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 31 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:39 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Pakistan 'soft coup' fears as army chief holds talks with protest leaders

General mediates talks with Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, who have been leading calls for overthrow of government

Jon Boone in Islamabad
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 11.38 BST   
   
Pakistan's army chief took centre stage in a national political crisis on Thursday night by holding talks with two protest leaders who have been agitating on the streets of Islamabad for the overthrow of the elected government for the last two weeks.

Politician and former cricketer Imran Khan and a Muslim cleric called Tahir-ul-Qadri left their protest camps outside parliament for back-to-back audiences with Raheel Sharif, the general in charge of Pakistan's 500,000-strong army.

Officials said the general had agreed to mediate in a bitter stand-off between the government and Khan and Qadri who have brought thousands of their followers to Islamabad.

Even though prime minister Nawaz Sharif requested the army chief become involved in defusing the crisis, the development was widely seen as a decisive re-assertion of power by an institution that has directly or indirectly ruled Pakistan for most of its history.

The development was widely criticised as a major setback for the country and even described by some as a "soft coup" by the army. One key ally of Khan, a veteran politician called Javed Hashmi, said the army's involvement was a "shameful time for all politicians".

Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on Pakistan's military, said Sharif would now only be able to serve out the rest of his term as a "ceremonial prime minister".

"Any gains made in the last eight years to strengthen democracy have been rolled back," she said.

Sharif, a politician who lost power during the 1999 military takeover, was elected last year determined to curb the power of the army.

In so doing he enraged the military establishment by ordering the trial of former dictator Pervez Musharraf for treason, pushing for deeper trade ties with arch-enemy India and siding with the country's biggest television station after it accused the army of trying to kill one of its journalists.

On Thursday a senior aide to the prime minister said the army had agreed to help the prime minister defuse the crisis on the condition he left key areas of national affairs to the army, principally foreign and defence policy towards Afghanistan and India.

The aide said among the specific army demands was that Sharif should not call for investigations into firing by Pakistani troops across contested areas of the border with India, of which there has been an upsurge in recent weeks.

The prime minister's reliance on the army chief for survival was underlined by the regular meetings he has had with Sharif in recent days to discuss the crisis.

Some government officials believe the army deliberately encouraged Khan and Qadri to launch their protests to create the circumstances that would allow the army to intervene.

Khan, who has a fondness for cricketing metaphors, has frequently hinted during the two week political drama that a "third umpire" would at some point "raise his finger" and send the prime minister packing.

But it remains unlikely the army will support Khan's demand for the prime minister to be sacked.

Any unconstitutional move would risk billions of dollars of much needed US assistance. Sharif also enjoys solid support in parliament and the quiet endorsement of the US which rejects Khan's claims that Sharif stole last year's election through industrial scale rigging.

In the early hours of Friday morning, after his meeting with Sharif at Army House in the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, Khan returned to his supporters to insist he would not drop his demand for the prime minister to step down.

"Our sit-in will not be called off until Prime Minister Sharif resigns," he told what remained of the crowd that gathers each night amid a carnival-like atmosphere each night to hear music and speeches.

Khan has watered down his demands somewhat, and now calls for Sharif to temporarily step down as prime minister whilst a judicial inquiry investigates claims of electoral fraud.

Qadri, a Barelvi cleric who spends most of his time in Canada, has also narrowed his focus. Although he wants to sweep away Pakistan's democratic system which he says is irremediably corrupt in recent days his demands have centred on a murder inquiry into the killing of his supporters in June.

At least 10 people died during clashes in the city of Lahore after police attempted to remove security barriers near Qadri's office.

On Thursday, in an apparent bid to appease Qadri, the prime minister's office said a murder case had been registered against senior government officials including Sharif.

The inquiry may ultimately force Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz to resign from his powerful position as chief minister of Punjab province.

 32 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:37 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Isis video shows beheading of Kurdish fighter

The video, titled 'A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance', follows air strikes in northern Iraq

AFP in Baghdad
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 09.22 BST   

The jihadi Islamic State (Isis) group has posted a video of the beheading of a captured Kurdish fighter, in a warning to Iraqi Kurdish leaders to end military cooperation with Washington, a monitoring group has said.

The video, titled "A message in blood to the leaders of the American-Kurdish alliance", opens with 15 men in orange jumpsuits standing around the Isis flag.

Three of the men ask the Kurdish regional president, Massud Barzani, "and the Kurdish government to end their relationship with the US … military intervention in northern Iraq", the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service said.

"Any mistake or recklessness from you will lead to the [loss] of our life," SITE quoted one of the men as saying.

The video then cuts to three masked men dressed in black standing in front of a mosque with another man wearing an orange jumpsuit kneeling in front of them. They then behead him.

The United States has carried out a wave of air strikes against the jihadis in northern Iraq, helping Kurdish forces to claw back ground lost to the militants this month.

The video follows another released by Isis of the murder of American journalist James Foley and threatening another kidnapped reporter Steven Sotloff with the same fate if US air strikes are not halted.

It also comes straight after the release of a video showing scores of bodies that Isis said were those of Syrian soldiers they had captured and murdered following their seizure of a northern air base last weekend.

The jihadis are spread over a vast swath of territory straddling Iraq and Syria, where their abuses have sparked an international outcry

 33 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:36 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Erdogan Is Sworn In as President of Turkey

By CEYLAN YEGINSU
AUG. 28, 2014
IHT

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s former prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was sworn in Thursday as the country’s first directly elected president, a position from which he is expected to continue to exercise power for at least another five years.

Speaking at his inauguration in Ankara, the capital, Mr. Erdogan said, “The era of the old Turkey is over,” a reference to previous secular governments over which the military exercised near-total influence.

The event at the presidential palace was attended by senior representatives from about 90 countries, including several heads of state, but no leaders from Western Europe.

“We are now in an era of a new Turkey that carries the spirit of the Republic,” he added. Analysts say Mr. Erdogan envisions a country that is economically rising, dominant in the Middle East and socially conservative to the core.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Erdogan took the oath of office in Parliament, where he vowed to safeguard the existence and independence of the state and honor the Constitution, adhering to the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

A majority of the main opposition deputies, including the chairman, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, boycotted the ceremony by walking out before Mr. Erdogan delivered his oath. One opposition deputy hurled a booklet at the parliamentary speaker, Cemil Cicek, as he presented the presidential mandate.   

Mr. Erdogan, who has governed Turkey for more than a decade, received almost 52 percent of the vote in the country’s first direct presidential election on Aug. 10.

He won broad popularity during his tenure as prime minister for sharply reducing the influence of the military in politics, facilitating religious expression that had been suppressed under the former ruling secular elite and transforming the country into a regional economic power.

Mr. Erdogan is now considered the most powerful Turkish political figure since Ataturk. While the president’s role has been largely ceremonial and less powerful than that of the prime minister, Mr. Erdogan has vowed to become an active head of state, exercising all his constitutional powers.

On Thursday, shortly after taking the oath of office, Mr. Erdogan appointed the former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as prime minister, as expected, with the task of forming a new government, which is to be announced on Friday.

The intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, and the minister of European Union affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu, are among the top contenders for the post of foreign minister.

Mr. Davutoglu, a loyal party member and longtime ally of Mr. Erdogan’s, has also taken the reins of the governing Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., which has held power for 12 years.

“Erdogan’s legacy is our honor and will be defended until the end,” Mr. Davutoglu said Wednesday at the party’s congress, where he was formally elected as leader.

Although Mr. Erdogan must sever ties with the A.K.P. in his new role, he has made little secret of his intent to work hand in hand with Mr. Davutoglu to restructure the Constitution to move from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.

