All posts by Neil Doherty

I'm just an ordinary guy that detests most politicians and world bankers who are destroying the planet in my name, I also believe that everyone has the right to live there life however they want with whoever they want, so long as they're not hurting anyone else whether physically, mentally or spiritually. Want to know more... Inbox me on twitter or email me

Russian-backed rebels aim to push west along coast #RussiainvadedUkraine


PETER LEONARD and JUERGEN BAETZ
A local resident passes by camouflaged pro-Russian tank in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A local resident passes by camouflaged pro-Russian tank in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits).

NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Their tanks bearing the flag of their would-be state, Russian-backed separatists held control Friday over this coastal town on the new front in the Ukraine conflict and announced their intention to keep pushing west toward a major port city.

None of the half-dozen tanks seen by Associated Press reporters in the town of about 12,000 people bore Russian markings, but the packaging on their field rations said they were issued by the Russian army.

The Ukrainian government the day before accused Russia of sending tanks, artillery and troops across the border, and NATO estimated at least 1,000 Russian troops were in Ukraine.

As tensions rose, European Union foreign ministers called for heavier sanctions against Moscow ahead of Saturday’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was invited to address the summit.

Captured Ukrainian border guards sit in a garage at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. At Novoazovsk, rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)Captured Ukrainian border guards sit in a garage at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. At Novoazovsk, rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

The rebels denied they are getting Russian military vehicles.

“We are fighting with the machinery the (Ukrainian forces) abandon. They just dump it and flee,” said a rebel commander who identified himself by the nom de guerre Frantsuz, or the Frenchman.

Although such claims of using only confiscated Ukrainian equipment are common, top rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko himself has said Russia was supplying equipment and fighters — something Moscow has steadfastly denied doing.

“Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday. “This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution.”

A spokesman for the rebels in Novoazovsk, who identified himself only as Alexander, said their plan was to push westward to the major port city of Mariupol, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) away.

A pro-Russian rebel listens to the news on a transistor radio in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A pro-Russian rebel listens to the news on a transistor radio in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

There was no sign of imminent movement on Friday, but Alexander’s statement underlined fears that the rebels’ eventual aim is to establish a land bridge between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia earlier this year.

Speaking at a Kremlin-organized youth camp on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin likened the Ukrainian government’s efforts to put down the separatist uprising to the Nazi siege of Leningrad in 1941-44.

The Leningrad comparison is a powerful one for Russians and clearly aimed at portraying the Ukraine conflict in stark, good-versus-evil terms. The 872-day siege, in which at least 670,000 civilians died, is seen by many Russians as one of the most heroic chapters in the country’s history.

To stop the bloodshed, the Kiev government should open talks with the rebels, Putin said.

The death toll in the fighting reached nearly 2,600 as of Wednesday, said Ivan Simonovic, U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights. He described the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine as “alarming,” with people unable to leave cities caught up in the fighting.

The U.N. human rights office on Friday accused both sides of deliberately targeting civilians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with participants in the youth educational forum at the Seliger youth camp near Lake Seliger, some 450 kilometres (281 miles) northwest of Moscow, in Tver region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on pro-Russian separatists to release Ukrainian soldiers who have been surrounded by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with participants in the youth educational forum at the Seliger youth camp near Lake Seliger, some 450 kilometres (281 miles) northwest of Moscow, in Tver region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on pro-Russian separatists to release Ukrainian soldiers who have been surrounded by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

The separatists have carried out murders, torture and abductions along with other serious human rights abuses, while Ukraine’s military is guilty of such acts as arbitrary detentions, disappearances and torture, the organization said in a report.

At a meeting in Milan, several EU foreign ministers accused Russia of invading eastern Ukraine and said Moscow should be punished with additional sanctions. The diplomats were expected to draw up measures that could put before the EU heads of state on Saturday.

The head of the EU’s executive Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, warned Putin that further destabilization of Ukraine “will carry high costs.”

Putin called on the separatists to release Ukrainian soldiers who have been surrounded by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. He appeared to be referring to soldiers trapped outside the town of Ilovaysk, east of Donetsk, for nearly a week.

