Sabtu, 22 Maret 2014

.... Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices may have bottomed out this week as Japanese buyers stepped back into the market to prepare for peak summer demand. Prices for May delivery rose to around $16.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), from $15.70 per mmBtu last week. Prices had fallen over the past month after topping $20 mmBtu due to limited spot supply and stockpiling after a cold winter. “The Japanese showed interest in committing May cargoes at around $16.50 mmBtu,” said one Singapore-based trader. Malaysia’s Petronas this week secured around 18 LNG cargoes of Nigerian origin from Portuguese utility Galp Energia in a tender, a source with knowledge of the matter said. Earlier this month Galp launched the tender to sell up to 30 LNG cargoes from Nigeria’s Bonny Island liquefaction plant over a period of five years, with 4-6 cargoes offered each year. The winners of the other Galp cargoes will be notified later yesterday, with details expected to filter out to the market over the weekend....>>> ...Notably, Europe did not go after Russian oligarchs or banks, as the United States did on Thursday. But European leaders said they have prepared additional penalties that would be triggered if Putin makes a play for other parts of Ukraine. “If there’s further destabilization in Ukraine, then there should be further, wide-ranging measures taken,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, who did not give specifics. Cameron said the best rebuke to Russia would be a strong Ukraine, a sentiment that other European leaders echoed. The E.U. also sought on Friday to bolster other potentially vulnerable nations in Russia’s shadow, signaling that the bloc would sign deals to tighten relations with Georgia and Moldova. Witte reported from London. Kathy Lally in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report. ...>>> The Pentagon announced plans on Wednesday to expand combat pilot training in Poland and to send six additional F-15C fighter jets to a NATO mission carrying out air patrols over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Patrols have been carried out on a three- to four-month rotation basis by 14 NATO states from Lithuania’s air base in Zokniai, near the northern city of Siauliai, since 2004 when the ex-Soviet republics joined the alliance. The Estonian military said Thursday that the six US fighter jets as well as two KC-135 aerial refueling tankers landed at Zokniai, joining four US F-15s deployed there since January. ..>>>

Russia celebrates Crimea annexation while Ukraine looks to West for support

http://world.einnews.com/article/196263645/Wh66pCqAZVExhtpQ?n=1&code=lCtThc8XIaCtSyaE

 

MOSCOW — Deep-booming fireworks rent the sky in Moscow and in Crimea on Friday night to celebrate the territorial expansion of Russia at Ukraine’s expense.
Earlier in the day, President Vladimir Putin, defiant in the face of growing Western pressure, signed a treaty of accession moments after it was ratified by the upper house of parliament. The deal gives the Crimean Peninsula to Russia, but it has pushed a diminished Ukraine further toward the West.
Video
<caption> President Obama said Thursday before leaving for Florida that the U.S. government would expand sanctions on Russian individuals and authorize future sanctions for sectors of the Russian economy. The president predicted these measures could have an effect on the global economy. </caption>

President Obama said Thursday before leaving for Florida that the U.S. government would expand sanctions on Russian individuals and authorize future sanctions for sectors of the Russian economy. The president predicted these measures could have an effect on the global economy. 

Flowers bloom near the Dutch Windmill in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California March 20, 2014. Spring officially began on Wednesday in the northern hemisphere, and is known as both the spring or vernal equinox. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY TRAVEL ENVIRONMENT)

Photos of the day

World Down Syndrome Day, naked yoga, lost Rembrandt recovered, first lady Michelle Obama in China and more.
In Brussels, Ukraine’s leaders signed an agreement committing the country to closer ties with the European Union and said they had been promised more than $1 billion in additional economic aid. Russia, meanwhile, has become the target of expanded sanctions.

The E.U., following the lead of the United States, added a dozen names Friday to its list of Russian officials subject to visa and financial restrictions. But efforts by eastern members of the E.U. to pursue much tougher measures were rebuffed by leaders of bigger countries worried about the consequences for their own economies.

