European help to Ukraine ‘unprecedented’ €11bn-EU representative

 

 

Vygaudas Usackas.(AFP Photo / Petras Malukas)

Vygaudas Usackas.(AFP Photo / Petras Malukas)

RT news – November 06, 2014

The European Union is ready to give Ukraine lots of money to help pay its multibillion dollar gas debt to Russia, according to the head of the EU office in Russia Vygaudas Usackas.

“The European Union is allocating up to an unprecedented €11 billion in financial aid to Ukraine,” Vygaudas Usackas said in an interview with the Echo Moscow radio station on Wednesday.

“We helped to reach agreements between Russia and Ukraine over a wide range of complex gas issues, and both the EU and IMF will continue to allocate sums needed for paying off the Ukrainian gas debt,” he added.

The EU representative also said that a sovereign and economically independent Ukraine is in the interests of everyone.

“I still hope that someday we will agree at a round-table discussion that Ukraine being an independent economic subject is of our common interest,” Usackas said. “So that neither Gazprom, nor the European commission and the IMF had to take care of it.”

Usackas says economic, political and social reforms are essential tools that Ukraine should use in achieving this goal.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Western Europe that there won’t be any interruption of natural gas supplies from his country this winter unless Ukraine again tries to meet its own energy needs by stealing fuel from the pipeline running through its territory.

“I can reassure you that there will be no crisis that could be blamed on Russian participants in energy cooperation,” the Russian leader said Oct. 16 during a visit to Serbia. He added, however, that “transit risks” are looming.

After months of negotiations Russia and Ukraine reached a gas agreement on October 31, which says Kiev needs to pay $3.1 billion by the year end. On Wednesday Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom confirmed it had received the first tranche of $1.45 billion from Ukraine’s Naftogaz which settles its gas debt for November and December 2013.

The winter plan worked out in Brussels also means that Ukraine will need to pay in advance for the gas it’s going to use. This means that on top of the debt repayment, Ukraine will have to pay $1.5 billion in advance for 4 billion cubic meters it’s going to buy from Russia this winter.

Ukraine plans to buy $770 million worth of gas (2 billion cubic meters) from Russia this winter to keep the heat on, but before that, they must pay off $1.45 billion in debt. The question is: who is going to pay the bill?

All three parties, Russia, the EU, and Ukraine met in Brussels on Tuesday and confirmed Kiev will pay $385 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian supplied gas through the end of March. Before Ukraine can start purchasing gas, they need to pay off $1.45 billion in debt.

“There’s one obstacle: Ukraine failed to pay for Russian-supplied gas for seven months,” Oettinger said Tuesday. It will be difficult for Ukraine to find a benefactor, since, as Oettinger pointed out, its credit history is less than stellar. The economy is in ruin and may already need extra IMF money to stay afloat.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz said it had no schedule of prepayments for supplies from Gazprom, according to company representative talking to PRIME.

European Union Lowers Growth Forecasts as Business Confidence Sags

“The economic and employment situation is not improving fast enough,” said Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission vice president for jobs and growth. Credit

“The economic and employment situation is not improving fast enough,” said Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission vice president for jobs and growth. Credit

“The economic and employment situation is not improving fast enough,” said Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission vice president for jobs and growth.

The Times – 5 November 2014

BRUSSELS — European Union officials on Tuesday sharply lowered growth forecasts as member states like France, Germany and Italy showed weak economic performance, and as business confidence suffered from heightened geopolitical risks.

Growth is expected to be a meager 1.3 percent in the 28-member bloc this year, instead of the 1.6 percent predicted in the spring, said the European Commission, the union’s executive arm. And the economy is not expected to get much better in 2015, when growth in Germany, the region’s economic engine, is expected to grind down to about 1 percent.

“The economic and employment situation is not improving fast enough,” Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission vice president for jobs and growth, said in a statement accompanying the closely watched economic forecast.

The European Commission’s Report on Economic Growth [PDF]
Shipping containers in the Hamburg harbor. Gross domestic product in Germany shrank by 0.2 percent from the first quarter.
Eurozone Recovery Stalls, With Weakness in Germany and France.
Shop windows in Rome advertise sales. The latest economic news dashed hopes that Italy was emerging from a decade of stagnation.
Italy Falls Back Into Recession, Raising Concern for Eurozone Economy.
Olli Rehn, the European Union’s commissioner for economics and monetary affairs, said growth this year is expected to flatline in the 28 countries of the Union.  E.U. Predicts Anemic Growth and High Unemployment in 2014.

