Tag Archives: Ukraine crisis

#Reuters: #Gunmen said to chase investigators from #MH17 crash site


A part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFPA part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFP

KIEV/KHARKIV, Ukraine, July 24 (Reuters) – Gunmen chased investigators from the site where the Malaysian airliner crashed and “lunatics” were still making life difficult for those who wanted to find out what downed flight MH17, officials said on Thursday.

As foreign ministers from Australia and the Netherlands met Ukrainian officials to coordinate the investigation, the head of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service and the chief of a Dutch police mission said their work at the site was being hampered.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, said there had been no incidents, and that they had been joined by experts from Malaysia and Australia, which lost 28 citizens in the crash.

The West has called for a thorough investigation into the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine to get justice for the 298 people who were killed, but have voiced concern that the rebels were preventing investigators from doing their job.

“They took away our tents, the ones which were at our base camp,” Serhiy Bochkovsky, the head of the emergencies service, told a news conference in the eastern city of Kharkiv from where the remains of the victims are starting their journey home.

“We were allowed only our equipment and machinery and we were chased away at gunpoint.”

He did not say when this happened.

The head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine also said it was difficult to get access to the site to look for more of the remains of the victims, many of whom were Dutch.

“But the process is not over, there are still remains in your country and it’s very hard to get there because there are some, and I would say it’s not politically correct, but there are still some lunatics there,” Jan Tuinder said.

“It’s very hard for us to get to the remains.”

Asked about the incidents, Michael Bociurkiw, an OSCE spokesman, said: “None whatsoever.”

The Netherlands formally took over the investigation into the crash from Ukraine on Thursday after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the downing of the plane and demanding armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.

In Kiev, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she expected the separatists to allow a better international presence at the site.

“Now that the legal framework is in place … and that Ukraine has transferred legal responsibility to the Netherlands, we feel we’ll get more progress from the separatists,” she said.

Putting the Dutch in charge of the criminal investigation was a way to get around the opposition to the U.N. Security Council resolution voiced by Russia should Kiev lead the probe, Bishop said.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Vasovic in Donetsk; Editing by Giles Elgood)


Reuters

U.S. says #Russia firing artillery across border at Ukrainian military


Russian border guard soldiers man a foxhole near a checkpoint on Ukrainian border in the southern Russian Rostov region on June 21, 2014. © AFP PHOTO / ANDREY KRONBERGRussian border guard soldiers man a foxhole near a checkpoint on Ukrainian border in the southern Russian Rostov region on June 21, 2014. © AFP PHOTO / ANDREY KRONBERG

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions in the conflict against pro-Russian separatists.

“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Harf, speaking at a regular media briefing, cited intelligence reports, but said she could give no more information of what the reports were based on.

Russia has in the past denied it is directly involved with the rebellion in its western neighbor, but the United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of arming and encouraging the uprising and have imposed sanctions on Moscow in response.

Ukraine’s Security Council said on Wednesday preliminary information indicated that missiles which brought down two government fighter jets over eastern Ukraine were fired from Russia.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday dismissed this, saying it was “an attempt to mislead the public,” Interfax news agency reported, citing a defense ministry official.

(Reporting by David Storey; Editing by Eric Beech)

Source: Reuters

Ukraine’s Military accused of targeting civilians in east


In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, Alexander Litvinenko speaks of the damage inflicted where a missile hit, two days before, leaving a gaping hole in the wall of his ninth-floor apartment, in Donetsk, Ukraine. The 53-year-old college philosophy teacher had just stepped into his study to check the news online, barely escaping death. Others in the residential neighborhood in northwest Donetsk were less fortunate. Five civilians were killed and 12 injured in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels on Monday, according to the mayor’s office. Residents in the rebel-held city are blaming Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to stamp out the uprising in the eastern part of the country.In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, Alexander Litvinenko speaks of the damage inflicted where a missile hit, two days before, leaving a gaping hole in the wall of his ninth-floor apartment, in Donetsk, Ukraine. The 53-year-old college philosophy teacher had just stepped into his study to check the news online, barely escaping death. Others in the residential neighborhood in northwest Donetsk were less fortunate. Five civilians were killed and 12 injured in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels on Monday, according to the mayor’s office. Residents in the rebel-held city are blaming Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to stamp out the uprising in the eastern part of the country. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — War literally came to Alexander Litvinenko’s living room, when a missile punched a gaping hole into the wall of his ninth-floor apartment. The 53-year-old college philosophy teacher had just stepped into his study to check the news online, barely escaping death.

Others in the residential neighborhood in northwest Donetsk were less fortunate. Five civilians were killed and 12 injured in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels on Monday, according to the mayor’s office. Residents in the rebel-held city are blaming Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to stamp out the uprising in the eastern part of the country.

“They’re bombing the civilian population instead of taking their fight to the battlefield,” said Natalya Kiselyova, a dental hygienist in the neighborhood.

Kiselyova, 38, said she heard the whistle of rockets that landed in the neighborhood, leaving a crater near a playground and slashing the bark off trees. “In western Ukraine they think we’re terrorists. We’re ordinary people who want to get up in the morning, go to work and sleep at night.”

While the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week riveted international attention on the Ukraine conflict, locals have been struggling for months with spiraling violence. The Ukrainian military, buoyed after the fall of rebel stronghold Slovyansk this month, is now trying to encircle Donetsk and cut off any supply routes from Russia.

Government forces have a delicate task ahead as they try to chase out rebels from densely populated areas. New York-based Human Rights Watch last week called on Poroshenko to investigate cases in which Ukrainian forces appear to have targeted civilians.

