Petro Poroshenko Says Ready to Discuss East Ukraine With Russia, US, EU

Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

KIEV, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Monday he is ready to discuss the ongoing hostilities in eastern Ukraine with Russia, the United States and the European Union.

“Petro Poroshenko said he was ready for multi-party international discussions on settling the situation in Donbass in the … Geneva format. The head of the state expressed his support for putting the ‘Ukrainian issue’ on the agenda of the European Council’s next meeting due August 30,” the presidential press service said in a statement.

Earlier Sunday, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said talks on a ceasefire in the region were pointless, as Ukrainian authorities are incapable of negotiating, adding that independence supporters were still ready to continue consultations with the participation of the OSCE even though previous efforts yielded no results.

Last week, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev told RIA Novosti Moscow is ready to mediate negotiations between the Kiev government and independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine.

Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France previously held four-party talks in Berlin on July 2, in which they agreed on a range of measures to persuade Kiev to immediately agree to a ceasefire, but the fighting is still ongoing.

 

Serbian Volunteers Destroy Ukrainian Artillery in Donetsk Region

A militia soldier near a residential building in the center of Donetsk, hit by the shelling of the Ukrainian Army.

A militia soldier near a residential building in the center of Donetsk, hit by the shelling of the Ukrainian Army.

 

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

DONETSK, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – A group of Serbian volunteers, helping Donetsk militia to fight government troops in eastern Ukraine, says they have repelled an offensive of pro-Kiev military forces, who attempted overnight to break through to a vital motorway.

“Two tanks, belonging to the neo-Bandera [thugs], and one self-propelled gun together with their crews, as well a mountain gun, were destroyed during the fight,” the press office of the Donetsk self-defense forces cited the Serbs as saying.

According to the report, two Serbs were lightly wounded during the standoff, and soon re-joined their battalion.

Reports claiming that volunteers from the Jovan Sevic militia battalion were fighting in the breakaway Donetsk territory – the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR – started emerging as early as in May, when a group of Serbs first arrived in the then besieged city of Slaviansk near Donetsk.

Rumor has it that Igor Strelkov, who leads the DPR self-defense forces, knew the Serbian regiment back from the days when they all fought in the Bosnian War, an international armed conflict that took place between 1992 and 1995 and resulted in the internal partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The number of volunteers fighting in the Jovan Sevic militia battalion is unknown, but the media claim they have been able to identify the commander as Bratislav Zivkovic.

The battalion has been named to honor Jovan Sevic, the leader of a Serbian hussar cavalry regiment, who in 1751 swore allegiance to the Russian Empire and established the autonomy of Slavo-Serbia, a province that constituted the territories of present-day Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.

Several Spanish and Czech volunteers have also reportedly flocked under the banners of the eastern Ukrainian militia, who are striving to fend off the onslaught of heavily-armed government troops.

 

Sanctions Do Not Scare Russia – Medvedev

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attending the North Caucasian Youth Forum "Mashuk-2014" in Pyatigorsk, August 12, 2014.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attending the North Caucasian Youth Forum “Mashuk-2014” in Pyatigorsk, August 12, 2014.

 

© RIA Novosti. Alexander Astafyev

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

PYATIGORSK, August 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said sanctions against Russia are not scary and any attempts of forced pressure on the country will not work.

“Sanctions are not scary for our country, and we understand that very well. Our country is strong. And no matter who tries to pressure us, we will nonetheless live in our beloved country, develop it, invest money [in it], and build our own state,” Medvedev said during a Q&A session with members of a youth forum.

“Attempts of forced pressure on our country have never worked, and you understand that very well. And they won’t work now,” Medvedev added.

The United States, the European Union and their allies have introduced several rounds of targeted sanctions against Russian companies and individuals since Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March. In a more recent incident in July, the United States and the European Union introduced sectoral sanctions targeting Russia’s defense, energy and banking sectors.

