Tag Archives: Russian President Vladimir Putin

U.S. Senators push for military aid to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The meeting focused on measures to encourage Russian companies to pull their assets back from offshores. The United States and the European Union on Tuesday announced a raft of new sanctions against Russian companies and banks over Moscow’s support for separatists in Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The meeting focused on measures to encourage Russian companies to pull their assets back from offshores. The United States and the European Union on Tuesday announced a raft of new sanctions against Russian companies and banks over Moscow’s support for separatists in Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are renewing calls for U.S. military aid to Ukraine after receiving a closed-doors briefing from senior Obama administration officials.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham reports the administration seeing Russia prepared to fight in Ukraine to prevent separatists from being overrun.

In contrast, he says, the U.S. doesn’t have a strategy.

Graham says sanctions against Russia thus far haven’t changed President Vladimir Putin’s calculus.

Graham wants measures targeting Putin personally. And he says lethal aid should be provided to help Ukraine’s military.

Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Bill Nelson agree on military assistance.

Ayotte calls the Obama administration’s failure to provide weapons “shameful.”

President Barack Obama doesn’t believe U.S. military involvement is necessary.

Associated Press.

Editors Note: I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama on this issue, if the U.S. military were to get involved it would open a whole new can of worms and Russia could take it as a declaration of war, which is something that nobody wants!!!

Dmitry Tymchuk’s military blog: Nobody wants to put pressure on Kremlin over its shelling of Ukrainian troops

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a bridge destroyed by pro-Russian militants in the village of Ilyichevka, not far Artemovsk, in the Donetsk region, on July 25, 2014. © AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOVA Ukrainian serviceman walks on a bridge destroyed by pro-Russian militants in the village of Ilyichevka, not far Artemovsk, in the Donetsk region, on July 25, 2014. © AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV

Kyiv Post Editor’s Note: To counter Russian propaganda lies about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27, Dmitry Tymchuk has set up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. He served in the Army air defense from 1995-1998, the National Guard from 1998-2000 and in the Defense Ministry in subsequent years on missions to Iraq, Lebanon and Kosovo. His blogs are translated into English by Voices of Ukraine. The Kyiv Post has not independently verified his findings, but will correct any misinformation brought to our attention at news@kyivpost.com or 38-044-591-3344 or any of our contacts at http://www.kyivpost.com/contacts.

Brothers and sisters!

Here’s the Summary for July 29, 2014

The bad news:

  1. Russia continues to attack. The NSDC [National Security and Defense Council] states: Russian troops daily conduct on average 3 to 5 artillery shellings of Ukrainian security forces at the territory of Ukraine from the territory of the Russian Federation.

I cannot understand why no one is able to beat an explanation out of Putin about these mad and bloody provocations. Americans have already provided illustrative evidence that Russia is waging these attacks. We have plentry of evidence ourselves. But nobody wants to put pressure on Moscow to get it to recognize these very obvious facts.

Ay, UN, say “hi” to sweet-talking grandfather Ban Ki-moon. Also, send our regards to the omniscient and all-knowing guys from the OSCE.

  1. Terrorist from the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] killed a child after intentionally firing at one of the minivans in a convoy of local residents who attempted to take their children out of Donbas [in Horlivka]. Here, there is no excuse for “accidental” fire. This is a heinous crime for which someone must be held responsible, if the concept of justice still exists.

… Our message in this regard, in which we made a mistake (by saying that it was a minivan with children from various orphanages) was widely refuted by officials of various [government] civilian agencies. I will not argue about this–we are to blame for the inaccuracy we allowed. But I was amazed that the Interior Ministry [who oversees the police] also took to refuting this fact.

Fair enough, ombudsmen and the Health Ministry with the Donetsk Oblast City Administration are responsible only for “their” children, for whom they bear direct responsibility (although I don’t see point-blank any difference in which child has died–be it an orphanage or a family). But in theory, the Interior Ministry should report such crimes to us itself, or at least verify the information and not indiscriminately join in the general chorus.

