Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Crimean Peninsula. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Crimean Peninsula. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 08, 2014

Ukraine: UN alarmed by intensifying clashes, mounting casualties in country’s east

UN, 8 August 2014 – A senior United Nations human rights official today declared the situation in Eastern Ukraine “extremely alarming” with intensifying fighting, mounting casualties and serious damage to infrastructure.
Briefing the Security Council, Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, expressed concern over the “rapid professionalization of armed groups, which are increasingly well-organized and equipped with heavy weaponry.”

“Fighting in and around population centres has resulted in heavy loss of life and very significant damage to property and civilian infrastructure. Both sides must be reminded of the imperative that they act proportionately and take precautions to avoid deaths and injury of civilians: otherwise,” he warned.
  • The human rights situation has deteriorated significantly in pockets of territory in Luhansk and Donetsk, which are controlled by armed groups and where the Government has been undertaking its security operations.
According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the World Health Organization (WHO) since mid-April, more than 1,543 people have been killed in the east, including civilians, the military and members of the armed groups. Some 4,396 have been confirmed wounded but the real number is likely to be much higher.
“The fabric of society is being torn apart by the continuous and ongoing violence and fighting; the misinformation being spread is building divisive narratives, hardening people’s resolve and deepening social divides,” warned Mr. Šimonović.
  • In the Crimea region, harassment and discrimination has intensified against Ukrainian nationals, Crimean Tatars, religious minorities, and activists who opposed the 16 March “referendum”. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 15,200 people have left Crimea, while tens of thousands of people continue to flee the fighting in the east. The total number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine stands at over 117,910.
Freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, movement and religion, have also taken a toll, he continued. In the east, these rights have been strictly curtailed by the armed groups.
  • Worrying trends show the rise of hate speech, particularly in social media, and a number of incidents targeting Russian-owned banks and businesses on the grounds that they are allegedly ”financing terrorism.” Journalists have also come under attack, especially in the east, where attempts at media manipulation have been especially egregious, said Mr. Šimonović.
He said he was particularly worried about children who remain in harm’s way. According to Ukrainian authorities, some 300 children are still in orphanages in the areas under the control of armed groups. Residents in the east affected by the prolonged may need psychological assistance to heal and rebuild their lives, particularly children. Many others will require help to recover, such as victims of torture and former hostages, especially those held for long periods.
  • He called for a multi-year human rights action plan for Ukraine based on the recommendations of the UN human rights mechanisms and the work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission. The Government will need to address wider systemic problems, such as corruption, facing the country with respect to good governance, the rule of law and human rights.
“We cannot afford to wait a day longer, when at least 50 people are being killed or wounded every day. The price being paid by all Ukrainians as a result of the conflict is too high,” he added.
As for the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people on 17 July, he said that while the downing of the aircraft may constitute a war crime, a thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation is needed to determine the facts and circumstances of this act.
  • “This investigation is now underway, led by the Netherlands,” he said, underscoring in that regard that it is disturbing to learn that the volatile security situation at the crash site continues to hamper the investigators, despite the ceasefire zone declared by the Government of Ukraine around the area.
“It is urgent to stop the fighting and to secure the crash site,” declared Mr. Šimonović, adding that at the same time of course, there needs to be accountability for those responsible for war crimes, serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights law, as documented by the findings of the UN Monitoring Mission. 

Τετάρτη, Ιουλίου 30, 2014

G7 powers warn Russia of more sanctions over Ukraine

Washington. The leaders of the world's major developed economies condemned Russia for destabilizing Ukraine on Wednesday and warned it faces still tougher sanctions if it does not change course, AFP reported.
"Russia still has the opportunity to choose the path of de-escalation, which would lead to the removal of these sanctions," the G7 powers said, in a joint statement released by the White House.
"If it does not do so, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs of its adverse actions."
The G7 - Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - issued the statement one day after Washington and the European Union announced increased sanctions on Moscow.

"We once again condemn Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilize eastern Ukraine. Those actions are unacceptable and violate international law," the group said.
"We condemn the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the deaths of 298 innocent civilians. We demand a prompt, full, unimpeded, and transparent international investigation."
The G7 powers said Moscow should use its influence with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to enable air crash investigators and OSCE monitors to operate in safety.
They demanded that Russia get behind a ceasefire plan being pushed by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and support efforts to find a political solution to a conflict with a rising civilian death toll.

  • G-7 Leaders Statement on Ukraine (The White House)
Office of the Press Secretary,  July 30, 2014:
"We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council, and the President of the European Commission, join in expressing our grave concern about Russia’s continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.  We once again condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilize eastern Ukraine.  Those actions are unacceptable and violate international law.

We condemn the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the deaths of 298 innocent civilians.  We demand a prompt, full, unimpeded, and transparent international investigation.  We call upon all sides to establish, maintain, and fully respect a cease-fire at and around the crash site, as demanded by UN Security Council resolution 2166, so that the investigators can take up their work and to recover the remains of all victims and their personal possessions.