 34 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:31 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Ukraine Leader Says ‘Huge Loads of Arms’ Pour in From Russia

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and MICHAEL R. GORDON
AUG. 28, 2014
IHT

MOSCOW — Supported by NATO satellite imagery showing Russian forces on the move in eastern Ukraine, its president accused Russia on Thursday of an invasion to aid the separatists, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription to help counter what he called an “extremely difficult” threat.

The assertions by the president, Petro O. Poroshenko, came two days after he had met with President malignant tumor Pig Putin of Russia in attempts to find a way to end the nearly six-month-old crisis roiling Ukraine. The conflict has escalated into the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War, and the developments on the ground in the rebellious east along the Russian border suggested it would worsen. 

Mr. Poroshenko scrapped a trip to Turkey to deal with the crisis and called an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council. He dismissed Kremlin claims that any Russian soldiers in Ukraine were volunteers who had sacrificed their vacations to help the heavily pro-Russian east suffering oppression from the Kiev central government.

“Columns of heavy artillery, huge loads of arms and regular Russian servicemen came to the territory of Ukraine from Russia through the uncontrolled border area,” Mr. Poroshenko said. Mercenaries, along with regular servicemen, were trying to overrun positions held by the Ukrainian military, he said, according to a statement on his official website.

“The situation is certainly extremely difficult and nobody is going to simplify it,” Mr. Poroshenko said.

Anticipating the possibility of direct combat between Ukrainian and Russian troops, the council later announced it had reimposed mandatory military service, suspended last year.

Mr. Poroshenko spoke as NATO released satellite images to corroborate accusations that Russian forces were actively involved in Ukraine fighting. NATO also said that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers had joined the separatists battling the Ukrainian military.

“Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” Brig. Gen. Nico Tak of the Netherlands, a senior officer in NATO’s military command, said in a statement. One image, dated Aug. 21, shows a Russian military convoy with self-propelled artillery moving in the Krasnodon region inside Ukraine. Another, dated Aug. 23, shows Russian self-propelled artillery units in firing positions near Krasnodon.

  General Tak said the Russian soldiers were backing the separatists and “fighting with them.” He also said NATO estimated that about 20,000 Russian troops were deployed on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border.

 The United States ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, said in a series of Twitter messages that Russian military assistance to the separatists had failed to help them sufficiently, “so now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory.” He also asserted that Russia had sent its newest air defense systems, including an effective weapon, the SA-22, into eastern Ukraine, “and is now directly involved in the fighting.”

 In Washington, President Obama condemned the Russian actions, calling them part of a pattern of behavior that began months ago, which he said had already led to Russia’s political and economic isolation because of Western sanctions. Mr. Obama told a news conference that he expected that the United States and its European partners would take further measures, although he did not characterize the latest Russia actions as an invasion, or say what addition sanctions might be imposed, or when.

Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, said that the Ukrainian military was planning a counteroffensive against the separatists and what he called “more and more Russians” but declined to provide details.

Separatists aided by Russia held the town of Novoazovsk, he said, with Ukrainian forces having retreated a day earlier. At a briefing in Kiev, Colonel Lysenko described that retreat as a regrouping of Ukrainian forces to better protect Mariupol, a key southern city now under threat.

Russia officials continued to deny sending soldiers or weapons to Ukraine. But the leader of the main separatist group in southeastern Ukraine said that up to 4,000 Russians, including active-duty soldiers currently on leave, had been fighting against Ukrainian government forces, Russian television reported.

“There are active soldiers fighting among us who preferred to spend their vacation not on the beach, but with us, among their brothers, who are fighting for their freedom,” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, a rebel commander and the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said in an interview on Russian state-run television.

Mr. Zakharchenko said that 3,000 to 4,000 Russians had fought alongside separatists since the conflict erupted.

That assertion evaded the issue of direct Russian involvement by painting the soldiers as volunteers. It suggests, however, that Moscow still seeks to organize and to some extent control a force that could be operated at arm’s length with a backbone of local participation.

While the United States and its European allies have condemned Russia, they have not responded to criticism that the Ukrainian tactics against the separatists have included shelling civilian areas in rebel strongholds. The United Nations has estimated that 2,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine violence.

The United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session on Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, during which the United States and other Western allies expressed outrage at what they described as a pattern of deceitful Russian aggression.

“Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth,” said Samantha Power, the United States ambassador. “It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.”

Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, did not deny that Russians were fighting in eastern Ukraine but said they were volunteers. He said the Ukrainian government was “waging war against its own people.”

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Moscow of opening a new southern front to relieve pressure on the besieged insurgent redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north.

A separatist defeat in the eastern part of Ukraine would deliver a significant domestic political blow to the malignant tumor, whose popularity in Russia soared when he annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula last March. But the confrontation in the south raised the specter for the first time in months of a direct confrontation between Ukraine’s forces and those of its giant neighbor.

In eastern Ukraine, fighting intensified in cities and villages along the path of the forces advancing from the Russian border in what Western and Ukrainian officials have called a multipronged attack. The Ukrainian soldiers in the region southeast of Donetsk are now surrounded, as pro-Russian forces appear to control a road to the west.

The armored columns that captured Novoazovsk and now threaten Mariupol, far from the fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk, serve the separatist aim of diverting Ukrainian forces to deal with that new threat. Western analysts say the advance may also be the start of a ground offensive to seize Ukrainian territory for a land route connecting Russia to Crimea.

Mr. Zakharchenko, who says he has Ukrainian citizenship, took over as prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic this month, replacing Alexandr Borodai, a Russian. Several other Russians who had figured prominently in the rebel ranks, including the military commander Igor Strelkov, have also dropped from sight in recent weeks.

In the interview with the official satellite channel Rossiya 24, Mr. Zakharchenko said that many former professional Russian soldiers had come to Ukraine as volunteers, out of a sense of duty. “Many of them have gone home, but the majority have remained here,” Mr. Zakharchenko said. “Unfortunately, some have been killed.”

*****

Obama ramps up Russia rhetoric

President rules out US military action, but says Moscow's actions will bring 'more costs and consequences' for Russia

Matthew Weaver and agencies
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 10.10 BST     

Barack Obama has accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine and being responsible for an upsurge in violence in the country.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the US president said Russia was encouraging, training, arming and funding separatists in the region and warned Moscow that it faced further isolation.

He said: "Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists."

Obama again ruled out US military action, but claimed Russia's increasing involvement in Ukraine "will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia", threatening a further tightening of sanctions.

Obama said: "As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we've imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated that at any time since the end of the Cold War. Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline.

He added that he would re-affirm the US's "unwavering commitment to … Ukraine and its people" when President Petro Poroshenko visits the White House in September.

"We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we're doing is to mobilise the international community to apply pressure on Russia," he told reporters.

Obama's comments come after photographs showed Russian soldiers in uniform and Russian weapons in action in a renewed offensive against Ukrainian troops.

At an emergency meeting of the UN security council Britain's ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, accused Russia of deploying more than a thousand troops.

"Formed units of the armed forces of the Russian federation are now directly engaged in fighting inside Ukraine against the armed forces of Ukraine. These units consist of well over 1,000 regular Russian troops equipped with armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence systems," he said.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki amplified Obama's comments with details of Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

"Russia has ... stepped up its presence in eastern Ukraine and intervened directly with combat forces, armoured vehicles, artillery, and surface-to-air systems, and is actively fighting Ukrainian forces as well as playing a direct supporting role to the separatists' proxies and mercenaries," she told a media briefing.

US ambassador Samantha Power accused Russia of lying about its involvement in Ukraine. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied," she said.

"The mask is coming off. In these acts, these recent acts, we see Russia's actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country."

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responded: "There are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that." Moscow has said some Russians have, in their own time, gone to Ukraine to support the cause of the separatists.

He urged the US to "stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states."

The Russian president,  malignant tumor called Pig Putin Putin, has yet to respond directly to Obama's accusations. But he called on pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to open a humanitarian corridor to allow besieged Ukrainian troops to retreat.

