By Joe Brock JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) would like a local company to buy mines being sold by Anglo American Platinum but it will not try and influence the deal, the party said on Tuesday. The world's biggest platinum producer, a unit of Anglo American, said last week it would sell a swathe of its most labour-intensive South African mines after a five-month strike hit its revenues and as it follows a long-term pivot to mechanised operations. "Our dream is to have a South African mining champion," ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, who formerly headed the National Union of Mineworkers, told reporters. "It would be quite important to have a South African company buying those assets but it is not a choice of the ANC.
By Timothy Heritage MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin risks becoming an international pariah over the Ukraine crisis but the Russian president is battening down the hatches for the gathering economic and political storm. The United States and the European Union saw the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as a chance for Putin to distance himself from pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and seal the border across which they say arms are reaching the rebels. Instead Putin has stood firm, blamed the crash on his pro-Western protagonists in Kiev and signaled no change in his stance, leaving Russia facing the threat of much tougher international sanctions and economic and political isolation. With an about-turn all but impossible for Putin after a fierce media campaign that has demonized the West, painted Ukraine's leaders as fascists and backed the rebels to the hilt, he appears to have passed the point of no-return.