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Member since: Tue Feb 7, 2017, 12:49 PM
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Russian "Observation Flight" over WSMR (New Mexico) took place this afternoon...

I found this both interesting and worthy of concern...
especially when considering that WSMR (White Sands Missile Range) is one of only 2 places in the US that has control over their own airspace.

As far as I know, the flight is authorized by the 2002 Open Skies treaty, which allows the U.S., Russia and 32 other countries to conduct unarmed observation flights.
The primary reason for the flights
Is to verify compliance with arms control agreements.

That seems reasonable under normal circumstances...
but these flights apparently take priority over other airspace activities, which is not a problem in most places because the only airspace activities are commercial, private, & military air traffic....

However, WSMR has exclusive control over their airspace because it is used for missions (of all security classification levels) involving experimentation, test, research, assessment, development, and training for Army, Navy, Air Force, DoD, and other domestic and allied customers.
Which means pretty much all activities must stop for a large window of time to accommodate the observation fly over..... which is exactly what took place while I was there today.

Seems to me that this "observation flight" authorization could easily be used/abused not only in order to
disrupt the testing activities at WSMR...
But to
have a legitimate excuse to be in US airspace in order to use that access for nefarious purposes or to conduct shady business .....

According to an article on another Russian observation flight in April

There were also US & Canadian personnel on board the April flight to act as chaparones....
but that was a 2 day flight that actually stopped at Robbins AFB....
And it was not clear as to why Canada was also on board....
Or if all observation flights are 2 day flights that stop over at designated bases...

But, of course, the rules stated in treaties no longer have value, meaning nor enforcement expectations so *45 could decide to allow these "observation flights" to be conducted personally by Vlad in any plane of his choice... provided *45
1. gets to ride along
2. Gets to wear the pilot's hat
3. Gets his very own Russian pilots' wings pinned on his shirt....

Vlad's intro/speech at 2017 SPIEF Russian-American Business Session June 2, 2017

Here is a transcript of Vlad's opening speech at the Russian -American Business Session of this year's (2017) St Petersburg International Economic Forum (june 1-3)...

Just for reference... to gain insight into how the narrative surrounding the lifting of Sanctions will likely be framed...,...

The man introducing Vlad is Viktor Vekselberg-- VV is an Oligarch who made lots of Rubles in the privatization of ROSNEFT... along with his partners Mikhail Fridman (Alfa Bank & Vimpelcom), and Len Blavatnik (Ukranian American - owns ACCESS -- big money donations to KGOP in 2016 (McConnell I think)

Vekelsberg runs the Russian Silicon Valley - Skolkovo and his private businesses are known as RENOVA Group.... 4th wealthiest man in Russia
He maintains residences in both Russia and NewYork County, New York....

Vladimir Putin took part in the Russia–USA Business Dialogue panel discussion. The event was held as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Renova Group Viktor Vekselberg:
Mr President, allow me on behalf of all participants in the Russia-US Business Dialogue to thank you for taking part in this meeting and to brief you on our discussions.

First, I would like to say that the US delegation at this year’s St Petersburg Forum is the largest ever, which probably came as a surprise for many of us. More than 300 people represent various US companies and businesses at this Forum.

In terms of the discussions we had and the conclusions we came to, I do not think you will be surprised since participants in this discussion from both sides were adamant in calling for stepping up business ties, saying that they all firmly believe in the lasting benefits of cooperation and the complementarity of Russian and US businesses. They also supported various cooperation and collaboration frameworks, especially in areas dealing with new challenges for the global economy alongside traditional ones. I am referring to IT-related challenges. Russia and the USA have extensive expertise, making it extremely important to promote cooperation in this area, as was pointed out during today’s meeting.

To conclude, the business community spoke out in single voice in the hope that solutions at the political level will pave the way for improving and further promoting our economic relations.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking both the Russian and American organisers of this event. It is a pleasure for me to welcome you all.

I would like to thank our American friends for coming to this event. Mr Vekselberg has already mentioned the unfortunate state of US-Russian and Russian-US relations.