This terrible event should have marked a watershed in this conflict, causing Russia to suspend its support for illegal armed groups in Ukraine, secure its border with Ukraine, and stop the increasing flow of weapons, equipment, and militants across the border in order to achieve rapid and tangible results in de-escalation.

Regrettably, however, Russia has not changed course.  This week, we have all announced additional coordinated sanctions on Russia, including sanctions on specific companies operating in key sectors of the Russian economy.  We believe it is essential to demonstrate to the Russian leadership that it must stop its support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine and tangibly participate in creating the necessary conditions for the political process.
We remain convinced that there must be a political solution to the current conflict, which is causing rising numbers of civilian casualties.  We call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine and underline the need to implement President Poroshenko’s peace plan without any further delay.  To this end, we urge all parties to establish a swift, genuine, and sustainable general cease-fire on the basis of the Berlin Declaration of 2 July with the aim of maintaining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  We call upon Russia to use its influence with the separatist groups and ensure effective border control, including through OSCE observers.   We support the OSCE and the Trilateral Contact Group as central players in creating the conditions for a ceasefire.

Russia still has the opportunity to choose the path of de-escalation, which would lead to the removal of these sanctions.  If it does not do so, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs of its adverse actions."

Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 28, 2014

Eastern Ukraine: UN rights chief says downing of plane may be "war crime," urges probe

UN, 28 July 2014 – The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine may amount to a war crime, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today said today, releasing a new report that details a total breakdown of law and order and a reign of fear and terror inflicted by armed groups in the area.
“I would like to stress to all those involved in the conflict, including foreign fighters, that every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law, including war crimes, will be brought to justice, no matter who they are,” Navi Pillay said. “I urge all sides to bring to an end the rule of the gun and restore respect for the rule of law and human rights.”

The High Commissioner made the comments while issuing a new report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission deployed to Ukraine in mid-March, calling for greater care to prevent more civilian casualties.
The report, which covers the period from 8 June to 15 July, does not officially cover the 17 July downing of the plane. However, Mr. Pillay used the launch of the report to call for a “prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation.”
The UN Security Council has also called for an international investigation into the incident, and demanded that armed groups allow unfettered access to the crash site and ensure that its integrity is maintained.
Meanwhile, in the report, the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) documents how armed groups continue to abduct, detain, torture and execute people kept as hostages in order to intimidate and “to exercise their power over the population in raw and brutal ways.”
“Already increasing numbers of people are being killed with serious damage to civilian infrastructure, which – depending on circumstances – could amount to violations of international humanitarian law,” she said. “The fighting must stop.”
More than 812 people have been abducted or detained, according to the report, including politicians and employees of the local coal mining industry, but the majority of them ordinary citizens, such as teachers and students. Those detained are frequently used to seek ransom, while some are forced to dig trenches or fight on the front lines. There are also reports of alleged executions following so-called military tribunals.
In response, the Government of Ukraine has accelerated its security operations, resulting in heavy fighting and an estimated 101,617 people fleeing to other parts of Ukraine, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“The reports of increasingly intense fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are extremely alarming,” Ms. Pillay said, with both sides employing heavy weaponry in built-up areas, including artillery, tanks, rockets and missiles.
The report also points out how impunity in the areas under the control of the armed groups in the east has led to the collapse of the rule of law.
OHCHR noted that while the Government faces challenges to restore law, order and security, it must urgently prioritize good governance, rule of law and human rights issues, especially as Ukraine “seeks to fulfil its EU aspirations and establish a democratic and pluralistic society.”
  • In addition, the Office underscored that the human rights situation in Crimea remains a great concern with intensified harassment and discrimination of Ukrainian nationals, Crimean Tatars, religious minorities and activities opposed to the 16 March referendum.
The report also noted the impact of the current economic recession facing the country, particularly in the east which is the country’s centre for heavy industry.
The intensified fighting and continuation of the conflict have led to “more polarized” opinions, including dramatic escalation of hate speech, particularly on social media, as well as demonstrations and protests, including in the Parliament.


Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 28, 2014

Obama makes defiant defense of US restraint. Terrorism remains biggest threat to US

US President Barack Obama mounted a defiant defense of his global leadership Wednesday, rebuking critics who see him as weak but warning that not every global threat justifies a US military response.

In a major speech at the West Point military academy, Obama denied US power had ebbed under his watch, after he withdrew troops from Iraq and is doing the same in Afghanistan.

He also pledged to ramp up support for Syrian rebels, vowed to stand up to Russia over Ukraine and promised to make drone strikes against terror suspects more transparent.

He vowed to hold China accountable to international "rules of the road" in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

"To say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution," Obama said.

"Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures - without thinking through the consequences," Obama said, in an apparent reference to the Iraq war, which he has branded a disaster.

The president's speech came with his foreign policy, which was once seen as a political asset, under assault from critics who believe he is being outmaneuvered by strongmen like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Here's my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don't, no one else will. The military ... is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership."

Obama was particularly exercised by those who complain he should have deployed the US military in Syria or made a more robust strategic response to Russia's annexation of Ukraine, or who complain that he has left Iraq or Afghanistan to fend for themselves.

