‘Danger tomorrow’: Iran’s Rouhani makes veiled threat to US and EU troops in Middle East

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, looks on during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on February 6, 2018. U.S. troops are “insecure” in the region today, and EU troops “might be in danger tomorrow,” Rouhani declared, according to a Reuters translation, marking the first time the leader has directed a threat toward European forces in the region. EU forces are also stationed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and France and Britain have small numbers of special forces in Syria. “The


Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, looks on during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on February 6, 2018.
U.S. troops are “insecure” in the region today, and EU troops “might be in danger tomorrow,” Rouhani declared, according to a Reuters translation, marking the first time the leader has directed a threat toward European forces in the region.
EU forces are also stationed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and France and Britain have small numbers of special forces in Syria.
“The
‘Danger tomorrow’: Iran’s Rouhani makes veiled threat to US and EU troops in Middle East Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-15  Authors: natasha turak
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, threat, irans, east, deal, tomorrow, region, rouhani, veiled, troops, middle, makes, nuclear, iran, sanctions, president, forces, tehran


'Danger tomorrow': Iran's Rouhani makes veiled threat to US and EU troops in Middle East

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, looks on during a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on February 6, 2018. Ali Mohammadi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ⁠— In an angry speech on state television, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at the U.S. and Europe for its presence in the Middle East and for what he described as the latter’s failures in upholding the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. U.S. troops are “insecure” in the region today, and EU troops “might be in danger tomorrow,” Rouhani declared, according to a Reuters translation, marking the first time the leader has directed a threat toward European forces in the region. He demanded the U.S. leave and accused it of making the region insecure, saying it should “apologize to Tehran” for its “previous crimes.” The U.S. has significantly increased its troops presence in the Gulf in the past year as shipping and oil facilities have come under fire from attacks blamed on Iran, which Tehran denies. The U.K. has about 400 forces in Iraq, spread around Irbil, Baghdad and Taji, all locations that have been targeted by Iraqi Shiite militias backed by Iran’s Quds Force, the external operations wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. EU forces are also stationed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and France and Britain have small numbers of special forces in Syria. A number of EU countries have personnel in Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-IS coalition, stationed in Iraq. Former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, the most dramatic escalation between Washington and Tehran in a series of tit-for-tat attacks. Western forces and embassies in the region have been on high alert since then.

Rouhani also used the Wednesday speech to slam the EU’s “failure to keep its promises” under the nuclear deal, the multilateral agreement signed in 2015 designed to limit Iran’s nuclear program while lifting economic sanctions. “The EU should fulfill its commitments under the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said, adding that the EU has failed to act as an independent bloc and should apologize to Iran for its failures to keep its promises. The U.S. should return to the deal, he said. France, the U.K. and Germany in a joint statement on Tuesday announced the triggering of the nuclear deal’s dispute mechanism to protest and “discuss” Iran’s recent decision to fully cut compliance. Iran dismissed the European measure as ineffective, criticizing the countries for failing to compensate for all the trade it had lost due to U.S. sanctions. The U.S. left the deal under President Donald Trump in May of 2018 and subsequently imposed heavy sanctions on Iran that have slashed its oil exports and crippled its economy. After successive rollbacks in adherence to the deal’s parameters over the past year in response to the sanctions, Iran announced on Jan. 5 that it was fully suspending all compliance and would no longer abide by limits on uranium enrichment levels, stockpiling, or number of centrifuges in operation. Tehran maintains however that it would still work with the UN’s nuclear inspectors, and that the moves are reversible if sanctions are lifted. Rouhani also ridiculed U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion Tuesday that Trump should offer a new nuclear deal, calling it “strange” as “the U.S. president has always broken promises.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-15  Authors: natasha turak
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, threat, irans, east, deal, tomorrow, region, rouhani, veiled, troops, middle, makes, nuclear, iran, sanctions, president, forces, tehran


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Making profit from data is Europe’s next big challenge in tech

The European Union has a new aim: figuring out how home-grown companies in the region can make money from data. The EU is drawing up plans to boost the competitiveness of European companies amid the hegemony of U.S. and Chinese firms. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has often criticized the dominance of big tech players and how they use data. In 2018, the European Union approved a sweeping data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR), aimed at giving users’


The European Union has a new aim: figuring out how home-grown companies in the region can make money from data.
The EU is drawing up plans to boost the competitiveness of European companies amid the hegemony of U.S. and Chinese firms.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has often criticized the dominance of big tech players and how they use data.
In 2018, the European Union approved a sweeping data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR), aimed at giving users’
Making profit from data is Europe’s next big challenge in tech Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-14  Authors: silvia amaro
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, profit, companies, eus, big, vestager, tech, europes, data, union, rules, region, challenge, european, firms, making


Making profit from data is Europe's next big challenge in tech

The European Union has a new aim: figuring out how home-grown companies in the region can make money from data.

The EU is drawing up plans to boost the competitiveness of European companies amid the hegemony of U.S. and Chinese firms. Europe has struggled to develop, support and even host digital companies over the past few years. For example, Spotify, the Swedish music streaming service, threatened in 2016 to move to the United States.

