Chris Lange, FISM News
The Kremlin said Wednesday that it seized the assets of Finnish energy group Fortum and its former German subsidiary Uniper in retaliation for what it called illegal seizures of Russian assets abroad, according to a Reuters report.
Russia has expressed outrage over reports that Group of Seven leaders are mulling a near-total ban on exports to Russia. The European Union is simultaneously considering using frozen Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin signed a decree late on Tuesday establishing temporary control of Russian assets in the two European state-owned energy firms.
The decree asserted that it was necessary to take urgent measures in response to unspecified actions from the U.S. and others that it said were “unfriendly and contrary to international law.” The shares of both companies were placed in the temporary control of Rosimushchestvo, the federal government property agency.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the decree did not concern ownership, but rather the power to manage the assets. He said the measure could be expanded to other assets if necessary.
“The decree adopted is a response to the aggressive actions of unfriendly countries,” Peskov said. “This initiative mirrors the attitude of Western governments towards foreign assets of Russian companies.”
Both Fortum and Uniper have been trying to exit Russia since it launched its invasion of Ukraine. The asset seizures have led to concerns over the fate of other Western companies wanting to exit Russia.
ZELENSKYY REPORTS ‘MEANINGFUL’ CALL WITH CHINESE LEADER XI
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Twitter that he had held a “long and meaningful” phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and hoped it would boost relations with Beijing.
“I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” Zelenskyy wrote Wednesday.
I had a long and meaningful phone call with 🇨🇳 President Xi Jinping. I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 26, 2023
He did not provide any further details of the call.
The move comes as China has increasingly tried to challenge the U.S. for influence in international politics. Earlier this month China brokered a historic deal to restore relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, highlighting how China has expanded its footprint of influence around the world.
China has helped Ruseveralumber of ways since Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “no limits” partnership weeks before Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has shielded Moscow diplomatically and has refused to criticize its actions in Ukraine. It has also expanded trade with Russia, particularly in energy exports, which has served as a lifeline to the country amid punishing sanctions from the West.
Beijing insists that it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
MEDVEDEV SAYS USE OF NUKES ‘MORE LIKELY EVERY DAY’
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that the likelihood of a nuclear conflict with the West is increasing by the day.
“Is there such a prospect today? Unfortunately, yes. And it is growing every day for well-known reasons,” Medvedev, who now serves as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said at an educational event.
He asserted that nuclear weapons are vital to Russia’s existence and “the backbone that holds the state together.”
Both Medvedev and President Putin have made several similar threats throughout the 14-month conflict in Ukraine.
Medvedev suggested in January that if Russia is defeated by conventional warfare, it “may trigger a nuclear war.”
“Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends,” he said in a Telegram post.
MYSTERIOUS DEATHS OF RUSSIAN OFFICIALS ON THE RISE
Two Russian State Duma deputies with the ruling United Russia party were both found dead on Sunday.
According to Newsweek, local authorities said that 77-year-old Nikolay Bortsov died in his home in Lebedyan without providing a cause of death and that Dzhasharbek Uzdenov, 57, died as a result of a “serious and prolonged illness.” Bortsov was previously sanctioned by the West in connection to the invasion of Ukraine.
Their deaths add to the growing list of Russian officials and business leaders who have died under mysterious circumstances in recent months.
Among some 20 suspicious deaths were those of Major General Vladimir Makarov, an officer who oversaw the Kremlin’s crackdown on anti-war protesters; Vladislav Avayev, a former Kremlin official and vice president of Gazprombank; and Yuri Voronov, the founder and general director of the Astra-Shipping transport and logistics company.