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World Court refuses Ukraine’s request for ‘terrorism’ ruling against Russia

International Court of Justice refuses to make anti-terrorism ruling against Russia, clearing way for Russia to enforce $3 billion Judgment it obtained against Ukraine in London High Court.

Alexander Mercouris

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Ukraine has suffered another blow in the web of legal cases in which it is now involved with Russia.

Following the decision of the High Court in London to grant Russia summary Judgment in the case Russia is bringing against Ukraine for repayment of the $3 billion loan Ukraine owes Russia, the International Court of Justice in The Hague has today declined to grant even on a provisional basis the main part of the relief Ukraine was seeking in the case it has brought against Russia.

As I have discussed previously, Ukraine’s case in the International Court of Justice was almost certainly brought in order to try to offset the financial effect of the Judgment of the High Court in London.  However the case Ukraine brought to the International Court of Justice did not make any claims against Russia based based what have been the most contentious issues between Ukraine and Russia in recent years.   The International Court of Justice noted this fact (rather sourly) in the short Judgment it handed down today

The Court is fully aware of the context in which the present case has been brought before it, in particular the fighting taking place in large parts of eastern Ukraine and the destruction, on 17 July 2014, of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 while it was flying over Ukrainian territory en route between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, which have claimed a large number of lives. Nevertheless, the case before the Court is limited in scope. In respect of the events in the eastern part of its territory, Ukraine has brought proceedings only under the ICSFT. With regard to the events in Crimea, Ukraine’s claim is based solely upon CERD, and the Court is not called upon, as Ukraine expressly recognized, to rule upon any issue other than allegations of racial discrimination made by the latter.

As I have explained previously, the reason Ukraine did not bring any claim to the International Court of Justice in relation to Crimea’s secession and subsequent re-unification with Russia is because it knows it would almost certainly lose, as the International Court of Justice has said previously in its Advisory Opinion on Kosovo that such a unilateral act of secession is not contrary to international law.

As for the other major issue between Ukraine and Russia – the conflict in the Donbass – Ukraine will be very unhappy to read this passage in the Judgment the International Court of Justice handed down today

Moreover, the Court reminds the Parties that the Security Council, in its resolution 2202 (2015), endorsed the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, adopted and signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015. The Court expects the Parties, through individual and joint efforts, to work for the full implementation of this “Package of Measures” in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

It is a widely overlooked fact that following the agreement of the Minsk Agreement in February 2015, Russia presented a Resolution to the UN Security Council, which the UN Security Council adopted unanimously, which required implementation of the Minsk Agreement as a matter of international law.  Ukraine has not abided by the Minsk Agreement despite this, and in its Judgment today the International Court of Justice is clearly saying that before it brings any claim concerning the Donbass or eastern Ukraine it must do so.

The key part of the Judgment is however this passage in which the International Court of Justice rejected Ukraine’s claim for preliminary relief on the grounds that Russia is colluding in acts of terrorism by the people Ukraine calls “the separatists” in eastern Ukraine.  This is what the Judgment says

The Court observes that the acts to which Ukraine refers have given rise to the death and injury of a large number of civilians. However, in order to determine whether the rights for which Ukraine seeks protection are at least plausible, it is necessary to ascertain whether there are sufficient reasons for considering that the elements set out in Article 2, such as intention and knowledge, as well as the element of purpose, are present. The Court is of the view that, at this stage of the proceedings, Ukraine has not put before it evidence which affords a sufficient basis to find it plausible that these elements are present. Therefore, it concludes that the conditions required for the indication of provisional measures in respect of the rights alleged by Ukraine on the basis of the ICSFT are not met.

The only thing the International Court of Justice was prepared to do was instruct Russia “to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions” – including via the pro-Ukrainian Meijlis – and to teach the Ukrainian language to those who wish to learn it.  The Russians will say that they are already doing both, the International Court of Justice has imposed no fine on Russia, and the Russians will simply shrug their shoulders and carry on as they are doing now.

I should say that the decision of the International Court of Justice to make these orders reflects the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the findings of various bodies of the UN Secretariat and of the OSCE, as its Judgment makes clear

Based on the information before it at this juncture, the Court is of the opinion that Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea appear to remain vulnerable. In this regard, the Court takes note of recent reports by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the human rights situation in Ukraine, and of the report of the OSCE Human Rights Assessment Mission on Crimea. The Court considers that these reports show, prima facie, that there have been limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatars to choose their representative institutions, and restrictions in terms of the availability of Ukrainian-language education in Crimean schools. The Court concludes from this that there is an imminent risk that the acts, as set out above, could lead to irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked by Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly complained about the bias of these bodies and about their findings.  However the International Court of Justice is in no position to go behind them and in light of them it could not make orders different from the ones it has made.

In conclusion, if Ukraine was hoping to get preliminary relief from the International Court of Justice that would offset the effect of the Judgment of the High Court in London, then it has failed.

On 4th April 2017 the IMF disbursed $1 billion despite the High Court Judgment.  The Judgment is not however yet in force because of the stay upon it granted by the High Court pending Ukraine’s appeal.  If Ukraine loses the appeal – as is overwhelmingly likely – and the stay is lifted, Ukraine will be formally in default unless it pay its debt to Russia.  When that happens, with the International Court of Justice refusing to provide Ukraine with relief, the IMF will have to decide whether it can continue to support Ukraine contrary to its own rules, and Russia will have to decide what it will do if the IMF does.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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