Russian energy giant explains gas flow reduction to EU
Dhaka July 31 2022 :
Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 31 2022.
Russia slams Norwegian diplomat for xenophobia
Moscow accused a Norwegian consul of anti-Russian “hatred” after a tirade of hers was caught on video
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned a Norwegian consul for a “hateful” tirade after a video emerged allegedly showing her arguing with the staff at a Russian hotel.
The clip – posted by the Russian news outlet Mash – allegedly shows Elisabeth Ellingsen, a Norwegian consul stationed in the northern Russian city of Murmansk, being rude during an argument.
“I hate Russians,” the woman says in English. “You know, I’m used to [staying in] clean rooms. I’m from Scandinavia, not some Russian woman.”
“The Russian Foreign Ministry is now considering options on how to respond to this outrageous act of hatred, nationalism and xenophobia,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel on Saturday.
Zakharova appeared to suggest Moscow is considering imposing penalties against Ellingsen. “Unless Norway’s Foreign Ministry beats us to it. It would be the right thing to do,” she added, apparently expecting an immediate reaction from Oslo. Norway has not commented on the matter.
It was not clear when the video was made. According to Mash, Ellingsen was complaining because she had been told to wait until her room would be ready.
“This is f***ing irritating,” the woman tells the staff at the front desk in a profanity-laden rant. “You’re just f***ing up everything.”
“This hotel is a disgrace, and you people in general [are] also a disgrace,” she says.
According to Mash, Russian police are investigating the incident.
Norway’s Foreign Ministry later provided a statement to RT, saying that it “deeply regrets this incident.”
“The sentiments expressed in no way reflect Norwegian policy or Norwegian attitudes towards Russia and Russian people,” Communications Director Tuva Raanes Bogsnes wrote. “The incident is being handled by the Ministry through the appropriate channels.”
Russian energy giant explains gas flow reduction to EU
Gazprom has published some of its correspondence with Siemens as it blames the German company for a reduction in gas flow
Russia had to reduce its gas flow to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to turbine malfunctions, Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov said on Friday. The issues are due to German company Siemens – which produces the turbines – failing to fulfill its commitments, he told Russia-24 TV.
Siemens has so far eliminated only one-fourth of the total number of discovered malfunctions affecting its turbines, Markelov said. On Wednesday, the Nord Stream 1 operator Gascade reported that gas flow through the pipeline had been reduced to one-fifth of its maximum capacity. A day before that, Gazprom warned that it would have to stop the operation of its second Siemens turbine for an overhaul.
After the switch-off, gas flow through Nord Stream 1 was not expected to exceed 33 million cubic meters per day. The move came as the energy giant was still waiting for another turbine for the pipeline that was due to arrive from Germany after undergoing maintenance in Canada.
“Our European partners accuse us of reducing gas supply to Europe without sufficient reasons. Yet, nothing can be further from the truth,” Markelov said, adding that it was the company’s Western partners who “fail to fulfill their obligations – contractual obligations – for the compressor station maintenance.”
According to an earlier report by business daily Kommersant, several turbines at the Portovaya compressor station located on Russia’s Baltic coast are in need of servicing. The current licensing agreement allows Siemens Energy to accept five more turbines for maintenance work before the end of 2024.
“We call on our partners to resolve their own issues as soon as possible,” the deputy CEO said, adding that the gas supply to Europe would then “go back to normal in no time.” Markelov added that his company plans to release part of its correspondence with its Western partners to the public. Some documents were published hours later.
The reduction of supply from Russia has led to a spike in gas prices in Europe, which rose by more than 20% to over $2,500 per thousand cubic meters on Wednesday. European leaders then blamed Russia for the gas price hikes.
Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin could no longer rely on Russia when it comes to gas supplies, sparking an angry reaction from Moscow, which said that such statements “absolutely contrast with reality and with the history of supplies.”
The developments follow a dispute over a Siemens turbine that had been sent to Canada for repairs, but was not returned by Ottawa on time due to the sanctions on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine. Gazprom cited the delay as the reason for the 60% reduction in gas flow through Nord Stream 1 in June. After negotiations with Berlin, Ottawa decided to use an indirect delivery route to avoid violating sanctions.
