Moscow Ridicules NATO’s Images of Alleged Russian Troops in Ukraine

Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that NATO's Images of Alleged Russian Troops in Ukraine have become ridiculous.

Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that NATO’s Images of Alleged Russian Troops in Ukraine have become ridiculous.

MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow sees no sense in commenting on what NATO calls that it has satellite shots of Russian troops in Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

“You know, it has become ridiculous… If earlier, someone would at least put their names to those images, be it Breedlove, Rasmussen, or even Lungescu, now, they are hesitant,” Konashenkov said, referring to NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.

“It makes no sense to seriously comment on this,” he added.

He added that the phrase “NATO published shots of Russian troops in Ukraine” has become too common lately.

“The phrase ‘NATO published satellite shots of Russian troops’ presence in Ukraine” has become as common in recent months as the famous ‘British scientists have discovered…’ As a rule in media, those words are followed by the results of some new crazy research that has no practical sense whatsoever,” Konashenkov said.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Russian troops had entered Ukraine. The statement came as NATO released satellite images that it claimed were showing Russian self-propelled artillery on the Ukrainian territory. The alliance said about 1,000 Russian servicemen were taking part in hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Washington failed to verify the information, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said, adding, however, that the State Department had “no reason to doubt their [NATO’s] assessment.”

Andrei Kelin, Russia’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), denied Kiev’s accusations, saying that “there are no Russian convoys” in Ukraine.

Kiev authorities launched a special military operation in mid-April in the southeast of Ukraine against independence supporters, who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the country’s coup-imposed government.

Since the beginning of the military conflict, Kiev has been accusing Russia of sending troops and weaponry to independence supporters in the region.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, urging Kiev to stop the bloodshed and establish a direct dialogue with representatives of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Savages’ Jehnny Beth criticises ‘system of class’ at music festivals

Photo: Dan Kendall

Jehnny Beth / Photo: Dan Kendall

 
Jehnny Beth of Savages has criticised what she sees as a “system of class” being operated by promoters of some music festivals, having witnessed festivals where punters must buy more expensive tickets in order to get nearer to the stage.

Beth voiced her opinion in a post on her Tumblr, in which she recounted being at the British Summer Time event in London on the night Black Sabbath played with Soundgarden and Faith No More.

As with each night at the festival, which also saw performances from The Libertines and Arcade Fire, fans who had VIP access were able to enter a section nearer to the stage. In her blog post, Beth describes this as a “sick idea” and details a similar system operating at a festival in Istanbul, Turkey.

“The absurdity of the situation was suddenly clear to me: a system of class applied to a rock festival, a capitalist attitude when music should be for everyone. What a sick idea,” wrote Beth. “I am deeply saddened and angry that we let these kind of things happen. Rock music is here to bring people together, rich and poor, young and old. Don’t let the fuckers make you pay more for a decent spot in the field.”

Earlier this month it was announced that Savages and Bo Ningen will release ‘Words To The Blind’, a joint recording comprising of one 37-minute-long track.

The two bands will perform ‘Words To The Blind’ together this autumn with the support of the Barbican. The show will take place at Oval Space, east London on November 19.

A request for comment from the organisers of British Summer Time was not returned.

Russia overtakes China to become world’s No. 6 in gold reserves

Getty Images - Russia Beyond Headlines

According to the World Gold Council, over a period of six months, Russia increased its gold reserves by 54 tons, a higher increase than any other country. Source: Getty Images / Fotobank Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines

 

Russia Beyond The Headlines

Over a period of six months, Russia has purchased 54 tons of gold and has now outstripped China in total gold reserves. Analysts see this as a sign the Russian economy is reducing its dependence on the dollar and the euro, which make up the lion’s share of the country’s gold and forex reserves. Yet gold still accounts for just 10 percent of Russia’s reserves.

 

Russia has become the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of its gold reserves: According to a World Gold Council study, they now amount to 1094.7 tons. This means Russia has overtaken China, whose gold reserves remained at the last quarter figure of 1054.1 tons.

 

“The reasons why the Bank of Russia is increasing gold reserves are obvious: The regulator is reducing the risks over possible sanctions and is diversifying its investment,” says Pavel Simonenko, head of CIS sales at Dukascopy Bank SA.

 

According to him, the danger of possible sanctions affecting forex operations in dollars and euros will force the Russian Central Bank to further diversify its assets, so that by the end of the year gold may make up 15 percent of total reserves. “The Central Bank wants to secure its reserves against a possible deterioration of the political situation. Besides, gold is a safeguard asset and, given increasingly more valid reasons to expect a second wave of the global crisis, investment in this type of instrument appears more than relevant,” the expert adds.

