Tag Archives: United States

#Putin wants to destroy #Ukraine and restore Soviet Union, says #Yatseniuk #SovietUnion


Ukrainian PM tells a conference of European politicians that his country is in a ‘state of war’ and Russia is the aggressor.

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a tank near the eastern Ukrainian town of Pervomaysk on Friday. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/ReutersA Ukrainian soldier stands next to a tank near the eastern Ukrainian town of Pervomaysk on Friday. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country and to restore the Soviet Union, Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Saturday.

Speaking at a conference in Kiev attended by European and Ukrainian politicians and business leaders, Yatseniuk also praised a new wave of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and the United States and said they posed a major threat to the Russian economy.

“We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation … Putin wants another frozen conflict (in eastern Ukraine),” Yatseniuk said.

“His aim is not just to take Donetsk and Lugansk,” Yatsenyuk said. “His goal is to take the entire Ukraine … Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of Europe.”

He described the truce signed on 5 September in Minsk between Kiev, pro-Russian rebels and Moscow and the European security body the OSCE after five months of conflict in eastern Ukraine as just a “first step” to “stop a massacre”.

He said that having a bilateral accord with Russia was “not the best” idea and called on the United States and the European Union to play a direct role in peace talks and to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

“They (the Russians) will outplay us,” he said. “Putin wants to get his hands on our belly fat.”


The Guardian.

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.

#Lutsenko says #Ukraine to get arms from five #NATO #allies


Ukrainian former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko speaks after his release from prison on April 7, 2013. Now an aide to President Petro Poroshenko, he said on a Facebook post that five NATO members states, including the United States, have agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons and military advisers.Yuriy Lutsenko a senior aide to President Petro Poroshenko, said on a Facebook post that five NATO members states, including the United States, have agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. © AFP

KYIV (Reuters) – A senior aide to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said on Sunday Kyiv had reached agreement during the NATO summit in Wales on the provision of weapons and military advisers from five member states of the alliance.

“At the NATO summit agreements were reached on the provision of military advisers and supplies of modern armaments from the United States, France, Italy, Poland and Norway,” the aide, Yuri Lytsenko, said on his Facebook page.

He gave no further details and it was not immediately possible to confirm his statement. Poroshenko, whose armed forces are battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, attended the two-day summit in Wales that ended on Friday.

NATO officials have said the alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but they have also said individual allies may choose to do so.

Russia is fiercely opposed to closer ties between Ukraine and the NATO alliance.

(Reporting by Gareth Jones).


Reuters.

#Putin Calls for Talks on East #Ukraine ‘Statehood'; #Kremlin Denies Endorsing Independence


 By Ukrainian border guards patrol near the small Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk, Donetsk Oblast on the border with Russia. © AFPUkrainian border guards patrol near the small Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk, Donetsk Oblast on the border with Russia. © AFP

MOSCOW/MARIUPOL Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for immediate talks on “statehood” for southern and eastern Ukraine, although his spokesman said this did not mean Moscow now endorsed rebel calls for independence for territory they have seized.

The Kremlin leader’s remarks, which follow a feisty public appearance in which he compared the Kiev government to Nazis and warned the West not to “mess with us”, came with Europe and the United States preparing new sanctions to halt what they say is direct Russian military involvement in the war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops and local residents were reinforcing the port of Mariupol on Sunday, the next big city in the path of pro-Russian fighters who pushed back government forces along the Azov Sea this past week in an offensive on a new front.

Ukraine and Russia swapped soldiers who had entered each other’s territory near the battlefield, where Kiev says Moscow’s forces have come to the aid of pro-Russian insurgents, tipping the balance on the battlefield in the rebels’ favour.

Talks should be held immediately “and not just on technical issues but on the political organisation of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine,” Putin said in an interview with Channel 1 state television, his hair tousled by wind on the shore of a lake.

Moscow, for its part, he said, could not stand aside while people were being shot “almost at point blank”.

Putin’s use of the word “statehood” was interpreted in Western media as implying backing for the rebel demand of independence, something Moscow has so far stopped short of publicly endorsing.

However, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no new endorsement from Moscow for rebel independence. Asked if “New Russia”, a term pro-Moscow rebels use for their territory, should still be part of Ukraine, Peskov said: “Of course.”

“Only Ukraine can reach an agreement with New Russia, taking into account the interests of New Russia, and this is the only way to reach a political settlement.”

Rebels have rallied behind the term “New Russia” since Putin first used it in a public appearance in April. Putin called it a tsarist-era term for land that now forms southern and eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians consider the term deeply offensive and say it reveals Moscow’s imperial designs on their territory.

Moscow has long called for Kiev to hold direct political talks with the rebels. Kiev says it is willing to have talks on more rights for the south and east, but will not talk directly to armed fighters it describes as “international terrorists” and Russian puppets that can only be reined in by Moscow.

The deputy leader of the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic, Andrei Prugin, said he was due to participate in talks in the Belarus capital Minsk on Monday. Past talks by a so-called “contact group” involving Moscow, Kiev and rebels have covered technical issues like access to the crash site of a Malaysian airliner shot down in July, but not political questions.

NEW ADVANCE

The past week has seen Ukrainian forces flee in the path of a new rebel advance, drawing concern from Ukraine’s Western allies, who say armoured columns of Russian troops came to the aid of a rebellion that would otherwise have been near collapse.