A camouflaged pro-Russian tank seen in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A camouflaged pro-Russian tank seen in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Zakharchenko, the rebel leader, said the Ukrainian troops would have to lay down their arms before they would be allowed to go “so that this weaponry and ammunition will not be used against us in future.”

A spokesman for Ukraine’s national security council, Col. Andriy Lysenko, rejected the demand: “Ukraine is not ready to surrender arms and kneel in front of the aggressor.”

Ukraine, meanwhile, got a boost from the International Monetary Fund, which said Friday it had approved payment of a $1.39 billion aid installment as part of a financial support package. The sum brings the total that has been paid out to $4.51 billion, out of $16.67 billion due over two years.

For the second day, Russian markets reacted nervously to the escalation of the conflict, with the Russian ruble sliding to the all-time low of 37.10 rubles against the dollar in early morning trading. It recovered later to 36.90 rubles.

(Juergen Baetz reported from Milan. Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow, Jim Heintz in Kiev, and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed reporting).


Associated Press.

Don’t mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says #RussiainvadedUkraine #NuclearRussia


BY ALEXEI ANISHCHUKPutin's Nuclear Threat

LAKE SELIGER, Russia – President Vladimir Putin said on Aug. 29 Russia’s armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: “It’s best not to mess with us.”

Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.

Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armour to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge.

“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts,” he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. “We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

“Russia’s partners…should understand it’s best not to mess with us,” said Putin, dressed casually in a grey sweater and light blue jeans.

“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Putin spoke easily with the students, many of whom looked to be asking scripted questions about demography and history. Other times he accepted gifts or, smilingly, played down their praise.

When a student said that she had not heard a single negative comment about Putin’s presidency from camp speakers, he responded with a grin that “objectivity” was important.

His tone darkened when speaking on Ukraine, blaming the United States and the European Union for the “unconstitutional” removal of Kiev’s former Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich and replacement with a pro-European government.

He said eastern Ukraine did not agree with Yanukovich’s removal and was now subjected to “crude military force” from government planes, tanks and artillery.

“If those are contemporary European values, then I’m simply disappointed in the highest degree,” he said, comparing Ukraine’s military operations in the east of the country with the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two.

“Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure… It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist… occupiers surrounded our cities.”

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Writing by Thomas Grove; editing by Ralph Boulton).


Reuters.

#Ukraine moves to shed its non-aligned status in a hope to become a #NATO member


 Katya GorchinskayaOleg Sukhov.Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk presides over an Aug. 29 Cabinet session, which sent a bill to parliament to reverse Ukraine's non-aligned status. © kmu.gov.uaPrime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk presides over an Aug. 29 Cabinet session, which sent a bill to parliament to reverse Ukraine’s non-aligned status. © kmu.gov.ua

Ukraine is on its way to shed its non-aligned status and will move towards applying for NATO membership, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk announced on Aug. 29. His Cabinet gave a preliminary approval to a bill to cancel non-aligned status and will now send to the parliament.

The move comes after an offensive in eastern Ukraine by regular Russian troops and separatists earlier this week. Calls for joining NATO intensified in Ukraine after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February and gained even more prominence after Russia annexed Crimea and started sending mercenaries and weapons to the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts earlier this year.

Ukraine’s previous bid for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) was made in 2008 by then-President Viktor Yushchenko, but the plans were derailed first by opposition within the NATO block, and then by Ukraine’s own President Yanukovych who asked the parliament to approve a law making Ukraine a non-aligned country in 2010.

Yatseniuk said that the law cancelling the country’s non-aligned status would also prohibit it from joining pro-Russian alliances.

“After the adoption of this law, Ukraine will be banned from becoming a member of the Customs Union, Eurasian Union or any similar so-called unions that are effectively the Russian Federation’s equivalent of the U.S.S.R.,” Yatseniuk said.

On Aug. 28, the National Security and Defense Council approved cancelation of Ukraine’s non-aligned status, but the decision was not made public. The NSDC also ruled to restore conscription across the nation as of this autumn, but 18-year-old conscripts will not serve in the war zone.

