President Putin Orders Large-Scale Military Drills on Black Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly ordered a snap large-scale military exercise on Thursday as concerns persist over armed forces combat readiness.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin issued instructions to perform the exercise in the southern Black Sea region at 4:00 a.m.

The unscheduled exercise is the second in the space of two months and follows a major shake-up at the top of a military establishment demoralized by persistent evidence of rampant corruption.

The Black Sea exercise was set to involve up to 7,000 military personnel – including rapid deployment, airborne and special task forces – and more than 30 warships,according to RIA NOVOST.

Peskov said 36 warships would be drawn from Black Sea bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiisk and that some 250 combat armored vehicles would be used in the drill.

The exercise performed late last month involved the redeployment of an airborne regiment stationed in the central Ivanovo Region by 20 military transport helicopters to the Shagol airfield in the Urals.

Defense officials said 7,000 military personnel and hundreds of pieces of military hardware were ordered into action in the first non-routine check of its type in Russia in two decades.

Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov said the drill had exposed numerous shortcomings in preparedness among the armed forces.

Sergei Shoigu, a widely respected Putin ally until recently in charge of the Emergency Situations Ministry, was appointed defense minister in November amid hopes he would implement much-needed reforms.

R.S

Annan Calls for Political Solution to Crisis in Syria

GENEVA,(ST)_ Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for a political solution to the crisis in Syria , based on Geneva statement , concluded  last June.

Reuters quoted Annan as saying in a speech at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, "it is too late for a military intervention in Syria and arming opponents will not end the ongoing crisis since two years."

"I do not see a military intervention in Syria because it is too late and I'm not sure that such intervention will not result in further damage." Annan added.

He explained that he is  not confident that further militarization of the conflict would be the best way to help the Syrian people while "we find "non-Syrian people are  very keen to take up arms.

"I think as it is  too late, we should   find a way to pour water on the fire , rather then  fueling it " Annan stressed.

 

T. Fateh

Austria will not Withdraw from UNDOF

VIENNA,(ST)_Austria announced on Wednesday that it has  no intention to withdraw its members from the United Nations Deployment  Observer Force "UNDOF" in the Golan .

AFP quoted spokesman for the  Austrian Defense Ministry as saying "so far we did  not put up plans to reduce the number of our personnel" in the Golan.

Meantime,  UN spokeswoman Josephine Gerreror  said that additional vehicles and armored ambulances are on their way to the United Nations force in the Golan.

Earlier this month , one  armed terrorist group kidnapped twenty-one members of UNDOF   working in the Golan Heights , in an attack condemned by  Russia, the  UN Security Council and UN  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Worthy mentioning that UNDOF is made up of three countries: Austria, the Philippines and India.

T. Fateh

BRICS Summit Stresses Adherence to International Justice, Peace

DURBAN, (ST) – Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS Grouping) kicked off their summit on Wednesday in the South African capital Durban.

Opening the summit, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said that BRICS group enjoys a huge international presence and "we are looking forward toward attaining further cooperation to achieve more progress and development in our countries."

The Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed "we must adhere to international justice and peace in the light of the world challenges. We hope that everlasting peace and happiness will be attained to all people, so we need to enhance cooperation, and peace not violence and wars." 

The aim of the summit is to achieve integration, partnership and cooperation among BRICS countries on the one hand and between the BRICS Group and other countries of the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that working with BRICS countries is one of the Russian policy's priorities and that the group has to use its potentials to enhance its international position in the world.

He stressed the need to have more interaction with the United Nations and to hold a joint meeting to discuss ways of combatting terrorism in the world.

He expressed Russia support for joint BRICS projects, stressing that expanding dialogue in different domains will strongly push the group forward.

For his part, Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh said that BRICS states have been keen to tackle the challenges facing their cooperation, pointing out that the agreement on establishing BRICS development Bank has left the door widely opened for new prospects of cooperation.

"We have to work together to make political and economic reforms in the international institutions, particularly the UN Security Council, to help them be more qualified to reflect facts," Singh added.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said that BRICS countries constitute a big part of the world's population.

"We are strong enough to achieve distinguished presence in the international arena," she stressed.

H. Mustafa

Russia Offers S. Africa Help With Nuclear Power

Russia is ready to assist South Africa with construction of nuclear power plants (NPP) in the country, providing a line of credit if the project is implemented by Russian specialists, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday,according to RIA NOVOSTI.

Putin arrived in Durban on a two-day visit to attend the fifth BRICS summit with the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

“Russia is offering South Africa not only to help with construction of nuclear power reactors, but also with the creation of the advanced nuclear power industry, including the extraction of raw materials, construction of NPPs and research reactors, design and domestic production of nuclear power equipment with Russian credit support,” Putin said after talks with South African President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 5 percent of its electricity.

Government commitment to the future of nuclear energy is strong, with firm plans for further 9,600 MWe in the next decade, but financial constraints are severe, according to World Nuclear Association.

Overall, the Russian-South African summit on Tuesday produced a raft of cooperation agreements, including a joint declaration on strategic partnership.

