on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:38 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Sarkozy rushes for a return match with Hollande at presidential elections
With more than three years before France goes to the polls, allies are worried that Sarkozy's comeback may be too hasty
Alexandre Lemarié and David Revault d'Allonnes
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 4 March 2014 09.59 GMT
Nicolas Sarkozy's inner circle may claim he is keeping a low profile, but his public appearances are steadily increasing. Though he once swore he would never dabble in "petty politics", he keeps doing just that.
On 10 February, for his first public meeting since leaving power, he turned up to support Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the centre-right UMP candidate for mayor of Paris. With more than three years to go before the next presidential election, he is so eager to take revenge on the incumbent, François Hollande, he can hardly conceal his impatience.
Many of his advisers and supporters think that it is too soon, and are afraid voters may tire early. "It's all too fast," one of them says, afraid that overexposure may damage Sarkozy's ratings. In fact, the "omnipresent president" has never really left the stage. "He hasn't ever spent any time in the [political] wilderness," says a former minister.
Officially his strategy is to slow down, says a member of his staff. Sarkozy himself agrees it would be the right choice. The problem is he cannot put it into practice. His loyal deputy, Brice Hortefeux, has learned to take it in his stride: "With Nicolas Sarkozy you say: 'We'll do as we said', but in the end he's the one who decides."
His opponents on the left realise the risk that such temperament poses for his plans to return to politics. "I don't think there's any tactics or strategy," says an aide to a top minister. "It's just psychological. He wants to be out on the campaign trail. He's addicted to elections."
The Socialists are delighted by Sarkozy's quest for revenge and only too happy to see him stirring up in-fighting on the right. Officially, of course, the government is above such things. "We must pay no attention whatsoever," says a presidential adviser. "We aren't going to pretend he's not there, but we have no means of acting on him. And the elections are such a long way off."
Sarkozy is eager to show off his popularity, to stifle any competition in his own camp but also to make it clear that his confrontation with Hollande is inevitable. "The return match is starting," says Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, deputy leader of the Socialist party.
The challenger seems to have already decided on his angle of attack, accusing Hollande of not keeping his campaign promises, particularly regarding "exemplary behaviour at all times". But some Sarkozy supporters are concerned his attacks may be too direct.
Is the former president likely to make the same mistake he did in the 2012 campaign and underestimate his opponent? His self-assurance still borders on arrogance. "He'll never change ... He is his own worst enemy," echo several of his loyal supporters.
Ironically, Sarkozy still lacks a real political platform, primarily driven by opposition to Hollande. The president himself came to power surfing on an anti-Sarkozy wave. Former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin endorses this view. "The executive is so unpopular that an opposition candidate could well be elected thanks to hostility to the present majority, which would come as a nasty reminder to François Hollande," he says.
Sarkozy's tactic happens to suit the president's staff, who point out that the former president has a record too, making him the best potential adversary for Hollande. As one adviser put it: "Sarkozy has lots of vitality, he shows it and he's supported by his side. On the other hand, he's the candidate who would prompt the greatest cohesion and unity on the left. He will stir up powerful hostility, unlike a candidate such as [Alain] Juppé."
This view is echoed by a top Socialist: "An incumbent president, with a possibly shaky record, would much rather run against an opponent with a poor record."
This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:36 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
No 10's Ukraine gaffe shows City profits come before principled diplomacy
News that Britain will not enforce sanctions against Russia is no surprise: the government defaults to protecting the money men
theguardian.com, Tuesday 4 March 2014 10.58 GMT
So yet another UK government official didn't get the memo – the one that says when you're going to a high-level, top secret meeting in Downing Street, try not to arrive carrying papers that can be snapped by waiting photographers. As deputy national security adviser Hugh Powell is the latest to discover, in the age of the zoom lens, they can be read easily. (It turns out there's a freelance photographer who hangs around outside No 10, one Steve Back, who specialises in just such pictures.)
Still, we should be grateful to the unguarded Mr Powell. If he had popped his documents in a folder we would never know that, whatever other action the European Union has in mind on Ukraine, the British government is adamant that the City of London will be exempt. Or as the official text put it, Britain will "not support, for now, trade sanctions … or close London's financial centre to Russians." In other words, even if Russia is in the process of invading a sovereign state, Britain will still do nothing that might dent the profits of the money men in the City.
I say we would never know – but we could have taken a guess. For there is a rather consistent pattern here. In January, George Osborne set out one of the key demands Britain will be making of the EU in the lead-up to the planned in-or-out referendum of 2017, one of those existential needs that must be met if Britain is to stay inside. What was it? "Cast-iron legal protections for the City of London." The chancellor warned that the UK would leave the EU unless the Lisbon Treaty was changed to prevent the imposition of financial services legislation that might rein in the City.
And who can forget the heroic sight of Osborne heading to Brussels exactly a year ago to fight the good fight – hoping to stop our European partners from capping bankers' bonuses? If there is so much as a hint of a challenge to the City, Osborne is ready to pull on his armour and ward off all enemies. No matter if that means promising business-as-usual to Russia, whether or not it has invaded one of its neighbours, it's the City that must come first.
It's quite clear that with 60% of the EU's financial services industry located in the UK, the bankers and fund managers are seen as more than just big business. The British government regards their prosperity as a matter of national security, their interests to be weighed against other geopolitical considerations such as our membership of the EU and the principle that the violation of the borders of sovereign states demands punishment.
Not that Britain is alone in this. Germany is reluctant to come down hard on Russia, its No 1 trading partner, on whom it relies for its domestic energy. France enjoys a lucrative relationship with Moscow, too, and is contracted to build two valuable Mistral-class warships for the Russian navy. They're looking out for their "strategic" industries, just like Osborne.
The result is that Vladimir Putin knows he can scarcely be touched. That would be true of any state that is a nuclear-armed, permanent member of the UN Security Council. But it's truer still of a state whose money and resources the west needs. It makes Russia doubly untouchable.
The lesson for any regime watching the Ukraine crisis unfold is clear. Sending troops into the territory of a sovereign state is completely unacceptable and you will be pushed back – unless, that is, you are strong and hurting you hurts us. Then different rules apply.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:34 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
From Greece to Ukraine: welcome to the new age of resistance
The left can learn from recent popular uprisings – the Arab spring, Greece or Turkey – that have no leaders, parties or common ideology, then build on the energy and imagination these movements have created
Costas Douzinas for Open Democracy, part of the Guardian Comment Network
theguardian.com, Tuesday 4 March 2014 11.43 GMT
On 17 June 2011, I was invited to address the Syntagma Square occupation in Athens. After the talks, following the usual procedure, members of the occupation who had their number drawn came to the front to speak to the 10,000 people present. One man in particular was shaking and trembling with evident symptoms of stagefright before his address. He then proceeded to give a beautiful talk in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs, presenting a complete and persuasive plan for the future of the movement.
"How did you do it?" I asked him later. "I thought you were going to collapse."
"When I started speaking," he replied nonchalantly, "I was mouthing the words but someone else was speaking. A stranger inside me was dictating what to say."
Many participants in the recent insurrections and revolts make similar statements. My recent work addresses this stranger in me (a usual description of the unconscious), this miraculous transubstantiation shared by people in different parts of the world. 
The new world order announced in 1989 was the shortest in history, coming to an abrupt end in 2008. Protests, riots and uprisings have erupted all over the world. Neither the mainstream nor the radicals had predicted the wave and this led to a frantic search for historical precedents. A former director of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service thought it, "a revolutionary wave, like 1848". Paul Mason agrees: "There are strong parallels – above all with 1848, and with the wave of discontent that preceded 1914.'  Alain Badiou suspects a possible "rebirth of history" in a new age of "riots and uprisings" after a long revolutionary "interval". Eventually, however, history is miscarried or stillborn and Badiou strongly disagrees with my statement that we have entered an age or resistance.
At a conference in Paris in January 2013, I was on the same panel as Badiou. After my presentation, Alain started: "I certainly admire the eloquence of my friend and comrade Costas Douzinas, who has buttressed his avowed optimism with precise references to what he takes to be the political novelties of the people's resistance in Greece, where he has even discerned the emergence of a new political subject." When I heard the next point I thought I had misunderstood: While the courage and inventiveness of the resistance is a cause of enthusiasm, it is neither novel nor effective. The same things happened in May '68, in Tahrir Square and even "in the times of Spartacus or Thomas Munzer". 
I plead guilty to the indictment of avowed optimism. We have entered an age of resistance. New forms, strategies and subjects of resistance and insurrection appear regularly without knowledge of or guidance from Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek or Antonio Negri. Their timing is unpredictable, but their occurrence certain. As resistances spread around the world, from the austerity-hit countries to Turkey and Brazil, the former poster boys of neo-liberalism, to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine, philosophy has the responsibility to explore the contemporary return of resistance and to develop an analytics of resistance.
In a more strategic sense, it is importance to follow Kant's advice in his late political essays, something of a vote of confidence for philosophical public relations avant la lettre. In Kant's philosophy of history, nature guarantees the eventual civil union of humanity in a cosmopolitan future. But given the chance of a public hearing, the philosopher must keep preaching the inevitability of cosmopolitanism, offering a helping hand to providence. In a similar fashion and after the repeated claims about the "end of history", the "end of ideology" and the new world order, it is important for the left to proclaim that radical change has become possible again.
In the 20th century, the left collected a long list of prophets and groupuscules promising the re-foundation of the one and only or the correct communist organisation. In earlier interventions, Badiou explained that the "resistance" (in ironic quotation marks) of the anti-globalisation movement was a creation of power. The movement is "a wild operator" of globalisation and "seeks to sketch out, for the imminent future, the forms of comfort to be enjoyed by our planet's idle petite bourgeoisie". 
Warming to the theme, Badiou proceeded to attack Negri ("a backward romantic") who is fascinated by capital's "flexibility and violence". He called the multitude a "dreamy hallucination", which claims the right for our "planet's idle … to enjoy without doing anything, while taking special care to avoid any form of discipline, whereas we know that discipline, in all fields, is the key to truths".
Finally, he dismissed the category of the "movement" because it is "coupled to the logic of the state"; politics must construct "new forms of discipline to replace the discipline of political parties".
According to this version, the communist resistance should stay away from the state, adopt the idea of communism and create a highly disciplined organisation which acts towards the people in a directive and authoritarian manner. It "wants to celebrate its own dictatorial authority, dictatorial because democratic ad infinitum".
This is the type of organisation that recent resistances rejected and with good cause: both because of the history of the left and, more importantly, because the socio-economic changes of late capitalism have made the concept of a Leninist organisation not just redundant but undesirable and counterproductive.
From a totally different if not opposed perspective and with greater interest in the pleasure principle than the death drive (and in parties than in the party), Howard Caygill's recent book seems to share the pessimism. Its last lines refer to contemporary resistances and conclude: "Resistance is engaged in defiant delegitimisation of existing and potential domination but without any prospect of a final outcome in the guise of a revolutionary or reformist result or solution … The politics of resistance is disillusioned and without end."
But despite the reservations of the pessimists, resistance and revolution are in the air. It looks however as if Hegel's "owl of Minerva" has not left its nest. Is this because we are not at "dusk" yet? In other words, the philosophers cannot respond to the political and social upheaval because the epoch of resistance is not close to ending, as Hegel thought? Or, is it the result of a certain theoretical and political sclerosis on the part of theoretical radicals?
Failure, defeat, persecution and the attendant paranoia are marks of the left. The left has learned to be under attack, to fail, to lose and wallow in the defeat. An enduring masochism lurks in the best leftist books: many are stories of failure and variable rationalisation. It is true that the left has lost a lot: a united analysis and movement, the working class as political subject, the inexorable forward movement of history, planned economy as an alternative to capitalism.
It is also true that the falling masonry of the Berlin wall hit western socialists more than the old Stalinists. Using Freud's terms, the necessary and liberating mourning for the love object of revolution has turned into permanent melancholy. In mourning, the libido finally withdraws from the lost object and is displaced on to another. In melancholy, it "withdraws into the ego". This withdrawal serves to "establish an identification of the ego with the abandoned object".
