Why did Obama praise Putin?
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1Why did Obama praise Putin? “Putin may be expecting to see a new international order, hoping that Obama will agree to a throwback to the days of “spheres of influence,” in which the United States gives latitude so certain countries can exercise influence in certain regions. Under that geopolitical structure, Russia would be tacitly allowed by the United States to be the dominant power in its neighborhood including, say, Ukraine, and other former Soviet Republic states, while Iran would call the shots in its part of the world, much as it tries to do with some success now in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere” writes Frida Ghitis for CNN.
2The oil and gas sector of Kazakhstan. Organization of procurements at key E&P companies 2014 – this research study provides an overview of the country’s oil and gas industry with a breakdown into key performance indicators over the last five years and an overview of the procurement system for goods services and expendables in the industry. The report examines domestic ways and means by which the major industry players arrange procurements devoting due attention to subtle features and fine details. [ResearchMoz.us]
3Azerbaijan Country Profile. An instant guide to the political, economic, demographic, industrial, and business environment of Azerbaijan. The report provides a range of quantitative and qualitative information on a variety of national aspects including geography, education, labor, infrastructure, tax, trade, investment, and ease of doing business. It also provides a PESTLE analysis of the country’s business climate. The profile can be an effective tool for businesses in their marketing, strategy, and planning exercises when studying the future prospects of an economy. [Research and Markets]
4Kazakhstan Expands Visa-Free Travel Program. The former Soviet republic in Central Asia, bordered by Russia and China, among others, said the new rules would eliminate visa requirements for travelers from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The new policy will remain in effect until at least the end of 2017.
5Obama echoes Reagan on Iran. “When President Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985, he whispered to the Soviet leader: “I bet the hard-liners in both our countries are bleeding when we shake hands.” Iran is not the Soviet Union. But the Reagan legacy is worth pondering to understand why, barely hours after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced, so many of President Obama’s critics leapt to conclude that the accord, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, would “only embolden Iran — the world’s largest sponsor of terror.” Many of the president’s supporters were just as fast off the mark in backing him” writes E.J. Dionne Jr. for Washington Post.
6Turkmenistan must find way to sell its gas to Europe. Bruce Pannier an expert on Central Asia, stressed that Turkmenistan does have long-term contracts with China to sell at least 65 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually and possibly up to 80 bcm.“But the modest contracts Turkmenistan has with Iran are likely to vanish completely in just a few years as Iran develops its own internal gas pipeline network. Gas exports to Russia have fallen from some 42 bcm in 2008 to 4 bcm now and it could fall even further,” he said. Expert is also skeptical about TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline) project, which, he believes might never be built. “So for Turkmenistan it is not just a question of it would nice to sell gas to Europe, it is more a matter of Turkmenistan must find a way to sell gas to Europe or the country will be left with only China as a customer,” Pannier said adding that in such a situation the advantage in negotiating price will be with Beijing. [trend.az]
7Putin Flexes Diplomatic Muscle on Iran. “Some analysts questioned why Russia would be so eager to help bring about the nuclear accord, as the return of Iran to the world oil market could further depress prices and hurt the Russia economy, which is heavily dependent on petroleum sales and already in recession.“Russia has been rather ambivalent about striking the deal, not because it is worried about the Iranian nuclear program, but because it is worried about the Iranian oil,” said Pavel K. Baev, a researcher at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo” David M. Herszenhorn and Steven Lee Myers for the New York Times.
8Azerbaijan to develop tourism industry. Azerbaijan’s tourism industry will receive a fresh boost as the country plans to cut airfare, hotel prices, and facilitate is visa process, while constructing additional budget hotels. Vugar Shikhammadov, the head of the Information and Public Relations Department of Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Ministry, has said that the Ministry has begun to execute instructions on developing tourism given by President Ilham Aliyev during the Cabinet meeting. President Aliyev has ordered to speed up the procedure of issuing visas to tourists, and reduce air and hotel fares in the country.
