UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT: “NO RUSSIAN TROOPS ARE FIGHTING AGAINST US”

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Russian citizens fighting in the contested region are residents

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The Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko, is saying, in that news-report, which is dated on Thursday January 29th, that the only Russian citizens who are fighting in the contested region, are residents in that region, or of Ukraine, and also some Russian citizens (and this does not deny that perhaps some of other countries’ citizens are fighting there, inasmuch as American mercenaries have already been noted to have been participating on the Ukrainian Government’s side), who “are members of illegal armed groups,” meaning fighters who are not paid by any government, but instead are just “individual citizens” (as opposed to foreign-government-paid ones). General Muzhenko also says, emphatically, that the “Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian army.”

In other words: He is explicitly and clearly denying the very basis for the EU’s sanctions against Russia, and for the U.S.’s sanctions against Russia: all of the sanctions against Russia are based on the falsehood that Ukraine is fighting against “the regular units of the Russian army” — i.e., against the Russian-Government-controlled-and-trained fighting forces.

The allegation to the effect that Ukraine is instead fighting against “regular units of the Russian army” is the allegation that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded Ukraine, and it is the entire basis for the economic sanctions that are in force against Russia.

Those sanctions should therefore be immediately removed, with apology, and with compensation being paid to all individuals who have been suffering them; and it is therefore incumbent upon the Russian Government to pursue, through all legally available channels, restitution, plus damages, against the perpetrators of that dangerous fraud — and the news reports have already made clear precisely whom those persons are, who have asserted, as public officials, what can only be considered to be major libel.

Otherwise, Ukraine’s top general should be fired, for asserting what he has just asserted.

If what General Muzhenko says is true, then he is a hero for having risked his entire career by having gone public with this courageous statement. And, if what he says is false, then he has no place heading Ukraine’s military.

Gorbachev: US dragging Russia into new Cold War, which might grow into armed conflict

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Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of dragging Russia into a new Cold War. The former Soviet president fears the chill in relations could eventually spur an armed conflict.

“Plainly speaking, the US has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism,” Gorbachev said in an interview with Interfax.

The former USSR leader, whose name is associated with the end of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, is worried about the possible consequences.

“What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a ‘hot’ one. I’m afraid they might take the risk,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘America needs a Perestroika’ – Gorbachev to RT

Gorbachev’s criticism of Washington comes as the West is pondering new sanctions against Russia, blaming it for the ongoing military conflict in eastern Ukraine, and alleging Moscow is sending troops to the restive areas. Russia has denied the allegations.

“All we hear from the US and the EU now is sanctions against Russia,” Gorbachev said. “Are they completely out of their minds? The US has been totally ‘lost in the jungle’ and is dragging us there as well.”

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Gorbachev suggests the situation in the EU is “acute” with significant differences among politicians and different levels of prosperity among member nations.

“Part of the countries are alright, others – not so well, and many, including Germany, are excessively dependent on the US.”

In the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev served as General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee from 1985 until 1991, and as the Soviet Union’s only president from 1990. He led controversial perestroika reforms that are believed to have accelerated the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s rule was marked by considerable warming in relations with the West.

READ MORE: Clock’s ticking: Humanity ‘2 minutes’ closer to its doomsday

Meanwhile, international relations experts in America are quite alarmed over the new Cold War possibility – although not as much as the general public. While over 48 percent of scholars answered “no” when asked whether the US and Russia are headed towards such a conflict, the scenario was deemed likely by 38 percent.

The data comes from an American snap poll conducted at the end of January by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at the College of William and Mary, in collaboration with Foreign Policy magazine.

The research compared its results to a Gallup poll from March 2014, when 50 percent of the public believed a new Cold War was indeed possible when asked the same question.

In Russia, one-third of the population believes their country and the US are on a collision course.

According to a poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center VCIOM in November 2014, the possibility of a new Cold War was considered likely by over 30 percent of Russians, being the highest number in the past seven years. Every fourth Russian (25 percent of respondents) believed such a conflict was already ongoing.