However, the EU’s new head of data and industry policy wants these European firms to be better equipped to stand up to their American and Chinese counterparts.

“I will make sure we will not miss the new wave of industrial data,” Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, told the Financial Times Tuesday.

“The most important thing is to evaluate how we create data … and how we will be able to use this data,” Breton also said. The plan in Brussels is to help EU companies better capitalize on the electronic information they generate, according to the newspaper. The exact scope of the data which is being targeted is yet to be defined.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has often criticized the dominance of big tech players and how they use data. In 2018, the European Union approved a sweeping data privacy law known as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR), aimed at giving users’ a bigger say over their own data.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s chief for competition policy, said in September that there should be stronger rules on how companies collect and use information. In December, Vestager opened preliminary investigations into Google and Facebook’s data practices, assessing whether the two U.S. tech firms are complying with its rules in the region.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-14  Authors: silvia amaro
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, profit, companies, eus, big, vestager, tech, europes, data, union, rules, region, challenge, european, firms, making


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Salvini’s return? A regional vote in Italy risks further chaos in Rome

The face of anti-immigration politics in Italy could be about to make a comeback amid an election in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna. However, with regional elections due later this month, analysts are wondering whether Salvini could return to government soon. “The regional election in Emilia-Romagna on 26 January is by far the most important political event that could determine the shelf life of the government,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the research firm Teneo, said in a note Fr


The face of anti-immigration politics in Italy could be about to make a comeback amid an election in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna.
However, with regional elections due later this month, analysts are wondering whether Salvini could return to government soon.
“The regional election in Emilia-Romagna on 26 January is by far the most important political event that could determine the shelf life of the government,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the research firm Teneo, said in a note Fr
Salvini’s return? A regional vote in Italy risks further chaos in Rome Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-13  Authors: silvia amaro
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Salvini's return? A regional vote in Italy risks further chaos in Rome

The face of anti-immigration politics in Italy could be about to make a comeback amid an election in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna.

Matteo Salvini, head of the right-leaning Lega party, left the Italian government abruptly in the summer of 2019 after clashing with his coalition partner – the Five Star Movement (M5S), a party supportive of more social benefits. Salvini decided to put forward a motion of no confidence on the then prime minister Giuseppe Conte. His move, dubbed by critics as an attempt to govern Italy alone, led M5S to join forces with Partito Democratico (PD) – a pro-European social democratic party, averting the need for a snap election and thus stopping Salvini from potentially forming a government.

However, with regional elections due later this month, analysts are wondering whether Salvini could return to government soon.

“The regional election in Emilia-Romagna on 26 January is by far the most important political event that could determine the shelf life of the government,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the research firm Teneo, said in a note Friday.

The region of Emilia Romagna, which includes the emblematic city of Bologna, has traditionally supported left-leaning parties. However, polls suggest that the candidate for the anti-immigration Lega party could win the vote and give the party its ninth consecutive win in regional ballots since the last national election in 2018, according to Reuters.

“Salvini has been campaigning in the region since November, pledging to ‘liberate’ it from the left. A PD (Partito Democratico) defeat at the hands of Salvini’s Lega would strip the center-left party of its symbolic heartland, and likely trigger an internal confrontation,” Piccoli added.

If the upcoming regional vote ends up seeing a victory for the Lega party, both the PD and the M5S would be under pressure – potentially leading their current government to an end.

“The (election) risks are significant because a loss could not only encourage the PD to leave its coalition with the M5S as it looks for a new identity, but it could also trigger an implosion of the M5S,” Erik Jones, professor of European Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Italy, told CNBC Monday.

“The M5S does not typically do well in regional elections and is currently polling only at about 8% in the region. But this region is also where M5S started, and where it first entered into local government. So, a devastating loss here will fuel ammunition for those who don’t like (Luigi) Di Maio (M5S’ leader) and who worry that the Movement has lost its way.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-13  Authors: silvia amaro
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, election, risks, vote, region, rome, salvinis, salvini, regional, chaos, win, lega, italy, party, return, m5s


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Australia stocks jump as Wall Street surges to new highs

Shares in Australia jumped in early trade as stocks on Wall Street sailed to new all-time highs overnight. The S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.34% in early trade, with all the sectors in positive territory. The heavily weighted financial subindex gained about 1.4% as shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four banks saw gains. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group added 0.94%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.48%, Westpac gained 1.41% and National Australia Bank advanced 1.06%. Chip stocks in the regio


Shares in Australia jumped in early trade as stocks on Wall Street sailed to new all-time highs overnight.
The S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.34% in early trade, with all the sectors in positive territory.
The heavily weighted financial subindex gained about 1.4% as shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four banks saw gains.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group added 0.94%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.48%, Westpac gained 1.41% and National Australia Bank advanced 1.06%.
Chip stocks in the regio
Australia stocks jump as Wall Street surges to new highs Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-03  Authors: eustance huang
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, surges, watched, trade, shares, saw, jump, early, gains, street, highs, gained, region, wall, australia, stocks


Australia stocks jump as Wall Street surges to new highs

Shares in Australia jumped in early trade as stocks on Wall Street sailed to new all-time highs overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.34% in early trade, with all the sectors in positive territory. The heavily weighted financial subindex gained about 1.4% as shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four banks saw gains. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group added 0.94%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.48%, Westpac gained 1.41% and National Australia Bank advanced 1.06%.

