Tag Archives: France

#Lutsenko says #Ukraine to get arms from five #NATO #allies

Ukrainian former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko speaks after his release from prison on April 7, 2013. Now an aide to President Petro Poroshenko, he said on a Facebook post that five NATO members states, including the United States, have agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons and military advisers.Yuriy Lutsenko a senior aide to President Petro Poroshenko, said on a Facebook post that five NATO members states, including the United States, have agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. © AFP

KYIV (Reuters) – A senior aide to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said on Sunday Kyiv had reached agreement during the NATO summit in Wales on the provision of weapons and military advisers from five member states of the alliance.

“At the NATO summit agreements were reached on the provision of military advisers and supplies of modern armaments from the United States, France, Italy, Poland and Norway,” the aide, Yuri Lytsenko, said on his Facebook page.

He gave no further details and it was not immediately possible to confirm his statement. Poroshenko, whose armed forces are battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, attended the two-day summit in Wales that ended on Friday.

NATO officials have said the alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but they have also said individual allies may choose to do so.

Russia is fiercely opposed to closer ties between Ukraine and the NATO alliance.

(Reporting by Gareth Jones).


France says can not deliver first helicopter carrier to Russia #France #Russia

A young boy holds a sign during a demonstration in front of the French Embassy in Kyiv on July 22, 2014, to protest against the sale of Mistral-class warships to Russia. © AFP PHOTO SERGEI SUPINSKY

A young boy holds a sign during a demonstration in front of the French Embassy in Kyiv on July 22, 2014, to protest against the sale of Mistral-class warships to Russia. © AFP PHOTO SERGEI SUPINSKY.

PARIS, Sept 3 (Reuters) – The French government cannot go ahead with the planned delivery of a first of two helicopter carriers to Russia, the president’s office said on Wednesday, citing Moscow’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine.

France has faced fierce pressure from Washington and other allies to halt the delivery of the Mistral-class warships, with the first slated for delivery in October.

Warning of more sanctions, President Francois Hollande’s said last week it would be “intolerable and unacceptable” if it were proven that Russian forces had entered Ukrainian territory.

“Russia’s recent actions run against the foundations of security in Europe,” Hollande’s office said in a statement after a meeting between the president and his top military advisors.

“The president of the Republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorise the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” it added.

The announcement is likely to take the heat off of France when NATO leaders meet later this week in Wales for a summit largely focused on the conflict in Ukraine and growing tensions with Russia.

France has until now resisted allies’ pressure to halt the delivery of the warships, saying that doing so would hurt Paris more than Moscow.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus)

Thomson Reuters Foundation.

#Russia Pines for the 19th Century

Sergei Porter / Vedomosti

Speaking at the opening of a World War I memorial in Moscow earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin noted that victory in that war had been stolen from Russia.

Indeed, after the war, Russia stood to get Galicia and parts of eastern Prussia, effectively restoring rule over Poland. Moreover, France and Britain had agreed that Russia should fulfill its age-old imperial ambition by taking over the Bosporus, along with swaths of land on both banks, and gain the biggest prize of all, Tsargrad (Istanbul).

All that evaporated, however, when Lenin declared “peace without annexations” and took Russia out of the war. In his speech, Putin decried the missed territorial gains as a “betrayal of their own national interests” by the Bolsheviks.

But actually, the Bolsheviks did far more damage to Russia’s national interests by taking it out of the modern capitalist system, in which on the eve of World War I Russia had been poised to make significant gains.

In fact, all the preconditions were in place for Russia to overtake the United States and Germany as the world’s largest economy and most prosperous country. By far the largest country in the world, it had just began settling and exploring Siberia with the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Russia was the breadbasket of Europe, and its grain exporters helped develop early hedging instruments on the London financial markets. It had vast natural resources feeding its growing industry in the west of the country and in the Urals. Two of the first 10 recipients of the Nobel Prize for medicine were Russians; no Russian has won it since. Russia’s educational system, put in place under Nicholas I, was excellent, albeit narrowly based. Still, literacy was spreading: It went from 28 percent in 1897 to 40 percent in 1913, with the urban population already mostly literate.