Unless there are additional signs of growth and job creation in the next five years, “people could despair of the European project,” Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The recovery on the Continent continues to lag those in the United States and Britain. Over the next two years, annual growth in Britain is expected to be close to 3 percent, and the unemployment rate is projected to be 5.5 percent in 2016, according to the data released Tuesday. The unemployment rate in the European Union is not expected to fall below double digits, where it has been since 2012, until 2016.

The gloomier outlook will most likely raise expectations for the European Central Bank to take additional steps to stimulate the economy, though economists said they did not expect policy makers to take action at a meeting on Thursday.

The report on Tuesday did not take into account how the European economy might get a boost from a 300 billion euro, or $375 billion, plan to invest public and private money into infrastructure projects. Jean-Claude Juncker, who took office this month as president of the European Commission, has pledged to present that package before the end of the year.

But how much of an effect that would have on lackluster growth remains to be seen. The spending program is unlikely to “change the whole world,” Mr. Katainen said, but “its contribution can be significant.”

The lower forecasts, especially in the 18-nation euro area, where the commission cut its projection for growth this year to 0.8 percent from an earlier 1.2 percent, are a measure of how quickly optimism about a recovery has dissipated. France has failed to grow as hoped, and Italy struggles to make overhauls. There are also signs that the German economy is stalling.

In one of the more drastic downgrades for 2015, the commission lowered Germany’s forecast for growth by nearly a full percentage point to 1.1 percent.

Among the problems facing European economies like Germany is the prospect of a “new cycle of sanctions and countersanctions” related to the restrictions that the United States and the European Union imposed on Russia in retaliation for its role in the Ukraine crisis, and reciprocal moves by Moscow, European Union officials said.

Those tensions “could pose a larger roadblock to European growth prospects than currently envisaged in the forecast,” the officials said in a report accompanying the forecasts.

The tensions might also “have triggered a wait-and-see attitude among firms,” the officials wrote in a section of the report that focused on Germany.

Germany is expected to post growth of 1.3 percent this year, down from an earlier forecast of 1.8 percent. The French economy is expected to grow 0.3 percent this year, down from an earlier estimate of 1 percent.

Italy appeared to stand out as a poor performer: Its economy was predicted to shrink 0.4 percent this year compared with a forecast in May for growth of 0.6 percent.

The commission also expressed concerns about inflation, which it said would remain very low this year and would not come close to the target of just under 2 percent anytime soon. It projected an annual inflation rate of 1.6 percent in the European Union in 2016.

“With confidence indicators declining since midyear and now back to where they were at the end of 2013, and hard data pointing to very weak activity for the rest of the year, it is becoming harder to see the dent in the recovery as the result of temporary factors only,” officials wrote in their report.

The commission said it expected growth rates to improve somewhat in 2015, rising to 1.5 percent in the European Union and to 1.1 percent in the eurozone.

Even so, weaker-than-expected growth this year is likely to make it much harder for countries like France and Italy to achieve the bloc’s mandated targets to keep budget deficits and government debt in check.

France and Italy could face disciplinary action and steep fines if they fail to show that they are making sufficient effort to bring their economies in line with European budgetary rules. Mr. Katainen said those recommendations would be published by the end of this month.

Over all, the commission said, the most recent figures indicate a slow fading of the legacy of the sovereign debt crisis, with many member states still weighed down by high unemployment, high debt and low output.

That prompted Mr. Katainen, the commission vice president, to call on member states to agree on the €300 billion spending plan to bolster demand.

“Accelerating investment is the linchpin of economic recovery,” he said.

Germany also “can play a significant role stimulating the euro area and E.U. economy” by saving less and spending more, Mr. Katainen said.

German medium-size businesses are already feeling the negative impact of Western sanctions imposed against Moscow, as Russia is turning towards Asia-Pacific nations for high-tech machinery and engineering systems.

“The innovative German machinery makers and engineering companies, mostly medium and small businesses, are being hit the hardest,” Volker Treier, deputy managing director of the German Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) said, as quoted by the Business Insider Tuesday.

Treier said he expects German exports to Russia to fall by about 20 percent in 2014.