Chip stocks in the region will be watched on Friday after the sector saw gains overnight stateside, with shares of companies such as Advanced Micro Devices and Micron Technology jumping.

Shares of Apple suppliers in the region will also be watched, after the Cupertino-based tech giant hit $300 per share for the first time on Thursday.

Markets in Japan are closed on Friday for a market holiday.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-03  Authors: eustance huang
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, surges, watched, trade, shares, saw, jump, early, gains, street, highs, gained, region, wall, australia, stocks


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US to deploy 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East after Iranian general killed

The U.S. military will send about 3,500 additional soldiers to the Middle East following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani less than a day earlier, NBC News reported Friday, citing three U.S. defense officials and one U.S. military official. The new troops are being deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region, NBC reported. But the defense officials maintain that the additional soldiers is not a direct response to Soleimani’s death, which has enraged Iran’s leadership and sp


The U.S. military will send about 3,500 additional soldiers to the Middle East following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani less than a day earlier, NBC News reported Friday, citing three U.S. defense officials and one U.S. military official.
The new troops are being deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region, NBC reported.
But the defense officials maintain that the additional soldiers is not a direct response to Soleimani’s death, which has enraged Iran’s leadership and sp
US to deploy 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East after Iranian general killed Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-03  Authors: kevin breuninger
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, additional, earlier, general, east, troops, military, defense, trump, soleimani, officials, iranian, region, 3500, deploy, iraq, killed, middle


US to deploy 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East after Iranian general killed

The U.S. military will send about 3,500 additional soldiers to the Middle East following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani less than a day earlier, NBC News reported Friday, citing three U.S. defense officials and one U.S. military official.

The new troops are being deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region, NBC reported. The deployment of one brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division — 700 of which have already been dispatched to the Middle East — are ordered to serve as a response to threats throughout the region, according to NBC.

But the defense officials maintain that the additional soldiers is not a direct response to Soleimani’s death, which has enraged Iran’s leadership and spurred incendiary threats of vengeance from the oil-rich Middle Eastern nation.

Rather, it is rather a continuation of an earlier announcement this week to send troops to the region, the officials told NBC.

The U.S. announced late Thursday that it carried out a surprise airstrike in Baghdad that killed Soleimani, one of Iran’s most powerful figures who has been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.

The State Department has urged U.S. citizens to leave Iraq.

The Defense Department said in a statement that the “decisive defensive action” was taken “to protect U.S. personnel abroad,” claiming that Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

Soleimani also gave a green light for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place days earlier, according to the Pentagon.

The new deployment is the latest in a series of aggressive moves between the U.S. and Iran.

Over the weekend, the U.S. carried out military strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militia group. A wave of protests in Iraq followed, culminating in the attack on U.S. Embassy on New Year’s Eve.

Stocks fell Friday, while oil prices surged higher.

President Donald Trump defended the airstrike in a pair of tweets Monday morning.

“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!” Trump wrote. “He should have been taken out many years ago!”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2020-01-03  Authors: kevin breuninger
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, additional, earlier, general, east, troops, military, defense, trump, soleimani, officials, iranian, region, 3500, deploy, iraq, killed, middle


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Residents, holidaymakers urged to leave Australian region as fire conditions worsen

Residents and holidaymakers in part of the Australian state of Victoria were urged to leave on Sunday ahead of what is expected to be a day of extreme fire danger. State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told both residents and tens of thousands of holidaymakers in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning. “We are asking you to now leave East Gippsland from that area east of Bairnsdale,” Crisp said, referring to a city 280 km (174 miles) east of Melbourne. The


Residents and holidaymakers in part of the Australian state of Victoria were urged to leave on Sunday ahead of what is expected to be a day of extreme fire danger.
State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told both residents and tens of thousands of holidaymakers in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning.
“We are asking you to now leave East Gippsland from that area east of Bairnsdale,” Crisp said, referring to a city 280 km (174 miles) east of Melbourne.
The
Residents, holidaymakers urged to leave Australian region as fire conditions worsen Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-29
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Residents, holidaymakers urged to leave Australian region as fire conditions worsen

Residents and holidaymakers in part of the Australian state of Victoria were urged to leave on Sunday ahead of what is expected to be a day of extreme fire danger.

Authorities said temperatures of more than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), strong winds, thunderstorms and a wind change moving across the state meant Monday would be one of the most significant fire weather days in Victoria’s history.

State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp told both residents and tens of thousands of holidaymakers in the East Gippsland region to leave no later than Monday morning.

