US president’s decision to prolong anti-Russian sanctions far-fetched - analysts
US President Barack Obama’s decision to prolong the operation of anti-Russian sanctions on Ukraine for one year, by no means reflects the situation in Ukraine --- and their sole effect will be a further worsening of bilateral relations, experts say.
Obama on Wednesday extended the operation of sanctions against Russia, imposed on March 6th, 16th and 20th, 2014, to affect a number of Russian companies and individuals, former members of the ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich’s government, and leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
The sanctions of December 19, 2014, taken against the Crimean economy, will stay, too.
Obama claims that the situation in Ukraine remains extraordinary and constitutes "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
President of the International Centre for Geopolitical Analysis, Leonid Ivashov:
"When he says that he has made a decision to prolong the anti-Russian sanctions on the excuse there is a threat to US foreign policy Obama is right, in that the restoration of peace to the east of Ukraine would run counter to Washington’s strategic plans for tearing Ukraine away from Russia.
" When they were steering the events in Kiev towards a change of power, US Department of State emissaries certainly pursued an aim very different from the situation achieved, where Normandy Quartet leaders would push Washington aside to achieve implementation of the peace accords concluded in Minsk on February 12th."
"Obama’s decision to prolong anti-Russian sanctions fully reflects the United States’ wish to keep the war in Ukraine going, because this war is against Russia.
"Washington has no intention of letting the European Union leaders settle the situation in the east of Ukraine. Otherwise Obama’s already unimpressive rating would sink to new lows," Ivashov believes.
"In reality the process of ceasefire & pull- back of heavy armaments in the east of Ukraine is continuing. Unlike the Ukrainian armed forces, the Donetsk and Luhansk militias have followed the Minsk accords to the letter, for which, Moscow can take some credit.
"It should be obvious to US and EU leaders that the self-proclaimed republics are by no means interested in an escalation of violence: the economy is in ruins, there are no jobs, and no funds are available to pay wages and salaries.
But the West avoids putting proper pressure on Kiev, to make it comply with the Minsk accords, while the US puts the blame for this, on Russia, and extends sanctions... which is utterly dissonant with the real state of affairs," Ivashov says.
A deputy director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies, Viktor Kremenyuk, remarks that unlike the German and French leaders, the US president is in no mood to take a milder line towards Moscow.
"Regrettably, the Obama-Putin mechanism does not work.
"It is deplorable that the US president turned a deaf ear to a message about the possibility of easing the food embargo. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said that Russia might resume importing farm produce from Europe and the United States, on the condition that Western companies began investing in the construction of processing facilities.
Regrettably, that constructive message resulted in a prolongation of sanctions against Russia," Kremenyuk says.
"I believe the US president may reconsider his stance re the anti-Russian sanctions, if German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, as well as the heads of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, provide certain guarantees that hostilities in the east of the country will not resume. None of them has been able to assume such a responsibility ...so far," Kremenyuk ends.
Nuclear WarandClashingUkraine Narratives By Robert Parry
America and Russia have two nearly opposite narratives on Ukraine, which is more an indictment of the US news media, which feigns objectivity, but disseminates what amounts to propaganda. These divergent narratives are driving the world towards a possible nuclear crisis, writes Robert Parry.
The US government and mainstream media are swaggering to a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, without any of the seriousness that has informed this sort of decision-making throughout the nuclear age. Instead, Official Washington seems possessed by a self-righteous goofiness that could be the prelude to the end of life on this planet.
Nearly across the US political spectrum, there is a pugnacious “group think” which has changed what should have been a manageable political dispute in Ukraine into some morality play where US politicians and pundits blather on about how the nearly year-old coup regime in Kiev “shares our values” and how America must be prepared to defend this regime militarily.
Though I’m told that President Barack Obama personally recognizes how foolhardy this attitude is, he has made no significant move to head off the craziness and, indeed, has tolerated provocative actions by his underlings, such as neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s scheming with coup plotters to over- throw Ukraine’s elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, last February.
Obama also has withheld from the American people intelligence information that undercuts some of the more extreme claims that his administration has made. For instance, I’m told that he has detailed intelligence reports on both the mysterious sniper attack that preceded the putsch nearly a year ago and the shoot-down of the Malaysia Airlines Flights 17 that deepened the crisis last summer. But he won’t release the findings.
More broadly over the last year, Obama’s behavior – ranging from his initial neglect of the Ukraine issue, as Nuland’s coup plotting unfolded, to his own participation in the tough talk, such as boasting during his State of the Union address that he had helped put the Russian economy “in tatters” – ranks as one of the most irresponsible performances by a US president.
Given the potential stakes of nuclear war, none of the post-World War II presidents behaved as recklessly as Obama has, which now includes allowing administration officials to talk loosely about sending military support to an unstable regime in Kiev that includes neo-Nazis who have undertaken death-squad operations against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
US Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO'S Commander, declared last November that – on supplying military support to Kiev's government – “nothing at this time is off the table.”
Breedlove is now pushing actively to send lethal US military equipment to fend off an offensive by ethnic Russians in the east.
I’m told the Russians fear that US officials are contemplating placing Cruise missiles in Ukraine, or otherwise introducing advanced weaponry that Moscow regards as a direct threat to its national security. Whether or not the Russians are being alarmist, these fears are affecting their own decision-making.
None of the nuclear-age presidents – not Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush - would have engaged in such provocative actions on Russia’s borders, though some surely behaved aggressively in overthrowing governments and starting wars farther away.
Even Ronald Reagan, an aggressive Cold Warrior, kept his challenges to the Soviet Union in areas that were far less sensitive to its national security than Ukraine. He may have supported slaughtering leftists in Central America and Africa, or armed Islamic fundamentalists fighting a Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, but he recognized the insanity of a military showdown with Moscow in Eastern Europe.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, US presidents became more assertive, pushing NATO into the former Warsaw Pact nations and, under President Clinton, bombing a Russian ally in Serbia, but that came at a time when Russia was essentially flat on its back, geopolitically.
Perhaps the triumphalism of that period is still alive, especially among neocons who reject President Vladimir Putin’s reassertion of Russia’s national pride. These Washington hardliners still feel they can treat Moscow with disdain, ignoring the fact that Russia maintains a formidable nuclear arsenal and isn't willing to return to the supine position of the 1990s.
In 2008, President George W. Bush – arguably one of the most reckless presidents of the era – backed away from a confrontation with Russia when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neocon favorite, drew the Russians into a border conflict over South Ossetia. Despite some war talk from the likes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain, President Bush showed relative restraint.
But Obama has failed to rein in his administration’s war hawks and has done nothing to correct the biased narrative his State Department has fed to an equally irresponsible mainstream US news media. Since the Ukraine crisis began in fall of 2013, the New York Times and other major US news outlets have provided only one side of the story, openly supporting the interests of pro- European western Ukrainians, over the ethnic Russian eastern Ukrainians.
The bias is so strong that the mainstream media has largely ignored the remarkable story of the Kiev regime willfully dispatching Nazi storm troopers to kill ethnic Russians in the east, something that hasn’t happened in Europe since World War II.
For Western news organizations that are quick to note the slightest uptick in neo-Nazism in Europe, there has been a willful blindness to Kiev’s premeditated use of what amount to Nazi death squads undertaking house-to -house killings in eastern Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]
Russia's government has repeatedly protested these death-squad operations and other crimes committed by the Kiev regime, but the US mainstream media is so in the tank for western Ukrainians that it has suppressed this aspect of the crisis, typically burying references to the neo-Nazi militias at the end of stories... or dismissing accounts as “Russian propaganda.”
With this ugly reality hidden from the US public, Obama’s State Department has been able to present a white-hat-vs.-black-hat narrative to the crisis. So, while the Russians saw a constitutionally elected government on their border overthrown by a US-backed coup last February – and then human rights atrocities inflicted on ethnic Russians in east Ukraine – the American people heard only about wonderful pro-American “reformers” in Kiev and the evil pro-Russian “minions” trying to destroy “democracy” at Putin’s bidding.
This distorted American narrative represents one of the most unprofessional & dangerous performances in the history of modern US journalism, rivaling the false conventional wisdom about Iraq’s WMD --- except in this case the media propaganda is aimed at a country in Russia that really does have weapons of mass destruction.
The Russians also have noted the arrival of financially self-interested Americans, including Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and Ukraine’s new Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, reminding the Russians of American financial experts who descended on Moscow with their “shock therapy” in the 1990s, with “reforms” that enriched a few well-connected oligarchs, but impoverished millions of average Russians.
Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
Jaresko, a former US diplomat who took Ukraine citizenship in December 2014 to become Finance Minister, had been in charge of a US-taxpayer- financed $150 million Ukrainian investment fund involving substantial insider dealings, including paying a management firm that Jaresko created more than $1 million a year in fees, even as the $150 million apparently dwindled to less than $100 million.
Jaresko also has been involved in a two-year-long legal battle with her ex-husband to gag him from releasing information about apparent irregularities in the handling of the US money. Jaresko went into Chancery Court in Delaware to enforce a non-disclosure clause against her ex-husband, Ihor Figlus, and got a court order to silence him.
This week, when I contacted George Pazuniak, Figlus’s lawyer about Jaresko’s aggressive enforcement of the non-disclosure agreement, he told me that “at this point, it’s very difficult for me to say very much without having a detrimental effect on my client.”
With Jaresko now hailed as a Ukrainian “reformer” who – in the words of New York Times’ columnist Thomas L. Friedman – “shares our values,” one has to wonder why she has fought so hard to shut up her ex- husband regarding possible revelations about the improper handling of US taxpayer money. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s Made-in-USA Finance Minister.”]
More Interested Parties
The Russians also looked askance at the appointment of Estonian Jaanika Merilo as the latest foreigner to be brought inside the Ukrainian government as a “reformer.” Merilo, a Jaresko associate, is being put in charge of attracting foreign investments but her photo spreads look more like someone interested in some rather kinky partying. (Photos show her dressed in skimpy tights with a knife held provocatively)
The Russians are aware, too, of prominent Americans encircling the potential plunder of Ukraine. For instance, Hunter Biden was named to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas firm. Burisma is also a shadowy Cyprus-based company linked to Privat Bank.
Privat Bank is controlled by thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by Kiev's regime to be Dnipropetrovsk governor Oblast, in a south-central province of Ukraine.
Kolomoysky has helped finance the paramilitary forces killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
And Burisma has been lining up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry’s former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobby disclosures. As Time magazine reported, “Leiter’s involvement in the firm, rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and a former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis.”]
So, Russians have a decidedly different view of Ukraine's “reforms” than much of the US media does. But I’m told that Russians would be willing to tolerate these well-connected Americans enriching themselves in Ukraine, and even Ukraine expanding its economic relations with the European Union.
But Russians have drawn a red line at the prospect of an expansion of NATO forces into Ukraine, and the continued killing of ethnic Russians at the hands of neo-Nazi death squads. Putin is demanding that those paramilitary forces be disarmed.
Besides unleashing these right-wing militias on the ethnic Russians, the Kiev government has moved to punish the people living in the eastern sectors by cutting off access to banks & other financial services. It also has become harder & more dangerous for ethnic Russians to cross into territory controlled by the Kiev authorities. Many are turned back and those who do get through, face the risk of being taken and killed by the neo-Nazi militias.
These conditions have left the people in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas - the so-called Donbass region bordering Russia - dependent on relief supplies from Russia. Meanwhile, the Kiev regime - pumped up by the prospects of weapons from Washington, as well as more money - has toughened its tone, with vows to crush the eastern rebellion once & for all.
Russia’s Hardening Line
The worsening situation in the east and the fear of US military weapons arriving in the west have prompted a shift in Moscow’s view of Ukraine's crisis, including a readiness to resupply ethnic Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and even provide military advisers.
These developments alarm European leaders who find themselves caught in the middle of a possible conflict between the United States and Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande rushed to Kiev and then Moscow this week, to discuss possible ways to defuse the crisis.
The hardening Russian position now seeks, in effect, a division of Ukraine into 2 autonomous zones, the east and the west with a central government that maintains the currency and handles other national concerns. But I’m told that Moscow might still accept the earlier idea of a federated Ukraine with greater self-governance by the different regions.
Putin also does not object to Ukraine building closer economic ties to Europe and he offered a new referendum in Crimea, on whether the voters still want to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, said a source familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking. But Putin’s red lines also include no NATO expansion into Ukraine and protection for ethnic Russians by disarming the neo-Nazi militias, the source said.
If such an arrangement or something similar isn’t acceptable, and if the killing of ethnic Russians continues, the Kremlin would support a large- scale military offensive from the east that would involve “taking Kiev,” according to the source.
A Russian escalation of that magnitude, would likely invite a vigorous US response, with leading American politicians and pundits sure to ratchet up demands for a military counterstrike against Russia. If Obama were to acquiesce to such bellicosity – to avoid being called “weak” – the world could be pushed to the brink of nuclear war.
Who’s to Blame?
Though the State Department and the mainstream US media continue to put all the blame on Russia, the fact that the Ukraine crisis has reached such a dangerous crossroads reveals how reckless the behavior of Official Washington has been over the past year.
Nuland and other US officials took an internal Ukrainian disagreement over how quickly it should expand ties to Europe – while seeking to retain its historic relations with Russia – and turned that fairly pedestrian political dispute into a possible flashpoint for a nuclear war.
At no time, as this crisis has evolved over the past year, did anyone of significance in Official Washington, whether in government or media, stop and contemplate whether this issue was worth risking the end of life on the planet. Instead, all the American people have been given is a steady diet of anti-Yanukovych and anti-Putin propaganda.
Though constitutionally elected, Yanukovych was depicted as a corrupt tyrant who had a pricy sauna in his official mansion. Though Putin had just staged the Winter Olympics in Sochi, signaling his desire for Russia to integrate more with the West, he was portrayed as either a new-age imperial czar or the second coming of Hitler - if not worse - because he occasionally would ride on a horse while not wearing a shirt.
Further, US news media refused to conduct a serious investigation into evidence that Nuland and other US officials had helped destabilize Yanukovych’s government, with the goal of achieving another neo- con “regime change.”
Nuland, who personally urged on anti-Yanukovych protests in Kiev, discussed with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in early February 2014 who should lead the new government – “Yats is the guy,” she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk – and how to “glue this thing.”
After weeks of mounting tensions & worsening violence, the coup occurred on Feb. 22, 2014, when well-organized neo-Nazi and other right- wing militias from western Ukraine, overran presidential buildings forcing officials to flee for their lives. With Yanukovych ousted, Yatsenyuk soon became Prime Minister. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “When Is a Putsch a Putsch.”]
Many ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine, who'd strongly supported Yanukovych, refused to accept the US-backed order in Kiev.
Crimean officials and voters moved to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Putin accepted because of Crimea’s historic ties to Russia and his fear that Russia's naval base at Sevastopol might be handed to NATO.
The resistance spread to eastern Ukraine, where other ethnic Russians took up arms against the coup regime in Kiev, which then responded with what it calls an “anti-terrorist operation” against the east. To bolster the weak Ukrainian army, Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov dispatched neo-Nazi and other “volunteer” militias to spearhead the attacks.
After the deaths of more than 5,000 people, a shaky cease-fire was announced in September, but - amid complaints about neo-Nazi death squads operating in government-controlled areas and with life deteriorating in the rebel- controlled towns and cities - ethnic Russians launched an offensive in January, using Russian-supplied weapons to expand their control of territory.
In reaction, US pundits, including columnists and editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, called for dispatching US aid to the Kiev forces, including proposals for lethal weaponry to deter Putin’s “aggression.” Members of Congress and members of the Obama administration have joined the chorus.
On Feb. 2, the New York Times reported “With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, & an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said… President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance.”
That same day, the lead Times editorial was entitled “Mr. Putin Resumes His War” and continued with the theme about “Russian aggression” and the need “to increase the cost” if Russia demands “a permanent rebel-held enclave.”
On Feb. 3, the Washington Post ran an editorial entitled “Help for Ukraine. Defensive weapons could deter Russia in a way sanctions won’t.” The editorial concluded that Putin “will stop only if the cost to his regime is sharply raised – and quickly.”
A new war fever gripped Washington and no one wanted to be viewed as “soft” or be denounced as a “Putin apologist.” Amid this combination of propaganda, confusion and tough-guy-ism – and lacking the tempering wisdom about war and nuclear weapons that restrained earlier US presidents – a momentum lurched toward a nuclear showdown over Ukraine that could put all life on earth in jeopardy.
By Robert Parry, consortiumnews.com
KILLING RUSSIANS OK FOR OBAMA
Barack Obama wants to continue the program that George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and G.W. Bush, worked on before him, to surround Russia with NATO missiles. The takeover of Ukraine, and the enlistment of the Arabic oil sheikhs in assisting further to turn the screws against Russia, are key components in doing that: crushing Russia’s resistance to American domination.
Whereas, for FDR, the alliance with Sunni Islam was purely anti-communist, against the Soviet Union, the US Presidents after 1980, were and are, anti-Russian, and it's nothing whatsoever to do with ideology. The US aristocracy intend to dominate the aristocracy in every other nation, and Russia is the only militarily powerful nation that is opposed to being controlled by this global Empire.
Consequently, President Obama, who's an agent for America’s aristocracy, wants to cripple if not destroy, Russia. And this is why, in his National Security Strategy 2015, 17 of the 18 times he used the term ‘aggression’... he applied it against Russia.
Russia’s President Putin would have to be an idiot not to recognize that today’s United States (its aristocracy, not the American public, who are quite different) is extremely hostile.
Russia could be the bulwark that, along with the rest of Europe and America, could restrain Islamic extremism; but, since America’s aristocracy is primarily concerned with crushing Russia, Islamic terrorism will probably only continue to grow.
Furthermore, events such as 9/11 are necessary for the Arabic aristocrats, in order for them to keep their clerics with them and thereby control their own nation’s public.
So: the US ends up being allied with Islamic terrorists, while accusing Russia of backing ‘terrorists’ in the former Ukraine, whose only crime is, they don’t want to be slaughtered.
On 12 February 2015, was issued a “Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Ukraine,” which opened: “Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), statement today in Brussels, Belgium:
‘I am pleased to announce that the IMF team working in Kiev has reached a staff-level agreement with the Ukrainian government on a new economic reform program that would be supported by an Extended Fund Facility of SDR 12.35 billion (about $17.5 billion, €15.5 billion) from the IMF, as well as by additional resources from the international community.”
Violating even the IMF’s own prohibitions -- against pouring loans into a nation that’s at war -- the IMF was here making clear that they were 100% behind Obama’s Ukrainian proxy war against Russia.
This is where the money will come from to finance Ukraine’s acquisition of more weapons to exterminate or else drive out the residents in the area of Ukraine that had voted 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President that Obama overthrew.
It’s ongoing mass-murder on the installment plan, with the IMF providing most of the funds.
Because the loaned money is going to pay for the ethnic-cleansing campaign, it’s not going to the needs of the Ukrainian people. This is extreme austerity, and it started immediately, a day after the day, 26 February 2014, when Arseniy Yatsenyuk became appointed to run the country, as he had been selected to do by Victoria Nuland of Obama’s State Dept., 22 days prior.
As Kommersant reported, on 6 March 2014: “the strategy of the government was approved in Parliament on 27 February and on 3 March the Ministry of Finance sent an action plan for approval to the Ministry of Economic Development. The document is striking in its scale. … ‘Under the Knife’ go social costs. Already in March, the payment of pensions will be reduced to only 50% of the designated pension amounts.” But an uproar held that up. However, now, it’s being done.
On December 11th: “Cabinet wants to reduce schooling to 9 years [from 12 years], to reduce the cost of the budget the Finance Ministry proposes to amend the legislation governing the humanitarian sphere, the sphere of public administration, pensions, social security, the work of the prosecution and the army.”
On December 19th: “Education Minister Sergey Kvit noted that the department, which he heads, will never agree to such a proposal.”
On December 24th we read: “Education Minister Sergei quits.”
Pensions are now set to be halved, even in the greatly depreciated Ukrainian currency; & public schooling is to be reduced to only nine years. All of that IMF (and US and EU) money goes instead to pay to mass-murder the residents in Ukraine’s former Donbass region, an area in which the residents voted 90% for Viktor Yanukovych, whom Obama overthrew, and where all of the residents are officially ’terrorists.’ The phrase for this used to be a “free-fire zone.” Obama wants the residents exterminated, and the IMF and EU are going along with that.
The circuitous way in which Ukraine will be buying its weapons, is designed to avoid triggering a declaration of war by Vladimir Putin, or else to make it non-obvious to the public why he would be justified in doing so.
(Selected in part from What’s Behind Ukraine’s Secret Weapons Deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?, by Eric Zuesse.)
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse, is the author, most recently, of: 'They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010.'
Kiev coup gets checkmated in Debaltseve
By JIM W. DEAN
The guns aren't yet silent on the Debaltseve salient, but the angels may be heading that way. The cruel waste of conscripted Ukrainian soldiers and South- eastern Ukrainians may finally come to an end… for a while. We will see if their families will seek revenge for their being used as cannon fodder by Kiev’s nationalist thugs and the West in their pillaging of Ukraine.
The good news is that the key parties to the Minsk agreement are calling it successful, indicating that Kiev and the West now view the fighting as a tar baby they want to get off their hands. Up until now they have shamelessly faked their interest in a political settlement while pouring arms and other support into Kiev to continue the fight for a military victory. As we say here in the South, “They lied like a rug.”
The tactical situation is still cloudy. The militias claim the Debaltseve cauldron is closed, and they will only allow a “green corridor” for Kiev’s troops to pull out, meaning they leave their weapons and equipment behind.
Donetsk Prime Minister Zakharchenko tells us the militias have orders to contest any Ukrainian units moving with their weapons, because the Minsk agreements do allow the militias to disarm or neutralize all illegal armed groups inside their territory.
Zakharchenko is recovering from wounds received during a ceasefire violation when he was hit by shrapnel. The Republics stated today that Kiev could not give any order to retreat because the militias have jammed all communications.
Jamming is a standard modern tactic to defeat coordinated action by enemy forces.
I spent the last few days watching as much Debaltseve video as I could find with English translations. I saw strong evidence of a complete breakdown of command & control by the Ukrainian Army, in the last week.
Surrendering PoWs describe orders to hold their positions, but most were down to two days of rations and had not seen ammo resupplies in over a week.
The Ukrainian Army is also continuing the dishonor of abandoning their dead on the battlefield. Our Ukrainian sources tell us this is one of the ways they keep their public KIA numbers down and also avoid paying out benefits to the families.
This is disgraceful conduct by their general staff, and one for which they should all be shot.
Western manipulations and deceptions
Western media have sadly played the role of cheerleader during this whole conflict. And I could say even worse… that they have been aiders and abettors to war crimes. When Kiev refused to turn over its air traffic control data on the MH-17 shoot down, I remember the old days when the press would have fried Kiev’s livers in print, but the press says nothing and are dancing cowards one and all.
When NATO made claim after claim of a pending Russian invasion, none of which happened, I remember a time when print media cartoonists would have made NAT0 a laughing stock.
General Breedlove would have been given a Pinocchio nose, and Kiev’s military PR spokes- man would have played “Baghdad Bob” of Persian Gulf War I, who gave Saddam’s daily press briefings on how Coalition Forces were being destroyed by Iraq’s Republican Guard.
If you think about it for a moment, you probably won’t remember seeing any Western news analysis on what the point was for Kiev to push into the Debaltseve pocket, even while the EU and US were supposedly urging Poroshenko to start negotiations which we now see were a cruel hoax.
Any in-depth discussion of the strategy would have revealed the obvious attempt for a military victory… with two main purposes. First, Debaltseve is the main industrial transportation hub for both the Donetsk and Lugansk industrial regions, and the rail head for moving coal out to the rest of Ukraine. To its west is Gorlikva (also Horlikva), which is the junction for the region’s water mains.
With Kiev in control of those two hubs, it would have had a stranglehold on both Republics’ economies, literally making them unviable. The Debaltseve pocket was also a launching pad for using those transportation lines needed to sustain a push all the way south to prevent the two Republics from supporting each other, and to cut Donetsk off from the Russian border.
NATO advances as EU economy wanes
While this military victory was being pursued by Kiev, EU and NATO countries were shipping arms and non- lethal supplies into the military effort. But they were also steadily advancing NATO bases closer to the Russian border -- a serious security concern for Moscow. And as additional cover for this obvious aggression, the world public was treated like we were all idiots, who would believe the constant mantra of “It’s all the Russians’ fault.”
The Financial Times has validated my long stream of articles on the financial black hole Ukraine has been pushed into by the vultures in the West. Industrial production is down over 20% from last year, which already had been struggling. And their economy shrank 15% in the last quarter, with an outlook of getting worse.
Sure, there has to be a rebuilding boom in the SE, the area that has taken all of the war carnage -- the rest of the country not even having a broken window -- a strange civil war there. But unlike the US that can just print money, or have the Federal Reserve create billion-dollar bank deposits out of thin air, Ukraine’s currency is down the tubes. Their gold has been shipped off to some undisclosed place, and their cost of living increases under the IMF austerity plan will impoverish them for the next generation.
They will never be able to repay the loans, so their national assets will be sold off. Ukrainian assets will be bought for fire sale prices, and it will become the “go to” place for White slave labor with good skills and education.
Austerity – the new indentured servitude
Welcome to the New World Order. German Intel tells us the civil war’s body pile is already 50,000 people high, all in one year’s work. By contrast, America took the whole Vietnam War to kill that many of our own troops. And we hear calls for another Coalition war on Libya “to fix things” in that country. The Western war on terror is the Frankenstein I always said it would be… and it’s not finished yet.
The Ukraine internet abounds with talk of a second Maidan revolution in the works. The Right Sector thugs have gained a lot of combat experience, plus some added extras, like nailing kids to fences and dragging mothers down the road behind APCs.
The West will wear eternal shame for what it has done to Ukraine. Sure, it was a corrupt country when this started, but it is worse now. So that shows the West has really attacked and pillaged the country with a time-delay economic bomb which will go off when all of these loans eventually boomerang back onto Europeans in the form of more austerity some day.
Nikita Khrushchev, who is a hard guy to quote, does have one that perfectly fits the Ukraine situation. “Support by the United States rulers is rather in the nature of the support that the rope gives to a hanged man.”
Poet and Efran Kaye's tribute
to everyone killed in wars.
Bless the large numbers of Ethiopians, the many good people in Indonesia, and the folks of Russia, Greece and Egypt, who are now playing it.
100% CERTAIN 9/11 WAS MOSSAD OPERATION
Most US people polled believe that 9/11 was an "inside job", but what would they feel if they found out that it was designed by Zionists, who deliberately killed thousands of innocent US citizens to drive the US into wars on Muslims?
They'd be angry, right?
Fernando Imposimato, President of the Italian Supreme Court, calls for a criminal investigation of 9/11, comparing the attack to false flag incidents carried out by the CIA in Italy: Operation Gladio.
"The 9/11 attacks were a global state terror operation that was permitted by the US administration, which had foreknowledge of the operation, yet remained intentionally unresponsive in order to make war against Afghanistan and Iraq," Imposimato declares in a letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies.
Ferdinando Imposimato is the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and a former Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations. He is the author or co-author of 7 books on international terrorism, state corruption, and related matters, and a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
As a former state prosecutor, Imposimato has extensive experience in investigating high- profile crimes, including the kidnapping and assassination of Italian Prime Minster Aldo Moro & the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He also worked on the Anti- Mafia commission as a Senator, giving him a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of organized crime syndicates.
Imposimato points to several facts contradicting the official 9/11 story, including the free-fall collapse of WTC Building 7, the report that the CIA met with Osama Bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, and the overwhelming evidence of insider trading before 9/11 that didn't lead to any criminal charges, reports digitaljournal.com
The following is an excerpt from Imposimato’s letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies on Sunday:
The reports of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), November 20, 2005, set forth the following conclusions:
The airplanes that struck each of the Twin Towers caused a breach as well as an explosion evidenced by a giant fireball. The remaining jet fuel flowed onto the lower floors, sustaining the fires. The heat from the fires deformed the building structures and both towers collapsed completely from top to bottom.
Very little that was of any size remained after these events except steel as well as aluminum fragments and the pulverized dust from the concrete floors.
The World Trade Center 7 also collapsed–in a way that was inconsistent with the common experience of engineers. All three buildings collapsed completely, but Building 7 was not hit by a plane. WTC7’s collapse violated common experience and was unprecedented.
The NIST report does not analyze the actual nature of the collapses. According to experts at the Toronto Hearings (Sept. 8-11, 2011), the collapses had features that indicate controlled explosions. I agree with architect Richard Gage & engineer Jon Cole both highly experienced professionals [from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth – now numbering 1,700 strong], who have arrived at their conclusions through reliable tests, scientific proof, and the visual testimony of people above suspicion, including firefighters and victims.
The authoritative theologian David Ray Griffin has described very precisely why the hypothesis of controlled demolition should be considered. Various witnesses heard bursts of explosions.
According to NIST the collapse of Building 7 was due to fires provoked by the collapse of the twin towers. Chemist and independent researcher Kevin Ryan, however, has demonstrated that NIST gave contradictory versions of the collapse of Building 7.
In a preliminary report NIST declared that WTC7 was destroyed because of fires provoked by diesel fuel stored in the building, while in a second report this fuel was no longer considered the cause of the building’s collapse. Additional comments on the NIST version of events have been made by David Chandler, another expert witness at the Journal of 9/11 Studies Letters, September 2012 Toronto Hearings.
Despite NIST’s claim of 3 distinct phases of collapse, Chandler pointed out that many available videos show that for about two and a half seconds the acceleration of the building cannot be distinguished from freefall. NIST has been obliged to agree with this empirical fact as pointed out by Chandler; now understood by everyone.
The only possibility for achieving justice is to submit the best evidence concerning the involvement of specific individuals in 9/11 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and ask him to investigate according to the articles 12, 13, 15 and 17, letters a and b, of the Statute of the ICC, recalling the preamble of the Statute:
“Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and the well being of the world,”
“Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation, ”
“Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prosecution of such crimes, recalling that it is the duty of every state to exercise its jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes." reports infowars.com.
More and more people from all walks of life and all professions seem to be questioning the “official” narrative of what happened on 9/11. Those who are questioning the events of 9/11 may be moving under the radar of the corporate media from being labeled “conspiracy theorists” to legitimate investigators with legitimate questions and concerns, reports examiner.com
Theorists believe that the World Trade Center buildings were demolished by bombs, phone calls from the planes were made up, and the former President George W. Bush secretly profited from the attacks, reports newsone.com
The World Trade Center collapse appeared similar to a controlled demolition. Many speculate that the towers were in fact blown down with explosives placed in selected locations. Some witnesses heard explosions inside the building as they attempted to escape. Many architects & scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't produce enough heat to melt the steel frame of the buildings that collapsed, reports newsone.com
WESTERN MEDIA LIES LEAD TO WAR
Article by Finian Cunningham.
100 years ago, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, was the fatal spark that ignited a geopolitical powder keg in Europe.
Within a month, all the major powers of Europe would be embroiled in the First World War, which also dragged in Russia and the US. The war would last for nearly five years and resulted in at least 20 million deaths.
That catastrophe has perplexing resonances with today. One incident set off a conflagration back then, because it came amid simmering rivalries among imperial powers. Another resonance is how historians recount that, in the run-up to the First World War few believed that a war in "modern, civilized" Europe was likely, because of the belief that diplomacy would prevail.
Today, we see a similar reckless goading by imperial powers across Europe. The US and its European NATO allies are embarked on a 25-year expansion towards Russia's heartland.
The dynamic of encroachment has only sped up, not lessened. This expansion is provocative, aggressive and duplicitous, because it not only presents a military threat to Russia, it also flies in the face of past commitments by the US-led NATO alliance not to do so, such as in the 1997 Founding Act, signed with Moscow.
Russia has every right to feel threatened by ever- encroaching ballistic missile systems on its borders that could be used in a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the US and its allies. That concern is heightened ever since Washington invoked a "first strike doctrine" under President George W Bush, which Obama still retains.
Yet, provocatively, Washington dismisses Russian President Vladimir Putin's concerns about NATO expansion, as if they are the deliriums of a Soviet revanchist.
The complacency of the present time towards the dangers of war, has disturbing echoes of the past - on the eve of World War I. A major factor in the present complacency is that the Western mainstream media are failing, woefully, to properly report on the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, and just how provocative that parlous situation is to Russia's vital interests.
This week saw the signing of a trade pact between the European Union and Petro Poroshenko, the declared president of Ukraine. The Western media have hailed it in glowing terms as "a landmark event" and a positive outcome of democracy in the former Soviet Republic. That blithe assessment invites dangerous ignorance and complacency.
The truth is that the signing of the EU trade pact is the outcome of an illegal regime-change operation in Ukraine fomented by Washington and its NATO allies.
That regime change involved CIA-backed mass murder of civilians (the February 20 sniper shootings in Kiev's Maidan Square) and the overthrow of an elected government.
Since the illegal coup against President Viktor Yanukovych, the Western-backed Kiev regime has been waging war on ethnic Russian populations in the east and south of the country, who refuse to recognize the regime as legitimate.
Poroshenko, the billionaire oligarch who is now signing over the sovereign affairs of Ukraine to the US, NATO and the EU, was elected president in a farcical vote last month, where only 45% of the electorate turned out and large sections of the east and south did not even cast a ballot amid a murderous "anti-terror" crackdown by Kiev troops and paramilitaries.
The campaign of terror by the Kiev forces against pro-Russian civilians was launched at the end of April, days after CIA chief John Brennan made a secret visit to the Kiev regime. Brennan briefed the Kiev leadership, including the so-called Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who only last week used Nazi language to vow that his military forces would "cleanse sub-humans" from the country - referring to the ethnic Russian populations and the self-defence militias they have set up in the Donetz and Lugansk regions.
The impostor-President Poroshenko may have declared a ceasefire over the past week, but the hostilities against civilian centres continue unabated. Crimes against humanity include the bombing of homes, churches, schools & hospitals, the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs and exploding bullets, as well as the shelling of electricity and water supplies.
Western media have largely ignored these violations by the "new democratic Ukrainian government", or at best have reported them as "unverified" or merely as "breaches of the ceasefire by both sides".
Western governments and media have gone into denial mode, refusing to acknowledge what even the United Nations this week confirms as a massive displacement of over 150,000 people from eastern Ukraine. Why are such numbers fleeing, if the violence is not also massive?
Another example of the Western cover-up over state terrorism in Ukraine, is the recent killing of three journalists. Earlier this month, Russian journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague Anton Voloshin were killed near Lugansk when they were hit with a mortar shell. Survivors of the attack said it was deliberate targeting by Kiev troops. Previously, Italian journalist Andrea Rochelli was slain near Slavyansk in another incident that bore the hallmarks of shoot-to-kill.
In the past week, by contrast, there was an outpouring of condemnation from Washington and other Western governments, as well as widespread media coverage, of the jailing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt. Those sentences were no doubt a gross miscarriage of justice. But what about the taking of journalists' lives in Ukraine? Where is the Western condemnations and media coverage?
Western-backed regime change and genocidal repression in Ukraine, is a collision course of extreme provocation towards Russia and its vital interests. Yet it is presented to the Western public as if it is a "good news" story about democratic European enlargement, which, perversely, is being spoiled by Russian "interference".
This is a powder-keg situation in Europe, led by US geopolitics and its European henchmen, and which is wrapped up in an explosive shell of ignorance, by a lying Western media.
The repetition of history is not inevitable. But the chances are increased when people are kept in the dark about the underlying causes of war and conflict.
Petko Ganchev, wrote this article for Pravda.Ru.
Today it is absolutely clear that there is a multipurpose strategic operation being conducted on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Ukraine plays a key role in the operation. Why Ukraine?
It's an open secret - the West has always wanted to master the vast territories of Russia and Eurasia, the axial space of the Earth, with its enormous natural resources.
To achieve this goal, there was the outer belt (Turkey, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan) built around Russia-Eurasia after World War Two. The inner belt (Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) was built after the collapse of the USSR.
Successively, after the Cold War, almost all East European countries - Soviet satellites - were admitted to NATO under the condition of their membership in the European Union.
But the West didn't get closer to Russia's western borders. There were 2 Russia- friendly countries left - historically, culturally and economically - Belarus and Ukraine.
Belarus is closely tied to Russia ethnically, culturally and economically. Ukraine, with its failed state organization was a weak link.
The reason for that is that the regions from which Ukraine was created after World War II (1945), were formed by areas with very different religious and value systems.
In his famous book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington, the author described Ukraine as one of civilizational "splits," where one can expect clashes, i.e. wars.
That's why Ukraine was chosen by the US as the key to implement a multi-purpose strategic operation.
In the Middle East, the US has always used monarchies from the Middle Ages as allies - Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Ukraine, the most loyal ally of the United States was Poland. The country was used to train "Right Sector" fighters and other figures from anti-Russian ultranationalist structures.
What are the main objectives and directions of this geo-strategic operation, the implementation of which began immediately after the US was forced to freeze its activities on Syria and Iran?
First and foremost, the goal is to strike a blow on Russia as the most active US geopolitical rival in the new millennium. When Ukraine leaves Russia's orbit, the US will implement several geostrategic objectives:
- to move air defense systems and other NATO systems closer to Russian borders: neutralizing its defense, including its nuclear capability;
- to undermine the Russian economy by cutting relations with the economy of Ukraine (Poroshenko has already ordered, following instructions from the US, to cease cooperation with the Russian defense industry);
- to burden the budget of the Russian Federation with bigger spending to maintain refugees from Ukraine and substitute imports from Ukraine;
- to close Russia's gas and oil pipelines to the EU to thus block the inflow of foreign currency into the Russian economy;
- to prevent creation of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union;
- to destabilize the political system in Russia, accusing its leadership of what is happening in Ukraine;
- to stop or minimize economic cooperation between Russia and the EU;
- to sow distrust between Russia and other BRICS countries - Brazil, India, China, South Africa.
Secondly, the U.S. plans to strike a blow on the European Union, which, along with China, acts as a major competitor in the economic sphere. The EU needs to be reminded of its secondary role.
The United States seeks to confirm the assessment of Russophobe Brzezinski in his book "The Grand Chessboard" (1997), according to which the EU was a "U.S. protectorate."
For the U.S. it is vitally important to strengthen the economic dependence of the EU in light of their signing the "Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement" to turn the EU towards the consumption of US shale gas. In this regard, the EU is the most developed market.
To achieve this, Ukrainian company Naftogaz (the largest company in Ukraine) became the property of a new consortium, whose leadership includes the son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Polish President Kwasniewski.
At the same time, Chevron is preparing shale gas production in south-eastern Ukraine - in the areas of the towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.
Chervon, directly or indirectly, through the European Commission, put pressure on Bulgaria, forcing the country to abandon the South Stream project.
At the same time, the U.S. continues to put pressure on France, to make the country freeze the sale of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. France's largest bank PNB faces a fine of $10 billion for violating the financial embargo that the U.S. put on Cuba, Sudan and Nicaragua.
At the same time, the United States, with its national debt of 17 trillion dollars and GDP of 14 trillion, prepares to grant NATO's Eastern European members $1 billion for new weapons.
Fortunately, on the "grand chessboard" of world civilization, the U.S. does not play against virtual opponents. The geo-strategy of the United States does not unfold like the Desert Storm Operation in 2 003. Today, the US is playing against experienced players.
Russia is rising after the disgrace of the Yeltsin era, and the EU becomes increasingly aware of the fact that the only chance to survive is hidden in the slogan "More Europe for Europeans!"
The last elections to the European Parliament have confirmed the trend. Hitherto, with so many large- scale geopolitical operations after World War II (Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), the US has not been able to boast considerable achievements.
Through all those wars, as George Friedman says in his book "The Next 100 Years," America has stimulated the growth of the national economy.
America was gradually and steadily evolving from a manufacturing economy to the economy of a military-industrial complex. In history, such a condition has always heralded the end of any empire.
US "A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE"
The US government is a “criminal enterprise” with a foreign policy that places the well- being of Israel ahead of America’s, a political commentator in San Antonio, Texas says.
“This is a criminal enterprise that has the support of both of the major political parties in the United States,” Mark Dankof, a broadcaster and former US Senate candidate, says.
This criminal enterprise “principally involves conducting a foreign policy firstly for Israel, secondly for the international central banks and thirdly for the oil and natural gas consortiums,” Dankof says.
There is no difference between the policies of the Obama and Bush administrations, he notes. Both “are supporting the criminal policies of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he adds.
Dankof dismisses as a deception the recent remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry that the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake:
“This is an attempt to absolve John Kerry and Barack Obama of the responsibility for all the criminal policies that they have carried out.”
In an interview with Chinese news agency Geo News, Kerry acknowledged that many problems in the Middle East, have their roots in that war.
George W. Bush, ordered the invasion of Iraq under a pretext --- that former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction.
In October 2004, a CIA report revealed that Saddam Hussein did not possess any weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion.
In a survey out on Wednesday 2nd June, by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 33% of registered voters name Obama as the worst president since 1945.
28% choose his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the worst.
By Jim Jones
For many, myself included I suppose, the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine have been riveting over the last couple of months. No need here to go into the sordid history of Coloured Revolutions and the CIA/NATO role in them; most reading this medium as opposed to CNN/SKY/VOA, are informed people and are aware of the manoeuvrings of the West and the associated puppet states in trying to embroil Russia in a war it doesn't want and in extending NATO frontiers to the heart of Russia.
Missile strikes from Ukraine, for example, would be in Moscow in 10 minutes, leaving no reaction time and fits neatly within the new US policy of a "first Strike" nuclear capability. [As opposed to the retaliatory strike doctrine of the last 40 years].
We all know what happened in 1961, when Khrushchev put Soviet Missiles into Cuba after the US put missiles into Turkey. The US wasn't very impressed at all. What is not well known is that Kennedy asked Khrushchev to "cut him some slack" and withdraw the missiles without reference to the US' withdrawal of its missiles from Turkey!
The US had upped the rhetoric so much, that it couldn't be seen to lose face in the public arena - condescendingly, Khrushchev accommodated.
Hold that thought of "face saving" as we explore the current Ukraine Crisis.
The US/NATO pushed the EU to pressure the Ukraine to join the EU and swing to the West. They almost succeeded 4 years ago with their Orange Revolution.
But Russia had learnt a thing or two about the Coloured Revolutions and mounted a successful and embarrassing reversal of the revolution and installed their own man in Ukraine who was leading Ukraine back along the Russian brotherhood line.
Four years later, after over $5 billion in NGO funding and a huge amount of State Department scheming and CIA covert action, the US finally got a chance to redress the "egg on face incident" that the Russians had made for them.
The US played a "background role" in this - preferring to have the EU seen as the driving force behind the Maidan. However, leaked phone calls, like that made to Cabinet Minister Ashton, which clearly identified the role of paid mercenaries in killing both Police & protesters, and later, Viktoria Nuland [US State Dept] hand-picking who will be in the Ukraine government and saying the EU can go get fucked - did nothing to endear the US to the EU -- it came hard on the heels of revelations of extensive phone tapping of EU leaders' phones etc. by the US.
Then we have the unsavoury influence of the Right Sektor in Ukraine being pushed, funded and trained by NATO and the US's Kerry, Nuland, John McCain, Mark Twain and all, were seen in public endorsing the very Right Sektor extremists that the German government was in the process of declaring as criminals!
Europe could see itself being plunged back 70 years with the rise of neo Nazi's, not just in Germany - but across Europe. [Remember Anders Behring Breivik and his mass killings in Norway: an ultra nationalist].
