• The I.M.F.’s Data Disagree With the NYT on the State of Russia’s Economy | Beat the Press

    The NYT headlined a piece on the dismal state of Russia’s economy, “Russia economy worsens even before sanctions hit.” The piece goes on to describe an economy in decline telling readers about Russians moving abroad and storing cash in safe deposit boxes and foreign currencies. It reports:

    “Russia’s $2 trillion economy was suffering from stagflation, that toxic mix of stagnant growth and high inflation typically accompanied by a spike in unemployment. In Russia, joblessness remains low, but only because years of population decline have produced a shrunken, inadequate labor force.”

    The data from the I.M.F. tell a somewhat different picture. While growth has slowed in the last two years, per capita income has more than doubled in the country since Vladimir Putin took office in 1998. The NYT may not like Russia’s “shrunken inadequate labor force,” but members of this shrunken, inadequate labor force probably care more about the unemployment rate than the NYT’s condemnations.

    The I.M.F. projects an inflation rate of 6.2 percent for both this year and next. This is high for members of the 2.0 percent inflation cult that occupies central banks in the west and top economics departments, but folks familiar with economic data know that many countries have had long stretches of healthy growth with higher inflation rates. While the piece did find people who were unhappy about this inflation rate, people with better memories would recall that Russia had double-digit inflation as recently as 2008.

    While the private equity investor who is one of the main sources for the piece predicts that Russia will default on its debt, it’s difficult to see the basis for this assertion in the data. The I.M.F. reports that it has a deficit of less than 1.0 percent of GDP and its debt-to-GDP ratio have been on a downward course. It has a current account surplus. Furthermore, the I.M.F. shows that investment is almost 24 percent of GDP. This compares to less than 20 percent in the United States.

    In short, the data for Russia reported by the I.M.F. would be consistent with the 80 percent approval rating for Putin that the article mentions, even if the economic picture painted by the NYT is not.

  • Armenia: Customs Union Marks Great Leap Backward — Activists |

    While President Serzh Sargsyan’s administration touts Armenia’s pending accession to the Russia-led Customs Union as likely to usher in an era of prosperity for the South Caucasus country, rights activists assert that when it comes to democratization, Customs Union membership means Yerevan will take “one step forward, two steps back.”

    #arménie #russie #union_douanière

  • What Is Putin’s ‘New Russia’? -

    MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, appearing cool and confident on national television during a four-hour question-and-answer show on Thursday, referred repeatedly to southeastern Ukraine as “New Russia,” a historical term for the area north of the Black Sea that the Russian empire conquered in the 1700s. “God knows” why the region became part of Ukraine in the 1920s, he said in response to a questioner, a strong signal that he would gladly correct that error.

    #ukraine #russie #nouvelle_russie

  • Keith Darden | How to Save Ukraine | Foreign Affairs

    ... inattention to Ukraine’s internal demons reflects a dangerous misreading of current events; the struggle between Russia and the West has been a catalyst, but not a cause. The protagonists in this conflict are subnational regions. The EU association process, and especially the protests, repression, and revolution that followed, activated very deep and long-standing divisions between them. Unless Kiev deals with its regions and installs a more legitimate, decentralized government, Ukraine will not be won by the East or the West. It will be torn apart.

  • Ukraine’s Push East Falters as Militants Seize Army Vehicles -

    SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — A highly publicized Ukrainian Army operation to retake control of Slovyansk and other eastern cities from pro-Russia insurgents appeared to falter badly on Wednesday, with one column of armored vehicles abandoned to militant separatists and another ground to a halt by unarmed protesters blocking its path.

    UKRAINE. La déroute de Kiev face aux séparatistes pro-russes - Le Nouvel Observateur

    Des militaires ukrainiens ont déposé leurs armes devant des groupes séparatistes pro-russes. Ces derniers ont capturés six blindés.

  • How NATO Helped Start the Crisis in Ukraine

    This video lays out NATO expansion and the associated betrayal of Russia in one simple video. If Ukraine and Russia fall into a shooting war, the US public will be partially to blame for ignoring...