“On the one hand, they are being directly hurt by the sanctions imposed by the European Union or due to lacking clarity about how they should be implemented. On the other hand Russian firms that placed the orders are facing higher financing costs due to a credit crunch and ruble’s devaluation,” Treier explained.

On Tuesday, the German-Russian Foreign Chamber of Commerce (AHK) said that, based on a new survey of German businesses operating in Russia, the so-called Mittelstand companies (small-scale businesses that form the backbone of Germany’s economy) were being hit badly by the fallout from Western sanctions, particularly in the industrial manufacturing sector.

“China is the distinct beneficiary” of Europe’s sanctions policy toward Russia, AHK President Rainer Seele said, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal Tuesday.

EU to Consider Lifting Sanctions on Russia This Month: Diplomat

The European Union countries will discuss cancelling sanctions against Russia in late October, the head of European Union's delegation in Russia, Vygaudas Usackas said Tuesday

The European Union countries will discuss cancelling sanctions against Russia in late October, the head of European Union’s delegation in Russia, Vygaudas Usackas said Tuesday

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Updated 2:05 p.m. Moscow Time

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – European Union member states will discuss the lifting of sanctions against Russia in late October, the head of European Union’s delegation in Russia, Vygaudas Usackas said Tuesday.

“The sanctions will be reviewed in the end of this month, it depends on progress and how the situation stabilizes, [as well as on] troop withdrawal and border control. On the basis of these results we will make our decision on possible partial or full removal of sanctions,” Usackas told reporters.

On September 5, representatives of Kiev and southeastern Ukraine’s independence leaders reached a ceasefire deal at a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine, also comprising Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe. The Group’s next meeting in Minsk on September 19 resulted in signing of a memorandum outlining steps for ceasefire implementation.

Among other points, Minsk memorandum specified that all the foreign armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries shall withdraw from the Ukrainian territory under the supervision of the OSCE. Border demarcation between the Ukrainian forces and eastern Ukraine independence supporters would also pass along the line of contact of September 19.

The European Union has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia’s largest banks, energy and defense companies, as well as certain individuals, over the country’s alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in what it describes as “Ukraine’s internal conflict” and made every effort possible to de-escalate the ongoing tensions.

As for the sanctions, Russia deemed them as counterproductive and threatening to international peace and stability. Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that attempts to sever economic ties between Russia and the European Union would not contribute to successful business activities. The top diplomat added that Russia would not discuss any preconditions for the lifting of sanctions as it sees them as illegal to begin with.

 

 

“Pardon Us For Our Country’s Existence in the Middle of Your Military Bases” – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s Speech at the UN

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the United Nations

THE GENIUS OF SERGEI LAVROV

 
 
In a courageous and brilliant speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pierced the veil of obfuscation that characterizes too many speeches at the United Nations, and delivered a scathing denunciation of Western imperialism, imperialism that can only be accurately described as global theft.  Lavrov, on behalf of the Russian Federation implicitly warned that US/NATO is risking global war in embarking on its campaign to seize and dominate huge territories, while inexorably and ruthlessly determined to conquer and subjugate Russia, having learned nothing from the historic reality that Napolean’s effort to dominate Russia led to the collapse of Napoleonic France, and Hitler’s attempt to subjugate Russia led to the obliteration of his Third Reich. 

 
Perhaps this third attempt to conquer and subjugate Russia may lead not only to war encompassing huge territories of the globe, but, dialectically, may be the catalyst leading to the ultimate decline of capitalism, an economic system which thrives almost entirely on imperialism, and is undergoing a possibly terminal crisis, as described by the French economist, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling work “Capital in the 21 Century.”  In desperation, dysfunctional Western capitalism is lashing out recklessly and irrationally, unwilling and unable to preclude the disastrous consequences of its myopic policies.  And one possible consequence of current US/NATO policies is thermonuclear war.

Lavrov stated:  “The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries, acts from directly opposite positions in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil.”

“Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests.  Military interference has become a norm – even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years.”

“The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, attack against Libya and the failure of operation in Afghanistan.  Only due to intensive diplomatic efforts the aggression against Syria was prevented in 2013.  There is an involuntary impression that the goal of various ‘color revolutions’ and other projects to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.”

“Today Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy.  The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area.  The West has embarked upon the course towards ‘vertical structuring of humanity’ tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards.  After they declared victory in the Cold War and the ‘end of history,’ the U.S. and EU have opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all peoples of Europe […] NATO enlargement to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given earlier.  The instant switch of NATO to hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West’s own interests, and additional build up of military infrastructure at the Russian borders – made obvious the inability of the alliance to change the genetic code it embedded during the Cold War era.”