Walter Benjamin has called this "left melancholy": the attitude of the militant who is attached more to a particular political analysis or ideal – and to the failure of that ideal – than to seizing possibilities for radical change in the present. For his part, Benjamin calls upon the left to grasp the "time of the now", while for the melancholic, history is an "empty time" of repetition. Part of the left is narcissistically fixed to its lost object with no obvious desire to abandon it. Left melancholy leads inexorably to the fetishism of small differences: politically, it appears in the interminable conflicts, splits and vituperation among erstwhile comrades. Attacks on the closest, the threatening double, are more vicious than those on the enemy. Theoretically, according to Benjamin, left melancholy betrays the world for the sake of knowledge. In our contemporary setting, we have a return to a particular type of grand theory, which combines an obsession with the explanation of life, the universe and everything with the anxiety of influence. The shadows and ghosts of the previous generation of greats weigh down on the latest missionaries of the encyclopaedia.
The most important reason why radical theory has been unable to fully comprehend recent resistances is perhaps the "anxiety of the grand narrative". A previous generation of radical intellectuals – such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Edward Thompson and Louis Althusser – had close links with the movements of their time. Contemporary radical philosophers are found more often in lecture rooms than street corners.
The wider "academisation" of radical theory and its close proximity with "interdisciplinary" and cultural studies departments has changed its character. These academic fields have been developed as a result of university funding priorities. They happily welcome the appeal of radical philosophers contributing to their celebrity value. But this weakening of the link between practice and theory has an adverse effect on theory construction. The desire for a "radical theory of everything" caused by the "anxiety of influence" created by the previous generation of philosophical greats does not help overcome the limitations of disembodied abstraction.
It is no surprise that many European leftists are happy to celebrate the late Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales or Rafael Correa and to carry out radical politics by proxy, while ready to dismiss what happens in our part of the world as irrelevant or misguided. It may feel better to lose gloriously than to win, even with a few compromises.
Repeated defeats do not help the millions whose lives have been devastated by neoliberal capitalism and post-democratic governance. What the left needs is not a new model party or an all-encompassing brilliant theory. It needs to learn from the popular resistances that broke out without leaders, parties or common ideology and to build on the energy, imagination and novel institutions created. The left needs a few successes after a long interval of failures.
Greece is perhaps the best chance for the European left. The persistent and militant resistances sank two austerity governments and currently Syriza, the radical left coalition, is likely to be the first elected radical government in Europe. The historical chance has been created not by party or theory but by ordinary people who are well ahead of both and adopted this small protest party as the vehicle that would complement in parliament the fights in the streets. The political and intellectual responsibility of radical intellectuals everywhere is to stand in solidarity with the Greek left.
For an older generation of militants, theory is a weapon in politics. From this perspective, I have argued in my recent book that forms, subjects and strategies of resistance emerge within and against the circuits of power, reacting and rearranging its operations. To explain their multiplication and intensification, we must start with an exploration of the state of affairs they stand up to, the disastrous combination of neoliberal capitalism and the almost terminal decay of parliamentary democracy. All recent resistances from Tahrir, to Syntagma, Taksim and Sarajevo seem to respond to one or the other and usually both. It is therefore important to start the analysis of the age of resistance with an examination of certain common trends. Let me summarise them.
First, the economic and social landscape of immaterial neoliberal capitalism. Its logic is privatising and anti-state, de-territorialising. But at the same time, however, as profit becomes rent and interest, capitalism calls for increased regulation and policing.
Second, we must explore the global bio-political organisation with its two sides: in a period of fake growth, personal libertarianism, hedonism and consumerism, the injunction to mandatory pleasure. Every "I desire X" has become "I have a right to X". When austerity inescapably arrives, the emphasis flips on to its reverse side, the controlling of populations. Individual happiness and choice, all the rage in the previous period, disappears. The individual is abandoned, mandatory pleasure becomes the prohibition of pleasure in order to save the DNA of the nation.
These developments have serious effects for the politics of law. Legality is used by the elites in order to prevent and criminalise disobedience and resistance. The previous emphasis on controlled freedom turns into a limited state of exception, police repression and widespread exclusion.
Global analysis must always be adjusted to the local context. Resistances are always locally situated. Each case, therefore, must be examined in the context of local histories, conditions, the spatially and temporally located balance of power. The explosion, multiplication and condensation of different struggles and campaigns depends crucially on the kairos, the timely moment and often a random catalyst, such as the death of Alexis Grigoropoulos in Athens in 2008, Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in 2010, or Mark Duggan in London, 2011.
A spontaneous insurrection is the point where the complementarity or coupling of promised freedom of consumer choice with behavioural control and police repression unravels. The first site of conflict is, therefore, de- and resubjectification, the disarticulation of people from the position of desiring and consuming machines and their emergence as resisting subjectivities (the "stranger in me"). The stake in most struggles is the repoliticisation of politics by introducing an active element of direct democracy into our ailing and ageing constitutional arrangements.
Three new forms of politics have emerged, responding to the tendencies and subjectivities of late capitalism. First, the expendable, redundant humans, the homines sacri of our world. Such are the undocumented or sans papiers immigrants, those for whom the Mediterranean has become a floating graveyard. Here, resisting subjectivity often takes the form of martyrdom – witnessing and sacrifice – and of exodus.
Second, the bio-politically excluded: the unemployed and unemployable, young and old, people who exist socially but are invisible to the political system. Resistance takes the form of insurrection, occasionally rioting. Subjectivity takes the form of violent acting out. What they demand is not this or that right, so much as the "right to have rights", to be considered part of the social contract.
Finally, democratic disenfranchisement. Here the dominant form is the occupation of squares and other public spaces by multitudes of men and women of all ideologies, ages, occupations and the many unemployed. Immaterial production promotes networking but not political co-operation, communication but not ideological identities, collaboration based on atomisation and self-interest. The occupied squares are the place where the dissidents put into political practice the skills of networking and collaboration we have learnt for work. Young people were told for 30 years that they would get a good life, if they study, get degrees, keep learning new skills. Over 60% of European youth have post-secondary education and exactly the same skills as their rulers. They are now the precariat. One thousand unemployed lawyers, engineers and doctors are more revolutionary than one thousand unemployed workers. These are the indignados of Tahrir Squre, Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Taksim.
Elaborate working groups provide essential services in the occupied squares. In Athens, for example, food, health, cultural and educational activities and media presence were provided by professionals, many with higher degrees but permanently unemployed. The daily and thematic assemblies, as well as the working groups, organise themselves under a strict axiom of equality. Whoever is in the square, everyone and anyone, is entitled to an equal share of time to put across his views. The views of the unemployed and the university professor are given equal time, discussed with equal vigour and put to the vote for adoption. Here the right to resistance joins equality, the second great revolutionary right, and changes it from a conditioned norm into an unconditional axiom: people are free and equal; each counts as one in all relevant groups.
The occupied squares create a constituent counter-power, which splits the social space between "us" and "them". Their direct democracy both parodies representative institutions by providing efficiently the services currently privatised and also prefigures a new constitutional and institutional architecture.
Let me conclude by offering seven theses towards an analytics of resistance:
1. Resistance is a law of being. It is internal to its object. From the moment being takes form, or a power asymmetry is established, it encounters resistances which irreversibly twist and fissure it.
2. Resistance is always situated. Resistances are local and multiple: they emerge concretely in specific conditions, responding to a situation, state of affairs or event.
3. Resistance is a mixture of reaction and action, negation and affirmation. Reactive resistance conserves and restores the state of things. The active borrows, mimics and subverts the adversary's arms in order to invent new rules, institutions, situations.
4. Resistance is a process or experience of subjectivisation. We become new subjects, the "stranger in me emerges" when we experience a split in identity. Because my particular existence has failed, because identity is split and cannot be completed, I pass from daily routine identity to the universality of resistance. It involves risk and perseverance: resistance is the courage of freedom.
5. Resistance is first a fact, not an obligation. It is not the idea or the theory of justice or communism that leads to resistance, but the sense of injustice, the bodily reaction to hurt, hunger, despair. The idea of justice and equality are maintained or lost as a result of the existence and extent of resistance, not the other way around.
6. Resistance becomes political and may succeed in radically changing the balance of forces, if it becomes collective and condenses, temporarily or permanently, a number of causes, a multiplicity of struggles and local and regional grievances, bringing them all together in a common central place and time.
Persistence, encampment, staying on in a public place and turning it into the agora or the forum may help to create the demos in its opposition to the elites. At that (unpredictable) point, resistance may become the hegemonic force. This has happened in a few places in the last few years. The possible betrayal of the revolution later does not change the fact that people in the streets have learned that they may overthrow the strongest of rulers.
7. While resistance is a fact not an obligation, the subject of resistance emerges through the exercise of the right to resist, the oldest, indeed the only natural right. Right has two metaphysical sources. As recognised will, right accepts the order of things and dresses the dominant particular with the mantle of the universal. But as a will that wills what does not exist, right finds its force in itself and its effect in an open cosmos that cannot be fully determined by (financial, political or military) might. The resisting will forms an agonistic universality created by a diagonal division of the social world, which separates rulers from the ruled and the excluded.
 Costas Douzinas, Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis (Polity, 2013).
 Paul Mason, Why it's Kicking off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (London, Verso, 2012), 65.
 Alain Badiou, The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings (London, Verso, 2012), 38.
 Alain Badiou, 'Our Contemporary Impotence', 181 Radical Philosophy, September-October 2013, 43.
 Alain Badiou, 'Beyond Formalisation', An Interview conducted by Pater Hallward and Bruno Bosteels (Paris, July, 2 2002) in Bruno Bosteels, Badiou and Politics (Durham, Duke University Press, 2011), 318-350.
 id., 336, 337.
 The rebirth of history, 97.
 Howard Caygill, On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance' (Bloomsbury, 2013), 208.
 Sigmund Freud, 'Mourning and Melancholia', in Vol. 14, The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, (Hogarth, 1957), 249.
 Walter Benjamin, "Left-Wing Melancholy," in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, ed. Anton Kaes, Martin Jay and Edward Dimendberg (University of California Press, 1994), 305.
 Costas Douzinas, 'Philosophy and the Right to Resistance' in Douzinas and Gearty, The Meanings of Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:31 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
03/03/2014 01:01 PM
Ukraine Conflict: Putin Strengthens His True Enemies
A Commentary by Benjamin Bidder in Moscow
Although Russia has espoused moral justifications for its invasion of Crimea, President Pig Putin's move is all about geopolitics. His short-sighted logic, however, could bring Ukrainian nationalists to power -- and create a whole new set of problems.
Whenever Russia pursues its own interest against the will of the international community, a dictum by Czar Alexander III springs to mind. Russia, he said, has only two allies: its army and its navy. If you can believe the Kremlin's propagandists, however, a new, unexpected ally has come to Moscow's defense: the Western press. According to the website "Sputnik and Pogrom," the Western media have "begun to support the Russian Federation's course of action in the Crimean crisis."
The statement has little basis in reality, but it has nevertheless been shared thousands of times on Russian social media networks. European reporters, it is said, have finally figured out that hardboiled neo-fascists and not freedom fighters were behind the takeover of Independence Square.
This has been the Russian propaganda line for months -- that the West is ignoring the hordes of neo-Nazis bullying valiant Ukrainian policemen. The role of the violent nationalists, however, has been widely covered in the international press, and it was police brutality -- and Yanukovych's attempts, supported by Moscow, to outlast the protests -- that actually radicalized Independence Square. When students were beaten down on the night of November 30, they had neither helmets, nor batons, nor firearms.
Russia's Ridiculous Justification
Russia's justifications for its Crimean military intervention are outrageous. Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told the UN that masked irregular troops from Kiev had raided Crimea's ministry of the interior. Valentina Matviyenko -- the current Chairman of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation who quickly gave President Pig Putin a blank check for his march into Ukraine -- has mentioned that there were multiple dead during a raid.
