Tag Archives: U.S.

Inquisitive Pskov Lawmaker Beaten Unconscious #Russia #Pskov


 Alexey Eremenko.Lev ShlosbergLev Shlosberg.

A Pskov region lawmaker was found stumbling through the streets covered in blood on Friday, after having called attention to reports that local paratroopers may have been deployed to war-torn Ukraine.

Lev Shlosberg sustained temporary amnesia, head injuries, a broken nose and numerous bruises, Igor Yakovlev, an associate in the social-democratic party Yabloko, said on his Facebook page Saturday.

The lawmaker eventually recovered enough to claim he had been attacked from behind by three thugs who beat him unconscious, Yabloko head Sergei Mitrokhin said.

“The rascals tracked Shlosberg to his house, assaulted him without a word … beat him up for several minutes and only fled when witnesses appeared,” Mitrokhin said on Yabloko’s website.

Local police launched a case based on charges of “hooliganism resulting in minor bodily harm,” which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Mitrokhin’s call to append the case to include the more serious charge of “attack on a state or public figure,” which carries up to a life sentence, had gone unheeded as of Sunday.

Pskov authorities assigned hospital guards to Shlosberg, who is well known in Russia for his crisp and balanced criticism of Kremlin policies.

Shlosberg, 51, spearheaded an investigation into the troops from the elite Pskov-based 76th Airborne Division who were buried in the region earlier this month under mysterious circumstances amid persistent rumors that they died in Ukrainian infighting.

The lawmaker, who directly linked the attack to the investigation in a brief interview with Flashnord.ru on Saturday, is not the first person who was allegedly attacked after looking into the paratroopers’ fate.

Reporters with independent media outlets Dozhd and Fontanka claim to have been assaulted by unidentified thugs in the Pskov cemetery last week while looking for the paratroopers’ graves. They drove away, allegedly before any serious harm could be inflicted.

Official Kiev, NATO, the EU and the U.S. all claimed last week, with varying degrees of certainty, that Russia had sent its troops to aid the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

The insurgents have launched a surprising counteroffensive in recent days after appearing to have teetered on the brink of defeat for weeks.

Ukrainian officials blamed the separatists’ victories on an influx of heavy military equipment from Russia, complete with troops to operate them.

A senior NATO official estimated on Thursday that Russia had deployed about 1,000 soldiers. Russian NGO Soldiers’ Mothers Committee estimated that there had been about 400 Russian military casualties in Ukraine, and Shlosberg claimed on Ekho Moskvy radio hours before the attack on him that the 76th Airborne alone had lost at least 100 troops in Ukraine so far.

President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia had provided any military help to the rebels, and so did the Defense Ministry, which said the allegations “aren’t even funny anymore.”

Putin, however, called in an interview aired by Channel One television on Sunday to end hostilities and begin talks on “eastern Ukraine’s statehood.”

The call echoes the pro-separatist sentiment promoted by Channel One and other pro-Kremlin state media since the civil war’s outbreak last spring. Official Kiev has so far been refusing to discuss the “statehood” of the breakaway eastern provinces.

via Inquisitive Pskov Lawmaker Beaten Unconscious | News | The Moscow Times.

Russia replies to Canada’s colorful map tweet #RussiaCanada #USRussia #NATO


This combination image shows a map tweeted by the Canadian Joint Delegation to NATO on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, top, and a map tweeted in response on Thursday by the Twitter Feed of the Permanent Mission of Russia to NATO, below. The top map went viral, being retweeted more than 25,000 times by late Thursday, including by U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. The bottom map shows Crimea as part of Russia, which the country annexed from Ukraine in March. (AP Photo)This combination image shows a map tweeted by the Canadian Joint Delegation to NATO on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, top, and a map tweeted in response on Thursday by the Twitter Feed of the Permanent Mission of Russia to NATO, below. The top map went viral, being retweeted more than 25,000 times by late Thursday, including by U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. The bottom map shows Crimea as part of Russia, which the country annexed from Ukraine in March. (AP Photo)

TORONTO (AP) — It began with Canada tweeting some not-so-friendly travel tips for the Russian military: a map showing Russia and labeling Ukraine as “not Russia.”

