Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Austria, gas and the big bad Russians

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Could an Austrian oil and gas group with more than 41,000 employees, some 25.5 billion euros turnover and a presence in more than 20 countries actually be a secret front for Russian gas giants, extending their tentacles of power into Europe?

It could be if you believe Zsolt Hernadi, the chairman of Hungarian rival MOL, not to mention some scary headlines about Russian gas in the British press.

Earlier this week Austria’s OMV sold a 21 percent stake it held in MOL to Russian oil group Surgutneftegaz for 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion), double the amount the stake was worth as stock. The stake was originally bought from … a Russian family Almost half of the stake was originally bought from … a Russian family.

“Suspicion arises … that because the Russian investor bought this stake at exactly the (initial purchase) price, it (OMV) was just a front,” Hernadi told a Hungarian parliament committee.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Of Afghanistan and backpacks

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According to George Friedman from the Stratfor intelligence group the United States should forget the idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan and concentrate instead on covert operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

As has become increasingly clear, the administration of President Barack Obama faces a hard time raising its troop presence in Afghanistan without either relying on precarious supply lines through Pakistan or making political compromises with Russia to win its support for using alternative routes through Central Asia.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghan supply routes face setbacks in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan

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U.S. efforts to improve supplies for its troops in Afghanistan just had a double setback after militants in northwest Pakistan severed the main supply route for western forces and Kyrgyzstan's president said the United States must close its military base there.

Militants blew up a bridge on the Khyber Pass, cutting the supply route to western forces in Afghanistan and underscoring the need for the United States to seek alternative supply lines. The U.S. military sends 75 percent of supplies for the Afghan war through Pakistan but has been looking at using other transit routes through Central Asia. Although Washington has been sketchy on the details of its plans, its Manas military airbase near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek has so far provided important logistical support for its operations in Afghanistan.  During a visit to Moscow, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure of the base, opened after the 9/11 attacks.  Bakiyev made the announcement after securing a $2 billion loan and a further $150 million in aid from Russia.

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