9Obama and Putin: Does the Iran deal predict future cooperation? “Tuesday’s Iran deal may have paved the way for a new partnership – not between Iran and the P5+1 countries, but between two of the P5+1 countries themselves. President Barack Obama said that during the long-awaited deal’s negotiations he found an unlikely ally in Russian president Vladimir Putin. In an interview with The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, Mr. Obama said Mr. Putin’s cooperation “surprised” him and was critical to the agreement’s realization. He also referenced a recent phone call from Putin that made him optimistic for future cooperation over Syria. “Russia was a help on this,” Obama said. “I’ll be honest with you. I was not sure given the strong differences we are having with Russia right now around Ukraine, whether this would sustain itself. Putin and the Russian government compartmentalized on this in a way that surprised me, and we would have not achieved this agreement had it not been for Russia’s willingness to stick with us and the other P5-Plus members in insisting on a strong deal.” writes Sarah Caspari for the Christian Science Monitor.
10Azerbaijan sees 13% growth in commodity market. In January-June 2015, AZN 12 bln-good were sold to consumers in the retail trade subjects, up 13.4% from previous year. State Statistical Committee says AZN 49.5% of the sold products fell to share of food products, drinks and tobacco products, 50.5% – to share of non-food products. Share of non-food products rose 1.3 percentage points.
Drone attack on Moscow
The Russian Defence Ministry:
– This morning, the Kiev regime has launched a terrorist drone attack on the city of Moscow. Eight aircraft-type drones were employed in the attack, informs Russian MoD.
– All enemy drones were downed.
– Three of them were suppressed by electronic warfare, lost control, and deviated from the intended targets.
– Five more UAVs were shot down by the Pantsir-S SAM system in Moscow region.
TASS has gathered the main facts about the incident
– Moscow and the Moscow Region were attacked by drones early on Tuesday morning, TASS informs.
– Several buildings sustained minor damage, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said.
– According to the authorities, there were no casualties and emergency services are continuing to work at the scene.
– Early on Tuesday morning, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry told TASS that ministry staff were investigating an incident in the Moscow suburbs, in which windows in a high-rise apartment building had been blown out. Fire and rescue units arrived at the scene. There were no signs of fire. According to eyewitnesses, the sound of an explosion was heard at the time of the incident.
– Emergency services told TASS that drone-like fragments were found around the house. The windows of apartments on three floors were shattered.
– It later became known that law enforcement personnel were verifying information about explosions in two other multi-story apartment buildings in the west and southwest of Moscow. There were also broken windows in some apartments.
Reaction of authorities
– Sobyanin confirmed the drone attack on Tuesday morning. As a result, according to him, several buildings sustained minor damage.
– According to the mayor, there are no casualties in the capital and all of the city’s emergency services are working at the scene.
– Emergency services evacuated the residents of two apartment buildings damaged by the drones. Once all necessary work is completed, the residents will be able to return to their homes. “According to information from municipal medical services, at this time, none of the residents of the buildings damaged by UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] have been seriously injured. Two individuals requested medical aid. Nobody had to be hospitalized and the necessary help was provided on site. Also, the emergency services and several ambulance crews continue to work at the sites of incidents,” the mayor wrote.
– Several drones were shot down as they approached the capital, Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyov said.
– Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky airports are operating as usual, representatives of two of the airports told TASS.
Hiroshima G7 summit: rhetoric and reality
G7, however powerful it still is in the global system, is no longer in the same dominant position as before, recognised years ago with the decision to form the G20 where other major world economies are also represented, insists Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian Foreign Secretary and India’s Ambassador to Turkey, Egypt, France and Russia.
The Hiroshima G7 summit communiqué exposes the gap between principle and practice and between rhetoric and reality. Choosing Hiroshima as the venue of the summit sent a confusing message. Hiroshima was the victim (along with Nagasaki) of the only time a nuclear weapon was used in war, and that too against a civilian population. Hiroshima should then have been the platform to explore peace everywhere and, in particular, prevent the escalation of any conflict with a nuclear dimension.
