Tag Archives: United States

White House: More U.S. reconstruction aid to go to parts of eastern Ukraine


A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a bridge destroyed by pro-Russian militants in the village of Ilyichevka, not far Artemovsk, in the Donetsk region, on July 25, 2014. © AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOVA Ukrainian serviceman walks on a bridge destroyed by pro-Russian militants in the village of Ilyichevka, not far Artemovsk, in the Donetsk region, on July 25, 2014. © AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV

(Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden told Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk on Monday that the United States would provide almost $7 million in reconstruction aid to parts of eastern Ukraine, including $1 million in new support, the White House said.

The aid includes contributions to the Red Cross and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for medical aid, access to drinking water, and small rebuilding projects, the White House said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney)


Reuters.

Globetrotting U.S. Cyclist Ron McGerity, 61, Killed in Russia


Ron McGerity poses in front of the Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow.Ron McGerity poses in front of the Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow.

A U.S. cyclist who pedaled across 50-plus countries for peace and charity was run over and killed in Russia by a drunken truck driver, ITAR-Tass news agency said Friday.

Ron McGerity, 61, was the victim of a hit-and-run driver on a federal highway from Kostroma to Ivanovo in central Russia, the agency said, citing Ivanovo police.

The driver, whose name was withheld, was soon apprehended by traffic police, who allege he was drunk.

McGerity arrived in Russia planning to tour all of the Golden Ring — a set of ancient towns surrounding Moscow, all popular tourist destinations full of historical and architectural landmarks — on his custom-made Swiss bike.

The Boston native had been staging cycling expeditions to promote peace and raise money for various charities since 1995.

He had toured four continents in that time, visiting countries as diverse as Canada, Egypt, Israel, France, Japan and Norway.

The most recent photo on his Facebook page, BikerOnTheRoad, is dated Tuesday and shows McGerity kicking back on his bike in front of the Lenin Mausoleum on Moscow’s Red Square.

via Globetrotting U.S. Cyclist Killed in Russia | News | The Moscow Times.

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.