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Friday, May 25, 2007

Accrued foreign investment in Russia up 33% to $152 bln in Q1

MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Accrued foreign investment in Russia increased 33.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2007 to $151.5 billion, the country's top statistics body said Monday. The State Statistics Service said investment in the form of loans from international financial institutions and trade credits accounted for the larger part of accrued foreign investment (50%), followed by foreign direct investment (48.2%), and portfolio investment (1.8%). Cyprus, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and the United States were Russia's main investors in the reporting period, accounting for 84.5% of accrued foreign investment, the statistics service said. The Russian economy received $24.6 billion in foreign investment in January-March 2007, 180% up from the same period of last year, the statistics service said. At the same time, Russia's foreign trade surplus declined 22% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2007 to $28.4 billion, the statistics service said. Russia's foreign trade (under the balance of payments methodology) expanded 16.3% in the reporting period to $114.4 billion, including $71.4 billion in exports (an increase of 6%) and $43 billion in imports (up 38.7%), the statistics service said.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

U.S. Senator Lugar says Russia wants Arctic energy reserves

WASHINGTON, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar said Russia is aspiring to take control over potential energy reserves in the Arctic Ocean at the expense of U.S. interests. The senator, known for his anti-Russian statements, urged the U.S. authorities to join the struggle for the polar oil and gas resources by ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The issue has acquired importance in view of dwindling global energy resources. Experts forecast that oil reserves on land would soon be exhausted and the only available fields will be in Persian Gulf and on deep sea shelves. Lugar said Russia had claimed the right to develop the reserves, which could become more accessible due to ice melting in climate change. The Russian government is expected to meet this week to discuss hydrocarbon production on the sea. The U.S. parliamentarian's warnings followed a statement by President George W. Bush Tuesday, which called on the Senate to ratify the convention. Lugar said the convention had been adopted in Cold War times to protect national interests against the Soviet Union and aggressively developing countries. If ratified, the document will grant Washington control over the vast energy and fish wealth lying 200 miles off the American coast, he said.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Blunt Putin Speech Sets Sights on U.S.

May 11, 2007 - The Associated Press - By Vladimir Isachenkov - MOSCOW — Who was President Vladimir Putin talking about when he said the world faces threats to peace like those that led to World War II? Putin’s statement at a Victory Day parade on Red Square on Wednesday was artfully phrased to be both blunt and vague — but political observers have little doubt that one target was the United States. While Putin didn’t name any particular country in the speech marking the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, the remarks echoed his increasingly strong criticism of the perceived U.S. domination in global affairs. Political analysts close to the Kremlin say that Putin referred to the United States in his remarks, expressing Russia’s dismay at what it views as U.S. unilateralism in world affairs and disrespect for other countries’ interests. “Hitler was striving for global domination, and the United States is striving for global domination now,” Sergei Markov, the Kremlin-connected head of the Moscow-based Institute for Political Research said. “Hitler thought he was above the League of Nations, and the United States thinks it is above the United Nations. Their action is similar.” Relations between Russia and the United States have become increasingly tense amid U.S. criticism of the Kremlin for rolling back democracy and Moscow’s complaints against U.S. plans to deploy missile defense sites in Europe close to its western borders. Moscow also frequently accuses Washington of meddling in what it considers its home turf by trying to take other ex-Soviet nations away from its orbit. Markov said that while Putin sought to soften his remarks by avoiding a direct reference to the United States, he was undoubtedly aiming at Washington. “Only the United States now is claiming global exclusiveness,” Markov said. Shortly after his speech at the parade, Putin told veterans at a Kremlin reception that World War II showed “where militarist ambitions, ethnic intolerance and any attempts to recarve the globe are leading to.” Markov saw that as another veiled reference to the United States. “After the Cold War ended, the United States initiated a new arms race,” fueling the nuclear ambitions of many nations worldwide, he said. “If a nation doesn’t have nuclear weapons, it risks being bombed like Yugoslavia or Iraq,” he said. “And if it does have nuclear weapons like North Korea, it faces no such threat.” Gleb Pavlovsky, another political analyst with close Kremlin connections, said that Putin’s remarks reflected his “concern about the spreading of unilateralist approaches to global affairs.” “The United States is trying to dominate the world ... and Russia takes a stance against such hegemony,” Pavlovsky said. He added, however, that Putin was not referring exclusively to the United States when he mentioned a contempt for human life and claims at global domination, but also forces behind international terrorism and extremism. “He was also referring to nations that support Islamic fundamentalism when he talked about claims to global exclusiveness,” Pavlovsky said. Putin’s remarks reflect an increasingly assertive posture by Russia, which has regained its economic muscle thanks to a rising tide of oil revenue and sought to rebuild its military might eroded in the post-Soviet industrial demise. Putin shocked Western leaders in February when he spoke at a security conference in Germany, bluntly accusing the U.S. of trying to force other nations to conform to its standards and warned that Russia would strongly retaliate to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. In a state of the nation address last month, Putin called for a Russian moratorium on the observance of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which limits the number of aircraft, tanks and other non-nuclear heavy weapons around the continent, saying NATO members’ refusal to ratify an amended version of the pact hurt Russia’s interests. Putin also threatened to pull out of the treaty altogether unless talks with NATO members yielded satisfactory results, and some Russian generals warned that Moscow could also opt out of a Cold War-era treaty with the United States banning intermediate-range missiles. Russia’s military chief of staff has also said Russia could target elements of the missile defense system if it is deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic. While Putin’s speech Wednesday sounded like another salvo in a new Cold War, Markov insisted that it was merely another attempt by the Russian leader to persuade the United States to reckon with Russia’s interests. “It’s an attempt to launch a serious dialogue,” Markov said.

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