Monthly Archives:December 2019


World Welcomes 2020

People across the world are gathering for traditional celebrations to welcome the year 2020.

Revelers in New Zealand and other Pacific islands were among the first to celebrate the new year with fireworks displays.

Events elsewhere in the world are being overshadowed by other concerns, including in Australia where the fireworks show in Sydney is going forward as other communities in the country cancel theirs due to fears of making a wildfire crisis worse.

In Hong Kong, the usual fireworks show was canceled due to what officials said were security concerns in the city that has seen months of pro-democracy protests.

Planet Fitness, in partnership with Time Square Alliance, tested the “air worthiness” of the confetti prior to Times Square’s New Year’s Eve 2020 celebration in New York City, Dec. 29, 2019 in New York.

Events are scheduled to take place as the new year rolls around in major cities from Berlin to Dubai and London to New York.

your ad herer

Russia, Ukraine Finalize Gas Transit Deal Just Before Deadline

Moscow and Kyiv on Monday signed a five-year agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine, finalizing months of difficult talks just ahead of a New Year deadline.

The current deal between the two ex-Soviet countries expires Tuesday and ties between them have been shredded since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the deal by phone and congratulated each other ahead of New Year’s celebrations, a sign that their relations could be on the mend.

The gas deal “creates a positive atmosphere for solving other bilateral problems,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

About 18 percent of the European Union’s annual natural gas consumption comes from Russia via Ukraine, which put pressure on EU officials to help broker the deal.

“Ukraine has signed a five-year transit contract,” Zelensky announced in a late-night post on his Facebook page, nearly two weeks after a provisional deal was reached.

A wide range of documents and contracts were involved, and together formed “a package deal which has re-established the balance of interests,” Alexei Miller, the boss of Russian gas giant Gazprom, was cited as saying in a statement.

The documents were signed after five days of non-stop talks.

Gazprom is expected to ship at least 65 billion cubic meters (2.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas via Ukraine next year, and at least 40 billion per year from 2021 to 2024, said Zelensky, from which Kiev would earn “more than seven billion dollars”.

‘Great news’ for Europe

The agreement should prevent a repeat of so-called gas wars that previously disrupted supplies and in some years caused real energy problems in EU member states.

EU Commission vice president in charge of energy Maros Sevcovic called the deal “great news for Europe’s energy security” on Twitter, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked Russia and Ukraine.

“Continued gas transit via Ukraine… is a good and important signal for ensuring our European security of gas supply,” she said.

Last year, Gazprom supplied Europe with 200.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas, about 40 percent of which passed through Ukraine for roughly $3 billion in transit fees.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Moscow wanted to keep some gas flowing through Ukraine, despite having built several pipelines to Europe since the current deal was agreed a decade ago.

The new agreement comes days after Gazprom paid $2.9 billion to Ukraine’s Naftogaz to settle a long-running dispute over transit fees that had blocked the deal.

Meanwhile, Russia is pursuing work on the Nord Stream 2 project that is to be completed by the end of next year and would double gas shipments to Germany.

The United States has long opposed the 9.5-billion-euro ($10.6-billion) project and the U.S. Senate voted last week to levy sanctions on companies working on it.

Washington believes the pipeline will give Russia too much influence over security and economic issues in western Europe.

Transit problems for Russian gas began after the fall of the Soviet Union when independent Ukraine took control of the pipeline infrastructure.

Several crises followed, with Russia using gas supplies to put pressure on Ukraine by cutting them repeatedly in 1992, 1993 and 1994.

The last gas crisis disrupted supplies to Europe in 2010.

your ad herer

Iraqi Politicians Condemn US Strike on Pro-Iran Shi’ite Militia

Multiple Iraqi politicians condemned U.S. airstrikes on the pro-Iranian Shi’ite Kataib Hezbollah militia Sunday, which left 25 dead and over 50 wounded, according to Iraqi government TV. Local reports say the group is becoming increasingly unpopular with large segments of the Iraqi public. Iraq’s Parliament met Monday to debate the U.S.’s  action, but failed to muster a quorum. 

Amateur video showed survivors of the U.S. airstrike on the pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah picking through the rubble and gathering the remains of victims killed in the strike Sunday. Iraqi government media reported that 25 people died, including three Iranian officers.

