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  • Russian official: Russia is developing hypersonic weapons from revolutionary new materials
    UAWIRE ORG January 20, 2017 5:05:00 PM

    Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense, Yuriy Borisov, stated that Russia is developing hypersonic weapons with the use of revolutionary new materials. “Hypersonic weapons, which require the use of revolutionary new materials and control systems that operate in a completely different medium, in plasma, are coming up,” Borisov said.

    In addition, the representative of the Ministry noted that the Russian Defense Ministry expects an especially substantive breakthrough in the field of laser and electromagnetic weapons.

    “Cooperation between the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Defense has specific objectives, particularly in the development of scientific and technological potential. We expect a serious breakthrough in the field of laser technologies, electromagnetic weapons, and so on,” Borisov told journalists in the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense is discussing with the Russian Academy of Sciences the development of such weapons, since access to the technology is limited.

    “We are concerned, especially in the context of sanctions, that we are blocked from having access to serious knowledge-intensive technologies. That is why, we are discussing the issues of import substitution and preservation of those competences, which have to exist in Russia, to ensure the security of our country regardless of any prevailing political situation,” Borisov said.

    In September 2016, Yuriy Borisov reported that separate samples of laser weapons have already been put into service in Russia. “These are aerial, ground-based and terrestrial laser systems,” the Deputy Minister noted.
    UAWire - Russian official: Russia is developing hypersonic weapons from revolutionary new materials

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    • Kremlin Hopes for Rapport With US, But Differences to Stay
      VOICE OF AMERICA AP Jan 21, 2017

      MOSCOW —

      Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman voiced hope for a constructive dialogue with President Donald Trump's administration in comments broadcast Saturday, but warned that differences will remain.

      Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with state Rossiya television that it would be an “illusion” to expect that U.S.-Russian relations would be completely free of disagreements.

      “Successful development of bilateral ties will depend on our ability to solve these differences through dialogue,” Peskov said. He added that Putin will call Trump soon to congratulate him.

      Trump has promised to mend ties with Moscow badly strained over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, and his victory has elated Russian political elites.

      Peskov, however, pointed at the challenges posed by the intricacy of nuclear arms control, the complexity of the situation in Syria and other issues.

      While Russia supports prospective nuclear arms cuts, they should be proportional and not upset the nuclear parity between Russia and the U.S., which “plays a critical role in ensuring global stability and security,” Peskov said.

      He noted that different composition of Russian and U.S. nuclear forces is a factor that needs to be carefully considered in negotiations.

      Asked to comment on Trump's recent interview with the Times of London in which he indicated that he could end sanctions imposed on Russia imposed after the 2014 annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal, Peskov said the two issues are hard to link.

      Peskov emphasized the U.S. role in settling the nearly six-year conflict in Syria, where Trump has offered to pool efforts with Russia in fighting the Islamic State group.

      “It's quite obvious that it's impossible to constructively solve the Syrian problem without the U.S. participation,” he said.

      Russia already has invited Trump's administration to attend talks between Syrian government and opposition groups in Kazakhstan capital Monday. Russia brokered the talks together with Turkey and Iran, but Tehran has opposed the U.S. involvement in them.

      “There are certain disagreements between Moscow and Tehran on this subject,” Peskov said, adding that the Syrian issue “is too complex to have a full harmony in approaches.”

      “Any deals there are unlikely, there are too many parties involved,” he added.

      Turning to the Ukrainian crisis, which has driven Russia's relations with the West to post-Cold War lows, Peskov criticized Barack Obama's administration for an “unconstructive” approach and voiced hope that Trump's administration would revise it.
      Kremlin Hopes for Rapport With US, But Differences to Stay

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      • Poroshenko’s Roshen factory in Russia will close in April
        UAWIRE ORG January 21, 2017 12:16:36 PM

        The Roshen Corporation, which belongs to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, will cease its operation at the Lipetsk confectionery factory. This was stated by the company’s press service on it’s website on Friday, January 20th. "This decision was made due to economic and political reasons," the statement reads, without providing any further details.