But this attack never seems to have happened. Thus far, neither photographic evidence of the attack nor an official body count has been produced. On the contrary: The Crimean militia -- which is still overseen by the allegedly attacked ministry -- didn't want to confirm the attempted attack. Even the head of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has said that he doesn't have data about any victims.
There are indications Moscow is exaggerating the far-right's influence on Independence Square in order to give Russia an easy justification for the invasion and so it can sell it to the Russian public as a rescue mission. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seemed to acknowledge as much on Monday with his claim that the occupation of Crimea was about protecting Russians and human rights.
But the invasion is very clearly the product of geopolitical calculations: Moscow is regaining control of the Crimea and with it, its strategically important Black Sea port, Sevastopol.
New Government on the Ropes
To be sure, members of the Right Sector -- the Ukrainian right-wing militant group -- have in fact anointed themselves the new keepers of order and are intimidating officials, police officers and state attorneys. In such circumstances, the transitional government in Kiev needs as much help as it can get to prevent Ukraine from descending into anarchy.
But the Kremlin has scoffed at the new cabinet. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said it would be difficult to work with "people who stroll through Kiev in black masks with Klaschnikov assault rifles." That's ludicrous. The cabinet is headed by transitional President Alexander Turchinov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, both veteran politicians. They are about as radical as the head of a German bank.
Thanks to Russia, the transitional government in Kiev already has its back against the wall. Former President Viktor Yanukovych and his confidants plundered the state, leaving behind a country on the verge of bankruptcy. Now Turchinov and Yatsenyuk have to forestall economic collapse while, at the same time, preparing for war.
The Kremlin has maneuvered them into a lose-lose situation. Ukraine needs reforms -- but their painful consequences will be blamed the transitional government. If Yatsenyuk and Turchinov send the Ukrainian army up against the vastly superior Russian military, a bloodbath looms. But if they submit to the Russians, the radical nationalists will accuse them of betraying the country.
All signs point to Russia annexing Crimea and possibly eastern parts of Ukraine, which will have dire consequences. In the long run, it will weaken moderate powers in Ukraine and could pave the way for the nationalists to take power. And if they do, revenge will be on their minds.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:24 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Kerry Accuses Russia of Exerting 'Pressure on Moldova'
by Naharnet Newsdesk
03 March 2014, 22:08
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took another swipe at Russia on Monday, saying that Moscow "has put pressure on Moldova," as he backed the former Soviet state in seeking closer ties with the West.
Kerry, who has lambasted Russia over its military actions in Ukraine, another former Soviet state and neighbor, was speaking after meeting in Washington Moldovan Prime Minister Lurie Leanca, who is seeking closer ties with the European Union.
"I regret to say that Russia, in some of the challenges we're seeing right now in Ukraine, has put pressure on Moldova," said Kerry.
"There are challenges with respect to their energy sources and also their ability to trade. We are committed firmly to the direction that Moldova has chosen for itself."
Russia has strong ties with separatist movements in Moldova's Russian-speaking region of Transdniestr and has not met long-standing pledges to withdraw its soldiers from the country, which it committed to do in 1999. Russia also keeps a large amount of armaments there.
Pledging additional funding to Moldova, the top U.S. diplomat added: "The prime minister is leading a transformation effort in Moldova. We are very pleased with the fact that they continue their efforts to move towards their association agreement with Europe."
Leanca said: "Moldova is keen to build an energy interconnection with the European Union and American support is critical in this perspective."
"Same about the security cooperation. We see right now in the region some very negative developments unfolding," Leanca added, referring to Ukraine, which has accused Russia of pouring troops into Crimea, in Europe's worst standoff since the Cold War.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:22 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Pro-Russia groups take over government buildings across Ukraine
Activists break into buidlings in Donetsk, Odessa and Luhansk as poll finds many in those areas would like reunification
The Guardian, Monday 3 March 2014 19.51 GMT
Pro-Russian forces in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have overrun a government building and proclaimed they have taken over the regional administration, locals have told the Guardian. In an ominous sign of the spread of anti-Ukrainian sentiment among Russian-majority parts of the country, similar actions were reported in Odessa on the Black Sea and Luhansk, near the border with Russia.
At about midday on Monday100 people broke into the Donetsk regional administration building via the back door, secured the ground floor and meeting room of the administration office, and hoisted a Russian flag atop the building. Several hundred people were also waving Russian flags and shouting slogans in a nearby square.
"The separatists announced the creation of their own regional administration headed by Pavel Hubarev," Oleksiy Matsuka, editor of the Novosti Donbassa local newspaper, told the Guardian. "Their authority isn't recognized by anybody." He added that the local police had launched a criminal investigation into the incident.
The attack may have been prompted by the appointment by the new authorities in Kiev of a new governor for the region, oligarch Sergiy Taruta.
There were similar scenes in Luhansk overnight after 400 people broke into the local administration waving Russian flags and the flags of Russkoye Edinstvo pro-Russian block. The invaders claimed they did not recognise Kiev's authority and called on Putin to bring Russian troops to Ukraine.
A further 3,000 pro-Russians rallied outside the regional administration in Odessa, chanting "referendum". Later they faced off against Ukrainian nationalists who demanded they remove the Russian flag. The police separated the two groups and the governor of the Odessa region, Mykola Syrotiok, started negotiations with representatives of both sides behind closed doors.
The residents of Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa, together with Crimea, have the highest pro-Russian aspirations of any of the Ukrainian regions. A poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Kiev International Institute of Sociology presented on Monday found that when asked if they wanted Ukraine to reunify with Russia, 33% from Donetsk approved, as did 24% in Luhansk and Odessa and 41% in Crimea.
"But in Ukraine as a whole, the number of people who would like to have one state with Russia is no more than 13%," said Volodymyr Paniotto, head of the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. He added that only 16% of Russians wanted unification.
"I don't think Russia aims with its current aggression to annex Ukraine east and south, or even Crimea – they don't need it," said Valery Chaly, deputy head of the Razumkov thinktank. "Russia only wants to keep Ukraine on a lead … Putin wishes to prevent the final decay of Soviet Union."
Frayed Nerves in Crimea as Rumors of War Spread
By ALISON SMALE
MARCH 3, 2014
As Ukraine is tugged by the East and the West, many in Crimea welcome Russia’s aggressive stance, hoping Moscow will secure their place in a fractured future.
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Rumors and raw nerves over Russia’s intentions reverberated on Monday throughout Crimea and especially this Black Sea port, where dozens of Ukrainian sailors donned orange construction helmets and draped mattresses over the side of their ship in response to what they feared was a Russian ultimatum to vacate the vessel.
Across Crimea, the talk turned more to war, even as actual fighting remained hearsay and imaginary for a peninsula of two million inhabitants with little history of open ethnic conflict, particularly between Russians and Ukrainians — brother Slavs who share centuries of culture.
In Sevastopol, which carpets the hills surrounding Black Sea bays and inlets, a sunny, almost summery day provided an unlikely backdrop for a day jangled by worry over whether blood would actually be spilled.
The ship — the Slavutych — was one of two vessels accorded the Ukrainian Navy at the Russian naval port here after tortuous negotiations following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Earlier Monday, a Russian minesweeper, the 912, patrolled nearby, supposedly keeping the Slavutych and a smaller vessel, the Ternopil, from departing.
As darkness fell, the mattresses, apparently meant to help repel an attack, appeared on both ships amid widespread talk of a 5 a.m. Tuesday ultimatum issued by the Russians to clear the vessel. Russia’s official news agency denied any such ultimatum had been issued, but residents of the nearby Severnaya district of Sevastopol clustered near the vessel nonetheless, worried that hostilities would erupt. But about 90 minutes after the supposed ultimatum had expired, there were no reports of a Russian attack or Ukrainian resistance.
Five miles away, Rear Adm. Sergei I. Gaichuk took over earlier Monday as the new commander of Ukraine’s slender fleet — a naval force carved out of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and far inferior to that of the Russians, who have a lease on Sevastopol until 2042.
Clearly apprehensive after his predecessor Denys Berezovsky lasted barely a day in office before joining the Russians, the admiral declared himself “on the side of the Ukrainian people” and loyal to acting President Oleksandr V. Turchynov.
Local reporters and a handful of foreigners were admitted into the command headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy, a collection of white and blue buildings on the outskirts of Sevastopol. The reporters had to pass a cordon of six armed men dressed in khaki who spoke Russian and seemed torn by their guard duty, turning to avoid cameras and casting their eyes low beneath their helmets.
Inside, Capt. Andrei A. Ryzhenko, 45, expressed the agony of Ukrainians now facing potential conflict with their more powerful Russian counterparts, recalling that they had cooperated perfectly in several exercises and projects involving all nations bordering the Black Sea.
“We are a little bit shocked,” the captain said. “We worked next to each other, we studied together.” It was barely credible that such closeness could fall apart in the space of a week, he said.
That feeling was widespread in Sevastopol and the surrounding region, as what largely seemed like a phantom war fueled both dread and disbelief.
One woman who had no doubt that the appearance of mysterious armed forces in her town was nothing but bad news was Elmira Ablyalimova, 39, who confronted camouflage-clad soldiers surrounding the Ukrainian military base in her hometown Bakhchysaray.
She sought out their commander after a cluster of his soldiers, their guns draped over flak jackets or propped against trees, drank water just a few feet away from local children playing in a primitive playground on the edge of the small base.
“Please, I am begging you,” she beseeched the commander, a silent man who had descended from a military transport truck. “You’re a handsome young man, you must have a wife and children and parents, a family of your own. We don’t need you here in our town to protect us.”
He listened for several minutes then moved away, she said. Ms. Ablyalimova, who said she worked in the local administrative government, was furious. “We all know each other here” in the town of 27,000, she said.
Self-defense forces who were also patrolling outside the small base — from which the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag still waved — consisted mostly of men from different towns, she said. “I never saw them before — and they are the ones who think this is good,” Ms. Ablyalimova said.
“This is just Putin who decided to grab our country,” she said, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who got authorization from Parliament late Saturday to deploy Russian forces to Ukraine, an addition to the thousands of Russian forces who are already allowed to be in Crimea under the 1990s arrangement to preserve the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
“But it is our country and our motherland,” the woman insisted, identifying herself as a Crimean Tatar, one of tens of thousands who returned here after Stalin exiled them to Central Asia.
Indignant, she marched off to complain again to the soldiers, and chat to friends. All said they were suffering sleepless nights.
The same kind of tired nerves were on display at a small base in Lubimovka, near Sevastopol, where about 200 Ukrainian soldiers had dug in behind sandbags on the manicured lawns of the base. Many smoked; some did not appear to have weapons to resist what they insisted was an expected Russian assault. Power had been cut, the men said.
A group of their wives and daughters blocked the gate, kissing their husbands and looking with hostility and apprehension at a small group of pro-Russia women nearby.
Oleg Podavlovy is the deputy commander of the base, which houses the pilots who fly from the nearby military airfield of Belbek, where access was blocked Monday afternoon by a self-defense roadblock. He was unequivocal about an impending Russian assault, even as he hoped to avoid bloodshed in defending his post.
“Our task is not to protect the authorities, nor deputies, but the state. We protect Ukraine — no matter whether it’s Crimea, Lviv, Donetsk — it makes no difference,” he said.
“The armed forces of another state have entered our territory,” he said. “It’s aggression, pure and simple. What Russia is saying, that ‘they’re not our units, it’s self-defense militia,’ it’s nonsense. I’ve seen them, I’ve spoken with them, they’re special forces.”
At other military bases throughout the peninsula, tight-lipped soldiers presumed to be Russian special forces, without identifying insignia and carrying large automatic weapons, stood at the gates, preventing anyone from coming in or out. Self-proclaimed defense militias, in plainclothes but wearing red or black and orange armbands, stood in a line, creating a barrier in front of the soldiers.
In some cases, crowds gathered with Russian flags and signs denouncing the new provisional government in Kiev as fascist. Many also expressed strong anti-American views.
Ksenia Kaluzhnaya, 40, who stood in one such crowd outside the headquarters of Ukrainian Naval Base A-0225 in downtown Sevastopol, said there was no desire for violence, but that Crimeans were defending their identity. “We don’t want a war,” Ms. Kaluzhnaya said. “We want Sevastopol as it is, as it was and always will be: a Russian city.”