On Thursday, Russia responded by introducing a one-year ban on agricultural and food product imports from the countries that have imposed sanctions on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis, namely the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

Banned products include meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. The embargo may cost the European Union a whopping $16 billion in export losses.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament adopted in its first reading a law that would allow Kiev to impose 29 different types of sanctions against Russia, including the transit of energy resources through its territory.

The new law would allow the blocking of stocks, the limit of sales operations, as well as partially or fully halting flights and the transit of goods through Ukrainian territory. It also gives the government the right to annul or freeze licenses on certain activities, including mining operations.

Medvedev Says US, EU Companies Clearly Show Intention to Continue Work in Russia

Dmitry Medvedev attends meeting of Russia's trade representatives to foreign countries

Dmitry Medvedev attends meeting of Russia’s trade representatives to foreign countries

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow has received «clear signals» from US and European companies about their intention to continue work in Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.

«We have received quite clear signals that European and American companies are set to continue work with Russian partners. Time is ripe now to use non-political formats and pay attention to small and medium-sized business who generally demonstrate a less politicized approach,” Medvedev said at a meeting with trade envoys.

Russia aims to maintain mutually beneficial cooperation with Europe, which remains a major trading partner for Russia.

“The Ukrainian crisis has really complicated our relationship with Europe. Sometimes these events are called a dividing range between the past and the future of Europe. We [Russia] do not think so. We continue focusing on mutually beneficial cooperation. EU will remain our main trading partner for a long time,” Medvedev said.

The United States and European Union accuse Russia of meddling with Ukraine’s internal affairs, and have already introduced targeted sanctions against a number of Russian officials and companies. The Western sanctions have been extending gradually since their initial introduction after Russia’s reunification with Crimea.

After the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine on July 17, Washington has been pushing the EU to implement further sanctions against Moscow.

The European Commission is expected to introduce a new package of sanctions targeting Russia’s financial and defense sectors on July 24.

Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly called the language of sanctions counterproductive and said these measures would have a boomerang effect on European economy.

OSCE to escort Russia’s humanitarian convoy to Ukraine: mediator

 

KIEV, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — The representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will escort Russia’s humanitarian convoy to eastern Ukraine, said former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on Tuesday.

“The assistance will be carried out under aegis of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the aid convoy will be accompanied by the representatives of the OSCE,” Kuchma, who is mediating the ongoing crisis, was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying.

He said the convoy from Russia en route to the rebel-held eastern Lugansk city will cross the border in the government-controlled Kharkov region.

The aid will be distributed by the ICRC office in Ukraine to the civilians in the restive regions, Kuchma said, adding that the bulk of the emergency supply will be delivered to hospitals, kindergartens, orphanages and other social welfare institutions.

Earlier that day, Russia’s state media reported that 280 trucks carrying around 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid have left Moscow for crisis-hit eastern Ukraine.

Most of the humanitarian supplies were food, medical equipment, medicine, sleeping bags and portable power stations of various capacities.

International aiding groups said the prolonged violence in eastern Ukraine is pushing Donetsk and Lugansk regions toward a humanitarian crisis, as people suffer from shortage of food, medicine, water and electricity supply.

At least 1,500 have died and over 285,000 were displaced since Kiev started military operation to retake the cities seized by the independence-seeking insurgents in mid-April.

 

Dozens reportedly killed in E. Ukraine fighting

KIEV, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Dozens of pro-government troops were reportedly killed in fighting with independence-seeking insurgents in eastern Ukraine since Tuesday, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Eleven Ukrainian army soldiers were killed and 41 injured during a day and night of the heavy battles in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, said Andrei Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC).

In a separate development, at least 12 pro-government fighters from the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist group Right Sector were reportedly killed when their convoy was ambushed by insurgents.

According to the Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadsky, the pro-Ukrainian fighters were travelling across the rebel-held area outside the city of Donetsk, when they came under attack by heavy gunfire.

The fate of over a dozen of other Right Sector fighters involved in the incident is unknown, Skoropadsky said, adding that the ambush was the bloodiest single fighting the ultra-nationalist group has ever had since clashes erupted in eastern Ukraine in mid-April.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) confirmed that they carried out the attack against pro-government forces, but gave different number of casualties.

