Kremlin Warns Against ‘Hasty’ Conclusions On Saudi Attacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: Alexander ASTAFYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

The Kremlin on Monday warned against a hasty reaction to the drone strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that Washington has blamed on Iran.

“We call on all countries to avoid hasty steps or conclusions that could exacerbate the situation, and on the contrary keep to a line of conduct that will help soften the impact of the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“This is a very unpleasant story,” Peskov added.

“We are hoping that Saudi Arabia will be able to cope with the inflicted damage in the nearest future,” he told reporters.

Peskov added that Putin planned to visit Saudi Arabia in October.

On Saturday, drone strikes on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia severely disrupted production.

Tehran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war, have claimed responsibility.

On Monday, oil prices made their biggest jump since the Gulf War after President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the attacks on the Saudi oil infrastructure.

AFP

Arrest Of US Investor ‘Should Not Affect Investment Climate’ – Kremlin

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photo: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

 

The Kremlin on Monday said the arrest of a major US investor on fraud charges should “not affect the investment climate” in Russia.

A Moscow court at the weekend placed Michael Calvey, founder of the multi-billion-dollar investment fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP), in custody until at least April 13.

Calvey and five others are awaiting trial on charges they embezzled 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million). He says the charges have been fabricated for use in a shareholder battle.

“We are very closely following developments in the situation and we hope that this will not at all affect — and should not affect — the investment climate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Of course, we have been well aware of Michael’s investment activities in the Russian market over many years,” Peskov told journalists, declining to comment on the specifics of the case.

Authorities detained four Baring Vostok employees on Friday, including French national Phillipe Delpal.

Two other suspects include a former fund employee and someone at another firm mentioned in the probe. All six are now under pre-trial arrest.

In a statement Saturday, Baring Vostok said the claims made against its employees “have no merit”.

The case has drawn comparisons to other high-profile probes against foreign investors in Russia, notably one against Bill Browder and the Hermitage Capital fund.

Calvey argued in court that the probe is a bid to exert pressure on him amid a shareholder conflict within Vostochniy Bank, which he is trying to resolve in a London arbitration court.

The charges against him are intended to “pressure Baring Vostok to drop its arbitration claims in London or to obstruct the new share emission of Vostochniy Bank,” the Baring Vostok statement said.

Investigators say that in 2017 a firm controlled by Calvey owed 2.5 billion rubles to Vostochniy Bank and paid the debt with a 59.9 percent stake in the Luxembourg company International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), which was valued at three billion rubles.

The investigators allege that IFTG’s real value was only 600,000 rubles.

Kremlin Ready To Discuss Putin-Trump Summit In US Next Year

File photo: Aleksey NIKOLSKYI / Sputnik / AFP

 

The Kremlin said Wednesday it was ready to discuss the possibility of a summit in Washington next year between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Donald Trump.

“Undoubtedly (we are) ready,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists after US National Security Advisor John Bolton told Russia’s Interfax news agency that such a summit was possible.

He confirmed that the issue has been “raised” but that “so far there is no concrete decision on this.”

The Kremlin is preparing for a “possible meeting” between the two leaders at an event in Paris on November 11 commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I, Peskov said.

Bolton arrived in Moscow on Sunday evening and held talks with Putin and other Russian officials. He said at a press conference that Trump wished to meet Putin at the World War I commemorations.

The US official told Interfax in an interview published Wednesday that Washington expected the two leaders to discuss in Paris a possible summit in Washington next year, after which Trump could visit Moscow.

Bolton’s visit came just after Trump announced that the US would pull out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty.

Asked whether the Kremlin wanted to continue discussions with the US on the treaty, Peskov said that “as far as we understand the American side has taken the decision and is formalising in the near future the process of withdrawing from this treaty.”

Russia Hails ‘Partner’ Trump Ahead Of Summit

 

The Kremlin hailed US President Donald Trump as a “partner” on Friday ahead of his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We consider Trump a negotiating partner,” Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters in a briefing on Monday’s summit in Finland.

The summit aims to mend ties at a time of high tension between Moscow and the West.

“The state of bilateral relations is very bad,” said Ushakov. “We have to start to set them right.”

Rival roles in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts and other disputes have driven relations between Moscow and Washington to their lowest point since the Cold War.

The US has passed a series of sanctions against Russia since 2014 over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and alleged meddling in the US elections, which it denies.

“The aim of this meeting is to begin setting right the negative state of bilateral relations, to agree on concrete measures to improve them and to establish a more or less acceptable level of trust,” Ushakov said.

“We would like these negotiations to contribute to the creation of an atmosphere that will allow us to talk about continuing contact, including possible visits to Moscow and Washington.”

He said the presidents would meet one on one with just their interpreters. They will then hold a working lunch with their full delegations.

“We are ready to address practically all questions relating to bilateral relations and the international agenda,” Ushakov said.

