TIME Gas

Ukraine, Moscow Clinch Deal on Russian Gas Supply

"There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter"

(BRUSSELS) — Moscow and Kiev on Thursday clinched a multi-billion dollar deal that will guarantee that Russian gas exports flow into Ukraine and beyond to the European Union throughout the winter despite their intense rivalry over the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, whose offices mediated the talks for months, said the EU will also help cash-strapped Ukraine with the payments through aid and guarantees.

“There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter,” he said. Barroso added that he was “hopeful that the agreement can contribute to increase trust between Russia and Ukraine.”

EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger said that “we can guarantee a security of supply over the winter,” not only for Ukraine but also for the EU nations closest to the region that stood to suffer should the gas standoff have worsened.

A similar standoff in 2009 had caused serious disruptions in gas flowing from Russia into the EU and it was a prospect the bloc sought to avoid.

The agreement long hinged on the question whether Ukraine was in a position to come up with the necessary cash to pay for the gas. “Yes, they are,” a confident Oettinger said. Oettinger said the $4.6 billion deal should extend through March.

“We can claim and pay for amounts that we need. That question has been totally settled,” said Yuriy Prodan, Ukrainian Minister for Energy. “There will be no problems.”

Under the deal, Ukraine would pay for its outstanding debt by making a $1.45 billion deposit without delay, and $1.65 billion by year’s end. The final sum of debt would be determined through arbitration.

For new gas, Russia will only deliver after pre-payment and Ukraine intends to buy some $1.5 billion by the end of December.

The EU said in a statement it had been “working intensively” with international institutions and Ukraine to secure funds to pay for gas delivery in the coming winter.

“Unprecedented levels of EU aid will be disbursed in a timely manner,” it said.

The deal only stretches through March and the difficulties of the talks were immediately evident when the Russians and Ukrainians started disagreeing on terms and prices of gas for next summer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, agreed earlier this month on the broad outline of a deal, but financial issues, centering on payment guarantees for Moscow, had long bogged down talks.

But with each week, the need for a resolution becomes more pressing, since winter is fast approaching in Ukraine, where temperatures often sink below freezing for days.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June after disputes over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March. Ukraine since then has been relying on gas transfers from other European countries and its own reserves.

TIME Middle East

Israel Closes Jerusalem Holy Site After Shooting

A masked Palestinian youth throws a rock during clashes with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2014.
A masked Palestinian youth throws a rock during clashes with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Oct. 30, 2014. Ahmad Gharabli—AFP/Getty Images

The Palestinians said temporary closure of the Al Aqsa mosque was a "declaration of war"

Israel closed all access to Jerusalem’s most sensitive religious site on Thursday, a rare move that ratcheted up already heightened tensions following the attempted assassination of a prominent Jewish religious activist and the killing of his suspected Palestinian assailant by police.

The Palestinians accused Israel of a “declaration of war,” deepening a crisis fueled by failed peace efforts, continued Israeli settlement construction and months of simmering violence in the holy city. While Israel said it would reopen the site on Friday, the increasingly religious nature of the unrest risked igniting further violence.

Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders blamed each other for the tensions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called for banning Jews from the hilltop holy site, of inciting the violence.

“The international community must stop its hypocrisy and act against the inciters,” Netanyahu said.

Abbas, meanwhile, said Jerusalem is a “red line that must not be touched.” The decision to close access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound was “a declaration of war” that “will lead to further escalation and instability,” his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, said. Abbas made no mention of the attempted killing of the Jewish activist.

East Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians, has experienced unrest since the summer, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at motorists and clashing frequently with Israeli police. The violence gained steam last week, when a Palestinian motorist rammed his car into a crowded train station, killing a 3-month-old Israeli-American baby girl.

Much of the unrest has centered on the holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The violence reached a new high late Wednesday when a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded Yehuda Glick, a U.S.-born activist who often leads groups of Jews on visits to the site.

