Kremlin - The message behind Putin’s Wagner meeting

Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky and Biden to address U.N. General Assembly

Washington Post

23-09-19 06:27

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly and visit Capitol Hill to seek support for Ukraine and secure a new $24bn assistance package. Zelensky, who is attending his first in-person UN gathering since the start of the war, will emphasize Russia's violation of the UN's principle of territorial integrity. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are not scheduled to attend the meeting. Meanwhile, cities across Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Odessa, and Khmelnytskyi oblast, have reported further Russian attacks.
‘Against the war’: Iran’s president denies sending drones to Russia

South China Morning Post

23-09-19 04:52

Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi, denied that his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. The United States has accused Iran of not only providing the weapons but also helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them. Raisi reiterated offers to mediate the Russia-Ukraine war, despite being one of the Kremlin's strongest backers. He suggested that the recent deal with the US, which led to a prisoner exchange and the release of frozen assets, could "help build trust" between the two long-time foes. Raisi also warned other countries in the region not to get too close with US ally Israel.
Kremlin says Russia and China must edge closer to counter Western efforts to contain them

Associated Press

23-09-19 11:16

A senior Kremlin official, Nikolai Patrushev, has called for closer coordination between Russia and China to counter Western efforts to contain them. Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, stated that it is important to deepen Russian-Chinese coordination and interaction on the international stage. He also reaffirmed Russia's support for China's policies on Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, which he claimed are being used by the West to discredit China. The Kremlin has consistently expressed support for China as relations with the West deteriorate. Patrushev's comments came as he hosted China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, for security talks.
Anti-Voice rallies organised by pro-Putin conspiracy theorist

The Sydney Morning Herald

23-09-19 09:40

Rallies opposing the Indigenous Voice to parliament planned around Australia this weekend are being organised by a pro-Kremlin activist and anti-vaccination campaigner living in the Russian consulate in Sydney.
Putin and Xi to meet in Beijing in October, Russia says


23-09-19 09:35

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to travel to Beijing in October for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This will be Putin's first known trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, stated that the West's attempt to contain both Russia and China should deepen cooperation between the two powers. Putin will be attending the third Belt and Road Forum after receiving an invitation from Xi during a visit to Moscow in March. The arrest warrant against Putin, which accuses him of illegally deporting children from Ukraine, has been denied by Moscow.
Russia’s Growing Ties With Afghanistan Are More Symbolism Than Substance


23-09-19 08:14

Russia is one of just a handful of states in the world actively seeking to strengthen its relationship with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. While Afghanistan’s rulers, the Taliban, are still formally designated a banned terrorist organization in Russia, that has not prevented Moscow from inviting them to economic forums and discussing ambitious joint projects.

While the opportunities for closer economic and cultural ties are limited, the Kremlin is hoping for serious gains. Not only does the Taliban’s ideology of opposition to Western values overlap with Russia’s anti-Western narratives, but other benefits of cooperation could include access to new trade routes (mitigating the effect of Western sanctions) and burnishing Moscow’s reputation as an ally of the Global South.

When the Taliban was in charge of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, friendship with Russia was a distant dream. For a start, the Taliban had recognized the independence of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya. Secondly, Moscow was trying to build good relations with the West. Russia’s then-young president, Vladimir Putin, supported the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies.

As Russia’s relationship with the West deteriorated, however, the Kremlin’s view of the Taliban changed. In August 2021, as the Taliban closed in on Kabul, Western diplomats rushed to shutter embassies and evacuate. But the Russian embassy remained open and, within two days of the takeover, Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov had become the first foreign diplomat to meet with Taliban representatives. After that encounter, Zhirnov proclaimed the Taliban fighters to be “reasonable guys,” and the Taliban began providing security for the Russian embassy.

The Kremlin has been consistently sympathetic to the Taliban’s strident anti-Western rhetoric. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova gloated openly over the failure of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan in August 2021, suggesting that the alliance should have spent less time rehearsing for a conflict with Russia and more time focusing on its operations there.

