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« Reply #195 on: Aug 26, 2014, 09:41 AM »

Ukraine and Russian Leaders Meet, after Kiev Captures Moscow Troops

by Naharnet Newsdesk
26 August 2014, 08:12

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine hold key talks Tuesday with little hopes for a breakthrough in resolving the raging conflict pitting Kiev against pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

Hours before the crunch talks, Kiev ratcheted up tensions by releasing footage purporting to show 10 Russian soldiers captured on its territory who a Moscow military source claimed had crossed into Ukraine "by accident."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian leader malignant tumor Pig Putin arrived in Minsk for a meeting with top EU officials and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus, in a bid to defuse tensions that some fear could trigger all-out war between Kiev and and its Soviet master Moscow.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice slammed Russia for "military incursions" into Ukraine using artillery, air defense systems, tanks and troops, that she said represented a "significant escalation" in the conflict.

"Repeated Russian incursions into Ukraine unacceptable. Dangerous and inflammatory," she wrote on Twitter.

Kiev's security service said paratroopers from Russia's 98th airborne division were captured about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

Ukrainian media on Tuesday aired footage purporting to show the captured Russian paratroopers confessing to entering Ukraine in armored convoys.

"We traveled here in columns not along the roads but across the fields," says one of the men who identifies himself as corporal Ivan Milchakov from the 331st parachute regiment based in central Russia.

"I didn't even see when we crossed the border."

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency raging in its east, but this is the first time Ukrainian authorities have claimed to have captured soldiers from Russia's regular army.

"Officially, they are at exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality, they are participating in military aggression against Ukraine", Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on his Facebook page.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the rebellion in Ukraine and demands Kiev halt its punishing offensive.

A Russian defense ministry source described the captured soldiers Tuesday as having crossed into Ukraine "by accident".

The soldiers had been "taking part in patrolling a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border; they crossed it most likely by accident, on an unequipped, unmarked section", Russian news agencies quoted the source as saying.

On the ground there appeared no end in sight to the four months of conflict that has already claimed some 2,200 lives and has sent tensions between Russia and the West soaring to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Ukraine's forces accused Russian troops of trying to open a "new front" after an armored convoy crossed onto government-held territory Monday in the south of Donetsk region.

An AFP journalist reported seeing smoke rising from the town of Novoazovsk close to the Russian border, where Ukraine's military said fighting was raging with pro-Russian rebels.

Local authorities in the main rebel bastion of Donetsk said three civilians were killed in shelling overnight as the army pummels insurgent fighters hunkered down there.

The Ukrainian military meanwhile said that 12 soldiers had been killed and 19 wounded in the past 24 hours.

Fighting has intensified in the run-up to the key talks in Minsk with the rebels appearing to launch a counteroffensive after losing swathes of territory to a push by government forces.

It was unclear whether Poroshenko and Putin would hold bilateral talks during the meeting in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

The two met briefly in France at ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at the beginning of June.

Officials from the EU and Russian-led Customs Union were set to discuss the crisis as well as trade following the signing of key political and economic agreements by Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders with the European Union in June.

It was the refusal by former president Viktor Yanukovych to ink the EU deal last year, instead choosing to favor Moscow's economic bloc, that sparked the protests that eventually led to his ouster and set in motion a chain of events that has seen the Russian annexation of Crimea and the pro-Moscow insurgency in the east.

As Ukraine's political transition continues, Poroshenko on Monday announced long-awaited early parliamentary elections for October 26.

The Kremlin also ratcheted up the pressure by announcing plans to send another aid convoy into eastern Ukraine "this week".

Russia unilaterally sent about 230 lorries carrying what it claimed was 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held city of Lugansk on Friday after accusing Kiev of intentionally delaying the mission. Kiev condemned the move as a "direct invasion".

Some 400,000 people have fled their homes since April in fighting that has left residents in some besieged rebel-held cities without water or power for weeks.

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« Reply #196 on: Aug 27, 2014, 05:45 AM »

Kiev Reports Movement of Tanks, Heavy Weapons from Russia

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 13:31

Kiev on Wednesday said a massive convoy of tanks and heavy weapons from Russia was travelling towards a government-held town in restive east Ukraine.

A convoy of "up to 100" tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers was seen traveling on a road toward Telmanove, a town about 80 kilometers south of rebel stronghold Donetsk and 20 kilometers from the Russian border, Ukraine's army said in a statement.

The army did not give details about the personnel on board the vehicles or when the column is thought to have entered Ukraine.

A military source told Agence France Presse that the convoy had come from Russia.

"We believe that this is Russian equipment. You cannot buy 100 tanks at a market in Donetsk or Lugansk," the source said.

"Of course they have been moved from across the border," he added.

It is unclear if this column is the same as an armored convoy identified by Kiev earlier this week as having crossed from Russia's Rostov region to Ukraine's restive southern Donetsk region.

On Wednesday, AFP journalists traveling on the same road heading south to Telmanove said they traces of tank tracks and heard explosions.

Ukrainian military also said that a smaller group of vehicles had crossed the border from Russia about 110 kilometers east of Donetsk and traveled on to the rebel stronghold.

The convoy included "six Grad rocket launchers, eight covered Kamaz (trucks) and two Ural trucks with manpower," the statement said.

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

Russia, Ukraine Talks End without Major Breakthrough

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 07:07

Talks between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine apparently failed to make a major breakthrough towards ending brutal fighting in east Ukraine Wednesday as strongman malignant tumor Pig Putin played down the entry by his troops into the former Soviet state.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the malignant tumor sat down for a crunch one-on-one in Minsk after marathon talks involving top EU officials as tensions spiked after Moscow admitted for the first time that its troops had crossed into Ukraine.

Poroshenko said there were "some results" but there seemed to be no significant compromises to help end four months of clashes between government forces and pro-Russian fighters that some fear could spill over into all-out war between the two neighbors.

The Russian leader said he would "do everything" to help a future peace process but did little to soothe tensions when he shrugged off Kiev's claims it had captured 10 Russian troops on its territory, with military sources in Moscow earlier saying they crossed over "by accident".

