Tag Archives: United States

Russia Steps Up Help for Rebels in Ukraine War


Experts exhumed four unidentified bodies from a mass grave in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on Friday. Credit Marion Thibaut/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesExperts exhumed four unidentified bodies from a mass grave in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on Friday. Marion Thibaut/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KIEV, Ukraine — Rather than backing down after last week’s downing of a civilian passenger jet, Russia appears to be intervening more aggressively in the war in eastern Ukraine in what American and Ukrainian officials call a dangerous escalation that will almost certainly force more robust retaliation from the United States and Europe.

Russia has increased its direct involvement in fighting between the Ukrainian military and separatist insurgents, moving more of its own troops to the border and preparing to arm the rebels with ever more potent weapons, including high-powered Tornado rocket launchers, American and Ukrainian officials said on Friday.

The officials, citing satellite images and other military intelligence, said that Russia had positioned heavy weapons, including tanks and other combat vehicles, at several points along the border where there has been intense fighting. On Thursday, Russia unleashed artillery attacks on eastern Ukraine from Russian territory, officials in Washington and Kiev said. While Russia flatly denied accelerating its intervention on Friday, American and Ukrainian officials said Moscow appeared anxious to stem gains by government forces that have succeeded in retaking some rebel-held territory.

The reported Russian moves raised the prospect of a new and more perilous chapter opening in a conflict that has already inflamed the region and, with the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with 298 aboard, stunned the world. American officials blamed a Russian-provided surface-to-air missile for the explosion and hoped the shock of the episode would prompt the Kremlin to rethink its approach, but they are increasingly convinced it has not.

Obama administration officials said Russia’s rising involvement had stiffened the resolve of European leaders who have been reluctant to confront Moscow for fear of damaging their own economies. But there was no appetite for a direct military response, and it remained unclear whether the West could or would take action that may change the calculus of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as Moscow seems to devote more firepower to the fight.

American and Ukrainian officials said Russia has moved beyond simply helping separatists and is now engaging directly in the war. Multiple Ukrainian military planes have been brought down in recent days by missiles fired from Russian territory, and now artillery batteries are firing from across the border into Ukraine, the officials said.

“We have detected that firing and that does represent an escalation in this conflict,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “It only underscores the concerns that the United States and the international community has about Russian behavior and the need for the Putin regime to change their strategy.”

American officials said Russia has moved 15,000 troops near the border. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that Russia had made “imminent” plans to deliver heavier rockets to the separatists. Instead of Mr. Putin de-escalating the conflict after the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, “he’s actually taken a decision to escalate,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a security forum in Aspen, Colo.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine to express solidarity and pledge to coordinate with allies “about imposing further costs on Russia for its deeply destabilizing and irresponsible actions in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

While the United States has been hesitant to make its intelligence public, Ukrainian officials have provided a daily, running list of Russian incursions, including flights into Russian air space by fighter jets and unmanned surveillance drones, as well as mortar and rocket attacks.

“We have facts of shelling of Ukrainian positions from the territory of Russian Federation,” Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said at a briefing in Kiev on Friday. “We have facts on the violation of air border between Ukraine and Russia.”

The New York Times.

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.

Flight MH17: US President Barack Obama – ‘We’re going to make sure that truth gets out’


UN Security CouncilThe UN Security Council earlier issued a joint statement calling for an ‘independent, international investigation’ of the crash

The United States told an emergency session of the UN Security Council today that it had early indications that the missile that destroyed Malaysian Airlines 17 on Thursday originated from inside territory controlled by separatists in eastern Ukraine and that it couldn’t rule out that Russian personnel had assisted in its firing.

The US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, ended a sometimes emotional intervention on the floor of the Security Council declaring: “This war can be ended, Russia can end this war, Russia must end this war.”

Earlier the Council stood in silence in tribute to the victims and issued a joint statement calling for an “independent, international investigation” of the crash and stressing the need for “immediate access by investigators to the crash site”.

At the White House, a still cautious President Barack Obama said some of the details of what happened were still to be determined and he did not want to “get out ahead of the facts”.

But he added that the “eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine; we’re going to make sure that truth gets out”. While he did not explicitly assign blame to Russia, he said President Vladimir Putin had the power to stop the violence. “So far at least he has not exercised it,” he said.

