Tag Archives: Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russians in London: ‘It’s official policy now to hate us’


Russians living in London say British media's coverage of the Malaysia Airlines crash is pushing them to side with Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Zuma/Rex FeaturesRussians living in London say British media’s coverage of the Malaysia Airlines crash is pushing them to side with Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Zuma/Rex Features.

Outside Kalinka, a Russian delicatessen and grocers on London’s bustling Queensway, customers were uneasy . “I am shocked,” says one, an electrician, who came to London 12 years ago to work on building sites. He remembers the stereotyping of his fellow Russians back then. “It was Russians are rude. And they are drinking beer. And they are drinking vodka. But it was funny. It was soft humour.

“Now, the newspapers are definitely trying to mix the opinions of people against Russian culture and people. Now it is Russians are killers.”

He is far from alone among Russians living in London to have noticed a backlash since the downing of flight MH17. Like most, he too, speaks only on condition of anonymity.

“There are pictures of Putin. The word “killer” on the front pages,” said Anna, a Russian-born pharmaceutical consultant. “Then page after page, until page 12 or something, when it’s Gaza. Russians are killers. How do you think it affects us?”

“Do you believe in collective punishment? Do you want to bomb people for their nationality?” she asks. “It’s actually official policy now to hate Russians.”

Of course, she said, she has no idea of the exact circumstances that led to shooting of the plane and loss of 298 lives. “But the British culture is to find a culprit. Bully them. Bully those around them. Don’t bother to investigate. Judge on very superficial grounds. Let’s bully his daughter. Let’s find someone who played judo with this man and bully them too.

“Surround him with hate so the Russians will throw him out. But the Russians won’t throw him out,” she added. “Everyone is suffering. Collective punishment is not the answer.”

Among his friends, Sasha, a retired Russian army officer who has lived in London for more than 20 years, now finds “a great deal of sadness, and fear, fear that the lunacy will escalate.

“It is easy to resurrect antagonism towards Russia because people remember the cold war, and when something goes wrong in Russia it’s magnified,” he said. Sanctions would hit the middle and lower income Russians “the tourists, the students who fill the universities” and not “the big people, who don’t care”.

Across London in the City, fears are also for business. One director of a reinsurance broker, whose company works in 20 different countries, many from the former Soviet Union, said his concern about media coverage was “that there is no presumption of innocence in this case.

“It looked as if the story was ready for the mass media before the aircraft came down.

“All this blaming Russians, I am Russian English. I have been living here for 25 years. I don’t quite like Putin’s politics. But, unfortunately, all this has really pushed me over to the Russian side, which I haven’t been since the events started in the Ukraine.”

He fears a break “in connections which have been set up over the last 20 to 25 years, based on information that has not been verified”.

Others fear a trade slump will lead to job losses. “If there is no business with Russia, it inevitably will affect our employability because we sell our language skills,” said one insurance worker.

Now living in London, she was born in Russia before moving to Ukraine, where her parents still live. She was visiting them when the plane was shot down.

“My parents have both Ukrainian and Russian channels. And the story was so contradictory if you switched from Russian TV to Ukrainian TV. It is actually scary how the same event can be shown from a different perspective and you just don’t know what to believe,” she said. “They are trading accusations, and both seem equally credible. My advice would be not to listen to either.”

She has found British media “more or less objective” but is concerned how comments translate into Russian.

“I can hear what David Cameron says in English and it’s sort of alright. Once it is translated into Russian it sounds really harsh. That really is an issue. When it’s taken out of context, and translated, it can sound almost opposite to what was said,” she said.

The Guardian.

#Economy: Russian execs fear lasting damage from plane crash


FILE - In this Monday, July 21, 2014 pool file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Samara, Russia. Having for months dismissed Western sanctions on Russia as toothless, business leaders here are now afraid that the crash of the Malaysian jetliner will bring about an international isolation that will cause serious and lasting economic damage. The U.S. and EU are still playing something similar to “good cop, bad cop” with Russia, said Chris Weafer of the Moscow-based Macro-Advisory, but it remains to be seen whether the Malaysian plane crash will be a game changer for Russia’s economy. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service, File)FILE – In this Monday, July 21, 2014 pool file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Samara, Russia. Having for months dismissed Western sanctions on Russia as toothless, business leaders here are now afraid that the crash of the Malaysian jetliner will bring about an international isolation that will cause serious and lasting economic damage. The U.S. and EU are still playing something similar to “good cop, bad cop” with Russia, said Chris Weafer of the Moscow-based Macro-Advisory, but it remains to be seen whether the Malaysian plane crash will be a game changer for Russia’s economy. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Having for months dismissed Western sanctions on Russia as toothless, business leaders here are now afraid that the crash of the Malaysian jetliner will bring about an international isolation that will cause serious and lasting economic damage.