"Tough talk often draws headlines but war rarely conforms to slogans," Obama said.

"But US military action cannot be the only, or even primary, component of our leadership in every instance.

"Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail," Obama told a graduation ceremony at the college.

"And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader - and especially your commander in chief - to be clear about how that awesome power should be used."

Obama said he was "haunted" by the deaths of American servicemen under his watch - including some who attended previous commencement ceremonies he had given at West Point.

Obama also made an implicit defense of his decision to call off military strikes on Syria at the last minute last year to punish chemical weapons strikes.

Critics at home and abroad warned that the decision left dangerous questions about whether Washington would stand up to "red lines" elsewhere in the world.

"I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed fixing, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak," he told the graduates.

Yu Wanli, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said the US military still enjoys supremacy globally, and Washington's military spending accounts for nearly half the world's total.

"As early as in 2008, Obama said during his campaign that he opposed a foreign policy that is dependant on military intervention," Yu said. "The view has been carried on till today. It was reflected in Obama's dealing with the crises in Syria and Ukraine."

In his speech, Obama also said that terrorism remained the biggest national security threat to the US and unveiled a new $5 billion fund to equip and train allies on the front lines of the struggle against terrorism, for instance in Africa.

He also defended his decision to leave nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for a year after combat troops leave at the end of this year, and to gradually reduce the presence to a detachment of troops at the US Embassy in Kabul by the end of 2016, just before he leaves office. 


Τρίτη, Μαΐου 20, 2014

Some 1,0,000 people in Ukraine now affected by displacement (UN agency says)

 UN, 20 May 2014 – The United Nations refugee agency estimated today that 10,000 people, most ethnic Tatars, but also Ukrainians, Russians and mixed families, have fled Crimea and restive eastern Ukraine to other parts of the country, out of fear of insecurity or persecution.

“Displacement in Ukraine started before the March referendum in Crimea and has been rising gradually since. Registration numbers are being compiled on the basis of data we are receiving from local authorities,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at a press briefing in Geneva.

“Among the affected population are people who have been displaced twice – first from Crimea, and then again from the eastern part of the country,” Mr. Edwards added, noting that at least a third of the displaced are children.

He said that a needs assessment has recently been completed and UNHCR is working closely with local authorities, other UN agencies and NGO partners to assist those affected. So far, this includes legal assistance, integration grants for 150 families, cash assistance for 2000 people and improved shelters for 50 families.

He said that most displaced families have gone to central (45 per cent) and western Ukraine (26 per cent), though some are also in the southern and eastern regions. The number of Ukrainian asylum-seekers in other countries has remained low.

Many of those interviewed said they left either because of direct threats or out of fear of insecurity or persecution, Mr. Edwards said. “Some report having received personal threats over the phone, via social media, or finding threatening messages left on their property,” he reported.

“People cite fear of persecution because of ethnicity or religious beliefs, or in the cases of journalists, human rights activists and among intellectuals due to their activities or professions. Others say they could no longer keep their businesses open,” he added.

  • A United Nations report released last Friday documents an “alarming” deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine, along with serious problems emerging in Crimea.
At today’s briefing, Mr. Edwards said that people are being accommodated in shelters provided by local authorities, or staying in privately owned spaces, such us sanatoriums or hotels. Others are being hosted in private homes. “However the capacity of host communities to support people is fast becoming exhausted,” he warned.

Pressing needs include permanent shelter, employment opportunities, and support for community-based and local organizations in developing long-term solutions for the displaced families, he said.


Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 14, 2014

Lavrov Says Hysterical US Policy Makes Russia Consider Appropriate Response

Russia will be obliged to take retaliatory measures if the West continues its sanctions policy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

“If the West continues these absolutely non-professional hysterical policies, we would have to think what we can do in return,” Lavrov said during an English-language interview with Bloomberg.

The minister, however, emphasized that Russia was not looking for confrontations and would not like to parrot Western countries’ behavior.

“We are not looking for confrontation and we don’t want to mimic the hectic gestures made by Washington, Brussels, some other capitals, reluctantly most of them, by the way,” Lavrov stressed.

The Russian diplomat at the same time claimed that all threats coming from Washington, as well as European capitals, are highly unprofessional, far from reality and driven only by the desire to seek revenge.

“I don’t think that economic sanctions are being considered seriously … The discussions, as I can perceive them, they are based on the desire to get revenge, which is always very bad for politicians, which is not professional for anyone who wants to be engaged in serious politics, and revenge would probably have some effect, no doubt,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“If the West, just for the sake of revenge, is ready to sacrifice its reputation as a reliable partner for the entire world economy … it is up to them to decide. The entire world would think differently,” Lavrov added.

Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in mid-March, the US and EU imposed targeted sanctions against high-ranking Russian officials, freezing their assets and banning them from obtaining visas. Seventeen Russian companies are also on the blacklists, which have been repeatedly expanded.

Russia has also been continuously threatened with broader sanctions that could hit key sectors of the country’s economy in the event of further escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.