Gazprom halts gas deliveries to Latvia
MOSCOW, July 30. /TASS/. Gazprom halted gas supplies to Latvia on Saturday within July application due to violation of the conditions of gas extraction, the holding said.
“Today, Gazprom has halted gas supplies to Latvia as part of the July application due to violation of the conditions for gas extraction,” the company said.
Data from Latvian gas transmission operator Conexus also confirms the suspension of gas supplies from Russia from July 30.
On April 27, Gazprom announced that it had completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgarian company Bulgargaz and Polish PGNiG due to non-payment in rubles on time. On May 21, it was reported that the supply of Russian gas to Finnish company Gasum was stopped for the same reason. Then the deliveries were stopped to Danish Orsted, Dutch GasTerra, and Shell Energy Europe.
Russia invites UN and Red Cross experts to investigate POW camp bombing
Moscow earlier blamed Ukraine for the strike, saying US-made HIMARS rocket launchers were used to carry it out
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that it had officially invited independent experts from the UN and the Red Cross to investigate the shelling of a detention center in Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The Friday bombing killed 50 prisoners, with dozens more wounded.
“In the interest of conducting an objective investigation of the strike on the detention center in Yelenovka, which led to the deaths of many Ukrainian prisoners of war, the Russian Federation has officially invited experts from the UN and the International Red Cross Committee,” the ministry said.
The facility in Yelenovka, south of Donetsk, housed hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners – mainly members of the “Azov” neo-Nazi militia who surrendered in Mariupol in May.
According to the Russian military’s earlier statement, the strike was conducted using US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers.
“All political, criminal and moral responsibility for the bloodbath against Ukrainians is borne personally by Zelensky, his criminal regime and Washington, which supports them,” Moscow said.
The Ukrainian military released a statement on Friday, accusing Russian troops of shelling the town. Moscow destroyed the prison in order to pin the blame on Kiev, as well as to “hide the torture of prisoners and executions,” the statement alleged.
However, the DPR military suggested it was the Ukrainian authorities who had the reason to “deliberately” target the facility. The republic’s head, Denis Pushilin, said “Azov” members had been providing testimonies about possible war crimes by their commanders. The Kiev authorities also knew exactly where the “Azov” prisoners were being held, DPR militia spokesman Eduard Basurin told reporters.
Meanwhile, unlike the government in Kiev, Ukraine’s backers in Washington did not rush to blame the bombing on Moscow.
“We just don’t have enough information to speak intelligently about these very early reports,” John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.
Lavrov Rips Into Macron, Defends African States Dubbed ‘Illegitimate Regimes, Juntas’ by French Prez
Ilya Tsukanov, Sputnik News
The Russian foreign minister carried out a five-day, four-nation trip to Africa this week, visiting Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia, where he and his hosts discussed ways to shore up ties, increase non-dollar trade, and boost cooperation in areas ranging from energy, transport, and agriculture to the military-technical sphere.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has blasted French President Emmanuel Macron over claims that Moscow is backing “juntas” in Africa.
“If I remember correctly, he said that he was concerned with Russia’s military and diplomatic activity in Africa and with what he said was not cooperation, but the support of failed, illegitimate regimes and Juntas,” Lavrov said, speaking to reporters in Uzbekistan on Friday.
“As far as President Macron and his statements are concerned, one would really expect more ethical statements from the French,” the Russian diplomat added.
“If you look at the list of the countries we visited in Africa, if this is what Macron was referring to, then it would be quite insulting for the states that continue, in spite of everything, to consistently develop relations with the Russian Federation,” Lavrov stressed.
In a tour of Africa this week held in parallel with Lavrov’s, Macron accused Russia of starting “a new kind of hybrid world war,” and characterized Moscow as “one of the last imperial colonial powers.”
“When you see them popping up over here, that’s what’s happening,” the French president said. Referencing Russian activities in the Central African Republic and Mali, Macron accused Moscow of coming in “to support either weakened political powers which are struggling to take responsibility or to illegitimate juntas,” and of using “disinformation” and “militias” to reach its goals.
Macron’s claims raised eyebrows, as Russia is the only major European power which never had colonies in Africa, and never robbed the continent of its resource, human and development potential. Last week, in an interview with Sputnik ahead of his Africa tour, Lavrov recalled Moscow’s long-standing support for African nations during the 20th century, when Moscow assisted the region in its national liberation struggle against the colonial powers, and provided economic and educational support to dozens of nations after they won independence.