“What we are saying now, based on the conditions that will be confronting us tomorrow across the state, but in particular in East Gippsland, is that if you’re holidaying in that part of the state, it’s time that you left,” Crisp said at a media conference on Sunday.

“We are asking you to now leave East Gippsland from that area east of Bairnsdale,” Crisp said, referring to a city 280 km (174 miles) east of Melbourne.

“You should not be there tomorrow and we want you to get out now.”

Earlier on Sunday, organizers of a music festival in the state cancelled the event, citing the extreme weather expected on Monday.

“After consultation with local and regional fire authorities and other emergency stakeholders, it is clear that we have no other option,” the organizers wrote on Facebook.

The event was meant to run until New Year’s Eve and some 9,000 people were already camping on site when the announcement was made.

The state of New South Wales (NSW) is also facing severe fire conditions over coming days, with temperatures expecting to peak on Tuesday.

“We’ve got some deteriorating weather conditions over the coming days, particularly Monday and worsening through to Tuesday,” said the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-29
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Russia is dominating the Arctic, but it’s not looking to fight over it

“In Russia too, the Arctic resonates with people and they have so many of their resources in that region; oil and gas, fisheries and minerals.” But that military spending growth is being wound down to free up money for salaries, pensions etc,” she said. “They (Russia) have been trying to double-down in areas they can really dominate, just because relative to NATO defense spending, Russia is actually not spending that much. It’s just that Russia’s Arctic infrastructure happens to be more develope


“In Russia too, the Arctic resonates with people and they have so many of their resources in that region; oil and gas, fisheries and minerals.”
But that military spending growth is being wound down to free up money for salaries, pensions etc,” she said.
“They (Russia) have been trying to double-down in areas they can really dominate, just because relative to NATO defense spending, Russia is actually not spending that much.
It’s just that Russia’s Arctic infrastructure happens to be more develope
Russia is dominating the Arctic, but it’s not looking to fight over it Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-27  Authors: holly ellyatt
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Russia is dominating the Arctic, but it's not looking to fight over it

A view of the Arktika nuclear-powered icebreaker (Project 22220). Three Project 22220 icebreakers, Arktika, Sibir and Ural, are under construction at the Baltic Shipyard. Alexander Demianchuk

While the world focuses on trade wars and shifting geopolitical dynamics, Russia has been quietly expanding its own political, economic and military influence in a lesser-watched space: the Arctic. Russia certainly feels at home with the Arctic, and vice versa; Russia’s coastline accounts for 53% of Arctic Ocean coastline and the country’s population in the region totals roughly 2 million people — that’s around half of the people living in the Arctic worldwide, according to the Arctic Institute, a center for circumpolar security studies. As such, it’s perhaps no surprise that Russia wants to extend its influence in a region that it feels at home in, and one that offers multiple opportunities in a variety of areas ranging from energy and trade, to defense. “Russia is by virtue of its geography, the largest Arctic country. The fact that there are 2 million people that are Russian living there too means that the Arctic is Russia in many ways,” Andreas Østhagen, senior research fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway, and at the Arctic Institute, told CNBC. “In Russia too, the Arctic resonates with people and they have so many of their resources in that region; oil and gas, fisheries and minerals.” It is estimated that there could be trillions of dollars’ worth (as much as $35 trillion) of untapped gas and oil reserves, as well as mineral resources, that Russia and its Arctic neighbors are keen to tap.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the polar camp at Alexandra Land Island, Franz Joseph Land in Acrtic, Russia, on March 29, 2017. Mikhail Svetlov

Østhagen said that Russia can draw on the Arctic for economic purposes and it has for a while been instrumental in investing in grand projects, such as the Yamal LNG project, “one of the largest and most complex LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects in the world,” according to Total, which has a 20% stake in the project based in the Yamal Peninsula above the Arctic Circle. Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, has a 50% stake in the venture. In a bid to encourage energy companies to increase exploration and extraction activities in the Arctic, the Kremlin announced in October a trillion-ruble tax cut, or around $40 billion, to incentivize those activities. The tax cut reportedly came after domestic and international investors said they would only invest in Vostok Oil, an Arctic oil project led by Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft, if the government gave in to demands from Rosneft’s chief executive for preferential tax rates. Vostok Oil is expected to produce up to 100 million tons of oil per year, or a fifth of what Russia currently pumps, Reuters noted. But the Arctic is more significant to Russia for more than resources and it has an important economic, defensive and transport value too. It has symbolic and nationalistic value, Østhagen said. “The name of the game in the Arctic is presence,” he said, noting that the region had value for Russian President Vladimir Putin who has overseen a rise in Russian nationalist sentiment during his two decades in power.