Although in a sense, there is hardly anything useful in these disputes–you cannot give back a child’s life after all…

  1. It seems that since the Kremlin has set itself the task to demonize itself as a fully-fledged “evil empire,” it will no longer deviate from this path (of course, not without help). Covering for and shielding terrorists goes beyond all imaginable limits.

Thus, Russia’s permanent representative at the UN, Vitaly Churkin announced that the DNR fighters, who controlled the Boeing-777 crash site and [who] stole belongings from the deceased passengers, along with the local residents, cannot be called looters. “Why are the locals collecting something? Because it literally falls on their heads,” said Churkin. And the militants, according to him, loot because [they] “don’t have proper training” (presumably, this is the criticism of Russian FSB and GRU training centers where terrorists are being trained).

Obviously, Churkin himself, who doesn’t consider the appropriation of victims’ belongings a sin, used to rob graves during his youth. What is so wrong [about it], when they [the belongings] are “literally” lying under your feet?

By this Kremlin logic, there is nothing wrong about the amusements of SS soldiers in pulling the gold teeth from concentration camps victims–why should the property go to waste? The affinity between the regimes is palpable.

The good news:

  1. The ATO [anti-terrorist operation] forces freed a number of settlements. The biggest gift of the day–Debaltseve–is a very convincing step toward a full decoupling of the LNR [Luhansk People’s Republic] and DNR.

It would be untrue to say that these successes come easily to the ATO forces. But they do come, and this is most important.

  1. Clearly, if one repeats a mantra long enough, it will eventually materialize. The EU kept sending messages about the introduction of the third round of sanctions against Russia for so long, that as a result they eventually had to accept these sanctions. Today, the ambassadors of EU member states made this decision during a meeting in Brussels.

Dear European officials, please forgive my lightweight sarcasm–[I] just couldn’t believe in the reality of these promises. But they are being realized, albeit in a rather softer option, and this is important.

… I especially liked the French. They, pitiful things, still managed to bargain for their right to deliver the “Mistrals” to Russia–because the EU sanctions in the weapons supply will not touch the contracts that have been entered into earlier. Oh, brother [François] Hollande, you should play the shell game at the [railway] station–you have an obvious talent for petty fraud.

Although thank you, Europe, for what you’ve accomplished.

  1. And from the fun [news]: the propagandists from the Russian media continue burning napalm.

LifeNews reported today that Russian scientists have discovered how to treat HIV and are ready to cure all the children from eastern Ukraine, but the Ukrainian government won’t let them go to Russia.

We are happy for the Russian scientists, although we would like to suggest that for starters, they should learn how to treat the Russian journalists’ confabulations. It is desirable that they do so rectally–that is, through the same spot which LifeNews representatives use to depict their thought processes.

Moskovsky Komsomolets [newspaper] picked up the baton of stupidity. The unique specimens from this publication reprinted a statement by the German media with a confession by an unnamed Ukrainian pilot who allegedly steered the Su-25 [fighter jet] and downed the Malaysian Boeing.

However, the Russian journos failed to clarify that their original “news” source was a German website Allgemeine Morgenpost Rundschau. The website editorial board indicates that all information on their website is fiction. Once again, it’s completely in the spirit of “Russian journalism.”

Kyiv Post.

Hague court orders Russia to pay $50 billion in Yukos case

By Megan Davies and Vladimir Soldatkin.Derricks at Yuganskneftegaz oil processing facility at Mamontovskoye oilfield outside the Siberian town of Nefteyugansk.  CREDIT: REUTERS/SERGEI KARPUKHINDerricks at Yuganskneftegaz oil processing facility at Mamontovskoye oilfield outside the Siberian town of Nefteyugansk. Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

(Reuters) – The Hague’s arbitration court ruled on Monday that Russia must pay a group of shareholders in defunct oil giant Yukos around $50 billion (29.45 billion pounds) for expropriating its assets, a big hit for a country teetering on the brink of recession.

