Despite recent scandal with its turbines deployed in violently Russia annexed Crimea, German company Siemens AG plans to develop cooperation with the country, which goes on killing civilians on other countries territories.

The range of Siemens AG business interests in Russia is quite wide: in addition to turbines, the company produces electric freight locomotives Sinara and Granit, electric trains Desiro, supplies Germany-manufactured trains Sapsan to monopolist Russian Railways.

Along with that, despite official declarations of CEO Joe Kaeser on toughening of company’s activity control, it became known that Siemens AG has intentions to take part in modernization of Crimean railroad infrastructure by providing operation of Desiro Premium trains, developed and manufactured jointly with Ural Locomotives JSC, through the territory of Russia occupied peninsula.

In the given context, it is of a great interest to recall that German company signed in 2017 a contract on manufacturing of electric trains Desiro with Russian Federal Passanger Company, which is, as well as Russian Railways, under international sanctions.

In other words, participation of Siemens AG in organization of high-speed service between Russia and Crimea makes German company an accomplice in Kremlin criminal schemes, throwing a shadow on Germany as a state, which international positions become more and more vulnerable.

Should we expect Siemens authorities to really change company’s policy and turn its efforts back to civilized course?

In search of answer we can address to investigation by Suddeutsche Zeitung journalists who found out that to conclude lucrative contracts Siemens AG spends billions of dollars every year to buy “the right” businessmen and politics. And as long as German leadership keeps overlooking Siemens AG backstairs policy, we can assume that a part of this black cash settles down in their pockets.

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On April 19-21, 2018, Crimea will host the Forth Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF-2018). The forthcoming event was preceded by extensive agitational promotional campaign both in Russian and foreign political and business circles. This event is actively boosted by the Russian and Crimean authorities. Russian media diligently report increased interest to the discussion of topical political and economic problems of the international importance within this platform, growing audience of a forum from year to year which is evidenced by the positive statistics: the first forum was visited by 600 delegates, the second hosted 1100, and the third was allegedly visited by more than 2200 people, including 250 foreign participants from 46 countries of the world.

Today Russian and Crimea media triumphantly announce more than 3000 participants including more than 500 foreign guests from 60 countries to visit forum this year. Among them politicians, representatives of business and expert community from all around the world are expected. Fancy that! The Yalta Forum is represented as ‘one of the largest business events in the economic life among the four similar events, organized in Russia’.

Well, what are the results of previous forums? As a matter of a fact, there is nothing. Majority of previously approved projects have not even started, many investors folded their activity in Crimea on the whole. Hardly any representative of big business visited last year Yalta Forum. However, following the forum outcomes, it was declared that the authorities succeeded to sign series of the documents ‘with very significant and influential investors’, for example:

– agreement between the “Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea” and the “Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Abkhazia” on trade and economic, scientific, technical and humanitarian cooperation;

– agreement between the “Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea” and the “Ministry of Economic Development of Abkhazia”;

– agreement between the cities of Gagra and Yalta;

– agreement between the KSK Group and administration of Yalta city for the implementation of “the investment project”(!) on construction of an apartment complex;

– agreement between the KSK Group and administration of Alushta city for the implementation of the “Construction of Apartment Complex ‘Sea Quarter’ in Alushta” project;

– agreement with the Russian investors on development of the Simferopol airport.

For sure, entering into “investment agreements” with Abkhazia breakaway region confirms “high” interest of foreign business to invest in Crimea. And signing of the “agreements” on construction of high-rise building looks like an attempt of the Forum promoters to cover the investment nudity with ‘a fig leaf’ in the form of “grand” construction plans of “Sea Quarter” apartment complex. Indeed, the mountain has brought forth a mouse!

Well, following the outcomes of previous “economic” forums held in Yalta it may be concluded that this event is rather political than economic. Its organizers pursue the only goal – to prove that Europe has recognized the Russian status of Crimea. By holding such events on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Russia expects that involvement of foreigners and massive information campaign will show to European community, international organizations and primarily United Nations General Assembly the need of lifting sanctions and resolutions condemning Russia’s actions on Crimea. According to Moscow’s intention, it should promote legalization of illegal actions of Russian Federation on the peninsula and blenching their image. Generally, the message is as follows – legality of Crimea annexation by Russian Federation.