  • Military spending continues to fall in the West but rises everywhere else, says SIPRI - Press release

    The next three highest spenders—China, Russia and Saudi Arabia—all made substantial increases, with Saudi Arabia leapfrogging the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender. China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the 23 countries around the world that have more than doubled their military expenditure since 2004.

  • Israel to U.S.: Opposing Russia would endanger our security - Haaretz
    By Barak Ravid | Apr. 14, 2014

    Israel has told the United States over the past two weeks of its concerns that taking a public stance against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine could cause real damage to its security interests, an Israeli official involved in the talks with Washington told Haaretz on Sunday.

    Haaretz reported on Sunday that Washington is incensed that Jerusalem has not come out openly against Russia’s takeover of the Crimean peninsula. A senior U.S. official said one of the reasons for the White House’s anger was Israel’s absence two weeks ago at a UN General Assembly vote to condemn the Russian invasion and support Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

    The talks over the past two weeks, in which Israel explained its position on Ukraine and why it was absent from the vote, have been taking place both at the working diplomatic level on both sides, but also at a more senior rank. The Israeli official said that while both the U.S. State Department and Congress have shown understanding for Israel’s position, the White House remained unconvinced by the explanations.

    American dissatisfaction with Israel’s policy came up in a meeting last week in Washington between Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Leiberman explained that Israel had not attended the UN vote because of the Foreign Ministry employees’ strike. He said that during the last strike, three years ago, then-president of Russia Dmitry Medvedev had to call off a planned visit to Israel at the last minute, and the Russians had understood and not been angry. Rice listened to Lieberman, but stressed that the administration was disappointed in Israel’s conduct.

  • U.S. officials angry: Israel doesn’t back stance on Russia
    Haaretz By Barak Ravid | Apr. 13, 2014

    White House and State Department officials in Washington have built up a great deal of anger over Jerusalem’s “neutrality” regarding Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. Senior figures in the Obama administration have expressed great disappointment with the lack of support from Israel for the American position on the Ukraine crisis and with the fact that the Israeli government puts its relations with the United States and with Russia on the same plane.

    One senior U.S. official noted that one of the reasons for the anger in the White House was Israel’s absence from the UN General Assembly vote about two weeks ago on a resolution censuring the Russian invasion and expressing support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

    “We have been consulting closely on Ukraine not only with our partners and allies around the world," a senior U.S. official told Haaretz. "Obviously we are looking to the entire international community to condemn Russia’s actions and to support Ukraine, so we were surprised to see that Israel did not join the large majority of countries that voted to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity at the United Nations.”

  • Israël et l’Ukraine : une ambiguïté extrême

    • La position d’Israël vis-à-vis de la crise ukrainienne est d’une ambiguïté exemplaire. • Les liens avec Moscou comptent-ils plus dans ce cas que les liens avec Washington ?

    • U.S. officials angry: Israel doesn’t back stance on Russia
      Amid tension, Netanyahu backs out of event he was invited to personally by Putin.
      By Barak Ravid
      Published 02:49 13.04.14

      White House and State Department officials in Washington have built up a great deal of anger over Jerusalem’s “neutrality” regarding Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. Senior figures in the Obama administration have expressed great disappointment with the lack of support from Israel for the American position on the Ukraine crisis and with the fact that the Israeli government puts its relations with the United States and with Russia on the same plane.

      One senior U.S. official noted that one of the reasons for the anger in the White House was Israel’s absence from the UN General Assembly vote about two weeks ago on a resolution censuring the Russian invasion and expressing support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

      “We have been consulting closely on Ukraine not only with our partners and allies around the world," a senior U.S. official told Haaretz. "Obviously we are looking to the entire international community to condemn Russia’s actions and to support Ukraine, so we were surprised to see that Israel did not join the large majority of countries that voted to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity at the United Nations.”

