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Author Topic: BIRTH CHART FOR PIG PUTIN..DANGER TO WORLD STABILITY  (Read 10502 times)
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« Reply #120 on: Jun 21, 2014, 06:27 AM »

Ukraine government declares start of unilateral ceasefire

Poroshenko details plan to win control of east from separatists as Obama considers tougher penalties for Russia

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 20 June 2014 18.03 BST   

The Ukrainian government said a promised unilateral ceasefire in the east of the country would begin on Friday evening and last a week, as Barack Obama and European leaders discussed imposing new penalties on Russia.

The ceasefire is part of President Petro Poroshenko's plan to win back control over eastern Ukraine, where armed separatists have set up breakaway republics.

Poroshenko travelled to the east on Friday and visited a Ukrainian national guard camp. Wearing military fatigues, he handed out awards to some of the troops, and announced details of the ceasefire plan. "Combat action will only be of retaliatory character if rebels attack our forces," he said.

The White House welcomed the ceasefire plan and said that Barack Obama had on Friday evening discussed imposing new penalties on Russia with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande.

The leaders said Russia must pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border and work to persuade separatists to disarm.

The United States is accusing Russia of providing separatists with tanks and heavy weaponry.

The White House says the leaders agreed that if Russia does not take immediate steps to calm tensions in eastern Ukraine, the US and Europe will levy further costs on Moscow.

The ceasefire plan does not envisage negotiations with the leaderships of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics, but promises amnesty to all rebels who disarm and are not guilty of major crimes.

It offers decentralisation of power, though it stops short of full federalisation, and gives guarantees over the status of the Russian language, as well as calling for early parliamentary elections. It also calls for a "buffer zone" on the Russia-Ukraine border to prevent the infiltration of Russian weapons and fighters.

Poroshenko's plan is meant to give time for separatists to lay down their arms, and give those who have crossed from Russia safe passage back over the border. But many are locals and in recent days both commanders and rank-and-file fighters have told the Guardian they have no plans to surrender, raising the prospect of an intensified military campaign once the week is over.

In recent days there have been reports that a large number of Russian troops had moved back to the border area, having been withdrawn several weeks ago.

"This is not a matter of some sort of concentration of forces, but of the strengthening of border controls of the Russian Federation," Vladimir Pig Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's investigative committee, also said on Friday evening that clashes had taken place on the border between Russia and Ukraine that resulted in shots being fired inside Russian territory, and that investigators were being dispatched to the scene.

The Pig has so far refrained from sending the army into eastern Ukraine in the same way that happened in Crimea prior to the peninsula's annexation this year, but has repeatedly called on Kiev to stop the military operation in the east. Poroshenko and Pig have spoken by phone twice recently, including once to discuss the peace plan earlier this week, suggesting that some kind of agreement may have been reached between the pair.

How much force any deal would have on the ground, however, is another matter, as many of the myriad groups of fighters do not appear to be under any real chain of command.

Heavy fighting has continued in recent days. Vladislav Seleznev, a spokesman for Kiev government's "anti-terrorist operation", said that seven soldiers were killed and 30 injured in clashes around the village of Yampil. He claimed that 300 rebel fighters had been killed, figures which were impossible to verify. There have also been civilian casualties in towns where the fighting has been most intense, notably Slavyansk, one of the centres of rebel activity and under siege from the Ukrainian army.

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And this is the Pig's response.........

Putin Orders Central Russia Forces on 'Full Combat Alert'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 June 2014, 11:45

Russian President Pig Putin has ordered troops in central Russia on "full combat alert," the defense minister said on Saturday, a day after the Kremlin confirmed it was beefing up its military presence at the border with Ukraine.

"In accordance with the Pig's order, from 11:00 am Moscow time (07:00 GMT) the troops of the central military district as well as formations and military units located on its territory have been put on full combat alert," Russian news agencies quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.

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

As Ukraine Announces Cease-Fire, White House Points Finger at Russia

By MICHAEL R. GORDON and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
JUNE 21, 2014
IHT

WASHINGTON — On a day that the Ukrainian government announced a unilateral cease-fire in its battle with separatists in the country’s east, the Obama administration raised the stakes with Russia on Friday, accusing the Kremlin of continuing to covertly arm the rebels.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military, Vladislav Seleznyov, said the cease-fire would begin at 10 p.m. local time on Friday. Ukraine’s new president, Petro O. Poroshenko, has stressed that the plan hinges on the sealing of the porous border with Russia, to prevent the flow of fighters and arms.

There was no immediate reaction from separatist leaders, but the Kremlin issued an angry statement complaining about artillery fire that struck a Russian border post, with demands for an investigation and an apology.

“The statement by the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, on the temporary cessation of hostilities was accidentally or deliberately made against the backdrop of shelling of Russian territory,” the Kremlin said in its statement, adding that a building at the border post had been destroyed and a customs agent seriously injured. “The Russian side is waiting for an explanation and an apology,” the Kremlin said, adding, about the cease-fire, “The initial analysis, unfortunately, shows that this is not an invitation to peace and negotiations but an ultimatum for the militias of southeast Ukraine to surrender.”

In addition, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, spoke by phone with the new Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, and Mr. Lavrov complained about demands that Russian tighten control of its border with Ukraine.

Mr. Lavrov, in the call, again insisted that Russia did not control — or speak for — the separatist rebels. Russia’s vehement reaction was somewhat surprising, given that the halt in military operations was part of a broader peace plan that Mr. Poroshenko has been developing in recent weeks in consultation with Russia and Western leaders.

In Washington on Friday, American officials added another element to an increasingly complex situation, accusing Russia of working to undermine the prospects for peace even as President Pig Putin consulted with Mr. Poroshenko virtually daily on his peace proposal. President Obama warned  the Pig this month that the West would impose “additional costs” on Russia if its provocations were to continue.

“We have information that Russia has redeployed significant military forces to its border with Ukraine,” a senior Obama administration official told reporters on Friday. “Russian Special Forces are also maintaining points along the Ukrainian border to provide support to separatist fighters.”

The State Department reported last week that three aging Russian T-64 tanks had been sent to Ukraine, and Ukrainian officials recently told Western officials that 10 more Russian tanks have been provided to Ukrainian separatists. Adding to Western concerns, the senior Obama administration official said, artillery has been moved to a deployment site inside southwest Russia and may soon be shipped across the border.

American officials said Russia was providing older weapons that its forces had phased out but that were known to remain in the Ukrainian military’s inventory.

“The desire here is to mask the Russian hand” by allowing Ukrainian separatists to claim the weapons were captured on the battlefield, the administration official said. The official asked not to be identified by name, in line with the Obama administration’s protocol for briefing reporters.

The Pig appears to be calculating that he can continue to provide military support to the separatists without triggering tough economic reprisals as long as the Kremlin denies that it is involved and avoids obvious provocations, like sending conventional Russian military units into eastern Ukraine, American officials said.

To date, the United States and European allies have imposed only limited sanctions, directed at Russian individuals or specific companies, in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea and allegations that it is linked to the violence in eastern Ukraine. The next stage would involve tougher sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy like finance, energy and defense industries.

On Friday, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Ukrainian separatists, including Vyacheslav Ponomarev, once the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, and Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

The White House said Friday night that Mr. Obama had called Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President François Hollande of France, and that the three leaders had agreed the United States and the European Union would impose additional sanctions “should Russia fail to take immediate, concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine.”

Before the cease-fire was announced, skirmishes for control of Krasny Liman, a railroad hub north of Donetsk, stretched into a second day. The Ukrainian military deployed both air and artillery strikes to oust pro-Russian separatist fighters, said Vladislav Seleznyov, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.

Mr. Seleznyov said seven government soldiers had been killed and 30 injured since fighting over a conduit road into the town began Thursday morning. He also said 300 rebel fighters had died in the fighting since Thursday, a figure that could not be independently verified. Mr. Seleznyov said the number was a “hard number,” not propaganda. But that figure was far higher than those provided Thursday night by rebel forces, which said their number of dead and injured was in the single digits.

In tandem with announcing the cease-fire, Mr. Poroshenko released the official version of his peace plan, with some 14 points that he had outlined in broad strokes previously.

It called for a general amnesty for those who had not committed serious crimes and the release of hostages. Mr. Poroshenko also wants to create a six-mile buffer zone along the lengthy border with Russia.

On the issue of decentralization, a key Russian demand, he said the executive committees that run each province would be elected, that the Russian language would be protected and that those and possible further changes would be enshrined in a new constitution. It also said the people in the Donbass area would be consulted on who runs the federal agencies in their areas.

Even people in the southeast who do not support the separatists complain that Kiev too often ignores their concerns and appoints officials without any local consultations.

The fighting in Ukraine this week also prompted Pig to call Ms. Merkel and Mr. Hollande to squeal his “grave concern” about Ukraine’s continuing military operations, the Kremlin news agency said. While denying any role in directing the separatist violence, Russia has acknowledged that it has forces near Ukraine’s border.

“Given the situation in the east, the tightening of Russian border security requires certain measures,” Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, told the Rossiya 24 cable news channel. “The armed forces are being called in.”

The senior Obama administration official told reporters that some Russian forces near Ukraine had taken up positions that “are within a handful of kilometers of Ukrainian territory, the closest that they’ve been since the invasion of Crimea.”

“We also have information that additional forces are due to arrive in coming weeks,” the senior administration official added.


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« Reply #121 on: Jun 23, 2014, 12:00 PM »

Lithuanian President Likens Pig Putin to Hitler, Stalin

by Naharnet Newsdesk
23 June 2014, 19:34

Lithuania's president compared Russian President Pig Putin to Hitler and Stalin in comments on the Ukraine standoff that were published by a German news magazine on Monday.

Asked by Focus weekly if it went too far to liken the Pig to Stalin, or to Hitler as former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton reportedly did, Dalia Grybauskaite emphatically said it wasn't.

"It is a very objective description of what Pig Putin is doing," the Lithuanian president said. "He is using nationality as a pretext to conquer land with military means.

"That's exactly what Stalin and Hitler did. Such comparisons absolutely apply," she added.


Former U.S. secretary of state Clinton made a similar comparison at a private event in March, according to a local newspaper report.

Describing Moscow's intervention in Crimea following the ousting of the pro-Russian president in Kiev and its insistence that it was simply protecting Russian speakers, Clinton said: "If this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the 30s."

Russia faces intense Western pressure over the crisis in ex-Soviet Ukraine, where it annexed the strategic Crimea peninsula in March and where pro-Moscow separatists are fighting government forces.

A Baltic nation of three million, Lithuania was the first to break free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1990 before joining NATO and the EU in 2004.

"Practically every week armed forces exercises take place in Kaliningrad on our border," Grybauskaite said, referring to the Russian exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

She also accused Russia of waging "information warfare".

"Moscow is manipulating the Russian minorities in the Baltic and making them support the Pig's aggression in Ukraine," she added.

Russia launched military manoeuvres on its westernmost edge earlier this month, a day after NATO began war games near the Russian border that Moscow labelled "an act of aggression" amid the East-West tensions.


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« Reply #122 on: Jun 28, 2014, 05:40 AM »


Ukrainian president accuses Russia of doing nothing to end 'disastrous' war

Petro Poroshenko, in Brussels to sign EU association agreement, says separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk are under Pig Putin's control

Luke Harding in Brussels
The Guardian, Friday 27 June 2014 17.14 BST   

The prospect of further western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine has grown after the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, accused Moscow of doing nothing to end the "disastrous war" in the east of his country.

In an interview with the Guardian and four other European newspapers on Friday, Poroshenko said separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions had carried out "more than 150 attacks" against government troops since a ceasefire began on 20 June. Five more Ukrainian soldiers died on Friday, he said.

Speaking in fluent English in Brussels, Poroshenko stated bluntly that the rebels were under the control of Pig Putin's Kremlin. "I think now Russia has done nothing to end the violence," he said.

"Russia is the leader of these banned groups. We are talking of Russian citizens, Russian officers, Russian soldiers of fortune." He characterised the Kremlin's strategy in Ukraine as "not very pragmatic" and "very emotional".

While Poroshenko signed the outstanding chapters of a historic association agreement with the EU, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian sides in Donetsk announced that they had extended a ceasefire for three days to allow talks to continue.

The Brussels deal brings Ukraine significantly closer to European markets and the EU – though with no prospect of eventual membership. Russia warned that the move would have "grave consequences". One Putin adviser, Sergei Glazyev, called Poroshenko a "Nazi".

Poroshenko told the Guardian that Ukraine had paid "a very high price" for its pro-European choice. "We want to modernise my country. We want to introduce freedom, democracy and European values. Somebody doesn't like that. Someone attacks us for that," he lamented.

Last November, Ukraine's then president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the EU agreement, instead accepting a bailout from Moscow. This triggered mass street protests, which led to Yanukovych fleeing the country and to Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea. Asked whether Ukraine would get Crimea back during his presidential term, a smiling Poroshenko said: "Certainly". He did not reveal how this might happen.

Poroshenko called Friday's signing ceremony, performed in the cavernous European council building in Brussels, the most important day for his country since independence from the crumbling Soviet Union back in 1991. Symbolically he inked the agreement with the same black pen that Yanukovych was supposed to use at a summit in Vilnius last year. "It is with me!" he said, showing the pen afterwards to the Guardian.

Poroshenko said that he had discussed his 15-point peace plan for Ukraine at length with EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, François Hollande and David Cameron. He said the EU was "completely united" in its support for his country, which faced a grave security crisis. "That is why I'm happy. They spoke with one voice," he told the Guardian.

The European council – representing EU leaders – will decide on Monday whether to impose new "targeted measures" against the Russian Federation, Poroshenko said. This is likely to mean additional sanctions against the Russian economy, in areas such as energy, finance and defence., EU states are divided as to how far these so-called "level three" sanctions, in preparation since March, should go.

Poroshenko said his peace plan envisages a series of concrete steps. They include a ceasefire verified by European monitors, "including a Russian officer"; the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian forces; the release of all hostages seized by separatists; and the launch of "substantial" peace talks.

Four Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitors were freed on Friday, but separatists were still holding 180 prisoners, Poroshenko said, including eight captured on Thursday.

Poroshenko said it was now up to Russia to decide whether to back his plan. The Pig's only positive step so far, he said, had been to withdraw this week a threat to use military force. Poroshenko said it was clear Russia had intended to destabilise Ukraine from the beginning. He said he had done his best to persuade Russia's president to sign up to a peace deal when he met him in Normandy, together with Merkel and Hollande, days before his inauguration. His goal was to make Russia "a predictable partner", he added.

Poroshenko admitted that the situation in parts of the east of the country was a "real disaster". He said: "Half of Donetsk province and one third of Luhansk province is a zone of war."

"There are no banks open. No pensions are being paid. There is no water, electricity. Lots of people with weapons are on the streets. People are afraid to go outside."

He said that in areas controlled by Kiev – some 87% of the country – by contrast, life was entirely calm. "Within 2km from our checkpoints it's normal life. It's peace. It's calm."

Poroshenko conceded that it was impossible to win back the east using military force alone. His strategy had other components, he said. It included constitutional changes to decentralise power, guarantees for Russian speakers, and the rebuilding of houses and other infrastructure damaged by fighting from state funds. He also wanted to create jobs and renew traditional industries.

All this was impossible to do, he recognised, while "there was a war going on" and with rebels in control of key towns. At one point Kiev lost control of 280km of its border with Russia, he said. He said a "significant part" was now back under "our control" but that "many tanks and artillery systems" had already crossed from Russia. These were now in separatist hands, he added.

Looking pained, Poroshenko talked of the price his country was paying to try and defend its unity and integrity. "If every day Ukraine pays with several lives of Ukrainian soldiers, with several injured, this is not a peace plan. This is not a ceasefire. We just block the operation of our army and they do what they want."


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« Reply #123 on: Jul 02, 2014, 05:44 AM »

The Pig Warns Again of Force as Ukraine Fighting Spreads

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
JULY 1, 2014
IHT

MOSCOW — The simmering standoff in eastern Ukraine exploded into warfare early Tuesday, pushing the conflict to a dangerous new phase and prompting President Pig V. Putin of Russia to snort again that he reserves the right to use force to defend Russian-speaking citizens.

Government forces unleashed ground assaults and air bombardments throughout the region, including heavy artillery shelling around the rebel-controlled city of Slovyansk and pitched battles for control of administrative buildings in Donetsk. The attacks began shortly after President Petro O. Poroshenko declared an end to a 10-day cease-fire and ordered government forces to renew their effort to quash a pro-Russian separatist insurrection in the east.

The recharged government offensive followed two days of conference calls with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany that failed to yield concrete steps toward a peace agreement, and came as Mr. Poroshenko accused the Pig of talking about peace while arming and encouraging the separatists.

A visual survey of the continuing dispute, including satellite images of Russian naval positions and maps showing political, cultural and economic factors in the crisis.

Ukraine has been in turmoil since December, when its former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, spurned a trade deal with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion loan and other concessions from Russia. Mr. Yanukovych was driven from office in the ensuing demonstrations, and after the Pig seized Crimea in March the separatist rebellion began brewing in the east, which has historically close ties with Russia.

While President Obama and European leaders have joined Ukraine in accusing Moscow of creating and sustaining the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, the Pig blamed the West for the troubles there and talked broadly about protecting Russians outside the country’s borders.

“I would like to make it clear to all: This country will continue to actively defend the rights of Russians, our compatriots abroad, using the entire range of available means — from political and economic to operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self-defense,” Mr. Putin squealed.

In the speech, the Russian president chastised Mr. Poroshenko for ending the cease-fire and urged renewed peace negotiations. But the Pig also described the economic sanctions against Russia by the United States and its allies as “blackmail” and said the West had precipitated the conflict in Ukraine by blithely ignoring Russia’s interests for years.

At least 27 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in clashes with rebels since Mr. Poroshenko announced the unilateral cease-fire on June 20, putting heavy political pressure on him to resume military action and cut off negotiations with the rebels, viewed as terrorists by many Ukrainians. Even some supporters of Mr. Poroshenko disapproved of his discussions with Mr. Putin, who is widely reviled after the invasion and annexation of Crimea this year.

European leaders issued an ultimatum to Russia last week, demanding it do more to end the violence caused by the separatists. But attacks on government forces had continued, and with a Monday deadline passing with no progress toward a peace deal and no indication that the Europeans were prepared to move ahead with new sanctions, Mr. Poroshenko decided to end the cease-fire.

There were reports of heavy shooting and bombardments all across eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, including civilian casualties. Gunfire cracked in the center of the regional capital of Donetsk, where rebels and government forces fought for control of the Interior Ministry headquarters and a police building came under attack by the separatists.

In the city of Kramatorsk, to the north, four people were killed when a minibus came under artillery fire, Ukrainian news agencies reported.

In a significant victory for the government, Ukrainian forces retook control of a checkpoint at Dolzhansky, in the Luhansk region, one of three important border crossings with Russia that had been seized by rebels. European leaders demanded on Friday that the crossings be surrendered to Ukrainian authorities.

Mr. Poroshenko issued a statement congratulating his troops for reclaiming the border checkpoint. Overnight, there were reports that two explosions damaged railroad lines in the east. A television tower serving the besieged city of Slovyansk was destroyed by artillery fire. Photographs posted on the Internet showed the metal lattice of the tower reduced to a tangled pile of rubble.

The resumption of military operations was cheered by many supporters of the Ukraine government. In Kiev, Alyona Getmanchuk, the director of the Institute of World Policy, a research organization, said that by engaging in protracted peace talks even as soldiers continued to be killed, Mr. Poroshenko had failed to live up to campaign promises that he would not negotiate with terrorists and that he would swiftly crush the insurrection.

“He was elected as a crisis manager, not as a diplomat, and even before elections he said that antiterror operations should last hours, not days or months or weeks,” Ms. Getmanchuk said in an interview. “People liked it and people thought he would be very decisive and he would resolve the problem within a couple of days, maximum weeks.”

The Pig, in a speech to diplomats in Moscow on Tuesday, snorted that he and other leaders had sought to persuade Mr. Poroshenko to continue the cease-fire during the conference call on Monday, but that the Ukrainian leader had chosen war and would now bear personal responsibility for the outcome.

While the Pig reiterated his pledge to defend Russian-speaking people wherever they live, he did not threaten any imminent military action or announce any redeployment of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border, as he has in other instances when tensions flared.

“Unfortunately, President Porosehnko has resolved to resume military action,” the Pig squealed. “We failed — when I say ‘we,’ I mean my colleagues in Europe and myself — we failed to convince him that the road to a secure, stable and inviolable peace cannot lie through war.”

the Pig snorted, “Now he has taken the full responsibility for this, and not only military responsibility, but also political.”

Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart on Tuesday that the United States supported Ukraine’s right of self-defense and put the blame for the renewed fighting on the separatists.

In a telephone call with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, Mr. Kerry, “expressed strong concern about the refusal of Russian-supported separatists to take the necessary steps” that “would have enabled an extension of the cease-fire,” the State Department said. Mr. Kerry also called on Russia to stop sending arms to the separatists.

Dmytro Tymchuk, a military analyst close to the Ukrainian government, praised Mr. Poroshenko’s decision to end the cease-fire, saying that the one-sided adherence to the truce by the Ukrainian military had only strengthened rebel forces, allowing them to rearm and regroup.

“Every day the truce, whatever its political significance, provided tangible reinforcement to the terrorists from a military point of view,” Mr. Tymchuk wrote on Facebook, adding, “A longer truce period would give terrorists a chance to drastically increase their combat readiness.”

The United States and its NATO allies have accused Russia of sending tanks, artillery and other weapons to the rebels, and of allowing fighters from Russia to cross the border to join rebel militias. Some rebel leaders had demanded a complete withdrawal of government troops from eastern Ukraine as a precondition for formal peace negotiations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that peace negotiations should resume immediately and blamed the Ukrainian government for the failure of previous talks.

“We are convinced that the efforts to put the situation back on the negotiation track should be continued, including an urgent meeting of the contact group,” the ministry said. “We will assist this in every way.”

Correction: July 1, 2014

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of a border checkpoint. It is Dolzhansky, not Dolzhanksy.


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« Reply #124 on: Jul 04, 2014, 08:31 AM »

Russia Broadens Law against Incitement to Separatism after Annexing Crimea

by Naharnet Newsdesk
04 July 2014, 17:16

Moscow on Friday broadened legislation against incitement to separatism, a move which analysts say is aimed at muzzling critics of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The law outlawing public calls threatening Russia's territorial integrity previously applied to news media.

But they will now cover ordinary bloggers, after the Russian parliament's lower house approved amendments that would see all public incitement to separatism penalised.

Violation of the law through the media or the Internet will now be punishable by up to five years in prison. Calls to separatism made without the use of the media or the Internet are punishable by four years in prison.

Analysts say the new measure could be used against people expressing private opinions online, especially those who openly disagree with the Pig presidents decision to absorb the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

After a popular uprising ousted Moscow-backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in February, the Pig sent troops to Crimea, saying he needed to protect Russian speakers on the peninsula.

After a majority of the Crimean population voted to split from Ukraine, the Pig signed off on legislation to annex the region.

Since then the phrase "Krymnash" (Crimea is ours) has become a catchphrase on the Internet and is widely used by Putin's critics to deride his policies and supporters.

"I believe this law is aimed at those who doubt that Crimea is ours," said Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the Sova center in Moscow, a non-governmental group.

"We do not have separatism, I see no other application for this law."

Political analyst Alexei Makarkin said that the law could also target Crimean Tatars, a 300,000-strong minority that largely boycotted the March referendum.

"Now calls to return Crimea to Ukraine will be criminally punished," added Makarkin.

Crimea was part of Russia before 1954. The Pig has snorted that he righted the historic wrong by bringing the peninsula back under Moscow's control.


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« Reply #125 on: Jul 12, 2014, 05:47 AM »

Kremlin Snuffs out Last Avenues of Dissent for Pig Putin Foes

by Naharnet Newsdesk
12 July 2014, 08:51

House raids, bugging devices, threats, violence and demeaning posters are just a few things Vladimir Putin's critics have faced while trying to run for city parliament in the Russian capital.

Two years after the Pig Putin was elected for a historic third term - facing mass protests in Moscow where less than half of the population voted for it - the Kremlin pigman is riding high in the polls while the opposition is all but stamped out.

And as the authorities seek to tighten their grip on society after seizing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March, even the Moscow city duma - a decorative body stripped of almost all decision-making power - seems to be considered a potential threat.

The 35-seat body that discusses matters in Moscow -- which has a population of over 11 million and annual budget of about $50 billion -- became the latest target of Kremlin foes scrambling around for at least a modicum of political representation.

But out of two dozen independent candidates who sought to run for office in the September election for the city duma, only two were able to file documents in time for Friday's deadline.

"It's because of fear. They have to show that they can squash anybody," said Nikolai Lyaskin, an ally of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who tried to qualify for the polls, but failed due to what he said was constant harassment.

Over the past month Lyaskin, who also faces alleged politically-motivated embezzlement charges over Navalny's crowd-funded mayoral campaign last year, says he found a tracking and bugging device in his car and constantly dealt with provocateurs at campaign events who "yelled about killings in eastern Ukraine" where pro-Russian separatists are fighting against the Western-backed government forces.

But with protest icon Navalny held under house arrest on graft charges the opposition say are meant to cut him off from average Russians, his closest colleagues like Lyaskin face not just hostility from the authorities but renewed apathy from Muscovites.

"What changed (since Pig became president) is that people stopped believing that change is possible," said Lyaskin, who works on anti-corruption projects in a group Navalny founded.

Another independent candidate Olga Romanova received threats and was put on posters calling her a "fascist" who receives money from Ukraine's ultra-nationalist group Right Sector -- an organization banned and vilified in Russia amid the crisis in Ukraine.

Despite endorsement from several celebrities, Romanova was also unable to file her candidacy, which due to the latest restrictive legislation requires gathering about 5,000 precisely verified signatures with passport information in the neighborhood.

Navalny, who received 27 percent in the mayoral polls but has now all but disappeared from public view, slammed the city duma elections as "fake" and pointed out on his website that Arnold Schwarzenegger only had to gather 65 signatures to be put on the ballot for the California governorship.

"That was the instinct of the regime: to erect a barrier that high," said political analyst Alexei Makarkin of the Center of Political Technologies.

"The opposition is weakened, it is in decline, many people are disappointed in it," he said.

"The mood has changed. People are afraid to put their names down for the opposition, afraid of being fired, summoned to the police, afraid of war and instability."

"Nobody wants to be the fifth column," he added, using the term the Pig has revived recently to describe domestic dissent amid Moscow's stand-off with the West over Ukraine.

"A fear has returned from the Soviet era."

Protest moods have plummeted since the opposition rallies of 2011 and 2012, and are currently at the lowest point for more than a decade, according to data from independent pollster Levada Center released on Friday.

Eighty-one percent said any political protests in their town were unlikely, the highest in the 17 years that Levada has polled on the issue. Only nine percent said they would go to a rally if there was one in their area.


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« Reply #126 on: Jul 15, 2014, 05:14 AM »

'I was a separatist fighter in Ukraine'

Artur Gasparyan, 24, is from Spitak in Armenia. In May, he says he was recruited in Moscow to fight in eastern Ukraine. Now back in the Russian capital, he spoke to Mumin Shakirov

Mumin Shakirov for RFE/RL, part of the New East network
theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 July 2014 05.00 BST   

Artur Gasparyan Gasparyan during his time in the Vostok battalion Photograph: Artur Gasparyan
You expressed interest in going to Ukraine on a forum on the social network Vkontakte after you read about the fire in the Odessa Trade Union building in which 42 pro-Moscow separatists died. What happened next?

About 10 guys showed up at a meeting somewhere near VDNKh [the All-Russian Exhibition Centre in northern Moscow]. We spoke in the entrance arch of a residential building there. A Slavic man in civilian clothes who didn't give his name met with us.

First, he asked us whether we knew how to handle weapons. He warned us that we would be going to [the eastern Ukrainian city of] Slavyansk, that we were heading to certain death, that the punishment for looting was execution on the spot, which, by the way, I saw was true several times while I was in Ukraine. Two men immediately walked away.

Did they promise you money?

They didn't promise a per diem or payment. Only free food, clothing, weapons, and a guarantee that they would transport our bodies to Rostov-on-Don and give them to our relatives. If, of course, they found them. They insisted that we destroy all our online accounts and, in general, remove any personal information from social networks. I deleted my accounts on [Russian social-media sites] Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki.

How did you get to the Ukrainian border?

On the morning of 12 May, the group got into two cars and headed south. It took about 24 hours to get to Rostov. It turned out that the drivers were also volunteers. One of them, by the way, was killed. They took us to a camp – some small homes near a creek and a forest – I don't know where. They took away all our road maps. Our telephones and other personal things were logged and taken away. We changed into clothes they gave us.

How long were you at this camp?

Nearly two weeks. Every day, more and more new people came. By the end, there were about 100 of us. We didn't rest at all; it was a military schedule. We got up, we went for a run, we had breakfast, we had training, we did orienteering in the fields, in the forest. We learned the hand signals.

What do you mean, hand signals?

They taught us to communicate using gestures and signs in order to recognise each other, to communicate silently at night, to give commands like back, forward, stop, get down, danger, and so on. Now I can speak with my hands like a deaf person. All this was taught by an instructor in civilian clothes. He, like all the other big and small bosses, didn't give his name. We didn't even know one another's real names, just nicknames. Even now I don't know the names of most of the guys who were killed beside me in that hell.

Did you have any combat experience before Ukraine? You were in the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh...

Mostly we just had some exchanges of fire, automatic weapons or grenade launchers. In short, it was a low-level war of positioning. Nonetheless, I knew more about war than most of the guys there.

Were there Russian nationalists among them?

I didn't see any nationalists, although most of the guys there were Slavs. Whether they were Belarusians, Russians, or Ukrainian, I can't say. They were good, patriotic guys. None of them looked at me funny because I'm Armenian.

There were a bunch of guys from the Caucasus, some Armenians from Krasnodar and [the Ukrainian city of] Kryvyi Rih. Some Chechens came a little later. I became friends with a few – one guy named Red and another named Small. Both of them were killed in those KamAZ trucks.

How did you cross the border?

Near midnight on 23 May we left the base, about 100 guys in KamAZ trucks. We were accompanied by a guide in a Niva [Russian-made jeep]. We rode for several hours and stopped at the border. There we joined up with another 50 guys from other camps and we were given our weapons: grenade launchers, automatic rifles, pistols, and grenades. Then we got back into the trucks.

Did they teach you to shoot?

Some of the guys knew how to fire grenade launchers. I was made the commander of a machine-gun squad of from three to six guys. They gave me that job after looking over my military-service document. I guess there are some numerical codes there that I never noticed before. When they called me, they asked me to read the code. So they knew how to use my training. Apparently they worked separately with everyone like that.

What do you mean "they"? Were they Federal Security Service, military intelligence (GRU), Interior Ministry? Who were these people who met you, trained you, crossed the border with you?

I don't know their names, even their first names. They looked like Slavs. They were all in civilian clothes. I don't even remember their faces.

When did you cross the border?

It was around dawn on 24 May. On the Ukrainian side, we were met by some high-level representatives of the [self-proclaimed] Donetsk People's Republic. They had taken over some military base in Donetsk and they put us up in a barracks there. We slept the whole day. Then we washed up, got ourselves in order.

The next day, 25 May, we took part in the well-known parade in the city in our KamAZ trucks – the one that the Chechens made famous. They gave interviews, fired their weapons into the air, posed for the cameras. People were cheering and they greeted the volunteers from Russia like liberators. In the evening, we returned to our barracks.

And when did you first see combat?

They sounded the alarm on the night of 25-26 May. There were three guys in my group, from Moscow, Lipetsk, and Chukotka. They were all killed. We were put in civilian buses and taken to the airport. All 100 of us went into the building and there we joined up with some Ossetians. The passengers were quickly evacuated, but employees remained at their posts. In the morning, two planes landed and we didn't interfere with the work of the airport. The building was quickly taken under control.

We positioned ourselves on every floor. My assistant and I were on the seventh floor – the roof. We were ordered to cover a high area about half a kilometre away so that no one else could be there. We set up a machine gun.

What was the point of seizing a civilian airport in Donetsk? The fighting at that time was in a completely different place, near Slavyansk.

To prevent them from sending in troops from Kiev. They told us no one would fire at us. Just pose for the cameras and that's all. They would see us, get scared, give up. We'd disarm everyone and send them home. The airport would be ours.

Who do you mean?

The Ukrainian troops around the airport. There was gossip that supposedly we were so tough and everyone was afraid of us. But it turned out just the opposite.

At 2pm the helicopters came. Then the airplanes, and they started bombing the place. I was on the roof and with my aide, I managed to get to the sixth floor. It was a big attack – I counted four helicopters and two planes.

Did you have mobile antiaircraft weapons?

Our commander from the Vostok battalion [of volunteer fighters from Russia], Alexander Khodakovsky [regional head of the elite Alfa special forces under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych], told us they wouldn't bomb the airport and that "zenits" [shoulder-launched anti-aircraft weapons] wouldn't be necessary. So we left them at the base. Khodakovsky's snipers were there.
Pro-Russian militants on the roof of the international airport of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on 26 May, 2014. Pro-Russian militants on the roof of the international airport of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on 26 May, 2014. Photograph: Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images

There were agents of the Ukrainian SBU Security Service who had come over to the Donetsk People's Republic. They had unusual rifles that I'd never seen before – not Dragunov sniper rifles. They left somewhere at about 1pm and the bombing started at 2pm.

What happened on your floor?

One Chechen was killed on the roof immediately. Two others were wounded. They fired on the helicopters with everything they had. It took me two or three seconds to get up there. I fired on the high area from where a sniper was shooting at us. They forced us tightly into the building and were bombing from all sides. They had missile launchers around the perimeter of the airport and were firing on the terminal.

Khodakovsky naively thought that since the airport was new – just opened for the European soccer championships [in 2012] – they wouldn't use heavy weapons on it. If we had only had our antiaircraft weapons, none of that would have happened.

Do you think it was betrayal or incompetence?

I don't know. We lost a lot of men. One of the Chechens – a really smart guy –threw a couple of smoke bombs onto the roof and managed to drag his wounded comrades out. We made our way down to the first floor and were just sitting there, waiting to be killed.

    Spark told me: "If you question the order, I'll shoot you here." I took my weapon and got in.

We couldn't go outside. Someone contacted the commander – a guy called Spark – and we were given the order to get into the trucks. It was nearly evening. The trucks were standing inside – in the terminal. I didn't want to get in. I knew how risky it was. Spark told me: "If you question the order, I'll shoot you here." I took my weapon and got in.

How many men were in the truck?

There were two trucks with about 30-35 men in each one. A covering squad remained in the airport. They went out on foot at night – they all got away. Spark gave the order to drive out of the terminal and to fire in all directions at anything that moved. We lifted the covers – they were open trucks stuffed with volunteers. Our truck flew out of the terminal and we begin to fire on both sides, up in the air, everywhere. We proceeded along a road for about four or five kilometres. The trucks were about 500 or 600 metres apart. Two trucks speeding along, firing without stopping. It was terrifying.
A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires decoy flares over a residential area moments after attacking Donetsk international airport on 26 May, 2014.