 

“The Central Bank wants to secure its reserves against a possible deterioration of the political situation. Besides, gold is a safeguard asset and, given increasingly more valid reasons to expect a second wave of the global crisis, investment in this type of instrument appears more than relevant,” the expert adds.

 

Seeking shelter in gold

 

According to the World Gold Council, over a period of six months, Russia increased its gold reserves by 54 tons, a higher increase than any other country. By way of comparison, in the same period of time, Kazakhstan bought 12 tons; Mexico, 0.8 tons; the Philippines, 0.2 tons. Meanwhile, the world’s gold-reserve leaders – the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, and Spain – did not buy any gold at all, and Germany actually sold 2.9 tons.

 

As a result, according to official figures released by the Russian Central Bank, the share of foreign currencies in the country’s reserves over the same period fell from 90 to 87.5 percent.

 

“We believe that the increase in Russia’s gold reserves has to do with a revision of the country’s gold and forex reserves. Russia is reducing its investment in U.S. bonds, dollars and euros,” says Alexei Kozlov, chief analyst with UFS IC. Furthermore, Kozlov adds, since the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve System are pursuing a supersoft monetary policy, i.e. reducing the value of their currencies, while geopolitical risks remain high, it is logical that the share of gold in reserves is rising.

 

Furthermore, Kozlov adds, since the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve System are pursuing a supersoft monetary policy, i.e. reducing the value of their currencies, while geopolitical risks remain high, it is logical that the share of gold in reserves is rising.

 

General trend

 

Overall, experts agree, the global trend for an increase in gold reserves has become stronger in recent years. “It has to do with a high volatility on the currency markets and the liberal monetary policy dominating in the leading currency-issuing countries,” says Dmitry Bedenkov, head of research at the Russ-Invest investment company. According to him, in developing countries that are largely focused on exports, gold and forex reserves are mostly made up of currency reserves. In China, for instance, gold accounts for just 1 percent of the country’s reserves; in India, 7 percent; in Russia, 10 percent; in Saudi Arabia, 2 percent; in Brazil, under 1 percent. “At the other end of the spectrum, there are countries where gold makes up a large or dominating share of reserves. For example, in the U.S. the figure is 72 percent; in Germany, 68 percent; in France, 65 percent,” Bedenkov explains. That is why, he adds, the increase in gold reserves is a positive trend from the point of view of diversifying the structure of reserves and improving their reliability.

 

In addition to a growing share of gold in the structure of developing countries’ reserves, experts note that the Russian economy is making an overall shift away from the dollar and towards other assets. “The process of giving up the U.S. currency is gradually picking up pace in Russia. This is evident both from political decisions and from the actions of the major economic players,” says Finam analyst Anton Soroko.

 

For instance, he continues, the Russian mobile phone operator Megafon and the world’s biggest producer of nickel, Norilsk Nickel, have already converted their current assets into the Hong Kong dollar.

 

“This process will continue and the next thing that the Russian regulator may decide to do will be to gradually shed U.S. treasury bonds and reallocate the resulting funds outside the jurisdiction of European countries,” the expert suggests.

 

However, he adds, this step will be logical only if the current crisis in Ukraine continues to grow and Russia’s relations with the European Union and the U.S. fail to improve.

The United States’ OSCE Envoys Argue Over Reports of Russian Invasion of Ukraine

An armed pro-Russian separatist looks next to an OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine vehicle, on the way to the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, outside Donetsk

 

The Moscow Times

Ukraine’s envoy to European security body the OSCE said on Thursday that regular Russian forces had seized the southeastern city of Novoazovsk, but his Russian counterpart said no Russian forces were crossing the border at “any point.”

Ihor Prokopchuk, Ukraine’s representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters that “what we registered is a direct invasion of the Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine.”

Speaking on the sidelines of an extraordinary OSCE meeting in Vienna, he added: “The city of Novoazovsk and a number of other cities close to this one have been seized by regular Russian forces.”

Ukraine viewed the latest development as an “act of aggression,” he said. “We will use all means available to Ukraine under international law, under the UN charter, to defend its territory, to defend its independence.”

In Kiev, Ukraine’s security and defense council said Novoazovsk, a border town, and other parts of Ukraine’s south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces who together with rebels were staging a counteroffensive.

At the meeting of the OSCE, which groups Russia as well as the United States among its 57 members, Prokopchuk said he had appealed “to all our partners to provide all possible support to Ukraine to defend itself and to rebuff this aggression.”

