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Eastern Europe

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  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The United States on Friday prohibited investment in Crimea and slapped sanctions on 24 Ukrainians and Russians and several companies it determined were contributing to destabilizing Ukraine. The actions followed similar moves by the European Union this week, and continue the West's policy of not recognizing Moscow's annexation of...

  • The International Monetary Fund said it had productive talks with Ukraine officials this week, but the two parties failed to reach an agreement that would pave the way for Kiev to receive its next bailout tranche next month. Ukraine could default on its debt obligations if the situation does not change in the next few months, S&P said on Friday.

  • BERLIN, Dec 19- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed concern on Friday that EU sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine could destabilize Russia and warned against "turning the screw" any further. The comments to German weekly Der Spiegel suggest a possible softening in the stance of Steinmeier, a member of the traditionally...

  • Putin: Russia military modernization to go ahead Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 10:44 AM ET

    Speaking at a meeting with Russia's top military brass, Putin said the nation's nuclear forces are a "major factor in maintaining global balance," adding that "they effectively preclude the possibility of a large-scale aggression against Russia." The huge military buildup is continuing despite the country's economic woes, triggered by a combination of...

  • BUDAPEST, Hungary— A Hungarian official says a plan to tax Internet use, which provoked huge protests, "is dead and will never come back to life." Prime Minister Viktor Orban promised to shelve the tax, but revisit it in 2015, after street rallies against the plan drew tens of thousands of mostly young protesters. Tamas Deutsch, a member of the European Parliament and...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The International Monetary Fund said Friday it had productive discussions with officials in Ukraine this week, but failed to reach an agreement that would pave the way for Kiev to receive its next bailout tranche next month. Ukraine so far has received two tranches under the IMF program, worth a total of $4.6 billion. The European Union said on...

  • BRUSSELS, Dec 19- European Union leaders warned Moscow they are ready to flex their combined muscle and "stay the course" in a long confrontation with Russia if President Vladimir Putin refuses to pull back from Ukraine. In comments that were part warning to Russia, where falling oil prices and Western trade sanctions have brought financial havoc, and part...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 19- The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it had productive discussions with officials in Ukraine this week, and planned to return to Kiev for further talks in January. "We found that the Ukrainian authorities are preparing to move decisively on a broad and comprehensive agenda to stabilize and reform the economy, while coping with the...

  • PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA'S MILITARY DOCTRINE REMAINS PURELY DEFENSIVE DESPITE INCREASED NATO ACTIVITY IN EASTERN EUROPE.

  • Belarus slaps 30 percent fee at currency exchanges Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 7:30 AM ET

    MINSK, Belarus— Belarus has imposed a 30 percent fee on currency exchange transactions in an effort to contain panic that has spilled over from neighboring Russia. While Belarus's currency has remained relatively stable in recent months, people in the capital of Minsk have flooded currency exchanges amid worries that the economic crisis in Russia could...

  • How GE changed tack on Russia Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 6:03 AM ET

    LONDON, Dec 19- About five years ago, General Electric Co, the largest Western player in Russia's market for medical equipment, uncovered pervasive corruption in its Russian business. Customs data show that since 2011 GE has made almost all its exports to Russia through a wholly-owned GE subsidiary in Moscow, which then supplies the local market.

  • MOSCOW/ LONDON, Dec 19- Russia pays hugely inflated prices for vital medical equipment made by Western companies, in part because some manufacturers channel sales through obscure intermediary companies, a Reuters examination has found. An analysis of 20,000 transactions dated between January 2006 and July 2013 found that international companies sold...

  • TOKYO, Dec 19- Japan's Nissan Motor Co and French partner Renault SA have stopped taking orders for some cars in Russia and could raise prices on others if the rouble's plunge continues, alliance Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Friday. Russia is Nissan's fifth-largest market and the Japanese firm's alliance with Renault SA, of which Ghosn is chairman and...

  • *Asia shares buoyed as Wall St surges for second day. LONDON, Dec 19- World markets are ending their last full week of 2014 on a high, as Wall Street made its biggest two-day advance since late 2011 and European shares headed for their strongest week of the year. French IT services company Atos SE Xerox Corp's outsourcing arm.

  • EU leaders ready long confrontation with Russia Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 8:54 PM ET

    *EU leaders lay ground for long-term common front toward Moscow. BRUSSELS, Dec 19- European Union leaders warned Moscow they were ready exercise their combined muscle over the long haul in a confrontation with an economically wounded Russia if President Vladimir Putin refused to pull back from Ukraine. "It is obvious we will not find a long-term perspective for...

  • *Wall Street gains more than 2 pct. NEW YORK, Dec 18- Global equities markets rallied on Thursday, with Wall Street surging nearly 2.5 percent, as investors buoyed by policy comments from the U.S. Wall Street powered higher, with the S&P 500 putting up its best two days of gains since November 2011, according to Reuters data.

  • *Wall Street on track for second day of strong gains. NEW YORK, Dec 18- Global equities markets rallied on Thursday, with Wall Street up more than 1 percent for a second straight day with investor sentiment buoyed by comments from the U.S. Wall Street primary dealers, on average, expect the first rate hike to come in June 2015, according to a Reuters poll.

  • Obama waives sanctions authority despite new law Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 1:31 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday authorizing new sanctions on Russia but said he does not plan to impose the penalties outlined in the measure. The U.S. and Europe have sought to present a united front against Russia over Moscow's provocations in Ukraine. Obama has told Russian President Vladimir Putin he would roll back U.S....

  • Germany's BASF, Gazprom scrap planned asset swap Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 1:23 PM ET

    BERLIN— Germany's BASF SE says it has agreed with Russian gas company Gazprom to call off an asset swap that the two firms had planned for the end of this year. The planned swap would have seen BASF subsidiary Wintershall transfer a jointly operated natural gas trading and storage business to Gazprom. In addition, Gazprom would have got a 50 percent share in the...

  • FACT CHECK: Putin on the ruble collapse, Ukraine Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 12:37 PM ET

    MOSCOW— A fact-checking look at some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's statements on the ruble collapse and the Ukrainian crisis from his annual news conference Thursday:. Despite Putin's repeated pledges to steer Russia's economy away from oil and gas, those two industries still account for more than half of government revenues. He acknowledged that...