Ukraine War Day #275: Let’s Talk Ammonia (Part II)

Dear Readers:

Continuing our discussion. The Viktor Alksnis tweet was in response to this piece from November 23. The lede paragraph:

Ukraine may permit the transit of ammonia from Russia; but only in the context of a prisoner exchange in the format “All for all”, according to Zelensky. In response to Dmitry Mazepin’s request to solve the “political issues” involved, Putin promised to discuss the situation in the UN.

As mentioned by Alksnis in his tweet, Putin met publicly (on TV) with Mazepin, a major officer in the company Ural-Khim, which produces ammonia. Mazepin also chairs an organization called the Russian Union Of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (Российский союз промышленников и предпринимателей, РСПП). I reckon this would be the equivalent of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Dmitry Mazepin

Born in 1968, in Minsk, Belorussia, Mazepin initially took a career path into the Soviet military, graduating in 1985 from the Suvorov Academy. He took a specialty as a military translator [his wiki doesn’t say what other languages he knows], and served in Afghanistan from 1986-88. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mazepin changed his career track to politics/business, and graduated (1992) from the Institute of International Economic Relations, under the Russian Ministry of Defense. Since then he has occupied important positions in large Russian companies and governmental institutions.

Mazepin has been the Chairman of the Board of Ural-Khim since 2007. For a time he also worked in the state-owned Gazprom, and there are allegations that he somehow managed, seamlessly, to convert certain public assets into his own private ones, when he set up his own oil and gas company. In 2010 Forbes counted him as among the 100 richest Russian businessmen, with a worth valued at $950 American dollars. By 2017, also according to Forbes, his value had increased to $7.7 BILLION. After the Russian incursion into Ukraine, Mazepin and his son Nikita have both been put on sanctions lists by the EU and Great Britain.

A Very Public Request

During his public meeting with Putin, Mazepin reminded the President of the grain deal that had been reached back in July, amongst Russia, Turkey, the UN and Ukraine. Included in this deal was a provision about re-establishing a special pathway for Ammonia to travel from the Russian city of Togliatti, to the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

Mazepin: “But a lot of time has passed since then, and I don’t see any movement. We hoped that when the grain deal was reinstalled, which happened recently, then this question [about the ammonia] would also be resolved. But I need to convey to you, that the Ukrainian side is putting forward a series of political questions, which we [Mazepin’s company?] are not competent to answer.”

In the article linked, the caption below the video reads: “Ammonia is a key component of fertilizer. Prior to moving its troops into Ukraine, Russia accounted for 20% of all ammonia transported by sea. […] On the day when the Special Military Operation began, the company Togliatti-Azot halted its exports of ammonia. Later, the UN leadership raised the issue of the inadequate supply of ammonia on the world market.”

Okay, I think we are all starting to get the picture here. So, Putin is holding a meeting, right on television, with this important oligarch, who is man-splaining to him why they need to send ammonia over a pipeline from Russia to Odessa. And apparently this oligarch has been negotiating with the Ukrainian business and political community on his own behalf, as the private owner of this important substance; but the other side raised some issues that he felt needed to be “kicked upstairs” to the big guy.

He asked Putin, within the framework of the grain deal, to temporarily open and secure the flow of ammonia into the Odessa port, whence it may then make its way into developing countries, including Africa.

Ah! That’s so sweet! Mazepin truly cares about the African people. But what was Putin’s reply?

“We know the parameters, we know the numbers, we know the volumes involved. That this would be a clear win for all the parties involved in this process, is also clear. So, we will work with the UN, with our colleagues from that organization. We shall see what happens. You already know my position, and I am not opposed to this.”

If the Russians can ship ammonia out of Taman, then they won’t need Odessa.

For his part, Zelensky is also not opposed to this either. It would clearly be a huge political win for him to exchange his 500 Russian prisoners for 10,000 Ukrainians. So many Azov Nazis and mercenaries free to return to the front lines, so they can continue to wreak their trademarked havoc!

In Mazepin’s defense, he has a more far-ranging plan for future development; so that the Odessa gig would be just a temporary kluge. For the past year Ural-Khim has been constructing an alternative route and a port in the Russian town of Taman, just across the bay from the Crimean peninsula. However, this kind of development would cost around 50 billion rubles. They hope to finish building the new pipeline and port by the end of next year. Mazepin: “Since the fall of the Soviet Union, not one single port capable of handling ammonia has been built [in our country], and this is why we are so constrained and become dependent on other countries, who have such ports.”

Next: We will hear from economist Ivan Lizan, and what he thinks about all of this.

[to be continued]

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16 Responses to Ukraine War Day #275: Let’s Talk Ammonia (Part II)

  1. Beluga says:

    Instead of relying on Alksnis’ tweet, I instead went yesterday to the Kremlin website to read the official English translation of the meeting between Putin and Mazepin. I feel there’s a bit more to the situation than you report here. in Part II. It’s obvious to me that the collective West is sitting on a lot of Russian ammonia and preventing its shipment, particularly to Africa. Pretty much like the grain thing.