Of course, as influential world powers, Russia and the US have been keeping the dialogue alive in various multilateral formats, including the UN, the Group of Twenty, which will soon meet in Germany, as well as within APEC and other frameworks, and have continued to cooperate on key global and regional matters. There is no getting away from it, and it is so much better that this process carries on.

However, it has to be recognised that it took decades to lay the groundwork for cooperation that was all but annihilated over the past few years. Our bilateral relations deteriorated to their lowest point since the Cold War.

This could not fail to affect the economy and our business ties. Bilateral trade was modest to begin with, but in 2014–2016 it decreased by 30 percent.

From a realistic, pragmatic perspective, neither Russian, nor American businesses can be satisfied with a situation where mutually beneficial projects are being curtailed. Of course, taking into account the modest trade volumes, this could be viewed as having little importance. However, once we factor in the missed opportunities, it turns out that this was harmful for everyone. In this regard, let me stress that only solid trade and investment ties can ensure a reliable safety net from political oscillations.

Even in the most challenging periods of history, when our two countries represented different political and ideological systems, the United Stated always remained an important trade partner for us. This was case in the early days of the Soviet state, when US businesses contributed to the industrialisation effort. This was also the case with the lend-lease programme during the Second World War. By the way, modern Russia completely paid off its debt under this programme.

Americans are good businesspeople. When they saw big money in Russia with the rise of oil and gas prices, they asked for lend-lease debts to be paid back. We did not want to be greedy, and paid them back. We all have to keep this in mind. Incidentally, we also paid back all of the debts contracted by the Soviet Union, including those of all the former Soviet republics. Russia assumed all these debts and paid them off.

Still, even in the 1970s and 1980s, during the Cold War, we cooperated with the United States.

Today major US companies continue to operate in Russia and to maintain a notable presence on the Russian market. There are about 3,000 firms with American capital in Russia. The total assets of these enterprises amount to about $75 billion, and they employ over 180,000 people.

Interestingly, the delegation of US business representatives is one of the most representative at this forum. Mr Vekselberg mentioned this, and I would even go further and say that almost a quarter of all foreign companies registered with the forum come from the United States, 144 out of 511. This, by the way, is a record number.

To reiterate, our economic interaction with the United States is balanced and diversified, and focuses on technology-intensive projects. The ongoing projects are in good shape, in general. Thus, from 2014 to 2016, the share of innovative products in Russia’s total exports to the United States fluctuated between 9.7 and 14 percent.

Exports of high-tech services, such as space transport, information technologies, engineering and scientific designs, amounted to about $900 million in 2015, or about one-third of our total exports of services to the US market.

We intend to promote in every possible way bilateral business projects based on equal and constructive partnership and cooperation. We are interested in technology transfers and bringing in international firms to help us expand our domestic industry and infrastructure.

We operate on the premise that such mutually beneficial joint initiatives will contribute to the success of the work we are doing in Russia to step up socioeconomic development, and help us establish on our territory the production of competitive world-class products with a view to exporting them to third countries. Of course, we will do our best to make this business in Russia lucrative for our American partners.

It is good to know that the business communities of the two countries continue to maintain close contacts. Today’s meeting is a good example of this. Last year as well, Russian and US business associations organised several events and roundtable discussions, including those at the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

I believe that improved bilateral relations will benefit both countries. We will continue the dialogue on this with the new US President, Mr Trump, and the new Administration.

However, success requires serious efforts on both sides. It also takes political will and a willingness to solve problems of mutual practical interest.

I hope that today’s discussion, your initiatives and specific considerations contribute to forming a favourable environment for expanding this complicated task in order to restore trust and constructive dialogue.

Mr Vekselberg said that many things in business, cooperation and the economy depend on political dialogue. I want to pass this puck to you. Help us restore a good political dialogue. I am asking you on behalf of Russia. I am addressing our American counterparts. Help the newly elected President and the new administration of the United States.

We agreed that I will not participate in your discussion now because there will be a large panel session later. There will be similar questions and similar answers. I would not like to repeat myself and undercut interest in the main event.