Throughout the Ukrainian crisis, U.S. and European sanctions had mainly targeted a handful of individuals, sparing economic ties. Then last week the U.S. imposed penalties on some of Russia’s largest corporations. And when the airliner was shot down just a day later in Ukraine, allegedly by separatists with Moscow’s support, concern grew in Russia that the sanctions would only get worse as President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of cooperation.

“Over the past few months, there was a sense that Mr. Putin acted decisively, forcefully, and correctly, and that everybody else in the world would accommodate themselves to that reality and we’d get back to something like business as usual,” said Bernard Sucher, a Moscow-based entrepreneur and board member of Aton, an independent investment bank. “Now we’re talking about real fear.”

When Russia annexed Crimea in March, triggering a deep freeze in relations with the West, stock markets in Russia dropped but later rebounded as investors understood that the country’s lucrative trade relations would remain largely unscathed. Europe, which is in frail economic health, dared not block energy imports from Russia or the trade in goods such as cars or heavy machinery. Oil companies like BP and ExxonMobil continued their operations in Russia, with some even signing new deals.

The U.S. took a tougher stance, but until last week was also careful to limit sanctions to asset freezes on individuals who were perceived to have had a hand in supporting eastern Ukraine’s insurgency.

On July 16, the night before the Malaysia Airlines jet crash, Russian markets appeared to have fully recovered from the crisis in Ukraine, with the MICEX benchmark index adding roughly 23 percent since March 1.

Then last week, the U.S. announced new sanctions that had investors in Russia fear a turn for the worst. The U.S. shut off its financial markets for a broad swath of defense companies as well as Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, gas producer Novatek, which is half-owned by a close Putin ally, and a major bank, VEB. The move offered investors a glimpse of what they had thought would never happen: serious international isolation of Russia’s powerhouse corporations.

According to Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, those sanctions were the first to really pack a punch because they were “broader and more specific: they went beyond the symbolic.”

Rodzianko said anecdotal evidence suggests that in some cases investment decisions have been delayed “particularly when people were just considering coming in to the market.”

When the Malaysian airliner went down one day later, investors worried conditions would only get worse.

The stock market has fallen 5 percent since Thursday last week. That is expected to see investors keep pulling money out of the country. They withdrew $74.6 billion in the first six months of the year, a figure forecast to reach $100 billion for the whole of 2014 — almost twice the $60 billion in withdrawals seen last year. Continue reading

BBC News: US says evidence shows Russia fired artillery into Ukraine


Russian backed terroristsThe Pentagon sites ‘human intelligence’ showing that Russia, not separatists, attacking Ukrainian military positions

The US says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions.

Russia also intends “to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers” to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the state department said.

Russia has frequently denied sending any rocket launchers into Ukraine.

The US comment comes a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, with the rebels widely accused of shooting it down.

Multinational efforts to find the cause of the crash are under way, led by the Netherlands which lost 193 of its citizens. All 298 people on board the flight died in the crash.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced 40 unarmed military police are being sent to the crash site as part of efforts to find the last MH17 victims.

He said there would be more people working on the crash site and his government was looking at ways to make it more secure.

People in Kyiv mourn the victims of the MH17 flight

‘Human intelligence’

The US, which has repeatedly accused Russia of fuelling separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine, says it believes that rebels shot down flight MH17 with a Russian-provided SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile, probably by mistake.

Leading rebels in eastern Ukraine have given conflicting accounts of whether they had control of a Buk launcher at the time the plane was downed.

State department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Thursday the US had evidence derived from “some intelligence information” showing Russia firing artillery into eastern Ukraine.

She said the US would not provide further details so as not to compromise sources and methods of intelligence collection.

Earlier on Thursday, the EU said it was adding 15 people and 18 entities to the list of sanctions against Russia and Ukraine, in a move condemned by Russia’s ambassador to the UK as “illegal, unreasonable and counterproductive”.

Soldiers load coffins into cars under a Ukrainian flag during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. After being removed from the planes, the bodies are to be taken in a convoy of hearses to a military barracks in the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts will begin the painstaking task of identifying the bodies and returning them to their loved ones.Soldiers load coffins into cars under a Ukrainian flag during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. After being removed from the planes, the bodies are to be taken in a convoy of hearses to a military barracks in the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts will begin the painstaking task of identifying the bodies and returning them to their loved ones.

It comes as two more planes carrying the remains of some of the passengers and crew of flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands for forensic identification at a barracks south of the Dutch city of Hilversum.