It's true that I stopped firing when I saw that there was no one there. When we arrived in the city, we saw that the first truck was standing in the road. I didn't understand what had happened. Cars were driving around it and people were standing around – it was the edge of Donetsk.

There were dead and wounded there?

We rushed pass at high speed. I didn't manage to look. Someone was still shooting. After about 500 metres, someone fired on our truck with a grenade launcher. The shell landed in the driver's cabin. We thought we'd been lucky, so we jumped out. We got bruised up a little, but no one was hurt. The truck that they hit first got caught in a crossfire from machine guns. There were also snipers firing at them. At least 30 men died there, no fewer.

Then they began firing on us too from somewhere. I dropped my weapon and grabbed one wounded guy from Crimea. I loaded him on my back and ran blindly through some yards. Our medic found us. He had a weapon, so I took it and started firing in all directions, up onto the roofs. And I ran further with the wounded guy.

Did you know who controlled the city?

We were sure the city had been taken by the National Guard and that they were looking for us. We came to an ambulance depot and I fired toward the roof a couple of times to attract their attention. My comrade was bleeding badly. He'd been shot in the arm and the leg. I shouted to the medics: "Save him! Help!" A woman shouted back: "Don't worry, we are on your side!" We put the Crimean into an ambulance and they took him to a hospital. I told them where the trucks were and six ambulances rushed out. Soon they were bringing guys from the trucks to the hospital.

Someone told me that only three guys survived from the first truck. There was panic and terror. Someone told me that one guy blew himself up with a grenade to avoid being taken prisoner by the Ukrainians. They didn't understand that they were being attacked by their own people. Someone apparently told local militiamen that Right Sector [a Ukrainian nationalist group that was part of the Maidan protest movement] fighters were rushing down the highway in two trucks.
What was the official story?

On television they said something like the militias were transporting unarmed wounded under the sign of the red cross and Ukrainian forces fired on them. At that point, I still didn't know we'd been attacked by our own forces. I was sure it was the National Guard. Sometime in the morning of the 27th, two guys from the cover group that remained at the airport woke me up. They told me that it was friendly fire.

We were asking what to do next. We decided to run away during the night, secretly, on foot, back to the border and to Russia. We found some civilian clothes, changed into them, took some backpacks and left the unit. There was a driver with us who went by "Shumakher." He told us that he had an uncle outside of Donetsk. Six of us arrived at this private house to spend the night. On the morning of the 28th, we heard shouts from a neighbouring house: "Don't shoot! Don't kill us!" It turned out they sent a squad out after us.

How did they find you?

I don't know. Maybe someone gave us away. We threw away our packs and other things and ran off again. We were just wandering around the streets without any money or documents. We came to a town and a checkpoint and told them our story. They took us from the checkpoint to Horlivka [a city in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast] to a commander by the name of "Devil." But that's a different story.
Why did you spend two weeks with "Devil"?

We didn't have any choice. I didn't know how to get away. Devil turned out to be a normal guy, a professional soldier from Horlivka. He promised to send us back to Russia at the first opportunity. All five of us stayed with him. We told them what had happened to us, and he said he wouldn't turn us over to the "easterners." He left us alone. Later, if anyone wanted to fight some more, they stayed. But I left.
What did you do in Horlivka from 28 May until 15 June?

I put on a uniform again. We were given weapons and took part in several operations. They were better organised, more systematic. We carried out some diversions – snuck around, blew something up, snuck away. We blew up a Ukrainian fuelling post in Dokuchayevsk. We snuck in quietly during the night in civilian cars. I covered the position with a machine gun and they blew up the post with a grenade launcher.

Why did you blow up the fuel depot?

So they couldn't gas up their tanks and trucks.

But didn't you need fuel?

We didn't have any vehicles. Stuff like that only appeared among the militias about three days after I left.
What stories on television that you've seen strike you as the most outrageous and disturbing?

When they do interviews with people from the Donetsk People's Republic [DNR in Russian]. The DNR is really a fiction. The DNR, as I understand it, exists only in the offices of [self-proclaimed DNR Prime Minister Alexander] Borodai, [self-proclaimed DNR parliament speaker Denis] Pushilin, [former Ukrainian parliament deputy Oleh] Tsaryov. But decisions are made somewhere else and by other people.

Journalists who have been in the region say that about 20% of those fighting are Russians and the other 80% are local militias

I'd say exactly the opposite. Most of them are Russians, Chechens, Ingush. There are also Armenians like me. I spoke to some locals and they say that they did what they'd been told. I said, "What did they tell you to do?" They answered: "We voted. The rest is up to you." That is, they participated in the referendum on DNR independence but they don't intend to fight. One guy told me, "I want to get my pay and then drink until my next payday." In general, they have no experience. Don't know how to handle weapons. No one had been in the military. I'm talking about in Donetsk.

And in Horlivka?

There, it is about 50-50. But the Russians fight better. They are people who have been in the military. It is a real army – Ukraine hasn't [really] had an army for 23 years.
Why are you telling us all this?

Until now, the people who – basically – betrayed us (what happened at the airport could have been avoided and everything could have been different if they had organised it right) are still giving orders, and volunteers from Russia are still going to serve with them. I want these people to understand who is going to be commanding them. I went. I survived by a miracle. I feel sorry for them. They are on their way to serve such commanders as Khodakovsky and others. I don't know all their names.
How did you get back to Russia?

Devil kept his word. He thanked us, gave us each 1,000 hryvnyas for the road, wished us luck, and sent us home. Three guys came with me. One who was wounded and two others. We rode in civilian cars through Luhansk Oblast, avoiding the customs point, about 150 kilometres. We were met on the Russian side and they took us to Rostov. We ended up at the same base where we'd been trained. They gave us back our clothes, documents, telephones, some money for the road, and sent us home.
You are a citizen of Armenia, from another country....

I even fought under the Armenian flag. I have photos.

Why would you be willing to die for a foreign country?

I don't consider Russia a foreign country. I have the mentality of a Soviet person. My grandfathers fought for the Soviet Union and I am fighting for it. I don't consider Russia a foreign country.

This article originally appeared in Russian on RFE/RL's Russian Service


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« Reply #127 on: Jul 15, 2014, 05:16 AM »


Ukrainian president blames Russian troops after transport plane shot down

Petro Poroshenko claims serving Russian military officers are taking part in operations in east Ukraine

Harriet Salem in Luhansk, Oksana Grytsenko in Siversk and Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Monday 14 July 2014 18.39 BST      

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, has claimed that serving Russian military officers are taking part in operations in east Ukraine, after an An-26 transport plane was reportedly shot down near the border.

A statement on the president's website said the aircraft was flying at an altitude high enough to evade any of the weapons that separatists were known to have, and was "probably" attacked from inside Russian territory.

It was not immediately clear how many military personnel were on board the plane, but there were reports that some had managed to parachute to safety and make contact with military HQ in Kiev.

After a lull when all sides appeared to be seeking a way out of the conflict, tension has risen again in recent days as Ukrainian troops have moved to retake towns held by the rebels, and separatist fighters have regrouped in the regional centres of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russian politicians have demanded targeted strikes on Ukrainian territory after a shell apparently fired by pro-Kiev forces landed in a residential area on the Russian side of the border, killing one person. Russia's foreign ministry warned that the shelling could have "irreversible consequences", while the Ukrainians have been sounding the alarm over what they claim is more overt Russian involvement than ever before.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said rumours of a Russian ground invasion in the next 24 hours were "nonsense".

On Sunday night, Ukrainian forces launched a fresh offensive on the outskirts of Luhansk in an attempt to reach government troops besieged by rebels for more than a month at the city's airport.

Both sides fired heavy artillery in a fierce fight to the south-east of the city, pausing briefly during the World Cup final, only to resume fire again until the early hours of the morning. The Ukrainian army claimed it had broken the blockade of the airport.

Air strikes and mortar fire also hit the outskirts of the city. Pro-Russia gunmen manning the final rebel checkpoint to the south-west of Luhansk said they had come under heavy assault during the night.

A spokesperson for the Luhansk People's Republic – one of two separatist enclaves set up after referendums in May – said several civilians were injured and three killed.

The Ukrainian forces also suffered losses. On a bridge near the airport on Monday afternoon, armed rebels ransacked a burnt-out government truck and armoured personnel carrier for salvageable weapons.

The vehicles – travelling in a convoy of 10 – had been caught an ambush as they approached the airport during the night. Unexploded ammunition littered the tarmac; on the grass beyond the road barrier lay the bodies of two Ukrainian soldiers.

At their camp in the woods nearby, rebel fighters said they had also lost two men in the skirmish. "We will kill them here and they we will go to Kiev, we will chase them all the way to America," Alexy, one of the gunmen, told the Guardian.

As fighting continues around the last separatist strongholds, Ukrainian authorities are asserting their presence in the towns they have retaken. Dozens of troops and police patrolled the streets of Siversk, a town of 10,000 that was taken by government troops on Thursday after a two-day fight.

Inside the city hall, Captain Valery Levchenko, 39, said government intelligence agencies had mapped the main separatist positions in the town, which were then targeted with artillery and air strikes before troops launched a ground attack.

Police were now attempting to restore public order while sappers cleared landmines. Levchenko claimed that civilians were mostly pleased to see the troops. A local official who asked not to be named said one woman was killed and her husband lost both his legs in the bombardment. About 70% of the population had already left the town to escape the fighting, he added.

Tamara Yarontseva, 50, said she was happy to see the government soldiers in Siversk. Her family had fled their home, which was near a major rebel base, after a shell destroyed the kitchen.

"Then we moved to the suburbs, hoping we would be safe, but we also spent a lot of time hiding in the cellar," she said. Yarontseva said that when the separatists arrived in early May many locals supported them, assuming that Russian troops would soon arrive and annex the territory, as happened in Crimea. Soon, however, support turned to mistrust as the rebels stole cars and other property, she said.

Separatist fighters are still hiding out in the woods outside of Siversk, shooting at army checkpoints every night, according to the government troops, who said they planned to retake Donetsk and Luhansk in the same way they captured Siversk.

"The negotiations make no sense any more," Levchenko said. "So many people died already on both sides. They hate us and we hate them. It's war."

Russian officials have somewhat toned down rhetoric over Ukraine in recent weeks, but state-controlled television is still taking a hard line and frequently compares events in Ukraine to those in Nazi Germany.

Particular controversy was caused over the weekend when Channel One aired a report claiming that the Ukrainian army had crucified a three-year-old boy in the central square of Slavyansk, a rebel stronghold recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

"They gathered women on the square because there are no more men. Women, girls, old people," said a woman named as Galina Pyshnyak, apparently a refugee from Slavyansk. "They took a child of around three years old, a little boy in his underwear and a T-shirt and nailed him to a noticeboard like Jesus. One was nailing him and two others holding him."

No other news organisations have found evidence of such an event, and a spokeswoman for Ukraine's interior ministry told AFP that the report was "following in the footsteps of Goebbels".


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« Reply #128 on: Jul 16, 2014, 05:54 AM »

Report: Russia Agrees to Reopen Spy Base on Cuba

by Naharnet Newsdesk
16 July 2014, 11:23

Russia has provisionally agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on the United States, a Russian daily reported Wednesday after President Pig Putin visited the island last week.

Kommersant reported that Russia and Cuba had agreed "in principle" to reopen the Lourdes base, mothballed since 2001, citing several sources within Russian authorities.

"The agreements were finalized while the Pig visited Havana last Friday," the respected daily wrote.

Russia had closed the Lourdes spy base south of Havana on the Pig's snorted orders to save money and due to a rapprochement with the United States after the September 11 attacks.

But Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis to spy on the United States. Just 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the U.S. coast, it was the Soviet Union's largest covert military outpost abroad with up to 3,000 staff.

It was used to listen in to radio signals including those from submarines and ships and satellite communications.

"All I can say is -- finally!" one Russian source told Kommersant of the reported reopening.

The defense ministry and military high command declined to comment on the report to Kommersant.

Ahead of the Pig's visit to Cuba last week as part of a Latin American tour, Russia agreed to write off 90 percent of Cuba's debt dating back to the Soviet era, totalling around $32 billion.

Russia paid Cuba rent of $200 million per year to use the base in the last few years it was open.

A former head of Russia's foreign intelligence service, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, told the newspaper the base would strengthen Russia's international position.

"Lourdes gave the Soviet Union eyes in the whole of the western hemisphere," he said. "For Russia, which is fighting for its lawful rights and place in the international community, it would be no less valuable than for the USSR."

The Pig's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.


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« Reply #129 on: Jul 18, 2014, 06:23 AM »

AND NOW THE RESULTS OF THE PIG'S ACTIONS............

Malaysia Airlines crash: World demands answers from Russia after plane's destruction

US criticises Kremlin's arming of rebels and Hillary Clinton says 'Pig Putin has gone too far' after 298 die in missile strike

Oliver Laughland in Sydney, Shaun Walker in Kiev, Kate Hodal in Kuala Lumpur, Harriet Salem in Grabovo and Alec Luhn in Moscow
theguardian.com, Friday 18 July 2014 12.20 BST   

Firefighters and journalists discuss Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in eastern Ukraine

http://www.youtube.com/results?q=Ukraine+security+services+recording+said+to+reveal+pro-Russian+separatists+admitting+they+shot+down+plane.

The US has pointedly criticised Russian arming of rebels in Ukraine as the world demanded answers over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by a suspected Russian-made missile, resulting in the death of all 298 people on board the civilian airliner.

The White House stopped short of directly blaming Russia for the plane’s destruction but linked its remarks on the disaster to the Kremlin’s support for separatists in Ukraine, urging the foul Pig's government to stop inflaming the situation in the country and take "concrete steps" towards de-escalation.

The huge loss of life threatens to have wide-ranging and unpredictable consequences, coming just after the US imposed further sanctions on Russia for continuing to provide weapons to the rebels.

The former US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, made some of the most potent remarks in a television interview, saying there were strong indications Russian-backed militia were to blame and action was needed to "put the repulsive Pig on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by".

Clinton called for the EU to increase sanctions on Russia, while the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott called on Russia to explain the disaster as it “now seems certain it’s been brought down by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile”.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said it was too soon to make a decision on tougher sanctions. "The events with the plane, as far as I remember, were not even 24 hours ago and at the moment we need to sort out an independent investigation."

There were 173 Dutch nationals on board the plane, along with 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine passengers believed to be from the UK, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, one Canadian and one from New Zealand. The nationalities of 20 passengers have not yet been verified. A group of international HIV/Aids experts flying to Melbourne were among those killed.

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said: "We are working through passenger data, cross-checking it and referencing it to establish exactly the numbers and identities of those British nationals."

The Malaysian president, Najib Razak, said the terrible and deeply shocking news marked “a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia”, referring to the earlier disappearance without a trace of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. He said any wrongdoers must be held responsible.

Flags were lowered to half-mast in the Netherlands and Australia.

Kiev and Moscow have blamed each other for the disaster.

The Pig ordered Russian military and civilian agencies to co-operate with any investigation but, according to a Kremlin statement, said the "state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy."

The Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, said on Friday morning there was no chance the missile was of Ukrainian military origin. He said the Ukrainian army did not have such missiles in the area, and said none had been seized by separatist fighters in recent weeks.

The jet was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday when it was blown apart and fell in a shower of fiery wreckage over the village of Grabovo, part of the area controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Friday that separatists had agreed to provide assistance to those investigating the crash of the plane and would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the site.

Defence and security experts said the Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile system, known to be in the hands of pro-Russia fighters in Ukraine, was most likely used.

The US vice-president, Joe Biden, said the plane appeared to have been "blown out of the sky", while the Ukrainian security services released an audio recording said to be rebel commanders discussing the fact that their forces were responsible with Russian officers.

The UN security council it is to meet on Friday as calls mount for an international response. “There is clearly a need for a full, transparent and international investigation,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, sending his condolences to the victims’ families.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai stressed that MH17 was following "the right route on the right path" amid a barrage of questions from local and foreign reporters as to why Malaysia Airlines would have chosen to fly over a warzone. Qantas, the Australian carrier, said it had been steering clear of the area by 400 nautical miles for several months.

"It is many years that we have taken the same route and many other countries take the same route," he said. He stressed that some 15 of 16 Asia-Pacific Airlines fly "this route over Ukraine" and added: "European airlines also use the same route, and traverse the same airspace. In the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route."

He also said that there had been "no last-minute instructions" given to the pilots to change the route.

The European air traffic control body, Eurocontrol, said Ukrainian authorities had banned aircraft from flying at 32,000ft or below and the doomed aircraft had been cruising above that, at 33,000ft – however this apparently still left it within range of the sophisticated surface-to-air weaponry that pro-Russia forces have been using recently to target Ukrainian military aircraft. All civilian flights have now been barred from eastern Ukraine.

The field next to the tiny hamlet was a scene of charred earth and twisted metal as shocked local people milled around the scene. Body parts belonging to the 298 on board were strewn around. The body of what appeared to be a young woman had been flung about 500m from the centre of the crash.

US government officials confirmed to media outlets that a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane. US intelligence was reportedly still working to determine the exact location from which the missile was fired, and whether it was on the Russian or the Ukrainian side of the border.

Rebels in the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics have shot down several Ukrainian planes and helicopters in recent weeks. But they insisted they had no part in the downing of MH17, claiming instead that Ukrainian fire was responsible.

Ukraine's SBU security services released a recording, which could not immediately be verified, of what it said were rebel commanders saying they had shot down a plane and then discovering with horror it had been a civilian jet.

