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Russia - Oct 18

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Putin Criticizes US Campaign in Iraq

Mike Eckel, Associated Press
President Vladimir Putin, in his latest jab at Washington, suggested Thursday that the U.S. military campaign in Iraq was a "pointless" battle against the Iraqi people, aimed in part at seizing the country's oil reserves.

Putin has increasingly confronted U.S. foreign policy in recent months, deepening the chill between Washington and Moscow. Among other things, he has questioned U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe and the U.S. push for sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programs.

...In one question, a mechanic from the Siberian city of Novosibirsk asked the president about comments he said were made some years ago by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who suggested that Siberia had too many natural resources to belong to one country.

"I know that some politicians play with such ideas in their heads," he said, dismissing the notion as wishful thinking, or "political erotica that ... hardly leads to a positive result."

"The best example of that are the events in Iraq - a small country that can hardly defend itself and which possesses huge oil reserves. And we see what's going on there. They've learned to shoot there, but they are not managing to bring order," he said.

"One can wipe off a political map some tyrannical regime ... but it's absolutely pointless to fight with a people," he said. "Russia, thank God, isn't Iraq. It has enough strength and power to defend itself and its interests, both on its territory and in other parts of the world."

Putin suggested the U.S. campaign was aimed at seizing control of Iraq's vast oil wealth, and said a concrete date must be set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"I believe one of the goals is to establish control of the country's oil reserves," he said.
(18 October 2007)

Peak oil production 'decades away' - Lukoil chief

Robert Duncan, Energy Publisher
According to Vagit Alekperov, the president of Russia's Lukoil petroleum company, the production peak "is unlikely to take place in the next few decades."
Peak oil production is still decades away, according to Lukoil's top executive. According to Vagit Alekperov, the president of Russia's Lukoil petroleum company, the production peak "is unlikely to take place in the next few decades."

...At the same time, Alekperov said the share of the so-called costly crude oil (offshore, high-viscosity and oil produced from gas and coal) will be on the rise.

Alekperov said that only continental shelf fields can ensure a tangible production increment, adding that this is the reason why Russia is involved in the Arctic shelf border alignment and is establishing international consortia for its development.

Alekperov said that Lukoil intends to take an active part in the development of Russia’s Arctic and Far Eastern shelf, now that the company has experience in similar operations in the Baltic and the Caspian regions.
(18 October 2007)

Energy-rich Caspian becomes center of U.S.-Russia power struggle

Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune
s the Caspian a sea or a lake?

The answer has immense repercussions for the energy industry. If it is a lake, there are no obligations by countries that flank it to grant permits to foreign vessels or drilling companies. But if it is sea, there are international treaties obliging those countries to an array of permits.

The Caspian, one of the world's largest enclosed bodies of water, has become the center of a new power game involving the United States and Russia as well as its bordering countries, including Iran, over who should control the vast energy reserves under its depths.

The Caspian's status has been in dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Over the past few years, the United States has been trying to establish alternative energy routes that would weaken the regional dominance of Russia and Iran, while Russia has sought to control the transportation routes across these waters.

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Kazakhstan last year, he used the occasion to launch a fierce attack against President Vladimir Putin of Russia, accusing him of rolling back democracy and suppressing human rights. By delivering the speech in Kazakhstan, the Bush administration was staking out U.S. influence in the region, where it has stepped up plans to build a pipeline that would bypass Iran and Russia.

On Tuesday, it was Putin's turn to put down his marker. On the first visit in 64 years by a Kremlin leader to Tehran, he met his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country faces a fresh round of sanctions by the United Nations if it does not comply with Security Council demands for reining in its nuclear program.

But while the standoff between Iran and the United Nations stole the limelight, the reason for Putin's visit was a summit meeting with Ahmadinejad and three Central Asian leaders who are now being wooed in the Caspian power game.

"The summit in Tehran was about the future status of the Caspian Sea," said Johannes Reissner, Middle East expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. "Iran and Russia have enormous interests in resolving this status. But there are major disagreements between them."
(17 October 2007)

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