“One of the main subjects of discussion will be the situation in Syria, notably in the context of the Iranian military presence in that country.”

He said the summit was scheduled to start at 1000 GMT and there was no time limit as far as the Russian side was concerned.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also hold their first meeting in Helsinki during the summit.

They are expected to discuss the expulsion of US diplomats from 2016 over issues including the allegations of election meddling.

The Kremlin said no joint summit statement was planned but the presidents would give a news conference after their meeting.

Russian daily Kommersant had earlier reported that Washington had requested guarantees over election meddling.

Moscow has repeatedly said it has never interfered in US elections. The United States is due to hold mid-term elections in November.

Relations with the West have also been soured by the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain in March.

Moscow has denied London’s claims that Russia was behind the poisoning.

Since coming to power last year, Trump has sought to improve relations with Putin.

The last, brief meeting between Putin and Trump took place in November 2017 in Vietnam during an APEC summit.

Vladimir Putin Sworn In As President For Fourth Term

Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin takes the oath of office during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 7, 2018. PHOTO: Alexander ASTAFYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s president for a fourth term at a ceremony in the Kremlin on Monday, extending his almost two-decade rule by another six years.

“I consider it my duty and my life’s aim to do everything possible for Russia, for its present and for its future,” Putin said, with his hand on the Russian constitution.

Putin, in power since 1999, was predictably re-elected in Russia’s March presidential election with 76.7 percent of the vote.

“I strongly feel conscious of my colossal responsibility,” Putin said at the ceremony before thanking Russians for their “sincere support” and “cohesiveness”.

“We have revived pride in our fatherland,” Putin said.

“As head of state I will do all I can to multiply the strength and prosperity of Russia.”

Earlier Russian state television showed Putin walking to his new Russian-made presidential limousine that drove him to the lavish ceremony.

AFP

Russia Did Not Initiate Any Diplomatic War – Putin’s Spokesman

Russian Ministry Announces Plans To Expel 35 US Diplomats

 

The Kremlin said on Friday that it was not Russia that had unleashed a diplomatic war with the West following the mass expulsion of US envoys in retaliation against coordinated moves by Britain and its allies over a spy poisoning.

“Russia did not unleash any diplomatic war,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “Russia never initiated an exchange of sanctions.”

“Russia has been forced to take retaliatory steps in response to hostile, illegal actions” by Washington, he said, adding that Moscow wanted “good relations” and remained open for dialogue.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would expel 60 US diplomats and close Washington’s consulate in Saint Petersburg in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of its envoys in the wake of the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Russia’s expulsion of US diplomats marked a “further deterioration” in relations between the two countries.

In all, more than 150 Russian diplomats have been ordered out of EU and NATO member countries and other nations in a coordinated action against Moscow over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in southwestern England on March 4.

AFP

Kremlin Slams UK’s Absence To Meet Over Spy Poisoning

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on March 21, 2018, as she heads to the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons./ AFP

 

The Kremlin said on Wednesday the absence of the British ambassador from a Moscow meeting over the poisoning of a Russian double agent in the UK showed London’s unwillingness to “hear answers”.

“Perhaps this is another eloquent demonstration of the absurdity of the situation when questions are being asked but the unwillingness to hear some answers is being shown,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The British embassy said earlier that its ambassador will not attend the meeting called by the Russian foreign ministry to explain Moscow’s view on the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this month.

Kremlin Denounces ‘Imperialist Character’ Of US Strategic Report

The Kremlin denounced on Tuesday the “imperialist character” of the national security strategy unveiled a day prior by US President Donald Trump, accusing Washington of clinging to a “unipolar world”.

“The imperialist character of this document is obvious, as is the refusal to renounce a unipolar world, an insistent refusal,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“No doubt we cannot accept that the country is treated as a threat to the security of the United States,” he added.

A Russian foreign ministry statement weighed in by criticising the US report for its “anti-Russian passages” and for “not seeking constructive cooperation … but confrontation.”

The statement said the report “shows the desire to maintain at any price an American domination visibly weakened in the international arena.”

US President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his first National Security Strategy that pilloried Russia and China as “revisionist powers” bent on rolling back American interests.

The 68-page strategy report was put together by key aides and said Russia challenges “American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”.

At the same time, Trump used the launch of the report to laud benefits of cooperation with Russia.

He noted that a recent CIA tip-off about a terror attack on a landmark Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, had prevented deaths “in the thousands”.

Peskov praised the US report’s “modest” positive features, pointing to what he said was Washington’s readiness to cooperate with Russia in areas such as an exchange of security information.

“This agrees with our approaches because Moscow is also looking for cooperation with the USA where this would serve our interests,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

Moscow will have to study the document closely, he added.

AFP

Kremlin Denounces ‘Imperialist Character’ Of U.S. Strategic Report

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photo: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

The Kremlin denounced on Tuesday the “imperialist character” of the American report on national security strategy, accusing Washington of clinging to a “unipolar world”.