Europe also asked the question, what is the US going to lose over this? If Russia turns off the gas, Europe freezes: the economy of Europe goes down the toilet!
Already Germany is losing billions of Euros in trade with Russia, France has several military deals with Russia, the supply of Mistral Class ships for one, and Putin has promised follow-ons from that. Italy is supplying armour vehicles, many EU nations trade with Russia - so, US, what sanctions are going to hurt you, the EU asks?
Germany has a growing discord there over the 70 year occupation of Germany by US forces - we see demonstrations - Yankees go home! Europe is realising that the US cares, not for them, but only for US and US businesses.
Against this background, we are witnessing the separation of the US/EU and a drawing closer of EU/Russia on common grounds & shared interests.
I was appalled: driven to tears by the criminal acts of the Kyiv Junta's ex facto war crimes/ crimes against humanity. The shelling and bombing of civilians [non-combatants the Junta declares are Terrorists]. The targeting and destructionof schools, kindergartens and hospitals - with the murder of 25 wounded in the hospital - shot by Junta troops!
Destruction of the means of support of life - with water supplies destroyed, electrical installations and sanitary plants destroyed by shelling. The shooting of women and children leaving the region for shelter in Crimea, by bus. The execution style killing of civilians in a town by Junta forces, who lined the people up and shot them in the back of their heads. The use of chemical weapons against civilians - chlorine gas [where is Obama's Red Line on this?]. The targeting of TV reporters in the area trying to objectively record events. I'm sure that I have missed some others.
I cried out from the depths of despair for justice - surely Russia would intervene; surely Russia would protect it's people like it has said it would?
And all along, that is exactly what the US has been saying too - telling the Ukrainian Junta to commit further acts and atrocities against the people who simply want true democracy in the East.
To help them in this, they even get them to demonise and degrade the people there. Junta leaders have called the Russians in the East, "sub-human" - those of you as old as I am, will have heard that phrase before.
They are called parasites and vermin by the new Choco King Junta leader Poroshenko. Such a debasing of the population makes it more acceptable to murder them and commit atrocities against a subhuman species - not much higher than animals really, are they?
The provocation of Russia in this regard has been carefully stage managed by the US, intent as always to let it appear as the EU 's doing, while all the time ensuring that their people are the ones pulling the strings in Kiev - the CIA/FBI and State Department are up to their proverbial balls in Kiev's business.
Don't see the EU featuring though. The US has pushed the warmonger Russian story all through Europe - putting the fear of the bogyman into all ex Soviet states, and determined to show them all how much they need NATO's protection. [In truth, the world needs to be protected from the US].
However, Russia has consistently demonstrated restraint and maturity in handling the world crisis.
Since the failed US--led revolution in Georgia, Russia has been seen to be taking the moral high ground from the US and their consistent lies [WMD et.al].
The lies over Georgia were exposed and eventually the EU came out & confirmed that Georgia started the war. Reluctantly, the Western media has had to admit to "errors" in reporting - all of which have favoured the Russian position. Remember the incredible piece of statesmanship from Russia in pulling the war rug out from under the US's feet over Syrian Chemical weapons?!
Russia has quietly been cementing relationships in Europe - building "partnerships' with European countries, and is doing so in accordance with international law and through responsible, mature actions. All of this has been driving a wedge between the US and the EU. This hasn't gone unnoticed - the US cannot accept that they are not in the driving seat of a single seater any more. Goading and provoking Russia into attacking the Ukraine is how they will demonstrate that the Russia of today is what they told everyone that the USSR of old, was.
Putin has been smarter than they realised.
Reuters reported on July 1st:
Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist bases in the eastern regions with air and artillery strikes on Tuesday, after President Poroshenko announced he would not renew a ceasefire, but go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites".
His decision quickly drew fire from Russian President Vladimir Putin who said Poroshenko had disregarded the advice of himself & German and French leaders. Putin said Poroshenko would now have to bear full responsibility for veering off the road to peace.
Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning the conflict and allowing fighters and equipment to cross the border to support the rebels, then turned his back on another renewal of a 10- day unilateral ceasefire after the phone talks involving Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Francois Hollande.
The important thing here is that Putin obtained consensus from France and Germany in a four- way dialogue. This consensus was broken by Poroshenko, under pressure from US handlers.
The facts are obvious. What it also shows, is that once again the US has marginalised the EU and shown scant regard for the EU position.
This now opens the door for Russia to reiterate its threat; "Putin said Moscow will continue to defend the interests of ethnic Russians abroad - up to 3 million of whom live in the east of Ukraine, which has been in separatist ferment since April."
By obtaining consensus to a path of peace, and seeing it broken, Moscow now has the mandate to use force... IF it wants to.
The question is, does Russia want or need to? That famous General of Guerrilla warfare, Vo Nguyen Giap [Incidentally, his book Peoples War, People's Army is worth reading] said, "we do not want to defeat the enemy, we simply want him to leave our country!". In this regard, the Ukrainian Junta cannot win the war in Novorussiya.
Firstly, they have completely lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people --- through the brutal atrocities they have committed.
Their transparent attempt at a Kosovo type ethnic cleansing, has been seen for what it is and has made people more determined to "hold their ground". Their brutality has now created a generational animosity, which will not be resolved in our life-time.
Secondly, militarily they can't succeed - every day, Novorussiya is gaining in strength and skills. The skill level of Novorussiya's troops is much higher than those of the basic conscripted Junta forces and they're much more motivated than the Junta forces - they are fighting for their existence and homeland. Conventional military doctrine states that we require a 10 to 1 advantage to press a successful attack against a defending enemy.
1,000 to 1 is not enough to succeed in a Guerrilla war scenario. Look at the hiding the Yanks got in Vietnam and they poured hundreds of thousands of troops into there, used the might of total air superiority and naval bombardment etc, and still got their arses kicked. Ask them how many they and NATO had in Afghanistan fighting "towel heads"? [and still lost].
The Ukrainian Army has about 30,000 troops committed against 10,000 in the Novorussiya Army, and many Junta forces are actually surrendering without a fight, handing over their gear, getting on a bus and going home with mum who came to collect their sons.
Also, the Junta is bankrupt. They can't even feed their army; people are deserting and walking home, because of no food or pay.
To save face: that wonderful US terminology again; I see it is proposed that Novorussiya become a Russian protectorate! The US is looking to stem the Junta's haemorrhaging.
All Russia needs to do, is open a humanitarian corridor into Novorussiya and maintain/police it and supply Novorussiya with what war materiel they ask for. And it can do all that with the tacit approval of Europe - the US having gone a bridge too far in Ukraine. Russia can allow the Junta to bleed to death here and like Georgia before; the US will be powerless to stop it.
The US has had it's last Tango in Europe.
Urgent appeal: Message from Slavyansk
Igor Strelkov makes an urgent appeal to the international community as western-backed Ukrainian forces slaughter Russian-speaking citizens, strafing women and children with military hardware.
Washington, Paris and London look on and continue to support the Ukrainian government. A massacre is taking place, the west is dancing with the Devil.
Urgent Appeal by Igor Strelkov, July 4, 2014
I would like to make a short statement with respect to what is happening around Slavyansk. With respect to what is happening here. And, well, to make an appeal, if you will.
Yesterday, the enemy completely surrounded Nikolayevka. The enemy shelled the city in the fiercest possible way, using all types of weapons. Using heavy MLRS systems, howitzers, mortars, tanks, APCs. The destruction is enormous. It is simply impossible to determine the numbers of casualties, because nothing works in the city now.
Our units that are in Nikolayevka at this moment continue the battle in complete encirclement. We have no communications with them.
Nikolayevka has been completely cut off from Slavyansk. At this very moment, a large enemy column of armoured vehicles is moving toward Semyonovka from the south, along the Kharkov- Rostov highway. At the same time, the enemy is continuing uninterrupted artillery shelling of the city and of Semyonovka.
Yesterday, the Nikolayevka Thermal Power Plant was destroyed to the ground and set on fire.
To put it bluntly, we are dealing here with unconcealed genocide. In other words, to break the resistance of the Militia, the enemy is using all the available types of weaponry against the civilian population.
Naturally, seeing the destruction and the death of the civilian population, militiamen are starting to lose the will to continue fighting.
I would like to say to you that, in Slavyansk, there is not one Chechen, not one mercenary. There is not a single person here who did not come of their own good will. If, before, 90% of the fighters were local, now the ratio is 95%.
Out of the entire garrison, there are maybe several dozen people who came from Russia. The majority, the overwhelming majority are citizens of Ukraine. Among them, the overwhelming majority are Donbass residents.
These are people who consciously took up arms to defend their homes, their families, their Motherland. To defend their language and their culture. To defend Russia. Because these people never separated from her. They consider themselves Russian. They want to live in Russia.
This right was taken from them a long time ago. And now, when they tried to restore this right, Russia does not want to help them reunite with their people, with their big Russian family.
It is difficult to understand and accept, that, over three months (it will soon be three months since we arrived in Slavyansk to help the local population defend their rights), that, over these three months, no real help has arrived.
I do not claim that Russia does not help. A huge stream of humanitarian cargo, equipment, uniforms, comes to us through private channels. But, that, which we desperately need, does not, at this time, arrive.
Please understand, that even if we get two tanks, four, even ten tanks, five-six artillery pieces, even if a plane flies here once, this will have no impact whatsoever. Over the course of the ceasefire, the Ukrainian army performed a full mobilization and concentration of forces.
Over sixty heavy artillery pieces are pointed a t Semyonovka and at Slavyansk at this time. At Kramatorsk. Two dozen MLRS systems, including Grad, Uragan and Smerch Heavy mortars. All of them are pointed here.
The enemy has so much ammunition - I did not see so much in Chechnya. In our time, we did not have so many shells. And the entire set of this artillery is shelling us without a stop. The supply columns are coming in continuously. They are transferring in more equipment.
Kharkov diligently repairs a dozen and a half armoured vehicles a day. We hit one or two armoured vehicles a day. No more than that. The enemy is able to grow its forces faster than it expends them. Not just faster - much faster.
If Russia is not able to secure an immediate termination of fire and the execution of a truce, or if it does not step in with its armed forces to protect us, to protect the Russian people that reside here, who are a part of the Russian nation, we will be exterminated.
We will be exterminated in the course of a week, two weeks at most. And Slavyansk will be the first to be exterminated, together with its still- numerous population. Over thirty thousand civilians are still left here.
I am being asked to take on the responsibility for their death. And for the death of the Militia brigade under my command. We are ready to fight. We are ready to die. But we do not want to die senselessly, burying beneath the ruins of the city of those people who believed in us.
Some believe that I am panicking, that I am nervous. Yes, I am nervous. Every day, my soldiers are dying. The hospitals are overflowing with wounded. It is very difficult to see children without legs, torn apart by exploding shells.
We will continue to fight. But we desperately need help.
Washington's War Crimes Spread from Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine
By Paul Craig Roberts
A person might think that revulsion in "the world community" against Washington's wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama & many officials in their regimes. But the vocal part of "the world community"-- the West -- has become inured to Washington's crimes against humanity and doesn't bother to protest. Indeed, many of these governments are complicit in the US's crimes, and there could just as well be arrest warrants for members of European governments.
The one exception is Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine. Propagandized Americans think that all the violations in Ukraine are made by Russians. The White Book carefully and accurately documents reported violations that occurred in Ukraine for four months from December 2013 through March 2014.
You will not hear much or anything about it from the presstitute US media, & it's unlikely to receive much coverage in Europe. The facts are so greatly at odds with the West's position, that the White Book is a huge embarrassment to the West.
The slaughter of Ukrainians on Washington's orders by Washington's stooge government in Kiev, has worsened considerably in the past three months, producing more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Russia for protection from strikes against civilian housing, from the air, artillery, and tanks.
Every effort by Russia's government to involve Washington, the European Union, and Kiev in negotiations to find a peaceful settlement, has failed.
Washington is not interested in a settlement. Disturbed by its NATO vassals' dependence on Russian energy and the growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe, Washington is at work through its Kiev proxy murdering citizens in eastern and southern parts of present-day Ukraine that once were part of Russia.
Washington has declared these civilians to be "terrorists" and is trying to force Russia to intervene militarily in order to protect them.
Russia's protective intervention would then be denounced by Washington as "invasion and annexation." Washington would use this propaganda, which would blare from the Western media, to pressure Europe to support Washington's sanctions against Russia. The sanctions would then effectively destroy the existing economic relationships between Russia and Europe.
Washington hasn't had success in imposing sanctions, because, although Washington's European vassals, such as Merkel, are willing, business interests in Germany, France, and Italy stand opposed.
Washington is hoping that by forcing Russia to act, Washington can sufficiently demonize Russia and silence the European business interests with propaganda.
To counter Washington's ploy, Putin had Russia's Duma rescind his authority to send Russian forces into Ukraine. Unlike US' presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Putin does not claim the authority to use military forces without permission from the legislature.
Washington's response to Putin's stand down is to increase the slaughter of civilians, all the while denying that any such slaughter is occurring.
Washington is determined not to acknowledge the existence of the slaughter for which it is responsible, although everyone knows that Kiev would not dare to take on Russia without Washington's backing.
Putin's bet is that European business interests will prevail over Washington's European lap dogs.
This is a hopeful and optimistic bet, but Washington is already at work to threaten and undermine the resistance of European business interests. Using concocted charges, Washington has stolen $9 billion from France's biggest bank --- for doing business with countries disapproved of by Washington.
This was Washington's warning to European business to comply with Washington's sanctions. Washington even told France that the fine would be rescinded or reduced if France broke its contract with Russia to supply 2 helicopter carriers. Other such moves against European businesses are in the works. The purpose is to intimidate European businesses from opposing sanctions against Russia.
Washington's arrogance that Washington can decide with whom a French bank can do business is astonishing. It is even more astonishing that France and the bank would accept such arrogance and infringements of France's sovereignty.
France's acceptance of Washington's hegemony shows that one risk in Putin's bet is that the bet assumes that European business interests can prevail over Washington's strategic interests.
Another risk in Putin's bet is that by standing down and tolerating Washington's slaughter of civilians, Putin is becoming complicit in Washington's crimes against humanity. The longer the slaughter goes on, the more complicit Russia's government becomes.
Moreover, the passage of time allows Kiev to increase its forces and NATO to supply these forces with more deadly weapons. A Russian intervention, which previously would have met with easy success, becomes more costly and more drawn out as Kiev's forces increase.
Washington's puppet in Kiev makes it clear --- that he is not going to accommodate any Russian interests or any opposition of the Ukraine's provinces, to the radical anti- Russian policies of Washington's stooge government.
As Washington acknowledges no responsibility whatsoever for the situation, how long can Putin wait for Merkel or Hollande to break ranks with Washington?
Putin's alternative is to come to the defense of the Ukrainians who are being attacked. Putin could accept the requests of the rebellious provinces to rejoin Russia, as he did with Crimea, declare Washington's stooge, Petro Poroshenko, to be a war criminal and issue a warrant for his arrest, and send in the Russian military to face down the forces sent by Kiev.
Outside the West, this would establish Putin as a defender of human rights. Inside the West, it would make it completely clear to Washington's European vassals that the consequence of their alignment with Washington is that they will be drawn into a war with Russia and, likely, also with China. Europeans have nothing to gain from these wars.
Sooner than later Putin needs to realize that his reasonableness is not reciprocated by Washington. Washington is taking advantage of Putin's reasonableness, and Washington is pushing Russia harder.
Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict. Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did in Georgia and Crimea.
Paul Craig Roberts
Guilt by insinuation: How American propaganda works
By Paul Craig Roberts
Why hasn't Washington joined Russian President Putin in calling for an objective, non-politicized international investigation by experts of the case of the Malaysian jetliner?
The Russian government continues to release facts, including satellite photos showing the presence of Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missiles in locations from which the airliner could have been brought down by the missile system, and documentation that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet rapidly approached the Malaysian airliner prior to its downing.
The head of the Operations Directorate of Russian military headquarters said at a Moscow press conference on July 21st, that the presence of the Ukrainian military jet is confirmed by the Rostov monitoring centre.
The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that, at the moment of destruction of MH-17 an American satellite was flying over the area. The Russian government urges Washington to make available the photos and data captured by the satellite.
President Putin has repeatedly stressed that the investigation of MH-17, requires "a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."
Putin's call for an independent expert examination by ICAO does not sound like a person with anything to hide.
Turning to Washington Putin stated: "In the meantime, no one (not even the "exceptional nation") has the right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political goals."
Putin reminded Washington: "We repeatedly called upon all conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed immediately and to sit down at the negotiating table. I can say with confidence that if military operations were not resumed [by Kiev] on June 28 in eastern Ukraine, this tragedy would not have happened."
What is the American response?
Lies and insinuations.
On July 20, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry confirmed that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of the Malaysian airliner and said that itwas "pretty clear" that Russia was involved. Here are Kerry's words:
"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia into the hands of separatists. We know with confidence, with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists."
Kerry's statement is just another of the endless lies told by US secretaries of state in the 21st century. Who can forget Colin Powell's package of lies delivered to the UN about Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" or Kerry's lie repeated endlessly that Assad "used chemical weapons against his own people" or the endless lies about "Iranian nukes"?
Remember that Kerry on a number of occasions stated that the US had proof that Assad crossed the "red line" by using chemical weapons.
However, Kerry was never able to back up his statements with evidence. The US had no evidence to give the British prime minister whose effort to have Parliament approve Britain's participation with Washington in a military attack on Syria was voted down. Parliament told the prime minister, "no evidence, no war."
Again here is Kerry declaring "confidence" in statements that are directly contradicted by the Russian satellite photos and endless eye witnesses on the ground.
Why doesn't Washington release its photos from its satellite?
The answer is for the same reason that Washington will not release all the videos it confiscated and that it claims prove that a hijacked 9/11 airliner hit the Pentagon. The videos do not support Washington's claim, and the US satellite photos do not support Kerry's claim.
The UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq reported that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. However, the fact did not support Washington's propaganda and was ignored. Washington started a highly destructive war, based on nothing but Washington's intentional lie.
The International Atomic Energy Commission's inspectors on the ground in Iran and all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. However, the fact was inconsistent with Washington's agenda and was ignored by both the US government and the presstitute media.
We are witnessing the same thing right now with the assertions, in the absence of evidence, that Russia is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner.
Not every member of the US government is as reckless as Kerry and John McCain. In place of direct lies, many US officials use insinuations.
US Senator Diane Feinstein is the perfect example. Interviewed on the presstitute TV station CNN, Feinstein said: "The issue is where is Putin? I would say, 'Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say, if this is a mistake, which I hope it was, say it.'"
Putin has been talking to the world nonstop, calling for an expert non-politicized investigation, and Feinstein is asking Putin why he is hiding behind silence. We know you did it, Feinstein insinuates, so just tell us whether you meant to, or whether it was an accident.
The way the entire Western news cycle was orchestrated with blame instantly being placed on Russia long in advance of real information suggests that the downing of the airliner was a Washington operation. It is, of course, possible that the well-trained presstitute media needed no orchestration from Washington in order to lay the blame on Russia. On the other hand, some of the news performances seem too scripted not to have been prepared in advance.
We also have the advanced preparation of the youtube video that purports to show a Russian general and Ukrainian separatists discussing having mistakenly downed a civilian airliner.
As I pointed out earlier, this video is twice damned. It was ready in advance and, by implicating the Russian military, it overlooked that the Russian military can tell the difference between a civilian airliner and a military airplane. The existence of the video itself implies that there was a plot to down the airliner and blame Russia.
I have seen reports that the Russian anti-aircraft missile system, as a safety device, is capable of contacting aircraft transponders in order to verify the type of aircraft. If the reports are correct and if the transponders from MH-17 are found, they might record the contact.
I have seen reports that Ukrainian air control changed the route of MH-17 and directed it to fly over the conflict area. The transponders should also indicate whetherthis is correct.
If so, there clearly is at least circumstantial evidence that this was anintentional act on the part of Kiev, an act which would have required Washington's blessing.
There are other reports that there is a divergence between the Ukrainian military and the unofficial militias formed by the right-wing Ukrainian extremists who apparently were the first to attack the separatists. It is possible that Washington used the extremists to plot the airliner's destruction in order to blame Russia and use the accusations to pressure the EU to go along with Washington's unilateral sanctions against Russia. We do know that Washington is desperate to break up the growing economic and political ties between Russia and Europe.
If it was a plot to down an airliner, any safety device on the missile system could have been turned off, so as to give no warning, or leave any telltale sign. That could be the reason a Ukrainian fighter was sent to inspect the airliner. Possibly the real target was Putin's airliner and incompetence in implementing the plot resulted in the destruction of a civilian airliner.
As there are a number of possible explanations, let's keep open minds and resist Washington's propaganda until facts and evidence are in.
At the very least, Washington is guilty of using the incident to blame Russia in advance of the evidence. All Washington has shown us so far is accusations and insinuations. If that is all Washington continues to show us, we will know where the blame resides.
In the meantime, remember the story of the boy who cried "wolf!" He lied so many times that when the wolf did come, no one believed him. Will this be Washington's ultimate fate?
Instead of declaring war on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, why did Washington hide behind lies? If Washington wants war with Iran, Russia, and China, why not simply declare war?
The reason that the US Constitution requires war to begin with a declaration of war by Congress is to prevent the executive branch from orchestrating wars, in order to further hidden agendas.
By abdicating its constitutional responsibility, the US Congress is complicit in the executive branch's war crimes. By approving Israel's premeditated murder of Palestinians, the US government is complicit in Israel's war crimes.
Ask yourself this question: Would the world be a safer place, with less death, destruction and displaced peoples, and more truth and justice, if the United States and Israel did not exist?
Paul Craig Roberts
Does Russia have a future? By Paul Craig Roberts
The Russian government has finally realized that it has no Western “partners,” and is complaining bitterly about the propagandistic lies and disinformation issued without any evidence whatsoever against the Russian government by Washington, its European vassals, and press-titute media.
Perhaps the Russian government thought that only Iraq, Libya, Syria, China, and Edward Snowden would be subjected to Washington’s lies and demonization.
It was obvious enough that Russia would be next.
The Russian government and Europe need to look beyond Washington’s propaganda, because the reality is much worse.
NATO commander General Breedlove and Senate bill 2277 clearly indicate that Washington is organizing itself and Europe for war on Russia.
Europe is reluctant to agree with Washington to put Ukraine in NATO. Europeans understand that if Washington or its stooges in Kiev cause a war with Russia, Europe will be the first casualty.
Washington finds its vassals’ noncompliance tiresome. Remember Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s “fuck the EU.” And that is just what Washington is about to do.
The US Senate’s Russian Aggression Prevention Act, about which I reported in my previous column, does even more mischief than I reported. If the bill passes, which it likely will, Washington becomes empowered to bypass NATO and to grant the status of “allied nation” to Ukraine independently of NATO membership. By so doing, Washington can send troops to Ukraine and thereby commit NATO to a war with Russia.
Notice how quickly Washington escalated the orchestrated Ukrainian “crisis” - without any evidence - into “Russian aggression.” Overnight we have the NATO commander and US senators taking actions against “Russian aggression”, of which no one has seen any evidence.
With Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Washington learned that Washington could act on the basis of bald- faced lies. No one, not Great Britain, not France, not Germany, not Italy, not the Netherlands, not Canada, not Australia, not Mexico, not New Zealand, not Israel, nor Japan, nor S. Korea, nor Taiwan, nor (substitute your selection) stepped forward to hold the US accountable for its blatant lies and war crimes.
The UN even accepted the package of blatant and obviously transparent lies that Colin Powell delivered to the UN. Everything Powell said had already been refuted by the UN’s own weapons inspectors. Yet the UN pussies gave the go-ahead for a devastating war.
The only conclusion is that all the whores were paid off. Whores can always count on Washington paying them off. For money, the whores are selling out civilization to Washington’s war, which likely will be nuclear and terminate life on earth. The whores’ money will incinerate with them.
It is hardly surprising that Washington now targets Russia. The world has given Washington carte blanche to do as it pleases. We have now had three administrations of US war criminals welcomed and honored wherever the war criminals go. The other governments in the world continue to desire invitations to the White House as indications of their worth. To be received by war criminals has become the highest honor.
Even the president of China comes to Washington to receive acceptance by the Evil Empire.
The world did not notice Washington’s war crimes against Serbia and didn’t puke when Washington then put the Serbian president, who had tried to prevent his country from being torn apart by Washington, on trial as a war criminal.
The world has made no effort to hold Washington responsible for its destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria and Gaza. The world has not demanded that Washington stop murdering people in Pakistan and Yemen, countries with which Washington is not at war. The world looks the other way as Washington creates the US Africa Command. The world looks the other way as Washington sends deadly weapons to Israel, with which to murder women and children in the Gaza Ghetto. Washington passes Senate and House Resolutions cheering on the Israeli murder of Palestinians.
Washington is accustomed to its free pass, granted by the world, to murder and to lie, and now is using it against Russia.
Russian President Putin’s bet that by responding to Washington’s aggression in Ukraine in an unprovocative and reasonable manner, would demonstrate to Europe that Russia was not the source of the problem --- has not paid off.
European countries are captive nations. They are incapable of thinking and acting for themselves. They bend to Washington’s will. Essentially, Europe is a nonentity that follows Washington’s orders.
If the Russian government hopes to prevent war with Washington, which is likely to be the final war for life on earth, the Russian government needs to act now and end the problem in Ukraine by accepting the separatist provinces’ request to be reunited with Russia. Once S.2277 passes, Russia cannot retrieve the situation without confronting militarily the US, because Ukraine will have been declared an American ally.
Putin’s bet was reasonable and responsible, but Europe has failed him. If Putin does not use Russian power to bring an end to the p roblem with which Washington has presented him in Ukraine while he still can, Washington’s next step will be to unleash its hundreds of NGOs inside Russia to denounce Putin as a traitor for abandoning the Russian populations in the former Russian provinces that Soviet leaders thoughtlessly attached to Ukraine.
The problem with being a leader is that you inherit festering problems left by previous leaders. Putin has the problems bequeathed by Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a disaster for Russia. Yeltsin was Washington’s puppet. It is not certain that Russia will survive Yeltsin’s mistakes.
If Washington has its way, Russia will survive only as an American puppet state.
In a previous column I described the article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Washington foreign policy community, that makes a case that the US has such strategic advantage over Russia at this time that a “window of opportunity” exists for the US to remove Russia as a restraint on US hegemony --- with a preemptive nuclear attack.
It is almost certain that Obama is being told that President John F. Kennedy had this window of opportunity and did not use it, and that Obama must not let the opportunity pass a second time.
As Steven Starr explained in a guest column, there are no winners of nuclear war. Even if the US escapes retaliatory strikes, everyone will die, regardless.
The view in Washington of the neoconservatives, who control the Obama regime, is that nuclear war is winnable. No expert opinion supports their assumption, but the neocons, not the experts, are in power.
The American people are out to lunch. They have no comprehension of their likely fate. Americans are an uninformed people distracted by their mounting personal and financial problems. If Europeans are aware, they have decided to live for the moment, on Washington’s money.
What life is faced with is a drive for hegemony on the part of Washington and ignorant unconcern on the part of the rest of the world.
Americans, worked into a lather about Washington’s unfunded liabilities and the viability of their future Social Security pension, won’t be alive to collect it.
World doomed by Western insouciance By Paul Craig Roberts
European governments and the Western media have put the world at risk by enabling the US’s propaganda and aggression against Russia.
Washington has succeeded in using transparent lies to demonize Russia as a dangerous aggressive country led by a new Hitler or a new Stalin, just as Washington sought to vilify Assad in Syria, Chavez in Venezuela, and, of course, Iran.
The real demons – Clinton, Bush, Obama – are “the exceptional and indispensable people” above the reach of demonization. Their horrific real crimes go unnoticed, while fictitious crimes are attributed to other people and countries.
The reason that Washington demonizes a leader and a country is to permit the creation of circumstances that Washington can use to act with force against a leader and a country.
Washington’s incessant lies alleging “Russian aggression” have created Russian aggression out of thin air. John Kerry and the State Department’s Marie Harf issue new lies daily, but never any supporting evidence. With the stage set, the US Senate, the NATO commander and the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are busy at work energizing the wheels of war.
Senate bill 2277 provides for beefing up forces on Russia’s borders and for elevating Ukraine’s status to “ally of the US” so that US troops can assist the war against “terrorists” in Ukraine.
NATO commander Breedlove is preparing his plans for stockpiling war material on Russia’s borders so that US/NATO troops can more quickly strike Russia.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, is at work preparing American opinion for the upcoming war.
On July 24, Dempsey told Aspen Security Forum, a high level group where US opinion is formed, that Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is comparable to Stalin’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and that the Russian threat was not limited to Ukraine or Eastern Europe, but was global.
The intellects in the Aspen Forum did not break out laughing, when Dempsey told them that Russia’s (alleged but unproven) involvement in Ukraine was the first time since 1939 that a country made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives.
No one asked Dempsey what Washington has been doing during the last three presidential regimes: Clinton in Serbia, Bush and Obama in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen, Obama in Libya and Syria.
Here are Dempsey’s words: “You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case. They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.”
Washington’s view that the world is its oyster is so ingrained that neither Dempsey nor his upper echelon audience at the Aspen Forum noticed the absurdity of his statement. Washington and the brainwashed US population take if for granted that the “exceptional, indispensable nation” isn't limited in its actions by the sovereignty of other countries.
Washington takes for granted that US law prevails in other countries over the countries’ own laws – just ask France or Switzerland, that Washington can tell foreign financial institutions and corporations with whom they can do business and with whom they cannot – just ask every country and company prevented from doing business with Iran, that Washington can invade any country whose leader Washington can demonize & overthrow – just ask Iraq, Honduras, Libya, Serbia, and so forth, and that Washington can conduct military operations against peoples in foreign countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen, with which Washington is not at war.
All of this is possible, because Washington has claimed the title from Israel of being “God’s Chosen People.” Of course, Israel’s loss of the title has not stopped Israel from acting in the same way.
Washington has put in motion the wheels of war. Once the wheels of war begin to turn, momentum carries them forward. The foolish, indeed utterly stupid, governments and media in Europe seem unaware of Washington’s orchestration of their future or lack thereof, or they are indifferent to it.
They are dooming themselves and all of humanity by their insouciance.
Readers who cannot tolerate problems without solutions always request solutions. OK, here is the solution:
The only possibility of avoiding war is that Putin take his case to the UN. If Washington can send Colin Powell to the UN unarmed with any truth to make Washington’s case for war against Iraq, Putin should be able to take his case to the UN against Washington’s war against Russia.
The case that the emperor has no clothes is an easy one to make.
Unlike Washington, Putin is willing to share the evidence that Russia has about who is doing what in Ukraine. It is a simple matter to establish that Washington organized a coup that overthrew an elected government, supports violence against those who object to the coup, and has turned a deaf ear to Russia’s repeated pleas for Kiev and the separatists to negotiate their differences.
Putin should make it clear to the world that Washington continues with provocative military steps against Russia, with force buildups on Russia’s borders and calls for more buildups, with S.2277 which reads like a US preparation for war, with provocative actions & accusations by top US generals and government officials against Russia, and with efforts to isolate Russia and to inflict economic and political injury on Russia.
Putin should make it clear to the world that there is a limit to provocations that Russia can accept and that Russia believes that Russia is in danger of a preemptive nuclear attack by Washington.
Putin can describe Washington’s withdrawal from the ABM treaty, the construction of ABM bases on Russia’s borders, and the announced change in Washington’s war doctrine that elevates US nuclear forces from a retaliatory role to a preemptive first strike role. These actions are clearly directed at Russia (and China–wake up China! You are next!).
Putin must state clearly that the likely consequence of the world continuing to enable Washington’s lies & aggression will be not merely another disastrous war, but the termination of life.
The governments of the world, especially Washington’s vassals in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan, need to be told that it is their responsibility to stop their enabling of Washington’s aggression or to accept their responsibility for World War III.
At least we could all have the enjoyment of watching the arrogant Samantha Powers and the craven British lapdog rise and walk out of the UN proceedings. There is no doubt what- soever that Washington is unable to answer the charges.
Here again is the Wolfowitz Doctrine that controls US foreign policy and that condemns Planet Earth to death:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that posses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.
“This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
A hostile power is defined as any country that is not a Washington vassal.
The Wolfowitz Doctrine commits the United States, its peoples, Washington’s gullible EU allies and those peoples, to war with Russia and China.
The destruction of the world is what the idiot EU governments and the presstitute Western media are fostering by their enablement of Washington’s lies and aggression.
WHY RUSSIA REFUSES WAR
Two thirds of Russians say in the latest poll that they are against sending troops to Ukraine, despite the latest US' moves.
WHY EU LEADERS ARE FOLLOWING US SANCTIONS TO HURT RUSSIA
The European Union is expanding anti-Russian sanctions against its own interests under tough pressure from the US in favour of the American military-industrial complex, say experts.
“This week, the EU is to expand and toughen anti-Russian measures. This is obviously an operation staged by Washington that is using the Malaysian airliner downed in Ukraine with most of its passengers being Europeans, as an excuse to defeat Russia,” says the director of the strategic analysis & developments dept, at the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, Vladimir Andrianov.
“The unprecedented propaganda campaign on Russia has turned the Old World's public against Russia, to such an extent that its politicians are afraid of looking indecisive and losing voters' support, to blindly take their cue from the US”
“The EU has no chance to withstand US pressure over anti-Russian measures,” the expert explains: “Washington overtly interferes with Russian-EU gas supply talks & blackmails France over its contract on helicopter carrier Mistral supplies to Russia.
“The US is flagrantly pursuing its own policy in Europe and is appointing its own people to key posts in the EU.”
“EU countries have a deficit of strong leaders now, and European governments are weak. Meanwhile, the EU's bureaucratic machine is proving to be incompetent on issues of global politics and economics and totally dependent on the US will,” Andrianov says.
“The fact that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly switched tactics after several months of a moderate approach shows the EU leaders’ dependence on the US.
“Washington keeps files on all prominent politicians. It certainly has blackmail evidence against Merkel. It’s no coincidence that her cellphone was bugged by US special services. For this reason, the German chancellor yielded to pressure from Washington.”
“All US foreign policy starting from Vietnam, has been tailored to its military's needs. Amid global competition, the US - as the world’s gendarme - cannot bear the thought that Russia remains the only major geopolitical opponent which it can't control,” the expert says.
Washington aims to arm the Ukrainian army with modern weapons and equipment, and pull Russia into a confrontation with Ukraine, Mr Andrianov believes.
“For this purpose, the US Congress plans to recognise Ukraine as a major non-NATO ally and provide it with direct military aid.
“The S.2277 - Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 - has passed two readings in the US. These moves are clearly designed to serve the interests of the US military-industrial complex in order to kindle the fire in Europe and line US pockets on weapon supplies to the crisis zone,” Andrianov says.
“The scenario of pulling Russia into armed conflict with Ukraine is so dangerous that it's unacceptable,” the dean of the Higher School of Economics Faculty for World Economy and International Affairs, Sergey Karaganov says.
“But the EU sanctions already announced, and those on the table, mean that the large-scale US's anti-Russian campaign, caused by the Boeing's downing in Ukraine, is bearing fruit.”
“US pressure for the EU to adopt anti-Russian sanctions aims at splitting Europe, weakening Germany and inflicting as much grave damage as possible on Russia, to deprive the country of its power in the world,” the expert says.
“Europe is blindly obeying the US by imposing anti-Russian sanctions, because EU welfare directly relies on the US in financial terms, the Deputy Director of Russia's Academy of Sciences Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies, Major General Pavel Zolotarev says.
“In terms of its security policy, the EU is peace- ful under the US umbrella. Washington bears the lion’s share of NATO spending, enabling the EU countries to reduce defense spending to 2% of their gross domestic product.”
“EU countries lay out 6-7 times more for education and healthcare than defense,” the analyst adds.
“Russia cannot afford such a budget distribution, while EU countries can, thanks to the US. Hence their obedience to Washington.”
The graphic video above shows fascism in the centre of Europe. Our media says the US-backed coup in Ukraine, is a people's revolution: we say it's fascism.
LATEST NEWS ON WEDNESDAY
*** STOP PRESS ***
NATO’s group in Black Sea to grow to four ships — Russian Naval Staff
Two more NATO warships will enter the Black Sea within several hours, a source at Russia’s Chief of the Naval Staff tells TASS.
"At the moment two NATO ships are in the Black Sea already -- the USS Vicksburg (a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser), Turkey’s frigate, the Turgut Reis. Within hours, the Italian frigate Aliseo and Canada’s frigate, the Fregerickton, will join in. At the moment they are passing through the Black Sea straits.
Cuba Calls for Concrete Acts on Nuclear Disarmament
Cuba's Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, stresses at Geneva, the need to take concrete actions to achieve "the world free of nuclear weapons we wish for."
A new world order based on peace, human solidarity and social justice is essential, he says at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament.
The millions of dollars expended on weapons should be destined to promote peace, economic and social development and a dignified life for all human beings, underlines Rodriguez.
That's why nuclear disarmament can be an objective which is continuously postponed. We condemn the use of nuclear weapons in political doctrines and security strategies -- or the threat of its use. We also demand respect for the inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he adds.
He urges the Geneva Conference to adopt a work program, wide-reaching and balanced, that takes into account the real priorities in disarmament issues. It is important that this forum doesn't give in to the lack of political will of a few countries, he indicates.
If it accomplishes its mandate, he says, it could make a meaningful contribution to breaking the status quo and quitting the present paralysis of the disarmament machinery, which only benefits the powerful.
The Minister notes the Conference is prepared to negotiate several issues simultaneously, including a treaty that eliminates and bans nuclear weapons and another banning the arms race in extra-terrestrial space.
It has the important responsibility of acting to the legitimate expectations of the international community and contributing in a decisive way to peace and international security, as well as the survival of the human species, threatened by gigantic nuclear arsenals & climate change.
He also refers to the importance of agreements that guarantee effective security to States that, like Cuba, have no nuclear weapons, and favors a treaty which bans the production of fissionable material for manufacturing nuclear weapons or other explosive devices, and includes arsenals.
It should be a commitment of all the members of the Conference, to contribute to the success of the International High Level Conference of the United Nations on Nuclear Disarmament -- to be held at the latest, in 2018, he stresses.
He recalls the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (Celac), held in Havana in January, 2014, when the region of Latin America and the Caribbean was formally proclaimed as a Peace Zone.
Such a declaration firmly establishes the commitment of Celac members to promote nuclear disarmament as a priority objective, he concludes.
NATO To Carry Out Drills Near Russia
NATO announces 'crisis management drills' for 'maritime security', says a press release.
It plans to play these war games from the 4th to the 10th of this month from the capitals of its 28 member countries and its Brussels HQ.
Other countries taking part in the manouvres: Australia, Finland, Japan, Sweden, South Korea and Ukraine.
Local media point out that last year, NATO carried out 300 drills near Russia's border.
Russia considers all NATO military drills near its border, as a danger to its national security.
Kiev Refusing To Form Working Groups -- As Contact Group framework Requires
Ukraine's authorities have refused to create working groups within the framework of the Contact Group, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Wednesday. They're dragging out the process, Lavrov adds.
"On February 24, in Paris, the Contact Group was urged to create working groups for reviewing all aspects of the Minsk agreements from February 12th, including on the political process, as soon as possible," Lavrov says.
"Now, unfortunately, the Ukrainian authorities refuse the proposals of Donetsk and Luhansk, of the Russian side, to create such groups and announce their composition, trying to drag out the process. It is troubling," the minister adds.
"There should be no doubt that the documents from February 12 must be implemented fully," Lavrov stresses. "This includes immediately establishing working groups, starting work on constitutional reform, restoring social and economic ties and so on," the minister says.
On Tuesday, the Donetsk People’s Republic envoy to the Contact Group, Denis Pushilin, said the Ukrainian side refuses to appoint representatives to working groups within the framework of the Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in east Ukraine.
"The Ukrainian side refuses, for reasons unknown to me, to appoint representatives to these departments," Pushilin noted then.
The next videoconference of the Contact Group will take place "in the next few days," he added.
Pushilin earlier said that DPR and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) have already appointed their representatives to specialized departments. They have already started working on several issues, he added.
Kiev has vowed to complete heavy weaponry withdrawal from the disengagement line in Donbas, by March 7th, Pushilin told TASS on Tuesday.
Pushilin is "moderately optimistic" after the last Contact Group video- conference on Ukraine. "We managed to agree on several issues. The main result was that the Ukrainian side confirmed its plans to withdraw weapons by March 7th. They vowed to complete by this date," Pushilin said.
"This is very important for us, as we have completed the withdrawal ahead of schedule," he noted.
Prisoner swaps will be discussed at the next Contact Group meeting, urgently, he added.
LPR envoy Vladislav Deinego earlier said that the next Contact Group on Ukraine, at the beginning of March, is to assess the implementation of the package of measures adopted on February 12th, 2015, in Minsk.
"Mainly, [the Contact Group] will discuss the agreements on weaponry withdrawal and the ceasefire," Deinego said.
The DPR and LPR have completed their heavy weaponry withdrawal in accordance with the Minsk agreements, by March 1st.
The Ukrainian forces announced they had started their withdrawal on February 26th.
US troops to hold joint drills with Ukraine’s army in mid-2015
US troops are to hold joint exercises with Ukraine’s military personnel between March 5 & October 31 --- at the International peacekeeping and security centre (IPSC) in Yavorov, in western Ukraine’s Lviv region --- a tender on the US government website says.
The contractor "shall provide all equipment, vehicles, and personnel" necessary for ground transportation in accordance with the ordering clause, the tender says. In particular, seven 50-passenger buses are to be provided to ferry the military personnel from the Lviv international airport to the centre.
In August 2014, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the US intended to allocate $19 million to train and equip Ukraine’s National Guard forces, which include members of the ultra-right 'Right Sector'.
Last year, the US Congress prepared the Ukraine Freedom Support Act aimed at imposing sanctions against Russia and supplying weapons to Kiev.
In mid-December, US President Barack Obama signed this document, but mentioned that the US administration would not take advantage - yet - of the new legislation.
New tanks for Kiev coup forces:
Ukraine’s state company Ukroboronprom has handed over to Ukraine’s National Guard and Defense Ministry a new batch of T-64B (B1) main battle tanks, the National Guard’s press-service says.
According to the report, "the vehicles are prepared for missions in the zone of the military operation."
The vehicles are said to have undergone routine maintenance and overhaul at a plant in Kharkiv, which is an affiliate of Ukroboronprom. The hulls and turrets have been equipped with dynamic protection, which makes the combat vehicles secure against anti-tank weapons.
The facility was -- before the US-backed coup -- involved in joint production with Russia.
US sanctions extension may derail Ukraine conflict settlement — Russian Foreign Ministry
US President Barack Obama’s administration has again issued threats announcing the extension of the old sanctions and the possibility of introducing new ones, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich, says on Wednesday.
"We have noticed a remarkable fact - as soon as signs of a peaceful settlement of the severe Ukrainian crisis appear, Washington, that had a hand in last year’s coup in Kiev, starts to exacerbate the situation," he comments.
"So this time, when the ceasefire regime agreed upon in Minsk on February 12th with assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, is being implemented, Barack Obama's administration is again issuing threats, announcing extensions of previously imposed sanctions and promising new ones: both against our country and against the DPR and LPR."
"What is this if not an attempt to destroy the tenuous budding of trust between them and tUkraine's authorities, to undermine or even derail the peace process?" Lukashevich says.