Moscow has condemned the measures, calling the policy of sanctions "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have.
MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) 

Πέμπτη, Μαρτίου 27, 2014

US Congress Votes to Aid Ukraine, Penalize Russia. - The same day that the IMF pledged to provide Ukraine with up to $18 billion in loans

The U.S. Congress has sent a strong message to Russia for its annexation of Crimea by passing measures that give aid to Ukraine and penalize Moscow.

Lawmakers in the House and the Senate overwhelmingly approved separate measures on Thursday.

Both bills include $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and penalize Russia for its actions in Crimea.

Lawmakers in both chambers will have to resolve differences on other provisions before sending a final bill to President Barack Obama.

Democratic Congressman Elliot Engel said if the United States continues to work with Ukraine and help turn the country "Westward," then Russian President Vladimir Putin "will have lost."

He said Putin may have a "land grab" in Crimea, but would lose the rest of Ukraine.

  • The House and Senate votes took place on the same day that the International Monetary Fund pledged to provide Ukraine with up to $18 billion in loans.

But, the IMF says Ukraine, in exchange, must agree to enact tough economic reforms.


Δευτέρα, Μαρτίου 17, 2014

Intervention du vice-Premier ministre et ministre des Affaires étrangères, E. Vénizélos sur l'Ukraine lors du Conseil des Affaires étrangères de l'UE (Bruxelles, 17 mars 2014)

MAE Hellénique, 17/3/14
Nous vous communiquons ci-dessous le texte de l'intervention d'aujourd'hui du vice-Premier ministre et ministre des Affaires étrangères sur l'Ukraine lors du Conseil des Affaires étrangères tenu aujourd'hui à Bruxelles:

«Notre réaction d'aujourd'hui, un jour après le référendum en Crimée, est facile et presque automatique. La politique européenne doit être toujours axée sur des principes. L'intégrité territoriale et le respect des frontières existantes sont le fondement du statu quo, de l'ordre légal international, de la paix et de la stabilité dans le monde entier.

Le projet des conclusions est équilibré. La liste des personnes sanctionnées, qui a été élaborée par le COREPER, atteste de la détermination de l'Union européenne mais aussi de notre volonté de garder ouvertes les voies de communication politiques et diplomatiques avec la Russie au niveau le plus élevé.

En outre, notre attitude à l'égard du gouvernement ukrainien est claire. Nous insistons toujours sur les points critiques de l'inclusion, non seulement des forces politiques et sociales, mais aussi de toutes les régions du pays, de la sécurité, de la feuille de route vers la normalisation démocratique et du respect des minorités nationales et linguistiques.

  • Bien évidemment,  une question extrêmement importante est, d’un part, d'éviter la faillite désordonnée et d’autre part d’avoir la possibilité d'appliquer des réformes substantielles économiques, sociales et institutionnelles. Cela est toujours très difficile lorsque les réformes sont accompagnées par des mesures désagréables pour la société. Si cela est difficile pour chaque gouvernement, nous pourrons imaginer  combien cela est difficile pour le gouvernement de transition ukrainien.

Cela est par conséquent la partie facile de notre politique. Toutefois, il existe toujours le problème stratégique. Quelle est notre prévision concernant les prochains pas de la Russie et l'évolution ou plutôt l'escalade de nos propres réactions? Dans quelle mesure notre aperçu du cadre stratégique du gouvernement américain est clair et complet?

  • Il est par ailleurs communément admis que l'enjeu lié aux relations économiques UE-Russie est beaucoup plus important que celui lié aux relations économiques Etats-Unis- Russie.

  • En outre, c'est maintenant le moment propice pour faire une réévaluation de la politique européenne de ces derniers mois à l'égard de l'Ukraine et en général à l’égard du Partenariat oriental. Ces évolutions en Ukraine et en Crimée font -elles partie de nos propres prévisions stratégiques?

Par ailleurs, dans ce cas, quelle est notre prévision pour l'avenir? Il est évident que l'objectif européen n'est pas de déclencher une crise européenne majeure sur le continent européen. Ni l'est de conduire la Russie vers la sortie de la communauté internationale, dans la logique d'une nouvelle guerre froide. La Russie doit rester dans le cadre de la communauté internationale et de l'ordre légal international, car nous avons l'obligation de parvenir dans les meilleurs délais à une solution diplomatique et politique.



Σάββατο, Μαρτίου 15, 2014

United Nations Security Council action on Crimea referendum blocked

UN, 15 March 2014 – Owing to the negative vote of one of its permanent members, the United Nations Security Council today failed to adopt a draft resolution which urged countries not to recognize the results of this weekend's referendum in Crimea.
Thirteen of the Council's 15 members voted in favour of the draft text, Russia voted against, and China abstained. A veto by any of the Council's five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – means a resolution cannot be adopted.

