The Japanese government is determined to achieve a solution to the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his programme speech, addressing the Parliament on January 20.
“Step-by-step, the agreements, which we reached with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin are being implemented,” Abe said. “Former residents of the [Southern Kuril] Islands go on a pilgrimage tour by plane to their relatives’ graves and joint economic activity is being cultivated on the four islands.”
“We will speed up talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration, solve the territorial problem and sign a peace treaty,” Abe continued. “We are moving towards this without any hesitation. I’m fully determined to achieve this goal together with President [Vladimir Putin],” Prime Minister underlined.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.
After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.
Russia has stopped oil supplies to Belarus, resulting in reduced two oil refineries operations to the minimum acceptable level, a source in Belneftekhim Concern informed Russian TASS News agency on December 3.
“Russian oil is not delivered. The capacity of oil refineries has been reduced to the minimum technologically permissible level,” the source said.
On December 30 and December 31, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko held telephone conversations to discuss issues related to Russian oil and gas exports to Belarus. The Belarusian leader also raised these issues at his meetings with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak on December 21.
Shortly after exchanges, Lukashenko instructed the top officials of the petrochemical complex to sign oil supplies contracts and explore the possibility of supplies from the Baltic ports by rail and through the Druzhba oil pipeline. Earlier he said that Minsk planned to purchase about 20 bln cubic meters of gas and 24-25 mln tonnes of oil from Russia in 2020.
Vladimir Putin called to Donald Trump to thank him for what White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said was “information the United States provided that helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack in Russia.”
No details were provided, but Moscow announced it had thwarted attacks reportedly planned in St. Petersburg thanks to the information from Washington.
American and Russian Presidents discussed the state of relations between their two countries in a phone call instigated by Putin, the White House said.
“President Putin of Russia called to thank me and the U.S. for informing them of a planned terrorist attack in the very beautiful city of Saint Petersburg. They were able to quickly apprehend the suspects, with many lives being saved. Great and important coordination!” President Trump wrote in his Twitter micro blog.
The Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea with Taman Peninsula of Russia has been built applying the latest technologies and can operate “for centuries, if maintained properly”, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the TV program ‘Moscow. Kremlin. Putin’ on the Rossiya-1 TV Channel.
On December 23, Putin took part in the ceremony of opening the railway service on the Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait that connects Crimea with mainland Russia.
Commenting on event he said that he experienced “a feeling of joy and satisfaction for the work done with a good result,” when crossing the Bridge.
“Judging by what experts opinion, it will serve for many decades and maybe centuries to come. It is only necessary to provide timely maintenance and repairs and it may operate for centuries”, Putin said, underlining that the construction has been conducted based on the most advanced technologies.
In the past there had been three attempts to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait but “all of them had been unsuccessful and all the structures had been swept away,” Putin recalled.
That is why, there were speculations that Russia would fail again in creating such a transport pass, he continued.
“Such technologies did not exist before but we developed them. After that, all worked well and qualitatively and actually everything was done using domestic technologies,” Putin explained.
The Crimean or Kerch Bridge is the largest structure in Russia and Europe that connects the Kerch Peninsula in Crimea with the Krasnodar Region in the Taman Peninsula.
The transport link consists of two parallel motor and railway sections. The bridge’s motorway section was put into operation in May 2018 and traffic across it started to pass in the fall of the same year.
On December 23, 2019, Putin took part in the ceremony to open railway between Kerch and Taman. Cargo train traffic is set to start on the Crimean Bridge in July 2020.
Russian President Vladimir Putin schedules bilateral meetings with Ukrainian, French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Vladimir Zelensky at margins of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris on December 9, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced.
Peskov underlined that the Kremlin expected the Normandy Four summit will contribute to conflict resolution in southeastern Ukraine.
“[Putin’s] attitude is serious, the only expectation is to facilitate efforts to resolve the domestic conflict in southeastern Ukraine, ensure a common understanding that there is no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and prevent attempts to dilute them,” spokesperson said.
Peskov expressed confidence in French authorities capabilities to succeed in creating necessary conditions for thec Summit despite the current protests in Paris.
“We are not inclined to exaggerate the threats the Summit could face as we believe that the French authorities are capable of creating conditions for the meeting and will do it,” Peskov said.
President Vladimir Putin criticized NATO’s steady expansion, something he suggested was pointless given the absence of a threat from Moscow following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and Communism as the major foe of the Alliance.
Addressing a meeting of Russian military leaders in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin said NATO expansion posed a threat to Russia, but added he hoped that a shared interest in common security would prevail.
Despite tensions, Moscow remained ready to cooperate with the military alliance.
“Stirring up political hysteria around President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Budapest, liberal Hungarian and international media outlets would have you believe their conspiracy theories instead of seeing PM Orbán’s meetings with the Russian President for what they really are: Hungary looking out for its own national interest.
“Otherwise known as “diplomacy.”
“In recent years, annual meetings between Prime Minister Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin have become customary for a reason: Both countries have interests in maintaining political and economic relations on the best possible terms and with transparency. For Hungary, good relations with Russia are clearly in our national interest – a fundamental criteria that has guided the Orbán Governments’ policy decisions over the last nine years.
“For example, Russia currently supplies around sixty percent of Hungary’s energy needs. Energy security is a core national interest. It’s not the only factor at play, but if it were, it would be good enough reason for tending carefully to that relationship.
“The international, liberal media, however, supported by domestic operatives, have been trying hard to sell a different story about these regular Hungary-Russia meetings that is not only absurd but also shows clear symptoms of chronic, incurable hypocrisy. These “activists” peddle their conspiracy theories instead of seeing the Orbán-Putin meeting for what it really is: the government looking out for the Hungarian people and Hungary’s national interest.”
Read the latest on Russia’s President visit to Hungary on State Secretary Zoltán Kovács’s BLOG: