The Times’ Obsession with Russia: Russia Continues to Train and Equip Ukraine Rebels, NATO Official Says

World  – Europe

The Times – November 3, 2014

Rebel election officials said that Aleksandr Zakharchenko, left, had won in Donetsk  and that Igor Plotnitsky had won in Luhansk. Associated Press

Rebel election officials said that Aleksandr Zakharchenko, left, had won in Donetsk and that Igor Plotnitsky had won in Luhansk. Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Russian troops are still training and equipping separatists in Ukraine, NATO’s top military commander said Monday, activities that are heightening tensions with the West and Ukraine’s government that were aggravated by Sunday’s elections in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine.

As the Russian Foreign Ministry appears to be moving toward recognizing the results of the voting, which was dismissed by the United States as a “sham,” Western officials are increasingly concerned that the Kremlin may be taking the steps necessary to establish an enclave that remains outside Kiev’s control.

During a visit to the Pentagon, the commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, echoed those worries, telling reporters that “I am concerned that the conditions are there that could create a frozen conflict.”

Moscow followed that blueprint after the war with Georgia in 2008, establishing enclaves in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to ensure that the territorially compromised nation could not join NATO. It did the same earlier with Transnistria, a breakaway territory of Moldova where Russians have been stationed.

The concern now is that a buffer zone between Ukrainian and separatist forces, established as part of a September cease-fire, may become a de facto border of the new enclave. Meanwhile, the border between eastern Ukraine and Russia has remained open.

“We have seen a general trend towards a hardening of this line of demarcation and much more softening of the actual Ukraine-Russia border,” General Breedlove said.

“The Ukraine-Russia border is wide open,” he added. “It is completely porous. Russian equipment, resupply, training flows back and forth freely.”

Though the Kremlin has denied that it has sent forces into Ukraine, General Breedlove said about 250 to 300 Russian soldiers are still in the country.

“These are not fighting formations,” he said. “These are formations and specialists who are in there doing training and equipping of the separatist forces.”

And as the Sunday vote approached, he reported, some Russian military units edged closer to Russia’s border with Ukraine, an intimidating move that appeared intended to caution the Ukrainian government not to intervene.

“Some of those formations have moved closer to the border,” General Breedlove said. “We believe that was probably to bring some pressure on and make sure that the elections went according to the separatists’ plans.”

On Saturday, in another show of force, a column of about 60 unmarked military trucks drove through Donetsk.

In total, Russia has seven battalions near Ukraine, down from the 18 battalions — about 20,000 troops — it had there in August. But the forces are enough to maintain Russia’s influence in the area and to buttress Moscow’s efforts to help the separatists.

On Monday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that pro-Russian fighters had fired on one of its surveillance drones the day before as it was filming pro-Russian forces on the move near a Ukrainian checkpoint. “New drones under fire east of the contact line,” the group said in a post on Twitter.

The organization issued a statement saying the drone was flying at an altitude of about 5,000 feet near Mariupol, in the south of the Donetsk region, on the pro-Russian side of the front. It was filming a civilian truck when “a canvas covering on the back of the truck was removed, revealing a truck-mounted antiaircraft gun, which immediately fired numerous rounds” at the drone but missed.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has said he does not want a crystallization of the status quo into a frozen conflict, but the Russian Foreign Ministry nevertheless issued a statement saying it would respect the outcome of separatist elections.

Russia “respects the choice made by residents of the southeast” of Ukraine, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, later told the Interfax news agency.

“Our position is that the elected representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions thereby received a mandate to hold negotiations with the central Ukrainian authorities and, acting as part of their political dialogue, tackle all the problems that have accumulated over many months,” Mr. Karasin said.

The ministry statement stopped short of recognizing the outcome of the vote, but still drew a din of criticism from European officials.

Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, told reporters in Berlin that it was “incomprehensible that there are official Russian voices that are respecting or even recognizing these so-called elections.”

The turn of events in the rebellious territories ruled out any early lifting of European sanctions imposed on Russia and could lead to further sanctions if security deteriorated, Mr. Seibert said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement, “I consider today’s ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ in Donetsk and Luhansk ‘People’s Republics’ a new obstacle on the path toward peace.”