"I have not yet received a report from the defense ministry. But from what I have heard, they were patrolling the border and could have ended up on Ukrainian territory," the malignant tumor snorted at journalists, adding that Ukrainian troops had previously crossed into Russia.

"I am hoping that there won't be any problems with the Ukrainian side over this case."

Poroshenko said all sides "without exception" agreed to a Kiev peace plan but demanded actions not words after the meeting -- that also included the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus -- pointing to an agreement for talks on border controls and between army chiefs.

"We demand decisive actions which can help bring peace to Ukraine," he said in a statement.

Over four months of brutal fighting in east Ukraine have killed more than 2,200 people and forced over 400,000 to flee their homes.

On Tuesday it was announced that the Russian economy is nearing recession. At the same time it was reported that the Ukrainian currency slid to a new record low against the dollar.

On the ground, battles raged in east Ukraine. An AFP journalist reported fierce shelling in a town close to the Russian border where Kiev accuses Moscow of trying to open up a "new front" into government-held territory.

- Soldiers captured -

Tensions spiraled just hours ahead of the meeting after Ukraine's military released footage purporting to show Russian paratroopers captured on Ukrainian territory about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

"They crossed (the border) most likely by accident, on an unequipped, unmarked section", a Russian defense ministry source told Russian news agencies.

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency -- charges the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's forces accused Russian troops of trying to open a "new front" after an armored convoy crossed onto government-held territory Monday in the south of the Donetsk region.

AFP journalists reported shelling in Novoazovsk, a town on the coast of the Azov sea, and had to briefly take shelter in the city hall together with the mayor.

Kiev also accused Russian army helicopters of launching a ferocious missile attack on a Ukrainian border position further to the north, killing four border guards and bringing the death toll to 12 soldiers in the past 24 hours.

Rebels have announced a counteroffensive in recent days and a top rebel chief dismissed any chance of agreeing to a "fake" ceasefire with Kiev.

Local authorities in Donetsk said Tuesday that three civilians were killed in shelling as the army pummeled insurgent fighters.

- Gas talks? -

Officials from the EU and the Russian-led Customs Union in Minsk also discussed trade issues after Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders signed a landmark deal with the European Union in June that riled Russia.

The refusal by Kiev's former president Viktor Yanukovych to ink the EU deal last year in favor of Moscow's economic bloc sparked the protests that eventually led to his flight and set off a chain of events that saw Russia annex Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and the pro-Moscow insurgency.

The malignant tumor said that Russia and Ukraine agreed to restart gas talks after Moscow turned off the taps to Kiev in June over a bitter pricing dispute.

Malignant tumor Pig Putin also claimed to have reached "certain agreements" with Poroshenko on sending aid to east Ukraine, following the announcement Monday that Russia was planning to send another aid convoy into eastern Ukraine "this week".

Russia unilaterally sent about 230 lorries carrying 1,800 tonnes of "humanitarian" aid to the rebel-held city of Lugansk on Friday in a move Kiev called an "invasion."


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« Reply #197 on: Aug 27, 2014, 06:14 AM »


Ukraine crisis: Nato plans east European bases to counter Russia

Nato chief announces move in response to Ukraine crisis and says alliance is dealing with a new Russian military approach

Ian Traynor in Brussels
The Guardian, Wednesday 27 August 2014      

Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter malignant tumor Pig Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations's summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine's security, "modernise" its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

Rasmussen said: "We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it's our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.

"In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east."

Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance's response so far.

But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.

The Cardiff summit is likely to come up with a formula, alliance sources said, which would avoid the term "permanent" for the new bases. But the impact will be to have constantly manned Nato facilities east of what used to be the iron curtain.

"It can be on a rotation basis, with a very high frequency. The point is that any potential aggressor should know that if they were to even think of an attack against a Nato ally they will meet not only soldiers from that specific country but they will meet Nato troops. This is what is important," said Rasmussen.

The only Nato headquarters east of the old cold war frontier is at Szczecin, on Poland's Baltic coast. Sources said this was likely to be the hub for the new deployments. Air and naval plans had been completed, but the issue of international land forces in the east was proving trickier to agree upon.

Asked whether there would be permanent international deployments under a Nato flag in east Europe, Rasmussen said: "The brief answer is yes. To prevent misunderstanding I use the phrase 'for as long as necessary'. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan."

Rasmussen said the forces could be deployed within hours.

Nato has clearly been caught napping by the Russian president's well prepared advances in Ukraine since February and is scrambling to come up with strategies for a new era in which Russia has gone from being a "strategic partner" of the alliance to a hostile actor perfecting what the alliance terms "hybrid warfare".

Rasmussen, whose term as Nato chief is coming to an end, said: "We have to face the reality that Russia does not consider Nato a partner. Russia is a nation that unfortunately for the first time since the second world war has grabbed land by force. Obviously we have to adapt to that." In an interview with the Guardian and five other European newspapers, he said: "It is safe to say that nobody had expected Russia to grab land by force. We also saw a remarkable change in the Russian military approach and capability since, for instance, the Georgian war in 2008.

"We have seen the Russians improve their ability to act swiftly. They can within a very, very, short time convert a major military exercise into an offensive military operation."

Rasmussen reiterated that the Russians had massed in their thousands on Ukraine's eastern borders, and had been firing artillery into Ukraine. His information was based on Nato's own intelligence and "multiple reports".

But Nato officials admitted that the intelligence was impaired by a lack of solid information from the ground. "We can only watch from 23 miles up," said an official.

Rasmussen said: "We have reports from multiple sources showing quite a lively Russian involvement in destabilising eastern Ukraine.

"We have seen artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine. We have seen a Russian military buildup along the border. Quite clearly, Russia is involved in destabilising eastern Ukraine … You see a sophisticated combination of traditional conventional warfare mixed up with information and primarily disinformation operations. It will take more than Nato to counter such hybrid warfare effectively."

If western leaders have been surprised and also impressed by the sudden display of Russian military prowess, Ukraine, by contrast, is in a pitiful condition militarily, according to Nato officials.

"If we are two steps behind the Russians, the Ukrainians are 16 steps behind," said a Nato source recently in Kiev. "Their generals just want to blow everything up. But it's not a shooting war, it's an information war."

