Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

The retreat of U.S. interests from Latin America has left a vacuum for the Chinese to fill

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY ILAN BERMAN You have to feel a bit sorry for the Obama administration. The White House in December announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, including establishing a U.S. Embassy in Havana and formally revisiting Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. The move was a clear effort by Washington to distinguish itself in a new international theater.

But that gambit was soon eclipsed by another: In a meeting that could herald a significant shift in the Western Hemisphere’s balance of power, China hosted a high-profile summit earlier this month with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac.

Celac is a relatively recent invention. Conceived in 2010 at a meeting in Caracas hosted by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez , it is designed to deepen integration among Central and South American states—while excluding the U.S. and Canada. The 33-member bloc explicitly styles itself as an alternative to the U.S.-led Organization of ... Read More

Russian spy ship in Havana on eve of US-Cuba talks

| January 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
From AFP

Havana (AFP) – A Russian intelligence warship docked in Havana on Tuesday, a day before the start of historic US-Cuba talks aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations.

There was nothing stealthy about the arrival of the Viktor Leonov CCB-175, which was moored to a pier in Old Havana where cruise ships often dock. But the visit was not officially announced by Cuban authorities.

US officials in Washington played down the presence of the Russian vessel, saying it was perfectly legal and not at all out of the ordinary.

“It’s not unprecedented. It’s not unusual. It’s not alarming,” a defense official told AFP.

The Vishnya or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, according to Russian media.

... Read More

Venezuela’s Asia Tour Backfires as Crude Extends Slump

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Pietro D. Pitts

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is winding down a tour of Asia and Russia to garner support for measures to bolster oil prices. A further 8 percent decline since the trip started suggests he failed.

Maduro plans to coordinate with OPEC and non-OPEC producers to create a “formula that impacts the oil market and restores the normalization of prices,” he said Jan. 15 after meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the lowest prices in six years threaten both nations’ economies. Crude extended declines as Maduro spoke.

Venezuelan government lobbying to prop up prices is falling on deaf ears among other OPEC members that are prepared to let prices fall to a level that undermines a U.S. shale boom. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have said repeatedly over the past six weeks that the organization wouldn’t cut output to halt the biggest rout since 2008.

“It was a surprise that he went ... Read More

Qatar Helps Venezuela Weather Oil Crisis

| January 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By KEJAL VYAS

CARACAS—Venezuela will receive “several billion dollars” in financing from Qatari banks to help the beleaguered South American oil-exporter withstand the fall in crude prices, said President Nicolás Maduro from Doha on Monday.

“They’re giving us enough oxygen to cover the fall in crude prices,” he said in remarks carried on Venezuelan state television.

Mr. Maduro, who has visited Russia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia to seek aid in recent days and traveled to Algeria late Monday, said the preliminary deal with Qatar would help Caracas meet its investment and import needs for this year and next. He didn’t name the banks nor offer more details. Qatar didn’t comment.

The president’s effort comes as the global oil benchmark settled below $50 a barrel for the first time in nearly six years on Monday and foreign currency shortages in Venezuela have sparked concerns the country could default on its debt.

The Qatar deal follows other ... Read More

Venezuela asks fellow OPEC members for help

| January 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
CNBC-01

By Yousef Gamal El-Din

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro resumed his tour of oil producers in the Middle East on Monday, as the country seeks protection from plummeting oil prices.

The head of state visited the Saudi capital of Riyadh, where he met with the country’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and oil minister Ali Al-Naimi. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who is still recovering from a bout of pneumonia contracted last month, did not attend.

“We talked in-depth about important ideas for a strategy of stabilising the oil market, price recovery. An important strategy that we will coordinate,” Maduro told reporters at the end of the meeting on Sunday. “We have reached detailed agreements for a new stage of strengthening the OPEC”.

Despite the stated optimism, Maduro offered no further details and there was no comment from the Saudi side on the outcome of the deliberations. The official Saudi ... Read More

Will crashing oil prices make Russia, Iran and Venezuela more dangerous?

| January 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

By Rob Nikolewski

The plummeting price of oil is giving the economies of Russia, Iran and Venezuela a strong smack upside the head.

And while the resulting crises before Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ruling clerics in Iran and the successor to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela won’t engender much sympathy from many corners of the world, what those leaders may do in response has a number of foreign policy analysts worried.

“With the oil situation, things can go in a lot of different ways,” Stephen Szabo, executive director of the Transatlantic Academy, told Watchdog.org. “The leadership in these countries is not exactly responsive to their people and they could lash out.”

All three countries rely on high oil prices to keep their governments afloat.

A recent estimate by the International Monetary Fund, Deutsche Bank and Fitch Rankings reported Russia needs the global oil price at $98 ... Read More

The Real Cost of Castro Inc.

| December 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

By Elizabeth MacDonald 

There is a price that the Cuban regime will exact from American companies to do business there if U.S.-Cuba relations are fully normalized, a price that likely won’t benefit the country’s lower classes, but will instead line the pockets of Castro & Co., experts on Cuba warn.