"The same applies to promises of massive American weapons supplies to Ukraine, indulging the revanchist plans of Kiev’s "party of war."
"We would really appreciate it if the US would finally start thinking about the consequences of its decisions and actions. Moreover, no sanctions will change Russia’s principal position," the diplomat says. "It is high time for Washington to realise it."
Russia to hold artillery drills at testing range in Armenia
Artillery units of Russia's military base in Armenia will conduct field exercises at the Alagyaz high- mountain training complex, the press service of the Southern Military District says on Wednesday.
The exercises at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres above sea level will last until the end of March. They involve about 400 troops. Half of the drills will be conducted at night.
"Within a month’s training course the artillerists will have tactical, special and technical drills, as well as modern military vehicle driving practice, firing operations and weapons fire control. The drills involve the Gvozdika self- propelled howitzers, Grad multiple launch rocket systems, Podnos mortars and the Konkurs anti-tank missile systems, as well as Navodchik-2 modern reconnaissance drones systems, the Southern Military District sources say.
The artillery drills will end with tactical live firing exercises on the imaginary enemy’s facilities and personnel targets in mountain terrain.
From Warsaw Pact to CSTO
The post-Soviet security bloc is to discuss setting up a joint air missile defense system.
Over 100 warplanes took part in the former Soviet states recent air defense drills.
The post-Soviet security bloc’s special task forces have also been out "on drill" in Kazakhstan.
There is no 'cooling in relations' between the post-Soviet security bloc members, says the CSTO secretary general.
China to Hold Military Parade to Mark Victory over Japan
China is to hold a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People''s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, according to a communique released by the local media today.
The announcement was made by the Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Hua Chunying, who did not reveal the exact date of the parade.
Apart from the military parade, other events are to include a rally, a reception and an evening gala in Beijing, attended by the President Xi Jinping and other leaders.
Leaders from the major belligerent states in World War ll, Asian States, other world regions, and international organizations such as the United Nations will be invited to these events for the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, Hua says in the statement.
Foreign friends who contributed to the victory of China's war of resistance, or their family members, will also be invited to the events.
The commemoration aims to honour all people of good heart who cherish peace, and prevent similar tragedies from ever happening again.
Formation of constitutional commission in Ukraine major breakthrough — Belarus leader
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree setting up a constitutional commission for developing amendments to the country’s fundamental law.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko welcomes, on Tuesday, the setting up of a constitutional commission in Ukraine, saying this means that the decisions of the Minsk summit are being implemented.
At talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the host of the Normandy Four meeting on Feb 11-12 says "Many were sarcastic, were joking, but we were sure the meeting was needed and that the presidents' decisions would be implemented --- all of them".
Citing media reports saying Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree to set up a constitutional commission, Lukashenko says "Work on the Constitution begins, and all issues can be solved within that process's framework."
"This is a great breakthrough," the Belarusian leader says.
The Belarusian capital of Minsk hosted 16-hour marathon summit negotiations which ended in a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged a ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15, a withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides, a dialogue on the political future of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as a constitutional reform in Ukraine with the adoption of a new constitution by the end of 2015: decentralization being a key element.
Iran rejects Obama’s 10-year nuclear demand
Tehran on Tuesday rejects as “unacceptable” US President Barack Obama’s demand that it freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years, Reuters reports.
“Iran won't accept excessive & illogical demands,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is quoted as saying, by Fars news agency.
Nevertheless, negotiations underway in Switzerland now will carry on, he adds.
Obama to discuss global security, Ukraine with European leaders
US President Barack Obama will hold talks on Tuesday with European leaders to discuss the Ukraine crisis and global security issues, Reuters reports.
The leaders of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy, as well as the head of the European Commission, will hold a video conference at 11:30EST (14:30 GMT), the White House says.
Merkel invites leaders of ‘Normandy Four’ to Berlin over Ukrainian peace process
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited the leaders of the ‘Normandy Four’ to Berlin in March, to discuss Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.
The phone talks took place between Merkel, and the presidents of France, Ukraine and Russia, Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin, respectively.
The leaders noted the progress in resolving the crisis in Ukraine. Their meeting is set to take place on March 6th.
Ukraine’s Frontlines Calm Ahead of Gas Talks
Ukraine's frontlines are relatively calm ahead of high-level EU-mediated gas talks between Kiev and Moscow, as journalists mourn the killing by mortar fire of another photographer.
Kiev's security officials say there was no fire after midnight, on Ukraine's positions, and no Ukrainian soldiers have been killed over the past 24 hours.
Security spokesperson Andriy Lysenko however said that 8 soldiers were injured, after "rebels" shot at Kiev's positions late Saturday, including from a tank and a grenade launcher.
Relative quiet in eastern Ukraine has set in, following a shaky European-brokered peace plan to end the fighting.
At the UN Security Council Friday, the OSCE's envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini, said the current situation was now at a "crossroads".. where the risk of further escalation remains high, despite "encouraging signs."
In Kiev, colleagues mourned the death of photo- journalist Sergiy Nikolayev from Ukraine's daily Segodnya, who died after being hit by a mortar shell in Pisky, a village not far from Donetsk airport, which Ukraine's forces ceded to the rebels in January.
Nikolayev, 43, succumbed to his injuries along with a fighter from ultra-nationalist organization Right Sector, late on Saturday.
Having covered conflicts in Somali, Lybia and Georgia, "he died as a true war photographer - at a war," Segodnya editor Olga Guk wrote on Sunday, calling him a "fearless professional."
The OSCE's media freedom representative, Dunja Mujatovic, said that his death was a "gruesome reminder" of the dire safety conditions for journalists covering the Ukraine conflict.
Seven media workers have been killed there since last April, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
With a relative hiatus in fighting on the ground, a gas dispute flared up recently, after Russia's Gazprom began direct deliveries to the anti- coup areas in eastern Ukraine --- and then demanded that Kiev pay for it.
Ukraine's national gas company Naftogas stopped pumping gas to anti-coup areas last month, saying it couldn't deliver due to a damaged pipeline, but then adding: that supplies resumed "a few hours" later.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses Ukraine of perpetrating what smacks of "genocide" by denying energy to 4 million people living in a humanitarian crisis.
The Kremlin appeared to soften its rhetoric however, after the EU unveiled plans for a continent-wide single energy market, with the goal of diversifying the bloc's energy sources and decreasing its reliance on Russian gas.
Monday's talks between the energy ministers of Ukraine and Russia together with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, will attempt to replace the "winter package" interim deal mediated by the EU, which guaranteed Russian gas supplies in March.
Moscow argues that supplies to the east by- passing Kiev, fall within current agreements and must be bankrolled by Ukraine, but the government says it has no control over the volume or usage of such supplies, accusing Gazprom of violating the deal.
Naftogaz hopes to discuss a future "summer" agreement and Moscow said last week that it will put the issue of supplies to anti-coup areas to one side, at the talks.
In the current agreement Kiev must pre-pay for all Russian gas. Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak warned last week that the latest payment by Kiev will last only until this Tuesday.
Death toll in E. Ukraine passes 6,000 – UN rights office
Over 6,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since the start of the conflict almost a year ago, according to the UN human rights office. 100s of civilians and military personnel were killed in recent weeks alone, after an upsurge in fighting, particularly at Donetsk airport and Debaltsevo, AP reports, citing the Geneva-based body.
OSCE in Ukraine: Neither side in conflict provides monitors with necessary information
Neither side of the conflict in eastern Ukraine provides monitors with all necessary information, Sputnik quotes Michael Bociurkiw, spokesperson of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine as saying.
Thus, the Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe’s mission, is unable to fully control the heavy weaponry withdrawal from the contact line in areas of the conflict, according to Bociurkiw.
In some cases, the monitors were not allowed to visit the places of new weaponry dislocation, Bociurkiw tells Kommersant daily.
Iraq govt announces start of operation to retake Tikrit
Iraqi security forces, backed by allied Shiite and Sunni fighters, on Monday, began a large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit from the Islamic State extremist group, state TV says.
The battle for Saddam Hussein’s hometown is a major step in a campaign to reclaim a large swathe of territory in northern Iraq controlled by the militants, AP reports.
The city of Tikrit, 130km north of Baghdad, fell into the hands of the Islamic State group last summer.
Lavrov: US Destabilizes Strategic Balance in the World
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, accuses the United States of destabilizing the strategic balance in the world.
"Today, there are number of factors that affect the strategic balance, including the unilateral actions of the US and allies, which destructively influence it," Lavrov says at a non-proliferation conference held in Geneva, adding that "such steps under- mine the prospects for "nuclear zero."
The Russian FM touches on high-precision weapons, indicating that they have reached the level of mass weapons, and that the leading countries in this field will achieve a noticeable military superiority, which runs the risk of causing even more instability.
Lavrov expresses concern over the postponement of entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty, and calls on all nuclear states to approve it, pointing out that Russia did so, in 2000.
On non-strategic nuclear weapons, Sergey Lavrov highlights that Russia has reduced its arsenal of such weapons by three-quarters, and moved all the bases to inside its territories, adding that his country has taken this unprecedented step at a time when similar US arms are still deployed in Europe, capable of reaching Russian territory.
The result of the last summit in Wales?
Lavrov points out that now, some non-nuclear NATO states are participating in joint nuclear maneuvers and being trained in the use of nuclear weapons, as they implement the NATO decisions of last year's summit in Wales --- breaching the most basic rules of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The Russian diplomat meanwhile, hails the findings of the nuclear talks with Iran.
Italy's Lawmakers Call for Recognition of Palestinian State
Italian lawmakers back a 'non-binding' resolution, encouraging the government to recognize Palestine as a state, a move that underlines European frustration over stalled Middle East peace negotiations.
European countries have become increasingly critical of the Zionist entity, which, since the collapse of the latest US-sponsored talks last April has pressed on with building settlements on territory the Palestinians want for their state.
Italy's Chamber of Deputies voted by 300 to 45 to pass the motion, introduced by PM Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD).
Ireland, the UK & France held similar votes in parliament, toward the end of last year. Sweden went further, officially recognizing the state of Palestine.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
While Gaza's boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is to be determined via negotiations with the occupation authorities on a two-state solution.
Israeli Blockade Could Delay Gaza Reconstruction --- For One Century
The reconstruction of Gaza Strip, devastated by 50 days of Israeli military aggression, could be delayed, at the current rate of "progress", for 100 years, warn UN agencies today.
The minimum daily number of lorries with construction materials needed to build houses and schools destroyed by Israeli bombs between July to August, is 12,000 per month and since last October, only 1,661 have entered Gaza, says Shelter Cluster, which is co-chaired by the UN.
Since the 2014-2015 winter started, four people, three of them recently born, died of the cold in Gaza, where over 100,000 buildings were devastated by the Army and the Israeli air force.
If the Israeli blockade on Gaza remains the same, the situation will not improve. During the eight years of the blockade there's been a natural growth of the population, but the provision of services has remained frozen, states Oxfam spokesperson in the Gaza Strip, Arwa Mhanna.
Last year, a donor conference held in Egypt for Gaza committed up to 5.4 billion dollars in aid for Gaza reconstruction, but funds are difficult, to dropped, and the restrictions of Israel's government, make the crisis worse.
The situation is further complicated by the closure of the border crossing between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, due to the increased attacks on army positions and Egyptian police there, by armed groups.
Egypt's government accuses Hamas, in control of Gaza, of supporting the groups, one of which, Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, swore allegiance to the Islamic State, in October.
University of London SOAS favors academic boycott of Israel
Students and staff at the SOAS school of the University of London have approved an academic boycott of Israel, in their week-long referendum.
The Friday vote, open to all students, academics, and management, ended with 73% voting for and 27% against the 'Yes' campaign to boycott Israel.
The voters were asked whether they agreed with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to impose an academic boycott on Israel, on the basis of the instructions of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
The BDS is a global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement -- the end of Israeli occupation and the colonization of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, & respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
The PACBI says the academic boycott of Israel is based on the fact that academic institutions there are massively complicit in Israel’s persistent denial of Palestinian rights, including academic freedom and the right to education.
The SOAS Students' Union has endorsed the BDS campaign since 2005. The union ratified a motion in October 2014, urging its leaders "to take the BDS campaign to the university", through a referendum.
Proposals for the academic boycott of Israel are inspired by the historic academic boycott of the Apartheid regime of South Africa which attempted to pressure the regime to end its abuse of the majority black inhabitants.
Suggestions for the boycott of Tel Aviv, have also been made by academics & organizations in other countries, eg South Africa & Australia.
The goal of the boycotts is to isolate Israel in order to force a change in its oppressive and discriminatory policies towards Palestinians.
Turkey to Launch ’Train-and-Equip Program’ for Syrian Opposition Forces
The train-and-equip program for Syrian opposition militants will start on March 1st in Turkey, the Foreign Ministry says.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic, adds "I cannot give further details about the program."
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had previously mentioned that around 2,000 Syrian gunmen would take part in a train- and-equip program in Turkey early in March.
Cavusoglu said "the aim of the program is to ensure a political transition and strengthen the opposition in their fight against threats such as, extremism, terrorism and all the elements posing a threat to the opposition, including the regime (the national Syrian government)."
Cavusoglu added that other countries, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are also engaged in similar programs.
His remarks hardly justify the illegal nature of regime change by force... the very crime the Nazis were hung for, at Nurenburg. Still -- after Iraq -- perhaps we're all used to it!
On February 19th, Turkey & the US inked a deal to train-&-equip Syrian opposition terrorists, Turkish diplomatic sources say.
Syria has been hit by violent unrest since mid-March 2011.
Where are the western media reports accusing the US, Turkey & Saudi Arabia, of illegally orchestrating civil conflict in the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian country, while giving terrorist groups money, weapons and trained mercenaries..?
Offensive Against Boko Haram 'Very Efective' in Nigeria
The Nigerian Army has recaptured 10 cities from the terrorist group Boko Haram, says Mike Omeri the government spokesperson.
The cities are Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso, Wanti, and Jeram y Karisungul.
The Armed Forces have also recovered 19 towns, according to this source.
Nigeria's military says that the offensive against Takfiri Boko Haram is progressing, claiming soldiers have recovered stocks of arms abandoned by insurgents fleeing the recaptured towns.
Over one million people have been left homeless since 2009, as the rebels have sought to carve out an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria.
The extremists have recently extended their violent campaign into nations neigh- bouring Nigeria's northeast, as regional forces pursue them.
Nigerian military forces have support from a multi national force from Chad, Níger and Camerún.
PAY NOW, UKRAINE !
Ukraine should complete payment for Russian gas TODAY (Friday) --- so that March's supplies are not ended --- the Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, says this morning.
"The concerns and worries are caused first of all by the fact that not much prepaid gas is left. If there is no money, supplies will stop --- starting from Tuesday," Novak says, adding that this is in line with the agreements reached in Brussels.
"Payment should be completed on Friday so that gas is supplied starting from Tuesday," he says.
"If there is no payment there will be a break in gas supplies to Ukraine. The European consumers will fully receive gas," Novak says, adding though, that since Kiev has not fully provided for its needs if Ukraine does not receive gas from Russia, there are risks that it will siphon off Russian gas.
Emirates Foreign Ministry refutes Kiev's claims on plans for weaponry exports
An agreement on cooperation in defense technologies the UAE and Ukraine signed recently does not stipulate any contracts for deliveries of weaponry to the Ukrainian side, Faraj Faris al-Mazrouei says on Friday.
He says the agreement was only a future system of cooperation between the two states in the field of defense technologies.
First deputy chief of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council on Friday said Kiev had concluded contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars on both exports & imports of weapons at IDEX-2015 exhibition this week in Abu Dhabi.
The official said that the majority of contracts had been reached with US companies.
Asked if Ukrainian troops will have new lethal weapons at their disposal, Gladovsky replies: "We are in contact with the whole world. We do get lethal weapons."
Earlier this week, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko announced concluding contracts on arms supplies to Ukraine at the IDEX-2015 arms exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.
"During the IDEX-2015 arms exhibition, Ukraine concluded some 20 contracts on arms supplies," he said. According to the president, European, American and Middle Eastern companies will supply defensive weapons to Ukraine.
‘100yrs to repair Gaza’: Oxfam says (blockade remains, aid almost non-existent)
Reconstructing Gaza could take a full century, if Israel doesn’t stop the siege, leading charity Oxfam warns. And that’s just the time frame for essential projects. The NGO’s regional director calls the situation “deplorable.”
Six months after the latest conflict, which saw Israel roll out Operation Protective Edge, with eight weeks of bombardment, followed by a devastating ground assault, Oxfam’s states:
“The situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly desperate” and calls for the lifting of the 8-year blockade, and a continuation of peace talks...
“Only an end to the blockade of Gaza will ensure people can rebuild their lives,” Regional Director Catherine Essoyan says. With the seige stopping the flow of construction materials in & agricultural produce out, this is having a crippling effect on the lives of Palestinians.
According to the NGO, new figures reveal a drop last month in construction materials, which are vital to the efforts. "Less than 0.25 percent of the loads of essential construction materials needed have entered Gaza in the past three months," the statement adds.
In pure figures, over 800,000 truckloads of such materials are still required to repair the infrastructure damaged in last summer’s operation alone - Israel’s bloodiest in years - which claimed 2,200 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians.
About 100,000 people still live in shelters and other makeshift or temporary accommodation because of this lack of materials.
“Tens of thousands more are living in badly damaged homes,” Oxfam adds.
“Families have been living in homes without roofs, walls or windows for the past six months. Many have just six hours of electricity a day and are without running water. Every day that people are unable to build is putting more lives at risk. It is utterly deplorable that the international community is once again failing the people of Gaza when they need it most,” she continues.
“Exports of agricultural produce from Gaza have fallen in the last year to just 2.7% of the level before the blockade was imposed. Fishermen are still restricted to an enforced fishing limit of 6 nautical miles – far short of where most fish are – farmers are also restricted from accessing much of the most fertile farmland.”
The charity continues to provide water, food vouchers and health services, where it can.
In the meantime no progress has been reached on a diplomatic, long-term solution to the crisis --- supposed to take effect after the ceasefire.
As the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank persists, people continue to be trapped. The same goes for the border with Egypt, which has been shut for the past two months, preventing thousands from leaving.
The organization also places blame on the Palestinian unity government, which has not been able to reach a consensus and is therefore “exacerbating the situation.”
Chinese diplomat teaches USA about Ukraine:
Western nations should heed Russia's legitimate security concerns over the volatile situation in Ukraine, a top Chinese diplomat says, in a rare public statement on a crisis that has damaged relations between Russia and the West.
Qu Xing, China's ambassador to Belgium, says the Ukraine crisis occurred due to an ongoing “game” between Russia and the West, which has not abated despite, or because of, the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Saying that outside interference by various powers has inflamed the Ukraine situation, he says Moscow naturally feels threatened -- unless the Western powers engage in a more constructive approach.
Xing advises the Western powers to “abandon the zero-sum mentality” in their efforts to deal with Moscow and the Ukraine crisis and “take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration," Reuters reports, quoting state news agency Xinhua.
China in the past has urged all parties to sit down and negotiate for peace.
China's ambassador, whose Brussels office is in the same city as NATO’s headquarters, offers some insight as to what is motivating the United States on the international stage, and what could lead to its possible decline.
“The US is unwilling to see its presence in any part of the world being weakened, but the fact is, its resources are limited, and it will be --- to some extent --- hard work to sustain its influence in external affairs,” he is quoted as saying.
Xing says Washington's involvement in Ukraine could “become a distraction in its foreign policy.”
The Chinese diplomat’s words represent a sharp departure from the relentless wave of hostile rhetoric coming from the West, which has gone to great lengths to blame Russia as the aggressor in the crisis.
Russia has been accused of arming eastern Ukrainian militias and dispatching soldiers and armaments as reinforcements – claims Moscow has denied on numerous occasions.
Mariupol not being attacked: Militia news
The DPR’s Army "invaded" Pavlopol & Pischevik as part of a plan to take Mariupol city, said the West's apologists in the media recently.
French leader Hollande barked "more sanctions" on Russia, if the militia's tried to march further...
What really happened...
The militias of the DPR’s Army came into Pavlopol and Pischevik, settlements in the southern front, near Mariupol, because they were neutral earlier, and then fighters of the punitive battalion Azov, announced their attack on Novoazovsk, then took Pavlopol, Shirokino and Kominternovo.
Kiev's forces came into these settlements and hoisted their flags, taking advantage of the sharpening situation in Debaltsevo.
Ukraine's mass media presented this as a great victory. However, when the Army of Novorossia counterattacked, the Nazis fled.
Zionist Settlers Torch Jerusalem Church Building
Zionist settlers set fire to a church-owned building in Jerusalem overnight; a day after a Mosque near Bethlehem was also torched by Zionist terrorists.
The vandals torched an annexe of a Greek Orthodox seminary just outside the walls of the Old City, and scrawled "graffiti insulting Jesus", Israeli occupation police spokesperson Luba Samri says, describing it as a "nationalist" attack.
There were no casualties and the fire was put out before causing any significant damage, she adds.
On Wednesday, a mosque near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank was set alight and anti-Arab slogans in Hebrew sprayed on a nearby wall.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat says the perpetrators of the incidents are terrorists, and he blames Israel's government for inciting attacks by “continuing its illegal occupation & colonization based on distorted religious claims."
The United Nations has warned such incidents could "inflame an already volatile environment."
Both incidents bear the hallmarks of so-called "price tag" attacks, which generally target Palestinians, but have increasingly also hit Christian and Muslim places of worship.
Belarus Condemns Coup Attempt in Venezuela
The Foreign Ministry of Belarus condemns attempts to destabilize Venezuela and the plans outlined abroad to overthrow elected constitutional president, Nicolas Maduro.
Spokesperson for the Foreign ministry, Dmitri Mironchik, tells Prensa Latina news agency by 'phone, that they have heard the news about the attempt to destabilize Venezuela with deep concern and alarm.
On February 12th, Maduro denounced the attempted coup in his country by extreme right-wing groups, coordinated from abroad.
He expresses Belarus' firm condemnation of aggressive actions that seek violent change and are against the Constitution and Maduro.
Mironchik says that political dialogue should be held strictly under the Constitution and the order established in Venezuela, where more than 15 years ago, the Bolivarian Revolution led by late President Hugo Chavez took place & is supported by a majority of the population.
Mironchik says he chose Prensa Latina agency to issue his statement, so that the support of his country for the Venezuelan Government and its people can be known throughout Latin America & the Caribbean.
Obama Incited Bloodshed in Venezuela
The US special services together with their “assistants” from Canada and Great Britain tried again to stage a coup in Venezuela.
In the middle of February, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the state's security services frustrated the plans of the US embassy, and put an end to its hostile actions. As a result, a number of people were arrested, including Venezuelan air force officers & activists of the radical opposition.
The subversive activities were guided by Western diplomatic missions. The names of those behind the plot are known but they cannot be brought to justice, as they are protected by 'diplomatic immunity...'
War with Boko Haram will soon be over: Nigeria army
The head of Nigeria's Army, Lt Gen Kenneth Minimah, says that the war against Takfiri Boko Haram militants, will soon end.
He makes the comments Thursday, as he visits soldiers in Baga, a fishing town on the shore of Lake Chad in the far north of Borno State, in northeast Nigeria.
Nigeria’s military said on February 21st, that it had regained control of Baga from the Boko Haram extremist group, which had overrun the town on January 3rd.
“The war is almost ended. We will liberate Dikwa, Bama, Gwoza, Marte --- and other places --- in a few days’ time,” Minimah tells the troops.
His comments come amid efforts by Nigeria and other regional countries, to secure and stabilize the volatile region before Nigeria’s general elections, on March 28th.
The vote was initially scheduled to take place on February 14th, but was postponed for six weeks over security concerns on polling day.
President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have been accused of buying time to revitalize their election campaign.
Minimah, meanwhile, describes the 6 week deadline as “achievable,” adding, “We are still within the timeframe.”
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” says that its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.
It has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria since the start of its activities in 2009, which have left over 13,000 people dead.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says 650,000 Nigerians have fled their homes over the Boko Haram violence and are displaced inside Nigeria, while thousands of others have taken refuge in neighboring countries.
Kiev says started withdrawing weapons from eastern Ukraine
Kiev says it has started the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline in east Ukraine, as part of the Minsk ceasefire deal with anti-coup, self defence forces.
“Ukraine is today (Thursday), beginning the withdrawal of 100-mm cannons from the front-line,” states Ukraine's military.
“This is the first step in the pullback of heavy weapons and will be carried out exclusively under the supervision and verification of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe),” the statement adds.
Self defence forces have announced that they have already begun pulling back their heavy weapons, including tanks & rocket launchers, from the conflict zone.
Earlier on Thursday, military officials of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk stated that 30 bodies of Ukrainian soldiers have been retrieved from the rubble of Donetsk airport buildings, in eastern Ukraine.
Four other bodies were also discovered on Wednesday, the officials add.
“They will be taken to the morgue and work will begin to find their relatives,” the military of the self-proclaimed republic, states.
Donetsk airport was the scene of deadly clashes between the Ukrainian army and self defence forces, before the ceasefire deal was signed.
UN: Yemen’s Saleh Stole Up to $60bn
Ousted Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh amassed and transferred billions of dollars out of the world’s most impoverished Arab country through “corrupt practices”, a UN panel says.
In a report to the UN Security Council released on Wednesday, the UN experts say the money, between $32 billion and $60 billion, was made corruptly, during his 33-year rule over Yemen.
The experts say the money was stashed in at least 20 countries, and they're continuing an investigation to find those who abetted the former dictator.
"The origin of the funds used to generate Ali Abdullah Saleh's wealth, is believed to be partly from his corrupt practices as Yemen's president, particularly relating to gas and oil contracts where he reportedly asked for cash in exchange for granting companies exclusive rights to prospect for gas and oil in Yemen," the report says.
Saleh pocketed nearly $2 billion per year over the past three decades, the report concludes.
"It is also alleged that Ali Abdullah Saleh, his friends, his family and his associates stole money from the fuel subsidy program, which uses up to 10% of Yemen's gross domestic product, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement."
Many officials interviewed by the experts have called for a return of the money to the impoverished country.
"Many have argued that the country's spiraling debt and economic problems would be alleviated with a repatriation of these alleged stolen assets."
France warns Russia to face more EU sanctions 'if Mariupol, Ukraine, attacked'
Moscow will face more EU sanctions if self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine attack Ukraine’s port of Mariupol, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says, on Wednesday.
The deputy commander of self-defense forces in Donetsk, Eduard Basurin, on Tuesday denied Kiev’s statement that there are serious clashes in villages near Mariupol. He said there had been provocations from the Ukrainian side, but no major incidents, Reuters reports.
US armour parades 300m from Russian border
NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in the border town of Narva, just 300 metres from the Russian border.
Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.
The military parade was dedicated to Estonia's Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, headed the troops, as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.
140+ pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker, flying the stars-and-stripes.
Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).
Estonia also showed off its howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.
The parade snubs Estonia's eastern neighbour, Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. Estonia's government is among several who accuse Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine, by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.
Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving differences via dialogue.
NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian threat. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.
Russia sees it as yet more proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that has been moving towards Russia's border and compromising its national security.
The Estonian government defends its right to hold any military maneuvers it wants in its territory.
“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian PM Taavi Rõivas says in the capital, Tallinn.
Historically Narva was the focus of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.
The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered.
Narva took turns between being governed by a self-proclaimed Estonian Republic and being occupied by German troops and the Red Army, until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.
It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.
The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now, by Russia, to sow dissent.
Commenting on the issue in an interview with the Washington Post, President Ilves says that seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”
Ukraine buying arms from the UAE
Ukraine's government has approved a draft agreement with the government of the United Arab Emirates on military-technical cooperation, Ukraine's political weekly Novoe Vremya reports.
Counselor of Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Herashchenko wrote on his Facebook page:
"Arabs, unlike Europeans and Americans, don't fear Putin’s threat to launch a Third World War if Ukraine is supplied with armaments and military equipment.
"They must owe Russia a grudge on an almost double oil price drop and the global instability, hindering long-term development of the UAE. Thus this will be a small revenge on their part".
On February 23rd, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a federal TV journalist interviewing him that war in Ukraine shouldn't be expected. “In my opinion such an Apocalyptic scenario is hardly possible”, he said.
EU countries refuse to supply armaments to Ukraine, and the US government is still considering this issue. On February 21st, US Secretary of State John Kerry, stated that President of the USA Barack Obama will decide on the provision of aid to Ukraine in the form of armaments, in the nearest future.
On February 17th, Kiev was reported to have sent a list of military equipment it needed, to Washington.
40% Rise in new West Bank Zionist Settlement Homes in 2014
The number of new homes under construction in Zionist settlements, in the Israel-occupied West Bank, rose last year by 40%, Peace Now anti-settlements group says.
End Demanded to Israeli Apartheid System in Occupied Palestine
Judicial and government authorities and political and social activists from forty states, demand an end to the apartheid system being imposed by Israel on the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
At the International Forum for Justice in Palestine, held in Beirut this weekend, participants denounced the persistence of "an official and institutionalized regime of two separate legal systems on ethical-national bases".
The criticisms of Tel Aviv are based on the systematic violation of international law, with the policy of settlements expansion in the heart of the occupied territories by building houses for Israeli citizens, who are, by preference, Jews.
That, according to a report presented at the Forum, has led to systematic discrimination - based on norms and laws that affect every aspect of the lives of Palestinian residents in the West Bank.
In international humanitarian law, occupying powers do not have the authority to set up "non-military or political courts appropriately established" to try residents from occupied territories for offenses against security and public order.
But from the beginning of the occupation of the Arab territories in 1967, specifically in the West Bank and Gaza, the Zionist regime has created military courts with jurisdiction to try any person accused of committing crimes against Israeli security.
Israeli military courts can try any person, resident or not, on occupied territories, but, almost without exception, they've only tried Palestinians, activists say.
Lawyers, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, ministers, MPs, and other personalities with political and social influence, call to set up an International Permanent Council, to follow up on the defense of Palestine.
They recall that the 780-meter-long wall built by Israel in the West Bank, under the pretext of security, became another form of segregation or apartheid that led to the annexation of over 10% of the land in the West Bank --- and deprived Palestinian farmers of their land and water.
What many call a "wall of shame" left over 10,000 Palestinians living in communities trapped between the wall and the so-called Green Line, and this directly affects over 680,000 people, accounting for 30% of the population of the West Bank, experts recall.
Heavy weapons being withdrawn in E. Ukraine starting Tuesday – militia
Self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk will begin the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline in east Ukraine, on Feb 24, says the deputy commander of the Donetsk Defense Ministry, Eduard Basurin. He adds that the process will be “fully transparent” and “under OSCE observation.”
Basurin also confirms that over 30 pieces of heavy artillery have already been pulled out, as of Monday.
Earlier, Kiev’s military & the defence militia in eastern Ukraine, announced they would withdraw heavy weapons from the frontline after Saturday’s exchange of 191 prisoners.
The process is to be completed by March the 7th, under the terms of the truce.
'Normandy 4' FMs meet in Paris Tuesday – Kiev
The foreign ministers of the 'Normandy Four' group - Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany - are discussing implementation of the Minsk agreement and withdrawal of heavy weapons on Tuesday, at a meeting in Paris, according to statements broadcast by Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Andrey Perebiynis.
He expresses hope that the meeting will help achieve implementation of the agreement.
Head of DPR Zakharchenko congratulated the nation on Defender of Fatherland day
Head of the DPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko appealed to the nation on this occasion:
“Dear fellow citizens, the inhabitants of Donbass, glorious warriors of Donetsk People’s Republic!
I heartily congratulate you on the Day of Defender of the Fatherland! The sons of Donetsk land have always been known for their bravery and heroism.
Legends are being told about their feats of arms. The glorious traditions of home- land defense are being passed from one generation to another – the traditions of the warrior-nation, the victorious nation – in the course of the most terrible battles of the Great Patriotic War, as well as in the course of carrying out international duties in Afghanistan and in the course of defending the frontiers of Donetsk People’s Republic.
The holiday we are going to celebrate is one more reason to feel the incessant consistency of our traditions.
On this day we congratulate all those who are in the line of duty, who, while risking their lives, are protecting the security of our mothers & fathers, our children and all the peaceful citizens of the Republic.
Today our enemies enter into negotiations with us. They fear us and respect us as a force they have to regard. This is your achievement, first of all.
However at the same time, we bow our heads to those who gave their lives for their Father- land. We mourn all those who perished in the battles for the future flourishing of Donetsk People’s Republic.
Their heroic dead will always stay in the memory of our people. And our duty is to never forget them.
I want to wish every defender of our fatherland strong health, well-being, happiness to your nearest and dearest, and, most of all, peace in our land!”
Ukrainian troopers in Artemovsk: “Poroshenko is lying!”
Sources in Artemovsk report that remnants of Ukrainian units, having “broken through” from the Debaltsevo cauldron — there are about 1000 of them, more than one third of the troopers wounded and shell-shocked — are on the brink of rebellion.
Ukrainian troopers claim that they have been betrayed, and Petro Poroshenko is personally responsible for this betrayal.
The tragedy of the “breakthrough” from the cauldron occurred thus, reports Novorossia Today:
On February 17th, the commander of the 128th Transcarpathian independent mountain infantry division, Colonel Sergey Shaptalo, entered into negotiations with the commanders of units of the DPR and LPR Army storming Debaltsevo.
At that moment, Sergey Shaptalo was the most senior officer of Kiev's Armed Forces in the cauldron, as all the top command of sector “S”, fled from the “non-existent” pocket one week before. According to the troopers, Shaptalo negotiated the exit of 128th brigade --- in trucks with light firearms.
However, in the course of implementing the agreement, he tried, under pressure from Kiev, to withdraw with a convoy of armoured vehicles.
It so happened that the staff column and approximately half the personnel passed freely & the second and third convoys of armoured vehicles, the "separatists" smashed into pieces.
As a result of the 128th brigade's retreat, units of the DPR and LPR Armies practically eliminated the Debaltsevo cauldron, having captured without fighting, for instance, the locality of Olkhovatka, in which Kiev's Army left several dozen armoured vehicles and many artillery pieces.
According to different estimates made by the troopers who retreated to Artemovsk, about 3000 men were left in the cauldron after their retreat. Most probably, they'd already surrendered to the militiamen.
Also, during the march on Artemovsk, about 300 troopers from 128th brigade and other units, surrendered to the DPR Army of their own accord.
The spirit of the Ukrainian soldiers who'd broken through the cauldron in Artemovsk was low, and it got still lower after the arrival of Petro Poroshenko in Artemovsk, who in a rush, posed with the task force (those who left with the staff unhindered) then praised the wise army command, who had “saved” people from the “Debaltsevo stronghold”.
Troopers took his speech as equivocal, since they had been lied to constantly over the course of the last two weeks: they weren't told they'd been encircled, they experienced food shortages, they were abandoned by almost all their commanders, and -- to crown it all -- on the march out, the commanders had, bluntly, violated an agreement with militia to save Poroshenko’s image, which led to heavy losses.
Artemovsk hospitals are full of wounded soldiers. They brought about 100 bodies with them and no one knows how many dead troopers were left lying in the fields. Different figures are presented — from 150, to one thousand.
Semyon Semenchenko has became the most popular figure among Ukrainian troopers, as he is “the only one who tells the truth”.
On the whole, the troops are disorganized and demoralized; they openly disobey their commanders and curse them to their face; rumours are circulating about the deserters who shot several Security Service agents on the road to Kramatorsk yesterday.
Perhaps such sentiments will herald the start of the end of Kiev's Armed Forces, as an organized military force.
Ukraine army puts off withdrawal of heavy weapons from frontline of conflict
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says the army will not withdraw heavy weapons along the frontline in the east, as long as a full ceasefire with anti-coup forces has not come into force.
“As long as pro-Russians continue firing at (our) soldiers’ positions, we can't talk of withdrawing heavy weapons,” Defense Ministry spokesperson, Vladislav Seleznyov, says in Kiev, on Monday.
Military spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Anatoliy Stelmakh, tells reporters:- no weapons withdrawal will begin until pro-Moscow forces stand down and their attacks stop "entirely".
Stelmakh adds that there were 2 artillery attacks overnight:- “as long as firing on Ukrainian military positions continues... it is not possible to talk about a pullback.”
Colonel Valentyn Fedichev, deputy commander of military operations against anti-coup forces, says there have been 27 attacks against Kiev's forces over the past 24 hours, adding, “If the enemy continues to use their heavy weapons, it's clear that Ukraine will continue to counter- act these operations.”
Meanwhile, OSCE spokesperson, Michael Bocuirkiw, says monitors have seen heavy weapons movements by both sides, but cannot yet determine whether weapons are being withdrawn, or just redeployed.
Crimea to prosecute Poroshenko over reintegration remarks
The Republic of Crimea says it will put Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on trial for his remarks about bringing the region back under Kiev’s rule.
"We pledged to convene a military tribunal in Crimea for Poroshenko and, believe us, we will deliver on our pledge. We will bring him here and try him," says Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergey Valeryevich Aksyonov in the region’s administrative centre, Simferopol, on Monday.
Noting that Crimea’s territorial status won't change under any circumstances, Aksyonov adds, "Crimea will never return to Ukraine. Crimea has returned to its home country, the Russian Federation, forever."
Earlier in the day, Poroshenko vowed to restore Crimea to Ukrainian territory:
"The Ukrainian state will regain control over this temporarily occupied territory. I am not saying that this will be a simple thing to do, which we will go through quickly. But this will happen by all means,” he said in Ukraine's capital Kiev.
"Ukraine will never give up its sovereign right to Crimea and will defend the rights of the people who live there. The Ukrainian leader- ship, politicians & civil society have reached a complete consensus on this. We enjoy absolute support for this course from other states and from international organizations," he added.
In March 2014, Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea joined the Russian Federation after a referendum, in a move which greatly frayed Moscow-Kiev ties.
Relations were strained further after Ukraine launched military operations in mid-April 2014 to silence anti-coup protests in the country’s regions in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev, the US and the European Union accuse Moscow of involvement in the chaotic situation in eastern Ukraine and have imposed a series of sanctions against Russian & pro-Russia figures.
Moscow, however, rejects the accusation and has retaliated with sanctions of its own.
Ex Ukrainian Premier Azarov Calls for Parallel Government Former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov is said to be ready now to gather opposition forces capable of counteracting the current regime in Kiev, on the first anniversary of the coup that changed the course of Ukraine.
Azaron, who was prime minister in 2010-2014, makes his remarks inn the program "The Right to Know" of the Russian TV Centre channel, on the first anniversary of the events in Kiev which overthrew President Viktor Yanukovich.
"I am ready to meet with professionally able people, with knowledge and experience, to create this type of group, able to confront the anti-Ukrainian regime," says Azarov.
He refers to the formation of what he calls a government "in exile" that represents the interests of the opposition, which, he says, was forced to abandon their country in the wake of the coup of February 22, 2014 that was backed by ultranationalists, and the main body of oligarchs.
He insists on the need to create this type of representative body that can offer the Ukrainian people an alternative viewpoint and design a concept for development for the country.
Azarov says that the country has gone through "a difficult period during which the Ukrainian state and a great country, has collapsed."
Half Kiev’s forces in east Ukraine killed by poor kit, friendly fire - media
At least a half of the Ukrainian military’s losses during the conflict in east Ukraine were caused by poor kit and friendly fire, The Sunday Times reports.
The paper cites a former UK soldier who resigned to become an instructor of the Ukrainian National Guard in May 2014.
The 40-year-old, a naturalised Briton of Ukrainian descent who had served in Afghanistan and the Middle East, says Ukraine’s forces, largely made up of volunteers and conscripts, suffered major casualties because of the frequent incidents of friendly fire and the mishandling of weapons, according to the paper.
He says the Ukrainian army's string of defeats, including last week’s fall of Debaltsevo, where Ukrainian troops were trapped by the Donbas militia, was mainly due to a failure of command and a lack of skills and discipline.
"Six out of 10 casualties with the Ukrainian volunteers occur, because of blue-on-blue shooting [the army term for friendly fire] & the inability to handle weapons," says the man, who gives only his nom-de-guerre, Saffron, the paper says.
Weapons pullout in east Ukraine to start on Feb. 24 - Donetsk Republic’s Defense Ministry
Work began on Sunday for the Kiev military and the self-defense fighters of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, to pull out all their heavy weaponry from the delimitation line, DPR Defense Ministry spokesperson Eduard Basurin said by 'phone on Sunday.
"The pullout was expected to start three days ago but nuances were determined and now all the sides have agreed & decided that February 22nd will mark a two-week countdown for the weaponry withdrawal," he says, adding that Kiev's military had also agreed to start the heavy weaponry pullout from Sunday.
The weaponry withdrawal will last about two weeks "as prescribed in the Minsk accords," the spokesperson says.
"Preparatory works are under way. Tomorrow will be a holiday and the process of weaponry pullout, will really start from February 24."
Under a package of measures signed by the Contact Group on February 12th, the Ukraine army will withdraw weaponry from the actual engagement line, while DPR and LPR militias will pull out weapons from the line defined by the Minsk memorandum.
The ceasefire regime in Donbas officially came into force from 01:00 am Moscow time (00:00 hours Kiev time) on February 15th.
Authorities of the DPR and LPR provide access to Debaltsevo for OSCE Sunday
The authorities of the Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics were ready to provide access to the town to OSCE monitors on Sunday, say the authorized representatives of the DPR & LPR at the Minsk talks, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deynego.
‘We don't yet know the amount of cars and monitors going to visit Debaltsevo, but we are ready to take them all’, he pointed out.
Kiev Ambassador to Germany: Neo-Nazis Are Part of Our Forces.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk (a Western Ukrainian from Lvov), made a shocking statement on Günther Jauch’s TV show, one of the most popular political talk shows in Germany.
Answering a question on the large presence of “strange people with SS insignia” in the Ukrainian Army, Melnyk admitted that Azov and Right Sector neo-Nazis are a part of Ukraine's armed forces, that they are controlled and coordinated by Kiev’s pro- Western regime and that, without them, “the Russian army” would have advanced much further.
Alternative General Staff of Ukraine's Army poses threat to country, Europe - experts
The setting up of an alternative General Staff for Ukraine's Armed Forces, after the defeat at Dabaltsevo, is now proposed by neo-nazi units, who blame inept top commanders of the Armed Forces.
This is leading Ukraine to "an oligarchic coup" in favour of Ukraine’s political warmongers, experts believe.
On Thursday, the commander of the Donbas battalion, Verkhovna Rada deputy, Semyon Semenchenko, made public a plan to set up a Unified Staff of Ukrainian Volunteer Forces with its headquarters in Dnipropetrovsk.
A memorandum on the motion was signed by the representatives of 13 battalions & public associations, including 5 warlords and the leader of the radical nationalist Right Sector movement, Dmitry Yarosh.
According to the organizers, the staff of volunteer battalions will be a centre for "coordination, exchange of intelligence, and the drafting of operational plans" to be handed "later on" to the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
"Events of the past few months, and especially of the past several weeks, have shown the inability of people at the General Staff, to control and coordinate the Ukrainian troops appropriately," Semenchenko wrote.
He called on President Petro Poroshenko to change the top commanders in the General Staff.
Semenchenko, after a bad reaction to his initial Internet posting, rushed to disprove accusations that the "volunteer forces" staff he was about to set up with Yarosh, would pressurise Poroshenko, or order violence against the present authorities.
He promised to obey the orders of government agencies.