“The imperialist character of this document is obvious, as is the refusal to renounce a unipolar world, an insistent refusal,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding the Russian authorities “cannot accept that the country is treated as a threat to the security of the United States”.

READ ALSO: China Slams U.S. Security Strategy As ‘Cold War Mentality’ 

AFP

Kremlin Welcomes ‘Constructive’ U.S. Position On N.Korea Talks

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Photo: SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL / AFP

Russia on Wednesday said it welcomed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement that Washington is ready for talks with North Korea without preconditions, calling this a constructive approach.

“We can state that such constructive statements impress us far more than the confrontational rhetoric that we have heard up to now. Undoubtedly this can be welcomed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Peskov said that Washington’s change of tone chimed with Russia’s repeated calls for Washington to cool down its response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

“This goes in the same direction as the calls from Russia,” said Peskov, adding that President Vladimir Putin has regularly warned the US that “confrontational rhetoric and any steps that could provoke further tensions on the Korean peninsula are absolutely counterproductive.”

“It was Putin who regularly and consistently called for all the parties involved to do all they could to set up channels for dialogue. Therefore, such statements (as Tillerson’s) of course do give us satisfaction,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

Asked if the US was grabbing the initiative from Russia, Peskov said that calming the situation was a shared aim and “no one can grab anything from any one else. The main thing here is succeeding in the task.”

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier Wednesday that Moscow did not need to put pressure on its Soviet-era ally and neighbour North Korea to participate in talks with Washington, since Pyongyang has said it is keen to do this.

“I don’t think we need to influence North Korea in this direction, because Pyongyang has many times at different levels declared its readiness (for talks),” Ryabkov told journalists, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.

“Let’s hope that after the statements coming from a high level in Washington, the opportunity for this will fall into place,” he said.

READ ALSO: U.S. Urges Talks With North Korea  

AFP

Putin Gives U.S. Delegation Cold Shoulders

Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that trust had eroded between the United States and Russia under President Donald Trump, as Moscow delivered an unusually hostile reception to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.

This is coming as the new U.S. leader fired missiles at Syria to punish Moscow’s ally for its suspected use of poison gas.

The Kremlin had previously declined to confirm Putin would meet Tillerson, reflecting tensions over the U.S. strike on Syria.

Rex Tillerson – Courtesy: www.slate.com

Tillerson, however, started a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin after talking to his Russian Counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for about three hours.

In his opening remarks, Lavrov giving off the cold shoulder, stated: “I won’t hide the fact that we have a lot of questions, taking into account the extremely ambiguous and sometimes contradictory ideas which have been expressed in Washington across the whole spectrum of bilateral and multilateral affairs.

“And of course, that’s not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken.”

A senior Russian official assailed the “primitiveness and loutishness” of U.S. rhetoric, part of a volley of statements that appeared timed to maximize the awkwardness during the first visit by a member of Trump’s cabinet.

“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview broadcast on Russian television.

He also doubled down on Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.

Tillerson, on the other hand, kept to more calibrated remarks, saying his aim was “to further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist and what the prospects for narrowing those differences may be.”

“I look forward to a very open, candid, frank exchange so that we can better define the U.S.-Russian relationship from this point forward,” he told Lavrov.

Kremlin Condemns Donald Trump Pre-election Clip For Demonizing Russia

donald trumpThe Kremlin on Thursday hit out at a pre-election video promoting U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at Hillary Clinton’s expense, complaining that it demonized Russia.

“I saw this clip. I do not know for sure if (President) Vladimir Putin saw it. (But) our attitude is negative,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a teleconference with reporters.

The video attempts to cast doubt over Clinton’s ability to deal with Putin, whom it casts as a U.S. foe.

Presenting what it suggests are America’s toughest opponents on the world stage, it shows the Russian leader easily throwing an opponent in a judo bout before cutting to footage of Mohammed Emwazi, the late Islamic State executioner nicknamed “Jihadi John”.

It then cuts to a clip of Clinton in which sounds resembling a dog barking have been overlaid. Putin is then shown laughing.

“It’s an open secret for us that demonizing Russia and whatever is linked to Russia is unfortunately a mandatory hallmark of America’s election campaign,” said Peskov. “We always sincerely regret this and wish the (U.S.) electoral process was conducted without such references to our country.”

Russian state TV, which usually closely reflects the Kremlin’s world view, has generally been more positive about Trump than the other presidential candidates.

However it has complained about what it says is the anti-Russian tenor of the overall campaign, criticizing almost all of the candidates for statements they have made on Russia.

The United States accused Russia of not bombing Islamic State targets in Syria with the same ferocity or frequency as it targeted what Washington said were more moderate groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Kremlin has denied that charge, declaring Islamic State a dangerous threat to its own security. It has bristled in the past at any Western attempts to liken the threat Russia purportedly poses to the West to that represented by Islamic State.