According to the data published on the DNR page in the local social media, seven of Right Sector members were killed and 13 were injured during the ambush, while several fighters escaped the site.

The Right Sector is a Neo-Nazi group, a key participant of the recent protests in Kiev, which toppled the former authorities and is now fighting against insurgents in eastern Ukraine along with government forces.

Russian humanitarian aid heading to Ukraine, doubts remain
2014-08-13

MOSCOW, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — As a 280-truck convoy roared out of an Emergency Situations Ministry’s base in the Moscow region on Tuesday, Russia officially delivered its first batch of humanitarian aid to Ukraine amid uncertainties and speculations.

The convoy, which contained about 2,000 tons of relief supplies including food, medication, sleeping bags and electricity generators, will travel for several days to reach its destinations in southeastern regions of Ukraine.

However, local experts said questions remain around the humanitarian aid agreed by Moscow, Kiev and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

WHERE TO CROSS THE BORDER

Conflicts took place along the delivery route, which some report said includes some border checkpoints in Russia’s southwest Rostov region and its adjacent area in Ukraine. Some reports also said that Ukraine will receive the aid through Belgorod-Kharkov corridor.

The difference was obvious — via the former route the aid would go directly to zones mainly controlled by pro-independence militias, while the latter avoid such trouble.

“The way the aid will be distributed is highly important,” former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told Interfax news agency.

“First and foremost, it should be provided to hospitals, kindergartens, orphanages and other people who need it. The militants must not receive even a gram,” he said.

Meanwhile, Andrei Suzdaltsev, deputy dean of the Moscow-based High School of Economics, said “the cargo must avoid both being confiscated by the Ukrainian authorities and being looted by uncontrolled insurgents once crossing the border.”

“None of those possibilities could be completely ruled out,” he told Xinhua, citing the downed Malaysian flight MH17 as an example of how the conflicting sides blamed each other for the tragedy.

NO SIGN OF RUSSIA-UKRAINE RECONCILIATION

Beyond the fate of the aid itself, some experts went on predicting the future of Moscow-Kiev ties.

Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Moscow’s The National Defense magazine, said the fact that the two countries agreed over the humanitarian cargo delivery did not mean their relations were getting warmer.

“Kiev has to preserve face and also refute (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov’s recent statement that the so-called anti-terror operation by Ukrainian troops in the eastern regions is a sort of ethnic cleansing,” he told Xinhua.

Ukrainian authorities “are afraid of possible epidemic outbreak … with infections among both restive and loyal populations” given the critical humanitarian situation in those regions, he said.

The United Nations has estimated earlier that nearly 118,000 people are currently registered as internally displaced persons in Ukraine, with 87 percent of them from the country’s east. Besides, more than 168,000 Ukrainians have flown into Russia, while figures released by Moscow were much higher.

Anatoly Adamishin, a veteran Russian diplomat, said whether the delivery will warm Russia-Ukraine relations “completely depends on Kiev.”

“If Kiev show its good will, Moscow will welcome that,” he said, adding that Ukrainian authorities have so far been reluctant to extend the willingness.

The most important thing for now is to make the aid available to those in desperate need, and no one should pursue political gains from it, experts said.

Is Charli XCX A Pop Star?

Charli XCX. - Courtesy of the artist

Charli XCX. – Courtesy of the artist

 

Though British singer Charli XCX was discovered at raves when she was in her mid-teens singing , most music followers first learned about her around 2011 or 2012 when she was older but still not in her 20s. Not just a tangle of big black hair and Tumblr-ready, ’90s-indebted style, she already had a tender voice and a mature pop songwriting sensibility. She may have been an emissary of the U.K.’s electronic underground, but mainstream fame seemed like a definite possibility. As more of her own material dripped out, she also benefitted from the slow-growth massiveness of a song she wrote and is featured on. In 2013 she released her debut album True Romance, a strong but underrated project that didn’t quite gain her the audience some had hoped or expected for her.