The Ukrainian government has refused to negotiate directly with the rebel leadership outside of the O.S.C.E.-brokered cease-fire talks that include European and Russian officials, and it calls the separatist leadership “terrorists.” President Petro O. Poroshenko described Sunday’s elections as a farce.

The rebel central election committee in Donetsk said Aleksandr Zakharchenko, a former electrician, had won the election with about 78 percent of the vote. Mr. Zakharchenko commanded a pro-Russian militia, Oplot, until August, when the Donetsk Supreme Soviet elevated him to prime minister, replacing a Russian citizen in a leadership shuffle intended to put a local face on the movement. Mr. Zakharchenko is a Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainian.

In Luhansk, election officials said Igor Plotnitsky, a former public health inspector, had won with about 63 percent of the vote. The elections in both regions offered few plausible alternatives, and separatist officials said the purpose of the voting was to legitimize the leadership and compel Kiev to negotiate with them.

Islamic State Obtaining US Weapons Due to Lack of US-Syria Cooperation: Moscow

Islamic State (IS) fighters are seizing US-made weapons destined for the Kurdish forces because Washington is refusing to cooperate with Damascus in its anti-terror operation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

Islamic State (IS) fighters are seizing US-made weapons destined for the Kurdish forces because Washington is refusing to cooperate with Damascus in its anti-terror operation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

© REUTERS

RIA NOVOSTI – October 23, 2014

MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti)Islamic State (IS) fighters are seizing US-made weapons destined for the Kurdish forces because Washington is refusing to cooperate with Damascus in its anti-terror operation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

“There is no coordination between the [anti-terror] coalition and Damascus, since Washington persistently refuses to recognize the government of Bashar Assad as a partner in the combat against terrorism. As a result, the IS fighters seize weapons the US Air Force aircraft are dropping for the Kurdish squads,” the official said at a press briefing.

The diplomat also noted that the US-led airstrikes against the insurgents have failed to achieve any significant success.

He argued that Syrian aircraft are performing over 150 air strikes on a daily basis, while the “so-called coalition with its broad opportunities limits itself to 10 to 15 or sometimes five to seven strikes a day.”

Following the proclamation of a caliphate on the captured swathes of Iraq and Syria by the IS, the United States resorted to military action.

Washington launched airstrikes against the insurgents in Iraq in August and extended its attacks to Syria the following month, though without requesting an approval from the Syrian government, which the West considers illegitimate.

US President Barack Obama formed a large international coalition to fight terrorism in the Middle East, many members of which, including its Arab allies, the United Kingdom and France, are taking part in the airstrikes. Russia has expressed an unwillingness to join any coalitions that bypass the United Nations.

 

 

 

Media Gets Latest Info on ‘Russian Forces in Ukraine’ from Junior NATO Clerk !!!!

Someone told me long ago there’s calm

before the storm…

I know, it’s been comin’ for some time…

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is set to leave his post October 1.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is set to leave his post October 1.

MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti) – NATO’s official statement on the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine was sent by a junior NATO clerk by email, Rossiya Segodnya reported.

Igor Konashenkov, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, pointed out the junior rank of the official’s remarks, adding that the statement “was sent by the clerk to the authoritative news agency Reuters by ordinary email.”

Konashenkov joked that he next expects NATO statements “from cleaning ladies working at NATO headquarters, who will send the statements as text messages.”

The comment, made by NATO’s Lieutenant Colonel Jay Janzen to Reuters, stated that “there has been a significant pullback of Russian conventional forces from inside Ukraine, but many thousands are still deployed in the vicinity of the border.”

Speaking of the pullout of the phantom Russian forces, he added that “NATO welcomes these positive signs.”

Konashenkov believes that the junior official may have “decided to take his last crack at fame” ahead of the bureaucratic reshuffle that is slated to take place next month with Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s departure.

Rasmussen will leave his post as NATO Secretary General on October 1, and will be replaced by former Norweigen Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Kiev, NATO and the Pentagon have repeatedly declared the presence of Russian military forces on Ukrainian territory in the last months. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called such statements “unfounded public insinuations,” and the Defense Ministry has likewise repeatedly disproved them. Eight International inspections have failed to show any violations of the border from the Russian side.

According to the UN, over 3,200 civilians have been killed and over 8,000 have been wounded in Ukraine due to the conflict.