        The production and the storage of the production facilities and infrastructure are planned to stop operating fully in April.

        President Poroshenko repeatedly emphasized that it was impossible to sell the factory due to freezes on the factory’s property by the Investigative Committee of Russia in the framework of a criminal case.

        According to the company, in four years, the production volumes of the Lipetsk confectionery factory decreased three times. In July 2013, Rospotrebnadzor banned the import of Roshen products to the Russian Federation, which led to a decrease in the factory’s assortment. Among other reasons, the corporation called this move an "active discrediting of the factory’s activity in the Russian and Ukrainian media" and mentioned the pressure applied by authorities on businesses.

        The 700 remaining employees have already been informed of the impending closure of the facility.

        In 2014, Poroshenko created a number of offshore companies. He explained that the Roshen confectionery could be transferred into a trust only through such a legal construct.
        UAWire - Poroshenko’s Roshen factory in Russia will close in April

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        • Week’s balance: Hryvnia calms down as Ukraine counts days to securing IMF tranche The International Monetary Fund has promised in the coming days to agree on the details of the decision on the allocation for Ukraine of a new tranche of the loan; the hryvnia seems to be calming down following the stormy days at year-start; and the government has brought to top agenda the issue of pension reform – these are the key economic news of the outgoing week.
          UNIAN Olha Hordienko 21 Jan 2017

          The week’s main economic newsmaker was IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde who talked of the imminent completion of the third revision of the Fund’s cooperation program with Ukraine, based on which Kyiv can receive the next tranche worth about $1 billion and maintain macroeconomic stability achieved earlier. "I have every reason to believe that the last few technical details that need to be addressed in the next couple of days will be satisfactorily resolved. Hopefully, by that time we will have met all the requirements," the IMF Managing Director said, according to the Ukrainian president's press service. commenting on the outcome of her talks with President Poroshenko at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

          In turn, Poroshenko expressed content with Ukraine fulfilling and meeting all the requirements of the third IMF Memorandum.

          "I am proud that in such a difficult time of economic and financial stabilization we have a remarkable cooperation with the entire IMF team and achieve promising results," Poroshenko said, noting that the “is a co-sponsor of a significant part of our reforms and our success.”

          The Fund’s mission completed its work in November 2016, but the Executive Board did not meet before the end of 2016 to hear the mission’s report, despite the fact that Ukraine had a deficit not exceeding 3% of GDP, and the nationalization of the country’s largest bank, PrivatBank.

          Among other important news from Davos there was Petro Poroshenko’s statement on possible expansion of cooperation with China and the agreement with the Swiss government on joint investigation of the crimes of the Yanukovych regime, as well as a $100,000 financial assistance.

          Forum in Davos was preceded by a farewell visit to Kyiv by U.S. Vice President at the time Joseph Biden, who has now stepped down giving way to the team of the next U.S. President, Donald Trump.

          During a meeting with Ukrainian President Biden he expressed hope that the US will remain Ukraine’s partner and continue supporting it. Having praised Ukraine for strengthening the banking sector, he noted that it is too early to stop and it is important to fulfill the requirements of the International Monetary Fund, simultaneously reducing dependence on Russian gas, and getting rid of corruption. Biden also urged the international community to maintain unity in the struggle against Russian aggression and not to lift sanctions against Russia for the occupation of Crimea until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.

          Poroshenko thanked Biden for the support and expressed readiness to continue fruitful cooperation with the new U.S. leadership. In turn, Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman promised the U.S. official not to stop on the way of reforms that "will bring peace, stability and calm to our country", focusing on judicial reform, large-scale privatization, transformation of the energy sector and the banking system, and the reform of the Pension Fund .

          Row over pensions
          One of the conditions for the successful continuation of cooperation with the IMF and the preservation of the fragile stability of public finances is the introduction of pension reform. This week, having opened a veal of secrecy around the essence of the reform, the Ukrainian government, has totally confused the Ukrainians.

