BERLIN, December 15 -- The discovery of an East German secret police ID card wouldn't normally attract much attention, but things get a lot more interesting when it's Vladimir Putin's.
Issued in 1985, the document belonged to the then mid-ranking Soviet officer, now the President of Russia. At the time, Putin worked for the KGB spy service as a liaison with the East German State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst), nicknamed the "Stasi." From 1985 to 1990, Putin was stationed in Dresden, East Germany. The German newspaper Bild says the ID card found in the archives proves Putin was working for the Stasi, but the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) says it served a purely practical purpose. Spokeswoman Dagmar Hovestädt told CNN via telephone that Putin would have used the ID card to access Stasi facilities. He served in East Germany as a liaison officer, said Hovestädt, facilitating consultation between friendly intelligence services.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the discovery of the ID card is not entirely unexpected. "As is well known at the time when the Soviet Union existed, the KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies, so you probably can't rule out an exchange of such identity cards," he said, according to Reuters. The ID card includes a monochrome photograph of a young Putin wearing a tie, as well as stamps that date to the last few months of 1989.Around this time, pro-democracy protests were shaking the communist regime and ultimately resulted in its collapse as East and West Germany reunified after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After Putin returned to Russia, he rose to become head of the FSB, the Russian spy service that succeeded the KGB, before becoming the Russian Federation's second democratically elected President in 2000 after Boris Yeltsin.
MOSCOW, November 30 -- Russia said it believes President Donald Trump cancelled his meeting with Vladimir Putin due to domestic issues and not the situation in Ukraine.
"Is the provocation started by Kiev in this area [Azov Sea] a real reason for the cancellation," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
"We heard that as an official version and we accepted that. Is it a real one? I believe we should look for answers in the US domestic political situation."
WASHINGTON, November 29 -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday abruptly cancelled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Argentina, registering his disapproval of Russia’s treatment of Ukraine and casting new uncertainty over U.S.-Russian ties.
“Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s tweet from aboard Air Force One shortly after takeoff from Washington on the way to Buenos Aires for a Group of 20 summit, was a sudden turnaround. Roughly an hour earlier, he had told reporters he would probably meet with Putin at the summit and said it was “a very good time to have the meeting.”
Trump had also said he would get a final report during the flight to Argentina on the tension in the region after Russia seized Ukrainian vessels near Crimea on Sunday.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday accused Putin of wanting to annex his entire country and called for NATO to deploy warships to a sea shared by the two nations.
While it was unclear why there was a sudden change in plans for a meeting, holding talks with Putin now could represent bad optics for the White House at a time when the president is under scrutiny over prior plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about the proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow, prompting Trump to lash out at Cohen as a “liar” and “weak person.”
MOSCOW, November 29 -- Russia and the U.S. have agreed on details of a presidential meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
The meeting will take place on Dec.1 at 1430GMT and will last about two hours, a source in the Russian delegation told state-run news agency RIA Novosti on Thursday.
About 20 minutes are reserved for in-person talks between the two presidents. Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that the presidents would discuss bilateral issues, including how to break the deadlock in relations between the two countries and start looking for ways to normalize ties.
According to U.S. Security Adviser John Bolton, security, arms control and regional issues are on the agenda of the meeting.
NEW YORK, November 20 -- OPEC has lost what control of the oil market it ever had.
The actions (or tweets) of three men — Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman — will determine the course of oil prices in 2019 and beyond. But of course they each want different things. While OPEC struggles to find common purpose, the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia dominate global supply. Together they produce more oil than the 15 members of OPEC. All three are pumping at record rates and each could raise output again next year, although they may not all choose to do so.
It was Saudi Arabia and Russia that led the push in June for the OPEC+ group to relax output restraints that had been in place since the start of 2017. Both subsequently jacked up production to record, or near record, levels. U.S. output soared unexpectedly at the same time, as companies pumping from the Permian Basin in Texas overcame pipeline bottlenecks to move their oil to the Gulf coast.
These increases, alongside smaller downward revisions to demand growth forecasts and President Trump’s decision to grant sanctions waivers to buyers of Iranian oil, have flipped market sentiment from fears of a supply shortage to concerns about a glut in the space of three months. Oil stockpiles in the developed nations of the OECD, which had been falling since early 2017, are rising again and are likely to exceed their five-year average level when October data are finalized, according to the International Energy Agency.
As oil prices have headed south, Saudi Arabia said it would cut exports by 500,000 barrels a day next month and warned fellow producers that they needed to cut about 1 million barrels a day from October production levels. That drew a lukewarm response from Putin and swift Twitter rebuke from Trump.
Bin Salman needs oil revenue to fund his ambitious plans to transform Saudi Arabia, while avoiding unrest from those hurt in the process. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the kingdom will need an oil price of $73.3 a barrel next year to balance its fiscal budget. Brent crude is trading about $5 below that, with Saudi Arabia’s exports trading at a discount to the North Sea benchmark. Prolonging output cuts for a third year is the only way he can realize the price he needs.
He will face more challenges from Putin and Trump. The Russian president shows no great enthusiasm for restricting his country’s production again. Moscow’s budget is much less dependent on oil prices than it was when Russia agreed to join OPEC-led efforts to re-balance the oil market in 2016 and the country’s oil companies want to produce from the fields where they have invested.
Putin may yet decide that maintaining his improved political relationship with MBS, as the Crown Prince is known, is worth a small sacrifice. But it’s not a foregone conclusion that Russia will agree to extend output cuts when producers gather in Vienna next month. Putin says oil prices of around $70 a barrel suit him “completely.”
The opposition from Trump will — naturally — be much louder and comes at a time when he and MBS are trying to preserve their political relationship, while American senators consider harsher sanctions on Saudi Arabia in response to the war in Yemen and the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A bigger U.S. threat to Saudi plans than Trump’s tweets will come from the Texas oil patch. American producers have added a volume equivalent to the entire output of OPEC’s Nigeria in the past 12 months. Their production could reach 12 million barrels a day by April, according to the Department of Energy. That’s six months sooner than it was forecasting just a month ago and 1.2 million barrels a day more than it foresaw in January.
Saudi Arabia will have to risk Trump’s wrath, Putin’s indifference and a booming U.S. shale industry if it hopes to balance the oil market in 2019.
PARIS, November 12 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hasn’t have time enough in Paris to speak with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, but hopes to do that on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Agrentina.
"Not yet. We have just said hello," Putin told RT on Sunday when asked whether he had spoken with the US leader and whether there are any progress on debatable issues. "The ceremony was organized in such a way that we could not speak with each other. We only watched the ceremony."
Nevertheless, he said he hopes to have a chance to speak with Trump during the working breakfast.
"Anyway, we agreed that we will not violate the receiving party’s schedule here. At their request, we will not organize any meetings here," Putin said. "Such a meeting may be held on the sidelines of the G20 meeting or later.".
One of the top authors of The Peet Journal is Pete McGea. As a native born Scotsman, Pete
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