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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Annals of Cold War II: Russia Cancels Joint Exercises and Sues Dutch Shell

Multiple shots have been fired in Cold War II by Russia, clearly confirming its intention to provoke the U.S. into another showdown that Russia cannot possibly even survive, much less win. La Russophobe dares to wonder how long it will take the world to wake up and realize that Cold War II has begun, and hopes it won't be as long as for World War II.

Moscow News reports:

A Russian news agency reported Tuesday that Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that joint military exercises with U.S. forces set for later this month had been canceled due to unspecified problems with U.S. personnel.

Interfax quoted what it said was a high-ranking Defense Ministry official as saying, “The reason is the unresolved question on the status of U.S. personnel commanding the exercises.”

Russian Defense Ministry officials said they could not confirm the report. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow had no immediate comment.

The Torgau-2006 exercises were to be held later this month in the central Russian region of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow.

In previous years, the exercises were aimed at helping the two former adversaries coordinate a joint response to terrorism, as well as coordinate peacekeeping missions.

Last year, more than 275 Russian and U.S. troops held joint maneuvers outside Moscow as part of the exercises, which are named after the German town where American and Soviet soldiers met up on the Elbe River in 1945.

Bloomberg reports:

Russia sued to halt Royal Dutch Shell Plc's $20 billion Sakhalin oil and gas project as President Vladimir Putin's government increased pressure to gain control of the development.

The Natural Resources Ministry is citing environmental violations at Sakhalin-2, which will produce the equivalent of a third of China's gas needs. Sakhalin is key to Shell's plans to increase output and take on more projects in Russia, the world's biggest exporter of natural gas and second-largest oil supplier.

Officials in Russia, where state-run OAO Gazprom and OAO Rosneft are tightening control of production, said in May Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc should allow Russian companies a bigger role in their projects. Setbacks at Sakhalin would undermine Shell's effort to persuade investors it can replace the oil it pumps, two years after the company overstated its reserves.

``It's a bit of gamesmanship,'' said Craig Pennington, global the leader of energy research at Schroders Plc in London. ``You have to ask why these attempts have emerged now. If you saw the oil price at $15 to $20 a barrel lower, you wouldn't see the same amount of confidence out of the Russian oil sector.''

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