• English posts

    The Credibility of German Multilateralism

    Berlin’s consistent calls to protect multilateralism in the wake of President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks on the post-1945 institutions often ring hollow. That’s all Berlin’s allies needed to hear. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz intends to reduce Germany’s defense budget. It will rise to 1.37 percent of national income in 2020 but fall to 1.25 percent by 2023. Forget the fact that just last year Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right government had planned to increase defense spending to 1.5 percent by 2024. And forget too that it was Merkel who, at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, promised with other allies that Germany would in principle spend 2 percent of its gross domestic…

  • English posts

    Russian hackers are targeting European governments ahead of May election, FireEye says

    Russian hackers have targeted European government systems ahead of the EU parliament election, cybersecurity firm FireEye said Thursday. The company found that two state-sponsored hacking groups, APT28 and Sandworm, used spear phishing — the practice of sending out emails designed to look like they’re from a trusted party — in an attempt to obtain government information. FireEye said European government institutions were sent emails with links to websites that appeared to be authentic, luring a person into changing their password and thus sharing their credentials with hackers. APT28, more popularly known as Fancy Bear, is believed to be linked to Russian military intelligence agency GRU and has been labeled as one…

  • English posts

    America’s energy capital became a battleground over a Russian pipeline to Germany this week

    This week Houston became the latest battleground in the international dispute over a pipeline project located more than 5,000 miles away from the Lone Star State. The dispute over the project in question — the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany — is not new. But the debates in Houston show how intractable the issue has become, with the two sides sitting elbow to elbow and unable to even agree on why the project is being built. From Germany’s perspective, Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial endeavor that will double the volume of Russian gas flowing to its north shore on the Black Sea. To the United States and some European…

  • English posts

    Nord Stream 2 eyes way to curb EU oversight of $9.5bn pipeline

    The group building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to import Russian gas into Germany is exploring plans to hive off its last 50km into a separate company, a move that would undermine EU plans to regulate the entire $9.5bn project. Under the proposal, a new company would own and manage the small part of the undersea pipeline within German territorial waters. While this section would be subject to EU rules, the rest of Nord Stream 2 — nearly 1,200km through the Baltic Sea — would remain outside the bloc’s jurisdiction, according to three people familiar with the plans. The plan, while in its early stages, could stoke further criticism of…

  • English posts

    Russia’s Pipe Dreams Are Europe’s Nightmare

    Putin’s plans to run the TurkStream pipeline through the Balkans won’t end well. In the ongoing showdown between Russia and the West, Russia has a trump card: natural gas exports. Despite chilly relations, in 2018, gas shipments from Russia to Europe and Turkey hit an all-time high of 201.8 billion cubic meters (bcm). And even as the EU sticks to its guns on Russia sanctions, many of its members happily press ahead with their pet energy projects. Germany, for example, continues to back the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will bring natural gas from Russia to the north German coast. Now Russia may be using another major project—TurkStream—to deepen its influence in…

  • English posts

    European Parliament calls to Stop Nord Stream 2

    The members of the European Parliament also came to a conclusion that Russia can no longer be considered “a strategic partner” PARIS, March 12. /TASS/. The European Parliament considers necessary to curtail the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, according to the report on the state of EU-Russia political relations approved on Tuesday. “Russia and the EU will remain key economic partners in the foreseeable future, but Nord Stream 2 reinforces EU dependency on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market and is not in line with EU energy policy, and therefore needs to be stopped,” the report says. “The EU’s dependency on Russian gas supplies has increased since…

  • English posts

    Russia ‘very likely’ to meddle in European Parliament elections, warns Estonia spy chief

    The intelligence boss also says Russia is continuing to develop and train its armed forces for a “large-scale war against NATO”. The Kremlin will “very likely” try to intervene in European parliamentary elections this May to help pro-Russia and anti-EU politicians win seats, Estonia’s equivalent of MI6 has warned. The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service said President Putin’s goal is to undermine unity with the European Union “by sowing disorder and disbelief” within and between the 28 – soon to be 27 – member states. The comments came in an annual security report that also said Russia’s secret security services are still carrying out hostile activity in cyber space despite the…