"I call on the rebel forces to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian troops who are surrounded, so as to avoid unnecessary casualties and to give them the opportunity to withdraw from the zone of operations," the malignant tumor snorted in a statement.

Encircled Ukrainian fighters have been engaged in a fight for survival in the town of Ilovaysk for over a week as pro-Russian rebels, which had been on the retreat, staged a swift counter-offensive.

The malignant tumor addressed the separatists directly as defenders of "Novorossiya", or New Russia.

Malignant tumor called Pig Putin called on Kiev to "immediately halt military action, cease fire, sit down at the negotiating table and speak with representatives of the Donbass, and solve all of the problems which have built up exclusively by peaceful means".

The Russian malignant tumor called Pig Putin called on the rebels to provide wounded Ukrainian soldiers with medical help and said Russia is "ready and will provide humanitarian aid to the people of the Donbas who are suffering from this humanitarian catastrophe".

Russia last week sent into eastern Ukraine a convoy of more than 200 lorries, which it said was carrying over 1,800 tonnes of aid, without the permission of Kiev and without Red Cross monitors.

The unilateral move was condemned by Kiev and the west, who were concerned an inadvertent attack on the official convoy might serve as a pretext for Russia to send in troops.

*****

Ukraine crisis: emergency Nato, UN and EU meetings after Russian invasion claim

Nato says 1,000 Russian troops fighting in Ukraine as Kiev accuses Moscow of de facto invasion and opening second front

Shaun Walker in Kiev
The Guardian, Friday 29 August 2014   
   
World powers have called a succession of emergency meetings to step up the international response to Russia after Kiev accused Moscow of a de facto invasion and of opening up a second front in the conflict in eastern Europe.

The UN security council was meeting in emergency session, the US national security council convened at the White House, and Nato and EU leaders will consider their response on Friday, amid signs that hundreds of Russian soldiers are actively involved in the insurrection against Kiev's rule in Ukraine.

Russia denies that any of its troops are in eastern Ukraine. But on Thursday Nato said it estimated there were now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting there. The organisation released satellite images that it said showed Russian armoured vehicles and artillery had been crossing into Ukraine for at least a week.
A satellite image showing what Nato claims are self-propelled Russian artillery units inside Ukraine A satellite image showing what Nato claims are self-propelled Russian artillery units inside Ukraine.

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, said: "Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine," while Ukrainian fighters in the south-east said Russians had helped separatists take over Novoazovsk, a border town.

Western leaders swiftly seized on the latest escalation by warning the Russian president, malignant tumor Pig Putin, of imminent consequences.

At a hastily convened press briefing, Barack Obama said the US expects to agree a further round of economic sanctions against Russia during meetings with European allies next week, but has ruled out any military intervention to deter further attacks on Ukraine.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU would discuss further sanctions at a summit this weekend, particularly in the light of the fresh incursion in which Russia stands accused of funnelling troops and hardware into the south-east of Ukraine. "We are getting reports of an increased presence of Russian soldiers and of new unrest and fresh advances of the separatists in areas that until now were very quiet," she said. "We made it clear in March this year that if there were a further escalation, more sanctions would have to be discussed."

Obama played down the extent to which reports of direct Russian attacks inside Ukraine marked a distinct escalation. Instead, he insisted that Ukrainian successes against Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine had merely forced the Kremlin to be more "overt" in its support.

And despite growing international concern that Russian forces have effectively invaded and annexed eastern Ukraine much as they did in Crimea, Obama insisted his policy of responding with economic sanctions was working and isolating Russia more than any time since the end of the cold war.

"I think the sanctions that we have already applied have been effective, our intelligence shows the Russians know this … and there are ways for us to deepen and expand the scope of some of that work," he said. "We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we are doing is to mobilise the international community to apply pressure on Russia."

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the latest allegations pointed to a "dangerous escalation" and added: "The international community cannot allow it to escalate further."

David Cameron said that if Russia did not desist "then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences".

He added: "I'm extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into southeastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbour.

"The international community has already warned Russia that such provocative actions would be completely unacceptable and illegal. We urge Russia to pursue a different path and to find a political solution to this crisis. If Russia does not, then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences."

Western powers have already imposed a slew of sanctions on Moscow that have started to show signs of hurting Russia's economy. But the malignant tumor Pig Putin has responded in kind and, despite meeting Poroshenko for talks on the crisis in Minsk this week, has shown no signs of changing tack.

"Recent Russian actions clearly demonstrate that Moscow is bluntly drawing Ukraine and the entire world into a full-scale war," Ukraine's foreign ministry said after Poroshenko effectively accused Russia of mounting an invasion.

"Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine," he said, ordering an urgent meeting of Ukraine's national security council. "I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the republic of Turkey due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region, particularly in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, as Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine," he said. "The president must stay in Kiev today."

Addressing the council, he called on Ukrainians not to panic, and said the situation in the country's east was "difficult but controllable". He also said consultations between the Russian and Ukrainian army HQs, as agreed in Minsk, had begun, mainly to talk about prisoner exchanges.

A separatist leader admitted on Thursday that there were serving Russian soldiers among his fighters. A Russian rights group said about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. Even members of malignant tumor Pig Putin's human rights advisory council conceded evidence pointed to a Russian invasion.

"When masses of people, under commanders' orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, [are] on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion," Ella Polyakova told Reuters. She and another rights council member also said they believed that about 100 Russian soldiers had died earlier in the month when their convoy was hit by Grad missiles near the town of Snizhne in eastern Ukraine. There was no immediate way to confirm the figure.

However, Russian officials continued to deny there was any kind of invasion. The defence ministry told Russian agencies that reports of Russian military units acting in Ukraine were "fake".

"It feels like Kiev really needs a 'Russian armed invasion'," wrote Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook. "It seems this is part of its big plan for scaring its own population, and the main answer to the question people there have is: 'What on Earth has happened to us?' It's scary to think what statements the Ukrainian officials will come up with on Halloween."

Russia has repeatedly denied it is fighting in Ukraine, and speaking after the Minsk meeting, the malignant tumor snorted a solution to the crisis is "not our business; it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself". He said all Russia could do was "support the creation of an environment of trust".

The malignant tumor's snorts, however, jar sharply with events on the ground. Fighters and weapons have long been able to move freely along the unguarded sections of Russia's border with Ukraine, and reporters in Novoazovsk say that what appears to be hastily repainted Russian military hardware has appeared in the town in recent days.

Russia's denials appear increasingly flimsy. When the Guardian saw a Russian armoured column cross the border two weeks ago, the foreign ministry and local security services denied an incursion had taken place, saying it was a border patrol that had strayed into Ukrainian territory. This week, when Russian paratroopers were captured well inside Ukraine, defence ministry sources said they had been part of a border patrol that had got lost and entered Ukraine "by accident".

The head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Thursday that there were serving Russian soldiers with his fighters, but claimed they were volunteers who were taking a holiday in the region. "Among the Russian volunteers there are many former soldiers, who are fighting alongside us and understand that it's their duty," said Zakharchenko on Russian TV. "And moreover, I'll say it openly, we also have current soldiers, who decided to take their holidays not on the beach, but among us."

On Friday night malignant tumor Pig called on pro-Russia rebels to provide a humanitarian corridor in east Ukraine for encircled Ukrainian government troops to leave the battlefield. "I call on the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine servicemen in order to avoid pointless victims, to allow them leave the fighting area without impediment, join their families … to provide urgent medical aid to those wounded as a result of the military operation," he snorted in a statement.

Although the malignant tumor's actions in Ukraine have been supported by most Russians, there is growing dissent in the country over mounting evidence of a stealth war. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia's richest man – released from jail late last year – said Russians should not be silent about their soldiers being killed in Ukraine and secretly buried. "We are fighting in Ukraine, fighting for real," he wrote. "Our authorities are always lying about this, in the 80s about Afghanistan, in the 90s about Chechnya and now about Ukraine. Why are we remaining silent? Have we become cowards? Are we scared of even thinking now?"

