Russian Digest 5/12
Top daily stories I'm keeping an eye on
Finland’s leaders call for NATO membership ‘without delay’
Finland’s leaders said Thursday they’re in favor of rapidly applying for NATO membership, paving the way for a historic expansion of the alliance that could deal a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles with its war in Ukraine.
The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means that Finland is all but certain to join the Western military alliance, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on seeking NATO membership in coming days. via AP
Gazprom indefinitely stopped gas supplies to Germany through Poland
While EU diplomats are trying to negotiate an oil embargo on Russia, the Kremlin is imposing a self-embargo on gas supplies to a key European consumer.
Gazprom is completely abandoning the use of the Yamal-Europe pipeline, built in the 1990s, to supply West Siberian deposits with raw materials to consumers in Germany.
The pipeline with a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters per year, passing through the territory of Belarus and Poland, fell under a package of retaliatory sanctions imposed in accordance with a decree of President Vladimir Putin dated May 3.
The government blacklisted the Polish EuRoPol GAZ, which owns the Polish section of Yamal-Europe. From now on, any transactions are prohibited with it, including payments and deliveries of commodities.
"For Gazprom, this means a ban on the use of the gas pipeline owned by EuRoPol GAZ to transport Russian gas through Poland," Sergey Kupriyanov, an official representative of the gas monopoly, said on Thursday.
The structures of the former subsidiary of Gazprom, Gazprom Germania GmbH, were also subject to the same sanctions, in which the German authorities introduced external management in early April. On Wednesday, Gazprom reduced supplies by 10 million cubic meters per day to the company, which also owns Germany's largest storage facility, Rehden, in Lower Saxony
. » symbolic meaning. The Kremlin is signaling that it will not stop at strangling its main client, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck said.
"The situation is moving to the point where the use of energy as a weapon is becoming a reality," he said.
For deliveries to the EU, Gazprom retains Nord Stream 1 and the Ukrainian transit route, where volumes also began to fall after the national Gas Transmission System Operator (OGTS) shut down the Sokhranovka gas distribution station. Up to a third of the volumes to Europe passed through it.
By and large, Gazprom’s divorce from Europe has already begun, says Maria Belova, an analyst at Vygon Consulting: “It’s now impossible to live in the paradigm that the volume of supplies will increase, so the Russian Federation will have to distribute a much smaller volume of supplies along gas pipeline routes than before.” via Moscow Times
The British government refused to disclose information about the receipt of a peerage title by the son of an ex-employee of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Evgeny Lebedev
The UK government will not make public the details of the Russian businessman and son of a former SVR officer, Yevgeny Lebedev, receiving a life peerage title. Members of parliament insisted on the disclosure of this information, writes The Independent.
"I do not believe it would be in the public interest to publish internal correspondence for the purpose of gaining political points," Michael Ellis, Treasurer General and Secretary of State for the UK Government, said in a statement. This document was sent to the House of Commons of the British Parliament.
Ellis noted that Lebedev has a "good reputation" and "criticized the Putin regime," and the refusal to disclose information about the procedure for granting a peerage to a businessman is connected with "protecting national security." The minister also promised to send detailed information to the parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, which usually meets behind closed doors.
On May 12, the government released only a blank peerage application form that Lebedev filled out, a list of other people who had received the same title with him, and a few e-mails with cuts in the text.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, described the government's stance as "mutual responsibility and cover-up" and "contempt for Parliament". "It's time to get to the bottom of this whole murky case," she added.
Lebedev, who was born in 1980 in Moscow, was awarded a life peerage by Queen Elizabeth in the summer of 2020. Thus, he received the right to sit in the House of Lords (the upper house of Parliament). The owner of Lebedev Holdings, which publishes British newspapers The Independent and Evening Standard, has been recommended for a peerage by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In November 2020, the Queen awarded Lebedev another title - Baron of Hampton and Siberia.
Evgeny Lebedev, 42, has been living in the UK since 1987. In January 2009, his father, banker and former Foreign Intelligence Service officer Alexander Lebedev, bought 75.1% of the British newspaper Evening Standard. Founded in 1986, he acquired the British newspaper The Independent in March 2010 for one pound due to its debts (about $42 million at the rate of 2010). The businessman took over the debts of the publication. These publications were managed by Lebedev Holdings, owned by Lebedev Jr., who received a British passport in the same 2010.
In early March 2022, the British media reported that the British intelligence services were suspicious of the idea of giving a high title to Yevgeny Lebedev. They feared that the title of a Russian would harm national security.
The opposition suggested that friendship with Johnson and contributions to the ruling Conservative Party helped the Russian-born media mogul get the title. via The Insider ru
Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 5 House Republicans, including minority leader
The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Thursday announced that it subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, said that the panel subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). via Washington Post
Russian ships carrying stolen Ukrainian grain turned away from Mediterranean ports -- but not all of them
A Russian merchant ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is now in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping sources and Ukrainian officials.
CNN has identified the vessel as the bulk carrier Matros Pozynich. via CNN
Moscow Times: How corruption in the Russian army and military-industrial complex derailed Putin's blitzkrieg in Ukraine