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Robert Parry: Ukraine's poison pill for Minsk-2 The Ukrainian government is doing everything possible to disrupt the Minsk-2 arrangements.
Ukraine may thus expand the geography of the civil war in the Donbass, while the United States and Russia may approach the line behind which nuclear war may start,Robert Parry, a journalist known for his investigative reports, believes.
According to him, recent legislative decisions by the Verkhovna Rada, have now poisoned the Minsk-2 agreements.
With its "legislative" work, Kiev's parliament has ruined the peace initiatives by European politicians trying to stop the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.
There's another round of the bloody conflict in store for Donbass, he says, and Ukraine's MPs will do nothing except accuse Russia and President Putin, for the blood shed.
The civil war was expected to finally end, if Kiev agreed to grant 'special status' to the two breakaway regions of Ukraine.
However, after the "fruitful" work by the US-backed parliament, the value of this "special status" has been reduced to nil, Pravda.Ru says.
Kiev says the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk will have to hold new elections -- under Kiev's control -- if they want "special status" for themselves. The elections would have to be conducted after full capitulation by the militia forces, as elections would not take account of any frontline between the two sides.
Vadim Karasyov, director of the independent Institute of Global Strategies --- in Kiev:
"Ukraine won't go along with any legalization of those so-called people's republics. We need them to be dismantled," the Christian Science Monitor reports.
The leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk republics have protested the decision by Ukraine's Rada. They note that it is contrary to both the letter and spirit of the Minsk agreements:
"We agreed to "special status" for the territories of our republics and a renewed, united Ukraine, although all our people want full independence.
"We took this step to stop the bloodshed and the fratricidal war. Now we can clearly see that the Ukrainian authorities need the peace talks only to further prepare for a new phase of the war."
It remains to add that Kiev's MPs are unlikely to have taken such "poisonous" solutions -- without the support of American "hawks," such as Victoria Nuland.
Those hawks put pressure on Poroshenko, Merkel and Hollande, taking the world to the brink of a possible nuclear war, Robert Parry writes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he ordered the Russian intelligence services to save ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, as his death was an objective of the coup.
Putin says that, from the beginning, the coup plan and the elimination of Yanukovych in an attack, was clear.
"There were reasons to believe they would simply eliminate him", says the President, to explain an order he gave security forces during the coup of February 22nd, in 2014.
The information received, indicated that the coup leaders were prepared to not just capture Yanukovich, but physically eliminate him, as this was simply more 'convenient' for the coup, says Putin.
According to President Putin, subsequent events detected by the Kremlin's security services, only confirmed this.
Andrei Kondrashov's documentary, which contains Putin's words, on Rossiya 1, has created quite a stir in Russia and abroad.
Referring to the documentary 'Crimea. Return to the Motherland', the spokes- person for the Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, Maja Kocijancic, criticizes Russia.
'We are aware of the shooting of this film, but what matters is that we have condemned -- and will condemn -- the accession of Crimea and Sevastopol" she says.
US Private Military Companies Used for Arms Supplies to Ukraine
CyberBerkut, Ukrainian hackers set up to fight neo- fascism, nationalism and power abuse in Ukraine, has gained access to files on the mobile device of the Green Group PMC (private military company) official who recently visited Kiev as a member of a US military delegation. It made the materials public on February 27th using its website (http://cyber-berkut.org/).
Green Group is a US private military company founded in 2007 with headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma. It has a European branch in Tbilisi.
The company is licensed with the US Department of State and the State Department. CyberBerkut posted the documents to open access along with the Green Group advertisement. Two letters from Gregg Holmes, CEO of the PMC, to the Ukrainian Armed Forces' Chief of Staff, Muzhenko, became public domain. One of them, written in Ukrainian and dated February 15, 2015 (the Minsk deal was signed on February 12) is worth citing.