  • The resolution would have reaffirmed Ukraine's “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity” and declared that Sunday's referendum which could lead to Crimea's break with Ukraine and union with Russia, “can have no validity”.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said it was “no secret” that Russia was planning to vote against the draft. He added that Moscow would respect the decision of the Crimeans but could not accept the basic assumption of the draft resolution which aimed “to declare illegal the planned March 16 referendum where residents of the Republic of Crimea should decide on their future”.
  • Liu Jieyi, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, said after the vote that Beijing sought a “balanced” solution to the conflict within a framework of law and order. He called for the creation of a coordination group, a support package for Ukraine, and also called on countries to refrain from action which could further escalate the conflict.
Deep disappointment and incredulity was expressed by several Council members, who noted that this was the seventh time the body was convening to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
United States Permanent Representative Samantha Power, whose country sponsored the resolution, said the text was aimed at finding a principled and peaceful solution, and upheld UN principles on the sovereignty of its Member States.
Russia has the power to veto a Security Council resolution, "but it does not have the power to veto the truth," she said.
United Kingdom's Mark Lyall Grant said the result of today's vote highlighted Russia's isolation over Crimea within the Council and from the international community.
Meanwhile, Gérard Araud of France quipped that Russia “vetoed the UN Charter” with its “no” vote.
  • Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that “emotions have been hardened” over the forthcoming referendum.
  • Addressing journalists Friday at the UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban cautioned against “hasty measures and decisions which may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and stressed that any actions should be in accordance with provisions of the UN Charter.
UN officials, including Mr. Ban, have been appealing to all parties to calm the situation and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue to forge a peaceful way forward in Ukraine, which has been witnessing unrest for several months.
Tensions heightened last week as lawmakers in Crimea, where additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles have recently been deployed, voted to join Russia and to hold a referendum on 16 March to validate the decision.

Παρασκευή, Μαρτίου 14, 2014

'No common vision' on Ukraine, Russia says after US talks

Russia and the West do not share a common view of the situation in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in London on Friday, just two days ahead of a referendum in Crimea.

"We have no common vision of the situation. Differences remain," said Lavrov after the longer-than-expected talks, just two days before the Ukrainian region of Crimea holds a weekend referendum.

Lavrov said Russia would "respect the will of the Crimean people" in the referendum result, which is expected to see Crimeans vote to rejoin Russia rather than remain a semi-autonomous part of Ukraine.

The United States and Europe have said the Crimea vote would be illegitimate, with France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius calling it "illegal".

Kerry reiterated at a press conference following his meeting with Lavrov that the West would not recognise the results of the referendum.

"Neither we, nor the international community, will recognise the results of this referendum," Kerry said, adding that "there will be some sanctions, there will be some response" if the referendum goes ahead as planned.

  • The Black Sea region of two million mostly Russian speakers has been occupied by Russian troops for more than two weeks.

Kerry has warned Russia that Washington and Europe would initiate a "very serious" reaction to the vote as early as Monday if Moscow does not pull back the troops that seized control of Crimea just days after the pro-Kremlin regime fell in Kiev last month.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told a press briefing hours later that Russia's unwavering stance was "regrettable".

"We have obviously not gotten to a situation where Russia has chosen to de-escalate, where Russia has chosen a path of resolving the situation peacefully and through diplomacy. That is regrettable. We will have to see how the next several days unfold," he said.

Lavrov said that Russia had no plans for a further incursion into southern Ukraine. "Russia has no, and cannot have, any plans to invade the southeast region of Ukraine," he said.

But Kerry remained sceptical. "We would like to see actions and not words that [Russia] is diminishing its presence in Ukraine," the top US diplomat said.

Kerry entered the talks with his counterpart hoping to secure a Russian agreement on delaying the vote until a diplomatic solution could be hammered out.

"The first thing that Secretary Kerry will say is, 'Will you use your influence to buy time and space for negotiations to take place?'," one US official said ahead of the discussions.

  • Russia refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the pro-Western government that took power in Kiev after Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich fled the capital on February 22 following months of protests against his regime.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Δευτέρα, Μαρτίου 10, 2014

Ukraine and the Council of Europe have agreed joint actions to block Russia's aggression in Crimea, Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov says.

Ukraine's acting President and Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to discuss and exchange views on the latest developments in Ukraine.
Joint actions with the Council of Europe have been agreed and an active dialogue about cooperation with the IMF is taking place, a statement from Turchynov said.

In the statement Turchynov added that Russia's aggression in Crimea is blocking Ukraine from starting the process of re-establishing its stability and reminded Russia that the international community would not leave Ukraine alone as under the Budapest Memorandum the US and Britain are guarantor states for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
“There is an attempt to misinform Russian citizens and citizens of other countries on the issues related to the legitimacy of the Ukrainian authorities, events in Crimea and the false referendum that is being organized, or better to say falsified,”  Turchynov told a press briefing after the meeting.
  • For his part, the Secretary General praised the recent reforms and progress towards a democratic Ukraine, expressing the council’s full support for the interim government.
  • Jagland said they had come to Kiev to show their support for the territorial integrity of the crisis-racked country, adding that the Council of Europe is ready to send observers to the Crimea region.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told a press conference that he believed Russia sought to "undermine the foundations of global security and revise the outcome of World War II.''
Yatseniuk stressed that it is not up to the Russian tanks or military vehicles but to the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, and the people of Crimea to determine the fate of the region.
The Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean, has also held a series of talks in Kiev with Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and Foreign Minister Andrey Deshitsa.

