Posts Tagged ‘Russia’
US is about to lose key arms-control tool from the closing days of the Cold War – right to station American observers in Russia to count the long-range missiles being built. U.S.-staffed Votkinsk Portal Monitoring Facility at Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, about 600 miles east of Moscow the site where all Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are built.The reciprocal site to Votkinsk in the United States was the former Hercules Aerospace missile production facility in Magna, Utah, which the Russians left more than eight years ago.Although the United States does not produce new long-range missiles, Russia continues to do so and has built dozens of missiles since the monitoring started15 years ago. START banned certain types of missiles, which Americans at Votkinsk verified by counting and inspecting every missile that left the facility
In a sharp turnaround, the European Union blasted Russia and Ukraine, saying the sudden cutoff to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable.” Just a day ago, the EU was trying to downplay any problems from the gas dispute.
Russian gas shipments via Ukraine to Hungary halted, Hungarian government said it would ask some power plants to switch to alternative fuel by Wednesday 1-7-9.
Energy dispute sharply escalated Tuesday 1-6-9, when six countries on the other end of the pipeline network running from Russia through Ukraine reported a complete shutoff.
Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments.
Bulgaria said it had enough gas for only “for a few days.”
Bulgaria’s President Georgi Parvanov said the country could start immediate preparations to relaunch Unit 3 of its Kozlodui nuclear power plant. The aging two 440-megawatt reactors were shut down two years ago.
Two cities in eastern Bulgaria, Varna and Dobrich, were left with no natural gas supplies on Tuesday 1-6-9. In Varna, on the Black Sea coast, the shortage left 12,000 households without central heating amid freezing temperatures.
Austria lost 90 percent of its normal Russian gas supplies on Tuesday1-6-9, about half its total supply. It said it had three months’ gas reserves but called an emergency meeting at its Economy Ministry
The Czech Republic and Hungary also reported significant supply drops. The Czech gas company RWE Transgas said it expects only 25 percent of its normal supplies Tuesday from Russia, while Hungary predicted its cut would be greater than the 20 percent it saw on Monday
Poland was considering limits on deliveries to heavy industry.
Speaking in Berlin, Alexander Medvedev, deputy chief executive of Russian energy giant OAO Gazprom, blamed Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy for the shut-off. He told reporters Naftogaz had suddenly shut down the last of four transit pipelines.
A prolonged shut-off in such cold weather risked serious damage to the pipeline network, he added.
Naftogaz said Gazprom had suddenly stopped pumping transit gas via Ukraine on Wednesday morning. “It was the Russian side’s decision to stop all gas deliveries to Europe” Naftogaz head Oleh Dubina told reporters. “I think it is inappropriate.”
1-7-9 Poland and Bulgaria ordered chemical and other gas-intensive factories to cut back their consumption or shut down operations.
1-7-9 Hungarian unit of the Japanese automaker Suzuki said it was halting production because of restrictions on industrial users of gas.
Russia cut by two-thirds, 66%, gas flows to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday 1-5-09 in a dramatic worsening of a pricing dispute with Kiev that threatened to disrupt supplies as far west as Italy and Germany.
Russian export monopoly Gazprom said it had supplied around 65 million cubic meters (mcm) to Europe on Tuesday 1-5-9 through ex-Soviet neighbor Ukraine, a fall of 78 percent from the 300 mcm it had been shipping since the dispute erupted on January 1, 09.
Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Croatia said flows of Russian gas via Ukraine had come to a halt, creating what Bulgaria called a “crisis situation” in the middle of winter.
Austria and Romania said deliveries were down 90 percent and 75 percent respectively.
Italy 7 million cubic meters on Tuesday, or less than 20 percent of the expected amount.
Ukraine’s government ordered regional utilities to start using fuel oil instead of gas.
Neighboring Slovakia will declare a state of emergency.
Serbia and Bosnia said Russian supplies had completely stopped.
France said supplies had plunged 70 percent although its economy is less vulnerable than Germany and Italy (getting only 20%) as 80 percent of France’s electricity is produced by nuclear energy.
“We are in a crisis situation,” Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry said. State firm Bulgargaz told industrial users it was suspending or cutting supplies to a minimum and urged them to switch to alternative fuels like oil. Two fertilizer companies had to halt production.
Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom accuse its Ukrainian counterpart of “stealing” gas and acting to damage the pipeline that transports 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe.
Last year, Ukraine paid on average $180 per thousand cubic meters of Russian gas, far below European rates, and Gazprom is demanding that it pay $418 for the same amount in the yet-to-be-concluded 2009 contract.
“The problem is that Ukraine is bankrupt, politically and economically,” says Konstantin Zatullin, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma’s commission on the Commonwealth of Independent States
Sergei Kupriyanov, a Gazprom spokesman, told journalists Ukraine has “stolen” some 25 million cubic meters of gas, passing on the shortfall to European customers.
Gazprom announced it will take its case against Ukraine to the Stockholm Arbitration Court, and appealed to the European Union to independently monitor Ukraine’s stewardship over the gas pipeline.
The dispute is overshadowed by the growing geopolitical schism between Moscow and Kiev, especially since Ukraine extended military assistance to Georgia during last summer’s
Ukraine pays Russia for its gas through as many as 12 intermediaries, making payments almost untraceable
Naftogaz director Oleh Dubina has said Ukraine has enough gas in reserve to last it through early April.
map of gas pipelines, Russia to Europe, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01216/GasEuropeCIS2008___1216869a.pdf
New Arms race. Massive rearmament of Russia.
Moscow said the Russian military would commission 70 strategic missiles over the next three years, as part of a massive rearmament programme which will also include short-range missiles, 300 tanks, 14 warships and 50 planes, a 28% increase in arms spending.
The arsenal will include a new-generation, multiple-warhead ICBM called the RS-24
Moscow has also signalled that it would supply Tehran with new surface-to-air missiles in defiance of US opposition.