UPDATE 3-Russia cuts stake in diamond miner Alrosa in $1.6 bln share sale
But Ward says that flow of arms hasn’t begun, and the rebels who begged for the help for two years are now “highly skeptical” of their purported allies in the West. Russia, on the other hand, has been remarkably consistent in its approach to the Syrian conflict. President Bashar Assad counts the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin as his most valuable ally. Russia has defended the Assad regime at every turn from the threat of harsh punitive sanctions. It was Russia that ensured the new U.N. resolution aimed at ridding Syria of chemical weapons includes no automatic use-of-force clause should Damascus fail to live up to its end of the bargain. But Rice, the former top U.S. diplomat and a long-time Russia scholar, says that in spite of the appearance that Putin is looking out for a close ally, he really has the interest of only one nation in mind. “Putin understands his interests very well,” says Rice. “He is interested in Russia, not in Assad, not in the Syria situation. And I give him credit; he’s done a fantastic job of making Russia the center of this story.” And while the U.S. and Russia may have been able to see eye-to-eye to pass the chemical weapons resolution, when it comes to the final outcome of Syria’s civil war, “our interests and Russia’s interests are not the same,” notes Rice. Meanwhile, as the U.N.-mandated inspectors embark on their mission to remove the threat of chemical weapons from Assad’s arsenal — with the Syrian government’s blessing — Palmer says it’s important to remember that “they haven’t given away any of the main tools they’re using to wage this war.” “Syria is giving away chemical weapons it was using minimally, if at all,” says Palmer. “The Assad regime is using conventional weapons against own people.” More than 110,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, and the vast majority of them have died on the wrong end of bombs, guns and rockets, not chemical warheads. There’s very little in the way of a serious diplomatic initiative right now — at least not an initiative that both sides would consider — to end that killing.
Russia 2018: ‘We have nothing to hide’ in World Cup bid investigation
The security measures are aimed not only at making the Games safe but also ensuring a comfortable environment, said Alexei Lavrishchev, a spokesman for the FSB, as the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB is known in Russian. The city wont become a concentration camp, Lavrishchev told reporters in Moscow today. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, who has claimed responsibility for three of Russias deadliest terror attacks, released a video in July calling on Islamic militants to target the February Games. He urged insurgents to do your utmost to derail these satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors. Umarov claimed responsibility for organizing the January 2011 suicide bombing at Moscows Domodedovo Airport that killed 37 people. The self-styled emir of a pan-North Caucasus Islamic state also said he planned the attacks on the capitals subway system by female suicide bombers in March 2010 that killed 40 people and the November 2009 bombing of the Nevsky Express train between Moscow and St. Petersburg that killed 28. President Vladimir Putin stepped up security in the North Caucasus region near the Black Sea after two ethnic Chechen brothers became suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing in April. Russia is collaborating with the law-enforcement agencies of more than 80 countries to identify possible threats to the Games, and some of these states will send intelligence agents to Sochi during the event, Lavrishchev said. Syrian Threat Putin this year accepted a proposal by U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, whose country hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics, to have their respective special services cooperate on security in Sochi. Russia is working to neutralize the risk of Russian militants returning from the conflict in Syria to target the Olympics, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview in June. Putin that month said at least 600 militants from Russia and European countries are fighting against President Bashar al-Assads forces in Syria. Russia has spent more than $50 billion on preparations for the competition, the most ever for a Winter Games. To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at email@example.com More News:
Whether Russia is equally determined not to compete with the United States in the strategically vital region is in question, however, Arab analysts say. Saudi Arabia, the regions strongest Arab power and Washingtons staunchest Arab ally, is deeply suspicious of Russias maneuvering and is convinced that Moscow is engaged in an effort to outwit the United States at Riyadhs expense, said Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. The overtures between the United States and Iran , a close Moscow ally, further reinforce anxieties in Riyadh and other Persian Gulf capitals that Russia is seeking to eclipse the U.S. role in the region, Alani said. The view is that Russia is looking at the whole problem in the Middle East from the old position of the Cold War, he said. Wherever America is, they have to spoil the game. They dont have any principles. Their only policy is to counter the Americans. That is not the case, said Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Moscow-based Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. Rather, Lukyanov said in an e-mail, it is Saudi Arabia and its gulf allies that are trying to play great games themselves . . .
