Tag Archives: Kiev

#Reuters: #Gunmen said to chase investigators from #MH17 crash site


A part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFPA part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFP

KIEV/KHARKIV, Ukraine, July 24 (Reuters) – Gunmen chased investigators from the site where the Malaysian airliner crashed and “lunatics” were still making life difficult for those who wanted to find out what downed flight MH17, officials said on Thursday.

As foreign ministers from Australia and the Netherlands met Ukrainian officials to coordinate the investigation, the head of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service and the chief of a Dutch police mission said their work at the site was being hampered.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, said there had been no incidents, and that they had been joined by experts from Malaysia and Australia, which lost 28 citizens in the crash.

The West has called for a thorough investigation into the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine to get justice for the 298 people who were killed, but have voiced concern that the rebels were preventing investigators from doing their job.

“They took away our tents, the ones which were at our base camp,” Serhiy Bochkovsky, the head of the emergencies service, told a news conference in the eastern city of Kharkiv from where the remains of the victims are starting their journey home.

“We were allowed only our equipment and machinery and we were chased away at gunpoint.”

He did not say when this happened.

The head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine also said it was difficult to get access to the site to look for more of the remains of the victims, many of whom were Dutch.

“But the process is not over, there are still remains in your country and it’s very hard to get there because there are some, and I would say it’s not politically correct, but there are still some lunatics there,” Jan Tuinder said.

“It’s very hard for us to get to the remains.”

Asked about the incidents, Michael Bociurkiw, an OSCE spokesman, said: “None whatsoever.”

The Netherlands formally took over the investigation into the crash from Ukraine on Thursday after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the downing of the plane and demanding armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.

In Kiev, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she expected the separatists to allow a better international presence at the site.

“Now that the legal framework is in place … and that Ukraine has transferred legal responsibility to the Netherlands, we feel we’ll get more progress from the separatists,” she said.

Putting the Dutch in charge of the criminal investigation was a way to get around the opposition to the U.N. Security Council resolution voiced by Russia should Kiev lead the probe, Bishop said.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Vasovic in Donetsk; Editing by Giles Elgood)


Reuters

#MH17: Ukraine accuses pro-Russia rebels of taking bodies from crash site


Kiev says pro-Russia rebels have removed bodies from crash site with help from Moscow, and are trying to destroy evidence.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash site integrity may be compromised, says Malaysia

Ukraine’s government accused pro-Russia rebels on Saturday of removing corpses from the MH17 crash site and destroying evidence.

“Terrorists brought 38 bodies to the mortuary in Donetsk,” the government statement read, adding that Russian experts would presumably perform autopsies. “The terrorists are seeking for the heavy load trucks to carry the plane wreckage to Russia,” the statement added.

A rebel, who identified himself as “Grumpy”, neither confirmed nor denied the claims that bodies had been moved to Donetsk. “Maybe they did it, maybe not,” he said. “I personally didn’t do that.”

On Saturday the rebels fired several shots in the air to prevent journalists from approaching to bodies at the crash site. They also fired the warning shots at OSCE monitors on Friday to prevent them from approaching the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight.

The security of the crash site, outside the village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, is crucial to preserving evidence that will determine who and what brought the airliner down, but talks between Kiev and rebels who are in control of it have so far failed to establish a buffer zone where international investigators can work, or to give them access. Continue reading

The Flight MH17 disaster creates a dilemma for Putin over backing of Ukraine’s rebels


Malaysia Airlines crash makes supplying arms to separatists a threat to the world but pulling the plug means defeat for Russia.

President Vladimir Putin. 'Russian public opinion is going off [separatism] and support inside Ukraine is less than thought,' said an analyst. Photo: Sasha Mordovets/GettyPresident Vladimir Putin. ‘Russian public opinion is going off [separatism] and support inside Ukraine is less than thought,’ said an analyst. Photo: Sasha Mordovets/Getty

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 has confronted Vladimir Putin with a dilemma he had sought to avoid: to continue to support the separatist insurgency in Ukraine in the face of a storm of international outrage, or cut the rebels off and allow them to be defeated by the government in Kiev.

Until the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile on Thursday, killing nearly 300 people, the Russian president had tried to hedge his bets according to circumstances on the battlefield and western pressure. He moved troops and tanks away from the border after the Ukrainian presidential elections in May, but moved them back in recent weeks.

Similarly, he initially appeared to distance himself from the rebels until Ukrainian forces under the newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, made significant gains in the east, triggering a new supply of Russian equipment over the border, including anti-aircraft missiles.

The MH17 disaster forces his hand. Anything he does now will attract much more scrutiny. Arms shipments across the very porous Ukrainian border, which had until now been a threat to the Ukrainian armed forces, will henceforward be seen as a direct threat to the international community and a trigger for global outrage. But pulling the plug on the separatists would leave them vulnerable to Ukrainian forces, which can be expected to seize the opportunity to crush the revolt, handing a strategic defeat to Putin.

