Tom's Feed
Apr 24, 2014

Russian memo to WTO says U.S. sanctions are illegal

GENEVA (Reuters) – Russia has told the United States that its Ukraine-related sanctions on a Russian bank and Russian citizens are illegal under World Trade Organization rules and must be scrapped.

Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said last week that Russia could launch a dispute at the world trade body to challenge U.S. sanctions.

Apr 23, 2014

Syrians’ plight worsens, hope for political deal fades

GENEVA (Reuters) – Hopes for a political deal to end Syria’s war are fading and it is getting harder every day to send aid to millions of trapped and displaced civilians, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said on Wednesday.

The United Nations has long said negotiations are the only way to resolve a conflict that is destabilizing the region, but peace talks chaired by mediator Lakhdar Brahimi this year foundered after two rounds.

Apr 18, 2014

Ukraine agreement built on fragile foundations

WASHINGTON/GENEVA (Reuters) – The agreement designed to pull Ukraine back from the brink of civil war had been floundering around lunchtime on Thursday, so U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, a smoker, stepped outside for a private word in the open air.

They appear to have made some progress. When they came back inside, a new session of formal negotiations was hastily arranged and, finally, a deal agreed.

Apr 17, 2014

Geneva talks on Ukraine aim for written ‘solution’: source

GENEVA (Reuters) – Four-party talks to resolve the crisis in Ukraine are working on a written document that will be published later on Thursday if the talks go well, said diplomats on the sidelines of the talks.

“I know that they are working on a solution to the problem. They are working on something written,” said a diplomatic source with knowledge of the talks said.

Apr 16, 2014

‘Broke’ U.N. agency pleads for help in Central African Republic

GENEVA (Reuters) – Inter-communal violence is tearing Central African Republic apart but the conflict is not getting the attention, or aid, needed to save huge numbers of lives, the head of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.

Almost 200,000 people have fled the country since December, and a further 160,000 are expected to this year. The UNHCR says it is spending cash there three times as fast as new funds are coming in, putting its mission in jeopardy.

Apr 15, 2014

U.N. finds fear-mongering by Russian speakers in Ukraine

GENEVA (Reuters) – Ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine have falsely claimed to be under assault to justify Russian intervention, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday in a report that warned of an impact on the May 25 election if propaganda persisted.

Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war on Tuesday as Kiev said an “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Moscow separatists was under way, with troops and armored personnel carriers seen near a flashpoint eastern town.

Apr 15, 2014

Separatist actions ‘concocted’ to disrupt Ukraine talks: Kiev envoy

GENEVA (Reuters) – Unrest in eastern Ukraine is a “concocted pretext” engineered by Russia to disrupt four-way talks on Ukraine due to take place on Thursday, Kiev’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said on Tuesday.

Yurii Klymenko said Ukraine wanted to use the talks, which will bring together top U.S., European Union, Russian and Ukrainian diplomats, to reduce tensions on its borders with Russia and to help revive trade with its neighbor. But Ukraine would not discuss its internal affairs, he said.

Apr 15, 2014

U.N. finds fear-mongering by pro-Russians in Ukraine

GENEVA (Reuters) – Ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine have falsely claimed to be under attack to justify Russian involvement, a report by the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday.

“Although there were some attacks against the ethnic Russian community, these were neither systematic nor widespread,” said the report, which follows two visits to the country last month by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic.

Apr 14, 2014

World trade picture improves but 2014 still below trend: WTO

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization slightly raised its 2014 forecast for growth in global goods trade to 4.7 percent on Monday, saying it did not expect a return to the historical trend level of 5.3 percent until 2015.

“If GDP forecasts hold true, we expect a broad-based but modest upturn in the volume of world trade in 2014 and further consolidation of this growth in 2015,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told a news conference in Geneva.

Apr 4, 2014

Russia faces July deadline to fix $2.2 billion trucking row

GENEVA (Reuters) – Russia is inflicting $2.2 billion of annual costs on crossborder trade by enforcing illegal customs charges and inspections on trucks, the Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union said on Friday.

The IRU is a U.N.-backed organization that runs the “TIR” system of customs guarantees, intended to make road haulage cheaper and quicker. Its members – national associations of trucking firms – gave IRU’s board a mandate on Friday to withdraw TIR coverage from Russia if Moscow does not fix the problem by July 1.