During this week’s whirlwind tour of Africa, Lavrov and his hosts discussed the potential for increased cooperation in areas ranging from nuclear energy and trade to military-technical support. At a joint press conference with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday, Lavrov told a Sputnik correspondent that Africa will be sure to play a bigger role in Russia’s foreign policy amid Western attempts to isolate Moscow.
SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE
Zelensky, US Bear All Responsibility for ‘Carnage’ Against Ukrainian PoWs in Elenovka, Moscow Says
Sofia Chegodaeva, Sputnik News
On July 29, Ukrainian forces attacked a detention center for Ukrainian prisoners of war in Elenovka with HIMARS rocket systems, killing 50 people and injuring 73 others.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, his criminal regime, and Washington bear political, legal, and moral responsibility for the bloody carnage against Ukrainian prisoners of war at the detention center in Elenovka, DPR, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
According to the ministry, at the time of the attack there were 193 POWs at the facility. Most of them were either killed or injured as a result of the strike. The death toll currently stands at 50 people, while 73 have been hospitalized with severe injuries.
Lists of the POWs killed and wounded have been made available on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website.
Commenting on the attack on the detention facility in Elenovka on Friday, DPR head Denis Pushilin described it as a premeditated attack carried out to prevent the POWs, Azov militants in particular, from giving testimonies damaging to the Kiev regime. The Russian Defense Ministry referred to the attack as a “blatant provocation” aimed at “intimidating Ukrainian soldiers and preventing them from laying down arms.”
Earlier this month, the US pledged to provide Ukraine with more than 20 HIMARS long-range rockets after receiving the promise of President Zelensky not to use them against Russian territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that supplies of US-made HIMARS to Kiev have changed the geography of the special operation in Ukraine, as Moscow can in no way tolerate the presence of weapons that pose a threat to Russia’s territory.
Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and its allies against pumping up Ukraine with weapons, saying that it will only prolong the “agony of the Kiev regime” and result in more casualties.
Zelensky’s elite battalion destroyed – Russia
Dozens of neo-Nazis have been eliminated over the last two days, including fighters from the Kraken formation, the military said
Russia’s armed forces destroyed an ‘elite assault battalion’ of the Ukrainian president and dozens of fighters from the notorious Kraken neo-Nazi formation, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.
Providing an update on the progress of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov said that on July 28, at the Krasnoarmeysk railway station in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Russian military conducted a direct strike “with a high-precision air-based weapon” on a train transporting “an elite assault battalion of the 1st Separate Brigade of the President of Ukraine.”
“More than 140 nationalists were killed on the spot. About 250 more militants received injuries of varying severity. All military equipment that was in the echelon was disabled,” Konashenkov stated.
The next day, in the area of Bogodukhov in Kharkov Region, Iskander missiles hit the hangars of a meat processing plant where the Kraken nationalist formation had set up a temporary base, according to the military spokesman. “More than 30 Nazis and 10 units of military equipment were destroyed.”
Kraken calls itself a special reconnaissance and sabotage unit under the Ministry of Defense, operating separately from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Moscow has accused the battalion of committing several war crimes since the beginning of the conflict.
Also on July 29, Russian forces destroyed 30 Ukrainian servicemen, a warehouse with rockets for Grad combat vehicles, and military equipment in the settlement of Yasnobrodovka in the DPR. In the area of Artemovsk, according to Konashenkov, Ukrainian losses amounted to 50 servicemen and eight units of military equipment.
“In total, since the beginning of the special military operation, the following have been destroyed: 261 aircraft, 145 helicopters, 1,644 unmanned aerial vehicles, 361 anti-aircraft missile systems, 4,190 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 772 combat vehicles of multiple launch rocket systems, 3,217 field artillery guns and mortars, as well as 4,573 units of special military vehicles,” the general said.
The Russian Defense Ministry does not provide regular updates on the numbers of Ukrainian or Russian losses. On July 4, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that over the previous two weeks alone, Ukraine had lost almost 5,500 troops, including over 2,000 killed.
Regarding its own casualties, Moscow has not updated the numbers since March, when it reported 1,351 military personnel killed.