Meanwhile, Ukraine blames the rebels for attacks on civilians, saying “terrorists” are trying to discredit government forces.

“We have evidence that the terrorists are intentionally shelling residential areas,” said Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko.

“Ukrainian forces never use artillery or aviation against villages and towns,” he said.

Even with the threat of Ukrainian strikes, a semblance of normalcy has taken over much of Donetsk as government forces close in. Buses ply the streets; people walk their dogs in parks; and municipal workers weed flower beds in the manicured city center. At the same time, most businesses are closed and the city’s wide avenues are largely devoid of people and cars. About 40 percent of Donetsk’s 1 million inhabitants have left the city, rebel leader Alexander Borodai said this week.

Litvinenko, the man whose apartment was wrecked, voiced no desire for revenge.

“The solution I see is to stop the shooting. Then Europe and Russia should step in to help start talks,” he said. “Nothing will be resolved by force.”

via Ukraine accused of targeting civilians in east.

Breaking News: #Rebel #leader admits rebels had #Buk missile system #MH17


‘Alexander Khodakovsky, of the Vostok Battalion, hinted strongly that the anti-aircraft weaponry came from an outside power’.

Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/ReutersRebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

In an interview with Alexander Khodakovsky, a Ukrainian rebel leader, Reuters has been told that separatists did possess the anti-aircraft system suspected to have shot down MH17.

Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, indicated that the Buk may have originated in Russia and could have been sent back to remove proof of its presence.

Khodakovsky blamed the Kiev authorities for provoking what may have been the missile strike that destroyed the doomed airliner, saying Kiev had deliberately launched air strikes in the area, knowing the missiles were in place.

“I knew that a Buk came from Luhansk. At the time I was told that a BUK from Luhansk was coming under the flag of the LNR,” he said, referring to the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic.

Khodakovsky suggested the Buk system is back in Russia: “That Buk I know about. I heard about it. I think they sent it back. Because I found out about it at exactly the moment that I found out that this tragedy had taken place. They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence.”

“The question is this: Ukraine received timely evidence that the volunteers have this technology, through the fault of Russia. It not only did nothing to protect security, but provoked the use of this type of weapon against a plane that was flying with peaceful civilians

“They knew that this Buk existed; that the Buk was heading for Snizhne,” he said, referring to a village 10km west of the crash site. “They knew that it would be deployed there, and provoked the use of this Buk by starting an air strike on a target they didn’t need, that their planes hadn’t touched for a week.”

“And that day, they were intensively flying, and exactly at the moment of the shooting, at the moment the civilian plane flew overhead, they launched air strikes. Even if there was a Buk, and even if the Buk was used, Ukraine did everything to ensure that a civilian aircraft was shot down.”

Yesterday locals in Torez told the Guardian they had seen such a system in rebel hands, but this is the first confirmation from rebels since MH17 crashed.

Rebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/ReutersRebel commander Alexander Khodakovsky of the Vostok Battalion speaks during an interview in Donetsk. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Khodakovsky said his unit had never possessed Buk, but they may have been used by rebels from other units.

“The fact is, this is a theatre of military activity occupied by our, let’s say, partners in the rebel movement, with which our cooperation is somewhat conditional,” he said.

“What resources our partners have, we cannot be entirely certain. Was there [a Buk]? Wasn’t there? If there was proof that there was, then there can be no question.”

Though Khodakovsky said rebels had procured Buks from Ukrainian forces in the past, he said none of the Buks captured from Ukrainian forces were operational.

Khodakovsky hinted strongly that the Buk system was provided by an outside power: “I’m not going to say Russia gave these things or didn’t give them … I want a Buk, and if someone offered me one, I wouldn’t turn it down.”

“I’m not going to say Russia gave these things or didn’t give them. Russia could have offered this Buk under some entirely local initiative. I want a Buk, and if someone offered me one, I wouldn’t turn it down. But I wouldn’t use it against something that did not threaten me. I would use it only under circumstances when there was an air attack on my positions, to protect people’s lives.”

“I am an interested party. I am a ‘terrorist’, a ‘separatist’, a volunteer … In any event, I am required to promote the side I represent, even if I might think otherwise, say otherwise or have an alternative view. This causes real discomfort to my soul.”

Khodakovsky is a Ukrainian and formerly the chief of the “Alpha” anti-terrorist unit in Donetsk.

Read the complete article on Reuters

Reuters: Yatseniuk says Ukraine to impose sanctions on Russian individuals, firms


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on July 23: 'I instruct the committee to propose for the government's consideration a list of individual and sector sanctions on Russian citizens and legal entities supporting and financing terrorism in Ukraine in 10 days.' © AFPUkrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on July 23: ‘I instruct the committee to propose for the government’s consideration a list of individual and sector sanctions on Russian citizens and legal entities supporting and financing terrorism in Ukraine in 10 days.’ © AFP

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on July 23 Kyiv would impose sanctions on Russian individuals and companies who directly or indirectly support “terrorists” fighting against government troops in the country’s east.

Yatseniuk told a meeting of his ministers that he had set up a special committee to work on the punitive measures.

“I instruct the committee to propose for the government’s consideration a list of individual and sector sanctions on Russian citizens and legal entities supporting and financing terrorism in Ukraine in 10 days,” he said.

He did not give any details of what form the sanctions could take.

Kiev and the West accuse Russia of supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, a charge Moscow denies. The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and companies over Ukraine.

Some in the West have called for tougher sanctions on Russia after a Malaysian airliner was downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine last Thursday killing all 298 on board.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Elizabeth Piper)


Reuters.