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 09, 2014

Ukraine Making sense of sanctions

Visa bans, freezing assets, boycotts: There is no lack of suggestions of how to tone down Russian aggression. But what good would sanctions do? Politicians are growing increasingly skeptical. DW takes a look. 

The European Union has said it is halting visa talks with Russia following an emergency summit of the bloc's leaders where they discussed ways to punish Russia for its recent exploits on the Crimean Peninsula. If Russia continues to reject negotiations, further measures are to be taken, which could entail economic sanctions.

It didn't take long for the Kremlin to respond. Any sanction will be met with countermeasures from Moscow, an official government statement declared. The United States has already imposed visa bans on targeted Russians and warned of freezing their assets. In response, Russia has threatened to stop reciprocal weapons inspections.

The chimes of boycotts flashin'
According to news magazine Der Spiegel, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her attendance at the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi depends on developments in Crimea. If the Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia, which Merkel has openly called "illegal" and in "violation of Ukraine's constitution," goes ahead, the chancellor won't be in Sochi in June.

Michael Fuchs, conservative politician and deputy parliamentary head of Merkel's CDU, has suggested another form of sanction to force Putin's hand: take away, or at least call into question, Russia's hosting of the 2018 Soccer World Cup. That suggestion has been criticized by left-leaning Social Democrat and Left Party politicians as "soccer diplomacy."
But calls for some kind of sanctions are growing ever louder; at the same time, criticism is also reverberating that this form of conflict resolution is simply wrong. Even EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, himself a German Social Democrat, has expressed doubt as to whether such words will ultimately bring Putin to the negotiating table.

Watered down sanctions?
Be that as it may, the sanctions that have been addressed are seen by many as rather mild. In a commentary in the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one journalist remarked that the proposed measures are weaker than those hurled at Switzerland following its referendum on capping immigration.
Some German politicians have said that any sanctions at all would miss the mark, resulting merely in further dividing the two sides. Gregor Gysi, parliamentary head of the Left Party, rejects imposing sanctions against Russia altogether: "You can perhaps impress a weak partner with sanctions, but not Russia. It has China on its side, and we must not underestimate this," Gysi told German public radio.
"Such a situation lends itself to saber rattling, and as soon as we shout 'sanctions' then Putin will make his own threat," Gysi added, pointing out that the EU should also keep in mind its dependency on Russian gas.
The EU's careful stance on the accelerating Ukraine crisis has garnered praise from German economic representatives. "It's quite right to promote de-escalation," said Martin Wansleben, head of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
"We are communicating not only with Putin but with all of Russia," he added. "I think it's smart to say that we're in a position to talk, but at the end of the day we are willing to compromise." Wansleben also pointed out that the dive taken by the rouble since the outbreak of the crisis can be seen as an indirect effect of the sanctions already pledged.

Close economic ties
Economic sanctions would be senseless for Germany, because they would endanger billions in investments. Trade volumes between Germany and Russia in 2013 were over 75 billion euros ($104 billion). Around 6,000 German companies currently do business in Russia, and around 300,000 jobs could be jeopardized. And then there is the financial sector: European banks have around 180 billion euros in Russia at the moment.

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger's concerns of a potential escalation between Russia and Europe are perhaps the most acute. Sanctions, he said, "would negatively affect Europe's fragile economic renewal," adding that Europe needed to find alternatives to Russian gas. As far as Germany's transition to renewable energy is concerned, Oettinger said it would be impossible without Russian gas. At the moment, Germany receives 35 percent of its oil and gas imports from Russia.
Germany is divided as to whether the West should impose sanctions on Russia. A recent Emnid survey indicates that 45 percent of Germans are against the sanctions, with 44 percent in support. The results were significantly different when the question was put differently: 54 percent of Germans said they wouldn't be willing to help Ukraine if sanctions led to higher gas bills.

Κυριακή, Μαρτίου 02, 2014

Ukraine Calls Up Reservists, as PM Warns of Looming 'Disaster'

Ukraine's interim government ordered a full military mobilization Sunday, in an effort to to counter what its new prime minister says is a Russian act of war.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in an address to parliament, warned lawmakers "we are on the brink of disaster." He spoke as Russian troops continued to take up positions on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and Western governments issued repeated condemnations of the Russian deployments.

NATO convened an emergency session Sunday to discuss the crisis, which Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said is threatening peace and stability across Europe. He urged Moscow to "de-escalate" the tension in the region.

Russian news agencies say Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama late Saturday that Moscow reserves the right to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

In Washington Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blasted the Russian deployments, calling them "an incredible act of aggression." He also warned of potential economic sanctions against Moscow for military action he likened to "19th century" behavior on a "completely trumped-up pretext." He also told CBS television that Moscow still has "a right set of choices" that can still be made to defuse the crisis.

Ukraine's top security official, Andriy Paruby, says military reservists were mobilized to "ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine." But many Western analysts are questioning the effectiveness of the call up, saying Ukraine's limited military capabilities are no match for Russian military might.