There have also been appeals from relatives of the soldiers captured in Ukraine, calling on the malignant tumor Putin and the defence ministry to help bring the men home alive.

Kiev on Thursday called on its western allies for more support. The foreign ministry said: "Under the current circumstances, Ukraine counts on serious support from its international partners and believes that strengthening EU sanctions against Russia as well as providing Ukraine with military and technical support will help deter Russian aggression."

************

US hurries to draw up response to Russia and Isis threats

Officials say US has ‘range of tools and sanctions at its disposal’ as Ukraine says Russian troops have entered the country
   
Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Thursday 28 August 2014 20.09 BST   
   
US officials were holding a series of hurried meetings on Thursday to decide how to respond to spiralling security threats from Russia in Ukraine and from the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria.

An emergency meeting of the National Security Council was convened in the White House situation room on Thursday afternoon with the aim of determining whether the US and allies should take further military action against Isis.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the meeting was an opportunity for US leaders to formulate the country’s response to what it now describes as a direct Russian military intervention against Ukrainian forces.

Emergency meetings of the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were also taking place on Thursday, before separate talks planned on Ukraine at next week’s Nato summit in Wales and a UN general assembly meeting chaired by Barack Obama in New York in early September.

But the rapid escalation of Russian attacks in Ukraine has put the White House under mounting pressure to respond sooner.

In a briefing with reporters, Psaki said the US had a “range of tools and sanctions at its disposal” to put pressure on Russian leader malignant tumor Pig Putin, and hinted that there was a live debate in the administration about speeding up its response.

“Obviously discussions are ongoing about what additional steps may need to take place,” she said. “I don’t want to make predictions about a decision that not yet been made.”

The two crises puts Obama in the difficult position of trying to rally international support for simultaneous coalitions. Military action in Syria could also require explicit congressional authorisation.

Psaki rejected criticism that America’s reliance on economic sanctions to deter malignant tumor Pig Putin had been an ineffective response, and stressed there were other pressures being levelled against him.

“We have a range of tools at our disposal, including economic sanctions; we have already provided non-lethal assistance and engaged with European partners on the political front, so it is not been one lever we have been pulling. We are engaged on a number of tracks” she said.

“We will not hold back in putting in place punitive measures that will have an impact over the long term.”

She also confirmed earlier Nato reports that the it was now clear that Russian forces were intervening directly against Ukrainian troops.

***********   

Russians start asking: are we at war?

Families demand answers over deaths and disappearances of troops thought to have been fighting in neighbouring Ukraine. RFE/RL reports

Glenn Kates for RFE/RL, part of the New East network
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 05.00 BST     

In early spring, Russian president malignant tumor Pig Putin deployed soldiers without insignia into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to ensure a quick annexation of the territory.

After a month of denying their existence, the Russian malignant tumor Pig Putin acknowledged that the thousands of well-armed fighters, who had previously been referred to as “little green men”, were in fact Russian troops.

Decried in the west, Russians gave the move near unanimous support. A territory was won through military might – and an overwhelming referendum vote that has not been recognised in the west – but without a fight.

Now, as Moscow apparently reinvigorates a flailing pro-Russian separatist insurgency with a barely concealed incursion into south-eastern Ukraine, indications are that Russian military men are dying. And as captured Russian paratroopers are paraded on Ukrainian television and servicemen are buried in secrecy, some Russians are asking a seemingly simple question: “are we at war?”

No information

The answer to the question, posed this week in an editorial in the business daily newspaper Vedomosti, is one that is becoming increasingly obvious for military families. It is the details that they say are not forthcoming.

In Kostroma, 1,300km from Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine, family members of a group of 10 Russian paratroopers captured in Ukraine say all their information has come from secondhand, online sources.
Ludmila Hohlova, chairman of the board of Soldiers' Mothers, says the group wants Moscow to be more transparent about its role in the Ukraine conflict. Ludmila Hohlova, head of the Soldiers’ Mothers group, says Moscow should be more transparent about the Ukraine conflict.

One mother, Olga Pochtoyeva, says when she approached officials with photos on the social media site Vkontakte that appeared to show her son had been taken prisoner in Ukraine, her claims were dismissed as “provocations.”

“We showed them [these pictures] and they didn’t believe it,” she says. “It’s Photoshop, they told us. I’m sorry, I’d never mistake my son’s eyebrows for Photoshop.”

The paratroopers, who have been paraded in front of cameras by Ukrainian authorities at least three times, are only the most public face of Russian military involvement.

Members of Russia’s presidential council on human rights has asked for an investigation into the deaths of nine military contractors, while the Stavropol Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers has compiled a list of 400 Russian troops it says have recently been either killed or wounded.

The claims come amid evidence of secret funerals for Russian servicemen, reports of which began with small drips of information from Pskov, a small city in northern Russia.

On 25 August families buried Leonid Kichatkin and Aleksandr Osipov, two Russian paratroopers from a regiment based in the city. Some of the brigade’s gear and documents had been spotted by Ukrainian journalists days earlier in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.

State media did not cover the funerals and independent reporters who had come to inspect the paratroopers’ gravestones were accosted by unidentified men.

“It was more like a threat than any sort of demand,” Ilya Vasyunin, a journalist for the online Russian Planet news site, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “They wanted to make sure we understood that there was no need to visit the cemetery or dig any deeper into the situation.”

The names on the gravestones, which showed the dates of death as 19 and 20 August, have since reportedly been removed.

There has been a near complete blackout in coverage of the funerals by Russia’s state-controlled media and a message on Kichatkin’s VKontakte page saying that the serviceman had been killed, apparently written by his wife, has been removed. The families have since been unwilling to speak with media.

More funerals

Meanwhile, reports of new funerals continue.

On 25 August, Anton Korolenko, a commander – apparently from the same Pskov-based paratrooper division – was buried in Voronezh. A local journalist told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that an unidentified family member had claimed the circumstances behind his death were “secret” but that “he did not die in vain”.

And in Russia’s Urals republic of Bashkortostan, the mother of Marsel Arattanov told the independent Dozhd TV station that she had buried her son on 22 August after being ordered by the authorities to claim his body in Rostov, a Russian city near the border with Ukraine. “He was not on our territory when he died,” Venera Arattanova said. “We have heard that they went to Ukrainian territory.”

Asked about the funerals, Dmitry Peskov, the malignant tumor's spokesman, told the Itar-Tassn ews agency the information was “being checked by the agencies concerned”.

A Nato official said on 28 August that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were serving with separatists in Ukraine. The head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Valentina Melnikova, said the number was as high as 15,000. And Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, admitted that there were members of the Russian military serving with the rebels, though he said they had come during their “vacations.”

Although Russians have been largely supportive of pro-Russian separatists, a survey conducted by the government-backed Public Opinion Foundation found that just five per cent of respondents would favour sending troops into Ukraine.

Families of soldiers still unaccounted for fear the worst. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Ella Polyakova, a member of the malignant tumor's advisory council on human rights, who so far has been unsuccessful in using official channels to gather information. “People are demanding answers – where are their sons?”

***************

The Malignant Tumor Pig Putin likens Ukraine's forces to Nazis and threatens standoff in the Arctic

Russian malignant tumor hits back at invasion accusations as Nato accuses Kremlin of 'blatant violation' of Ukraine's sovereignty

Shaun Walker in Mariupol, Leonid Ragozin in Moscow, Matthew Weaver and agencies
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 12.51 BST   

The Russian president, malignant tumor Pig Putin, has hit back at accusations that he has effectively invaded Ukraine, accusing Ukrainian forces of behaving like Nazis in the conflict in the east and ominously threatening to take his standoff with the west into the disputed Arctic.

