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    EU warned on ‘vigilance’ after Davos spy fail

    European counter-intelligence services need to “seriously raise the level of vigilance” on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos in Switzerland. “The Swiss informed me that they were aware that I was coming to Davos, they knew the Russians were furious about me being publicly critical of Russian corruption and the Swiss believed that there was a heightened risk to my security at this year’s forum as a result,” Browder told EUobserver on Tuesday (21 January). He spoke on the first day of the World Economic Forum, an elite yearly gathering at a Swiss ski resort, after being briefed by Swiss…

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    Russia gas export pipeline in jeopardy as Trump signs sanctions bill

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Swiss-Dutch company Allseas said it had suspended work on building a major Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline in order to avoid U.S. sanctions contained in legislation signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. The move throws into doubt the completion date of the $11 billion project that Moscow had said would be ready in months, jeopardizing plans to quickly expand Russian sales of natural gas to Europe via pipeline. The participation of privately-held Allseas, a specialist in subsea construction and laying underwater pipeline, is integral to the completion of Nord Stream 2, led by Russia’s state energy company Gazprom.   Continue reading the article on the Reuters news…

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    The Neue Ostpolitik approach to Nord Stream 2: A legal fiction carried a little too far

    EnergySource by Dr. Benjamin L. Schmitt On April 10, 2018, signs emerged that the German government was finally beginning to recognize the geostrategic implications of the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Standing next to then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: “I made very clear that a Nord Stream 2 project is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine…so you can see that it is not just an economic issue, but there are also political considerations.” In one short statement, the chancellor had seemingly repudiated years of arguments that she and other German politicians had made since the pipeline’s announcement: namely, the claim that…

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    Superfluous and politically lethal. The construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is highly contentious. Two German experts present their different views for The Security Times

    By Ralf Fücks February 2018. If we listen to those groups advocating on behalf of Nord Stream 2 – the second double pipeline designed to move Russian natural gas through the Baltic Sea – we might come to think the new project is a highly energy-efficient project and politically quite harmless. According to them, Nord Stream 2 will increase European energy security – after all, the Soviet Union was a reliable provider – and remain a purely commercial project. They argue that the European Commission would do well to stay out of the matter, and should refrain from interfering in Germany’s energy sovereignty. Objection, your Honor! Continue reading the blog…

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    Congress to target Russian pipeline in defense bill

    HALIFAX, Canada ― Congress’s must-pass defense policy bill will be the vehicle to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s $11 billion project to deliver natural gas to Europe via a new pipeline from Russia to Germany, a top U.S. lawmaker revealed Friday. Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum. The inclusion of the sanctions in the bill is a strong sign, but House and Senate lawmakers have yet to reach a final deal on the massive bill. Continue reading the…

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    Three months left to kill Nord Stream 2

    Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act has received overwhelming bipartisan support and proposes targeted sanctions to halt completion of Nord Stream 2, Russia President Vladimir Putin’s natural gas pipeline designed to control Europe. But there has been a procedural delay and time is running out. The act targets sanctions against one company, Allseas, which is providing a critical deep-sea pipe-laying vessel to install Nord Stream 2 on behalf of Gazprom, and it is only three months away from finishing the job unless it is stopped. “There is emerging consensus about placing this sanctions bill in the defense budget bill called the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Daniel Vajdich, whose firm Yorktown Solutions advises…

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    Nord Stream 2: Falling at the Last Fence?