          The Ministry of Social Policy on Monday morning (Jan 16) reported that during the meeting with the permanent representative of the IMF Jerome Vacher, Minister Andriy Reva had announced certain pension innovations, which, according to him, would be a real "shock" for the citizens. Among the elements of this shock therapy, he named a unified approach to the calculation of pensions, reduction of pensionable service from 20 years to 15 years, the opportunity to buy off one’s insurance period, and the ban on employment for those who get pensions, as well as the abolition of all kinds of pension bonuses.

          Reva also said that the law could be enforced as early as in July this year. At the same time, there came reports in some media outlets that that the updated pension system involves raising the retirement age to 63 years, as allegedly required by the new IMF memo.

          Soon the ministry annulled the press release with Reva’s statement, and Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko hastened to assure that there are no fixed commitments to raise the retirement age in Ukraine. >>>>>>>>>

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          • Wk's Balance Pt 2

            Rozenko made it clear that the government has no unified vision for the future of the country’s pension system yet. Concerned experts have confirmed that the authorities had not discussed with them a plan to reform the pension system.

            "We don’t yet see a dialogue with the economic experts and the public, and no one knows anything of a new bill," general manager of the "Pension Reform" group of a social platform "Resuscitation reform package" Halyna Tretyakova said.

            According to her, the issue of pension reform has long become urgent, because so far nothing has been done in this direction, while the new IMF memo includes a commitment to reduce the deficit of the Pension Fund.

            The project of the pension reform was not presented to the public this week. At the meeting on Wednesday, January 18, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Pension Fund budget for 2017 with a UAH 284 billion revenue and budgetary subsidies to cover a UAH 141 billion deficit. The government expects to cover the growing deficit with the growth of revenue from the single social contribution due to the increase in the minimum wage. However, so far the experts find it difficult to assess the volume and the likelihood of the increase in these revenues in the future.

            London High Court
            While part of the Ukrainian elite was in Davos and the other was debating on the subject of pension reform, the High Court in London held three-day hearings of the Russian claim against Ukraine over the loan of December 2013 which arose from the purchase of Eurobonds via the Irish Stock Exchange. The Russian Federation, which three years ago bribed Viktor Yanukovych for abandoning the European integration course in favor of Ukraine’s transformation into a Russian satellite, now wants to have the claim reviewed under the accelerated procedure.

            The mechanism of loan attraction was commercial in its nature but due to the fact that the Russian Ministry of Finance bought the bonds in line with the agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych, Russia considers this an interstate debt. And of course, the party to this deal, Russia, does not recognize the war it unleashed against Ukraine, killing some 10,000 Ukrainians, destruction of property worth billions of dollars, the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of part of Donbas.

            It should be recalled that in November 2015, Ukraine has successfully completed the restructuring of the external debt, agreed with the holders of Eurobonds of the 13th series. All creditors have agreed with the restructuring except holders of "Russian" bonds worth $3 billion as the Russian insisted on getting better conditions than the other creditors. In this regard, in December 2015 Ukraine has introduced a moratorium on the payment of this debt, and Russia in February 2015 appealed to the High Court of London.

            As explained by Dragon Capital analyst Serhiy Fursa, in the coming days, the court will determine the procedure of the lawsuit consideration, while it would be better for Ukraine if this would be a long-term procedure.

            "The ideal solution possible is Ukraine having to pay Russia, but only as soon as the Russian troops withdraw from the Ukrainian territory. That’s because the Ukrainian territory is occupied as a result of the actions of Russia, which is our creditor," he said, noting that the court can go for such a decision, since there have already been such precedents when the court recognized the debt as odious. The Ukrainian side is set to defend his position until the end. "If the decision is negative, there is always a possibility to appeal," said Minister of Finance Oleksandr Danyliuk. The minister stressed that Ukraine has received this loan under pressure and suffered huge losses as a result of actions of the Russian Federation. The court concluded the hearings on Thursday, January 19, as the judge promised to announce a decision “in due course”, which may take several months.

