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Russia strengthening energy ties to Bangladesh

Moscow’s Gazprom energy company is expanding projects in one of the world’s most populous countries

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(New Eastern Outlook) – As it is well known, the economy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (PRB) is one of the least developed, but one of the fastest growing economies of Asia demonstrating steady growth in the last few years. Today many countries seek to cooperate with PBR, in the hope of making profitable investments, gaining access to its growing markets and cheap labor. Among them are India, China, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, USA and other states.

Russia has achieved significant success in the development of relations with Bangladesh concluding a partnership with this country in a strategically important area such as energy. The Russian Federation plays an important role in the oil and gas industry of PRB and is a key figure in its atomic project.

Fuel shortage is a major problem for Bangladesh. There is a significant reserve of oil, coal and natural gas in its territory, that country pins great expectation economic development with. However, since the early 2000’s, the exploration and development of new deposits in the PBR were not conducted.

In 2010, the Bangladesh Government turned towards Russia for assistance in such matters as exploration of new hydrocarbon deposits, their development and establishment of a unified gas supply system in its territory. Later, negotiations started between the leadership of Bangladesh and Russian state oil and the gas corporation “Gazprom”. Soon Gazprom signed a memorandum of mutual understanding with Bangladesh Minerals, Oil and Gas Corporation “Petrobangla”.

Gazprom International (GI), a company affiliate of Gazprom specializing on search and production of hydrocarbons outside of the Russian Federation, was entrusted to work with the Bangladeshi partners. In 2011, the GI proposed the leadership of the PRB its program for the development of Bangladeshi deposits and establishment of a single Bangladeshi gas supply system (a similar Russian system was taken as a model).

In 2012, GI signed a number of contracts with ВАРЕХ, BGFCL and SGFL – the subsidiaries of Petrobangla, in accordance with which the Russian company began to drill and equip ten wells with a depth of 3-4 km at the gas fields of PRB. The work began in the spring of 2013 and by November 2014, all ten wells were put on regular operational mode. The results were very satisfying to the Bangladeshi side that it readily continued to develop its cooperation with the Russian company.

In the autumn of 2015, GI signed new agreements with the same Bangladeshi companies to drill five wells more. The work was completed before the deadline at the end of 2016.

In March 2017, GI and ВАРЕХ agreed to build two more wells on the island of Bhola in the southern part of Bangladesh.

In December 2017, GI started drilling “North Bhola-1” well. Its depth is to be 3.55 Km. The area where the drilling is conducted has high terrastatic pressure, which require the use of advanced technologies that Russian drillers possess. This fact once again confirms the rightness of the decision of the Bangladeshi leadership to cooperate with Russia.

In 2017, the average level of natural gas production in Bangladesh was about 70 million cubic meters per day and the annual production amounted to about 27 billion cubic meters. It is reported that about 10% of this volume is produced in wells built by GI. It is still not sufficient to completely cover the country’s needs of natural gas (which is about 30 billion cubic meters per year). But, provided that the current pace of the construction of wells is maintained, the required volume of production can be achieved and exceeded in the coming years.

Currently, the PRB leadership is considering a new five-year programme of development of its gas fields. If it is approved, GI may obtain an order to drill about 100 more wells. Moreover, the possibility of creating a joint venture of GI and BAPEX is being discussed for implementation of joint projects in the oil and gas sector. In addition, the Russian side expressed its intention to undertake training of qualified personnel for the Bangladeshi hydrocarbon industry, both on the basis of Russian universities and in Bangladesh, where a specialized training centre is planned to be created with the support of Russian specialists.

Another important point of contact between Russia and Bangladesh is – Atomic energy. In 2011, the countries signed an Agreement on the construction of first Bangladeshi APP “Rooppur”. The work was entrusted to “AtomStroiExport”- a company within the Russian State Atomic Corporation “RosAtom” established for working abroad. In 2015, the head of “RosAtom” Sergey Kirienko arrived in Bangladesh. At that time, the main contract was signed and it became known that the cost of the project would exceed $12 billion dollars. The majority of the required amount was provided by Russia giving Bangladesh a loan of $11.38 billion dollars in 2016.

It is important to noted that the 2011 agreement was signed after the catastrophe at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima-1″ which occurred in March 2011, after which many countries froze their nuclear projects or rejected them altogether. A significant role in the selection of PRB in favour of cooperation with the Russian Federation played its Enhanced Safety Standards, which are adhered to by Russian nuclear scientists and a special protection system they equip their WWER model reactors with. It is believed that nuclear power plants built by Russian technologies are able to withstand severe strokes. This is particularly important for Bangladesh, which is located in a hazardous area, periodically experiencing powerful hurricanes and floods.

Thus, one may conclude that cooperation with Russia plays an important role in the development of the Bangladeshi energy sector. This makes Russia one of the key partners of PBR and contributes to the development of relations between the two countries in all fields. Mutual Russian-Bangladeshi trade turnover increased almost twice during the period of 2012-2016, surpassing $1.4 billion dollars in 2016. Cooperation in military-technical sphere is developing, which together with nuclear cooperation testifies to a special trust between the two states. Given Bangladesh’s special relation with India and the China’s growing interest in it, a presumption can be made that cooperation with Bangladesh can strengthen the Russian positions in the Asia and Pacific region.