UKRAINE LOOKING MORE LIKE POLAND ON THE BRINK OF WORLD WAR TWO

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By John Lloyd January 28, 2015
341247 Tags: DONETSK | POLAND | UKRAINE | VLADIMIR PUTIN | WORLD WAR TWO

Russia is winning the battle for Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists captured the airport at Donetsk, a bright new terminal now reduced to rubble, last week. Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk, has made it clear that he will attack Ukrainian lines once more. He will rely, as he has done before, on reinforcements from the Russian army and special forces.

As Donetsk’s airport was falling to the separatists, the embattled Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, travelled to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to beg for support. He told attendees that more than 9,000 Russian soldiers and several hundred tanks are on active duty in Ukraine and that 7 percent of his nation’s territory is effectively occupied.

“If this is not aggression, what is aggression?” he asked.

He tried, a little desperately, to link the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine to the attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo. He admitted that he was doing so because he did not want the world to suffer from “Ukrainian fatigue.”

The world isn’t fatigued, though, because it has made no great exertions. Ukraine today is somewhat in the position of its neighbor Poland, now a member of the European Union, before World War Two. Poland made defense pacts with both France and the United Kingdom, which obliged them to come to its aid if attacked. Both did declare war on Germany when it attacked Poland, but they did too little else, too slowly, and their armies were smashed in France by the Wehrmacht. Ukraine made an agreement in 1994, in Budapest, with the United States, the UK and Russia (France and China also joined in, with separate agreements) that its borders would be guaranteed.

Russia smashed that agreement in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The West, mainly through the International Monetary Fund, has given its financial support to keep the rest of Ukraine more or less going and has sanctioned Russia. EU leaders noted this week that there was “evidence of [Russia’s] continued and growing support” for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and called for the consideration of “further restrictive measures.”

Sanctions are terrible for a Russian economy already suffering from the halving of oil prices — the nation’s credit rating was cut to ”junk” by Standard and Poor’s earlier this week. But they appear to be making Russia more aggressive. In a speech in Davos last week, Igor Shuvalov, the first deputy prime minister, was quoted as telling an audience to “read our history: the Russians will never give up their leader. We will tighten our belt, eat less food, suffer any privations, but if outsiders want to force changes on us, we will be united as never before.”

President Vladimir Putin, the leader who would never be given up, told students in St. Petersburg that forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were backing up the Ukrainians, a claim NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, dismissed as “nonsense.”

To continue the analogy with Poland. If Ukraine is in the position of a semi-abandoned victim, is Russia Nazi Germany? No. The country and its president are increasingly authoritarian, but they aren’t fascist; there are no pogroms, no round-ups of liberals, no preparations for the domination of Europe. Television is tightly controlled, but you can still lampoon and criticize Putin on the Internet.

Yet in one respect, there is a parallel. Putin appears to be moving beyond laws, even those of which he approves. His press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, recently commented that “there are more important things than laws” — prompting Mikhail Fishman, Newsweek Russia editor , to write that Russia is sliding toward a situation like that in Iran, where a particular interpretation of Islamic morality and justice trumps all laws and government policy.

This “Islamization of justice,” writes Fishman, means that “even a public demonstration of legality” is dispensed with in a state that privileges “the archaic and fundamentalist idea that any alternative to the uniquely true point of view is intentionally amoral.”

Because the one point of view is uniquely true, right and just, the continued fighting in eastern Ukraine is justified, not by reference to international, or national, laws, but because Putin “has fallen victim to his own propaganda and his regime has fallen into the trap of its own moral imperatives.”

This means that there is no obvious solution because Ukraine and its Western allies are working in a different register from the Russian leadership. The former appeals to agreements and law, the latter to an intervention justified by the moral imperative of keeping Ukraine within the Russian ambit.

