Thursday, September 18, 2014

Russia, Ukraine and Europe have been into Vladimir Putin's black hole of fear

 Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Alexey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/EPA

18 September 2014 ( Mikhail Shishkin theguardian) The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy, start a war. We are back in Soviet times of total lies. I remember that as a child I read about black holes in a popular science magazine about space and it scared me. The idea of our world being sucked into these breaks in the universe kept bothering me until I realised that it all was so far away that it would not reach us. But then a black hole tore our world very close to us. It started sucking in houses, roads, cars, planes, people and whole countries. Russia and Ukrainehave already fallen into this black hole. And it is now sucking in Europe in front of our eyes. This hole in the universe is the soul of one very lonely ageing man. The black hole is his fear. TV images of the demise of Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi were messages that fate sent him from exotic countries. Protest rallies that gathered hundreds of thousands of people in Moscow ruined his inauguration and signalled approaching danger. The disgraceful flight of Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year set off alarm bells: if Ukrainians could oust their gang, it could serve as an example for the brotherly nation. The instinct of self-preservation kicked in immediately. The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy, start a war. The state of war is the regime's elixir of life. A nation in patriotic ecstasy becomes one with its "national leader", while any dissenters can be declared "national traitors". 
The whole article is available at

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ukrainian Defense Minister Says Kyiv Receiving Weapons

September 14, 2014 (Based on reporting by Reuters, UNIAN and Interfax) Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey says that unnamed NATO member countries are delivering weapons to Kyiv to fight pro-Russian separatists. Heletey said at a news conference in Kyiv on September 14 that he discussed weapons needs with NATO defense ministers at the alliance's summit in Wales on September 4-5. NATO officials have said the organization will not send "lethal assistance" to Ukraine, although member states may do so. Heletey said the weapons are needed to "stop" Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine and Western countries accuse Russia of sending troops and equipment to the insurgents in eastern Ukraine but Russia denies the charges. Heletey would not say who is providing Ukraine with weapons. A nine-day cease-fire has been in effect in eastern Ukraine, where more than 2,600 people were killed in five months of fighting.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Rebels free hundreds of soldiers

Rebels in eastern Ukraine have freed 648 soldiers under the terms of the ceasefire with the government, the Ukrainian military has said. Work was under way to free a further 500 soldiers, it added, clarifying a statement by President Petro Poroshenko on Monday that 1,200 had been freed. The rebels say that 311 of their men remain in government captivity. Officials insist a ceasefire agreed last week appears to be holding, despite several reports of clashes. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the truce was being observed "in general".
Petro Poroshenko visited the embattled city of Mariupol on Monday
Meanwhile, Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained tense. He accused the rebels of violating agreements and shelling government forces' positions, while insisting that Ukrainian troops had only fired in response. Mr Lysenko said that the ceasefire had activated the process for releasing prisoners, with 648 Ukrainians freed so far by the rebels, and work under way "to free about 500 more prisoners". A rebel leader, Andrei Purgin, told Interfax news agency that a further 36 people would be exchanged on Tuesday. Under the truce reached on Friday, all captives held by both sides are due to be released. Five Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly been killed since the ceasefire deal last Friday. Meanwhile, EU member states have agreed to impose a new package of sanctions against Moscow, to come into force in the coming days. EU ambassadors are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss when the measures should be put in place. The timing is expected to depend on their assessment of whether the ceasefire is holding in eastern Ukraine. Diplomats say the new package will target Russian oil companies Rosneft and Transneft and the petroleum unit of state gas monopoly Gazprom. Their access to financial markets will be restricted - a serious matter for Rosneft, which last month asked the Russian government for a $42bn (£25.2bn) loan. Russia has warned that it could block international flights through its airspace if the EU goes ahead with new measures. On Monday, Mr Poroshenko visited the port city of Mariupol, which has been under attack from pro-Russian rebels. Russian gas exports will not be affected if new sanctions are put in place, diplomats say Before the truce came into place, pro-Russian separatists made big gains in eastern Ukraine and seized territory a few miles outside Mariupol. The ceasefire deal, aimed at ending five months of fighting, was reached in Minsk, Belarus, in talks brokered by the OSCE. Mr Poroshenko appealed on Monday for the OSCE to send representatives to areas where the ceasefire has been broken. Fighting in eastern Ukraine has left some 2,600 people dead since April. 
Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko (in background) attended a ceremony in Donetsk on Monday

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

France suspends delivery of first Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia

September 3 (Reuters) The French government can not go ahead with the planned delivery of a first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, the president’s office said in a statement on Wednesday, citing Moscow’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine. “The president of the Republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorize the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” President François Hollande’s office said.