The early pointers suggest he is hesitating between the two options. While Russian media quickly accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane – even floating a theory that Kiev thought it was targeting Putin’s own plane – neither the president nor his top officials have followed that line explicitly.

In the fullest exposition of the Russian position so far, the country’s envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, blamed the tragedy on the Ukrainian conflict in general, and Kiev and its western backers for stoking of the conflict. Churkin also questioned why Ukrainian air traffic controllers had allowed the Malaysian plane to fly over eastern Ukrainian airspace, but did not address direct responsibility for the shooting down itself. With a wealth of details emerging from the region building a compelling case against the separatists, the Kremlin has kept its powder dry. The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, followed suit, telling Rossiya 24 TV channel: “The tragedy may sober up those who give up obligations over the political process.” He also stopped short of assigning immediate blame. Putin himself called for a new peace initiative.

It is likely that this initial demurral is intended to buy time so the international response can be measured before Putin makes a strategic choice.

It is already clear from Friday’s UN security council meeting that if the rebels are found to have carried out the outrage with a Russian weapon, Moscow will find itself more isolated than at any time in its recent history. Nobody around the council table spoke up in support of Churkin.

The concerted western response is to build the circumstantial case against the Russian-backed separatists while awaiting an international inquiry. If that investigation confirms the early suspicions, one western option would be to declare the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) a terrorist organisation, said Ben Judah, the author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin.

“Putin’s greatest worry is that [the US] Congress will deem the DNR a terrorist organisation, responsible for the worst attack on a civilian airliner since 9/11, which would make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

“He will do anything possible to avoid that wrath, while not admitting anything,” Judah said.

“Meanwhile, this is a huge failure for GRU [Russian military intelligence], the FSB [the secret police] and the special forces. What kind of people are not capable of distinguishing a Malaysian airliner in the sky? It would not be surprising if the people involved were drunk. So heads will likely roll in the security forces.”

Stephen Sestanovich, a former US ambassador to Moscow now at Columbia University, said that Putin’s past behaviour made it difficult to predict which path he would take.

“This is the problem with Putin mind-reading,” he said, adding that Putin had alternated between prudent and reckless behaviour.

“Even before the shoot-down there were some signs of diminished Russian enthusiasm for the whole project. Russian public opinion is going off it and support for separatism inside Ukraine is less than originally thought. But Russia kept the supply of weapons going,” Sestanovich said.

“You would think that this disastrous result would wake up Russian officials and make them see this was even more of a loser than they thought. But Putin doesn’t like to be put in a corner. He’s very humiliation-conscious,”he said, “and doesn’t like to feel he’s backed down.”

The Guardian.

Ukraine blames Russia for ‘continuous inflow of weapons and heavy weaponry’


Originally posted on Amanpour:

Click here to watch Amanpour’s full interview with Klimkin.

By Mick Krever, CNN

As conflict intensifies in Eastern Ukraine, that country’s foreign minister on Wednesday accused Russia of massive interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

“We have continuous and intentional destabilization of Donetsk and Luhansk,” Pavlo Klimkin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“They keep saying their influence is limited, but it’s also about continuous inflow of weapons and heavy weaponry from Russia.”

“We have inflow of weapons, of mercenaries, of heavy weaponry – tanks, everything.”

“And as you know, you can probably buy Kalashnikov in a kind of shop on the black market, but you can’t buy tanks or you can’t buy anti-air missiles there.”

Just three weeks ago, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a unilateral cease-fire and he told Amanpour that he believed peace was possible in a matter of weeks or months.

View original 265 more words

#Ukraine #rebels reclaim village on #Russian #border


A girl says goodbye to her friend, a volunteer, before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion “Azov”, during a ceremony to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Separatist rebels said they retook a village near the Russian border from government forces Wednesday as both sides pressed to claim territory in eastern Ukraine.

Sergei Kavtaradze, a spokesman for separatists in Donetsk, said one rebel militiaman was killed and 15 others injured in fighting in the village of Marinivka. The insurgents military leader, Igor Girkin, told the Russian television station LifeNews that his men destroyed two Ukrainian armored vehicles and captured another.

Since the start of the month, Ukrainian forces have halved the territory held by the insurgency, which is seeking to wrest two eastern regions from Kiev. Government efforts have focused efforts on sealing the border with Russia, where insurgents are believed to draw much of their hardware and manpower. The rebels have captured several Ukrainian border points.

The Interfax news agency cited a Russian border service official as saying that two heavily wounded Ukrainian border guards appealed to their Russian colleagues for medical assistance at the crossing near Marinivka. Continue reading