Difficult access

Dutch investigators have faced difficulties gaining access to the rebel-controlled crash site in eastern Ukraine, amid continuing fighting there.

Some OSCE monitors and investigators who did manage to visit the site say there is a discrepancy in the numbers of bodies counted on the ground.

With remains still being found one week on, experts warn it could be months before all victims are identified.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed a multinational force to secure the crash site mounted by countries most affected by the disaster, namely Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, are in Kiev to try to secure agreement from the Ukrainian authorities for a Dutch-led police mission at the crash site.

Meanwhile, UK aviation investigators have managed to successfully extract data from the plane’s two black boxes, the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the investigation, said on Thursday.

They are looking for voice recordings of the last moments of the plane’s flight, as well as potentially vital information from after any missile strike, which could yield clues about the impact and effect of the strike.

Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/ReutersRebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Details of further EU sanctions on Russia and Ukraine are expected to come to light on Friday, with talks on stepped-up action – which may include a ban on buying debt or stock issued by Russia’s largest banks – also due to continue.

In other developments on Thursday:

  • Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned in protest at the disbanding of the ruling parliamentary coalition, paving the way for new elections. It is not yet clear if his resignation will be accepted by parliament
  • CNN says one of its freelance journalists, Anton Skiba, was abducted by armed pro-Russia separatists in Donetsk on Tuesday and has appealed for his release
  • Overall rebel military commander Igor Strelkov says in statement he has withdrawn his fighters from the outskirts of Donetsk

The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.
Fatal Flight Path of Flight MH17

For video’s go to the BBC News website.

To mock President Putin’s pride and test his paranoia is folly


Editors Note: Read the full article before making a comment, I admit to feeling anger when I first started to read this, but at the end I started to see sense.1 Another excellent article by Simon Jenkins at The Guardian.
'Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite.' Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images‘Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite.’ Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Why does foreign policy default to stupid? From the moment that we heard of the Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine it was clearly a tragic accident. Whoever’s finger was on the trigger, the tragedy cannot have been meant. This was not another 9/11. It was cock-up, not conspiracy.

Yet foreign policy craves conspiracy. Vladimir Putin blamed the Ukrainian government. Ukraine blamed the pro-Russian rebels. America’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, “cannot rule out” Moscow’s responsibility. London howled blue murder all round. There had been blood. There had to be blame.

What happened was a ghastly mess in bandit country, meriting the swiftest possible restoration of dignity for the victims. Yet before even the bodies had been collected, politicians vied with each other for tightening sanctions, ending trade, expelling oligarchs and freezing bank accounts. Soon they were fighting like rats in a sack. Barack Obama was a wimp. François Hollande was an appeaser. David Cameron was a hypocrite. The philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy hurled down thunderbolts on everyone, “This is the spirit of Munich – appeasement. And it is a disgrace.”

These moments are dangerous. In 1914, the Austrian government declared the madcap shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand a “Serbian government plot” and went to war. In 1983, the Russians shot down a Korean airliner that had strayed over Siberia, killing all 269 people on board. It was clearly an accident, the fighter pilots’ ground control being drunk and panicking. This intelligence was suppressed and the incident exploited to precipitate one of the most scary confrontations of the cold war.

Five years later it was America’s turn, when a US cruiser shot down an Iranian civilian Airbus A300 in Iranian airspace. The US navy wriggled and excused itself, while Iran seized on it as a crime of wanton aggression, aided by America rewarding its sailors with medals. Washington refused to admit legal liability, and took eight years to pay $62m in compensation to bereaved families.

What is terrifying is how such incidents are distorted to suit the interests of revenge. Clearly Putin has been reckless along Russia’s western frontier, backing Ukrainian rebels with enough weaponry to make accidents more likely to happen. Yet the idea that he willed the tragedy is as absurd as that Konstantin Chernenko willed the Korean massacre or Ronald Reagan the downing of an Iranian plane.

Putin must have been as appalled as anyone at the fate of the airliner. It also sabotaged his delicate power play in the region and threw him on the defensive. Intelligence from Moscow suggests that he is bruised and angry, retreating into his circle of hawkish advisers and their nationalist rhetoric. This is the moment Confucius advises us to give the enemy a bridge over which to retreat. Instead, the west’s hawks are having a field day, deriding Putin’s paranoia as if to goad him into doing something worse.

