will change their opinion on sanctions only when they will be able to make a logical link between the adoption of sanctions and a decrease in living standards,” Volkov said. Nevertheless, there is some indication that these attitudes are changing.
The number of Russians who agree that sanctions “really affect only a narrow circle of people responsible for Russian policy regarding Ukraine,” declined slightly from 63 percent in May to 59 percent in July. Accordingly, the number of people who think that restrictions would affect a wide range of citizens has increased – from 24 percent in May to 34 percent in July. Sergei Smirnov, director of the Institute of Social Policy and Socio-Economic Programs at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow said that the delay in understanding the effects should be expected.
“There must be a certain period of time between sanctions taking effect and the first changes appearing in the country’s life,” Smirnov said. In Smirnov’s opinion, Russians will feel the effect of sanctions when the cost of gasoline goes up, when there is a rush to buy dollars, or when they cannot buy some imported goods.
How will new round of sanctions affect Russia?
Sergei Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies, thinks that Russians may feel differently soon. “Russians may face the effect of the latest sanctions already in September, when business season starts,” Markov said. In his opinion, Russians do not believe that they will be affected by this latest wave of sanctions because they were not affected by previous ones. However, Markov notes, while the previous two waves of sanctions were targeted at specific individuals, the latest wave is focused on key sectors of Russia’s economy. This poll was conducted by the Levada Center between July 18-21 in 46 Russian regions among 1,600 respondents.

The United States and European Union Sanctions Against Russia – What to expect?


Anti-Russian Sanctions: ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger’

1. WASHINGTON, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Group of Seven (G7) is ready to introduce new sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine, the joint statement said Wednesday.

2. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The third phase of EU penalties on Russia will eventually backfire, and the fact that the new economic sanctions are less harsh than Washington wanted them to be indicates that the 28 European nations are well aware of this impact, an expert with the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels said Wednesday. “Of course, given the economic interconnectedness, there will also be an economic impact on the European Union,” Hrant Kostanyan said. “This depends on the area of the sanctions. There is also geographic proximity. Sanctions could have been much harsher. They aren’t that harsh. This is being done gradually.”

3. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Poland is going to pay a great price for agreeing to sanctions against Russia, an independent Polish expert told International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya Wednesday. “The introduction of sanctions against Russia will certainly deal a heavy blow to the Polish economy, but Polish politicians haven’t realized it yet,” Andrzej Schensniak said. Schensniak stressed that despite Poland’s political focus on Europe it remains very much dependent on Russia in terms of its energy imports and transit.  “The oil and gas sector is likely to bear the brunt [of EU sanctions] since it was created as an integral part of the [country’s] cooperation scheme with the Soviet Union and now with Russia,” the pundit said.

4. BRUSSELS, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The new round of sanctions against Russia announced by the European Union do not target the country’s natural gas sector, a source at the European Commission told reporters Wednesday.  “The gas sector is completely and totally excluded from the scope of sanctions we are going to publish tomorrow,” the source said.  The European Union agreed Tuesday on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, which limit Russian state-owned financial institutions’ access to EU capital markets, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies, particularly in the oil sector. The sanctions are to be published on July 31 and go into effect on August 1.  Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said last week that the sanctions were “a road to nowhere” and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such actions toward Russia were a way to conceal protectionist measures in the interests of certain companies.

5. NOVO OGARYOVO, Moscow Region, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia could loosen the tightening grip of western sanctions on its economy by improving the economic climate in its far-eastern territories, designated as “advanced development zones” in a bill that may be laid before the Duma in autumn, Russia’s Far East Development Minister said Wednesday. Speaking at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka said the plan to make the region a lucrative investment opportunity for foreign business is “probably the best response to attempts to thwart Russia’s development by throwing foreign policy obstacles in its path.” Advanced development zones are export-oriented zones with preferential conditions for businesses. Their creation signals Russia’s strategic Asian pivot that comes amid toughening penalties on its exports to Europe. According to the minister, a special committee in charge of the development project has drawn up a list of the region’s 4,400 largest companies that today export $10 trillion worth of products to the Asia-Pacific Region. “The first five memorandums of understanding have already been signed with foreign investors,” Galushka said. The minister added that a draft law on advanced development zones may be submitted to the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, during the autumn session. In June, the Far East Development Ministry unveiled a targeted support program for the region that is expected to attract some $65 billion in investment.

6.  MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Washington’s newest update to the list of sanctioned Russian banks will not affect Visa or MasterCard operations in the country, the companies’ representative offices in Russia told RIA Novosti Wednesday. “These sanctions prevent blacklisted banks from accessing US capital markets and do not affect our activities,” a MasterCard representative said. Visa explained the US-imposed restrictions do not compel it to block operations at any Russian banks.

7. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russian banks, targeted by US and EU sanctions, will be supported by the Russian Central Bank if necessary, the Central Bank’s press service said in a statement Wednesday.  “In light of the US and EU sanctions targeting some Russian banks, the Central Bank of Russia states that the financial institutions operate normally, providing all the necessary services to clients, including money transfers and bank cards transactions,” the press release said. “Appropriate measures will be taken, if need be, to provide support to the enlisted organizations in order to protect the interests of their clients, depositors and creditors.”

8. BRUSSELS, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – New EU economic sanctions banning supplies of technologies and equipment for Russian projects in the oil sector are expected to affect exports worth 115 million euros ($153.8 million), an EU source told reporters Wednesday. “This will hit trade estimated at around 115 million euros per year,” the source said, adding that the figure is based on the data of the European Commission on exports to Russia in the previous years. EU exports to Russia of certain equipment and technologies linked to energy sector are to be preliminary approved by the competent authorities of the European Union. Export licenses will be denied if products are destined for deep water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia.

9. MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – Sanctions against Russia will negatively affect Austrian businesses, Christoph Leitl, head of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce stated Wednesday, as reported by The Local website. “As (sanctions) are now, we expect exports to fall around 20 percent this year versus last year and in tourism the collapse in Russian guests is already very strikingly tangible,” he stated, quoted by The Local website. Leitl is one of the opponents of strengthening sanctions against Russia. “I am still against sanctions, but if the politicians decide otherwise then of course one is bound to this,” he noted, quoted by The Local website.  Analysts suggest that the sanctions will hit Austrian banks the hardest, especially Raiffeisen.

10. EU Sanctions Against Russian Oil Sector to Affect Exports Worth Over $150 Mln. NOVO-OGARYOVO, July 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s defense industry is capable of producing all parts and military hardware on its own, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday. “Some things are evident for all of us. First of all, we are absolutely capable of doing everything on our own. Absolutely everything,” Putin said at a meeting devoted to import substitution. “Our task is to insure ourselves against risks of non-compliance with contracts by our foreign partners,” the president added. “We need to ensure reliable and timely supply of required components and monitor their quality closely.”  Putin said that although he saw no particular risks for the Russian defense industry, “all difficulties should benefit us, because we should launch our own production where it did not exist before.”


* More to be added as we receive data.