“If the parliament approves it, the way to NATO will be open – and this is very right!” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post dated Aug. 29. “Only mad men can be against such a step in the current situation!”

NATO Secretary General Rogh Rasmussen said on the same day that Ukraine was free to pursue membership of the alliance.

“I’m not going to interfere in political discussions in Ukraine. But let me remind you of NATO’s decision at the Bucharest summit in 2008, according to which Ukraine ‘will become a member of NATO,’ provided of course, Ukraine so wishes and fulfills the necessary criteria,” he told journalists after an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors with Ukraine’s envoy to the Western bloc in Brussels. “We adhere to the principle that each and every country has the right to decide [its foreign and security policy] for itself without interference from the outside”.

Though territorial disputes are usually seen as an obstacle to NATO membership, Robert Pszczel, head of the alliance’s information bureau in Moscow, said on Aug. 26 that, from the formal standpoint, Ukraine and Georgia could accede to NATO despite their conflicts with Russia and Russian-backed unrecognized states.

However, NATO will not send invitations to Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO during the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit in Wales, he said.

Ukrainian military expert Oleksiy Arestovich agreed that territorial disputes per se would not prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. However, he dismissed Yatseniuk’s statement on acceding to the alliance as campaign rhetoric in the run-up to the Oct. 26 parliamentary election.

“NATO membership is unrealistic in the near future,” he said by phone, adding that the process could only be completed after the end of the war with Russia and would take years.

Despite the uncertainty over Ukraine’s NATO membership, the alliance “expressed strong solidarity with Ukraine” in a statement issued on Aug. 29.Kyiv Post+ provides special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ provides special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

“Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and southeastern Ukraine,” NATO said. “This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation.”

The alliance said that Russian forces were engaged in “direct military operations inside Ukraine,” and that Russia continued to supply the separatists with weapons, to fire on Ukrainian troops both from Russian territory and within Ukraine and to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to the borders.

“This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the bloc said. “It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution… We condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s continued disregard of its international obligations.”

To counter Russia’s aggression, the U.S. has urged NATO member states to increase their military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 10 years.

The issue will be considered at next week’s summit in Wales. However, Canada is determined to block the move, a source close to the negotiations told Reuters on Aug. 28.


Kyiv Post.

Residents of Mariupol get ready to defend city from Russian troops #‎RussiainvadedUkraine


 Oksana Grytsenko.A resident of Mariupol digs a trench at a checkpoint set up on the road leading into the city. Dozens of residents decided to make an effort to help defend their city from the Russian army, which invaded the nearby town of Novoazovsk. © dialog.uaA resident of Mariupol digs a trench at a checkpoint set up on the road leading into the city. Dozens of residents decided to make an effort to help defend their city from the Russian army, which invaded the nearby town of Novoazovsk. © dialog.ua

MARIUPOL, Donetsk region – On Aug. 29, several dozen men and women, wearing gardening gloves, took spades out of a car and rushed to the military checkpoint located at the eastern road leading to the city of Mariupol.

This important checkpoint is set on the road that leads from the town of Novoazovsk, which had been taken over by the Russian troops. The National Guard who man it split the volunteers into two groups and showed them the places where they should dig trenches on both sides of the road.

The previous day, some 2,000 people rallied in city center against the Russian invasion, and the most active of them decided to come and help the Ukrainian troops to defend their city from an anticipated invasion by the Russians.

“You can see for yourself that they really want a full-scale war. They don’t even hide it anymore,” said Oleksandr Shalatanov, a 25-year-old civil activist. He added that his friend who lives in Novoazovsk said that the soldiers who entered the city on Aug. 27 were definitely Russian, but had no insignia. The same tactic was used during annexation of Crimea in March, which Russian President Vladimir Putin later admitted. Despite being half-Russian, Shalatanov said he considered the Russian army to be invaders.

“It so happens that just 40 kilometers away from us there is an enemy,” said Svitlana, a factory worker in her 50s, who was afraid to give her last name to the media. She was not afraid to dig the trenches, though, holding on tight to her spade.