            Hryvnia calms down
            Tired of the unrest, traditional for any year-start, which led to a decrease in the hryvnia exchange rate against the dollar by 2.8%, the currency market comes back into balance. After quotations in the interbank foreign exchange market at UAH 27.8/27.9 / USD on Monday, January 16, the hryvnia strengthened to UAH 27.4/27.5 / USD at the end of the week. The National Bank, which earlier intervened to stabilize the exchange rate with a rather large amount of currency sales, finally took a break.

            It is obvious that such turbulence in the forex market will be possible in the future, since, according to estimates of the experts surveyed by UNIAN, the hryvnia devaluation trend will continue this year, with the growth of rate fluctuations at the beginning and end of the year.

            NBU Council, as planned, on Tuesday, January 17, held a meeting on the current state of the forex market and decided to appeal to the government to "reconsider the practice of fiscal expansion at the end of the year", which implies building up an offer of the hryvnia in circulation, which puts pressure on currency market. "The government should listen to our recommendations. I am convinced that their implementation will contribute to the revival of confidence in the banks, the return of deposits in the banking industry, revitalization of lending, and thus create a solid foundation for the recovery of the national economy," said Head of the NBU Council Bohdan Danylyshyn.

            Commenting on the results of the storm, senior analyst at Alpari Vadym Iosub noted that fluctuations at year-start have become a tradition, while the main causes of these phenomena lay in the reduction of business activity of exporters and active utilization of public funds at the end of the year.

            "But both in 2015 and 2016, the growth of the dollar at the beginning of the year gave way to its significant drop when excess hryvnia liquidity absorbed and revenues from exports started arriving more rapidly. Most likely, and this year will be no exception, and the dollar by year-end will return to the level of UAH 27. At the same time, at the end of the first quarter, it cannot be ruled out that it will drop to UAH 26," the expert said.

            The coming week promises to be no less interesting. We will wait for positive news from the IMF and the Ukrainian officials who got enough of fresh air in the mountains of Davos. The State Statistics Service will release its data on industrial production output in 2016. The Ukrainian businesses will also complete their yearly financial reports soon. Stay tuned.
            Week’s balance: Hryvnia calms down as Ukraine counts days to securing IMF tranche

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            • ATO HQ: Militants attack Ukraine 21 times Jan 21, mostly in Mariupol sector Combined Russian-separatist forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in eastern Ukraine 21 times from 00:00 to 18:00 on Saturday, January 21, according to the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters.

              In the Mariupol sector, the occupiers fired mortars on the village of Vodiane, as well as rocket-propelled grenades and small arms on the villages of Lebedynske, Novohryhorivka, Vodiane, Talakivka and Shyrokyne, the ATO HQ said in an evening update.

              In the Donetsk sector, the militants used grenade launchers and small arms in the villages of Zaitseve and Novhorodske. In the Luhansk sector, the enemy shelled mortars on the village of Troyitske, as well as rocket-propelled grenades and small arms on the villages of Novo-Oleksandrivka and Novozvanivka.

              ATO HQ: Militants attack Ukraine 21 times Jan 21, mostly in Mariupol sector

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              • Petro Poroshenko, the oligarch president of Ukraine
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Olena Makarenko 2017/01/2017


                Petro Poroshenko is not only the president of Ukraine but also one of the main oligarchs of the country. According to the rating prepared by Novoie Vremia together with Dragon Capital, he is the 4th richest person in Ukraine. His assets amount almost one billion dollars ($949 mn). In his declaration for 2015, he registered USD 2.4 mn and over 100 companies.

                His business interests include confectionary, agriculture, insurance, banking, shipping, defense industry, food manufacturing and others.

                He is also an owner of one of Ukraine’s news channels – 5 Kanal. Despite the criticism and recommendations of OSCE after the Presidential elections in 2014, he refused to sell it.