Ukraine security services recording said to reveal pro-Russia separatists admitting they shot down plane.

http://www.youtube.com/results?q=Ukraine+security+services+recording+said+to+reveal+pro-Russian+separatists+admitting+they+shot+down+plane.

On the ground in Grabovo a strong smell of aviation fuel and burnt rubber hung in the air as dozens of pro-Russian separatist fighters milled around the area in which workers from the emergency services were sifting through the wreckage. A dozen fire engines were on the scene.

One local resident, Alexander, had been working in a field a few hundred metres from the crash site and thought the aircraft was going to fall on top of him. Another farmer said he was on his tractor when he heard a loud bang. "Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two – there was thick black smoke," he said.

In a conflict that has not been short of dreadful twists, this was by far the most shocking and most gruesome to date. The 298 people on board MH17 had no connection to the fighting – their international flight was simply travelling through airspace above the battle zone.

Throughout the Ukraine conflict the versions of violent incidents provided by Kiev and the Donetsk rebels have diverged wildly, with each side blaming the other for loss of life and the shelling of residential areas.

Now, with such a huge and unexpected loss of life, the stakes are immeasurably higher, and both sides again rushed to claim the other was at fault.

Those blaming pro-Russia rebels for the attack pointed to a post on a social media site attributed to a top rebel commander which claimed to have downed a Ukrainian transport plane around the same time as the first reports of MH17's disappearance surfaced. The post was later deleted.

The US and EU have heavily criticised Russia for providing the separatists in eastern Ukraine with logistical and military support, leading to a new set of White House sanctions against Russian companies, introduced on Wednesday, as rhetoric coming out of both Washington and Moscow has led to talk of a new cold war. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Guardian that any allegations of Russian involvement in the MH17 crash were "stupidity".

He said the Kremlin would not make a further statement because "no one knows" who is responsible.

Asked about the possibility of further US sanctions, Peskov said he could not rule it out: "The United States has recently been conducting a very nonconstructive policy and their actions are very unpredictable," he said.

The Pig itself, who on Thursday returned to Russia from a summit of the Brics nations in Brazil, informed Barack Obama about the incident.

"The Russian Pig informed the US president of the report from air traffic controllers that the Malaysian plane had crashed on Ukrainian territory, which had arrived immediately before the phone call," said a statement released by the Kremlin.

According to the statement, the pair spent most of the conversation discussing the deterioration of US-Russian relations, and the foul Pig expressed his "serious disappointment" over the latest round of US sanctions against Russian companies.

Later the stinking Pig chaired a meeting on the Russian economy which began with a minute's silence and laid the blame for the crash at Ukraine's door: "There is no doubt that the nation over whose airspace this happened bears responsibility for the terrible tragedy," the Pig squeaked.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, tweeted: "I'm shocked and saddened by the Malaysian air disaster. Officials from across Whitehall are meeting to establish the facts."

The crash came four months after another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH370, vanished on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, two-thirds of them Chinese citizens. It has yet to be found despite a huge search.

The first rumours of another incomprehensible tragedy for the airline, this time in Ukraine, came as video appeared from villages nearby showing huge plumes of smoke rising into the air, with aviation sources telling a local wire agency that a plane had been downed.

The first official confirmation came when Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, wrote on his Facebook page that the plane had crashed in Ukrainian territory after being hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.

Malaysia Airlines soon confirmed the worst, announcing via its Twitter feed: "Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace."
Ukrainian president says shooting down of plane is a warning for the world on Russian aggression.

Igor Sutyagin, a Russian military specialist at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, agreed that the plane would almost certainly have been shot with a Buk, a vehicle-mounted missile system first developed in the Soviet era. The Malaysian aircraft,was beyond the range of Manpads – shoulder-launched missiles. Kalashnikov-carrying Russian sympathisers in Ukraine would not have had the expertise to fire them and would have needed either specialists who had "volunteered" their services from Russia or locally recruited specialists, he said, noting that the rebels had been firing at Ukrainian aircraft over the last week.

The Associated Press said one of its journalists had seen a similar launcher near the town of Snizhne earlier on Thursday.

Russia's state-owned Channel One avoided speculation of who might have been behind the plane crash in its first bulletins on the subject, while the Kremlin-friendly Life News, whose reporters were first on the scene, said it was likely to have been brought down by Ukrainian fire, claiming that the rebels did not have any missile systems with the capacity to down a plane at that altitude.

However a report on the website of Russian state television from late June described how the rebels in Donetsk had taken control of a Ukrainian missile defence facility that was equipped with Buk systems. The report said that the rebels planned to "defend the sky over Donetsk" using the missiles.

On Thursday afternoon a social media site attributed to Igor Strelkov, a Russian citizen who has emerged as the commander of rebel forces in Donetsk, announced that the rebels had shot down an An-26 Ukrainian transport plane, and also that there was "information about a second plane". The post was later removed.

Audio was circulated on social media, apparently released by Ukrainian security services, purporting to be an intercepted conversation of pro-Russia rebels confirming they had shot down a civilian jet.

The conversation is apparently between a group leader and his superior and suggests that they initially thought they had brought down a military aircraft but later realised their error.

The group leader, "Demon", tells his boss: "A plane has just been shot down. [It was] 'Miner's' group. It crashed outside Enakievo. Our men went to search for and photograph it. It's smouldering."

After his men apparently inspect the crash site, Demon reports back. "Cossacks from the Chernunkhino checkpoint shot down the plane. The plane disintegrated in mid-air … they found the first body. It's a civilian."

He carries on: "I mean. It's definitely a civilian aircraft."

His superior, nicknamed "Greek", asks him: "Were there many people?"

Demon replies: "A fuckton. The debris rained right into the yards."

Greek asks: "What's the aircraft?" and is told: "I haven't figured it out yet. I haven't reached the main section. I only looked at where the bodies began to fall. There are remains of chair mounts, the chairs, the bodies."

Greek asks: "Any weapons there?" and Demon says: "None at all. Civilian things, medical stuff, towels, toilet paper." "Any documents?" asks Greek, and Demon, perhaps realising what has just happened, replies: "Yes, an Indonesian student from Thomson university [in the US]."

Additional reporting by Tania Branigan in Beijing, Ewen MacAskill in London, Paul Lewis in Washington and Warren Murray of Guardian Australia

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

Ukraine PM Says Those behind Jet Downing Should Face Hague Tribunal

by Naharnet Newsdesk
18 July 2014, 13:05

Ukraine's prime minister said Friday that pro-Russian separatist rebels that Kiev believes shot down a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board should face an international tribunal The Hague.

"Yesterday's terrible tragedy has altered our lives. The Russians went too far," Interfax-Ukraine quoted Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as saying. "This is an international crime for which they should face an international tribunal in The Hague."

For this part, Russian President Pig Putin called for an urgent settlement of the Ukraine crisis as he expressed condolences to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte over the Malaysian jet crash.

"The head of Russia stressed that the tragedy once again highlighted the need for an urgent peaceful settlement of the most acute crisis in Ukraine and noted there is a need for a thorough and objective investigation of the air crash," the Kremlin said in a statement after the foul Pig snorted with Rutte by phone.

Of the 298 crash victims, 154 were from The Netherlands.

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

Fallen Bodies, Jet Parts and a Child’s Pink Book: Malaysia Airlines Plane Leaves Trail of Debris

By SABRINA TAVERNISE
JULY 17, 2014
IHT

A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 298 passengers and crew members crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and American officials said it was most likely shot down by an antiaircraft missile.   

GRABOVO, Ukraine — Incongruously, given that the plane fell from more than 30,000 feet, many of the bodies strewn about in the smoldering wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were largely intact. A woman in a black sweater lay on her back, blood streaming from her face, her left arm raised as if signaling someone. Another victim, naked except for a black bra, lay on the field, her gray hair mixing with the green grass, one leg broken and her body torn.

Residents spoke of bodies falling from the sky, looking like rags or clumps of ash, before the plane came to a jolting rest in a large wheat field dotted with purple flowers and Queen Anne’s lace, having trailed debris over several miles of sparsely populated Ukrainian farmland.

“It was horrible,” said a separatist rebel who was part of the rescue crew and would give only his first name, Sergei. “We were in shock.”   

The road to the crash site in eastern Ukraine, not far from the Russian border, was lined with fire engines and other emergency vehicles. Separatist militiamen, plentiful in this rebel-controlled territory, urged journalists to take photographs.

There were no houses in the immediate vicinity. The only visible structure was a poultry operation with long white coops in the distance.

Rescue workers had already tied small white strips of cloth to tree branches along the debris path to mark the locations of the bodies. As darkness descended on the field, the workers gathered in throngs near a line of ambulances and rescue cars. Dogs barked in the distance, and the air smelled bitter.

Pieces of the plane were scattered across the road and field: a seat back with its television display cracked; a giant white piece of the tail with the plane’s insignia emblazoned on it, and a jagged edge where it tore off from the plane. One televised image showed a travel guide for Bali, almost untouched.

A strange detail marked what looked like part of a wing, a hole suggesting a burst of metal pushed outward. To an untrained eye, it was unclear whether the damage had been done by ordnance or some other, unknown forces on the way down.

Many of the victims were still wearing their seatbelts, attached to pieces of the plane. One man, still in his socks but without pants, lay in the field, his right arm placed on his stomach as if in repose. Others had personal belongings nearby. A young man in blue shorts, wearing red Nike sneakers but no pants, lay with his arms and legs splayed outward, an iPhone by his side.

After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.

Dutch belongings were scattered through the grass: a pink children’s book; a parking ticket picked up by a man named Hans van den Hende; a book of stickers. Children’s playing cards were sprinkled near the road.

Mundane items of daily life covered the grass. Toiletries spilled out of overnight bags. Nivea cream. A razor. White slippers. A glass bottle of cologne. A maxi pad lay in the grass. A soft blue fuzzy blanket spilling from a red suitcase was caught on a sharp metal pole. A bicycle lay in the grass, practically intact.

The area was also covered in feathers from brown chickens. There were two parrots, one of them lifting its wing as if waving, and a peacock.

The closest village was Grabovo, a small coal-mining town whose residents had been among the first to see the plane. Oleg Georgievich, 40, a miner who is also fighting with the insurgency here, said he had heard noises shortly after 4 p.m. and thought the town was being bombed. Aircraft have been flying over daily, he said, and have bombed neighboring villages on a number of occasions.

He heard a sound like a whistle, then walked onto his balcony on the fifth floor and saw something falling from the sky. He later understood it was part of the plane’s fuselage. Then he saw things that looked like pieces of cloth coming fast toward the earth. They were bodies, many with their clothes torn off.

Rescue workers said they counted many children. A boy who looked to be around 10 lay on his side in the grass in a red T-shirt that read “Don’t Panic.”

A rescue worker staffing a white table, who would give only his first name, Alexei, said the area of the crash was 10 to 15 square kilometers — about 4 to 6 square miles — in a rectangle that he had marked in red pen in crosshatching on a map.

He said that parts of the plane were scattered over the entire area and that the pilot had not tried to land in the field: The plane appeared to have been torn apart in the sky.

“It fell down in pieces,” he said, adding that rescue workers numbered about 60 and were setting up tents to gather the dead.

Oleg Georgievich, the coal miner, who would give only his first name and patronymic, not his last name, said he was afraid of what the tragedy would bring. Ukraine has been accusing Russia and the rebels of shooting down its planes, and he said he did not think this situation would be any different.

“Tomorrow, the Ukrainians are going to say that I shot this plane down with my gun,” he said, standing in the darkness. “Look at me. I’m in sneakers; I have no flak jacket. You want to know what year it was made?” He looked at a journalist. The date stamped on the gun was 1953.
Correction: July 17, 2014

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the size in square miles of the area of the crash as described by a rescue worker. It is about 4 to 6 square miles, not 6 to 9 square miles.

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

World Leaders Match Anger With Calls for Inquiry Into Ukraine Plane Crash

By ALAN COWELL and DAN BILEFSKY
JULY 18, 2014
IHT
   
LONDON — With sentiments ranging from shock to dismay to anger, political leaders across the globe on Friday urged a rapid, independent and international effort to investigate the crash of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people and provoked a blistering exchange of accusations over who brought down the Boeing 777.

The crash dominated newspaper front pages in many European countries, relegating accounts of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza into second place.

At the center of the international furor — and its likely impact on Washington’s demands for ever-tighter sanctions against Moscow over its support of separatists in the conflict in Ukraine — stood the Pig , who also snorted on Friday for a “thorough and unbiased” inquiry into the disaster.
   
The Pig snorted on Friday with the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, who broke off a vacation after learning that a majority of those who died in the crash were Dutch. The Netherlands has declared a national day of mourning for the 154 Dutch citizens reported killed.

In a telephone conversation with Mr. Rutte, the Russian leader “underlined that the tragedy yet again highlighted the need for the swiftest peaceful solution to the acute crisis in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement, echoing earlier Russian comments about the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine, during which pro-Moscow separatists have recently claimed to have shot down Ukrainian military transport planes.

Endorsing international calls for an full inquiry, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said there were “many indications” that the Malaysian airliner “was shot down.”

“Russia’s responsibility is clear,” the chancellor said on Friday, calling on Mr. Putin and his government to do their part “to find ways to reach a permanent cease-fire.”

“It will be a difficult path, but there is no alternative to a political solution,” the chancellor told reporters.

Pressed about whether Germany, which has strong economic ties to Russia, would support stronger action against the fucking Pig, Ms. Merkel declined to threaten further sanctions.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron summoned a meeting of the high-level crisis response committee known as Cobra, which debates matters of national security. Nine Britons were reported to be among the dead from Flight 17. The committee takes its name from the location of its meetings in Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.

The harshest public criticism came from Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, who said that the Russian response to the crash was “deeply, deeply unsatisfactory.” The dead were reported to have included 28 Australians. The Russian ambassador to Australia had earlier met with the foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

“The initial response of the Russian ambassador was to blame Ukraine for this and I have to say that is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory,” Mr. Abbott said, adding that “the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.”

“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” he said, “and if so the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

In France, officials said they were still trying to determine whether any French citizens were on the flight. Initially, the foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said there were at least four French passengers on the plane, but then said it was unclear whether French citizens had been on board.

Britain has submitted a United Nations resolution calling for an international investigation into the crash. A proposal was expected to be discussed at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Friday. The British call for an international inquiry has been echoed by the White House, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“It is important that a full international investigation should be launched immediately, without any hindrance, to establish the facts and that those who may be responsible are swiftly brought to justice,” Mr. Rasmussen said in a statement.

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said he was deeply shocked and determined to find out what had happened. “We believe that there must be a U.N.-led international investigation of the facts,” he said in a statement.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it had conducted two videoconferences with pro-Russian separatist groups, which had agreed to secure the site of the crash, provide safe access for rescue teams, national and international investigators, and cooperate with the Ukrainian authorities.

In eastern Europe, which has watched Russia’s maneuvers in Ukraine with growing alarm, there were calls to bring the perpetrators of the crash to justice. “Unspeakable horror” for the passengers “of downed flight #MH17,” Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, wrote on Twitter. “Condolences to families, justice for perpetrators and those who enabled them.”

The passengers included delegates to a gathering of the International AIDS Society to be held in the Australian city of Melbourne from Sunday until July 25.

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

Ukraine: missile that downed MH17 plane was not ours

Foreign minister denies missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines jet over east of country came from Ukrainian military

Shaun Walker in Kiev
theguardian.com, Friday 18 July 2014 10.21 BST   

Ukraine's foreign minister says there is no chance that the missile apparently used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines jet over the east of the country was of Ukrainian military origin.

Pavlo Klimkin told the Guardian on Friday morning that the Ukrainian army did not have such missiles in the area, and said none had been seized by separatist fighters in recent weeks.

"We are absolutely sure and we checked yesterday that no missiles have been taken from the Ukrainian army," said Klimkin.

MH17 crashed near the village of Grabovo on Thursday killing all of its nearly 300 passengers and crew. US authorities say they have evidence it was shot down by a missile.

Separatist fighters in the region have shot down a number of Ukrainian planes and helicopters in recent days, and there is circumstantial evidence pointing to the seizure of a Buk missile system from the Ukrainian army by rebels.

A video has surfaced from several days ago in which a well-known Kremlin cheerleader, Sergei Kurginyan, said after a visit to Donetsk in recent days that the rebels had seized a Buk system. Kurginyan said in the video that specialists from Russia had travelled to the region to fix the missile system, "as a friendly gesture to a brotherly nation".

Additionally, a news item on Russian state television from late June announced that the rebels had taken control of a Ukrainian Buk system. But Klimkin was adamant that this was not the case.

"Our military forces don't use any sort of anti-air missile in the region of anti-terror operation, so there could be no even theoretical possibility of taking this kind of missile," he told the Guardian. He suggested the missile system could have been smuggled into Ukraine from Russia:

"In recent weeks we have had continuous inflow of mercenaries, money, weapons and heavy weaponry across the border, including tanks and Manpads [man-portable air-defence systems]," said Klimkin.

He claimed that given the border was several hundred miles long, and in places "controlled by the terrorists", it was possible that a missile system could have been brought across the border without detection.

Klimkin insisted that recordings released by Ukraine's SBU security services on Thursday of separatist fighters admitting they had downed a passenger liner were "absolutely genuine".

Ukraine's foreign minister said he had spoken overnight to a number of his western counterparts, including the new UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, who offered British assistance and support.

Klimkin said a video-conference had taken place on Thursday evening between the separatists and the Ukrainian president's representative, the former president Leonid Kuchma, which included mediation from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Russian ambassador to Ukraine.

Access to the location had been negotiated for the OSCE and Ukrainian officials, said Klimkin, who declined to give details of what kind of delegation would travel to the crash site and when, citing security issues.

