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Quest for Crimea and why Ukraine is so important for the world #євромайдан

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Why the events happening in Ukraine are so important for the global geopolitics? Why internal matters of Ukraine are so important that global media was so much busy in spreading their views and propaganda? Was it all mere a political crisis in Ukraine? Was it only because of integration to EU? Or there were international powers like the west and Russia trying to expand their buffer region. It can also be all of it. What happened in Ukraine could be the biggest clash of ideology in the region after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Quest for Crimea, Beautiful Kiev Independence square maidan

When Kiev’s independence square was beautiful. CC by flickr/sharkroman

For the west and the U.S it could be their much needed diplomatic victory after their diplomatic loss to Putin in Syria. Putin did his calculations right in understanding that the current government in Ukraine will not survive. He backed off and assured that Russia is ready to cooperate with any government in Ukraine. On the one hand west has entered Russian half brother with its ideology, on the other hand Ukraine can help European economy depend less on Turkey and Middle East to access energy rich areas around Caspian via Black Sea. If it really happens in Ukraine, Russia will be threatened to see more western activities in Black Sea. At the later stage, western powers will have an opportunity to block Russia from entering strategic Mediterranean Sea, that is where Syria is.

Quest for Crimea

Now the question is what will happen to autonomous region of Crimea. Crimea, though essentially is a part of Ukraine, it has the highest population of Russians (60%) in Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine has traditionally been closer to Russia, whereas western Ukraine closer to Europe. While one can say west Ukrainians are anti Russia, but to say eastern Ukrainians as anti Europe may not be true. This was visible in Ukraine as there were only few support rallies for the President, despite he came to power by winning democratic elections. Crimea and Kharkov were the strongest hold of Party of Regions, but even they feel deceived now as they did not expect their elected president to flee. Crimea is geopolitcally interesting as it also holds the second largest naval port in the Black Sea at Sevastapol operated by the Russians. According to the treaty that Ukraine and Russia signed in 1997, Russia can hold the naval base for another 3 years. The treaty which gave this port to Russia for 20 years has not been renewed and the new pro Europe government is about to come. Does it mean the base slipping away from the hands of Russians? Probably, no.

In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed Kharkiv Pact with Ukraine whereby the Russian lease on naval facilities at Sevastapol, Crimea was extended beyond 2017 by 25 years (to 2042) with an additional 5 year renewal option (to 2047) in exchange for a multiyear contract to provide Ukraine with up to 30% cheaper Russian natural gas. However, when there was voting going on over this pact in the Ukrainian parliament, almost all the member of opposition were either absent or abstained from voting. Former Prime Minister and probably the most popular choice for the next leader of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko and her party holds the agreement illegal as the agreement violates a part of Ukrainian constitution which forbids Ukraine from hosting foreign military bases after 2017. Russia would not like to lose this base, and it will be very interesting to see how the tables are turned to keep Russia’s interests in the region secured. Putin has already made clear that he is ready to cooperate with any government in Ukraine and that no signed agreements and benefits given to Ukraine will be changed.

Amid the high profile protests at Maidan in Kiev, Russia and Ukraine signed some of the biggest agreements on 17th December 2013, which received very less attention. This further shows how important is Crimea for Russia. The agreement stated that Russia and Ukraine will begin to negotiate on a bilateral agreement in early 2014 on the renewal of weaponry and military equipment of the Russian Black Sea fleet. This allows Russia to send new naval units to Sevastapol and add to the existing fleet, which are expected to enter service by the end of 2020. The agreement also had a clause that will allow Russia to condition financial aid to Ukraine over receiving access to strategic military industrial locations in Ukraine which are all in the south east of the country.  In return Ukraine got $15billion bailout and 33% discount on gas from Russia, a move that is expected to give Ukraine 3% rise in growth in 2014.

Earlier this month, Ukraine and Russia discussed the possibilities of stirring up cooperation in civil and military shipbuilding on the Ukrainian territory as part of meeting of First Deputy Industrial Policy Ministers of Ukraine Mykola Yevdokymenko and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister of Russia Alexei RakhmanovAlso. It was agreed by the both parties that Ukraine will present production facilities of shipyards in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Feodosiya and Sevastopol to Russians. Russia does not have shipbuilding yards in the Black Sea and performs only repairs on the sites in Bulgaria (Black Sea), Kaliningrad (Baltic), St. Petersburg (Baltic) and Severodinsk (north). If this also slips away from the hands of Russians then sustaining a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean composed of five to six ships from the Black Sea fleet would be a difficult task.

To sum it up, it is the victory of people in Ukraine for the protesters, it is the diplomatic victory of west over Russia. It is now up to Ukraine to maintain the agreements or reverse it. Ukraine has other sources of gas too, and before deciding not to sign EU Association Agreement, Ukraine had stepped up its gas imports from Poland. While Russia gave a promising hope of 3% rise in Ukraine’s economic growth in 2014, we need to see will EU be able to help Ukraine step up its economy and help it come out of $10 billion foreign debt to Russia? Or it was just a political game for EU’s self interest. After huge propaganda by media worldwide and a burst of wave in Ukraine, it will take another 1-2 years for people to realize what was good for them and what was not.