Glick is a leading voice in efforts to allow Jews to pray on the mosque compound — something that Israeli authorities ban because they fear it would prompt violence. Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer there as a provocation, fearing that Jewish extremists are plotting to take over the area.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Glick warned of the growing violence in Jerusalem and said Jews were increasingly being attacked by Muslims.

“The more extreme Islamist organizations are taking over and if we don’t stop them early enough, they will take over the entire Jerusalem,” he said. “We’re calling upon the Israeli government: Stop the violence.”

He remained hospitalized Thursday in serious condition.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the shooting and said the U.S. was “extremely concerned by escalating tensions” in Jerusalem. “It is critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the status quo,” she said, adding the U.S. had been in touch with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials to calm the situation. Under a longstanding arrangement, Jordan holds custodial authority over the mosque compound.

Early Thursday, police forces surrounded the suspected gunman at his home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man, identified as Moataz Hijazi, opened fire and was killed by the Israeli forces.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Hijazi had served 12 years in Israeli prison for a number of crimes before he was released in 2012. It described him as a sympathizer of the Islamic Jihad militant group, but said he appeared to have acted alone in Wednesday night’s attack.

Shortly after Hijazi was shot dead, clashes broke out in Abu Tor, with Palestinians hurling stones at riot police, who responded with rubber bullets to suppress the demonstration. A funeral was planned late Thursday.

The decision to close access to the holy site for the first time in more than 14 years underscored the incendiary nature of the current tensions.

The Palestinian uprising against Israel began after then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Jerusalem site in what many saw as a provocative gesture. That visit — in September 2000 — resulted in a temporary closure of the site.

Late Thursday, police said the site would be reopened on Friday to male Muslim worshippers over the age of 50 and female worshippers of all ages. Younger men would be barred, they said, because of the risk of renewed violence.

The Jerusalem tensions come at a sensitive time. U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed last April, and Israel battled Hamas militants in Gaza during a 50-day war over the summer.

More recently, Israel has announced plans to press forward with housing construction in east Jerusalem, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and other key allies.

This week, anonymous senior U.S. officials were quoted as criticizing Netanyahu as cowardly and indecisive in an interview with The Atlantic, and on Thursday, Sweden formally recognized a state of Palestine, a symbolic show of displeasure with Israeli policies.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the derisive language used to describe Netanyahu in The Atlantic interview, and said he was still hopeful to forge peace.

“We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage, it takes strength,” he said.

TIME

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 24 – Oct. 31

From the encroaching lava of the Hawaii volcano to the U.S. Marines withdrawal from Helmand Province, Afghanistan and the World Series victory for the San Francisco Giants to a terrifying Tokyo Halloween, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

TIME Israel

Sen. Ted Cruz: Obama’s Unprecedented Attack on Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Oct. 13, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Oct. 13, 2014. Menahem Kahana—EPA

Cruz is the junior U.S. Senator from Texas.

Voters should challenge the administration's views on Election Day

This week, the world was treated to yet another embarrassing display of the Obama administration’s incompetent foreign policy.

According to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, various anonymous officials referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as both “a chicken****” and “a coward.” While these indefensible comments have received the lion’s share of media attention, the substantive remarks about Iran were even more troubling. Goldberg wrote that another senior official claimed that due to their pressure on Netanyahu, it is now “too late” for Israel to stop Iran from amassing an “atomic arsenal.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the White House press corps on Tuesday that the President likely does not know who did this, and there is no effort underway to find out. Other officials have signaled that these persons may be disciplined in ways that are have not been disclosed. But, regardless, they will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President because, as Earnest said, such things happen almost every day in this administration.

In other words, this is no big deal.

With all due respect, this is a very big deal. This is an unprecedented attack on a critical ally of the United States at a moment of international crisis. It is a de facto admission to the mullahs in Tehran that the Obama administration thinks it is too late to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is an inexcusable betrayal of the national security of the American people.

Do the Democrats agree with what Obama administration officials are saying about Israel and its leaders? Do they also concede that a nuclear Iran is inevitable? If not, will they call on the President to identify and fire the persons making these assertions? These questions should be asked—and answered—before Americans head to the polls next Tuesday.