That opening shot was enough to launch a Twitter war of words — and maps.

Canada’s NATO Twitter account posted the map Wednesday with the explanation: “Geography can be tough. Here’s a guide for Russian soldiers who keep getting lost and ‘accidentally’ enter Ukraine.”

The tweet went viral, being retweeted more than 25,000 times by late Thursday, including by U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.

Russia struck back by tweeting its own map showing Crimea as part of its territory. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.

Kiev accused Russia on Thursday of sending tanks, artillery and troops across Ukraine’s border.

Russia says its only active duty soldiers in Ukraine were the 10 captured earlier this week, who Moscow insists had mistakenly wandered across the border.

NATO estimates that as many as 1,000 Russian troops are fighting inside Ukraine with an additional 20,000 soldiers massing on the border for support or possible reinforcements.

“It’s important to look at this exchange through the current context,” said Rick Roth, the top spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. “The original tweet was in the context of Russian military personnel being found in sovereign Ukrainian territory, claiming they were lost. Nobody believes that.”

Dutch Brig.-Gen. Nico Tak said there has been a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.

“We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defense systems, artillery, tanks, and armored personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine,” said Tak.

Baird called the recent events a “significant provocation” in advance of next week’s NATO summit in Wales, where the alliance’s leaders are expected to hold a special meeting with new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, so the alliance is not automatically obliged to come to its defense.

President Barack Obama ruled out the possibility that the U.S. will take military action over Ukraine and declined to characterize the assault as an invasion. 1

 

Associated Press.


  1. Sounds like Obama really did make a deal with Putin during their secret talks over Ukraine in Finland in June

Kyiv Post: Britain, US must now act on nuclear weapons assurances given to Ukraine #BudapestMemorandum


Andy Hunder.Budapest Memorandum

Two decades ago, Ukraine was the world’s third largest nuclear superpower. The East European nation inherited a nuclear arsenal bigger than that of the United Kingdom, China and France combined, when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. 

The country of then 52 million people, which today is being invaded by Russian forces, gained physical control of approximately 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads and 2,500 tactical nuclear weapons, including an arsenal of SS-19 and SS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and dozens of Tupolev strategic bombers with air-launched cruise missiles.


Read the story here.

Secret US-Russia talks on Ukraine held in Finland #USRussia


Obama & Putin
HELSINKI (AP) — The Finnish Foreign Ministry says that the United States and Russia held secret talks over Ukraine in Finland in June.

Ministry spokesman Vesa Hakkinen told the AP that the ministry helped organize the meeting on the island of Boisto off the southern Finnish coast but declined to give more information.

Earlier this month, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto met President Vladimir Putin and traveled to Ukraine for talks with President Petro Poroshenko, leading to speculation that he was acting on behalf of the European Union.

Niinisto’s office said Tuesday that he was not involved in the secret June talks between the U.S. and Russia.

Associated Press.

#West condemns #Russia over convoy to #Ukraine


The first trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)The first trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev’s approval, after more than a week’s delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated sharply on Friday as Moscow sent more than 130 trucks rolling across the border in what it said was a mission to deliver ‘humanitarian aid’. Ukraine called it a “direct invasion,” and the U.S. and NATO condemned it as well.

In another ominous turn in the crisis, NATO said it has mounting evidence that Russian forces are operating inside Ukraine and launching artillery attacks from Ukrainian soil.

The trucks, part of a convoy of 260 vehicles, entered Ukraine without government permission after being held up at the border for a week amid fears that the mission was a Kremlin ploy to help the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

By late afternoon, trucks had reached the city of Luhansk, whose war-reduced population of a quarter-million people has suffered under intense fighting over the past several weeks between Ukrainian forces and the separatists.

