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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Liveblog Day 128: Russian Senators Follow Putin's Instructions to Revoke 'Right' to Deploy Army to Ukraine

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Crisis Changing The Way Europe Views NATO

NATO expansion is often cited by Russia as the reason for the need for a more aggressive foreign policy. In fact, however, NATO has largely shifted units out of eastern Europe and the defense spending by most NATO members has been steadily declining, as this chart from the CATO Institute illustrates:

201003_blog_preble261.jpg

John Kerry has spoken at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels today. The general theme -- while NATO is not a threat to Russia, Russia's actions in Ukraine prove that NATO nations need to take seriously the external threats that they face. One way to do this is to increase defense spending, something which has slipped in recent years in Europe:

As Secretary General Rasmussen has said, Russia’s recent moves in Ukraine served as a wakeup call. As our economies begin to grow again, a strong NATO requires defense spending by all, and President Obama is committed that the United States will do its part, and he has asked Congress for an additional $1 billion for defense spending in Europe.

As we head to the Wales summit, every ally spending less than 2 percent of their GDP needs to dig deeper and make a concrete commitment to do more. And all you have to do is look at a map in order to understand why – Ukraine, Iraq, Syria – all threats to peace and to security, and they surround the region.

(Kerry's comments and responses to questions can be read here.)

The comments were generally received positively by NATO allies it seems:

These tweets were retweeted by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Estonia has been a NATO member since 2004.
NATO expansion is often cited by Russia as the reason for the need for a more aggressive foreign policy
Russia, of course, views things differently.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Moves MiG-29 Squadron to Ukrainian Border

UNIAN reports that Vladimir Chepovoy, the secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), has told a briefing today that Russia has relocated a squadron of MiG-29 fighters to Millerovo, close to the Ukrainian border.

UNIAN reports (translated by The Interpreter):

"A squadron of MiG-29 fighters has arrived at the town of Millerovo in the Rostov oblast of the Russian Federation, which lies 30 km from the state border with Ukraine," said Chepovoy.

In addition, he stated that the Russian air force had stepped up reconnaissance flights along the border. 

"Russian aircraft are being observed on reconnaissance missions along the Ukraino-Russian border, within the range of the Lugansk oblast," he said.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Says Russia Controlling Separatist Militants

Interfax-Ukraine reports that Yevhen Perebiynis, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, has clearly implicated Russia in the conflict in Ukraine's south-east. He also said that Russian officials were directly coordinating hostage taking, including the kidnapping of two OSCE observer groups.

Interfax-Ukraine report (translated by The Interpreter):

The militants acting in eastern Ukraine are financed, controlled and supported by Russia, and a large portion of them are citizens of that country, said the director of the Foreign Ministry's Information Department, Yevhen Perebiynis.

"It is with Russian weapons, which freely and (there are good reasons to speak of this) under the auspices of the Russian authorities, find their way in large quantities into eastern Ukraine, that the terrorists are killing Ukrainian soldiers and civilians", said Perebiynis at a briefing on Wednesday.

According to him, the activities of the militants are controlled from Russia. "In fact, Russian officials are giving commands to the militants on when, where and how to capture or release hostages, including observers from international organisations," said the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Praviy Sektor Seizes Oil Refinery in Kirovohrad

Interfax-Ukraine reports that members of Praviy Sektor have taken control of an oil refinery in the central region of Kirovohrad today. 

Praviy Sektor claimed that their members had seized the Dolynsky Oil Refinery due to suspicions that the company was financing separatist fighters.

Interfax-Ukraine reports (translated by The Interpreter):

"The enterprise belongs to structures close to the "family" of Yanukovych, an MP from the Party of Regions, Ruslan Tsyplakov, who has fled to Moscow and whose brother, Sergei, is one of the leaders of the 'DNR' terrorist organistion," said the announcement.

Praviy Sektor mentioned that the refinery was brought under their control after they received reports from its staff on the use of company funds to finance terrorist networks in eastern Ukraine.

As has been reported, Ruslan Tsyplakov was the motorsport partner of Viktor Yanukovych (son of the former president).

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
What Sanctions? Russian RTS The Third Best Performing Index In The World

In February and March there was a logic at play that nearly every politician, pundit, and economist subscribed to -- Russia's economy was vulnerable, Russian interference in Ukraine tanked Russia's already fragile stock indexes, and market pressure alone could change Putin's behavior, especially if they were further encouraged to do so by international sanctions.

Crimea has been annexed, there's strong evidence that Russia has now sent tanks into eastern Ukraine, and despite the Kremlin's rhetoric the separatists are still on the attack and Russian troops are just across the border to pressure Ukraine into not using its full military force to counter the threat.

So how are's Russia's markets doing? They're outperforming most of the rest of the world. Financial Times reports:

Over the past three months, Russia’s RTS index has been the third best-performing exchange worldwide, having risen 33 per cent from its mid-March low. On Tuesday, after Mr Putin asked Russia’s upper house of parliament to cancel a mandate to send troops into Ukraine, the index added 3.8 per cent.

And in specific industries, ones that were supposed to suffer the most, the opposite has been true. Again, FT reports:

Among Russia’s best market performers have been those stocks that were believed to be most at risk of sanctions. Gas group Novatek has added 37 per cent since the US Treasury placed sanctions on its shareholder Gennady Timchenko in March and is up 7 per cent for the year. Rosneft has gained 17 per cent since its chief executive Igor Sechin was placed under sanctions in April and is up for the year.

State-owned lender VTB has gained close to 40 per cent since it hit a three-year low in March, even though the bank is seen as a potential target for US sanctions.

Though the MICEX closed down by 2.15% today, yesterday it closed higher than at any point all year. The bottom line -- while even before this crisis the Russian economy showed serious signs of weakness, this crisis does not appear to have significantly weakened the Russian economy. Though the recent rally is largely a market correction from the collapse of the markets in February and March, and Russia's economy is still basically stagnant, if sanctions were supposed to 'change Putin's calculus,' then that plan has collapsed.

INDEXCF-Chart-MICEX-Index-Bloomberg-june

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