On social media, pro-Iranian Shiite groups spread photos of militia fighters killed in the raid, calling them martyrs.

Fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades militia, inspect the destruction at their headquarters in the aftermath of a U.S. airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, Dec. 30, 2019.

Iraqi state TV read a list of political leaders who condemned the raid. The broadcast added that Sunni Parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi was calling on all Iraqi forces to “use self-control” to avoid any escalation.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Parliament met Monday afternoon, apparently aiming to condemn the airstrike. But a large number of MPs from Sunni, Kurdish and some Shi’ite political parties stayed away from the session, and no quorum was reached.

The head of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia hit by the air raid, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vowed revenge, as militia fighters shouted approval.

Many Iraqi protesters who gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, however, chanted slogans against Iran, which has become increasingly unpopular for meddling in Iraqi politics.

They chanted, “Iranians get out of Iraq,” and “Free Baghdad.”

Iraqi analyst Ahmed Shawki told Alhurra TV that pro-Iranian Shiite militias, including the Hezbollah group struck by U.S. warplanes Sunday, have become increasingly unpopular for their repression of popular protests.

He says that it has become clear to everyone since the protests began that the Shi’ite militias are under the command of Iran’s supreme leader, and they have killed and maimed many demonstrators.  Shi’ite militias, he adds, dominate the government, and no one dares to stop them.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists that the U.S. airstrikes were a response for pro-Iranian Shiite militia attacks on U.S. forces.

“What we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” he said.

A U.S. contractor was killed, and several others wounded several days ago, when Shiite militia fighters, reportedly from the Hezbollah militia group, fired rockets on the K-2 military base in Kirkuk. Pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces have also fired rockets or attacked U.S. forces at other Iraqi bases in recent months, including Balad, Taji, Ain al-Assad and Baghdad Airport, as well as the U.S. Embassy.





your ad herer

Меркель привітала контракт про транзит російського газу

Канцлерка Німеччини Анґела Меркель привітала новий контракт про транзит російського газу територією України, укладений пізно ввечері 30 грудня.

«Я задоволена, що переговори про транзит російського газу через Україну, що тривали півтора року, дійшли нині до успішного завершення. Продовження транзиту газу через Україну після 1 січня 2020 року – добрий і важливий сигнал про гарантію безпеки постачання газу до Європи», – наводить її слова пресслужба німецького уряду.

Раніше підписання контракту привітали також у Європейській комісії.

30 грудня національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» і російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

Анґела Меркель, яка активно підтримує проєкт «Газпрому» «Північний потік-2», водночас весь час заявляла і про необхідність зберегти транзит російського газу через ГТС України. Тим часом будівництво російського газопроводу, що мав постачати газ до Європи в обхід України і вже збудований приблизно на 90 відсотків, зупинилося через санкції США, дата його можливого поновлення наразі не ясна.

your ad herer

В ЄС привітали підписання контракту на транзит газу між «Нафтогазом» і «Газпромом»

Віцепрезидент Єврокомісії Марош Шефчович привітав підписання контракту на транзит газу з використанням української газотранспортної системи між «Нафтогазом України» і російським «Газпромом».

«Високо ціную всю важку роботу і зусилля. Погоджена минулого тижня політична угода між Україною, Росією і Європейською комісією, що забезпечить постійний потік газу в Європу з 1 січня 2020 року, підписана і скріплена печаткою», – написав Шефчович у твітері в ніч на 31 грудня.

Він також привітав міжоператорську угоду між Україною і Словаччиною за сприяння Єврокомісії. «Усі складові для транзиту газу через український маршрут тепер на місці. Чудова новина для енергетичної безпеки Європи», – додав Шефчович.


Напередодні виконавчий директор «Нафтогазу» Юрій Вітренко повідомив, що українська компанія і російський «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит газу з використанням української газотранспортної системи за принципом «качай або плати» на п’ять років.

20 грудня представники України, Росії, Євросоюзу, а також компанії «Оператор газотранспортної системи України», «Нафтогазу» та російського «Газпрому» попередньо домовилися зберегти транзит, натомість українська енергетична компанія відмовилася від інших позовів проти російського монополіста.

your ad herer