“The U.S. and EU supported the coup d’etat in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any acts by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that opted for suppression by force of the part of the Ukranian people that had rejected the attempts to impose the anti-constitutional way of life to the  entire country and wanted to defend its rights to the native language, culture and history.  It is precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take the destiny in its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination.  This was an absolutely free choice no matter what was invented by those who are responsible in the first place for the internal conflict in Ukraine.”

“The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukranian crisis.  Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February bloody events at Maidan and massive loss of human lives in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions of Ukraine.  The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in the South-Eastern Ukraine has been deliberately understated.  Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light when mass graves were discovered in the suburbs of Donetsk.  Despite UNSG Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances of the loss of Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted.  The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice.  Otherwise the national reconciliation in Ukraine can hardly be expected.”

In total contempt for truth and international law, Kiev’s escalation of the Ukranian crisis is being relentlessly prepared, in an ultimate act of deceit, as Ukranian President Poroshenko assumes military regalia, threatening Russia’s survival, and, indeed the survival of his own bankrupt country, and is now speaking of all-out war with Russia.

Last month Washington pledged and delivered 53 million dollars of US taxpayer’s money to provide military aid to the Kiev regime, which is using the ceasefire arranged by Russian President Putin and the OSCE as an opportunity to acquire more sophisticated and deadly weapons and prepare for another barbarous onslaught against civilians in east and southeastern Ukraine, where the massacre of almost 4,000 citizens of East Ukraine and the desperate plight of more than one million refugees  followed the “secret” visit to Kiev, (under a false name) of CIA Director John Brennan last April.

But perhaps the most brazen announcement of US/NATO intent to inflict further carnage upon the citizens of East Ukraine , whose rejection of the Nazi infested and Western controlled regime in Kiev has resulted in Kiev’s campaign of extermination of its dissident Ukrainian citizens, is the return to Kiev this month of the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland.  Ms. Nuland was made world famous (or world infamous) by her February declaration “Fuck the EU” while, on behalf of her neocon sponsors in Washington, she engineered the destabilization and overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich, plunging Ukraine into the civil war that holds the potential of engulfing the world in a conflagration which will be known as World War III.

In her October 7, 2014 speech to the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, Ms. Nuland boasted:  “Ukraine this year has received $290 million in U.S. financial support plus a billion dollar loan guarantee.  And now you have what so many of you stood on the Maidan for, you have an association agreement with Europe and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.”  That “Association Agreement” holds Ukraine virtual hostage to NATO and the IMF, whose imposition of “austerity measures” will further degrade the living standards of the already impoverished Ukranians.  Ms. Nuland brings a Trojan Horse into Ukraine, unctuously flattering gullible Ukranian students, who will ultimately provide cannon fodder for the war which US/NATO is inciting.

Further on in his September 27 address to the UN General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov states:

“Let me recall a history of not so far ago.  As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference into domestic affairs of the U.S. and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America.  At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record on the basis of reciprocity.  Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this topic and reproduce that demand of the U.S. government on a universal scale.  Shouldn’t the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the inadmissibility of interference into domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of coup d’etat as a method of the change of power?  The time has come to totally exclude from the international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others.  The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we took an example of the U.S. blockade of Cuba.”

 

“The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21 century and run counter to the objective process of development of a polycentric and democratic world order.” ~ Sergei Lavrov

EU risks €40bn hemorrhage from Russia sanctions in 2014 – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

RT news

Economies across the European Union will lose about €40 billion this year, with the damage estimated to widen to €50 billion in 2015, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing figures from the EU itself.

There are so far no exact figures for the damage incurred, but the European Union has made some preliminary estimates and said the damage could be as high as €40 billion this year, Sergey Lavrov said.

The Foreign Minister was addressing a group of business leaders at the Association of European Businesses (AEB), a Moscow-based lobby group that represents the interests of more than 600 European companies in Russia.

Lavrov called forsanctions against Russia that target state-owned companies as well as individuals, to be lifted. Then Russia would cancel the country’s one-year food ban against the EU, a penalty which could cost the EU $6.6 billion in exports.

“Decisions in Brussels, in particular, to impose sanctions against Russia, were made under strong American pressure,” Lavrov said.

