|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin, Hu Plan China-Russia Investment
June 9 (EIRNS)Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao met June 8 at the G-8 meeting in Heilengendamm, Germany. They emphasized developing economic relations, as the two nations begin the second decade of their Strategic Partnership. The same day, Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi, who has overall responsibility for international economic relations, arrived in St. Petersburg, where she will speak at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, China Daily reported.
Hu and Putin last met in March, when the Chinese President visited Moscow. Under discussion now is the creation of a business forum for increasing trade in machinery and electronics. China is promoting investment in Russia in infrastructure, processing, manufacturing, high technology, timber, and energy, Hu said. The two nations also want to cooperate to both rebuild China's former heavy industry region in the northeast, and develop the neighboring Russian Far East.
The two Presidents also discussed the upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which should be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in early August. Zee News noted that Putin stressed the "broad spheres for Russian-Chinese interaction at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO]. It is possible to discuss major bilateral issues, including those economic and humanitarian, at the SCO." Putin might have been reflecting on the lack of such constructive discussion at the just-concluded G-8 summit.
SCO Joint Military Exercises To Be Held in August
June 2 (EIRNS)Russia has announced that joint military exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in August. General of the Army Alexei Maslov, Russia's Ground Forces commander, said in Moscow June 1 that, of the six international counterterrorism exercises planned for the year, the "main will be a joint exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in August." To be held in the Russian Ural Mountain region, it will involve 500 vehicles from Russia and China, about 2,000 Russian and 1,600 Chinese personnel, a company (around 100 men) from Tajikistan, and smaller units from other members, including Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, the general was quoted by RIA Novosti. China's troops may travel either via Kazakstan, or cross the border in the Far East.
Russia Boosts Floating Nuclear Plant Exports
June 5 (EIRNS)Sergei Krysov, deputy general director of Rosenergoatom, the Russian state-controlled concern overseeing nuclear power plants, announced plans to expand the production and export of floating nuclear power plants (NPPs). Krysov's statement, made in Moscow June 4 and reported by Russian news agencies, follows Russia's successful laying of the foundation of the first floating NPP in April of this year in the northern city of Severodvinsk. He said 20 countries have shown interest in the floating NPPs, including Indonesia and China. China would buy or jointly build a floating plant after the Severodvinsk plan is completed in 2010, RIA Novosti reported.
Critically for developing nations, Krysov also said that Rosenergoatom plans "to design the export modification [of the floating nuclear plants] by 2014, while the pilot sample will be ready by 2010." He added, "We will be holding negotiations [with prospective clients in third countries] before that," reported the Russian news agency Interfax today. A delegation of Rosenergoatom Floating Nuclear Plants Directorate officials will meet with the Cape Verde Energy Ministry to discuss construction of a plant off the Cape Verde Islands, located off the west African coast, Krysov said.
These plans to expand production of floating NPPs hold great potential for nations which now lack infrastructure, but which need access to cheap, clean energy to for housing, schools, and factories, and to supply fresh water for agriculture. With floating NPPs, a nation need only have navigable waterways and/or a coastal border to station a plant which will not only generate power, but also desalinate water. While the floating NPPs cost more than conventional nuclear powers plant to build, they are a much cheaper solution than hauling diesel or coal to remote locations for conventional power plants.
"We hope that Western countries will be ready for contracts on cooperation in floating NPP projects after the prototype power unit is completed," Krysov said.
Russians See Blair as Has-Been
June 8 (EIRNS)British Prime Minister Tony Blair got the full "has-been" treatment from Russia and the rest of the G-8, report all the British press, from tabloids like the Daily Express to the stuffy Financial Times. Blair, labeled "yesterday's man," was most effectively dismissed with what the Express called a "withering" attack from Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak.
After Blair's blather about his plans for a "frank talk" with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-8, and his having tried to tell business not to "risk" investing in Russia, Storchak told the press at Heiligendamm, "I doubt business will react emotionally to what I believe are the rather emotional words of a person who is, after all, an ex-Prime Minister." Blair's planned talks with Putin might not even be held, the Express said.
Even George Bush was dismissive. Blair was frozen out of both the Bush-Putin talks and Bush's talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.