Hours after Barack Obama accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine and fuelling an upsurge in the separatist war, the malignant tumor snorted that the Ukrainian army was the villain of the peace, targeting residential areas of towns and cities like German troops did in the former Soviet Union.

He added that Russians and Ukrainians "are practically one people", reprising a theme of an earlier statement in which he referred to the disputed areas of south-eastern Ukraine as Novorossiya – a throwback to tsarist times when the area was ruled from Moscow.

And he made a pointed reference to the Arctic, which with its bounteous energy reserves and thawing waterways is emerging as a new potential conflict between Russia and its western rivals. "Our interests are concentrated in the Arctic. And of course we should pay more attention to issues of development of the Arctic and the strengthening of our position," the malignant tumor Putin told a youth camp outside Moscow.

Russia's latest alleged interventions in Ukraine, in which it stands accused of sending as many as 1,000 soldiers and military hardware across the border to bolster the flagging separatist insurrection, has prompted a flurry of emergency meetings.

Nato ambassadors emerged from a meeting on Friday morning to accuse Russia of a "blatant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty. "Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine," its secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Barack Obama convened his national security council on Thursday, and emerged to say that Moscow was responsible for the recent upsurge in violence, in which a new front has opened up in Ukraine's far south-east close to the city of Mariupol.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the US president said Russia was encouraging, training, arming and funding separatists in the region and warned Moscow that it faced further isolation.

He said: "Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists."

Obama again ruled out US military action, but threatened a further tightening of sanctions.

"As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we've imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated that at any time since the end of the cold war," he said. "Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline." Financial markets echoed his words, and the ruble fell to an all-time low against the dollar on Friday morning.

The malignant tumor hit back by saying it was the Ukrainians who had failed to make peace happen. "It is necessary to force the Ukrainian authorities to substantively begin these talks – not on technical issues … the talks must be substantive," the malignant tumor snorted. "Small villages and large cities are surrounded by the Ukrainian army, which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure … It sadly reminds me the events of the second world war, when German fascist … occupants surrounded our cities."

For its part, Ukraine raised the stakes further on Friday morning when the prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, said he would try to take the country into Nato. Ukraine has formally maintained a position of non-alignment since its independence in 1991; the current crisis started over deep divisions in the country over whether to align itself more closely with the EU or turn towards the Russian camp.

The UN security council met on Thursday night, where the British ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, repeated Nato assertions that Russia had deployed more than 1,000 troops in Ukraine. "Formed units of the armed forces of the Russian federation are now directly engaged in fighting inside Ukraine against the armed forces of Ukraine. These units consist of well over 1,000 regular Russian troops equipped with armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence systems," he said.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki amplified Obama's comments with details of Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

"Russia has … stepped up its presence in eastern Ukraine and intervened directly with combat forces, armoured vehicles, artillery, and surface-to-air systems, and is actively fighting Ukrainian forces as well as playing a direct supporting role to the separatists' proxies and mercenaries," she told a media briefing.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, accused Russia of lying about its involvement in Ukraine. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied," she said.

"The mask is coming off. In these acts, these recent acts, we see Russia's actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country."

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responded: "There are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that." Russia has denied that its troops are in Ukraine helping separatists fight the Ukrainian army.

But back at home, relatives of soldiers have started to break ranks, publicising the fact that their kin are in Ukraine.

One grandfather, Mikhail Smirnov, has told the Guardian that his 22-year-old grandson, Stanislav Smirnov, sent a message from the Ukrainian border on 19 August saying his motor rifle brigade was "being deployed". They have heard nothing since.

"Our government has gone too far –- it has lost its head," the grandfather said. When reminded that Moscow claims it has no troops in Ukraine, he added: "Hey, we are not blind."

 35 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:25 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

The Malignant Tumor Pig Putin likens Ukraine's forces to Nazis and threatens standoff in the Arctic

Russian malignant tumor hits back at invasion accusations as Nato accuses Kremlin of 'blatant violation' of Ukraine's sovereignty

Shaun Walker in Mariupol, Leonid Ragozin in Moscow, Matthew Weaver and agencies
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 12.51 BST   

The Russian president, malignant tumor Pig Putin, has hit back at accusations that he has effectively invaded Ukraine, accusing Ukrainian forces of behaving like Nazis in the conflict in the east and ominously threatening to take his standoff with the west into the disputed Arctic.

Hours after Barack Obama accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine and fuelling an upsurge in the separatist war, the malignant tumor snorted that the Ukrainian army was the villain of the peace, targeting residential areas of towns and cities like German troops did in the former Soviet Union.

He added that Russians and Ukrainians "are practically one people", reprising a theme of an earlier statement in which he referred to the disputed areas of south-eastern Ukraine as Novorossiya – a throwback to tsarist times when the area was ruled from Moscow.

And he made a pointed reference to the Arctic, which with its bounteous energy reserves and thawing waterways is emerging as a new potential conflict between Russia and its western rivals. "Our interests are concentrated in the Arctic. And of course we should pay more attention to issues of development of the Arctic and the strengthening of our position," the malignant tumor Putin told a youth camp outside Moscow.

Russia's latest alleged interventions in Ukraine, in which it stands accused of sending as many as 1,000 soldiers and military hardware across the border to bolster the flagging separatist insurrection, has prompted a flurry of emergency meetings.

Nato ambassadors emerged from a meeting on Friday morning to accuse Russia of a "blatant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty. "Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine," its secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Barack Obama convened his national security council on Thursday, and emerged to say that Moscow was responsible for the recent upsurge in violence, in which a new front has opened up in Ukraine's far south-east close to the city of Mariupol.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the US president said Russia was encouraging, training, arming and funding separatists in the region and warned Moscow that it faced further isolation.

He said: "Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists."

Obama again ruled out US military action, but threatened a further tightening of sanctions.

"As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we've imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated that at any time since the end of the cold war," he said. "Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline." Financial markets echoed his words, and the ruble fell to an all-time low against the dollar on Friday morning.

The malignant tumor hit back by saying it was the Ukrainians who had failed to make peace happen. "It is necessary to force the Ukrainian authorities to substantively begin these talks – not on technical issues … the talks must be substantive," the malignant tumor snorted. "Small villages and large cities are surrounded by the Ukrainian army, which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure … It sadly reminds me the events of the second world war, when German fascist … occupants surrounded our cities."

For its part, Ukraine raised the stakes further on Friday morning when the prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, said he would try to take the country into Nato. Ukraine has formally maintained a position of non-alignment since its independence in 1991; the current crisis started over deep divisions in the country over whether to align itself more closely with the EU or turn towards the Russian camp.

The UN security council met on Thursday night, where the British ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, repeated Nato assertions that Russia had deployed more than 1,000 troops in Ukraine. "Formed units of the armed forces of the Russian federation are now directly engaged in fighting inside Ukraine against the armed forces of Ukraine. These units consist of well over 1,000 regular Russian troops equipped with armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence systems," he said.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki amplified Obama's comments with details of Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

"Russia has … stepped up its presence in eastern Ukraine and intervened directly with combat forces, armoured vehicles, artillery, and surface-to-air systems, and is actively fighting Ukrainian forces as well as playing a direct supporting role to the separatists' proxies and mercenaries," she told a media briefing.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, accused Russia of lying about its involvement in Ukraine. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied," she said.

"The mask is coming off. In these acts, these recent acts, we see Russia's actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country."

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responded: "There are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that." Russia has denied that its troops are in Ukraine helping separatists fight the Ukrainian army.

But back at home, relatives of soldiers have started to break ranks, publicising the fact that their kin are in Ukraine.

One grandfather, Mikhail Smirnov, has told the Guardian that his 22-year-old grandson, Stanislav Smirnov, sent a message from the Ukrainian border on 19 August saying his motor rifle brigade was "being deployed". They have heard nothing since.