It is my hope that Congress can unite to reverse this administration’s approach by defending our allies and standing up to hostile actors in the world. When the White House acts recklessly, Congress should swiftly act to defend our nation. We will not be able to do so if the Senate is led by Harry Reid acting as a rubber stamp for President Obama. Either the Democrats should denounce the Obama Administration’s dangerous policies or the voters should send them home in November.

As disgraceful as these comments were, at least they bring crystal clarity to the choice we face as a nation on November 4th. Choose wisely.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Burkina Faso

Unrest Shakes Burkina Faso

Tens of thousands of demonstrators called for President Blaise Compaore to step aside Thursday after protesters ransacked the parliament and state television.

TIME Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso President Declares State of Emergency

It was not immediately clear where President Blaise Compaore was following the announcement

Burkina Faso’s leader of nearly three decades declared a state of emergency Thursday, hours after protesters who oppose his bid for another term stormed the parliament and set part of it on fire, marking the greatest threat to his rule since he himself seized power in a coup.

It was not immediately clear where President Blaise Compaore was following the announcement that also called for an end to the demonstrations. At least one person was killed and several others were wounded earlier in the day amid the melee, authorities said.

Army Gen. Honore Traore, the joint chief of staff, later announced that a curfew would be in effect from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The government and parliament also have been dissolved, he said.

In a concession to the opposition, Compaore agreed Thursday to withdraw a bill from consideration in the parliament that would have allowed him to extend his 27-rule through a fifth term in office.

While demonstrators managed to block the highly controversial parliamentary vote, the violent opposition unleashed Thursday underscored the threat Compaore now faces as frustrations mount in one of the world’s poorest countries. In a sign of the growing unrest, crowds also attacked the homes of government ministers and looted shops in the country’s second-largest city, Bobo Dioulasso, witnesses said.

“It is over for the regime!” and “We do not want him again!” shouted demonstrators when they heard that the vote on term limits had been stopped.

Flames enveloped the main building in the parliament complex, and many lawmakers fled to a nearby hotel.

“It is difficult to say what happens next, but things are out of control because the demonstrators do not listen to anyone,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, an opposition lawmaker.

The images of cars on fire and plumes of black smoke in the capital of Ouagadougou prompted alarm from the international community. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General, said he “deplores the deterioration of the security situation,” according to a statement.

In a bid to restore calm, military leaders met Thursday afternoon with the influential traditional chief of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Mossi, according to Jonathan Yameogo, a spokesman for the ruling party.

Burkina Faso has long been known for its relative stability in volatile West Africa, though tensions have been mounting over Compaore’s plans to extend his rule.

He first came to power following the October 1987 coup against then-President Thomas Sankara, Compaore’s longtime friend and political ally who ultimately was killed in the power grab.

Compaore has been elected four times since, though the opposition has disputed the results.

Earlier, police in the capital had pushed the crowds back with tear gas, but they regrouped in larger numbers, surged past police lines and broke into the parliament building.

Since coming to power in a coup, Compaore, 63, has refashioned himself as an elder statesman who brokered electoral disputes and hostage releases throughout the region.

He made no secret of his support for Charles Taylor, the Liberian warlord turned president now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone. The leader of Burkina Faso also has been accused of supporting rebel groups in Ivory Coast and Angola, though he later played the role as a peacemaker in Ivory Coast and elsewhere.

More recently, his government was involved in negotiating the release of several European hostages held by al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali. He also hosted the talks between Mali’s government and separatist Tuareg rebels, leading to the agreement which made the July 2013 presidential election possible.

In 2011, Compaore encountered another crisis when multiple waves of protests washed over the country. The unrest began with students torching government buildings in several cities after a young man died in the custody of security forces, allegedly as a result of mistreatment.

Ordinary citizens took to the streets over rising food prices, and soldiers looted shops and stole cars to express their discontent over low pay. At one point in mid-April of that year, mutinous soldiers occupied the palace, forcing Compaore to flee.

