Russia, Belarus Conduct Massive Joint Military Exercise Involving More Than 22,000 Troops

Arctic oil platform somewhere off Russia north-eastern coast in the Pechora Sea.Greenpeace/AFP/File Ottawa (AFP) Canadian consular officials are pressing Russia for answers about the detention of two Canadians among 30 activists held for protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, officials said Thursday. “Consular services are being provided to the two Canadian citizens,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Beatrice Fenelon told AFP. Canadian officials are also “seeking further information about the detentions from local Russian authorities,” she added. Russian border guards took control of the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace protest ship Arctic Sunrise and locked up the activists on Tuesday after they attempted to scale state energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in protest over exploration in the Barents Sea. The border guards fired warning shots and detained two activists under armed guard, according to Greenpeace. After sliding down ropes from helicopters, the guards seized the vessel then towed the ship to the port of Murmansk, where the activists were held for questioning. On Thursday, a Russian court ordered several of the activists detained for two months for alleged piracy, including Paul Ruzycki from Canada, and was expected to rule on the others soon. The captain of the ship, US citizen Peter Willcox, was also given the same term. The veteran activist captained Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship when it was bombed by French agents in 1985. Greenpeace said another Canadian, Alexandre Paul, was also being detained pending a court appearance in the northern port city. The non-governmental group’s Canadian office said it has requested a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird but has not heard back. Baird has pointed to Greenpeace’s past “provocative actions on the high seas.” “Obviously, it needs to follow all the specific rules and regulations with respect to navigation,” he added.

Pierluigi Lugano, an Abissi wine maker, checks a Primat, a bottle that contains 27 litres of sparkling wine that was brought to the surface by scuba divers on September 25, 2013 in Chiavari. Pierluigi Lugano is experimenting by storing his wine three to four years in the sea at a depth of 60 metres and some 3 kilometres offshore, where the water temperature remains constant under 6 bars of pressure with a slight deepwater current. 
AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORINOLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

With Europe finding new sources of natural gas, and Asian economies looking at Canadian markets, the Russian economy is starting to retreat behind the former Iron Curtain, Graeber writes. By Daniel J. Graeber,Guest blogger / September 26, 2013 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin arrives to attend the Enniskillen G8 summit, at Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland in June. Peter Muhly/Reuters/File Enlarge The head of the World Bank in Russia saidWednesdayhe was alarmed by the slowdown in the Russian economy. The bank said the Russian economy was slow to emerge from a recession still gripping parts of the eurozone despite recovery elsewhere in the world. It said the government’s investment activities slowed down in part because of the completion of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. Its dependence on oil and natural gas exports, meanwhile, exposed the Russian economy to additional risks. With Europe finding new sources of natural gas, and Asian economies looking at Canadian markets, the Russian economy is starting to retreat behind the former Iron Curtain. OilPrice.com offers extensive coverage of all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and environmental issues. To see more opinion pieces and news analysis that cover energy technology, finance and trading, geopolitics, and sector news, please visit Oilprice.com . Recent posts The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition The World Bank said it revised its growth projection for the Russian economy from its May estimate of 2.3 percent to 1.8 percent for 2013. “The economy appears to be growing close to its capacity, constrained by feeble investment activities and a tight labor market,” Birgit Hansl, World Bank coordinator for economic policy in Russia, said in a statement. (Related article: Why Canada’s Oil Future isn’t Going South ) RECOMMENDED: Fracking. Tight oil. Do you know your energy vocabulary? The report said Russia’s dependence on oil and natural gas exports left its economy exposed to volatility on the global commodity market.

Is Russia’s economy running out of gas?

The West 2013 exercise conducted Thursday near the city of Grodno in western Belarus and in Russias westernmost Kaliningrad region also involved more than 500 armored vehicles and about 90 aircraft along with ships of Russias Black Sea Fleet. Karla Adam Interpol issues arrest notice for British national in connection to Nairobi attack, setting off a media frenzy. Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung The new alliance with an al-Qaeda affiliated group complicates U.S. plans to arm moderates. Pakistans earthquake relief effort comes under attack Tim Craig and Shaiq Hussain As rescue efforts enter a third day, at least 350 fatalities and more than 500 injuries are reported in Baluchistan. Russia and Belarus are allies and have close economic, political and military ties. Russia has several military facilities in Belarus, and the two nations operate a joint air defense system. The two armies have regularly conducted joint maneuvers, Thursdays exercise being the biggest so far. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attended the exercise along with his nine-year old son, who donned full combat fatigues. Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.