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Posts tagged ‘Sovinoya Land of Russia’

Citing Russian defense ministry, Israeli website says Egypt to send troops to Syria next week

January 10, 2017

The Russian defence ministry has reportedly announced that Egypt would send troops to Syria to observe the implementation of the truce reached between the Syrian regime’s forces and the armed opposition, according to the Israeli website Rotter.

The news website added that the Egyptian troops will arrive in Syria early next week, noting that a number of Egyptian officers had been already in Syria to pave the way for the troops’ arrival.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Egypt as a partner to join his country along with Turkey and Iran in the talks on Syria’s future and the implementation of the truce, according to Rotter.

Russia had decided to halt flights to Egyptian airports after a Russian plane crashed in October 2015 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 217 passengers on board. The Metrojet flight crashed after its departure from the Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.

Rotter said that for Egypt to join the trio discussing Syria’s future would be a great Russian success, which is also interesting in light of Egypt’s tense relations with Turkey on the one hand and its relations with Iran on the other.

It will be also interesting to know the US response to this step, given that the United States and European countries are not taking part in the Syria talks, the Israeli website added.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170110-citing-russian-defence-ministry-israeli-website-says-egypt-to-send-troops-to-syria-next-week/.

Turkey: Russian national detained over planned drone attack

August 10, 2017

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish authorities have detained a Russian national and suspected Islamic State group militant for allegedly planning a drone attack on U.S. aircraft at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, police said Thursday.

Renad Bakiev was detained in the southern city of Adana over suspicions that he plotted to crash an American aircraft or attack the Incirlik air base using a drone, Adana police said in a statement. Turkish private news agency Dogan said a court later ordered him formally arrested pending a trial.

Bakiev also intended to attack the local Alevi community in Adana city, the statement said. It said he was affiliated with IS and had previously traveled to Syria. The Alevi religious minority is an offshoot of Shia Islam and is the largest religious group in Turkey after Sunnis. IS regards Alevis as heretics.

Bakiev appealed for 2,800 Turkish Lira (nearly $800) from other militants on the Telegram messaging application, which IS sympathizers use widely, to buy a drone, police said. The private Dogan news agency said during his questioning that he allegedly defended the need to kill Alevis and considered them “enemies of Allah,” the statement said.

During police interrogations, Bakiev admitted to reconnoitering the air base for his strike, the police statement said. A previous attempt he made to attack Americans was unsuccessful. Bakiev’s plans came to light in testimony from suspected IS members detained in a counterterror raid in June, according to Dogan news agency. That operation captured the alleged commander of an Adana-based IS cell, 32-year old Abdulkerim Cakar, and 10 others.

The U.S. Air Force has used Incirlik air base, near Adana, as a staging post for the air campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq since 2015. IS militants have used armed drones to deadly effect in Iraq and Syria, converting commercial drones to carry small explosives.

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.

Romania blocks Russian deputy PM from entering EU airspace

July 28, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had to scrap a trip to Moldova on Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace. Rogozin told Russian news agencies that he and other Russian officials were traveling on a commercial flight to the Moldovan capital of Chisinau when the plane was denied passage over Romania or Hungary, both European Union members. It had to land in the Belorussian capital of Minsk because it was running out of fuel.

The deputy prime minister is one of the most senior Russian officials slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Rogozin told the Interfax news agency that he started using commercial flights after Romanian authorities closed their airspace to his chartered flight in 2014.

Romania’s foreign ministry confirmed on Friday that authorities had not allowed Rogozin to enter the country’s airspace. In a tweet later Friday, Rogozin said Romanian authorities “put lives of the passengers, women and children at risk” by forcing the plane to divert. He issued a warning for the Romanian government: “You wait for an answer, bastards!”

Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon, who was to meet Rogozin on Friday in Chisinau, reacted angrily. “We are watching an unprecedented Russia-phobic show, which is designed to destroy Moldovan-Russian relations,” Dodon said.

Opposition activists had gathered at the Chisinau airport earlier Friday to protest Rogozin’s visit. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday presented Romania’s envoy to Russia with a note of protest, urging an investigation into the incident and arguing that it put the lives of those onboard at risk.

“Moscow is treating the incident as a deliberate provocation, which seriously damages the bilateral relations,” the ministry said, urging Romania to investigate the incident.

Associated Press writer Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania contributed.

Moldova declares Russian deputy premier persona non grata

August 02, 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Moldova has declared a Russian deputy prime minister persona non grata, following remarks he made after an aborted visit to the ex-Soviet republic. Wednesday’s statement from Moldova’s Foreign Ministry came after Dmitry Rogozin abandoned a trip to the country Friday after his plane was barred from entering Romanian and Hungarian airspace. Both countries are EU members.

Rogozin is one of the most senior Russian officials to be slapped with an EU visa ban in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Rogozin later told Rossiya 24 TV station that Russia would adopt “special sanctions” against Moldovan and other officials who had obstructed his visit.

The ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Farit Muhametshin on Wednesday and said “Moldova wants to build with Russia bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect.”

Russia vents frustration over Trump signing sanctions bill

August 03, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian officials and lawmakers on Wednesday vented their frustration with U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, warning that it will erode global stability and fuel conflicts.

In an emotional Facebook post, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described the move as a humiliating defeat for Trump. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned of possible new retaliatory measures. “The hope for improving our relations with the new U.S. administration is now over,” said Medvedev, who served as Russian president in 2008-2012 before stepping down to allow Vladimir Putin to reclaim the job.

The Kremlin had been encouraged by Trump’s campaign promises to improve the Russia-U.S. ties that had grown increasingly strained under President Barack Obama. With the White House preoccupied by congressional and FBI investigations into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, the hoped-for relationship reset has not materialized.

“Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” said Medvedev, who presided during a brief period of improved relations early in Obama’s presidency.

“The American establishment has won an overwhelming victory over Trump,” he added. The president wasn’t happy with the new sanctions, but he had to sign the bill. The topic of new sanctions was yet another way to put Trump in place.”

Medvedev emphasized that the stiff new sanctions amount to the declaration of an “all-out trade war against Russia,” but added that it will cope with the challenge and only get stronger. “We will continue to work calmly to develop our economy and social sphere, deal with import substitution and solve important government tasks counting primarily on ourselves,” he said. “We have learned how to do it over the past few years.”

Without waiting for Trump to sign the bill, which was passed by Congress with overwhelming, veto-proof numbers, Russia fired back Friday. It ordered deep cuts in the number of personnel working at the U.S. embassy and consulates in Russia and the closure of a U.S. recreational retreat and warehouse facilities.

It was the long-expected tit-for-tat response to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S. following allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Asked Wednesday whether Moscow planned additional steps in response to Trump signing the bill, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered that “retaliatory measures already have been taken.” But shortly after, the Foreign Ministry warned that “we naturally reserve the right for other countermeasures.”

It said the sanctions bill reflects a “short-sighted and dangerous” attempt to cast Russia as an enemy and would erode global stability. The ministry added that “no threats or attempts to pressure Russia will force it to change its course or give up its national interests.”

The ministry said, “We are open for cooperation with the U.S. in the spheres where we see it useful for ourselves and international security, including the settlement of regional conflicts,” but warned that constructive dialogue was only possible if Washington sheds the notion of “American exclusiveness.”

Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said the bill Trump signed “leaves no chance for a constructive cooperation with Russia.” “Perspectives for the settlement of Iranian and North Korean problems look grim,” Kosachev said. “It means that real threats will exacerbate.”

Separately, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union also would consider retaliatory action if the U.S. sanctions against Russia penalize European energy companies doing business there.

“If the U.S. sanctions specifically disadvantage EU companies trading with Russia in the energy sector, the EU is prepared to take appropriate steps in response within days,” he said. But Juncker said the new sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by Trump appear to have been softened or dropped in response to EU concerns.

He added that Congress “has now also committed that sanctions will only be applied after the country’s allies are consulted. And I do believe we are still allies of the U.S.”

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.

Trump ready to sign Russia sanctions bill, Moscow retaliates

July 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will sign a package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia that passed Congress with overwhelming support, the White House said Friday. Moscow has already responded, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia and closing the U.S. Embassy’s recreation retreat.

Trump’s willingness to support the measure is a remarkable acknowledgement that he has yet to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow. His vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit the president’s leeway to go easy on Moscow over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both were veto-proof numbers. The White House initially wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law. But in a statement late Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had “reviewed the final version and, based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it.”

Never in doubt was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president’s push for better relations with Moscow might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin.

The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. It also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

Before Trump’s decision to sign the bill into law, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the bill’s passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug.

“Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?” McCain asked. “Very little.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy in Russia to reduce the number of its diplomats by Sept. 1. Russia will also close down the embassy’s recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

Meanwhile, some European countries expressed concerns that the measures targeting Russia’s energy sector would harm its businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas. Germany’s foreign minister said his country wouldn’t accept the U.S. sanctions against Russia being applied to European companies.

A spokesman for the European Commission said Friday that European officials will be watching the U.S. effort closely, vowing to “remain vigilant.” Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congress’ ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

But faced with heavy bipartisan support for the bill in the House and Senate, the president had little choice but to sign the bill into law. Trump’s communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, had suggested Thursday that Trump might veto the bill and “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”

But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that would be a serious mistake and called Scaramucci’s remark an “off-handed comment.” If Trump rejected the bill, Corker said, Congress would overrule him. “I cannot imagine anybody is seriously thinking about vetoing this bill,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s not good for any president — and most governors don’t like to veto things that are going to be overridden. It shows a diminishment of their authority. I just don’t think that’s a good way to start off as president.”

Still, signing a bill that penalizes Russia’s election interference marks a significant shift for Trump. He’s repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favor. And he’s blasted as a “witch hunt” investigations into the extent of Russia’s interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

The 184-page bill seeks to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia’s energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow’s benefit. The bill raised the threshold for when U.S. firms would be prohibited from being part of energy projects that also included Russian businesses.

Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia’s energy sector didn’t undercut the ability of U.S. allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russia. The North Korea sanctions are intended to thwart Pyongyang’s ambition for nuclear weapons by cutting off access to the cash the reclusive nation needs to follow through with its plans. The bill prohibits ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the bill.

The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country’s Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions bill.

Japan leader Abe vows Arctic, Russia cooperation in Finland

July 10, 2017

HELSINKI (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday pledged to increase cooperation with Finland in Arctic issues and on furthering Russian relations, after talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Abe noted that Finland is currently chairing the Arctic Council and said his country would increase its role in the agency by “positively contributing more than in the past to (its) activities.” “We will be enhancing our cooperation in the area of the environment regarding the Arctic regions,” Abe said in prepared statements by the two leaders.

Niinisto said that the two countries signed several agreements, including on developing environmental cooperation. Abe congratulated Finland on this year’s 100th anniversary of independence from Russia, with which it shares a 1,300 kilometer (800 mile) border, noting that Russia is “an important neighbor for both of our nations.”

“We reaffirmed our close collaboration in our relationship with Russia,” he said. Neither leader gave any details of the content of their talks. Before arriving in Finland, Abe met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Stockholm, where the two leaders demanded that North Korea halt missile tests, and pledged increased cooperation in the U.N. Security Council. They also agreed to combat terrorism together.

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