Deep Crisis in Ukraine Cannot Be Resolved by Winning War Against Own People – Lavrov

"Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview. © RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biatov

“Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview.
© RIA Novosti. Evgeny Biatov

 

RIA NOVOSTI – INTERVIEW

Kiev has been conducting a special military operation in eastern Ukraine aimed at suppressing the region’s independence supporters since mid-April.
Over 2,000 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured since the operation started, according to the UN reports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shared his thoughts on the Ukrainian crisis in an interview.

Minister Lavrov, there has been repeated speculation, particularly in Western media, that Russian troops could be deployed in Ukraine and even that they have already crossed the border into Ukrainian territory. Is such an action possible in your view?

Sergei Lavrov: Unfortunately, mass media continue to spread rumours, distorted information and even outright lies. Recently there were claims by Ukraine that its artillery destroyed an armoured column that had allegedly crossed from Russia into Ukraine, and two British newspapers even said they witnessed the incursion. No evidence, however, was presented, and even the US State Department could not confirm the incident. We view all such stories as part of an information war.

But a real war is happening on the ground. What can Russia do to resolve this crisis?

Sergei Lavrov: Our stand is crystal clear – we want peace in Ukraine which can only be attained through broad national dialogue in which all regions and all political forces of the country must participate.

This is what Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine have agreed upon in Geneva on 17 April. At a recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin no one objected to confirming the Geneva Statement. The point is for Kiev to stop war games and to abandon the illusion that the deep crisis in Ukraine can be resolved by winning the war against your own people. It is deeply saddening that the US and the EU continue to blindly support anything Kiev does.

Let’s recall another document which Kiev and the West are trying to forget. On February 21 an agreement on settling the crisis was signed by Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk, Klichko and Tyagnibok and witnessed by Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland. They say now that the agreement “has been superseded by events” because Yanukovych left the country. But let me remind my colleagues that the 21 February agreement listed the commitment to form a government of national unity as number one priority. Does this goal depend on the personality of Yanukovych? Isn’t national unity a universal principle for any country which wants to stay in one piece? Instead of honoring this commitment the then opposition leaders staged an armed coup and publicly declared that they created a “government of the winners”. Unfortunately, the “winner takes it all” logic remains the thrust of Kiev’s actions resulting in thousands of victims among civilians, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, as well as almost totally destroyed social infrastructure in many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine.

There has been much talk of a new Cold War in relations between the West and Russia, with the United States and the European Union having imposed economic sanctions. If they pursue a further hardening of sanctions, how can Russia respond?

Sergei Lavrov: Attempts to settle any crisis by unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council decisions threaten international peace and stability. Such attempts are counterproductive and contradict norms and principles of the international law.

It is absolutely unacceptable to talk to Russia – and to anyone, for that matter – in the language of ultimatums and coercive measures.  Our response to unilateral steps by the United States, the EU and some other countries has been balanced and in line with the rights and obligations of Russia under international treaties, including WTO.

But sanctions continue to be threatened and implemented. Will Russia respond to new measures against it?

Sergei Lavrov: It is not at all our choice, but there should be no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to protect our legitimate interests, including the interests of national security in all its dimensions. That was the basis of our decision to restrict import of agricultural and food products from several states which had adopted sectorial economic sanctions against Russia for the duration of one year.

But Russia does not want to proceed along the road of escalation. We hope that the US, the European Union and others heed to the voice of reason and put an end to these meaningless tit-for-tat vicious circle which they themselves started.

The crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 brought even more horror to the region. How does Russia view the investigation into what happened to the aircraft over eastern Ukraine?

Sergei Lavrov: The downing of the Malaysian plane is a shocking tragedy. Since it happened on 17 July we have been calling for an open and objective international investigation. It is impossible to explain why the Ukrainian authorities, who bear full responsibility for the safety of international flights over the territory of their country, had not closed the airspace over the area of combat.

The Resolution 2166 adopted by the UN Security Council on 21 July provides for a full, thorough and independent investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.

Unfortunately, from the very beginning we have been witnessing attempts to conceal evidence and to hinder the implementation of that resolution. The demand  for a ceasefire in the area of the crash was ignored by the Ukrainian authorities for more than 10 days, and our proposal to call for full respect of Resolution 2166 was blocked in the Security Council by the US, UK and Lithuania. At the same time those very countries and some others started spreading unfounded accusations against Russia.