In this regard pro-Russian media actively promote ‘fearlessness’ of some deputies of the European parliament and representatives of marginal parties receiving financial sops from Moscow, parliaments of some European states (Germany and Austria in particular) which are going to participate in “forum” despite of the sanctions with regard to Crimea. However, this is the case of greed and foolishness rather than fearlessness. Only well motivated persons can hazard their reputation attending such event and breaking the laws of other state. It is common known that entrance and departure of foreign citizens as a part of official delegations or in their private capacity on the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea are gross violations of international law. Such actions contravene the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 68/262 confirming territorial integrity of Ukraine as well as the Law of Ukraine “On ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens and a legal regime within the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 68/262 of June 4, 2015 No. 367 “On the approval of the procedure for entering and exit from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”.

Ukraine has repeatedly declared that they treat such violations as unfriendly gesture from politicians, officials and citizens of the foreign states which thus not only support violation of territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russian Federation but also encourage Moscow to the further aggressive and hostile actions contradicting international law and destroying the international security system. Ukraine declares intention to deliver international assignments to the states, which nationals participated in the illegal forum.

As for the intention of some businessmen to arrange business in occupied Crimea attending the forum in Yalta it is possible to speak about the highest manifestation of foolishness from their side. The European Union and the USA forbade implementation of new joint projects, investment, granting loans, acquisition of infrastructure facilities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in telecommunication, energy, transport and tourism areas. Regulation authorities of the EU Member States perform continuous monitoring of execution of restrictive instructions by European entities. Those who violate sanction regime may be subjects to criminal sanctions in the form of real term of imprisonment and imposition of a heavy financial penalty.

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The situation around Sergey and Yulia Skripal’s poisoning with the use of ‘Novichok’ nerve gas gather new steam. No sooner had the Great Britain accused Russia of poisoning and deported their diplomats from the state than the messages ensued that the agent’s origin still remains unknown. Meanwhile Russia brought the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to account.

It is worth to figure out how this chemical agent could appear in today’s Russia. As we know, on September 27, 2017 Director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Ahmet Üzümcü declared all the stockpiles of chemical weapons available in the Russian Federation were eliminated. Nevertheless currently there are evidences that ‘Novichok’ was produced in Russia in the city of Shikhany, Saratov region.

However, it can turn out that toxic agents in Russia may be found not only in Saratov. At least, a number of very interesting facts testify that this issue is quite tricky. The Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that a large shipment of a nerve-gas precursor from Russia to Syria in 1992, while in 1993 the FSB reported that a group of persons including Lt-Gen Anatoliy Kuntsevich shipped 800 kg of substance which could be used for production of toxic agents. That was A. Kuntsevich who was one of the originators of ‘Novichok’ warfare agent which was tested in Shikhany lately.

In 2016 information got leaked to the media that Nadalina cargoship delivered confidential freight from Syria to the port of Feodosiya. That was evidenced by the fact that cargo was discharged under strict secrecy by military men: the unloading point was cleared from strangers and secured by the reinforced police squads and plainclothes, small khaki boxes (8-10 containers only) were unloaded at a slow pace, with particular care. These strengthened precautionary measures, as well as a small quantity of cargo delivered to the peninsula in the vessel which was freshly repaired attract special consideration. The choice of discharge port was also not for nothing as ‘Feodosia-13’, designed for storage of extremely dangerous cargo and located not far from Feodosia. Analysis of this information leads to the assumption that Russia could take out components of chemical weapon from Syria to the Crimea.

Following annexation, the peninsula turned into a gray area where observance of the international agreements, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 13 January 1993, is not monitored in any way, therefore, lack of the international control made the fertile field for abuses. That is particularly Russia case as Russia and the present Crimean authorities made it clear time after time that rules of international law are not an imperative for them.

Current scandal related to the use of ‘Novichok’ warfare agent in the Great Britain induces looking at information stated above with a fresh pair of eyes. May this cargo delivered from Syria to Feodosiya in October, 2016 be the part of the chemical weapon arsenal owned by the Syrian dictator al-Assad, and being subject to destruction after the international scandal flared up following its use by the Syrian government troops against insurgents and acute US and NATO response to this? Let us remember that Putin managed to persuade the US President Obama not to apply drastic measures to al-Assad provided that the last would destroy the components of chemical weapon at his disposal, and Putin would act as the intermediary and the controller in this agreement.