The Hague court said it had awarded shareholders in the GML group just under half of their $114 billion claim, going some way to covering the money they lost when the Kremlin seized Yukos, once controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Tim Osborne, director of GML, welcomed the award, which he said was the largest ever, as “very favourable”.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would most likely appeal the decision, underlining that the shareholders, who have battled through the courts for a decade, will have to fight further to receive the compensation.

“The Russian side, those agencies which represent Russia in this process, will no doubt use all available legal possibilities to defend its position,” he said when news of the award leaked ahead of the official announcement.

The ruling hits Russia at a time when it faces international sanctions about its role in Ukraine and anger over the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed rebels are fighting a separatist campaign. The country is also grappling with slowing economic growth.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague announced that Russia must pay the compensation to subsidiaries of Gibraltar-based Group Menatep, a company through which Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, controlled Yukos.

Group Menatep now exists as holding company GML, and Khodorkovsky is no longer a shareholder in GML or Yukos.

Khodorkovsky, who is not a party to the action, was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005. His company, once worth $40 billion, was broken up and nationalised, with most assets handed to Rosneft, a company run by Igor Sechin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Rosneft was not immediately available for comment.

Its shares were down 0.6 percent at 0830 GMT (9.30 a.m. BST), while the RTS index of Russian shares was down 1.8 percent.

Separately, The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is expected on Thursday to announce a decision on Yukos’s multi-billion-dollar claim against Russia, ruling on ‘just satisfaction’ or compensation, a Yukos spokeswoman said.

Yukos’s application in the ECHR, which is on behalf of all Yukos shareholders, argued that Yukos was unlawfully deprived of its possessions by the imposition of bogus taxes and a sham auction of its main asset.


In a case that Kremlin critics said offered a stark example of Putin’s increasingly autocratic rule, Khodorkovsky was arrested at gunpoint in 2003 and convicted of theft and tax evasion in 2005. Putin justified the move by saying: “A thief must be in jail,” quoting a popular Soviet blockbuster.

Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in December after he had spent 10 years in jail. He now lives in Switzerland.

The newspaper Kommersant, which earlier reported the Hague ruling, said the court ruled that Russia had infringed an international energy charter, adopted in 1991, that envisaged legal issues for investments in energy sectors.

The court also ruled, according to the newspaper, that Russia had to start paying the compensation by Jan. 2 next year, or face growing interest on the fine.

It cited GML director Osborne as saying GML will force Russia to pay out the compensation “if it wouldn’t make payments within the court-defined timeframe”.

Any funds won will be shared amongst the shareholders. The biggest ultimate beneficial owner is Russian-born Leonid Nevzlin, a business partner who had fled to Israel to avoid prosecution. He has a stake of around 70 percent.

A spokesperson for Nevzlin declined to comment.

The other four ultimate beneficial owners, each of whom owns an equal stake, are Platon Lebedev, Mikhail Brudno, Vladimir Dubov and Vasilly Shaknovski.

After he was jailed, Khodorkovsky ceded his controlling interest in Menatep, which owned 60 to 70 percent of Yukos, to Nevzlin.

GML shareholders are not expecting to claim twice, so if they receive monies pursuant to one case it would reduce their claim under the other, Osborne has previously told Reuters.

(Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva, Vladimir Soldatkin and Megan Davies in Moscow, Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv, reporting by Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsche in Amsterdam, Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Will Waterman)


Putin Stays on Offense in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin might be expected to hunker down into defense mode as he is besieged by accusations of Russian involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Instead he has stayed on offense and appears to positioning for the long game.

In his televised appearances since last Thursday’s crash, Putin’s demeanor hasn’t wavered from his usual steely determination. He has allowed Russian media to propound theories blaming Ukrainian forces or suggesting a U.S hand in the crash, while refusing to deny such theories and indirectly placing responsibility on the Ukrainians.

