Tag Archives: Russia

Russia wants to keep Ukraine off UN radar #Putin #Russia #Ukraine

Obama & PutinUNITED NATIONS (AP) — As world leaders gather at the U.N. this week, the U.S. and its European allies are consumed by efforts to blunt the savage advance of the Islamic State group, to end the raging Ebola epidemic and to make progress in nuclear negotiations with Iran. That’s likely just fine with Vladimir Putin, since these issues distract from Russia’s presence in neighboring Ukraine.

While attention focuses elsewhere, the Russians are consolidating their annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. They are also deeply involved in turmoil in Ukraine’s east and south, hoping to prevent the country from moving out of the Kremlin’s orbit. Europe and the United States insist the independent nation must be free to choose its own course.

Russia is already enraged over NATO’s having brought former Soviet satellite nations in Eastern Europe and some Baltic nations, once Soviet republics, into the alliance over the past two decades. The Kremlin insists it was promised, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, that that would not happen. It’s doing its best to prevent Ukraine from making the same move.

What’s more, says American University professor Keith Darden: “Their strategy all along has been to argue that what they did in Crimea is not abnormal. Intervention in Ukraine is not unusual for great powers. The U.S. has intervened in Latin America consistently. Ukraine, they say, is their sphere of interest.”

And given the chaos in other areas of the world, says Andrew Weiss, of the Carnegie Endowment, “I can’t say I see the Russian challenges and issues as being front and center. Ukraine, to a degree, already has been pushed out of the public eye by the Middle East crisis and the Ebola epidemic. I don’t think Ukraine will have the same centrality.”

The Russians will likely raise objections to U.S. threats to bomb Syria to take out Islamic State group fighters and facilities. But, since the focus in Syria has shifted from the counter-revolutionary brutality of President Bashar Assad, Russia’s obstinate backing for him likely will not come to the fore.

Putin, the Russian president, won’t be in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. The Kremlin will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who, Weiss says, will be on the defensive and unpersuasive as he argues that “Russia is behaving in a normal way in Ukraine.” But Russia’s actions in Ukraine aren’t likely to take center stage at the world gathering.

While the United States has delivered aid to Ukraine, the White House has so far refused to send lethal military equipment that would beef up Kiev’s forces in the battle against eastern rebels who are fighting to break away and join Russia.

Moscow, no doubt, is happy about Washington’s military restraint in Ukraine, but is feeling the effects of heavy sanctions levied against Russia by the United States and the European Union. And it’s no doubt heard the rumblings in Washington of serious divisions in the White House over increased lethal aid to Kiev.

So far, Putin has voiced determination not to be diverted from his course in Ukraine regardless of Western actions. He has also been able to use the punitive measures in a propaganda drive to build support at home — creating anger against the U.S. and Europe as a distraction from the pain his citizens absorb from the economic sanctions.

Beyond that, key Putin advisers are promoting his desires to protect and perhaps reabsorb regions with predominantly Russian speakers. They are not only in Ukraine’s east but in former republics like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — the Baltic nations on Russia’s northwest border. U.S. President Barack Obama recently visited the region and promised that NATO would indeed fight to protect those new alliance members if attacked by Russia.

“It is a miscalculation because Russia is far stronger, and the West far weaker, than many imagine,” writes Putin foreign policy adviser Sergey Karaganov. “The West that Russia now faces is not the self-confident alliance that proclaimed itself victor of the cold war. It is a directionless gaggle, beset with economic insecurities and losing sight of its moral convictions. America and its allies once held the future in their hands, but at the beginning of this Asian century they have let it slip through their fingers. Their crowning accomplishment was globalization – and they are destroying it with economic sanctions they incoherently describe as instruments of self-defense.”

That is a message that plays well with Putin and the Russian people. There is a latent xenophobia and fundamental distrust of the West abroad in the sprawling country, where Putin grows more and more popular as he stands up to Washington and its European allies.

Steven R. Hurst, an AP international political writer based in Washington, reported from Moscow for 12 years and has covered international relations for 33 years.

The Associated Press.

