Voices from Russia

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rolling Blackouts Announced in Seven Ukrainian Oblasts

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On 22 March 2017, Ukrenergo announced rolling electrical blackouts in seven Ukrainian oblasts. If alternative supplies of coal don’t materialise soon, the Ukraine will begin earlier-announced major electrical blackouts. Today, Ukrenergo Acting Director Vsevolod Kovalchuk told journalists in Kiev:

If new coal supplies aren’t forthcoming, we may have to implement the plan we spoke of in February [serious limitation of energy consumption: Aleksei Zhuravko]. At present, the power stations are working normally, based on coal reserved stockpiled prior to the blockade. We can manage until the early spring due to conservation measures at coal-powered power stations [that is, power blackouts and brownouts: editor].

Previously, media reports stated that power blackouts in case of a negative scenario would occur in seven oblasts… Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev, Chernigov, Zaporozhye, Sumy, and Cherkassy. Governmental authorities in these areas are responsible for organising ad hoc departments to deal with this emergency in the power sector. Yesterday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Groysman stated that the Ukraine is exploring the possibility of buying coal in the USA, Australia, and South Africa. Because of the trade embargo with the LNR and DNR, coal reserves at Ukrainian power stations are close to zero. Previously, Groysman stated that the Donbass blockade would cause the loss to the Ukrainian state budget of 3.5 billion USD (201.43 billion Roubles. 24.11 billion Renminbi. 229.2 billion INR. 4.67 billion CAD. 4.6 billion AUD. 3.25 billion Euros. 2.8 billion UK Pounds) and idle 75,000 workers. The State National Commission for Energy and Utility Regulation will increase the wholesale market price for electricity by 1 percent, instead of the previously-announced decline of 5.8 percent, due to cost increases mandated by the purchase of imported coal.

22 March 2017

Aleksei Zhuravko

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

“Deadlock”: Donbass Blockade Risks Plunging the Ukraine into Energy Collapse

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On Friday, Ukrainian President P A Poroshenko enacted a decree earlier adopted by the National Security and Defence Council on diversification of coal supply sources and creating reserves of power generating coal. In addition, the Council also decided to tighten control over the products’ movement in the Donbass region. It mandated that the government develop measures to neutralise threats to Ukrainian energy security and imposing a ban on anthracite exports from Ukraine. It also puts the government in charge of rebuilding transportation infrastructure damaged during the military operation in the Donbass.

In late December 2016, a so-called Ukrainian “volunteer fighters group” declared a trade and economic blockade of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR). According to the group, any trade operations with the LNR or DNR are illegal. The blockade resulted in disruptions in anthracite shipments from the Donbass Peoples Republics and forced the Ukraine to introduce a state of emergency in the energy sector. On Monday, Energy Minister I S Nasalik said that the country’s reserves of coal for energy-generating power plants might dry up in 45 days if they don’t lift the blockade. Russian journalist and industrial expert Leonid Khazanov emphasised:

The measures Kiev is taking are insufficient to resolve the energy conundrum. The Ukraine is risking plunging into an energy catastrophe, with everything that implies for its people and the Ukrainian industrial sector. However, if [the government] wanted to fight radicals they would’ve taken real measures, not just a decree. It seems that President Poroshenko has no control over the situation on the railways or he fears an escalation. Kiev could compensate for the coal shortage with supplies from Russia and other countries. However, the Ukraine lacks financial resources and the West is unlikely to come to its help in this situation. The question now is where to buy coal. One option is to buy supplies from Russia. Other variants include other foreign markets, but they’re more expensive than shipments from the Donbass or Russia. If the Ukraine decides to find other foreign suppliers, not all of them would agree to work with Kiev due to its financial difficulties. The Ukraine doesn’t have the money to afford such shipments. They could ask for help from the IMF or the USA. However, I don’t think they would give them the money. Western politicians are pragmatic. What can Poroshenko give them in exchange? His loyalty [to the West] isn’t enough. The situation in the Ukrainian energy sector is in deadlock. Maybe Kiev should initiate dialogue with the Donbass or ask help from Russia, but Kiev-Moscow ties are very tense now. As I see it, the Ukraine is nearly at a standstill.