Kiev has not disclosed its total military losses since the beginning of the conflict but claims that the figure is several times lower than Russia’s. Moscow’s assessment of the numbers is the opposite.
Andrey Gubin: With potential Pelosi Taiwan visit imminent, why is the US provoking China in ‘the most dangerous place on earth’
By Andrey Gubin, Russian International Affairs Council expert
Washington is taking the unnecessary risk of creating a conflict between the two nuclear powers
Today, East Asia is the scene of a sharp confrontation between two major nuclear powers – the United States and China. The situation is worsening as the Americans execute plans to contain Beijing. The key point of contention fueling these tensions is the Taiwan Strait. In recent years, Washington has increased its supply of weapons and military equipment to the island, while assisting in revamping the armed forces of Taiwan and strongly encouraging the local government’s desire for independence.
Taiwan holds extremely important geopolitical significance for the US and China, representing part of the ‘first island chain’ stretching from the Aleutian Islands in the north through Japan and the Philippines, to the Greater Sunda Islands in the south. It is this ‘Pacific frontier’ that both Washington and Beijing have defined as their main line of defense. The politicians in power on Formosa (which means ‘beautiful’ in Portuguese and is a name that prevailed in Western cartography until the 20th century) in recent years have consistently pursued a policy of strengthening ties with the US, which is fully consistent with Washington’s anti-Chinese rhetoric.
The leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has repeatedly made it clear that actions violating the One-China policy are unacceptable. This also goes for the provisions of the three joint US-Chinese communiques of 1972-1982, which form the basis of the countries’ bilateral relations.
The rhetoric coming from the Chinese government has become increasingly belligerent recently, as “the reunification of Taiwan with the motherland” is a fundamental national security interest for Beijing that warrants military force to defend if necessary.
Meanwhile, thanks to the vague wording of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US government prefers to avoid answering questions regarding the existence of concrete obligations to assist the island. At the same time, there is no real readiness at different levels of the American political system and in the expert community to move from economic and geopolitical confrontation with China to open conflict.
A prime example of the chaos reigning in the American establishment with respect to China is perfectly illustrated by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan in August. The first reports about the potential trip to the island by America’s third highest office holder emerged in April 2022. However, that visit never took place, allegedly due to a positive Covid-19 test. Though Pelosi’s office has not published an official confirmation or denial, the Financial Times reported that sources familiar with the situation say the speaker’s visit is almost a done deal this time. As NBC’s source later claimed, it stays unclear whether her Asia trip will include a stop on the island
Interestingly, in 1997, then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan. However, that case was somewhat different, since he represented the Republican Party, which was in opposition to the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton. Pelosi and Biden belong to the same party, so this trip would actually personify Washington’s official foreign policy line with a pronounced anti-Chinese character. Also, information about the speaker’s visit appeared after the Biden administration confirmed its fifth plan to sell weapons and equipment to Taipei, amid negotiations that are currently taking place between Taiwan’s government and former US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Beijing’s reaction to this unprecedented step was immediate. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China strongly objects to any form of official exchange between the US authorities and the island of Taiwan, emphasizing that, since Congress is an integral part of the American political system, the requirement to adhere to the one-China principle and the content of the three joint Sino-American communiques fully applies to it. Pursuant to this, Beijing called on Washington to cancel the trip, stop ramping up tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and cease taking actions supporting Taiwanese secessionism. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, if the US follows its current course, China will take strong and resolute measures to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, so Washington should keep in mind all the possible consequences of its actions.
The White House and Pentagon are probably not yet ready for long-term and unpredictable consequences in relations with the world’s second largest economy and navy. On July 21, President Biden said that senior US military officials do not consider Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan to be a good idea at the moment.
It is worth noting that Beijing is unhappy with any signs of support for Taipei coming from Washington. When the possibility of Pelosi’s trip was first discussed in April, four Chinese Air Force planes entered the southwestern part of the island’s self-proclaimed air defense zone.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi complained to French presidential adviser Emmanuel Bonn that the US continues to pursue a policy of double standards on issues concerning territorial integrity and state sovereignty, while increasing turbulence in international relations. According to the minister, Beijing considers official visits of US political leaders to Taiwan to be deliberate provocations that serve as extremely dangerous signals to the whole world.