But what would have spelled the end for many presidents was a mere temporary problem for Compaore, one he could maneuver his way out of by removing his security chiefs and appointing himself defense minister before returning to Ouagadougou.

TIME Iran

Western Companies Hope For a Bonanza in Iran

An Iranian worker assembles a Peugeot 206 at the state-run Iran-Khodro automobile manufacturing plant near Tehran, Iran, Oct. 11, 2014.
An Iranian worker assembles a Peugeot 206 at the state-run Iran-Khodro automobile manufacturing plant near Tehran, Iran, Oct. 11, 2014. Ebrahim Noroozi—AP

With only weeks to go until a November 24 deadline for a deal between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program, Iranian and Western investors have their fingers crossed

If you just looked at the numbers, the deal revealed last week by the aerospace and defense giant Boeing seemed insignificant: $120,000, for some data, aircraft manuals and navigation charts. But symbolically, the sale to Iran Air, revealed on Oct. 22 was a big deal—the first time that an American aerospace company had done business with Iran since the U.S. began its sanctions there in 1979.

The Boeing sale, which was sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control under a temporary sanctions relief deal that began in January, is just one sign that Iran might soon be open for business with the West for the first time since the Islamic Revolution. As the clock ticks down towards November 24, the deadline for a deal between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, both Iranian and Western business communities are hoping for a gold rush. Tehran throngs with Europeans jockeying for business, such as this winter’s planned visit to Iran of a hundred French executives, or the Italians, Chinese and Germans browsing the Tehran construction and mining trade show in August. Many international companies, from Samsung to Renault are already in Iran, trading in sectors permitted under the sanctions, such as food, cars and pharmaceuticals. In 2013, E.U. countries made 5.4 billion Euros ($6.8 billion) worth of exports to Iran. Emerging market experts make breathless comparisons to Russia just after the Berlin Wall’s fall. “Iran,” said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, “is the biggest opportunity of the next 10 years.”

It’s easy to see why it could be. New markets of nearly 80 million people are rare indeed. Rarer still are emerging markets with oil and gas, educated work-forces and lively stock-markets — all humming with pent-up potential from Iran’s thirty-five years as an economic pariah. Iranian boosters reject comparisons with Vietnam and Burma, other newly open economies.”We like to think of it as Turkey on steroids,” quipped an Iranian investor at the Europe-Iran Forum, a recent London conference that brought together European investors and Iranian businessmen.

But challenges remain. If the Forum was designed to showcase Iran’s possibilities, it also underscored the hurdles in tapping them. Few business conferences ban “negotiation, deal-making, or commercial transactions,” but this one did, mindful of the Obama’s promise to “come down like a ton of bricks” on anyone breaking sanctions. The former foreign ministers of Britain and France delivered speeches — even as the British Foreign Office reiterated to Reuters that its policy remained “not to encourage trade with Iran.” Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the world’s largest marketing group, WPP, gave the keynote — though some pro-Israel groups had petitioned him not to, citing Iran’s human rights record, support for terrorism and anti-Semitism. On the first day of the Forum, there were protesters outside filming participants on their way into the venue.

Inside, European business people listened to presentations on sectors from oil to healthcare to consumer goods. But even the most bullish Iran-watchers admitted that a November 24th deal over the country’s nuclear program, should one be agreed, would just mark the first hurdle. One unintended effect of sanctions has been what’s amounted to a de facto boycott of Iran; companies are reluctant to do business with Iran even if it’s technically legal, in areas such as food or humanitarian aid. “The spirit of the law is even more burdensome than the letter of it,” said Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a founding partner of the Europe-Iran Forum. “The effect on banks has undermined the idea that sanctions aren’t meant to hurt the Iranian people.” This June’s record $8.9 billion fine on BNP Paribas for breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries spooked banks anew, and Iranian investors realize that even if sanctions are lifted, Iran needs to rebuild its relationships with the international banking community. “Any number of good political outcomes may occur by November 24,” said Amir Ali Amiri of investment company ACL, “but even then, in the parallel universe of business, if European banks continue to lack confidence in putting together a letter of credit for Iran, they’re not going to touch the opportunity.”