The region lives still in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. That had been celebrated as peaceful — give or take many tens of thousands of deaths over the past two decades in two wars in Chechnya; the continuing conflict involving the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan; the violent breaking away of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia; civil wars in the Central Asian republics of Tajikistan and Kirghizia … and others. But the conflict in Ukraine is the big one because, unlike these other conflicts, it has large geopolitical consequences.

The 15 new independent states that rose out of the ruins of the Soviet Union were all created to be democratic, with strong civil societies. But except for the tiny Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and with the partial exception of Georgia, the others have proven, to a greater or lesser degree, unable to shuffle off the Soviet coils, to produce and sustain a non-corrupt, democratically minded leadership and to see the West, especially the countries of Europe, as allies.

Ukraine, impelled by the revolution against a corrupt regime, tried that. Russia, pushing aside all considerations of economic health and European peace, is determined to stop it. The ruined airport at Donetsk is this week’s symbol of its stony determination, fueled by an overpowering sense of right. There will be more.

FREEDOM, WHERE ARE YOU? NOT IN AMERICA OR EUROPE

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by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | INFOWARS.COM | JANUARY 26, 2015

When the former Goldman Sachs executive who runs the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that he was going to print 720 billion euros annually with which to purchase bad debts from the politically connected big banks, the euro sank and the stock market and Swiss france shot up. As in the US, quantitative easing (QE) serves to enrich the already rich. It has no other purpose.

The well-heeled financial institutions that bought up the troubled sovereign debt of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain at low prices will now sell the bonds to the ECB for high prices. And despite depression level unemployment in most of Europe and austerity imposed on citizens, the stock market rose in anticipation that much of the 60 billion new euros that will be created each month will find its way into equity prices. Liquidity fuels the stock market.

Where else can the money to go? Some will go into Swiss francs and some into gold while gold is still available, but for the most part the ECB is running the printing press in order to boost the wealth of the stock-owning One Percent. The Federal Reserve and the ECB have taken the West back to the days when a handful of aristocrats owned everything.

The stock markets are bubbles blown by central bank money creation. On the basis of traditional reasoning there is no sound reason to be in equities, and sound investors have avoided them.

But there is no return anywhere else, and as the central banks are run by the rich for the rich, sound reasoning has proved to be a mistake for the past six years. This shows that corruption can prevail for an indeterminable period over fundamentals.

As I demonstrated in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, first Goldman Sachs deceived lenders into over-lending to the Greek government. Then Goldman Sachs former executives took over Greece’s financial affairs and forced austerity upon the population in order to prevent losses to the foreign lenders.

This established a new principle in Europe, one that the IMF has relentlessly applied to Latin American and Third World debtors. The principle is that when foreign lenders make mistakes and over-lend to foreign governments, loading them up with debt, the bankers’ mistakes are rectified by robbing the poor populations. Pensions, social services, and public employment are cut, valuable resources are sold off to foreigners for pennies on the dollar, and the government is forced to support US foreign policy. John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man describes the process perfectly. If you haven’t read Perkins book, you have little idea how corrupt and vicious the United States is. Indeed, Perkins shows that over-lending is intentional in order to set up the country for looting.

This is what Goldman Sachs did to Greece, intentionally or unintentionally.

It took the Greeks a long time to realize it. Apparently, 36.5 percent of the population was awoken by rising poverty, unemployment, and suicide rates. That figure, a little over one-third of the vote, was enough to put Syriza in power in the just concluded Greek election, throwing out the corrupt New Democracy party that has consistently sold out the Greek people to the foreign banks. Nevertheless, 27.7 percent of the Greeks, if the vote reporting is correct, voted for the party that has sacrificed the Greek people to the banksters. Even in Greece, a country accustomed to outpourings of people into the streets, a significant percentage of the population is sufficiently brainwashed to vote against their own interests.

Can Syriza do anything? It remains to be seen, but probably not. If the political party had received 55% or 65% or 75% of the vote, yes. But the largest vote at 36.5% does not show a unified country aware of its plight and its looting at the hands of rich banksters. The vote shows that a significant percentage of the Greek population supports foreign looting of Greece.