If holding the summit at Hiroshima was to send a message of peace, that goal was not served by inviting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the summit to demonstrate G7 support for him by way of supply of arms and finance to continue boosting his capacity to fight militarily with the ambition to wrest back the regions annexed by Russia. No peace initiative surfaced from the summit.
On the contrary, the G7 communiqué offers support to Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. This open-ended support is intended to achieve what? A partial or total military defeat of Russia? Is that realistic?
There are other ironies associated with Hiroshima as the summit venue. Hiroshima represents the only time that nuclear weapons were used in history. The leader of the country that used those weapons was the honoured guest at Hiroshima. Ironically, Japan wholeheartedly accepts nuclear protection from the same country that used nuclear weapons against it. Normally, this should have put Japan in a moral quandary, but Japan evidently prioritises security over moral sensitivities.
President Barack Obama no doubt had visited Hiroshima in 2016 when Japan hosted the G7 meeting at a very different venue, in Ise-Shima. His guest book entry at Hiroshima said: “We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.” Cryptic words that admit no guilt, suggest that the US too was a victim of war equally with Japan, and end with a meaningless homily on a nuclear-weapon-free world. In 2016 President Obama actually authorised a nuclear modernisation programme costing $1 trillion over 30 years.
President Joe Biden laid a wreath at the bombing site but did not apologise for the use of nuclear weapons.
Many aspects of the G7 statement do not bear scrutiny. It says that its work is rooted in international partnership, whereas in key areas it does not appear to be so.
The G7 intends to continue supporting Ukraine without let irrespective of the consequences of this European conflict for the interests of developing countries.
Does the decision to “intensify military support to Ukraine to increase costs for Russia” promote either the claimed wider partnership objectives or multilateralism, when most countries are opposed to sanctions on Russia because of serious secondary consequences for them? If “Russia’s brutal war represents a threat to the whole world”, the answer should be to search for a global consensus on finding a route to dialogue and peace rather than put all the emphasis on condemnation of Russia and a military solution.
The G7 joint statement speaks of economic resilience and economic security, diversifying and de-risking of supply chains instead of decoupling, which is an acknowledgement of the impracticality of decoupling their economies from China. The drawing back from the decoupling rhetoric gives space not only to US interests but those of Europe and Japan to maintain their vital economic ties with China. The usual references to free and open Indo-Pacific and opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion is directed at China’s threats to Taiwan in particular.
The short point is that the G7, however powerful it still is in the global system, is no longer in the same dominant position as before, recognised years ago with the decision to form the G20 where other major world economies are also represented. The G20, which includes both China and Russia, is, unfortunately, not any longer in a position to develop the required consensus on vital global economic and financial matters.
The agendas of the G7 and the G20 are no longer shared in vital respects, given the deep divide that has arisen between the US and Europe on one side and China and Russia on the other on political, economic, financial and security issues, with countries of the Global South, too, having their own priorities.
Some headline agenda items may be shared by the G7 and the G20 but cooperation to achieve the broad objectives is not feasible when the two sides treat each other as adversaries, the political atmosphere has become fraught, global supply chains have been disrupted, globalisation is being reversed, finance has been weaponised, diluting the hegemony of the US dollar has become an objective, the re-militarisation of key countries is afoot, alliances are being strengthened or formed, and all such negative developments.
British warmongering is driving Europe towards catastrophe in Ukraine
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected trip to Britain last week on a whistle-stop tour of European capitals, pleading for more powerful and longer-range weapons to use in his war against Russia. What was hard to ignore once again was the extent to which the UK is playing an outsize role in Ukraine, writes Jonathan Cook, a British writer and a freelance journalist.
Last year, shortly after the start of the war, the then-prime minister, Boris Johnson, hurried to Kyiv – presumably on Washington’s instructions – apparently to warn Zelensky off fledgling peace talks with Moscow. Since then, the UK has been at the forefront of European efforts to entrench the conflict, helping to lobby for the supply of weapons, training and military intelligence to Ukrainian forces.
British tanks and thousands of tank shells – including, controversially, some made from depleted uranium – are being shipped out. Last week, the UK added hundreds of long-range attack drones to the inventory.