Measures begin to bite
In Moscow, politicians joked about the sanctions. But the measures were beginning to show some bite, and several hundred thousand Russians could be feeling their effect.
MasterCard and Visa stopped handling transactions for Bank Rossiya, which was placed on the U.S. sanctions list Thursday by President Obama, and for the much smaller SMP Bank, which is owned by two brothers, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who are also on the U.S. list. The Rotenbergs are old friends of Putin’s and have grown rich since he came to power.
Also blocked was the credit card business of several small banks that rely on the two bigger ones to handle transactions. 

“It will not have a huge effect,” said Anton Soroko, a bank analyst in Moscow. Bank Rossiya, the country’s 15th-largest bank, has about 470,000 individual clients. Most of them have direct deposit for their salaries and use their cards only to withdraw cash from ATMs — a procedure that is still possible, according to Natalia Romanova, editor of the Web site banki.ru.
It remains unusual, she said, for Russians to use credit cards for point-of-sale purchases or to make purchases online.
Yet the news of the suspended transactions caught people’s attention. Putin said he would open an account in Bank Rossiya on Monday and have his salary deposited there.
At a meeting of Russia’s national security council, he joked about not associating too closely with some of his aides who are on the U.S. and E.U. lists. He said Russia, for now, should not retaliate any further than the entry bans for nine U.S. officials it announced Thursday.
But later in the afternoon, the talk grew more menacing. Russia will not let further sanctions go unanswered, said Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

“We will react every time, and we react based on mutuality. We have responded to the first sanctions, and now we will respond” to further sanctions, he said. “They will not go unnoticed.”
The Foreign Ministry promised a stiff response to the United States.

“The U.S. administration decision announced on March 20 to expand the list of sanctions against Russian officials, parliamentarians and businessmen as a punishment for Crimea’s reunification with Russia causes disappointment and regret,” said a statement attributed to Alexander Lukashevich, the ministry’s press secretary. “We are certain to respond toughly as already happened on more than one occasion earlier with respect to earlier sanctions.”

Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Duma, or lower house of parliament, tweeted Friday: “Economic sanctions make sense when their goal is to prevent something. The reunification with Crimea is already a fact. There’s nothing they can prevent. What’s the point?”

A sign of things to come?
Ukraine’s leaders, stung by the loss of Crimea and facing dire problems at home, hope to capitalize on Western support. The interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, signed an agreement at the Brussels E.U. summit that could lead to broader cooperation.

It came four months to the day after the ousted president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, spurned a deal with the E.U. in favor of an arrangement with Russia, provoking the long-
lasting protest that eventually brought him down.

Ukraine is still a significant way from formally joining the 28-nation E.U. bloc, and such a move would probably draw a furious response from Moscow. But Yatsenyuk said he believed that Friday’s signing of a political association agreement marked a major push in that direction.
“We want to be a part of the big European family, and this is the first tremendous step in order to achieve for Ukraine its ultimate goal, as a full-fledged member,” he said.

The signing of the deal with Ukraine overshadowed, for a day, Europe’s continuing struggles over how to penalize Moscow for its annexation of Crimea.

Some members, particularly those in Eastern Europe, have pushed for tough sanctions, fearing that without a stern response from the West, Russia will be emboldened to reach for more territory. But other European nations, including E.U. heavyweights such as Germany, have deep economic ties with Russia and are reluctant to push too hard. About a third of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russian sources.

Without unanimous support for broad financial sanctions, the E.U. focused on more modest steps.

On Friday, it announced the addition of 12 individuals to its sanctions list, which began with 21 names earlier in the week. The new names appeared to be part of an effort to coordinate strategy with the United States and included several Putin aides and officials who have been sanctioned by Washington. Among them were Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister.

The list also included Dmitry Kiselyov, a Russian news anchor who was recently chosen to head the Kremlin’s new information agency, Russia Today. Kiselyov responded to American criticism of the Crimean referendum Sunday by warning that Russia was capable of turning the United States into “radioactive ashes.”

Notably, Europe did not go after Russian oligarchs or banks, as the United States did on Thursday. But European leaders said they have prepared additional penalties that would be triggered if Putin makes a play for other parts of Ukraine.