    Whatever the case, you can read the official translation here and decide for yourself:

    I see no sign that Putin is caving on anything.


    • yalensis says:

      Beluga, thanks for doing this research and finding the entire conversation, that is very useful and adds a lot of context.
      I am still very suspicious of Putin and Mazepin. At the end of the conversation, when Putin says, “Go ahead,” what is he actually giving Mazepin permission to do? It’s unclear to me. Maybe you have a take on that.


      • Daniel Rich says:

        @ yalensis ,

        There’s too much going on out there that you and I [ordinary citizens] are not privy to, so it’s neigh impossible to draw any sound and sane conclusions about what’s happening. We’re left to describe the air around a cup in the hope people will figure out we’re not talking about a toilet seat.

        Nevertheless, I embrace anything that might resemble the truth, like a long lost brother.


    • BM says:

      @ Yalensis,

      This is the problem when you start paying too much attention to these lying Russian 6th-Columnists. They distort everything to fit their agenda, just like the lying West they secretly adore. These people are churning out trash, just like the western MSM. If you sit up and pay attention to it, without even examining it critically, this is the mess you get into.


      • yalensis says:

        Sorry, BM, but you are completely wrong about this, so please stop lecturing me.
        Viktor Alksnis is not an “adorer” of the West, secretly or otherwise. Quite the contrary. I have been following Alksnis for many years, and I believe that he is an honorable man, a Soviet patriot, and now a Russian patriot. He has held a principled position, he criticizes Putin for being too weak, and for waiting too long to defend the people in Donbass. In fact, just a couple of days ago, while meeting with soldiers’ mothers, Putin admitted that he had been wrong about this, and should have acted sooner. [Putin did not go the extra distance and admit that his critics had been right.]

        I will probably have a post about this tomorrow. Putin admitted to the mothers that he had been far too trusting of Western snakes such as Macron and Merkel. The kind of criticisms which people like Alksnis have been making for the past, oh say, 30 years!


  2. Liborio Guaso says:

    All for all. Apparently there are no more criminals in western jails to recruit as mercenaries. And canon fodder is needed to sustain the Ukrainian reality show.


    • yalensis says:

      I know. It really boiled my grits when the Russians released Aiden Aslin. An obviously defective piece of meat, and a Nazi to boot. In Russian captivity Aiden was sentenced to death (which I don’t support, I think a life sentence would have been enough) for his crimes. Then he caught a bit of Stockholm syndrome and started whining about how, if he had all this knowledge when he started, he might have taken the side of the Donbass people. What a liar! The moment he was released, he announced his intentions to return to the front and fight for Ukraine. So, now the Russian soldiers have to deal with this monster all over again!


  3. the pair says:

    wow…he worked at gazprom and made public assets private and just 100% coincidentally became a billionaire. the term that comes to mind is obviously “oligarch” but i’d prefer “f_cking thief”. since billionaires are a cancer i’d simply say “well, we’ll just re-nationalize your assets to make things more efficient. now get the f_ck out of my office”. sadly, putin is a committed capitalist so he tends to be more…”diplomatic” than a leader should be with a twat like this.

    as for the prisoner swap, “all for all” is insane in this situation but i’m not one of those “how DARE putin bring home those soldiers so they don’t get tortured and executed! coward! J’ACCUSE!!!!” commenter types so whatever. the russians are too classy to kill their azov POWs but once they’re just plain old targets on a battlefield…i’d personally rather stay in their nice warm jails with power and water.


    • yalensis says:

      I read that a certain number of Ukrainian POW’s (not sure how many, I think it was somewhere around 40) decided to switch sides. So they have been released from their barracks and formed a prisoner battalion to fight on the Russian side now. It’s getting rather confusing, but this sort of thing happens a lot in wars, so I am told.


  4. Ortensio F. says:

    Durante este régimen, Rusia fue y es humillada no una, sino dos, tres, cuatro, cincuenta y aún mas ocasiones .

    ¿ Permitir tanta humillación … es una política audaz, de conveniencia estrategica, o es un signo de incapacidad para mostrar su valor, porque tal valor está tan ahogado que ya no puede mostrarse ?

    ¡ Como es posible la ” cancelación ” de los escritores y artistas rusos, sin un estudiado órdago que pusiera en ridiculo tales locuras imperialista-occidentales !

    Entiendo que existe una generación ( de 18 a 35 años de edad ) que ya no sustentan consistentemente el espiritu ruso . Comenzando por los familiares de los políticos que aman mas a Londres , a Berlin, a Paris y Milán . por muy fascinantes que son y lo sean , que a los lagos , a la taiga , a los bosques, a las nieves …. ¿ Tienen miedo a la complejidad a la profundidad y a la inmensidad rusa , y se refugian en lo mas fácil, si es con monedas de papá, en las ciudades chic del desbaratado mercado común europeo ?. Que es actual y esencialmente solo un mercado, dirigido sí, aunque muy diplomaticamente, ( tambien con los quince mil burocratas de Bruselas que lo mantienen con nuestros tributos ), desde la City .