19 February 2017

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201702191050837470-ukraine-donbass-energy-crisis/

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Russia World Wheat Exports Leader: Shipping Over 25 Million Tonnes

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On Thursday, the Russian Export Centre told us that Russia became the world leader in wheat exports in 2016:

According to evaluations, in 2016, Russia’s wheat exports exceeded 25 million tonnes, which surpassed last year’s [2015] record by about 14 percent.

The Centre also noted that the USA, the long-standing world leader in wheat exports, exported about 24 million tonnes in 2016, Canada and Australia, about 20 million tonnes, whilst France and the Ukraine exported 18 million tonnes of wheat. According to the Centre, Egypt was the largest importer of Russian wheat, purchasing about 5.7 million tonnes. Other buyers were Turkey, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Sudan, Iran, and Morocco. In 2016, Russia had a record grain harvest, totalling about 119.1 million tonnes, including 73.3 million tonnes of wheat.

26 January 2017

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/russia/201701261050035505-russia-wheat-export-leader/

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

FAO Sez Russia is Now Major Actor on Global Agriculture Markets

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UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva told RIA Novosti:

Russia made significant progress in the agriculture sector; it’s now an important player on global agricultural markets. It’s poised to become the biggest global wheat exporter in 2016/17. Further, our understanding is that forecasts show that Russia’s total cereal production in 2016 will reach record levels. Russia was one of the most important partners of FAO, significantly contributing to global nutrition security. The [Russian-FAO] coöperation revolves around knowledge exchange and provision of technical assistance to developing countries in ensuring food security, food safety, nutrition, and in tackling transnational animal and plant diseases. FAO is also very much interested in attracting Russian expertise to its forestry, fisheries, land/water management, and soil programmes.

Russia provided 6 million USD (366 million Roubles. 41.4 million Renminbi. 405.6 million INR. 7.878 million CAD. 8.028 million AUD. 5.658 million Euros. 4.728 million UK Pounds) to FAO to implement a food and nutrition security project in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Russia is also interested in allocating money for a FAO project for the progressive control of foot-and-mouth disease in the same region. In 2015, during my official visit to the Russian Federation, we signed a 1 million USD (61 million Roubles. 6.9 million Renminbi. 67.6 million INR. 1.313 million CAD. 1.338 million AUD. 943,000 Euros. 788,000 UK Pounds) coöperation agreement to support the Global Soil Partnership. I also hope that FAO and Russia would boost coöperation to support FAO work in post-disaster and emergency situations across the globe. The international community can achieve the ambitious goal of eradicating hunger by 2030. We aren’t talking about simply halving hunger’s scope or reducing the absolute numbers of hungry people… we’re talking about really ending hunger by 2030, and providing healthy sustainable diets to all. This is a bold goal, but we’re convinced that it’s indeed viable and affordable. We can and we must be the Zero Hunger generation.

The struggle against hunger requires multiple efforts in many spheres. The UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, including elimination of hunger and poverty, as well ensuring quality education, are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015. The instability and various conflicts around the world have a negative impact on the issue of global food security, as well as social protection capabilities. Conflict is one of the main… if not the main… drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition. It reduces food availability, disrupts access to food and health care, interrupts food production and agriculture, and undermines social protection systems. Indeed, conflict characterised every famine in the modern era. Some 80 percent of humanitarian funding appeals had links to conflicts, adding that over 56 million people affected by protracted crises were in an emergency level of food insecurity. The FAO exerts efforts to promote stability and food security in conflict-ridden countries such as Nigeria, which deals with the Boko Haram insurgency.

13 December 2016

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/russia/201612131048482533-russia-agriculture-markets/

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