"One-man command is the cornerstone element for the defense capability of any country," Dr. Sivkov, head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems says.
"The setting up of a parallel ‘general staff’ in Dnipropetrovsk, proves that the system of control over Ukraine's Armed Forces is collapsing, and that the ‘volunteer detachments’ have totally stopped reporting to the Supreme Commander, personalized by President Poroshenko, and to the country’s Defense Minister."
"Standing behind this new 'General Staff, are the Ukrainian oligarchs, with Mr Igor Kolomoisky, governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, at the head," Dr. Sivkov says.
"Kolomoisky, whom Russian Investigators have placed on an international wanted list in connection with a case on the use of prohibited instruments and methods of warring, propelled the field commanders to the Verkhovna Rada."
"In other words, the oligarchs are setting up a strike fist in a struggle to reconfigure all state power in Ukraine in favour of the ‘party of war’, alongside with the (existing) centre of political influence," he believes.
"It’s all too obvious that the initiative for an alternative ‘general staff’ emerged after the operation the pro-Kiev forces had been conducting near Debaltsevo, collapsed.
This aims at revenge, at a continuation of the civil war in Donbas, in violation of the agreements on a ceasefire & the pullout of weapons reached in Minsk on February the 12th," Dr. Sivkov says.
Col-General Leonid Ivashov, president of the International Centre for Geopolitical Analysis, believes the setting up of a parallel "general staff" really means "Farewell Ukraine".
"An uncanny radical force, the Right Sector, and the field commanders of paramilitary ‘volunteer’ units, have now spoken out in defence of the narrowly egotistic interests of the oligarchs," he says.
"But if you take account of the fact that this force is well-organized and armed, and that it has heavy armaments at its disposal, it will be tearing the state and society apart," Gen Ivashov says.
"Demands for the resignation of the top commanding officers of the General Staff will be followed by attempts on the part of the parallel staff to dislodge the Supreme Commander," he says.
"Ukraine will be pushed into turbulence, with everyone warring against everyone.
"Europe may bump into a situation like the Middle East, gripped by the unruly and uncontrollable Isis, which it has already bumped into," the expert says.
"The surfacing of an alternative ‘general staff’ in Ukraine exposes a practical split between Poroshenko & Kolomoisky, who is trying to turn the battalions he finances into his own army," says A. Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis."
"Initially, this quasi-army was knocked to- gether to suppress revolt in the east of Ukraine, but now it will be spearheaded at the ‘party of peace’ in Kiev," he says.
"The rise of this parallel centre of political and power-wielding influence, carries a threat to Ukraine’s existence within its current border & its transformation into a semblance of Somalia, where two de facto states and several illicit zones exist at the same time," he says.
"The problem is, the dismantling of a state in the centre of Europe, will pose a threat to the entire continent --- with totally unpredictable consequences."
Russian Civil Defense Delivers Humanitarian Aid to Donbass
More than 200 tons in humanitarian aid have been delivered by the ministry for Emergency Situations of Russia to the people of Donetsk & Lugansk, in an unprecedentedly fast time.
This fifteenth delivery since August 2014, in over 30 lorries, consists of food and medicine for the populations of the cities most affected by the humanitarian crisis, says Oleg Voronov, deputy head of the National Centre for critical situations.
The aid will be distributed to the inhabitants of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Debaltsevo, say sources in the regions.
The local civil defense says that the aid was organized in record time, with extraordinary speed, by Russia's PM, Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev is asking the Ministry of Energy and Gazprom to present a proposal on the "humanitarian supply" of gas to Donbass, as Kiev's gas cuts to these regions in a harsh winter, have left many without heat.
Ex-NATO Chief: “Our Allies Funded ISIL to Fight Hezbollah”
A former US General admits that the Takfiri group operating in Iraq and Syria, ISIL, was funded by the US’s allies in a bid to fight the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
In an interview with CNN earlier this week, General Wesely Clark, who was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said that ISIL: “got started through funding from our friends and allies.”
“People will tell you in the region that if you want somebody who will fight to the death against Hezbollah, you don’t put out a recruiting poster saying ‘sign up for us we’re gonna make a better world.’ You go after zealots and you go after these religious fundamentalists. That’s who fights Hezbollah. It’s like a Frankenstein.”
General Clark didn't specify which US allies were involved in creating ISIL.
He's known for his critical comments regarding Washington’s war plans.
In a book published in 2003, he said the US is pursuing a campaign of wars starting in Iraq which will later include Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finally, Iran.
Putin: Russia’s Military Might Unmatched
Russian President Vladimir Putin says that other countries shouldn't have the illusion that they can attain military superiority over Russia, Interfax reports.
"No one should have the illusion that they can gain military superiority over Russia --- put any kind of pressure on it. We will always have an adequate answer for any such adventures," he is quoted as saying in an address he will give next week on Russia's Defenders' of the Father-land Day, holiday.
Putin's comments came the same day the UK's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Putin poses a "real & present danger" to the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are NATO members.
In comments published by The Times, Fallon said NATO is preparing to repel any possible aggression.
Israel Worried about Upcoming War with Hezbollah
Zionist political and military analysts express their worries about 'surprises' that Hezbollah may shock Israel with, in any upcoming war: including their taking control of Galilee and their use of strategic, pinpoint missiles.
The analysts also consider that the Zionist entity is not preparing well for the coming confrontation, the vague nature of which, perplexes its political and military officials.
Asserting that ISIL does not endanger the Zionist entity, they consider that Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance factions represent the main direct threat to the existence of 'Israel', reports Al Manar.
Iranian Troops Besiege Israel, 130,000 Basij Fighters to Enter Syria:Zio-Study
From the Mediterranean to the Golan, Iran has built an active front and direct military presence on the Zionist entity's border, to deter and eliminate the Israeli Regime, says an Israeli study published by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The Zionist study concludes that 'Israel' faces a fateful crisis and that, as much as it feared the Iranian nuclear program, it never imagined that Iran would be standing on its border, even before its nuclear agreement with the Americans was complete.
The Iranian threat to 'Israel' is no longer theoretical, nor does it have anything to do with the entity's deterrent of using its nuclear weapons, which cannot be used, considering the international power balance.
The threat has become direct, practical and conventional, it adds.
The study points out that Iran has based its Syria deployment on the establishment of a new Hezbollah Syria organization along the lines of Hezbollah Lebanon, as well as on the direct presence of Iranian forces in Syria, particularly in the Golan Heights.
"Iran's deployment in Syria & particularly the presence of its forces in the Golan Heights, at first only as command posts and a limited number of special forces, reveals a trend of Iranian activity in the region that is direct, not only by proxy, as it has been, to date.
According to the Iranian plan, command posts are meant to operate "130,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters waiting to enter Syria," as is evident from May 2014 statements by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps senior official, Hussein Hamedani, that were censored and removed immediately after their publication in Iran."
After the recent campaign in southern Syria, Iran's direct deployment in the Golan creates a single battle front against Israel from Rosh Hanikra to Quneitra, the study notes.
"Iran's aim in deploying in the Golan Heights is not only to deter Israel from acting against its nuclear program, defend Syria as part of the resistance axis, and establish an active front for anti-Israel terror attacks in the Golan and even liberate the Israeli Golan..."
"It also meshes with the Iranian regime's ideological perception of Israel, as an entity that must be eliminated, as is evident in statements by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei", the Zionist study stresses.
Yemen parties agree on transitional council – UN mediator
The feuding parties in Yemen agree on a “people’s transitional council,” Reuters quotes UN mediator Jamal Benomar as saying on Friday.
The Houthi movement, a Shiite Muslim militia, has taken over power, which led to the resignation of the president last month. Benomar says the deal isn't final, but is an “important breakthrough that paves the way to a comprehensive agreement.”
Russian humanitarian convoy with aid for Debaltsevo heads for Donbass
An additional convoy of humanitarian aid to the population of eastern Ukraine has left the Rostov region, TASS news reports.
The move followed orders from PM Dmitry Medvedev to offer additional assistance to Ukraine’s Donetsk & Lugansk regions, including the town of Debaltsevo. The cargo includes medicine, food, water and clothing.
No Russian military activity in region bordering Ukraine, Dutch experts say
Dutch military experts confirm it -- there is no military activity in Russia’s Rostov region, on Ukraine's borders, head of Russia's Defense Ministry’s International Treaties Implement- ation Department, tells Sputnik.
International experts inspected 13,000 sq. kilometers (5,000 sq. miles) in the region, Sergey Ryzhkov adds. The inspection, between 17th and 20th of February, was done on both the ground and in the air, and focused on the area that Ukrainian specialists had chosen earlier.
The inspections are held in accordance with the 2011 Vienna Document, which stipulates measures for confidence-building & security.
NO UKRAINE PEACE WITH US NEOCONS
Mike Billington, with the Asia desk of the Executive Intelligence Review, from Leesburg, Virginia, shares his thoughts on the Ukraine situation, with Press TV.
Billington argues there is a very real threat that Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko be subjected to a coup, because the army has become totally demoralized.
The commentator censures Washington’s attitude to the events in eastern Ukraine.
As long as the US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, remains in office, he says, peace will evade Ukraine’s eastern regions.
French analyst calls for France-Germany-Russia alliance
The analyst stresses that the tripartite bloc "will be the only chance for Europe to get rid of the United States protectorate & become, in General de Gaulle's words, a ‘Free Europe’"
France & Germany, following this historical tradition, should work on forming an alliance with Russia, prominent French writer and political journalist, Eric Zemmour, says, in newspaper comments on Friday.
"NATO is doing its utmost to present Russia as an enemy of the West and thereby justify its existence," Zemmour writes in Le Figaro.
"Fortunately, France & Germany in due time blocked Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and that’s a positive fact," the journalist says.
"Now they've finally coordinated a position on establishing relations with Moscow, they shouldn't stop halfway and should move to form a tripartite alliance with Russia," he says, recalling numerous past efforts by "kings, emperors and presidents" of the 3 countries, to set up such an alliance.
"Alliance with Russia is absolutely necessary to fight against Islamists in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan Mali and Afghanistan, where these extremists are trying, not only to erase all traces of a Western and Christian presence, but to pave the way for carrying the war into European territory," Zemmour adds.
Russia Demands West Take Responsibility for Situation in Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that Western politicians must contribute to a solution to the Ukrainian conflict, instead of adding fuel to the confrontation, says Lavrov, in statements about the events in the city of Debaltsevo, in Donbass.
The foreign minister notes that he is confident that responsible western politicians will do everything possible in the interest of Ukraine's people and State, and not incite confrontation or expose their lack of leadership, by making improper statements.
According to Lavrov, the US was misusing the complex situation in Debaltsevo, where 5,000 Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded, as the leaders of Germany & France warn of the dangerous consequences for the negotiations now under way.
He says statements made by Vice President Joseph Biden about possible further sanctions on Russia, in the case of non-compliance with the Minsk agreements, prove Washington's non-constructive line.
Debaltsevo is a pretext and when we warned on February 11 about the need to solve that problem... we were told that "that problem did not exist", says Lavrov, in reference to public statements by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who denied a defeat of Ukrainian troops on that front, where heavy clashes have taken place since January.
The head of Russian diplomacy says Moscow shared the concerns about the situation there and demanded an end to the use of weapons in an effort to change the status quo that existed on February 15, when a ceasefire was decreed in the zone of operations in Donbass.
Lavrov insisted that common sense prevail -- to save the people inside that siege. The task must be about saving lives, and above all other political ambitions, he points out.
Putin, Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko back OSCE monitoring mission
In a phone conversation the 4 leaders noted that implementation of the set of measures approved by the Contact Group on February 12th, is allowing a reduction in the intensity of any armed actions in Donbas region.
President Vladimir Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a 'phone conversation, focused on the need to fully comply with the Minsk agreements, the Kremlin press service said on Thursday.
"The leaders of the four countries focused on the need to ensure a sustainable ceasefire regime and on taking practical steps on heavy weapons withdrawal by the warring parties - and also the speedy release of captives," the press service of the Russian president says.
The sides stressed their readiness to actively support the work of OSCE's monitoring mission at this "current important stage of settlement," the Kremlin says.
The leaders also agreed to hold contacts via the Foreign Ministries of the four countries in the near future in an effort to comply with the Minsk agreements, the press service says.
Talk of sending peacekeepers to Ukraine could now 'frustrate Minsk agreements'
A senior Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev says on Thursday, it is too early to discuss plans to deploy peacekeepers to Ukraine and urges the sides to comply with the Minsk peace agreements.
"This initiative is inappropriate, no matter what its content, as it de-facto "washes away" the agreements reached in Minsk," says Kosachev, chair of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Wednesday to Kiev's National Security and Defense Council, that it should consider the possibility of deploying an international peacekeeping force to Ukraine.
The Council, headed by Oleksandr Turchynov, later approved the relevant request for the UN and the EU to send peacekeepers to Donbas.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin has accused Kiev of seeking to “destroy” a recent ceasefire agreement by calling for the deployment of UN-mandated peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine to enforce the deal.
Churkin said on Thursday that Kiev aims to ruin the deal, which was reached last week in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, shortly after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made the request for the peacekeepers at an emergency meeting.
Churkin said, “When someone, instead of doing what he's signed up to, suggests a new scheme and so soon, that raises suspicions that he wants to destroy the Minsk accords.”
“If one proposes new schemes right away, the question arises if (the accords) will be respected,” he added.
The remarks by Churkin come after the anti-coup forces in Donetsk announce that a total of 3,088 government troops have been killed in fighting in the eastern flashpoint city of Debaltseve.
The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin says Thursday, that plans to invite peacekeepers to Ukraine could disrupt the Minsk agreements, which do not envisage such a measure.
Kiev says troops withdrawn from Debaltsevo, rebels claim military ‘surrender en masse’
Kiev troops surrounded in the city of Debalstevo have started to surrender en masse, Ukrainian anti-coup rebels state. President Poroshenko announces that there has been a complete withdrawal from the contested city.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirms in a video statement that he has given an order to withdraw troops from Debaltsevo on Wednesdsay.
“We stated and proved that Debaltsevo was under our control and that there was no encirclement. Our units withdrew according to plan, in an organized manner. They took military hardware with them – tanks, APCs, artillery pieces, tow- tracks, cars,” the president says.
He adds that 80% of the troops have already left the city.
Reuters cites a witness who saw the troops, some of them injured, arriving in Artemyevsk, a city northwest of Debaltsevo, through which a road leading to Kiev-controlled areas goes.
Poroshenko will visit eastern Ukraine later in the day and chair a security council session in the evening, Ukrainian media reports.
Earlier Semen Semenchenko, MP and commander of one of Kiev’s volunteer battalions, reported that troops were being withdrawn from the contested city. He added that Kiev should now attack in other parts of the frontline, which have been weakened by the rebels to move on Debaltsevo.
“They are empty and we have troops. One strike and the frontline would crumble,” he assured, adding: withdrawal is “beyond comprehension.”
Meanwhile Maksim Leshchenko, a senior official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told journalists on Wednesday that the Ukrainian troops are laying down arms “in their hundreds.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Eduard Basurin, a military spokesperson for the rebels, confirmed taking some 300 soldiers prisoner.
Debaltsevo was Kiev’s stronghold deep inside the rebel-held territories in eastern Ukraine, a military asset portrayed in the media as a site of a heroic last stand by Kiev's military. The rebels said they had some 3,000 troops encircled in a pocket and had been calling on them for days to lay down their arms and surrender.
Kiev rejected this, insisting that Debalstevo supply lines were intact and that the city would remain under their control.
The fate of Debaltsevo was arguably the biggest debating point at last week’s peace talks in Minsk, which resulted in a ceasefire agreement. The continued violence around the city contrasts with the virtually uninterrupted truce in other parts of eastern Ukraine.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini demanded an end to hostilities at Debaltsevo & threatened Russia with more EU sanctions.
"The EU stands ready to take appropriate action in case fighting & other negative developments in violation of the Minsk agreements continue," she said.
On Wednesday, anti-government forces started pulling back heavy weapons from the frontline in quiet areas of the conflict zone.
“Five 152mm self-propelled artillery pieces are being withdrawn from the village of Yelenovka to their permanent base,” Basurin told media.
RIA Novosti confirmed the pullout, saying that its correspondent witnessed the withdrawal of Grad multiple rocket launchers and tanks from the disengagement line.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Kiev and the rebels, to do whatever they can to resolve the issue without loss of life.
“I really hope that the decision-makers in the Ukrainian leadership won’t prevent Ukrainian troops from laying down arms, if they cannot take such an important decision themselves and order it. Or at least they shouldn’t harass people who want to save their lives,” he said.
“On the other hand, I expect the militias not to detain those people and allow them to leave the conflict zone & go back to their families,” he added.
UNSC calls on warring parties in Ukraine to stop fighting
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on warring sides in eastern Ukraine to cease fighting and implement a European- brokered peace deal as the situation swiftly deteriorates.
The UNSC made the call on Tuesday, after a meeting at which a Russia-drafted resolution endorsing the new ceasefire agreement on Ukraine, was unanimously approved by the 15-member council.
The resolution endorses the peace deal reached after marathon talks on February 11 & 12 by the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia, which came into effect on February 14th.
The council expressed "its full respect for the sovereignty, independence & territorial integrity of Ukraine" and its "grave concern at the tragic events and violence in eastern regions of Ukraine."
"Since the very start of the crisis Russia has actively called for a peaceful settlement through inclusive, transparent dialogue between the sides in the internal Ukrainian conflict," Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council. "We will adhere to this fundamental approach in the future also."
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Kiev to permit Ukrainian soldiers who are surrounded by pro-Russia forces in the town of Debaltseve to lay down their arms.
"I hope that the Ukrainian authorities are not going to prevent the Ukrainian soldiers from laying down their weapons," Putin said at a press event in Hungary's capital Budapest.
Putin went on to say that he hoped Ukraine would refrain from legal action against its surrendered troops.
The Russian president added that the crisis can not be solved through “military means".
Pro-Russia forces said on Tuesday they had taken control of 80 percent of the eastern city of Debaltseve.
The pro-Russians say that because Debaltseve is inside their territory it should not be included in the ceasefire agreement.
Pro-Russia forces and Kiev troops have been battling for weeks over Debaltseve, which connects Donetsk and Luhansk, the strong- holds of the pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine.
European court confirms Poland's complicity in CIA torture program
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejects Poland’s appeal to overturn a criminal investigation into officials working at a secret prison used in the CIA torture program. The Polish government now has to finish its investigation and pay damages.
The original July 2014 ruling by the court included a demand that Poland swiftly conclude a criminal investigation into the jail in question – code-named Quartz – and pay compensation totaling $262,660 to two men who were held and tortured at the site.
Both men are still imprisoned in the United States in the Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba.
“Poland is required to finally conduct a thorough and effective investigation, and make public the information concerning its role and hold those responsible to account,” Helen Duffy, the lawyer for one of the men, Abu Zubaydah, says.
Alleged Al-Qaeda associate Zubaydah was said to have been waterboarded 83 times during his detention by the CIA.
Lawyers for the detainees say the investigation was deliberately stalled to avoid a politically embarrassing trial, possibly for senior Polish officials involved, but prosecutors denied this saying the case was complex and needed time.
Amrit Singh is a lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, who represents the second detainee in the case, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Al-Nashiri is allegedly involved with the bombing of the USS Cole warship in Yemen in 2000, which led to the deaths of 17 US sailors. Singh says that Tuesday’s ruling establishes a precedent for all other countries.
“This judgment sends a message loud and clear --- that European states that collaborated in the CIA torture program can't evade accountability,” she says.
Other countries with known black sites for the CIA’s rendition and torture program, include the UK's Diego Garcia, plus bases in Romania Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Thailand.
The court’s decision adds pressure on other European countries to end the secrecy about their involvement in the CIA’s global torture program after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The US Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture in December revealed numerous details of how dozens of detainees were subjected to torture, including waterboarding and mock executions, that yielded very little, if any, intelligence as a result.
After the release of the Senate report, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former PM Leszek Miller acknowledged for the first time that they knew that the CIA had been holding people on Polish soil.
However, they said they knew nothing about what happened inside the Quartz detention centre --- a secure villa on the grounds of an intelligence training academy in a Polish forest.
Putin: The West ships arms to Ukraine already
The West is already supplying weapons to Ukraine, but it will not change the situation in the Donbass, Russian President Vladimir Putin says.
At a press-conference after talks in Hungary, Russia's president responded to a reporter's question about supplies of Western weapons to Ukraine, which Kiev has been vehemently seeking lately.
Vladimir Putin said that he was aware of the fact that the West is already supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine, although it won't change the situation in the Donbass...
"As for possible supplies to Ukraine, firstly, according to the information that we have, these arms are already being delivered to Ukraine. There's nothing unusual about it. Ukrainian military men have no desire to participate in the fratricidal war, and the militia fighters are very much motivated to protect their families," Putin said. "I am deeply convinced that whoever delivers weapons, the number of victims can certainly increase, but the result will be the same as it is today, it is inevitable," the Russian president adds.
According to Politonline.ru, reports about Western arms in Ukraine are plentiful on social networks, YouTube and media outlets. Western arms, such as machine guns, sniper rifles and many other types of small arms, are frequently found in Ukraine.
Some experts, for example, US-based political scientist and research associate at the Centre for Globalization Studies, Stephen Lendman, believes that "Washington delivered heavy combat weapons to the Ukrainian army from the very beginning of the conflict, or even before the war started.
According to Lendman, the key to the situation lies in the fact that the US has always armed Kiev, and Obama's statement about the USA's intent to supply weapons to Ukraine is a big lie, Pravda.Ru says.
"There are American weapons in the Donbas and in Ukraine," an officer of the Ukrainian Armed Forces tells Politonline.ru.
The officer says that other pro-Ukrainian countries are likely to be involved in the process to supply weapons to Ukraine.
MOST EUROPEANS SUPPORT RUSSIA
The US and EU authorities claim that Russia has been isolated and deprived of all allies.
Nevertheless, we know that representatives of many European countries stand in favor of dialogue & a resumption of normal relations and cooperation.
In Austria, many politicians & political scientists oppose sanctions against Russia and call for the need for a reasonable and balanced approach in building relations with Russia.
Professor at the Institute of East and South- Eastern Europe in Vienna, Peter Bachmeier:
"I cannot say that Russia is isolated. Austria is against such a policy. Austria's government does not support sanctions against Russia. In June, Austrian President Fischer invited Russian President Putin to Vienna, and he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, he spoke with the Chancellor and other leaders of the country. The Austrian people are generally very positive towards Russia.
Austria is a neutral country, it is not a member of NATO, and the majority of people reject NATO and NATO policy," Peter Bachmeier told Pravda.Ru.
The professor says Austrians support the policy of Russia. "They especially support Russia's position on the conflict in Ukraine," he says.
"One should also distinguish the position of the authorities in different countries around the world, from their people. In many countries, the authorities have very strong anti-Russian propaganda in the media, but this does not affect the people's opinions. There is a gap between the media and the people, including on the part of intellectuals & the political class," says the expert.
The problem, he says, is the EU and European Commission, who support the sanctions. These remain under the influence of the USA.
"The Austrian government, unfortunately, is taking a very careful stand. But on the other hand... our government is taking steps in favor of the Russian position. Because our economy, the Chamber of Commerce, our business community, is against the sanctions. They have very close relationships with Russia," Peter Bachmeier says.
Kiev's army was pulling heavy weapons closer to Debaltsevo to unblock trapped troops — Basurin
Kiev was pulling heavy weapons closer to Debaltsevo -- with the obvious aim of un- blocking troops trapped in the Debaltsevo pocket, Eduard Basurin, a spokesperson for the defense ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on Tuesday.
"According to reconnaissance data, after dark, Ukraine’s troops are pulling heavy artillery systems & multiple launch rocket systems into position near the Artemovsk, Svetodarskoye & Luganskoye settlements," Donetsk News Agency quotes him as saying.
He said it indicates that the Kiev regime is preparing another attempt to free troops entrapped in the Debaltsevo pocket.
Basurin says hundreds of Ukrainian troops have surrendered to DPR militias over the past 24 hours. He says he refrains from citing the exact number of surrendered Ukrainian troopers and their names due to security considerations.
"According to our information, the Ukrainian army command says those who surrender are "traitors to the country’" -- with all the relevant legal consequences," he says.
Novorossian forces are carrying out mopping-up operation in Debaltsevo
The District Police Board and railway station have been captured by Novorossian forces, reports the news agency, Novorossia Today.
Both are situated in the centre of the town. Kiev troopers are surrendering en masse. Some sources report that 120 of them laid down their arms and were taken prisoner by People’s Militiamen.
The German chancellor talked to President Putin on Tuesday by 'phone, to resolve the stand off in the "cauldron", of trapped Kiev troops.
Otherwise, the ceasefire is holding, and -- in the meantime -- the world turns its attention to the IS terrorism threat...
US policy on Iraq led to creation of ISIL: Chomsky
The United States’ policy of war and sanctions against Iraq, destabilized its civil society and provoked the sectarian divisions which led to the creation of the ISIL terrorist group, says US linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky made the comments in an interview with journalist David Barsamian published by New York's 'Jacobin' magazine, on Monday. The complete interview will be broadcast by Alternative Radio.
Chomsky says he agrees with Graham Fuller, a former CIA officer, who said, “the US created the background out of which ISIS grew and developed.”
The American scholar says the 2003 US invasion was “devastating” to Iraq, which had “already been virtually destroyed, first of all by the decade-long war with Iran in which, incidentally, Iraq was backed by the US, and then a decade of sanctions.”
He adds that the “genocidal sanctions… devastated civilian society, strengthened the dictator, compelling the population to rely on him for survival.”
Chomsky says the “very destructive… attack is compared by many Iraqis to the Mongol invasion of a 1,000 years earlier.”
He says after the offensive, US policy makers separated “the sects, Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd, from one another, and set them at each other’s throats. Within a couple of years, there was a major, brutal sectarian conflict incited by the invasion.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, Chomsky says the roots of the Takfiri ideology of ISIL “are in the major US ally, Saudi Arabia. That’s been the major US ally in the region for as long as the US has been seriously involved there, in fact, since the foundation of the Saudi state.”
He adds that Saudi Arabia has “kind of a family dictatorship” which “uses its huge oil resources to promulgate its doctrine throughout the region. It establishes schools, mosques, clerics, all over the place, from Pakistan to North Africa.”
Hezbollah engaged in fighting ISIL in Iraq, Nasrallah says
The Secretary General of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, says the Lebanese resistance movement has been fighting the ISIL Takfiri group in Iraq.
“We may not have spoken about Iraq before, but we have a limited presence because of the sensitive phase Iraq is going through,” Nasrallah says in a Martyrs day speech.
Hezbollah fighters have been backing the Syrian army, in its fight against Takfiri militants operating inside Syria.
“I call for those who urge us to withdraw from Syria to join us in our fight in Syria. Let's go to Iraq and everywhere to face off this threat, because this is the right way to defend Lebanon,” Nasrallah says.
Nasrallah criticizes Jordan’s double standards in the fight against the terrorists, saying that all terrorist groups follow the same mentality.
"Jordan cannot fight ISIL in Iraq and support al-Nusra in Syria, terrorist groups are faces of the same coin."
The al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and the ISIL terrorist group have "the same essence, ideology, culture, methodology," the head of Hezbollah says, adding, "The only difference between them was over leadership, but they are essentially one and the same."
"All the Takfiri currents must be fought, without distinction," he adds.
Nasrallah’s remarks come as Jordan vows to intensify airstrikes on ISIL strongholds after the immolation of a Jordanian pilot held hostage by the terrorist group.
Several Arab countries, like Jordan, are taking part in the US-led military coalition, that has purportedly been targeting ISIL positions in Syria with no authorization from Damascus... and no UN mandate.
The same Arab countries are accused of supporting the Takfiris in Syria and Iraq, where ISIL terrorists are wreaking havoc.
"How can some countries in the Gulf take part in the international coalition against Daesh, while giving money and weapons to the al-Nusra Front. How is that logical?" Nasrallah asks.
Bahrain regime 'terrified'
Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, describes the government in Bahrain as a “terrified” regime, saying Hezbollah supports the Bahraini people.
“There's a terrified and weak government in Bahrain that fears any word of right, it even threatens to expel the Lebanese,” Nasrallah says.
Nasrallah slams those countries who criticize Hezbollah’s stance on developments in Bahrain, saying that those who arm militants, including ISIL, in Syria, can't criticize Hezbollah’s position on Bahrain.
“We didn't call for toppling the Bahrain regime, we only supported those who were calling for dialogue,” he notes.
On January 9th, Nasrallah highlighted the peaceful nature of the anti-regime protests in Bahrain, and that month also slammed the detention of Bahraini opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman.
“The people of Bahrain have legitimate rights. They decided to launch peaceful a revolution --- contrary to other movements in the world. They were shot at but they didn't shoot. They were killed on roads, but they didn't kill any- one and held no knife,” Nasrallah said.
Since mid-February 2011, 1,000s of protesters have been holding numerous rallies, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
The Manama regime has, however, responded to the peaceful protest rallies by launching a heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrators and political dissidents.
Bahrain has come under harsh criticism by many human rights groups, for its brutal clampdown on peaceful gatherings and the numerous cases of human rights violations.
Yemen’s Houthis rightful
Hezbollah's head praises the Houthi movement in Yemen for their contribution to restraining the expansion of Takfiri groups in the region.
He describes the Yemen’s Shia Ansarullah movement as 'rightful', 'brave' and 'wise'.
Over the past months, al-Qaeda militants have frequently carried out attacks on Yemen’s security forces. The militants have also engaged in battles with Ansarullah.
In September 2014, Ansarullah fighters gained control of the capital Sana’a, after a 4-day battle with army forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the half-brother of the country’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Ansarullah revolutionaries say the Yemeni government has proven to be incapable of running the affairs of the country properly, or providing security.
Israel ISIL's sole beneficiary
The leader of Hezbollah notes that Israel is the only entity in the Middle East that benefits from the ISIL Takfiri group.
“All the world considers ISIL to be a huge threat, except Israel,” Nasrallah says. “ISIL's agenda has served the Israelis immensely ."
ISIL against Islam and Christianity
Nasrallah condemns the execution of the Egyptian Coptic Christians by ISIL Takfiris in Libya: “We extend our condolences to the Egyptian people and the Coptic Church, this crime has affected both Islam and Christianity.”
The ISIL Takfiri terrorists released a 5-minute video on Sunday showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya.
The video showed handcuffed hostages dressed in orange jumpsuits, similar to previous ISIL victims, kneeling along the seaside, near Tripoli.
The ISIL had earlier published photos of the 21 Egyptian workers, claiming that the pictures were taken moments before their decapitation.
The victims, whose photos were published in the latest online edition of Dabiq ISIL's magazine, were reportedly abducted in Sirte in 2 attacks in December 2015 & in January.
Merkel says situation in east Ukraine unstable due to Debaltseve crisis
Achieving peace in east Ukraine will be an extremely difficult task as the situation in the region remains unstable, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says at a news conference in Berlin on Monday.
"The situation is unstable. And this is not unexpected, taking into consideration the situation in Debaltseve," Merkel says.
"It has always been clear that we need to do a lot more. I have always stressed that the attempts we make, do not guarantee success. This will be an extremely difficult path," she stresses.
Russia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, says that the main problem in implementing the Minsk agreements, is a lack of regulation of the situation around Debaltseve.
At talks in Minsk, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko didn't admit that Kiev's forces were surrounded in Debaltseve.
Self-defense forces say there is encirclement and Kiev's forces can exit ----- but only if they leave their weapons and military equipment.
From 6,000 to 8,000 Ukrainian servicemen are surrounded in Debaltseve, according to different estimates.
Despite the situation in Deblaltsevo, Zurabov hopes the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will be able to implement the Minsk agreements, Izvestiya says. "There is a chance for that, at least that’s what I think,"Zurabov is quoted as saying.
The present Kiev regime says the truce is being violated "hundreds of times" by the "terrorists", as the Luhansk republic today reports one dead in the shelling of Zorinsk by Kiev's forces and the Donetsk republic says there will be no weapons withdrawal until Kiev stops its shelling.
Kiev is also blocking food supplies now, to the self-proclaimed DPR republic — a DPR Contact Group envoy says.
The Donetsk People’s Republic urged Kiev, on Sunday, to observe the truce, and stated that the situation in the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, is still tense.
"The ceasefire there, did not come into force at the due time. Ukrainian troops blocked in Debaltsevo keep on trying to break the encirclement," DPR Defense Ministry spokesperson,Eduard Basurin, says.
The ceasefire regime came into force at midnight on Sunday.
Chief monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine of the OSCE Ertugrul Apakan earlier confirmed that the ceasefire has been generally observed, except for in Debaltseve.
OSCE monitors failed to reach Debaltseve to observe the situation, he says, and calls on both parties to the conflict to provide access to all territories within the conflict zone, for representatives of the OSCE mission.
Russia' top generals are hit by personal sanctions today, by the EU, in a move which prompted surprise in Moscow.
Venezuela Facing Permanent Coup d'état
Venezuela faces a permanent coup d'état, a low intensity, implacable war, carried out under American supervision and planning, affirms an article published today in the French newspaper L''Humanité.
The evidence, by the specialist Jean Ortiz, underlines that this situation, incited by a spiteful opposition, has existed since the coup d'état of April, in 2002.
The target of this coalition, which unites the ultraright with ex social democrats, is to beat the government, which is following Hugo Chavez' ideas, by using all possible means to destabilize the country, emphasizes Ortiz.
A permanent economic and ideological war and a violent strategy, prove to be the main elements they work on, he points out in his work titled: 'Venezuela: dismantling of an attempted coup d'état'.
Lecturer at the University of Pau, in France, he says the coup d'état was meant to happen on February 12th, after the publication of a manifesto asking for a new "provisional" government.
The instigators, marionettes and puppeteers, wish to undermine the Armed forces morale and the people's, and destabilize the country 'by all necessary means. At the cost of blood. Let us remember the Chile of Allende and Neruda. Let us not allow that to be repeated'.
Many across the world today join with Venezuelans in rejecting this attempt at a coup, involving the right party and the USA, which was denounced last Thursday, by Venezuela's president, Nicolás Maduro.
Gulf Arabs Threaten Measures in Yemen if UN Hesitates
The Cooperation Council of the Gulf (CCG) urges the UN to resort to military force to solve the crisis in Yemen, threatening to 'use its own measures', if they think their interests are threatened.
In their declaration, Foreign Ministers of the Six Arab States of the Persian Gulf call on the UN Security Council to adopt a Resolution under Chapter VII that authorizes the use of military force if peace is threatened.
The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates brand the seizure of power in their neighboring country by the Houthi insurgents organization, Ansar Allah, as illegitimate.
They also ask the UN Security Council for 'urgent actions to ensure the safety and health of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah, ministers and other officials, and release them from the house arrest, in which they have been kept, since January.
The final statement of the extraordinary meeting, supports the resumption of the peaceful transition of power process, based on the so-called GCC Initiative and its executive arm, plus the inter- Yemeni Conference of National Dialogue.
The foreign ministers favor implementing resolution 2140 adopted in 2014 'regarding sanctions against anyone who lacerates the process of peaceful transition'.
The six Sunni Arab monarchies say:
'In the case of a failure to agree (between the rival factions), the GCC member states will take measures to enable them to maintain their vital interests & the security & stability of Yemen, warns the statement.
Putin, Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko discuss situation around Debaltsevo
The presidents of Russia, France & Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, held a 'phone conversation Sunday to discuss implementation of the complex measures of the peace settlement signed by the Contact Group earlier in the week, the Kremlin's press service says.
The four leaders also discussed the difficult situation around the town of Debaltsevo and the OSCE's roll in controlling observance of the ceasefire regime.
"Special emphasis was placed on the need to strictly observe the ceasefire regime by both conflicting parties and to begin pulling out heavy weapons," the press service said.
The leaders also agreed on the "parameters of further joint efforts - within the context of promoting implementation of the Minsk agreements".
Germany, Russia send humanitarian aid to E.Ukraine
As the truce holds in Ukraine, two convoys with humanitarian aid from Russia are under customs clearance now on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Once cleared, the white trucks of Russia’s Emergency Ministry will go on two routes: to Donetsk and to Lugansk, delivering food and medical supplies to the besieged citizens.
Simultaneously, 28 tons of medical supplies have arrived in Donets from Germany. They were bought using donations collected in Germany on the initiative of German MPs, and their shipment has become the first humanitarian aid delivered to Donbass, from the EU.
The delivery was made through Russian territory because Kiev failed to provide Berlin with transit authorization.
The four trucks from Germany delivered supplies to Donetsk, Lugansk & Gorlovka.
Anyone in Wales doing ANYTHING?!!!
Head of Donetsk Republic: Donetsk militia to observe ceasefire at midnight Feb 15th
Militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) will observe a ceasefire from midnight on February 15, the republic’s head Alexander Zakharchenko says.
"DPR will stop firing today at 24:00 across the republic, as it's written in the peace agreement signed in Minsk on February 12," the Donetsk news agency reports.
The first condition of the document sets an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire from 00:00 hours (Kiev time) on February 15th, 2015.
The conflicting parties agreed on the withdrawal of all heavy weapons. Parties will pull back all heavy weapons to locations equidistant from the disengagement line in order to create a security zone at least 50 klmtrs wide for artillery systems with a calibre of 100mm or more, a security zone 70 klmtrs wide for most multiple rocket launchers and 140 klmtrs wide zone for the multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch and Tochka-U tactical rocket systems.
Ex-Georgian president to coordinate Ukraine arms supplies
Ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, appointed on Friday as the chair of Ukraine’s international consultative reform council, says he's going to coordinate the supply of arms to Kiev.
"Now it is most important to help Ukraine with weapons. Over the next several days, I will be coordinating this," Saakashvili told a Ukrainian TV channel.
US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Friday that arms supplies to Ukraine are still on the table --- even after this week’s signing of a new Minsk agreement.
Saakashvili, who's refused to apply for Ukrainian citizenship, says: "I am a free politician & a Georgian citizen. All other proposals to obtain Ukrainian citizenship did not fit into a whole strategy, and, of course, I should return to my country."
A decree published on Friday, says that the council he now chairs will be a consultative agency under Ukraine's president, providing proposals and recommendations on reforms - based on the best international experience.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Saakashvili, who has unique knowledge and experience and has in fact worked as a free- lance advisor on Ukrainian reforms, has now finally received official status.
President Poroshenko says Saakashvili will become "Ukraine’s representative abroad & - at the same time - the representative of the international community in Ukraine."
Saakashvili was president of Georgia, for two consecutive terms from January 2004 to November 2013. In his home country, he is accused of embezzling state funds.
In September, property of the ex-president & his family members was seized, as were his personal bank accounts in Georgia.
Eka Beselia, a leader of the Georgian Dream coalition, chair of the human rights committee of Georgia's parliament, says the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to appoint Saakashvili to the post, is a "mistake."
"Georgia has an especially warm and friendly attitude to the Ukrainian people and Ukraine. I don’t know what reasonable advice Mikhail Saakashvili can give to Ukraine’s president," she says, commenting on Ukrainian media reports about Saakashvili’s appointment.
"Political tastes differ," Georgian parliament’s vice speaker, Zurab Abashidze, says, adding: "If I was the Ukrainian president, I wouldn't want Mikheil Saakashvili as an advisor."
In December 2014, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that, in 2015, he would visit Kiev to discuss bilateral cooperation issues with Ukraine’s leadership. He also said then, that in Kiev he wasn't going to meet with former Georgian officials, now members of the government of Ukraine.
And in March last year, the Georgian PM said the current Ukrainian government shouldn't listen to Saakashvili’s advice.
"Having - in this crisis situation - such an adventurer for an advisor, is fraught with disastrous consequences for Ukraine," he said.
BAHRAIN PEACEFUL REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY
Sheikh Salman Calls from Prison for Continuous Peaceful Rallies
Sheikh Ali Salman, the Secretary General of Al-Wefaq, the powerful Bahraini opposition group, greets "the great people of Bahrain" on the fourth anniversary of the revolution.
"I feel tranquility and peace of mind flooding my heart thanks to Allah Almighty. You made me shy, by your noble stance on my arrest.
You did more than what's expected of you, and I am grateful to you for your positions," Sheikh Salman tells the Bahraini people in a message he sent from Al-Khalifa prison, and posted on his Twitter account.
"Don't forget the rest of the detainees. Do not forget our main demand - electing our government in a democratic, sound way, as well as electing a parliament which legislates decrees without tutelage by a particular council in regular elections, based on equality," his eminence says.
"Equality-based elections is the one thing we demand," he stresses.
Sheikh Salman goes on to urge Bahrainis to continue their movement and to stick to their peaceful path.
"Protect yourselves and their private and public property," he says.
Activists posted several videos showing the Bahrain monarchy's crackdown on peaceful protests in the kingdom.
In the scenes, security forces appear to repeatedly fire live bullets at protestors from short distances.
Bahrain's peaceful revolution erupted in February 2011, however, the monarchy of Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa launched a brutal crackdown on the people, who demand democracy and social reform.
For three days in the run up to today, a general strike has been observed.
Bahrain - which was always part of Iran - was stolen by the UK, but then given to the US as a military naval base as the UK found itself bankrupt, after World War ll.
Kiev, Western nations bending peace deal: Moscow
Russia says Kiev and its Western allies have twisted a peace deal to end the crisis in east Ukraine which is shortly to go into effect.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says in a statement issued on Saturday, that several official representatives of Ukraine and Western countries, “the US in particular, have essentially expressed solidarity with the opinion of radical nationalists in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament).”
Moscow adds that they have also started “to distort the contents of the Minsk agreements.”
The negotiating sides agreed on withdrawing heavy weapons from Ukraine’s front lines and a ceasefire, beginning at 2200 GMT on Feb 14, (midnight Kiev time on February 15).
The Russian Ministry, meanwhile, warns that the Ukrainian government and the West “put in doubt the implementation of the document's concrete measures.”
The statement, however, reiterates that the representatives of the self- proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk have a “responsible attitude towards their commitments.”
“We reaffirm that the principal message of the Minsk accords is: it is necessary to end the fighting, to withdraw heavy weapons and start real constitutional reform in Ukraine,” the statement says.
Russia also calls on all the signatories to Thursday's agreement, as well as the parties that backed the process, including Germany and France, to do everything in their power to make certain that the accord is respected.
DPR - Kiev’s refusal to amnesty Donbas leaders shows reluctance to implement Minsk deal
Kiev’s refusal to amnesty the militia leaders of south-eastern Ukraine, shows its reluctance to implement the Minsk agreement, Andrey Purgin, the speaker of the People’s Assembly of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), states.
"As a matter of fact, they are saying they are not going to implement the law on amnesty," he says.
The Ukrainian foreign minister today also denies any constitutional reform, or any decentralization liabilities, on Kiev and Kiev's ex-deputy chief of a paramilitary battalion turned lawmaker, vows to defy the Minsk deal completely.
Earlier Friday, Ukrainian media cited Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, saying the amnesty agreed at the late Minsk peace talks, won't be applicable to leaders of Donbas militia.
"Ukraine is forming an entire class of political prisoners. This is nothing but a witch hunt," Andrey Purgin tells Donetsk News Agency.
"Yesterday, I spoke with a relative of one of the political prisoners from Poltava. This man is now held for pro-Russian picketing and is being tried by a panel of 3 Poltava judges. This is persecution of dissidents. This is the collapse of society."
