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North Korea earned $200 million from banned exports, sends arms to Syria, Myanmar – U.N. report

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A UN report said North Korea violated United Nations sanctions in 2017 earning nearly $200 million with banned commodity exportation, in particular coal to Russia, China, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam and weapons to Syria and Myanmar.

Russia to revise its position on Donbas if it finds occupation of Ukraine disadvantageous – Volker


Russia will reconsider its position on Donbas when it comes to the conclusion that occupation of Ukraine’s territory is no longer in its interests, but so far Moscow continues to deny its direct involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has said. The Minsk agreements are very important. Firstly, they are a tool confirming Russia’s adherence to the restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This is very important. The reintegration of these territories into Ukraine – and this is part of the Minsk agreements – should become the basis of a Security Council resolution. Secondly, the Minsk agreements have all elements needed for this – a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, local elections, amnesty for those who took part in the military conflict, and a special status for eastern Ukraine, which must be secured in the Constitution of Ukraine, Volker said in an interview with Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which was released on Wednesday, January 24.

Russia’s UN Resolution Obliges Experts to Visit Chemical Attacks Sites


Russia’s draft resolution on the creation of the United Nations Independent Mechanism of Investigation stipulates that the UN experts will have to visit the sites of chemical attacks in order to collect the evidence about the incidents there. “Decides that the UNIMI in conducting its investigations must be guided by high standards established by the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] and, accordingly, use the whole spectrum of relevant methods envisaged in the above-mentioned Convention and in particular Part XI of its Annex on Implementation and Verification, which includes investigation, sampling, interviewing witnesses and collection of evidence and information on the site of an incident”, the text of the draft resolution said.

U.S. imposes more North Korea sanctions; urges China, Russia expulsions


The United States announced new sanctions aimed at stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and urged China and Russia to expel North Koreans raising funds for the programs. The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on nine entities, 16 people and six North Korean ships it accused of helping the weapons programs. It said two China-based trading firms were involved in exporting millions of dollars worth of metals and other goods used in weapons production. “Treasury continues to systematically target individuals and entities financing the Kim regime and its weapons programs, including officials complicit in North Korean sanctions evasion schemes”, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Ukrainian foreign minister vows to continue work on denunciation of bilateral documents with Russia


Ukraine has denounced 35 of its documents with Russia and is about to denounce eight more soon, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said. “By the end of 2017, if I am not mistaken, we had denounced 35 various documents with Russia, including inter-state, intergovernmental and inter-departmental ones”, Klimkin told a press conference on Ukrainian diplomacy’s 2017 results and 2018 priorities in Kyiv on Monday. Eight more bilateral documents are on the way out, he also said, without specifying which. “We will consistently continue this work,” the minister said.

Good news for Russian economy


The statement made by the International Monetary Fund that Russia will be among sources of global GDP acceleration reflects objective realities and the Russian economy will be one of the most attractive for investments in coming years, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev told reporters on Monday. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) improved the estimate of Russia’s GDP growth in 2018 to 1.7% in the report released earlier today. Russia is among primary sources of global GDP acceleration, IMF Economic Counsellor Maurice Obstfeld said when presenting the report.

Russia: shared satisfaction for the oil market revenues


Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met his Saudi counterpart Khalid Al-Falih in Oman on Saturday, where they both expressed satisfaction with the way oil market has been rebalancing, the Russian energy ministry said. “The market sees the efforts are successful and reacts — the prices have almost reached $70 per barrel”, Novak told Falih, according to the ministry’s web site. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, are cutting oil output by 1.8 million barrels per day under a pact running until the end of 2018.

Putin cast as national savior ahead of Russia election

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Long presented as the bare-chested, macho leader who defends Russia against the West, President Vladimir Putin now has a rather more mystical image in state media. With elections looming in March, leading state-controlled TV channels are roping in religion to cast him as a national savior who healed Russia’s historical divisions and rescued the nation from chaos. The main vehicle is a recent documentary on top national channel Rossiya 1 about a monastery widely thought to be Mr Putin’s favourite – Valaam, on a remote archipelago in northern Lake Ladoga. Closed under Soviet rule and almost completely ruined by years of neglect, Valaam has been rebuilt since the collapse of the USSR, with – as the film implies – vital support from Mr Putin.

US suspends destruction of chemical weapons under invented pretext – Defense Ministry


Under an invented pretext, the United States has first suspended and now stopped destructing own chemical weapons, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday. Earlier, a senior State Department official said that Russia has allegedly “used every opportunity at its disposal to protect the Assad regime in its continued use of chemical weapons”. “In line with the commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Russian Federation has in advance completed destruction of the entire stockpile of its chemical warfare agents. In the meantime, the United States under invented pretexts has first suspended and by now has stopped implementing its commitments due to ‘lack of funding’ and thus keeping about ten percent of their stockpile of toxic chemicals and special munitions battle-ready”, the Russian defense ministry said. “Therefore, before coming forward with evidence-free accusations against Russia, moreover, before lambasting anyone at international forums, US counterparts should themselves be – but not pretend to be – an example for the world concerning a responsible attitude to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention”, it said.

Russia: BuzzFeed at the center of the storm


Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused BuzzFeed of being a “tool of American intelligence services” after the news organization published an article about suspicious financial transactions involving Russian diplomats.
The media outlet reported this week that U.S. officials had flagged hundreds of suspicious Russian Embassy bank transfers over the past decade. Last November, Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused BuzzFeed of falsely claiming that Russian diplomatic transfers were part of an alleged campaign of interference in the U.S. presidential election. The ministry said that Buzzfeed had accessed and leaked the private banking information of embassy employees to the public, in a strongly worded statement published on its website Thursday. “This is no longer simply a matter of ‘fake news’, but a real crime”, it said in the statement. The ministry called on Washington to bring the alleged leakers to justice, “including those who occupy corresponding positions in the American state apparatus”.

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