People in the crowd angrily demanded that journalists on the scene show credentials, while one man, listening to an interpreter assisting a French journalist, shouted that only Russian should be spoken. When reporters tried to question the soldiers standing at the gate, members of the self-defense militia closed ranks and pushed the journalists away.
A woman nearby who would give her name only as Tamara said: “Russians never started a war. Russians always ended wars.”
Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk to Meet EU Leaders Thursday in Brussels
by Naharnet Newsdesk
04 March 2014, 12:26
Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will meet EU leaders Thursday ahead of an emergency summit the same day on the crisis in his country, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said.
EU leaders "will discuss situation in Ukraine with PM Yatsenyuk in Brussels Thursday prior to extraordinary summit," Van Rompuy said in a Tweeted message Tuesday.
EU foreign ministers on Monday condemned Russia's "acts of aggression" in the Ukraine and warned that ties were at risk unless Moscow reversed course and took steps to de-escalate the crisis by Thursday's summit.
"In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia, the EU shall decide about consequences for bilateral relations between the EU and Russia," the foreign ministers said in a statement after their emergency meeting.
The EU was also ready to "consider further targeted measures" against Russia, it said.
The crisis, seen as the worst in Europe since the Cold War, has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity in response to Russia's move into the Crimean peninsular, a largely Russian-speaking area and home to its Black Sea fleet.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Madrid Tuesday and then go on to Kiev on Wednesday.
Don't listen to Obama's Ukraine critics: he's not 'losing' – and it's not his fight
The ‘do something’ pundits rear their heads. Just like they did on Iraq, Afghanistan and every other crisis of US ‘credibility’
theguardian.com, Monday 3 March 2014 17.19 GMT
In the days since Pig Putin sent Russian troops into the Crimea, it has been amateur hour back in Washington.
I don’t mean Barack Obama. He’s doing pretty much everything he can, with what are a very limited set of policy options at his disposal. No, I’m talking about the people who won’t stop weighing in on Obama’s lack of “action” in the Ukraine. Indeed, the sea of foreign policy punditry – already shark-infested – has reached new lows in fear-mongering, exaggerated doom-saying and a stunning inability to place global events in any rational historical context.
This would be a useful moment for Americans to have informed reporters, scholars and leaders explaining a crisis rapidly unfolding half a world away. Instead, we’ve already got all the usual suspect arguments:
Let’s start here with Julia Ioffe of the New Republic, a popular former reporter in Moscow who now tells us that Putin has sent troops into Crimea “because he can. That’s it, that’s all you need to know”. It’s as if things like regional interests, spheres of influence, geopolitics, coercive diplomacy and the potential loss of a key ally in Kiev (as well as miscalculation) are alien concepts for Russian leaders.
Overstated Rhetoric Shorn of Political Context
David Kramer, president of Freedom House, hit the ball out of the park on this front when he hyperbolically declared that Obama’s response to Putin’s actions “will define his two terms in office” and “the future of U.S. standing in the world”.
Honorable mention goes to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group for calling this crisis “the most seismic geopolitical events since 9/11”. Putting aside the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Arab Spring, Syria’s civil war and tensions in the South China Sea, Bremmer might have a point.
Unhelpful Policy Recommendations
Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander of Nato, deserves a shout-out for calling on Nato to send maritime forces into the Black Sea, among other inflammatory steps. No danger of miscalculation or unnecessary provocation there. No, none at all.
Inappropriate Historical Analogies
So many to choose from here, but when you compare seizing Crimea to the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, as Leonid Bershidsky did at Bloomberg View, you pretty much blow away the competition.
Making It All About Us
As in practically every international crisis, the pundit class seems able to view events solely through the prism of US actions, which best explains Edward Luce in the Financial Times writing that Obama needs to convince Putin “he will not be outfoxed”, or Scott Wilson at the Washington Post intimating that this is all a result of America pulling back from military adventurism. Shocking as it may seem, sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the US did or did not bomb.
Missing from this “analysis” about how Obama should respond is why Obama should respond. After all, the US has few strategic interests in the former Soviet Union and little ability to affect Russian decision-making.
Our interests lie in a stable Europe, and that’s why the US and its European allies created a containment structure that will ensure Russia’s territorial ambitions will remain quite limited. (It’s called Nato.) Even if the Russian military wasn’t a hollow shell of the once formidable Red Army, it’s not about to mess with a Nato country.
The US concerns vis-à-vis Russia are the concerns that affect actual US interests. Concerns like nuclear non-proliferation, or containing the Syrian civil war, or stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Those are all areas where Moscow has played an occasionally useful role.
So while Obama may utilize political capital to ratify the Start treaty with Russia, he’s not going to extend it so save the Crimea. The territorial integrity of Ukraine is not nothing, but it’s hardly in the top tier of US policy concerns.
What is America’s problem is ensuring that Russia pays a price for violating international law and the global norm against inter-state war. The formal suspension of a G8 summit in Sochi is a good first step. If Putin’s recalcitrance grows – and if he further escalates the crisis – then that pressure can be ratcheted up.
But this crisis is Putin’s Waterloo, not ours.
Which brings us to perhaps the most bizarre element of watching the Crimean situation unfold through a US-centric lens: the iron-clad certainty of the pundit class that Putin is winning and Obama is losing. The exact opposite is true.
Putin has initiated a conflict that will, quite obviously, result in greater diplomatic and political isolation as well as the potential for economic sanction. He’s compounded his loss of a key ally in Kiev by further enflaming Ukrainian nationalism, and his provocations could have a cascading effect in Europe by pushing countries that rely on Russia’s natural gas exports to look elsewhere for their energy needs. Putin is the leader of a country with a weak military, an under-performing economy and a host of social, environmental and health-related challenges. Seizing the Crimea will only make the problems facing Russia that much greater.
For Obama and the US, sure, there might be less Russian help on Syria going forward – not that there was much to begin with – and it could perhaps affect negotiations on Iran. But those issues are manageable. Meanwhile, Twitter and the opinion pages and the Sunday shows and too many blog posts that could be informative have been filled with an over-the-top notion: that failure to respond to Russia’s action will weaken America’s credibility with its key allies. To which I would ask: where are they gonna go? If anything, America’s key European allies are likely to fold the quickest, because, you know, gas. And why would any US ally in the Far East want Obama wasting his time on the Crimea anyway?
You don’t have to listen to the “do something” crowd. These are the same people who brought you the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other greatest hits. These are armchair “experts” convinced that every international problem is a vital interest of the US; that the maintenance of “credibility” and “strength” is essential, and that any demonstration of “weakness” is a slippery slope to global anarchy and American obsolescence; and that being wrong and/or needlessly alarmist never loses one a seat at the table.
The funny thing is, these are often the same people who bemoan the lack of public support for a more muscular American foreign policy. Gee, I wonder why.
Russian opinion divided over seizure of Crimea but majority likely to back THE PIG
Polls suggest most Russians believe upheaval in Kiev was a western-sponsored coup and that Crimea was never Ukrainian
Alec Luhn in Moscow
theguardian.com, Monday 3 March 2014 16.32 GMT
Ordinary Russians are sharply divided over Vladimir Putin's military manoeuvres in Crimea in recent days, with competing rallies in Moscow and furious arguments on social media.
But experts say most people will probably support the government line, since a majority views Crimea as part of Russia – and the transfer of power in Ukraine as a western-backed coup.
Denis Volkov, of the independent polling organisation Levada Centre, said that although in the past most Russians opposed military intervention in other countries, the fact that no open conflict had broken out in Crimea thus far made the Russian move easier to justify.
"Many see the Pig as the one who returned some of Russia's strengths [after the Soviet breakup], and I think he will use this idea of the loss of the Soviet Union to drum up support with Crimea," Volkov said.
While Angela Merkel said at the weekend that the Pig was not in touch with reality, many Russians would disagree. The latest Levada poll conducted from 21-25 February found that most Russians regard the new government in Kiev negatively: 43% called the political upheaval in Ukraine a "violent coup" and 23% called it a civil war.
Moreover, 45% blamed western influence for bringing people on to the streets of Kiev, where the "Euromaidan" protests that were originally in favour of further European integration later turned into a general condemnation of the corrupt regime.
A September poll by the state-run survey centre VTsIOM found that 56% of Russians considered Crimea, which Russia seized from the Tatars in the 18th century, to be a part of Russia. The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the territory to Ukraine in 1954, but ethnic Russians still make up 59% of Crimea's population of 2 million, while 12% are Tatars, according to 2001 census data.
An informal Facebook poll this weekend asking whether the Russian military should be intervening in Crimea drew heated arguments from both sides and descended into debaters accusing each other of illiteracy and treason.
"If soldiers hadn't showed up in Crimea, things could have escalated into Russian-Tatar pogroms," Alexander Zheleznyak, a Moscow-based travel journalist who grew up in the Crimea, told the Guardian.
"No matter what you think of the Pig, right now he's taken the responsibility on himself and stopped senseless beatings in Crimea," Zheleznyak said, referring to reports that two people died in clashes between rival pro-Russian and Tatar activists outside the Crimean parliament last week.
Masha Lipman, of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said that for most Russians, the perception that "anti-Russian nationalists and fascists took power leads to the feeling that we need to save and protect our own."
Few people were thinking of the geopolitical implications as Putin struggles against the integration of Ukraine, a key ally, with the European Union and the possible eastwards expansion of Nato, she said.
"We assume that the Pig wants revenge for this, that he's not ready to make peace with this move, and achieving superiority is extremely important for him," she said.
Hundreds gathered on Sunday in central Moscow under the slogan "No to war!" but were overshadowed by a larger protest to support "the brother people of Ukraine", where some attendees were accused of being paid to participate. Police broke up the peace rally and detained 361 people
"We need to protect people from fascism, from evil. We support the Pig," Dmitry Enteo, a Russian Orthodox activist, told people at the pro-government rally, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 07:14 AM
|Started by Steve - Last post by Rad|
Russia Warns Could 'Reduce to Zero' Economic Dependency on U.S.
by Naharnet Newsdesk
04 March 2014, 11:29
Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the United States if Washington agreed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, a Kremlin aide said on Tuesday, warning that the American financial system faced a "crash" if this happened.
"We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves," said Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev.
He told the RIA Novosti news agency Russia could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its "wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South."
Russian firms and banks would also not return loans from American financial institutions, he said.
"An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system," he added.
He said that economic sanctions imposed by the European Union would be a "catastrophe" for Europe, saying that Russia could halt gas supplies "which would be beneficial for the Americans" and give the Russian economy a useful "impulse".
Glazyev has long been seen as among the most hawkish of the advisors to President Vladimir Putin but many observers have seen his hand in the apparent radicalization of policy on Ukraine since the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych.
Economists have long mocked his apocalyptic and confrontational vision of global economics but also expressed concern that he appears to have grown in authority in recent months.
A high ranking Kremlin source told RIA Novosti that Glazyev was speaking in the capacity of an "academic" and his personal opinion did not reflect the official Kremlin policy.
Glazyev described the new Ukrainian authorities as "illegitimate and Russophobic", saying some members of the government were on lists of "terrorist organizations, they are criminals".
"If the authorities remain criminal then I think the people of Ukraine will get rid of them soon," he added.
Top Russians Face Sanctions by U.S. for Crimea Crisis
By PETER BAKER
MARCH 3, 2014
WASHINGTON — The United States prepared Monday to impose sanctions on high-level Russian officials involved in the military occupation of Crimea, as the escalating crisis in Ukraine prompted turmoil in global markets, pounding the Russian ruble and driving up energy prices.
The Obama administration suspended military ties to Russia, including exercises, port visits and planning meetings, just a day after calling off trade talks. If Moscow does not reverse course, officials said they would ban visas and freeze assets of select Russian officials in the chain of command as well as target state-run financial institutions. Congressional leaders signaled that they would follow with sanctions of their own, and quickly approve economic aid for the fragile, new pro-Western government in Ukraine.