Because of its tight grip, the Castro regime has kept Cuba’s GDP hamstrung. It’s economy is now at a tiny $72.3 billion, less than half that of the state of Iowa, notes Richard J. Peterson, senior director at S&P Capital IQ. In fact, the average worker earns less than $25 a month.

Cuba is in crisis, it needs a bailout. Its crony communism has failed, it is steeped in debt, and its money is running low. Historically, Cuba has enjoyed lifelines in the form of money and oil from Venezuela, which had been generously ... Read More

Oil price plunge means survival of fittest

| December 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Anjli Raval

The 40 per cent plunge in the price of oil over the past six months is testing the mettle of the world’s biggest producers, from Venezuela to Iran and Russia. But it is also a survival of the fittest at a more granular level — among the world’s megaprojects.

Energy Aspects, a London-based consultancy, estimates that more than 12 per cent of global oil production would be uneconomic if the majors were to give the go-ahead to existing projects at today’s prices.

Most at risk are those in the Canadian oil sands which has a break-even price of $80 a barrel, US shale plays and other areas of tight oil ($76). Brazil’s deepwater fields ($75) and Mexican projects (around $70) are also vulnerable.

None of this looks pretty, particularly as most new production scheduled to come on line in the next couple of years is set to come ... Read More

Russia and Venezuela to fight low oil price

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Deutsche Welle

Russia and Venezuela are discussing joint action against low oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Moscow for talks as part of a tour of several oil-producing nations, including Algeria, Qatar and Iran, aimed at developing a joint strategy.

Asked if he discussed joint moves to counteract the 30-percent fall in oil prices this year, Novak told reporters: “Yes, there is such an initiative. We discussed this theme and now we are working out those proposals on our side.”

Russia and Venezuela, like the other countries on Ramirez’ travel itinerary, are heavily dependent on revenues from oil exports for their national budgets. Crude oil prices are set in the context of a global market, so global geopolitical tensions and regional supply or demand surges or drops affect oil prices everywhere.

As a result, any drive ... Read More

Russia to send bombers on Gulf of Mexico ‘reconnaissance missions

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

By Douglas Ernst

A top Russian official said Wednesday the country plans on conducting patrols with its bombers that extend into the Gulf of Mexico.

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday in Moscow, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Shoigu’s remarks were in response to accusations by NATO that Russia was once again sending military personnel into Ukraine.

The Russian official did not provide specifics on the patrols, but said planes will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications,” AP reported.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told AP he would not characterize Russia’s actions as a provocation, as the nation has a right to operate in international airspace.

Large-scale Russian maneuvers along European airspace forced NATO members to scramble jets in ... Read More

Oil Price a Concern Says Venezuela as Al-Naimi Visits

| November 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Ben Sharples and Pietro D. Pitts

The price of oil is a “concern for everyone,” Venezuela’s representative to OPEC said after a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s oil minister yesterday.

Rafael Ramirez, who is also Venezuela’s foreign minister, told reporters at a climate-change conference on Margarita Island that Saudi Arabia’s participation at the event was part of a meeting between friends. The Middle East nation is the biggest producer in the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a 12-member group responsible for about 40 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Brent crude has collapsed to the lowest level in more than four years amid speculation that global supply is outpacing demand. OPEC’s leading producers are responding by cutting prices, resisting calls to reduce supply as they compete with the highest U.S. output in three decades.

Ramirez greeted Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Naimi as he arrived at the event before they began ... Read More

No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo

| October 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JAIME SUCHLICKI

There’s an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic considerations could influence Raúl Castro’s policy decisions and that Cuba’s difficult economic situation will force Cuba’s leader to move toward a market economy and closer ties to the United States.

Yes, despite economic difficulties, Castro does not seem ready to provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba normalization. He may release and exile some political prisoners. He may offer limited economic changes to tranquilize the Cuban population, but not major structural reforms that would open the Cuban economy. Cuba is not moving to a market economy. In Cuba, political considerations dictate economic decisions.

Raúl’s legitimacy is based on his closeness to Fidel Castro’s policies of economic centralization, control and opposition to U.S. policies. Raúl cannot reject Fidel’s legacy and move closer ... Read More

Russia Today, Argentina Tomorrow

| October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By FABIÁN BOSOER and FEDERICO FINCHELSTEIN

Earlier this month, the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, and the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, took part in a video conference to celebrate a new television partnership. Under the terms of the deal, the Russian-owned channel RT (formerly known as Russia Today) will soon begin broadcasting Spanish-language news in Argentina. Mrs. Kirchner hailed the development as a means for Argentines “to understand the real Russia,” as well as to help Russians learn about “the real Argentina, unlike the way the international media and the so-called national media portray us.”

Buenos Aires currently enjoys warm relations with Moscow for a variety of reasons. Argentina is looking to Russia for help in upgrading its energy sector, including a possible partnership with the Russian giant Gazprom to develop oil and shale gas ... Read More

A Nuclear Bolivia? Why Not?

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

By James Conca

The renaissance in nuclear power is in full swing around the world, just not so much in the West.