  • At the United Nations, Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said 15,000 Russian troops are already in Crimea under the pretense of protecting Russian citizens.

  • Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed the West for ratcheting up tensions in Ukraine and backing protests that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych last month.

Crimea is a Black Sea peninsula placed under Ukrainian control in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It became part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Crimea has a tiny border with Russia on its far eastern point. Most of the people living in Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tartars who generally show disdain for Russia.

Ukraine's troubles began in November when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties and economic aid from Russia. The move triggered weeks of pro-Western demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, and forced the pro-Russian Yanukovych to flee the capital in late February. 


Σάββατο, Μαρτίου 01, 2014

Ομόφωνο δεκτό το αίτημα Πούτιν για στρατιωτική επέμβαση στην Κριμαία από τη ρωσική Ανω Βουλή. - FC deputy speaker: Obama’s statement ‘insults Russian people’

Ομόφωνα δεκτό έγινε από το ρωσικό Συμβούλιο της Ομοσπονδίας (Ανω Βουλή) το αίτημα του προέδρου Βλαντίμιρ Πούτιν για αποστολή στρατευμάτων στην Κριμαία. Στην απόφαση, η οποία έχει άμεση ισχύ, γίνεται λόγος για «σταθεροποιητικές στρατιωτικές δυνάμεις στην Ουκρανική επικράτεια».

Ο πρόεδρος Πούτιν απεύθυνε αίτημα νομιμοποίησης της αποστολής στρατευμάτων από τη ρωσική Βουλή νωρίτερα σήμερα, με το σκεπτικό της «απειλής για τη ζωή των Ρώσων πολιτών και στρατιωτικών δυνάμεων που βρίσκονται στις ναυτικές βάσεις στην Κριμαία».

Η Ρωσία διαθέτει σημαντική δύναμη στην Κριμαία, καθώς, μετά από συμφωνία μεταξύ Μόσχας και Κιέβου, ο Στόλος της Μαύρης Θάλασσας που αριθμεί περίπου 20.000 άνδρες, έχει τη βάση του στη Σεβαστούπολη.

Η σημαντική εξέλιξη έρχεται μετά από αναφορές για μεγάλου βεληνεκούς επιχειρήσεις ρωσικών στρατιωτικών δυνάμεων προς την χερσόνησο της Κριμαίας, μία εβδομάδα μετά την βίαιη ανατροπή του προέδρου Βίκτορ Γιανούκοβιτς και την ανάληψη της εξουσίας από την αντιπολίτευση της Ουκρανίας. «Τα ρωσικά στρατεύματα θα παραμείνουν ανεπτυγμένα στη γύρω περιοχή μέχρι να αποκατασταθεί η πολιτικο-κοινωνική κατάσταση στη χώρα» αναφέρει σε ανακοίνωσή του το Κρεμλίνο. Οι γερουσιαστές της ρωσικής Ανω Βουλής σε έκτακτη συνεδρίαση εξέφρασαν ομόφωνα την υποστήριξη τους σε ένοπλη παρέμβαση, ενώ κατηγόρησαν για άλλη μια φορά την Ευρώπη και τις ΗΠΑ για υπόθαλψη των βίαιων ταραχών των τελευταίων ημερών στο Κίεβο, αφήνοντας ελεύθερο το πεδίο δράσης σε εξτρεμιστές, ακραίους εθνικιστές και φιλοναζιστικές ομάδες.

Στο μεταξύ κορυφώνονται οι φιλορωσικές διαδηλώσεις στη νότια και ανατολική Ουκρανία, ενώ ο νεοεκλεγείς πρωθυπουργός της Αυτόνομης Δημοκρατίας της Κριμαίας Σεργκέι Αξιόνοφ ζήτησε σήμερα παρέμβαση Πούτιν για να διατηρηθεί η ειρήνη και η ασφάλεια στη περιοχή.

Αντιδράσεις από Κίεβο αλλά και από Ομπάμα
Οι ραγδαίες εξελίξεις και η παρουσία ρωσικών στρατευμάτων στην χερσόνησο της Κριμαίας έχουν προκαλέσει τις έντονες αντιδράσεις του Κιέβου, με τον μεταβατικό πρόεδρο Αλεξάντερ Τουρτσίνοφ να κάνει λόγο για «πρόκληση Πούτιν σε ανοιχτή σύγκρουση».
Την καταδίκη κάθε παρέμβασης έχουν εκφράσει και οι ευρωπαίοι ηγέτες ενώ ο αμερικανός πρόεδρος Μπαράκ Ομπάμα δήλωσε χτες πως «ανησυχεί βαθύτατα για τις κινήσεις των ρωσικών στρατευμάτων στο εσωτερικό της Ουκρανίας» και προειδοποίησε πως κάθε παραβίαση σε ουκρανικά εδάφη θα ήταν εξαιρετικά αποσταθεροποιητική και επικίνδυνη.

  • FC deputy speaker: Obama’s statement ‘insults Russian people’....