And an unspecified number of £2m-a-blast Storm Shadow cruise missiles, with a range of nearly 300km, have started arriving. Last week Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence secretary, said the missiles were already in use, adding that Kyiv alone was deciding on the targets. Storm Shadow allows the Ukrainian military to strike deep into Russian-annexed parts of Ukraine – and potentially at Russian cities too.
Britain now pays little more than lip service to the West’s claim that its role is only to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. The supply of increasingly offensive weapons has turned Ukraine into what amounts to a proxy battleground on which the Cold War can be revived.
During Zelensky’s visit to the UK last week, Johnson’s successor, Rishi Sunak, effectively acted as an arms broker for Ukraine, joining with the Netherlands in what was grandly dubbed an “international coalition” to pressure the Biden administration and other European states to supply Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets.
Washington appeared not to need much cajoling. Three days later, Biden dramatically changed tack at a G7 summit in Japan. He effectively gave a green light for US allies to supply Ukraine not only with US-made F-16s but similar fourth-generation fighter jets, including Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Mirage 2000. Administration officials surprised European leaders by suggesting the US would be directly involved in the training of pilots outside Ukraine.
British officials, meanwhile, indicated that the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots within weeks.
It is hard to imagine that the UK is heading off-script. More likely, the Biden administration is using Britain to make the running and soften up Western publics as Nato becomes ever more deeply immersed in the military activities of Russia’s neighbour.
Ukraine is being gradually turned into the very Nato forward base that first set Moscow on course to invade. At the same time, Britain appears to be exploiting the Ukraine war as a showcase for its weaponry. After the US, it has been the largest supplier of military equipment to Ukraine.
This week it was reported that UK arms exports hit a record £8.5bn, more than double last year’s total. The last time Britain was so successful at selling weapons was in 2015, at the height of the Syrian war.
In March, ‘Declassified’ broke the story that some of the thousands of tank shells Britain is supplying to Kyiv are made of depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive heavy metal produced as waste from nuclear power plants. DU shells fragment and burn when they hit a target. One analyst, Doug Weir, from the Conflict and Environment Observatory, told Declassified that the ammunition produces “chemically toxic and radioactive DU particulate [microscopic particles] that poses an inhalational risk to people”.
Nonetheless, British ministers insist the threat to human health is low – and worth the risk given the military gains in helping Ukraine to destroy Russian tanks. A growing body of evidence following the use of such shells by the US in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and by Britain and the US in Iraq a decade later undermines these reassurances.
Italian courts have upheld compensation claims against the country’s military in more than 300 cases where Italians who served in the police or as soldiers in Bosnia and Kosovo have died of cancer after being exposed to DU.
Many thousands more Italian former service-people are reported to have developed cancers.
The West has taken little interest in researching the effects of DU weapons in Iraq, even though local civilian populations have been the most exposed to its contamination. DU shells were used extensively during both the 1991 Gulf war and more than a decade later during the US and British-led occupation of Iraq.
Iraqi government statistics suggest the rates of cancers leapt 40-fold between the period immediately before the Gulf war and 2005.
By lobbying for more overtly offensive weapons and introducing DU shells into the war, Britain has raised the stakes – it is driving the war’s logic towards ever greater escalation, including nuclear escalation.
Russia itself possesses DU weapons but is reported to have avoided using them. Moscow has long warned that it regards use of DU in Ukraine in nuclear terms: as the equivalent of a “dirty bomb”.
Britain is also creating a situation where a catastrophic move, or miscalculation, by either Russia or Ukraine is becoming ever more likely, as events last week highlighted only too clearly.
Russia struck a military ammunition depot in western Ukraine, creating a giant fireball. Rumours suggested the site may have included British DU shells.
With Ukraine soon to be in possession of a full array of offensive weapons, largely courtesy of the UK – not only long-range drones, cruise missiles and tanks but fighter jets – it is not hard to imagine terrifying scenarios that could quickly bring Europe to the brink of nuclear conflict, stresses Jonathan Cook.
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