Moreover, Syriza is up against the heavies: the German and Netherlands banks who hold Greece’s loans and the governments that back the banks, the European Union which is using the sovereign debt crisis to destroy the sovereignty of the individual countries that comprise the European Union, Washington which backs EU sovereign power over the individual countries as it is easier to control one government than a couple of dozen.

Already the Western financial presstitutes are warning Syriza not to endanger its membership in the common currency by diverting from the austerity model imposed from abroad on Greek citizens with the complicity of New Democracy.

Apparently, there is a lack of formal means of exiting the EU and the euro, but nevertheless Greece can be threatened with being thrown out. Greece should welcome being thrown out.

Exiting the EU and the euro is the best thing that can happen to Greece. A country without its own currency is not a sovereign country. It is a vassal state of another power. A country without its own currency cannot finance its own needs. Although the UK is a member of the EU, the UK kept its own currency and is not subject to control by the ECB. A country without its own money is powerless. It is a non-entity.

If the US did not have its own dollar, the US would be of no consequence whatsoever on the world scene.

The EU and the euro were deception and trickery. Countries lost their sovereignty. So much for Western “self-rule,” “freedom,” “democracy,” all slogans without content. In the entire West there is nothing but the looting of people by the One Percent who control the governments.

In America, the looting does not rely on indebtedness, because the US dollar is the reserve currency and the US can print all the money needed in order to pay its bills and redeem its debt. In America the looting of labor has been through jobs offshoring.

American corporations discovered, and if they did not they were informed by Wall Street to move offshore or be taken over, that they could raise profits by moving their manufacturing operations abroad. The lower labor cost resulted in higher profits, higher share prices, huge managerial bonuses based on “performance,” and shareholder capital gains. Offshoring greatly increased the inequality in income and wealth in the US. Capital succeeded in looting labor.

The displaced well-paid manufacturing workers, if they were able to find replacement jobs, worked part-time minimum wage jobs at Walmart and Home Depot.

Economists, if they are entitled to the designation, such as Michael Porter and Matthew Slaughter, promised Americans that the fictional “New Economy” would produce better, higher-paying, and cleaner jobs for Americans than the “dirty fingernail” jobs that we were fortunate our corporations were moving offshore.

Years later, as I have proven conclusively, there is no sign of these “New Economy” jobs. What we have instead is a sharp decline in the labor force participation rate as the unemployed cannot find jobs. The replacement jobs for the manufacturing jobs are mainly part-time domestic service jobs.
People have to hold 2 or 3 of these jobs to make ends meet. These part time jobs offer no medical or pension benefits.

Now that this fact, once controversial believe it or not, has proven completely true, the same bought-and-paid-for spokespersons for robbing labor and destroying unions claim, without a shred of evidence, that the offshored jobs are coming home.

According to these propagandists, we now have what is called “reshoring.” A “reshoring” propagandist claims that the growth of “reshoring” over the past four years is 1,775 percent, an 18 times increase.http://www.manufacturingnews.com/news/2015/A.T.Kearny-No-Data-Supporting-Reshoring-0112151.html

There is no sign whatsoever of these alleged “reshoring” jobs in the monthly BLS payroll jobs statistics.

What reshoring is all about is propaganda to counteract the belated realization that “free trade” agreements and job offshoring were not beneficial to the American economy or its work force, but were beneficial only to the super-rich.

Like people throughout history, the American people are being turned into serfs and slaves because the fools believe the lies that are fed to them. They sit in front of Fox News, CNN, and whatever. They read the New York Times. If you want to learn how badly Americans have been served by the so-called media, read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States.