The besieged Kiev government said Monday that the Russians had deployed 16,000 troops in the region over the past week and had demanded that Ukrainian forces there surrender within hours or face armed assault. While Russia denied it had issued any ultimatums, it was clearly moving to strengthen its control over Crimea, the largely Russian-speaking peninsula in southern Ukraine where Moscow has long maintained a military base.
In response to the Russian moves, European leaders indicated Monday that they would go along with limited action like suspending unrelated talks with Moscow and halting arms sales, but they resisted more sweeping efforts to curb commercial activity and investment in Russia.
German officials emphasized the need for diplomacy, while Dutch diplomats ruled out sanctions for now. A British document photographed by a journalist said the government of Prime Minister David Cameron would not support trade sanctions or block Russian money from the British market.
Without European backing, American officials worry that economic sanctions may not carry enough bite to persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to reverse course in Ukraine. By itself, the United States is not even among Russia’s top 10 trading partners, with no more than $40 billion in exports and imports exchanged between the two each year. By contrast, Europe does about $460 billion in business with Russia, giving it far more potential clout, but also exposing it to far more potential risk.
“It’s particularly important for the United States to bring Europe along,” said Julianne Smith, a former national security aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “To the extent that the United States tries to put economic pressure on Russian industry, they won’t feel the impact as much as they would if we had Europe standing with us. That’s easier said than done.”
Even without taking action, Western officials hoped the immediate and unscripted reaction of world markets would give Moscow pause. Russia’s benchmark stock index dropped 9.4 percent, and the ruble fell to a record low against the dollar. The Russian central bank took the extraordinary step of raising interest rates by 1.5 percentage points, spending an estimated $20 billion to support the currency.
In his first public comments on the confrontation in three days, President Obama said Monday that he was focused on assembling an economic aid package to shore up the Ukrainian government and asked that Congress make it “the first order of business,” drawing quick endorsements on Capitol Hill.
“What we are also indicating to the Russians,” Mr. Obama added, “is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they’re on, that we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and its standing in the world.”
Secretary of State John Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, went even further: “At this point, we’re not just considering sanctions, given the actions Russia is taking.”
Russia responded that it was only protecting its interests and those of Russians in Ukraine. “Those who try to interpret the situation as an act of aggression, threaten us with sanctions and boycotts, are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and renounce dialogue,” Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said in a speech in Geneva.
The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said in a statement: “Although the Department of Defense finds value in the military-to-military relationship with the Russian Federation we have developed over the past few years to increase transparency, build understanding and reduce the risk of military miscalculation, we have, in light of recent events in Ukraine, put on hold all military-to-military engagements between the United States and Russia.”
The crisis prompted tense meetings at the United Nations, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. NATO called its second emergency meeting on Ukraine in response to a request from Poland under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty relating to threats to a member state’s security and independence.
Meeting in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers called on Moscow to return its troops to their bases. They also threatened to freeze visa liberalization and economic cooperation talks and skip a Group of 8 summit meeting to be hosted by Russia in June. Heads of the European Union governments will meet in emergency session on Thursday to discuss the measures.
But the Europeans made clear they were not yet willing to go as far as the United States in terms of economic strictures at this point. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said that “crisis diplomacy is not a weakness, but it will be more important than ever to not fall into the abyss of military escalation.”
Frans Timmermans, the foreign minister for the Netherlands, the largest Russian export market, told reporters that “sanctions are not in order today but sanctions will become inevitable” if there is no change in Russia’s position.
Visiting Kiev, Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, urged Russia to pull back its forces or face “significant costs,” echoing comments made by Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry, who was to arrive in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on Tuesday.
But a British government document carried by an official near 10 Downing Street in London and photographed by a journalist indicated a resistance to tougher measures. The document, shown on the BBC, said that Britain should support ways of providing energy to Ukraine “if Russia cuts them off” but that European ministers should “discourage any discussion” of military preparations. “The U.K. should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial center to Russians,” the document said.
Russia is effectively the world’s biggest energy supplier, exporting more natural gas than any other country and more oil than any other nation after Saudi Arabia. Russia is also the biggest exporter of industrial metals and the fifth-biggest consumer market globally.
“The biggest argument for severe economic sanctions not being imposed is that the European countries don’t have much of an alternative to Russian energy supplies,” said Jens Nordvig, the New York-based managing director of currency research at Nomura Holdings Inc.
Several of the biggest Western energy companies have major investments in Russia, including B.P. and Royal Dutch Shell.
It may also be difficult for Mr. Obama to sell sanctions to the American business community if it is being cut off while competitors still have access to Russian markets. Russia is Pepsi’s second-largest market and a significant market, too, for companies like Boeing, General Motors, John Deere and Procter & Gamble.
ExxonMobil, the largest American oil company, has a joint venture deal with the state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, to explore what may be a very rich Arctic area called the Kara Sea. ExxonMobil is also working with Rosneft on drilling in the Baltic Sea and on other projects.
But congressional leaders said they would move forward with sanctions as well as aid to Ukraine. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee bill would use $200 million in aid and loan guarantees to leverage $1 billion in international economic assistance. An additional $50 million would be steered from existing State Department accounts for electoral administration.
Beyond that, lawmakers are drafting legislation focused on denying visas to members of Mr. Putin’s inner circle and denying Russia assistance through the International Monetary Fund. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, said House leaders were reviewing measures aimed at “Russian officials, oligarchs and other individuals complicit in Russia’s efforts to invade and interfere with Ukraine’s sovereign affairs.”
Ukraine crisis: US-Europe rifts surfacing as Putin tightens Crimea grip
Barack Obama threatens to 'isolate Russia' as EU ministers resist trade sanctions
Ian Traynor in Brussels, Shaun Walker in Bakhchisarai, Paul Lewis in Washington, Ed Pilkington in New York and Nicholas Watt
the Guardian, Tuesday 4 March 2014
A rift appeared to be opening up on Monday night between the US and Europe on how to punish Vladimir Putin for his occupation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, with European capitals resisting Washington's push towards tough sanctions.
With the Americans, supported by parts of eastern Europe and Sweden, pushing for punitive measures against Moscow, EU foreign ministers divided into hawks and doves, preferring instead to pursue mediation and monitoring of the situation in Ukraine and to resist a strong sanctions package against Russia.
On Monday night the White House announced it was suspending military ties and co-ordination with Russia, covering bilateral activities such as exercises and port visits. Barack Obama said the White House was "examining a whole series of steps – economic, diplomatic – that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia's economy and status in the world".
On the ground in Crimea, Russian forces continued to tightentheir stranglehold, intimidating and surrounding Ukrainian marines in an attempt to force them to surrender without shots being fired. There were further ominous developments in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian crowds forced their way into a number of government buildings.
Obama said the US state department was reviewing its entire portfolio of trade and co-operation with Moscow, including preparing a raft of possible measures targeting senior government and military officials implicated in the invasion of the peninsula. Obama said the condemnation from other countries aimed at Russia "indicates the degree to which Russia's on the wrong side of history on this".
The president is expected to use his executive authority to bypass Congress to quickly target senior Russian officials. But Washington is clearly aware it may struggle to rally support for punitive measures from Europe.
"The most important thing is for us – the United States – to make sure that we don't go off without the European community," the majority leader in the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, told Politico. "Their interests are really paramount if we are going to do sanctions of some kind. We have to have them on board with us."
But at an emergency meeting in Brussels the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy and Spain resisted calls for trade sanctions, instead limiting discussion to freezing long-running talks with Russia on visa liberalisation that would have made it easier for Russians to visit Europe. Washington is also threatening to kick Russia out of the G8 group of leading economies, but Berlin opposes that.
THe secret document carried by an official The secret government document, which reveals Britain's attempts to ensure any EU action against Russia over Ukraine would exempt the City of London
Britain's attempts to ensure any EU action against Russia over Ukraine would exempt the City of London were embarrassingly revealed when a secret government document detailing the plan was photographed in Downing Street. The document said Britain should "not support, for now, trade sanctions … or close London's financial centre to Russians".
Like other EU countries, and especially Germany, which obtains almost 40% of its gas and oil from Russia, the UK is reluctant to adopt measures that could damage its still fragile economic recovery.
In any event, further discussion of EU sanctions are likely to have to wait until an emergency leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday.
Rather than stronger sanctions Berlin is pushing the idea of a "contact group", under the auspices of the democracy watchdog the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, to go to Ukraine and monitor the grievances of both sides following the Russian seizure of Crimea, achieving its aims without a shot being fired. But no decision was taken on an OSCE "factfinding mission".
As the Russians consolidated their hold on Crimea and the US administration conceded the peninsula was under complete Russian control, there were contradictory reports of an ultimatum to remaining Ukrainian forces to surrender their weapons by early on Tuesday .
Senior Russian government figures insisted they wanted to avoid a war in Ukraine, but also demanded a new and "more inclusive" government in Kiev and that the policies of the country would have to take account of Russian interests.
The costs of the conflict to Putin became quickly apparent. The rouble fell 2% against the dollar and $55bn (£33bn) was wiped off the Russian stock exchange on Monday as the instability shattered investors' confidence. The value of Gazprom, Russia's energy giant, whose exports to Europe go via Ukraine, fell by $12bn.
As the US secretary of state, John Kerry, headed for Kiev, the Russian foreign ministry accused him of being a cold warrior and demanded the reinstatement of the toppled president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled Kiev for Russia on 21 February. Moscow said that an agreement that would have kept him in office for the rest of the year, negotiated last Friday, should be reactivated.
But at the Kiev negotiations Russia was the sole party not to support the deal and refused to sign it. It was signed by the German, Polish, and French foreign ministers.
Senior US officials dismissed claims that Washington was incapable of exerting influence on the Russian president, but were forced to admit Crimea had been successfully invaded by 6,000 airborne and ground troops in what could be the start of a wider invasion. "They are flying in reinforcements and they are settling in," said one senior official. Another said: "Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula."
On Monday morning, Russian soldiers were reported to have further cemented their control of the region overnight, having seized a ferry terminal in the Ukrainian port city of Kerch, about 12 miles from Russia.
The soldiers were reported to be Russian-speaking, driving vehicles with Russian number plates, but refused to confirm their identity. Residents of the neighbouring port town Nikolayev reported Russian troops had arrived overnight, intensifying fears Moscow will send further soldiers beyond Russian-speaking Crimea into eastern Ukraine.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported that Russian fighter jets twice violated Ukraine's air space over the Black Sea during the night. It said Ukraine's air force had scrambled a Sukhoi Su-27 interceptor aircraft and prevented any "provocative actions".
Ukrainian border guards reported a buildup of armoured vehicles near a ferry port on the Russian side of the Kerch channel – a narrow sea lane dividing Russia and Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers guard the entrance of a military base in the Crimean city of Bakhchisaray. Ukrainian soldiers guard the entrance of a military base in the Crimean city of Bakhchisaray. Photograph: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images
A statement from the guard spokesperson said Russian ships had also been moving in and around the city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked telephone services in some areas.
German officials denied US reports that the chancellor, Angela Merkel, following a phone conversation with Putin, had told Obama that the Russian leader had lost touch with reality.
While the alarm is high, there is also relief in western capitals that the crisis has not yet turned into a shooting war.
"The real danger is that someone just loses their nerves, not out of political reasons, but because it's so tense," said Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister.
Hopes of a possible way out of the crisis were raised in New York on Monday when Russia called an emergency session of the UN security council, prompting speculation among Western governments that Moscow was preparing to compromise.
In the event, however, the two-hour meeting descended into a verbal slanging match between the Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin and his counterparts for the US, UK and France.
In highly undiplomatic language rarely heard in the august security council chamber, a succession of ambassadors accused Russia of flagrantly violating international law and its own duties as a permanent member of the UN body. Several members also accused Churkin of fabricating claims of violence against Russian speakers in Crimea to justify Moscow's military intervention.
"So many of the assertions made this afternoon are without basis in reality," said Samantha Power, the US representative. "Is Russia justified in invading parts of Ukraine? The answer of course is no. Russian mobilisation is a response to an imaginary threat."
