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Russia and Japan are deepening economic cooperation

Russian-Japanese ties in business are moving ahead at a healthy pace




(New Eastern Outlook) – As is well known, both the geographical position of Japan and its need for the import of hydrocarbon fuels have facilitated the development of relations of that country with Russia. Only the long-standing Kuril Islands dispute stopped Japan from becoming one of the main Russian economic partners even several decades ago.

Not having their own hydrocarbon resources, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, nevertheless, established one of the most powerful industries in the world, by importing fuel from various countries. Whereby Russia, traditionally rich in oil and gas, although a neighbor of Japan, is not included into the list of its main suppliers, all due to somewhat clouded relationship that formed between the two countries after the Second World War.

Now, the main supplier of hydrocarbons to Japan is the Middle East region. The maritime delivery of the large shipments of energy carriers along the whole of the southern coast of Eurasia has always been difficult and costly. In the recent years, several factors emerged that make it even less convenient. One can refer to the instability and the terrorist threat in the Middle East, as well as the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR). Japan, discomforted by the strengthening of China’s positions across the whole of Asia, is not particularly enthusiastic about OBOR and its subproject ‘The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’, which is aiming at uniting all the maritime routes along the coast of Eurasia into a single system, including the routes by which Japan is getting the hydrocarbons from the Middle East. China brings under control the key ports on this route, and Japan has started to be concerned over its energy security. All this is happening against the background of weakening the positions of the USA in the Indo-Pacific region, who is considered the traditional Japanese ally and partner. Obviously, all these processes in their integrity make Japan take a fresh look at its relations with Russia. Now, the cooperation between Russia and the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ is actively being promoted, in the spheres of energy, finances and transportation.

The end of 2017 was remarkable by much news on the Russian-Japanese co-operation. This is related to the regular meeting of the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov and TarōKōno from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, that took place on 24th November in Moscow. The two ministers discussed in detail the array of issues on the bilateral interaction, including the prospects of the joint economic activity on the Kuril Islands.

On the same day, the 13th meeting of the Russian-Japanese Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Issues took place, where the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Igor Shuvalov and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Tarō Kōno were present. The issues of Russian-Japanese co-operation in the sphere of transport, energy and high technologies were discussed. The following topics were touched upon: participation of Japan in the development of Arctic gas fields and in the development of the Russian Far East, joint investment projects and many other issues. Upon conclusion of the meeting, Tarō Kōno announced that the Russian-Japanese relations have a huge potential, and that it is necessary to do everything possible for its implementation.

Soon after the meeting by both the heads of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission, one news after another started to emerge in the mass media, regarding the co-operation of the major Russian and Japanese companies.

In early December 2017, in Moscow, the Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, Alexey Miller met Nobuhide Hayashi, Chairman at Mizuho Bank Ltd. Mizuho Bank Ltd. is one of the largest financial organizations in Japan, with which Gazprom has been successfully co-operating since 1999. The topic for negotiations was the possibility for capital participation of Mizuho Bank in the strategic projects of Gazprom, whereby the Russian corporation is going to start working on these projects in 2018. Mizuho Bank can invest its facilities into such projects as gas pipeline ‘Power of Siberia-1’, TurkStream, Nord Stream 2, Amur Gaz Processing Plant and others.

At the same time, the mass media informed us of the commencement of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production on the first processing train of the new Russian plant built on the Yamal Peninsula within the framework of the project ‘Yamal LNG’. This plant is being built with the participation of Russian and foreign companies, using the South Tambey Field as a resource base in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District of the Russian Federation. As soon as on 8th December 2017, the first loading of LNG was launched onto the tanker in Sabetta – the Russian Arctic port in the center of the Northern Sea Route. The launch of the second and third parts of the projects, known as processing trains, is scheduled for 2018-19, however the operational capacity is already sufficient to produce 5.5 million tons of LNG per year. The joint-venture parties – the Japanese construction companies JGC Corporation and Chiyoda Corporation, who have completed numerous projects in the gas industry, participated in the development of the Yamal LNG Project.

As is well known, Japan is included into the list of the major global importers of LNG, whereby it is much closer to the Northern Sea Route than China and South Korea. Possibly, it will be the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ that will become the main consumer of Yamal LNG.

The Yamal project (ОАО ‘Yamal LNG’) is majority owned by the private Russian gas company Novatek, which is the second largest gas producer in the Russian Federation. It actively participated in the development of gas fields of the Far North of Russia and in the development of the Northern Sea Route. Novatek pursues strategic co-operation with the Japanese partners: in late November 2017, it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. The three companies are intending to explore options for a liquefied natural gas complex in Russia’s Kamchatka Region, envisaging both transshipping and marketing. According to the plan, LNG brought by ice-breaking tankers along the Northern Sea Route, will be reloaded onto the conventional tankers to reduce the carrier cost. From this point, LNG will be delivered to all the interested countries of Asia-Pacific Region, first to Japan, territorially close to Kamchatka Region. It is expected that the Japanese companies will make major investments into the project. Also, it is reported that the project received support of the Kamchatka Region government, as part of the gas will be used for the needs of this region of the Russian Federation.

Transport is one more important sphere of the Russian-Japanese co-operation. As it was mentioned above, China and its ‘The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’ play an increasingly significant role in the maritime cargo traffic along the southern coast of Eurasia, in which Japan does not wish to participate as the junior partner. It is not impossible that the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ will need alternative routes of communication with the countries of the Eurasian continent, free from the Chinese influence. Regarding this, Japan shows interest for the Russian Trans-Siberian Railway, as well as for the Northern Sea Route going along the northern coast of Eurasia. In early December 2017, the Holding ‘Russian Railways’ announced the creation of ‘one stop shop’ for Japanese companies intending to deliver cargos to Russia and Europe via the ports of the Russian Far East along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Representatives of Japanese companies can receive any necessary information on transport management via the territory of the Russian Federation, within a short time.

In mid-December 2017, it became known that the major Japanese trading companies SBI Holdings and Hokkaido Corporation decided to unite their efforts to provide assistance to small Japanese companies wishing to do business in Russia. The firms wishing to open their facilities and conduct business on the territory of the Russian Federation, will be given financial and informational support.

Thus, one can draw a conclusion that Russian-Japanese relations are likely to experience a prosperity phase. It is to be hoped that the parties will be able to consolidate the achieved success, and the co-operation of Russian and Japan will be developing steadily towards the mutual benefit and for the good of the whole Asia-Pacific Region.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch



The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.





Via RT…

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.



Via Zerohedge

In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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