Costly presence

But that drive to magnify Russia’s status on the world stage has competed with its sluggish economy in the last five years, following a slump in oil prices on which it largely relies in terms of export revenues. Russia’s changing economic fortunes were reflected in its spending plans for the Arctic region, in which it had planned super-projects as part of an “Arctic Program” of investment and development. In 2017, RBC news agency reported that funding for the program had been slashed severely: the Ministry of Economic Development had wanted 209 billion rubles for the new national Arctic Program, funding that would take it up to 2020, but was expected to get only 12 billion ruble. There are signs of recovery now, however, and the economy is expected to grow 1.2% in 2019; 1.6% in 2020; and 1.8% in 2021, the World Bank forecast earlier in December. Experts agree that the cost-benefit analysis of Arctic expansion, a region whose hostile environment quickly increases operational costs, needs to be carefully assessed. “Arctic development is indeed costly for Russia, but the government deems it necessary, and legitimate, to perform ‘great power status’ across this new frontier, as well as to anticipate the negative impact of climate change for coastal regions in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation,” Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, told CNBC. “Civilian investment, however, has been tremendously slashed since 2017, with few prospects to increase again for the time being,” he noted. In 2017, Russian military spending fell by a fifth marking its first decline in nearly two decades and data from 2019 showed Russia was no longer in the top five global military spenders, just as the U.S. and China have increased spending.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to speak on Arctic development in the Russian Geographical Society on June 5, 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sasha Mordovets

Martina Bozadzhieva, managing director of research at consultancy firm DuckerFrontier, told CNBC that defense spending was continuing to decline in Russia, with money being redirected toward other pressing domestic issues. “(There is now) the focus on the domestic economy, income standards, and what you’ve seen over the last couple of years is that there was a big spike in military spending, some of which went towards a range of strategies including the Arctic. But that military spending growth is being wound down to free up money for salaries, pensions etc,” she said. “That money is being redirected. So it’s not to say that Russia is trying to pull back from the Arctic, it’s more that the funding is being restructured.” One of the projects that combines economic and symbolic importance for Russia is the Northeast Passage or Northern Sea Route (NSR), a once inaccessible shipping route in the Russian Arctic that, as ice sheets melt, Russia sees as a future shipping super highway to transport goods and resources between Asia and Europe. It hopes the route could rival the traditional Europe-Asia sea route, via the Suez Canal, as it shortens the shipping duration by around 15 days.

The Akademik Lomonosov, a barge containing two nuclear reactors, leaves St Petersburg; the Akademik Lomonosov, which has been built at Baltic Shipyard for a nuclear power station in the town of Pevek in Russia’s far north, is to be towed from the Baltic Sea to an Atomflot base in Murmansk on Russia’s Barents Sea coast to be loaded with nuclear fuel. Anton Vaganov

The Arctic institute’s Andreas Østhagen noted that the NSR fulfilled both an economic and symbolic need for Russia to assert itself in the Arctic (the NSR runs along the entirety of its territorial waters, from the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska to the Barents Sea, near Norway) but that it might be too early for Russia to reap the economic benefits yet, given the hostile environment for much of the year and the need for more maritime infrastructure. “The route has symbolic and nationalistic connotations — just for Russia to be present and to develop the sea route and its military capabilities there, but also the economic benefits, although it’s questionable how large these will be,” he said, noting it would be costly for companies to operate there, particularly with the need for ice breakers for most of the year. “We could see increased destinational traffic there, like services for the Yamal LNG superplant, or tourism traffic with cruise ship vessels. But it won’t be that lucrative, it won’t have the volume of shipments like the Suez or Panama Canal,” Østhagen said.

Russia’s military presence

Aside from Russia’s commercial development of the Arctic, another pressing issue in the region, and a concern for the western military alliance NATO, is the perception that the area is becoming an increasingly militarized space, opening up a new, literally cold front in already frosty relations between Russia and the West. In recent years, Russia has advanced its military capabilities in the Arctic, reopening old military bases that had been abandoned following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and bolstering the Russian Navy’s prestigious Northern Fleet that oversees operations and defense in the region. The Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command was created in 2014 as Russia’s fifth military district, reflecting the Kremlin’s push to give defense in the region more weight; Putin announced that same year that Russia would build a unified network of Arctic defense infrastructure and improve the fleet’s warships and submarines. The Northern Fleet and military exercises in the Arctic were a key part of Russia’s massive annual military drills, called Tsentr 2019, this year too. “Russia has been consistently incorporating the Arctic in military thinking for less than a decade and therefore training, procuring and learning to survive, move, and fight in this extreme environment. Furthermore, a lot of effort has been put into deploying Arctic-capable air defense and sea denial systems,” Chatham House’s Boulegue told CNBC.

The Kondopoga landing ship during the Russian Navy Northern Fleet’s Putorana Plateau 2019 military exercise near the port of Dudinka on Russia’s Arctic coast. Denis Kozhevnikov

NATO has been increasingly concerned about what it sees as Russia’s militarization of the Arctic and it has been warned that it must increase its own presence to counter what some see as Russian aggression. DuckerFrontier’s Martina Bozadzhieva told CNBC that the Arctic was one area where Russia had an advantage, given its geography. “They (Russia) have been trying to double-down in areas they can really dominate, just because relative to NATO defense spending, Russia is actually not spending that much. So where they do have a natural advantage, as they do in the Arctic, they will be looking to press that advantage,” Bozadzhieva told CNBC. Boulegue and Østhagen believe that Russia is looking to avoid conflict in the Arctic, however. Østhagen said military advances in the Arctic could on the one hand be seen as for domestic, defensive purposes or as potentially aggressive, but, he noted, “Russia would not have any interest in claiming any territory, but what you see beyond this is a focus on the Arctic strategically, as well as from China and the U.S., which brings the region into a geopolitical and geostrategic competition between these actors.”