Thankfully, Charli XCX’s opportunities have not shriveled up. She sings the chorus on “Fancy” by Iggy Azaela, which is showing signs of being 2014’s song of the summer. Her own cut “Boom Clap” is a single from the soundtrack to this year’s big teen romance weeper The Fault in Our Stars and even got a video treatment featuring clips from the movie and Charli vamping around Amsterdam.

Still, it’s unclear how interested Charli XCX is in mega-stardom and what compromises she’s willing to make to get there. To discuss Charli’s journey so far and her place in the pop landscape, Ducker spoke with , a former staff member of Stereogum and Complex.

 

 

When did you first become aware of Charli XCX?

Maybe the end of 2011? I saw a song of hers, I can’t remember which, on a blog. I like pop music, so I was interested in her because she was kind of perverting it, but I wasn’t that blown away. Then she put out “Nuclear Seasons” and I was totally blown away by it. I still think it’s her best song.

What do you mean by “perverting it”?

“Perverting it” probably isn’t what I mean, but taking it somewhere a little bit darker, like Siouxsie Sioux and Katy Perry have a baby vibes.

What’s interesting is that Charli XCX — at least in the version of her starting around 2011 — seems to always have had an interest in pop music, even if at first we weren’t seeing her in the usual pop contexts.

I totally agree with you. What she is doing is in line with this pervasive trend in “indie” (for lack of a better distinction) where a genre outside the realm of rock becomes reformatted and “made weird” until the weirdness becomes acceptable. It happened with R&B, it’s happened with pop music via Charli and Grimes and Sky Ferreira. I think all of them are admittedly invested in pop music, but their instincts skew a little bit left of the center.

How exactly is Charli making pop weird? And what’s the evidence that her form of “weirdness” is now acceptable?

There has been a slow march toward weirdness across the board in pop over the past few years, particularly in terms of costuming. But even when Lady Gaga was wearing a meat dress, her music was hardly boundary-pushing, at least sonically speaking. Charli’s aesthetics lean more toward both goth and rave club cultures. Her hair and moon boots are the perfect look for old NYC establishment Limelight — which is, sadly, now a mall — and their goth night Batcave. “Nuclear Seasons” is like if was writing for Dead Can Dance. Her rave credentials are all over her bio — and the boots belong there, too — but there aren’t many pop stars going so far as to . She is genuinely alternative, but what makes that acceptable in 2014 is easy access to alternative culture. You don’t have to hunt anymore. Everything is laid out on Tumblr for you and anywhere else you might look for influence is mining from Tumblr, too.

Pop ambition or appreciation isn’t new in “indie” artists (though Charli signed to Atlantic in the U.K. in her mid-teens, and her first U.S. label IAMSOUND licensed her tracks from them), still, it’s surprising when the pop artists who lean to the weirder side actually find mainstream acceptance.

I don’t want to pretend to be an expert on how the music scene in the UK works, but I know she was performing at raves when she was very young and I think her way of writing is more acceptable there and is considerably more mainstream than it is here. The ways she’s become more mainstream are interesting, though. And it’s not necessarily a meteoric rise. She wrote a huge song, she is on the hook of a different huge song and she has a song on a soundtrack that favors indie artists.

That’s kind of my question: How big is she in the mainstream, really? To people who have been following her career, it’s kind of surprising that she’s on this year’s potential song of the summer and that she has a single on The Fault of Our Stars soundtrack, but how much name recognition does she actually have in mass culture?

I am curious about that, too. I would imagine she’s still in the “Who The Hell Is Charli XCX?” club a la and “.” I haven’t seen The Fault in Our Stars because I try to stay away from things that want to emotionally manipulate me, but depending on the placement “Boom Clap” has in the movie, that’s what I think could send her over the edge. I wonder how faceless she is or is not because of “Fancy.”

On a street level, do you hear about or from teenagers who are obsessed with Charli XCX, or at least are into her? Have you gone to any recent performances of hers?