                The confectionary concern Roshen has been his main business during the long years. Becoming a president in 2014, he has not sold it despite the promises to do so. Now Roshen has 6 factories, including one in Russian Lipetsk (which is going to be closed in April 2017).

                The corporation is represented in 28 countries.

                The Panama Papers offshore scandal in April 2016 revealed that Poroshenko handed Roshen to a blind trust, which happened in January 2016, according to his financial advisor. Poroshenko’s legal advisor explained that in doing this, Poroshenko lost his influence on Roshen. Whether this is true or not, the Roshen corporation has not been sold

                Also, Poroshenko is one of the major agrarian oligarchs in Ukraine. He has about 40 enterprises of the agrarian complex.

                Poroshenko is also quite successful in banking and insurance.

                In January-June 2016 his Krayina increased the volume of collected premiums by 50%. His Kyiv-based International Invest Bank has a high trust factor compared to other Ukrainian banks.

                His indirect interest is also defense industry. For a long time, Poroshenko used to be an owner of the Bohdan auto producer. He is also a cofounder of it. Now the factory belongs to his old business partner. Since 2014 Bohdan started to produce armored vehicles for the Ukrainian army.

                Poroshenko has surrounded his interests with loyal businessmen and right politicians in other fields too.
                Petro Poroshenko, the oligarch president of Ukraine -Euromaidan Press |

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                • Switzerland will give Ukraine a tranche of $100 million in the coming weeks
                  UAWIRE ORG January 21, 2017 4:08:32 PM

                  The first loan tranche from Switzerland will be provided to Ukraine in the near future, as reported on the Swiss government’s website.

                  "The first loan tranche of $100 million will be directed to the National Bank of Ukraine in the coming weeks," the statement says.

                  After consultations with the Swiss National Bank, the Swiss Federal Council decided in February 2015 that the country would participate "in the international coordination of financial support to Ukraine," the report says.

                  In the spring of 2016, the central banks of Switzerland and Ukraine concluded a bilateral agreement on granting a loan to Kyiv in the amount of $200 million, which will be used to replenish Ukraine’s international reserves.

                  Earlier, it was reported that Ukraine expected to receive another tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in early February. UAWire - Switzerland will give Ukraine a tranche of $100 million in the coming weeks

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                  • Lukashenko orders that a replacement for Russian oil be found
                    UAWIRE ORG January 21, 2017 2:10:30 PM

                    The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, ordered the state to replace Russian oil supplies with alternate suppliers, as was reported on Friday, 20 January, by BelTa.

                    It is noted that the order was given against the background of a reduction in Russian oil supplies to Belarus.

                    “There is no catastrophe, but reduced Russian oil supplies should be replaced with alternative sources,” the head of the country stated. According to him, new routes have been not only worked out, but also tested. The delivery of oil from the Black and Mediterranean Seas to Belarusian oil refineries is among them.

                    On 9 January, the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia and the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade of Belarus were not able to agree on oil transporting tariffs throughout the territory of the Republic in 2017. On the same day the newspaper Kommersant reported that Russia intended to reduce oil supplies to Belarus from 4.5 to 4 million tons in the first quarter after the parties failed to find a solution to the gas dispute.
                    UAWire - Lukashenko orders that a replacement for Russian oil be found

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                    • Ukrainian Ambassador to Washington says three main issues have not changed with the new administration
                      UAWIRE ORG January 22, 2017 12:53:00 PM

                      The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, stated in his interview with Ukrainian journalists that Ukraine has three main issues in their relationship with the United States, which haven’t been changed with the new Administration, Ukrinform reported.

                      According to him, the first issue is with the security sector which includes countering Russia’s aggression and occupation of the Crimea. The second concerns the issue of the development of reforms in Ukraine, including ensuring macroeconomic stability. The third set of issues relates to institutional arrangements.