The Donetsk region contains a number of different militias whose actions are not always coordinated, and an aide to the rebel commander Igor Strelkov told Associated Press on Thursday that his boss had not yet decided whether to allow investigators access to the site.

The rebels claim the plane was down by the Ukrainian government.

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

Air Disaster Strains Moscow’s Competing Strategy on Ukrainian Rebels

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR and ANDREW E. KRAMER
JULY 17, 2014
IHT

MOSCOW — The double game that the Kremlin has been accused of playing in eastern Ukraine for weeks — publicly endorsing peace talks while surreptitiously supporting the separatists with arms and men — suddenly appeared less crafty than possibly disastrous on Thursday after the crash of a civilian jetliner in a Ukrainian field.

What brought Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tumbling out of the sky, killing all 298 people aboard, remained uncertain. But given the immediate suspicions raised in Kiev and Washington that a sophisticated missile ripped it apart, the crash brought the question of who was responsible right to the doorstep of President Pig V. Putin of Russia.

“It is an extremely awkward moment for the Kremlin,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Everyone in the West and in Ukraine is already pointing their fingers at the Kremlin. They are not waiting for an inquiry — they are blaming Russia today.”

Of course ....

The Pig itself pointed the finger at Ukraine.

After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.

During a late cabinet meeting on economic matters, according to a statement on the Kremlin website, the Pig squeaked, “Definitely, the country over whose territory this happened bears the responsibility for this horrible tragedy.”

The Pig, without saying what might have caused the crash, squealed that “this tragedy could have been avoided” had Ukraine not resumed combat operations in the southeast. A shaky cease-fire lasted 10 days at the end of June.

The Russian Pig squealed that he had instructed all military and civilian agencies to give all possible assistance “in the investigation of this crime.”

“We shall do everything, at least everything in our power, so that the objective picture of what happened becomes available to our public, the public of Ukraine and the entire world,” it snorted.

Russia has flatly denied supplying the rebels with men or weapons. But with each passing week, as the bloodshed escalated, new questions were raised about the involvement of the Russian security services. The United States imposed new, tougher economic sanctions against a few Russian banks and its oil industry on Wednesday, in the process accusing Moscow of continuing to arm the separatists.

The Russian military had already denied this week that it had shot down a Ukrainian military AN-26 cargo plane near the border on Monday with a missile fired from its territory. Ukraine’s defense minister said that plane had been flying at more than 21,000 feet, well beyond the reach of the shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles the rebels have been known to use.

The charges of Russian involvement were being repeated in the case of Flight 17, which was flying higher than 21,000 feet.

Even Russian analysts have scoffed at claims by the Pig and the Russian government that it was pursuing solely a diplomatic end to the crisis in Ukraine, prompted in February by the popular overthrow of a Russian ally in Kiev who had rejected a closer alliance with Europe.

“It is a game for the fucking Pig,” said a former senior Russian government official this week, speaking anonymously to avoid damaging his relationship with the foul Pig, who was once an intelligence officer. “He likes to say that he is a peacekeeper from one hand, while from the other he is sending the rebels arms. It is typical K.G.B.”

The United States, and to a lesser degree European nations, have accused Russia of sending soldiers and weapons across the border for months now, in a barely veiled flow of evermore elaborate weaponry.

The Malaysian plane was flying on an active route used by commercial airlines every day. Hours before the crash, Russia closed four airways near the Ukrainian border, including one that was a continuation of Flight 17’s route.

On the Ukrainian side, the separatists have similarly refuted receiving much help from Russia, even as their arsenal has come to include tanks, howitzers, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, ground-to-ground multiple-rocket launchers and other heavy weapons. Officials in the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist governments, many of them Russian citizens, said the arsenal was pilfered from Ukrainian bases they had captured.

Initially, militia fighters were coy about their more sophisticated weaponry; men on barricades showed little more than Kalashnikov rifles.

But later, one militant brigade, the Vostok Battalion, invited reporters to photograph fighters unpacking wooden crates holding new-looking Russian-made Igla, or Needle, shoulder-carried antiaircraft missiles. With planes and helicopters being shot down regularly, there seemed no point in hiding anything.

In June, Ukrainian officials said three tanks crossed border points with Russia controlled by rebels and rolled into Ukraine. Other columns followed. Videos appeared of tanks and armored personnel carriers towing artillery along roads near the border.

In addition to accusing Russia of sending Grad rocket launchers into Ukraine, Kiev also charged that the Russian military had fired them across the border at its troops. After initial expressions of concern in Western capitals, the flow of weapons became almost routine.

For some, the crash of Flight 17 was reminiscent of one of the worst incidents of the Cold War, when on Sept. 1, 1983, Soviet air defense forces shot down a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 that had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 people on board were killed. Moscow stonewalled the investigation for 10 years, until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Others pointed to Ukraine accidentally shooting down a Siberian Airlines passenger jet over the Black Sea in 2001 during a military training exercise.

Immediately after Thursday’s crash, the Kremlin issued a short statement summarizing what it called a previously scheduled telephone conversation between the Pig and President Obama. “The parties had a detailed discussion about the crisis in Ukraine,” the statement said.

The Pig repeated the need for an immediate cease-fire, objected to what he said was Ukrainian army fire striking inside Russia, and “expressed his disappointment” at the latest round of sanctions.

The only reference to the crash came in one sentence at the end: “The Russia leader informed the U.S. president of the report received from air traffic controllers immediately prior to their conversation about the crash of a Malaysian airplane over the Ukrainian territory.”

Ukraine released what it said was audio of phone calls between rebels and Russian officers. In one call, a rebel is heard saying, “We have just shot down a plane.”

But that might have been because the snorting Pig itself was in the air over Eastern Europe late Thursday afternoon, state-run television reported, flying home from Brazil after a six-day Latin American tour.

The official line, echoed by state-run television and analysts close to the Kremlin, included plenty of speculation that Ukraine was at fault. Experts interviewed on Rossiya 24, a main cable news show, stressed that there was no evidence that the crash was caused by a missile.

One expert noted that Malaysia Airlines had already lost one long-range jet this year, a sign that anything could have happened to another of its aircraft, and suggested that Flight 17 might have collided with a Ukrainian military aircraft because Kiev was lax in not closing Ukraine’s airspace.

Sergei Markov, an analyst who often speaks about the Kremlin’s viewpoint when it will not, called the crash either terrible luck, a deliberate Ukrainian plot or, as he put it, “a specially organized conspiracy by the Kiev junta.”

He favored the accident theory, but noted that a civilian airliner should not have been flying over the region.

“There is a war in the air” over eastern Ukraine, Mr. Markov noted, so if an air traffic controller deliberately cleared the pilot to enter that zone, then the fault lies with Ukraine.

The reason would be “so that it is easier to send foreign troops to Ukraine,” he said. “We see that the junta is doing everything to achieve that.”

Robert A. Schlegel, a member of Parliament in the ruling United Russia party, said the downing of the Boeing 777 would resonate in Russia and in the West in different ways. In Russia, he said, many criticize the government for having done too little to arm the pro-Russian groups in Ukraine; the crash is unlikely to change that view.

“There are a lot of questions of why this airplane was flying over this region, and whose missiles shot it down,” Mr. Schlegel said. “This type of equipment doesn’t lie around in the road.”

No matter what the Kremlin says or does, the idea that only someone with military training would have been able to operate the technically complicated air defense system needed to fire a missile to such height will undoubtedly keep the spotlight focused on Moscow.

“The fucking Pig kept raising the stakes,” when it came to military support, said Kirill Rogov, an economic analyst and political commentator in Moscow. “In my view, he kept making mistakes, but to cover them he raised the stakes even higher. This was a dangerous strategy, and now we see the results.”

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

U.S. Officials Say They Suspect SA-11 or SA-20 Missiles Brought Down Malaysia Jet

By C.J. CHIVERS
JULY 17, 2014
IHT

American officials, who said a surface-to-air missile was responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 on Thursday, said they suspected that the missile was either an SA-11 or SA-20, both Russian made.

In the early hours of the investigation, determining clear accountability for a missile attack was impossible, in part because all three of the forces in or near the conflict area — the pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian military and the Russian military — could possess SA-11s, which are one of many legacy weapons from the Soviet Union circulating through this war.

Known in Russian as a “Buk” and among NATO nations as a “Gadfly,” the SA-11 was first designed in the 1970s. Successor variants are in the inventories of both Russian and Ukrainian air-defense units. A Buk system is vehicle-mounted and self-propelled, which means it can be moved around the battlefield, making it hard to track.
   
For ordnance, the SA-11 system fires roughly 18-foot-long missiles that can reach much higher than the reported altitude — 33,000 feet — of the Malaysian passenger jet. (Some variants of the missiles can reach above 70,000 feet.) Each missile carries a large high-explosive warhead, against which a thin-skinned Boeing 777 would have no defense.

SA-11s are normally operated in a battery, with a command vehicle and a separate target-acquisition radar. According to a written analysis by Doug Richardson of IHS Jane’s, a sole SA-11 vehicle “can also operate in stand-alone mode.”

“Its built-in radar is normally used to track the target being engaged, but can be operated in a target-detection mode, allowing it to autonomously engage targets that were present in the radar’s forward field of view,” he wrote.

Ukraine released what it said was audio of phone calls between rebels and Russian officers. In one call, a rebel is heard saying, “We have just shot down a plane.”
Publish Date July 18, 2014.

This would mean the separatists might be capable of using an SA-11, too, even without a full battery. (Recent interviews with rebels by The New York Times found that many were veterans of the Soviet or Ukrainian militaries, including air-defense units.)

After a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, several amateur videos were posted online.
Publish Date July 17, 2014.

Ukrainian and American officials have accused Russia of providing the separatists with many sophisticated and powerful weapons, and the rebels have also captured many Ukrainian weapons, meaning they could have obtained SA-11s from either source.

A social media post attributed to Igor Strelkov, the shadowy pro-Russian commander, showed him claiming to have captured Buk missiles. That claim has not been verified independently, and the rebels have been given to boasts.

The Ukrainian government released audio recordings that it claimed were intercepted phone calls between rebels discussing shooting down the plane.

The separatists have repeatedly spoken of other, verifiable air-defense capabilities, and have often been seen with other surface-to-air missiles — heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles known as Manpads.

With maximum elevations that are not much beyond 10,000 feet, Manpads cannot reach to the cruising altitudes of commercial passenger jets. Both pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian officials have said, however, that they have shot down helicopters in the conflict.

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

Earlier Downing of Transport Plane Over Ukraine Foreshadowed Tragedy

By MICHAEL R. GORDON, MARK MAZZETTI and C. J. CHIVERS.
JULY 17, 2014
IHT

WASHINGTON — The first vivid demonstration of the war in Ukraine’s sudden escalation came Monday, three days before the downing of a Malaysian civilian airliner.

A Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying at 21,000 feet, an attack that American and Western officials believe was carried out either by Ukrainian separatists allied with Moscow or possibly even a Russian military unit.

More than half a dozen aircraft had been shot down in Ukraine in recent months, but this attack was different. Before Monday, only aircraft flying at relatively low altitudes — within the range of shoulder-fired weapons — were thought to be vulnerable to ground fire.

For the first time, a surface-to-air missile with greater range had been used, raising questions about whether the rebels have acquired such a devastating capability, and Russia’s role.

As with the Malaysian jet, some rebels claimed credit for Monday’s attack. But Western officials have also been investigating the possibility that the aircraft was downed by the Russian military, launching an SA-11 missile from the Russian side of the border to support the separatists.

One American official, who declined to be identified because he was discussing classified intelligence, said that the Russian military had two surface-to-air missile batteries positioned close to the border but that there was no conclusive evidence that those batteries fired the shot that brought down the Ukrainian plane on Monday.

This week’s attacks came after a string of earlier incidents, including the downing of several Ukrainian government helicopters and a Ukrainian plane used to monitor the “Open Skies” treaty, which allows unarmed military surveillance flights over countries that have signed it. Those attacks were attributed to Ukrainian separatists, who are believed to have amassed an arsenal of shoulder-fired antiaircraft systems in an effort to neutralize the Ukrainian government’s advantage in the air.

On Thursday, officials in Kiev also said that a Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet was shot down during a dogfight with a Russian plane. American officials said they did not have enough information to say why the plane crashed.

Despite the chaos in the skies over Ukraine, passenger aircraft continued to operate in the region. Only the airspace above Crimea and its surrounding waters was completely closed to aircraft. The Malaysian plane was flying on an approved route — the assumption by international aviation organizations was that civilian jetliners could fly far above the danger. It was flying at 33,000 feet on a busy route known as Airway L980, used by commercial carriers between Asia and northern Europe.

Edward Hunt, a defense consultant at IHS Jane’s, said this was not unusual. “Lots of air corridors around the globe go over unstable areas,” he said.

Kyla Evans, a spokeswoman for Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency that coordinates regional air-traffic management, said that the Ukrainian government had closed the route to any civilian air traffic flying below 32,000 feet.

In spite of the lower-elevation prohibition, Airway L980 had been busy with traffic each day flying the allowed higher elevations, the aviation official said. Prominent passenger carriers, including Malaysia Airlines and Air India, had continued to use it. But there had been worrying signs, and many carriers had begun to plan flights that skirted the conflict area.

Mikael Robertsson, a co-founder of FlightRadar24, a live flight-tracker service, said that some 300 to 400 commercial aircraft had flown the airways over eastern Ukraine each day before the war, but that in recent months the traffic had fallen by at least half.

“Some airlines chose to use other routes,” he said.

But even after Monday’s downing of one of its transport planes, the Ukrainian government did not issue a Notice to Airmen, or Notam, closing the airspace, and both Eurocontrol and airlines continued to approve flight plans over eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Robertsson called it “a stupid decision to keep it open.”

Russia, meanwhile, had taken steps to warn civilian aircraft not to fly over Russian territory near eastern Ukraine, where some of its own military forces are deployed.

A Russian notice issued Wednesday declared that the airway closings were necessary “due to combat actions on the territory of the Ukraine near the state border with the Russian Federation.”

The closings were effective at midnight Wednesday — just hours before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off. Because they were over Russian territory, these closings did not cover the area in Ukraine where Flight 17 crashed. But the plane was flying toward the closed areas, and it was not clear why the airline or Eurocontrol would have approved its flight plan in the face of such warnings. The United States closed the area to American flights on Thursday night.

Kenneth P. Quinn, the general counsel of the Flight Safety Foundation, said that even if there were a notice to airmen that any of the airspace was closed, a shooting down “would still represent a flagrant violation of international law and an irresponsible attack on international civil aviation, because there are protocols in place to provide warning and precautions prior to shoot-down, whether surface-to-air or air-to-air.”

Ms. Evans, at Eurocontrol, said that since the crash, the airspace in eastern Ukraine, known as the Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Region, has been closed until further notice. Now, Eurocontrol is rejecting all flight plans proposing to cross the region.

Mr. Hunt noted that many of the rebel antiaircraft systems have had limited ranges, and the Ukrainian and Russian troops that possess longer-range air-defense systems have protocols for using them that reduce the likelihood of firing at clearly civilian targets.

He said the Ukrainian military transport plane that was struck on Monday was distinctly different from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing aircraft. Because of that, he said it would be difficult for a trained air-defense crew to mistake one type of aircraft for the other.


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« Reply #130 on: Jul 19, 2014, 03:19 AM »

RT reporter quits over MH17 coverage: ‘We’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it’

By Tom Boggioni
RawStory
Friday, July 18, 2014 12:09 EDT

A London-based reporter for Russia Today resigned Friday in protest over the network’s coverage of the recent Malaysia Airlines plane crash.

Sara Firth, who has worked for RT since 2009, announced her resignation via Twitter, writing: “I resigned today from RT. I have huge respect for many in the team, but I’m for the truth.”

Firth told Buzzfeed that she resigned because she the felt the Kremlin-funded news channel was trying to pin the blame for the apparent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on the Ukrainian government.

“It was the total disregard to the facts. We threw up eyewitness accounts from someone on the ground openly accusing the Ukrainian government, and a correspondent in the studio pulled up a plane crash before that the Ukrainian government had been involved in and said it was ‘worth mentioning’,” Firth explained. “It’s not worth mentioning. It’s Russia Today all over, it’s flirting with that border of overtly lying. You’re not telling a lie, you’re just bringing something up. I didn’t want to watch a story like that, where people have lost loved ones and we’re handling it like that.”

“I couldn’t do it any more. Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it.”

Firth resignation comes just months after RT America correspondent Liz Wahl resigned on air over the network’s slanted coverage of Russian President Pig Putin’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula.

Wahl signed off her last broadcast saying, “I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government which whitewashes the actions of the Pig. I’m proud to be an American, and believe in disseminating the truth. And that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.”

Abby Martin, a Washington-based American news anchor for Russia Today, also took the network to task for its slanted pro-Pig reporting.

In unscripted remarks at the end of her Breaking the Set segment, Martin said, “Just because I work here, for RT, doesn’t mean I don’t have editorial independence and I can’t stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations’ affairs.”

Following Martin’s outburst, RT executives blamed her comments on the US media, saying she had been “misled by American mainstream media”.

Responding to Martin’s admission that she didn’t “know as much as I should about Ukraine’s history or the cultural dynamics of the region,” Russia Today stated they would be sending her to Crimea.

“In her comment Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of reality of the situation in Crimea. As such we’ll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicenter of the story.”

Martin responded: “I am not going to Crimea despite the statement RT has made.”


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« Reply #131 on: Jul 19, 2014, 04:17 AM »

Initial U.S. review suggests pro-Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 18, 2014 12:08 EDT

An initial review of US intelligence suggests pro-Russian separatists likely shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, but Washington is still examining the evidence, a US official said Friday.