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

Europe

National Police arrests 60 people for money laundering in Majorca

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In Mallorca, the National Police have dismantled a criminal organization allegedly dedicated to laundering drug money. According to preliminary investigations, those involved are alleged to have laundered more than one million euros over the last year.

At the moment, the authorities have arrested a total of 60 people for the alleged crimes of money laundering and false documentation. Although investigations are still ongoing, leading Spanish criminal lawyers have pointed to the possibility of an increase in the amount of money laundered.

In addition to this, specialists in Criminal Law and Financial Crimes such as Luis Chabaneix have pointed out that during the next few days the number of arrests could increase, both in Madrid and in Mallorca. It should be noted that of the 60 arrested, 55 were arrested on the island and the other five in the city of Madrid on Sunday, May 16.

Money laundering of drug money from Mallorca to the Caribbean

According to the founder of Chabaneix Lawyers, Luis Chabaneix, the 60 people who have been arrested by the National Police are being investigated for the laundering of millions of dollars. It is presumed that more than one million Euros from drug trafficking activities have been sent to Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and even shipments to the United States have been registered.

In these countries, the money diverted by the criminal association has been used for the purchase of real estate and vehicles. For this reason, the National Police is in permanent collaboration with the North American, Cuban and Dominican authorities in order to dismantle the activities of this group in the different countries.

Likewise, among the main information provided by the authorities, it should be noted that more than 400,000 Euros in cash were seized from the hands of those arrested in Mallorca. Similarly, the police searches carried out on the island led to the seizure of multiple luxury items and accessories, a total of three kilos of cocaine and approximately 60 kilograms of cutting substances.

Two Majorcan companies under investigation

The team of criminal lawyers with an office in Madrid has commented that there are multiple methods that can be used to launder drug money. In the particular case of the criminal organization headed by a nationalized citizen of Cuban origin, one of the methods used to divert the money was international bank transfers.

For this purpose, the use of linked bank accounts of certain front men was a fundamental element. In addition, the case includes investigations of split money transfers through call shops.

On the other hand, through an official statement, the National Police informed that two Majorcan companies have been linked to the ongoing investigation. The reason for this is the issuing of fraudulent invoices for a value close to 200,000 euros.

Through these methods, the criminal organization has managed to launder capital inside and outside the country, legalizing large sums of money allegedly originating from drug trafficking. Undoubtedly, the arrest of the 60 people involved, including the leader of the organization, is a serious blow to the laundering of drug money in Spain.

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Economy

Seasif’s Franco Favilla discusses the post-Covid economy and the price of gold

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Although the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, there has been much discussion on the idea of a “post-Covid” economy, especially with the beginning of vaccination efforts in some countries. With markets throughout the world suffering the economic effects of the virus, experts have been looking towards the future –– and one of the topics that often comes up is the price of gold.

In August, the price of gold exceeded US$ 2,000 an ounce for the first time, driven by multiple factors. However, in November, advancements in Covid-19 vaccines led to a decrease in this trend, a result of the turbulent period we are going through.

“Regardless of the market volatility and the price changes that could occur over a given period of time, the fundamental fact is that the price of gold over the course of 2020 has reached an all-time high, and this, in my opinion, is very good news for the world economy,” explains Franco Favilla, founder and CEO of Seasif, a multinational company active in the extraction and trading of gold and oil.

According to Mr. Favilla, the main problem of the pre-Covid economy was the completely arbitrary nature of international finance. At one time, a ton of gold corresponded to a ton of currency, but since the 1980s, and at an impressive rate since 2000, the gap has widened enormously, so much so that today the relationship between the world’s currencies and gold is enormously unbalanced.

Total gold reserves around the world cover only 30% of currencies. This means there is nothing to cover and guarantee the value of money. In short, money has turned into a pure convention, a pure agreement between parties acting outside the market. Gold, on the contrary, guarantees democracy, because it protects savers and the market, offering an objective value for parameterizing every transaction. 

“My hope, therefore, is that the crisis caused by Covid-19 will help to change finance, making it less ‘phantom’ and more linked to an objective dimension, based on gold, with obvious advantages for the real economy. Gold protects consumers, the most important component in any economic system: if you don’t have a market made up of consumers with a certain level of wealth, how can you sell? To whom? Consumer protection must come first, and gold is one of the main ways of protecting them,” states the CEO of Seasif.

Sustainability has also been at the forefront in discussions about the post-Covid world, as countries look towards establishing a more resilient global economy, one able to better withstand such events in the future –– and “green gold” may well be a part of that future. Green gold, in a sense, can be considered the “gold of the future” due to its ethical and sustainable extraction process. Seasif produces green gold, with a department entirely dedicated to green, and has allocated economic incentives to its continued production.

Even as 2020 draws to a close, the future may still look uncertain. But for those searching for greater security, gold may be one of the few certainties left.

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Europe

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

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malaga andalusia spain

There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?

Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?

Spanish cities where to live cheap and well

In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.

The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries. 

In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run. 

Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors

I have already decided on the place. Now what?

Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?

Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.

To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.

And remember: a move is always a new beginning.

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