                      “We have the Strategic Partnership Commission. However, unfortunately, it hasn’t met for many years. We cooperate in different areas and it would seem logical to hold the meeting of this Commission this year,” Chaly noted. The Ambassador stated that currently, Ukraine and the United States have had positive developments in the space and defense industries.

                      “Now, we should work more with the new Administration on issues of reforms, trade, and investments. I think that the pragmatic orientation of our team allows us to show Ukraine’s capabilities from a new side,” Valeriy Chaly emphasized.

                      The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, plans to visit the United States in the latter half of February. The purpose of the visit is for Poroshenko to participate as Ukraine’s chairman to the U.N. Security Council. At the same time, they plan to work towards a summit meeting between the Presidents of Ukraine and the United States in Washington. UAWire - Ukrainian Ambassador to Washington says three main issues have not changed with the new administration

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                      • Media: SBU prevented a murder attempt on MP Anton Herashchenko
                        UAWIRE ORG January 22, 2017 11:45:00 AM

                        The Security Service of Ukraine prevented the assassination of an MP from the faction People's Front, Anton Herashchenko, reported.

                        It was noted that two Ukrainian citizens, imprisoned in the occupied Crimea, were released on parole and agreed to attempt to assassinate the MP. One of them has faced similar charges three times already. According to the investigators, their actions were coordinated by Andrey Tikhonov, a former Ukrainian citizen, who fought on the side of the LPR, and now lives in Belgorod (Russia).

                        "The surveillance of the suspects lasted for more than a month and their conversations were documented. The main motive for the assassination of Herashchenko was the attempt to eliminate a prominent politician, who is one of the founders of the main Ukrainian and international database for the search of terrorists the ‘Peacemaker,’ and is also known for open anti-Russian views and is a media personality," the newspaper writes.

                        Upon receiving proof of their criminal intent and information about the presence of an explosive device in their possession, SBU officers caught them in the act.

                        Immediately, a criminal case under the Article 112 (attempt on the life of a statesman) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine was initiated against the suspects, according to which the maximum punishment for this crime is life imprisonment.

                        Investigators are examining the explosive device seized from the detainees, as well as verifying their possible involvement in other crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine, in particular the assassination of journalist Pavlo Sheremet.

                        Previously, it was reported, the Security Service prevented an assassination attempt on the life of a people's deputy. According to the agency, the operation aimed to Herashchenko’s assassination and was planned, prepared, and monitored from the territory of Russia. UAWire - Media: SBU prevented a murder attempt on MP Anton Herashchenko

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                        • Ukraine supports OSCE's intention to have monitors working round-the-clock in the Donbas
                          UAWIRE ORG January 22, 2017 10:50:00 AM

                          The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine supports the OSCE's intention to ensure round-the-clock operations of the organization’s monitors in the Donbas, as stated by the Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, who met with the head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Ertugrul Apakan.

                          "We support the intention of the OSCE SMM to provide additional equipment to its observers and to deploy advanced observation posts in the occupied territories of the Donbas", the Defense Ministry's press service quoted Muzhenko as saying.

                          The parties discussed increasing the effectiveness of the OSCE mission’s work in the Donbas.

                          Sebastian Kurz, who is the Austrian Foreign Minister and acting head of the OSCE, recently visited Kyiv and Moscow, during which time he announced the OSCE’s intention to monitor the ceasefire in the Donbas 24 hours a day.
                          UAWire - Ukraine supports OSCE's intention to have monitors working round-the-clock in the Donbas

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                          • Russia PM Calls Idea US Will Lift Sanctions Soon 'Illusion'
                            VOICE OF AMERICA Source AP Jan 22, 2017

                            MOSCOW —

                            Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the west's sanctions on Russia are likely to remain in place "for a long time'' despite expectations Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president will lead to warmer relations between Washington and Moscow.

                            Medvedev told members of the ruling United Russia party on Sunday that Russian leaders "can't place our hope on foreign elections" and "It's time to dispense with the illusion that sanctions against our country will be lifted."