In further moves certain to rile the malignant tumor, Nato is to step up its aid to, and collaboration with, the Ukrainian military.

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, is to attend the Cardiff summit and will be the sole non-Nato head of state to negotiate with alliance leaders. Four "trust funds" are to be established to finance Ukraine's military logistics, command and control structures, and cyber defences, and to pay the armed forces' pensions.

"Ukraine follows its own path. That will be demonstrated at the summit because we will have a Nato-Ukraine summit meeting," said Rasmussen. "It is actually what we will decide to do at the summit, to help them build the capacity of their security sector, modernise it."

The summit will also grapple with the perennial question of reduced European defence spending at a time of intense instability on the continent's eastern and southern borders as well as the growing US exasperation with Europe's reluctance to fund its own security properly.

"Since the end of the cold war we have lived in relatively good weather. Now we are faced with a profound climate change. That requires more investment," said Rasmussen. "Politicians have tried to harvest the peace dividend after the end of the cold war. That's understandable. But now we are in a completely new security situation."


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« Reply #198 on: Aug 27, 2014, 09:11 AM »

Polish PM Says 'Russian Units' Operating in Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 August 2014, 17:55

Poland's prime minister said Wednesday there is evidence that regular units of the Russian army are operating in Ukraine, according to information from NATO and Polish intelligence.

"No one can take seriously talk of separatists in Ukraine at this point," Prime Minister Donald Tusk told parliament regarding the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

Moscow has denied arming the pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting Kiev's rule for four months in an increasingly bloody conflict.

But the Kremlin was forced to admit Tuesday that a number of its troops captured by Ukrainian forces had crossed the border "by accident".

"There is information, which in the last few hours has received additional hard confirmation, that regular Russian units are operating in eastern Ukraine," Tusk said.

"This NATO information -- that has also been confirmed by our intelligence service -- is now practically unambiguous."

He spoke after Ukraine reported Wednesday that a huge convoy of tanks and weaponry from Russia was moving through the southeast of the country.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen meanwhile on Wednesday once again accused Russia of escalating the crisis including through direct action against Ukrainian forces with "artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine".

Poland has been following the Ukraine events closely, concerned about the impact of Moscow's actions there on its security.

Tusk said Wednesday his intention was not to "heighten the sense of threat but rather to heighten the sense of awareness, and of preparation."


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« Reply #199 on: Aug 28, 2014, 05:48 AM »

U.S.: Russian Troops 'Intervening Directly' in Ukraine Fighting

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 10:13

The United States accused Russia Thursday of being directly involved in the Ukraine conflict after pro-Kremlin rebels seized swathes of territory from government forces in a new southeastern front.

"An increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory," the U.S. ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt wrote on Twitter.

"Russia has also sent its newest air defence systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine and is now directly involved in the fighting," he said. 

After weeks of government offensives that have seen troops push deep into the last rebel bastions in the industrial east of Ukraine, the tide has turned dramatically in the four-month conflict.

Kiev called on NATO for help after a rebel counter-offensive from the southeast border with Russia appeared to smash through an army blockade around the separatist stronghold of  Donetsk and threaten the government-held port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk blasted Russian President  malignant tumor Pig Putin for having "deliberately unleashed a war in Europe" and called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, a called echoed by Lithuania.

- Russian soldiers 'on holiday' -

A top rebel leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, on Wednesday admitted Russian troops were fighting alongside his insurgents, but said they were on "holiday" after volunteering to join the battle.

There has been increasing concern in Kiev and the West of Russia's direct involvement in the conflict -- a charge Moscow has repeatedly denied.

The spiralling tensions come after Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Putin on Tuesday held their first meeting in three months but failed to achieve any concrete breakthrough despite talk of a peace roadmap.

French President Francois Hollande warned it would be "intolerable and unacceptable" if Russian troops were on the ground after German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded an explanation from malignant tumor Pig Putin over the reports.

European security body OSCE called a special meeting to discuss "Russia violations in Ukraine" at 0900 GMT.

A volunteer pro-Kiev commander on Wednesday said government troops were surrounded in the key transport hub of Ilovaysk southeast of Donetsk towards the Russian border.

Ukraine's military also claimed a Russian battalion had set up its headquarters near a village in the same area.

Russian has repeatedly denied it is involved in the insurrection in the former Soviet state, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday the Kremlin was "not interested in breaking up" Ukraine.

Agence France Presse journalists reported heavy shelling in Donetsk on Thursday, with local authorities saying 11 civilians had lost their lives in 24 hours.

The United Nations estimates the conflict has killed over 2,200 people and forced more than 400,000 to flee since April.

- Government troops surrounded -

AFP journalists on Wednesday saw signs of a hasty retreat by Ukrainian troops after they seemed to abandon a key road southeast of Donetsk to the Russian border.

Locals told AFP the troops left on Monday after shelling from the direction of the Russian border about 30 kilometres away.

Ukraine's military conceded that "militants together with Russian occupants" had taken control of Starobesheve, some 30 kilometres from Donetsk, as well as a string of villages near Novoazovsk, a town close the Russian border on the Azov Sea where clashes had raged for days.

Commander Semen Semenchenko, head of the pro-Kiev volunteer "Donbass battalion," posted on Facebook that troops were trapped by rebels in Ilovaysk and were running out of ammunition.

On Wednesday, Yatsenyuk said it was time for NATO to act, calling for "practical help and... crucial decisions" when it holds a summit in Wales next week.

Russia vehemently opposes closer ties between Ukraine and NATO. Concerns that Kiev could be drawn closer into the Western security alliance are seen as the main motivation behind Russia's actions in recent months.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview Wednesday that the alliance was preparing a rapid response unit to deploy forces swiftly in eastern Europe in the face of what he has warned was a major Russian troop buildup.

After Tuesday's meeting with  malignant tumor Pig Putin, Poroshenko  said all sides had "without exception" agreed to his peace plan, and that he and the Russian leader had discussed the "necessity of closing Ukraine's borders" to prevent the movement of "equipment, mercenaries, and ammunition".

But malignant tumor Pig Putin insisting discussing any ceasefire was not Moscow's "business" but an internal Ukrainian affair.

