|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russians Intensify Balkans Diplomacy on Energy
Feb. 26 (EIRNS)Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Gazprom chairman of the board Dmitri Medvedev (now President of Russian, following the March 2 elections) were in Belgrade yesterday for talks with the Serbian leadership on the Kosovo issue, and to sign a partnership agreement between Gazprom and its Serbian counterpart, Srbijagas. That comes in the context of Russia's design for a Balkans on-land extension of the planned underwater gas pipeline, South Stream, which will cross the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria. The visit was a return visit to the one made to Moscow, Jan. 25, by Serbia's President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, for talks with outgoing President Vladimir Putin and Medvedev, as well as finalization of Gazprom's takeover of 51% in Serbia's oil firm NIS.
After the trip, Medvedev said the project was "particularly important as regards the situation in Serbia today," and was "essentially an element of our moral, material, and economic aid to the state." Lavrov and Medvedev reiterated support for the Serbian view on the Kosovo issue, while also reiterating Russia's policy of non-interference.
The Russian delegation went on to Hungary, yet another EU member that is preparing to join the South Stream project. It is planned to transport 10 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually across the Black Sea, with first deliveries scheduled for 2013. South Stream is built by Gazprom and Italy's ENI, and is a rival project to the Nabucco pipeline backed by the EU and U.S., which will pump Central Asian gas to Europe via Turkey, bypassing Russia. Nabucco, which is due to go on line by 2011, will involve Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. The latter three, however, getting frustrated over the slow progress of the Nabucco, have decided to take part in South Stream simultaneously.
LaRouche's Reply to Ivashov Published in Russian
Feb. 23 (EIRNS)Lyndon LaRouche's essay "Reply to General Ivashov: A World System in Collapse!" began circulating in Russian today, which happens to be the Armed Forces Day national holiday in Russia. The article, which was published in EIR of Feb. 8, was written in response to a January article by Gen. Leonid G. Ivashov, former Russian Defense Ministry official and now president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, titled "Hooray for the Global Crisis!" Ivashov, citing LaRouche on the systemic nature of the financial/economic breakdown, suggested that the United States lacked the sovereign capability to put its economy through bankruptcy. LaRouche replied that the entire planet is in the grip of a general breakdown-crisis, from which no nation or group of nations might escape, if any one of the major nations, including the U.S.A., were to succumb to fascism and barbarism. LaRouche describes the origins of the oligarchic forces which got the world into the present untenable situation, and explains how the crisis can be solved, with a new international fixed-exchange-rate monetary system and the creation of credit for specific major, long-term development projects, within and among nations, in a nested set of agreements labelled "the common aims of mankind."
The Russian translation of this reply first appeared last night on the Kiev-based analytical site strateger.net. Today it is featured on anti-glob.ru, site of Russia's Anti-Globalist Resistance Movement, with the kicker, "There is no argument about the existence of the catastrophe; the debate is only over how to get out of it: LaRouche replies to Ivashov."
Russian Railways To Purchase Track, Equipment from Mechel
Feb. 26 (EIRNS)In its first domestic contract with a supplier other than Yevrazholding steel giant, the state-owned company Russian Railways has signed a deal with OAO Mechel, another mining and metals company, to supply rails and equipment for its railroad expansion plans. Mechel will build a modern rail and structural steel mill at Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant over the next two years, adding annual capacity of over 1.0 million tons of high-quality steel products. The new equipment will enable Mechel to manufacture, among other products, rails up to 100 meters in length, using state-of-the-art technologies for steel melting, rolling, tempering, straightening, finishing, and rail quality control. Technical solutions will enable manufacturing products that surpass their world analogues in a number of key parameters, which are determined by the climate conditions of the rail service in Russia.
Rail manufacturing volume for Russian Railways will be up to 400,000 tons annually and include products specifically designed for high-speed operation, enhanced durability and contact wear resistance, and for operation in a low temperature environment. Railway construction in Russia is still hindered by a large deficit in quality rails. Mechel came forward with an initiative of mastering and implementing, at its Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant subsidiary, a unique technology, to produce high-quality rails up to 100 meters in length, conforming to the most stringent requirements. The company plans to invest more than $500 million in the new production development.