      A senior Israeli official said that Israel’s absence from the United Nations vote was viewed around the world as an extremely irregular measure, a departure from a long-standing Israeli policy of voting with the United States in the UN. While the Americans viewed Israel’s behavior as ungrateful, in light of Washington’s unshakable support for Jerusalem in the UN, in the Kremlin and in the Russian media Israel’s action was seen as an expression of support for Moscow, or at the very least a lack of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

      According to the Israeli official, in response to U.S. inquiries Israel attributed its absence at the vote to the strike by the Foreign Ministry’s employees. The White House and the State Department found the explanation wanting, especially in light of the lack of advanced notice from Jerusalem.

  • Westinghouse, Ukraine Close to Nuclear Fuel Deal - Nuclear Power Industry News - Nuclear Power Industry News - Nuclear Street - Nuclear Power Plant Portal (7/04/14)

    With tensions high between Ukraine and Russia, its traditional supplier of nuclear fuel, Ukrainian media reported that the country is close to a deal to expand its fuel purchases from Westinghouse.

    A Westinghouse executive on Friday told the Kyiv Post that the company plans to increase fuel deliveries starting this year through 2020. The company has supplied fuel for two reactors at Yuzhnoukrainsk under a 2008 agreement. The new contract would open additional units in Ukraine’s 15-reactor fleet to Westinghouse sales.

    Nuclear plants provide about half of the country’s power, according to the World Nuclear Association. They are all of Russian design, and Russia provides enrichment of Ukrainian uranium and most of the services required for Ukraine’s fuel cycle. The value of potential orders from Westinghouse under a new agreement was not announced. The company’s earlier Ukrainian contract spanned five years and has been estimated at $100 million.

    L’Ukraine possède 15 réacteurs de production d’électricité dans 4 centrales nucléaires.éaires_d'Ukraine
    Il s’agit ici de celle de Sud-Ukraine (Konstantinovka).

    Rosatom, fournisseur (russe) actuel du carburant s’inquiète (10/04/14)
    ITAR-TASS : World - Security in threat if decision on US nuclear fuel for Ukraine NPPs political

    If Ukraine’s choice of US nuclear company Westinghouse to deliver fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants is a political decision this may pose a threat to security, head of Russian state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom Sergey Kiriyenko told reporters on Thursday.

    Il invoque des incidents qui seraient survenus en 2011-12 à la suite de la fourniture d’assemblages de Westinghouse.

    In 2012 the problem was settled as the Ukrainian nuclear watchdog decided to ban further Westinghouse fuel operation upon results of these experiments due to violation of technical requirements.
    He also added that if “a decision is taken in line with international logic with a check of reliability and specific tests, all parameters will be observed upon results of these trials, then this is absolutely normal.”
    “If this is a political decision, this is really alarming,” he added.

    Deux remarques :
    • si le nucléaire c’était politique, ça se saurait…
    • on ne perd vraiment pas de temps à faire des affaires.

  • Jordanian king in Moscow to discuss bilateral ties

    Russia’s President #Vladimir_Putin (R) shakes hands with #Jordan's King Abdullah II during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on April 9, 2014. Putin hosted today Jordan’s King Abdullah II for talks on #syria, nuclear energy and defence. (Photo: AFP- Ria-Novosti / Pool/ Alexey) #Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Jordan’s King Abdullah II during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on April 9, 2014. Putin hosted today Jordan’s King Abdullah II for talks on Syria, nuclear energy and defence. (Photo: AFP- Ria-Novosti / Pool/ Alexey)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin joked with his visitor King Abdullah II of Jordan in front of journalists (...)

    #Mideast_&_North_Africa #Articles #Daraa #Iraq #King_Abdallah_II #Lebanon

  • #Iran and world powers enter second day of nuclear talks

    Iran and world powers were set for a second day of nuclear talks Wednesday hoping to move to the next level and start drafting a historic and highly ambitious final deal next month. Threatening to drive a wedge between the powers, however, is the crisis over Ukraine, which has led to the biggest standoff between #Russia and the West since the Cold War. Iran and the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany want to transform a temporary accord struck in November into a permanent agreement before it lapses on July 20. read more

    #nuclear_program #Top_News #US

  • Call climate change what it is: #violence

    If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

    But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

    So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.