He played down reports that 10 Russian paratroopers had been captured on Ukrainian soil, backing his military's claims that they had strayed across the border by accident.

But opposition media in Russia reported on hushed-up funerals for two elite paratroopers, suggesting they had been killed in action in Ukraine.

A group of wives and mothers of Russian paratroopers plan to hold a rally Thursday  demanding authorities pull their loved ones from Ukraine.

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

Ukrainian rebel leader: Russian soldiers are fighting among us - video

The Guardian
08/28/2013

The prime minister of rebel group the Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, says serving Russian soldiers are fighting among rebel forces in Ukraine. The separatist leader says claims of a Russian invasion in eastern Ukraine are an attempt to justify the defeats of the Ukrainian army

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/aug/28/ukrainian-rebel-leader-russian-soldiers-fighting-donetsk-zakharchenko-video

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

Russia accused of new military incursions into Ukrainian territory

The malignant tumor denies discussion of 'peace plan', saying Ukraine is 'not our business'; Russians demand to know – are we at war?

Shaun Walker in Kiev
theguardian.com, Wednesday 27 August 2014 14.53 BST      

Ukraine has accused Russia of new military incursions into its territory, a day after hours of talks between the two countries' presidents appeared to yield little in the way of concrete results.

Malignant tumor Pig Putin and Petro Poroshenko had met in Minsk on Tuesday, speaking privately for two hours after several hours of broader round-table talks including EU representatives and the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan. But the two leaders had very different readings of what was agreed.

Ukrainian president Poroshenko claimed that all the heads of state present at the talks, including alignant tumor Pig Putin, had signed up to supporting his "peace plan", and also said that there was agreement that Ukrainian and Russian border guard services would meet soon to discuss the situation on the border.

Malignant tumor Pig Putin, however, said the discussions were "first and foremost [about] economic cooperation" and claimed that all talks about resolving the conflict should be between Kiev and representatives of the eastern regions.

"We did not discuss this matter substantively," said the malignant tumor. "Frankly snorting, we cannot discuss any conditions for a ceasefire or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk. This is not our business; it is a domestic matter of Ukraine itself."

Malignant tumor Pig Putin's snorts ignore the fact that the Ukraine has lost control of a section of the border and believes Russian arms and fighters are crossing freely to aid the rebels. There are also increasing fears that regular Russian army units are active in the east.

These have been bolstered with claims of secret funerals for Russian servicemen apparently killed in action in Ukraine, as well as the most concrete evidence yet: the capture of nine serving Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil. For the first time, sources in Russia's defence ministry admitted that there were soldiers in Ukraine, but said they had been part of a border patrol that had crossed into Ukrainian territory "by accident".

Malignant tumor Pig Putin admitted that Russian soldiers had been caught in Ukraine, but insisted they had crossed the border accidentally, and compared the incident to Ukrainian soldiers who have crossed the border to escape encirclement by rebel forces.

"After all, Ukrainian service members entered our territory with armoured equipment, and we didn't have any problems. I hope that in this case, there also will not be any problems with the Ukrainian side," said the malignant tumor.

Ukraine paraded some of the soldiers at a press conference in Kiev on WednesdayThe soldiers, dressed in military fatigues, said they had realised since their capture that Russian media was lying about the situation in Ukraine. However, given the circumstances, it was not possible to tell whether the men were speaking freely or under duress.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko claimed on Wednesday that more Russian soldiers had crossed into Ukraine in five armoured personnel carriers.

"Five armoured infantry carriers and one Kamaz truck entered Amvrosiyivka with men in them," Lysenko told journalists in Kiev.

"If this tactical group got lost and accidentally came into Ukraine like the paratroops of the 98th paratroop division then it remains for us to remind them that they can return to Russia, taking an easterly direction," said Lysenko.

Disquiet in Russia over the country's ambiguous role is beginning to grow, as more circumstantial evidence of military activity emerges. An editorial in the respected Russian daily Vedomosti on Wednesday said Russian officials had a responsibility to explain whether or not the country was at war.

"Is Russia fighting in Ukraine, and if it is, on what basis? If it's not, then who has been buried in these fresh graves, and who is being questioned by Ukrainian security services?"

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

Ukraine forces brace for fighting with pro-Russian troops at 'second front'

After crisis concentrated on Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, cities of Mariupol and Novoazovsk become latest battlegrounds

Oksana Grytsenko in Mariupol
theguardian.com, Thursday 28 August 2014 10.12 BST      

Ukrainian forces are digging in around the southern town of Mariupol, bracing for conflict with separatists after pro-Russian units seized a nearby town threatening to open up a second front in the war in the east.

A mixture of soldiers, police and volunteers are fortifying a checkpoint designed to defend the city of nearly 500,000 from pro-Russian forces who took control of part of the town of Novoazovsk, and are gradually moving towards Mariupol.

When civilian cars approach the exit of the city leading to Novoazovsk, pro-Ukrainian fighters warn them to go back for their own safety. Ukrainian fighters falling back from Novoazovsk say they have not totally given up the town but are outnumbered by their adversaries.

"The right bank of the river in Novoazovsk is ours and the left one is not," Leonid Matiukhin, Ukraine's army spokesman, told the Guardian.

"This is an open war of Russia against Ukraine," said a soldier from Dnipro 1 volunteer battalion. "Ask our generals why we still have neither artillery nor aviation support."

The new clashes are significant because so far the six-month crisis has been concentrated on Crimea and two major cities in the east, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Mariupol is Ukraine's 10th-largest city and located about 30 miles (48km) from the Russian border. Several people were killed in clashes in April, but since then the city has been calm and under government control. Now however, the Ukrainians claim that Russian hardware and soldiers have crossed the border to aid the attack on Novoazovsk.

Russia has denied its troops and hardware are in eastern Ukraine. When Ukraine captured 10 paratroopers in the east earlier this month, Moscow said they had got lost and strayed deep into Ukrainian territory.

"There is military equipment in Novoazovsk which came across the border two days ago from Russia," one pro-Ukrainian fighter told Reuters. "The equipment is carrying the flags of the DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] rebels but they are regular Russian forces."