Ukraine crisis: Thousands march in Moscow anti-war rally #Russia #AntiWar #Ukraine

A large column of protesters waving both Russian and Ukrainian flags marched in central Moscow. Reuters.A large column of protesters waving both Russian and Ukrainian flags marched in central Moscow.

Tens of thousands of people are marching in Moscow in protest against Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

People are chanting “No to war!” and “Stop lying!” Similar rallies are taking place in St Petersburg and other Russian cities.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming rebels in the east and sending Russian troops across the border. Moscow denies this.

More than 3,000 people have died in fighting since April.

A truce was agreed on 5 September but there have been repeated violations since then.

The fighting began after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in March – a move condemned by Ukraine and the West.

Organisers of the anti-war march in Moscow said they hoped as many as 50,000 people would attend. Reuters.Organisers of the anti-war march in Moscow said they hoped as many as 50,000 people would attend.Supporters of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine held their own smaller rally in Moscow. Reuters.Supporters of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine held their own smaller rally in Moscow.

Demonstrators – with both Russian and Ukrainian flags – are marching from Pushkin Square to Sakharov Boulevard in central Moscow.

Organisers earlier said they hoped up to 50,000 people would take part to denounce what they described as Russia’s “aggressive foreign policy”.

Police have stepped up security, but so far there are no reports of serious violence.

It is Russia’s first major anti-war rally since the fighting began five months ago in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

A number of supporters of the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine held their own rally in Moscow.

The new agreement seeks to stop the repeated violations of a ceasefire agreed on 5 September. EPA.The new agreement seeks to stop the repeated violations of a ceasefire agreed on 5 September.

Earlier on Sunday, Gen Philip Breedlove, Nato’s supreme commander in Europe, said the ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and the separatists currently existed “in name only”.

He said the numbers of artillery rounds fired recently was comparable to periods before the truce came into effect two weeks ago.

“The situation in Ukraine is not good right now.

“The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story,” he added.

Anti-war protesters hold Ukrainian flags and a banner, Anti-war protesters hold Ukrainian flags and a banner, “Hands off Ukraine,” in the center of Moscow on Sept. 21. Thousands of Russians marched through Moscow to protest against the Kremlin’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis, in the country’s first major anti-war rally since fighting erupted in April.. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER UTKIN © AFP.

Gen Breedlove said that since last week, some Russian forces inside Ukraine had returned to Russia but remained available to “bring their military force to bear on Ukraine”.

He added, however, that he was “hopeful” about a new agreement – the so-called memorandum – signed in the early hours of Saturday.

That deal envisages the creation of a 30km (19 miles) buffer zone and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said government forces would pull back from the buffer zone only if the rebels and Russian troops did the same thing.

Minsk memorandum: Key points

  • To pull heavy weaponry 15km back each side of the line of contact, creating a 30km security zone.
  • To ban offensive operations.
  • To ban flights by combat aircraft over the security zone.
  • To set up an OSCE monitoring mission.
  • To withdraw all foreign mercenaries from the conflict zone.

Conflict Zone

BBC News.

#Putin calls meeting to discuss switching off #internet in #Russia

The Kremlin is considering unplugging Russia from the global Internet. 1 Russian authorities say the extreme measure would only be taken in the event of military conflict or during “foreign-sponsored protests.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has in the past called the internet a special CIA project, has called a meeting of his security council for Monday to discuss the proposal.

Check out the ‘Ukraine Today’ website: http://uatoday.tv
Their Facebook page: https://facebook.com/uatodaytv
or follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/uatodaytv

Ukraine Today channel on Youtube.

  1. Basically isolating russian citizens from the outside world and news networks. 

NATO Chief: Ukraine Has Cease-Fire ‘in Name Only’ #Ukraine #Ceasefire #Russia

U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove has little faith in the 2-week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in Ukrainian east. U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove has little faith in the 2-week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in Ukrainian east. © AFP

VILNIUS, Lithuania — NATO’s top general said Saturday the two-week-old truce between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants fighting in the country’s east is a “cease-fire in name only,” and he said that by enabling a free flow of weapons and fighters  across the border Russia has made it nearly impossible for outsiders to determine how many of its troops are operating inside Ukraine.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told a news conference after meeting with NATO military chiefs that he is hopeful about Saturday’s announced agreement for creation of a buffer zone between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces.

