Tag Archives: U.S.

Timothy Ash: Russia does what it wants in its neighborhood #Russia #Ukraine #EuropeanUnion


by Timothy Ash.
Ukrainian servicemen patrol on their APC on September 8, 2014 in Avdeevka, 5 kilometres north of Donetsk . Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday that Kiev had managed to Ukrainian servicemen patrol on their APC on September 8, 2014 in Avdeevka, 5 kilometres north of Donetsk. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday that Kiev had managed to “free” 1,200 people taken captive by pro-Russian rebels during their five-month separatist uprising AFP PHOTO/ANATOLII STEPANOV © AFP

The European Union is only really as strong as its weakest link on these kind of things, which frankly makes it very, very weak – with a very clear appearance of dithering and double standards.

Yesterday various EU member states were attempting to deny they were stalling the introduction of the next wave of sanctions, but the reality is that there are more than a handful of countries in the nervous camp, eager not to overly antagonise Russia and thereby damage important business interests.

The above said, where was the US on sanctions yesterday? Seemingly hiding under the EU’s coattails.

Trying to put some logic behind the above.

The EU, and presumably the United States, want to give the current ceasefire a chance to work – albeit note the less- than-encouraging comments from the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,which was the organisation that brokered the ceasefire in the first place in Minsk.

I guess imposing additional sanctions now could enable “unwilling partners” to the peace process to pull back and revert to fighting.

Obviously though the question is when the EU will decide to agree to implement the latest round of sanctions – will they be continuously kicked down the road/delayed?

There is mention of monitoring of the ceasefire terms. I think therein the EU will want to see more of the parts of the 12 point plan implemented, and perhaps particularly, evidence that Russian troops and fighters in Ukraine are pulled back across the border into Russia.

Yesterday what was significant was that Ukraine’s military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, noted that for the first time in weeks additional Russian troops had not been sent across the border into Ukraine, and this is progress of sorts. That still leaves the question of the estimated 4,000 to perhaps 10,000 Russian fighters and troops actually in Ukraine at present.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting over the next week to see if the European Parliament votes to ratify Ukraine’s association agreement and deep and comprehenseive free trade agreement with the EU – committee members approved its ratification yesterday, but let’s see whether members of the European Parliament get cold feet.

Ratification by the European Parliament would allow provisional implementation pending final ratification in EU 28 parliaments and also by the Rada. There is much talk that if the West is unwilling to give military assistance to Ukraine, then it has to help Ukraine in the economy sphere – well this will be a key test, and remember that the AA/DCFTA started this whole crisis, and ultimately stronger relations with EU, and a move towards Europe is what most Ukrainians want and what they seem willing to fight for.

As if still to underline the strained relations between the West and Russia, note the Financial Times report over Russia trying to get in the way of reverse gas flows to Ukraine, and potentially therein disrupt gas supplies to Europe, or at least reduce these flows so as to ensure that the likes of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia lack sufficient spare gas to supply Ukraine.

And, the spat over the detained Estonian intelligence official by Russia, is continuing.

Cynics would argue that this is Russia just making the point that despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the region last week, and assurances to countries such as Estonia, NATO’s Article 5 clause does not mean very much in practice, when faced by a determined opponent and weakness in the ranks of both the EU and NATO. The message is meant to be that this is Russia’s backyard and it can do what it wants, when it wants, so you have to negotiate with Moscow.

(Timothy Ash is the head of emerging market research for Standard Bank in London).


Kyiv Post.

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.