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German Foreign Minister slams NATO’s ‘warmongering’ against Russia

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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticised recent military manoeuvres of NATO in Eastern Europe against Russia, accusing the military alliance of “warmongering”, and calling for more dialogues with Russia.

“What we shouldn’t do now is to inflame the situation further with loud saber-rattling and warmongering,” Xinhua news agency quoted Steinmeier as saying in an interview to a local newspaper.

“Anyone who believes that a symbolic tank parade on the eastern border of the alliance will bring more security is mistaken,” he said, “We are well advised not to create pretexts to renew an old confrontation.”

NATO launched a large-scale exercise in Poland on June 6. The two-week drill involved 31,000 troops, 14,000 of them from the United States.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced to deploy four multinational battalions to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Steinmeier warned that it would be “fatal to narrow the view to the military and to seek the tranquillity only through deterrence”. Instead, dialogues and cooperation were also needed.

“We must also enhance dialogues with our partners about the benefits of disarmament and arms control for security in Europe,” the top German diplomat said, adding that it was in people’s interests “to unite Russia in an international partnership of responsibility”.

Middle East

Putin warns against further actions violating UN charter

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Vladimir Putin

Moscow, April 16 : Further actions violating the UN charter such as the recent US-led strikes on Syria will result in chaos in international relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over phone on Sunday.

The two leaders condemned Saturday’s airstrikes by the US and its allies on Syria and agreed that it would hinder the process of a political settlement in the war-torn country, according to a Kremlin statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was stated that this illegal action seriously damages the prospects for a political settlement in Syria. Putin in particular stressed that if such actions, carried out in violation of the UN Charter, continue, it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the statement read.

The US, together with Britain and France, launched missile strikes on Syria on Saturday, saying that it was in response to an alleged chemical weapon attack by the Syrian military. The Syrian government has categorically denied the accusation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the same day held an emergency meeting over the missile attack at Russia’s request but failed to approve a resolution condemning the bombardment.

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New US sanctions rattle Russian stock market, ruble

One of the targets of the new round of US sanctions is Russia’s aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and his Rusal company, the world’s major primary aluminum producer.

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Russian stock market

Moscow, April 9 : New US sanctions imposed on major Russian businesses and their owners sent Russian stocks and the ruble, the country’s currency, sharply down on Monday, exchange data showed.

Russia’s benchmark RTS stock index was down 11.33 per cent at 04:20 p.m. According to data from Moscow Exchange, the ruble was at 59.11 against the dollar, down from $57.88 on Friday, after several months of relative stability, Xinhua reported.

The US Treasury announced on Friday it had imposed new sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and entities, including seven business leaders and 17 senior officials, for their alleged “malign activity” around the world.

As a result of the punishment, all assets of the designated persons and entities that are subject to US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.

One of the targets of the new round of US sanctions is Russia’s aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska and his Rusal company, the world’s major primary aluminum producer.

On Friday, Rusal issued a statement warning that the new sanctions may result in technical defaults, which pushed its stock down by nearly 50 per cent on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday. In Moscow its shares fell by more than 25 per cent by Monday afternoon.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with his deputies on Monday that the new sanctions were aimed at “promoting American commercial interests around the world in defiance of the current trade rules, contrary to the established order”.

“Of course, these decisions are unacceptable, and we consider them illegitimate, since they are generally outside the domain of international law,” Medvedev said, according to an official transcript of his remarks.

He said Russia reserved the right to respond, “including within existing trade agreements and procedures.”

Medvedev also asked the government to work out proposals on providing support to companies affected by the sanctions, including those in the metals, energy and defense sectors, as well as efficient measures in response to the US move.

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Russia expels more UK diplomats in spy poisoning row: Report

The UK blames Russia for the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on March 4 in Salisbury, southern England. But Moscow denies this.

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Russia ramps up diplomatic clash

Moscow, March 31 : Russia on Saturday told the UK that a total of more than 50 of its diplomats will have to leave, amid a deepening row over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil, according to a BBC report.

Moscow initially expelled 23 British diplomats in retaliation to the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats by London. But now the Russians were considering the expulsion of more British diplomats, the report said.

It said the UK and Russian diplomatic missions should be the same size in each country. The move means that at least another 27 UK officials will be sent home.

The report also said that some of the additional reduction could be made up by laying off local staff.

The UK blames Russia for the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on March 4 in Salisbury, southern England. But Moscow denies this.

On Friday, British Ambassador in Moscow, Laurie Bristow, was told that the UK had a month to cut its diplomatic mission in Russia to the same size as the Russian mission in Britain.

Some 150 Russian diplomats have been expelled by mainly Western countries as their governments have rallied behind Britain.

Russia initially hit back at the UK, but then announced 60 US expulsions. On Friday, it called in a string of foreign ambassadors with news that their own countries’ measures were being matched.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a warning over “a situation that is similar, to a large extent, to what we lived during the Cold War”.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Russia’s Transport Ministry demanded an official explanation over the alleged searching of an Aeroflot passenger plane by UK officials at London’s Heathrow airport on Friday.

“If there is no explanation, the Russian side will deem the actions towards our plane as illegal and also reserve the right to take similar action against British airlines,” it said in a statement.

The Russian Embassy in London accused the UK of improperly searching a Russian airplane and said it constituted a “provocation and a violation of international rules”.

“Today, we have witnessed another blatant provocation by the British authorities,” said a statement from the Embassy’s press office. “This kind of event is extraordinary.”

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