    Thanks to interventions by Washington or Brussels, Nord Stream 2 may end up either not being completed or, once completed, find that much of the pipeline cannot in fact be used. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has been subject to immense controversy ever since President Putin launched the project in tandem with his German business partners in June 2015. Contrary to the desires of the German government, most of the Central and Eastern European EU member states have come out against the pipeline. The EU itself has formally extended EU energy law to import pipelines such as Nord Stream 2, while the Polish authorities have launched antitrust proceedings against the project.…

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    Finish the Fight: A Washington-Brussels Double Play Can Still Stop Nord Stream 2

    The Washington Nationals’ ubiquitous World Series victory slogan, “fight finished,” has been draped across every corner of the US capital for weeks. At the same time, a second, unfinished fight that for years has united lawmakers in both parties has hit a critical phase. On October 30, officials at the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) issued a final construction permit for the deployment of the Kremlin-conceived Nord Stream 2 pipeline within Denmark’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Danish permit should not be viewed as a tacit approval of the project’s merits. In fact, Danish officials have been public with their concerns about the pipeline’s negative impact—especially for Ukraine’s strategic stability—and resisted the project…

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    The Russian connection to a Berlin hit job that Germany doesn’t want to talk about

    Berlin, Germany (CNN)Murders happen in Berlin. They’re not common — the crime rate in Germany is currently at its lowest level in more than 25 years — but as with all major cities, the occasional violent killing is all but inevitable. What’s far less common is for them to occur at noon, in the city center. And what’s truly unprecedented is when the target is a former Chechen fighter, and the suspect an alleged Russian government hitman. But that’s exactly what happened on August 23. Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen descent, was on his way to midday prayers at a mosque in the Moabit district of downtown Berlin. A man following him on…

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    Replacing Dutch gas with Russian gas contributes to global warming (and no one seems to care)

    Dutch gas production is expected to fall to about 10 bcm in 2025, little over 10 per cent of the 2013 production level. Within the EU, Dutch gas has so far mostly been replaced by Russian gas. However, when compared to Groningen gas, Russian gas has a carbon footprint that is greater by about 30 per cent. For the Netherlands, replacing Dutch gas with Russian gas negates, by far, all the progress that is being made by increasing the share of renewables in the electricity mix. This has hardly played a role in decision making on gas supplies. It should. Continue reading the news article on the Emerging Europe website.

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    Nord Stream 2 labor camp. The prisoners’ work was used in the construction of the gas pipeline

    During the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the Russian authorities illegally used the forced labor of prisoners – informed Russian human rights defenders at a conference in Strasbourg. “Russian authorities and state-owned companies use the forced labor of prisoners, in accordance with the practices used in the GULAGs” – announced at the conference “Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its real price for Europe” organized on October 22 in Strasbourg, the founder of the organization dealing with human rights protection “GULAG – NO “Vladimir Osieczkin. Continue reading the article on the Polish Energetyka24 website.

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    Pressure builds over environmental impact of Nord Stream 2

    Environmental activists in Russia have claimed that the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have violated Russian laws on environmental protection by harming natural reserves inside the country, the Russian press has reported. According to the Russian office of international climate watchdog Greenpeace, the destruction of certain endangered species in the Kurgalsky nature reserve in Russia’s northwest are “massive and continuing.” The organisation’s claims are based on the on-site scientific examinations of Russia’s Komarov Botanical Institute, which said that a significant number of unique plants, which were promised to be transplanted by the gas pipeline’s project company, have been destroyed. Continue reading the news article on the Emerging Europe…

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    RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT HELPED BERLIN ASSASSIN TRAVEL ACROSS EUROPE TO KILL TARGET

    The mysterious assassin who killed a former militant in Berlin last month was likely assisted by officials within the Russian dgovernment, who facilitated his travel across Europe and wiped his faked records from official databases after the killing, new research indicates. According to evidence uncovered by the Bellingcat investigative journalism organization, the killer could not have carried out the assassination of Georgian Zelimkhan Khangoshvili on August 23 without help from Russian officials. Khangoshvili fought against Russian forces in Chechnya. There are conflicting reports regarding the identity of the gunman, who has reportedly refused to speak with German law enforcement since his arrest, though he has met with Russia diplomats. Continue reading the news article…

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    New Evidence Links Russian State to Berlin Assassination

