Tag Archives: U.S.

#Russia May Ban Car Imports If West Imposes New #Sanctions, Sources Say

By Reuters.Ilya Naymushin / ReutersRussian mechanics work on an Arctic Trucks all-terrain vehicle, based on the Lexus LX570 car, at an assembly shop of the Arctic Trucks Russia plant in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

Russia may tighten retaliatory sanctions against Western nations to include a ban on imports of cars, among other things, if the U.S. and the EU impose additional sanctions on Moscow, business daily Vedomosti said Monday.

Following Russia’s standoff over Ukraine, Western nations imposed sanctions on Moscow including on its financial and energy sectors, and put dozens of Russians close to President Vladimir Putin on a sanctions list.

Imported vehicles accounted for 27 percent of sales of passenger cars in the first half of 2014, for trucks imports accounted for 46 percent, and 13 percent for buses, according to Vedomosti.

Russia, which denies allegations it is arming separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, may fully or partly ban imports of cars, Vedomosti reported, citing sources.

The new ban would not apply to foreign automakers’ production inside Russia, the paper said. Ford, Volkswagen, Ford Renault, Toyota and Hyundai Motor Co all have production facilities inside Russia.

The paper added that proposals for new measures had already been sent to Putin for consideration but that no decision had been taken to prepare any new sanctions yet.

New trade restrictions are possible in the event Western nations impose additional sanctions on Moscow, the paper added.

Russia has imposed a ban on certain agricultural imports from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

It has also said the government could introduce protective measures in aircraft, shipbuilding and automotive industries

The Moscow Times.

Editors Note: Is it just me or do you also think that Putin is digging his own grave? Russia’s sanctions on the west may cause a little sting to the wests economies but it is the russian people who will suffer the most, empty supermarket shelves, food shortages and now automobiles. The west on the otherhand are targeting Putin’s cronies where it hurts them most, in their wallets.

Ambassador Taylor: Russia is ‘the single greatest threat to peace in Europe’

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William G. Taylor believes America should arm Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from the Russian-backed invasion. © CourtesyFormer U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William G. Taylor believes America should arm Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from the Russian-backed invasion. © Courtesy

Note: The following is testimony by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor speaking at a joint subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives on July 29.

Testimony before a Joint Subcommittee Hearing

Committee on Foreign Affairs

Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats

Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

U.S. House of Representatives

William B. Taylor

United States Institute of Peace

July 29, 2014

Chairman Rohrabacher, Chairman Poe, members of the subcommittees, thank you for the opportunity to present my views on the shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17 and the escalating crisis in Ukraine.  I commend you for this timely and important hearing.

The views I express today are solely my own and do not represent those of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.

The Situation Today

In my view, Russia is today the single greatest threat to peace in Europe.  If the West does not confront this threat—that is, if we appease the Russians now—we will have to confront an even larger threat tomorrow, closer to home.

Members of this committee and your colleagues are fully aware of the situation in Ukraine.  Russian support for the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk– weapons, leadership, financing, organization, personnel, fighters — is the only thing keeping the Ukrainian government from establishing security in southeastern Ukraine.  Security is needed to find the remaining victims of the missile strike on the Malaysian airliner and to complete the investigation.  Russian support allows the separatists to continue to impede those efforts.

In my view we must confront the Russian war against Ukraine.  This aggression started with the quiet invasion of Crimea last spring.  A sham, at-the-end-of-a-rifle referendum was followed by an illegal annexation.  The international community should not allow that annexation to stand.  Until that situation is resolved to the satisfaction of Ukraine, the Russian government should pay serious penalties to Ukraine for the temporary loss of income and illegally confiscated assets that would have come to Ukraine from Crimea.

The international community did not confront the Kremlin over Crimea.  As a consequence, the Russians continued their aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk.  The leaders of the separatist movement have become almost exclusively Russian, and Russian equipment flows across the border unimpeded.  This equipment—including sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons—shot down the Malaysian airliner killing 298 people.  No matter what individual separatist pushed the button to fire the weapon—let’s be clear, Mr. Chairman– the tragedy is Russian responsibility.


What should be done.

First, human decency requires the return of the victims to their families.  Further, experts need access to the crash site to complete the investigation.  If the separatists continue to impede these efforts, the international community– led by the Dutch, Australians and Malaysians; supported by other nations with victims on MH17, including the United States; and with the approval of the Ukrainians—should provide an armed, international security force to protect the investigators and allow them to find the victims and complete their investigation.  That investigation should lead to criminal prosecutions of those found responsible.

Second, the international community, led by the United States, should provide Ukraine with the means to eliminate the separatist forces in their country.  This means weapons, military advice, intelligence, and financial support to pay and equip their soldiers.

Third, the international community should follow the individual travel bans and asset freezes with harsh economic sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy to deter the Kremlin from continued support to the separatists, to force them to close their border to weapons, fighters and military support, and to pressure them to return Crimea to Ukraine.

Fourth, the international community, led by the United States, should provide financial support to Ukraine as it simultaneously confronts Russian aggression and undertakes serious economic and political reform.  The International Monetary Fund loans may have to be increased.  Bilateral support will have to be expanded.  Advice on economic reform—energy pricing and anti-corruption in particular—will be needed.