“There are indications (the separatists downed the plane) but there’s no final conclusion,” the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Military and intelligence analysts were still poring over satellite and other data and there were still unanswered questions. But a preliminary review suggested the airliner was hit by a SA-11, a common variant of Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile.

At the UN Security Council, Washington’s UN ambassador Samantha Power said the United States believed Flight MH17 was hit by a missile fired from the eastern region held by pro-Russian separatists.

US officials on Thursday had said intelligence analysts concluded that the Boeing 777 airliner — which had 298 people on board — was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile.

The plane was flying at about 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) when it went down, putting it well within reach of Russian-made missiles possessed by both Ukrainian and Russian forces.

The Buk surface-to-air missile systems are “fairly sophisticated” and require some training to use, as a radar operator must coordinate with those launching the weapon, the US official said.

“It begs a lot of questions,” the official said.

The training needed to employ the missiles raised the possibility that the pro-Moscow separatists may have received help from the Russians, that Russian operatives were on the ground or that Russian troops on the other side of the border launched the missile in error, other officials said.

At the United Nations, Power said it was “unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel.”

“Thus we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems,” she said.

Ukraine’s government also had the Buk systems but there was no evidence Kiev had those missiles in the area where the plane was shot down, according to Power.

She also said Ukrainian forces have not fired a single missile at an aircraft during the conflict, despite alleged violations of their airspace.

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

Russian-made ‘Buk’ missile key suspect in MH17 crash

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 18, 2014 14:48 EDT

A Russian-made surface-to-air missile has emerged as the most likely cause of the suspected downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, analysts said on Friday, as claim and counter-claim swirl over who launched the weapon.

The vehicle-mounted “Buk” missile system is capable of soaring to the height of a civilian airliner like Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, unlike more widely available shoulder-launched weapons, defence experts said.

The Ukrainian and Russian militaries both use the device, but pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine had just hours before the disaster announced that they had seized a number of Buk systems themselves.

“Who has shot it down? There is lots of evidence which shows these were pro-Russian separatists who have done that,” Russian defence expert Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) told AFP.

He cited a Twitter post on Thursday by separatists, later deleted, “when they reported that they had captured precisely that piece of hardware known as Buk”.

Originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, the most modern version of the Buk missile has taken pride of place during recent Russian military parades on Red Square.

It can hit targets flying as high as 72,000 feet (22,000 m) — more than twice the 33,000 feet MH17 was cruising at — said IHS Jane’s Missiles and Rockets editor Doug Richardson.

There are two variants: the Buk-M1 and Buk M2, codenamed by NATO as the SA-11 Gadfly and the SA-17 Grizzly.

The missile is produced by the Russian arms firm Almaz-Antey, recently targeted by US sanctions, at a factory in Ulyanovsk.

Buk missiles are complicated to operate, unlike shoulder-launched weapons, requiring three lorry-sized vehicles — a command post, a radar vehicle, and a launcher with the missiles, analysts said.

The missiles themselves each weigh more than half a tonne and are about the height of two men.

Richardson said the missile system has a “friend or foe” identification system, but could not distinguish a commercial airliner from another unknown plane.

“It would not give you a warning that you were tracking an airliner,” he said.

- Who triggered crisis? -

If it was a missile — as Ukraine, the United States and others allege — the question of where it came from and who fired it is key to the crisis.

Ukraine pointed the finger at separatist rebels, and if it was them they could have either captured it from Ukrainian forces, or have had them supplied by Russia, analysts said.

Two Ukrainian military planes were shot down in the weeks before the Malaysian Airlines jet crashed.

“Where does it come from, how have they acquired this kind of weaponry? Is this supplied from Russia? If yes, why is Russia supplying this kind of weaponry?” Domitilla Sagramoso of the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, told AFP.

A message on the official Twitter account of rebel group the Donetsk People’s Republic said on Thursday that insurgents had seized a series of Buk systems from a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile regiment.

Hours later, the group’s “defence minster” Igor Strelkov on his local social networking page claimed to have downed what they said was a Ukrainian military transport plane. Both messages were later deleted.

Eliot Higgins, who posts detailed analyses of weapons in Syria and other conflicts on his Brown Moses blog, said he had traced a video of a Buk missile launcher about 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from the crash site which was posted on Thursday.

“The video was uploaded on July 17th. I’ve found no other versions of it, and it was on a new YouTube account which was deleted a few hours later,” he said in an email to AFP.

“Beyond that, there’s no other way to confirm the date of the video. It’s heading out of an opposition-controlled town, close to the town centre, heading south, which is towards the Russian border.”

Jonathan Eyal, International Director at RUSI, said it was “impossible to believe” rebels could have hit their target without radar and other logistical support from the Russian military.

But Russia’s defence ministry said Friday that a Ukrainian Buk radar was operating on the day of the crash.

Experts also pointed out the Ukranian forces themselves had accidentally shot down an airliner in a training exercise in 2001, killing 78 people.

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

MH17 disaster creates dilemma for the Pig over backing Ukraine's rebels

Malaysia Airlines crash makes supplying arms to separatists a threat to the world but pulling the plug means defeat for Russia

Julian Borger and Luke Harding   
The Guardian, Friday 18 July 2014 20.07 BST   

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 has confronted Pig Putin with a dilemma he had sought to avoid: to continue to support the separatist insurgency in Ukraine in the face of a storm of international outrage, or cut the rebels off and allow them to be defeated by the government in Kiev.

Until the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile on Thursday, killing nearly 300 people, the Russian Pig had tried to hedge his bets according to circumstances on the battlefield and western pressure. He moved troops and tanks away from the border after the Ukrainian presidential elections in May, but moved them back in recent weeks.

Similarly, he initially appeared to distance himself from the rebels until Ukrainian forces under the newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, made significant gains in the east, triggering a new supply of Russian equipment over the border, including anti-aircraft missiles.

The MH17 disaster forces his hand. Anything he does now will attract much more scrutiny. Arms shipments across the very porous Ukrainian border, which had until now been a threat to the Ukrainian armed forces, will henceforward be seen as a direct threat to the international community and a trigger for global outrage. But pulling the plug on the separatists would leave them vulnerable to Ukrainian forces, which can be expected to seize the opportunity to crush the revolt, handing a strategic defeat to the Pig.

The early pointers suggest he is hesitating between the two options. While Russian media quickly accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane – even floating a theory that Kiev thought it was targeting the Pig's own plane – neither the president nor his top officials have followed that line explicitly.

In the fullest exposition of the Russian position so far, the country's envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, blamed the tragedy on the Ukrainian conflict in general, and Kiev and its western backers for stoking of the conflict. Churkin also questioned why Ukrainian air traffic controllers had allowed the Malaysian plane to fly over eastern Ukrainian airspace, but did not address direct responsibility for the shooting down itself. With a wealth of details emerging from the region building a compelling case against the separatists, the Kremlin has kept its powder dry. The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, followed suit, telling Rossiya 24 TV channel: "The tragedy may sober up those who give up obligations over the political process." He also stopped short of assigning immediate blame. The Pig itself called for a new peace initiative.

It is likely that this initial demurral is intended to buy time so the international response can be measured before the Pig makes a strategic choice.

It is already clear from Friday's UN security council meeting that if the rebels are found to have carried out the outrage with a Russian weapon, Moscow will find itself more isolated than at any time in its recent history. Nobody around the council table spoke up in support of Churkin.

The concerted western response is to build the circumstantial case against the Russian-backed separatists while awaiting an international inquiry. If that investigation confirms the early suspicions, one western option would be to declare the rebel Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) a terrorist organisation, said Ben Judah, the author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Pig Putin.

"The fucking Pig's greatest worry is that [the US] Congress will deem the DNR a terrorist organisation, responsible for the worst attack on a civilian airliner since 9/11, which would make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

"He will do anything possible to avoid that wrath, while not admitting anything," Judah said.

"Meanwhile, this is a huge failure for GRU [Russian military intelligence], the FSB [the secret police] and the special forces. What kind of people are not capable of distinguishing a Malaysian airliner in the sky? It would not be surprising if the people involved were drunk. So heads will likely roll in the security forces."

Stephen Sestanovich, a former US ambassador to Moscow now at Columbia University, said that the Pig's past behaviour made it difficult to predict which path he would take.

"This is the problem with Pig mind-reading," he said, adding that Pig had alternated between prudent and reckless behaviour.

"Even before the shoot-down there were some signs of diminished Russian enthusiasm for the whole project. Russian public opinion is going off it and support for separatism inside Ukraine is less than originally thought. But Russia kept the supply of weapons going," Sestanovich said.

"You would think that this disastrous result would wake up Russian officials and make them see this was even more of a loser than they thought. But the putrid Pig doesn't like to be put in a corner. He's very humiliation-conscious,"he said, "and doesn't like to feel he's backed down."


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« Reply #132 on: Jul 19, 2014, 09:06 AM »

Malaysia Demands Protection of MH17 Crash Site as Merkel, Putin Agree on International Probe in Disaster

by Naharnet Newsdesk 19 July 2014, 15:18

Malaysia issued an impassioned plea Saturday for the MH17 disaster site in Ukraine to be protected from tampering, saying evidence was being compromised in what it called a "betrayal of the lives that were lost."

Concerns are mounting over the integrity of the crash zone in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, with the government in Kiev on Saturday accusing Moscow of helping pro-Russian separatist insurgents destroy evidence.

"Malaysia is deeply concerned that the crash site has not been properly secured," Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters.

"The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place."

Ukraine says the rebels shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane Thursday, killing all 298 aboard.

Liow, who leaves for Kiev later Saturday to join Malaysian officials already there in hopes of assisting an investigation, called "for all parties to protect the integrity of the crash site, and to allow the investigation to proceed".

A Ukraine government statement said pro-Russia rebels had removed 38 bodies to a morgue in the insurgent-controlled city of Donetsk where "specialists with clearly Russian accents" were to conduct autopsies.

It also said separatist forces were blocking access to the site for Ukrainian investigators and international observers.

"Terrorists with the support of Russia are trying to destroy proof of this international crime," it said.

An Agence France Presse crew at the scene of the crash Saturday said that armed rebels were preventing journalists from accessing the site and shot in the air to warn them back.

"Failure to stop such interference would be a betrayal of the lives that were lost," Liow said.

Malaysia Airlines on Saturday released what it called a final tally of those killed, saying 192 Dutch nationals, 44 Malaysians, and 27 Australians were among the dead.

Smaller numbers of Indonesians, Britons, Germans, Belgians, and other nationalities also were aboard.

A Malaysian team including two air accident investigators arrived in Kiev earlier Saturday, hours after Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed for access to the MH17 crash. He said he spoke to Russian Pig by phone late Friday to stress that "the site should not be tampered (with)," national news agency Bernama reported.

The United States has said the Boeing 777 was shot down by a missile fired from rebel-held territory, a possible casualty of Ukraine's battle with pro-Russia insurgents.

The disaster has deeply shocked Malaysia, still grappling with the trauma of the unexplained March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew aboard, including 38 Malaysians.

"Wrong target, who committed this atrocity?" leading Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia said of MH17 on its front page Saturday, echoing the tone of most leading newspapers and Malaysian social media chatter.

In an address to his nation late Friday, Najib demanded justice if it is determined that the plane was shot down, condemning what he called an "inhumane, uncivilized, violent and irresponsible act".

He said the Muslim-majority country would hold an emergency sitting of parliament -- expected Wednesday -- to vent Malaysian anger over the disaster, and that all flags in the country would be flown at half-mast.

"Of course there is anger. Why must this happen only to us (in) Malaysia? I really feel like beating that Russian, the disgusting Pig," said Mohamad Shidee Mohamad Ghazali, 28, a welder with the state utility company Tenaga Nasional.

Civil servant Nor Azizah Johar, 31, said her childhood friend Mohamad Ali Mohamad Salim was aboard the flight. They had planned to meet up during the coming Eid al-Fitr Islamic holiday.

"I am shocked that such an incident can happen," she said.

"I leave it to Allah. What can we do? We are just pawns in this issue."

Stunned world leaders have urged a full investigation, which could further fan the flames of Russia's confrontation with Ukraine, the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, if pro-Russian rebels are found responsible.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Pig have agreed for an international investigation into the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine, Berlin said on Saturday.

The two leaders, who spoke on the telephone, "agreed that an international, independent commission under the direction of ICAO (U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization) should quickly have access to the site of the accident... to shed light on the circumstances of the crash and move the victims," said a German government statement.

A Kremlin statement on the same phone call said that "both sides stressed the importance of a thorough and objective investigation of all circumstances relating to what has happened" and said Merkel gave a "positive assessment of Russia's readiness to send its representative to participate in the investigation."

The two leaders also agreed that a contact group comprising Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE should meet "quickly" with the aim of reaching a ceasefire in the conflict between Kiev and the pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine, said the German government statement.

"The chancellor once again asked the repulsive Pig to exercise his influence over the separatists in order to reach this objective," it said.

In a possible barrier to further talks, however, the Kremlin statement said the contact group should include separatist representatives, a move opposed by Kiev.


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« Reply #133 on: Jul 20, 2014, 06:35 AM »

MH17: the evidence against Russia

In the hours after the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine, evidence assembled from various sources appeared to point the blame at militants armed with Russian missiles

Bodies of MH17 passengers stored in rail wagons as pressure on Russia mounts

The Observer,
Sunday 20 July 2014   

Social media

A posting on an account linked to a pro-Russia separatist leader in Ukraine, on a Russian social network site, claims that militants shot down at least one Ukrainian military plane near the Donetsk region town of Torez. The post has been deleted.

The intercepts

Ukrainian authorities release a recording they claim is a conversation between pro-Russia militants admitting to shooting down the plane. A rebel fighter going by the nom de guerre of "Major" is heard telling another comrade called "Grek" that a group of fighters had brought the airliner down. "The plane broke up in the air, near the Petropavlovskaya mines. The first [casualty] has been found. It was a woman. A civilian," he says. At 5.42pm, "Major" acknowledges the plane was civilian: "Hell. It's almost 100% certain that it's a civilian plane."

In another recording, a Russian officer called Igor Bezler is apparently heard reporting on the downing of the jet to his superior in Russian military intelligence, Colonel Vasily Geranin: "A plane has just been shot down ... They've gone to search and photograph the plane. It is smoking."

In a third conversation, a rebel fighter says: "It turned out to be a passenger plane. It fell in Hrabove area. There's a sea of women and children ..."

Satellite detection

Satellite images show a plume of smoke left by a ground-to-air missile. The images help to compile an intelligence analysis shared with the UN security council by US ambassador Samantha Power, which she claimed showed the airliner was "likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine". The location of the missile launch appears crucial.

"It strains credulity to think the missile could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

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

Ukraine rebel leader claims Flight MH17 was filled with already-dead bodies

By David Ferguson
RawStory
Saturday, July 19, 2014 15:44 EDT

A pro-Russian rebel separatist in Ukraine claimed Saturday that most of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 were dead before the plane was shot down.

According to the Associated Press, rebel commander Igor Girkin said on the Russkaya Vesna website that witnesses to the crash have informed him that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh” when they fell from the sky. He also claimed that many of them had been drained of blood and stank of decomposition because they had been dead for days.

Many Pig Putin allies — including news network Russia Today — have tried to offset the blame for the deaths of all 298 passengers and crew by blaming Ukraine, but Girkin’s assertion is the first to suggest that no one was actually killed in the incident.

Preliminary investigation of the crash indicates that the jet was shot from the sky with a sophisticated surface-to-air anti-aircraft weapon. Both President Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power have said that it is highly unlikely that separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine could have shot down the plane without a great deal of assistance from Russia.

Girkin, who also goes by the name Strelkov, said that he has yet to confirm the assertion, but that Ukrainian officials are “capable of any baseness.”

At the scene, he said, large amounts of blood serum and medications were found. Girkin may or may not have realized that the plane was carrying approximately 100 doctors, researchers and experts on HIV-AIDS who were bound for an international conference in Malaysia.

If the rebel leader’s assertion sounds like a plot twist from a particularly far-fetched spy film, that’s because it was. In an episode of the U.K. TV series “Sherlock,” an airplane loaded with corpses was brought down from the sky in order to convince a group of saboteurs that their encryption codes had not been cracked by the government.

Where Girkin believes the Ukrainian government obtained nearly 300 corpses is unclear, let alone how officials managed to dress the bodies and provide them with passports and travel information.

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

MH17: Evil Pig Putin is given 'one last chance' as world fury mounts over downed flight
Dutch PM describes armed rebels' behaviour in blocking access to crash site as 'revolting'


Bodies of MH17 passengers stored in rail wagons as pressure on Russia mounts

Shaun Walker in Kiev, Oksana Grytsenko in Grabovo, and Philip Oltermann in Berlin
The Observer, Sunday 20 July 2014      

Global leaders rounded on the evil called Pig Putin on Saturday night as armed separatists continued to block international inspectors attempting to identify and repatriate bodies at the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Amid reports that pro-Russia rebels accused of shooting down the plane had removed corpses themselves and were looting credit cards and other possessions belonging to some of the 298 victims, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that the evil Pig had "one last chance to show he means to help [rescuers recover the bodies]".

Rutte vented his anger following what he called a "very intense" conversation with the Russian president. Referring to allegations that bodies of the passengers, including 193 Dutch nationals, were being treated with contempt and allowed to rot at the scene, he said: "I was shocked at the pictures of utterly disrespectful behaviour at this tragic spot. It's revolting."

David Cameron called for the EU and the west to change its approach to Russia if Pig does not alter course on Ukraine following the tragedy. The prime minister said: "This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias, and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action."

Following reports about attempts to use victims' credit cards, Dutch banks said that they were taking "preventive measures" and that any losses suffered by relatives of the dead would be paid back. The DeTelegraaf newspaper said: "The government must make clear to the world that we are beside ourselves with rage."

