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Russia will hold about 4,000 various combat training missions in 2015

According press release published on the official page of Russian Ministry of Defence, Tuesday, 13 January 2015, the Russian Federation National Center for State Defence Control has hosted a meeting between the Minister of Defence and the key personnel of the Armed Forces. They discussed the key issues of the state defence to deal with in the year 2015.

Russian Ministry of Defence, General Army Sergey Shoigu

Russian Ministry of Defence, General Army Sergey Shoigu

Minister of Defence, Army General Sergey Shoigu reiterated the necessity of increasing the capacity of national Armed Forces in all strategic directions and improving the quality of training of the troops. He also mentioned that the Plan of Russian Federation Defence for the period of 2016-2020 should be worked out. “We are drawing up a new Russian Federation Defense Plan for 2016-2020 to ensure timely placing and obligatory fulfillment of state defense orders in 2015 to have modern models of weapons and military equipment as planned” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, as Moscow refocuses its major rearmament plan, worth over 20 trillion rubles ($310 billion) over the span of 10 years, according to a new military doctrine. President Vladimir Putin has introduced a new Military Doctrine in the context of the Ukraine crisis, deteriorating relations with the United States, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as shifts within the international security environment. However, the doctrine appears innately defensive in its tone and content, offering some adjustments to the 2010 Military Doctrine, but retaining most of its core elements. This year, Shoigu said that Russian armed forces are set to receive some 700 armored and 1,550 other vehicles, 126 planes, 88 helicopters, and two Iskander-M missile systems. The navy will receive five surface warships and two multi-purpose submarines.

Also Ministry Shoigu turned his attention to the arrangement of the 201st military base garrison. He has brought into focus the necessity of creation of comfortable living environments for servicemen so that they could perform their tasks at a high quality level.

Russia will hold about 4,000 various combat training missions in 2015. A network of joint warfare training centers will be set up in every Russian military district, which by 2020 will all be interconnected by a single virtual battle space, according to the minister. In order to raise the professional level of its troops, the military hopes by the end of 2015 to recruit 52,000 contract soldiers, in addition to conscripts.

At the meeting there have been negotiated such key issues as fulfillment of tasks of the State Order – 2015; financing; re-equipment of the Armed Forces with modern armament, improvement of military infrastructure; issues of housing and social security of the servicemen;  surprise comprehensive inspections of the combat readiness of troops, trainings, and exercises, creation of the 330th center of military training for the Army, Airborne troops and the Navy (Ashuluk settlement, Astrakhanskya Oblast), arrangement of military settlements of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan, creation of centers for multi-service troops training.

Russia’s chief of General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov

Russia’s chief of General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov

Russia’s chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said that in 2015 Russia will focus on reinforcing its military on the Crimean peninsula, the Kaliningrad Region, and in the Arctic. “In 2015, the Defense Ministry’s main efforts will focus on an increase of combat capabilities of the armed forces and increasing the military staff in accordance with military construction plans. Much attention will be given to the groupings in Crimea, Kaliningrad, and the Arctic”  said General Gerasimov, quoted by RT.

During the teleconference the key personnel of the Ministry of Defence have received operational tasks within their competence. In the Arctic region, deputy Defense Minister Gen. Dmitry Bulgakov specified that Russia will rebuild an additional 10 military airfields in 2015. “We will reconstruct 10 airfields in the Arctic region this year, which will bring the number to 14 operational airfields in the Arctic” said Bulgakov.

A new branch of the Russian military, the Aerospace Defense Force, will be formed in 2015, ahead of schedule, through the merger of Air Force and Space Forces. “A new type of armed forces will be created in 2015, the Aerospace Defense Force, by merging two already existing military forces: the Air Force and Space Force” General Valery Gerasimov said, as Russia continues developing a reliable space echelon of the early-warning radar system to detect missile launches.

Ukraine conflict – the main issue on the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council agenda

The 21st OSCE Ministerial Council, gathering some 50 foreign ministers, will take place on 4 and 5 December 2014, at the Basel Exhibition Centre, in Basel, Switzerland at the invitation of the 2014 OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.

1073303The Ministerial Council is the central decision-making and governing body of the OSCE. The meeting, held annually, provides foreign ministers and more than 70 delegations of OSCE participating States, partner countries and several international organizations an opportunity to review and assess the Organization’s activities during the past year and offer national viewpoints on security matters.

