Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

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

China’s Shaky Latin American Liabilities

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest

By Matt Ferchen

China may have been a no-show for the 2014 World Cup, but at next weeks’ 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping. While the summit is likely to result in important announcements such as a Shanghai-based BRICS Bank, the rest of Xi’s Latin America visit, which will include stops in Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina, is bound to attract even more headlines.

Pundits inside and outside of China will either trumpet or decry the trip as a grand tour of China’s Latin American socialist and statist friends and a slap in the face to the United States. However, no matter how much socialist solidarity and “South-South” diplomatic back-slapping is offered up for public consumption, President Xi’s trip will actually be less about deepening already healthy ties with strong regional allies than seeking to mitigate deep anxieties about its commercial and diplomatic relations with dysfunctional friends.

In contrast ... Read More

Putin, Kirchner seek ‘multipolarity’ in Argentina visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Joshua Howat Berger

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner called for a multipolar world order as Moscow sought to boost ties with Latin America amid heightened East-West tensions.

Putin is on a six-day tour seeking to increase Moscow’s influence in the region at a time when the Ukraine crisis has eroded Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe to their lowest point since the Cold War.

His itinerary includes meetings with a string of leftist leaders critical of the United States and a summit of the BRICS group of emerging countries — an agenda that neatly aligns with his push for a multipolar world less dominated by the West.

Kirchner is meanwhile waging her own fight against Washington, battling a US court ruling that Argentina must pay more than $1.3 billion by the end of the month to hedge funds refusing to ... Read More

BRICS Fight Waning Clout With $150 Billion Deal in Brazil Summit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Raymond Colitt

The leaders of five of the world’s largest emerging markets will showcase a new currency reserve fund and development bank this week. Critics say neither is enough to revive the group’s waning clout.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as the BRICS, will approve the creation for the $100 billion reserve fund and $50 billion bank at a July 15-16 summit in Brazil’s coastal city of Fortaleza and the capital Brasilia.

The initiatives are born out of frustration with a lack of participation in global governance, particularly in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Arvind Subramanian, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The measures aren’t big enough to boost growth or cohesion in the group as foreign investor sentiment sours and member states focus on issues close to home, such as Brazil’s elections, the conflict in Ukraine and new economic policy plans in India.

“It’s hard to see a lot of impetus at this stage ... Read More

Putin Meets With Fidel Castro During Latin American Visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

HAVANA (AP) –  Russian President Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region with a stop Friday in Cuba, a key Soviet ally during the Cold War that has backed Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The two countries signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island’s north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits, Cuban government website Cubadebate said.

Another agreement covered infrastructure at a big new port project that Cuba hopes will become a regional shipping center and attract much-needed foreign investment.

“We are talking about the possibility of creating in Cuba a grand transportation hub with a possible modernization of the maritime port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport with its ... Read More

Strengthening of Russia-Cuba relations to be priority of Putin’s visit to Cuba

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Itar Tass

MOSCOW, July 10. /ITAR-TASS/. Strengthening of trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Cuba will be in the focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has said.

Putin’s agenda for the visit to Cuba

Putin will arrive in Havana on Friday, July 11. He will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.

Putin’s informal talk with 87-year-old Fidel Castro will open his visit. “Fidel Castro did not take any state or party posts. But he is leader of the Cuban Revolution and observes the development of the situation in the world,” Ushakov said adding that the conversation might be very interesting.

During the talks with Raul Castro, it is planned to touch upon a wide range of issues, including the implementation of agreements reached during previous visits, as well as to determine the priorities for further development of bilateral ... Read More

Mystery Surrounds Building of Nicaragua’s $40 Billion ‘Phantom Canal’

| May 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

By Rafael Castillo and Amalia Morales

VICE NEWS

The Interoceanic Canal — the biggest infrastructural project in the history of Nicaragua — is also known as the Phantom Canal, or the project that will never happen. The canal, which will connect the Atlantic coast with the Pacific — as an alternative to the Panama Canal — has been on President Daniel Ortega’s agenda for several years, without anyone being able to successfully assert whether this project is real, or mere propaganda.

Those who do believe the project is actually happening are the Nicaraguan peasants who live in the way of the possible canal route. They are certain that Chinese citizens, along with military and police, are installing numbered cinder blocks in front of their homes, and then leaving.

“Is this canal really going to happen? No one has told us anything,” Carlos González, a local cattle farmer with over 1500 acres of land that ... Read More

As Venezuela continues crushing dissent, a bipartisan push in Senate for sanctions

| May 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
McClatchy

BY CHRIS ADAMS

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said in a Senate hearing Thursday it was hesitant to use individual sanctions as a tactic in the Venezuelan political crisis, saying that doing so could escalate the situation into a fight between the Maduro regime and the United States rather than a struggle between that country’s people and their government.

In response, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sharply criticized the administration, indicating it was being far too timid in pushing back against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and its repressive tactics against political protesters.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, was among the sharpest critics, blasting officials from the State Department for failing to advocate for sanctions against individuals in Venezuela although sanctions have been used – and continue to be used – elsewhere.

Citing sanctions against individuals in Russia for that country’s actions in Ukraine, Rubio asked what the ... Read More

Russia joins China in building Nicaragua canal

| May 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
WND

By F. MICHAEL MALOOF

WASHINGTON – As Russia continues to take strategic initiatives that put the United States on the defensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin is teaming up with China to help construct a trans-oceanic canal in Nicaragua that gives Moscow an even greater foothold in Washington’s area of influence.

The prospect comes as Moscow not only intends more massive arms sales in Latin America but, as WND recently reported, moves to establish a base in Nicaragua besides using existing facilities for refueling for aircraft and port calls for Russian warships.

In addition to Nicaragua, Moscow also is looking to establish bases in Cuba and Venezuela.