Speaking about the British government's priorities Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said: "Our focus now is on securing the site so there is a proper international investigation to identify the cause and the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and making sure the victims are dealt with with proper dignity and respect."

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, also stressed in a phone call with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that investigators must get full access to the crash site.

The situation there descended into chaos on Saturday as "experts" of unknown provenance moved bodies decomposing in the baking heat from fields to the roadside, and used bags to collect body parts. A spokesman for the OSCE, Michael Bociurkiw, said: "Some of the body bags are open and the damage to the corpses is very, very bad – it is very difficult to look at."

It was a horrific scene and came despite huge pressure on Moscow to force the rebels to allow proper access to the site. The Ukrainian government accused the separatists of removing 38 bodies from the site to a morgue in rebel-held Donetsk. But as politicians and newspapers across the world lay blame for Thursday's tragedy at the door of pro-Russia separatists and the evil called Pig Putin personally, the Kremlin has remained defiant. Evil Putin has said Ukraine is to blame, and Russia's defence ministry issued a list of 10 questions for Kiev on Saturday, insinuating that it was a Ukrainian missile that downed the plane, while the self-declared prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, told Russian television that the entire event had been a setup by Ukrainian authorities.

"[Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko promised a 'surprise' for the rebels. I think this is the surprise he was talking about – a plane full of civilians shot down," said Borodai. However, a senior Ukrainian security official claimed on Saturday that Kiev had evidence the missile was fired from separatist territory by Russian specialists who had crossed the border with the equipment.

The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, told a German newspaper that the missile required "very professional staff" and "could not be operated by drunken gorillas", suggesting that the separatists had outside help from Russia. When asked about the growing circumstantial evidence that the separatists shot down the jet in error, thinking it to be a Ukrainian air force plane, Borodai said: "It's a lie and I hope it will be proved as a lie by experts, including international experts who have already arrived on our territory."

However, there were no recognisable international or even Ukrainian experts at the crash site, which was completely controlled by rebel gunmen. Ukraine's government on Saturday accused the rebels of destroying evidence and making life difficult for OSCE observers. "We have to be very careful with our movements because of all the security. We are unarmed civilians, so we are not in a position to argue with people with heavy arms," said Bociurkiw.

Of the 10 dead Britons, the four yet to be identified were named on Saturday as John Allen, a Netherlands-based lawyer who died with his wife Sandra and their sons Christopher, Julian and Ian; Robert Ayley, 28, a dog breeder and father of two from Guildford in Surrey, who lived in New Zealand; Stephen Anderson, 44, who lived in Penang, Malaysia; and Andrew Hoare, 59, a banker who died alongside his Dutch wife Estella and their two children, Friso and Jasper, who were aged 12 and 14 and of Dutch nationality.

Russia's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has been summoned to the Foreign Office to be told that the Pig must use his influence on the separatists to ensure access to the crash site, No 10 said. In Germany, Andreas Schockenhoff, a senior ally of chancellor Angela Merkel, told the Observer: "The disaster in the Ukraine has made it clear beyond all doubt that we are not dealing with a bilateral conflict, but a serious threat to the peace all across Europe."

Schockenhoff said Russia was "not a neutral actor in the conflict" since it had armed and trained the separatists. He called on Europe to show "a united front and make any failure to cooperate very painful for the puke called Pig Putin".

Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry published a list of 12 US citizens who are now banned from entry to Russia in response to the latest US sanctions. They include officials involved in the running of the Guantánamo detention facility and military personnel involved with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

Fighting has continued between the Ukrainian army and separatists in east Ukraine since the crash on Thursday, with more than 20 civilians reported to have died in Luhansk on Friday. Ukrainian authorities claimed they had evidence of military equipment transferred to the area from Russia in the early hours of Saturday morning.

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

Ukraine PM Says MH17 Not Downed by 'Drunken Gorillas'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
20 July 2014, 13:53

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in comments published Sunday that Russia was likely behind the downing of a Malaysian airliner as such an operation takes professionals and not "drunken gorillas".

"Very professional personnel is needed to find targets and fire this missile," he told a German newspaper about the suspected shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine which claimed 298 lives.

"It is possible that these kinds of people came from Russia," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper in comments translated into German.

Yatsenyuk suggested it was unlikely pro-Russian separatists alone had fired a missile, as "we known that such such systems can't be operated by drunken gorillas", the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported him as saying.

The premier also said that Ukrainian forces had never used missiles in the conflict and that "all of Ukraine's surface-to-air missiles are stationed elsewhere. We are prepared to make public all evidence and locations."

Yatsenyuk stressed that the conflict in Ukraine was not a civil war but "a Russian-led intervention", describing it as "Russian-led, Russian-backed, Russian-financed and Russian-organized".

He added that "now is the time to stop Russian aggression".

Germany's foreign minister meanwhile demanded that independent investigators quickly be given unhindered access to the site of the downed jet in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine.

"Anyone who hinders the investigation has something to hide or has no heart," Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as saying in the Bild daily.

He urged an "independent international investigation that is beyond all doubt" and said "the perpetrators and their backers must not get away".

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

Pilots' group president says MH17 shot down after attempt to avoid storms

Malaysia Airlines plane was flying lower than planned and may have diverted on to more northerly course over Donetsk

Daniel Boffey, policy editor
The Observer, Saturday 19 July 2014 20.16 BST   

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was guided off its most recently used course as its pilots hoped to avoid thunderstorms brewing in the south of Ukraine, it has been claimed.

When it was shot down, the doomed jet was many miles north of the flight paths it had used on previous days to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

Nico Voorbach, a pilot who flew the same journey earlier this summer for KLM, and who is president of the European Cockpit Association, said poor weather might have been the reason why flight MH17 found itself in the sights of a surface-to-air missile launcher. The aircraft was shot down in the separatist Donetsk region of east Ukraine.

Voorbach said: "I heard that they were diverting from some showers. I think there were thunderclouds. You would ask air traffic control to divert left or right, and they would give you the permission."

It also emerged that flight MH17 had initially filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000ft above Ukrainian territory. On entering Ukrainian airspace, however, the plane's pilots were instructed to fly at 33,000ft by the local air traffic control due to other traffic. Malaysia Airlines said the pilots had to follow the lead of the local authorities.

Malaysia's transport minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, told a press conference: "MH17's flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky. It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft.

"MH17 flew at an altitude that was set and deemed safe by local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace. The flight and its operators followed the rules. But on the ground, the rules of war were broken."

In response to claims that weather led to MH17 changing its flight plan, Malaysia Airlines director of operations Izham Ismail said that it had no reports from the pilot to suggest that this was the case. The airline has been keen to stress that after the International Civil Aviation Organisation in April identified an area over the Crimea peninsula as risky, its aircraft had "at no point" flown into or requested to fly into the area. The tragedy has, however, raised questions over the wisdom of commercial airlines continuing to fly over conflict zones.

Airlines currently take their cue on risk from national governments, who are responsible for the airspace over their territories, although states have an interest in keeping flight paths open because they are able to collect overflight fees.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority recently urged UK-based airlines not to fly over a wide area near the Crimea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and several airlines, including British Airways, have followed that advice.

Others, however, had been continuing to use the route, which is one of the "aerial motorways" between northern Europe and south Asia. Malaysia Airlines was one of more than a dozen that flew the route on Thursday. Its flight MH17 was only a few miles from an Air India Boeing 787 and a Singapore Airlines 777 when it was shot down. The only restriction placed on the route by the Ukrainian government was that aircraft must remain above 32,000ft.

Voorbach said that the European Cockpit Association, which represents 38,000 pilots at the EU level, would discuss the possibility of more rigorous rules this week at its next board meeting. He added that there might now be an argument for a total ban on flying over conflict zones, but that the repercussions of such a change, including longer flight times and extra costs to airlines, could be huge for the aviation industry.

He said: "Do we stop planes flying over Israel, for example? Looking across the world, stopping flights over conflict zones would add a huge burden to the aviation industry. We need to see what the inquiry into the disaster discovers. I just hope that politics does not get in the way of the inquiry."

Since the crash, all airspace in eastern Ukraine has been closed.

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

MH17: pro-Russia rebels will allow access to crash site if ceasefire agreed

Separatist leader will guarantee safety of international monitors as evil Putin given 'one last chance' to help rescue effort

Shaun Walker in Kiev, Oksana Grytsenko in Grabovo, and Philip Oltermann in Berlin and agencies
theguardian.com, Sunday 20 July 2014 08.53 BST   

A leader of the pro-Russia rebel fighters in Ukraine has said they will guarantee the safety of international monitors at the Malaysian plane's crash site if Kiev agrees to a truce.

"We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement," said Andrei Purgin, deputy premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in a statement. He urged Kiev to "immediately conclude such an agreement" with the rebels.

His statement came as the international community increased pressure on Russia to get the Moscow-backed rebels to grant investigators full access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet.

On Saturday night, global leaders rounded on the evil called Pig Putin as armed separatists continued to block international inspectors attempting to identify and repatriate bodies at the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Amid reports that pro-Russia rebels accused of shooting down the plane had removed corpses themselves and were looting credit cards and other possessions belonging to some of the 298 victims, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that the Pig had "one last chance to show he means to help [rescuers recover the bodies]".

Rutte vented his anger following what he called a "very intense" conversation with the Russian president. Referring to allegations that bodies of the passengers, including 193 Dutch nationals, were being treated with contempt and allowed to rot at the scene, he said: "I was shocked at the pictures of utterly disrespectful behaviour at this tragic spot. It's revolting."

David Cameron called for the EU and the west to change its approach to Russia if the disgusting Pig does not alter course on Ukraine following the tragedy. The prime minister said: "This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias, and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action."

Following reports about attempts to use victims' credit cards, Dutch banks said that they were taking "preventive measures" and that any losses suffered by relatives of the dead would be paid back. The DeTelegraaf newspaper said: "The government must make clear to the world that we are beside ourselves with rage."

Speaking about the British government's priorities Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said: "Our focus now is on securing the site so there is a proper international investigation to identify the cause and the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and making sure the victims are dealt with with proper dignity and respect."

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, also stressed in a phone call with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that investigators must get full access to the crash site.

The situation there descended into chaos on Saturday as "experts" of unknown provenance moved bodies decomposing in the baking heat from fields to the roadside, and used bags to collect body parts. A spokesman for the OSCE, Michael Bociurkiw, said: "Some of the body bags are open and the damage to the corpses is very, very bad – it is very difficult to look at."

It was a horrific scene and came despite huge pressure on Moscow to force the rebels to allow proper access to the site. The Ukrainian government accused the separatists of removing 38 bodies from the site to a morgue in rebel-held Donetsk. But as politicians and newspapers across the world lay blame for Thursday's tragedy at the door of pro-Russia separatists and the swine called Pig Putin personally, the Kremlin has remained defiant. The evil Pig has said Ukraine is to blame, and Russia's defence ministry issued a list of 10 questions for Kiev on Saturday, insinuating that it was a Ukrainian missile that downed the plane, while the self-declared prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, told Russian television that the entire event had been a setup by Ukrainian authorities.

"[Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko promised a 'surprise' for the rebels. I think this is the surprise he was talking about – a plane full of civilians shot down," said Borodai. However, a senior Ukrainian security official claimed on Saturday that Kiev had evidence the missile was fired from separatist territory by Russian specialists who had crossed the border with the equipment.

The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, told a German newspaper that the missile required "very professional staff" and "could not be operated by drunken gorillas", suggesting that the separatists had outside help from Russia. When asked about the growing circumstantial evidence that the separatists shot down the jet in error, thinking it to be a Ukrainian air force plane, Borodai said: "It's a lie and I hope it will be proved as a lie by experts, including international experts who have already arrived on our territory."

However, there were no recognisable international or even Ukrainian experts at the crash site, which was completely controlled by rebel gunmen. Ukraine's government on Saturday accused the rebels of destroying evidence and making life difficult for OSCE observers. "We have to be very careful with our movements because of all the security. We are unarmed civilians, so we are not in a position to argue with people with heavy arms," said Bociurkiw.

Of the 10 dead Britons, the four yet to be identified were named on Saturday as John Allen, a Netherlands-based lawyer who died with his wife Sandra and their sons Christopher, Julian and Ian; Robert Ayley, 28, a dog breeder and father of two from Guildford in Surrey, who lived in New Zealand; Stephen Anderson, 44, who lived in Penang, Malaysia; and Andrew Hoare, 59, a banker who died alongside his Dutch wife Estella and their two children, Friso and Jasper, who were aged 12 and 14 and of Dutch nationality.

Russia's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has been summoned to the Foreign Office to be told that Putin must use his influence on the separatists to ensure access to the crash site, No 10 said. In Germany, Andreas Schockenhoff, a senior ally of chancellor Angela Merkel, told the Observer: "The disaster in the Ukraine has made it clear beyond all doubt that we are not dealing with a bilateral conflict, but a serious threat to the peace all across Europe."

Schockenhoff said Russia was "not a neutral actor in the conflict" since it had armed and trained the separatists. He called on Europe to show "a united front and make any failure to cooperate very painful for the sick creature called Pig Putin".

Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry published a list of 12 US citizens who are now banned from entry to Russia in response to the latest US sanctions. They include officials involved in the running of the Guantánamo detention facility and military personnel involved with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

Fighting has continued between the Ukrainian army and separatists in east Ukraine since the crash on Thursday, with more than 20 civilians reported to have died in Luhansk on Friday. Ukrainian authorities claimed they had evidence of military equipment transferred to the area from Russia in the early hours of Saturday morning.

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

MH17 victims put into refrigerated train bound for unknown destination

International monitors arrive in Torez to inspect wagons accompanied by convoy of heavily armed and nervous rebels

Shaun Walker in Torez
theguardian.com, Sunday 20 July 2014 10.55 BST   

The bodies of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are being loaded on to three railway carriages, apparently with refrigerator capability, which are standing at the train station in the town of Torez, several miles from the crash site in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

The Guardian witnessed the arrival of a delegation from the Iinternational monitoring body the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at around midday local time to inspect the wagons, accompanied by a convoy of heavily armed and nervous rebels.

As they opened the metal door to one of the carriages to inspect the interior, a stench of death wafted out, and black body bags were visible inside.

"The special monitoring mission in its third day dealing with the incident has now monitored the location where bodies are being refrigerated in three wagons," said Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the mission.

"We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation."

Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesman for the mission, added: "Going inside the wagons is impossible without special equipment. The stench is very very bad."

The OCSE, which has had its access to the crash site itself limited in recent days, left in a convoy to return to the crash site.

There have been no international investigators at the scene. Ukrainian authorities say they are setting up facilities for relatives to stay and autopsies in the city of Kharkiv, about 200 miles away.

Armed separatists at the scene refused to say how many bodies were in the train carriages or when they would leave. The train driver told the Guardian he had no idea of the train's destination.

The local department of Ukraine's emergencies ministry in the eastern Donetsk region said on Sunday that 196 bodies had been found at the site where the Malaysian airliner crashed.

"As of 7am on 20 July, in the Shakhtarsky region of the crash site of the Boeing 777, 196 bodies were found," it said in a statement, adding that divers were involved in the search because the area included a reservoir.

It also emerged on Sunday that the UN security council was considering a draft resolution to condemn the "shooting down" of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, demand armed groups grant access to the crash site, and call on states in the region to cooperate with an international investigation.

Australia – which lost 28 citizens – circulated a draft text, seen by Reuters, to the 15-member security council late on Saturday, and diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it could be put to a vote as early as Monday.

The draft resolution "demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability".

It "condemns in the strongest terms the shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 … resulting in the tragic loss of 298 lives" and "demands that all states and other actors in the region refrain from acts of violence directed against civilian aircraft."

The US and other powers have said the plane was probably brought down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile fired from rebel territory.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said on Friday that Washington could not rule out Russian help in firing the missile.

The Russian Pig, Putin, urged the pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to cooperate and insisted that an international investigation must not leap to conclusions. Moscow denies involvement and has pointed the finger at Kiev's military.

Ukraine and its western allies accuse Moscow of fuelling a pro-Russian uprising that threatens to break up the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. Russia denies orchestrating the unrest and says Ukraine's attempts to end it by military force are making the situation worse.

The draft UN resolution "calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site".

It "demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area".

The OCSE said on Saturday it had been allowed to see more of the crash site, though gunmen stopped them approaching some of the wreckage.

Russia's UN mission declined to comment on the draft security council resolution.

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

With Jet Strike, War in Ukraine Is Felt Globally

By PETER BAKER
IHT
JULY 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — From the start, the telephone call did not go well. Dispensing with pleasantries, President Pig V. Putin launched into an edgy and long-winded complaint about the new American sanctions imposed on Russia the day before.

President Obama, on the phone from the Oval Office on Thursday morning, responded that Russia was arming rebels in Ukraine — citing among other things the antiaircraft weapons that the United States believed they had been sent. “This is not something we’re making up,” Mr. Obama said, according to an American official.

Then, more than halfway through the tense, hourlong call, the snorting Pig noted, almost in passing, that he had received a report of an aircraft going down in Ukraine.   

The Pig was vague about the details, and the conversation moved on. But in that instant, the months long proxy war between East and West took a devastating turn, one that would shift the ground geopolitically amid the charred wreckage and broken bodies in a Ukrainian wheat field.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 rippled across multiple continents — from Amsterdam, where friends and family had just seen off their loved ones, to the distant shores of Asia and Australia that had been waiting for 298 passengers and crew who would never show up. The tragedy reached as far as a college campus in Bloomington, Ind., shocked to find one of its doctoral students among the dead.