"Tens of thousands of criminal cases, thousands of people kept in detention wards... And I would like to stress one thing. When we had the latest mass exchange of prisoners, we released people who'd come here to shoot at us, but among the 220 people released by the Ukrainian side only 34 had been self-defence fighters. It means that the rest of the people were political prisoners," Purgin notes.
Among the implementation measures of the Minsk agreements, are the pardoning and amnesty through law, banning persecuting or punishing Donbas' citizens over events.
Ukraine’s Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh says his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units will continue “actively fighting" according to their "own plans."
The notorious ultranationalist leader says on his Facebook page, on Friday, that his radical Right Sector movement does not recognize the peace deal, signed by the so-called 'contact group' on Thursday & agreed on by Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia, after epic 16-hour talks.
Yarosh claims that any agreement with the eastern militia, whom he calls “terrorists,” has no legal force.
In his statement, Yarosh claims that the Minsk agreement is unconstitutional, so Ukraine's citizens are not obliged to abide by it.
So if the army receives orders to stop military activity and withdraw heavy weaponry from the eastern regions... Right Sector paramilitaries, who also fight there “reserve the right” to continue the war, he says.
Right Sector continues to deploy its combat and reserve units, to train & logistically support personnel, while coordinating its activities with the military command of Ukraine's army, Defense Ministry paramilitary units and the Interior Ministry, he says.
Bluntly rejecting the German & French initiative, Yarosh says President Petro Poroshenko should have turned to the US or UK which “observe a consistent anti-Kremlin policy.”
In January, Russia’s Supreme Court banned all the activities of 'Right Sector' within the country. In July last year Interpol put Right Sector leader Yarosh, on its wanted list.
The radical movement was formed as a coalition of nationalist & neo- Nazi organizations during Maidan protests in Kiev at the end of 2013.
Ukraine Right Sector threatens Poroshenko with Yanukovich’s fate
Around 300 angry protesters wore masks & shouted nationalistic slogans, as they tried to break through a police barrier today. They carried Right Sector's red and black flags.
The aggressive crowd was demanding that President Petro Poroshenko veto a bill passed by parliament, Tuesday.
The new law gives special status to the eastern regions of Lugansk & Donetsk, as well as an amnesty for those who fought against government forces.
That particular statute will also see early local elections carried out this December and allow the use of the Russian language as an official one.
Today, the leader of Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, describes the law as "anti-national" on his Facebook page.
“Unless Poroshenko comes to his senses, we’ll have a new president & commander-in-chief in Ukraine,” Yarosh warns.
“If anyone doubts that it’s possible, he can write to Yanukovich. He can verify that impossible things... can be made to happen.”
Former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, lost power in February, as a result of mass protests in which the radical nationalist group played a key role.
It’s not the first time that Yarosh and his supporters, have threatened the Ukrainian leader over his policies.
In August, Right Sector demanded that the president sack some senior officers in the Interior Ministry, whom radicals accused of persecuting their members.
The ultimatum was retracted a day later, as Right Sector said police had released its people - previously arrested for the alleged smuggling of arms from combat zones in the east of the country.
Wednesday’s violent protest was not the first act of violence in Kiev in the last couple of days.
On Tuesday another radical rally turned to violence as ultra-nationalists mobbed against other laws passed by Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
They burnt tires and even clashed with the National Guard in front of parliament.
International law expert Alexander Mercouris believes that the radical element in Ukraine will continue its unrest over the president’s attempts to reach peace in the east.
“What we're seeing is an escalation in Ukraine of the political crisis. For these people, any kind of autonomy to the eastern regions utterly cuts against their ideology - which is a centralized, ethnically united, Ukrainian-speaking Ukraine,” Mercouris explains.
Maduro: Venezuela has foiled coup directed ‘from Washington’
Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro says that the country has defeated an alleged US-sponsored coup which was reportedly plotted by five Air Force officers.
“We have broken up and foiled a coup attempt against democracy, and the stability of our country,” Maduro says, stating that the coup was directed “from Washington.”
The coup plan involved an attack on the presidential palace or another top target, Maduro says.
“This was an attempt to use a group of military aviation officers to provoke a violent event.” One of the detained plotters was “an [Air Force] general called Hernandez, alias el Oso [the bear].”
“On the dates February 12th & 13th, during commemoration events, [the plot was to] fly a 'Tucano' airplane, arm the Tucano, and attack the Miraflores [Presidential] Palace, or whichever location I'd have been at when participating in either event, and then later attack other targets, which they had outlined before," Maduro says, as quoted by AP.
The alleged plot was uncovered by the Venezuelan intelligence agency, and one of the participating officers was connected to the right-wing forces allegedly planning to provoke the wave of violence.
According to Maduro, the military man was given financial aid, as well as a US visa, which permitted him to leave on February 3rd.
Maduro said at the beginning of February, that US Vice President Joe Biden, was orchestrating the plot against Venezuela.
Nicolas Maduro, the National Assembly's president, Diosdado Cabello, also says: Venezuelan security bodies thwarted an assassination attempt against elected President Maduro. The attack would have been executed during an activity in which the president would participate, in Valencia, state of Carabobo, but the individual responsible for executing the operation was detained, the parliamentary leader says in his state television program, "Con el mazo dando."
Thanks to the security and intelligence bodies, citizen Alvaro Jesus Carmona, linked to extreme right radical groups that planned to carry out the act, was detected in that city, Cabello says.
According to the legislator, the individual, leader of "Generacion Siete" Movement and "Cuentas Claras", is on police files as an active participant in protests against the government, and also for his wrongdoings at the university where he studied.
The cell 'phone of Carmona, nephew of councilor Gustavo Carmona, who financed the so-called guarimbas (violent restrictive acts on public roads) in Valencia, organized by the extreme right, showed footage of the stage where the presidential activity would be carried out, he states.
Cabello says a sound box and pamphlets against the Bolivarian government were found in an armored vehicle belonging to the detainee, as part of the destabilization plan and violence, known as La Salida, and instrumented by the extreme right.
Cabello calls on the people to defend truth: not be influenced by destabilizing campaigns promoted by national and international media, "which seek to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution'.
Last December, President Maduro aired recordings, disclosing a US plan to bribe and corrupt the Venezuelan authorities.
Relations between Venezuela and the US have been hostile for a few years: they've not sent ambassadors to each other since 2010, and instead have chargé d’affaires running their embassies.
3 children killed in shelling of Gorlovka, E. Ukraine – officials
3 children have been killed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Gorlovka during shelling, the Emergencies Ministry of the self- proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic says, on Friday morning.
A shell hit the roof of a one-story house, TASS reports. About thirty people were injured in Donbass in the last 24 hours after shelling by Kiev's armed forces, mostly in Donetsk and Lugansk.
A peace deal was reached in Minsk on Thursday, and a ceasefire is to begin in eastern Ukraine at 22:00GMT on Saturday.
Ukraine peace deal: Ceasefire starting February 15, removal of heavy weapons
An agreement has been brokered in Minsk to stop hostilities in Ukraine from Sunday.
The deal was reached after marathon talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and signed by the Ukrainian rebels.
“I believe we agreed on a big deal. We agreed to a ceasefire starting at midnight on February the 15th,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media, after the talks were finished.
"The main thing achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared - without any conditions at all - a general ceasefire," the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told journalists in a separate statement.
A compromise decision was taken over the disengagement line, which was the biggest stumbling block in negotiations. According to the document, Kiev’s troops will pull back heavy weapons from the current frontline.
The rebels will pull back from the line as it existed in September, when the previous ceasefire agreement was signed.
The security zone separating the warring sides must be at least 50km wide for artillery over 100mm caliber, 70km for regular multiple rocket launchers and 100km for heavier arms with a longer range, such as the Tochka-U ballistic missiles, the document states.
The weapons pullout must start on Sunday & be completed in no longer than 14 days. The OSCE is charged with implementing the cease- fire on the ground and will use its drones and monitors, to verify that both parties stick to the deal.
The ceasefire deal provides for a withdrawal of all "foreign troops, heavy weapons and mercenaries" from Ukraine, under OSCE monitoring. "Illegal armed groups" will be disarmed, but local authorities in the future will be allowed to have legal militia units.
The agreement involves an exchange of all prisoners, to be completed within 19 days. A general amnesty for the rebels will be declared by Kiev.
The national government’s control over the borders between Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, will be fully restored a day after municipal elections, which will be held in the regions as part of a profound constitutional reform.
The agreement requires political reform in Ukraine to ensure decentralization and a special status for its rebel provinces. It requires Ukraine to adopt legislation to provide permanent privileges to the Lugansk & Donetsk Regions, currently self-declared republics, by the end of 2015.
The legislation will include the right for language self-determination and trans- border ties with Russia, as well as the authority of the local governments to appoint local prosecutors and judges, the document states.
Humanitarian and economic issues are also mentioned in the deal. Kiev will restore economic ties and the social payments, it cut in rebel-held areas, the document says. An international monitoring mechanism may be established for these payments.
During the transition period an inter- nationally-monitored mechanism for humanitarian aid to the regions affected by the war, will be implemented, the document states.
Putin said that Kiev’s unwillingness to hold direct talks with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics was among the reasons it took so much time to reach an agreement.
“They may be unrecognized, but we have to deal with real life here, and if everyone wants to agree and have sustainable relations, direct contacts are needed,” Putin said.
He added that the ‘Normandy Four’ expect the parties involved in the conflict to show restraint even in the days before the cease- fire takes effect.
The members of the ‘Normandy Four’ – Putin, Ukrainian President Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande – supported a joint declaration describing the results of their work.
The declaration was not meant to be signed by the leaders, Germany's FM, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
The Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who signed the Minsk document, says it requires additional consultation and warns that “if these terms are broken, there will be no new meetings or memoranda.”
He added that he and Igor Plotnitsky, the head of Lugansk People’s Republic, agreed to sign the document “due to guarantees from the president of Russia, chancellor of Germany and president of France,” with the hope that it would allow their people to “achieve peaceful development.”
The new Minsk accord gives hope for a de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, but requires a major effort to build trust between the parties involved.
The previous deal collapsed as neither Kiev nor the rebels implemented it fully, which means the threat of renewed hostilities in Ukraine, continues to loom.
"We now have a glimmer of hope," Merkel and the French President say jointly today, on the German federal government's website.
She stresses she has no illusions as "there are still major hurdles lying ahead," & "concrete steps" must be taken.
Germany and France have shown that they have made a contribution in line with Europe, she says, adding that her initiative with Hollande, to mediate a political resolution to the Ukraine crisis, was worthwhile.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says in a separate statement that the marathon four-way negotiations, attended by Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, "achieved something"... including a ceasefire to be effective as of Saturday night.
The talks have cleared timelines for the implementation of elections in eastern Ukraine, border control and prisoner exchanges, as agreed in Minsk last September, he says.
"It was an extremely difficult negotiation" and the new agreement had "a difficult birth," Steinmeier says, urging all the relevant parties to refrain from doing anything that might undermine the current agreement, before the ceasefire enters into force.
Al-Qaeda-linked militants overrun army camp in south Yemen
Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have launched an attack against a government army base in Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa, taking full control of the site, local government officials say.
The terrorist Ansar al-Sharia said in a Twitter statement on Thursday that its members had fully seized the camp of the 19th Infantry Brigade in the town of Beihan, 320 klmtrs S. East of Sana’a.
The Takfiri militant group also criticized the Yemeni army, for collaborating with the Shia Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Tribal sources in Shabwa confirmed the capture, saying Ansar al-Sharia militants captured the base after a gun battle with government troops. At least 7 people were reportedly killed in the process.
In past months, al-Qaeda militants have frequently attacked Yemen’s security forces. The militants have also been battling with Shia Ansarullah fighters.
The central government in Sana’a has so far failed in its efforts to rid Yemen of the threat from the terrorists.
Ansarullah fighters, who played a big role in ousting Yemen’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have intervened to fill the vacuum and have driven al-Qaeda militants out of many areas in the country.
Ali al-Emad, an Ansarullah leader, recently said Saudi Arabia supports armed al-Qaeda extremists in order to control oil and service centres in the Yemeni provinces of Marib and Hadhramaut.
He added that Riyadh seeks to stop changes in Yemen for fear of possible impacts on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
“Azov” battalion: who are the real governors of Mariupol?
Opinion of a dweller of Mariupol Lyudmila Surikova:
“My acquaintances and friends often ask me: “What's going on in Mariupol? Who is shelling peaceful cities and killing ordinary civilians?
Who downed MH17, who blew up the bus in Volnovakha and bombed a residential area in Vostochnyi?”
They expect me to answer that it was done by People’s Militias or by Ukraine's Army… but I surprise and disappoint them with my reply: Ukraine has no authority in Mariupol.
The “Azov” battalion's the authority here. Ukrainians or militiamen have nothing to do with the downed Boeing, or the bus being hit, or the shelling of Mariupol.
All the above are the deeds of NATO’s foreign legion under the scandalous name of “Azov” according to the true words of the Russian President.
Such battalions are also called territorial battalions. There are many of them. Azov isn't the only one. There's also Aidar, Donbas and others. In reality they're not Ukrainian Nationalists; they are typical Western international mercenaries, hired in various countries by Mr. Kolomoyskiy, for American money and on the orders of the USA.
In fact it is NATO’s foreign legion, as Putin said, masked as local Nationalists. They do not fight for any idea, they earn money. It makes no difference to them who they are killing or blowing up.
They are only paid for combat activities, and that is why they need to constantly murder someone, in order to report in work done and receive their salary.
And the goal set before them is simple: exterminate as many as possible pro- Russian local inhabitants, undermine infrastructure in the industrial region, and discredit Russia in the eyes of the world. If possible, even get it directly involved in a World War.
They are not subordinate to Kiev or the Headquarters of Ukraine's Army.
They have a different task. Commands are directly issued from Washington, or Ukraine's Security Services, which have been a CIA department for some time now.
They are instructed and trained by counselors from the task forces of NATO and Israel. It is they who are shelling peaceful cities, blowing up buses, murdering civilians and kidnapping people.
It is they who shoot in both directions: on Ukraine's military and militiamen, when ceasefires are declared, in order to receive their blood money.
It's they who shoot Ukrainian soldiers in the back, when they do not want to fight and torture and kill captured militiamen… They are called “the Third Force” here in Donbass, and they are never taken prisoner.
US troops to start training Ukrainian forces
A battalion of US troops are to train three battalions of Ukrainian troops at Yavariv training camp in Lviv, in March, US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said on Wednesday.
According to Hodges, US troops will train the Ukrainians in fields such as, how to better defend themselves against militia rockets and artillery. They will also get training on how to secure roads, bridges and various other infrastructures.
He added they will also be taught how to treat and evacuate casualties and cope in situations as communications are jammed.
Hodges made the remarks during a visit to NATO's Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin city, Poland.
Although his comments came amid a surge in fighting in eastern Ukraine, he stated that the plans were made several months ago.
Meanwhile, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine are holding 'peace talks' in Minsk, Belarus, as the fighting rages on.
Donetsk officials say five people were killed and nine more injured, by Kiev government forces shelling a bus stop on Wednesday. City officials also report the death of 3 people during overnight shelling.
In a separate incident, one person was killed when a hospital was shelled by government troops in Donetsk.
"A shell hit hospital number 20, setting it on fire," a spokesperson, Yuliana Bedilo, told AFP, for the Donetsk authorities.
She added that the victim was a pedestrian passing by the hospital during the incident.
One person in the hospital was wounded and 5 others evacuated, said Bedilo.
Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that 19 government troops were killed and a further 78 injured in the fighting in Debaltseve region.
Also on Wednesday, Ukraine’s regime announced it is to impose martial law if the crisis escalates in Ukraine’s east.
“The government and parliament are ready to introduce martial law throughout Ukraine,” said Poroshenko.
He added that the Minsk summit would determine whether the conflict could be resolved via “diplomatic channels” or the Ukrainian government should “switch to a completely different mode.”
Yemenis hold rally to mark revolution anniversary
Thousands of Yemenis have held rallies across Yemen, to mark the fourth anniversary of the country’s revolution, which toppled the long- time dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Yemenis took to the streets on Wednesday in various cities, including the capital Sana'a, to celebrate the anniversary of Saleh’s downfall.
The demonstrators also called for the establishment of security, across the impoverished country.
Four years after the February Revolution, Yemen is currently the scene of massive political changes, with fighters from the Shia Ansarullah movement in control of Sana'a and some other major towns and cities across the country.
‘Do not block Yemen’s revolution’
In a televised speech on Tuesday, the leader of the Shia Ansarullah movement, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, warned against any plots to hinder the reform process in the country.
"The disturbed powers who are causing instability, if they ever decide to play the economic card, their interests are going to be affected, because the Yemeni people will never stay still watching them causing them harm --- and they know exactly what to do," he said.
Houthi, addressing a huge gathering of people in the city of Sa’ada, said Western governments are trying to spread fear in Yemen --- by closing their embassies in the Arab country.
"There are some people trying to spread fear in diplomatic missions: aiming to scare them enough to flee the country, even though they know they live in a stable security situation which is clear; there is no need for these fears," he said.
The US, UK and France have announced that their embassies in Yemen will close --- and have urged citizens to leave the country, amid the ongoing turmoil.
The revolutionary leader defended his party’s forming of a new revolutionary committee, saying that the formation of the transitional council can thwart all the plots against Yemen, as it will put an end to the political vacuum.
Houthi also asked all political factions in the country to contribute to the new political process and help the country build a better future.
"Come, be a partner in responsibility and a partner in building the future of your country -- the whole of your country: a partner in discussing & treating the issues we are facing, no matter what issues they are,” he appealed, as he saw the contribution of all factions & all opposition parties, in Yemen’s decision-making system, as a responsibility.
"This is the responsibility and the ambition, do you have an ambition? -- to be active in the whole country and to be a partner in the decision making and a positive contributor in every way?" he asked.
The Houthi movement continues to strengthen its control over various parts of troubled Yemen.
Military officials confirm that Houthis took control of the province of Bayda, on Tuesday. This is the main gateway to Yemen’s Sunni-inhabited south.
Houthi gained control of the capital city of Sana’a in September 2014, following four days of battles with army forces loyal to the country’s former dictator.
The revolutionaries say the Yemeni government has been incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and providing security.
THIS IS WHY RHONDDA RECORDS EXISTS
The West's press coverage of the speech below was so anti-Assad we thought you might like a more 'socialist' take on it -- from Prensa Latina.
Bashar Al-Assad Reaffirms Disposition For National Dialogue in Syria
Syria has decided to fight terrorism and establish a national dialogue, and can not be in an alliance with states which support terrorism, said President Bashar Al-Assad, in an interview released today to the world's press.
Al-Assad stressed that most countries of the US-led coalition support terror, and it's important for Syria to maintain its independence.
'We would become a puppet working against our own interests,' said the Syrian president to the UK's BBC.
The Syrian leader said the ideological source of the Islamic State terrorist organization and other groups linked to Al-Qaeda is Wahhabism, which has the support of the Saudi royal family.
He insisted that since the beginning of the crisis in his country a decision was taken to fight terrorism and to conduct a nation-wide dialogue.
'Any war is bad and, in each, come civilian casualties. The government has decided to fight terrorism, to defend its civilians', said Al-Assad.
The Syrian President rejected accusations against his government on alleged human rights violations against civilians, made as they are, by Western powers led by the US.
'If we were killing our people as the West alleges, we would not have stood firm throughout this four-year period, and it is impossible for the government, army & state institutions to remain, without popular support," said the president.
'When one enjoys popular support, remarked Al-Assad, 'this means that the people are defended.'
He also criticized the persistence of Western states, who try to present as a moderate opposition, armed bands who share terrorist roots with the self-proclaimed Islamic State group and the Al-Nusra Front.
Al-Assad strongly refuted recent accusations made by Human Rights Watch, that the forces of the Syrian army attack, brutally & deliberately, areas held by the armed opposition, with weapons that don't discriminate between combatants and civilians.
"These stories are silly and the West keeps repeating them," emphasized the Syrian president.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
Russia and Egypt have agreed on establishing a free trade zone and Russia’s industrial zone, near the Suez Canal, Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, says on Tuesday, after talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
According to the Egyptian leader, Russia and Egypt will go ahead with military-technological cooperation, under the current circumstances.
The parties also agreed on developing energy and on civilian nuclear power cooperation.
President Putin said the nuclear power deal signed by Russia and Egypt means establishing a new nuclear power industry in the North African country.
IS will control Mediterranean shore in 2 months unless West helps Libya – former Libyan PM
The militants of IS terrorist group will control territory on the shores of Mediterranean “within two months” unless the West helps Libya to counteract the extremists, the former PM of Libya Ali Zeidan claims in his comments published on Tuesday in the Times newspaper.
Zeidan expresses his concern that the IS will seek to extend the declared “Caliphate” to the territory of Libya, after the IS terrorists managed to put several territories in Iraq and Syria under their control. The former head of the Libyan government warns about the huge expansion of IS and its presence everywhere.
According to Zeidan the IS branch in Libya made up of local citizens is stepping up its presence in the majority of big cities in Libya and is engaging fighters from other Islamist groups.
Ali Zeidan expressed his hope that the world will take the problem seriously. The situation in Libya is still under control, but left as it is, it will not be controlled as successfully as it used to be, the former Libyan PM adds.
There will be a big war in the country, and in Europe too, he warns.
Last autumn militants from the Mediterranean city Derna were the first to swear allegiance to IS. The city is close to European borders – only 200 miles from the Greek island of Crete.
This year there are reports that IS terrorists are taking advantage of the chaos in Libya, since the overthrow of Muammar Kaddafi’s regime, and are starting to establish their rule in the capital city, Tripoli.
The IS officially declared its presence in Libya in a special video message last month, when leaders of the local IS branch, declared their intention to extend their influence over all of the country.
African Leaders to Discuss UN Reforms in Zambia
Zambia will host a meeting to be attended by 10 African leaders, who will discuss reforms to the UN Security Council, the Lusaka Times reports.
In an interview, Zambian Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba says that the decision was made at the recent summit of the African Union, held in late January, in Ethiopia.
The foreign minister expresses his hope that the reforms will result in a permanent seat for Africa at the UN Security Council, which has the power to veto decisions adopted by the UN General Assembly.
Putin''s Visit to Egypt Will Strengthen Trade and Political Ties
Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a 2-day official visit to Egypt to strengthen political relations and expand economic and trade ties, with the emphasis on military-technical cooperation, energy and investment, says that excellent progress has been achieved.
The official talks agenda included an assessment of events in the Middle East, North Africa and the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
The leaders paid particular attention to the situations in Libya, Iraq & Syria - conflicts in which Russia & Egypt as mediators, deployed enormous efforts to find negotiated political settlements, without any external interference.
In the commercial sphere, the authorities in Cairo expressed interest in negotiating a free trade agreement with the recently established Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan & Russia) as advanced by Egypt's ambassador to Moscow, Mohammed Al-Badri.
With trade at about 3 billion dollars a year, favorable to Russia, the two countries are now evaluating moving into a new system of accounting and paying in rubles.
Gulf states rejects Houthis' takeover in Yemen
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rejects the Houthis' takeover in Yemen and warns of'steps to protect its members' interests',according to local newspapers.
At a meeting in Riyadh, the GCC says they will continue to stand with the Yemenis, criticizing the Shiite Houthi group's latest move, which is described by the 6-nation bloc as a coup that will end peaceful political processes in Yemen.
"This Houthi coup is a dangerous escalation, which we reject as unacceptable. It totally contradicts the spirit of pluralism and coexistence which Yemen has known," the GCC says.
The GCC warns that the latest developments will lead to more violence and bloodshed in Yemen, and it calls upon the international community to be responsible and denounce it, especially in the UN Security Council.
On Friday, the Houthi group announced it is taking over the government and dissolving parliament in Yemen.
It has also formed a 5-member presidential council to exercise presidencial power, in a move which further deepens the chaos, after Yemen's president and premier both submitted their resignations last month.
Moreover, a transition national council of 551 members is being set up to replace the parliament, which is currently under the control of the former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Government sources say that the Houthi's declaration is unilateral, without reaching a consensus with other political parties.
However, some senior officials, including the defense minister and interior minister of the outgoing government, were seen attending the meeting held in the Republican Palace in Sanaa.
Split EU widens sanctions against Moscow & Ukraine rebels, implementation 'delayed'
The EU has announced new sanctions against Russian officials and Ukrainian militants, but will postpone their enforcement for one week, pending Wednesday's peace talks in Minsk, says French foreign minister Laurent Fabius.
"The principle of these sanctions remains, but their implementation will depend on results on the ground. We will see by Monday, how the meeting in Minsk went," he says.
The foreign ministers of the 28 EU members have added 5 Russian citizens, sources say. The ‘black list’ also reportedly includes 14 members of the eastern Ukrainian militia and 9 organizations the EU considers to be responsible for the escalation of violence.
The 4-way talks in the Belorussian capital, comprising Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, took place on Wednesday
The EU will decide if these new restrictive measures against Russia are going to be implemented on Monday, February 16th, after evaluating the Minsk negotiations' results, Fabius adds.
Even if the new peace plan is successful, another decision by EU foreign ministers will be required to stop the sanctions - a safeguard demanded by Philip Hammond, the UK's Foreign Secretary.
Britain had to fight a move to abandon the sanctions, from Greece, Cyprus, Austria ans other countries, who are hostile to ratcheting up more pressure on Russia.
Donetsk self-defense forces 'block key highway' near embattled Debaltsevo
Militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have taken full control of Logvinovo village, a strategic point on the road linking Debaltsevo & Artyomovsk towns, TASS reports.
The republic’s Defense Ministry says that “this strategic highway, used earlier for supplying the Ukrainian military with ammunition and military hardware, has been blocked by the DPR militia.”
No Curfew in Baghdad for the First Time in 12 Years
The residents of Iraq's capital woke up on Sunday with hangovers from last night's revelry, because there was no curfew for the first time in 12 years, despite terrorism's vile presence in Iraq.
Iraq's authorities conceived the end of the curfew to help normalize life, and citizens celebrated from midnight, as they are now able to go to cafes and restaurants and to stay up until late, in squares and streets.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered the Baghdad Operations Command to lift the curfew on February 7th. The measure was imposed after the US military invasion of Iraq, in March 2003, due to the alarming rise in bombings and sectarian violence.
A statement from the office of al-Abadi acknowledges that the decision was made "despite the existence of a state of war" in Iraq, in a clear admission of the violence caused by attacks by Sunni fundamentalists of the Islamic State (IS) and related groups.
Moscow demands copies of ‘Russian soldiers IDs’ shown in Munich
Russia's Foreign Ministry says Kiev is reluctant to supply copies of what it says are documents, proving a Russian military presence in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko showed the audience at the Munich Security Conference several passports on Saturday, saying they all belonged to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.
“We asked the Ukrainian side to give us copies of the documents containing last names, since such ID as was shown yesterday, could easily be bought,” said Viktor Sorokin, director of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) department within Russia's Foreign Ministry, is quoted as stating, by RIA Novosti.
“There’s no real proof. As of today, the Ukrainian side hasn’t been able to give us copies of these documents.”
The Ukrainian crisis and the prospect of arming Ukrainian troops was again top of the agenda in Munich on Sunday, the last day of the conference.
Germany has stayed firm in its opposition to military escalation. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that weapons supplies to Ukraine, would only aggravate the crisis. He added that European security could only be built in cooperation with Russia, not against it.
Steinmeier, however, criticized his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for his remarks, in which he accused the US and EU of escalating the crisis in Ukraine.
"It is Moscow's responsibility to identify common interests," Steinmeier said. "We have seen too little of this so far. And the speech by my colleague Lavrov yester- day, made no contribution to this."
US Secretary of State John Kerry denied America and Europe were split over the Ukraine crisis.
"On the fundamental goal with respect to Ukraine, we are absolutely united ...we want a diplomatic solution," he said.
Nevertheless, on Thursday, Kerry spoke to Ukraine’s leadership in Kiev about the possibility of supplying arms, at the same time as the German and French leaders were announcing snap talks with Putin & Poroshenko to discuss a new peace plan.
“President Hollande & Chancellor Merkel seem to have a much greater sense of responsibility about the importance of getting a quick ceasefire plus a new negotiating framework or restoring the Minsk negotiating process framework. One doesn’t sense the same urgency in Washington,” Martin Sieff, columnist for the Post-Examiner newspaper, told RT.
US Senator John McCain voiced the idea of arming Ukrainian troops, on Sunday.
"In the heart of Europe, we see Russia emboldened by a significant modern- ization of its military, resurrecting old imperial ambitions and intent on conquest once again," McCain said in Munich.
He has called for sending "defensive weapons" to Ukraine. The term has raised questions, though.
“I’d like to know what defensive weapons are,” political analyst, Chris Bambery says. “I mean what’s the difference between offensive and defensive weapons? We are seeing a very confused situation because, there’s a welcome for the ceasefire; and for the arrival of Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel in both Kiev and Moscow, but we also see NATO suddenly announce it’s going to be setting up bases in 8 NATO countries bordering the former Soviet Union.”
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the idea of supplying weapons to Kiev remains quite unpopular in Europe.
“The majority, if not all European politicians, consider the idea a bad one, that might lead to further aggravating the Ukrainian crisis,” he said on Sunday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius repeated that granting a special legal status to the break- away territories in eastern Ukraine, could be a solution to the crisis.
In September, President Poroshenko said there would be no special status for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
There have been reports that the new text of the Ukraine peace deal presented by Merkel and Hollande, contains the promise of more autonomy for rebel-held eastern Ukraine.
The latest escalation of violence started in mid- January after Kiev announced a mass operation against Donetsk airport, in violation of a previous ceasefire agreement. Since then there have been almost daily reports of civilian casualties in the conflict. Five people died in shelling on a hospital in Donetsk on Wednesday. The UN has warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in the region.
50,000 casualties in Ukraine:German intel says ‘official figures not credible’
The German intelligence service estimates that the real losses in Ukraine's civil war are 50,000 dead (civilians & servicemen) -- nearly 10 times higher than reported by Kiev's authorities, German media report.
The information comes from a source in German intelligence, who spoke to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ) newspaper.
“Germany’s special services estimate the probable number of deceased Ukrainian servicemen and civilians at up to 50,000 people. This is about 10 times higher than the official data. The official figures are clearly too low and not credible,” the newspaper reports on Sunday, citing its source.
Just the day before the report was published, the Ukrainian president gave completely different numbers to the world.
“The death toll for Ukrainian soldiers defending land from the aggressor is now 1,432. Thousands of people, 5,638, have been killed since April and every single day the number of victims among civilians is rising,” Petro Poroshenko said, addressing the 51st Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
The Ukrainian army is reported to be suffering its heaviest losses since the beginning of the conflict last spring.
According to the Donetsk militia rep- resentative, Eduard Basurin, Ukraine's army has lost 1,569 servicemen in just 3 weeks since restarting the offensive.
The situation on the battlefield is dire for the Ukrainian forces. Some 8,000 Ukrainian troops are believed to be surrounded near the village of Debaltsevo in Donbass. Militia units have cut off the only road linking this pocket of land to Kiev-controlled territory.
Taking into account these heavy losses, Ukraine is set to call up as many military age Ukrainians as possible. The national military draft for 2015 is expected to see 100,000 people joining the army in three stages throughout the year.
The recruitment effort, co-inciding with intensified fighting in eastern Ukraine, is being met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, by potential soldiers.
Belgian parliament approves Palestine state resolution
Belgium’s parliament has approved a resolution that calls for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state. The international campaign to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, is now gaining momentum.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel from the Reformist Movement party, the Flemish Liberals and Democrats, the Christian-Democratic and Flemish Party, and the New Flemish Alliance have all submitted the resolution.
Sweden is the only European country that has officially recognized Palestine’s statehood, but several other parliaments in the European Union have made similar moves, which demand that their governments recognize Palestine as a state.
Israel has been angered by the motions being submitted to Europe's parliaments.
On December 2, 2014, French lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion to recognize Palestine as an independent state. The motion, urging the government to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, was backed by a majority of 339 lawmakers and 151 members voted against.
On November 18th, 2014, Spain's lawmakers overwhelmingly approved their (non-binding) resolution on recognizing a Palestinian state.
Britain and Ireland have also passed similar non-binding motions.
On November 29th, 2012, the 193-member UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.
Palestinians seek to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip, and demand that Israel withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, refuses to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.
Russia eyes new peace conference without USA to avoid WWIII
An international scientific conference, "Yalta-1945. Past, Present, Future" has just taken place in the Livadia Palace, in the Crimea.
70 years ago, the palace was the venue for a meeting of the leaders of the USSR, US and UK, at which the foundations for the postwar world order were laid. Now experts have gathered in the palace to discuss the need for "a new Yalta."
The conference was organized by the Civil Society Development Foundation, the Historical Perspective Foundation and the International Association of Peace Foundations.
Politicians and scientists from Russia, European countries & Ukraine, took part.
Russia's President Putin did not take a direct part in the work of the conference.
Putin prepared a special address instead, to all conference participants, in which he stressed the inadmissibility of promoting or disseminating the ideas of Nazism.
Presidential envoy in the Crimean Federal District, Oleg Belavintsev, read the message to the participants at the Yalta Conference:
"It was here in the Livadia Palace, where the meeting of the allied anti-Hitler coalition took place. The coalition played a huge role in the final defeat of Nazism. Most importantly, the Yalta conference "defined the basis of the postwar world & the nature of international relations, for years to come."
"I would like to note that, despite political differences and different views on current events, the leaders of the USSR, the USA and the UK managed to rise above their ambitions, find constructive approaches to complex problems in the interest of the speedy completion of World War II and the establishment of a global security system."
"After the Yalta Conference, the Potsdam Conference, and the Nuremberg Trial, it seemed that the ideology and criminal practice of Nazism had been fully exposed and defeated.
However, recent events suggest otherwise. We are witnessing the unfolding campaign to revise the results of the Second World War, to diminish the contribution of the Red Army in the great victory."
"These circumstances can not leave us indifferent. We must firmly oppose all attempts to falsify historical facts and defend the truth about the war."
The head of the Foundation for Civil Society Development, Konstantin Kostin, speaking at the opening of the conference, noted that the conference in Yalta "was an event that set an example of fruitful cooperation."
"The 3 leaders could overcome inconsistencies. The meeting in Yalta shaped the post-war world order and also designated its development for decades to come."
"The post-Yalta reality has changed dramatically. We are witnessing violations, interventions, the deposition of legitimate governments, and even the murder of heads of state," said Kostin.
"Events happening in the world and Ukraine show that the world is fragile. No one can feel safe; there are no guarantees that the present-day institutions will be able to over- come the crisis. One needs to develop new methods," the head of the Foundation for Civil Society Development, Konstantin Kostin said, Politonline.ru reports.
"We hope that, like 70 years ago, politicians will be able to rise above passions and find common ground," said Konstantin Kostin, adding that one could do "without the re- writing and falsifying of history, as is happening now."
The idea of a "new Yalta" sparked lively discussions at the conference. In short, the majority of participants agreed that a new Yalta conference is necessary.
Yet the conference members differed in their opinions over the details.
"The New Yalta Conference could be arranged by France, Britain, Germany and Russia," French expert Xavier Moreau told Pravda.Ru.
The expert is confident that isolationism in the United States and Canada will grow.
Therefore, Moreau said, these 2 countries are not really needed, in the concept of a new world order on the European continent.
"If the Americans lose in Ukraine - although they are throwing everything they can there - our countries will be able to conclude a new treaty on European security," said Xavier Moreau.
Spanish writer Daniel Estulin believes that "the world must realise that it will never return to unilateralism." The writer agreed on the concept of a new treaty. However, unlike Xavier Moreau, he did not specify exactly which countries could take part in its elaboration.
"The world must conclude a new treaty that will reflect the geopolitical reality, rather than ambition. Humanity's future depends on this," said Daniel Estulin, in a brief interview with Pravda.Ru.
President of the Foundation of Historical Perspective, Natalia Narochnitskaya, addressed the problem of attempts to rehabilitate Nazism. In her opinion, "the situation in the world today resembles the last years before World War II, when a refusal to jointly search for a solution to stop Hitler's impending aggression, took the world to such a catastrophe."
According to Narochnitskaya, there are countries that refuse to cooperate and try to use conflicts and various events as tools to put pressure on Russia.
"The processing of society's state of mind through the mass media, plays one of the leading roles at this point, and the mass media have become one of the main instruments of politics," she said, RIA Novosti reports.
"When history is being distorted, when fascism is bring rehabilitated, when the winner is being equated to an aggressor, one must remember history. The world is fragile indeed, and there is nothing more terrible than to cross the line of no return," said Narochnitskaya.
DPR’s defence ministry: Evacuation from Debaltsevo cancelled for security reasons
The evacuation of civilians from Debaltsevo on Saturday, was cancelled for "security", representative of the defence ministry at the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, says.
"No evacuation today. We fear for civilians and the people organising the evacuation," he said. "If they can, people are trying to leave themselves and the militia are assisting them."
On Friday, he said that Ukraine's military were using the evacuation of civilians as an excuse to deliver fresh ammunition.
Lavrov: Ukraine’s president has lost 'taking decisions on use of force' monopoly
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has lost his monopoly over taking decisions on the use of force, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says at the Munich Security Conference, on Saturday.
"The problem is that the Ukrainian president has lost the monopoly for the use of force," the minister says. "Now there are battalions which are paid much better than the regular armed forces."
"People are running to these battalions from the regular armed forces. The battalions carry various names, like Azov, and include ones clearly led by ultra nationalists.".
"Moscow is aware of the US's real actions in Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, adds.
"The US has stated that it was a broker in the transition of power in Ukraine. But we know perfectly well who it was, who discussed on the 'phone those persons who were to be in the future Ukrainian government, who were at the Maidan, and who are effecting what happens now," Lavrov says. "our military, or experts, have not been there."
"We want the people of Ukraine to restore its unity on the basis of national dialogue," the minister says.
"In Crimea what happened complies with the UN Charter - self-determination," the minister adds. "The UN Charter has several principles, and the right of a nation to self-determination, takes a key position.".
Media: Kiev military open fire on Russian journalists, civilians during evacuation
Kiev's military opened fire on Russian reporters and local civilians, during an evacuation of the residents of Chernukhino village in east Ukraine, violating a truce agreed earlier, a correspondent of Lugansk Information Centre, reports from there.
"Kiev mercenaries - Chechens, according to preliminary reports - broke the truce during the evacuation of peaceful residents, and opened fire," the news agency of the self- proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic says in a report. One person is wounded.
"Russian reporters - Dmitry Malyshev and Artem Kol came under shelling as well," it says. The reporters are uninjured.
One of the reporters, Artyom Kol, says, "We witnessed the fighting that began during the evacuation of Chernukhino village's peaceful citizens. A subversive group of Ukraine’s security forces opened fire on the civilians."
Immediately, the Luhansk republic’s militias returned fire, to cover the peaceful citizens and journalists working on the frontline, the Russian reporter says.
Earlier Friday, LPR leader Igor Plotnitsky said agreement had been reached with Kiev's military, to open an humanitarian passage at 10am to rescue Chernukhino residents caught in the area of combat.
At least 50 people managed to leave the village in their personal cars, by midday.
Peace plan of Merkel and Hollande attempt to wrest initiative from US - media
Paris and Berlin consider the US solution to deliver weapons to Ukraine, very risky and are unwilling to accept it, France’s influential magazine, L’Obs, says
The conflict peace settlement initiative put forward by President Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel, is an attempt to politically sidestep the United States, which is more and more inclined to start weapons supplies to Kiev, says a piece published last Friday by L’Obs.
"The initiative is historic," writes L’Obs commentator Vincent Jauvert. "The French president & German chancellor are going to Kiev and Moscow in order to attain — through diplomacy — a de- escalation of the crisis. But why under- take this trip now as the war's already lasted for months?"
According to top diplomatic sources close to Hollande, "this "dramatization" to which Hollande and Merkel resorted, is aimed at sidestepping the Americans, who may try in coming hours to impose their decision, to start delivering weapons to Ukraine, on the West."
"Washington regained the initiative after a number of European diplomatic moves, specifically by France & Germany, within the so-called ‘Normandy format,’ failed," says the L’Obs article. "Paris and Berlin are unwilling to accept this US solution, which they consider to be very risky. Thus, France and Germany are trying to act similar to the US administration ...which they distrust."
Merkel and Hollande's peace proposal most likely contains the same principal points that were "fixed in the Minsk agreements that were signed in September last year, but never fulfilled": a ceasefire within 15 days, withdrawal of heavy weapons, prisoner exchanges, and control over the border by the OSCE.
"Armed with such a document, the French and German leaders could then argue that arms supplies aren't needed," L’Obs says.
Pope Francis Calls For an End to Ukraine Hostilities During his General Audience weekly address, Pope Francis expresses his "deep concern" at the escalating violence in Ukraine, & requests an inmediate end to hostilities.
Addressing crowds, the Pope says: "With deep concern, I am following the worsening clashes of both sides in east Ukraine, which continues to cause many victims in the civilian population."
He adds: "As I assure you of my prayers for all who suffer, I renew a heartfelt appeal to the international community to contribute to the end of this conflict and for a resumption in dialogue and an end to all hostilities."
Ukraine's city of Deboltsevo, the scene of hard fighting over the last few days, has no gas, water or power, supplies --- which is forcing a massive outflow of civilians from the location.
NATO set to expand military presence near Russia border
NATO defense ministers met at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels to agree on a plan to boost its military presence near Russia’s western borders, as tensions grow over Ukraine.
At Thursday's meeting, top military officials agreed on enlarging NATO’s present rapid reaction force in E. Europe, from 13,000 troops to 30,000 and improve the reaction capacity of their “spearhead” force of 5,000 soldiers.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the massive military measures are “defensive” and part of the alliance's reaction to a recent escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine... accusing Russia of meddling in the crisis.
"It's a response to what we have seen from Russia over a period of time, and it is in full accord with our international obligations," says Stoltenberg at the press briefing.
He further confirms that these NATO military reinforcements, are NATO's largest collective defense measures since the Cold War ended.
The NATO chief also indicates that the US- led alliance has now ended all cooperation with Moscow, due to the crisis in Ukraine.
Moreover, the UK, France & Germany announce that they are to be among the "framework nations" that will take turns to command the rapid reaction force, being set up over the next few years.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev, for a series of meetings with the embattled country’s top officials, after a pledge by US President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with “defensive weapons.”
The Kiev government was reported to be 'optimistic', that Kerry would unveil the US’s plan to send US military hardware to the country, during his visit.
NATO, Georgia to set up permanent training centre in Tbilisi
NATO and Georgia will establish a permanent training center of the alliance in Tbilisi, TASS NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says on Thursday.
The alliance’s chief announces this move after the NATO-Georgia commission met at defense minister level.
Europe, not Russia, pressed Kiev over EU association – ex-Ukrainian PM
Top EU officials, rather than Russia, threatened Ukraine with a coup d'état if Kiev refused to sign an association agreement in 2013, Nikolay Azarov, Ukraine’s former prime minister, says.
“I’ve never heard neither Putin nor Medvedev saying that if you sign an agreement with the EU, you’ll have a different government. But I’ve heard [EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Stefan] Fule, repeatedly saying that if you don’t sign, then the other government will sign it,” he says, as his book 'Ukraine at a crossroads. Prime Minister’s notes' is launched in Moscow.
The decision to delay signing the association agreement by then-Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, led to protests in Kiev, which then turned violent and resulted in regime change in February 2014.
According to Azarov, it was Washington which masterminded the plan to oust Yanukovich and his government.