European Union leaders agreed on Saturday to draw up new economic sanctions against Moscow, a move hailed by the United States, which is planning tighter sanctions of its own and wants to act jointly with Europe.

Some residents of Mariupol have taken to the streets of the port to show support for the Ukrainian government as pro-Russian forces gain ground. Many others have fled from the prospect of an all-out assault on the city of nearly 500,000 people.

“We are proud to be from this city and we are ready to defend it from the occupiers,” said Alexandra, 28, a post office clerk wearing a ribbon in blue and yellow Ukrainian colours.

“We will dig trenches. We will throw petrol bombs at them, the occupiers,” she said. “I believe our army and our (volunteer) battalions will protect us.”

Ihor, 42, and his wife Lena, 40, were packing their car to flee with their five-year-old daughter. They had sheltered in Mariupol after battle came to their home city Donetsk in July.

“We will not wait for another repetition of war. We did nothing to provoke it and we do not want to be a part of it,” said Lena.

TROOP SWAP

The swap of soldiers overnight at the frontier was a rare gesture to ease tension, but Kiev and Moscow have given starkly opposing accounts of how their troops came to be on each other’s territory. A Russian paratroop commander said an unspecified number of Russian paratroops were swapped for 63 Ukrainian soldiers. Kiev said the Russian soldiers numbered nine.

Kiev and its allies in Europe and the United States say the new rebel offensive has been backed by more than 1,000 Russian troops fighting openly to support the insurgents. The rebels themselves say thousands of Russian troops have fought on their behalf while “on leave”.

Reuters journalists on the Russian side of the border have seen Russian troops showing signs of having returned from battle, with their insignia removed or rubbed out.

Despite the evidence, Moscow denies its troops are fighting in Ukraine and says a small party of soldiers crossed the border by accident. Russian Major-General Alexei Ragozin said the paratroops were handed back after “very difficult” negotiations.

“I consider it unacceptable that our servicemen were detained by the Ukrainian side for so many days. Our lads are upset about everything that happened. They will all receive the necessary psychological and other kinds of help. The lads will all be OK.”

Ragozin said Russia, by contrast, had promptly returned hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who at various times have crossed the border when squeezed by rebel forces. He said the latest group of 63 had entered Russia on Wednesday.

Kiev has in the past said some of its soldiers crossed into Russia to escape from fighting on the Ukrainian side of the frontier, behaviour that contrasts with that of the Russians it says crossed the border to wage war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s military spokesman has mocked the idea that the Russians had “got lost like Little Red Riding Hood in the forest”.

SANCTIONS

The United States and European Union have gradually tightened economic sanctions against Russia, first imposed after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March following the ousting of Kiev’s pro-Russian president by protesters.

So far, however, the measures have done little to deter Putin, who gave a typically defiant public appearance on Friday in which he described Russians and Ukrainians as “practically one people” and compared Kiev’s attempts to recapture rebellious cities with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

Russia is a strong nuclear power, and foreigners should understand that “it’s best not to mess with us”, he said.

Moscow has responded to sanctions by banning the import of most Western foodstuffs, stripping French cheese and Polish apples from store shelves and shutting down McDonalds restaurants. The moves reinforce a sense among Russians that they are isolated from a hostile world, as in Cold War days.

Agreeing the Western sanctions has been tricky, not least because the 28-member European Union must take decisions by consensus and many of its countries depend on Russian energy resources.

Nevertheless, the EU has gone further than many had predicted, agreeing to impose sanctions on Russia’s financial and oil industries last month after a Malaysian airliner was shot down over rebel territory, killing nearly 300 people, most of them Dutch.

EU leaders agreed on Saturday to ask the executive European Commission to draw up more sanctions measures, which could be adopted in coming days.

The White House praised the move to “show strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. But in a sign of the difficulty in achieving an EU consensus, the leader of tiny Slovakia said sanctions had failed so far and threatened to veto any new ones that damaged his country’s national interest.

(Additional reporting by Richard Balmforth in Kiev, Vladimir Soldatkin in Chelyabinsk, Russia and Mark Trevelyan in Moscow; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Mark Heinrich).


The New York Times.

Don’t mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says #RussiainvadedUkraine #NuclearRussia


BY ALEXEI ANISHCHUKPutin's Nuclear Threat

LAKE SELIGER, Russia – President Vladimir Putin said on Aug. 29 Russia’s armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: “It’s best not to mess with us.”

Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.

Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armour to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge.

“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts,” he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. “We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

“Russia’s partners…should understand it’s best not to mess with us,” said Putin, dressed casually in a grey sweater and light blue jeans.

“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Putin spoke easily with the students, many of whom looked to be asking scripted questions about demography and history. Other times he accepted gifts or, smilingly, played down their praise.

When a student said that she had not heard a single negative comment about Putin’s presidency from camp speakers, he responded with a grin that “objectivity” was important.

His tone darkened when speaking on Ukraine, blaming the United States and the European Union for the “unconstitutional” removal of Kiev’s former Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich and replacement with a pro-European government.

He said eastern Ukraine did not agree with Yanukovich’s removal and was now subjected to “crude military force” from government planes, tanks and artillery.

“If those are contemporary European values, then I’m simply disappointed in the highest degree,” he said, comparing Ukraine’s military operations in the east of the country with the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two.

“Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure… It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist… occupiers surrounded our cities.”

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Writing by Thomas Grove; editing by Ralph Boulton).


Reuters.