Both within Iran and outside of it, there are vested interests who stand to lose if sanctions lift. China has benefitted from Iran’s sanctions, which delivered “the Iranian market to the Chinese on a silver platter,” notes Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a political science fellow at the German Orient Institute. Iran could rival Russia as a major supplier of oil and gas if it is allowed to export freely. Then there are the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s ideological protectors of the Islamic Revolution, who have emerged as pivotal economic players. An open Iran would challenge their position, notes Fathollah-Nejad, “But the Supreme Leader Khamenei’s decision to go for a deal with the West signals that he’s been able to keep those guys at bay.” Not all commentators agree that Khamenei is certain to support a deal.

With around three weeks till the deadline, it’s not just oil and gas executives and sanctions-weary Iranians hoping for a deal. In a speech last week, the U.S. chief negotiator Wendy Sherman urged Iran to “finish the job,” while U.S. officials say President Obama may try and bypass a vote on suspending sanctions in Congress, where support for Israel is strongest, the New York Times recently reported. Congress, however, may not allow the President to bypass it.

“It’s the last large untapped market in the world,” says Ramin Rabii, of Iranian investment firm Turquoise Partners. “The future is very exciting.” The only question that remains — at least until November 24th — is whether all the hurdles can be overcome.

TIME Israel

Provocative Israeli Cartoon on Deteriorating Relations With U.S. Evokes 9/11

It was published days after a White House official reportedly called Netanyahu "chickens--t"

A cartoon published Thursday by the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz has sparked controversy for its blunt attempt to depict deteriorating relations between conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

The cartoon shows Netanyahu flying an airplane aimed at a tall building topped with an American flag, which resembles one of the Twin Towers that were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

The cartoonist, Amos Biderman, told the Times of Israel that the image was intended to imply that Netanyahu was leading to “a disaster in Israel-U.S. relations on the scale of 9/11.” But it has drawn criticism in the U.S. and in Israel, with Vox writing that “it so breaches the very basics of good taste that it is astounding.”

Relations between Netanyahu and the White House have been notoriously poor, and the Israeli leader moved earlier this week to accelerate planning for new settler homes in East Jerusalem despite the Obama Administration’s opposition. On Tuesday, the Atlantic quoted one unnamed White House official calling Netanyahu “chickens–t.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest later said the official’s comment did not “accurately reflect at all” the administration’s view about Israel.

Read next: Sweden Becomes the First E.U. Member to Recognize a Palestinian State

TIME Israel

Israel Recalls Ambassador to Sweden

(JERUSALEM) — Israel has recalled its ambassador to Sweden to protest Stockholm’s recognition of a Palestinian state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said Thursday the ambassador was being recalled for consultations, but declined to say how long he would remain in Israel.

Hirschson said the move was made “because of the recognition of the Palestinian state.”

Earlier Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had called it “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”

TIME russia

Chechen Dissident: ‘I Survived Abduction by Vladimir Putin’s Agents’

The story of one man who says he was tortured for challenging Russia's president

On a warm morning in early August, a 68-year-old Chechen man named Said-Emin Ibragimov packed up his fishing gear and walked to his favorite spot on the west bank of the river that runs through Strasbourg, the city of his exile in eastern France. Ibragimov, who was a minister in the breakaway Chechen government in the 1990s, needed to calm his nerves, and his favorite way to relax was to watch the Ill River, a tributary of the Rhine, flow by as he waited for a fish to bite.

Ibragimov had reason to be nervous. The previous month he had accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes in a criminal complaint he had sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to the Kremlin. Ibragimov had taken five years to compile evidence of what he considered crimes committed during Russia’s two wars against separatists in the Russian republic of Chechnya. During the second Chechen war, which Putin oversaw in 1999-2000, Russia bombarded the Chechen capital of Grozny and killed thousands of civilians. The U.N. later called Grozny “the most destroyed city on earth.”

Read the full story here.

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