Archive for February 2009

Closure of Sole U.S. Military Base in Central Asia   Leave a comment

kyrgyz_flagPresident Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan has ordered the closure of U.S. military’s only base in Central Asia, further squeezing access for troops and supplies heading into Afghanistan.

Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan serves as a U.S. supply route for troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

Two other central Asian nations — Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have indicated that they will allow transit of U.S. cargo to Afghanistan.

Increasing militant attacks on land routes through Pakistan and no likelihood of access through Afghanistan’s major western border with Iran, are putting the the United States under pressure to establish new supply chains from the north.

Manas’ closure could deal a significant blow to U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan just as President Barack Obama plans to step up U.S. troop levels to halt a resurgence of the country’s former Taliban rulers.

The utility of the arrangements with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan would still depend on how much access the United States would have for flights and cargo. It is unlikely they will fully replace capacity lost in Kyrgyzstan.

Chu: Increased Demand for Oil   Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a champion of renewable energy and biofuels, has a clear position about the future of oil. neft_01

He says global demand for it will increase over the next two decades and even with more efficiency and alternative fuels, prices will increase again.

In the long run, over the next two decades, he said, he’s certain the price of crude will be significantly higher than today. Crude oil has dropped from a high last summer of $145 a barrel to a recent low of about $34.

Russian Navy Rescues Iranian Vessel From Somali Pirates   1 comment

ka2712.02.09: The Russian heavy missile cruiser “Peter the Great” stopped three pirate ships off the coast of Somalia, and detained 10 pirates, according to a statement released Friday by Russian Navy headquarters in Moscow.

A Russian Ka-27 helicopter (NATO designation “Helix”), developed for antisubmarine warfare, which took off from the cruiser, had located two small boats, which were moving toward an Iranian fishing vessel at high speed.

When the pirates in the small boats spotted the helicopter overhead, the boats began slowing down, then veered off toward their support vessel, which was adrift nearby.

The helicopter crew could see pirates in the two motor boats throwing weapons into the sea, and kept chasing the boats until the “Peter the Great” arrived in the area.

Personal Due Diligence Case Study – “The Digital Girl”   3 comments

the_digital_girl_for_web1A businessman encountered this “girl” on the Internet and developed what he believed to be a sincere friendship with her. She told him things were not going well for her in Russia, and asked him for money.

He ended up sending her over $10,000. Then certain aspects of her behavior made him suspicious, and he contacted RADA.

At his request, a personal due diligence investigation was conducted. A check of Russian databases showed that no person with her name (she had provided a copy of a “passport”) resided where she said she did. The street exists, but the exact address could not be located.

This was confirmed with an on site visit, using the photographs she had provided. No one living near the address recognized her name or face.

An examination of the headers of the emails suggested that “she” was emailing from  Poland and Slovenia (often on the same day), but never from Russia.

But what about the money? The bank account exists-in a bank in Moscow, but the account holder’s name is nothing like the name the girl provided; in fact, the account holder is a man!

The Russian authorities are conducting an investigation, but, since the money was freely transferred, it is not clear what the outcome will be, and the businessman is understandably disappointed.

Incidents such as this are by no means confined to Russia, and there are just as many fraudulent “digital boys” as “digital girls” out there to trap the unwary.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization   Leave a comment

lucky_dog_wA Russian-led bloc of post-Soviet nations has agreed to establish a rapid-reaction military force to combat terrorists and respond to regional emergencies.

The force, known as The Collective Security Treaty Organization will be made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Earlier in the week, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced at a Moscow news conference that “all due procedures” were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, RIA-Novosti reported. The announcement was made after news reports of a multimillion-dollar aid package from Russia to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan to Close U.S. Base at Bishkek   Leave a comment

manas_closureKyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has decided to close the U.S. Manas Airbase, which has served as a key staging location for U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has relied heavily on this outpost, which has provided an alternative to Pakistan, where convys face security risks.

The U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan was its only outpost in Central Asia.

Bakiyev made the decision after securing approximately US$2 billion in aid from Russia.

Adakhan Madumarov, secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council, said ithe U.S. military would be given 180 days to close its operations and leave once the two sides had exchanged formal diplomatic notes.

Many in Kyrgyzstan have criticized the presence of U.S. troops.

Moscow, which operates its own airbase in Kyrgyzstan a few dozen kilometers away from Manas, has been irritated by Manas’s existence and has put pressure on Kyrgyzstan to close it, though on Wednesday said it would offer the U.S. support.

Russian Oil Alliances: State of Play in Early 2009   Leave a comment

opec_question1In January 2009, a Russian national oil consortium created to run oil projects in Venezuela will also cooperate with Cuba’s state-run oil company Cubapetroleo, according to a memorandum signed between the two companies.

The deal was signed in the presence of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Vice President of the Cuban Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas.

The oil and gas consortium of Russian companies working Venezuela, which includes Gazprom, Rosneft, TNK-BP, Surgutneftegaz and LUKoil, was formed in October 2008.

The Russian consortium is operated by Gazprom, while control of the Russian-Venezuelan oil and gas alliance is exercised by Venezuela’s state-controlled Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

Plans call for the export of oil  to the United States, China and Europe.

In late 2008, Shakib Khelil, the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that Russia would join the organization, increasing its ability to impact the crude market.

For some time, petroleum analysts have asserted OPEC’s abiility to check a sharp recent fall in crude prices depends largely on cooperation from non-OPEC producers such as Russia, Norway and Mexico.