Russia Returns Ukraine Naval Ships before Summit
Russia on Monday handed back three naval ships it captured last year to Ukraine, something Kiev wanted to happen before a four-way peace summit on eastern Ukraine next month in Paris.The handover, confirmed by the two countries' foreign ministries, occurred in the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.Russia seized the ships in the same area in November last year after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors. Moscow said the ships - two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat - had illegally entered its territorial waters. Kiev denied that.Russia returned the sailors…
Cargo Ships Caught in Russia-Ukraine Storm
Russia-Ukraine naval clash followed shipping holdups Ships bound for Ukrainian ports say they are held up while those bound for Russian ports go through.When the Island Bay cargo ship arrived from Beirut at the Kerch Strait, gateway to the Azov Sea, it sailed into a perfect storm of geopolitics and bad weather.The following day, Russia opened fire on three Ukrainian naval ships, impounded them and detained their sailors, some of them wounded. It then blocked the strait by putting a tanker underneath a new bridge it has built linking the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.While the world digested the implications of the Nov.
Russia Ignores Western Calls to Free Captured Ukrainian Ships
Russia on Monday ignored Western calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships it fired on and captured near Crimea at the weekend and accused Kiev of plotting with its Western allies to provoke a conflict.Kiev in turn accused Russia of military aggression and put its armed forces on full combat alert, saying it reserved the right to defend itself. Ukrainian lawmakers were due to decide whether to introduce martial law for two months later on Monday, a move President Petro Poroshenko…
Some Russian Ships Stop Cargoes to Ukraine After Tanker Detained
Some Russian ships have stopped transporting cargo to Ukraine, deeming it risky after a Russian tanker was detained in a Ukrainian port as Kiev made good on sanctions against Moscow, two sources at shipowners said.It is the latest fallout from Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and the emergence of a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine.The Mekhanik Pogodin oil tanker, under the Russian flag, has been moored in the port of Kherson since Aug. 10, Reuters ship…
Exxon Quits Some Rosneft Joint Ventures Citing Sanctions
Exxon Mobil Corp will exit some joint ventures with Russia's Rosneft, citing Western sanctions first imposed in 2014, while the Russian company said the pullout will result in serious losses for its U.S. partner. The move is an about-face for Exxon, which had opposed the sanctions over Russia's invasion of Crimea and argued they unfairly penalized U.S. companies while allowing foreign energy rivals to operate in the country, the world's largest oil producer. Yet the sanctions…
Poland has Natgas Exports 'understanding' with U.S.
Poland's desire to cut natural gas imports from Russia has led to an "understanding" with the United States to work toward a deal to export liquefied natural gas to its new Baltic Sea terminal, the country's deputy prime minister said on Wednesday. Mateusz Morawiecki, who is also the minister of economic development and finance, said in an interview that discussions with new U.S. "The word agreement is probably premature. Understanding? Absolutely," Morawiecki said as he wrapped up a three-day U.S. visit with stops in Washington, Boston and New York.
US Ships Tanks, Equipment for NATO Exercises in Europe
Hundreds of U.S. tanks, trucks and other military equipment arrived by ship in Germany on Friday to be transported by rail and road to eastern Europe as part of a NATO buildup that has drawn Russia's ire. Two shiploads arrived in the northern port of Bremerhaven and a third was due in a few days, bringing the fleets of tracked and wheeled vehicles for use by around 4,000 U.S. troops being deployed for exercises in NATO states near Russia. U.S. and Polish forces will participate in a large "massing" exercise in Poland at the end of January as part of a series of measures aimed at reassuring U.S. allies in Europe after Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Obama Administration Bars New Oil, Gas Exploration off Alaska
The Obama administration on Friday blocked new exploration for oil and gas in Arctic waters, in a win for environmental groups that had fought development of the ecologically fragile region. The Department of the Interior released a 2017 to 2022 leasing plan that blocked drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska. It also limited petroleum development in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska. Environmental activists have battled drilling in Alaska to protect whales, walruses and seals, and as part of a broader movement to keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
Face Off: Russia, NATO Maritime Incidents in the Baltic
Last week's frightening incident in the Baltic Sea, where Russian warplanes repeatedly buzzed the destroyer USS Donald Cook over a two-day period, left many Americans wondering why the U.S. Navy didn't simply splash the SU-24 attack aircraft. According to a report in Reuters, Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of intimidation by sailing a U.S. naval destroyer close to Russia's border in the Baltics and warned that the Russian military would respond with "all necessary measures" to any future incidents. Alexander Grushko, Moscow's ambassador, however, saw the issue differently.