  • English posts

    Sandra Kalniete: “Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner of the EU”

    “Awareness of the threat of Russia is ever growing,” says MEP Sandra Kalniete ahead of a vote on the state of EU-Russia relations on 12 March. Find out more in our interview. Five years after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, what is Parliament’s message on Ukraine? As our close neighbour, stability, prosperity and democracy for Ukraine are very important for Europe. In our report, we stress that Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner of the EU. We call for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement, and on Crimea, we do not accept Russia’s annexation. We also draw attention to the human rights situation of Crimean Tatars, the…

  • English posts

    Russian ex-minister: Nord Stream 2 is 100% political

    According to the expert, the Hanhikivi power plant project also has silent features. Russia’s former deputy energy minister, Vladimir Milov, is a stranger to his approach to the Baltic Sea under the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a purely commercial project. – Of course, Nord Stream can only be viewed from a commercial point of view if, for some reason, it does not want to recognize its obvious political dimension, Milov says to Web News . In addition to the post of Deputy Minister, Milov has also served as Director of the Strategic Department of the Russian Energy Commission and has established an Institute for Energy Policy, under the leadership of which he currently operates. He…

  • English posts

    Apple anti-snooping system to thwart police mobile phone surveillance

    Apple is developing anti-snooping technology which would prevent police forces from being able to track mobile phone users’ locations or read their messages. The smartphone and technology giant has patented a way to encrypt the signals sent between mobile towers and users’ phones, protecting them from authorities. The innovation, reported by The Telegraph, would inhibit the use of so-called ‘Stingray’ boxes which act like mobile phone masts and are used to track users’ locations or listen in on their calls. Read the full article published on the Daily Mail news website.   Signs of sophisticated cellphone spying found near White House, U.S. officials say June 1, 2018 A federal study found…

  • English posts

    Denmark can buy time with a new proposal for Nord Stream 2 routing

    New boundary drawing can give Denmark a year more before the election for Nord Stream 2 must be made. One year can change everything. After years of tug-of-war, Denmark is still in a grim clamp when it comes to the great expansion of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream through the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 2. Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen (V) is squeezed between the giants Germany and Russia on the one hand and the United States and a number of Eastern European countries on the other. Therefore, it is not insignificant that, according to Politiken, Denmark, after a settled border dispute with Poland, now has a technical possibility to…

  • English posts

    Browder Says Europe May Be Looking at $1 Trillion in Dirty Money

    Bill Browder, the investor who’s made a career of chasing money launderers, says the cases he’s brought against banks so far only represent a tiny fraction of the full amount in dirty money trying to get out of Russia and into the West. The Hermitage Capital Management co-founder, who says he has worked closely with law enforcement agencies across Europe, estimates that roughly $1 trillion in questionable funds from the East are either already inside the European Union or looking for loopholes to get in. “Our investigation continues to lead to new evidence and new information and new suspicious transactions,” Browder said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Guy Johnson.…

  • English posts

    Spanish Anti-Corruption Body Investigating Troika Laundromat Protagonists

    The Spanish anti-corruption body is investigating the purchase of Costa Brava properties by close allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who are believed to have laundered money through The Troika Laundromat apparatus, El Periodico revealed Wednesday. El Periodico sources close to the matter confirm the ongoing months-long investigation into the purchase of four lucrative properties by Delco Network and Dino Capital on behalf of Russian oligarch Vladimir Artyakov – former governor of the Samara region and director in the state defense-tech company, Rostec. The villas were purchased through an 80-year-old Russian proxy, with €13 million (US$14.7 million) pumped through the two offshore companies. A proxy is a person authorized to act on behalf of…

  • English posts

    European Involvement with Nord Stream 2 Is a Deal with the Devil

    Since having seized Ukrainian territory and energy installations in 2014, Russia and its gas company, Gazprom, have been waging systematic economic warfare against Ukraine in an attempt to destroy Naftogaz—Ukraine’s energy company and the single biggest source of state revenue—and the Ukrainian state. To date, however, Russia has failed. Indeed, Naftogaz won three arbitral awards against Gazprom in 2017 and 2018; these were about Gazprom’s efforts to divert gas using the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, blocking Central Asian gas from traveling through Ukraine. But Gazprom has refused to pay the $2.6 billion arbitration award granted to Naftogaz. Instead, Russia is blocking that award, building Nord Stream 2, and trying to…