The media helps the government, and the private interests that profit from their control of government, control the brainwashed public. We have to invade Afghanistan because a faction there fighting for political control of the country is protecting Osama bin Laden, whom the US accuses without any proof of embarrassing the mighty US with the 9/11 attack. We have to invade Iraq because Saddam has “weapons of mass destruction” that he surely has despite the reports to the contrary by the weapons inspectors. We have to overthrow Gaddafi because of a slate of lies that have best been forgotten. We have to overthrow Assad because he used chemical weapons even though all evidence is to the contrary. Russia is responsible for Ukraine problems, not because the US overthrew the elected democratic government but because Russia accepted a 97.6% vote of Crimeans to rejoin Russia where the province had resided for hundreds of years before a Ukrainian Soviet leader, Khrushchev, stuck Crimea into Ukraine, at the time a part of the Soviet Union along with Russia.

War, War, War, that is all Washington wants. It enriches the military/security complex, the largest component of the US GNP and the largest contributor, along with Wall Street and the Israel Lobby, to US political campaigns.

Anyone or any organization that offers truth to the lies is demonized. Last week the new chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, listed the Russian TV Internet service Russia Today as the equivalent of Boko Haram and the Islamic State terrorist groups. This absurd accusation is a prelude to closing down RT in the US just as Washington’s puppet UK government closed down Iran’s Press TV.http://rt.com/usa/225819-rt-isis-point-view-competition/

In other words, Anglo-Americans are not permitted any different news than what is served to them by “their” governments.

That is the state of “freedom” in the West today.

Politics: Not even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews & Andrea Mitchell are buying the BS in Obama’s State of the Union…

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    He’s “not close to reality.”

For five years, Barack Obama has been able to count on two things. The first was a disorganized, timid GOP. The second was the sound of constant, fawning, almost orgasmic adulation coming from the MSNBC studios. While the jury is still out on Republican efforts to mount a successful resistance to Obama’s policies, it looks like MSNBC is getting tired of talking about his alleged foreign policy “successes.” In the wake of the State of the Union address it appears the “tingle” is gone.

Check out what left-wing stalwart Chris Matthews had to say about the President’s self-described foreign policy victories:

    I kept thinking tonight that there’s a real world out there he didn’t really talk about, and had perhaps overambitious notions about where we stood in the war against ISIL – the Islamic State. He doesn’t want to call it the Islamic State, but that’s what they call themselves. Those two Japanese people, with no guilt on their shoulders – just staring there out of the desert – who are going to be apparently decapitated. …That reality – what’s going on in Nigeria is reality. How close was the President to reality overall, globally, tonight?

Wow. That’s actual skepticism from Chris Matthews! He must be back on his meds. Andrea Mitchell replied:

    I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality. They have not come up with a strategy. And they built a global coalition but, again, he’s talked about Ukraine, he’s talked about Putin being isolated. Yes, Putin is isolated economically and the falling oil prices have hammered his economy. But at the same time, there’s renewed fighting in Donetsk, and we haven’t figured out Ukraine, we haven’t figured out how the NATO alliance can push back. Sanctions have not really worked, and Ukraine is going to need more weaponry, and they have not reached that point. So… you’re right, Chris, it doesn’t match the reality.

Could it be that, despite everything we’ve assumed, there actually is a breaking point for the folks at MSNBC? Has the moment arrived where, despite their love for their fringe liberal ideals, they’ve realized how ridiculous they sound when they laud this President’s nonexistent “accomplishments?”

Probably not.

More likely, the Charlie Hebdo attack finally stripped them of their faith in progressive invulnerability. It sounds like they’ve finally figured out that their usual plan – involving politically correct maneuvering and sympathy for the enemy – isn’t working anymore.

How sad to think that the brilliant minds at the left wing network of record were loathe to acknowledge the President’s detachment until the media became a target of radical Islam. …But it appears that may be what’s happened.

Russian spy ship in Havana ahead of US delegation’s historic visit

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    A Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov at the port in Havana, January 20, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)

The Russian Navy’s intelligence collection ship, the Viktor Leonov, has docked in Havana just a day before the arrival of an American delegation. The Russian warship is moored in open view of a pier usually used for cruise ships.