Russia denies intervening in Ukraine by arming the rebels or sending soldiers across the border. The defense ministry declined to comment on reports of Russian tanks in Novoazovsk.

Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin told reporters during the OSCE meeting: “No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine.”

Apart from a small unit of about 10 Russian soldiers who he said had “unintentionally” crossed the border a couple of days ago, Kelin said that “there are no Russian forces over there.”

Kelin said there was a worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukrainian regions where “people continue to die” because of what he said was shelling and artillery fire by the Ukrainian army on the population.

Rebel advances this week have opened a new front in the conflict just as Ukraine’s army appeared to have gained the upper hand, virtually encircling the separatists in their main strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The US envoy to the OSCE, Daniel Baer, said that in the last 24 hours there had been “mounting reports of large numbers of Russian military personnel inside Ukraine, columns of Russian tanks and armored vehicles crossing into southeastern Ukraine.”   [Evidence please!]

“These indicate [Evidence Please!] that a new Russian escalation, including a Russia-directed counteroffensive, may be underway in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts — actions that are in clear violation of international law and OSCE principles and commitments,” he said.  [Nothing is in violation of international law until you show the evidence Mr. Baer!]

As Rebels Advance, Russia Is Accused of Sending Troops to Ukraine – Have evidence? Show It!

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Ukrainian forces manning a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol on Thursday amid fears of a new front in Ukraine.

“Rumors about Moscow’s direct involvement in the Ukrainian civil war multiplied Thursday as the pro-Russian insurgents there mounted a sudden and successful counteroffensive in which Moscow “apparently” had a hand, though it remained unclear to what extent.

The rebels, recently besieged in regional capitals Donetsk and Luhansk, have opened a “southern front” in recent days.

The Ukrainian army confirmed Thursday that it had lost to the insurgents the city of Novoazovsk on the shore of the Sea of Azov, 120 kilometers south of Donetsk.

The separatists said earlier that their goal was to open a corridor to the Sea of Azov and the Ukrainian-Russian border.

The move would essentially end the blockade of Luhansk and Donetsk, opening a potential supply line from Russia.

It would also open a land connection between Russia and Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in March and currently only connected to the new mainland by sea.

Mounting Evidence?

Moscow has repeatedly been accused of sending troops and military equipment to the rebels, but denies it.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after the loss of Novoazovsk that “Russia has de-facto deployed its troops in Ukraine.”

He did not offer hard proof of his claim, nor did Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, who claimed that two Russian tank columns had rolled into the country on Thursday accompanied by Grad missile launchers.

A wealth of circumstantial evidence of Russia’s involvement has been cited in recent days, including troops on the border and unexplained soldier burials in Russia.

Ten Russian paratroopers were detained in Ukrainian territory on Monday after reportedly surrendering without a fight. They claimed to be a stray border patrol.

High-ranking insurgent official Alexander Zakharchenko said Thursday that 4,000 Russians were fighting for the separatists — and that some of them were soldiers on vacation.

But he denied the organized deployment of active Russian troops in an interview to Rossia-24 television aired Thursday.

Russian servicemen are obliged to report vacation destinations to their command.

Senior NATO official Nico Tak on Thursday estimated the number of Russian soldiers in Ukraine at about 1,000, The Associated Press reported.

Moscow used “undercover” troops during its takeover of Crimea in March, first denying their presence on Ukrainian territory and only admitting it after the annexation was completed.

The U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, said on Twitter on Thursday that “Russia was providing state-of-the-art military equipment to the rebels and had recently begun sending its troops into the fray after equipment alone proved not enough to help the insurgents win.”

Recent developments “indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely under way in Donetsk and Luhansk,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday, according to the department’s website.

Renewed Denials

The OSCE mission on the Russian-Ukrainian border said Thursday that it had not observed any Russian military columns crossing into Ukraine, Interfax reported.

Admittedly, the mission is understaffed to monitor the entire 1,900-kilometer border, most of which is unguarded.

A Kremlin spokesman on Wednesday reiterated the claim that Moscow was not providing the rebels with arms.

He kept silent Thursday, along with Putin and other top Russian officials.

The sole exception was Russia’s envoy to the OSCE, Andrei Kelin, who said on Rossia-24 television that no Russian troops were in Ukraine except for the 10 “stray” paratroopers captured this week.

The Russian Defense Ministry dismissed earlier this week reports about any casualties in Ukraine and said it had no troops there.

Defusing the tension somewhat, Poroshenko said Thursday the General Staffs in Kiev and Moscow had held talks on deescalation, including joint border patrols.

The UN Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting on Ukraine late Thursday, AP reported.