Fifth, the international community should respect Ukraine’s right to decide with whom to associate politically and economically.  Western political and security institutions—specifically, the European Union and NATO—should be open to membership applications from Ukraine.

Mr. Chairman, it is a tragedy that it took the shooting down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine to force the international community to confront Russian aggression.  If we don’t confront it now, it’s appeasement, and Russia will not stop at Donetsk.

Thank you.  I am happy to answer your questions.

Kyiv Post.

Editors Note: Am I the only one who thinks that this is a really bad idea? I know that the Russians are supplying the rebels but for the United States to do the same for the Ukrainians could only escalate things further and who knows what would happen next!!!

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!!!

Obama Transcript: New US, EU sanctions ‘going to have a greater impact on the Russian economy than we’ve seen so far’

US President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Ukraine on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM © AFPUS President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situation in Ukraine on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM © AFP

Editor’s Note: The following is the transcript of U.S. President Barack Obama’s remarks on Ukraine on July 29.

U.S. President Barack Obama announces new sanctions against Russia on July 29.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.

In the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and countries around the world, families are still in shock over the sudden and tragic loss of nearly 300 loved ones senselessly killed when their civilian airliner was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  These grieving families and their nations are our friends and our allies.  And amid our prayers and our outrage, the United States continues to do everything in our power to help bring home their loved ones, support the international investigation, and make sure justice is done.

Since the shoot-down, however, Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and to take the opportunity to pursue a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.  These Russian-backed separatists have continued to interfere in the crash investigation and to tamper with the evidence.  They have continued to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region.  And because of their actions, scores of Ukrainian civilians continue to die needlessly every day.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to support the separatists and encourage them, and train them, and arm them.  Satellite images, along with information we’ve declassified in recent days, show that forces inside Russia have launched artillery strikes into Ukraine — another major violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.  And we have information that Russia continues to build up its own forces near the Ukrainian border and that more Russian military equipment, including artillery, armored vehicles, and air defense equipment, has been transferred across the border to these separatists.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the United States has worked to build a strong international coalition to support Ukraine, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, its right to determine its own destiny, and to increase the pressure on Russia for actions that have undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and ability to make its own decisions.  The core of that coalition is the United States and our European allies.

In recent days, I’ve continued to coordinate closely with our allies and our partners to ensure a unified response to the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and Russia’s continued arming of the separatists.  And I’ve spoken several times with Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands and Prime Minister Abbott of Australia.

Yesterday, I had a chance to speak with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy. We are united in our view that the situation in Ukraine ought to be resolved diplomatically and that a sovereign, independent Ukraine is no threat to Russian interests.  But we’ve also made it clear, as I have many times, that if Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow.  And today is a reminder that the United States means what it says.  And we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world.

Today, and building on the measures we announced two weeks ago, the United States is imposing new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy:  energy, arms, and finance.  We’re blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector.  We’re expanding our sanctions to more Russian banks and defense companies.  And we’re formally suspending credit that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia.

At the same time, the European Union is joining us in imposing major sanctions on Russia — its most significant and wide-ranging sanctions to date. In the financial sector, the EU is cutting off certain financing to state-owned banks in Russia. In the energy sector, the EU will stop exporting specific goods and technologies to Russia, which will make it more difficult for Russia to develop its oil resources over the long term. In the defense sector, the EU is prohibiting new arms imports and exports and is halting the export of sensitive technology to Russia’s military users.

And because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we’re announcing today will have an even bigger bite.

Now, Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the sanctions that we’ve already imposed have made a weak Russian economy even weaker. Foreign investors already are increasingly staying away. Even before our actions today, nearly $100 billion in capital was expected to flee Russia. Russia’s energy, financial, and defense sectors are feeling the pain. Projections for Russian economic growth are down to near zero. The major sanctions we’re announcing today will continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, including the cronies and companies that are supporting Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine.

In other words, today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress. And it doesn’t have to come to this — it didn’t have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia, and President Putin in particular, has made. There continues to be a better choice — the choice of de-escalation, the choice of joining the world in a diplomatic solution to this situation, a choice in which Russia recognizes that it can be a good neighbor and trading partner with Ukraine even as Ukraine is also developing ties with Europe and other parts of the world.

I’m going to continue to engage President Putin as well as President Poroshenko and our European partners in pursuit of such a diplomatic solution. But it is important for Russia to understand that, meanwhile, we will continue to support the people of Ukraine, who have elected a new President, who have deepened their ties with Europe and the United States, and that the path for a peaceful resolution to this crisis involves recognizing the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, and the independence of the Ukrainian people.

Today, the people of Ukraine I hope are seeing once again that the United States keeps its word. We’re going to continue to lead the international community in our support for the Ukrainian people, and for the peace, the security, and the freedom that they very richly deserve.

Thanks very much.

Q Is this a new Cold War, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not a new Cold War. What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path.