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US confirms pullout from INF treaty, Moscow will respond if missiles placed in Europe – deputy FM

Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

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Washington has confirmed its decision to withdraw from the INF treaty is final, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said, adding that Moscow will ‘take measures’ if American missiles that threaten its security are placed in Europe.

“Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the treaty (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) already in October. Through the high-level bilateral channels it was confirmed to us that this decision was final and wasn’t an attempt to initiate dialogue,” Sergey Ryabkov told the Kommersant newspaper.

The Deputy FM said that Moscow will respond to possible attempts to place short and intermediate range nuclear-capable missiles in Europe if the US decides to go on with this plan.

“We’ll be forced to come up with effective compensating measures. I’d like to warn against pushing the situation towards the eruption of new ‘missile crises.’ I am convinced that no sane country could be interested in something like this,” he said.

Russia isn’t threatening anybody, but have the necessary strength and means to counter any aggressor.
Back in October, President Donald Trump warned that Washington was planning unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty because “Russia has not adhered to the agreement.” The US leader also promised that the country would keep boosting its nuclear arsenal until Russia and China “come to their senses.”

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington will suspend its obligations under the treaty within 60 days if Russia does not “return to compliance.”

Signed in late 1988, the INF agreement was considered a milestone in ending the arms race between the US and the USSR.

In recent years, Moscow and Washington have repeatedly accused each other of violating the INF deal. While the US has alleged that Russia has developed missiles prohibited by the treaty, Russia insists that the American anti-missile systems deployed in Eastern Europe can actually be used to launch intermediate-range cruise missiles.

The deputy FM said that Washington “never made a secret” of the fact that its INF treaty pullout “wasn’t so much about problems between the US and Russia, but about the desire of the Americans to get rid of all restrictions that were inconvenient for them.”

The US side expressed belief that the INF deal “significantly limits the US military’s capabilities to counter states with arsenals of medium-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles,” which threaten American interests, he said. “China, Iran and North Korea” were specifically mentioned by Washington, Ryabkov added.

“I don’t think that we’re talking about a new missile crisis, but the US plans are so far absolutely unclear,” Mikhail Khodarenok, retired colonel and military expert, told RT, reminding that the Americans have avoided any type of “meaningful discussion” with Moscow in regards to its INF deal pullout.

While “there’ll be no deployment of [US missiles] in Europe any time soon,” Moscow should expect that Washington would try to void other agreements with Russia as well, Khodarenok warned.

The INF deal “just stopped being beneficial for the US. Next up are all the other arms control treaties. There’ll be no resistance from the NATO allies [to US actions],” he said.

“The neocons who run Trump’s foreign policy never have liked arms reduction treaties,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. “The new START treaty which comes up for renewal also could be in jeopardy.”

“The risk of a new nuclear buildup is really quite obvious” if the US withdrawals from the INF treaty, Dan Smith, the director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told RT.

“I think the relations between the great powers – the US and Russia as well as the US and China – are more difficult than they’ve been for a long time,” he added.

However, with Washington having indicated that it wants China to be part of the new deal, “there are still possibilities for negotiations and agreement,” according to Smith. Nonetheless, he warned that following this path will demand strong political will and tactical thinking from the leadership of all three countries.

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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EU’s ‘toothless’ response to creation of Kosovo army risks worsening the crisis – Moscow

Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army.

RT

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The creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army is a threat to peace and security in a turbulent region and may lead to a new escalation, Russia’s UN envoy has warned, calling the EU’s lackluster response irresponsible.

Speaking at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Kosovo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force.

“The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting on Monday.

The diplomat said the lack of decisive action on the part of the 28-member bloc was a “great disappointment,” adding that the EU seems to “have turned a blind eye on the illegal creation of Kosovo’s ‘army.’”

The law, approved by Kosovo lawmakers on Friday, paves the way for doubling the size of the current Kosovo Security Force and for turning it into a de facto army, with 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

The move did not go down well even with Kosovo’s usual backers, with both NATO and the EU voicing their indignation. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.

The only nation to openly applaud the controversial move was the US, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.

The Kosovo MPs’ decision has drawn anger in the Serbian capital Belgrade and provoked a strong response from Moscow, which calledon the UN mission in Kosovo to demilitarize the area in accordance with UNSC resolution 1244, and to disband any armed units.

Nebenzya pointed out that the UN resolution does not allow any Kosovo Albanian military units to be present in the region’s territory. He accused Western countries, including members of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force (KFOR), of “condoning and supporting” the violation by Pristina of the resolution.

It is feared that the army, though a relatively small force, might inflame tensions in the region and impede attempts at reconciliation between Pristina and Belgrade. Serbia has warned that it might consider an armed intervention if the army becomes a threat to the 120,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo.

“The advance of Kosovo’s army presents a threat to the peace and security in the region, which may lead to the recurrence of the armed conflict,” Nebenzya stated.

In addition to creating its own army, Kosovo in November hit Serbia with a 100 percent import tariff on goods, defying calls by the US and the EU to roll the measure back.

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