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March 9-16

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Russia can no longer be considered a "strategic partner" for the EU

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty informs that  the European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to approve a report stating that Russia “can no longer be considered a ‘strategic partner’” and that “the EU cannot envisage a gradual return to ‘business as usual’ until Russia fully implements the (2015) Minsk Agreement (which lays out a process for achieving peace in eastern Ukraine) and restores the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The report -- titled "On The State Of EU-Russia Political Relations" -- is nonbinding but represents the European Parliament’s position on relations with Moscow.

According to the Parliament's official press release, Russia's continuous violations of international law, support to authoritarian regimes and disruptive political forces, disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states means that the EU should stand ready to adopt further sanctions against it. Sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia, they add.

The resolution also underlines that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia and limit cooperation to areas of common interest.

MEPs also reiterate their concerns that the Nord Stream-2 project could reinforce the EU‘s dependence on Russian gas supplies and threaten the EU internal market.

The report also voices concern “over the potentially hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year by Russian companies and individuals looking to legitimize the proceeds of corruption” and calls on EU member states to end "golden-visa/passport" programs.


Iran hunts for more ships to keep its oil flowing

Reuters informs that Iran is discreetly scouring the globe for second-hand oil tankers to replace its ageing fleet and keep crucial crude exports flowing as U.S. sanctions start to bite, according to Iranian and Western sources.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November 2018, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled, Panama has removed at least 21 Iranian tankers from its registry and Tehran is now looking for extra vessels in places such as Vietnam.

Washington has put restrictions on Iran’s port, energy and shipping sectors but it has given waivers to the country’s eight biggest oil customers, which include China, India and Japan, so they can keep buying Iranian crude, writes Reuters.

Potential sellers of used vessels are more wary this time round after a Greek network that helped Iran buy tankers under previous sanctions was blacklisted. Western insurers are also steering clear, complicating Iran’s attempts to export crude to U.S.-approved buyers.

Haaretz informs that Israel warned that its navy could take action against Iran, which it said was smuggling oil using clandestine measures similar to those employed during the previous round of sanctions. Whereas Iran warned of firm response if Israel acts against its oil shipments.

The Wall Street Journal writes that the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish the so-called “bad actors” on the world stage, in order to help the U.S. use its growing status as an oil and gas superpower to counter foreign rivals and promote free trade and democracy around the world. Mike Pompeo said: “We’re committed to bringing Iranian crude oil exports to zero as quickly as market conditions will permit,” said Pompeo during his speech at CERAWeek conference in Houston.


Prepared by Marina Muradyan

17 October 2020
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The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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