"As you know, the United States is in contact with NATO partners on lethal arms supplies to Ukraine. There has been no mutual understanding reached so far. As I am informed by my friends in the State Department and the Pentagon, the United States is going to increase pressure on European allies."
"During recent consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France the US State Department team insisted on expediting the procedures for delivering anti-tank systems and heavy weapons to Ukraine's military. The United States believes lethal arms will stop the advance of separatists in Ukraine and prevent them from approaching the administrative border of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
"According to US government estimates, the use of up-to-date weapons by Ukraine's military will inevitably inflict heavy losses upon Russian volunteers fighting in the terrorists ranks. It will be impossible to hide the heavy casualties."
"In its turn, this information will cause tension in Russia and spur the emergence of anti-war movements to organize mass protests against the current Russian government."
"No matter the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs always supports the White house initiatives, the Government of France is hardly happy with our proposals. President Francois Hollande is not ready to drastically change his Ukraine policy but the US State Department came up with a bright idea. The weapons will be delivered to “volunteers” fighting for Ukraine or operatives of Western private military companies, with great experience of using the weapons and equipment. Green Group is ready at any time to provide Ukraine's military with volunteers -- in sufficient numbers."
"The US government believes France could at least make a financial contribution, with money transferred from the French Foreign Ministry to State Department accounts, to hide the real purpose it is allocated for."
"It's known that the Ukraine-U.S. Joint Commission is responsible for arms supplies. A document of the US European Command (Eucom) contains a proposal to deliver lethal arms to Ukraine allocating $75 mn for the purpose."
"The package includes Javelin anti-armor missiles, different kinds of light weapons, miscellaneous equipment and individual protection kits. $2 million is to be spent on the Maidan network."
Another Eucom document mentions ammunition, including grenades. $45 million is to be allocated for the training of Ukraine’s military, first of all, the special forces.
The arms will be transferred within the frame- work of the Joint Multinational Training Group – a program in accordance with the Ukraine /U.S. Joint Commission.
Perhaps the purpose of the Green Group’s mission was to get acquainted with the Ukraine’s military requirements and observe the situation on spot.
The documents show that the US assessments are a bit different from what Ukraine asked for. The US offers to make it a much bigger deal. For instance, Green Group proposes to increase the number of robotic systems, and includes 9,000 optical devices. Communication systems top the list, while Ukrainians give priority to drones.
According to the documents, Kiev started talks on weapons supplies, no later than mid-2014.
The Ukraine-U.S. Joint Commission (its next session is slated for May or June 2015)... serves as a cover.
The US does not trust Ukrainians with making assessments of their needs. This mission will be undertaken by private contractors. They will also take part in combat actions and work as consultants and trainers.
Green Group is not the only private military company hired by the Pentagon and State Department to provide arms to Ukraine.
According to media, at least 3-4000 people employed by defense contractors, operate in Ukraine. The decision is not taken at a political level but this doesn't prevent the organizers of military supplies from doing their job.
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 MONDAY
Saudi airstrikes target more areas in Yemen
Saudi Arabia has carried out fresh airstrikes on Yemeni people and government facilities, as the Ansarullah fighters keep advancing in areas around the southern port city of Aden.
Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen continues for the 5th straight day on Monday with war- planes hitting areas around the presidential palace, in the capital, Sana’a.
The airstrikes began late on Sunday and continued unabated for almost 9 hours -- with Saudi bombers targeting positions of Houthi fighters and soldiers from the Republican Guard near the presidential palace. A base operated by Republican Guards in Sana’a's south, was also targeted by the strikes.
Yemeni air defense units say they have downed a Saudi jet over Marib city -- 140 klmtrs (90 miles) east of Sana’a -- and where Saudi jets say they've already targeted radar facilities and surface- to-air missile batteries.
Yemen's army, earlier, downed two Saudi bombers, & one jet operated by the United Arab Emirates.
Sources in Hodeida say Saudi jets also targeted anti-aircraft defense systems in the western port city.