However, probably Russia instead of monitoring destruction process under the achieved agreements has taken out a part of ammunition or components of chemical weapon on the territory of the annexed Crimea which became for Russia the convenient place for illegal placement and storage of weapons of mass destruction. It is well known that since 2014 (after annexation by Russia) the peninsula came out of the scrupulous monitoring and control of relevant international organizations. Therefore, the secret Nadalina’s voyage in October, 2016 could be not the only one.

In this regard that is an evident need to establish a special working group to conduct relevant investigation and check facilities of critical importance in the territory of the Crimea where the prohibited weapon and dangerous substances can be stored. Such commission within OPCW could also establish the facts of delivery of dangerous freights from Syria to the Crimea, and possible storage of combat chemical agents within the territory of the peninsula as far as they may unexpectedly come up in different corners of the world.

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The flagrant violation of the international law by Russia and its aggressive policy towards neighboring countries have led to the sharp reaction of international community and sanctions imposition. In particular, it has greatly affected the military-technical cooperation. However, some countries from Eastern Europe, even being the NATO members, continue to suffer the syndrome of ‘big brother’ to the detriment of own defense capability, keeping ties with Russian military-industrial complex.

Particularly Bulgaria, which became NATO member in 2004, and then that of EU in 2007, continues its military partnership with Russia. The situation with update and maintenance of MiG-29, which are which are in service with the Bulgarian Air Force, proves it. This issue is still in the competence of Russian aircraft corporation MIG. This situation exists even though Bulgarian pilots refuse to fly at MiG-29 because of its extreme breakdown rate even after the capital repair in Russia. But Bulgarian authority keeps using Russian industry to repair its military aviation. And the tender on replacement and further maintenance of engines for MiG-29 has proved it. Earlier it was envisaged that such contract would be signed with Poland and a corresponding preliminary agreement was reached with Warsaw. In addition, such contract could allow Bulgaria to save a great sum of budget money. But after victory of pro-russian Rumen Radev at presidential election, the new MoD’s authority refused to sign a contract with Poland and decided to continue its cooperation with MIG corporation. Moreover, the pro-Russian Bulgarian leadership deliberately delays the terms of contract fulfillment for purchase of new Swedish fighters Saab JAS 39 Gripen, having its own vision of modernization of Bulgarian Air forces. And this situation is taking place notwithstanding Bulgarian NATO membership.

Hungary is also committed to military cooperation with Russia. In 2016, Hungarian Ministry of defense negotiated with Russia to purchase 30 Mi-8/17 helicopters with approximate cost $490 million. The only reason to cancel the deal was the lack of budget money. Later, Budapest came to agreement to repair 4 Mi-17 helicopters for Hungarian Air Forces and in spring 2017 the repaired helicopters were returned to Kecskemet air base. At the same time, Hungarian government believes that signing contract with Russia for helicopters repair does not contradict with sanctions imposed against Russia, though the repair of military equipment is covered by a concept of military cooperation. In this case it is quite remarkable not only the fact of military cooperation with Russia, but also the decision of investment in military helicopters, which would remain the equipment of last century even after their repair. Many military experts believe that the best decision for Hungary would be total replacement of current aircrafts with modern types produced by NATO members. These aircrafts have better characteristics than Mi-17 or Mi-24 adopted by Hungarian Armed Forces. It is obvious that friendship between Orban and Putin obliges Hungarian leader to be loyal to Russian military industry. It is absolutely clear that repair of old military equipment is much more expensive for the state budget. It is also a hard blow for defense capability of a country.

Croatia also has some aspects of cooperation with Russian military industry, though it became the EU member in 2009. In August 2017, Ministry of Defense of Croatia signed a contract with Russia for complete overhaul of 10 helicopters of М1–171Sh for Air Force and air defense.

These examples show that Russia, obtaining contracts for delivery and service of military equipment, tries not only to find the markets for sale of outdated equipment, uncompetitive products, but also weakens the defense capabilities of NATO members, undermines the unity of the European community and creates new challenges for the EU security in general.

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It was initially known that elections of the President of Russia in the Crimea amid determination of a great part of the world not to recognize its annexation was quite a problematic and painful point for the Russian government in the context of recognition of legitimacy of these elections. Considering neither of these states and acknowledged international public organizations will officially send their observers to the Crimea, Russia resorted to hybrid alternative with the invitation of pseudo-observers in the Crimea to monitor this event. Such observers were persons hand picked by the competent Russian authorities and entrusted to play a role of the international observers to monitor the elections of the President of the Russian Federation in the Crimea.