Another fighter who had fallen back on Mariupol told the Guardian that the Russian army had been shelling Ukrainian troops around Novoazovsk for weeks before storming across the border.

He said the Russians had hastily painted the licence plates of their armoured vehicles with white paint and the letters DNR.

"Their tanks are advancing and the howitzers are backing them – these are their tactics," said Aleksey, another Dnipro 1 fighter, whose face was covered by a balaclava. Several villages near the Russian border are totally controlled by Russians, he added.

The mood in Mariupol, where the regional governor moved his office from rebel-controlled Donetsk, is tense but calm. The city authorities have been checking the availability of bomb shelters in basements and factories.

The Guardian saw dozens of Ukrainian armoured vehicle carriers entering Mariupol. Many refugees who fled to the city from embattled Donetsk, Makiivka, Gorlovka and Illovaisk are rapidly fleeing Mariupol, with the number of cars shrinking on the city's roads.

Fighters of Azov, another volunteer Ukrainian battalion, claim that while two months ago Russian nationals made up half of those captured in fighting, now 100% of captives have Russian passports.

"There used to be the special Russian groups that were training the rebels, but now we have the regular Russian army forces," said Oleg Odnorozhenko, deputy head of Azov.

The Azov fighters, mostly from Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, adhere to a far-right ideology. They claim they have some heavy weapons and anticipate receiving more from the Ukrainian government soon.

But as supporters of the pro-European Maidan protests last winter, they feel betrayed by western allies, who they expected to supply Ukraine with weapons instead of using sanctions against the Kremlin.

"The west is acting not rightly – to put it mildly – allowing the malignant tumor to increase the aggression," Odnorozhenko said. "No sanctions will force the malignant tumor to refrain from his new Soviet project."


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« Reply #200 on: Aug 28, 2014, 12:07 PM »

Ukraine Accuses Russia of 'Direct Invasion,' Moscow Denies

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 15:40

Ukraine's ambassador to the OSCE accused Russia Thursday of a "direct invasion" but Moscow's envoy denied reports that Russian troops were active in the conflict-torn east of the country.

"We registered a direct invasion by the Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine," Kiev's envoy Ihor Prokopchuk told journalists following a special meeting of the European security body to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine.

"The situation has significantly aggravated," he said in English, citing the capture "by regular Russian forces" of the key southeastern town of Novoazovsk and several other surrounding towns.

He described Russia's latest moves as a repeat of its strategy in the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in March after initially denying its troops were there.

"It is the same scenario that is played out now in the eastern part of Ukraine... The scenario was tested in Crimea and what we witness today is the invasion and direct entry of Russian forces into the eastern part of Ukraine."

A senior NATO official also said on Thursday that "well over a thousand" Russian troops were operating inside Ukraine.

"They support separatists, fighting with them and fighting amongst them," the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the supply of arms by Russia had increased in both "volume and quality".

The official, who was speaking to reporters ahead of a NATO summit next week in Britain, said the situation was made even more worrying because the key route between Donetsk and Novoazovsk, on the Sea of Azov close to the Russian border, had been cut off by pro-Kremlin forces.

"The supply line is cut" for the Ukrainian army, he said.

The official warned that the latest events in Ukraine "have made clear that the security paradigm in Europe has fundamentally changed" in the face of a "very aggressive Russia".

He said the past weeks have seen a "real upsurge in Russia's activity" in the flashpoint region, including the supply of weapons, ammunition, special forces training, intelligence and logistical support.

"All this has been systematically denied, adding confusion," he said.

Ambassadors to NATO will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday morning to discuss the aforementioned reports, a diplomatic source said.

The meeting of the 28 ambassadors will take place at NATO headquarters at 0700 GMT and will be followed by talks with an envoy to the alliance from Ukraine, the source said on Thursday

But Russia's ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Andrey Kelin, insisted however that no active Russian military personnel had crossed the border into the former Soviet state.

"There are no Russian soldiers" in eastern Ukraine, he said.

"There is only one unit of Russian soldiers as they unintentionally crossed the border a couple days ago," he said, referring to 10 paratroopers that Kiev said it had captured on Tuesday.

And Russia's defense ministry later on Thursday denied U.S. and Kiev claims of its troops' direct involvement in the escalating fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Kremlin insurgents in the separatist east.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies that the "information has no relation to reality" and that army units believed by Washington to have crossed into Ukraine were conducting "tactical training exercises on their own and outlying ranges."

The defense ministry spokesman said Russian army and paratrooper forces "were indeed capable of successfully performing assignments associated with the armed protection of the country's territorial inviolability."

He added that Russia's ongoing series of training missions in regions that include those near Ukraine "were the normal work of any army".

Also on Thursday, Ukraine said its forces had clashed with a reconnaissance group that had entered its territory from the Russian-controlled Crimean peninsula.

The National Security and Defense Council said the fighting had flared Wednesday in the Kherson region of Ukraine just north of Crimea, and accused the Russian military of "establishing positions" nearby in the peninsula.

The claims sparked fears that Moscow could be plotting an offensive towards the Black Sea peninsula after Kiev accused Russian troops of seizing territory along Ukraine's eastern border, some 450 kilometers (280 miles away).

Crimea, which Russia annexed in March in the face of Western outrage, straddles the Azov and Black seas and is connected by a narrow strip of land with Ukraine's Kherson region.

"On Wednesday evening border guards from... Kherson's Chervoniy Chaban (village) department engaged in a battle with a reconnaissance group from the territory of Crimea," a statement from the security council said.

"Border guards held their positions and forced the scouts to return to the peninsula," it said.

Earlier this week three Russian airforce helicopters ventured some 500 meters from Crimea into Ukrainian-held territory, Kiev said.

Ukrainian security spokesman Andriy Lysenko also said the Russian military was "establishing positions" in the north of the peninsula.

"There is information being distributed among the local population of the possibility of military actions," he said on Wednesday.

Russia annexed Crimea in March after deploying troops to take over Ukrainian military bases and oversee a disputed referendum that saw residents vote to join Moscow rule.

Russia now fully controls the peninsula after the Ukrainian military and navy withdrew from the region without a fight.