And I think that if you listen to President Poroshenko, if you listen to the Ukrainian people, they’ve consistently said they seek good relations with Russia. What they can’t accept is Russia arming separatists who are carrying out terribly destructive activities inside of Ukraine, thereby undermining the ability of Ukraine to govern itself peacefully. That’s something that no country should have to accept.

And the sooner the Russians recognize that the best chance for them to have influence inside of Ukraine is by being good neighbors and maintaining trade and commerce, rather than trying to dictate what the Ukrainian people can aspire to, rendering Ukraine a vassal state to Russia — the sooner that President Putin and Russia recognizes that, the sooner we can resolve this crisis in ways that doesn’t result in the tragic loss of life that we’ve seen in eastern Ukraine.

Q. So far sanctions haven’t stopped Vladimir Putin. Are sanctions going to be enough? And are you considering lethal aid for Ukraine?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind, the issue at this point is not the Ukrainian capacity to outfight separatists. They are better armed than the separatists. The issue is how do we prevent bloodshed in eastern Ukraine. We’re trying to avoid that. And the main tool that we have to influence Russian behavior at this point is the impact that it’s having on its economy.

The fact that we’ve seen Europeans who have real, legitimate economic concerns in severing certain ties with Russia stepping up the way they have today I think is an indication of both the waning patience that Europe has with nice words from President Putin that are not matched by actions, but also a recognition as a consequence of what happened with the Malaysian Airlines flight that it is hard to avoid the spillover of what’s happening in Ukraine impacting Europeans across the board.

And so we think that the combination of stronger U.S. and European sanctions is going to have a greater impact on the Russian economy than we’ve seen so far. Obviously, we can’t in the end make President Putin see more clearly. Ultimately that’s something that President Putin has to do by — on his own. But what we can do is make sure that we’ve increased the costs for actions that I think are not only destructive to Ukraine but ultimately are going to be destructive to Russia, as well.

All right. Guys, I’ve got to get going.

3:49 P.M. EDT

#MH17: Abbott says Australia is unlikely to follow tougher US and EU sanctions

 in Canberra
The assistant federal police commissioner Michael Outram briefing Tony Abbott. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAPThe assistant federal police commissioner Michael Outram briefing Tony Abbott. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP

Australia is unlikely to follow the US and European Union in pursuing new sanctions against Russia as its focus remains on recovering the bodies of victims of the downed flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

Tony Abbott played down the prospect of rapidly strengthening Australia’s existing sanctions. The prime minister emphasised his priority was the 38 Australian citizens and residents who were among 298 people on the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 brought down, apparently by a missile attack, on 17 July.

A multinational team, including Australian federal police (AFP), Dutch police and personnel from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has been seeking to enter the site but the fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist forces has made it too dangerous.

Abbott said the situation on the ground was “very fluid” and the team wanted to try again to access the site on Wednesday. The prime minister said authorities owed it to the victims and their loved ones “to make every reasonable effort”.

“If it doesn’t happen today, we’ll try again tomorrow,” he said on Wednesday. “If it doesn’t happen tomorrow, we’ll try again the next day. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

On Tuesday, Barack Obama announced new US sanctions targeted at the Russian economy including weapons, energy and finance. The US president said the measures were in response to “Russia’s unwillingness to recognise that Ukraine can chart its own path.”

The EU also announced a series of measures against Moscow to restrict Russian state-owned banks from accessing European capital markets, arguing they were a signal that “illegal annexation of territory and deliberate destabilisation” of a neighbouring sovereign country could not be accepted in 21st-century Europe.

Abbott said he was aware of the new sanctions but they were “a matter for the Europeans and others”.

“We already have some sanctions on Russia,” he said. “I’m not saying that we might not at some point in the future move further, but at the moment our focus is not on sanctions; our focus is on bringing home our dead as quickly as we humanly can.”

Abbott’s comments were consistent with his recent remark that Australia was not interested in engaging in “the politics of eastern Europe”.

In the immediate aftermath of the plane coming down Abbott made forthright criticisms of Russia, but since the passage of a UN security council resolution he has sought to emphasise the humanitarian nature of the mission to recover the bodies and secure evidence.

“We are just focused on getting onto the site as quickly as we can,” Abbott said. “We want to get in, we want to get cracking and we want to get out.”

Foreign minister Julie Bishop said the multinational team was carefully considering the risks of any potential mission to the site of the downed aircraft.

“We are assessing the situation in terms of risks day by day, hour by hour, and we will not take any unacceptable risks given that we have unarmed police as part of our humanitarian mission,” Bishop said.

Abbott has previously said the inability to access the site was frustrating and called for all parties to “be as good as their word”.

In an interview with radio 2UE on Tuesday, Abbott said the separatists, the Ukrainian government and Russia had “all said they want the fighting to stop, at least insofar as is necessary for the site to be secured, the bodies to be recovered, the investigation to be assisted and justice to be done”.

The AFP deputy commissioner Andrew Colvin also warned that ongoing fighting in the area might jeopardise the collection of potential evidence. Colvin said on Monday that Australians must prepare for the possibility that not all remains would ultimately be recovered.

The Guardian.