But in the name of progress, the Bolsheviks not only killed off or expelled the best and the brightest from the country, but threw Russia into some kind of a warped version of the past.

They replaced money, the driving force of capitalism, with loyalty to communist ideals, individual initiative with collectivism, competition with rigid planning, information with lies and openness with the Iron Curtain. Elections were faked and general secretaries ruled for life, much like the monarchs of old. As though to underscore the neo-feudal nature of communism, the Soviet Union was stuck with a vast land empire even as other empires crumbled.

By the end of the last century, instead of being the world’s richest nation, as it had looked set to become in 1913, Russia was one of the poorest and least developed in Europe. Finally, communism failed and the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia no doubt would have lost all the territories it could have won in World War I.

In the 1990s, Russia got a chance to rejoin the capitalist system. Instead, sky-high oil prices allowed it to coast without developing modern economic and political institutions. It never really left communism behind and now it is veering back to the past once more. It is pining away for the empire, seizing territory and even, in the words of Duma vice speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, itching to declare Vladimir Putin a kind of emperor.

And so, despite Putin’s praise for pre-Soviet Russia, the country looks set once again to embark on a road to nowhere.

(Alexei Bayer, a native Muscovite, lives in New York. His detective novel “Murder at the Dacha” was published by Russian Life Books in 2013).

The Moscow Times.

#MH17: Stronger western sanctions on Russia likely within 48 hours

Memorial outside Schiphol airport to the 289 dead of flight MH17, apparently shot down by fighters endorsed by Vladimir Putin's regime. Photograph: Sipa USA/REXMemorial outside Schiphol airport to the 289 dead of flight MH17, apparently shot down by fighters endorsed by Vladimir Putin’s regime. Photograph: Sipa USA/REX

Russia is expected to be hit with further sanctions on Tuesday after the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy called for tougher action against the regime they believe is still shipping weapons into Ukraine despite the MH17 airliner disaster.

The western nations called on the European Union to impose new restrictions on trade with Russia’s defence, banking and hi-tech energy sectors, adding to existing asset freezes and travel bans on a list of people linked to the Kremlin.

New penalties are likely to be agreed at a meeting of ambassadors from all the EU’s 28 member states and could come into force within 24 to 48 hours. The US has already imposed similar trade sanctions and will now strengthen them, amid concerns among western nations that Moscow could still launch a full-scale cross-border intervention in Ukraine.

The joint call for Brussels to stand up to Vladimir Putin was agreed during a video conference between Barack Obama, David Cameron, President François Hollande of France, Italy’s prime minster, Matteo Renzi, and Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel.

In a further warning to Russia, some Nato countries are sending troops to Poland in October to take part in a military display called Exercise Black Eagle. Britain is contributing more than 1,300 soldiers to the exercise, which Michael Fallon, the new defence secretary, said was a sign of support for the country’s allies in eastern Europe.

On Tuesday, Cameron will also meet families of some of the British victims of the disaster to express his condolences at a time when rebels are still blocking international experts from reaching the crash site.

There has been a significant toughening in the rhetoric against Russia in recent days over its suspected role in arming pro-Putin separatists in eastern Ukraine. Putin’s government denies any responsibility for the shooting down of Malaysian airliner MH17, killing 295 people. However, the UK, US and Ukraine have all said they suspect it was downed accidentally by rebels using a Soviet-era Buk missile.

Following the leaders’ video call, No 10 said the discussion had focused on “Russia’s ongoing efforts to destabilise Ukraine” and agreed that the immediate priority must be to secure unrestricted access to the MH17 crash site.

Downing Street said it agreed that Russia had “failed to take the steps necessary to de-escalate the crisis, such as ceasing support for the separatists; stopping the flow of weapons across the border; and using its influence to ensure the release of hostages.

“Indeed the latest information from the region suggests that even since MH17 was shot down, Russia continues to transfer weapons across the border and to provide practical support to the separatists.”