“As for the US, I think they initially applied the tactics of gradually forcing Yanukovich from power,” he said. But first, “their goal was to get rid of the government, because they saw the government as a key to the country’s stability.”
Washington needed to “knock out this foundation from under Yanukovich and they achieved this, by introducing the idea of a national unity government,” he adds.
Azarov quit his post as prime minister in late January 2014 amid an intensification of the Euromaidan riots, saying it was in the hope that his resignation could create a chance for compromise between the government and the protesters.
Meanwhile, the US, Azarov says, managed to pull Yanukovich into "useless negotiations" with the Euromaidan demonstrators, while armed men from all over Ukraine were arriving in Kiev to seize power.
Over 100 were killed last February in clashes between the police and Euromaidan protesters in central Kiev, where firearms were widely used.
Azarov insists Yanukovich had every chance to “maintain order in the country”, and prevent the coup, but after the killings at Euromaidan, he was “practically paralyzed.”
After the coup, both Yanukovich and Azarov had to flee Ukraine and find refuge in Russia, saying that they feared for their lives.
In mid-January, Interpol put the former president and prime minster on their international wanted list -- by request from Kiev.
Yanukovich and Azarov stand accused of misappropriation and embezzlement during their time in office.
The new Kiev government signed the economic and political aspects of the association agreement last year, with Ukraine and the EU parliaments simultaneously ratifying them in September 2014.
The ex-PM describes the current events in south-eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues between rebels & Kiev troops as a “catastrophe”.
With the sides being unable to reach a peaceful agreement on their own, the ex-PM urges the organization of an international conference, involving Russia, the US and Germany, to put an end to violence in Ukraine.
“If the forces inside the country don’t want to stop, then -- as has already happened in world history -- the Guarantor States gather and make a decision. Trust me, Germany, the US and Russia, have enough influence to stop this war, they just need to come to an agreement,” he says.
The ex-PM also says that he doesn’t consider the new Ukrainian power, led by president Petro Poroshenko and Arseny Yatsenyuk, as legitimate.
“How can I consider this to be a legitimate authority, if it came to power through an armed coup, committed monstrous crimes, and now continues a fratricidal war, doing nothing to stop it?” he wonders.
The Ukraine conflict began last April when Kiev sent regular forces and volunteer battalions to the south- east around Donetsk and Lugansk, after rebels within them refused to recognize the country’s new, coup- imposed authorities.
The death toll in the Ukraine conflict now exceeds 5,300 people, with over 12,000 injured, say UN estimates.
NATO should not provide military aid in Ukraine crisis: MSC chair
Munich Security Conference (MSC) chair Wolfgang Ischinger says NATO shouldn't provide military aid in the Ukraine crisis.
"NATO itself should not provide military aid, since this will only offer a welcome pretext to Russia to escalate and argue again that NATO's enlargement strategy has been the source of evil all along," Ischinger wrote in an editorial published by German media Spiegel Online.
"Russia's refusal to help implement the Minsk (agreement), may leave Western countries with no choice, but to deliver defense equipment to Kiev, & Moscow should be fully aware of the respons- ibility it would then carry," he warns.
The collapse of the international order, in view of the crisis in Ukraine is among the key topics of the 51st MSC, from Feb. 6 to 8 in Munich. Other topics will be the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, the global refugee crisis and the ongoing fight against terrorism, according to the MSC's statement.
About 20 heads of states & governments, around 60 ministers of foreign affairs and defense, 30 CEOs of big global companies as well as parliamentary delegations, are expected in Munich.
Among them are Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, NATO Secretary Gen Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
"The solution to conflict in Ukraine, can not be a German task," the 68-year-old chair said, adding "the solution to the Ukrainian conflict has to be a European or transatlantic task, together with the United States."
Ischinger hopes the day will come when all sides understand that constructing a comprehensive Euro-Atlantic security community, and a common economic space, was a good idea in the first place and should be pursued, in the interests of all.
Abbas seeks global pressure on Israel to free tax revenue dues
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urges the international community to exert pressure on Israel to pay back the tax revenue dues to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
The Palestinian leader's appeal was made in the aftermath of a meeting with World Bank representatives held in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Withholding our tax revenue dues leaves negative and crucial consequences on the security, social and economical situation in the Palestinian territories," said Abbas, according to the official state-run Wafa news agency.
In early January, Israel announced it had decided to withhold the tax revenue dues it usually collects from Palestinian imports and exports, in response to Palestinians joining 20 agencies and treaties.
Abbas signed on to joining the international treaties and agencies, after the UN Security Council failed to pass an Arab-backed draft resolution that called on the council to end the Israeli occupation within three years.
No need for general mobilization in self- proclaimed Luhansk republic — LPR leader
The authorities of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) don't see any reason to hold a general mobilization, LPR's head, Igor Plotnitsky, says Tuesday.
"There's no reason to sign a mobilization decree. This is possible but I'm not sure such a situation will arise. We have a strong, well-coordinated army," Plotnitsky says.
The leader of another self-proclaimed republic of eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk People's Republic, on Monday announced a general mobilization, starting in 10 days.
"We want to mobilize the number of people needed to increase the numerical strength of our army to 100,000," Alexander Zakharchenko said. "This will be a voluntary mobilization."
On January 20th, Ukraine began a fourth wave of mobilization, since the start of the operation in Donbas.
This time, about 104,000 men aged 20 to 60 are to be mobilized. Ukraine's General Staff spokesperson, Oleg Boiko, acknowledges great problems with mobilization, saying conscripts are ignoring their draft cards, and men of military age are leaving for Russia and other neighbouring countries.
Russia’s Federal Migration Service has extended the period of stay in Russia for Ukrainian citizens of recruitment age, to over 90 days.
According to the service’s statistics, 2.430 million Ukrainian citizens are currently staying in Russia, of whom, 1.172 million are men of recruitment age.
Plans to extend the length of stay for Ukrainian citizens, especially for men of military age, were announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, on January 26th.
US Plans to Give Weapons to Ukrainian Army
The New York Times says that US President Barack Obama's Administration is considering sending offensive weapons to Ukraine, faced with the coup forces' recent defeats inflicted on them, by the anti-coup militias in the east.
The NYTimes quotes anonymous White House officials saying US Sec. of State, John Kerry, and president of the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, General Martin Dempsey, are in favor of it, but that a 'final decision has not yet been made' .
They support the initiative by Chief of the US Allied Supreme Command in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, in charge of NATO forces.
The Times asserts that Obama's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, is rethinking her previous opposition to providing that kind of military aid, which has been limited -- so far -- to non-lethal equipment, such as bulletproof vests, night-vision equipment, and others.
'Although our priority is seeking a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian conflict, we always consider other options......... that could help achieve that objective', National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan, told the NYTimes.
On Thursday, Kerry visits Kiev, where he'll meet with President Petro Poroshenko & other officials, to express Washington's deep concern over the recent defeats experienced by Ukraine's Armed Forces in Donetsk, and other areas in Donbass.
A group of 8 former US Government officials are presenting their independent report this Monday, advising the White House to deliver $3 billion in 'defensive weapons', including anti-tank rockets and spy drones.
Russia has denounced the US many times for organizing and financing the coup in Ukraine against President Yanukovich, in Feb. 2014, with the help of Germany, France and the UK.
According to the Kremlin, the action is part of a struggle of bigger dimensions against Moscow, including new sanctions against the Euro-Asian nation and the reinforcement of NATO's military presence on Ukraine's territory, and in other neighboring countries.
Maduro accuses Joe Biden of ‘bloody coup’ in Venezuela
The US is behind the attempted coup in Venezuela – that is the accusation President Nicolas Maduro has leveled amid widespread protests back home. And it’s none other than Vice-president Joe Biden who’s behind the entire operation, Maduro alleges.
This is the first time he has directly accused the US of such bloodshed plans in front of thousands of cheering spectators and the world at large... despite an earlier Friday statement, when he struck out at several US federal agencies, for allegedly plotting against Venezuela.
"The northern imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation, going to talk to the continent's governments to announce the overthrow of my government. And I accuse Vice-president Joe Biden of this," the head of state said, addressing the people at the 198th anniversary of the birth of a Venezuelan hero, general Zamora, in Cua, in Miranda state.
He also questioned US President Barack Obama publically, whether he was “aware of these plans to promote violence and a coup in Venezuela” and appealed to his conscience.
“There are US diplomats in Venezuela contracting military officials to betray their country, looking to influence socialist political leaders, public opinion leaders and entrepreneurs to provoke a coup,” the head of state went on.
The President addressed the nation Sunday -- to strengthen its resolve in times of what he calls “a bloody coup” -- as demonstrators flood the streets demanding his resignation amid an economic crisis that is hitting the food sector first, as thousands of others could be heard cheering him on, smiling and waving flags.
But, stated Maduro, this is no ordinary crisis:
“I appeal to the people and the patriots among the officials who are on high alert, as a bloody coup is underway in Venezuela.”
“The people must be prepared to rescue their democracy, Constitution and their revolution” at times like these, the head of state warns.
Only a few days before, the leader appealed to his fellow countrymen to burn their US visas to “send a message to the imperialist Yankees”, but the accusations of a coup had before only dealt with members of the political opposition at home and their being influenced by other "unfriendy countriess in the region".
The New York Times pointed out on January 2 that an unnamed official had said Maduro was interested in an improved relationship with Biden, and the Venezuelan leader said after the meeting that he “told Vice-president Biden, and have said it 1,000 times in public and in private, we want respectful relations, nothing more.”
But as the price of oil – which accounts for 95% of its export earnings – begins to plunge, so do Maduro’s public ratings, which are now at little more than 20%, according to local media.
With the situation changing, Maduro says that it’s difficult to imagine, despite earlier promises, how to maintain diplomatic relations with the US - in light of its constant attempts to subvert the Venezuelan leadership and sink the country into a crisis.
“They [the opposition] say the revolution is over, that the people no longer support it. They say they'll overthrow the people and revolutionary government I chair. But I say to conspirators – stay out of Venezuela, let us live in peace.”
Washington and Caracas have been at odds since iconic former leader Hugo Chavez won power in 2000. The US was accused of trying to 'regime change' Venezuela's government in 2002, when a coup saw Chavez lose office for 47 hours, before order was restored.
Obama’s words on power transition in Ukraine confirm US involvement in state coup — Lavrov
US President Barack Obama's statement on the US role in "brokering power transition" in Ukraine, confirms that Washington was involved in February's state coup, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says today.
Speaking about Obama’s interview with CNN Sunday, Lavrov says the US leader confirmed that the US has -- "since the very beginning --- been involved in an anti-governmental coup which Obama called, neutrally, a "power transition."
"The rhetoric in the interview speaks eloquently about Washington’s intention to do everything further, to implicitly support the actions of the current Kiev authorities which have apparently taken the course towards suppressing conflict by force only," Lavrov says.
The Russian foreign minister says Europe also shares the assessment that there is a need to establish a direct dialogue between the Kiev authorities and the representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics.
However, Lavrov says this effort has met attempts to disrupt the negotiation process.
"But I’m convinced that everyone who sincerely wishes peace to the Ukrainian people, & Russia is definitely among these countries, as, I under- stand, are Germany, France & other Europeans, & the OSCE, then we need to continue this effort and do everything so that the direct dialogue is launched & this should bring results," Lavrov says.
Lavrov notes that, while the Western partners call for dialogue between the authorities and the opposition across the world, including in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan, Ukraine remains an exception...
"In regard to Ukraine, the Western colleagues only say that the main issue is to give every support to the actions of Kiev," Lavrov says, adding that Kiev’s evidently wrong actions .... are not being criticized at all.
"We support direct dialogue and will be actively involved in it --- as a party that contributes to the work of the Contact Group; and, simply as Ukraine’s close neighbour, we have been doing a lot to support its economy," he says.
"A direct dialogue is highly necessary. We shall be working on this as a country which supports the work of the Contact Group, as a neighbour of Ukraine, and as a member of the OSCE," Lavrov says.
Donetsk republic to announce military mobilization in 10 days - leader. Militias' forces will be boosted to around 100,000 men.
DPR defense ministry reports that Kiev's troops have failed to break the militias' defenses near Debaltsevo,as the authorities in east Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic say on Monday that they plan a general mobilization in 10 days to boost their forces to 100,000 men.
The republic’s leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, tells journalists that people will be called up on a voluntary basis.
"We want to mobilize the number of people needed to increase the numerical strength of our army to 100,000," Zakharchenko says. "This will be a voluntary mobilisation."
"Our enemy is building up its forces in the south - in Donetsk airport, Peski city & Opytnyi district - probably for an attack… and we should adjust to the situation", he says, adding that at least five additional units will be formed and trained until spring, including motorised rifle, artillery and tank brigades.
LPR parliament speaker says Kiev army uses NATO-marked munitions in eastern Ukraine
Kiev’s army is using munitions bearing the marks of NATO states in combat operations in south-eastern Ukraine, Alexey Karyakin, speaker of the People’s Council of the self- proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), says on Monday.
"The fact that, in the past several days, LPR’s specialists have recovered fragments of munitions bearing NATO marks from sites shelled by the Ukrainian army, is of special concern," Luhansk Information Centre cites him as saying.
"Now, the North Atlantic Alliance is killing our fellow countrymen, not only with the hands of Polish and Lithuanian gunmen commissioned earlier to the so-called 'Ukrainian volunteer battalions,' but it also gives lethal weapons so the Kiev regime can continue to shed the blood of children and elderly people," he says.
"My advice to Ukrainian politicians is to spend the next tranche from the IMF, if any, to buy a conscience for themselves, if that were ever possible in principle. The war, then, would be over in just a few days," he adds.
New President in Italy Elected
Italy's Parliament has elected the former Constitutional Court judge, Sergio Mattarella, as the new president of the country, a result seen as a political victory for PM Matteo Renzi.
Before the final selection, lawmakers held 3 rounds of voting, marked by disagreements, the lack of a quorum and blank votes.
After the announcement by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, on the selection, the press reported the result as a triumph for Renzi, because he managed to defeat Silvio Berlusconi, in Parliament.
La Stampa online, carried the headline: 'The winner Renzi, the losers Berlusconi & Grillo'.
Mattarella - a Christian Democrat, but on the left of it - has a significant history of struggle against the Mafia.
The head of state in Italy is the most important and stabilising factor in the country and, who- ever holds it, should be a figure who ensures balance in political life. They are also the only one with the right to dissolve parliament and call early elections.
Clashes Become More Intense in Strategic Resistance for Donbass
Clashes for control of the huge and strategic territories of Donbass, continue today in the peripheral regions of Donetsk, between the militia and Ukrainian troops, accompanied by deadly attacks on populated areas.
The defensive position in Debaltsevo - about 70 klmtrs northwest of Donetsk - remains the main scene of the bloody fighting, due to its strategic position: affording access to the neighboring Lugansk region, also controlled, partly, by the popular militia.
The Joint Sub Commander of the Defense Ministry of the Popular Republic of Donetsk (PRD), Eduard Basurin, says that units opposing the stationed militia, are trying to break out of their encirclement - at the price of their lives.
Devaltsevo was occupied in July by the Army and the National Guard during the summer offensive through which Kiev's forces retook Kramatorsk & Slavyansk cities after over 3 months of resistance.
In his opinion, such an action by the Ukrainian groups has at least the purpose of breaking a siege started last Monday, or to go on to attacking other populations controlled by the militants.
The DPR's elected leader, Alexander Zajarchenko, called Saturday on Kiev's units to lay down their arms voluntarily, to avoid an unnecessary blood bath.
Zajarchenko warned days ago that the militias were being forced to move the front line to the regional borders (of the DPR, he said) to protect the cities from indiscriminate attacks by Kiev's artillery.
The harassment of densely populated areas was noticeable from the 18th of January, when Kiev's troops resumed their offensive in the Donbass, by order of President Petro Poroshenko, who called for mass attacks on all 'terrorist' positions, as Kiev calls the anti-Western coup population of Ukraine.
According to the DPR's authorities, attacks in the last 24 hours alone, caused colossal destruction at 37 facilities, urban and city areas, infrastructure, housing, one metal plant and a militia base.
Deinego: Donetsk, Lugansk republics have info' Kiev readying new offensive
The authorities of the self-proclaimed and unrecognized Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics have information that Ukrainian government forces are preparing for a new offensive, Vladislav Deinego, Minsk talks representative of the Lugansk republic says on Saturday night, at the end of yet another dead-locked meeting of the Contact Group.
The East Ukrainian self-defence forces need dialogue, not a monologue by the Ukrainian government, he says.
Kiev also accuses the DPR side of wasting time, and not sending their leaders to talks.
Participants in the meeting did not discuss even the date of the next meeting, Vladislav Deinego, for the DPR, tells TASS afterwards.
"The date wasn't discussed," he says. "We laid out our position and the Ukrainian side laid out its position. The differences still concern the line of disengagement, and, as we said earlier, we proceed from the line that exists today, in practice, while Ukraine insists on a line that existed on September 19th, in 2014," Deinego says.
A cease-fire declared at the Minsk meeting has never got off the ground and hundreds of civilians, regime soldiers and anti-coup fighters, have been killed since then.
The World Health Organisation says over 4,800 people in all, have been killed in the conflict, which erupted last April after the South Eastern population voted to reject new leaders, after the violent US-backed coup, an event which has led to the worst crisis between Russia and the West, since the end of the Cold War.
Kiev accuses anti-coup fighters of seizing over 500 square km (194 square miles) of territory in eastern Ukraine, far beyond the separation lines agreed in Minsk.
Russia's Foreign Minister, Sercei Lavrov, this Wednesday, acknowledged that the fighters in east Ukraine now hold more territory than was assigned to their control, under the past agreement.
Fighting continues, as anti-coup fighters attack along the entire front, with 8,000 of Kiev's troops reported to be caught in a trap and surrounded.
Kiev's troops are still attacking the South East's population centres with long range artillery and rocket fire, report ground witnesses, and the independent OSCE.
Ukraine peace talks participants meet in Minsk - as crisis worsens
All participants of the contact group on Ukraine's crisis: OSCE representatives, and those from Kiev, Moscow, and the Donbass region, were in Minsk for talks, on Saturday, as the intense fighting in Eastern Ukraine, worsened.
Former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma was appointed by President Poroshenko, as his official representative at the talks.
Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego were there, on behalf of the two self-proclaimed republics, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic, respectively.
Mikhail Zurabov, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, and Heidi Tagliavini, a special delegate of the OSCE, arrived in Minsk earlier on Saturday.
A source with Belarusia's Foreign Ministry told Interfax news agency that the talks were held at the Diplomatic Service Hall in central Minsk, and closed to the media.
Russia takes measures to prevent any US/NATO military superiority
Russia's Defense Ministry is taking measures to prevent US/NATO superiority over Russia, Chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces says.
"The Armed Forces' priority is the qualitative improvement of Strategic Nuclear Forces," Valery Gerasimov says.
"Keeping Strategic Nuclear Forces in a condition of high combat readiness, as well as the quality improvement of the combat potential of regular troops, will prevent any military superiority of the United States and NATO over Russia," he notes.
"This year, four missile regiments are to be established, equipped with modern missile complexes for Strategic Missile Troops," Gerasimov explains.
He adds that the increasing number of US' anti-missile defense systems in the Asia- Pacific region, is forcing Russia to take responsive measures.
"The American anti-missile defense system has a global character, while the US and its allies are increasing elements of this system in the Asia-Pacific region," which breach the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), RIA Novosti quotes Gerasimov saying.
"We cannot remain indifferent to the actions of Western countries and are forced to take responsive measures," Gerasimov says.
Gerasimov's statement is echoed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who repeats that Russia's military will begin working on a task set by President Putin: to guarantee military superiority, by completing Russia's arms program.
Gerasimov says a defense plan for 2016 - 2020, will be elaborated and presented to President Putin for approval this December.
The plan will focus on maintaining Russia's military power and addressing new threats - with the help of other state ministries and government agencies, Gerasimov adds.
US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work this Wednesday, claimed that the US needs new military and defense plans and projects, to ensure a decisive competitive advantage against potential enemies.
Fiji slams UK for refusal to compensate victims of nuclear tests
Fiji has slammed the UK government for its refusal to compensate Fijian soldiers who were exposed to radiation during British nuclear tests in the late 1950s.
“We are bringing justice to a brave and proud group of Fijians to whom a great injustice was done,” Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama said at a ceremony held to recognise the suffering of the veterans, this Friday.
“We are righting a wrong. We are closing an unfortunate chapter in our history,” the PM added in an apparent reference to the UK’s refusal to pay any compensation.
“Fiji is not prepared to wait for Britain to do the right thing. We owe it to these men to help them now, not wait for the British politicians and bureaucrats.”
Fiji was a British colony at the time of the nuclear tests.
Two dozen survivors of the nuclear tests who attended the Friday event each received over £3,000 pounds, from a compensation pool of nearly 950,000 pounds (USD 2.95 million).
The victims had reportedly suffered from various illnesses, including leukemia.
More than 70 Fijians were stationed on the Pacific Island of Kiritimati, called Christmas Island by the British, during nuclear bomb tests, in 1957 and 1958.
One of the surviving victims, 76-year-old Naibuka Naicegulevu, whose job was to clean and repair vehicles on the island, says, “We were only told that we would go there to test some weapons, but when we got there, we found out that we were brought there to be part of a British test of weapons of mass destruction.”
“My two sons, now in their early 30s, get sick suddenly and they can be ill for one week, sometimes more. It's all because of the radiation that were exposed to,” he adds.
Castro compares NATO to Nazi SS - slams US/Israel for ‘creating ISIS’
Cuba’s former president, Fidel Castro, compares NATO’s recent statements to those of the Nazi SS, and accuses the US and its allies of igniting most conflicts across the world.
Apparently referring to the pressure NATO has been trying to exert on Moscow in connection with the Ukrainian crisis, which coincides with calls for the ramping up of NATO's budgets by member countries, Cuba’s leader accuses the West's politicians of hypocrisy and aggression.
“Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European NATO spokespeople, when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS,” Castro writes, in a column published in Cuba's media.
“Adolf Hitler’s greed-based empire went down in history with less glory than the urging given to NATO’s aggressive bourgeois governments, which makes them a laughing stock of Europe --- and the world.”
Castro, 88, also attacks US Senator John McCain on his policies in the Middle East, saying he is “Israel’s most unconditional ally.”
He accuses McCain of assisting Israel’s Mossad and participating “together with that service, in the creation of Islamic State, which now controls a considerable and vital portion of Iraq, and reportedly, one-third of Syria as well.”
Castro attacks the West for its “cynicism” and says its actions throughout history have made it “a symbol of imperialist policy” and adds...
“The world has seen no respite in recent years, particularly as the European Economic Community, under the strict, unconditional leadership of the US, decided the time had arrived to settle scores with what was left of 2 great nations - Russia & China - who had carried out the heroic deed of putting an end to the imperialist colonial order imposed on the world, by Europe and the USA,” Castro says.
Instead of promoting conflict, NATO governments should “introduce more food, build hospitals and more schools for the billions of human beings who desperately need them,” the Cuban leader adds.
Castro stresses that Cuba will continue to resist the US, despite the costs to the Cuban economy due to the US embargo, saying that “there is no worse price than capitulating before an enemy who attacks you without any right to do so.”
‘Cuba's people are very well-informed about US attempts to undermine their government’
“When the USSR disintegrated and disappeared from the socialist landscape, we kept resisting together - the state and revolutionary people - and we're continuing our independent march,” says Castro.
Castro praises the Soviet Union for “gathering its resources and sharing its technology with a large number of weaker and less developed nations....... the inevitable victims of colonial exploitation”, when the Soviet Union existed.
Fidel Castro transferred presidential powers to his younger brother, Raul, due to health concerns in 2006, after almost five decades in power.
Since then, Castro has written numerous articles and books about foreign policy.
Brits demand no more delay over UK Iraq-war report
People met outside Westminster on Friday -- to demand no more delays over publication of a long-awaited inquiry into the UK’s role in the 2003 illegal war on Iraq.
Critics say the report’s postponement is due to its criticism of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government, over their criminal involvement in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
“It’s obvious that Tony Blair will be criticized... so they want to delay this as long as possible - obviously with an election - the conservative party voted for the war and they do really have something to hide here,” says Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition.
Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, said earlier this month, that the report is being “watered down,” so that Blair & other former officials are given a chance to respond to the inquiry’s findings.
However, the inquiry’s chair, John Chilcot, says the wait is being caused by the long delays in responses by "some individuals".
On January 21st, the UK government stated that the inquiry would be published after the coming general election --- in May 2015.
The Chilcot report has already been delayed by rows over its criticism of leading figures in Blair’s government and urgent 'diplomatic negotiations' between the US and the UK, about what can be allowed to be shown of correspondence between Blair and former US President George W. Bush.
The inquiry started in 2009 and concluded its task in 2011. It's now four years overdue.
The US and UK invaded Iraq in open violation of international law in 2003, over allegations that the regime of then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction. Not one, however, were ever found in Iraq.
The war left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis murdered, many more wounded and millions displaced, with large areas of the country strewn with toxic depleted uranium shells.
Militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have fully blocked a grouping of Kiev's troops, near Debaltsevo city, in eastern Ukraine, a spokesperson for the DPR's Defense Ministry says.
Eduard Basurin says the militias have taken Uglegorsk city and its adjoining areas under control, trapping about 8,000 Kiev troops.
The DPR's leaders "have made a decision to preserve the soldiers’ lives," he says, adding that 11 of Kiev's troops have already taken the militia's side.
Eduard Basurin, earlier this week, said that 1,194 Ukrainian service personel have been killed since the start of Kiev's 'operation' in eastern Ukraine was restarted.
Russia Is Concerned about Weapon Supplies to Ukraine
The Russian Foreign Ministry warns that an alleged supply of weapons to Ukraine by Bosnia-Herzegovina would worsen the fratricidal conflict in Ukraine & undermine negotiations to find a peaceful settlement.
"We are concerned about information on an alleged supply of weapons and ammunition to Kiev, by Bosnia-Herzegovina, as such plans violate international norms and do not contribute to a peaceful solution", Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Alexander Lukashevich, says.
After calling on the Bosnian authorities to renounce those intentions, the diplomat refers to international commitments with the OSCE, and the Forum of Cooperation on security.
Lukashevich notes that such plans can only raise condemnation and indignation, especially if they come from states which endured the evils of a fratricidal civil war -- between 1992 and 1995.
The spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry notes that the weapons would be used by Ukraine's military, to keep attacking people and murdering civilians, in southeastern Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a communiqué, warning that the Ukrainian government's actions in the south east, would lead to an inevitable escalation of the conflict there, and, consequently, to more innocent civilians' deaths.
During an informal meeting with foreign correspondents, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear that peace in Ukraine does not depend on Russia, as Moscow is not part of the conflict, but on President Petro Poroshenko's willingness to hold direct talks with the rebel regions.
He repeated that Russia is making huge efforts to contribute to a solution to the Ukrainian crisis, but he lamented that in the meantime, Poroshenko and officials from his government, are always giving contradictory signals.
He added that it is important that the warring parties untie the knot of dis- agreements on crucial issues, such as, the definition of the security zone on either side of the frontline, and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
Cuban, Spanish Communist Leaders Talk in Havana
José Ramón Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), welcomed the general secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, José Luis Centella, to talks, on Thursday.
The party leaders exchanged views on the work of both organizations in the current situation, as well as on the complex international situation - but especially the global crisis now centred in Europe - and the role of the communist parties and the left - an official note explained.
According to the note, Centella saluted the return to Cuba of the three counter-terrorist heroes & the decision to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US.
The talks also included the member of the United Left Spanish Euro MP, Willy Meyer.
The Cuban party was also represented by a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the PCC and Head of its Dept of International Relations, Jose Ramon Balaguer, and other officials.
European Interior Ministers Prepare Common Strategy
The Interior ministers of the European Union (EU) have analyzed their plans to 'control extremism and the danger of attacks', at a meeting in Riga.
The Interior ministers are preparing to present recommendations to the EU summit to be held in Brussels on February 12, including measures which concern civil rights organizations.
The package includes systematic control of the entry & exit of EU citizens from Schengen Area -- and recording the data of 'plane passengers.
The program analyzed in the Latvian capital, also includes technological cooperation on tracing all exchanges on social networks, a spying practice previously denounced by the website Wikileaks.
European parliamentarians have demanded an inquiry into the tapping of thousands of mobile- phone calls and the monitoring of e-mails over the world, especially practiced by US and UK intelligence authorities.
The Interior ministers also propose now to decode communications among citizens, the local Lithuanian media report.
The EU Interior ministers say their focus is on 'finding the causes for the radicalization of European Muslim citizens and avoiding their recruitment by extremist groups to fight in Syria, Iraq or Libya'.
Greece Reacts against European Declaration of Threats to Russia
The new government in Greece expresses its anger to the European Union... for not having taken Greece's views into account, before drafting its statement threatening Russia with new, further sanctions.
In the EU's text published on Thursday, EU leaders blamed Moscow for the increasing violence in east Ukraine, where 30 deaths were reported in Mariupol, and for a sharp deterioration in security and a worsening humanitarian situation.
The Greek rejection of this statement is because, says deputy foreign minister, Nikos Juntis, the EU statement was drafted 'without following established procedures, without informing Greece or obtaining the consent of the PM, Alexis Tsipras'.
Juntis rejects 'the spirit of sanctions against Russia, which has negative consequences on our agriculture, on the economy of our country and on its interests in general.'
He also attacks 'the fevered haste of some Member States (against Russia), and that this haste is reflected in the statement not having been concerted with Athens.
Juntis, whose protest was transmitted by telephone to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, says Greece's position on the issue will be determined Friday, by Athens' Council of Ministers.
Casualties as Hezbollah Targets Israeli Convoy in Shebaa Farms
The Islamic resistance in Lebanon targeted an Israeli convoy of 9 vehicles in occupied Shebaa Farms on Wednesday, killing and injuring a large number of Israeli soldiers.
Media outlets initially reported that "an anti-tank missile hit a vehicle in Shebaa Farms."
Israeli Channel 10 added that the Israeli convoy targeted included a number of Israeli military commanders who were inspecting the area.
In details, the Channel pointed out that the resistance could penetrate all Israeli security measures and ambush a military convoy, launching rockets at the vehicles.
Hezbollah prepared militarily and logistically for the operation, and then withdrew troops safely after executing a successful mission.
Hezbollah claims the attack, saying an Israeli convoy was hit, leaving numbers of casualties.
The attack comes just over a week after an Israeli raid in Quneitra in Syria’s Golan killed six Hezbollah fighters.
"At 11:25 this morning, Quneitra Heroic Martyrs group of the Islamic Resistance, targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms, of several vehicles which were transporting Zionist officers and soldiers," a statement released by Hezbollah Media Relations said.
“Several vehicles were destroyed, and casualties were caused among the enemy ranks,” the statement added.
Shortly after the attack, the occupation army announced that one of its vehicles was destroyed and that several soldiers were injured --- many of whom were in a critical condition.
Conflicting reports emerged on the number of casualties...... Sky News reported that 4 soldiers were killed, while the Israeli Military Censor put the death toll at 2 soldiers.
According to Israeli media outlets, a Givati Brigade battalion commander, major Yuhay Klinger, as well as a soldier, Dowr Nini, were killed.
Cuba urges US to end economic blockade, return Guantanamo
Cuban leader Raul Castro calls on the US to end the economic embargo & demands that Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba as relations between the nations undergo a historic thaw.
Castro reaffirms Cuba’s willingness to normalize relations with the US, but stresses that the embargo must first be lifted.
"The main problem has not been resolved: the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes huge human & economic damage, and is a violation of international rights," Castro says, at a Latin American summit in Costa Rica.
The Cuban president also notes that the US must return Guantanamo to Cuba before a full rapprochement. Guantanamo Bay has been under US control for over a century.
Castro stresses that he will not let the US interfere in Cuba's internal affairs.
He suggests that Obama extend measures similar to those the US announced for the telecom industry to all Cuba’s economy, but adds that he knows that ending the embargo, the longest one in modern history, will be a “long and hard road.”
Though Obama used his executive powers to ease both travel and trade restrictions on Cuba since the announcement, Castro says the US leader needs to do more.
"He could, with resolve, use his broad executive powers, to substantially change the scope of the blockade, even without a Congress decision," he says.
Obama, however, faces opposition from Republican lawmakers who are against normalizing ties with Cuba before it agrees to "political change".
“Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said last month.
“There is no ‘new course’ here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies.”
Islamic State operative confesses to receiving funding through US - report
A man believed to be a Pakistani commander of Islamic State or Daish, Yousaf al Salafi, has confessed to law enforcement agencies in Pakistan to getting funds via the US, says a leading Pakistani newspaper, giving sources.
Al Salafi and two companions were arrested in Lahore, on January 22nd, according to AFP.
“During investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was funded --- via America --- to run the organization in Pakistan and to recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source close to the investigations revealed to Urdu-language Daily Express, on condition of anonymity, according to its sister English paper The Express Tribune.
The newspaper also claimed that Al Salafi was in fact arrested last year sometime in December.
Al Salafi also allegedly confessed to recruiting jihadists to send them to Syria, gaining about $600 per person. He also admitted that he'd been working with a Pakistani accomplice, who was reportedly the Imam of a mosque.
“The US has been condemning IS activities, but unfortunately has not been able to stop the funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US.
“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests & that is why it launched offensives against the organization in Iraq but not in Syria,” a source said. It is not made clear where, exactly, the funds came from, within the US.
The sources who spoke to the Express Tribune also stated that the awkward revelations had been revealed to US Secretary of State John Kerry, on his recent trip to Islamabad.
“The matter was also taken up with CENTCOM [US Central Command] chief, General Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Islamabad earlier this month,” a source said.
A source told Reuters last week that Al-Salafi is a Pakistani-Syrian. He came to Pakistan via Turkey five months ago and established an ISIS group in Pakistan.
In recent months, Pakistani media has been discussing the amount of influence Islamic State has in Pakistan, and cited several incidents in Lahore and Multan, where Islamic State flags & graffiti have been seen.
However Pakistan's authorities indicate that local militants oppose Islamic State, according to IHS Jane’s defense review.
In response to large-scale advances made by ISIS militants in June 2014 in Iraq and Syria, the US and others began a large- scale air campaign over the region.
The US and the UK have sent non-operation soldiers to Iraq, as well as special forces.
According to Pentagon documents, seen by AP, President Obama will ask for a $38 billion rise in the Defense Department's core budget.
Of this, $5.3 billion will go to train and equip Iraq's armed forces & 'moderate opposition' in Syria.
Blitzkrieg turned into mayhem: Hacktivists claim finds show Kiev troops’ annihilation
Ukraine's subversive hacker group CyberBerkut has published documents allegedly exposing a dreadful situation for Kiev's troops attacking separatist forces in the East: with war crimes, a tremendous loss of lives and the wholesale desertion of encircled troops.
The anti-government activists claim they have hacked the personal computer of Ukraine’s Judge Advocate General and copied numbers of classified documents. The documents allegedly expose some dark secrets of Kiev’s authorities on the real state of things in the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ zone, in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country.
The price of the war resumed by President Petro Poroshhenko in the east is terrifying. The hacked documents claim at least 1,100 servicemen of the Ukrainian army have lost their lives over the the last two weeks. Many dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have given up to the separatist forces.
Ukraine's army has lost over 100 tanks and armored vehicles.
This information collides with the latest reports by Kiev generals about “no losses”, “defeated enemy” & “thousands of eliminated terrorists”.
The explanation for this is simple: according to the documents allegedly hacked, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has officially forbidden Defense Ministry officials to show the true casualties among servicemen.
Leaked document. Image from http://www.cyber-berkut.org/ [SEE THE TRANSLATION BELOW]
“Order by the first deputy head of the Anti- Terrorist center of the Ukraine's Security Service (SBU)
on anti-terrorist operation
Relating to orders by Defense Ministry, General Staff of Ukrainian Defense Forces and Head of anti-terrorist center of the Ukrainian Security Service to restrict from 26th January 2015 the presentation of data on real losses in the area of anti-terrorist operation.
1. Commanders of military units shall present reports only to the anti-terrorist center.
2. Deputy head of the Anti-Terrorist HQ shall instruct via Military Medical Department of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry head of the Dnepropetrovsk Military Hospital, Southern Military Medical Center (Odessa) and Northern Military Medical Center (Kharkov) to stop until further notice make reports through official channels on real losses in the area of anti-terrorist operation.”
The documents the hacktivists claim they have obtained, paint a grim picture of the Ukrainian war: discipline of the troops is undermined, troops are running out of reserves, mobilization is stalled as army draftees escape the country, mostly to Russia and other neighboring states.
With a lack of hardened troops, Ukrainian military leaders order recruits into meaning- less attacks on multi-layered defenses of the separatists, which results in havoc and vast casualties.
Ukraine's military have even employed barrier troops who fired at their fellow service-men to prevent their retreat, as could be learnt from the documents.
CyberBerkut accuses Ukrainian commanders of defecting, leaving their subordinates on the battlefield. The zone along the frontline is full of prowling deserters and blood-thirsty psycho- paths dressed up in Ukrainian uniforms, claims the group.
“We’re CyberBerkut. We don’t forget, we don’t forgive,” announce the hacktivists, promising to follow up on “other criminal organizations” that started the “civil war in Ukraine.”
FIDEL ON US/CUBA RAPPROCHEMENT
The 88-year-old Castro does not “trust the US, nor have I exchanged any words with them,” he writes in a letter to the student federation at the University of Havana and printed in the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
Yet, “it does not mean I reject a peace- ful resolution to conflicts,” he continues.
“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all peoples of the world --- including our political adversaries.”
Kiev uses anti-retreat units to stop men falling back – E. Ukraine militia
"Ukrainian troops are demoralized, which is proven by an unprecedented incident that occurred last night,” DPR Defense Ministry spokesperson, Eduard Basurin, says, as quoted by Donetsk News Agency.
An injured Ukrainian soldier who surrendered to the militias, said, during questioning, that “anti-retreat units from territorial defense battalions were used against the Ukrainian troops,” Basurin states.
According to the spokesperson, 70 Ukrainian troops have surrendered to the rebels, since January 9th, with 11 of them capitulating in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has decided to accelerate students' graduation in the country's military schools and universities, in order to deploy them to the conflict zone in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, TASS reports.
“It's being done to make up for the huge combat losses of officers” in the southeast fighting - and a mass mobilization evasion, by the reserve officers of Ukraine's army, representative parent associations of Ukraine's military schools, say.
According to the parents, the Defense Ministry now plans to send 2,000 under- educated lieutenants, to the war-torn southeast.
The preparations for early graduation are already underway -- in military schools in Kharkov, Lvov, and Poltava, they state.
Kharkov Air Force University Graduates, are now being sent to infantry units, due to a shortage of operational planes in the Ukrainian military.
The parents stress that they don't agree with the decision by the Defense Ministry, and promise to stage rallies and block the country’s military schools and universities.
Ukrainians grow unwilling to serve in the army — media
Ukraine’s male population is starting to go abroad in search of jobs, in huge numbers, to dodge the current mobilization campaign.
"Entire villages are booking buses to send their men as far away as possible. Military committees are handing over the lists of fugitives to law enforcers, to try to restrict the loss of men subject to conscription, as they move outside their native districts and areas," Vesti writes.
Natalya, from Zaporizhia in S. East Ukraine, sent her son to Russia several months ago. She told Vesti, on condition of anonymity, that she has also sent her husband away (also to Russia), the week before.
Men from western regions, are leaving for Poland and Hungary. Kiev's military committee is also complaining about draft dodgers.
Human resource experts note a growing interest in vacancies abroad. "In the past 3 months, over 281 job seekers interested in work abroad - including 176 last month - have posted their CVs on our website," says Tatyana Pashkina of Rabota.ru portal.
The authorities in Kiev-controlled parts of Lugansk region, have recently forbidden men aged 18-60, to leave for militia-held territories or abroad, without permission from the local military committees.
Last Monday, Belgorod-Dnestrovsky City Council in Odessa region, published a ban on reservists leaving the region’s territory.
The fourth mobilization in Ukraine started on January 20th. Two more are scheduled for April and June.
According to Ukrainian Defense Minister, Stepan Poltorak, about 104,000 people may be mobilized in 2015.
The Ukrainian army’s Chief of Staff, Vladimir Talalay, says draft dodgers will face from 2 to 5 years in prison, and that women aged 25-50 could be drafted into the army, if necessary.
Russia may help Ukrainians avoid army service
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says Russia might extend the period of stay in Russia, for those of conscription age who could be drafted into Kiev's army.
"Many people, by the way, do not want to be 'mobilized'. They are trying to move to Russia and lie low for some time. And they are absolutely right because they're simply being sent into bullets like cannon fodder," Putin said, at a meeting with students of "Gornyi" University of Mineral Resources.
At the same time, the president said that Ukraine nationals can't stay in Russia for longer than the period established in law.
"Under a new law, Ukrainian citizens can't stay in Russia for more than 30 days. After that, they have to return to Ukraine, where they are being caught -- and sent into the bullets again. That's why I think that we're going to change something in that law," Putin said, adding that the stay for some categories of people, especially those of conscription age, could be extended within the legal framework.
Russian lawmaker praises Americans; calls US policy absolute evil for Europe
"Americans are a wonderful, enterprising, talented nation. But US foreign policy is an absolute evil for Europe," Russia's State Duma Speaker, Sergey Naryshkin, said, at a round table in PACE dedicated to the role of parliaments in the restoration of trust.
He reminds us of the "exceptionalism" idea. "You immediately recall the authors of this idea: the ideology of the exceptionalism of one race," Naryshkin said.
"As long as Europe is under Washington’s dictatorship, the stability and security of our European continent will be in the zone of a very serious risk," he warned.
Russian leaders condemn attempts to revise World War II history
Russia's top leaders say that attempts to distort the history of World War II, could open the gate for a revival of Nazism.
"We must clearly understand that any attempt to rewrite history, and revise the contribution of our country to the Great Victory (of World War II), effectively means justifying the Nazi crimes and will open the gates for this deadly ideology," the Kremlin's press service quotes President Vladimir Putin, as saying.
"We must defend the truth about the events of the Second World War, as forgetting the lessons of our common past could lead to the repetition of such terrible tragedies (as the Holocaust)," Putin says.
He stresses that it was the Red Army of the Soviet Union that saved the Jewish, as well as other people in the world, from the Nazis' "merciless annihilation."
PM Dmitry Medvedev says historical revisions have been made by politicians in countries... that once suffered from Nazi occupation.
"Lately, the memories of World War II have been twisted for political speculative goals. There are even cynical attempts to white- wash war criminals and fascist henchmen," Medvedev says.
He says these attempts are provoking new conflicts and are leading to new tragedies.
"The revival of radical nationalism means the oblivion of the lessons of World War II," Medvedev says, in a statement.
Both Putin and Medvedev were attending a memorial event to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, by the Soviet Army.
Earlier this month, the Kremlin said Putin was not going to attend the Auschwitz liberation memorial events planned in Poland, as he had not received an official invitation to Tuesday's gathering, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Observers see this as the latest reflection of a fraying of Russia's relationships with Western countries, as their ties have been dragged towards the worst since the Cold War, due to the Ukraine crisis.
A Woman with Cojons
Argentina’s president says the country’s intelligence agency is a “national debt” and has announced plans to disband it.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner says that she has now prepared the draft legislation, to set up an alternative body.
"I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service," Fernandez says - insisting that she wants it discussed at an urgent session of the Congress.