Russia seeks to fill vacuum in the Middle East
Qatar 2022: Too hot for football? Winter World Cup in 2022? Are Qatar 2022 migrant workers abused? Qatar ‘slave state’ for World Cup workers The head of media for Russia 2018 says the committee will co-operate fully with Garcia’s fact-finding investigation. “We can confirm the local organizing committee (LOC) will fully support Mr Garcia’s work if he contacts us,” read a statement issued to CNN. “The Russia 2018 committee ran a bid campaign in full compliance with FIFA rules and ethics, and we were awarded the right to host the FIFA World Cup because of the unique and compelling proposition we put together. “The LOC continues to conduct itself with exactly the same degree of transparency, commitment to excellence and spirit of fair play.” Blog: Can the Qatar World Cup be moved? How and where Garcia’s potential meeting with Russia takes place is open to question given in April he was one of 18 people barred from entering the country over what Moscow said were human rights abuses, linked to the lawyer’s arrest and charging of Viktor Bout, a Russian, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S. for arms trafficking. News of Garcia’s investigation came ahead of FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich on Thursday and Friday where it will discuss the possibility of moving the 2022 tournament from the usual June and July slot to December. “I will conduct interviews in various places and I hope that those who have some information, even if they are not obliged to give me some, will agree to talk to me,” Garcia told France Football magazine. “My goal is to submit a report that covers the World Cup bidding and awarding process.” Read: FIFA puts heat on Qatar FIFA’s decision to award Qatar the 2022 tournament has been particularly criticized, with many suggesting the oppressive heat in the Gulf state makes staging the World Cup there impractical and dangerous. Moving the competition from the northern hemisphere summer to winter could present a number of problems to the sport’s major leagues and major broadcasters. “Deals were signed for a summer World Cup,” Fox Sports reporter Leander Schaerlaeckens told France Football. In 2011, Fox Sports agreed to pay a record $425 million for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
Olympics Won’t Be Held Hostage to Terror Threats, Russia Says
Following the sale, Russia’s federal and regional governments will own 43.9 percent and 25 percent respectively. A STRATEGIC ASSET Alrosa’s main assets are located in Yakutia in Russia’s Far East, a remote region of tundra and forest, and the country’s largest province, also a repository of large deposits of natural resources from oil and gas to gold and coal. Alrosa has long been seen as a strategic asset by Russian and regional governments, complicating the approval of a share sale, which is much needed as the company seeks to invest in its mines and equipment. The company itself has said it is ready for a public offering, and banking sources said last month the share sale was set for October. The sale is part of a $50 billion, multi-year drive to dispose of state assets that was launched in 2010 by reformist former finance minister Alexei Kudrin. The privatisation plans have been only partially implemented in a faltering global economy, and in June the government cut its target. Last week, Alrosa also sold its gas assets to Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft for $1.4 billion, meaning the company is now purely focused on diamond mining. Alrosa will be one of very few pure listed diamond miners – its nearest rival is London-listed Petra Diamonds, with a market capitalisation of less than $1 billion – but it could remain out of reach for many, as it will be listed in Moscow. That will also complicate comparisons for investors. Societe Generale analyst Sergei Donskoy said that assuming a valuation of $9 to $10 billion, and assuming the company’s net debt will decrease to slightly less than $2 billion by the end of 2013 from current $3 billion, the company’s EV/EBITDA at such an equity valuation would be around 5 times. That is below 2014 valuations for the precious metals and diversified miners, but above the average for the diamond sector of 3.5 times, according to Nomura and based on consensus estimates.