"Our government has gone too far –- it has lost its head," the grandfather said. When reminded that Moscow claims it has no troops in Ukraine, he added: "Hey, we are not blind."

 36 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:15 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Russians start asking: are we at war?

Families demand answers over deaths and disappearances of troops thought to have been fighting in neighbouring Ukraine. RFE/RL reports

Glenn Kates for RFE/RL, part of the New East network
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 05.00 BST      

In early spring, Russian president malignant tumor Pig Putin deployed soldiers without insignia into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to ensure a quick annexation of the territory.

After a month of denying their existence, the Russian malignant tumor Pig Putin acknowledged that the thousands of well-armed fighters, who had previously been referred to as “little green men”, were in fact Russian troops.

Decried in the west, Russians gave the move near unanimous support. A territory was won through military might – and an overwhelming referendum vote that has not been recognised in the west – but without a fight.

Now, as Moscow apparently reinvigorates a flailing pro-Russian separatist insurgency with a barely concealed incursion into south-eastern Ukraine, indications are that Russian military men are dying. And as captured Russian paratroopers are paraded on Ukrainian television and servicemen are buried in secrecy, some Russians are asking a seemingly simple question: “are we at war?”

No information

The answer to the question, posed this week in an editorial in the business daily newspaper Vedomosti, is one that is becoming increasingly obvious for military families. It is the details that they say are not forthcoming.

In Kostroma, 1,300km from Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine, family members of a group of 10 Russian paratroopers captured in Ukraine say all their information has come from secondhand, online sources.
Ludmila Hohlova, chairman of the board of Soldiers' Mothers, says the group wants Moscow to be more transparent about its role in the Ukraine conflict. Ludmila Hohlova, head of the Soldiers’ Mothers group, says Moscow should be more transparent about the Ukraine conflict.

One mother, Olga Pochtoyeva, says when she approached officials with photos on the social media site Vkontakte that appeared to show her son had been taken prisoner in Ukraine, her claims were dismissed as “provocations.”

“We showed them [these pictures] and they didn’t believe it,” she says. “It’s Photoshop, they told us. I’m sorry, I’d never mistake my son’s eyebrows for Photoshop.”

The paratroopers, who have been paraded in front of cameras by Ukrainian authorities at least three times, are only the most public face of Russian military involvement.

Members of Russia’s presidential council on human rights has asked for an investigation into the deaths of nine military contractors, while the Stavropol Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers has compiled a list of 400 Russian troops it says have recently been either killed or wounded.

The claims come amid evidence of secret funerals for Russian servicemen, reports of which began with small drips of information from Pskov, a small city in northern Russia.

On 25 August families buried Leonid Kichatkin and Aleksandr Osipov, two Russian paratroopers from a regiment based in the city. Some of the brigade’s gear and documents had been spotted by Ukrainian journalists days earlier in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.

State media did not cover the funerals and independent reporters who had come to inspect the paratroopers’ gravestones were accosted by unidentified men.

“It was more like a threat than any sort of demand,” Ilya Vasyunin, a journalist for the online Russian Planet news site, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “They wanted to make sure we understood that there was no need to visit the cemetery or dig any deeper into the situation.”


The names on the gravestones, which showed the dates of death as 19 and 20 August, have since reportedly been removed.

There has been a near complete blackout in coverage of the funerals by Russia’s state-controlled media and a message on Kichatkin’s VKontakte page saying that the serviceman had been killed, apparently written by his wife, has been removed. The families have since been unwilling to speak with media.

More funerals

Meanwhile, reports of new funerals continue.

On 25 August, Anton Korolenko, a commander – apparently from the same Pskov-based paratrooper division – was buried in Voronezh. A local journalist told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that an unidentified family member had claimed the circumstances behind his death were “secret” but that “he did not die in vain”.

And in Russia’s Urals republic of Bashkortostan, the mother of Marsel Arattanov told the independent Dozhd TV station that she had buried her son on 22 August after being ordered by the authorities to claim his body in Rostov, a Russian city near the border with Ukraine. “He was not on our territory when he died,” Venera Arattanova said. “We have heard that they went to Ukrainian territory.”

Asked about the funerals, Dmitry Peskov, the malignant tumor's spokesman, told the Itar-Tassn ews agency the information was “being checked by the agencies concerned”.

A Nato official said on 28 August that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were serving with separatists in Ukraine. The head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Valentina Melnikova, said the number was as high as 15,000. And Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, admitted that there were members of the Russian military serving with the rebels, though he said they had come during their “vacations.”

Although Russians have been largely supportive of pro-Russian separatists, a survey conducted by the government-backed Public Opinion Foundation found that just five per cent of respondents would favour sending troops into Ukraine.

Families of soldiers still unaccounted for fear the worst. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Ella Polyakova, a member of the malignant tumor's advisory council on human rights, who so far has been unsuccessful in using official channels to gather information. “People are demanding answers – where are their sons?”

RFE/RL’s Russian Service contributed to this report

 37 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:06 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

US hurries to draw up response to Russia and Isis threats

Officials say US has ‘range of tools and sanctions at its disposal’ as Ukraine says Russian troops have entered the country
   
Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Thursday 28 August 2014 20.09 BST   
   
US officials were holding a series of hurried meetings on Thursday to decide how to respond to spiralling security threats from Russia in Ukraine and from the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria.

An emergency meeting of the National Security Council was convened in the White House situation room on Thursday afternoon with the aim of determining whether the US and allies should take further military action against Isis.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the meeting was an opportunity for US leaders to formulate the country’s response to what it now describes as a direct Russian military intervention against Ukrainian forces.

Emergency meetings of the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were also taking place on Thursday, before separate talks planned on Ukraine at next week’s Nato summit in Wales and a UN general assembly meeting chaired by Barack Obama in New York in early September.

But the rapid escalation of Russian attacks in Ukraine has put the White House under mounting pressure to respond sooner.

In a briefing with reporters, Psaki said the US had a “range of tools and sanctions at its disposal” to put pressure on Russian leader malignant tumor Pig Putin, and hinted that there was a live debate in the administration about speeding up its response.

“Obviously discussions are ongoing about what additional steps may need to take place,” she said. “I don’t want to make predictions about a decision that not yet been made.”

The two crises puts Obama in the difficult position of trying to rally international support for simultaneous coalitions. Military action in Syria could also require explicit congressional authorisation.

Psaki rejected criticism that America’s reliance on economic sanctions to deter malignant tumor Pig Putin had been an ineffective response, and stressed there were other pressures being levelled against him.

“We have a range of tools at our disposal, including economic sanctions; we have already provided non-lethal assistance and engaged with European partners on the political front, so it is not been one lever we have been pulling. We are engaged on a number of tracks” she said.

“We will not hold back in putting in place punitive measures that will have an impact over the long term.”

She also confirmed earlier Nato reports that the it was now clear that Russian forces were intervening directly against Ukrainian troops.

 38 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:59 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Ukraine crisis: emergency Nato, UN and EU meetings after Russian invasion claim

Nato says 1,000 Russian troops fighting in Ukraine as Kiev accuses Moscow of de facto invasion and opening second front

Shaun Walker in Kiev
The Guardian, Friday 29 August 2014   
   
World powers have called a succession of emergency meetings to step up the international response to Russia after Kiev accused Moscow of a de facto invasion and of opening up a second front in the conflict in eastern Europe.

The UN security council was meeting in emergency session, the US national security council convened at the White House, and Nato and EU leaders will consider their response on Friday, amid signs that hundreds of Russian soldiers are actively involved in the insurrection against Kiev's rule in Ukraine.

Russia denies that any of its troops are in eastern Ukraine. But on Thursday Nato said it estimated there were now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting there. The organisation released satellite images that it said showed Russian armoured vehicles and artillery had been crossing into Ukraine for at least a week.
A satellite image showing what Nato claims are self-propelled Russian artillery units inside Ukraine A satellite image showing what Nato claims are self-propelled Russian artillery units inside Ukraine.