History is an inevitable part of any discussion of ties between Moscow and Kabul. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the Soviet Union aided in the construction of Afghanistan’s industry, irrigation facilities, bridges, three airports, and over 1,000 kilometers of roads, among other things. Soviet-made cars and rusty Soviet military equipment can often be seen on Afghanistan’s streets, and many members of the older generation speak Russian.

These are little more than relics, however. Moscow does not have the influence in Afghanistan it once enjoyed. Young Afghans want to get to the United States, and Russia is merely a backup option.

Firstly, it has been hard for Afghans to get Russian visas because of the closure of the Russian embassy’s consular department. Secondly, judging by recent conversations with Afghans in Kabul, many now see Russia as a dangerous place where drones regularly strike the capital. Thirdly, former cultural levers have been lost: there are no large-scale Russian educational or cultural programs such as language teaching in Afghanistan, and no one seems to want to organize them.

Nor is the economic relationship in good shape. Just 4 percent ($289 million) of Afghanistan’s imports came from Russia in the twelve months ending March 20, 2023, according to the country’s National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). Russia trails far behind countries like Iran, which provides 20 percent of Afghanistan’s imports, China (18 percent), and Pakistan (16 percent).

Moscow has professed interest in a whole series of ambitious projects involving Afghanistan: for example, the construction of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Gas Pipeline and the Trans-Afghan Railway linking Uzbekistan and Pakistan. But these are a long way from realization, largely because of the security problems in Afghanistan.

It was reported last year that Russia promised to supply Afghanistan with 1 million tons of gasoline, 1 million tons of diesel, and 500,000 tons of liquified natural gas per year. In addition, Moscow is now supposed to deliver 2 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan every year. Russia has confirmed the agreement, but Taliban sources suggest that the actual deliveries are falling far short of what was promised.

The Taliban clearly want more cooperation with Russia. At every meeting with Russian officials, they seek a plan to move bilateral relations to a new level and the easing of visa rules. After all, the Kremlin remains a convenient partner. Unlike their Western counterparts, Russian officials are not bothered by questions of women’s education, which is de facto banned by the Taliban, or other human rights.

What does worry Moscow, though, is terrorism. Russia experienced it in Afghanistan firsthand on September 5, 2022, when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the embassy in Kabul, killing two Russian diplomats. Islamic State – Khorasan Province took responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban dismiss Russia’s concerns about security, maintaining they no longer have a terrorism problem. It’s true that the dynamic is positive: there were 75 percent fewer terrorist attacks in Afghanistan in 2022 than the year before, according to the Global Terrorism Index produced by Australia’s Institute for Economics and Peace. Nevertheless, the Index continues to rank Afghanistan as the most dangerous nation in the world for terrorism.

One way or another, it’s a Kremlin priority to deepen ties with Kabul. Symbolically, Russia last year issued accreditation to a Taliban official to represent Afghanistan diplomatically in Russia. Only a handful of other states in the world have taken such a step.

Considering its economic isolation from the West, Moscow does not have many options when it comes to building trade ties. That’s why a partnership with Afghanistan is important for the Kremlin (a similar dynamic is at work when it comes to Russia’s ties with Syria and Iran). It’s also a way for the Russian leadership to reassure itself that it’s not alone in its anti-Western convictions.

The Taliban’s next visit to Russia is planned for September 29 in the city of Kazan. Along with Russian and Afghan diplomats, representatives from China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and other countries are also expected to be present. Discussions will focus on the fight against terrorism and narcotics. But, again, such gatherings are more about Moscow seeking to dismiss claims that it is internationally isolated rather than a genuine attempt to solve Afghanistan’s problems.