She says her plan “is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat, and create a Federal Intelligence Agency", and adds that new leaders for the agency should be picked by a president and confirmed by the country’s Senate.
Fernandez says the intelligence services have the same structure they had during a US-backed army regime, which ended in 1983.
"Combating impunity is a priority of my government," she emphasizes.
She made her decision after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman -- hours before he was about to testify against senior government authorities.
Nisman had probed the bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people.
He was found dead on January 18th in his apartment, in Buenos Aires.
Investigators initially said he had committed suicide, but then said homicide or "induced suicide”, could not be ruled out.
Security forces free Iraq's eastern province of Diyala
Iraqi security forces on Monday freed Iraq's eastern province of Diyala from Islamic State (IS) militants after 3 days of fierce clashes, the provincial police chief says.
"Diyala province is now completely free of IS after the military offensive started on Friday and ended on Sunday night," Lt General Jamil al-Shimary, tells reporters.
Hadi al-Ameri, a leading figure in the powerful Shiite party Badr Organization confirms that the whole province is now free from IS militants and that some 58 security members were killed, and hundreds wounded.
"A total of 58 security members were killed and 248 wounded, by the latest battles which ended the last redoubts of Daash (the first Arabic letters of IS extremist group) in the areas of Mansouriya and near Maqdadiyah town, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad," the state-run Iraqiya channel quotes Hadi al-Ameri as saying, while with the troops, at the battlefields in Diyala.
Nearly half the casualties were from Shiite militias which fought with the Iraqi security forces in battles against IS militants, says Ameri, whose Badr group members are part of the militias.
"Diyala has been fully freed, but some individuals from IS militants are now hiding in orchards and hideouts, but they will be hunted down by the security forces," Ameri says, adding that the next battles will concentrate on freeing Salahudin's capital, Tikrit, 170 km north of Baghdad, as well as the provincial towns, Alam and Dowr.
Ameri's Badr Organization was previously known as Badr Brigade and maintains its longtime ties with neighbour Iran, where it was first built, during the 8 year long Iraq-Iran war, in the 1980s.
Ameri's Brigade emerged as a powerful militia during the years following the US-led invasion of Iraq, in 2003, before turning into a political organization a few years later.
Badr Brigade was the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party led by Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim.
On Friday, thousands of Iraqi army, police and Shiite militias backed by Iraqi aircraft launched a major offensive with the aim of ending the presence of the extremist militants in the country's Diyala province.
Despite the announcement of liberating Diyala, three Shiite militiamen were killed and four wounded on Monday morning, as a road bomb struck a militia vehicle near an orchard, northeast of Maqdadiyah, an anonymous police source says.
The security situation in Iraq, badly deteriorated on June 10th, 2014, as Iraqi security forces and IS clashed.
IS then took control of Iraq's Nineveh province and later seized large areas after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in mainly Sunni provinces.
Kiev introduces state of emergency in Donbass, high alert across Ukraine
The Ukrainian government has introduced a state of emergency in Donetsk & Lugansk, and put every other region on high alert, PM Arseny Yatsenyuk announces.
"In accordance with the Ukrainian Code of Civil Protection, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided to recognize an emergency situation at state level."
"The Ukrainian government has decided to impose a state of emergency in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions," Yatsenyuk is quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.
According to the PM, the move is aimed at providing the most efficient coordination of all government agencies in order to ensure civil protection and the population's safety.
The statement was made after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, which took place at the headquarters of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, in Kiev, on Monday.
Yatsenyuk adds that the state of emergency in the southeast will be overseen by a special government commission.
This will be headed by the PM himself, with Deputy-PM Gennady Zubko and Emergencies Minister Sergey Bochkovsky as his deputies.
Kiev’s troops and Donbass militia forces are locked in renewed hostilities in southeastern Ukraine after a shaky ceasefire reached by the sides in September, utterly collapsed.
Ukrainian forces launched a massive offensive in mid-January, but failed to gain any ground despite employing tanks, artillery and aviation.
On Saturday, a residential area in the port city of Mariupol, which has been relatively insulated from violence throughout most of the conflict, was shelled.
Kiev's forces and the militias have been trading blame for the incident, which took the lives of at least 30 people and saw another 100 injured.
The Ukrainian conflict began last April, when Kiev launched a military operation in the southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, after they refused to recognize the country’s new, coup-imposed authorities.
The death toll in the Ukraine conflict has exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000 have been injured, according to UN estimates.
* * * NEWSFLASH * * *
Putin: Ukraine army is NATO legion aimed at restraining Russia
The Ukrainian army is essentially a ‘NATO legion’, which doesn’t pursue Ukraine's national interests, but persists to restrict Russia, President Vladimir Putin says, in a surprise statement today...
Russia faces an immediate mass mobilisation in Ukraine, and the anti-US coup militias have opened up a wide front to drive Kiev's forces back, as Kiev uses heavy artillery to destroy the east's infrastructure in civilian areas.
More on Putin's surprise speech to come.
Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party officially wins parliamentary elections
Radical left-wing opposition party Syriza has officially won Greece's parliamentary elections, securing 149 seats, out of 300.
On Monday, Syriza managed to gain key support to form a new government, after a meeting with Panos Kammenos, head of anti-austerity party, Independent Greeks, which also opposes Greece's bailout deal.
Kammenos says his party backs Tsipras to be the next prime minister.
"From this moment there is a government in the country. The Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence to PM Alexis Tsipras. There is an agreement in principle," Panos Kammenos says, after talks with Syriza's leader, as quoted by Reuters. “It's an historic victory. It sends a message against austerity and in favor of dignity and democracy,” Panos Skourletis, spokes- person, tells Greek Mega TV.
Syriza is the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the EU.
This happened the day after the Greek election: STRASBOURG, January 26.
"Officials of the Russian Communist party were kicked and pushed around by two Russian- speaking men."
Managing officials of Russia's Communist party (KPRF), Gennady Zyuganov, & First deputy head of the Communist Party, Ivan Melnikov, were attacked near the PACE building.
Both Zyuganov and Melnikov, members of the Russian delegation to PACE, expressed surprise and anger, over the fact that nobody was near the building of the Council of Europe, to shield them from the assaulters.
Talking to journalists, Melnikov confirms that both were attacked.
"We were kicked & pushed around," Melnikov says. He describes the assaulters as " two Russian-speaking men who uttered the word "Ukraine" in connection with something that I couldn't make out."
He expresses surprise over the absence of security measures that local law enforcers "ought to have ensured."
This is another example of the low and ugly games that NATO is playing against Russia.
US SAYS "PEACE", PUSHES FOR WAR NOW
The Kremlin says Washington’s foreign policy on Ukraine is “aggressive” because it “fails to meet present-day realities, and demonstrates that the US actually wants to dominate the world.”
According to the commander of United States Army Europe, the US military is to send troops to Ukraine this Spring to train four companies in the Ukrainian National Guard.
The US has already earmarked $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. Lt. Gen Frederick Ben Hodges led a US command delegation to Kiev last Wednesday, to begin "evaluating the situation" in Ukraine’s restive south-eastern regions.
Ukraine: The truth instead of lies
Western media outlets have been spreading outright lies in recent days, as they've been doing since the Ukrainian unrest started last February, when Fascist forces seized power in an illegal coup, ousting a democratically elected President -- against all legal norms necessary for impeachment -- and placed a Putschist government in control.
Many western citizens are unaware that Fascist massacres occurred across south- eastern Ukraine after the illegal Putsch in Kiev -- because reports have been scant, or non-existent.
May 2, 2014. Over fifty people were burnt alive in the Trade Union Building in Odessa when Fascists attacked Russian-speaking protesters. Those who escaped the flames were hacked to death with axes while the crowd jeered chanting "Death to Russians".
May 2, 2014 Kramatorsk: numerous unarmed civilians mown down by the national guard.
May 9, Mariupol: Fascists mowed down un- armed civilians with firearms. The statistics show 46 police shot by Fascist national guard forces - for refusing to murder civilians - and a further 143 civilians slaughtered.
June 8 2014: Fascist forces attack Slavyansk murdering many civilians, including children, women and the elderly.
In 2014, numerous attacks were perpetrated by Ukrainian Junta forces against civilians across the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, causing hundreds of murders of civilians.
PM Yatsekyuk labeled as "subhumans" the citizens of Donbass, who took up arms to defend themselves, after these countless Fascist massacres.
War crimes by Kiev Junta forces and the Ukrainian National Guard:
2015 January 25, Pervomaysk. The house of an 87-year-old woman was shelled by Junta forces, murdering her.
Mariupol shelling, January 2015. Dozens dead in shelling which Ukrainian Junta forces blame on Donbass freedom fighters. The OSCE took 12 hours to write a report backing this claim.
Yet eye witnesses state that the missile attack was from Ukrainian Junta positions --- and the Donetsk Republic anti-Fascists had already claimed that they would not fire on Mariupol, as they didn't want to cause civilian deaths.
Why would Donetsk People's Republic forces shell a city that they are encircling? And why did the Ukrainian Junta authorities cut off the electricity, gas and water supply, one hour before the shelling?
Meanwhile, in Gorlovka, the Ukrainian Junta forces have unleashed an unceasing barrage of artillery fire against the civilian population, murdering 317 people in just one week. 15 schools & 10 kindergartens have been razed.
30% of arable fields across Donetsk have been mined by Ukrainian Junta personnel, to murder farmers and civilians and schoolchildren making their way across the fields to work and to school.
Due to ceasefire breaches by Ukrainian Junta forces, anti-Fascist forces have opened fire across the entire front. Fascist forces are running in panic across the front - many are surrendering. Villages liberated from the Fascists are being sterilized, as terrorist units from Kiev are liquidated en masse.
In the recent failed attack against Donetsk Airport, which SKY News claimed had been captured by Ukrainian Junta forces, units from the Donetsk People's Republic have successfully defended the airport.
725 Ukrainian Junta forces were killed in the failed operation, 59 tanks, 51 infantry combat vehicles and armored vehicles, were destroyed, reports Pravda.
Yemeni president decides to withdraw resignation: advisor
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has decided to withdraw his resignation and continue to serve the country, a presidential advisor tells Xinhua news on Sunday.
A presidential advisor, requesting anonymity, told Xinhua that Hadi made his decision to with- draw the resignation based on the international efforts led by UN envoy Jamal Bin Omar, as well as representatives of political parties in Yemen.
Hadi has 6 advisors on the country's decision- making body --- 1 from the Shiite Houthi group.
But a government spokesperson tells Xinhua that there is no official announcement about Hadi's decision.
Domestic and international efforts are still underway to convince the president to with- draw his resignation, a spokesperson said --- on condition of anonymity.
Hadi, on Thursday, submitted his resignation to parliament amid a standoff with the Shiite Houthi group who control the capital. Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his cabinet also presented their resignations to the president on the same day.
Yemen's official Saba news agency reports Sunday that the Yemeni parliament has post- poned an emergency session to vote on the president's resignation.
The meeting is now delayed for "another date to be set later", in order to have more time to "inform all members of parliament to attend," Saba reports.
Parliament said earlier in a brief statement, that it would hold an emergency session on Friday, which was then postponed to Sunday.
Yemen and its Two Conflicting Powers:
The Yemeni crisis is more serious today... after Parliament rejected the resignation of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and his Houthi rivals formed a presidential council... to replace him.
On Friday the president and the leadership of the Shiite tribe in control of areas of the capital since last September, signed an agreement of mutual concessions to restore calm, after the fighting on Monday left dozens dead & wounded.
However, on Thursday, Prime Minister Khaled Baha and his cabinet handed their resignations in to the president, who took the same course, rejected by the legislature, a few hours later.
"The (president's) resignation is accepted once presented, (and in this case) the (executive) powers cannot be assumed by the Parliament because it is illegal since its mandate expired", says Ali Al-Imad, member of the Ansar Ullah Political Board, of the Houthi armed movement.
A statement broadcast by Al Masirah television channel, owned by the Houthis, says the leader- ship of the tribe welcomes the resignation of the president and "the revolution will continue with or without Hadi '.
A Presidential Council is being formed, backed by the Houthi, state unconfirmed reports, sent to Prensa Latina, by a diplomatic source.
The Council will manage Yemen's daily affairs, and will have as its Vice-president, a member of the Houthi tribe, plus members of the army, security services and the Popular Committees.
The Houthi official recalls that the Constitution that establishes the ascension to power of the President of Parliament in the absence of the president, lost its validity, after the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Initiative.
The GCC initiative was negotiated after the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed by massive protests against him three years ago, which gave way to the National Dialogue, the results of which are contested by the Houthis, particularly the Federation of the country into six regions.
The position of the Arabian Peninsula states is unclear, particularly that of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen to the north and is immersed in a royal succession, after King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz's passing.
Donetsk militia 'not going to storm Mariupol', trades accusations with Kiev
Donetsk's militia has been ordered to suppress Kiev’s military positions to the east of Mariupol, but is not going to storm the city, says Donetsk Republic head, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who accuses Kiev of a false flag operation, and of shifting the blame.
“Until now, we weren’t conducting operations outside of Mariupol. We were saving strength,” Zakharchenko is cited by RIA-Novosti news agency as saying.
“But now, after Kiev decided to shift blame onto us for its erroneous fire from Grad multiple rocket launchers on residential areas [in Mariupol], I gave the order to suppress the positions of the Ukrainian military, east of Mariupol,” he states.
Zakharchenko adds that the forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR) have no plans to storm the city itself.
The DPR leader says “in the last few days the Ukrainian side has relocated a large formation of its troops to Mariupol.”
“Day and night, our positions in the town of Novoazovsk are subjected to massive bombardment from Grad multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery.
“Today, armored vehicles from the 28th Ukrainian brigade arrived in the area as well,” he stresses.
According to Zakharchenko, Kiev is doing everything to make the rebels “move the forces, which are now involved in battles for Donetsk airport, to Mariupol, in order to weaken & dislodge us from [the airport].”
The Ukrainian military is using the citizens of Mariupol as “human shields,” People’s Republic of Donetsk leader says.
Earlier, a DPR military official, Eduard Basurin, said that Kiev's forces have renewed their attempts to retake the strategically significant Donetsk airport, on Saturday.
“The Ukrainian military is trying to attack from the north, west and east. Hostilities are underway at the airport,” Basurin said, as cited by Interfax news agency.
According to the rebels, they established full control at Donetsk airport on Jan 16, after an exhausting standoff with Kiev's troops, which had been ongoing since May last year.
The Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has dispatched its Mariupol observer mission to Olimpiiska Street, which was hit by artillery fire, in order to conduct a fact-finding mission on the ground.
Their monitors say:
“According to impact analysis, Grad rockets originated from a north-easterly direction, in Oktyabr area (19km N-East of Olimpiiska St), & Uragan rockets from an easterly direction, in Zaichenko area (15km east of Olimpiiska St), both controlled by the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”),” the Special Monitoring Mission report says.
Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has aborted his visit to Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Abdullah, and has flown back to Kiev.
Poroshenko is to “host an urgent meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council,” which was ordered “to develop & implement more effective steps in view of the rapid deterioration of the situation in the east,” the presidential press- service says.
Ukraine's PM, Arseny Yatsenyuk, has requested that an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council be held on the situation in Mariupol.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry statement expresses hope that the shelling will be comprehensively and objectively investigated & that the perpetrators will get the punishment they deserve.
The EU is urging Moscow to persuade the leaders of the eastern Ukrainian militias to stop the hostilities, saying that the continued warfare in south- eastern Ukraine “will inevitably lead to a further grave deterioration of relations between the EU and Russia,” says the statement made by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The EU and US keep blaming Russia for supporting Donbas' militias. The claims haven't been backed by any significant proof and have been repeatedly denied by Russian officials.
Approximately 30 people, including 2 children, were killed when the city of Mariupol, which had stayed relatively insulated from the violence during the majority of the Ukrainian conflict, was shelled on Saturday.
Kiev was quick to place the blame with the militia, saying that the bombardment was part of their advance on the port.
The militia representatives denied the accusations and called the shelling “yet another provocation” by the Ukrainian forces.
According to the DPR’s speaker of parliament, Denis Pushilin, the rebels simply don’t have the necessary long-range artillery equipment to hit the city centre from their positions.
The Ukrainian conflict began last April when Kiev launched a military operation in south- eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, after they refused to recognize Ukraine’s new, coup-imposed authorities.
The death toll in Ukraine's conflict has exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000 have been injured, by UN estimates.
Armed Clashes on Syrian Border: Lebanese Army Goes On Alert
The Lebanese Army is keeping a heavy deployment of men 'round Tallat Al-Hamra, near Ras Baalbeck, where the bodies of 3 soldiers were found, & is ready to counter new attacks by armed groups from Syria.
The mobilization of troops intensified after clashes between Lebanese forces and militiamen with Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra Front, which operate from Syrian territory, on Friday.
Security sources predict more clashes in Arsal and other border areas with Syria, as part of the armed groups' objective of putting pressure on, and weakening the army and Hezbollah, to end their military support for President Al-Assad.
Deputy Prime Minister & Defense Minister Samir Moqbel on Saturday praised the courage of the Army and its ability to repel the attacks of the jihadists in Ras Baalbeck, the region where Tallat Al-Haamra is located, on the outskirts of the village of Arsal in the northeastern Bekaa.
Moqbel says the army remains "a strong shield and trigger lock" for the country and that their "heroic deeds and victories make it clear, that any attack on Lebanese soil and its army, is doomed to failure."
"Lebanon will be the burial ground of the attackers," he says.
UN: Dozens of children homeless as Israel illegally demolishes Palestinian houses
The United Nations has condemned Israel for illegally demolishing the houses of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, leaving 77 people, over half of whom are children, homeless in three days.
“Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law & create unnecessary suffering and tension,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in its statement.
The demolitions took place in East Jerusalem and in the districts of Ramallah, Jericho and Hebron, according to the statement.
“Some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families,” says James Rawley, who's also UN Deputy Special Coordinator, the Middle East Peace Process, and he tells Israel that the demolitions “must stop immediately”.
In 2014, Israel executed record numbers of house demolitions in the west bank and East Jerusalem -- and in an area known as Area C, which is under full Israeli control.
“In 2014, according to OCHA figures, Israel's authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and in east Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people — the highest level of displacement in the West Bank since OCHA began systematically monitoring the issue in 2008,” OCHA says.
Israel argues that demolitions are always necessary because the homes were built without proper construction permits.
But Palestinians and rights groups say Israel repeatedly denies such permits - forcing people to build without them.
“The planning policies applied by Israel in Area C and East Jerusalem discriminate against Palestinians, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits. As a result, many Palestinians build sans permits to meet their housing needs, and risk having their structures demolished,” says the OCHA.
500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank & E Jerusalem, among 2.4 million Palestinians.
The Israeli-occupied territories are seeking full Palestinian statehood and independence from Israel -- and have been, for decades. But despite international criticism, the Israeli government encourages the Jewish population in the West Bank, to build more and more new settlements.
At the end of 2014 Israel gave a green light for the construction of 243 new homes in Ramot in East Jerusalem.
The country also approved amendments to existing projects for 270 homes in the same area and in the neighborhoods of Har Homa.
In mid-January Israelis withheld crucial tax revenue from the Palestinians, in retaliation for Palestinian attempts to the join the ICC.
Three Minutes to Midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2015:
"The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons. The clock ticks now at just 3 minutes to midnight, because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty - ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization."
Now, the annual setting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock (22nd Jan) has been re-set - forward by 2 whole minutes - to three minutes to midnight, for the first time since the end of the Cold War and thirty years after the last such setting, in 1984, under the presidency of Grenada invader, Libya bomber, and Iran-Contra dealer --- Ronald Reagan.
In 1984, the Bulletin recorded: "...relations between the US & the Soviet Union reached an icy nadir. Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda."
Now they say: "Today, over 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science & Security Board have looked closely at the world situation & found it highly threatening to humanity - so threatening that the hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at 3 minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe, than in 2014."
"Efforts to reduce world nuclear arsenals have stalled. The disarmament process has ground to a halt, with the US & Russia embarking on huge programs to modernize their nuclear triads - thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties - and other nuclear weapons holders joining in this expensive and extremely dangerous modernization craze."
"Insufficient action to slash worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases can produce global climatic catastrophe.
"Even a so-called "limited" nuclear weapons exchange will produce massive casualties & severe effects on the global environment.
"We implore political leaders of the world to take coordinated, fast action, to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, and shrink nuclear weapons arsenals."
The Bulletin's Science and Security Board of Sponsors includes 17 Nobel Laureates:
"We implore the citizens of the world to demand action from their leaders. The threat looms over all of humanity. Humanity needs to respond now, while there is still time."
The Clock, established in 1947, has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in life sciences.
The Board stresses that catastrophe can be avoided with urgent action. Time wasting is not an option. Essential priorities are:
* Actions which would cap greenhouse gas emissions - at levels which would halt the average global temperature from rising over 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
* Dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization programmes.
* Re-energize the disarmament process - with commitment to results.
* Deal urgently with nuclear waste problem.
If President Obama reads the documents and consults with the towering collective knowledge available at the Bulletin, applies that commitment for which they plead, builds bridges globally, rather than blowing them up, there is enough time in the final 22 months of his Presidency, to embark on a road to justify the Nobel Peace Prize he was given at its start.
We can only fervently hope that, as he stated in his acceptance speech, his actions at last "can bend history in the direction of justice."
"Thank You for Your Service!" Says Chief of US Army in Europe
In a new low, even worse than Victoria Nuland and her Maidan cookies, General Ben Hodges, Chief of the US Army in Europe, awarded US army medals to Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev's Central Military Hospital, on January 22nd.
A video was made by "independent" Hromadske TV, a station that publicly admits it's funded by money coming from the US & Dutch embassies - and George Soros. The General said the medal is "a symbol of the US army in Europe" & was given "for excellence".
The general ended his visit by thanking the soldiers for their service. The medals are "challenge coins" not real medals, but unit coins, for a US coin challenge.
The Ukrainian soldiers are mostly lower class people who are dying for Western ambitions in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Once there's no use for them anymore, they will be forgotten.
At least they'll have one US Army challenge coin, even if, instead of a 100,000 Euro arm prosthesis, that would enable a normal life, the US will have let these men own a cheap piece of metal (worth 10 hryvnia -- less than one dollar).
Ukraine Rebels Vow to Conquer More Territory in War-Torn East
Anti-coup rebels on Friday vow to conquer more territory in east Ukraine and rule out peace talks, after Kiev retreats from a long- disputed airport, and casts aside Europe's latest push for a truce.
The defiant comments from Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko, come as Ukraine renews its allegations of Russian army units fighting with rebels across the frontline of the war-torn country's industrial east.
Pope Anticipates Darkness and Dangers to Humanity in 2015 Pope Francis stresses the existence of darkness and danger for humanity this year, while speaking to Vatican security officials, whom he reminds... of their duty to monitor important places of faith.
He emphasises that the millions of pilgrims also require at least as much protection, as he does.
Leading Russian banker warns of war between US and Russia
More financial sanctions by the US on Russia will lead Moscow & Washington to the “brink of war,” the head of a leading Russian bank has warned.
Ties between the US & Russia will be severed if Russian banks are excluded from the Swift banking system due to tougher sanctions, said Andrei Kostin, chair of Russian state-controlled VTB Bank.
“Ambassadors can leave capitals. It means that Russia and America might have no relationship after that,” Kostin said at the World Economic Forum on Friday.
“If there is no banking relationship, it means the countries are on the verge of war, or definitely in a cold war. It will be a very dangerous situation.”
As one of Russia’s most senior bankers, Kostin meets regularly with President Vladimir Putin and other top officials.
The US & European Union have already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes.
Washington and Moscow ties deteriorated last year over the crisis in Ukraine after pro-Western forces ousted the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.
The US and allies accuse Moscow of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the anti-coup forces. Moscow has long denied any involvement in Ukraine's conflict.
The Kremlin describes Washington’s foreign policy on Ukraine as “aggressive”, saying the policy “fails to meet present-day realities & demonstrates that the United States actually wants to dominate the world.”
At his State of the Union address on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said more US support for Ukraine was a principled stand against Russia's aggression.
The president said the United States and its allies were united against Moscow, a policy he said has left Russia isolated diplomatically and weakened economically.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out on Wednesday at Obama's speech, saying that the comments shows the US has adopted a policy of confrontation towards Russia.
Saudi King Abdullah dead – state TV
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died in hospital while being treated for pneumonia.
An official statement has named Saudi Crown Prince Salman, as the new king.
"His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed on at exactly 1 a.m. this morning," says the statement on Saudi Arabian state TV channel, attributed to Salman.
Salman has immediately appointed his half- brother Muqrin, as his crown prince and heir.
Prior to this confirmation, conflicting reports suggested that the Saudis had dismissed news of the king's death on social media.
However, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses early on Friday - a practice known to signify the death of a senior royal, Reuters reports.
US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences and praised the late Saudi King for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of a US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announces that he will be leaving the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in order to travel to Saudi Arabia and pay his respects.
Abdullah was officially appointed king in 2006, but had run the country for at least 10 years as the de facto regent, after his predecessor, King Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke.
The royal’s age is not officially known, however, it is believed that he was born in 1923, according to Reuters. Abdullah had approximately a dozen wives and was a father to more than 30 children, AP reports.
The new head of state of the premier oil exporter in the world is thought to be 79 years old. King Salman was appointed Crown Prince in 2012 and - in the same year - started serving as a defense minister. Before, he was the governor of Riyadh province for five decades.
Abdullah was a staunch US ally, who supported the west's fight against Al-Qaeda and maintained attempts to keep rival Shia Iran in check.
Under his rule, Saudi Arabia backed terrorist fighters trying to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The monarch was also the first international head of state to congratulate Egypt's interim government as the July 2013 coup deposed Mohamed Morsi.
King Abdullah made some modest reforms in the areas of women’s rights and economic deregulation, but largely stayed away from any sharp changes to the kingdom’s political system. King Salman is said to be part of the royal circle that will continue to pursue similar policies.
Despite Abdullah’s reforms, women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to drive and need male “approval” to work, travel outside the country, open a bank account, and even, sometimes, to have surgery.
Under Abdullah the country stayed an absolute monarchy, guided by Sharia law, with severe punishments, such as public beheadings.
‘Saudi human rights record worst in region: 1 beheading every 4 days’
The US repeatedly turns a blind eye towards Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
For example, the US government chose to classify 28 pages of a bipartisan congressional 9/11 report, which pointed to the Saudi government as a partial financier of the terrorist attacks. More recently, the State Department came under media fire for not going beyond verbal disagreement, when Saudi Arabia’s blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, for criticizing Islam.
Co-conspirator of 9/11 attacks says 'Saudi prince financed operation'.
Abdullah has been a critic of the Arab Spring movement, harboring fears that it may have inspired local unrest and might subsequently give more power to Iran or Al-Qaeda.
His attempts to keep local demonstrations to a minimum, cost the country some $110 billion in social benefits.
Any discontent has landed activists in jail. The country’s reaction to protesters, has caused grave concern among the world's human rights communities.
Head of US state media puts RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram
Newly-appointed chief of US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, has named RT as one of the agency’s main challenges alongside extremist groups like Islamic State & Boko Haram.
Lack, the first chief executive of the BBG: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East, and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”
RT never expected to find itself on a list with the two most dangerous terrorist groups of the day and is seeking clarification on the comment.
“We are extremely outraged that the new head of the BBG mentions RT in the same breath as the world’s number 1 terrorist army,” says Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief. “We see this as an international scandal and demand an explanation.”
Apart from BBG itself, RT seeks clarification from the US State Department, and the US Embassy in Russia.
It’s not the first time the BBG, a bipartisan agency supervising government-sponsored media targeting international audiences, has referred to RT as a ‘challenge.’
“Let’s put together a plan of how much that would cost & how to do something that we could compete with Russia Today [RT] and then let’s go to the Hill and then let’s go to the White House and tell them what it’s going to cost to compete, and let’s see if we can do it,” BBG chair Jeffrey Shell said, in August 2014.
RT is viewed this way “because there’s a terror in London and in Washington of new upstarts, of new information coming out and challenging the narratives that they have owned for the last 50 years or so,” editor of politics.co.uk, Ian Dunt, states.
This New York Times article mentions RT’s “significant American presence” arguing that Russia “poured millions” into its US bureau and the Sputnik news agency.
US politicians have lashed out at RT. John Kerry attacked RT over Ukraine as a ‘Propaganda bullhorn’.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “[The West] has been convinced for some time that it has a full monopoly on mass media,”
“Russia Today has won a large audience in the US & Western Europe, not to mention in Latin America and the Arab world."
“As a broadcaster, RT does indeed present a challenge to US international broadcasting in terms of competing for viewership,” says the Director of Advocacy and Communications of the International Press Institute (IPI) Steven M. Ellis...
“But RT obviously does not present a type of threat to journalists’ physical security, which entities such as the Islamic State group or Boko Haram pose. Mr. Lack could have phrased his comments more carefully to make this distinction clear, and we hope he will do so in the future.”
US television professionals have, however, been more amenable to RT having nominated its reporting for media awards.
RT received an Emmy nomination for its series of Guantanamo hunger strike reports in 2014, and the channel was earlier nominated for Emmies in 2010 and 2012.
'Covert team' caught after shelling kills at least 9 in eastern Ukraine
What local authorities call a "covert group" has been arrested in Donetsk. The group is suspected of the shelling during rush hour Thursday morning, which took the lives of at least nine people and injured up to twenty.
Residents of Donetsk’s Leninsky district heard shelling at about 08:30 local time, media report. Windows in the buildings near a tram stop were blown out. Locals say they believed their district to be “a quiet place” and were shocked by the “tragedy that happened as people were heading to work.”
A trolleybus was also hit, and eye-witnesses said there were victims inside, as well as bodies lying at the stop, local news outlets said. Conflicting reports, citing medical sources, indicate there may have been up to 13 deaths.
“A covert group has been operating, they have been arrested now. No more comments,” the defense minister of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Vladimir Kononov, tells Gazeta.Ru newspaper.
The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic also say the shelling was carried out using mortars, RIA-Novosti reports.
“Our officers were at the scene, according to the preliminary information, the shelling was conducted with mortars from one of the nearby districts. It appears that two bombs fell on the stop,” says a spokesperson for the DPR's Security Ministry.
“The self-defense forces shortly after arrested a covert group of Ukrainian security forces not far from the scene, at the moment it is being verified whether they were involved in the shelling,” the spokesperson adds.
Deputy speaker of DPR's parliament, Denis Pushilin, says the investigation is ongoing, & “the shelling was supposedly conducted from a minibus or a dustbin lorry.”
The OSCE has sent a group of its experts to the shelling scene, to collect information, spokesperson for the organization’s special monitoring mission to Ukraine, Michael Bociurkiw, tells RIA-Novosti.
“We have sent our patrol group to evaluate the situation. Taking into consideration the security situation, we are to present our assessment in the nearest future,” Bociurkiw says.
The OSCE special mission to Ukraine has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Donbas region and military disengagement, after the Donetsk tragedy, a spokesperson for the mission tells RIA-Novosti.
DPR’s Emergency Ministry tells RIA-Novosti: “As the shelling hit the “Kuprina street” stop, nine people were killed, including the driver of a car that was parked nearby. The car caught fire... Another ten people were injured and taken to hospitals.”
Russia will raise the issue of the deadly Donetsk shelling on Thursday, at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council, the country’s permanent representative says.
“We are stunned by a new monstrous offence in Donetsk … that we regard as a crime against humanity, a barbaric provocation, aimed at disrupting efforts to regulate the Ukrainian crisis peacefully,” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov says in a statement.
“It becomes evident that 'the party of war' in Kiev and its foreign patrons won’t be stopped by loss of life.”
Lavrov also called for an immediate investigation into the incident, which would involve the OSCE mission. “Everything has to be done to stop Kiev’s shelling of south-eastern Ukraine cities,” he says.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russia bears responsibility for the tragedy, blaming rebels for the deaths of civilians in Donetsk, Reuters reports.
“Today Russian terrorists again committed a terrible act against humanity. Russia bears responsibility for this,” he said at 'Unity Day' in Kiev.
The shelling comes shortly after the meeting Wednesday of the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Berlin, where they tried to progress with a solution to the Ukrainian crisis.
On January 13, twelve people died and 13 more were injured as a bus was hit in Donetsk region, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Denis Pushilin, Donetsk People’s Republic representative at the Minsk talks, says this attack might have been staged by Kiev.
The incident took place near a Ukraine military checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry in the Donetsk region, Vyacheslav Ambroskin, said.
Initially, 10 people were killed in the shelling. A woman reportedly died in hospital later in the day, according to the Donetsk regional administration which cited health officials. The regional administration also reported that 18 people had been injured.
Lavrov: Global US Domination Aggressive Philosophy
Russia's Foreign Minister Serguey Lavrov calls the aspiration of the United States to global domination, a dangerously aggressive philosophy, which ignores objective processes, in a world shaped by several power circles.
The philosophy of believing itself as number one - and the rest should admit it - is very aggressive and outdated, Lavrov states, during the annual media conference, in reference to Washington's resistance to recognize the new situation and the dynamic towards a multipolar order.
On the recent speech by President Obama, the head of Russian diplomacy says the White House's administration does not analyze its steps critically, when trying to isolate Russia and make the confrontation tense.
Obama's speech clearly shows that the course of the US Government is towards confrontation, and old philosophies of world domination, says Lavrov.
The foreign minister warns that the changes in global dynamics will inexorably force a change in that philosophy, in time.
The minister says practice has proved that global problems aren't solved in isolation, and gives as two examples, the struggle against the terror group Islamic State, and international terrorism.
Lavrov also asserts that the United States has imposed its interests on Europe and forced it into a confrontation with Russia, after the sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Yemeni Tribal Leader Dismisses Threat of US-biased UN's Sanctions
Abdelmallik al-Houthi, leader of the Shiite Houthi tribe, in control today of the presidential palace and several areas of the capital, warns that he will face any punitive measures passed by the UN Security Council.
The Houthis have fought fierce battles with Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi's presidential guard, and took the president's mansion yesterday, as some guards put down their weapons.
Informal versions estimate that the fighting left at least 10 dead and about fifty wounded amongst the official ranks:- the members of Ansar Ullah, the Houthi armed movement, do not usually report their casualties.
"I warn the UN Security Council that it will not benefit from measures taken against the Houthi", says their leader, in a public speech last night, after a day of confusion in this capital, where all the government agencies halted their work, but businesses reopened.
Meeting last night behind closed doors, the highest organ of the UN repeated its support for Mansur Hadi as "the legitimate authority", and urged all parties involved in the conflict to support the president, whose whereabouts are unknown, and to conduct dialogues for a solution to the crisis.
The Houthis, Shiites of the Zaidi sect, complain of discrimination by the country's Sunni majority, and they launched a major military offensive last September that allows them to control areas and extend their presence to the provinces of Hudeida and Ibb, in the centre of Yemen.
The crisis in the capital started on Saturday, as the Houthi delegates walked out of a meeting on the Constitution, to protest at Yemen's federation into 6 regions, which they see as detrimental for them, since it locks them into an area with no natural resources, or access to the sea.
The same day the president's chief of staff, Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak, was kidnapped. His release was demanded by tribal chiefs and political parties in the south.
The President's meetings with leaders of political parties and movements, and the Military Council, for Monday, didn't occur, creating greater uncertainty, regarding the course of events.
Opposition Celebrates in Argentina
Prosecutor Alberto Nisman''s accusations against Argentina's Executive, and his death, are boosting the Argentine opposition's campaign against the government, in an election year.
Calls to street protests, a loud media offensive full of distortions & caustic celebrations by opposition politicians and show-business people, resound in Argentina today.
They are so desperate to overthrow the national popular model started by Nestor Kirchner in 2003 and enhanced by Cristina Fernandez, during her two presidential terms, that opposition jubilation nearly borders on political hysteria.
Nisman's accusations against the president and her foreign minister, of covering up the alleged involvement of Iran in an attack on an Argentine Jewish institution in 1994 in exchange for oil are groundless and can easily be unmasked in court.
However, those who conceived the plot have achieved their goal of unleashing a political scandal that is further resounding days after Nisman's "dubious death", according to the file compiled by the prosecutor investigating the case, Viviana Fein.
They've supplied weapons to forces, inside and outside, in their efforts to beat a project of a popular progressive nature, in the 2015 elections.
In a communiqué, the Workers' Confederation of Argentina demands total clarification of the prosecutor's death & demands that this event not be used for political speculation, to gain benefits in elections.
According to the main workers' organization, it is evident that the atmosphere created by Nisman's death is being used to benefit the same powerful groups, that dream about eradicating completely the process of truth and justice, initiated in 2003.
Peace talks conference held in Damascus
The representatives of several Syrian political factions are gathered in the capital Damascus to discuss an outline solution to their country’s conflict, Press TV reports.
Held at Dama Rose Hotel, Monday, it was called for by Syria's Ministry of National Reconciliation Affairs, with the presence of the Syrian National Dialogue Committee and other parties.
The gathering comes ahead of scheduled peace talks...... to be held in Moscow on January 26th.
“What will take place in Russia is a forum aimed at discussing suitable means to make a success of a Syrian-Syrian dialogue meeting inside Syria.
“What we are seeking is an outline for a Syrian solution to the crisis in Syria,” the Minister of National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, states.
“A political solution through national dialogue among Syrians is the only way out of the crisis. This dialogue should lead to setting a program with a particular schedule and clear steps, in a way that respects democracy, freedom, security, sovereignty and national unity,” says Syrian opposition figure, Adel Nuaiseh.
Syria has been grappling with deadly conflict since March 2011. The violence, fueled by Takfiri groups, has so far claimed the lives of 200,000+ people, according to reports.
6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced by the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.
US Majority Disapproves of Congress' Work, Says Poll
Around 76 percent of the US people disapprove of Congress's work, according a poll this week.
The poll, taken by Gallup, shows that the US' legislature begins with no signs of renewed support by electors, even among those of the red party, since just 16% of those polled approve of the work by the legislature.
The poll reveals that Congress approval levels are rarely high and the historic average does not exceed 32 percent of popularity, although there're reasons to believe that this Congress will have little more support in coming months, than the two previous ones.
USA threatens Palestinian Authority with annual aid cut
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warns Palestinians that they could lose US’ annual aid should they lodge a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court.
Graham, who is visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of a seven-member senate delegation, said that existing US legislation “would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they filed a complaint.”
The US supplies $400 million dollars worth of aid annually, to the Palestinian Authority.
Last month, Israel halted the transfer of over $120 million in taxes belonging to Palestinians after the Palestinian Authority applied to join the ICC.
After foreign aid is deducted, tax revenues account for two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's yearly budget.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that Palestinians will become a member of the ICC, on April 1st.
The US has condemned the ICC decision to launch a preliminary investigation into Israel’s crimes, calling it a "tragic irony".
Israel is lobbying ICC member states to cut their funding to the ICC in retaliation for its bid to launch a probe into Israeli war crimes.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda states that her office intends to conduct an “impartial fully independent analysis” into suspected war crimes by Israeli military forces.
Ukraine bombing raid kills 30 civilians in the S. East
A Donetsk official says Ukrainian warplanes have bombed the eastern city of Gorlovka, killing over 30 civilians including children, as part of Kiev's new offensive on anti-coup forces in the volatile eastern regions.
Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the headquarters of the self declared Donetsk People’s Republic said on Monday that the Ukrainian military dropped 500-kilogram FAB-500 bombs on Gorlovka’s residential districts, a day earlier.
Basurin added that Kiev troops for the first time used the tactic of “blind” bombing...
“We think the Ukrainian pilots are simply afraid of flying at low altitudes because of heavy losses from our air defense systems last summer.”
The bomb raid comes as Kiev forces have launched a large-scale offensive against the anti-coup forces in eastern regions.
The defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic last week said that government troops used phosphorous in attacking Donetsk International Airport.
The United Nations Security Council is set to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to end the spiraling deadly clashes in Ukraine’s east.
The 15-member council meets at the request of Lithuania in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis, which has flared up in recent days.
S. Korea to legalize peaceful unification with DPRK
S. Korea plans to legalize its government responsibility for peaceful unification with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Seoul's unification ministry says on Monday.
The "act to lay foundation for peaceful unification," will be enacted this year, the ministry says, in its annual report to the president, Park Geun-hye.
South Korea's new act aims to define in detail the existing law on unification - adding the government's responsibility - and a way of preparing for peaceful unification.
On "opening a unification era" in 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's division, the South Korean government is to place personnel in charge of the unification preparations and put task forces in each government ministry.
Japan gov't eyes first overseas SDF long-term base in Djibouti: report
Japan's government is considering extending the Djibouti base's functions... making it the first semi-permanent multi-purpose base for the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to act in Africa & the Middle East, local media report Monday.
Japan opened an 'anti-piracy' base in Djibouti, East Africa, in June 2011, on 12 hectares next to Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, also building a command headquarters, boarding facilities, and a parking area there, at a cost of 4.7 billion yen (40.07 million U.S. dollars).
About 180 Japanese SDF personnel stay at Japan's first and only overseas base on a four-month rotational basis to ensure the safe passage of passenger & commercial ships through the perilous Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.
According to Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Defense Ministry & SDF officials are considering letting SDF troops use the base for disaster relief and UN peacekeeping activities, and to board SDF troops dispatched from Japan in the event of emergencies and terrorist activities.
Thus, the base will become an operational centre for SDF troops in the region on the assumption that Japan continues using it on a long-term basis.
In Japan, at the moment, the government has to pass temporary legislation for each SDF mission sent abroad. If the task is ended, the relevant base has to be removed accordingly.
As Japanese PM Shinzo Abe eyes increasing the capability of the SDF, under the banner of "Active Pacifism", observers fear that the new plan to build a long-term overseas base increases the risk of a war involving Japan, violates the war-renouncing Article 9, and changes Japan's defense-oriented posture.
Ukraine army targeted Gorlovka with 500kg air bombs – Donetsk militia leader
Ukrainian warplanes used 500kg aviation bombs in their attack on Gorlovka town on Sunday, says Aleksandr Zakharchenko, head of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, adding that it was not a targeted bombardment.
"Towards the evening, Ukrainian bombers performed an airstrike on Gorlovka with 500-kilogram aviation bombs. Notably, the bombardment was not targeted; it came from over the clouds and the aim was just to hit the town,” Zakharchenko says.
Over 30 people, including children, have been killed or injured in Donetsk, as a result of the Ukrainian offensive on Sunday, he adds.
The city's mayor, Oleg Gubanov, also says that two people were killed and 16 others injured after a Ukrainian shell exploded at a bus station in Gorlovka.
Several buildings, including four schools and a kindergarten, suffered direct hits during the bombardment, “which went on without a break for almost 24 hours,” he adds.
Donetsk administration states that at least five civilians were killed in the city on Sunday. Several residential buildings and a shop were seriously damaged by artillery fire.
“For several weeks, we’ve been shouting ...trying to prove that Ukraine's military is using the truce to perform a massive regrouping of its forces to prepare for a large-scale offensive. But all of our appeals to the OSCE and Joint Centre for Control & Coordination (JCCC) have been ignored,” the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic says.
“The representatives of the JCCC have themselves felt the scale of Ukraine's shelling,” as they came under fire in Gorlovka earlier in the day, he adds.
Zakharchenko also stresses that “all attempts of Ukraine's forces to take revenge for the defeat they suffered last autumn, have failed.”