Ukraine's Kherson region has not seen any fighting since the conflict between pro-Russian rebels and government forces erupted in eastern Ukraine in April.

Crimea is connected to Russia only by an overloaded ferry link, and a planned bridge is likely to take years and cost billions of dollars.

Crimea's vehemently pro-Kremlin deputy governor Rustam Temirgaliyev fueled concerns that the fighting at the border could now spread west towards the peninsula.

Temirgaliyev wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that after capturing Novoazovsk the rebel offensive would continue along the coast toward Crimea through the port cities of Mariupol and Berdyansk.

Commenting on the latest developments, the European Union said it was "extremely concerned" by reports of an incursion by Russian troops into Ukraine.

"We are extremely concerned by the latest developments, including reports on what is happening on the ground," Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said at a news conference.

"We repeat our call on Russia to put an end to any form of border hostility and this obviously includes the flow of arms and military personnel into Ukraine," she said.

She said there was an urgent need for a political solution to the crisis on the eastern edge of the European Union.

Kocijancic said EU leaders would discuss the developments in Ukraine at a summit on Saturday that is primarily tasked with filling top EU jobs, including the successor for Ashton.

Immediately preceding the summit Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels, as well as EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

EU foreign ministers are also meeting Friday and Saturday in Milan for an informal meeting where the Ukrainian crisis will be discussed at length, Kocijancic said.

Ashton attended a summit in Minsk on Tuesday which was attended by both Poroshenko and the Russian malignant tumor, where the leaders failed to reach a breakthrough towards defusing the crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that European leaders will discuss the worsening Ukraine crisis and possible further sanctions against Russia.

"We have received reports of an increased presence of Russian soldiers and new unrest and advances by separatists in previously very quiet areas" of Ukraine, Merkel said.

Speaking to the media after a Berlin meeting with Balkan leaders, she said the Ukraine crisis "will be on the agenda of the council, and we will just have to ask 'how will we react?'"

"I want to say again... we want a diplomatic solution, and we will not let up on this, but we have to acknowledge that things have become more difficult and worsened again in recent days."

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, called Russian the malignant tumor called Pig Putin on Thursday to warn of "very serious consequences" after reports that Moscow had sent troops into Ukraine.

And British Prime Minister David Cameron warned Russia that it faces "further consequences" following reports that Moscow had sent troops into eastern Ukraine, which he said would be "completely unacceptable and illegal".

"We urge Russia to pursue a different path and to find a political solution to this crisis. If Russia does not, then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences," Cameron said in a statement.

"The malignant tumor  has said that Russia is willing to find a peaceful solution to the conflict but this is not credible when Russia is supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with arms and troops," Cameron said.

"It is simply not enough to engage in talks in Minsk, while Russian tanks continue to roll over the border into Ukraine," he said, referring to talks this week between the malignant tumor called Pig Putin and Poroshenko.

"Russia will be asked to explain why it has its troops inside Ukraine," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council.

"It's very clear that Russian regular troops are now in Ukraine."

Lithuania, meanwhile, also accused Russia of a military "invasion" of conflict-torn Ukraine and called for a United Nations Security Council meeting over the issue.

"Lithuania strongly condemns the obvious invasion of the territory of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Lithuania urges the U.N. Security Council to discuss this matter immediately."

The Baltic nation, which is a temporary member of the council, called on Russia "to immediately withdraw its military forces, weaponry and equipment from the sovereign territory of Ukraine".

Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations that it is sending troops into eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists in a now four-month-long conflict.

But Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told Agence France Presse on Thursday that "it is aggression and undeclared war, despite denials".

"Facts and NATO intelligence information make the denials less and less convincing," he added, calling on the West to provide military support for Ukraine.

The Kremlin was forced to admit Tuesday that a number of its troops captured by Ukrainian forces had crossed the border "by accident".

The three Baltic nations, which spent five decades under Soviet occupation until 1991, have been following the Ukraine events closely, concerned about the impact of Moscow's actions there on their security.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics for his part took to Twitter on Thursday to condemn Moscow's actions.

"Russian invasion in Ukraine must be considered by the U.N. Security Council as act of aggression, U.N. must react accordingly, this is war," he said.

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U.S. Military to Send Tanks to E. Europe for Drills

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 19:50

U.S. Army troops equipped with tanks will head to Eastern Europe soon to reassure NATO allies anxious over Russia's intervention in Ukraine, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

About 600 troops from the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are due to deploy in October to Poland and the Baltic states for training exercises with alliance members, replacing paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, said spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Hillman.

"It's a three month rotation," Hillman said. The drills are "focused on small unit and leader training."

Unlike the outgoing unit, the troops from the "Iron Horse brigade," based in Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy with M-1 Abrams tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, she said.

U.S. commanders have organized an array of exercises and training efforts on NATO's eastern border to reassure allies dismayed over Russia's support of separatists in Ukraine. Washington also has sent F-16 fighter jets to Poland and joined air policing missions over the Baltic states.

Kiev and Western countries on Thursday accused Russia of directly entering the fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow had sent combat units into the former Soviet state.

As the U.N. Security Council prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis, NATO said at least 1,000 Russian troops were on the ground backing pro-Moscow separatists who are fighting Kiev government forces.

NATO leaders have said the alliance must reevaluate its strategy and its troop deployments in light of the conflict in Ukraine.

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Italy's Renzi Calls Putin to Denounce 'Intolerable Escalation' in Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 19:20

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, called Russian President, the malignant tumor called Pig Putin, on Thursday to warn of "very serious consequences" after reports that Moscow had sent troops into Ukraine.

The premier said the "entry of Russian troops into Ukraine" is "an intolerable escalation which will lead to very serious consequences".

Renzi also expressed his "major concern" over the Ukraine crisis and "called for a swift return to the negotiating table", according to the statement issued by his office.

The Italian leader had met in recent days with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko. The two men will meet again during an EU summit in Brussels on Saturday.

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini meanwhile spoke to her Ukrainian counterpart Pavel Klimkin to assure him that the crisis would be at the center of discussions during an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers on Friday in Milan.