    Or so I thought when I received a press release last week from a climate group announcing that “scientists say there is a direct link between changing climate and an increase in violence”. What the scientists actually said, in a not-so-newsworthy article in Nature two and a half years ago, is that there is higher conflict in the tropics in El Nino years, and that perhaps this will scale up to make our age of climate change also an era of civil and international conflict.

    The message is that ordinary people will behave badly in an era of intensified climate change.

    All this makes sense, unless you go back to the premise and note that climate change is itself violence. Extreme, horrific, longterm, widespread violence.

    #climat #criminalité_en_col_blanc

    • I suspect people will be revolting in the coming future against what they revolted against in the past: the injustices of the system. They should revolt, and we should be glad they do, if not so glad that they need to.

      C’est une bonne réponse à l’article signalé par @reka sur l’augmentation de la violence engendrée par les changements climatiques (, et plus généralement à la vision sécuritaire de l’adaptation.

  • Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine demand Crimean-style referendum - World Socialist Web Site

    Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine demand Crimean-style referendum
    By Johannes Stern

    8 April 2014

    Tensions between the Western-backed interim government in Kiev and the eastern parts of Ukraine with close economic and linguistic ties to Russia are escalating, posing the threat not only of civil war in Ukraine, but of military conflict between the imperialist powers and Russia.

    #russie #ukraine

  • Syria, Russia and Ukraine - World Socialist Web Site

    Syria, Russia and Ukraine
    By Jean Shaoul
    8 April 2014

    The targeting of Russia by the United States and other NATO powers is an attempt to control the former Soviet Republics in the Caucasian landmass that provide both vital energy resources and transport routes between Asia, Europe and Africa. This may appear as being in conflict with the Obama administration’s declared “pivot to Asia” that is aimed at reducing the role of China and its regional allies, Iran and Russia in the world economy. In reality, it is part of the same strategy for world domination.

    #syrie #russie #ukraine

  • NATO’s aggression against Russia and the danger of war in Europe - World Socialist Web Site

    NATO’s aggression against Russia and the danger of war in Europe
    7 April 2014

    Since they mounted a coup in Kiev on February 22 with the aid of oligarchs and fascists, the United States and its allies in NATO have outlined measures against Russia that are tantamount to an unofficial declaration of war. In the space of just six weeks, the NATO powers have gone from helping stage a putsch, to imposing sanctions against Russia, to the most extensive military build-up in Europe since the Cold War.

    The speed of these developments testifies to the fact that the coup against the Yanukovych regime was not the unexpected catalytic event it was made out to be, but a provocation carried out for the purpose of implementing plans long in preparation.

    #russie #crimée #ukraine #otan

  • Europe Has Several Possible Replacements For Russian Gas But All Are Risky, Expensive And Will Take Years To Develop

    Vladimir Putin’s rapid annexation of Crimea has sparked a new urgency in the European Union to find energy supplies outside Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, but weaning the EU from Russian gas will be slow and difficult.

    The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded as much six months ago, when it published an extensive report on Western Europe’s energy security. That report discussed a handful of alternatives to Russia’s Gazprom, including North African gas, Central Asian gas and U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, concluding that although the options are many, completely replacing Russian gas will be difficult if not impossible, and each option faces significant challenges.

    Little did the report’s authors know how prophetic their words were when they wrote last August, “The 28 member-state European Union (EU) has been a growing natural gas consumer and importer for decades. As Europe’s natural gas production has declined in recent years, its dependence on imported natural gas has increased. This has left it more dependent as a whole on its primary supplier, Russia, which has shown some inclination to use its resources for political ends.”

    In 2012, Gazprom accounted for 34 percent of the European Union’s natural gas imports, CRS found. Norway accounts for another 35 percent of natural gas imports, making it the lead supplier to the EU, and Algeria is the third-largest supplier to the 28 member countries, which import 64 percent of their natural gas supply.

    Little has changed since the CRS report, a senior analyst for the U.S. government said Thursday. He believes Europe’s best option to decrease dependency on Russia is within its own borders — to increase interconnectivity of existing pipelines, increase gas storage and increase transparency that would allow companies to calculate costs of transport between countries.