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, said: "Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine," while Ukrainian fighters in the south-east said Russians had helped separatists take over Novoazovsk, a border town.

Western leaders swiftly seized on the latest escalation by warning the Russian president, malignant tumor Pig Putin, of imminent consequences.

At a hastily convened press briefing, Barack Obama said the US expects to agree a further round of economic sanctions against Russia during meetings with European allies next week, but has ruled out any military intervention to deter further attacks on Ukraine.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU would discuss further sanctions at a summit this weekend, particularly in the light of the fresh incursion in which Russia stands accused of funnelling troops and hardware into the south-east of Ukraine. "We are getting reports of an increased presence of Russian soldiers and of new unrest and fresh advances of the separatists in areas that until now were very quiet," she said. "We made it clear in March this year that if there were a further escalation, more sanctions would have to be discussed."

Obama played down the extent to which reports of direct Russian attacks inside Ukraine marked a distinct escalation. Instead, he insisted that Ukrainian successes against Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine had merely forced the Kremlin to be more "overt" in its support.

And despite growing international concern that Russian forces have effectively invaded and annexed eastern Ukraine much as they did in Crimea, Obama insisted his policy of responding with economic sanctions was working and isolating Russia more than any time since the end of the cold war.

"I think the sanctions that we have already applied have been effective, our intelligence shows the Russians know this … and there are ways for us to deepen and expand the scope of some of that work," he said. "We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we are doing is to mobilise the international community to apply pressure on Russia."

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said the latest allegations pointed to a "dangerous escalation" and added: "The international community cannot allow it to escalate further."

David Cameron said that if Russia did not desist "then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences".

He added: "I'm extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into southeastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbour.

"The international community has already warned Russia that such provocative actions would be completely unacceptable and illegal. We urge Russia to pursue a different path and to find a political solution to this crisis. If Russia does not, then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences."

Western powers have already imposed a slew of sanctions on Moscow that have started to show signs of hurting Russia's economy. But the malignant tumor Pig Putin has responded in kind and, despite meeting Poroshenko for talks on the crisis in Minsk this week, has shown no signs of changing tack.

"Recent Russian actions clearly demonstrate that Moscow is bluntly drawing Ukraine and the entire world into a full-scale war," Ukraine's foreign ministry said after Poroshenko effectively accused Russia of mounting an invasion.

"Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine," he said, ordering an urgent meeting of Ukraine's national security council. "I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the republic of Turkey due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region, particularly in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, as Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine," he said. "The president must stay in Kiev today."

Addressing the council, he called on Ukrainians not to panic, and said the situation in the country's east was "difficult but controllable". He also said consultations between the Russian and Ukrainian army HQs, as agreed in Minsk, had begun, mainly to talk about prisoner exchanges.

A separatist leader admitted on Thursday that there were serving Russian soldiers among his fighters. A Russian rights group said about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. Even members of malignant tumor Pig Putin's human rights advisory council conceded evidence pointed to a Russian invasion.

"When masses of people, under commanders' orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, [are] on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion," Ella Polyakova told Reuters. She and another rights council member also said they believed that about 100 Russian soldiers had died earlier in the month when their convoy was hit by Grad missiles near the town of Snizhne in eastern Ukraine. There was no immediate way to confirm the figure.

However, Russian officials continued to deny there was any kind of invasion. The defence ministry told Russian agencies that reports of Russian military units acting in Ukraine were "fake".

"It feels like Kiev really needs a 'Russian armed invasion'," wrote Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook. "It seems this is part of its big plan for scaring its own population, and the main answer to the question people there have is: 'What on Earth has happened to us?' It's scary to think what statements the Ukrainian officials will come up with on Halloween."

Russia has repeatedly denied it is fighting in Ukraine, and speaking after the Minsk meeting, the malignant tumor snorted a solution to the crisis is "not our business; it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself". He said all Russia could do was "support the creation of an environment of trust".

The malignant tumor's snorts, however, jar sharply with events on the ground. Fighters and weapons have long been able to move freely along the unguarded sections of Russia's border with Ukraine, and reporters in Novoazovsk say that what appears to be hastily repainted Russian military hardware has appeared in the town in recent days.

Russia's denials appear increasingly flimsy. When the Guardian saw a Russian armoured column cross the border two weeks ago, the foreign ministry and local security services denied an incursion had taken place, saying it was a border patrol that had strayed into Ukrainian territory. This week, when Russian paratroopers were captured well inside Ukraine, defence ministry sources said they had been part of a border patrol that had got lost and entered Ukraine "by accident".

The head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Thursday that there were serving Russian soldiers with his fighters, but claimed they were volunteers who were taking a holiday in the region. "Among the Russian volunteers there are many former soldiers, who are fighting alongside us and understand that it's their duty," said Zakharchenko on Russian TV. "And moreover, I'll say it openly, we also have current soldiers, who decided to take their holidays not on the beach, but among us."

On Friday night malignant tumor Pig called on pro-Russia rebels to provide a humanitarian corridor in east Ukraine for encircled Ukrainian government troops to leave the battlefield. "I call on the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine servicemen in order to avoid pointless victims, to allow them leave the fighting area without impediment, join their families … to provide urgent medical aid to those wounded as a result of the military operation," he snorted in a statement.

Although the malignant tumor's actions in Ukraine have been supported by most Russians, there is growing dissent in the country over mounting evidence of a stealth war. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia's richest man – released from jail late last year – said Russians should not be silent about their soldiers being killed in Ukraine and secretly buried. "We are fighting in Ukraine, fighting for real," he wrote. "Our authorities are always lying about this, in the 80s about Afghanistan, in the 90s about Chechnya and now about Ukraine. Why are we remaining silent? Have we become cowards? Are we scared of even thinking now?"

There have also been appeals from relatives of the soldiers captured in Ukraine, calling on the malignant tumor Putin and the defence ministry to help bring the men home alive.

Kiev on Thursday called on its western allies for more support. The foreign ministry said: "Under the current circumstances, Ukraine counts on serious support from its international partners and believes that strengthening EU sanctions against Russia as well as providing Ukraine with military and technical support will help deter Russian aggression."

 39 
 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:50 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Obama ramps up Russia rhetoric

President rules out US military action, but says Moscow's actions will bring 'more costs and consequences' for Russia

Matthew Weaver and agencies
theguardian.com, Friday 29 August 2014 10.10 BST      

Barack Obama has accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine and being responsible for an upsurge in violence in the country.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the US president said Russia was encouraging, training, arming and funding separatists in the region and warned Moscow that it faced further isolation.

He said: "Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists."

Obama again ruled out US military action, but claimed Russia's increasing involvement in Ukraine "will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia", threatening a further tightening of sanctions.

Obama said: "As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we've imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated that at any time since the end of the Cold War. Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline.

He added that he would re-affirm the US's "unwavering commitment to … Ukraine and its people" when President Petro Poroshenko visits the White House in September.

"We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we're doing is to mobilise the international community to apply pressure on Russia," he told reporters.

Obama's comments come after photographs showed Russian soldiers in uniform and Russian weapons in action in a renewed offensive against Ukrainian troops.

At an emergency meeting of the UN security council Britain's ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, accused Russia of deploying more than a thousand troops.

"Formed units of the armed forces of the Russian federation are now directly engaged in fighting inside Ukraine against the armed forces of Ukraine. These units consist of well over 1,000 regular Russian troops equipped with armoured vehicles, artillery and air defence systems," he said.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki amplified Obama's comments with details of Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

"Russia has ... stepped up its presence in eastern Ukraine and intervened directly with combat forces, armoured vehicles, artillery, and surface-to-air systems, and is actively fighting Ukrainian forces as well as playing a direct supporting role to the separatists' proxies and mercenaries," she told a media briefing.