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Obama to Meet Top Security Aides amid Ukraine Crisis, Syria Deliberations

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 17:11

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet top national security aides on Thursday, amid accusations Russia has sent troops into Ukraine and as he deliberates possible strikes in Syria against Islamic State militants.

Obama will gather members of his National Security Council, which includes the secretaries of state and defense, intelligence chiefs and top military brass, in the secure Situation Room of the White House at 2000 GMT, officials said.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is traveling in Pennsylvania, will join the meeting by a remote secure line.

The session will take place after Ukraine accused Russia of a "direct invasion" of the eastern part of the country, allegations which will be the subject of an emergency U.N Security Council meeting at 1600 GMT on Thursday.

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

U.N. Chief Warns of Dangerous Escalation in Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 August 2014, 19:57

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is alarmed by reports of fighting in east Ukraine spreading southward and warned of a dangerous escalation, his spokesman said Thursday.

The United Nations is unable to confirm reports that hundreds of Russian troops had crossed into Ukraine to shore up pro-Moscow rebels, the spokesman added.

Ban "is alarmed by reports that fighting in eastern Ukraine has spread southward, near the border of the Sea of Azov and the Russian federation", he said.

"If confirmed, this will mark a dangerous escalation in the Ukrainian crisis."

The U.N. Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting from 1600 GMT on the crisis in Ukraine following NATO reports that over 1,000 Russian troops were fighting in Ukraine and an Ukrainian official described it as a "direct invasion" by Russia.

"The international community cannot allow the situation to escalate further nor can a continuation be allowed of the violence and destruction that the conflict has wrought in eastern Ukraine," said Ban.

The U.N. chief called on Ukraine and Russia to return to talks on ending the four-month conflict that has left more than 2,200 dead and brought East-West relations to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.


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« Reply #201 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:39 AM »

Ukraine Leader Says ‘Huge Loads of Arms’ Pour in From Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the interview with the official satellite channel Rossiya 24, Mr. Zakharchenko said that many former professional Russian soldiers had come to Ukraine as volunteers, out of a sense of duty. “Many of them have gone home, but the majority have remained here,” Mr. Zakharchenko said. “Unfortunately, some have been killed.”
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2014, 05:44 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #202 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:50 AM »


Obama ramps up Russia rhetoric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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« Reply #203 on: Aug 29, 2014, 05:59 AM »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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« Reply #204 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:06 AM »


US hurries to draw up response to Russia and Isis threats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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« Reply #205 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:15 AM »


Russians start asking: are we at war?

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

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

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

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

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

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

No information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

More funerals

Meanwhile, reports of new funerals continue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

RFE/RL’s Russian Service contributed to this report


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« Reply #206 on: Aug 29, 2014, 06:25 AM »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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« Reply #207 on: Aug 29, 2014, 07:55 AM »

NATO Chief Says Russia in 'Dangerous' Plot to Destabilize Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
29 August 2014, 14:32

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia on Friday to halt its "illegal" military actions in Ukraine, accusing it of a "dangerous" attempt to destabilize its western neighbor.

"We condemn in the strongest terms Russia's continued disregard of its international obligations," Rasmussen said after an emergency NATO meeting on the crisis.

Rasmussen said that despite Moscow's "hollow denials," it was clear that Russian troops and weapons have crossed the border into eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow rebels have been fighting government troops for four months.

"This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation," he said.

The NATO chief called the alleged incursion a "serious escalation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine".

"We urge Russia to cease its illegal military actions, stop its support to armed separatists, and take immediate and verifiable steps towards deescalation of this grave crisis," he added.

Kiev and the West have accused Russian troops of being behind a lightning counter-offensive that has seen the rebels seize swathes of territory from Ukrainian government forces, dramatically turning the tide in the four-month conflict.

NATO on Thursday said Russia had sent at least 1,000 troops inside Ukraine, along with air defense systems, artillery, tanks and armored vehicles, and had massed 20,000 troops near the border.

In a move certain to anger Kiev's former masters in Moscow, Rasmussen also said NATO was not closing the door to Ukraine's possible membership of the transatlantic alliance.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said earlier that the government was seeking to join NATO and would submit a bill to parliament to end the country's official "non-bloc" policy.

The bill, if passed, would forbid Ukraine from taking a decision on membership in "any other economic, political, or other unions" that would prevent it from eventually joining Western bodies such as the European Union or NATO.

"The adoption of this law would mean that Ukraine would be forbidden from membership in the Customs Union, as well as the Eurasian Union, or any other unions that are in essence nothing other than Russia's Soviet Union."

Yatsenyuk earlier this week asked NATO for "practical help" after the reports of the Russian troop presence emerged.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko is due to travel to a NATO summit in Wales next week where he is scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama.

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

Germany Sounds Ukraine Alarm as EU Mulls Next Move

by Naharnet Newsdesk
29 August 2014, 16:38

Germany warned Friday that the Ukraine crisis was spiraling "out of control", as European Union foreign ministers grappled with how to respond to what some termed a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

"The situation in Ukraine is entering a new dimension," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters on the sidelines of talks with his EU counterparts in Milan.

"All our hopes of deescalation have been disappointed and the situation is showing signs that it is now out of control."

The foreign ministers are meeting here on the eve of a summit of EU leaders which will consider further sanctions against Moscow and steps to support Ukraine in the hope of heading off a direct confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

That prospect has begun to look like an explosive possibility following NATO's announcement this week that 1,000 Russian troops are fighting alongside pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine -- a depiction of events that is disputed by the Kremlin.

Acknowledging that international sanctions approved to date have had little impact on Russian President malignant tumor Pig Putin, most of the ministers appeared to regard further measures as inevitable, although it was unclear whether Saturday's summit would approve new steps immediately or simply instruct officials in Brussels to prepare them.

Sweden's Carl Bildt said Russia had to be sent a clear message that its incursions into its neighbor's territory were unacceptable.

"This is the second invasion of Ukraine in a year. We have to call a spade a spade and stop playing around," Bildt said.

Echoing a recurring theme in comments here, Bildt's Danish counterpart Martin Lidegaard said the EU now needed to rethink its entire relationship with Russia.

"We think it calls for a reaction that Russia is now with troops on Ukrainian ground," Lidegaard said.

