“If they have a stronger economy, it will be a plus, but only if it is not achieved by making us weaker.” He denied Moscow was putting pressure on Kiev or drawing up plans to retaliate. But he also said Russia would have to act “if there is evidence of dumping or the use of hidden forms (of protectionism) such as support for exports, support for agricultural producers”. Shuvalov’s remarks made clear Moscow had not been appeased by Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who tried on Saturday to soothe Russian fears over planned agreements with the EU on political association and free trade. Azarov says Ukraine, whose economy is dominated by exports such as steel, chemicals and agricultural produce, would benefit almost immediately from lower duties on Ukrainian exports. Russian officials, led by President Vladimir Putin, say Ukraine has more to gain from joining a Customs Union grouping Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Moscow is also holding out against Ukraine’s pleas for cheaper Russian gas to help its hard-pressed economy. Moscow’s efforts to persuade Kiev not to move closer to the EU form part of a broader drive by Russia to deter former Soviet allies from edging out of its orbit and moving their economy and future trade towards western Europe. But Ukraine, a vast country with a population of 45 million and psychologically tied closely to Russia by history and shared culture, is the sorest point of contention. Shuvalov has played an important role in this drive in his government role overseeing relations with the former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He said the Russia-led customs union would not suffer if Ukraine did not join, but its accession would create a trading bloc with a population of about 200 million. Reiterating that Kiev could not join the customs union if it signed the free trade pact, because the two were legally incompatible, he said: “It’s either one or the other.” The 28-nation EU, which includes eastern European countries that were for decades under Soviet control, has made clear it will not give in to what it called Russian attempts to limit the “sovereign choices” of Ukraine and other countries.
Russia Opens North Korean Rail Link for ‘Iron Silk Road’
Charter.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday: “The U.N. Security Council may adopt a strong resolution in support of the decision of the OPCW, but it will not be under Chapter 7, and accordingly, it won’t be possible to use it to implement … unilateral military action against Syria.” In other words, any punitive measures would require a new resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. That means Russia could block any such measures. France’s foreign minister said on Monday he expects the Security Council to agree on a resolution to enforce the chemical weapons deal with Syria and appeared to back off French calls for the measure to threaten the use of force against Assad. U.N. diplomats say it is possible Russia and the Western powers will fail to agree on a draft resolution this week. Russia has already vetoed three resolutions that condemned Assad’s government and threatened it with sanctions. WHAT HAPPENS IF SYRIA FAILS TO COMPLY? Lavrov told reporters after the framework agreement that the idea that noncompliance should be punished “does not mean that every violation that will be reported to the Security Council will be taken by word.” He also said that Russia would support a new council resolution imposing punitive measures on whoever is guilty of noncompliance only when there is “100 percent” certainty about the circumstances of the violation. Any punitive measures would require a new resolution. Moscow, Assad’s chief ally, has made clear it would oppose any threat of force in the event of Syrian noncompliance.
Russia, West at odds over plan to rid Syria of chemical arm
As host of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil needs the experience if its wants to make a run at a medal on its home court in three years. The exposure is important, too. There is no shortage of options in Europe, from Russia, which entered Eurobasket in turmoil (its coach quit a month before event began) and didn’t have its best players, to Greece to Turkey to Italy. Russia seems the most likely of those countries to pay big dollars for inclusion, and it won silver in London last summer. Oddly, Nigeria, which finished a disappointing seventh at Afrobasket, is interested in playing in the World Cup. However, can it come up with the money, and does FIBA want a team which finished so low in Africa, playing in the World Cup? Nigeria played in the 2012 London Olympics and finished 10th with just one victory. Either way, the USA, which won the 2010 world championship and gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, will enter as the favorite. The USA will learn its opponents for group play at the World Cup draw Feb. 8 in Barcelona. USA Basketball, which held a mini-camp in Las Vegas in July, will look more like the 2010 world championship team than the 2012 Olympic team with Kevin Durant and Kevin Love promising to play if healthy and Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose locks to make the team if they want to play. Both have expressed interest, and all four played in Turkey in 2010. That leaves eight spots, and Paul George and Kyrie Irving are almost guaranteed to make the team. That leaves six spots, and at the point, the USA needs to look at big men, versatile and big wings and maybe another two-way guard. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said he, along with Coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Jim Boeheim, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams, will name a preliminary roster of about 25-28 players in late January, early February.
The top executives of both countries state train operators inaugurated a route today that links the North Korean port city of Rajin with the Russian border town of Khasan. Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said. Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia, Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries. The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia s Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor. Reunions Scrapped North Korea canceled plans today for reunions this week of families separated by the division of the peninsula, and accused South Korean leaders of throwing obstacles in the way of reconciliation. The North also put off talks on resuming tours by South Koreans to its Mount Geumgang resort after recent weeks of improved relations between the two sides. Kim Jong Uns regime accused the South of seeking confrontation, and threatened strong and decisive retaliation against any military provocation. The Khasan-Rajin rail link will carry 100,000 freight containers a year, the Norths official Korean Central News Agency reported in April 2012. The freight terminal at Rajin will be able to handle 4 million tons a year of coal, Yakunin said today, including shipments for OAO Mechel , Russias biggest supplier of the material for steelmakers. The new rail connection will promote the joint economic and transport development of the two countries and welfare of their peoples, North Korean Railways Minister Chon Kil-su said. To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Rajin, North Korea , via firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at email@example.com More News: