Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Putin invites Modi to Vladivostok

Indian Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Putin shake hands before a bilateral meet in Xiamen, China on 4 September 2017 [PPIO]


Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended an invitation to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the Vladivostock Economic Forum in September of this year.

The Kremlin said that the two leaders who maintain a strategic partnership spoke over the phone on Monday and discussed boosting their joint trade and projects portfolio and engaing the Asia-Pacific region.

The phone call comes as a follow-up to a trilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well in Buenos Aires on November 30 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit there.

The three leaders at the time had agreed to boost coordination and strengthen multilateralism at a time when populism and isolationism were sweeping through Europe and North America.

During their Monday phone conversation, Modi and Putin said they were dedicated to a multilateral approach to resolving important world issues, among them fighting global terrorism.

India and Russia enjoy a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership” which has grown stronger over the past seven decades.

The two strategic allies have worked together in many multilateral platforms such as BRICS – along with Brazil, China and South Africa – as well as meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly every year.

Modi last visited Russia during an informal meeting in the resort port of Sochi in May 2018.

At the time, one of the central issues was the conclusion of Russian arms exports to India, including the advanced anti-missile S-400 weapons system. During Putin’s visit to New Delhi in Octoberto mark the 19th India-Russia bilateral annual summit, the two countries finalized the delivery of the S-400 system.

Last week, Indian officials said that they expect first delivery of the S-400 system in October 2020.

With a range of 400 kilometers, S-400 Triumf is designed to shield from air strikes, strategic, cruise, tactical and operating tactical ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles.

The S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft and VLO (Very Low Observable) craft. The S-400 can seek and destroy targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 32 km.

Military analysts say that acquiring the S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defense missile systems will “drastically” boost India’s war potential, capacity and capability.

India has defied pressure from the US to cancel the arms weapons purchases from Russia on the pretext that it could violate US congressional sanctions on Moscow.

The two countries have been trying to finalize the arms deal, particularly of the S-400 system, since 2015.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Spy or tourist in Russia? The strange case of Paul Whelan

The arrest of US former marine Paul Whelan in Russia has sparked intrigue across the globe. Is he a spy or just an innocent American tourist caught in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Sunday papers – 6 January 2019

Sunday papers – 6 January 2019

Brexit

Remainers have a plan to stop a hard Brexit, says the Times.

An all-party group of senior MPs will launch an audacious attempt to derail a no-deal Brexit this week by starving the government of cash and creating a Donald Trump-style shutdown.
MPs will vote on Tuesday on two amendments to the Finance Bill that would lead to a gridlock in Whitehall unless Theresa May wins approval from parliament for a deal with Brussels.
The former Labour cabinet minister Yvette Cooper is at the head of a group of select committee leaders who have tabled an amendment that would rob the Treasury of its no-deal powers if ministers pressed ahead without the support of MPs.

And yet other MPs are promoting the case for a WTO exit, says Westmonster.

Conservative Lord Lilley and Labour Councillor Brendan Chilton have come together to make the cross-party case for the increasingly popular choice of a No Deal Brexit, arguing that it means “cashing in, not crashing out”.
With a report co-authored by the pair due to be circulated to MPs on Monday, Lord Lilley told The Telegraph: “The government is clearly determined to play up the supposed horrors of leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement in the hope of persuading MPs to vote for the EU’s unloved draft ‘deal’.
“The government is in the bizarre position of preparing to leave on WTO terms, while pretending that its preparations will be unsuccessful.”

The top Tory has produced a report decimating the PM’s deal, says the Express.

SENIOR Tory Lord Lilley has set out a 30-point report rejecting the Theresa May’s “apocalyptic” vision of the impact of no-deal Brexit.
The former trade secretary accused the Prime Minister of trying to “play up the supposed horrors” of leaving the European Union on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. And he has written a report, which will be sent out to MPs on Monday, listing what he describes as 30 “truths” about leaving the EU without a deal.
He said: “The Government is clearly determined to play up the supposed horrors of leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement in the hope of persuading MPs to vote for the EU’s unloved draft ‘deal’.

Back in Parliament, yet again the PM is thinking of postponing the ‘meaningful vote’ she knows she’ll lose, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May is poised to play for time by further postponing a final vote on her Brexit deal next week.
The Prime Minister’s aides are believed to be drawing up a plan to make MPs’ approval of the deal conditional on the European Union providing further concessions.
The move is intended to help limit the scale of opposition to the vote, while buying time amid ongoing negotiations with European Union leaders.
A Whitehall source said that while the “tone” of conversations between Downing Street and Brussels had improved since mid-December, the two sides remained “far apart” on what each were prepared to accept.

A leading Brexiteer has told the PM she won’t get the vote through the House, says the Mail.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned Theresa May that Brexiteer MPs are preparing to vote down her withdrawal agreement.
Mr Rees-Mogg said Brexiteer MPs had ‘not gone soft over Christmas‘, adding that he expected more than 100 Tories to revolt against the withdrawal agreement, along with DUP MPs from Northern Ireland, the Sunday Express reported.
Conservative activists are also reportedly refusing to campaign or raise funds as the Prime Minister faces further challenges to her leadership.
Last week a poll of party members revealed 53 per cent supported no deal, compared to 23 per cent who backed Mrs May’s EU deal.

But she’s still spitting out warnings, reports the Mail.

Theresa May today warns her rebellious MPs: back my Brexit  deal or voters will lose their jobs.
The Prime Minister uses an article in today’s Mail on Sunday to issue a patriotic rallying cry, telling her opponents that they ‘must realise the risks they are running with our democracy’.
With days to go until the Commons showdown on her deal, Mrs May says that MPs thinking of voting it down should consider the effect on ‘the jobs our constituents rely on to put food on the table for their families’.

And the Sun also reports jobs could be at risk.

THERESA May has warned rebel MPs to back her Brexit deal or risk losing jobs for ordinary, hard-working Brits.
The PM says the fractured House just days away from the vital Commons showdown.
Writing in the Mail on SundayMay warned politicians to think about ” ‘the jobs our constituents rely on to put food on the table for their families”.
The vote was delayed in December as rebels, Labour and DUP joined forces looking to defeat her plan over the Irish “backstop”.

A new advice website will be launched next week, reports the Sun.

BRITS are set to get personalised advice on how to cope with a No Deal Brexit from next week.
A website will go live on Tuesday telling members of the public and businesses what to do if we leave the EU without a deal.
It will be promoted with billboards, posters and newspaper ads – as well as a possible TV advertising campaign.
The No Deal website will be divided into four main sections, Whitehall sources said.
It will give information to British residents, UK businesses, EU citizens based here and Brits living on the continent.
The site is intended to reassure all four groups that No Deal  won’t upend their lives and livelihoods.

People’s Vote

Fewer people marched with the People’s Vote campaign than was officially claimed, reports the Express.

THE PEOPLE’s Vote campaign has been accused of deliberately misleading voters and politicians as figures suggest that October’s march was only attended by roughly a third of the number organisers originally claimed, according to an official estimate.
The “historic” march which was in favour of a second Brexit referendum claimed that more than 700,000 people marched in central London last year. However, a debriefing document prepared by the Greater London Authority put the number of attendees at only 250,000- a figure significantly below the campaign group’s estimate. In response, the group has been accused of deliberately misleading voters and politicians about its level of support.
The People’s Vote campaign insists its estimates were “based on intelligence from both volunteers and professional stewards”.

EU

The European Union aren’t playing ball either, says the Independent.

Theresa May’s hopes of securing the legally binding changes needed to win support for her Brexit deal are fading, after EU sources said it was unlikely there would be a new European summit to approve them.
An emergency council like the one held in November would be needed to sanction any changes that would have legal force.
But diplomats have told The Independent that any concessions offered would be unlikely to require a meeting.
It means any alterations or new language secured by the prime minister will probably not satisfy enough rebel Tories or her DUP partners in government to win the Commons vote expected in the coming weeks.

Labour Party

Meanwhile, the official opposition is not united, says the Independent.

Thousands of Labour members have demanded their party oppose Theresa May’s Brexit deal and back a second referendum over EU membership. The call comes before a key party gathering which will be held amid warnings that some are already ending their membership over the issue.
The pressure emerges as the biggest Brexit poll conducted since the referendum suggests support for Labour would fall significantly should it back or allow its MPs to back a Brexit agreement. More than 5,000 Labour members and supporters have contacted the party before its policy meeting of senior figures this week.

And it seems the party is moving to the left, reports the Independent.

New evidence of Labour’s shift to the left has emerged as candidates backed by Unite and Momentum are set to dominate the battle for marginal seats in the next election.
More than a third of the candidates selected to fight marginals for Labour were backed by, or closely aligned with, the leftwing pressure group Momentum, while nearly half were backed by Unite, the union closest to Corbyn.
Labour has chosen its candidates for 96 marginals – held by opposition-party MPs with majorities smaller than 10,000 – in preparation for a snap election. Should it win all of them, it would have a majority of 28 in parliament.

Migration

Away from Parliament, the Telegraph reports that asylum seekers could face more difficulties in their claims.

Sajid Javid is seeking to tighten up rules on asylum claims to help deter migrants from attempting to exploit Britain’s immigration system, The Telegraph understands.
The Home Secretary has asked officials to examine how existing rules could be toughened to turn away individuals who failed to claim asylum in the first safe country they entered after leaving their home states.
The move, which is expected to be announced this week, is likely to be welcomed by Conservative MPs who praised comments by Mr Javid last week in which he questioned whether scores of migrants crossing the English Channel were “genuine” asylum seekers.

Universal credit

The new benefit could face further delays, says the Mail.

The next roll-out of the government’s Universal Credit programme (UC) is set to be overhauled following widespread criticism of the extension of the flagship welfare reform.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is to scrap an imminent Commons vote on plans which if implemented, would allow existing claimants of relevant benefits to be moved onto the new all-in-one payment.
Instead she plans to seek approval to move just 10,000 claimants onto UC to monitor the way the system works.
Despite the move, allies of Ms Rudd have said the decision was not due to fear of a Tory revolt but because it was the right way to handle the change.

The Independent also has the story.

The roll-out of the government’s flagship welfare programme is to be overhauled amid dire warnings about its impact on the vulnerable, the Observer understands.
Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, is to scrap plans for an imminent parliamentary vote allowing 3 million existing welfare claimants to be transferred to the controversial universal credit system. The move is expected to be part of a major rethink designed to quell concerns about the programme’s roll-out and avoid a damaging Tory rebellion.

Education

Should children choose who teaches them?  The Times reports:

Children should be allowed to choose their teachers, according to the leader of the country’s top private schools.
Shaun Fenton, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents schools including Eton and Winchester, is launching a campaign for children to sit on interviewing panels and select new teachers.
“We all know from our own schooldays that students can sniff out a bad teacher at 50 paces. We did it when we were at school and today’s schoolchildren have not lost that instinct. They get it right,” he explained.

Universities look like they have joined Project Fear, says the Independent.

University leaders have said that a no-deal Brexit would constitute “one of the biggest threats” ever faced by the sector, as figures revealed a further decline in EU student enrolment, particularly in postgraduate research.
According to the Russell Group of universities, there was a 9% decrease in the number of EU postgraduate research students enrolling at its institutions this academic year. The fall follows a 9% decline the previous year, and has potential consequences for Britain’s research capacity.
Dr Hollie Chandler, a senior policy analyst at the 24-strong group of leading universities, described the decline as “troubling” and said that were the UK to leave the EU without a deal, it would only increase uncertainty among prospective students from the rest of Europe.

Money could change the makeup of our universities, says the Times.

British students will soon be outnumbered at some top universities as vice-chancellors target lucrative overseas students to stay afloat amid a financial “triple whammy”.
Sir Anton Muscatelli, vice-chancellor of Glasgow University and chairman of the Russell Group, which represents the country’s 24 leading institutions, said leading universities were now likely to try to recruit many more overseas students — particularly from China and India — to offset a series of financial challenges.

But the PM is under pressure over fees, reports the Independent.

Theresa May is facing a growing clamour among senior Tories to resist cutting university tuition fees, with warnings that it would dent social mobility, benefit the wealthy and put some institutions out of business.
Justine Greening, the former education secretary, and former university ministers Jo Johnson and David Willetts spoke out amid mounting expectations that a review of higher education could back a cut to the maximum fees of £9,250 a year for some courses. All warned against a headline cut in fees.
May is also being warned privately she will never be able to secure support for a cut in fees in the Commons. It comes as some universities sound the alarm about their finances, with competition for students increasing and the threat of a “no deal” Brexit causing further uncertainty.

Health

New mums and dads could receive further support, says the Telegraph.

New mothers and fathers will be offered mental health support for two years after the birth of their child, under Theresa May’s plan for the NHS.
The Government is to announce that it will double the one-year period during which women currently have access to psychiatric assessments and care after birth.
Their partners will now also be offered mental health services, as part of plans to address post-natal depression among parents.
The announcement comes as part of a new NHS strategy that makes use of a £20.5 billion a year funding boost agreed by Mrs May.

Obesity is growing – and causing additional problems, says the Times.

More than 41,000 obese people needed hip or knee replacement operations because of their condition last year — including seven teenage girls, The Sunday Times can reveal.
Our investigation found that the numbers of obese patients who have had joint replacement surgery have soared six-fold in only eight years from 6,191 in 2009-10 to 41,761 in 2017-18.
This 575% increase in operations now costs the NHS £200m a year.
The figures underline the scale of Britain’s weight problem but are a fraction of the spiralling £6bn cost of obesity to the NHS budget, which is already reeling under the burden of a rapidly expanding ageing population.

And those of us who could afford to lose a few pounds could be targeted about our habits, reports the Times.

Patients who place the heaviest burdens on the NHS will be targeted with hectoring adverts on social media about drinking, smoking and eating junk food as part of plans to overhaul the health service.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has ordered an end to “nanny state” nagging of the entire population because the messages do not work and irritate people who live healthy lifestyles.
Public Health England will instead be told to target those who are obese, smokers and people who drink to excess.
In an interview with The Sunday Times he revealed he had ordered the Whitehall behavioural insights team — known as the “nudge unit” — to advise on ways of persuading people to live more healthily.

But epileptics could still receive their medication if there’s a shortage, says the Times.

The government yesterday pledged to exempt 600,000 epilepsy patients from its plans for post-Brexit medicine supplies after experts said some could die.
The Department of Health and Social Care is proposing to give pharmacists powers to dispense alternative drugs if those prescribed by GPs are in short supply after Britain leaves the EU.
But the heads of Britain’s largest epilepsy groups claim that changing medication will raise the risk of seizures, leading to deaths.
In a letter to The Sunday Times, they say: “The government’s planned use of serious shortage protocols as emergency powers to authorise pharmacists to overrule medical prescriptions is frightening.
“People with epilepsy risk developing seizures if their usual medication is altered.”

France

Meanwhile, the riots over the Channel continue, says the Mail.

Masked thugs broke into a French government ministry tonight – leading to the ’emergency evacuation’ of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux during a day of Yellow Vests rioting.
The 41-year-old, who is one of President Emmanuel Macron’s most senior lieutenants, was rushed to safety by police during the drama.
Dramatic footage shows how a forklift taken from a nearby construction site was used to smash through the entrance of the building.
‘Around fifteen masked people dressed in black broke into Mr Griveaux’s office at about 4.30 on Saturday,’ said an investigating source.
‘His staff had heard the group approaching, and managed to get him to safety, and he was unhurt. Video is being studied to try and identify those involved. There were Yellow Vest protesters in the vicinity.’
All of those involved managed to escape without any immediate arrests, said the source.

The police are fighting back, reports Breitbart.

French security forces fired tear gas and flash-balls after a march through picturesque central Paris went from peaceful to provocative Saturday as several thousand protesters staged the yellow vest movement’s first action of 2019 to keep up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron.
A river boat restaurant moored below the clashes on the Left Bank of the Seine River caught fire. Smoke and tear gas wafted above the Orsay Museum and the gold dome of the French Academy as riot police, nearly invisible at the start of the demonstration, moved front and center when protesters deviated from an officially approved path.
Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a car were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain, a main Left Bank thoroughfare. Riot police and firefighters moved in, and barricades mounted in the middle of the wide street also glowed in orange flames.

Russia

A new spy network is being set up by the Russians, says the Telegraph.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service is trying to set up a new spy network in Britain after the military unit behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack was dismantled in the UK, according to well-placed sources.
Authorities are increasingly concerned by attempts by the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, to re-establish a foothold in Britain. Officials are confident that the GRU, the agency responsible for the attempted assassination of Colonel Sergei Skripal, has been effectively neutralised.

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