The likely next step for Moscow is to officially remove the Taliban from Russia’s list of terrorist organizations and recognize the government in Kabul. But even those steps would be purely symbolic. They are unlikely to do much to deepen economic ties between the two countries. By:Ruslan Suleymanov

US issues more sanctions over Iran drone program after nation’s president denies supplying Russia

Associated Press

23-09-19 15:35

The US has imposed sanctions on seven individuals and four companies in China, Russia, and Turkey who are allegedly involved in the development of Iran's drone programme. The US accuses Iran of supplying Russia with drones used to bomb Ukrainian civilians during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This comes after Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi denied that his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war. The sanctions prevent the sanctioned individuals and companies from accessing any property or financial assets held in the US and prohibit US companies and citizens from doing business with them. Tensions between the US and Iran remain high despite recent diplomatic developments.
Azerbaijan launches military action in Karabakh ‘to disarm’ Armenians

The Globe and Mail

23-09-19 14:58

Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which could potentially lead to a full-scale war. Baku claims that the operation is necessary to restore constitutional order and drive out Armenian military formations. The region is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory but is also run by breakaway ethnic Armenian authorities. It has been the centre of two wars since the fall of the Soviet Union. The fighting could impact the geopolitical balance in the region, and there are already signs of political fallout in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
Syria’s Assad to head to China as Beijing boosts its reach in the Middle East

Associated Press

23-09-19 14:30

Syrian President Bashar Assad is set to visit China for the first time since the start of the country's 12-year conflict, during which China has been one of his main backers. China has been expanding its reach in the Middle East and continues to support Assad in the Syrian conflict. China could play a major role in Syria's reconstruction, which is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars. Assad's visit comes as Syria's economic crisis worsens, leading to protests in government-held areas of the country.
‘Baku’s promise was bro­ken’: World de­cries Nagorno-Karabakh flare up

Al Jazeera

23-09-19 14:27

Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian forces as a precondition for peace. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of building up troops and decried a blockade of its only land link to Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but has a majority ethnic Armenian population that broke from Baku's control after a war in the early 1990s. The EU, Russia, Germany, and the US have all called for an end to the fighting and a return to negotiations.
EU urges Serbia and Kosovo to respect their pledges after a meeting of leaders ends in acrimony

Associated Press

23-09-19 13:38

The European Union has urged Serbia and Kosovo to respect an agreement aimed at ending tensions between the two countries and normalizing their relations. The EU foreign ministers stated that the commitments made in the agreement are binding and play a role in the parties' chances of joining the EU. The ministers expressed concern about tensions in northern Kosovo and called for greater progress in improving ties. The EU has been overseeing a dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, but recent meetings have been tense and disappointing. The US is also involved in the process and has called for de-escalation of tensions.
Azerbaijan’s military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh comes as Armenia’s ally Moscow focuses on Ukraine

The Globe and Mail

23-09-19 17:35

Azerbaijan has launched an attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, a region recognised as Azeri territory but populated by ethnic Armenians. The offensive follows a build-up of forces near the region in recent weeks and comes at a time when Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is unable to project power anywhere outside Ukraine, where Russian forces remain heavily engaged. Russia, a traditional ally of Armenia, has not responded to requests for intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, the US, France and Turkey have all expressed concern over the renewed fighting and look set to play a significant role in deciding the outcome.
Fighting flares again in a breakaway region in the Caucasus Mountains

The Toronto Star

23-09-19 16:31

Azerbaijan has begun military action against Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Armenia. Armenian officials have urged Azerbaijan to negotiate, but Azerbaijan has said it will continue until the Armenian military surrenders and the government of Nagorno-Karabakh dissolves itself. Ethnic Armenian officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said that the region's capital, Stepanakert, and other towns were under heavy shelling. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office has said that Armenian forces fired on the city of Shusha, killing one civilian. The operation could be an attempt by President Ilham Aliyev to force ethnic Armenians to leave the area, according to Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank.
Risk of new war on Putin’s doorstep as Azerbaijani forces strike Armenians

The Sydney Morning Herald

23-09-19 22:53

Azerbaijan has sent troops and launched artillery strikes into the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is controlled by separatist Armenian authorities. The move raises the threat of a new war with Armenia. Karabakh, a mountainous region in the South Caucasus, is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory. However, it is claimed by separatist Armenians who say the area is their ancestral homeland. The latest conflict has led to condemnation from the US, EU, France and Germany, and could have wider geopolitical implications in the region, which is crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines.
Ukraine’s Fight Is the World’s, Zelensky Tells U.N. Assembly

NY Times

23-09-19 21:47

Ukraine’s President Zelensky appealed for help from the international community in the fight against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In a speech to the UN, he called out Russia’s military interventions in Moldova, Georgia, and Syria, as well as its increased control over Belarus and threats against Baltic states. Zelensky, who is due to travel to Washington later this week, argued that the war is not just Ukraine’s fight, but a global one. Russian manipulation of oil, gas, and food exports has had an impact in Africa and elsewhere, he said.
Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict explained: Where is Nagorno-Karabakh and is Russia involved?