Visiting Russia in the 1990s after its humiliation in the cold war, I found it a sad and dangerous place, not unlike Germany after its defeat in 1918. Yet it was as if no western diplomat had read the Treaty of Versailles, or noted Keynes’ warning of the consequences. Much was done to build economic ties between west and east. Energy, investment and contacts flowed back and forth. Western companies cavorted with oligarchs and kleptocrats. Money stolen from the Russian people gushed into the wildcat banks of Cyprus and London and into the Swiss and British property markets. London must rank as the greatest receiver of stolen goods of all time.

So far, so good. But at the same time, Nato and the EU rolled forward over eastern Europe to the Russian frontier, as if aiming its guns at the gates of Moscow to taunt Russia for its defeat. Nato apologists argued that any country, be it Latvia, Georgia or Ukraine, should be free to join whichever club it liked (albeit objecting when Crimeans voted the other way). Yet only fools can ignore the fact of Russian pride and fear of encirclement. The post-cold war provocation of Putin was good public relations, but it was rotten history.

We are told that east Ukraine is one of many potential explosions that Putin could trigger along the Russian border, from the Baltic to the Caucasus. Everywhere are Russian minorities (or majorities) that could clash with local non-Russians. Europe’s leaders have no conceivable interest in stirring up such conflicts – and yet that was precisely what they sought to do in Georgia and Ukraine.

For Britain – or America – to try and lay down the law along Russia’s extensive borders is barking mad; to use a tragic plane accident as casus belli equally so. It is nothing but breast-beating machismo. Yet again we lurch towards the woolly-headed daftness of economic sanctions. It is beyond hypocrisy for the west to demand sanctions against Moscow when it happily buys Russian gas and sells Russia guns, ships, Knightsbridge flats and places at Eton. These double-standards are of our hand. According to the commons committee on arms exports, Britain currently sells arms worth £12bn to 27 countries listed by the Foreign Office as “of human rights concern”. It cannot enhance world peace to make Europe’s energy more expensive, Russian loans harder to get or Harrods less accessible to “Putin’s cronies”. Putin could not care less.

Economic sanctions are to modern statecraft what mounted lancers were to war in the trenches: magnificent but useless. Their continued deployment defies study after study showing them as cosmetic, cruel or counterproductive. Yet how many times has Cameron emerged from his Cobra bunker to threaten “tighter economic sanctions” against some rogue regime, to absolutely no effect? The rhetoric is always the same, to “send a message”, show resolve, impose a price, not to let “wrongdoing go unpunished”. It is as if Britain were some superannuated school prefect.

The emergence in Moscow in the 1990s of a tough, philistine nationalist like Putin was a near certainty. He may be a nasty piece of work but he runs what it is still a powerful nation. Mocking his pride and testing his paranoia is for fools. The one country that knows this and can keep a sane head on its shoulders is run by Angela Merkel. Thank goodness for Germany.

The Guardian.


  1. I must add that although I agree that flight MH17 was a tragic accident, it was an accident that would never have happened if Russia had not annexed Crimea which in turn led to unrest and civil war in the east of Ukraine

Sanctions finally find #Russia’s Achilles heel


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin gestures as he chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, June 25, 2014Russia’s President Vladimir Putin gestures as he chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama were reportedly engaged in a heated telephone conversation last Thursday when Putin noted in passing that an aircraft had gone down in Ukraine. The tragic crash of the Malaysian airliner in rebel-held eastern Ukraine continues to dominate the headlines, but it is important to remember what agitated Putin and prompted the phone call in the first place — sanctions.

Sanctions against Russia have been the centerpiece of the U.S. response to Putin’s interference in Ukraine. While they primarily have been directed against prominent friends of Putin and their businesses, the underlying target has been a weak Russian economy.  The sanctions have definitely found Russia’s Achilles’ heel, and with harsher sanctions looming in the aftermath of flight MA17, Putin is finding it increasingly difficult to craft an effective reply.

Obama had raised the ante for Russia the day before the Malaysian airliner disaster by unexpectedly announcing a new round of sanctions. The designated enterprises included several major Russian banks (Gazprombank, VEB), energy companies (Rosneft, Novatek) and arms manufacturers. They were not, however, the full sectoral sanctions that Putin dreads the most. These would essentially exclude Russia from the international financial system and restrict major technological transfers. Though key Russian banks and energy companies are now prohibited from receiving medium or long-term dollar financing, U.S. companies are not otherwise prohibited from conducting business with them.

But even by hinting as to what sectoral sanctions might look like, Obama has upset Russia’s economic calculations. Obama is often criticized for not backing up the “red lines” that he draws. But in Ukraine, Obama essentially has drawn a “gray line” — demanding Russia take certain actions to end the crisis. No one knows when this gray line is crossed, however. So these new sanctions only heighten the uncertainty — and risk — of doing business in Russia. Continue reading