The deal reached by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Moscow-backed rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe marks an effort to add substance to the Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement that has been frequently broken by clashes.

Breedlove has put the main blame on Russia for the continuing conflict.

“So the situation in Ukraine is not good right now,” he said. “Basically we have a cease-fire in name only.”

Breedlove said violence levels in Ukraine, including the number of artillery rounds fired in the past few days, are as high as prior to the cease-fire.

“So the cease-fire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story,” he said.

Breedlove said Russian forces are still operating inside Ukraine but numbers cannot be pinpointed.

“Right now the border is being maintained open by Russian forces and Russian-backed forces, and the fluidity of movement of Russian forces and Russian-backed forces back and forth across that border makes it almost impossible to understand the numbers,” he said.

He said it is clear that the number of Russian troops in Ukraine has declined significantly over the past week or so, with some returning to the Russian side of the border — “which is good, except that they haven’t returned home and are still available to bring their military force to bear on Ukraine, should it be desired” by Russian government leaders.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member of NATO, but both share borders with NATO-member countries. Recent Russian military behavior, including its annexation of the Crimea Peninsula of southern Ukraine earlier this year, is a major worry inside the U.S.-led alliance.

The New York Times.

#Putin’s aggression has left #Europe in pre-war state, says top Russian writer

by Luke Harding.
Mikhail Shishkin, considered by many to be Russia's greatest living author, says Europeans are yet to grasp the 'new reality'. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty ImagesMikhail Shishkin, considered by many to be Russia’s greatest living author, says Europeans are yet to grasp the ‘new reality’. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images.

Russia’s pre-eminent literary novelist today warns that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to a “black hole” that threatens to suck in the whole of Europe.

In an essay for the Guardian, Mikhail Shishkin says that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has left the unsuspecting European continent in a state of “pre-war”. He says that unlike Russians – conditioned to expect violence by remorseless state propaganda – Europeans have not yet grasped “the new reality that has set in”.

Shishkin is considered by many to be his country’s greatest living author. He is the only contemporary writer to have won all three of Russia’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the Russian Booker. Resident in Switzerland, he faced official vitriol after refusing to take part on a Kremlin-sponsored literary tour of the US last year. Shishkin said he didn’t want to represent a country where “power has been seized by a corrupt criminal regime“.

The son of a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, Shishkin describes Russia’s president as a “one very lonely ageing man” and “an insipid colonel” terrified of losing power. He says the “demise of Hussein, Mubarak and Gaddafi” and the flight of Ukraine’s leader Viktor Yanukovych spooked Putin, and prompted his seizure of Crimea in the spring and attack on eastern Ukraine.

“The instinct of self-preservation kicked in immediately. The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy; start a war. The state of war is the regime’s elixir of life,” the writer says.

Shishkin suggests that under Putin – who denied there were Russian troops in Crimea, only to later admit with a grin that they were there – Russia has gone “back to the Soviet times of total lies”. The novelist says that ordinary Russians are complicit in this lying, with the survival instinct under which Soviet citizens “lived for decades” now emphatically back.

“When Putin tells blatant lies in the face of western politicians, he then watches their reaction with vivid interest and not without pleasure, enjoying their confusion and helplessness. He wants Kiev to return on its knees, like a prodigal son, to the fatherly embrace of the empire. He is sure that Europe will boil with indignation, but eventually calm down, abandoning Ukraine to brotherly rape,” he writes.

The novelist – whose latest work The Light and the Dark appeared in English translation last year – is sceptical that western sanctions will have any effect in Moscow. Rather, he says, Russia is ready and psychologically prepared for further conflict. It is already in “an undeclared war against the west”. His conclusion is bleak: “One needs to realise: post-war Europe has already become pre-war Europe.”

The Guardian.