The French ambassador, Gerard Araud, said the Crimea action reminded him of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia when he was 15. "Russia seems to be coming back to its old ghosts playing an old fashioned role in an outdated setting."
In comments after the meeting ended, Araud said the outcome was "very disappointing. We are 50 years back."
The UK ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, said hopes for the meeting had been dashed. "We saw nothing about any openness to try and find a political path to de-escalate the situation," he said.
For his part, the Russian ambassador was unapologetic and unbending. Churkin said that Viktor Yanukovich, the ousted president of Ukraine, remained the legitimate head of state, and he described the leaders of the new government in Kiev as "radical nationalists" and anti-Russians.
He asked other council members to imagine that the US Congress had impeached President Obama while he was out of the White House and on a trip to California. "Would that be democratic?" he said.
He also reminded the French that they had imposed measures to prevent peaceful protesters from wearing masks in the street, and the Americans that their former president Ronald Reagan had invaded Grenada in 1983 to protect 1,000 Americans. "We have millions living there [Russian speakers in Crimea] and we are protecting their concerns."
Former US presidential candidate Senator John McCain said he was "disappointed" by the UK's position and said European countries were "ignoring the lessons of history". Asked if it was right to avoid such sanctions, he said: "Of course not. I am not astonished, to be very frank with you. Disappointed but not astonished."
The present situation was "the result of five years of naive relations with Russia, not the beginning of it", he said.
"If the Europeans decide that the economic considerations are too important to impose severe sanctions on Vladimir Putin - which you get from the statement by Angela Merkel today - then they are ignoring the lessons of history," he added - comparing Mr Putin's actions with those of Hitler in 1938.
From Russia, ‘Tourists’ Stir the Protests
By ANDREW ROTH
MARCH 3, 2014
DONETSK, Ukraine — Around the south and east of Ukraine, in vital cities in the country’s industrial heartland, ethnic Russians have staged demonstrations and stormed buildings demanding a wider invasion of their country by Moscow.
But some of the people here calling for Russian intervention are themselves Russian — “protest tourists” from across the border.
They have included passport-carrying Russians, like Aleksey Khudyakov, a pro-Kremlin Muscovite who said he traveled here “to watch and maybe to give some advice.” In Kharkiv, another Russian scaled a government building to dramatically plant his country’s flag — offering at least the image that President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces were being invited in.
It is clear that in this part of Ukraine, many ethnic Russians distrust the fledgling government, and some would indeed welcome Russian troops. But the events unfolding in major Ukrainian cities in recent days appear to match a pattern played by the Kremlin in Crimea, where pro-Moscow forces paving the way for Russia to seize control were neither altogether spontaneous, nor entirely local.
As pro-Russia demonstrations in 11 cities have suddenly erupted where significant populations of ethnic Russians live, the apparent organization of the demonstrators, appearances of Russian citizens and reports of busloads of activists arriving from Russia itself suggest a high degree of coordination with Moscow. At a minimum, Russians are instigating protests by Ukrainians sympathetic to Moscow, helping to create a pretext for a broader intervention if Mr. Putin decides to push things that far.
In Donetsk, when the crowd took control of the Parliament building on Monday, the Soviet-era ballad “Russians Don’t Surrender” blasted from loudspeakers and Mr. Khudyakov huddled in conversation with the leader of Donetsk Republic, a local organization demanding greater autonomy from Kiev. Back home, Mr. Khudyakov is better known for having founded several nationalist vigilante groups with the tacit blessing of the Russian government.
The most dramatic expressions of the new pro-Russia fervor have taken place here, the former political base of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the country’s deposed president, and in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, just 20 miles from the Russian border.
When a crowd of thousands of pro-Russia demonstrators in Kharkiv stormed an administration building occupied by pro-Kiev demonstrators on Saturday in a melee that left two dead and 100 hospitalized, a 25-year-old Muscovite, who was staying in a hotel just off the square, scaled the building, lowered the Ukrainian flag and hoisted the Russian banner in its place.
“I am proud that I was able to take part in defeating the fighters who came to ‘protest peacefully’ with knives in Kharkiv and raise the Russian tricolor on the building of the liberated administration,” wrote Mikhail Chuprikov, who hotel employees confirmed checked in under a Russian passport, in a blog post under a pseudonym.
The protests have served as grist for Russian state television networks, which hailed the footage of the Russian flag being raised across Ukraine as evidence of a rejection of the new government in Kiev by ethnic Russians. Russia’s permanent mission to NATO posted on Twitter a map of Ukraine with superimposed images of Russian flags in 11 Ukrainian cities where the protests took place on Saturday, including the Black Sea port of Odessa, as well as Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Donetsk.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned Kiev for allowing what it called armed bandits to raise havoc in the country’s east, citing the shooting of a Russian tourist and an unconfirmed nighttime assault on a police station in Crimea, which security personnel defending the station denied happened.
Amid the rumors and rising anxiety, self-declared municipal self-defense groups have emerged, saying they are ready to fight the spread of fascism — Mr. Putin’s description of the new leadership and its supporters — from the country’s west with Russia’s help.
Monday’s seizure of the Parliament building here was led by Pavel Gubarev, the founder of the People’s Militia of Donbass, the coal-mining region where Donetsk is. In a speech from the dais of the captured Parliament chamber, he rejected Kiev’s authority and called on Mr. Putin to bring troops to the city.
The sudden uprisings have shocked many in the region, where there was strong sentiment against the pro-West demonstrators in Kiev, but few calls to draw closer to Russia until very recently.
“I am sure that they are paid,” said Valentina Azarova, 55, a former seamstress, pointing at a dozen young men spitting sunflower seed shells in a pro-Russia protest camp in central Kharkiv on Sunday.
“I am Russian, and I am embarrassed for my country,” she said, discussing the possibility that Russian troops could come to the city. “Russia is here just as much as Russia is in the Crimea.”
In Donetsk, the movement for greater ties with Moscow seems to have gained a foothold. The City Council on Saturday called for a referendum on greater autonomy for the region, which the Ukrainian government has called illegal. At the Parliament building, Roman Romanov, the head of the police for the Donetsk region, told protesters that he “obeys the people,” but urged restraint from them, saying the “police are here to help you.”
Mr. Gubarev, the militia leader, has demanded that he be made the head of Donetsk’s regional government. When his supporters took the Parliament building, he collected identification cards to identify members barricaded on the upper floors of the building in case they tried to leave.
Many of the Parliament members had scratched their faces off the cards with pens in an apparent attempt to avoid identification.
Pro-Russia protesters caught one man who dashed out of the building before it was seized, beat him on a busy downtown street and covered his face with a green liquid.
In general, however, protest leaders tried to prevent outright violence.
At 4:45 p.m., protesters agreed to allow Parliament employees to leave the building. One member of Parliament who asked not to be named called the situation “a black hole.”
“This is the hand of Russia,” he said.
On the streets, protesters chased those leaving the building in suits and demanded to see their passports to determine whether they were elected officials. They pushed the members of Parliament back into the building, chanting, “Work!”
“Don’t hit anyone, and don’t break anything,” called out a buzz-cut protest organizer who gave his name as Viktor, who said he was a supporter of Mr. Gubarev. “If there is violence, it will make problems for the Pig.”
03/03/2014 05:23 PM
The New Ukraine: Inside Kiev's House of Cards
By Christian Neef, Wladimir Pyljow and Matthias Schepp
In the days after Yanukovych's fall, the Ukrainian president's lavish lifestyle spurred outrage around the world. Now the provisional government is struggling to avoid the corruption and clientelism that plagued its predecessors.
It was 11:37 a.m. last Wednesday when Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest and most powerful oligarch, released a statement: "Like all Ukrainians, we want to create a new country in which democracy and the rule of law are supreme. We will participate in the blossoming of Ukraine."
Akhmetov, who controls more than 100 companies with 300,000 employees, was a close confidant of toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In contrast to many others of his standing, he remained in the country and his statement was a clear indication that he had switched allegiances to the new government in Ukraine. It was received with a sigh of relief in Kiev.
By then, many other rich and powerful Ukrainians had long since left, including the top Ukrainian official sitting sitting in a café near Pushkin Square in the center of Moscow last week. He too had served the Yanukovych government in recent years. "Only God knows when I will be able to return to Kiev," he says. Afraid that the country's new leaders might take revenge, he adds, "please just call me Oleg."
Oleg can effortlessly recite the names of section heads responsible for issues pertaining to Russia and Ukraine in the foreign ministries of Western European capitals. He knows them all. He soberly recounts how Europe rebuffed him and his delegation while the Kremlin ratcheted up the economic pressure on Ukraine in recent years. "The EU should have gotten involved," he says.
Then Oleg explains the preparations made by Yanukovych to storm Independence Square, the location of the mass protests that ultimately brought down his government. Oleg says he knows that fighters from the elite ALFA unit were responsible for setting fire to opposition headquarters and that ALFA snipers opened fire on demonstrators from the rooftops of surrounding buildings. "Everything went according to plan. But then Yanukovych suddenly flinched and ordered the offensive to be stopped," Oleg says.
He says that when foreign ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Laurent Fabius and Radoslaw Sikorski spent the night negotiating with Yanukovych on February 20-21, the Ukrainian president's aides were busily preparing his escape. "They packed up suitcases and boxes. In the end, the helicopters were so heavy that they could hardly take off," Oleg says.
Top League of Eastern Oligarchs
Last week, several additional members of Yanukovych's entourage arrived in Moscow. Many of them consider their former head of state to be a traitor who plunged his country into chaos through his indecision. Even some of Yanukovych's closest allies have headed abroad, such as Sergei Kurchenko, a 28-year-old billionaire. Kurchenko is said to have fled to the Belorussian capital of Minsk after Yanukovych was toppled. Then, eyewitnesses claim to have seen him in the bar of the Radisson Royal in Moscow a week ago.
Kurchenko is considered the financier of the Yanukovych clan -- he is referred to in Ukraine as the "billfold." His VETEK Group most recently reported annual turnover of some €7.3 billion ($10 billion). One year ago, with Ukraine stuck in a deep economic crisis, the company invested in a service station chain in Germany focusing on liquefied natural gas. Kurchenko also purchased a refinery in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odessa from the Russian oil giant Lukoil. In December 2012, he bought the football club FC Metalist Kharkiv, along with the stadium.
He had, in short, become part of the top-league of eastern oligarchs, despite his modest origins. With an estimated worth of $2.4 billion, he had climbed up to seventh place in the list of the country's richest people published by the Ukrainian magazine Korrespondent. He is not, however, mentioned in the list published by the Ukrainian edition of Forbes. Because the magazine had published several critical articles about his fairy-tale rise to riches and his friendship with Yanukovych's oldest son Alexander, Kurchenko simply bought the publication.
It was, however, a former journalist at his new paper who discovered 30 sacks in an underground garage in Kiev early last week. They contained shredded documents from Kurchenko's collection of companies. Prior to the discovery, VETEK employees had removed computers from the holding company's offices and destroyed their hard drives. The bags of shredded documents revealed contracts, legal proceedings and bank remittances, including the purchase of a motorboat for €2 million. Insiders have begun reporting about the wasteful and eccentric lifestyle led by the up-and-comer. The oligarch allegedly hired a celebrity chef from the West and paid him €100,000 for just one day's work. When Kurchenko didn't like what he was served, he fired the cook.
The oligarch was married, but also is said to have maintained a relationship with a Moscow television personality. He flew with his mistress across Europe in his private jet and they would meet for dinner in the Russian capital in a private section of Turandot, the famous gourmet restaurant.
His ties with Yanukovych were close right up until the end. Just two weeks ago, the National Bank of Ukraine propped up Kurchenko's Brokbusinessbank with a billion hryvnia, roughly equivalent to €84 million. The loan came at a time when Ukraine was facing bankruptcy.