Competition or cooperation?

With the Arctic offering apparently abundant resources, albeit difficult and expensive to extract, it’s no surprise that other Arctic nations (there are eight in all: Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the U.S.) are also interested in developing their Arctic infrastructure and resources within their own territories too. It’s just that Russia’s Arctic infrastructure happens to be more developed as it has more long-standing cities (like Murmansk and Norilsk), communities and investment there, experts note. Despite varying degrees of competition and military tensions in the Arctic region, there are attempts at coordination and cooperation between Arctic states too, although at times somewhat reluctantly. Dialog between Arctic states is frequent, for example; an International Arctic Forum was held in Russia in April with the summit dedicated to discussing the “socioeconomic development of Arctic regions and for developing multi-level, multilateral mechanisms for joint discovery and effective exploitation of the Arctic’s rich natural resource potential.” Then in May, the Arctic Council (an intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States) met in Finland. True to recent form, a joint declaration of intent from the council members was reportedly canceled because of the U.S.’ refusal to sign a declaration — aimed at balancing environmental protection in the Arctic with the development of its mineral wealth — because it referenced climate change as a serious threat. Aside from tensions over environmental challenges and defense, several Arctic states (but particularly the U.S.), are worried about the ambitions and intentions of a non-Arctic state increasingly involved in the region: China. China published its own Arctic Strategy in January 2018, laying out its interest in the region and it has been increasingly investing in Arctic infrastructure and energy projects, like the aforementioned Yamal LNG project in which its Silk Road Fund (a state-owned investment project) has a 9.9% stake, making it the largest foreign shareholder in the project.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit the “Ocean” All-Russian Children’s Centre in Vladivostok, Russia September 12, 2018. Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Reuters


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-27  Authors: holly ellyatt
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, fight, dominating, defense, economic, oil, looking, russia, russias, russian, spending, arctic, military, region


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China’s Xi Jinping holds Macao up as poster child on 20th anniversary of handover

During his speech marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s transfer of sovereignty from Portugal to China, Xi lauded the gambling hub. He said the special administrative region is one of the safest cities in the world and one where people “rationally” express various views, Reuters reported. Hong Kong and Macao are both semi-autonomous regions of China that have their legal, administrative and judicial systems separate from the mainland. But since early June, Hong Kong has been crippled by widesp


During his speech marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s transfer of sovereignty from Portugal to China, Xi lauded the gambling hub.
He said the special administrative region is one of the safest cities in the world and one where people “rationally” express various views, Reuters reported.
Hong Kong and Macao are both semi-autonomous regions of China that have their legal, administrative and judicial systems separate from the mainland.
But since early June, Hong Kong has been crippled by widesp
China’s Xi Jinping holds Macao up as poster child on 20th anniversary of handover Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-20  Authors: huileng tan
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, holds, 20th, chinas, kong, handover, child, macao, hong, foreign, regions, administrative, region, anniversary, protests, special, jinping, poster


China's Xi Jinping holds Macao up as poster child on 20th anniversary of handover

A man tries his luck at a wheel of fortune machine at the Global Gaming Expo Asia held in Macau on May 17, 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday swore in new Macao leader Ho Iat Seng at a ceremony where he heaped praises on the special administrative region, while warning that Beijing would not allow foreign influences to interfere with Macao and Hong Kong.

During his speech marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s transfer of sovereignty from Portugal to China, Xi lauded the gambling hub. He said the special administrative region is one of the safest cities in the world and one where people “rationally” express various views, Reuters reported.

Hong Kong and Macao are both semi-autonomous regions of China that have their legal, administrative and judicial systems separate from the mainland. But since early June, Hong Kong has been crippled by widespread anti-government protests as some of its citizens lobby for greater independence from Beijing.

China has blamed foreign influences for the protests in Hong Kong.