Russia announced the food ban in August, but only after the West had introduced several rounds of sanctions over the country’s perceived role in the Ukraine crisis.

According to Lavrov, sanctions are a “one-way tool” and that Russia never wanted to join the tit-for-tat political game – but was forced to.
Trade, South Stream

Despite the diplomatic standoff, Russia is still interested in deepening integration, and creating a free trade zone with the EU. Trade between Russia and the EU is $440 billion and thousands of companies do regular day-to-day business in Russia.

In September, the AEB penned a letter to the EU and Russian governments asking to keep business relations between the two groups functional.

Lavrov hopes that the EU will drop their political rhetoric and focus on business.

One of the main points of cooperation Lavrov hopes will remain intact is the South Stream gas pipeline project that will deliver gas to south and central Europe without crossing through Ukraine, which has proved an unreliable transit partner.

The pipeline will deliver about 64 billion cubic meters to Europe, Russia’s biggest gas client.

“This project will minimize the risks to supplies of Russian gas for EU consumers, which is fully consistent with Brussels’ goal to ensure energy security in Europe,” Lavrov said.

Since the Ukraine crisis began to unfold and splinter relations between Brussels and Moscow, the project has faced many roadblocks, from countries being forced to halt construction, to the EU raising questions on whether it violates anti-monopoly laws.

Biden says US ’embarrassed’ EU into sanctioning Russia over Ukraine

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

 

RT news

America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion, US Vice President Joe Biden revealed during a speech at Harvard.

“We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences,” Biden told a gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on Thursday.

The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defense, and economic sectors.

“It is true they did not want to do that,” Biden admitted.

“It was America’s leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,” the US vice president declared.

EU parliament.  AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

EU parliament.
AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

Those costs deemed behind the ruble’s historic plunge not only forced America’s ExxonMobil to retreat from Russia’s Arctic shelf, but also provoked counter-measures from Moscow, which suspended certain food imports from the EU.

Russia’s counter-sanctions have hit many of the EU’s agricultural states. EU members, particularly those close to Russia, were the most affected by the loss of the Russian market.

For instance, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products – is set to lose 300 million euro annually from canceled business with Russia, as it accounts for roughly 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, and meat.

At the same time, Poland was hit hard by the Kremlin’s sanctions, as its food exports to Russia totaled $1.5 billion in 2013.

Spain, a large exporter of oranges to Russia, is estimated to miss out on 337 million euro ($421 million) in food and agriculture sales, while Italy has estimated its losses at nearly 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion).

Following pressure from local farmers, a 125 million euro EU Commission Common Agricultural Policy fund was established, from which the growers are expected to get some cash, while Amsterdam is willing to cover the cost of transporting excess produce to eight food banks across Holland.

Overall, Moscow’s one-year food embargo against the EU, the US, Norway, Australia, and Canada will block an estimated $9 billion worth of agricultural exports to Russia.

With European countries now at a loss with apple and dairy surplus, it is not exactly clear whether EU producers will be able to return to the Russian markets after the one-year ban expires.

However, this is no secret to the US, as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland remarked on Thursday.

“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher,” Nuland said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Nuland’s reference to necessary action against the “aggressor” might be taken with a grain of salt by the Europeans, as the “F**k the EU” leak is still fresh in their memory.

The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user to YouTube.

Nuland was recorded as saying the notoriously known phrase during a phone call with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were seemingly discussing a US-preferred line-up of the Ukrainian government. It apparently referred to Washington’s policy differences with those of the EU on ways of handling the Ukrainian political crisis, with Nuland suggesting to “glue this thing” with the help of the UN and ignore Brussels.

The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”

U.S. Vice President Biden Says U.S. Forced EU Countries to Impose Sanctions Against Russia

America persuaded Europe to impose sanctions against Russia, despite their initial reluctance, US Vice President Joe Biden was cited as saying at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

America persuaded Europe to impose sanctions against Russia, despite their initial reluctance, US Vice President Joe Biden was cited as saying at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

 

MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – The United States and US President Barack Obama personally forced the European Union members to introduce sanctions against Russian over its stance on the Ukrainian crisis, US Vice President Joe Biden announced.

Washington rallied “the world’s most developed countries to impose real cost on Russia” and introduce restrictive measures against Moscow, Biden said at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on Thursday.

