West’s Renewed Focus on Solidarity and Coordination Perturbs Kremlin

first_imgThe disastrous visit to Moscow of the European Union’s top diplomat, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, on February 4–6, followed in quick succession by three major international events last week, together served to illuminate Russia’s resolute but hopeless self-isolation on the global stage. The February 17–18 meeting, in Brussels, of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense ministers elaborated the Alliance’s new strategic concept (to be approved next month), in which Russia is defined as a key source of threat rather than as a partner, as the previous concept wishfully articulated (Kommersant, February 18). On February 19, the special edition of the Munich Security Conference acclaimed the restoration of the United States’ international leadership and reconfirmed Transatlantic resolve to contain the Russian challenge (Izvestia, February 19). And that same day, the virtual summit of the G7 discussed the unprecedented complexity of global problems, while clearly signaling that Russia was not a part of the solution (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 19). Russian leaders used to be meaningful contributors to such deliberations, but now Moscow is left on the uncomfortable receiving end of Western efforts at reconstituting solidarity.Just a week prior (in the wake of the Borrell visit), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov created headlines by threatening to cut relations with the EU, and Russian mainstream commentators were eager to add to this stance (Carnegie.ru, February 15; see EDM, February 11, 15, 18). Now, however, Lavrov has been reduced to complaining about prejudices inside the European bloc that paint Russia as an outsider and an enemy (RBC, February 19). The key assessment underpinning Russia’s diplomatic two-step seemed to have been the presumption that the West is divided and (as a corollary) that the EU cannot formulate and execute anything resembling a common foreign policy (Rosbalt, February 17). Responding to the new contrary evidence, the Russian foreign ministry now tries to argue that NATO’s work on a new concept is driven by the deep crisis in the West, which is being camouflaged by the search for a common enemy (RIA Novosti, February 19). Russia’s mainstream media, thus, jumped to publish profiles of French President Emmanuel Macron, who dared to argue during the Munich debates on the need to maintain dialogue with Russia (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 20).What Russian official discourse seemingly cannot comprehend is that Western unity necessarily involves differing opinions and a careful accounting of particular interests. Macron, despite his bitter experience from multiple conversations with Putin, finds it essential to insist on keeping the channels for dialogue open; yet he also welcomed the reinvigoration of US leadership and contributes to the upgrade of NATO’s containment capabilities (VTimes, February 19). Lavrov was quite surprised by Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto’s firm reiteration of the EU’s common condemnation of human rights violations in Russia by, since Helsinki usually prefers to underscore good-neighborly relations (Kommersant, February 16). Russia’s opportunities to exploit the differences inside the EU and between Europe and the US are much reduced—not only because of President Joseph Biden’s commitment to promote Transatlantic endeavors but also because of the demarches and threats issued by Moscow (Novaya Gazeta, February 17).Finding its self-isolation uncomfortable and incompatible with aspirations for a higher global profile, Russia is now looking for new means to split Western solidarity. Discovering that NATO defense ministers adopted an ambivalent position on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, Moscow immediately tried to reactivate its own talks with the Taliban (RIA Novosti, February 18). This channel will hardly add value to the peace process, but it can complicate and confuse its still uncertain progress (Republic.ru, February 18). Courting the Taliban on the one hand, Moscow simultaneously recycles threats regarding the extermination of militants in Syria’s Idlib province (TASS, February 18). Russia also convened a meeting of the dormant “Astana format,” seeking to revive its joint patronage with Turkey and Iran over the bargaining between the Bashar al-Assad regime and some more pliable groups of the Syrian opposition (Kommersant, February 17). Additionally, Russia recently held multiple exchanges with Israel, including a phone conversation between Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—ostensibly prompted by Israeli air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, but motivated, on the Russian side, by the interest in exploiting the apparent pause in US-Israeli relations (Rosbalt, February 20). Russia’s leadership assumes that the threat of domestic terrorism has been effectively eliminated, so it is possible to play with the problem of international terrorism with negligible risk (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 17).Moscow can cause trouble for the West via its Middle Eastern intrigues, but the most impactful interface is still in Russia’s immediate western neighborhood, comprised foremost of Belarus and Ukraine. In the former, mass protests are on hold as the opposition seeks to regroup and reorganize around a non-violent but more effective strategy (Lenta.ru, February 18). The internationally ostracized Belarusian leader, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, tries simultaneously to present this pause as a victory and to extract more direct support from Putin by depicting aggressive interference from a hostile NATO (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 19). Putin loathes spending money on backing his bankrupt neighbor, but he fears the consequences of a sudden collapse of Lukashenka’s regime (Carnegie.ru, February 12).The permanent crisis in relations with Ukraine presents Russia with the easiest but also riskiest opportunity to put pressure on the West (see EDM, February 18). Moscow is worried about the EU’s expanded support for economic reforms in Ukraine and the US’s intentions to increase military aid to modernize the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Izvestia, February 20). Putin’s recent promise, “We will not abandon Donbas,” may signal dissatisfaction with the costly but increasingly unpopular occupation of parts of eastern Ukraine (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 17). Renewed escalation of hostilities is, thus, being prepared with the dual aim of scaring the EU about possible Russian war-making and mobilizing domestic jingoism (Ezhednevny Zhurnal, February 18). Despite all propaganda efforts, however, Russians’ attitudes toward the US have improved to the point where positive and negative perceptions are about equal (Levada.ru, February 19).The idea of a declining, divided and leaderless West is comforting for the Russian elites, who preside over the degradation of their own country. So any signs of renewed Western solidarity or possible recovery from the global crisis disturb Moscow. Much like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) spectacular achievement of landing the Perseverance rover on Mars has exposed the backwardness of Russia’s own space program, the renewed commitment of Western leaders to work together to uphold and protect democracy has shown the futility of Moscow’s pretenses to leadership in defiance of Western institutions and values. The dynamism of Western societies is ensured by embracing innovations and debating differences; while Russia’s decline is driven by a corrupting autocracy, growing militarism and suppression of dissent.last_img read more