“If there’s further destabilization in Ukraine, then there should be further, wide-ranging measures taken,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, who did not give specifics.

Cameron said the best rebuke to Russia would be a strong Ukraine, a sentiment that other European leaders echoed. The E.U. also sought on Friday to bolster other potentially vulnerable nations in Russia’s shadow, signaling that the bloc would sign deals to tighten relations with Georgia and Moldova.

Witte reported from London. Kathy Lally in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.


Russia

Obama Announces New Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

23:51 20/03/2014
Originally posted at 20:18
http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20130405/180450967/Russia-to-Start-State-Tests-of-New-Ballistic-Missile-in-2014.html
Tags: Barack Obama, Crimea, United States, Washington, Russia
WASHINGTON, March 20 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced new sanctions against Russia over its reunification with Crimea.
Obama said more Russians were added to the blacklist of individuals, who are subject to travel restrictions and whose assets in the US will be frozen.
"We're imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government,” Obama said.
The US president also mentioned that sanctions will be imposed on The Rossiya Bank.
“In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals," he continued.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury said on Thursday its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated sixteen Russian government officials and four individuals who provide “material support” to the Russian government.
The list includes presidential aide Andrei Fursenko, Presidential Executive Office Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov, head of Russia’s military intelligence service GRU Igor Sergun, head of Russia’s railway monopoly RZD Vladimir Yakunin and a number of senior lawmakers.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the existence of any types of blacklists is “absolutely inadmissible for Russia, no matter who is on the list.”
“Anyway, Russia’s reaction… will follow soon, on the basis of reciprocity,” he said.
A presidential executive order, published by the White House later in the day, also envisages sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, such as energy, finance, defense, mining, machine-building and others.
The US and EU announced asset freezes and travel bans targeting a number of Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin on Monday, following Crimea’s referendum on secession.
Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev that came to power amid often violent protests last month and sought reunification with Russia after 60 years as part of Ukraine.
The reunification treaty, which sparked the most serious geopolitical showdown between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War, was ratified by the State Duma on Thursday.

Russia Warns US Sanctions Would Have Boomerang Effect

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

http://world.einnews.com/article/196263645/Wh66pCqAZVExhtpQ?n=1&code=lCtThc8XIaCtSyaE

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
23:48 07/03/2014
Tags: Sergei Lavrov, Russia
MOSCOW, March 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Washington on Friday against "hasty and reckless” steps over the crisis in Ukraine that could harm Russia-US relations.
In a telephone call initiated by the American side, Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that any sanctions against Russia “would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang.”
US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced the first set of sanctions against Moscow to punish Russia for perceived violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The sanctions include visa bans and asset freezes against unidentified Russian officials deemed responsible for the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.
In an hour-long telephone call earlier on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Obama that US-Russian relations "should not be sacrificed due to disagreements over individual, though extremely significant, international problems."
Meanwhile, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a chat show on state television late Friday that Russia did not want the return of the Cold War that kept the Soviet Union and the West on opposite sides of the barricades for over four decades.
“There still remains hope...that some points of agreement [over the Ukrainian crisis] could be found as a result of dialogue - which our partners, thank God, have not yet rejected,” Peskov said.


