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EU extends Russian sanctions – but rift widens with Tillerson appointment

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Russian sanctions: As widely anticipated, European Union leaders last week voted to extend economic sanctions against Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine for a further six months. There were, however, signs of a rift beginning to emerge between some East European countries – led by Poland (more…)

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Tillerson ready to question sanctions as Merckel and Hollande back extension

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex TillersonTillerson: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande yesterday put their collective weight behind a six-month extension of the package of economic sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea nearly three years ago; but the long-term future of the strategy is looking increasingly uncertain in the light of Donald Trump’s choice of Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State. Tillerson has long been known to have a good personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to be sceptical about the efficacy of the sanction strategy and this week claims have also emerged in several US media outlets that he had visited the White House more than 20 times in an effort to ensure that his company was not put at a competitive disadvantage by the manner in which the sanctions were imposed. The oil chief was said to be concerned that European nations might not apply the restrictions as strictly as the US. (more…)

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Crunch time looms for Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream2 pipesThe future of Gazprom’s plans to lay a second 1,200km long pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea – Nord Stream 2 – should become clearer next week, with EU officials due to decide on Monday if it will ease restrictions (more…)

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Putin extends EU food embargo

EU food import banEU food embargo: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning imports of Western food products until the end of 2017, according to a posting on the Kremlin’s website. The move comes after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed (more…)

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Brexit expected put brakes on India-EU FTA negotiations

Indian Commerce Secretary Rita TeaotiaBrexit: UK’s vote to leave the EU is expected to delay Indian attempts to establish a free trade agreement (FTA) with Brussels which have been under negotiation for the best part of a decade. It is also likely to have an impact on its talks over a similar deal with (more…)

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Juncker confirms attendance at next month’s St. Petersburg Forum

EU President Jean-Claude JunckerBoth Moscow and Brussels have confirmed that the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker will attend Russia’s St. Petersburg Forum next month where he is expected to meet President Putin. It will be the first visit to Russia by the head of an EU institution since the annexation of Crimea, and will come (more…)

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US calls on EU to hold fire on Nord Stream 2 to assess security risks

US special energy representative Amos HochsteinUS officials have urged the EU not to rush into the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany and to “take a break” in order to assess the energy and national security risks. “We do not believe that this is a commercial project, quite the contrary,” (more…)

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Mogherini leads EU delegation to Iran on mission to boost commercial ties

Federica Mogherini in Tehran April 2016A high-level delegation of eight European Commissioners led by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has arrived in Tehran to discuss the strengthening of energy and industrial ties with Iran. The Islamic Republic has (more…)

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Russian-EU trade down as Switzerland pushes its way into top three

EU and RussiaRussian-EU trade: The volume of trade flowing from Russia to the EU dropped down to 6% of the incoming total last year, according to figures released by Eurostat this week, pushing Russia out of the bloc’s top three trading partners. It now (more…)

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Gazprom agrees to sell off Latvjias Gaze to comply with EU restrictions

Latvijas Gaze flagGazprom has agreed to sell its 34% share in Latvia’s natural gas distributor Latvijas Gaze in its first gesture of compliance with the European Union’s Third Energy Package directive which bans energy companies from combining their generation and sale operations with ownership of transmission networks. 
The Latvian company (more…)

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EU ready to extend Russian sanctions

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry RogozinRussian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry KozakRussian Presidential aide Vladislav SurkovRussian sanctions: The European Union will extend sanctions against almost 150 Russian officials and pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine and continue an asset freeze on 16 people accused of misappropriating Ukrainian state funds under former President Viktor Yanukovych, diplomats said Wednesday.The decision (more…)

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EU delegation to visit Iran to discuss Southern Gas Corridor

EU Commissioner Climate and Energy Miguel Arias CaneteSouthern Gas Corridor: The EU is to make its first “technical assessment mission” to Iran next month, its Commissioner for Climate and EnergyMiguel Arias Canete said this week, as Brussels looks for new potential sources of nuclear, oil, gas and renewable energy. The mission (more…)

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EC Commissioner Malmstrom pledges to suspend tripartite FTA talks

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalmstromEC Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has written to Kiev assuring the government there that she will suspend negotiations with the Kremlin about the future of the Ukrainian Free Trade Area (FTA) if Russia imposes trade restrictions on its western neighbour.
“I want to say very clearly that if the Russian Federation suspends the CIS agreement on free trade, … it will be impossible … to continue the tripartite negotiation process,” she wrote. “For my part, I can confirm that the EU will continue to support Ukraine and will be ready to support the implementation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area and the related process of reform.” Her assurances come after Russia promised to exclude Ukraine from the CIS FTA once it entered into a similar agreement with the EU on January 1.
Moscow has also declared its intention to instigate court action against Kiev for defaulting on its €3bn eurobond repayments which came due yesterday.

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Russia to go ahead with Ukraine food embargo after tripartite talks fail

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry MedvedevUkraine food embargo: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday gave the go-ahead for an embargo on Ukrainian food and other trade sanctions to be imposed from the beginning of next month after efforts by Brussels to head off Russian retaliation against the forthcoming introduction of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine broke down. The collapse of Monday’s tripartite mediation talks coincided (more…)

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EU hosts tripartite talks to tackle Russia’s suspension of Ukraine FTA

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalmstromRussian Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukaev

Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo KlimkinUkraine FTA: Russia, the European Union and Ukraine are scheduled to hold talks in Brussels today which are widely been viewed as (more…)

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Russia suspends FTA with Ukraine as EU agreement looms

Yatsenyuk and MerckelPresident Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia’s four-year-old FTA with Ukraine from the beginning of next year, it announced through its website yesterday. The suspension of the pact was triggered by (more…)

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Russian food shortages loom, government body warns

EU food import banRussian food shortages: Russia could face a deficit of meat and dairy products next year as a direct result of its retaliatory embargo on food and raw materials imports from the EU, according to a report from the state-owned Audit Chamber, which is warning (more…)

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EU relaxes sanctions against Belarus

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko

Mark III Photonics : Shutterstock.com

The European Union has suspended the bulk of its sanctions against Belarus, including an asset freeze and a travel ban on longtime President Alexander Lukashenko, in the bloc’s biggest push yet to improve ties with the Minsk government. The decision, which was widely anticipated, follows October’s elections in Belarus and recent decisions by authorities to release a number of political prisoners. The move builds on hopes that Mr. Lukashenko is seeking closer ties with Western countries to balance the leverage Russia has in Minsk.
In total, the EU will suspend sanctions on 170 people and three entities for four months. The decision will take effect Saturday. If the sanctions aren’t reimposed at the end of the period by all 28 member states, the sanctions will be completely dropped.
The EU is keeping in effect its arms ban and its prohibition on the export of equipment for internal repression to Belarus. It is also maintaining the asset freeze and travel ban against four people the

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EU backs Azerbaijan WTO accession efforts

WTOAzerbaijan WTO accession: The European Union is ready to make every effort to help Azerbaijan through the WTO accession process, the EU’s press office said on Friday.
Azerbaijan applied (more…)

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EU and China team up for 5G development

Gunther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the digital economy and society.

EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger

In what is being hailed as a ‘milestone’, the EU and China have signed an agreement committing both parties to collaborate in the development of 5G telecommunications systems.
“Both parties are committed to reciprocity and openness in terms of access to 5G networks research funding, market access as well as in membership of Chinese and EU 5G associations,” the EU said in a press release released today.
Under the terms of the agreement, (more…)

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