The foreign ministers were discussed the Ukraine crisis and common challenges within and beyond the OSCE area. The Council will set the course for the future work of the organization with Serbia taking the chair from 1 January.

It is essential to preserve the OSCE as a platform for inclusive discussions and as an effective responder despite divisions in Europe over the situation in Ukraine, said the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in his opening address at the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel.

Opening session of the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel, 4 December 2014. (OSCE/FDFA/Béatrice Devènes)

Opening session of the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel, 4 December 2014. (OSCE/FDFA/Béatrice Devènes)

Acknowledging the OSCE as a bridge which can be used by both sides, Burkhalter said that a strong OSCE would bring peace, stability and security for everyone living in the OSCE region. He said political leaders had a responsibility to ensure that Europe does not become a divided continent again 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Burkhalter described the situation in Ukraine as fragile. He called on all participating States to fully support the initiatives the OSCE has launched to de-escalate and normalise the situation in Ukraine, such as the Trilateral Contact Group negotiations and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.

Notice that next round of Minsk talks may be held next week. The former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma who represents Kiev in the Contact Group told TASS reporters about the plans. The Minsk agreement is a basic document supported by the world, he said, noting that a positive result of the agreement was the fact that mass killing of people was stopped.
On September 20 in Minsk, the Contact Group on Ukraine signed a nine-point memorandum on a ceasefire. The OSCE monitors the compliance with the document, which was signed by OSCE envoy to Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko and head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Igor Plotnitsky.

Swiss Foreign Minister  added that Switzerland will support the Special Monitoring Mission with a further two million Swiss francs (1.7 million Euros), and remains committed to supporting the Mission beyond the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE.

The OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference 2014, with a focus on tolerance and non-discrimination, concluded on 3 December at Hotel Pullman with outcomes being presented to the Chairperson-in-Office. Chairperson Burkhalter was held a press conference with incoming Chairperson, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, where the civil society recommendations were presented by Civic Solidarity Platform members Yuri Dzhibladze and Izabela Kisic.

UPDATE: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have supported the efforts of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Mission to Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov and Kerry also stressed the growing importance of soonest deescalation in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry added. It is necessary to make efforts to ensure lasting truce in Ukraine’s south-eastern regions, Lavrov said at a meeting with Kerry on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of member states of the OSCE in Switzerland’s Basel. “Lavrov focused attention on the necessity of the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements, ensuring stable truce and continuation of direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk,” the ministry said.

The two foreign ministers also exchanged views on a number of pressing international and regional problems, including the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement and prospects for the settlement of the intra-Syrian conflict.

After Dutch 122,5 t gold repatriation, will next a global run on gold ?

The Dutch central bank said Friday it is repatriating some of its gold reserves from the U.S., making it the latest central bank in Europe to address public concerns about the safety of its gold.

Source: the WGC, DNB

Source: the WGC, DNB

According The Wall Street Journal, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) said it is moving in utmost secret some of its reserves of 612 metric tons back to the Netherlands in an effort to spread its gold stock in “a more balanced way”. The measure could have “a positive effect on public confidence” it said.

After this move, the central bank’s gold reserves held at the New York Federal Reserve will fall to 31% from 51%

The goal is to keep 31% of its reserves at the central bank’s vaults in Amsterdam, compared with 11% previously. As a result, the central bank’s gold reserves held at the New York Federal Reserve will fall to 31% from 51%. Dutch gold held at central banks in Canada and the U.K. will remain unchanged at 20% and 18%, respectively.

We remember that several central banks in Europe have made similar moves in recent years in an effort to quell fears about the safety of their gold reserves that were spurred by the debt crisis in the eurozone.

In early 2013, Germany’s central bank said it would repatriate some of its reserves from the U.S. and France, bowing to pressure from Berlin and a campaign by the populist press. About a similar request was speaking Finland.

Switzerland, meanwhile, is bracing for a vote on Nov. 30 that would require the Swiss National Bank to hold a fifth of its assets in gold and force it to repatriate its gold reserves held in the U.K. and Canada.

The impact of the Dutch gold repatriation can be huge. First of all, because it underlines more and more countries are getting nervous about their gold reserves stored in the US. Venezuela repatriated most of its reserves from abroad in 2012, the year Germany also announced a repatriation schedule from the US and France. While Germany settled with the US to ship 300 tonnes spread over 8 years, the Dutch set a new trend to insist on immediate delivery. If more countries will follow this trend there can be a global run on gold.