The establishment of permanent Russian bases and a major Russian presence in the Western Hemisphere will challenge U.S. policies and threaten to diminish Washington’s influence in the region.

And like a repeat of events leading up to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it will give Moscow a basis to stage offensive ... Read More

Costa Rica’s foreign minister accuses Russia of helping militarize Nicaragua

| May 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Tico Times

Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, who leaves office this week, expressed concern that Nicaragua is building up its military with the help of Russia. However, he said he is optimistic about pending cases before the International Court of Justice at The Hague concerning border conflicts with Costa Rica’s northern neighbor.

“Russia is facilitating armaments for Nicaragua, [including] ships, and they have discussed the purchase of aircraft and other types of armaments. I fear trouble,” Castillo said in an interview with the daily La Nación, published Sunday.

According to Castillo, San José’s problems with Managua aren’t limited to border disputes, and “Nicaragua is arming itself and entering a relationship with Russia of military dependence.”

Russia “announced the desire to have bases in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, with the euphemistic name of ‘bases for refueling and resupplying’ for its ships. But we know it’s not just about that,” Castillo said.

Castillo will be replaced in ... Read More

Canadian parliament member warns Cuba investors

| May 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Juan O. Tamayo jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

A senior Canadian parliament member has taken a punch at Cuba’s new foreign investment law, saying that one of his constituents has been jailed on the island since 2011 without trial and has been offered leniency if he pays questionable debts.“The international financial community should ponder long and hard the investment blandishments of Cuban ministers, diplomats and trade officials,” said Peter Kent, chairman of the House of Commons Defense Committee.

“Reality is at stark odds with the platitudes” of those officials, Kent added, going on to detail the case of his constituent, Cy Tokmakjian, one of several foreign businessmen jailed in Cuba on what they say are fraudulent corruption charges.

Tokmakjian, 73, a Canadian citizen of Lebanese descent, is president of Tokmakjian Group, at one point the second largest Canadian firm operating in Cuba. He has been jailed since Sept. 10, 2011 for investigation by Interior Ministry officials.

Kent described ... Read More

Cuba’s Raul Castro receives Russian foreign minister

| April 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Cuban President Raul Castro and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Tuesday in Havana to review bilateral relations, Cuba’s official media said.

The two men “noted with satisfaction the excellent state of their bilateral relations, in constant development and with a promising future,” state news agency AIN said.

The Cuban president and the Russian foreign minister also exchanged opinions on current international affairs.

The meeting took place after Lavrov had official talks Tuesday with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez as part of a tour of Latin America, with Cuba as its first stop.

The tour will also take him to Nicaragua, Peru and Chile.

Speaking at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Lavrov spoke of the “brotherhood” existing between Havana and Moscow, and expressed gratitude for the island’s understanding and “stout” support of Russia with regard to the crisis in Ukraine.

Besides the meetings with Cuban dignitaries, his agenda in Havana also includes a review of the bilateral ... Read More

Stalling On Keystone Shows President Couldn’t Care Less

| April 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
IBD

By LAWRENCE KUDLOW

When President Obama holds back approval of the Keystone pipeline, for the umpteenth time, it’s bad enough that he’s politically pandering to Tom Steyer, the hedge-fund billionaire and manic radical opponent of fossil fuels.

If he gives in to Steyer by blocking the pipeline, Steyer gives $100 million to Democratic candidates this fall.

Obama’s transparent political cynicism is incredible. But it’s more than that. It shows his disregard for jobs and economic growth for blue-collar union workers who used to be Democrats.

It shows his utter disregard for our loyal Canadian ally up north. And it sends the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin, who probably believes the U.S. will not undermine Russia with energy independence and oil and gas exports while Obama is in office.

But perhaps most of all, Obama’s Keystone veto sends a message to American business that he just doesn’t care.

For as long as he’s been in the Oval Office, ... Read More

BERMAN: Russia pivots toward Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua

| March 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

BY ILLAN BERMAN

With all eyes on Ukraine, where Russia’s neo-imperial efforts have raised the specter of a new Cold War between Moscow and the West, another alarming facet of the Kremlin’s contemporary foreign policy has gone largely unnoticed; namely, its growing military presence in, and strategic designs on, the Western Hemisphere.

On Feb. 26, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu formally announced his government’s plan to expand its overseas military presence. Russia, Mr. Shoigu outlined, intends to establish new military bases in eight foreign countries. The candidates include five Asian nations and three Latin American ones: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Negotiations are underway to allow port visits to each, and to open refueling sites there for Russian long-range aircraft.

Just one day later, in a throwback to Cold War military cooperation between the Soviet Union and client state Cuba, a Russian warship docked in Havana. As of yet, neither Moscow nor Havana has issued a formal explanation as to why the Viktor Leonov, a Meridian-class intelligence vessel, ... Read More

Argentina Oil’s Bonanza Helping Too Few Led by Political Friends

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MICHAEL SMITH & PABLO GONZALEZ

Explosions tear through the Vaca Muerta shale oil deposit, 3,100 meters beneath the desert in western Argentina, cracking open underground rock formations.

Oil workers, braving 40-degree-Celsius heat and vicious swarms of horseflies, operate a battery of massive pumps that roar into action. They force a gelatinous sluice of water, chemicals and sand into the openings created by the explosion, so they can tease out the oil.

“Success!” yells Osvaldo Alarcon, who’s supervising the hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for the site’s owner, YPF SA, Argentina’s state oil producer. His workers cheer. “The center of the earth is ours,” he says, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its April issue.

The crew of Shale Oil 28, or SOIL 28, as this tract is known, is on the frontline of a push by some of the world’s largest energy companies to unearth Vaca Muerta’s hidden riches.

The Belgium-sized layer of ... Read More

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