Friday, April 10, 2015

Russian Navy To Order New Warships To Strengthen Positions In Global Ocean, U.S. Warns Beijing Against 'Destabilizing' S China Sea, China Seeks Gateway To Europe With Greek Port

Russian Navy To Order New Warships To Strengthen Positions In Global Ocean

The new vessels will have the same weapons and military equipment as a small missile ship usually has, Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said. However, "they will be a bit different in the specifications of ocean and sea navigation," he added.

The Russian Defense Ministry will soon order the construction of two ocean-class small corvettes, Ministry Deputy Head Yury Borisov told journalists Friday.

Over recent years, the Russian Navy has increased its activities in the global ocean.

"Now we will study and place orders for small corvettes," Borisov said.
Admiral Chirkov, in his turn, announced that the new vessels will have the same weapons and military equipment as a small missile ship usually has. However, "they will be a bit different in the specifications of ocean and sea navigation," according to him.
He also underscored that the number of new missile carrying vessels will totally correspond to the national security requirements.
"Now we are making progress in the field of long-range missiles. They will installed on naval ships to hit coastal and ground targets," the admiral said.

The United States warned today that China's effort to expand its territory in the South China Sea by building on disputed  islands was a threat to regional stability. 

A newly released set of satellite images has revealed that China is artificially expanding a reef in disputed waters, presumably to strengthen its territorial claims. 

"In our view, China's land reclamation and the construction activity are fuelling greater anxiety within the region," State Department spokesman  Jeff Rathke told reporters. 
Rathke said Washington is concerned that China "might militarize outposts on disputed land features of the South China Sea. 

"So we are watching these developments closely and we continue to raise our concerns with China as well as with others in the region to urge all parties to avoid destabilizing activities. 

Satellite images on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto a feature known as Mischief Reef. 
Images of other outcrops in the Spratly Islands show aircraft runways appearing from jungle, smooth-sided solid masses where there once was coral and man-made harbors replacing natural reefs. 

Analysts say the pictures show how China is attempting to create "facts in the water" to bolster its territorial claim. 
Beijing asserts sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, including areas close to the coasts of other states, using a line that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s. 

One could argue that China's long path to Piraeus, Greece, began on April 27, 1961. It's the day Mao Zedong founded the communist state's first freight company, the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO). The Great Leap Forward, Mao's plan for industrialization, had proven to be a disaster at the time, leaving millions dead or starving. With Cosco, China had its eyes on overseas markets.

Almost 54 years later, the company is steering toward a major prize in Greece. After lengthy wavering, the Greek government-- comprised of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his far-left Syriza party and the right-wing populist Independent Greeks -- has announced it will be selling the majority of its share in Athens' Piraeus Port Authority. So far, Cosco is the most promising bidder.

 China is thinking far into the future. Piraeus is the closest port in the northern Mediterranean to the Suez Canal. From here, it can conquer the EU domestic market. Recently, three freight trains began leaving the port each week. "Those are peanuts, of course," Fu says. "But it's only the beginning."

Ukraine, locked in conflict with Russian-backed separatists in its east, on Thursday drew up a new security doctrine denouncing Russia's "aggression" and setting its sights on joining the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.

Oleksander Turchynov, head of the national security council, told a session of the body that Ukraine saw Russian aggression as a "long-standing factor" and viewed NATO membership as "the only reliable external guarantee" of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Turchynov's comments and the move to draft a new security strategy were certain to raise hackles in Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 after a pro-Western leadership took power in Kiev in the wake of an uprising that ousted a Moscow-backed president.

Russian officials have said the radical change of leadership in Kiev raises the strategic threat of U.S. and NATO warships one day being based in the Black Sea waters off Crimea.

Moscow has backed separatists fighting Kiev government forces in eastern Ukraine, in a conflict in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.
Ukraine, at the center of a geo-political tug-of-war between Russia and the West, has grown close to the NATO alliance during the years since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

NATO has said membership is one day possible for Ukraine, but has declined to arm the Kiev government on the grounds that, as a non-member, it does not qualify for military help under NATO's collective defense rules.
The new military doctrine drawn up by the national security council will become policy once it has been endorsed by a decree from President Petro Poroshenko.

Washington warned Thursday it would not stand by while Tehran supports Shiite rebels in Yemen, as Iran’s supreme leader denounced Saudi-led air strikes in the country as “criminal acts” and compared them to Israel’s war with Gaza.

In the most direct American criticism yet of Tehran’s backing for the Shiite Houthi rebels, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not accept foreign interference in Yemen.

“There have been — there are, obviously — flights coming from Iran. Every single week there are flights from Iran and we’ve traced it and know this,” he told PBS television.

“Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries in other countries.”
Washington has backed the Saudi-led air campaign which began last month as the rebels advanced on Yemen’s main southern city of Aden after seizing Sanaa.

Russia’s ruble is advancing beyond any expectations, providing investors with an opportunity to invest in the nation’s economy, particularly, into governmental bonds.

The ruble advanced 12 percent this year after a dramatic slump of nearly 46 percent last year. The two main factors for the ruble’s depreciation at that point –  oil prices fell by 50 percent and the international sanctions against select Russian enterprises and individuals, limiting Russia’s ability to borrow in hard currencies.

Given the US dollar is rallying as well, the ruble’s advances are even more astonishing. The US dollar surpassed its three-week high on Friday, trading at 120.51 yen. The euro stands at $1.0637, nearing its recent lowest of $1.04. However, 1 dollar only buys some 52 rubles.

The main factor behind the ruble’s gains is that Russian assets have suddenly become increasingly profitable earlier this year. After a significant economic decline of late 2014, Russian assets and aggregated dollar-denominated costs of doing business became 50 percent cheaper on average.

That was enough for Russia’s economy to stabilize. Adding to that, hundreds of billions of investment capital ($170 billion per day early this week) started to flee China due to economic turmoil and Beijing’s unpredictability in regard to economic policies. A significant part of that money is going to Russia, among other destinations.

Capitalizing on these developments, Russia’s Finance Ministry announced the issue of 126 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) in government bonds this year. With the ruble advancing, it is high time to buy into these, as their value is bound to increase. The first response of the market has been optimistic thus far, consequently, Russia’s FM said they would exceed their 1 trillion ruble target in bonds issue this year.

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