Tony Blinken, a national security adviser to Obama, also said European leaders had made clear their determination to act. He added: “We expect the European Union to take significant additional steps this week, including in key sectors of the Russian economy. In turn, and in full coordination with Europe, the United States will implement additional measures itself.”

The US indicated that the EU was also looking at broadening its criteria for sanctioning individuals in order, Blinken said, to “bring in some of the cronies of President Putin”. Blinken argued that the existing sanctions regime had already produced major strategic gains in Ukraine, leading to a new government and the signing of the EU association agreement.

However, he said US intelligence assessments indicated that Moscow continued to transfer heavy weaponry and fighters across the border and to aid pro-Russian separatists, and had stationed Russian troops near the border. He described Putin’s strategy as one of “doubling down” on support for separatist fighters.

Before the meeting, Russia said it would not retaliate with sanctions of its own or “fall into hysterics”. Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, said the penalties could even make the country “more independent and more confident in our own strength”.

“I assure you, we will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy,” he said. “We can’t ignore it. But to fall into hysterics and respond to a blow with a blow is not worthy of a major country.”

He also denied Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict and called for “honest, open participation of all those who have access to information about the crash”.

“Anything else we will consider as deceitful attempts to influence the investigation, putting presumption of innocence in doubt,” he said.

“I don’t want to throw accusations in advance, but I expect that no one will try to cover up evidence.”

The Guardian.

Bloomberg: France prepared to cancel warship sale to Russia

A group of expatriates and local residents rally at the French Embassy in Kyiv on June 1 to protest France's sale of two warships worth $1.6 billion to Russia. © Kostyantyn ChernichkinA group of expatriates and local residents rally at the French Embassy in Kyiv on June 1 to protest France’s sale of two warships worth $1.6 billion to Russia. © Kostyantyn Chernichkin

French President Francois Hollande said he’s prepared to cancel the sale of a second Mistral helicopter carrier ship to Russia if the European Union decides to expand its sanctions against Russia.

The second ship, due in 2016, hasn’t yet been paid for, making it possible to withhold the sale if the EU agrees to broaden its measures on Russia, Hollande said yesterday at the annual presidential press dinner.

At the same time, sanctions can’t be retroactive and wouldn’t cover delivery of the Vladivostok, the first Mistral warship, which is already paid for and due for delivery in October, Hollande said.

“Can the rest of the contract be honored?” Hollande told reporters in Paris about the second warship part of a contract with Russia. “That will depend on Russia’s attitude.”

EU foreign ministers are meeting today in Brussels to consider further sanctions punishing Russia in light of evidence that separatists in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian airliner last week with 298 passengers on board. The sanctions described by Hollande would need to be decided at the level of national leaders, so no such decision would come today.

The U.S. and European countries have pressured France to delay or cancel the delivery of the Mistral ships after Russian annexed the Crimea and was accused of fomenting separatist uprisings in eastern Ukraine.

Company Sanctions

“With so many European Union citizens lost in the Malaysian Airlines crash, it is hard to see how the French Mistral deal can go ahead,” Timothy Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank Plc in London, said in an e-mail before Hollande made his remarks. “The British seem prepared to stomach enhanced financial sector sanctions, which the French had argued that they had to see before pulling the Mistral deal.”

The EU has already imposed what are known as Level 2 sanctions, which target specific persons and companies, because of Russian support for Ukrainian separatists.

A further step — which has been the source of dispute within the EU — would be Level 3 sanctions that apply to entire economic sectors such as the defense, banking and energy industries. While hitting Russia harder, those measures would also have a greater cost to the European nations.

The Mistral is a 200-meter (656-foot) ship, capable of carrying as many as 700 combat troops, 16 helicopters and 60 armored vehicles. It is built by state-owned military contractor DCNS and the shipbuilder STX in Saint-Nazaire, where 400 Russian sailors arrived last month to train on the Vladivostok.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was quoted yesterday by the Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency as saying that he doubted France would break the Mistral contract.

“Billions of euros are involved,” he said, according to the state-owned news agency. “The French are very pragmatic.”

Russia is buying the Mistrals with French equipment, including combat navigation devices, and will arm them with its own weaponry, according to Itar-Tass.