    Contrary to the findings of the unnamed Western agency, Bellingcat and its investigative partners Der Spiegel, The Insider and The Dossier Center have concluded that the suspect held by German police is unlikely to be Vladimir Stepanov. This conclusion is based on a weeks-long investigation that analyzed – and ultimately rejected – the hypothesis that the killer and the former police major serving a 24-year sentence are the same person. The same finding was reached independently by the Petersburg-based outlet Fontanka, who claim in September 26 report that Vladimir Stepanov remains in a Russian prison. In the process of this investigation, Bellingcat and its partners have obtained conclusive evidence that the suspect –…

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    An apparent assassination in Germany has all the hallmarks of the Kremlin — and Russia doesn’t seem to care

    The daylight killing of a Chechen militant in Berlin looks increasingly like the work of Russia, though the Kremlin denies it. Investigators recently published evidence they say proves the suspect had a fake ID which only the Russian state could provide. A longtime Israeli intelligence operative, speaking anonymously, told Insider that the cover provided would not withstand much scrutiny — a common feature in Russia-linked killings. Extensive databases and new technology, the source said, mean that techniques once used to falsify identities no longer work. For Russia to continue such work, knowing the likelihood of getting caught, is tantamount to saying that it does not care. Continue reading the published…

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    EU’s top court curtails Gazprom access to Nord Stream pipeline link

    WARSAW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s top court on Tuesday overruled an EU decision allowing Russia’s Gazprom to ship more gas via the Opal gas pipeline, which links its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany. The ruling is politically charged as Poland and other eastern European nations fight Gazprom’s plans to double the capacity of Nord Stream and bypass legacy gas routes via Poland and Ukraine. Germany, the main beneficiary of the expanded pipeline known as Nord Stream 2, redoubled its defense of the project on Tuesday, while Poland said it threatened gas supplies to central and eastern Europe. Continue reading the article published on the Reuters news website.

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    Brussels unlikely to appeal EU court decision hampering Nord Stream pipelines

    The European Commission is unlikely to appeal a decision of the EU General Court on Tuesday (10 September) to restrict the transit of Russian gas via the Opal pipeline, running on German territory. This decision appears to hampers the Gazprom-backed Nord Stream 2 offshore pipeline project, which is nearing completion, as well as the first leg of the project which is operational since 2011. Continue reading the article published on the Euroactiv news website.

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    Natural gas says it’s no longer a transition fuel. It may be wrong

    BARCELONA (Reuters) – Natural gas is no longer merely a transition fuel between the past of dirty coal and crude oil and the future of renewables, according to an increasingly confident cross-section of the industry. A procession of senior executives of major companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp, espoused this view while speaking at this week’s GasTech event, the industry’s biggest annual gathering. Continue reading the article published on the Reuters mobile website.

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    A killing in Berlin raises uncomfortable questions about Germany’s relationship with Vladimir Putin

    Boris Reitschuster is a Berlin-based journalist and specialist on Russia. On Aug. 23, an assailant gunned down a Chechen dissident during broad daylight at a park in the center of Berlin, just a short walk from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now, a week later, Germans are still agonizing over the shooting’s likely effect on their country’s relationship with Russia. The victim, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was a 40-year-old ethnic Chechen from Georgia. Starting around 2001, he fought on the rebel side — against Russian troops — during the Second Chechen War. The Kremlin, correspondingly, considered him a terrorist. For his supporters, he was a fighter for the independence of Chechnya. Continue reading…

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    MURDER IN BERLIN

    Germany’s Approach to Russia Comes at a Cost Salisbury” is now shorthand for a Russian murder attempt. What will “Berlin” stand for? Unlike in the cases of the ex-spy Sergei Skripal and the defector Alexander Litvinenko, the hitman who murdered Zelimkhan Khangoshvili on August 23rd did not use a weapon of mass destruction. No polonium (which killed Litvinenko in London in 2007) or nerve agent (which was meant to kill Mr. Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018). ​Instead, he used a gun, firing three shots that killed the fugitive Georgian citizen (and ethnic Chechen) instantly. Continue reading the article published on the CEPA website.