Houthis make new gains
As Saudi Arabia continues its aggression, the Houthi movement, which took control of the capital, Sana'a in September, keeps making new gains in other parts of Yemen.
Houthi fighters backed by army units have pushed into Aden's Northeastern outskirts, where remnants of the regime of fugitive president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, are still in control of some installations.
Houthis have also made a fresh advance from the east of Aden, along the Arabian Sea coast.
Saudi Warplanes Kill Dozens of Civilians As Yemeni Army, Committees, Advance
The Saudi-led aggression on Yemen continues on Monday, as the airstrikes target al-Mozraq refugee camp, killing and injuring 45 civilians.
45 martyrs, including women and children, were claimed by the air raid on the camp, in Hija province.
Meanwhile, Yemen's army & Public Committees, are advancing in both Lahj and Abyan provinces.
Also on Monday, Al-Qaeda terrorists collapse in Aden, as Yemen's army and Public Committees regain full control of the city's airport.
Assad: ISIL Hugely Expanded since Start of US Air Campaign
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says that the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group, has been gaining recruits since the start of US-led air strikes against the group.
In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes", aired Sunday, Assad quotes estimates that ISIL is now attracting 1,000 new recruits each month, in Syria.
On the "benefit" of coalition airstrikes on ISIL positions, the Syrian President says:
"Sometimes you could have local benefits, but, in general, if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes."
Asked under what circumstances he would leave power, Assad says: "When I don't have the public's support. When I don't represent Syrian interests and values."
In reply to a question on how he determines the support he has among Syrians, he says: "I don't determine. I sense. I feel. I'm in contact with them."
Syria has been hit by violent unrest since March 2011, when western media reports accused countries, mainly the US, Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, of orchestrating civil conflict in the country and providing the terrorist groups with money, weapons and trained mercenaries.
Ukraine’s Right Sector Leader Wants Donbas Residents Deported
Dmitri Yarosh, Rada MP and leader of Ukraine’s Right Sector, declares that the unruly residents of eastern Ukraine, must be deprived of their civil rights and deported, before a program of ‘affectionate Ukrainianization’ can begin.
In an interview for the Ukrainian newspaper Obosrevatel, published Sunday, Right Sector leader and Rada deputy, Yarosh, notes that much of Donbas is populated by ‘Sovoks’, an insulting slang term, meaning ‘Soviet’.
He continues: “And they should be deported. We have to deal with those who dont want to live by the rules and the laws of the state in a very harsh manner. This includes deportation, the deprivation of civil rights, and so on. With- out force, it will not be possible to do anything with the region - to turn the tide, so to speak.”
The Right Sector leader adds that the area’s “unruly” residents, must also be dealt with: “If we get rid of the unruly ones, everything will be fine, quiet and peaceful. And then, of course, a program of affectionate Ukrainian- ization can begin.” The MP says a “spiritual rebirth” can begin only if the authorities act in a consistent, forceful manner.
Yarosh cites the Kiev authorities’ response in Konstantinovka, Donetsk, controlled by the Ukrainian military, where a drunken armored vehicle driver recently crashed into a crowd of people and crushed and killed an eight-year-old girl in a hit & run incident... leading to riots in the streets.
“The events in Konstantinovka are an example of what I mean. If we'd shown even a little bit of weakness. Right from the beginning a whole bunch of ‘heroes’ began crawling out of the woodwork, using tragedy for their own separatist interests. And when our guys came out and began shooting into the air and arresting the instigators of the riots, everything ceased at once. This is the rule,” Yarosh explains.
The MP says today's anti-Kiev attitudes are simply the result of many years of Russian propaganda, and the removal of genuinely Ukrainian spiritual values.
Yarosh then says the “guys from Donetsk and Lugansk regions” fighting for Kiev...
“should become an elite, on whose base, a qualitatively new society can be built… And those Vatnik [slang for Russians blindly loving their country], criminal oligarchic attitudes sitting in the minds of ordinary people, for one reason or another, must be removed.”
