Russia Will Charge Greenpeace Activists With Piracy

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External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said the defence cooperation between India and the US has been at a lower level despite the two countries having engagement in a wide range of areas and it will be upgraded by the Defence Declaration issued after meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama last week. “I think, it gives major substance to our strategic partnership,” he told the PTI in an interview here about the decision under which the two countries will undertake joint development and production of defence equipment with transfer of technology from the US. “It (joint defence declaration) gives more muscle (to India-US relationship), gives it more content, more strength and I think it gives it more traction,” said Khurshid, who was part of the Indian delegation in the summit meeting between Singh and Obama in Washington on September 27. Noting that there are many dimensions to the India-US strategic partnership , he said, “Nuclear co-operation is one major initiative. The defence co-operation which was substantive but at a lower level, has now been raised to a higher level, is another dimension of our strategic partnership.” The decision came against the backdrop of America’s wish to “replicate” Russia in joint development of defence equipment with India like Brahmos missiles. Asked whether this could create apprehensions among India’s old defence partners like Russia, Khurshid asserted that this initiative with the US is not at the expense of those already having ties in this area. “Everybody knows that we have to diversify and expand. But we do not do this at the cost of traditional friend of ours. There is massive co-operation between India and Russia, which continues apace,” the minister said, adding “that is not going to be affected”. He pointed out that Russia too deals with the US. The declaration spells out the intent for enhancing partnership in defence technology transfer, research, co-development and co-production. “The two sides look forward to the identification of specific opportunities for cooperative and collaborative projects in advanced defence technologies and systems, within the next year,” the joint declaration on Defence Cooperation said. The two countries share common security interests and place each other at the same level as their closest partners, it said. The same principle will apply with respect to defence technology transfer, trade, research, co-development and co-production for defence articles and services, including the most advanced and sophisticated technology, it said.

Russia says Assad could talk to moderate rebels

If found guilty, the 30 detained activists could face a maximum punishment of 15 years in jail. They will be charged according to Section 3 of the Criminal Codes Article 227 (piracy committed by an organised group, Interfax quoted a law enforcement source as saying on Tuesday. AFP reports that the protesters are in shock over being detained by a democratic state: All but four of the activists are non-Russians from countries including Britain, the United States, Finland and Argentina. Russia has jailed the activists from Greenpeaces Arctic Sunrise protest ship without charge pending an investigation into alleged piracy, after several scaled a state-owned oil rig on September 18. The activists have complained of cold cells and a lack of suitable clothing and food, said Irina Paikacheva, the head of a state-connected regional prisoners rights watchdog. Many of them are in a state close to shock, she told AFP after visiting the prisoners. They had never expected that they would face such consequences for their peaceful protest in a democratic state. I think I see the disconnect here. If Greenpeace expected the authoritarian Russian government to react in a similar manner as Western democracies, well, they simply havent done their homework. This is the same government that has imprisoned a female punk-rock band to a two-year sentence for criticizing Vladimir Putin. Their hunger strike ended today , by the way, with no concessions from the Kremlin: The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service says that an imprisoned member of the punk band Pussy Riot is ending her hunger strike nine days after it began. The service told the state news agency ITAR-Tass that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was in stable health after ending the hunger strike on Wednesday. An opposition leader who said he had spoken with Tolokonnikova also tweeted that she was ending the strike. Interfering with Gazproms operations is a more serious manner than insulting Putin. Greenpeace had better hope that their home countries can cut a deal with Russia to get them deported soon, or else it might be a very long protest.

Defence ties with US not at Russia’s expense, India says

“I do not rule out that the armed opposition, if it does not stand for extremist or terrorist views, could very well be represented,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters. “By the way, this is something that President Assad has said as well.” World powers agreed last month to schedule the first direct negotiations between Assad’s regime and the rebels in Geneva in mid-November. The so-called Geneva 2 talks follow a failed round of negotiations between world powers over the crisis in the same city in June 2012. Russia has backed Assad’s government throughout the 30-month conflict and is the chief architect of a Syrian chemical weapons disarmament plan that was backed by the United Nations Security Council following the August 21 nerve agent attack near Damascus. This year’s Geneva meeting has been repeatedly delayed because of disagreements between Moscow and the West about who should be party to the talks. Lavrov stressed that it was up to Western and Arab governments to make sure that representatives of the armed opposition agreed to attend the Geneva meeting despite growing differences among their ranks. But he questioned whether the West could manage to do this by November. “Until recently, we expected our Western partners, who committed themselves to bring the opposition to the conference, that they would be able to do this fairly quickly,” Lavrov said. “But they did not manage to do it quickly. I do not know if they will manage to do it by the middle of November.”