Pointing to the terrible toll suffered by “our great ally the Netherlands,” Mr Obama said the incident should be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that there are consequences to an escalated conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

The President, who had ordered a new layer of sanctions on Russia on Wednesday, suggested the loss of MH 17 “sadly brings home the degree to which the stakes are high for Europe and not simply the Ukraine people”.

The call by the UN for an immediate investigation came amid concern that evidence at the crash site could be removed or deliberately compromised by those responsible.

“If indeed Russian-backed separatists were behind this attack on a civilian airliner, they and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crime,” Ms Power told the Council. “Thus it is extremely important than an investigation be commenced immediately.”

One after another, members of the Council accused Russia of dishonesty regarding its role in stoking the uprising in eastern Ukraine that led to the tragedy.

“Russian officials have claimed that armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine represent a spontaneous local insurgency. We know that this is not the case,” remarked British ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant. “The United Kingdom urges Russia to reflect carefully on the situation they have created.”

In her intervention, Ms Power said that US intelligence had concluded that the jetliner was probably shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air system.

She added: “Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11 it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel, thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the system.”

Shuffling papers and apparently barely listening to the repeated criticisms of his colleagues, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador, sought to deflect the gathering global opprobrium.

“Pressure should not be brought on this investigation, trying to prejudge its outcome with broad statements and insinuations that are unjustified in such a difficult situation,” he pleaded.

He suggested that air traffic authorities in Kiev were at fault for allowing a passenger jet to fly over a war zone. The incident happened in the broader context of Kiev inflaming the situation, with support, he said, from western nations. He cited the United Sates in particular. “We place all blame on the Kiev powers or government,” he said.

The Independent.

#Russia Loses Another One of Its Early-Warning Satellites


A model of a military satellite being displayed at an exhibition in Moscow.A model of a military satellite being displayed at an exhibition in Moscow.

The odds of a nuclear-arms miscalculation by Moscow could increase because another one of its threat-detection satellites has ceased working.

The Russian defense ministry has revealed that its last geostationary satellite, which remains in permanent orbit above the United States, has stopped functioning, according to the science news website io9. Russia has other satellites capable of detecting intercontinental ballistic-missile launches, but they travel in highly elliptical orbits instead of being positioned directly above the United States, as was the case with the now-defunct Cosmos 2479 satellite, the Moscow Times reported on Wednesday.

An anonymous ministry source told the Kommersant newspaper that the Cosmos 2479 was originally supposed to operate until 2017-2019, but that it began showing performance problems not long after it was launched in 2012. The space-based sensor was able to maintain a certain level of performance but that ended in April, the source said.

Russia’s ability to detect ICBM threats has been getting worse over the years as more and more of its constellation of Soviet-era missile-detection satellites have ceased operating. At present, the former Cold War power can only monitor for U.S. missile launches for three hours a day.

Without comprehensive antimissile satellite coverage of the Earth, it becomes more difficult to distinguish a possible ICBM launch from a scientific rocket firing or a naturally occurring phenomenon. An inability to distinguish innocuous events from missile threats raises the likelihood of a strategic nuclear miscalculation, particularly during a time of already high East-West tensions.

Global Security Newswire

Putin renounces right to send troops to Ukraine, Kremlin says


Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Moscow's upper parliament to revoke a resolution sanctioning the use of military force in Ukraine, the Kremlin has announced.Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Moscow’s upper parliament to revoke a resolution sanctioning the use of military force in Ukraine, the Kremlin has announced. © Russian Presidential Press and Information Office

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin asked Russia’s upper house on June 24 to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine in defence of Russian-speakers there, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The step seemed certain to be welcomed by the West as a sign that Moscow was ready to help engineer a settlement in Ukraine’s largely Russian-speaking east, where a pro-Russian uprising against Kyiv began in April.

Putin’s spokesman said the Kremlin leader’s move was aimed at assisting fledgling peace talks, which began on Monday, to end the conflict.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it a “first practical step” following Putin’s statement of support last weekend for Poroshenko’s peace plan for eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said Russia now expected Kiev to respond with measures of its own, without specifying what these should be.In the March 1 resolution, the Federation Council had granted Putin the right to “use the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine until the social and political situation in that country normalises”.

That resolution, together with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, helped push East-West relations to their lowest ebb since the Cold War and led the United States and Europe to impose sanctions on Moscow.

Reuters

Editors Note:  This is just a bluff, Putin’s word means nothing! How many times in the past few months has Putin said one thing but done another… We shall see!