By saying that Russia would face “costs” for its policy with regard to Ukraine, U.S. President Barack Obama “crossed the red line and insulted the Russian people,” Yuri Vorobyov, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament, said on Saturday, March 1.

“The foreign policy situation in Ukraine requires us to make decisions. The president’s appeal requires us to adopt the relevant resolution,” he said at an urgent meeting of the Federation Council convened to consider President Vladimir Putin’s request for the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine pending normalisation of the situation in that country.

“We heard media reports yesterday quoting Obama as saying that Russia would face ‘costs’ for its policy. We know that Maidan fighters were trained in Lithuania and Poland. Now they want to take their activities to eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea,” Vorobyov said.

He described Obama’s words as “a direct threat”: “he crossed the ‘red line’ and insulted the Russian people.” “I think we should ask the president and recall [the Russian ambassador from the U.S.],” Vorobyov noted.

He was supported by Federation Council member Vyacheslav Shtyrov, who believes that “events occurring in Ukraine are the upshot of the extensive work that was done with the participation of foreign countries. The U.S. played a major role,” he said.

Shtyrov noted that U.S. officials were openly saying that they had invested a lot of money in order to create this situation. “On the other hand, Russia has always adhered to a reserved and balanced position, and our president was even reproached for non-interfering in the situation in Ukraine. Now Russia is facing accusations and threats,” Shtyrov said.

“I support Yuri Vorobyov. We must appeal to the president of Russia with the recommendation he mentioned [that the Russian ambassador be recalled from the U.S.],” he added.

Valentina Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Federation Council, has instructed the Committee on International Relations to draw up an appeal to Putin for recalling the Russian ambassador from the United States.

“There is the proposal to instruct the Committee on International Relations to prepare an appeal to the President of Russia without delay and send it to the president. The president will consider it and make the decision,” Matviyenko said.

  • Russian senators approve use of military forces on Ukrainian territory....

Russia’s Federation Council has unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine. The move is aimed to settle the turmoil in the split country.

The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted in favor of sending troops to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which would ensure peace and order in the region "until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized."

Russian Federation Council's Committee on Foreign Affairs recommends senators to permit use of force in Ukraine

The Committee on International Relations of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament, on Saturday, March 1, supported President Vladimir Putin’s appeal regarding the use of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine pending normalisation of the situation in the neighbouring country.

The Federation Council Committee on Security also supported the president’s appeal. Both committees advised the upper house to uphold it, Security Committee Chair Viktor Ozerov and International Relation Committee Chair Vladimir Dzhabarov said.

The Federation Council was summoned for an urgent meeting on Saturday to discuss Putin’s letter.......................http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_01/Russian-senators-approve-use-of-military-forces-on-Ukrainian-territory-1429/

Παρασκευή, Φεβρουαρίου 28, 2014

Kiev has no money to pay off debts, financial crisis to follow - Ukraine's ex-minister

Ukraine’s new government is saying that it would try to do its best to stabilize the situation in the country. We have got in touch with Victor Suslov, once Ukraine’s Minister of Economy and now Ukraine’s representative in the Eurasian Economic Commission.
Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk says that now, Ukrainians would have to toughly economize for some time. Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s National Bank Stepan Kubiv has said that Ukraine has enough money to pay back its foreign debts.

News has also appeared that European creditors have agreed to help Ukraine with money for it to restore its gas transport system. What is the real financial situation in Ukraine?

I don’t think that Ukraine really has money to pay back its foreign debts. Today, Ukraine’s National Bank ordered the country’s banks not to give currency deposits to individuals. Yesterday, the rate of Ukraine’s national currency, the grivna, to the dollar reached the point of 11.4 grivnas for 1 dollar, although only a few days ago, it was 8 grivnas for 1 dollar. All these facts are evidence of a serious financial crisis in Ukraine. The US and the EU have promised some financial aid to Ukraine, but in fact a very small one. However, the International Monetary Fund says it may give Ukraine a loan of up to $ 15 bln, but for this, Ukraine should fulfill some demands of the IMF, such as increasing the population’s pay for communal services and the like. At present, there are only from 3 to 4 mln grivnas in the Ukraine’s treasury, which is practically no money. The National Bank has already started emissions of big sums, but this is done for refinancing commercial banks. This will most likely lead to devaluation of the grivna and high inflation.

The new government of Ukraine was formed only yesterday but has already dubbed itself "a government of self-killers" for its unpopular measures. It is expected that this government would exist till the presidential elections, which are due to be held on May 25.

To stabilize the financial situation, the government should, first of all, stabilize the political situation, which is currently very aggravated, especially in the Crimea and some other regions.

Russia’s authorities have not recognized the new Ukrainian government. Russia has already withdrawn its ambassador from Ukraine.

  • Many residents of the Crimean Peninsula want their region to become independent from the rest of Ukraine. Do you think that the new Ukrainian government may agree to that?

  • I find it very unlikely that the new government may allow the residents of Crimea even to hold a referendum on whether their region should get at least a little more autonomy from the rest of Ukraine, to say nothing of a total separation. The government has already clearly said that in several official statements.

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