US ambassador Samantha Power accused Russia of lying about its involvement in Ukraine. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied," she said.

"The mask is coming off. In these acts, these recent acts, we see Russia's actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country."

Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responded: "There are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that." Moscow has said some Russians have, in their own time, gone to Ukraine to support the cause of the separatists.

He urged the US to "stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states."

The Russian president,  malignant tumor called Pig Putin Putin, has yet to respond directly to Obama's accusations. But he called on pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to open a humanitarian corridor to allow besieged Ukrainian troops to retreat.

"I call on the rebel forces to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian troops who are surrounded, so as to avoid unnecessary casualties and to give them the opportunity to withdraw from the zone of operations," the malignant tumor snorted in a statement.

Encircled Ukrainian fighters have been engaged in a fight for survival in the town of Ilovaysk for over a week as pro-Russian rebels, which had been on the retreat, staged a swift counter-offensive.

The malignant tumor addressed the separatists directly as defenders of "Novorossiya", or New Russia.

Malignant tumor called Pig Putin called on Kiev to "immediately halt military action, cease fire, sit down at the negotiating table and speak with representatives of the Donbass, and solve all of the problems which have built up exclusively by peaceful means".

The Russian malignant tumor called Pig Putin called on the rebels to provide wounded Ukrainian soldiers with medical help and said Russia is "ready and will provide humanitarian aid to the people of the Donbas who are suffering from this humanitarian catastrophe".

Russia last week sent into eastern Ukraine a convoy of more than 200 lorries, which it said was carrying over 1,800 tonnes of aid, without the permission of Kiev and without Red Cross monitors.

The unilateral move was condemned by Kiev and the west, who were concerned an inadvertent attack on the official convoy might serve as a pretext for Russia to send in troops.

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 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:39 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Ukraine Leader Says ‘Huge Loads of Arms’ Pour in From Russia

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and MICHAEL R. GORDON
AUG. 28, 2014
IHT

MOSCOW — Supported by NATO satellite imagery showing Russian forces on the move in eastern Ukraine, its president accused Russia on Thursday of an invasion to aid the separatists, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription to help counter what he called an “extremely difficult” threat.

The assertions by the president, Petro O. Poroshenko, came two days after he had met with President malignant tumor Pig Putin of Russia in attempts to find a way to end the nearly six-month-old crisis roiling Ukraine. The conflict has escalated into the worst East-West confrontation since the Cold War, and the developments on the ground in the rebellious east along the Russian border suggested it would worsen.  

Mr. Poroshenko scrapped a trip to Turkey to deal with the crisis and called an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council. He dismissed Kremlin claims that any Russian soldiers in Ukraine were volunteers who had sacrificed their vacations to help the heavily pro-Russian east suffering oppression from the Kiev central government.

“Columns of heavy artillery, huge loads of arms and regular Russian servicemen came to the territory of Ukraine from Russia through the uncontrolled border area,” Mr. Poroshenko said. Mercenaries, along with regular servicemen, were trying to overrun positions held by the Ukrainian military, he said, according to a statement on his official website.

“The situation is certainly extremely difficult and nobody is going to simplify it,” Mr. Poroshenko said.

Anticipating the possibility of direct combat between Ukrainian and Russian troops, the council later announced it had reimposed mandatory military service, suspended last year.

Mr. Poroshenko spoke as NATO released satellite images to corroborate accusations that Russian forces were actively involved in Ukraine fighting. NATO also said that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers had joined the separatists battling the Ukrainian military.

“Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” Brig. Gen. Nico Tak of the Netherlands, a senior officer in NATO’s military command, said in a statement. One image, dated Aug. 21, shows a Russian military convoy with self-propelled artillery moving in the Krasnodon region inside Ukraine. Another, dated Aug. 23, shows Russian self-propelled artillery units in firing positions near Krasnodon.

  General Tak said the Russian soldiers were backing the separatists and “fighting with them.” He also said NATO estimated that about 20,000 Russian troops were deployed on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border.

 The United States ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, said in a series of Twitter messages that Russian military assistance to the separatists had failed to help them sufficiently, “so now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory.” He also asserted that Russia had sent its newest air defense systems, including an effective weapon, the SA-22, into eastern Ukraine, “and is now directly involved in the fighting.”

 In Washington, President Obama condemned the Russian actions, calling them part of a pattern of behavior that began months ago, which he said had already led to Russia’s political and economic isolation because of Western sanctions. Mr. Obama told a news conference that he expected that the United States and its European partners would take further measures, although he did not characterize the latest Russia actions as an invasion, or say what addition sanctions might be imposed, or when.

Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, said that the Ukrainian military was planning a counteroffensive against the separatists and what he called “more and more Russians” but declined to provide details.

Separatists aided by Russia held the town of Novoazovsk, he said, with Ukrainian forces having retreated a day earlier. At a briefing in Kiev, Colonel Lysenko described that retreat as a regrouping of Ukrainian forces to better protect Mariupol, a key southern city now under threat.

Russia officials continued to deny sending soldiers or weapons to Ukraine. But the leader of the main separatist group in southeastern Ukraine said that up to 4,000 Russians, including active-duty soldiers currently on leave, had been fighting against Ukrainian government forces, Russian television reported.

“There are active soldiers fighting among us who preferred to spend their vacation not on the beach, but with us, among their brothers, who are fighting for their freedom,” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, a rebel commander and the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said in an interview on Russian state-run television.

Mr. Zakharchenko said that 3,000 to 4,000 Russians had fought alongside separatists since the conflict erupted.

That assertion evaded the issue of direct Russian involvement by painting the soldiers as volunteers. It suggests, however, that Moscow still seeks to organize and to some extent control a force that could be operated at arm’s length with a backbone of local participation.

While the United States and its European allies have condemned Russia, they have not responded to criticism that the Ukrainian tactics against the separatists have included shelling civilian areas in rebel strongholds. The United Nations has estimated that 2,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine violence.

The United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session on Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, during which the United States and other Western allies expressed outrage at what they described as a pattern of deceitful Russian aggression.

“Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth,” said Samantha Power, the United States ambassador. “It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.”

Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, did not deny that Russians were fighting in eastern Ukraine but said they were volunteers. He said the Ukrainian government was “waging war against its own people.”

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Moscow of opening a new southern front to relieve pressure on the besieged insurgent redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north.

A separatist defeat in the eastern part of Ukraine would deliver a significant domestic political blow to the malignant tumor, whose popularity in Russia soared when he annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula last March. But the confrontation in the south raised the specter for the first time in months of a direct confrontation between Ukraine’s forces and those of its giant neighbor.

In eastern Ukraine, fighting intensified in cities and villages along the path of the forces advancing from the Russian border in what Western and Ukrainian officials have called a multipronged attack. The Ukrainian soldiers in the region southeast of Donetsk are now surrounded, as pro-Russian forces appear to control a road to the west.

The armored columns that captured Novoazovsk and now threaten Mariupol, far from the fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk, serve the separatist aim of diverting Ukrainian forces to deal with that new threat. Western analysts say the advance may also be the start of a ground offensive to seize Ukrainian territory for a land route connecting Russia to Crimea.

Mr. Zakharchenko, who says he has Ukrainian citizenship, took over as prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic this month, replacing Alexandr Borodai, a Russian. Several other Russians who had figured prominently in the rebel ranks, including the military commander Igor Strelkov, have also dropped from sight in recent weeks.

In the interview with the official satellite channel Rossiya 24, Mr. Zakharchenko said that many former professional Russian soldiers had come to Ukraine as volunteers, out of a sense of duty. “Many of them have gone home, but the majority have remained here,” Mr. Zakharchenko said. “Unfortunately, some have been killed.”

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