Thus, for the purpose of monitoring the elections Russia has organized the visit of “the international delegation” to the Crimea, which united the citizens of more than 20 countries of the world – France, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Israel, Ukraine, Germany, Norway, Cyprus, Greece, Denmark, Great Britain, Pakistan, Venezuela, Italy, Lebanon, Austria, Malaysia, Latvia, Afghanistan.

“The international observers” were accompanied by representatives of the Russian Federation who showed them designed and prepared in advance election districts. Foreign guests visited 10 districts in Simferopol, Sevastopol, Yalta, Alushta, Bakhchisarai. At the same time in order to avoid abnormal situations the so-called observers were not admitted to the districts in sore points of the state where Crimean Tatars reside.

Those above-mentioned foreign citizens who feel sympathy for Kremlin policy and played a role of the international observers were:

Johan Bäckman – a citizen of Finland, a member of the Association of Friendship between Russia and Finland, the head of the “Antifascist Committee of Finland”, the representative of the so-called “DNR” in Finland;

Daria Skippari-Smirnova – a citizen of Finland, head of the Association of Friendship between Russia and Finland;

Thierry Mariani – a citizen of France, a deputy of the National Assembly of France, a representative of the Association Dialogue Franco-Russe;

Andreas Maurer – a citizen of Germany, head of the organization “People’s Diplomacy” in Germany;

Hendrik Weber – a citizen of Norway, head of the organization “People’s Diplomacy” in Norway;

Mette Rosenlund – a citizen of Norway, the wife of Hendrik Weber. Journalist;

Marco Marsili – a citizen of Italy, an associate of the Portuguese Center for International Studies;

Skue Kutra-Kukuma – a citizen of Cyprus, a member of the Cyprus Parliament;

Kline Preston – a citizen of the USA, head of the NGO Institute for Progress Through Law;

Elhas Tamim Mohammad – a citizen of Afghanistan, leader of the Afghan youth movement;

Ulf Grönlund – a citizen of Sweden, former head of the parish of St. Catherine in St. Petersburg;

Hollender Lars Bjoerndau – a citizen of Denmark, a former member of the OSCE missions;

Jacques Miyar – a citizen of France, mayor of the city of Meson-Laffitte;

Jerome Lambert – a citizen of France, a member of the Socialist Party, nephew of former French President François Mitterrand;

Vanya Dobreva – a citizen of Bulgaria, former Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Bulgaria;

Alexander Grönlund – a citizen of Sweden;

Maria Olshanskaya – a citizen of Israel;

Tatyana Mele – a citizen of Ukraine;

Elias Demetriou – a citizen of Cyprus;

Valdemgaberi Stefano – a citizen of Italy;

Selvarezh Neskhan – a citizen of Malaysia;

Daniel Christopher Valander – a citizen of Sweden;

Eyme Bernard Ulrich – a citizen of Germany;

Roma Monfa Narcissus – a citizen of Spain;

Diego Gulen Perez – a citizen of Spain;

Muhamed Al-Hamali – a citizen of Great Britain;

Diana Lutsker – a citizen of Israel;

Sophocles Jani Sophocli – a citizen of Cyprus;

Eero Hult – a citizen of Finland;

Gilbert Doktorov – a citizen of the USA;

Dragan Gifkovich – a citizen of Serbia;

Alexander Gaponenko – a citizen of Latvia.

Peculiar attention should be paid to the fact that the visit of representatives of the German pro-Russian party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) took place separately being organized by the Deputy Committee for Interethnic Relations the so-called “The State Council of Crimea”, the leader of the German diaspora of Crimea Mr. Hempel. The following AfD representatives visited the Crimea as “international observers” for the presidential elections in the Russian Federation:

Garold Latch – deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Berlin;

Roger Bekamp – deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia;

Eugen Schmidt – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia, head of the organization “Russian Germans for AfD”;

Nick Fogel – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia;

Helmut Seifer – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia;

Georg Pazdersky – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Berlin, a member of the AfD Presidium;

Güner Lindeman – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Berlin;

Hoog Bronson – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Berlin;

Rainer Balzer – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Baden-Württemberg;

Thomas Rekemann – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia;

Markus Fronmaier – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Baden-Württemberg, leader of the youth wing of AfD;

Sven Tritschler – a deputy of the Landtag of the federal state of Nord-Rhine-Westphalia.

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