Russia

EU Adds 12 Russian, Crimean Officials To Sanctions List

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

23:10 21/03/2014
Originally posted at 20:00
Tags: European Union, Dmitry Rogozin, Vladimir Putin, Crimea, Russia
MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union on Friday extended asset freezes and travel bans on 12 Russian and Crimean officials allegedly responsible for what the West considers the seizure of Ukraine’s former region of Crimea by Russia.
The EU expanded the number of Russian and Ukrainian officials under sanctions to 33 early Friday morning, just hours after the United States added 20 more officials to its own list. French President Francois Hollande said the EU list largely mirrored a similar US list.
The individuals added to the list are: speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko and Sergei Naryshkin; Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the country’s military industry as deputy prime minister; presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev and presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.
It also includes head of the state news service Rossiya Segodnya Dmitry Kiselyov, lawmaker Elena Mizulina, deputy commanders of the Black Sea Fleet Alexander Nosatov and Valery Kulikov, commander of Russian forces in Crimea Igor Turchenyuk and chairmen of Crimea and Sevastopol electoral commissions, Mikhail Malyshev and Valery Medvedev.
Kiselyov said on Rossiya-1 TV channel on Friday evening that imposing sanctions on journalists was “an attack against the media freedom,” which “contradicts Europe’s basic human rights documents.”
The move was the latest escalation in the clash over Ukraine’s Crimea, the greatest geopolitical showdown between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.
The US and EU announced asset freezes and travel bans targeting a number of Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin on Monday, following Crimea’s referendum.
EU officials have described three levels of sanctions against Russia. The first was the suspension three weeks ago of negotiations on visa liberalization to ease travel between EU member states and Russia.

Updates with names, Kiselyov’s comment

Defense

Russia Starts Massive Air Defense Drills Amid Crimea Standoff

Topic: Crimea’s Fate

http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140306/188151801/Russia-Starts-Massive-Air-Defense-Drills-Amid-Crimea-Standoff.html

20:39 06/03/2014
Tags: Kapustin Yar, S-300, Buk-M1, KC-135, Oleg Kochetkov, Crimea, Ukraine, Russia
MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Western Military District has begun large-scale air defense drills at its southern testing range of Kapustin Yar on the backdrop of further escalation of tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Kapustin Yar, located some 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of the Ukrainian border, will host about 3,500 troops and over 1,000 units of military hardware for about a month. The exercise will culminate with live-firing drills, involving S-300, Buk-M1 and other air defense systems.
“It is for the first time that all air defense units from the district, including coastal defenses of the Northern Fleet, have gathered in one place,” said the district’s spokesman, Col. Oleg Kochetkov.
“It is the largest-ever exercise held by air defense units of the Western Military District,” Kochetkov said, adding that the drills were part of a regular combat training cycle.
The exercise, however, coincides with further escalation of a political crisis in Ukraine that has led to the current standoff between Russia and the West over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with a majority ethnic Russian population.
Crimean authorities have refused to recognize as legitimate the new central government in Kiev, which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych late last month, and on Thursday they announced a decision to become part of Russia.
A popular vote to approve the decision will be held in Crimea on March 16.
Russia’s parliament has recently approved military intervention in Ukraine, while thousands of “local militia” allegedly under Russian command have taken control over Ukrainian military bases across Crimea in the past week.
Following these developments, the West showered Moscow with accusations of aggression and threats of sanctions while cutting off military exchanges with Russia and scrambling to bolster military cooperation within NATO.

The Pentagon announced plans on Wednesday to expand combat pilot training in Poland and to send six additional F-15C fighter jets to a NATO mission carrying out air patrols over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Patrols have been carried out on a three- to four-month rotation basis by 14 NATO states from Lithuania’s air base in Zokniai, near the northern city of Siauliai, since 2004 when the ex-Soviet republics joined the alliance.
The Estonian military said Thursday that the six US fighter jets as well as two KC-135 aerial refueling tankers landed at Zokniai, joining four US F-15s deployed there since January.

Defense

Russia Plans 2 More Ballistic Missile Tests in March

Russia Plans 2 More Ballistic Missile Tests in March
17:20 05/03/2014
Tags: RS-12M, Igor Yegorov, Kazakhstan, Russia, Astana
ASTANA, March 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is planning to carry out two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles this month in addition to Tuesday’s successful launch, the Kazakh military said.
“On February 19, the Kazakh Defense Ministry received a request [from Russia] for permission to carry out three test launches in March. The request was approved on February 28,” the Central Asian nation’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
In line with a 1992 bilateral agreement on the use of test ranges, Russia periodically launches ballistic missiles with dummy warheads from its territory toward simulated targets at the Sary-Shagan range, which Moscow leases in Kazakhstan.
The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that a RS-12M Topol ICBM, carrying a payload simulating “an advanced warhead,” was launched from the Kapustin Yar testing range in southern Russia’s Astrakhan Region on Tuesday.
Spokesman Igor Yegorov said the launch’s purpose was to test improvements of the ballistic missile, which entered service with the Russian Strategic Missile Forces in 1985.
The RS-12M Topol (SS-25 Sickle) is a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile, about the same size and shape as the US Minuteman ICBM.
The missile has a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) and can carry a nuclear warhead with a yield of up to 550 kilotons.