Yanukovych remained loyal to the young businessman because Kurchenko was an important building block of his regime. Last summer, when Ukraine was still flirting with Europe, Kurchenko made preparations to purchase natural gas on European markets via foreign subsidiaries. It was clear to the leadership in Kiev that were Ukraine to sign an Association Agreement with Brussels, the Kremlin would likely respond by curbing natural gas deliveries. That would have been a problem for Yanukovych the president, but not Yanukovych the businessman -- Kurchenko would have resold the natural gas to Ukraine at a hefty mark-up, and the president's clan would likely have profited as well.
The collapse of the Yanukovych regime has changed the lives of many in Ukraine. Kurchenko isn't the only one who has disappeared. The judge who once sentenced Yulia Timoshenko is also missing as is the ex-interior minister who referred to the Maidan activists in Kiev as fascists and the former commander of the Berkut special police force, which was disbanded last week.
But in Kiev, anarchy has been making inroads. Ukrainians speak of "Makhnovshchina," a reference to the anarchist-Communist partisan movement under the leadership of Nestor Makhno during the civil war that started in 1917. Makhnovshchina is a term applied to anything that smells of capriciousness and chaos.
Revenge taken against the rich and prominent is part of that chaos. In the Kiev suburb of Gostomel, 20 assailants burned down an estate belonging to Communist Party head Petro Symonenko. A Toyota Land Cruiser and an Aston Martin Vantage -- a €129,000 vehicle allegedly driven by his wife -- were found in the garage.
Parliament has seen its share of audacity too. Last week, laws were being rapidly pushed through -- including some of with doubtful legal underpinnings and seemingly questionable adherence to the constitution. But revolution is in the air and everything has to go quickly. On occasion, Speaker of Parliament Oleksander Turchinov introduces appointments and then signs them immediately, as acting president of Ukraine.
Tuchinov was long the éminence grise of Yulia Timoshenko's Fatherland alliance, but has now become the country's most important figurehead. He is head of parliament, acting president and is simultaneously coordinating the establishment of a new government. "Yanukovych couldn't have dreamed of having so much power," commented the editor-in-chief of one Kiev newspaper.
Skepticism of Timoshenko
The biggest loser thus far has been Vitali Klitschko's UDAR party, which has been unable to keep up with Turchinov's fast pace. When it came time to appoint a new governor of Ukraine's national bank last Monday, UDAR was still trying to agree on a candidate of its own. Undeterred, Turchinov simply called a vote and had his own favorite installed -- a candidate who hadn't even been part of previous discussions. The Fatherland alliance, with its experienced apparatchik Turchinov, is handing out portfolios and cabinet positions as it sees fit. Last Wednesday, its party head Arseniy Yatsenyuk was named acting prime minister.
Early on, the protesters on Independence Square could only stand by and watch, basically forgotten as power was divvied up. It is the fate of many revolutionaries: The new power brokers seek to do away with those who brought them to power. But last Tuesday, the Maidan, as the movement is known, forced parliament to delay the establishment of a transitional government and won a promise that a third of all government posts would go to activists instrumental to Yanukovych's overthrow. Only the radical Right Sector militant group was dissatisfied. The group had sought to get its leader, Dmitry Jarosh, appointed deputy prime minister, a post which also includes responsibility for the police and secret services.
And Yulia Timoshenko? Her arrival on Independence Square a week ago as part of a convoy of Mercedes and Lexus sedans was not well received. It shows, wrote one Kiev newspaper, that she "still doesn't understand what is happening in the country." Half of the emotions she displayed in her Maidan speech, it argued, were feigned. "Ukraine needs reforms, not emotional outpourings."
Timoshenko, one of the heroes of the 2004 Orange Revolution, seems to have understood. When it came to divvying up government posts, she too made a plea on behalf of the Maidan activists.
Still, the skepticism activists have for Timoshenko remains difficult to ignore. They are afraid that the political profiteering of recent years will carry on, just with different beneficiaries. And Timoshenko herself was long part of the Ukrainian establishment.
Their concern appears to be justified. Last Monday, a high-ranking officer from Ukraine's customs administration contacted a newspaper to inform editors of a new deal pertaining to the "internal" allocation of unexpected customs revenues. No longer would confiscated money and valuables be given to Yanukovych's Party of Regions as they had been previously. Rather, they would go to the Fatherland alliance. Timoshenko, the man said, had personally approved the deal. Furthermore, the Communist Party, he said, had been handed the leadership of the customs administration so that it would support Timoshenko in the future. The impression was that the struggles for influence which characterized the years following the Orange Revolution had returned.
Still, Kiev-based publicist Valery Kalnysh says she remains hopeful that the political system will be able to clean itself up. She notes that many parliamentarians now support a move to make police archives public as well as those from the defense ministry, the secret services and the public prosecutor's office. Nowhere in the former Soviet Union has such a step been taken.
Recent documents have already begun coming to light. Last week, papers emerged showing that the SBU secret service had sought to recruit people on Independence Square to provoke a military response. The papers also showed that the Ukrainian army had been tapped with the crushing of the protests. According to order number 313, issued on Feb. 18, 30 trucks, two helicopters and 2,500 troops from the airborne forces were to be made available. The soldiers were to be deputized as military police and allowed to arrest civilians and raid homes and apartments. The use of weapons was expressly permitted.
Translated from the German by Charles Hawley
Russia Troops Continue to Flow into Crimea amid Conflicting Reports on Surrender Ultimatum to Ukraine Forces
by Naharnet Newsdesk
03 March 2014, 17:33
Russian troops and military planes were flowing into Crimea on Monday in violation of accords between the two countries, Ukrainian border guards said, as Moscow reportedly warned Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender or face a confrontation.
The Interfax news agency quoted a Ukrainian defense ministry source as saying that “the Russian fleet has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea a 12-hour ultimatum to surrender or face a storm."
A Ukrainian defense ministry spokesman told Agence France Presse that Russian forces have given Ukrainian soldiers an ultimatum to surrender their positions in Crimea or face an assault.
"The ultimatum is to recognize the new Crimean authorities, lay down our weapons and leave, or be ready for an assault," said Vladyslav Seleznyov, the regional ministry spokesman for the Crimea. He said base commanders had informed the ministry of "different times" for the ultimatum to expire.
However, the Russian Black Sea fleet based in Crimea swiftly denied there were plans to storm Ukrainian military positions on the peninsula, calling reports of an ultimatum "nonsense," Interfax said.
"That is complete nonsense," a representative of the fleet was quoted as saying after Ukraine's regional military said it had received an ultimatum to surrender early Tuesday or face attack.
"We are used to daily accusations about using force against our Ukrainian colleagues," he said. "Efforts to make us clash won't work."
Over the last 24 hours, 10 Russian combat helicopters and eight military cargo planes have landed on the flashpoint Black Sea peninsula, the guards said in a statement, while four Russian warships have been in the port of Sevastopol since Saturday.
Kiev received no warning regarding the troop movements, even though that is required by the international laws regarding the stationing of Russia's Black Sea navy in Crimea.
Under these agreements, Ukraine should receive notice of any troop movements 72 hours in advance.
Crimea, which has housed Russian navies since the 18th century, has come under control of Russian forces and local pro-Kremlin militia, who have surrounded several Ukrainian military bases.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh has accused Russia of sending 6,000 additional troops into Crimea.
On Saturday, Russia's parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the green light to send troops to Ukraine, in a crisis that threatens to escalate into the worst since the Cold War.
Also on Monday, some 300 pro-Russian demonstrators occupied the regional government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, stronghold of former president Viktor Yanukovych, an Agence France Presse reporter witnessed.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 protesters had gathered earlier in front of the building brandishing Russian flags and chanting "Russia, Russia!", before a smaller group broke into it, smashing windows and occupying several floors.
THE PIG Denies Russian Forces Operating in Crimea: Yanukovych has No Political Future
by Naharnet Newsdesk
04 March 2014, 14:13
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday denied that Russian forces were operating in Crimea, saying that only "local forces of self-defense" were surrounding Ukrainian military bases in the region.
He pointed out that deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych had no political future but asserted he was legally still head of state.
"I think that he has no political future. And I told him this," Putin said in comments broadcast on state television, adding that Russia had offered sanctuary to Yanukovych for humanitarian reasons. He said earlier that Yanukovych was, however, still the "sole legitimate president of Ukraine".
Asked if Russian forces took part in operations in Crimea he said, "No, they did not participate," adding: "There are lots of uniforms that look similar."
Ukraine's new authorities have said that several thousand Russian troops have poured into Crimea over the last days, in claims backed by Western officials.
However Putin portrayed the events that has seen armed men in unmarked uniforms seize several Ukrainian army bases in Crimea as an uprising by locals worried about the new authorities in Kiev.
Asked why the men are so well-equipped, Putin said that protesters in Kiev were also well equipped and worked "like clockwork".
"They worked... like special forces," he said. "Why should they not work as well in Crimea?"
"The Crimeans are very worried. For this reason they formed committees of self-defense and taken all armed forces under control."
"Thank God that this was done without a single shot and everything is in the hands of the Crimean people."
03/04/2014 12:56 PM
Crimean Crisis: All Eyes on Merkel
By Philipp Wittrock and Gregor Peter Schmitz
As the conflict with Russia over Crimea intensifies, Germany is playing a central role in communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the international community has doubts that Chancellor Angela Merkel can pull it off.
Germany had only recently announced the end of its era of restraint. German President Joachim Gauck, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen of the Christian Democrats and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democrats have all argued that it's time for Germany to play a greater role in the world.
Steinmeier couldn't have expected that he would need to follow-through on his push for an "aggressive foreign policy" so quickly. But the dramatic escalation in Crimea needs quick answers and it has become a focus of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government in Berlin.
"Europe is, without a doubt, in its most serious crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall," Steinmeier said on Monday. "Twenty-five years after the end of the conflict between the blocs, there's a new, real danger that Europe will split once again."
Partly as a result of Steinmeier's key role in Kiev in February -- in which he, together with his French and Polish counterparts, helped forge a last-minute agreement to ward off a bloodbath in Kiev -- but also because of Germany's traditional role as a go-between with Russia, many are now looking to Merkel as a potentially vital intermediary with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is a tremendous challenge. And it isn't just the Europeans who will be watching Berlin closely. The US too is hoping Germany will live up to its new desire to wield influence. According to Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, Washington's currently troubled relationship with Russia means that it cannot do much -- and that Germany must therefore play a more important role.
Merkel Dives Into Diplomacy
Ties between Berlin and Moscow have traditionally been constructive. even if Putin and Merkel have a difficult personal relationship. Still, the two continue to talk, with the chancellor phoning Putin several times in recent days to express her view that the "unacceptable Russian intervention in Crimea" is a violation of international law. In parallel, she has also tried to open a channel of communication between Moscow and Kiev. Putin said he was willing to talk about the formation of a "contact group" and a fact-finding mission is supposed to determine the situation on the ground.
Like Merkel, her foreign minister has also spend almost all of his time engaged in crisis diplomacy, including a dinner meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Monday night. Steinmeier has been widely praised for his work, particularly for his role in hammering out a peace plan in Kiev, while people were dying on Independence Square.
But therevolutionary dynamic flushed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych away almost as soon as Steinmeier had boarded his plane for Berlin. The West was almost surely aware that such an eventuality might occur. But Moscow -- not entirely unjustly -- has accused Steinmeier et. al. of not pressuring the opposition in Kiev to stick to its side of the agreement. As a result, Steinmeier now has even more responsibility: If violence breaks out in Crimea, his efforts in Kiev will have been rendered worthless.
In the US, there are now doubts that Germany can fulfill its planned role. CNN's security expert tweeted on Sunday that the German silence about cancelling a preparatory meeting for the June G-8 summit in Sochi is "deafening." The US, Britain, France and Canada cancelled first. Germany only joined later to give the impression of unity. A former US top diplomat in Washington said on Sunday: "The EU is dysfunctional, but Berlin is the real problem." It doesn't help, she argued, that Merkel is a hesitant leader.
In Berlin, such accusations are largely considered to be hackneyed and tired. Of course European crisis diplomacy is difficult, they argue, when a giant country like Russia is creating facts on the ground in Crimea. But while Ukraine is located across the world from the United States, it only takes three hours to fly from Frankfurt to Simferopol.