23-09-19 21:25

Azerbaijan has sent troops, backed by artillery strikes, into the Armenian-controlled region of Nagorno-Karabakh, increasing the risk of a new war with Armenia. The region is disputed and was deemed part of Azerbaijan by Soviet planners, despite being majority populated by ethnic Armenians. The Lachin corridor, which connects the only ethnic Armenian town in Nagorno-Karabakh with the Armenian mainland, has been blocked by Azerbaijan since mid-December, leaving ethnic Armenians in the region vulnerable. The conflict has implications for other powers, with Israel and Turkey backing Azerbaijan and the EU and the West supporting Armenia.
Wednesday Briefing: Zelensky’s Warning at the U.N.

NY Times

23-09-19 20:52

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the UN General Assembly that Russia's aggression would not end at Ukraine's borders. He said the goal of the war against Ukraine was to turn it, its people, resources and land into a weapon against the international rules-based order. Zelensky added that Russia was weaponizing essentials such as food and energy "not only against our country, but against all of yours, as well." The US president, Joe Biden, also condemned Russia's "naked aggression", warning that if Ukraine was "carved up", the independence of other nations would be in danger. Meanwhile, 50 defence ministers and other top officials were meeting in Germany to discuss providing military aid to Ukraine. The US defence secretary said US-made Abrams battle tanks would shortly arrive in Ukraine.
Azer­bai­jan forces at­tack Nagorno-Karabakh as threat of new war looms

Al Jazeera

23-09-19 20:39

Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in the Armenian-controlled region of Nagorno-Karabakh, warning that it will not stop until Armenian forces surrender. The attacks followed the deaths of four soldiers and two civilians in landmine explosions allegedly planted by Armenian saboteurs. Azerbaijan's defence ministry said the operation aimed to "disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia's armed forces". The move has raised the prospect of a new war in the region, which has been a flashpoint since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Putin ‘weaponising’ food as troops target cargo ship in Black Sea

The Independent

23-09-20 07:30

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russian society has "raised a second Hitler" in a powerful speech delivered at the UN General Assembly. Zelensky urged the world to unite against Russian aggression and claimed that Russia was using tactics more catastrophic than nuclear destruction. He argued that while nuclear weapons remain in place, the "mass destruction is gaining its momentum" through the weaponization of food, energy, and children. Zelensky's speech comes ahead of a face-to-face meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the UN Security Council, where Zelensky is due to speak about Ukraine.

Zelensky’s speech at the UN General Assembly emphasized the need for collaboration and peace in the face of Russian aggression. He accused Russia of using tactics that are more destructive than nuclear weapons, claiming that food, energy, and children are being weaponized. Zelensky’s warning about the dangers of Russian aggression comes ahead of a meeting with Lavrov, where tensions are expected to be high. In their last encounter at the UN Security Council, Lavrov called Zelensky a derogatory name and stormed out of the room.

Zelensky’s speech and upcoming meeting with Lavrov highlight the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian president is calling for international unity against Russia and warning of the catastrophic consequences of Russian aggression. As tensions continue to escalate, it remains to be seen how the international community will respond and what actions will be taken to address the situation.

Russia imposes temporary restrictions on fuel exports


23-09-21 11:34

Russia has introduced temporary restrictions on the export of gasoline and diesel in an attempt to stabilise the domestic market. The government did not specify how the restrictions would be implemented but said they would help to "reduce prices for consumers". The move comes as Russia has been experiencing shortages of fuel, with wholesale prices rising. The restrictions are intended to prevent "grey" exports of motor fuels and to avert a large-scale fuel crisis. Russia exported 4.817 million tons of gasoline and almost 35 million tons of diesel last year.