Just hours after the crash, Putin laid the groundwork for this approach, saying at a meeting of economic officials that “the tragedy would not have happened” if Ukraine had not resumed its military actions against rebels in late June. “The state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy,” he said.

That argument neatly eludes a key issue: that the offensive was renewed after a 10-day unilateral ceasefire that the pro-Russia rebels ignored. Throughout the eastern Ukraine crisis, now in its fourth month, Putin and his officials have consistently portrayed the conflict as Ukraine’s unprincipled assault on its own citizens, rather than as a move to take back a sizeable part of the country seized by heavily armed separatists.

The aim is to discredit the Kiev authorities without openly opposing them. Putin even spoke face-to-face in June with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had just been elected following the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych in the wake of months of mass protests. But on Tuesday, he stepped up the aspersions in a meeting with his security council.

“True, they held elections after the takeover,” Putin said. “However, for some strange reason, power ended up again in the hands of those who either funded or carried out this takeover.”

This is where the long game appears to take shape.

By aggressively suggesting that Ukraine’s instability is a prelude to Western designs on Russia, Putin not only deflects attention away from the plane crash, but strikes a chord in the Russian psyche. Russia characteristically sees itself as both a vast and mighty world power and as forever beleaguered by devious and violent forces dating back to the Mongol hordes and later including Napoleonic France, Poland, Sweden and, finally, Nazi Germany.

Even as he expresses concern about Russia’s vulnerability, Putin also declares that “the recipes used regarding weaker states fraught with internal conflict will not work with us.”

Resorting to the contradictory — yet popular — message may indicate the tight spot Putin finds himself in as he faces not only international opprobrium but the prospect of even more economic sanctions.

“He appears caught, first, by the possibility of very serious limitations from the West,” analyst Fyodor Lukyanov was quoted as saying by the news website Ekspert. “Secondly, the psychological pressure is very serious. And for Putin, I think, it’s hard just on a human basis.”

But Putin is the ultimate survivor. And barring evidence that irrefutably connects Russia with the plane’s crash Putin likely has the stamina and determination for a long haul.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow think-tank, said that while many may hope that sanctions and the pressure on Putin will cause him to pull back, “those banking on this scenario will probably be disappointed.”

“Putin is unlikely to stand down, or back off,” he wrote in a commentary.

The Moscow Times.

Russia Needs the EU’s Help, Not Its Sanctions

East and West

The West reacted sharply against Russia over the downing of the Malaysian Boeing. That is justified: Even if investigators conclude that separatists in Donetsk are not to blame, Russia helped create a situation in which such a thing is even possible in southern and eastern Ukraine. However, threatening and isolating Russia is unlikely to improve the problem. Like a teenager exhibiting aggressive behavior, Russia needs the help of a very patient and high-minded adult — that is, if any exist.

One of my Ukrainian colleagues who supported the Maidan from the beginning and who was outraged by Russia’s actions in the Crimea and the south and east of his country, once sent me a heartfelt note reading: “No one cares what internal issues Russia is going through. They should sort out their problems themselves.”

I understand his feelings. I am one of those few Russians who believe that this country’s behavior toward Ukraine in recent months has been completely unacceptable, that it has destroyed whatever international authority Russia once held and has irreparably undermined the credibility of Russian leaders in the eyes of the international community. Indeed, it has led people to stop trying to understand what is happening in this country. Now the world has almost officially concluded that Russians are monsters.

This loss of interest in Russia could be even worse for ordinary Russians than new economic sanctions, or even the tumult that will inevitably result in a society whose imperial ambitions have been thwarted.

But the most frightening possible result of sanctions is that the West could nail shut the “window to Europe” that Russia has been laboring hard to develop ever since Peter the Great first built it at tremendous cost in the early 18th century.

Way back in 2006, a book called “The Day of the Oprichniki” came out, authored by modern Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin. Through some mystical and visionary inspiration, Sorokin created what could serve as a “road map” for today’s Russian leaders.