And then there's Europe's dependency on Russian natural gas. Germany receives 35 percent of its natural gas imports from Russia, and a similar proportion of its oil. The Europeans would be well-advised, the Merkel camp argues, not to fan the flames with Cold War rhetoric.
The United States, of course, has moved forward, taking steps on Monday to impose sanctions on high-level Russian officials and suspending military ties to the country.
European leaders have been more cautious: Dutch diplomats have stated that they will not impose sanctions, and British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wouldn't lend his support to punitive trade measures or prevent the flow of Russian money into the UK. And the chancellor, first and foremost, is playing for time, hoping that emotions will cool. She believes that Putin will react heatedly to punitive measures, which is why she is opposed to sanctions or to excluding Russia from the G-8.
The New York Times reported on Monday what Merkel really thinks of the Russian president: The paper wrote that she told Barack Obama via telephone that she is not sure if Putin is "in touch with reality." Berlin did not officially confirm the quote, expressing it in more diplomatic terms -- that Putin and the West have a "very different perception" of the events in Crimea.
The Americans, of course, would rather she had expressed herself a bit more forcefully. And the world is watching to see if she ultimately will.
Is Europe's gas supply threatened by the Ukraine crisis?
Russia supplies about 30% of Europe's gas – should we be worried? John Henley reports
The Guardian, Monday 3 March 2014 23.44 GMT
Last December, Ukraine's now-deposed, pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia. One of the sweeteners in the $20bn support package that helped persuade him was a steep discount – around 30% – on the price that Russia's gas giant, Gazprom, was then charging Ukraine for the natural gas on which it relies. This weekend, as relations between the two countries descended to an alarming new low, Moscow warned that the cut-price deal was unlikely to last much longer.
Gazprom, which controls nearly one-fifth of the world's gas reserves and supplies more than half of the gas Ukraine uses each year, insisted the threatened price rise merely reflected cash-strapped Ukraine's inability to meet its contractual obligations. The state-owned company said that Kiev owes it $1.55bn for gas supplied in 2013 and so far in 2014, and shows little evidence of paying up. But this is not the first time Russia has used gas exports to put pressure on its neighbour – and "gas wars" between the two countries tend to be felt far beyond their borders. Russia, after all, still supplies around 30% of Europe's gas.
In late 2005, Gazprom said it planned to hike the price it charged Ukraine for natural gas from $50 per 1,000 cubic metres, to $230. The company, so important to Russia that it used to be a ministry and was once headed by the former president (and current prime minister) Dmitry Medvedev, said it simply wanted a fair market price; the move had nothing to do with Ukraine's increasingly strong ties with the European Union and Nato. Kiev, unsurprisingly, said it would not pay, and on 1 January 2006 – the two countries having spectacularly failed to reach an agreement – Gazprom turned off the taps.
The impact was immediate – and not just in Ukraine. The country is crossed by a network of Soviet-era pipelines that carry Russian natural gas to many European Union member states and beyond; more than a quarter of the EU's total gas needs were met by Russian gas, and some 80% of it came via Ukrainian pipelines. Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Poland soon reported gas pressure in their own pipelines was down by as much as 30%.
While it was eventually resolved through a complex deal that saw Ukraine buying gas from Russia (at full price) and Turkmenistan (at cut price) via a Swiss-registered Gazprom subsidiary, the dispute gave the EU a fit of the jitters: a compelling demonstration, Brussels said, of the dangers of becoming overdependent on one source of supply. But three years later, the same row erupted again: Gazprom demanded a price hike to $400-plus from $250, Kiev flatly refused, and on New Year's day 2009, Gazprom began pumping only enough gas to meet the needs of its customers beyond Ukraine.
Again, the consequences were marked. Inevitably, Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off supplies meant for European customers to meet its own needs, and cut supplies completely. As sub-zero temperatures gripped the continent, several countries – particularly in south-eastern Europe, almost completely dependent on supplies from Ukraine – simply ran out of gas. Some closed schools and public buildings; Bulgaria shut down production in its main industrial plants; Slovakia declared a state of emergency. North-western Europe, which had built up stores of gas since 2006, was less affected – but wholesale gas prices soared, a shock that was declared "utterly unacceptable" by Brussels.
So last weekend's news that Gazprom intends to start charging Ukraine around $400 per 1,000 cubic metres for its gas, as opposed to the $270-odd it has been paying since Yanukovych spurned Brussels for Moscow – sparking the demonstrations that led to his downfall – might seem alarming. Many industry experts, though, point out that the world has changed since 2009, and that there are any number of reasons why Moscow's natural gas supplies may not prove quite the potent economic and diplomatic weapon they once were.
For starters, we are not now in early January but in March, considered the final month of the continental European heating season, when demand is likely to be highest. Moreover, this has been a particularly mild winter – the mildest since 2008 – and higher than normal temperatures are forecast to continue for several weeks yet, significantly reducing demand for gas and leaving prices at their lowest for two years. Energy market analysts at the French bank Société Générale said in a briefing note last month that European gas demand in 2013 was at its lowest level since 1999. In the UK, gas consumption is currently approaching a 12-year low.
Partly as a result of weaker demand, but also because since the first "gas war" of 2006, many European countries have made huge efforts to increase their gas storage capacity and stocks are high. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Moldova, which lack large storage capacity and depend heavily on gas supplies via Ukraine, would certainly suffer from any disruption in supplies. But Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), which represents the gas infrastucture industry, estimated that in late February European gas storage was 10 percentage points higher than this time last year and about half full; the National Grid puts Britain's stocks at about 25 percentage points above the average for the time of year.
"The conflict won't have any impact at all" on prices, a Frankfurt-based analyst told Bloomberg News. "The gas price is currently influenced by temperatures and storage levels, and both don't favour demand right now." Prices of gas for delivery next month have risen around 10%, but that reflects insecurities in the market about a possible military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine rather than worries about fundamental shortages of supply were Gazprom to turn off the taps, the analyst told the agency.
Other, structural changes have lessened the potential impact on Europe of a disruption to Russian gas supplies through Ukraine. New Gazprom pipelines via Belarus and the Baltic Sea to Germany (Nord Stream) have cut the proportion of Gazprom's Europe-bound exports that transit via Ukraine to around half the total, meaning only about 15% of Europe's gas now relies on Ukraine's pipelines. Gazprom is also planning to start work in 2015 on a Black Sea pipeline (South Stream), meaning its exports to Europe will eventually bypass Ukraine completely. Ukraine itself has cut its domestic gas consumption by nearly 40% over the past few years, halving its imports from Russia in the process.
Moreover, a boom in sales of US shale gas means longstanding gas exporters such as Russia now have to fight for their share of the market. Europe is increasingly installing specialist terminals that will allow gas to be imported from countries such as Qatar in the form of liquefied natural gas – while Norway's Statoil sold more gas to European countries in 2012 than Gazprom did. "Since the Russian supply cuts of 2006 and 2009, the tables have totally turned," Anders åslund, an energy advisor to both the Russian and Ukrainian governments, told the Washington Post.
Gazprom has no wish to see sales to Europe disrupted. At its annual meeting with investors in London on Monday, company officials were optimistic about its prospects despite a 13% fall in its share price triggered by recent events in Ukraine. Indeed, they predicted Russia's share of Europe's total gas supply would actually increase in future as overall consumption – and Britain and Norway's gas production – declines.
Europe accounts for around a third of Gazprom's total gas sales, and around half of Russia's total budget revenue comes from oil and gas. Moscow needs that source of revenue, and whatever Vladimir Putin's geo-political ambitions, most energy analysts seem to agree he will think twice about jeopardising it. Short of an actual war, the consensus appears to be, Europe's gas supplies are unlikely to be seriously threatened.
• This article was amended on 4 March 2015. An error during the editing process led to an earlier version suggesting that the South Stream pipeline would be operational in 2015. Work is expected to start then.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 03:10 AM
|Started by ari moshe - Last post by ari moshe|
Hi everyone, here is a basic review of some of the core teachings on the soul and evolution.
The evolution of the soul is rooted entirely in the principal of desire. Desire is the core determinant of all of our evolution. Our choices reflect our desires. Thus our own evolution is ultimately marked by way of the choices that we make.
Desire can be directed towards literally anything within manifest creation: we can desire as much as exists – which is infinite.
However nothing which is desired can provide ultimate satisfaction. Literally everything within manifest creation is ephemeral. Evolution is about gradually exhausting all desires for that which is ephemeral until the only desire remaining is the desire for God/Source.
Ego and soul
Ego implies self image, self identity. It describes who we know ourselves to be, and thus the emotional filter through which we integrate and personalize all experiences.
For as long as a soul is incarnated, the ego and the soul cannot be separated from one another. The ego is ALWAYS a reflection of the inner desire nature of the soul. Understanding this is a core principal in EA work.
To exemplify this, consider a soul transitioning into the second stage of the consensus state. Of course this soul would create a specific personality structure that would reflect its desires. There will be a conscious ego personality that may say something like “You gotta work hard to get ahead.” Or they might feel embarrassed by their first stage consensus parents etc. All this expresses the nature of their ego which itself is a reflection of the desire vibration within the soul.
To consider another example. Jesus, who was third stage spiritual, was known to refer to himself as “Son of God”. That right there describes a soul that is consciously aware of itself as a soul. That was his self image, his ego.
The emotional body is the final step in integrating our experiences. Thus as we evolve from one stage to the next, the thing that shifts is our self image. The inner vibration of the soul always expresses through the human ego.
Wherever the CONDITIONS exit, at any moment in time, that facilitate the evolution of the Soul is where it will be born.
Rad once said that in regards to a question of whether evolution can take place on other planets.
Like a magnet, the soul is drawn into the exact conditions that are a completely unfathomably perfect context for exactly what the soul needs for its own ongoing evolution.
In evolutionary astrology one of the main questions that we focus upon is the question “why”. If we accept that desire determines the total reality a soul comes into, then we can always ask the question “Why THIS particular reality for THIS particular soul? What kinds of desires have lead to the creation of THIS life?”
The answer to “why?” is always going to point back to the soul, however no context can mean the same thing to any two souls. We have to play "astrological detective" in order to determine the inner soul nature that has lead to the specific circumstances of the incarnation.
Every condition, be it a "challenging one" or an "easy one" serves the purpose of the soul's evolution.
on: Mar 04, 2014, 02:11 AM
|Started by ari moshe - Last post by ginogropp1|
Hi Wei , i have read that Very high beings who are on the verge of God realization often come into this life in a shielded sate often unaware of their high evolutionary state . And then at some point in their life's their realization is uncovered by a life incident or another individual. The great Avatar Meher Baba was awakened by the kiss of a perfect master Hasrat Babajan at the age of 16, prior to this is was unaware of his divinity and to himself and others appeared as an ordinary boy .
on: Mar 04, 2014, 01:52 AM
|Started by ari moshe - Last post by ginogropp1|
Thank you Ari , yes you have answered most of my questions and i will peruse your answers very carefully , one question that does come up immediately thou , is the freedom of choice that a particular person has, is this an evolving factor as well. For instance surely the soul in the dimly evolved state , who is perhaps having one of its first human incarnations has less choice and so less freewill available then say someone in a spiritual or even individuating state . And can the measure of this ability to manifest free will and choice be read and seen by factors in the birth chart or is it like judging a persons evolutionary stage something that can only be best seen when the person is in front of you . And can not be seen by just looking at the chart ? I was also wondering, if their is one factor that can accelerate the souls evolutionary journey more then any other , what would this factor be ? And just one last question. In the glossy , Steve wrote " We find ourselfs operating from the M.O the same self reality self identity we left with, perhaps in old age in the last go round, in other words, we start exactly where we left off, literally " This would seem to imply that their is no evolution for the soul in the period between life,s .? This goes against much of the extensive study and reading i have done on the subject , and on the testimonies of several evolved spiritual teachers that i have read . Who say that an important part of the souls evolution can take place in the period in between incarnations on the earth plane. And that for most souls an extensive and profound LIFE REVIEW ! takes place after death, and that this in itself exccelerates the evolution of the soul and its level of awareness ?