“The self-defense forces have successfully repelled all 6 attacks by Ukraine's armored vehicle columns, performed with massive artillery support. As a result, I can say that the Ukrainian offensive on the airport has failed,” he says.
Rebels dislodged Kiev troops from Peski village - which was used by the Ukrainian army to shell the Donetsk airport on a daily basis, he adds.
The Russian representative at the JCCC has confirmed that his colleagues came under artillery fire from Kiev's forces in Gorlovka, on Sunday.
He also stresses that shelling residential areas in Donetsk, is being performed by the Ukrainian military’s regular forces.
"Previously, all the attacks on Donetsk and its suburbs were mainly conducted by uncontrolled National Guard units or the so-called territorial battalions, but today it’s clear that the shelling of residential areas is being performed by regular units of the Ukrainian army.
"Also, for the first time after a long break, the Ukrainian side is using aviation," the representative says.
The offensive by Ukraine's military in Donetsk Region, is a violation of the Minsk peace deal, signed by the two sides on September 5th, he adds.
Instead of the agreed withdrawal of troops to a safe distance, “we see, in fact, an attempt by Ukrainian forces to storm rebel positions, which has led to new mass casualties among civilians in Donetsk and Gorlovka,” the representative stresses.
US war against ISIL is ‘total fraud’ to create a CIA base: Journalist
A Pentagon plan to arm and train the so-called moderate militants in Syria to fight against the ISIL terrorist group, is a “total fraud”, and a “bogus” claim, to carve out a CIA base in the region, an American journalist in Missouri says.
The United States is fighting a “multi-front war” against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as he operates independently from the West, says Dean Henderson, author & columnist at Veterans Today.
“This whole ISIS thing is just an attempt to carve out this base where the CIA, Mossad, and British intelligence, can operate freely and attack Syria -- for now -- but maybe later, Iran,” Henderson tells Press TV.
Henderson says Congress is wasting “precious US tax dollars” to fund the false fight against ISIL, which the CIA helped create in the beginning.
“We’re not against ISIS, we are ISIS, we created ISIS, we trained ISIS, we are ISIS,” he acknowledges.
On Saturday, a delegation of US senators led by John McCain, began a tour of the Middle East, taking them to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to discuss a Pentagon plan to arm and train “moderates”, in Syria.
The US Defense Department announced it is deploying about 1,000 troops to train Syrian militants to fight against the ISIL terrorist group.
Analysts reject the idea that “moderate” militants exist in Syria. “Nobody in any position of expertise here, thinks that there really is any significant moderate Syrian rebel force. It does not exist,” Dr. Kevin Barrett, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, says, in an interview with Press TV.
Several Hezbollah Fighters Martyred in Israeli Raid in Syria
Hezbollah announces that several of its fighters were martyred on Sunday in an Israeli airstrike in Quneitra region, Syria.
“The Israeli enemy's helicopters fired missiles at a group of Hezbollah fighters who were inspecting Mazraat al-Amal town, in the Syrian Quneitra region,” a statement issued by Hezbollah says.
The strike “resulted in the martyrdom of a number of brothers, whose names will be announced later, after informing their honorable families,” the statement adds.
Mohamad Issa – chief of Hezbollah operations in Syria – was among those killed, along with Jihad Moughniyah – son of the late Hezbollah leader Imad Moughniyah – reports Al Arabiya.
The attack in Quneitra, is near the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights.
Israeli authorities haven't officially commented. However, a security source states to Reuters - on condition of anonymity - that it was “an Israeli helicopter that carried out the attack.”
The helicopter fired rockets at the convoy, while two Israeli reconnaissance planes were reportedly seen flying over the area.
Another source told Israel's Ynet news, the strike hit "terrorists intending to attack Israel" close to the ceasefire line that separates the Syrian part of Golan Heights from the Israeli- occupied sector. No more details were given.
A statement on Lebanon’s Al-Manar, says the attack suggests that Israel “has gone crazy, because of Hezbollah’s growing capabilities and it could lead to a costly adventure, that will put the Middle East at stake."
The attack follows Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that frequent Israeli strikes in Syria are a major aggression against the whole ‘axis of resistance,' not just Damascus, and that the group has the right to retaliate.
Hezbollah has promised retaliation, saying Israel has crossed all lines with the attack.
Putin prods all sides into resolving Ukraine crisis peacefully
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to ask parties involved in Ukraine crisis to spare no effort, in peacefully settling the situation.
"I propose both sides... take urgent measures to stop shelling each other, as well as immediately withdraw heavy weaponry," Russia's Channel 1 Television quotes Putin's message, sent to his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.
"Recent developments in southeastern Ukraine, the resumed shelling of settlements in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, cause grave concern and actually imperil the peace settlement process, based on the September Minsk agreement of last year," Channel 1 Television quotes Putin as saying in the message.
Putin promises that Russia is ready to work with the Organization for Security and Co- operation in Europe (OSCE), to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the heavy weapons withdrawal by the conflicting sides in Ukraine.
However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has disclosed that Putin's weapon withdrawal proposal has been "rejected" by the Ukrainian side.
"The Ukrainian president received the letter on Friday morning. Unfortunately the Ukrainian side rejected the proposed plan without providing an alternative offer, meanwhile, resuming military operations," RIA Novosti news agency quotes Peskov as saying.
The spokesperson stresses that "Russia has consistently made efforts to mediate in the conflict in recent days."
Russia's Foreign Ministry says Russia is also ready to "use its influence" to persuade the local militias to accept a weapon withdrawal as "a good will gesture", to avoid any more civilian deaths.
In an online statement, the ministry expresses deep concern over Kiev's increasing military presence in Donbas --- a local name referring to eastern Ukraine.
"The intensive militarization, announcements of 'new waves' of citizens' mobilization, and appeals from Kiev to 'take revenge' for the situation 'on the ground', that have taken place after signing the Minsk agreement" prove the Ukrainian side is defying the Minsk agreements, the ministry says, in the statement.
According to the statement, Kiev's regime took advantage of the recent ceasefire to regroup its forces and continue its military actions, while insisting on force to solve the crisis.
Calling for strict adherence to the Minsk agreement by all parties, Russia's Foreign Ministry says Moscow is doing everything in its power to make sure that the contact group can meet early next week.
"We are urging its members and all those influencing the situation to prevent more negotiation breakdowns,"the ministry says,stressing that all sides should immediately return to practical work on "comprehensive implementation" of the Minsk agreement.
Donetsk shelled as Kiev 'orders massive fire' on militia-held E. Ukraine
Violence is escalating in east Ukraine, as Kiev’s troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas, on Sunday morning.
The army was ordered to start mass shelling of all rebel positions, a presidential aide says.
The order to launch the attack was issued at 6am early on Sunday, according to Yury Biryukov, an aide to President Poroshenko.
“Today we'll show HOW good we are at jabbing in the teeth,” he wrote on his Facebook page, a mode of conveying information favored by many current Ukrainian officials.
In a later post he said: “They are now striking a dot. Uuu…” in a reference to Tochka-U (‘tochka’ is Russian for ‘dot’), a tactical ballistic missile, one of the most powerful weapons Kiev has so far deployed against rebel forces.
“That wasn’t a dot but ellipsis. Strong booms,” he added.
Ground reports confirm a sharp escalation of clashes across the front line, with particularly heavy artillery fire reported at Gorlovka.
“Locals in Donetsk say they haven’t heard such intensive shelling since summer,” Valentin Motuzenko, a military official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, tells Interfax news agency.
“The Ukrainian military are using all kinds of weapons, Grad multiple rocket launchers, mortars…” Motuzenko says.
A source at the site says that a group of OSCE monitors have demanded that the Ukrainian military stop the shelling. The source adds that there is a danger that the group may itself come under artillery fire.
Several residential buildings, a shop and a bus station, have been badly damaged by artillery fire in the city, RIA Novosti reports. There are also reports now, of attacks on Makeevka town & several nearby villages.
The militia adds that at least one shell hit a residential area in central Donetsk rather than the outskirts of the city.
The escalation comes after several days of violent clashes at the ruins of Donetsk International Airport, a scene of constant fighting over months of a shaky ceasefire between Kiev’s troops and local militias.
The militia, who accused the Kiev military of launching constant attacks on Donetsk from their positions at the airport, report taking over the location this week. Kiev had denied this.
The Ukrainian Security and Defense Council now confirms the resumption of hostilities and that Kiev's aim is to retake the airport.
This escalation of violence comes after a controversial incident at Kiev’s checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, where twelve passengers were killed on Tuesday.
Kiev blamed the deaths on the militia, saying it was hit by a Grad rocket. The DNR forces denied the accusations and said the bus was targeted by the Ukrainian troops themselves – either in a tragic incident or as a staged provocation – and said the damage visible in the picture of the bus is consistent with a less powerful weapon, possibly a landmine.
OSCE's observer team studied blast craters near the checkpoint and confirmed the direction they came from.
Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, says the direction runs along the disengagement line separating militia- and Kiev-controlled areas, which makes it difficult to determine who fired the rockets.
The observers did not identify the type of rockets used.
Netanyahu blasts ICC's inquiry into Israel-Palestine conflict
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s decision to start a preliminary probe into possible warcrimes committed against Palestinians.
He slams the move as "preposterous" & "folly."
"It's absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which upholds the highest standards of international law," Netanyahu says, in a televised statement from his Jerusalem office.
Netanyahu argues that Israel was only trying to defend itself against "Palestinian terrorists who routinely commit multiple war crimes."
He adds that those who should be prosecuted by the ICC are Palestinian extremists, saying "they deliberately fire thousands of rockets at our civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians whom they used a human shield."
Netanyahu telephoned the US State Secretary John Kerry, to ask Washington to help prevent the ICC from going forward with the inquiry.
The US has now reacted to the ICC's move, by condemning it as "counterproductive to the cause of peace."
On Friday, the US State Department said it was "a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC."
Washington has also argued that Palestine isn't a state & is therefore not eligible to join the ICC, says Israel's Haaretz news website.
In Palestine, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) hails the move as an "important & positive step towards achieving justice & guaranteeing respect for the international law."
Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, also welcomes the ICC's decision, saying it is "the right step in the right direction."
The spokesperson also says that Hamas is ready to work with the ICC by providing all the needed documents, evidence and testimonies that would "show that the Israeli enemy committed war crimes in Gaza against our people."
The ICC announced its decision to open an initial inquiry on Friday, "to check if there is a reasonable basis for starting a probe into possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories."
The decision came after the PNA signed the Rome Statute and joined the ICC, this month.
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the summer's 50 day long war in the Gaza Strip. Israel saw the loss of 73 people, all but six, being soldiers.
New Ukrainian Armed Forces drafts fraught with full-scale war in Europe
A new spate of drafting to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the fourth since the start of the military campaign in Ukraine’s eastern regions, testifies to Kiev’s plans to suppress resistance in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics by force, and is fraught with the danger of a full-scale war in the center of Europe, experts polled by TASS say.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted for a Law on Partial Mobilization. The country’s Defense Ministry said earlier that about 104,000 people with military specializations in tanks, artillery, airborne troops, telecommunications, and various aspects of mechanics, in the age bracket of 25 to 60 years old, would be drafted into the Army in 2015, "if need be".
The ministry claims that rotation of servicemen in the zone of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, is the objective of the drafts.
“Yet another draft to the Armed Forces declared in Ukraine now, proves that all the talk about a willingness for peace in the S. East of Ukraine on president Petro Poroshenko's part, is little more than a cover-up aimed at getting a pause, prior to a major offensive on the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics,” Dr Konstantin Sivkov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, states.
“At present, the Ukrainian Army doesn’t have enough manpower or resources to guarantee victory over the self-defense forces, but Poroshenko obviously hopes to accumulate enough strength to destroy the rebellious republics by spring,” he says.
“The so-called Ukraine Freedom Support Act passed by the US Congress at the end of last year, empowers the US President to grant offensive weaponry to Ukraine to the tune of $350,000,000, and the armaments' scope includes anti-tank armor-piercing weapons, anti-artillery radars, drones, and secure communications systems,” Dr Sivkov adds.
“NATO states are already providing Kiev with weapons from depots of the former Warsaw Treaty Organization.”
“Ukraine has received armored personnel carriers decommissioned in the UK. Ukrainian plants can’t manufacture up-to- date armaments, as they received some component parts for them, from Russia.”
“There’s hardly any doubt regarding Kiev’s lust to regain control over Donbas through the use of armaments, since the region has the biggest manufacturing potential and natural resources - mostly coal - in Ukraine,” Dr. Sivkov says.
“In addition, Donbas and Novorossia that were declared on its territory, make up a buffer zone between Russia & Ukraine, while the American masters of the incumbent Kiev rulers, need to eliminate that buffer zone by fair means or foul to turn it into a springboard for destabilizing Russia. These plans of the Kiev government, which is drawing on Washington’s support, are fraught with the danger of a full-scale war in the center of Europe,” he says.
Dr. Sivkov notes the difficulties in preparing for a summit of the 'Normandy format' states — Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine — in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. Preparations for this summit won't achieve a peace settlement in eastern Ukraine, as the US is pushing Kiev to resolve the conflict by using force.
“The new spate of drafts to Ukraine's Army isn't a conventional one, since mobilization means preparation for war,” Dr Vyacheslav Nikonov, a deputy of the State Duma, says.
“Petro Poroshenko, president & commander- in-chief, is thus playing out the scenario of a future war in this manner,” he says.
“Since Poroshenko is not an independently acting figure, he won’t declare a new draft, unless his initiative is a suitable cover for US plans to fan tensions in the region, as a means of struggle with Russia.”
“Russia won’t be able to watch the plight of citizens of the Donetsk & Luhansk republics placidly, because Russians never let their relatives or friends down,” Dr. Nikonov says.
“Once, in the past, the US lost the Vietnam war because Russia, then the Soviet Union, aided the brotherly Vietnamese people, and that is a lesson not to be forgotten.”
Minsk meeting still not taking place.
The meeting, scheduled for Friday, included representatives from the anti-coup regions in S. Eastern Ukraine, but was called off on Friday, by Kiev.
E. Ukrainian rebels say they now control Donetsk airport
The militias in southeastern Ukraine say they now fully control the strategically important Donetsk airport, after an exhausting stand- off with government forces.
The airport has been the scene of violent fighting, since last May.
Parliaments of Cuba and Chile Ask for Closer Links
The President of Cuba's parliament, Esteban Lazo, and the head of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, Aldo Cornero, say both of their legislative groups want to strengthen links, stating that both their governments and peoples, favour this.
The invitation on Cuba's part, is a true expression of our interest in contributing to improve relations and build the collaborative mechanisms between the parliaments of both nations, affirms Corneiro.
The christian democrat deputy heads a high-level delegation formed, among others, by communist Lautaro Carmona, Vice-preasident of the Chamber of Deputies & a member of the Interparliamentary Group Chile-Cuba.
As he thanked Cuba for the invitation, Cornero praised the particular circumstance in which the visit took place, since the decision of the Cuban & US governments to start to normalize relations --- after more than half a century of US hostility.
Chileans will support everything that leads to improving the life of Cubans, and we ask that this effort has a positive ending, he stated.
Lazo said thank you to the gestures of Chilean solidarity with Cuba, and recalled that the US trade blockade remains, so the island still needs friends all over the world.
He also stressed the significance of the first visit in decades by representatives of the Chilean parliament, a country that - he said - contributed notably to the struggles for independence of the island, in the 19th century.
Chile was the second nation to recognize Cuba's struggle against Spanish colonialism and many of its children joined the cause, he recalled.
He added that this parliamentary visit will bring a tightening of bilateral relations, and a strengthening of the necessary unity of Latin America.
Cornero and his delegation will remain in Havana until January 18th to meet with other authorities and tour historical and scientific places in the Cuban capital.
As he returns to Venezuela via Moscow airport, president Nicolas Maduro leaves convinced of both the strength & efficiency, of the strategic Russia-Venezuela association.
A two-hour dialogue with his peer and host, Vladimir Putin, was enough to reaffirm the political & economic strength of the alliance.
After meeting with Putin, in statements to Prensa Latina, the South American states- person confirmed they had reviewed topics on energy, the agro-industry, commerce, and the food sector.
Other subjects approached were the develop- ment of infrastructure, housing construction projects, cultural cooperation and financing for development plans.
An agreement was signed to increase investment and participation by Russian enterprises in mixed companies already existing in the Orinoco strip, and other projects that will expand stock investments, stated Maduro.
Investment will keep increasing in oil production, to defend the oil market, and to strengthen their strategic alliance in energy and in financing, to keep the country functioning while oil prices are low, said the Venezuelan president.
Credits will be extended to the industrial, food & infrastructure sectors, as well as in programs of social development, called "missions", in Venezuela.
As an example of the support, despite the oil market limitations for both exporting powers, plus sanctions imposed by the US & its allies, Maduro says it has been decided to finance, with a billion dollars, the erection of the first 30 school integrated centres.
The President's optimism was obvious when he mentioned he was returning to report to the popular councils on the achievements made, give details of the tour, and reply at a higher level to what he says, is a pretend economic coup détat, by the opposition.
Putin and Maduro decided to advance the date of the meeting of the Intergovernmental High Level Commission to next April in Moscow to define their cooperation program for 2015-2016.
To that end, the Deputy Minister of Industries, Carlos Farias, executive sec for Venezuela, of the joint intergovernmental commission, will travel to Moscow next week.
Moscow & Caracas keep closely collaborating, above all in the oil market, where Russia is the number one world producer (14 percent) and Venezuela has the largest proven reserves of oil with 298.4 billion barrels (18 percent of the world's crude).
If the 80 billion barrels (4.8% of Russian reserves) are added to the Venezuelan reserves, this totals one quarter of all Earth's reserves.
USA Expands Training of Syrian Anti-government Group
The US will send over 400 advisors & "several hundred" ground troops to the Middle East in the coming months, to train anti-government groups, the Pentagon announces.
The plan marks an extension of President Barack Obama's program to increase the preparation of these irregular groups, which began in March 2013, in Jordan, under the direction of the CIA.
The mission will be led by the US military and it anticipates training - over the next three years - over 15,000 irregulars of the groups seeking to overthrow by force, President Bashar Al-Assad.
The DoD's statement doesn't make clear the location of these training centres, although Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have all offered themselves as bases for such acts.
The head of the White House last December signed a bill that includes a plan for air strikes against Islamic State, about five billion dollars for the training of Iraqi forces, as well as other resources & 'advisors' for Syrian 'irregulars'.
The military coalition led by Washington has, since August 8th, bombed terrorist groups in Iraq and on September 23rd, extended these bombings to Syrian soil, without the consent of the government in Damascus.
UN calls on Israel to ‘immediately’ resume tax revenue transfer to Palestinians
The UN is now calling on Israel to resume transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which it withheld in retaliation for Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Greek anti-austerity party holds lead before snap election
A recent opinion poll shows that Greece’s anti- bailout opposition political party Syriza holds a lead over the ruling conservatives & is expected to grab the largest share of votes in this month’s snap general election.
According to a survey by pollsters with Pulse for Action 24 television published on Thursday, Syriza will get 31.5% of the vote against 28% for the liberal-conservative political party New Democracy of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The results come a day after the Alco poll for the newspaper To Pontiki revealed that Greek leftist opposition party Syriza holds a steady 3.5-point lead over the ruling conservatives.
That survey, held between January 11th and 13th, indicated that Syriza would get 32.4% of the vote against 28.9% for the New Democracy party.
Syriza will hold 142 of the 300 seats in the parliament should Greeks cast their ballots in the January 25 election, as surveys show.
That means an overall parliamentary majority would be out of Syriza’s reach as the leading party must usually collect between 36 and 40 percent of the vote, to win outright.
Samaras has warned that the cash-strapped country may be forced out of the eurozone if Syriza wins the vote later this month.
Syriza leftists have consistently topped opinion polls in recent months, promising to reverse the austerity measures that secured an international bailout by the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.
Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, only to survive on international rescue packages. It has received 240 billion euros (USD 330 billion) in international loans.
Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Ready to Invade Galilee and beyond Galilee
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah asserts that the Islamic Resistance is ready to invade Galilee & Israeli settlements beyond Galilee, in any upcoming war against the Zionist entity.
Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the Resistance won't only resort to missiles to defend Lebanon. It has prepared its fighters to be able to storm Galilee, if their leadership needs to order this.
During an exclusive interview with Al-Mayadeen TV Network broadcast live on Al-Manar Channel, Sayyed Nasrallah says that, despite Hezbollah's current preoccupations, it has accumulated and sustained its military power, adding that the Israeli enemy has acknowledged that the party is gaining huge military experience, from various battlefields.
Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the resistance has every conceivable type of weapon, revealing that it has possessed Fateh 110 missiles ever since the 2006 war. He goes on to hint of more... "The resistance also has weaponry that is much more sophisticated."
Hezbollah Secretary General says the party is following a permanent plan to develop its abilities and that, in 2015, the resistance is stronger than ever before.
His eminence notes, "We do not limit our human and military capabilities."
Concerning the Israeli recurrent air raids on targets in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah says that all the axis of resistance is concerned with responding to the attacks, stressing that the response may take place "at any time".
Sayyed Nasrallah reveals that Israeli air raids were always part of a militant plan to attack the Syrian army, noting the communication by the Israeli military, with terrorist groups in the Golan and in Quneitra.
Hezbollah's leader stresses that the Resistance cannot tolerate the Israeli assaults, adding that the party considers that the terrestrial, marine and air violations -- besides the assassinations and the assault --- are red lines which cannot be crossed by the Zionists.
Sayyed Nasrallah notes that Hezbollah will respond to any Israeli violations, in the way that he finds suitable.
However, he adds that the resistance does not compel itself to respond in a manner that might serve the Zionist's interests.
Sayyed Nasrallah clarifies that the Resistance's operation against the Zionist occupation troops on Shebaa Farms in 2014, was a response to the Israeli deliberate murder of a Hezbollah fighter who was dismantling a Zionist spying device.
Sayyed Nasrallah highlights that the US-Zionist security violation of Hezbollah was exaggerated, revealing that Hezbollah detected the spy, who worked in favor of the Israeli enemy, but did not have any relation with the military structure of the resistance.
His eminence adds that the social environment of the resistance does not embrace spy work in favor of the enemy, noting that Hezbollah deals with such violations very seriously.
"As the Israeli security violation was serious, Hezbollah's achievement in detecting the violation, must be applauded."
Hezbollah Secretary General says the party has not deployed military units on the Golan Heights, but is ready to aid public resistance to the Israeli occupation in the area.
"The Zionist entity is no longer able to achieve any military victory in Lebanon after its failure in its recent war on Gaza," Sayyed Nasrallah underscores, "I don't eliminate the possibility of a war with the Zionist entity, yet 'Israel'.. does not launch wars, if it isn't sure of being able to achieve victory."
"Hezbollah has not halted communication with the Palestinian resistance factions, and Hamas is now trying to reset its relation with the axis of resistance," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "We will try to promote these relations, in order to fight the Zionist enemy together."
Commenting on the Syrian-Iraqi scene, the Secretary General points out that militant gangs are unable to beat the regular army, adding that dethroning President Bashar Assad, can no longer be achieved.
"The Syrian opposition does not have any problem about sharing with president Assad in ruling the country, but the interventionists are banning this process."
Stressing that any political solution in Syria must also include President Assad, Sayyed Nasrallah says that the regular army controls most Syrian territories and that ISIL, Nusra Front and the so-called Free Syrian Army, hold the rest.
Saudi Arabia's battlefield influence turned out to be so meager, after the Kingdom committed a major mistake by implementing the Afghani pattern in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah points out.
Hezbollah's Secretary General confirms that Turkey funds & supports ISIL and Nusra, who get battlefield facilities from the government in Ankara, but he also mentions that Turkish- Iraqi relations may improve with the advent of the new government in Baghdad.
Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that the International Coalition's air raids against ISIL do not aim at eradicating the terrorist group as the US isn't concerned with achieving this goal at present.
"The Americans aim only at containing ISIL, and having US military bases in Iraq."
Hezbollah Sec Gen points out that the Iraqis themselves managed to stop ISIL attacks on their cities with aid from their Iranian brethren.
His eminence clarifies that the US administration is no longer concerned with excluding President Assad from the political solution in Syria.
Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that Hezbollah considers that President Assad can guarantee the implementation of any political solution in Syria.
"The ISIL card has been played and exhausted & the terrorist group can't change the formula. ISIL started to lose its popularity in Iraq, after massacring even Sunni Muslims."
On Bahrain, Sayyed Nasrallah says that the opposition expressed its readiness to reach a political solution with the regime, but Saudi Arabia rejected all the regional mediations to end the crisis, insisting instead, on ending the peaceful revolution.
On Yemen: "The relation between Hezbollah and the Yemen's Ansarullah is political, not military," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "The party and Iran were not involved in the recent developments in Yemen."
"What happened in Yemen is related exclusively to Ansarullah and its people; Hezbollah and Iran did not contribute to the recent developments in that country."
Hezbollah's Sec Gen considers that a plot was set to subdue Ansarullah, which suffered the threat of elimination, so the group reacted.
Welcoming Egypt's return to play its strategic role in the region, Sayyed Nasrallah stresses that Hezbollah supports any Egyptian initiative to end the Syrian crises.
"Hezbollah tried to communicate with the Muslim Brotherhood who always refrained from following this path and even blocked Iranian initiatives to promote mutual relations during Mursi's reign."
Sayyed Nasrallah says Iran enjoys prosperous conditions in spite of Western pressure, adding that those countries trying to challenge the Islamic Republic through the nuclear file, will collapse and that Iran will emerge victorious.
Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah says:
"Hezbollah supports any dialogue among Lebanese political factions to settle the complicated issues, including presidential elections, despite the attempts of 'hawks' to frustrate this trend in the country."
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah ends by saying that the resistance, socially, supports its strategic decisions, including the intervention in Syria.
Bahraini protest rages as another opposition leader arrested
Crowds of protesters took to the streets in the capital, Manama, Thursday, calling on the monarchy to release Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al-Wefaq opposition party, and expressing outrage over the arrest of his close ally, Jameel Kadhim.
Kadhim was arrested outside Al-Wefaq HQ in Manama and imprisoned on Wednesday.
In a press briefing prior to his arrest, Kadhim told his followers to continue a “peaceful and civilized movement until victory” is reached, promising to continue his fight in prison.
Al-Wefaq issued a statement condemning his arrest as “security & judicial tools to punish opponents.”
Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights says change will never come as long as the ruling family cracks down on the opposition.
“The government, they don't want any dialogue at all. For the last two to three years they are just lying to the international community that there is progress, there is dialogue, but this is the reality: people who should be in the dialogue are in gaol right now,” Al- Muhafda states.
As a member of Bahrain's majority Shi ite opposition group, Kadhim was sentenced to six months for alleging election bribery on his Twitter page in October.
Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court found him guilty of disrupting the elections and ordered him to pay a 500 Bahraini dinar ($1,300) fine in addition to serving his jail sentence.
Kadhim’s lawyer, Abdullah Al Shamlawi, says his client will appeal against the conviction at the High Criminal Appeals Court.
His sentencing comes as Al-Wefaq leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, after being arrested on December 28th, still remains in gaol, amid ongoing clashes between protesters and security forces. He also faces a gaol term and is being held pending an investigation into charges of inciting violence.
Bahrain, ruled by King Hamad, was rocked by protests in 2011 by the country’s Shiite Muslim population, calling for freedom in the minority Sunni-ruled country.
Although the government, backed by Saudi Arabia, managed to suppress the protests very quickly, clashes between the security forces and protesters still occur near daily.
Japan approves largest military budget since WWII
Japan’s government has approved its largest military budget in 70 years, in contravention of the country’s pacifist constitution, in a display of force to its highly militarized neighbors. The extra military spending comes amid a stalling economy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has given the green light to an unprecedented nearly 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) defense budget, which comes into force in April.
The extra military spending mirrors an expanded overall budget, which has reached a record 96.3 trillion yen ($814 billion). The budget still awaits parliament’s approval, where Abe's government coalition has a majority in both houses.
The 2 percent increase in military spending is the third hike during Abe’s rule. Since he took office in December 2012, Abe has ended an 11 year decline in defense spending. In 2002, Tokyo passed its previous highest military budget of 4.96 trillion yen.
“This budget will contribute to achieving both economic recovery and regaining fiscal health together," PM Abe said at a press conference.
In line with plans announced in late 2013, Abe’s Cabinet plans to spend 24.7 trillion yen between 2014 and 2019 on military hardware, including amphibious vehicles, drones, fighter jets and submarines.
Japan’s military purchases consist mainly of US- made military hardware & homemade weaponry.
Tokyo intends to buy six 5th-generation F-35A stealth fighter jets (reportedly for $148 million each), and 5 US-made Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (which have an estimated price of $68 million each).
Japan’s so-called Self-Defense Force also gets a fleet of US-made Global Hawk drones (est. cost over $100 million a unit), yet this will take place over a five-year period and funds for this won't be taken from out of the 2015 military budget, Japanese officials tell AFP.
The Japanese Defense Ministry’s shopping list also includes 20 Kawasaki P-1 (350 billion yen a unit) national-made maritime patrol aircraft, at 350 billion yen each) which are now in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Tokyo’s increased military expenditure comes amid rising tensions between Japan and China over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
Abe’s government is struggling to prevent the economy slipping into recession. The country's population is aging & welfare costs are soaring.
In 2014, Japan’s population fell for a third straight year, with the elderly (over 65 years old) making up 25% of the nation. Social security spending in 2015 is expected to account for about one-third of the budget.
The Cabinet is boosting government spending, changing its tax policies and prompting the nation’s senior citizens to spend more on the younger generation.
Abe has previously tried to alter the country’s pacifist constitution and downplay restrictions it imposes on the national armed forces, but has failed to gain the necessary public support.
Instead, his government has reinterpreted the law, saying that it allows the Japanese military to come to the rescue of an ally under attack.
Donetsk republic negotiator to leave for Minsk January 15 for Contact Group talks
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic's negotiator for the settlement in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, leaves for Minsk today (Thurs), to take part in the Contact Group talks.
The Contact Group is expected to gather in the Belarusian capital on January 16th.
The Lugansk People’s Republic negotiator, Vladislav Deinego, says the agenda of the meeting will likely include the four previous issues - the pullout of artillery and rocket systems from the disengagement line in Donbass, the exchange of prisoners, the lifting of the economic blockade on Donbass and the coming into effect of the law on Donbass' special status.
The Minsk Protocol document contains 9 points, including a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line by each side.
The OSCE is controlling implementation of the memorandum's provisions, and its numbers are being boosted.
No Religion Can Justify Violence, Says Pope Francis in Sri Lanka Pope Francis expresses to the leaders of the major religious communities in Sri Lanka, the will of the Catholic Church to work jointly for the prosperity of citizens and the country.
We must demand that our communities, clearly and unequivocally, fully live the principles of peace and coexistence encompassed in every religion, and denounce acts of violence committed, says the Supreme Pontiff, meeting the leaders of all religious denominations on the island.
In Sri Lanka, where 70% are Buddhist, 12% Hindu, 10% Muslim & 7.5% Christian, Francis recalls that "for many years men and women of this country were victims of civil conflicts and violence", and he stresses that what is needed now is "recovery and unity".
Noting that "this is a noble task concerning all", he hopes that interfaith & ecumenical cooperation will prove that nobody has to give up their ethnic or religious identity to live in harmony with others.
"For the sake of peace, it should never be allowed that religious beliefs be used to justify violence and war", stresses the Holy Father.
Before, the Pope held a private meeting with the newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who led the welcoming ceremony at Colombo International Airport, along with the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.
Because of the time it took him to greet the thousands of people who cheered him outside the airport terminal, and from there downtown, the Head of the Vatican suspended a meeting that had been scheduled for the afternoon, with bishops of the island.
Ecuador Urges Asia-Pacific Forum to Favor Regional Co-operation
Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, yesterday (Tues) asked member countries of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, to strengthen regional cooperation as a way to change the current world order.
Cooperation is the main tool to transform the international order, said Patino, in the masterly lecture he gave Tuesday, to 240 delegates, from 17 Pacific basin nations.
According to Patino, one of the similarities between members of the Forum founded in 1993 by exJapanese PM Yasuhiro Nakasone is the need to adapt the world's governing bodiess to Earth's new political, economic and social realities.
In this regard, he reiterated the call to reform the United Nations, particularly its Security Council which, he said, continues operating in a closed, faulty way.
After calling for the ending of the right to veto within the UN Security Council, Patino said the five powers with the right to veto should be replaced by regional blocs: eg the European Union, the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States --- for the sake of true representation.
According to Patino, the Pacific basin should also play a significant role in the international order, because it represents nearly half the world's population and 57% of world trade.
The Pacific will be the most important economic zone in the world in terms of trade, in the next ten years, said Patino, who referring to regional integration cited the example of achievements made by Celac and the Union of S. American Nations (Unasur).
US Central Command Twitter account apparently hacked by CyberCaliphate
The official Twitter account for the United States Central Command — CENTCOM — appears to have been compromised by a hacker group sympathetic to the organization formerly known as Islamic State.
A series of tweets were sent from the @CENTCOM account on Monday, starting with one warning: “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS. “
That tweet and messages posted moments after, refer to a group known as CyberCaliphate and links to documents that are purported to be confidential files pilfered from American military computers, including one cache of files containing slideshows that appear to have details about apparent threats in the Caspian, China, North Korea, Africa and Indonesia.
A statement posted on the website Pastebin shared by the compromised CENTCOM account announced:
“US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan: we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you.
You'll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now.
We won't stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children.
US soldiers! We're watching you!”
Soon after, the hacked Twitter account posted a photo appearing to show US military personnel surrounded by computers with the caption: “ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base."
Last week, the social media accounts for two television news networks were compromised by persons alleging to belong to Cyber Caliphate — an apparent hacker collective either affiliated or sympathetic to the military group also known as ISIS, or ISIL. It was reported at the time that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened a probe into the matter.
Considering that Congress funds IS, and if IS hacked CentCommand, does this mean that the US government just hacked themselves?
Divisions remain after Ukraine crisis talks, sides may meet again next week
The foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine spent three hours behind closed doors discussing the Ukraine crisis on Monday, and may meet again next week if progress is made over the next few days in resolving remaining disagreements.
After the meeting in Berlin on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the political process to end Ukraine's crisis will only succeed if Kiev treats the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as equal partners.
"It was stressed that the political process can be a success only when you start direct dialogue, in this case between the representatives of the Ukrainian government and the proclaimed DPR and LPR, and they should feel fully involved in the political process as equal partners," Lavrov said.
After the meeting, the four ministers called on the contact group of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to try to make more progress on implementing a Ukraine peace deal agreed in September, including creating the "relevant conditions for an effective ceasefire,” the joint statement reads.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that, while Monday's session was a “very open exchange,” it didn't produce enough results for a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and France this week, in Kazakhstan.
Steinmeier said that representatives from foreign ministries will continue work to find common ground. The foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet might also hold another meeting next week if “progress is achieved in the coming days.”
The so-called Normandy Quartet was established in June when Russian, French, German, and Ukrainian leaders met in northern France's Normandy, to talk and find a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis.
Ukraine to participate in 11 NATO war games in 2015
The Ukrainian army will take part in 11 international military drills this year to bolster NATO standards in its troops. Despite an economic crisis, Kiev will still use 5.2 percent of its 2015 budget on the army.
Ukrainian servicemen will appear at seven military drills in Europe, while four maneuvers will be hosted in Ukraine, the assistant Ukrainian defense minister, Viktoria Kushnir, states.
“These exercises are going to finalize a stage of combat training to boost NATO standards in our troops,” Kushnir says.
The largest drills will be the Ukrainian-US Rapid Trident maneuvers for ground troops & Sea Breeze, a naval exercise in Ukraine. A like exercise was held as recently as last September, when NATO sent 700 weapons units and 50 vehicles. The US sent 200 servicemen.
The Naval Trident Juncture exercises will take place outside Ukraine's borders, says Kushnir.
The Ukrainian Navy will also take part in drills, with American warships --- in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian parliament has to give permission for maneuvers in the country. President Petro Poroshenko is expected to submit a draft to Kiev's parliament to get formal approval for it.
Since September, there have been a number of reports saying NATO member states have begun sending "non-lethal" military aid to Kiev.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of lethal aid being supplied to Ukrainian troops fighting 'operations' against anti-Kiev militias in the east of the country.
In December 2014, President Petro Poroshenko signed a law cancelling the country's non-bloc status and promising to hold a referendum on NATO accession, in the next 5 to 6 years.
The latest news of NATO supplies to Ukraine, came last weekend when a cargo ship with 42 containers, holding allegedly non-lethal military supplies, docked at the Ukrainian port of Odessa, in the Black Sea.
Also, last December, Canada sent a small contingent of its military police to Ukraine to help the coup government and security forces protect Ukraine's 'territorial integrity'.
Ukraine plans another war in southeast - Russian FM Lavrov
Moscow has obtained information about the Ukrainian military preparing another plan to 'solve' the conflict in the southeast militarily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.
"There is information, very alarming information, which we are now double-checking, that the security forces are preparing for another stage of the military solution to the problem in the foreseeable future. This would be a disaster," Lavrov says at a press conference after talks with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevich.
In addition, Lavrov says, Ukraine doesn't deny the fact of declaring a mobilization. "There are different numbers, but from 50,000 to more than 200,000 people need to be mobilized," he says.
According to Sergei Lavrov, Russia will continue demanding that the West should put pressure on the "war party" in Kiev, to rule out a military scenario in eastern Ukraine.
"We, regardless of what happens in Paris, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, will continue to demand from our western partners, whose influence on the Ukrainian leadership is much stronger than anyone else's, that they look into those plans not to let the "war party" in Kiev bring down all those fragile hopes that the Minsk agreements created," Lavrov says.
Serbian PM accuses EU of media campaign to destabilize govt
Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, has accused the European Union of organizing a campaign to destabilize his administration by funding anti-government media reports, says Reuters news agency.
His accusation comes after a regional news organization published an article criticizing reconstruction of Tamnava coal mine, which was destroyed by flooding last year.
Earlier, the EU-funded Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) said that the state- owned power monopoly Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) hired an inexperienced local company to work on the reconstruction, allegedly steeply raising costs.
Croatia's opposition conservative wins extremely close runoff vote
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wins the runoff election in Croatia, on Russia's borders, with 50.54% of the vote, becoming Croatia’s first female president, the state electoral commission says.
The incumbent centre-left Ivo Josipovic, has now admitted defeat & congratulated Grabar-Kitarovic on victory, after getting 49.46% in Sunday's poll.
So far, 97.8% of votes have been counted, which means that Grabar-Kitarovic has won by about 20,000 votes.
Both candidates promised to fix the country’s troubled economy, which has been stuck in a long-lasting recession.
The new president is a NATO public relations official, and, although Croatia's presidency is largely ceremonial, it gives her control over Croatia's armed forces -- jointly with the Social Democratic PM.
The Social Democrats have a majority in Croatia's parliament, and elections are due at the end of this year, but the right (called 'scum' by the centre-leftists) are pressing fiercely for the vote to be brought forward.
Her victory shows that Croatia, a new member of the European Union (EU), is ideologically highly divided and the citizens expect change to get out of a recession which has lasted six years, driving nationwide unemployment rates to nearly 20 percent, analysts in Zagreb say.
Professor Ivan Rimac of Zagreb University's law department said on Croatian public television network, HTV, that Grabar-Kitarovic won, due to her rhetoric about the unity of Croatia.
"We have had enough of divisions," she said in her campaign, calling for those who voted for Josipovic, to become part of her team & unite so as to help Croatia emerge from its crisis.
She said she would see that Croatia became one of the most developed countries in the EU and the world.
Analysts believe Josipovic's defeat is partly due to the fact that the ruling coalition, which supported Josipovic's candidacy, had failed to reform the huge, inefficient public sector, improve the business climate, or attract EU development funds.
Some view Grabar-Kitarovic's victory, backed by the largest opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union, as likely to bolster that party's electoral chances.
However, others say Grabar-Kitarovic won the presidential office only with the votes of people who no longer live in the country.
According to election data, Grabar-Kitarovic received 91.11 percent of the vote abroad, while Josipovic won 8.89 percent only.
In countries with the largest Croatian communities, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Germany, Grabar-Kitarovic won 93.80 percent and 94.12 percent of the vote, respectively.
Political observers say her unexpected win, by 20,000 votes, only undermines her authority.
Also, as head of state, she too will be held partly responsible for the poor economy, they say.
US Rejects Possibility of Peace on Korean Peninsula
The USA, on Sunday, has rejected a proposal submitted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, that might have given a possibility of peace on the Korean Peninsula, the website of the newspaper China Daily, reports.
On Friday, Pyongyang proposed canceling its nuclear tests in exchange for the Pentagon & S. Korea suspending their annual military drills.
That way, a step could have been taken towards peace in a region where tensions escalate every year when the United States and S. Korea carry out military maneuvers involving nuclear arms, and North Korea takes preventive measures.
With 28,500 soldiers deployed in the south of the Korean Peninsula, the White House & Seoul carry out military maneuvers that are supposed to be defensive, including landings, bombings and shootings, plus mobilizing atomic weapons.
According to the spokesperson for the US State Department, Jen Psaki, the annual joint drills & Pyongyang's nuclear tests, are "different things".
Psaki says instead, that the DPRK's proposal is an implicit threat, although in fact, since the time of General Douglas MCarthur, the north of the Korean Peninsula has been in danger of being bombed like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Korean War (1950-53) has not concluded officially, as it ended with an armistice, but not with any signed formal ending.
INCREDIBLE CLUE FOUND
The three prime suspects involved in terror in France, are 'identified after one leaves their ID card in the abandoned getaway car', reports the West's media on Sunday.
Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk blames Soviet Union for invading Germany
Moscow has requested an explanation for the official position of Berlin regarding the remarks by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, of "Russia's invasion of Germany and Ukraine," First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Titov says, TASS reports.
On Thursday, January 8th, Arseny Yatsenyuk, when visiting Germany, gave an interview to German TV channel ARD, in which he said:
"Germany and the German Chancellor personally have done a lot to restore peace in Ukraine. To guarantee stability not only in Ukraine, but also in the whole of Europe." The current "Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on the world order and the order in Europe." He continued...
"We still remember well, the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. It should be avoided."
Friday, January 9, Yatsenyuk's spokesperson, Olga Lappo, explained the words by the prime minister. According to her, he meant the post- war division of Germany...
"Arseny Yatsenyuk meant the division of Germany by the Soviet Union after World War II. A wall was built to divide Berlin --- to exclude the movement of Germans from the east to the western part of the city," said Lappo.
Several Russian politicians have reacted to Yatsenyuk's words. For example, the head of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs, Alexei Pushkov, wrote on his Twitter page... "Yatsenyuk has finally gone mad."
The head of the same committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, said that the remarks by the Prime Minister of Ukraine are a shameful excuse for Hitlerism and an insult to the memory of heroes.
In Germany, the online version of Spiegel magazine wrote satirically: "Indeed, since 1942, Soviet troops had been moving relentlessly to the West and were not afraid to pursue the army of the democratically elected chancellor, Adolf Hitler, even onto Ukrainian territory. (...) Finally, the Soviets transgressed the eastern border of Germany & invaded its territory, as we all remember, together with Mr. Yatsenyuk."
Foreign ministers to meet over Ukraine in Berlin
The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Berlin, Monday, to discuss the Ukraine crisis, says Germany's Foreign Ministry.
"The Minsk agreement must remain the compass for all further steps," German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, says. "But there's still a long and bumpy road, before the agreement