A self-made poster reading “Help the army – defend yourself” hung by the checkpoint, which has been closed for civilian cars in the last few days. But when a car with armed men from the Dnipro 1 battalion passed the checkpoint on the way to Novoazovsk, people cheered the fighters heading to the front lines.

These new trenches dug by civilians would probably make little difference for Russian tanks in Novoazovsk, which number between several dozen and over a hundred, according to various estimates.

“We need tanks, heavy artillery to restrain the attack here,” said one of the soldiers at the check point, a young man from Mykolayiv city. He refused to give his name because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Kyiv Post+ provides special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ provides special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

The residents know that their effort would not hold the Russian army, but they still think it’s better to make some effort “instead of sitting at home and getting crazy over the news,” said Maria Podybailo, coordinator of Novy Mariupol, a local volunteer group of more than 100 activists who help the Ukrainian forces.

There are bullet-proof vests, helmets, jars of preserved food and medications piled in the office of this organization that was set up in late March. A group of women make masking nets from them.

There are three mobile groups of volunteers that take food and medication to the Ukrainian checkpoints around Mariupol every day. This group also handles the wounded fighters, finding them doctors and medicines, contacting their relatives and handling their transportation out of the war zone.

But with the Russian threat approaching the city, activists also created a Mariupol battalion of territorial defense. “We did it in case if their (Russian) troops enter here, to train people to carry out sabotages,” said Podybailo, a blond woman wearing camouflage. Her actual job is to teach political science at the local university. She added that there are about 300 fighters at this newly created battalion.

But people of Mariupol are actually split over whether to support or resist the Russian troops. Many have preferred to simply leave the city. There were long lines of people wanting to leave Mariupol at the local bus stop in the morning, the local web-site Novosti Mariupolia reported. The Kyiv Post saw three buses with children heading from the summer camps located in the outskirts of Mariupol on the way to Novoazovsk.

But the pro-Ukrainian activists realize that they are a minority in Mariupol, where fierce fights between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian battalions lead to several deaths in April. The fighters of Dnipro 1 and Azov local battalions told the Kyiv Post in private conversations that they often been insulted or threatened by the locals. Because of this internal controversy in the city, the fighters of the Mariupol battalion are being trained in small groups separately from each other to avoid leaks of information.

A local journalist, Dmytro Durniev, said that some 50 percent of Donbas residents don’t support any fighting side, and only want to see the end of war. But seeing the scope of atrocities committed by the militants and Russian forces mane people more positive about the Ukrainian authorities. Some even volunteered for the battalions.

Durniev says the battalions have a lot of potential in this hybrid war. “You see people that are poorly armed to stop the tanks, but they are able to carry on a partisan war here,” he said.

(Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at grytsenko@kyivpost.com).


Kyiv Post.

Poland bars Russian minister’s jet from airspace #Russia #Poland #PolishAirspace


Sergei Shoigu's plane was reportedly forced to fly back to the Slovakian capital Bratislava.Sergei Shoigu’s plane was reportedly forced to fly back to the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

Poland has refused to let a plane carrying Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu fly through its airspace.

The plane turned back to the Slovakian capital, Bratislava. Mr Shoigu had been on an official visit to Slovakia.

Poland said the plane had been barred because it had changed its status from a civilian to a military flight. It later permitted the flyover, after the flight was reverted to civilian status.

Russia said blocking the flight was a “violation of inter-state conduct”.

The EU has imposed a travel ban on many Russian officials as part of the sanctions over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. However, Mr Shoigu is not one of the blacklisted officials.

Ukraine had also refused to allow the flight to enter its airspace, Reuters and Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

‘Crude violation’

Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov described Poland’s move as “a crude violation of the norms and ethics of inter-state conduct”, Interfax news agency reported.

Later on Friday, a Polish armed forces spokesman, Lt Col Piotr Walatek, said permission was granted to the plane after it changed its status back to a civilian flight from a military one.

The flight had civilian status when it left Moscow on Friday, but changed its status to military when it attempted to fly back, he said.

Military flights required 72-hours advance notice, he added.

Mr Shoigu was in Slovakia attending an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising against Nazi Germany, Russian media reported.

Poland has been a strong advocate of sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s support for the pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.


BBC News.