Russia said the white-tarped vehicles were carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags.

Some of the trucks were opened to reporters a few days ago, and at least some of those items could be seen. But Associated Press journalists following the convoy across rough country roads heard the trucks’ contents rattling and sliding around Friday, suggesting many vehicles were only partially loaded.

The arrival of the trucks instantly raised the stakes in the crisis: An attack on the convoy could give Russia a pretext to intervene more deeply in the fighting. And the convoy’s mere presence could block further battlefield advances by Ukrainian forces, which have reported substantial inroads against the rebels over the past week.

In sending in the convoy, Russia said it had lost patience with Ukraine’s stalling tactics and claimed that soon “there will no longer be anyone left to help” in Luhansk, where weeks of heavy shelling have cut off power, water and phone service and made food scarce.

At the United Nations in New York, Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin hotly denied any Russian troops were inside Ukraine. Russia has also steadfastly denied supporting and arming the rebels, as the West has charged.

Moscow’s decision to move unilaterally, without Red Cross involvement, raised questions about its intentions.

Suspicions were running high that the humanitarian operation may instead be aimed at halting Kiev’s momentum on the battlefield.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk declared that the trucks were half-empty and were not going to deliver aid but would instead be used to create a provocation. He said Russia would somehow attack the convoy itself, creating an international incident.

A Russian border guard opens a gate into the Ukraine for the first trucks heading into the country from the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)A Russian border guard opens a gate into the Ukraine for the first trucks heading into the country from the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev’s approval, after more than a week’s delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Ukrainian security services chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko called the convoy a “direct invasion” and said the half-empty trucks would be used to transport weapons to rebels and spirit away the bodies of Russian fighters killed in eastern Ukraine. He said the men operating the trucks were Russian military personnel trained to drive combat vehicles, tanks and artillery.

Nalyvaichenko insisted, however, that Ukraine would not shell the convoy.

NATO’s secretary-general condemned Russia for sending in a “so-called humanitarian convoy” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia committed “a blatant breach” of its international commitments and “a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

The Pentagon demanded Russia withdraw the convoy immediately, warning: “Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation.”

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that, since mid-August, the military alliance has seen multiple reports of direct involvement of Russian forces in Ukraine, along with transfers of tanks and other heavy weapons to the separatists, and “an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.”

“Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces,” she said. Previously, the West accused Russia of cross-border shelling.

The Red Cross, which had planned to escort the convoy to assuage fears that it was a cover for a Russian invasion, said it had not received enough security guarantees to do so, as shelling had continued overnight. Four troops were killed and 23 wounded in a 24-hour period in eastern Ukraine, the government reported Friday.

The government said it had authorized the entry of only 35 trucks. But the number of Russian vehicles seen passing through was clearly way beyond that. International monitors said that as of midday, 134 trucks, 12 support vehicles and one ambulance had crossed into Ukraine.

In announcing its decision to act, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: “There is increasingly a sense that the Ukrainian leaders are deliberately dragging out the delivery of the humanitarian load until there is a situation in which there will no longer be anyone left to help.”

Ukrainian people greet the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)Ukrainian people greet the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev’s approval, after more than a week’s delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

It added: “We are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission.”

Rebel forces took advantage of Ukraine’s promise not to shell the convoy to drive on the same country road as the trucks. Some 20 green military supply vehicles — flatbed trucks and fuel tankers — were seen traveling in the opposite direction, along with smaller rebel vehicles.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine began in mid-April, a month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It has killed over 2,000 people and forced 340,000 to flee, according to the United Nations.

On Friday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said the country’s honorary consul in Luhansk had been abducted and killed by “terrorists.” There were no further details.

(Laura Mills in Moscow, Nataliya Vasilyeva in Kiev, Ukraine, Peter Leonard in Donetsk, Ukraine, and Alexander Roslyakov in Donetsk, Russia, contributed to this report).


Associated Press.