The last time I saw her perform was at an industry event, so I don’t think that counts. And I don’t spend that much time around teenagers. I do know that there is an army of teen girls on Twitter who are obsessed with Charli, and all together, but I can’t tell if that’s an indie thing or not. Kitty makes me lean toward indie, Sky makes me lean towards not.

Let’s go macro and talk about why it looks like Charli XCX could make it super big. As we’ve said, there are plenty of young artists who are interested in pop but have not-so-mainstream sensibilities. Why has Charli broken through to the extent that she already has?

Well, “Fancy” is constructed perfectly — Iggy’s lyrics are easy, it sounds like a song, the hook makes people feel good when they sing it and because there is so much push behind Iggy right now, it gets Charli placement on things . Having written “I Love It” also gives her “street” cred.

Were you surprised True Romance didn’t bring her more mainstream success?

I was.

Why do you think it didn’t connect on the level that it could have?

I guess it just wasn’t the right time. She was sandwiched in between a massive Taylor Swift album, the reinvention of Miley Cyrus (though both Charli and Miley have this “Tumblr” aesthetic [please forgive me for saying that], Hannah Montana fans were definitely ready to grow up with her), as well as a new Katy Perry album. All the while, the songs that were getting the most burn over that summer had a totally different sound. ,” so it’s hard to be an esoteric pop star and breakout when women with huge fan bases are bringing something new and everyone wants to hear Marvin Gaye-cribbed tunes that are wedding-primed.

Now it takes a lot longer for new artists to solidify a hit, and we have the summer to see what happens with “Boom Clap.” It could potentially re-write the success of True Romance.

It’s an interesting situation where “Boom Clap” wouldn’t have gotten the positioning it has if True Romance weren’t so good and she might not have given it to the soundtrack had True Romance been more of a success.

I agree. And if True Romance had completely crossed her over, she might not have been asked to be on that soundtrack, period; although, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if that was the case. Movie soundtracks are not the events that they used to be, so is littered with pop artists who have some mainstream notoriety, but still haven’t achieved a higher level of success, save Ed Sheeran, I suppose.

You talked about how crowded last summer was, but Lorde still broke through. Similar hair, too. What’s different about her storyline/trajectory/relationship to her fans?

One day we’ll learn that the vocal melody on “” was actually an Illuminati-constructed earworm that brainwashed even rap radio into playing it, despite how incongruous it is to certain rap aspiration tropes. Jokes aside, the alternative that Charli offers is production-based, whereas Lorde rebukes pop as a whole. She sings about not wanting to be told to put her hands in the air on “Team,” but Charli is still ready to be a part of the party. It’s not just Lorde’s songwriting that is catchy, it also appeals to people who have animosity toward pop materialism, be it for things or for partying.

 

 

Have you noticed that the two big songs that Charli XCX is featured on, and is probably best known for, are her pushing this “young, wild and free” idea, while all of her own songs are usually really romantic and lovesick?

Maybe it’s just sonically, but even when Charli is lovesick, she bleeds youth and freedom to me. Even when she’s singing romantic overtures, she seems so cool while she’s doing it. You don’t look to Charli for that heartbreak empowerment right after you’re dumped. She helps you once you’ve gotten your bearings. And with “Fancy,” I think she’s, at least somewhat, graduated to being able to flex like that.

I imagine that the perception of Charli XCX to those who first heard of her through Iggy Azalea is akin to hearing Ke$ha for the first time on ” before “” was released a half year later. I’m not familiar with Ke$ha’s musical background, aside from her having a songwriting deal. I don’t know what would have happened if Ke$ha’s first single had been pine-y, but we all know the “young, wild and free” schtick worked for her. Charli gets to keep doing things her way post-“Fancy” because even her lovesick anthems are free-spirited.

So you don’t think the romanticism is what’s holding her back, when the biggest songs by Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Kesha are about living in the moment and kind of obliterating yourself in the pursuit of fun?

The bigger song on Bangerz is a huge romance bummer.

Pop is a B-U-M-M-E-R!