The book describes a Russia walled off from the West, in which almost everyone speaks Chinese and where the populace happily reproduces some tawdry idea of the political, social and cultural life of Russia prior to Peter the Great.

Of course, it is a monarchy re-established and ruled by a certain Tsar Nikolai Platanovich, an allusion to former Federal Security Service director and current Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev. While watching a public flogging in a central Moscow square, subjects of the heirs to Platonovich recall with pleasure how they made bonfires to burn banned books and how they themselves burned their travel passports on Red Square as a demonstration of loyalty.

In the year the book was released it seemed like just a bit of outlandish fun, although it had a large print run in part because the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi staged a public book burning of Sorokin’s allegedly “immoral” works. Just the same, nobody imagined that the phantasmagoric situation Sorokin described might become reality only a few years later. Now it seems that Russia is racing at full speed toward the world of Sorokin’s oprichniki.

Russia’s isolation from the West could make that world a reality. Many Russians have a passion for reviving the past as is seen, for example, by the way in which Russian historical re-enactors are fighting in the south and east of Ukraine. They represent a tiny fraction of the overall population, just a handful of marginal figures who dream of restoring Russia’s lost imperial power and who have been waiting for their chance ever since the Soviet Union collapsed.

They and their war are such that, after shooting down a foreign passenger plane while hunting for what they believed was a permissible military target, their first thought was to say that the plane was carrying spies, a deluded attempt to make the tragedy fit into their homemade myth.

And then they hurriedly erased all mention of the episode from social networks. It might very well turn out that they are the killers, and if so, they should be punished. But either way, they will not stop being little boys with the mentality of the late Soviet period, boys who were born to rule the Soviet empire but who arrived on the scene just in time to see it collapse. They are boys who haven’t yet stopped playing their historical re-enactment game.

Of course, theirs is a deviant world view. It is impossible to condone their actions in any way, especially now that their games have turned into a bloody mess. But only people who genuinely lack concern for what is happening inside Russia can label them as the vanguard of the “evil empire,” as almost all of the world’s newspapers wrote on the morning after the Boeing disaster.

Here in Russia, there is no “evil empire,” just a huge and doubly bitter disappointment.

It stems first from the collapse of the Soviet Union, a government which, despite all the crimes of the Bolshevik leadership, enabled several generations of Soviet citizens to feel that they were participating in a grand social and humanitarian project. And second, it results from the fact that, after the Soviet collapse, Europe and the U.S. did not admit Russia into their clubby relationship.

But the majority of Russians do not dream of joining the separatists’ ranks. In fact, the several hundred or even thousands of Russians who really are there to fight for their strange ideas are, unfortunately, almost everyone in this vast country that is even capable of taking some form of political action.

That explains why the separatist militias increasingly include individuals who took part in the mass protests on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in 2011, people generally considered to be more liberals than imperialists or nationalists. As for the overwhelming majority of Russia’s more than 100 million people, they could not care less and have no plans to go anywhere at all.

Western newspapers probably have some intellectual justification for rhetorically equating the words “Russia” and “killers.” And even if the separatists’ guilt in the tragedy is never conclusively proven, a certain logical connection becomes evident. After all, the Russian leadership did its fair share to make such an accident possible and the Russian people chose these leaders. The people must ultimately answer for their officials’ actions, even if they themselves do not really care about what happens in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, very few people in Russia today are prepared to see or understand that connection. As a result, the blame from the West will only offend them, increase tensions and bring “The Day of the Oprichniki” even closer to realization.

In order to clarify this connection, a high-minded adult is needed, someone who will not pressure this already hysterical youth but instead will make an effort to truly understand what is happening inside him, to find a way to reach him, and finally, to speak to him as an equal, without fear but also without arrogance.

Then it just might become clear that the West also carries some blame for the current crisis in Ukraine because, frankly, it never was interested in what was troubling Russia.

Ivan Sukhov is a journalist who has covered conflicts in Russia and the CIS for the past 15 years.

The Moscow Times.