I would like to thank all of you for being here today and for thinking, in this direct discussion, about how we can move forward.

Thank you very much and good luck.

Source www.kremlin.ru

Sanctions Lifted and ???? A New World Economy

I put together some info earlier this year... as a way to get a feel for the big picture, so to speak.
Since the slivers of information and disinformation which have been fed to us through the media are always spun to a certain degree, I thought it might be best to seek out sources of information that were reflective of Russia's geopolitical aspirations rather than Trump /US political happenings.

My intention is simply to provide those interested with the info I found ...so that each may evaluate the info/resources & arrive at their own conclusions as to the value.

I think visually... so, I initially organized the info graphically and then tried to summarize it in writing, which is pasted below.
I have also included a link to the entire document, which contains the graphics, resource list, and the 2 pgs of written info pasted here:

It has become increasingly apparent that Putin desires more than just the lifting of a few sanctions. Otherwise, it would not be necessary to fill Trump's cabinet with high profile international players while simultaneously eliminating existing departmental staff who possess the knowledge and experience to keep things running smoothly.

The risks associated with this approach are not justified by a need simply to lift sanctions which were created by executive order and will automatically expire in 2018 by simply taking no action at all.

I do not doubt that there are plenty of other countries that are willing to generously reward those who facilitate various actions they desire....

but assuming that the Steele dossier*** is even remotely accurate in the assertion that Putin is willing to trade a portion of Rosneft for the facilitation of his requests, then there must be more on his wish list than just the lifting of sanctions. What that list might entail is difficult to determine with certainty, but it is likely that clues can be found by reviewing the topics of discussion from the most recent (2016) St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

I fully acknowledge that the following observations are overly simplistic and likely far from representing the true breadth and depth of what Putin will need from the USA in order to achieve his vision of a world economy in which a
Russian led "Great Eurasian" flexible integration alliance serves as one of the centers of the new "wide integration contour".
(Putin 2016 SPIEF. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/52178)

However, the timely lifting of sanctions will be critical if Putin truly believes his own assertion that

"Common energy, oil and gas and financial markets will emerge by 2025."

(Putin 2016 SPIEF. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/52178)

***If the 19.5% of Rosneft is in fact the proposed reward to be shared by the Trump Team, then it is important to note that the bank that has financed the purchase /sale is Intesa SanPaolo which is partnered with Blackstone GSO Capital. The founder/CEO of Blackstone is Steve Schwarzman - who is also the head of Trump's Business Advisory Council.

Based on the recent 19.5% sale for $ 10.2b (euros), the current value of Rosneft is roughly $50 billion (euros).

Since the imposing of sanctions in 2014, Rosneft has continued to acquire exploration/exploitation rights as part of its Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Exxon while also acquiring additional fields, refineries, pipelines, ports, facilities and equipment strategically located worldwide.

2014 Exxon had exploration /exploitation rights to 63.7 million acres in Russia*

Sanctions halted Arctic drilling but did not prohibit acquisition of rights for future projects
Exxon holdings w/ OAO Rosneft include
* Laptev & Chukchi Seas
* Kara & Black Seas

These rights have expiration dates from 2017 -2023 and are to planned to begin contribution in 2020
Kara & Black Seas will cost estimated $350billion to develop.

Exxon's technological capability and situational expertise in dealing with difficult drilling processes is required in order to effectively access the quantities of oil necessary to position Rosneft as a long-term major source of oil/gas worldwide.

In anticipation of the US 2014 imposed sanctions either expiring (2018) or being lifted,
Rosneft has developed a portfolio of strategically located facilities which will serve as a highly efficient logistical network for global production and distribution activities.

If no action is taken to lift the sanctions, the 2014 sanctions are set to automatically expire in 2018.

Legislation has been introduced (S. 94) which includes a provision, to be in effect for a 10 year period, codifying the existing sanctions and requiring congressional approval to rescind/modify the codified sanctions.
However, it would likely be vetoed by Trump & would then require a supermajority vote to override the veto.
More info regarding Russia's Wish List at

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