HOCHTIEF to build another special-purpose wind farm ship

first_imgThe vessel, dubbed “Vidar,” is to start operating in 2013 to meet the huge demand for special-purpose equipment in this booming market. Vidar will be HOCHTIEF’s fourth heavy-duty craft, following its sister vessel, Innovation, as well as the jack-up platforms, Odin and Thor.It will be used for the company’s own offshore construction contracts and will also be chartered out. Rainer Eichholz, a member of the HOCHTIEF Solutions Executive Board, says, “We are banking on the move to alternative energy sources and accommodating market players’ huge demand with our special-purpose vessel.”Like HOCHTIEF’s other heavy-duty equipment, the new special-purpose jack-up vessel will also speed up installation and servicing times for the latest generation of offshore power plants. Vidar’s main features will be a 1,200 tonne crane, a loading capacity of up to 6,500 tonnes, a powerful engine allowing speeds of up to 12 knots, and the ability to work in water depths of up to 50 m, making it one of the most powerful lifting vessels in Northern Europe, says HOCHTIEF.The financing of the vessel is by means of an operate-lease structure with a subsidiary of Santander acting as the lessor, and with the involvement of KfW IPEX Bank, Norddeutsche Landesbank, the Spanish CaixaBank, andBankhaus Lampe.Dr. Carsten Wiebers, global head of ship financing at KfW IPEX-Bank comments: “In the light of the German Energiewende (support of energy efficiency and renewable energies) offshore wind energy is gaining a growing importance. One of the largest restraints is currently the lacking capacity for installation of such offshore wind farms. With the financing of the construction vessel, KfW IPEX-Bank, one of the largest ship financers world wide, provides a contribution to the Energiewende and supports the maritime industry.”Like the other heavy-duty members of the fleet, Vidar will be built at the Crist shipyard in Gdynia, Poland. Parallel to this order, HOCHTIEF Solutions has commissioned the construction of three large work pontoons. In addition, work is currently underway at Crist on the fit-out of the Vidar’s somewhat larger sister vessel, Innovation, which is to be operated and chartered out from mid-2012 by HGO InfraSea Solutions, a HOCHTIEF joint venture withGeoSea, Belgium.Innovation’s first assignment will be at the Global Tech I wind farm, which HOCHTIEF Solutions will be building in the German North Sea.HOCHTIEF reports that numerous project proposals for and inquiries about Vidar have already been made.www.hochtief.delast_img read more

Wellington Police Notes: Wednesday, January 30, 2019

first_imgWellington Police notes: Wednesday, January 30, 2019•8:02 a.m. Officers responded to a domestic disturbance in the 1300 block N. B, Wellington.•8:20 a.m. Officers responded to a domestic disturbance in the 100 block N. Elm, Wellington.•9:55 a.m. Officers took a suspicious activity report in the 400 block N. A, Wellington.•9:55 a.m. Officers took a suspicious activity report in the 400 block N. A, Wellington.•2:23 p.m. Officers investigated theft in the 900 block S. A, Wellington.•2:50 p.m. Richard D. Hefley, 58, Wellington was issued a notice to appear for disobeyed railroad signal.  •5:25 p.m. Officers took a Courtesy Motor Vehicle accident report in the 2000 block E. 16th, Wellington.•6:19 p.m. Officers responded to a juvenile complaint in the 400 block W. 8th, Wellington.•8:36 p.m. Officers responded to a domestic dispute in the 800 block S. C, Wellington.•9 p.m. Nicholas A. Reyes, 18, Wellington was issued a notice to appear for disobeyed stop sign.last_img read more

Thatcher’s Monday Pool League

first_imgBlack Moonies6204484266 Diva Sports Bar64024941812 Thirsty Beaver650156342215 Retox Outback Bar64024644212 Honeybees62044050-106 Results & Standings Feb. 12 (week 6) TeamPWDLFA+/-Pts. Results: Black Moonies 7 – 8 Honeypot, Diva Devils 10 – 5 Leks Bar, Full Moon 4 – 11 Diva Sports Bar, GB Retox Outback Bar 4 – 11 Moonies Kitchen, Honeybees 9 – 6 Khao Noi Sports, Thirsty Beaver 11 – 4 Pride Pride63034248-69 Full Moon61053753-163 Moonies Kitchen650154361815 Leks Bar61053753-163 Khao Noi Sports63034248-69 Honeypot63034446-29 Diva Devils6303454509last_img read more

Zinedine Zidane: Changes may come, players, the coach…

first_img Zidane hinted there may be a lot of change coming to Madrid in the summer, even regarding his own position, adding: “Next year there might be changes, players and coach. But for now we must keep going as we have something to aim for.” 27/02/2016 Of the defeat, he said: “I’m not happy with the game, not happy with the defeat, what happened, how we played. what’s important for me and the team is to think about the next game.” CET Sport EN The Real Madrid coach saw his side lose 1-0 at home to rivals Atletico Madrid, leaving them nine – potentially 12 – points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga.  A constant theme in the press conference was Zidane stating the problems his side face “are not just physical, they are mental”. Zidane said “the league is over” but also insisted “we’re not going to throw the season, we still have challenges. This is what I have to say.”  He insisted Madrid would continue fighting, especially in the Champions League. Zidane said: “We have things to do. we have the Champions, we have league games. We have to keep going. It’s a tough moment, when you lose a derby at home it’s always fucked up. Sorry for the word.” Upd. at 19:44 Zinedine Zidane has hit out his players, saying they are mentally weak and there may be changes next season.last_img read more