“It is true – they did not want to do that but again it was America’s leadership and the President of the United States insisting, oftentimes almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose cost,” the vice president said.

“We don’t want Russia to collapse, we want Russia to succeed,” Biden added.

 

 

The relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated amid the Ukrainian crisis, as Washington kept blaming Moscow for meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

Over the past few months, the United States has introduced several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia, with its allies later following the move and drawing up their own blacklists.

In response to western sanctions, in August, Moscow implemented a one-year ban on certain food imports from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

Why EU Sanctions Are Illegal and Why That Won’t Change Anything

The EU repeatedly boasts of its commitment to the rule of law. In reality, the legal basis of the sanctions it has imposed on Russia is extremely dubious. However, past experience shows that even when the EU’s own courts declare sanctions illegal, the EU, despite its fulsome proclamations, simply carries on with them anyway.

There is only one international body that is authorised under international law to impose sanctions: the Security Council of the United Nations. Its authority to impose sanctions is clearly set out in Article 41 of the UN Charter, which reads as follows:

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Any decision by the UN Security Council to impose sanctions under Article 41 has the force of law. UN Member States (including the states that make up the EU) are legally bound to enforce them.

The EU has no international legal authority to impose sanctions without obtaining a mandate from the Security Council. Doing so challenges the authority of the Security Council to impose sanctions. It also violates the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

The EU nonetheless claimed for itself this power in a 2004 position paper:

If necessary, the Council will impose autonomous EU sanctions in support of efforts to fight terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, as a restrictive measure, to uphold respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and good governance. We will do this in accordance with our common foreign and security policy, as set out in Article 11 TEU, and in full conformity with our obligations under international law.

The position paper however fails to explain the legal basis upon which the EU claims this power. It refers to Article 11 of the Treaty on the European Union. This is has been replaced by Articles 21 and 24 of the amended Treaty on the European Union. Neither the original Article 11 nor Articles 21 and 24 of the amended Treaty on the European Union, however, refer to sanctions.

Reference is sometimes also made to Article 28 of the Treaty on the European Union, which reads:

Where the international situation requires operational action by the Union, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions. They shall lay down their objectives, scope, the means to be made available to the Union, if necessary their duration, and the conditions for their implementation.

Reference is also made to Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which says:

Where a decision, adopted in accordance with Chapter 2 of Title V of the Treaty on European Union, provides for the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries, the Council, acting by a qualified majority on a joint proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission, shall adopt the necessary measures.

None of these provisions however say the EU has the power to impose sanctions without a mandate from the Security Council.

The EU says the sanctions it imposes are intended to influence policy rather than punish people. In the words of an EU guidance document:

Sanctions are an instrument of a diplomatic or economic nature which seek to bring about a change in activities or policies such as violations of international law or human rights, or policies that do not respect the rule of law or democratic principles.

The same document goes on to say that EU sanctions must respect human rights and fundamentals freedoms.

The EU has, however, sanctioned Russian businesses and individuals who play no part in deciding Russian policy. It is impossible to see these sanctions as anything other than a punishment. As such, they appear to violate the principle that there should be no punishment without law. In the case of the journalist Dmitry Kiselyov, the violation of human rights looks even worse since it seems he is being punished for his opinions, contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

No one however should be under any illusions. The EU, for all its boastful claims about upholding the rule of law, will not allow mere concerns about legality to stand in its way. Consider what happened when the EU imposed sanctions on various people in Iran. In a series of Judgments, the European Court of Justice – the EU’s own court – ruled many of these sanctions illegal. These Judgments were enthusiastically welcomed in Iran, which assumed the EU actually cared as much about the rule of law as it says it does. In fact, the EU simply overrode the Judgments by re-imposing the same sanctions on the same individuals, on a slightly different basis.

One hardly needs to guess how the EU would react if Iran or Russia were to do the same thing.

EU Failed Again to Break ‘Vicious’ Sanctions Circle: Russia’s EU Envoy

The European Union has failed again to break the vicious circle of sanction mentality by refusing to lift the current sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday.

The European Union on Tuesday decided keep in place economic sanctions on Russia over its alleged backing of independence supporters in eastern Ukraine despite some “encouraging developments” in the situation.

“Unfortunately, it is still not happening, despite mounting signals indicating EU’s attempts to look at the prospects and review the strategy of development of relations with Russia,” Chizhov said, commenting on the EU decision.