    In North Africa, new political leadership and vast reserves mean some countries like Algeria, Libya and Egypt have the potential to become some of the largest European suppliers. The three countries together could provide about 44 percent of what Russia does today, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

    But problems with infrastructure and political instability are getting in the way.

    Algeria is the second-largest exporter on the continent and could possibly have more gas in shale resources than in its current reserves.

    “Algeria could become a more significant gas producer and exporter. However, a difficult business environment may continue to limit its potential,” the CRS report reads.

    In 2011, a consortium led by the Algerian state-owned Sonatrach opened the Medgaz natural gas pipeline that runs to Spain. But Spain’s pipelines have little connectivity to the rest of Europe, “like an island,” the senior U.S. official said. The state-owned Sonatrach continues to hold a majority stake in all energy projects and Algerian investment and export laws seem to change every year.

    Algeria’s regional neighbor Egypt has seen domestic for natural gas increase more than 57 percent since 2005, but production is limited, in part because of hard-to-reach reserves. While potentially a rich new source of supply for Europe, attacks from Bedouin and terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula have halted Egyptian exports much closer to home in Israel and Jordan. According to CRS, Egypt will need to make the tough political decisions to cut fuel subsidies and encourage western investment before it can tackle an ambitious export plan.

    In Libya, natural gas production dropped 90 percent during the 2011 civil war. The industry has recovered to a degree but civil unrest, protests and strikes still hamper production. Still, Libya holds the fourth-largest amount of natural gas reserves in Africa, and new leadership could help facilitate further exports.

    “Libya may have the greatest potential to increase natural gas exports to Europe once a new regime is established and possibly a new state oil and natural gas company in a post-Qadhafi Libya,” the Congressional Research Service concluded.

    Central Asia sits on top of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), but transporting that gas to Europe would require expensive and lengthy pipelines through multiple countries. Nonetheless, the EU has proposed what’s known as the Southern Strategy or Southern Corridor to transport natural gas from the Caspian region through Turkey.

    The initially planned Nabucco pipeline, which is no longer considered commercially viable, would have transported gas from Turkey to Austria.

    Now a smaller pipeline project has taken its place, known as the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP). This pipeline would carry gas through Turkey from Azerbaijan and connect to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which flows from the Turkish border through Greece and Albania, ending in Italy. But delays in construction have forced the Central Asian countries to hunt for customers in the east. Construction on TANAP is expected to begin at the end of the year and be completed by 2018. Even so, European pipelines would then need to connect to Italy’s infrastructure, which would present its own problems.

    Perhaps the most touted option so far is to import LNG from the U.S, but the U.S. Energy Department has so far only approved seven applications out of more than 20, and only one has final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The soonest any company will export LNG from the U.S. is 2015.

    LNG already represents about 25 percent of European natural gas imports, up from 15 percent in 2010, according to CRS. Algeria, Egypt and Qatar are the largest suppliers, and the U.K., Spain and France are the largest consumers. There are 22 LNG import terminals around Europe, with Poland, Lithuania and Estonia building new terminals that could distribute imported LNG around Northern and Eastern Europe.

    With U.S. LNG in the global gas market, prices would decline and eat into Russia’s profit. Some energy analysts, like David Goldwyn, a senior fellow for the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution, argue merely expediting the LNG permitting process would immediately erode Russia’s market power.

    President Obama was in Brussels Wednesday to discuss trade relations and the Ukraine crisis and he said a new trans-Atlantic trade agreement under negotiation would make it easier for his administration to approve LNG exports. He emphasized that it can’t happen overnight.

    #CRS U.S. ( Congressional Research Service )
    #EU ( European Union )

  • NATO Expansion and the Road to Simferopol | The National Interest Blog

    Beyond the policy issue of what to do now to bring the crisis with Russia over Ukraine to as much of a satisfactory conclusion as may be possible, we ought to reflect on our own role—the role of the West and especially the United States—in paving the road toward this crisis. To do so is not to minimize the direct responsibility of Vladimir Putin’s government for what Russian armed force has done, and for the disingenuous aspects of what that government has said. Nor does it negate the role of dysfunction in the Ukrainian political system. But a significant part of this story is how the West cornered the Russian bear before the bear bit back.

