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Russian Coal Exports Hit 5-Year High in 2018, Estimates Show

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Russia’s production and exports of coal in 2018 hit their highest levels since 2013, estimates by S&P Global Platts of data from Russia’s Energy Ministry show.

Russian coal exports increased last year by 3.4 percent compared to 2017, to reach 191 million metric tons (mt) —the highest level since S&P Global Platts started collecting data on Russia’s coal industry in 2013.

Coal production also reached its highest level since 2013—at 431.76 million mt, Russia’s production increased by 6 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

On Thursday Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak briefed President Vladimir Putin on the Russian energy sector production in 2018, saying that of around 433 million tons of coal is planned to be produced in 2020. The government plans to invest around $22.4 billion (1.5 trillion Russian rubles) in its coal industry and port infrastructure, Novak told Putin.

Thermal coal traders in Europe have been unanimous in the opinion that Russian producers have been adamant to be the dominant supplier to the market, which in itself was likely to spur on higher exports to Europe.

Russian producers have made considerable efforts to grow market share in developing Asian markets, such as Taiwan and Korea.

In the first 10 months of 2018, Taiwan imported 8.5 million mt of Russian thermal coal, which was a rise of 7% from the year-ago period, according to the latest customs data.

In the first 11 months of 2018, South Korea imported 18.6 million mt of Russian thermal coal, which was a rise of 15.6% from the year-ago period, according to the latest customs data.

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NATO condemns Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea, Putin attends launch of 2 power plants

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NATO and the European Union are condemning Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula five years after Moscow declared the region Russian territory.

NATO allies said in a statement Monday that “we strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognize.”

They also criticized Russia’s military buildup in Crimea and alleged rights abuses including “arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture” against members of the Crimean Tartar community.

EU foreign ministers are marking the fifth anniversary of the annexation. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by visiting the Black Sea peninsula.

Putin began his trip Monday by attending the launch of new power plants in Crimea, part of Moscow’s efforts to upgrade the region’s infrastructure. Ukraine has cut off energy supplies to the peninsula and blocked shipments of Crimea-bound cargo via its territory after Moscow annexed the region in 2014.

“The situation has changed radically,” Putin said, adding that the new power facilities will fully cover Crimea’s needs.

Russia’s modernization effort has included the construction of a 19-kilometer bridge which opened last year across the Kerch Strait that links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The $3.6-billion project gave Crimea a land link to Russia. Previously, ties between the two depended on a ferry crossing that was often interrupted by gales.

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Russian Corporate Mobile Market Grows 15% in 2018: Report

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B2B (business-to-business) revenues of Russian mobile operators grew by 15 percent year-on-year in 2018, according to a study from the company AC&M Consulting. Another market researcher, TMT Consulting estimates the market grew by 11 to 15 percent, business newspaper Vedomosti reports.

Corporate subscribers accounted for 13.5 percent of the total mobile customer base, or 43 million. B2B revenues generated 15.5 percent of revenues at mobile operators, equal to 140 billion ($2.166 billion), according to AC&M managing partner Mikhail Alekseev.

But the retail market of cellular communication last year grew in money by less than 3%, according to the report. The growth rates have been negatively affected by aggressive tariff offers and the return of unlimited tariffs, Alekseev said.

More than two-thirds of the total number of respondents among corporate users have confirmed that they use mobile Internet services. In 2016, the share of corporate customers using mobile Internet accounted for a little more than half, and in 2015 only about 40%, the report says.

Three-quarters of corporate clients use the services of two or more operators. Respondents in the segment of large and medium enterprises are mostly using the services of operator MTS. In the micro-business segment, respondents are mostly choosing MTS and MegaFon, while Tele2 and Rostelecom were the least mentioned in the survey, AC&M said.

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Greece Expects more than a Million Russian Tourists This Year

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A rise in early bookings by Russian tour operators for travel packages to Greece is leading Greek authorities to expect more than one million Russian holidaymakers to visit the country this year, Gtp.gr reports.

Early bookings from Russia are up by 15 percent, the Greek Tourism Ministry said on Thursday at the Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (MITT).

Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura met with leading travel and tourism groups of the Russian market that plan and distribute the bulk of travel packages to Greece. Among the main topics of the meetings was for the Russian travel groups to introduce new Greek destinations to Russian holidaymakers, increase the promotion of the country’s most popular destinations in their travel packages and promote the thematic tourist products that Greece offers.

The meetings were also attended by Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) VP Aggeliki Chondromatidou and GNTO Russia & CIS Head Polykarpos Efstathiou.

“In 2018, approximately one million Russian tourists visited Greece. We expect to see a rise in these numbers in 2019 due to the fact that we are already seeing a 15 percent increase in bookings compared to the same time last year,” the minister said.

The Greek delegation hosted a promotional event in Moscow which was held to boost Greece’s promotion in the Russian market. The event was attended by prestigious Russian artists, representatives of the largest spa resorts and hotel chains in Greece, and heads leading travel agencies specializing in luxury vacations.

A record-breaking 30 million tourists visited Greece in 2018, according to data from the country’s central bank. The figure is an increase of 10.8 percent compared to 2017, when 27.19 million people visited the country.

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