    Nunca será mi alma partidaria de renunciar a aquellas cosmopolitas ciudades, como seria absurdo renunciar a amar a una estrella de cine ( Liz Taylor, Brigitte B , Claudia Cardinale, Romy Schneider ……. ), con las que soñaste durante los ultimos dos o trescientos años …..

    Pero….. cuantos soles en su amanecer ( tal vez dos o tres dias al año ), iluminaron a la clase política rusa con sus familiares , en , y entre otros lugares , en las orillas del Baikal ?

    Да здравствует Россия
    Da zdravstvuyet Rossiya


    A little off topic, but here is that right wing ass-hat Andrei Martyanov gay bashing for the umpteenth time, see his 26/11 post, most recent one-

    “While the combined West is well on its way to institutionalize pedophilia and other biological and psychiatric perversions with cowards in political and business top echelon, except when pedophiles and sodomites themselves, surrendering without a fight to a homicidal “cultural” agenda, Russia goes the other way…”

    What a stupid, reactionary right wing homophobic loser. ‘The USA is overrun with child molesters, perverts, pedophiles, sodomites, transexuals–they’re all the same ya know–and they are taking over! They’re the main reason everything in USA is so fucked up!’ Utter nonsense. I’ll never know why the Russians and Americans are so hung up on LGBTQ issues, actually making it a central theme in the Ukraine war. It’s gotten so bad that now the Russian government just passed anti-LGBTQ legislation, equating being gay with pedophilia. From reading extreme alt right bigots and gay bashers like Andrei Martyanov, Andrei Raevsky (‘The Saker), Larry Johnson, or Douglas MacGregor one invariably lead to believe that the only reason Ukraine is losing the war is because of LGBTQ people in the U.S. government, military and broader society. They are using the Ukraine war as a stupid, reactionary way express their hatred and intolerance of LGBTQ people who in fact have nothing to do with the war.



      Last Saturday November 20th Anderson Lee Aldrich, aged 22, went into a Colorado Springs gay bar where a drag contest was happening and opened fire with an AR-15 military assault rifle, killing 5 and seriously wounding 25 more, before being tackled and subdued by a patron. The tragic irony is not lost, that on that night the club was honoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, which is held every year to commemorate violence suffered by transgender people. And what do idiots like Andrei Martyanov think about this tragic shooting? Given the anti-gay hate speech he spouts regularly in his blog, that gays are taking over the west and are to blame for its problems, one might wonder if he sees such mass shootings done in a gay bar holding a drag contest as a heroic ‘traditional family values’ act?

      Tellingly, Aldrich is the grandson of outgoing Republican California assembly member Randy Voepel, an extreme right wing Trump MAGA republican who would certainly share anti-LGBTQ values of Andrei Martyanov and other alt-right wing fringe bloggers. Obviously Aldrich hates LGBTQ and wanted to kill as many as possible in this horrific attack.

      To describe the USA as a ‘decadent western LGBTQ infested pedophile overrun hellhole’ is the height of extreme idiocy, bigotry and grotesque misrepresentation; to the contrary being LGBTQ in USA , and to be open about it means not only risking extreme discrimination and violence–but possibly being killed. Not to mention the mass shooting of 50 people in 2016 in an Orlando Florida gay bar.


      • yalensis says:

        Ugh, that’s horrific.


      • yalensis says:

        Russians are being whipped up, and overacting to the Westie promotion of the gay agenda. It’s the Westies who connect the LGB-whatever to pro-Ukraine; and the Russian people fell into this ideological trap and overreacted in a backlash format.

        Historically Russia has a not-so-bad record on the “gay” thing. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the new Soviet government was very tolerant of women’s lib and considered the gay issue sort of ancillary to the women’s lib issue. (Which I believe is a correct interpretation.)
        So, sodomy was de-criminalized. (Back in those days, homosexuality was equated with the physical act of sodomy.) It was understood that we are only talking about consenting adults, so children should never be involved in the bedroom.

        Under Stalin, the pendulum swung back to traditional values, and sodomy was re-criminalized.

        After Stalin and more liberalization, “sodomy” de-criminalized again (I don’t remember the year).
        Now, under the pressure of the vicious ideological war being waged against Russia, the pendulum is swinging again, back towards intolerance.

        Oddly enough, a couple of weeks back I saw a piece (and rats! I forgot to save the link because I didn’t think I would do a post on it) whereby the Russian Orthodox hierarchy came out against the re-criminalizing of adult homosexuality. It might have even been the Moscow Patriarch, I don’t remember. Or maybe an Archbishop. Somebody important.

        One can joke about the choir-boys and that sort of thing, but it may just be a principled Orthodox Christian position, which focuses on tolerance and forgiveness, the teachings of Christ, all that jazz. I remember what the guy said was something like, “Just because something is a sin, doesn’t necessarily mean it is also a crime.”

        Amen to that! I mean, the Bible says that adultery is a sin; but in most nations it is not also a civil crime that lands you in jail. Maybe in some Arab or African countries (not sure), but certainly not in Russia. If that were the case, then every other Russian (both man and woman) would be sitting in prison and feeling very glum.

        Liked by 1 person

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