Defense

Russia to Start State Tests of New Ballistic Missile in 2014

Russia to Start State Tests of New Ballistic Missile in 2014
00:29 05/04/2013
Tags: Satan, ASBU, Yars, Topol-M, ICBM, Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), Viktor Yesin, Russia
MOSCOW, April 5 (RIA Novosti) – The state tests of a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will begin in 2014, a former Russian military commander said.

Russia announced the development of a new ICBM to replace the existing Topol-M and Yars missiles in 2012. If the tests are successful, it could be commissioned as early as in 2015.

“The state tests of the missile have been scheduled for 2014,” Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin (Ret.), who served as chief of staff of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) in 1991-93, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

The general added that the preliminary tests of the missile were underway, but refused to provide details on its performance characteristics.

According to open sources, the SMF currently operates at least 58 silo-based SS-18 Satan ballistic missiles, 160 road-mobile Topol (SS-25 Sickle) missile systems, 50 silo-based and 18 road-mobile Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) systems, and 18 RS-24 Yars systems.

Two missile divisions have been fully rearmed with Topol-M and Yars systems, while the rearmament of three more divisions will start later this year, according to SMF.

The SMF will also deploy in the near future a new automated battle management system (ASBU), which will allow rapid retargeting of ICBMs.

How West can respond to Russia's aggression
March 21st, 2014
03:07 PM ET

How West can respond to Russia's aggression

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN
http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/03/21/how-west-can-respond-to-russias-aggression/
 
Editor’s note: GPS asked Jane Harman, director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, for her take on Russia’s annexation of Crimea and how the United States and Europe should respond. The views expressed are her own.
Many of us have said for years that terrorists have attacked us asymmetrically, where we are weakest.  We've also said that they only have to be right once, whereas we have be right 100 percent of the time.
Well, apply that to Ukraine. Putin found Ukraine’s weakest point and exploited it. Russia inserted a trained covert force in Crimea quickly against Ukraine’s small military force and ineffective government. The Russians were strong, the Ukrainians were weak.
The response of the West should be to use our own comparative strength against Russia’s weakness. We have a strong economy and a robust energy future. Their economy is riddled with corruption and depends on Russia being a gas station to Europe and elsewhere.
We have to rein in Putin to prevent him from further aggressive actions. Here’s a four-point potential roadmap:

Targeted sanctions: The Obama administration, European Union and Canada have made a good start in putting sanctions on senior Russian officials. They can do more by imposing international sanctions modeled after those imposed on Iran. President Obama just authorized sanctions on investments in Russia’s energy and industrial sectors as well as Russian bank activities around the world. But if and when imposed, they may not cover holdings by oligarchs outside Russia. Expect pain for some U.S. companies operating in Russia, the high priced condo markets in London and New York and restaurants in the South of France that many of Russia’s oligarchs frequent. But done right, this could be a game changer well worth the short term sacrifice.

Help Ukraine elect competent leaders in May: A new transparent, competent and pluralist government must make it clear that Russian-speaking Ukrainians are welcome in Ukraine. The new government should qualify to receive desperately needed economic aid from the U.S., E.U., the International Monetary Fund and others. Congress must stop partisan wrangling and pass the $1 billion in aid for Ukraine.

Complete negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: The trade agreement that’s being negotiated between the European Union and the United States should be passed, as should Trade Promotion Authority to ratify it.  This matters because it would facilitate trade in all sectors – including energy – by standardizing regulations. Stronger U.S.-EU economic ties will reduce Putin’s leverage in the region.