“I must emphasize, since Hong Kong and Macao’s return to the motherland, dealing with these two special administrative regions’ affairs is entirely China’s internal affairs and none of the business of foreign forces,” Xi said, according to Reuters. “We do not let any external forces interfere.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-20  Authors: huileng tan
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, holds, 20th, chinas, kong, handover, child, macao, hong, foreign, regions, administrative, region, anniversary, protests, special, jinping, poster


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A floating nuclear power plant has started to produce electricity in a remote region of Russia

The Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power unit moored at the port of Pevek in the Chukotka Autonomous Area, in Russia’s Far East. A floating nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid and has commenced electricity production for the first time in a remote region of Russia. While Rosatom describes the facility as a “first of a kind”, the history of floating power plants stretches back decades: the U.S. converted a ship called the STURGIS into a floating nuclear power plant during the


The Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power unit moored at the port of Pevek in the Chukotka Autonomous Area, in Russia’s Far East.
A floating nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid and has commenced electricity production for the first time in a remote region of Russia.
While Rosatom describes the facility as a “first of a kind”, the history of floating power plants stretches back decades: the U.S. converted a ship called the STURGIS into a floating nuclear power plant during the
A floating nuclear power plant has started to produce electricity in a remote region of Russia Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-20  Authors: anmar frangoul
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, rosatom, energy, floating, started, power, akademik, nuclear, russia, electricity, chukotka, region, produce, plant, significant, remote, lomonosov


A floating nuclear power plant has started to produce electricity in a remote region of Russia

The Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power unit moored at the port of Pevek in the Chukotka Autonomous Area, in Russia’s Far East.

A floating nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid and has commenced electricity production for the first time in a remote region of Russia.

In a statement Thursday, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom said the Akademik Lomonosov had started to produce electricity in the “isolated Chaun-Bilibino network” in the port of Pevek, Chukotka, which is located in the Far East area of Russia.

Described by Rosatom as the planet’s “only floating power unit,” it’s envisaged that the Akademik Lomonosov — which set sail from the Russian port of Murmansk in August — will become an important part of the Chukotka area’s power supply. It has two KLT-40C reactors which have a capacity of 35 megawatts each.

While Rosatom describes the facility as a “first of a kind”, the history of floating power plants stretches back decades: the U.S. converted a ship called the STURGIS into a floating nuclear power plant during the 1960s.

Rosatom says the floating nuclear power plant is suited to remote areas and “island states” which need stable and in its own words, “green,” sources of energy. Interest in the technology has come from North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it claims.

Rosatom has previously said that it is already working on second-generation floating power units that will be constructed in a series and available for export.

In a statement issued at the end of August, the director general of Rosatom described the launch of the floating power plant as a “momentous occasion for our company and for the Chukotka region.”

Alexey Likhachev went on to state that the Akademik Lomonosov would “guarantee clean and reliable energy supplies to people and businesses across the region.”

While there is excitement in some quarters surrounding the scheme there are concerns surrounding nuclear power projects.

This is in part due to high profile events such as the Fukushima disaster of 2011, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami resulted in a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

For its part, Rosatom has said that its floating nuclear power plant has been designed with a “great margin of safety” which exceeds “all possible threats” and makes the nuclear reactors invincible to tsunamis and “other natural disasters.”

It adds that the nuclear processes at the facility meet requirements from the International Atomic Agency and don’t pose an environmental threat.

Paul Dorfman, an honorary senior research associate at University College London’s Energy Institute, told CNBC via email that while the Akademik Lomonosov was not that significant in energy terms, it was “significant in terms of risk.”

Dorfman went on to explain via email the concerns that, in his view, people should have about the project. “It would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to abate the radiological consequences of a nuclear accident in the Arctic,” he said.

All nuclear power plants, Dorfman added, were vulnerable to unforeseen external events through human or engineering-based fault conditions, which include accidental or deliberate harm.

“Accidents are by nature, accidental, and the cost of ignoring this common-sense axiom has proven to be catastrophic,” he said.

“Part of the problem is that nuclear facilities are so complicated that, given the unpredictability of unforeseen natural and other events (including terrorist attacks), it’s actually impossible to defend this floating nuclear plant with any real confidence.”

Whatever your views on nuclear power, Dorfman said, it was clear that “the possibility of catastrophic accidents must be factored in — and the risk to people and the environment as a consequence of a major incident to a floating reactor is very significant indeed.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-20  Authors: anmar frangoul
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, rosatom, energy, floating, started, power, akademik, nuclear, russia, electricity, chukotka, region, produce, plant, significant, remote, lomonosov


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Why Syria’s small oil reserves have become the linchpin for political control in the region

But somehow the small reserves, barely pumping now after over eight years of war, have become a linchpin for political control. Even though Syria’s oil reserves are pretty minuscule for international standards, they’re actually quite important given the economic situation in the country. Karam Shaar Economic analystShaar, who is from Aleppo, said that most Syrians would like the oil revenue to help rebuild the country. “Oil or no oil, the Syrian regime will never be able to produce the resources


But somehow the small reserves, barely pumping now after over eight years of war, have become a linchpin for political control.
Even though Syria’s oil reserves are pretty minuscule for international standards, they’re actually quite important given the economic situation in the country.
Karam Shaar Economic analystShaar, who is from Aleppo, said that most Syrians would like the oil revenue to help rebuild the country.
“Oil or no oil, the Syrian regime will never be able to produce the resources
Why Syria’s small oil reserves have become the linchpin for political control in the region Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-13  Authors: justin higginbottom, special to cnbccom, scott cohn, tom connor
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, syrian, forces, region, linchpin, small, foreign, oil, revenue, regime, country, political, syrias, control, reserves, economic


Why Syria's small oil reserves have become the linchpin for political control in the region

People battle a blaze next to an oil well in an agricultural field in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, in the Hasakeh province near the Syrian-Turkish border on June 10, 2019. Delil Douleiman | AFP | Getty Images

BEIRUT- Akram Hassan remembers when the modest oil fields in the arid eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour attracted companies from around the world. As an engineer in the industry, and Kurd from the northern city of Qamishli, he watched the revenue disappear into the government’s coffers. “Syrian people did not have any benefit from this oil. … All the money the regime kept in their pocket,” said Hassan. Most higher-up workers in fields were from Latakia, the homeland of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s family. “Arab petroleum is for Arabs,” they would tell him. It was a joke, but a revealing one, Hassan said.