It was a day of confusion and anger, of grief and disbelief, of charges and countercharges, of politics and war. It was a day that brought home in vivid relief the consequences of a struggle in a torn society that had seemed far removed for many. And it was a day that was a long time in the making.

Cor Schilder had been looking forward to his vacation with his girlfriend. Two months ago, he posted pictures of an Indonesian resort on his Facebook page. “We will stay with a private pool with rose petals floating in it,” he wrote in Dutch on May 17. “We won’t leave before all those petals have withered away.”

A florist and amateur musician who played drums in a band called Vast Countenance, Mr. Schilder, 33, and his girlfriend, Neeltje Tol, 30, closed up their Amsterdam flower shop on Wednesday, leaving a sign saying that they would reopen on Aug. 4. As they passed through customs at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport the next day, Mr. Schilder kept updating his Facebook page.

“Mind your step, mind your step,” he wrote two hours before the flight, echoing the automated warning message of the airport’s moving-walkway system.

Before boarding, he posted a picture of the plane, exactly the same model owned by the same airline as one that vanished mysteriously in March en route to China. “In case it goes missing,” he wrote wryly, “this is what it looks like.”

That may have been less amusing for a couple who were also passengers, Maree Rizk and her husband, Albert, who lost relatives aboard the never-found Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Ms. Rizk’s stepmother’s brother and his wife were among those lost in March. The couple was returning home to Australia after a four-week vacation in Europe. “We thought it was unusual they would fly Malaysia because that earlier flight had gone down,” said Phil Lithgow, a friend.

The flight took off from Amsterdam and headed east along a flight plan filed before departure. As it crossed over Ukraine, it cruised at an altitude of 33,000 feet, making sure to stay above a new minimum of 32,000 feet set just three days earlier so as to avoid any fighting on the ground or in the air. Some airlines had stopped traversing Ukraine altogether because of its violent insurgency in the east, but most had not.

Until that week, pro-Russian separatists fighting in the east had been known to possess shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles known as Manpads, weapons that can typically fire to a maximum altitude of roughly 12,000 feet. But in the days before the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight, combatants had made clear they now had access to a weapon of a different magnitude, a radar-guided SA-11 that can deliver warheads at three times the speed of sound to a target as high as 70,000 feet.

On Monday, such a missile had brought down a Ukrainian Antonov-26 military transport plane flying at 21,000 feet, a feat requiring expertise and training that only a military could provide. American intelligence agencies believe the missile came from the Russian side of the border, which Moscow denied. Separatists said they brought the plane down themselves.

Either way, Ukraine that same day set the 32,000-foot minimum for civilian airliners. Russia followed suit two days later. But no one banned passenger jets from the area, despite the obvious change in the threat.

Dramatic Shift in Battle

The missile strike that brought down the Malaysia flight was in many respects a result of a dramatic change in the battlefields of eastern Ukraine. After declaring unilateral cease-fires that failed to lead to meaningful negotiations, Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, let the latest cease-fire lapse and ordered his military to resume efforts to crush the insurrection by force.

After the military plane was shot down on Monday, fighting escalated. On Tuesday, a blast destroyed a residential building in Snizhne, a town 12 miles from the Russian border controlled by rebels. Ukraine said a Russian plane had carried out the attack; the rebels blamed the Ukrainian military. Whoever was responsible, a new air war was clearly underway. On Wednesday evening, Ukraine said Russia had sent a MIG-29 fighter jet across the border to engage with Ukrainian Su-25s. In the ensuing dogfight, one Su-25 was shot down, while another was damaged but escaped.

A Ukrainian security official was complaining about the Russian incursion at a briefing on Thursday around the same time Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was taking off from Amsterdam.

In eastern Ukraine several hours later, residents noticed what they presumed was a missile climbing into the sky. American intelligence analysts later traced the launch to an area around Snizhne and the nearby town of Torez. The plane exploded in midair and plummeted down into a series of large fields of wheat, grass and sunflowers, its fuselage and landing gear twisted into a mountain of metal, wires, engines and seats.

Bodies lying in the field struck strange, unnatural shapes in the tall grasses, many naked but for their shoes. Some were nestled together among piles of open suitcases, including a man in a mint-colored T-shirt lying near a woman in torn jeans whose right arm was thrown up over her head as if she were trying to protect herself. Others lay alone, like the tiny girl, probably no older than 3, dressed in a red T-shirt without pants.

The sight was overwhelming, even to rebels, who stood in stunned groups trying to comprehend. “I have four children,” said a miner named Sergei who said he had found many bodies of children. “I’m in shock.”

New Shock in Malaysia

The shock was felt nearly as powerfully in Kuala Lumpur, where the Malaysian government and its people remain deeply traumatized from the March episode. Prime Minister Najib Razak was at his personal residence when he was notified that Flight 17 had apparently gone down. He rushed to the Malaysia Airlines emergency response center at Kuala Lumpur’s airport and ordered his defense minister, foreign minister, aviation director and airline executives to meet him there.

“People were incredulous, but people weren’t emotional,” said a Malaysian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the government’s response. “You looked at the faces around the room, and everyone had been battle-scarred from MH-370.”

After bruising international criticism of the response to that catastrophe, Mr. Najib was determined to handle this one more smoothly. The last time, he waited a week to make a public statement. This time, he appeared before cameras within hours. Last time, it took Malaysia Airlines six weeks to release a cargo manifest. This time, it would take 36 hours.

In Moscow, the first news reports appeared in early evening as RIA Novosti, a state-run agency, said that the separatists — Russia’s news media often refers to them as “volunteers” — had downed another Ukrainian Antonov-26 military transport plane.

The Pig was also in the air above Eastern Europe that afternoon, as he was returning from a six-day tour of Latin America aboard his presidential Airbus, referred to as Aircraft No. 1 by the media. The Russian jet apparently passed near the doomed Malaysian plane, both flying in roughly the same airspace over Warsaw at 33,000 feet some 37 minutes apart, according to an Interfax report. He got on the telephone with Mr. Obama shortly after landing.

As soon as it became clear that the downed plane was not a military craft but a civilian passenger plane, Russian news media shifted their narrative from a separatist attack to a variety of other explanations, including the possibility that Ukraine’s military had shot it down. The coincidental proximity of the Pig's plane even led to conspiracy theories that whoever destroyed the Malaysia jet was actually trying to target the Russian pig. Rossiya 24, the state-run cable network, played past clips of Ukrainian public figures saying they wished Mr. Putin dead and then interviewed supposed experts about how the two planes might have been confused.

The filthy Putin released a statement 40 minutes after midnight, blaming Ukraine. “Certainly,” it snorted, “the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.”

Obama and the Disaster

After hanging up with the Pig, Mr. Obama boarded his Marine One helicopter to fly to Andrews Air Force Base. During the flight, news broke that Ukraine was blaming a Russian-made missile. Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s senior adviser, received an email and told Mr. Obama about the allegation.

Once he boarded Air Force One, which was scheduled to take him to Delaware and New York for a policy speech and political fund-raisers, Mr. Obama was briefed by his national security aide, Brian McKeon. By the time the president landed outside Wilmington, Del., it was clear he would need to address the disaster. Speechwriters at the White House emailed a statement to the plane.

Josh Earnest, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, gave him a copy and explained that a line about concern for Americans stemmed from reports that as many as 23 were on board.

Mr. Earnest told the president that the number came from Ukrainian officials and seemed dubious. But even as Mr. Obama went before cameras and made his brief comments, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. got on the phone with Mr. Poroshenko, who told him the Ukrainians had intercepted conversations indicating the separatists had shot down the plane.

Mr. Obama was briefed by telephone after his speech by Antony J. Blinken, his deputy national security adviser, who told him about the Poroshenko call, and the president decided to call the Ukrainian leader as well as Mr. Najib from Air Force One. The flight to New York was so short, however, that the pilots had to fly a long, looping route to give the president enough time to talk with the leaders.

Once in New York, he headed to his first fund-raiser at an upscale apartment. In a den, where a secure telephone line had been set up, Mr. Obama convened a conference call with his staff for an update. He was told most of the dead were from the Netherlands and so arranged to call the Dutch prime minister.

The next morning, back at the White House, he was told that one American had been on board, as well as AIDS researchers and activists heading to a conference that he himself had addressed two years earlier. He recognized that he had probably met some of them. “That seemed to kind of rattle him,” an aide said.

As a cloudy morning dawned on Ukraine on Friday, the horror of the crash site was on full display. Small white pieces of cloth dotted the grassy farmland, marking the locations of bodies. The smell of burned flesh hung heavily near a broken hulk of metal on the road. A foot with part of a leg lay nearby.

The scene was strangely empty. There was no yellow tape, no investigators poring over the giant metal carcass. Four local rebels wearing fatigues and carrying hunting rifles wandered through the ruins, poking around the debris more out of curiosity. On the grass were photographs of a family vacation, a baby announcement postcard and a boarding pass.

One of the men, who had never seen a boarding pass, asked what it was. Another picked up an English-language tour book and flipped through it before throwing it back in the heap. “I can’t read it anyway,” he said.


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Britain Says Time for Russia to 'Get Out' of Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
20 July 2014, 20:32

Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Sunday it was time for Russia to "stop interfering" and "get out of eastern Ukraine."

He added that the "sponsored war" in the region was "completely unacceptable."

Fallon said Russian Pig was encouraging the ethnic Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"They need to get out of East Ukraine and leave Ukraine to the Ukrainians," he told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Asked if the Pig was "egging on" the separatists, Fallon replied: "Yes. That is the danger that flows from Russian activity on and over the border in the last few months. That's why he needs to move his troops away from the border and stop interfering."

If he could speak to the puke called Pig Putin, Fallon said he would say: "it is completely unacceptable for a country to be involved in this kind of activity in another sovereign state."

Britain believes the evidence surrounding the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane crash in east Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board, points to it being shot down by Russian separatists.

Fallon said of the evil Pig: "We have to make it very clear if there is any more interference like this -- and it turns out he was behind it -- there will be repercussions. He has to be clear the West will act.

"If Russia is the principal culprit, we can take further action against them and make it clear this kind of sponsored war is completely unacceptable.

"It is sponsored terrorism as far as people of east Ukraine are concerned. We don't know if somebody said 'let's bring down a civil airliner, wherever it’s from', -- but we need to find out."

He said Britain was working very hard to avoid" a confrontation between Russia and the West, but "NATO has to respond."

Russia is "clearly a threat to NATO's eastern flank and that's why we must offer as much reassurance as we can, particularly to the Baltic states", said Fallon.

The defense secretary said there was plenty of evidence that existing financial sanctions were affecting the Russian economy and the ability of Russian firms to trade through London's financial hub.

"There's a range of other sanctions available, cutting off more links with Russia. The evil Pig needs to trade with the West and relies on the City of London," he said.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told BBC radio that one option was to broaden the number of individuals subject to sanctions to include "the so-called crony group" around Putin.

He accused the slimy Pig Putin of "obfuscation and obstruction" over the plane crash investigation.

France, Britain and Germany warned Russia on Sunday it could face further EU sanctions if it did not press pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to allow unfettered access to the crash site.

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

Australia Circulates Draft U.N. Resolution on MH17 Disaster

by Naharnet Newsdesk
20 July 2014, 20:41

Australia has circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that pro-Russian separatists provide "full and unfettered access" to the crash site of the downed Malaysian jet in eastern Ukraine, diplomats said Sunday.

The document -- that could be put to a vote as early as Monday -- also calls on everyone in the region to fully cooperate in an international probe of the incident, according to a copy obtained by Agence France Presse.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blown out of the sky Thursday by what is believed to have been a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Among the dead are 28 Australian citizens.

The draft resolution "demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unfettered access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities."

While not mentioning Russia specifically, it "calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate access to the crash site ... in an effort to strengthen the safety of international civil aviation and to prevent any recurrence of such use of force against civilian aircraft."

World leaders have demanded Russian Pig President Putin use his influence to persuade the rebels to hand over the victims and allow full access to the crash site.

Major European nations have warned Moscow of additional possible sanctions over the crash.

The text also condemns the shooting down of the plane "in the strongest terms" and demands that those responsible be held to account while expressing serious concern that armed groups have "impeded immediate, safe, secure and unrestricted access to the crash site and surrounding area."

On behalf of the 15-member Security Council, it also expresses grave concern at reports of "tampering with evidence related to the incident."

On Friday, panel members, including Russia, demanded a full, independent probe of the downing.

Australia has asked that its 14 counterparts submit their comments on the measure by Monday morning.

Russia, a permanent member of the Council, has the power to veto the resolution should it come up for a vote.

One Western diplomat said it was difficult to know what the Russians would do, adding Moscow was under significant pressure.

The diplomat did not rule out the possibility that Russia could ask for more time to examine the text.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday was "pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists," while slamming as "grotesque" scenes at the crash site.

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

Kerry Says Missiles Used in MH17 Attack Came from Russia as West Threatens Sanctions over Crash Site Access

by Naharnet Newsdesk
20 July 2014, 10:08

The missile system used to shoot down a Malaysian airliner was handed to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine by Moscow, the top U.S. diplomat said Sunday, as the West warned Russia it could face further EU sanctions if it did not press pro-Kremlin separatists to allow unfettered access to the crash site of flight MH17.

"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN, saying that a sophisticated SA-11 system had been used in Thursday's crash.

"We know with confidence, with confidence that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point in time. So it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists."

Kerry laid out U.S. evidence which he said pointed to the involvement of the separatists in Thursday's horrific crash saying Washington had "extraordinary circumstantial evidence."

"We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory," he told NBC's Meet the Press. "We know where it came from. We know the timing."

"And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know, from voice identification, that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards."

What was now happening at the crash site where international investigators have only had limited access was "really grotesque," Kerry said.

"There are reports of drunken separatist soldiers unceremoniously piling bodies into trucks, removing both bodies, as well as evidence, from the site," Kerry alleged.

The U.S. secretary of state renewed calls to the Russian Pig to step up and pressure the rebels to allow unfettered access to the site.

"It is clear that Russia supports the separatists, supplies the separatists, encourages the separatists, trains the separatists. And Russia needs to step up and make a difference here," Kerry added on NBC.

Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Kiev described as genuine alleged intercepted phone conversations that were released by Ukraine’s security service of pro-Russian rebels discussing how they shot down Malaysian airliner MH17.

Ukraine's SBU security agency on Thursday released recordings of what it claimed were phone talks involving rebels and a Russian military intelligence officer admitting that they had hit the passenger jet after mistaking it for a military aircraft.

The recordings were presented as key evidence to back up Kiev's claims that rebels -- supported by Russia -- downed the jet while the separatists accused Ukraine's army of being responsible.

"Audio data provided to the press by the Ukrainian security service was evaluated by Intelligence Community analysts who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders," the U.S. embassy in Ukraine said in a statement.

In one of the recordings a rebel commander nicknamed the "Major" says rebels shot down the plane and tells a disbelieving comrade that the jet is "100 percent a civilian aircraft."

On Sunday Ukraine's security agency released a fresh batch of alleged leaked conversations of rebels organizing to hide the flight's black boxes from international monitors at the crash site.

Meanwhile, Ukraine said Sunday that it could not ensure the safety of investigators at the crash site of downed Malaysian airliner MH17 in an area under the control of pro-Russian rebels.

"We as the Ukrainian authorities cannot provide security on this territory," deputy prime minister Volodymyr Groysman told journalists.

Earlier on Sunday, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine said they had recovered objects which appear to be the black boxes of the downed airliner and are willing to hand them over to international investigators.

"Jet parts resembling the black boxes were discovered at the crash site," said Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, adding that they would be handed over to "international experts if they arrive."

Borodai also said bodies which have been removed from the crash site will be kept in refrigerated carriages on a train near the scene "until the experts arrive."

The rebel said his teams had taken the corpses away from the crash site "out of respect for the families" and because "it is becoming inhumane in these conditions."

"We couldn't wait any longer because of the heat and also because there are many dogs and wild animals in the zone, he added.

Meanwhile, France, Britain and Germany warned Russia Sunday it could face further EU sanctions if it did not press pro-Kremlin separatists in Ukraine to allow unfettered access to the crash site of flight MH17.

Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and David Cameron held a conference call Sunday morning to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine.

"They... agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday," a spokesman for Downing Street said in a statement, adding that Cameron was due to speak to his Russian counterpart evil Pig Putin later Sunday.

A French presidency statement about the three-way conference call similarly warned that "consequences" would be drawn at Tuesday's meeting "if Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures."

The presidency said the three leaders had agreed to call on the putrid Pig Putin to pressure the rebels into allowing rescuers and investigators "free and total access to the site of the MH17 flight disaster to accomplish their mission."

"Russia must understand that resolving the Ukrainian crisis is more than ever an imperative after this tragedy which has outraged the entire world," it added.

Cameron had already raised the prospect of fresh EU sanctions against Russia, warning in the Sunday Times that Moscow should be held accountable if it was confirmed that MH17 was downed by a missile fired from an area held by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

The European Union has so far hit 72 Ukraine and Russian figures with travel bans and asset freezes over the crisis, but divisions over how far to go given some member states' close economic ties with Russia has left Brussels trailing Washington which wants the bloc to do much more.

Earlier on Sunday, a top Ukrainian rebel leader said that the pro-Russian fighters will guarantee the safety of international monitors at the Malaysian jet's crash site if Kiev agrees to a truce.

"We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement," the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's deputy premier Andrei Purgin said in a statement.

He urged Kiev to "immediately conclude such an agreement" with the rebels.

Failure to do so would give the impression that the government is made up of "dangerous lunatics, bloodthirsty maniacs (who are) dangerous not only for the residents of Donbass but also for the world community," Purgin warned.

Purgin's statement came as the international community piled pressure on Russia to get the Moscow-backed rebels to grant investigators full access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet.


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