Consider an energy bargain: New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has a smart idea: get Republicans and Democrats to agree to environmentally safe extraction, transportation and export of gas, in addition to development of renewables.  Get Europe to look to North America instead of Russia for energy.
Putin hasn't learned Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it. He now adds Crimea's broken economy to Russia's. The West needs to be tough and smart, which means we need to exercise our asymmetric power against him.

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The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Columnist

Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/opinion/friedman-why-putin-doesnt-respect-us.html?_r=0
 
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Continue reading the main story
Just as we’ve turned the coverage of politics into sports, we’re doing the same with geopolitics. There is much nonsense being written about how Vladimir Putin showed how he is “tougher” than Barack Obama and how Obama now needs to demonstrate his manhood. This is how great powers get drawn into the politics of small tribes and end up in great wars that end badly for everyone. We vastly exaggerate Putin’s strength — so does he — and we vastly underestimate our own strength, and ability to weaken him through nonmilitary means. 

Let’s start with Putin. Any man who actually believes, as Putin has said, that the breakup of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century is caught up in a dangerous fantasy that can’t end well for him or his people. The Soviet Union died because Communism could not provide rising standards of living, and its collapse actually unleashed boundless human energy all across Eastern Europe and Russia. A wise Putin would have redesigned Russia so its vast human talent could take advantage of all that energy. He would be fighting today to get Russia into the European Union, not to keep Ukraine out. But that is not who Putin is and never will be. He is guilty of the soft bigotry of low expectations toward his people and prefers to turn Russia into a mafia-run petro-state — all the better to steal from.

So Putin is now fighting human nature among his own young people and his neighbors — who both want more E.U. and less Putinism. To put it in market terms, Putin is long oil and short history. He has made himself steadily richer and Russia steadily more reliant on natural resources rather than its human ones. History will not be kind to him — especially if energy prices ever collapse. 

So spare me the Putin-body-slammed-Obama prattle. This isn’t All-Star Wrestling. The fact that Putin has seized Crimea, a Russian-speaking zone of Ukraine, once part of Russia, where many of the citizens prefer to be part of Russia and where Russia has a major naval base, is not like taking Poland. I support economic and diplomatic sanctions to punish Russia for its violation of international norms and making clear that harsher sanctions, even military aid for Kiev, would ensue should Putin try to bite off more of Ukraine. But we need to remember that that little corner of the world is always going to mean more, much more, to Putin than to us, and we should refrain from making threats on which we’re not going to deliver. 

What disturbs me about Crimea is the larger trend it fits into, that Putinism used to just be a threat to Russia but is now becoming a threat to global stability. I opposed expanding NATO toward Russia after the Cold War, when Russia was at its most democratic and least threatening. It remains one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done and, of course, laid the groundwork for Putin’s rise.

For a long time, Putin has exploited the humiliation and anti-Western attitudes NATO expansion triggered to gain popularity, but this seems to have become so fundamental to his domestic politics that it has locked him into a zero-sum relationship with the West that makes it hard to see how we collaborate with him in more serious trouble spots, like Syria or Iran. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is engaged in monstrous, genocidal behavior that also threatens the stability of the Middle East. But Putin stands by him. At least half the people of Ukraine long to be part of Europe, but he treated that understandable desire as a NATO plot and quickly resorted to force.

I don’t want to go to war with Putin, but it is time we expose his real weakness and our real strength. That, though, requires a long-term strategy — not just fulminating on “Meet the Press.” It requires going after the twin pillars of his regime: oil and gas. Just as the oil glut of the 1980s, partly engineered by the Saudis, brought down global oil prices to a level that helped collapse Soviet Communism, we could do the same today to Putinism by putting the right long-term policies in place. That is by investing in the facilities to liquefy and export our natural gas bounty (provided it is extracted at the highest environmental standards) and making Europe, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, more dependent on us instead. I’d also raise our gasoline tax, put in place a carbon tax and a national renewable energy portfolio standard — all of which would also help lower the global oil price (and make us stronger, with cleaner air, less oil dependence and more innovation).