Volunteers, Equipment or Invasion?

Experts contacted by The Moscow Times agreed that Russia was participating in the conflict in some form, but differed on its extent and the military’s direct involvement.

Defense analyst Igor Korotchenko, affiliated with Russia’s Defense Ministry, said Russian involvement was limited to volunteer recruits and blamed the recent developments on the Ukrainian army’s strategy.

The Ukrainian forces overreached when trying to recapture Donetsk and Luhansk in time for Independence Day last Sunday, said Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine.

Heavy casualties, fatigue and undersupply sapped the governmental forces’ strength, enabling the separatists to mount a counteroffensive, he said.

Russian nationalist-minded analyst Yegor Prosvirnin said official Moscow “appeared” to have ramped up military supplies to the rebels, but doubted the presence of Russian troops in their ranks.

“If there are really tank columns from Russia … the U.S. would have evidence,” said Prosvirnin, a frequent Kremlin critic who ardently advocates a Russian invasion into eastern Ukraine.

But Ukrainian “political expert” Vladimir Fesenko, considered to be close to Poroshenko, insisted that the rebels’ victories were due to an inflow of Russian troops.

“A counteroffensive is impossible without new equipment and soldiers to manage it,” Fesenko, an expert with the non-profit think tank Penta, said by telephone from Kiev.

“It’s a new situation in the region,” Fesenko said.

 

Watch: Zola Jesus’ video for “Dangerous Days”

zolajeuss_dangerousvid01

Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus, has shared the video for “Dangerous Days”, the lead single to her fifth studio album, Taiga. Director Tim Saccenti places Danilova amidst a number of visually-stunning landscapes, from the darkened corners of a lush forest valley to the glitchy innards of a 3D computer world. If you like your performance art videos with a generous helping of metaphysical pondering, then this is for you.

According to a press release, “The song is a pure emotional plea, a future primitive call to arms. To create a moment of light in these dark times was our hope. Eschewing a heavy narrative we let the images of the Earth, filmed in wide screen and mixed with a tense unnatural presence, wash over the viewer while Nika communicates her powerful message.”

 

Zola Jesus – Dangerous Days (Official Video)

 

 

 

Taiga is due out October 7th via Mute Records. In support, Danilova will be on tour in October and November. Consult the full schedule below:

Zola Jesus announces 2014 tour dates, reveals artwork and tracklist for Taiga

Nika Roza Danilova, aka Zola Jesus, has announced the initial batch of tour dates in support of her upcoming fifth studio album, Taiga. The itinerary spans most of October and November, including shows in the U.S., U.K., and Europe. See the full schedule below.

Taiga is due out October 8th via Mute. Above, check out the album’s newly revealed artwork. Below, revisit the album’s lead single, “Dangerous Days”, and see the album’s full tracklist.

 

 

Zola Jesus 2014 Tour Dates:
10/08 – San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s
10/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
10/16 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
10/17 – Washington, DC @ Hirshhorn Museum
10/19 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
10/29 – Bristol, UK @ Colston Hall
10/30 – Leeds, UK @ Belgrave Music Hall
10/31 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
11/01 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Cathedral – Columns
11/04 – Paris, FR @ Badaboum
11/05 – Strasbourg, FR @ La Laiterie
11/06 – St Gallen, CH @ Palace
11/07 Geneva, CH @ l’Usine
11/09 – Reims, FR @ La Cartonnerie
11/10 – Köln, DE @ Gebäude 9
11/11 – Berlin, DE @ Berghain
11/12 – Hamburg, DE @ Uebel and Gefährlich
11/13 – Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom
11/14 – Brussels, BE @ La Nuit Botanique
11/15 – Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg
11/18 – London, UK @ KOKO

Taiga Tracklist:
01. Taiga
02. Dangerous Days
03. Dust
04. Hunger
05. Go (Blank Sea)
06. Ego
07. Lawless
08. Nail
09. Long Way Down
10. Hollow
11. It’s Not Over

 

 

 

 

 

Watch: Press Conference by Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic.

Press Conference – Formation of a state – 24 Aug 2014

 

 

Published on Aug 26, 2014
Subtitles in english, french, german
Transcription/Translation/Timecoding: Marina
English proofreading and editing: Erebus,Michael and Vaughan
Editing and Publishing: Augmented Ether
French Translation & Editing: Jean-Jacques
German Translation & Editing : Dagmar

This is a thorough press conference by Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic. It touches upon a few key points regarding the war, its origins and what and whom Kiev is fighting.

The possibility of Federalization is also discarded as irrelevant as that ship had certainly sailed. This is a fight for independence now.