Last month, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera declared his country will go nuclear as part of a “platform for his nation’s technological development for the next 400 to 500 years” (TELESUR).

In a speech closing the 7th International Congress on Oil and Gas in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Linera stated that humanity can, and must, master this “sacred fire.”

This may shock Americans, who have trouble pointing to Bolivia on a map, but the country’s President, Evo Morales, had already announced Bolivia’s plan to go nuclear last year, and is establishing a nuclear advisory council to implement this technological future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin practically tore his shirt off to offer Bolivia help in achieving “their rightful role as a Promethean nation.”

The push to expand nuclear energy around the world is coming from a league ... Read More

Putin’s hemispheric charm offensive

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The China Post-01

By John J. Metzler

It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the handover for the next FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Russia as well as his participation in the Summit of the BRIC economic powers, the real story was the largely overlooked wraparound of his Latin American charm offensive. Here’s the background.

Cuba

Before flying to Brazil for the final soccer match and the FIFA handover for the 2018 World Cup, Putin first stopped in Cuba to renew the spark of the old cold war alliance between Castro’s communists and the Soviet Union. While Russia’s political system has witnessed significant change since 1991 following the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba remains in a kind of tropical torpor time warp. The Castro brothers still run the island but the revolutionary zeal is long gone and replaced ... Read More

China, Russia leaders seek South American inroads

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

It’s enough to make an aging U.S. Cold Warrior shudder.

During overlapping visits to Latin America, the leaders of China and Russia have been welcomed with open arms by governments that are among the most hostile to Washington, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Together with stops in Argentina and Brazil, which both have distanced themselves from the U.S. in recent years, the tours underscore the mix of ideology and economics that’s allowing the two superpowers to expand their influence in America’s backyard.

“These are all countries the U.S. has some real question marks about,” said Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University economist and expert on Chinese-Latin American ties. “It’s going to require some PR so as not to be interpreted in certain, phobic circles as an overt alignment with left-leaning governments at odds with the U.S.”

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin said their visits were focused on ... Read More

Report: Russia will reopen spy base in Cuba

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

A report that Russia will reopen a Havana base that eavesdropped on U.S. communications from Key West to Washington has triggered fresh warnings of Moscow’s expansionism and predictions of a continued freeze in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Until its closure in 2002, the Lourdes base was Moscow’s largest intelligence facility abroad, with up to 1,500 KGB and GRU military intelligence officers manning an array of antennas and computers in the super-secret 28-square-mile base.

“If the report is true, there’s no question Washington will put Cuba engagement on the back burner,” said Andy Gomez, a retired Cuba specialist at the University of Miami and now senior policy advisor for the Washington law firm Poblete Tamargo.

Alvaro Alba, a Miami expert on Russia, said reopening Lourdes would underscore President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions and cast a pall on U.S.-Cuba relations as dark as that caused by Havana’s imprisonment of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross since ... Read More

Russia’s Ambitious Energy Diplomacy in Latin America

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to build alliances to counter Western influence, signed several energy deals in Latin America this past week.

The first stop on Putin’s six-day tour was Havana on July 11, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro. The two sides reached an agreement that could see Russia exploring for oil in Caribbean waters, which would build up Cuba’s offshore oil industry. Putin also decided to wipe away 90 percent of the $32 billion worth of debt Cuba owes Russia, most of it dating back to the Soviet era.

The agreement was no doubt motivated by Putin’s desire to push back against what he views as U.S. meddling in Ukraine. Exploring for oil only a few dozen miles from the U.S. coast is a finger in Uncle Sam’s eye. “We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal blockade of Cuba,” Putin said on July ... Read More

Russia ‘agrees to reopen Cuba spy base’

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Moscow (AFP) – Russia has provisionally agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on the United States, a Russian daily reported Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin visited the island last week.

Kommersant reported that Russia and Cuba had agreed “in principle” to reopen the Lourdes base, mothballed since 2001, citing several sources within Russian authorities.

“The agreements were finalised while President Vladimir Putin visited Havana last Friday,” the respected daily wrote.

Russia had closed the Lourdes spy base south of Havana on Putin’s orders to save money and due to a rapprochement with the United States after the September 11 attacks.

But Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis ... Read More

Putin’s surprise visit to Nicaragua fuels canal rumors

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

BY TIM ROGERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Nicaragua as a “very important ally for Russia in Latin America” during a surprise stopover in Managua last night as part of his political/World Cup tour of Latin America.

In brief comments broadcast on Sandinista media outlets, Putin — the first Russian President to ever visit Nicaragua — noted that the two countries are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations, but that “we have to do a lot to continue developing our relations, especially economically.”

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, seated next to his wife and his favorite son, Laureano, called Putin’s visit “historic.” He compared it to a “lightning strike” — apparently meant in a happy way.

“We are very happy to have you in our land, which is your land,” Ortega told his Russian counterpart through an interpreter.

Ortega lauded Putin for his efforts to fight the war on drugs and to “fight for peace.”

Putin’s surprise ... Read More

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