"In the short term we have to look at further sanctions and in the longer term we have to look at measures to reduce our energy dependency on Russia."

Belgium's Didier Reynders said any new measures would have to be sufficiently strong to force malignant tumor Pig Putin to the negotiating table. "We have to recognize that sanctions, up to now, have failed," he said.

Dutch minister Fran Timmermans admitted it was not certain if the EU leaders would be able to agree on new sanctions. "I'm not sure but this cannot remain unanswered," he said.

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

Ukraine Conflict 'is a War,' Says Polish FM

by Naharnet Newsdesk
29 August 2014, 16:02

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Friday described the deadly fighting in neighboring Ukraine as a "war", as the West accused Moscow of direct involvement in the escalating conflict.

"If it looks like a war, sounds like a war and kills like a war, it is a war," Sikorski wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet from his Swedish counterpart that read: "This is the 2nd Russian invasion of Ukraine within a year".


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« Reply #208 on: Aug 30, 2014, 05:07 AM »

Defiant Malignant tumor Pig Putin 'Eyes pro-Russian Statelet' in Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
29 August 2014, 21:04

Russian strongman, the malignant tumor called Pig Putin, first used "Novorossiya" -- the loaded Tsarist-era name for what is now southern and eastern Ukraine -- just after annexing Crimea from Ukraine in March, sparking outrage in Kiev.

The Kremlin made a reference to the term again on Friday when it released the malignant tumor's address to Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists, pointedly calling them defenders of "Novorossiya" (New Russia).

For analysts, this marks a significant development in nearly five months of conflict engulfing eastern Ukraine, with the malignant tumor sending a clear message of his determination to carve out a new statelet at all costs.

"The malignant tumor has definitively decided for himself the issue of Novorossiya," said Alexander Morozov, a political analyst critical of the Kremlin.

"He believes that Novorossiya should exist," Morozov told Agence France Presse, adding that Moscow would for the next few months work on defining the borders of the planned territory.

Konstantin Kalachev, head of the Political Expert Group think tank in Moscow, added: "It is quite obvious that Novorossiya will happen."

The malignant tumor's first mention of Novorossiya came in a televised call-in show with Russians in April when he snorted that eastern and southern Ukraine were once part of Russia but were then transferred to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.

"Why they did this, only God only knows," he said, recalling the lands had been won by Russia in famous battles led by Catherine the Great.

The malignant tumor used similar logic to justify Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, saying Moscow was simply righting the wrong by returning a peninsula which was part of the Soviet Union before 1954.

His spokesman defended the use of the word in the Kremlin statement issued Friday.

"That is how the territory has been called historically and if you look at history it has been called Novorossiya in the course of several centuries," Dmitry Peskov said on radio.

"This is an absolutely Russian name of this territory. This is how in Russia these lands were and are called."

Malignant tumor Pig Putin's latest use of the term comes amid a dramatic counter-offensive in east Ukraine, where rebels have snatched swathes of southeastern territory from government forces in recent days, halting the advance of Kiev's troops.

The West and Kiev say Russian troops are not only behind the lightning operation but are also fighting on the ground alongside ragtag formations of Kremlin-backed separatists against Kiev's forces -- claims which Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Independent political analyst Maria Lipman said the latest developments are a clear message fromthe malignant tumor to the West: "I am ready to go very far and you?"

"The malignant tumor Pig Putin literally shows the West that Ukraine is in the orbit of his vital interests," she said.

Several rounds of Western sanctions have delivered a blow to Russia's faltering economy but have not deterred the malignant tumor who has ordered a virtual embargo on EU and U.S. food imports.

His tough stance has been met with approval at home, with his domestic ratings soaring to record highs after the annexation of Crimea.

Some analysts suggest that the malignant tumor may now be seeking to mold Ukraine's rebel-held regions into a statelet similar to Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniestr.

Holger Schmieding, London-based chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said that Moscow's latest manoeuvres in Ukraine indicated that Russia may be looking at carving "a Transdniestr-style bandit fiefdom out of the Donbass region to maintain a permanent foothold in Ukraine beyond Crimea."

Kalachev said the malignant tumor appeared driven by a visceral desire to punish Ukraine after the ex-Soviet country chose to sign political and trade deals with the EU, a move seen as a snub to Moscow.

The analyst described the Ukraine crisis as the malignant tumor Pig Putin's mission to vindicate himself and prove he is "the only leader with balls."

"He needs a vassal state."


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« Reply #209 on: Aug 30, 2014, 05:10 AM »

Moscow Brands Soldiers' Mothers Group 'Foreign Agent'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
29 August 2014, 20:39

Russia on Friday officially labelled a regional rights group that monitors abuses in the armed forces a "foreign agent" as Kiev and the West claimed Russian troops are involved in fighting in Ukraine.

The Russian Justice Ministry added a group called Soldiers' Mothers of Saint Petersburg to its register of "foreign agents". The ruling means the group must use the wording in its paperwork and follow stricter rules.

Russia introduced a law 2012 requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity with even a modicum of foreign funding to register as "foreign agents", a term thick with connotations of Cold War espionage.

Rights groups have battled ever since to avoid using the label. After most refused to register voluntarily, the justice ministry said it would add them to the registry automatically.

Alexander Gorbachev, an activist from Soldiers' Mothers of Saint Petersburg, said the ruling would "of course make our work more complicated".

"It will be even more difficult for us to receive information from the army, from military structures," he told Agence France Presse. "People will still turn to us but helping them will be much harder."

The West and Kiev said this week that Russian regular troops are on the ground in Ukraine, fighting alongside ragtag formations of pro-Russian separatists.

Moscow has denied the claim even though indications have multiplied over the past few days that Russian soldiers have been deployed in the region.

Citing military commanders, a wife of a paratrooper from central Russia told Agence France Presse on Thursday that some 350 soldiers from the town of Kostroma had been sent on military drills close to the border with Ukraine but had then been deployed "outside Russia".

She said some 15 wounded soldiers had returned to the town this week along with several body bags.

Gorbachev of Soldiers' Mothers of Saint Petersburg said that his group did not have any reliable information on Russian soldiers being wounded or killed in Ukraine.


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