Rotterdam Oil Terminal Shelved as Russians Balk
Rotterdam, Europe's largest port, said on Thursday that plans to build an oil storage terminal for 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) had been cancelled after its Russian partner raised concerns over the project's feasibility. The project, intended to store Urals crude oil and oil products, was hailed as testimony to strong trade relations between the two countries when it was announced by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte four years ago. But relations between Russia and Europe have cooled dramatically since the outbreak of a separatist war involving Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine and the downing of a passenger airliner over rebel-held territory a year ago, with almost 200 Dutch citizens aboard.
China says Changing Position on Sea Dispute would Shame Ancestors
Changing position on China's claims over the South China Sea would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday. China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims, sparking alarm regionally and in Washington. "One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation.
Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions
The eight Arctic Council nations pledged on Friday to do more to combat climate change that is shrinking the vast frigid region, with countries trying to put aside disputes over issues like Russia's intervention in Ukraine. Meeting in the Canadian town of Iqaluit, 300 km (200 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States pledged to work to address emissions of black carbon and methane. Both are seen as particularly harmful to the Arctic…
6 NATO Ships Begin Joint Black Sea Exercise
Six NATO warships, including Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian vessels, have arrived to the Black Sea to start joint training exercises. NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) arrived today in the Black Sea to operate and train with ships from the Bulgarian, Romanian and Turkish Navies, according to NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) press release. Marine Group Two is comprised of six ships — Vicksburg, Fredericton, Turgutreis, Spessart, Aliseo, and Regina Maria, according to MARCOM. The joint training, led by US Rear Adm.
UK Monitors Russian Naval Vessel through Channel
A British warship shadowed a Russian frigate through the English Channel on Tuesday, taking over monitoring from French surveillance on the frigate's voyage northwards. HMS Argyll, a navy ship maintained at high-readiness, deployed a Lynx helicopter and used sensors to locate and monitor the Russian warship Yaroslav Mudryy, which was en route to the North Sea from the Mediterranean. "Under the NATO agreement whereby alliance nations co-operate to monitor activity, the Royal Navy took over from French surveillance," Britain's Ministry of Defence said in a statement. An MoD spokesman estimated that a Russian warship was escorted through the Channel every few months.
Russia May Sue France Over Non-delivery of Warships
Russia will take France to court within six months over its failure to deliver the first of two Mistral-class warships to the Russian navy, the Russian Defense Minister has said. “There is a contract, so everything must be strictly complied with,” Sergei Shoigu said. The dates there are split into three parts. The first one is in January, and it has already been done. It was an explanation why [the contract has not been fulfilled]. The other dates are three and six months, he added. The Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation issued a warning notice to France on Jan.
Russia Says Will React if U.S. Imposes New Sanctions
Russia will take counter measures if Washington imposes new sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday. The U.S. Congress has readied new sanctions on Russian weapons companies and investors in the country's high-tech oil projects, but U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to sign a corresponding bill into law. "We will not be able to leave that without an answer," Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying. He did not say what form of counter-measure Moscow might take. Relations between Russia and the United States are at their lowest since the Cold War because of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
US Mulls Stronger Sanctions Against Russian Energy
The United States is considering limiting hi-tech exports to Russia's Arctic oil and gas industry as part of plans to strengthen sanctions against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, a U.S. envoy said on Wednesday. On the eve of a NATO summit in Wales, the United States is expected to join the European Union in imposing new sanctions on Russia after EU leaders agreed at the weekend that the direct engagement of Russian troops in Ukraine in support of separatist rebels merited such a step. "We are looking at further tightening of restrictions on energy exports and the licensing of hi-tech exports, not only to the energy sector but specifically to Arctic oil and gas," the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Anthony Gardner, told Reuters in Brussels.