    More specifically, an important element in that story was the eastward expansion of NATO into what had been the Soviet empire, as well as talk about expanding it even further to embrace Ukraine and Georgia. We should not only understand the importance of that development for getting to the current crisis, but also what that development exhibited about American habits of thought and action in foreign affairs. It exhibited several such American tendencies, which also have surfaced in other ways and on other issues..


    For the United States, NATO has been the principal means to keep a direct U.S. role in the security affairs of Europe, and along with that much of the political affairs of the continent as well.


    Insensitivity to the fears and concerns of others . The United States, relatively secure in its North American redoubt, has historically had a hard time appreciating how much other nations see the threatening side of someone else encroaching into their own neighborhood. Even though we have had our own Monroe Doctrine, we tend not to notice equivalent sentiments on the part of others. It should not have been as hard as it apparently was to anticipate how extension of a western military alliance to the borders of the old Soviet Union, and moves toward extending it even farther, would elicit some of the Russian sentiments that it has, especially in a country that lost 20 million people in World War II.

    Triumphalism . The world in American eyes is in many respects like a commercial battle for market dominance, with the outcome registered in terms of wins and losses. The Cold War was a Western win; it seemed natural for the winner to extend its market penetration even more. The win-loss outlook also resembles a sporting event, and there was a yearning not just to record but to flaunt the win. Except there would not be an opportunity for anything quite like, say, MacArthur’s shogunate in Japan after World War II. Expansion of NATO became a way to put a big, bright “W” on the scoreboard.

    Need for an enemy . Another aspect of the typically Manichean way in which Americans tend to look at international politics is that there has to be a foe—something or somebody against whom the United States leads the forces of freedom and light. Once 9/11 came along there were Sunni extremists and al-Qaeda, but terrorist groups never make as good a foe as a state. Besides, the eastward expansion of NATO was already under way before 9/11. Iran has served as a more recent bête noire, but it has not entirely displaced Russia, which evokes old Cold War habits and actually does have nuclear weapons.

    Few, if any situations, will bring into play each of these habits in the same way the stand-off over Ukraine has. But the habits appear unhelpfully in other situations as well, and Americans would be well advised to be more conscious of them.

    Rien quand même sur le complexe militaro-industriel.

    #OTAN #UE #Etats-Unis

  • Crimean crisis gives boost to Murmansk coal export | Barentsobserver

    Escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and fear of possible cutoff of natural gas via Ukraine to Europe, makes the market look for alternative sources of energy. That benefits Russian economy.

    Russia’s coal export increased by 17 percent in January-February period compared to the period 2013. Nearly 24 million tons was exported in the period, with Murmansk as one export harbor of growing importance. As previously reported, SDS-Ugol plans for a new additional coal port in Murmansk aimed at exporting up to 18 million tons annually. That will more than double the current annual export of around 12 million tons per year.

    #ractique #russie #matières_premières #charbon #crimée

  • UPDATE 3-McDonald’s quits Crimea as fears of trade clash grow | Reuters

    “Due to operational reasons beyond our control, McDonald’s has taken the decision to temporarily close our three restaurants in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta,” a spokeswoman said.

    The Crimean outlets are not franchises, but owned and operated by McDonald’s itself.


    The company’s decision was welcomed by the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known for his anti-Western rhetoric, who demanded that McDonald’s pull its business out of Russia entirely.

    “It would be good if they closed here too ... if they disappeared for good. Pepsi-Cola would be next,” Russian media quoted Zhirinovsky as saying.

    Zhirinovsky, whose nationalist Liberal Democratic party largely backs President Vladimir Putin in parliament, said the party would organise pickets at McDonald’s restaurants across the country.

    McDonald’s, which currently operates more than 400 restaurants in Russia, was the first international fast-food chain to tap the Russian market when it opened in Moscow’s Pushkin Square before the collapse of the Soviet Union.