                            Trump's pledge to bring a fresh eye to Russia has produced some excitement in Russia. But senior Russian officials are warning that differences between Moscow and Washington will not disappear overnight.

                            The U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
                            Russia PM Calls Idea US Will Lift Sanctions Soon 'Illusion'

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                            • Fake: Tillerson Names Conditions under Which Crimea Would Be Recognized as Russian
                              January 13, 2017 - 22:26 News

                              Scores of Russian media manipulated statements made by US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson during his congressional confirmation hearing, claiming that Tillerson named the conditions under which America would be prepared to recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

                              Russian state news agency TASS declared that Tillerson had named the terms under which Crimea would be recognized as part of Russia and quickly followed suit claiming that he “clarified” those conditions. Both agencies conveniently ignored the fact that Tillerson agreed that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was illegal and violated Ukraine’s sovereignty.

                              Tillerson did not outline any conditions for such recognition, on the contrary, he said that Russia had no right to take Crimea and the weak response for this action from the US emboldened Moscow.

                              Responding to Senator Rob Portman’s question that United States would never recognize the annexation of Crimea similar to the way it had never recognized the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States, Tillerson responded “The only way that could ever happen is if there were some broader agreement that would be satisfactory to the Ukrainian people, so absent that, we would never recognize the annexation”.

                              RIA Novosti, Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, the newspaper Vzglyad, TASS, Vedomosti,, Interfax and many other Russian media organizations disseminated this fake story.

                              Rex Tillerson made several pronouncements on Russia during his confirmation hearing, he admitted that Russian posed a danger to the US and should be held accountable for its actions. US media were generally critical of his appearance before Congress, while members of Congress continue to be concerned about his close connections with Russia’s leadership.
                              Fake: Tillerson Names Conditions under Which Crimea Would Be Recognized as Russian

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                              • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Rachel Ansley January 18, 2017
                                Trump Said What?
                                A closer look at some of Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions

                                US President-elect Donald Trump’s comments about NATO, the European Union (EU), and Russia have rattled US allies as they look for indicators as to how the United States will engage with the international community and establish its role in the world.

                                On January 16, Trump gave an interview to The Times of London and the German newspaper Bild in which he discussed his opinions on a variety of global challenges. As the inauguration nears, Trump’s statements have been taken as indicators of the direction of the new administration’s foreign policy. Atlantic Council experts weigh in on the president-elect’s comments and discuss their significance.

                                What Trump said on NATO: “I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right… With that being said, NATO is very important to me.”

                                What our analysts say: While Trump’s description of NATO as obsolete has caused a great deal of “angst” amongst US allies in Europe, Ian Brzezinski, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

                                Similarly, in an interview with the New Atlanticist, Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council, contextualized Trump’s rhetoric, saying: “We need to keep in mind that these are statements from someone who is not in office… We may be seeing someone who has a tendency to speak off the cuff, and it may not reflect future policy.”

                                Taking a holistic approach to Trump’s commentary, Brzezinski said that while a word other than obsolete might have been a more apt description of the Alliance, Trump immediately qualified the sentiment by reaffirming the importance of NATO. According to Brzezinski, these two statements side by side appear less like a dismissal of NATO, and more like a call for serious and much-needed reform in the Alliance.

                                “I’m not sure that what he meant to say is that NATO is worthless,” said Brzezinski, “because later in that interview… he reiterated that NATO is very important. When you take those two quotes and you put them next to each other, that sounds like a recipe for a reform agenda.”

                                However, the nature of those reforms remains unclear. “You’ve seen a demand for change in the Alliance, for more equitable burden sharing, for allies to spend more on defense, but very little in terms of the agenda that this team will pursue to make NATO more capable and more effective in this environment,” said Brzezinski. He added, “Specifics haven’t been articulated by the new team; when [they are], hopefully it will be reassuring to those Europeans who are questioning American commitment.”

                                Brzezinski went on to reaffirm the significance of NATO in the current security environment. “NATO is certainly not obsolete because in today’s world the ability to leverage not only the political influence that NATO brings as a community democracy, but its proven capacities on the battlefield, it’s invaluable, it’s unmatched,” he said.