The sides agreed to boost their bilateral trade, which reached almost $1 billion in 2012, Putin said.

“We are planning to set up a joint production of the Ansat light multipurpose helicopter. Talks are underway on the delivery of Russian-made MS-21 passenger planes to South Africa,” the Russian president said.

The joint declaration on strategic partnership includes a clause “on the expansion of cooperation in the military sphere, including military and military-technical cooperation in long-term perspective and other forms of interaction between the armed forces of the two countries.”

M.D

No intention for NATO to intervene militarily in Syria

BRUSSELS, (ST)_ NATO said on Tuesday it had no intention of intervening militarily in Syria .

"NATO has no intention to intervene militarily in Syria," a NATO official told Reuters.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed several times that NATO does not intend to intervene militarily in Syria and that a political solution is the right outlet to its crisis.

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that NATO does not intend to intervene militarily in Syria and will not provide Patriot missile batteries to armed terrorist groups.

AFP quoted spokesman for the White House Jay Carney as saying that "NATO will not provide Patriot missile batteries to protect the militants in Syria because those batteries is a military aid."

 

New York Times revealed on Tuesday that Arab countries and  Turkey increased significantly military assistance to these groups in Syria in recent months, with the help of the CIA through a  airlift of military equipment to these groups.

Earlier on Saturday , the US Wall Street Journal unveiled that the CIA trained terrorist groups in camps set up in Syria bordering countries.

 

T. Fateh

Brics nations meet to cement relationships

The humidity and sub-tropical rain in South Africa's port city of Durban is doing little to dampen the enthusiasm for the fifth Brics summit, the first time the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have met in Africa.

The grouping has come a long way since 2001, when the acronym was first coined by the then head of global economics for Goldman Sachs, Jim O'Neill.

The largest emerging economies represent 25.9% of the world's land mass, 43% of the population and 17% of global trade. The group also accounts for a quarter of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of purchasing power parity,according to the BBC.

Indeed, a recent report from the United Nations Development Programme states that "by 2020, the combined economic output of three leading developing countries alone - Brazil, China and India - will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the United States".

Enthusiasts will spend this week pointing to the latest woes of the Eurozone and the crisis in Cyprus, to give force to their argument that the fulcrum of world economics is changing and the Brics are at the center of that change.

"We've never seen the total realignment of global politics and economics the way we've seen in the last two to three years," says Abdullah Verachia from the consultants Frontier Advisory. "That's why this Brics grouping has become so influential."

Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, points out that the Brics are split over commodity prices. China and India, which import vast amounts of commodities, want lower prices. The exporters of Brazil, Russia and South Africa want higher prices.

There are also several other sources of tension between the Brics on trade issues.

Cheap imports from China into South Africa have been blamed for at least part of the decline in the country's manufacturing sector. South Africa itself has been taken to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a row over the import of Brazilian chickens. Regulations and bureaucratic red tape in India have also troubled its Brics partners.

"Making it easy to do business is certainly something that will assist in the growth of trade between the Brics countries," says Sunil Joshi, chief executive of Neotel, a South African telecoms company largely owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata.

"I think intellectually stimulating conversations will happen at the Brics Summit to enable that.

"We look forward to some of the progress being made in that space."

Location and cost

BRICS leaders at the 2012 BRICS Summit Brics leaders hope to build on progress made at last year's summit

One of the biggest conversations that is due to happen at the summit is about the possible foundation of a Brics bank.

There is a tremendous desire to set up a development bank that would aim to improve infrastructure within the Brics nations.

Part of this desire stems from a feeling of mistrust that the Brics, particularly China, have towards established structures such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

R.S

Syrians Demonstrated courage, Ability During Crisis- Saleh

 

MOSCOW,(ST)_ Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stressed  that dialogue is the best way to resolve the crisis in Syria, noting  that the Syrian opposition, led by the Muslim Brotherhood perceived  the dialogue in their own way and the Syrian regime is  legitimate  and wants to  dialogue with the opposition.

In an interview with (Russia Today)TV Channel Saleh said that  foreign agenda plays a role in Syria and the Syrians have demonstrated the ability and courage during  the crisis and  attempts of external interference met failure , especially  as terrorism in Syria escalated  with the assassination of scholar  Mohammed Saeed Ramadan Bouti in Damascus, considering that this  act is consistent with the common program of the Muslim Brotherhood when they bombed a Presidential palace mosque  in Sana'a and blew  al-Eman Mosque in Damascus while  world and the Syrians are watching.

"This is terrorism and not a political issue to solve the problem in  Syria,", the former Yemeni President said ,  stressing that " what is built, driven by external forces, whether minor or major powers, will not succeed."

He pointed out that the countdown to the so-called Arab Spring began, stressing that this Arab Spring failed because what is built on falsehood is false, besides it is a foreign external project.

The former Yemeni president called on replacing the Arab League by Union of Arab countries, pointing out that such a change is the hope of many Arab generations.

T. Fateh