This position was shown on different levels: US Representative Rick Larsen said that an official from the Chinese Embassy and China’s consul general in San Francisco demanded that he tell the speaker to call the trip off.
The issue was also discussed between leaders. In a statement regarding a call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, Chinese officials used strong language when mentioning Taiwan: “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this”.
The Global Times cites Chinese experts who believe Pelosi’s visit will have strategic consequences, because Beijing’s response should also be strategic, noting that the retaliatory actions that follow could be catastrophic for the US, which is currently experiencing economic difficulties. Lu Xiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that Washington’s determination to send the speaker to Taiwan demonstrates that the American authorities want to test Beijing’s patience and set a new threshold for admissible foreign policy actions.
Military expert Song Zhongping said America’s Democratic Party is doing everything it can to improve its position ahead of the congressional mid-term election, which will be held in November, and this includes showing support for democracy on the island. Chinese journalist Hu Xijin has proposed sending combat aircraft to escort Pelosi’s flight to Taiwan and deploying an aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Strait. If the Taiwanese military opens fire, Beijing reserves the right to destroy any targets on the island that pose a threat. And if the US dares to come to the rescue, then it would be time for liberation and reunification.
It is possible that American analysts believe that Beijing’s response will be soft and symbolic, assuming that the Chinese Communist Party will want to avoid an unnecessary confrontation with the US before the 20th National Congress of the CPC, which is important for Xi Jinping personally. On the other hand, there is absolutely no reason to count on softness from the Communists. On the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Wang Yi warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the three joint communiques were inviolable. This should be interpreted unambiguously – as soon as Washington’s provocations go too far, bilateral ties with Beijing will be hopelessly damaged.
At the same time, the Chinese authorities are ready to go further in this case than they were during the ‘Taiwan crisis’ of 1996, when Beijing, Taipei, and Washington managed to reach a compromise. In a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June of this year, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe declared that Beijing would use force if anyone tried to tear Taiwan away from China and would fight to the bitter end.
In May 2021, The Economist called Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.” According to the British publication, the constant maneuvers of Chinese warships around the island and the intrusion of aircraft into its ‘air defense zone’ are unequivocal evidence that preparations are being made for an imminent invasion, which can be expected as early as 2025. It is extremely disturbing that real anti-Chinese hysteria has been gaining momentum in the US since the Biden administration came to power. According to research by the Pew Center, up to 89% of the country’s adult population consider China a rival or an enemy, but not a friend, while every other respondent has extremely negative views on China.
In light of President Biden’s statement asserting America’s readiness to provide military assistance to the island in the event of an attack from the mainland, politicians and experts have urged Washington to change its official position on Taiwan, which has traditionally consisted of ‘strategic ambiguity’, to one with greater ‘strategic clarity’.
In January 2021, the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump released documents confirming Washington’s intention to protect Taipei in the event of aggression from the mainland. The ‘U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific’, originally subject to declassification only in 2042, suggests that the US should prevent China from gaining superiority at sea, and in the air, within the ‘first island chain’, while protecting all countries in the area, including Taiwan. Washington is probably not confused by the fact that it, de jure, does not classify the island as a country.
However, any conflict between Washington and Beijing would not be a ‘small victorious war’ for either side. Even if the PRC fails to quickly capture Taiwan, it will persist in fighting US forces in the Asia-Pacific region. On the other hand, even if the island is lost, the Pentagon won’t curtail its operations, because all of its previous efforts would be meaningless if it doesn’t neutralize the potential of the Chinese military. In December 2021, Foreign Affairs magazine warned Washington and Beijing that a conflict over Taiwan could prove ruinous for both themselves and most East Asian states, since the main participants could use nuclear weapons to change the situation in their favor if faced with defeat.
Undoubtedly, the US and China still have considerable space for dialogue on issues related to Iran, North Korea, and Russia, with which Washington has not been able to develop productive relations. However, if the White House does not stop threatening the PRC’s fundamental security interests, which undoubtedly include the ‘Taiwan issue’, Beijing will have no choice but to strengthen ties with countries that refuse to buckle to US hegemony and have suffered from its expansionist policies.
At the same time, China’s leadership, which has relied on building economic cooperation with other countries through the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as goodwill through humanitarian aid, now needs to intensify multilateral cooperation in the field of security in order to create a safe environment for the Middle Kingdom.
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