You want to frighten Putin? Just announce those steps. But you know the story, the tough guys in Washington who want to take on Putin would rather ask 1 percent of Americans — the military and their families — to make the ultimate sacrifice than have all of us make a small sacrifice in the form of tiny energy price increases. Those tough guys who thump their chests in Congress but run for the hills if you ask them to vote for a 10-cent increase in the gasoline tax that would actually boost our leverage, they’ll never rise to this challenge. We’ll do anything to expose Putin’s weakness; anything that isn’t hard. And you wonder why Putin holds us in contempt?

Global LNG prices rebound from lows as demand picks up

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Global LNG prices rebound from lows as demand picks up
9:59 PM
21
March
2014 
http://www.gulf-times.com/eco.-bus.%20news/256/details/385452/global-lng-prices-rebound-from-lows-as-demand-picks-up
 
A night view of the Petronas Petroleum Industry Complex in Kerteh, Terengganu, Malaysia. Asian spot LNG prices may have bottomed out this week as Japanese buyers stepped back into the market to prepare for peak summer demand.
Reuters/Singapore/London
Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices may have bottomed out this week as Japanese buyers stepped back into the market to prepare for peak summer demand.
Prices for May delivery rose to around $16.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), from $15.70 per mmBtu last week.
Prices had fallen over the past month after topping $20 mmBtu due to limited spot supply and stockpiling after a cold winter.
“The Japanese showed interest in committing May cargoes at around $16.50 mmBtu,” said one Singapore-based trader.
Malaysia’s Petronas this week secured around 18 LNG cargoes of Nigerian origin from Portuguese utility Galp Energia in a tender, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
Earlier this month Galp launched the tender to sell up to 30 LNG cargoes from Nigeria’s Bonny Island liquefaction plant over a period of five years, with 4-6 cargoes offered each year.
The winners of the other Galp cargoes will be notified later yesterday, with details expected to filter out to the market over the weekend.
Sources differed in their opinions of how much winners paid for the cargoes, with estimates ranging from 13.5-14.3% of the price of a barrel of Brent crude oil.
At the upper end that puts the price somewhere around $15.30 per mmBtu given that Brent crude is currently trading at about $107 a barrel.
More pricing direction will likely come from the outcome of Australia’s North West Shelf tender award for several cargoes which closed last week, although the identity of the winning companies remains uncertain.
The results of the latest single cargo sell tender from Angola LNG also remained unclear, while re-exports from Spanish terminals are expected to add to the availability of supply on the global market.
Angola LNG last month issued three tenders, with some traders expecting it to do the same thing this month prior to a two-month maintenance outage planned from July.
Argentina has also issued a buy tender for two cargoes for delivery in May, traders said.
Galp Energia is seeking to swap six LNG cargoes from Bonny Island for pipeline gas routed to Portugal from southern France, traders said.
Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp said on Thursday it has signed a contract to buy 380,000 tonnes per year of LNG from the Malaysia LNG Dua project for 10 years from 2015.
Chinese LNG imports rose by a modest 6% in February to 1.50mn tonnes from the same month last year, although the volumes were likely affected by the Lunar New Year festival at the beginning of the month.
In the first two months, imports rose by 42% to 4.14mn tonnes. Imports are expected to climb by 37% this year to around 24.4mn tonnes and by another 19% to 29mn tonnes in 2015, according to Energy Aspects.
BG Group, one of the world’s foremost LNG trading firms, expects prices to stay robust this year and the current tightness to persist, with only a modest rise in LNG supply and strong increase in Chinese and South American demand.
“In 2014 we expect continued growth in demand for LNG from Asia, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years,” BG Group’s vice-president of global LNG, Andrew Walker, said in a report released this week.
“In 2014, we expect Europe will continue to balance the global LNG market by ceding volumes, but it’s not clear how much more can be diverted before we reach the minimum level of imports,” Walker said.
 “The global LNG market will be tighter for longer than many assume, until the end of the decade at least,” he said.

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