The extreme nationalist leader notes that he has accepted the president’s invitation to work in Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, adding that he has chosen to do so, on a voluntary basis.
Speaking about the Ukrainian army’s recent losses on the battlefield, Yarosh recalls that:
“We faced a rout near Ilovaisk. On the one hand, we have learned to fight, with morale at a high level. But things are very bad when a pride of lions is led by sheep. They cannot lead us to victory, and only roll us back.”
On the situation at the front now, he says:
“Our forces are still threatened by several encirclements. And I don’t know, again, whether the sheep will react to this, or whether they are playing some sort of geopolitical game.”
Right Sector is a far-right nationalist party. In Jan and February of 2014, its members participated heavily in fighting Ukrainian police on the streets of Kiev, and in the capture of government buildings during the Euro-Maidan coup.
Since April, they have taken the lead in crushing protest movements in eastern Ukraine and enforcing the new order. They are also playing a role in Kiev’s military operation in Donbas.
Right Sector’s Volunteer Corps includes the two battalions operating in eastern Ukraine, plus eight reserve battalions throughout the rest of the country.
In March, 2014, the Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant against Dmitri Yarosh for the incitement of terrorism, and for his organization’s activities in the First Chechen War, fighting against Russia's military.
In November 2014, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Right Sector to be an extremist organization, and banned its activity on Russian Federation territory.
Crushing response awaits Riyadh
Houthis vow to give a crushing response to the Saudi's invasion. Nasruddin Amer, a member of the Ansarullah movement’s information committee, warns Monday, that developments in the next few days will take Saudi Arabia and the world by surprise.
“The Yemeni nation will change the map of the region,” he tells al-Alam News.
The Al Saud regime unleashed deadly raids - without a UN mandate - against Yemen, on March 26th, in an attempt to restore power to Hadi, who is a close ally of Riyadh.
Hadi, who is now reportedly in Riyadh, stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision... despite calls to do so, by Ansarullah.
Gradually, as the Yemeni government failed to provide security and properly run the affairs of Yemen, Ansarullah's fighters started to take control over state matters, to contain corruption and terror.
Houthis say Hadi lost his legitimacy when he fled the Yemeni capital, Saana, in February.
Yemeni Army Kills, Arrests Terrorists, As Saudi-Led Aggression Continues
The Yemeni army, backed by the Popular committees, expelled al Qaeda militants from a post on the main road in Shabwa, in the south, killing 10 terrorists and arresting a number of others.
At the same time, the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen continues, as Saudi airstrikes hit various cities, destroying Yemen's main facilities, including Sanaa airport.
The Yemeni's air defense system took on the hostile air raids, according to an Al-Manar reporter there.
Algeria's Foreign Minister, Ramatan al-Amamera, has submitted to his Saudi and Egyptian counterparts, a political initiative to end the crisis.
All concerned parties were informed about the initiative, but Saudi Arabia is complicating the political process, by setting the deployment of "Arab" troops in Sanaa, as a precondition.
Settlers steal stones in villages west of Salfit to pave the streets of settlements
Witnesses and citizens of towns and villages west of Salfit, report that bulldozers tracked the area and left with several massive stones.
Settlers use these kinds of stones to pave new streets in their newly built settlements.
Palestinian researchers report that ground and crushed stones and rocks, are used in various ways in the construction of houses in settlements, at the expense of the towns and villages of Kafr al-Dik, Rafat, Bruqin, Deir Balut and Sarta.
After Netanyahu's re-election, fear of a speed up in settlement construction is palpable in many West bank areas, and over the other systemic human rights abuses being committed by Israel.
THE LAW AND ISRAEL
Palestinians stress Sunday, on Land Day, that the settlers and settlements are a violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, as illegal under international law.
But Israel says that they ARE consistent with international law, because it doesn't agree that the fourth geneva convention applies to the territories occupied in the 1967 six-day war.