  • English posts

    Banking leak exposes Russian network with link to Prince Charles

    Exclusive: investigation reveals how Troika Dialog channelled $4.6bn to Europe and US A charity run by Prince Charles received donations from an offshore company that was used to funnel vast amounts of cash from Russia in a scheme that is under investigation by prosecutors, the Guardian can reveal. Money flowing through the network included cash that can be linked to some of the most notorious frauds committed during Vladimir Putin’s presidency. In all, it is estimated that $4.6bn (£3.5bn) was sent to Europe and the US from a Russian-operated network of 70 offshore companies with accounts in Lithuania. The details have emerged from 1.3m banking transactions obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting…

  • English posts

    Multibillion-Dollar Money-Laundering Scheme Run By Russia’s Largest Private Investment Bank Uncovered

    An almost $9 billion global money-laundering scheme allegedly set up and run by Russia’s largest private investment bank and having close ties to the country’s ruling elite has been uncovered by the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). An OCCRP investigation published on March 4 alleges that the $8.89 billion scheme, dubbed the Troika Laundromat, allowed corrupt politicians and organized-crime figures to launder funds, evade taxes, hide assets abroad, and carry out other illegal activities. The investigation singles out Sergei Roldugin, the Russian cellist who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oldest friends, as one of the main beneficiaries of the scheme. The OCCRP, a group that…

  • English posts

    Beyond Salisbury: Identifying Russian intelligence operations

    It takes guts to expose Russian military intelligence from the centre of Moscow and more GRU operations could come to light. The investigative journalists at Russian news site The Insider are aiming to uncover more Russian military intelligence operations after identifying the GRU agency officers behind the Salisbury chemical weapon attack. “We’re not very focused on Salisbury. We know this will be covered by British authorities,” said Roman Dobrokhotov, The Insider’s chief editor. “They have all the CCTV and from the beginning they knew [the GRU operatives’] real names,” he added. But it isn’t clear if these details will ever be released by the UK government. The more significant releases…

  • English posts

    Negative energy: Berlin’s Trumpian turn on Nord Stream 2

    While it loves to rant about Trump’s disruptive and confrontational behaviour, the German government hardly behaves any differently when its interests are at stake. Berlin’s handling of the controversial Nord Stream 2 project reveals double standards and neglect of the pipeline’s security repercussions.  Berlin has handled the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with unilateralism and clumsiness worthy of US President Donald Trump. On 8 February, the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives was to vote on a proposal to tighten the rules of the common energy market – which have thus far enabled states and companies, particularly Germany and Gazprom, to circumvent EU law. Paris signalled on 7…

  • English posts

    Despite sanctions, Russian tanker supplied fuel to North Korean ship-crew members

    VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – A Russian tanker violated international trade sanctions by transferring fuel to a North Korean vessel at sea at least four times between October 2017 and May 2018, two crew members who witnessed the transfers said. Such transactions could have helped provide North Korea with an economic lifeline and eased the isolation of the secretive communist state, whose leader, Kim Jong Un, is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam this week. Primportbunker, the owner of the vessel the crew members said made the transfers, did not respond to requests for comment by telephone. No one answered the door when Reuters visited the building where…

  • English posts

    An Italian Expose Documents Moscow Money Allegedly Funding Italy’s Far-Right Salvini

    An exposé claims that Vladimir Putin is funneling $3 million to Matteo Salvini through dirty diesel to help swing European elections towards Russia-friendly candidates. ROME — Italy’s interior minister and vice premier, Matteo Salvini, went off the grid for 12 hours during an official state visit to Moscow last October. Tales of Russian prostitutes seemed to explain the time lapse for the single statesman. But a new exposé by the Italian newsmagazine L’Espresso suggests that his time may have been spent doing something far more sinister: he may have been making backroom deals with Russian operatives ahead of European Parliamentary elections. The investigation, which the magazine says was conducted over several months,…