Let me reiterate that Russia is fully committed to the international investigation in full compliance with Resolution 2166. We would like to see the International Civil Aviation Organisaton take a more active role in the matter, and we believe that the UN and ICAO should coordinate international efforts to ensure early and convincing results of the investigation. Russia is the only country which officially presented to the international community the data related to the incident as received through our space monitoring capacity. Others are still to provide the evidence they possess.

Do you think all of the evidence related to the crash will be made available so that investigators can establish exactly what happened?

Sergei Lavrov: We formally put forward a number of questions on our part that remain unanswered. For example, where are the transcripts of exchange between the pilots of MH17 and the Ukrainian air controllers and why were they not presented to the international community? Why did the controllers instruct the flight to enter the zone of war conflict? What was a Ukrainian Air Force plane doing in the vicinity of the Malaysian Boeing right before the incident? What is happening to the wreckage at the crash site and why has it not been thoroughly examined by the appropriate international investigating authorities? To what extent can an objective and independent investigation be assured without safe and unimpeded access of experts to the crash site, where Kiev continues its war activity in violation of the UNSC Resolution 2166? And where is the documented evidence of claims by the US officials regarding the causes of the downing of the aircraft?

We hope to get answers to these and other questions both from the states which took the leading role in the international investigation and from those who made unsubstantiated public statements. The truth must be revealed. That was our strong demand at the recent meeting of the UN Security Council while some member States showed little enthusiasm in pursuing the investigation in a transparent and accountable manner.

We must not allow the investigation of MH17 crash to be manipulated into oblivion like it already happened to investigations of many Ukrainian tragedies, including a sniper assault against civilians in Kiev in February, massacres in Odesa  and Marioupol in May and others. We are determined to insist on bringing all those who bear responsibility for these crimes to justice.

The cost in human life of this conflict has already been high and tens of thousands of people have been displaced because of the fighting. How do you view the humanitarian situation in Ukraine?

Sergei Lavrov: The humanitarian situation in Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine is catastrophic and continues to deteriorate. And it is not only our view. This assessment is widely shared in the United Nations, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the International Committee of the Red Cross and in the Council of Europe.

More than two thousand people have been killed and over five thousand wounded, many of them children. There is acute shortage of food and medicine and growing risk of outbreaks of infectious deceases. Over 200 thousand people in Luhansk are deprived of electricity, drinking water and means of communication.
A lot of people have fled the area of the conflict. Since 1 April nearly 775 thousand Ukrainian citizens entered the Russian territory, and 190 thousand Ukrainians applied for a refugee status in Russia. Temporary shelters have been put up in our country to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees.

Under these circumstances it is crucial to ensure immediate supply of humanitarian aid to the people of southeastern Ukraine. Humanitarian issues must bring together all people who act in good faith trying to alleviate the suffering of people in dire need – especially women, children and the elderly.

But Russia has been sending aid. What has happened with the humanitarian convoy?

Sergei Lavrov: Russia in cooperation with the ICRC sent a humanitarian convoy of around 300 trucks carrying 2000 tons of medical supplies, food, sleeping bags, power generators and other basic commodities. The convoy was ready to move as early as 17 August, but was delayed primarily due to procrastination tactics employed by Kiev authorities though they had recognized the cargo as humanitarian aid of the ICRC and sent Ukrainian border guards and customs officers to monitor all procedures at the Russian check point Donetsk.

We urge the Ukrainian government to deliver on its promises and to facilitate safe and unhindered passage of future humanitarian assistance. We also hope that our partners in the West and international organizations fully understand the magnitude of the disaster and contribute in practical terms to meeting the basic needs of the civilian population in southeastern Ukraine.

But the central task in the efforts to stop the suffering of civilians in Ukraine remains, of course, in reaching a ceasefire. People are dying, and civilian infrastructure is being destroyed every day. We firmly believe that ceasefire must be unconditional and open the way for serious political dialogue and constitutional reform process with the participation of all regions and all political constituencies of Ukraine, as agreed by the EU, Russia, Ukraine and the US in Geneva Statement of 17 April 2014.