                                What Trump said on NATO’s 2 percent of GDP defense spending goal: “A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States… There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much.”

                                What our analysts say: Five out of NATO’s twenty-eight member states meet the 2 percent commitment, but for the rest, “it should be a priority,” said Brzezinski. “It’s going to be a priority in the next administration, and while there have been commitments made by all allies to make 2 percent over the next six years, there’s reason to suspect that there’s going to be an insistence that these targets be met sooner.”

                                According to Brzezinski, Trump will remain insistent that NATO members meet this commitment to spend more on defense. His “hammer and anvil,” Secretary of Defense-designee retired Gen. James Mattis and Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), indicate the new administration’s predilection for “bringing to NATO more of a war-fighting mindset,” he added.

                                What Trump said on the European Union: “I don’t think it matters much for the United States. I never thought it matters. Look, the EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together, to me it doesn’t matter.”

                                What our analysts say: Burwell cautioned that while Trump “has proven very malleable in his views, particularly about NATO being obsolete,” she would “distinguish that [statement] from Trump’s comments about the European Union.” She said that Trump’s cabinet picks know little about the EU, therefore “there is no correcting mechanism at the cabinet level that we see so far that would present a counterview to what Trump has said.”

                                “The EU itself is in for a rough ride over the next few years,” she added.

                                What Trump said on Brexit: “I thought the [United Kingdom] was so smart in getting out... People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity, but, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it, you know, entails, I think you wouldn’t have a Brexit... I think people want, people want their own identity, so if you ask me, others, I believe others will leave.”

                                What our analysts say: These types of statements encourage other far-right politicians who threaten the unity of the EU, said Burwell. She cited French far-right National Party leader, Marine Le Pen, a candidate in the 2017 French presidential election, as an individual who, emboldened by Trump’s commentary, might seek a referendum for France leaving the EU. “The British have always had a different perspective toward the EU than France, but [Trump’s rhetoric] does embolden those types of separatist forces,” Burwell said.

                                What Trump said on Russia: “Let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But you do have sanctions and Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”

                                What our analysts say: If the White House is to cultivate a relationship with the Kremlin, Trump must lay down definitive red lines for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said John E. Herbst, director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. “Russian provocations against our NATO allies—especially the Baltic States—stop. Also, there cannot be a major improvement in relations until Russia’s aggression in eastern Ukraine stops,” he said, spelling out some of these red lines.

                                “There is no problem with trying to cooperate with Russia,” according to Evelyn Farkas, a nonresident senior fellow with Eurasia Center, the Future Europe Initiative, and the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. However, referring specifically to Ukraine and Georgia, she said: “We cannot compromise our democratic values and the sovereignty of other states.” Ushering Montenegro into NATO is another imperative, she said.

                                However, both Herbst and Brzezinski said any comments about Trump’s stance toward Russia would be speculative. “We don’t have the full picture into what the president-elect’s Russia policy is,” said Brzezinski. Yet he warned: “I think Putin’s a shrewd player. He’s made clear that he looks at NATO as a threat to his aspirations, and so any time there is a cleavage or a division or a crack in the Alliance unity, he will try to exploit it.”

                                Insight into this dynamic may be gleaned from former presidents and their attempted “resets” with Russia. According to Farkas, “The lesson to be learned from every reset that has been tried before is that we need to understand clearly what Russia's objectives are, what their limits are and where our interests lie.” The United States must “act carefully and stand firm,” she said.

                                Despite previous tensions, there may be areas of cooperation for the United States and Russia, particularly combating extremism in the Middle East. Russia invited the United States to Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on January 23, indicating the potential for collaboration. “If Moscow is truly interested in joint operations against Islamic extremism, especially [the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)] I think there will be an open door,” said Herbst. However, he added, “we’ve not seen such an indication from Moscow at this time.” Trump Said What?

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