The ship’s visit, unannounced by the Cuban authorities, comes as the US and Cuba are attempting to restore diplomatic ties broken in 1961.

The Americans will conduct the first official negotiations with the Cuban leadership in more than half a century.
The Viktor Leonov is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet and is fitted with a wide range of intelligence equipment, a crew of 220 and high-tech electronics.

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“It’s not unprecedented. It’s not unusual. It’s not alarming,” a US defense official told AFP.

In 2014, the Viktor Leonov called at Havana at least twice, in February and March, and those visits were also unannounced. In April, the ship was spotted operating along the US East Coast, in close proximity to a nuclear missile submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, and other American military facilities in the area.

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The Soviet Union and subsequently Russia used to have a huge signal intelligence center (SIGINT facility) in Cuba’s Lourdes, located a mere 250km from continental USA.

In July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied media reports that Russia was planning to reopen the SIGINT facility in Lourdes.

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Embargo remains in place
The high-level talks begin in Havana on Wednesday. The US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson is leading the American delegation, with Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, heading the Cuban negotiators.

The talks will aim to elaborate a roadmap for putting diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US back on track, normalizing ties and re-opening embassies.

The US authorities announced plans to allow American companies to offer their services in Cuba, creating infrastructure on the island and improve communication links with mainland US. America is also likely to unblock the personal accounts of Cuban citizens and companies frozen in American banks. Foreign vessels that dock off Cuba’s coasts will be allowed to call at US ports.

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Some revisions to the decades-old embargoes between the United States and Cuba came into effect on January 16, implementing major changes to the long-standing trade and travel restrictions between the neighboring nations.

READ MORE: New US-Cuba trade, travel rules to take effect Friday, 1st steps to end embargo

New policies, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday this week, are expected to allow American travelers within 12 categories to travel to Cuba without applying for specialized visas, alleviating restrictions that have largely excluded the US public from the island for more than 50 years.

However, the US embargo placed on Cuba in 1962 will remain in place until the US Congress votes to lift it.

In a statement ahead of the talks, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry noted that ties between the two countries could only be normalized when Washington drops the unilateral sanctions against Havana.

Cuba’s official Granma newspaper acknowledged that “certain aspects of the blockade against Cuba are changing.”

But they stressed the measures announced by the US authorities are “just a step in a right direction,” and there is still “a long way to go,” the newspaper said, as quoted by Itar-TASS.

China and Russia to launch new credit rating agency in 2015

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​The new Universal Credit Rating Group (UCRG) is being set up to rival the existing agencies Moody’s, S&P and Fitch, and its first rating will be issued this year.

The setting up of UCRG is in its final stages, ready to challenge the ‘Big Three’ that currently dominate the industry, the Managing Director of RusRating Aleksandr Ovchinnikov told Sputnik News Agency on Tuesday.

“In our opinion, the first ratings [will] appear … during the current year,” Ovchinnikov said, adding that accreditation with the local regulator is already underway.

The news comes on the heels of Fitch’s decision to follow S&P in downgrading Russia’s sovereign credit rating to BBB-, a step above junk level and on par with India and Turkey.

The new agency will be based in Hong Kong, and provide a check on the ‘Big Three’, which some analysts say don’t provide an accurate reading of economic situations.

Many securities and bonds in the US that had triple-A ratings in 2008 and were considered ‘safe’, turned out to be a bubble, revealed by the subprime mortgage crisis.

“When the issue of creating an agency alternative to the ‘Big Three’ [Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Group] was raised, we in fact offered [a] project that was ready to be launched and was supported by the governments of Russia and China,” Ovchinnikov said.

Developed economies are often given a free credit rating pass, whereas developing economies are assigned more risky ratings, the RusRating analyst said.

UCRG was officially created in June 2013 by China’s Dagon, Russia’s RusRating and America’s Egan-Jones Ratings. Each member will hold an equal share in the venture, with an initial investment of $9 million.