MOSCOW SLAMS NATO OVER RASMUSSEN’S STATEMENTS ABOUT RUSSIA HUMANITARIAN CONVOY

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO headquaters in Brussels

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO headquaters in Brussels

 

MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry said the statement of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that Russian humanitarian aid convoy entered Ukraine without Kiev’s consent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) involvement, is another lie.

“In his statement, filled with allegations, Rasmussen claimed that Russian humanitarian aid convoy entered Ukraine ‘without entering the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross.’ This is another lie,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday.

Rasmussen said Friday that by entering Ukraine, Russia’s humanitarian aid convoy, Moscow breached its international commitments, including those it recently made in Berlin and Geneva.

“I condemn the entry of a Russian so-called humanitarian convoy into Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Rasmussen said. “This is a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments, including those made recently in Berlin and Geneva, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia.”

“If NATO really wants to know the truth behind the Russian humanitarian mission, including the degree of ICRC’s ‘involvement’ or ‘non-involvement’, we recommend that they contact [ICRC] headquarters,” the ministry said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reminded that Moscow received a formal agreement from Kiev authorities for the passage of the humanitarian convoy through the Ukrainian border on August 12.

“We act fully in line with norms of the international humanitarian law,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday.

On August 14, the trucks with Russian humanitarian aid arrived at the border, but Ukraine began customs clearance only on August 21.

Western Sanctions Against Russia Illegal, Beyond National Jurisdiction – Russian Lawmaker

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

Topic: Sanctions Against Russia

MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – Western countries are going beyond their national jurisdiction by imposing sanctions against Russia, as such measures are illegal, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.

“Such actions are illegal and thus void, and not only because they are unilateral. Apparently, some Western leaders, especially from overseas, imagine themselves judges when arbitrarily finding someone guilty and identifying responsibility for entire countries and nations,” the speaker said.

“They [Western leaders] do not mind that this issue is completely beyond their jurisdiction,” Naryshkin added.

The time of confrontations between empires has gone, but containment policies against Russia “and geopolitical ploys aimed at weakening it are still present. These are the real reasons behind the replication of cold war methods as well as various sanctions and black lists,” the parliamentarian concluded.

On Tuesday, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Washington introduced sanctions on three more Russian banks, namely VTB, the country’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Bank, as well as state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation. The EU agreed on a new set of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, which are to go into effect tomorrow, August 1.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations that it was involved with the eastern Ukrainian militia and called the “language of sanctions” counterproductive.

 

Russia Prepares Next White Book on Human Rights Violations in Ukraine – RIA NOVOSTI

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Building of the Russian Foreign Ministry

 

MOSCOW, June 17 (RIA Novosti) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry is preparing for the release of the second White Book on humanitarian crimes in Ukraine’s east, and is calling on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN to carry out an investigation, the ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov said Tuesday.

“We hope that all the information we collect through the ministry and non-governmental organizations will help in the course of the investigation. We do not trust that Kiev authorities will carry out an independent and unbiased investigation of [the events in] Odessa and Mariupol, and the Sniper Case is not forgotten. We need substantial participation from the OSCE, UN and European Council,” Dolgov told the Federation Council.

The book talks about the tragic events in Odessa, where more than 70 people died in a fire after clashes between independence supporters and nationalists, as well as an airstrike on a Luhansk administration building that killed eight, and other deadly cases of violence in the past months.

“In the coming days, we will publish another White Book (on the events in April, May and the beginning of June). There are many facts, and they all need to be investigated,” Dolgov said.

The first volume of the book came out last month and described the most heinous human rights violations perpetrated by Kiev during the crisis in Ukraine from late November 2013 to the end of March 2014.

The book has been published in Russian and English, and appeared on the Russian presidential and Foreign Ministry websites. The book was also passed to the UN, OSCE, European Council and international human rights commissioners.

Since mid-April, Kiev authorities have been conducting a special military operation in the east of Ukraine to suppress the pro-independence movement. The violence intensified after the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics declared independence from Ukraine and united under the name of Novorossiya in May. Hundreds of people, including civilians have died in both regions over the past months.

Moscow has described the ongoing military action as a punitive operation and called for an immediate end to the bloodshed.