“Let’s see how our partners will act in the future, but at present we are not really ‘inspired’ by their behavior,” the diplomat said, adding that the EU would most likely return to the discussion of the issue at the end of October.

The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied. The latest batch of sanctions targeted Russian energy and defense companies, as well as certain individuals.

On September 25, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union High Representative, said the economic sanctions against Russia could be lifted if the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine holds.

On September 28, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said ultimatums were an inefficient way of communicating with Russia, a country open to cooperation. Moscow also said that sanctions posed a threat to international peace and stability and contradicted the principles of international law.

Czech President Urges to Lift Russian Sanctions, Fight Islamic State

Czech President Milos Zeman urged during the 12th Rhodes Forum Friday to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and to combine the efforts of developed countries to confront the real enemy – international terrorism and the dangers of the Islamic state (IS) plans.

We need to lift the sanctions, which are not only useless, but also cause the opposite effect and prevent dialogue … We need to develop … the dialogue based on the exchange in the fields of religion, capital and information. We have to fight international terrorism,” Zeman said.

The president recalled that long-term sanctions against Cuba only strengthened the Castro regime. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.

The main contemporary problem, according to Zeman, is not the Ukrainian crisis but international terrorism. It originates in states with no real government, such as Somalia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria, he said.

There is a danger … it’s called the Islamic State,” Zeman stated. He also said that the plans of the IS to occupy vast territories of Central Asia and even Europe may sound “crazy” just like Hitler’s plans, which were also initially considered to be “crazy”.

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting against Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories over which it had control.

Czech President Milos Zeman urged during the 12th Rhodes Forum Friday to lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and to combine the efforts of developed countries to confront the real enemy – international terrorism and the dangers of the Islamic state (IS) plans.

We need to lift the sanctions, which are not only useless, but also cause the opposite effect and prevent dialogue … We need to develop … the dialogue based on the exchange in the fields of religion, capital and information. We have to fight international terrorism,” Zeman said.

The president recalled that long-term sanctions against Cuba only strengthened the Castro regime. The European Union and the United States have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Foreign Affairs Analyst: Russia Should ‘Show Some Teeth’ in Response to Western Sanctions

Russia needs to react differently to the challenges it is currently facing brought on by Western sanctions and “show some teeth” or face running the risk of appearing weak causing measures to escalate, foreign affairs analyst, Srdja Trifkovic told RIA Novosti.

“Russia is facing serious challenges and it’s high time to show some teeth, because that is the only way. If you take hits and blows and respond inadequately or half-heartedly the other side will only escalate because it will not be taken as conciliatory attitude, it will be taken as weakness,” author, editor, and professor Trifkovic said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Russia needs to go through a regime change and show the West, particularly the United States, its power and capabilities in the international world, according to the professor. Continuing to deliver engines for the American Saturn V rocket used to launch US spy satellites into space, for example, counters Russia’s retaliation against Western sanctions.

Trifkovic explained, “a serious reply to the sanctions should have been, “we’re selling all of our treasury bills now, and … we never buy any treasury bills again, and … by 2020 all of oil and gas transactions of the Russian Federation will be accounted in a basket of currencies that will include the euro, the Swiss franc, the Yuan, but not the US dollar.”

The United States currently retains its power by printing dollars with impunity. Should Russia eliminate the US dollar from major transactions, the international financial market would go through some “interesting” changes.

“If the Russians had announced before the second round of EU sanctions that they were imposing a surtax of 25 percent on all cars imported from the European Union, then there would have been no second round of sanctions,” Trifkovic said.

A 25 percent tax would cause powerful European car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar, and BMW to influence political leaders into cooperating with Russia.

Trifkovic also suggested Russia “just impose a tax, 2,500 percent” on all airline carriers from countries imposing anti-Russian sanctions. An impossibly high 25-fold tax would cause passengers and businesses to shift to Asian airlines, leading taxed carriers to pressure political leaders into talks with Russia to lift sanctions.

According to the professor, no rational deal can be made between Russia and the West as the struggle is existential. A complete regime change, re-education of the country, and firmness is the way to sanction relief.

The West’s latest sanctions imposed on September 12, target Russia’s largest banks, oil and defense companies, as well as certain individuals. The companies were denied access to the European capital markets, while a number of individuals were subject to entry bans and asset freezes.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Mercouris is a London-based lawyer. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.