Ukraine Buying 1 mln Tonnes South African Coal
Ukraine will buy one million tonnes of coal from South Africa because the military conflict in its Donbass region has disrupted domestic coal production, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday. Pro-Russian separatists are battling Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine, which is home to much of the country's heavy industry and coal mines and accounts for about 18 percent of the economy's output. "They (the rebels) bombed our main coal mines ... and so the government has already signed an agreement on the supply of one million tonnes of coal from South Africa," Yatseniuk told a televised cabinet session. "The first vessel is loading now," he added. Reporting by Pavel Polityuk
Seven NATO Countries End Black Sea War Games
Seven NATO countries completed naval exercises in the Black Sea on Thursday, officials said, in a signal of the alliance's resolve to support east European members who have been unnerved by Russia's behavior in the Ukraine crisis. Though scheduled before the crisis erupted, the war games took on added significance because of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March, and the subsequent outbreak of a pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
Exxon Rig Enters Uncharted Waters of Russian Political Storm
U.S. sanctions on Russia include Rosneft, Exxon's partner: Project may not break sanctions, but brings political risks. An ordinary, long-scheduled journey of an oil drilling rig into Arctic waters is turning into a major political exercise, attracting international scrutiny and creating a dilemma for ExxonMobil. Exxon, the top U.S. oil major and the world's most valued oil company, is bringing the rig, called West Alpha, from Norway to the Russian Arctic. It is hoping for a major discovery in the Kara Sea with Russian partner Rosneft. The journey has begun just as the United States has slapped the toughest sanctions yet on Russia, including on Rosneft, over escalating violence in Ukraine. Further sanctions are likely after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines' plane in eastern Ukraine.
Exxon Oil Rig Enters Uncharted Waters of Russian Political Storm
An ordinary, long-scheduled journey of an oil drilling rig into Arctic waters is turning into a major political exercise, attracting international scrutiny and creating a dilemma for Exxon Mobil Corp. Exxon, the top U.S. oil major and the world's most valued oil company, is bringing the rig, called West Alpha, from Norway to the Russian Arctic. It is hoping for a major discovery in the Kara Sea with Russian partner Rosneft Oil Co. The journey has begun just as the United States has slapped the toughest sanctions yet on Russia, including on Rosneft, over escalating violence in Ukraine. Further sanctions are likely after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines' plane in eastern Ukraine.
Trading Dutch Well Placed to Pursue Russia Sanctions
The seafaring Netherlands prides itself on being a trading nation, reluctant to let politics get in the way of a good deal. But since the downing, allegedly by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with the loss of 193 Dutch lives, a growing Dutch chorus has called for the country to use its trade power to hit Russia in the wallet. Dozens of Russian firms have chosen to incorporate in the Netherlands to save money on tax, taking advantage of an extensive network of double taxation treaties. The country is also one of Russia's largest trade partners. Rotterdam, the world's fourth largest port, is a major distribution hub for fossil fuels and minerals and was the single largest destination for Russian exports in 2013…
Russian Grain Exporter to Sell Ukraine Terminal
Yug Rusi, a Russian grain exporter and sunflower oil producer, is seeking to sell its terminal at Ukraine's Kherson port, two traders told Reuters. The privately held company, whose name means South of Russia, declined to comment. One source said that the terminal is a small one that can load vessels with up to 10,000 tonnes of vegetable oil or up to 15,000 tonnes of grain. Russian companies are expected to try and exit Ukrainian investments as relations between the countries have become increasingly strained after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March. "It does not look good for the time being, being Russian and having assets in Ukraine," one of the sources said.