Times have changed in his country. The oil has attracted another foreign power — the U.S. military — and Kurdish-led forces are the ones controlling the area and collecting revenue.

It’s all about oil

Syria was never a large oil producer compared to its resource-rich neighbors. But somehow the small reserves, barely pumping now after over eight years of war, have become a linchpin for political control. The Syrian economy has collapsed and significant outside help is unlikely. The country’s GDP has declined by more than 70% since 2010, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, and the unemployment rate is around 50%. The government’s budget decreased to around $1.162 billion in 2017 compared to $16.4 billion in 2010. The oil could be just enough to prop up the Syrian government — or a competing power. And who controls oil-rich stretches of the Syrian desert could determine who controls large regions of the country. In 2010, before conflict erupted, Syrian wells produced around 385,000 barrels per day, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. That amounted to just 0.5 percent of global production — around what North Dakota produced that year.

Members of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continue operations against the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey regards as a terror group, within Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in Ras Al Ayn, Syria on October 17, 2019. Turkish Armed Forces | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

After the Islamic State won control over much of Syria’s east in 2014, where most wells are located, production plummeted. Analysts estimate that under ISIS rule the fields produced only around 30,000 to 40,000 bpd. Much of that was consumed locally. What was sold on the black market — making its way to the Syrian government, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan — amounted to around $2 million to $3 million per day. It would have been a paltry amount for a modern nation but was a windfall for the terror group.

A key revenue stream

When the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the oil-rich eastern province in 2017, they also took over the revenue stream. According to experts, it’s the SDF’s primary source of funding, supporting its soldiers, public services and a vast bureaucratic network for the autonomous region in northeastern Syria. No one knows exactly how much revenue this amounts to but it’s likely on par with the several million dollars per day that ISIS collected. “Even though Syria’s oil reserves are pretty minuscule for international standards, they’re actually quite important given the economic situation in the country,” said Karam Shaar, a Syrian economic analyst who recently wrote on the topic for the Carnegie Middle East Center. The areas under Assad’s control consume around 60,000 bpd with an estimated 95% of this imported from Iran, said Shaar. But under President Donald Trump, pressure to cut off Iran’s oil exports has increased. And Syria’s economy remains in free fall. The budget for the regime is less than a third of its pre-war level. Meanwhile, an economic crisis in Lebanon, with banks imposing controls on withdrawals and foreign transfers to prevent a local currency collapse, has strained a financial lifeline used by many Syrians. The Syrian pound just hit its lowest value since the start of the war. Currently, it sits at around 765 to the dollar compared to 47 in 2011.

Even though Syria’s oil reserves are pretty minuscule for international standards, they’re actually quite important given the economic situation in the country. Karam Shaar Economic analyst

Shaar, who is from Aleppo, said that most Syrians would like the oil revenue to help rebuild the country. But he doesn’t think oil will play a major role, at least in the short-term, as it would take years to raise capacity again. Eugenio Dacrema, a Middle East research fellow at the Institute for International Political Studies in Italy, is also skeptical that large-scale reconstruction using oil funds is in Syria’s near future. First, oil infrastructure was heavily damaged during fighting and production levels have plummeted. Furthermore, the country lost virtually all industrial capability outside of Damascus during the war. And the regime lacks a large-scale plan needed to redevelop an array of once-interconnected economic centers including factories and supply lines, he said. Large foreign investors in the West or the Gulf haven’t opened their pocketbooks. “Oil or no oil, the Syrian regime will never be able to produce the resources internally [for rebuilding],” said Dacrema. But they can use the revenue, as the SDF does currently and ISIS before them, to support a subsistence state apparatus. The regime must also make sure to repay those that fought on its side to avoid future conflict.” Last year, Damascus gave Russia exclusive rights to extract oil and gas. But only a small number of wells are under Assad’s control. In 2018, an ill-fated offensive by Syrian forces and Russian private contractors against an SDF and American base in Deir al-Zour’s oil region led to hundreds of deaths for the attackers. It showed that American forces were serious about protecting the area. “It’s not a stable situation because the regime does need the money,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-12-13  Authors: justin higginbottom, special to cnbccom, scott cohn, tom connor
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, syrian, forces, region, linchpin, small, foreign, oil, revenue, regime, country, political, syrias, control, reserves, economic


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