Kremlin Says Ukrainian Attack on Fuel Depot in Russia Unhelpful for Peace Talks

Members of the Russian Emergencies Ministry extinguish a fire at a fuel depot in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on April 1, 2022, in a still from video. (Russian Emergencies Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

The Kremlin on Friday accused Ukraine of a military strike against a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod while saying that the attack was unhelpful for the progress of Russia-Ukraine peace talks, which were set to resume on Friday.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the strike, which Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied, would do nothing to build trust between the two sides and could jeopardize peace talks.

“Clearly, it’s not what could create conditions for further talks,” he said, according to Russian state-backed media Tass.

Epoch Times Photo
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks at a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on Feb. 18, 2022. (Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via Reuters)

“I can neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this simply because I do not possess all the military information,” Kuleba said at a briefing in Warsaw, Poland, where he met with top officials to discuss the latest frontline developments in Ukraine.

Anastasia Golodova, a spokesperson for the airport in Belgorod, told Tass on Friday that two helicopters of the Ukraine armed forces had carried out two strikes that caused a fire at the city’s oil depot.

Golodova said the airport hadn’t sustained any damage and there were no casualties.

Footage posted on social media showed what appeared to be multiple rocket attacks from helicopters followed by a massive explosion, while another video showed a helicopter flying away from the scene as a blaze lit up the sky in the background.

A fuel depot on fire in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on April 1, 2022. (Pavel Kolyadin/BelPressa/Handout via Reuters)

Kuleba said Ukraine was waiting for Moscow’s formal response to Kyiv’s proposals laid out at peace talks in Turkey earlier in the week.

A centerpiece of the proposal put forward by Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul on Tuesday was that Kyiv would renounce its bid to join NATO in exchange for security guarantees similar to the pact’s Article 5 arrangement where an attack on one member is considered an attack on all.

While a number of Western countries have expressed willingness to provide some form of security guarantees, there has been reluctance for commitments to intervene militarily in case Ukraine is attacked.

It comes as Russia-Ukraine peace talks resumed in video format on Friday, the 37th day of the war, according to Moscow’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky.

“Our positions on Crimea and Donbass have not changed,” Medinsky said in a message on Telegram.

One of Moscow’s demands is for Kyiv to recognize Crimea as belonging to Russia and acknowledge the independence of the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Lugansk regions, known collectively as Donbass.

Medinsky said after Tuesday’s negotiations in Istanbul that he would pass along to Putin the terms proposed by Ukraine and come back later with a response.

There appears to be little hope for a breakthrough in talks in the near term, however.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, who spoke to Putin by phone on Wednesday, said that Putin told him that “small steps had been taken in the talks” so far but that the conditions “did not exist” for stopping military action.



IMF Warns That Sanctions Against Russia Threaten to Weaken the Dominance of the Dollar


The recent financial sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are threatening to weaken the dominance of the U.S. petrodollar as the world currency, said First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to The Financial Times.

The sanctions may result in a more fragmented international monetary system, warned Gopinath.

She had previously said that the sanctions against Russia would not foreshadow the demise of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency and that the Ukraine crisis would slow growth, but not cause a global recession.

The United States, the EU, and the Group of Seven nations have hit Russia with a bundle of heavy sanctions and blocked the country from using SWIFT, the global communications service that clears international financial transactions, virtually cutting it off from the global financial markets and international trade.

The United States also froze $630 billion in assets held in international reserves by the Russian Central Bank.

The Russian government is retaliating by demanding payment in rubles or gold for purchases of energy and other important commodities.

“If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency, and this is gold for us, or pay as it is convenient for us, this is the national currency,” said the head of Russia’s energy committee, Pavel Zavalny.

The United States and the UK have imposed embargoes on Russian energy exports, but the EU, which is more reliant on energy imports, is more reluctant to ban it.

The new policy has hit the EU the hardest, sending gas prices on the continent up by 30 percent on March 30.

Meanwhile, the ruble has since risen to a three-week high past 95 against the dollar after the Moscow Stock Exchange reopened after the initial round of sanctions.

Zavalny has suggested that buyers from countries friendly to Russia, such as China, could pay in their own fiat currencies or in Bitcoin.

Russia had been planning for years to reduce its dependence on the petrodollar since the United States imposed sanctions in retaliation for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The current crisis in Ukraine has only accelerated those plans.

Before the recent conflict, Russia still had roughly a fifth of its foreign reserves in dollar-denominated assets, mainly held overseas in Germany, France, the UK, and Japan, which have since sided with the United States to isolate Moscow from the global financial system.

Gopinath said that Russia’s response to the sweeping sanctions could encourage the emergence of small currency blocs based on trade between separate groups of countries and would lead to further diversification of the reserve assets held by national central banks.

“Countries tend to accumulate reserves in the currencies with which they trade with the rest of the world, and in which they borrow from the rest of the world, so you might see some slow-moving trends towards other currencies playing a bigger role [in reserve assets],” she said.

However, Gopinath doubts that the dominance of the U.S. dollar would likely be challenged in the medium term, as it is backed by strong and highly credible institutions and the fact that it is freely convertible.

“The dollar would remain the major global currency even in that landscape but fragmentation at a smaller level is certainly quite possible,” said Gopinath.

“We are already seeing that with some countries renegotiating the currency in which they get paid for trade.”

Gopinath did note that the dollar’s share of international reserves had fallen from 70 percent to 60 percent over the past 20 years, with the emergence of other trading currencies.

About a quarter of the decline in the dollar’s share is attributed to greater use of the Chinese yuan, but less than 3 percent of global central bank reserves are denominated in that currency, according to the IMF.

The IMF deputy director said that the conflict is spurring the adoption of an international digital finance system, utilizing cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies.

“All of these will get even greater attention following the recent episodes, which draws us to the question of international regulation,” said Gopinath. “There is a gap to be filled there.”

The CCP had been preparing for the use of the yuan as a global currency before the current crisis and was already ahead in adopting a central bank digital currency.

However, Gopinath said that the yuan was unlikely to replace the dollar as the dominant reserve currency.

“That would require having full convertibility of the currency, having open capital markets and the institutions that can back [them]. That is the slow-moving process that takes time, and the dollar’s dominance will stay for a while,” she said. Source

As I continue to follow the events concerning the conversion of currencies of our world; it seems to me that banking institutions are running into problems.

I see this as encouraging, although I do think that eventually all monies will be digitized and most likely globalized.