The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Red Cross Committee, the International Court of Justice and the High Contract Parties to the Convention all say the Fourth Geneva Convention DOES apply.
Numerous UN resolutions state that the building & existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights DO violate international law, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979 and 1980.
UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the 4th Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and calls on Israel to stop transferring its own population into the territories... or changing their demographic makeup.
The reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions declared that the Israeli settlements ARE illegal.
Successive Israeli governments say all 'authorized' settlements are entirely legal -- and consistent with international law -- despite all Israel's armistice agreements having been with High Contracting Parties.
In practice, Israel does not accept that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies de jure, but has stated that on humanitarian issues it will govern itself de facto by its provisions --- without specifying which these are.
A majority of legal scholars hold that the settlements do violate international law, while others dissent, supporting Israel's position.
Occupation does not vest the occupying power with sovereignty over the occupied territory.
PLO STATEMENT ON LAND DAY 2015
PLO Executive Committee Member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi says, on the 39th Commemoration of Land Day:
“On March 30, 1976, as thousands of Palestinians inside Israel protested Israeli plans to steal 60,000 dunams of land in the Galilee, six Palestinians were killed and hundreds were injured and arrested.
39 years later, in the face of the brutal military occupation imposed by Israel, the Palestinian people still remain steadfast in their struggle to defend their inalienable rights to independence, freedom and justice.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is succeeding in completing the Zionist project and pressing ahead with Israel’s systematic policies of settler colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, showing a total disregard for Palestinian human rights and dignity.
Furthermore, Palestinian citizens of Israel are constantly deprived of their social, political and economic rights and treated as second- class citizens. Israel’s policies of racism, hatred, extremism, and violence constitute a deliberate effort to legalize discrimination and xenophobia and impose “Greater Israel” on historical Palestine --- at the expense of all Palestinians.
Yet, even in light of such grave injustices and flagrant violations of international law, Palestinians everywhere remain undeterred in engaging in non-violent popular action, including political, legal & diplomatic efforts --- to preserve their identity, continuity and presence, on Palestinian lands.
Regardless of wherever Palestinians live, they will always remain an indivisible part of Palestine.
Israel has been exempt from accountability for its violations and deliberate acts of aggression and violence against the Palestinian people for far too long. All members of the international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, have the legal and moral responsibility to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and to serve the cause of peace and justice by adopting bold initiatives and concrete steps to counter Israel’s impunity and war crimes.”
Saudi Arabia Sends over 5,000 Takfiri Terrorists to Yemen
Military sources disclose that Saudi Arabia has dispatched thousands of Takfiri terrorists to Yemen, to fight against revolutionary forces.
"Saudi Arabia has sent around 5,000 Takfiri mercenaries to fight against the Yemeni army and revolutionary committees,' Yemeni Army Commander Colonel Abdel Sattar al-Boushali tells FNA on Saturday night.
The Yemeni commander also discloses that the Saudi defense minister has asked Turkish officials to pave the grounds for a transfer of more terrorists from Turkish airports, to Riyadh.
He notes that heavy clashes have broken out between the terrorist groups and forces loyal to Yemen's revolutionary committees.
Colonel al-Boushali repeats: that Saudi Arabia is plotting to hire mercenaries to assassinate supporters of the Ansarullah movement.
Saudi Arabia started airstrikes against Yemen early on Thursday -- 1 day after the US-backed Yemeni president fled the country.
Five Persian Gulf States -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait --- backed by the US --- have all declared war on Yemen in a joint statement.
US President Barack Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan, said late on Wednesday night.
She added that, while US forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington is establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia, to coordinate with US military and intelligence support.
The Saudi's aggression is receiving growing international condemnation, as it is pushing the region and world, into an unprecedented fast-growing war, as its ISIL mercenaries are on the brink of complete annihilation in Iraq and Syria.
At Sharm al Sheik, the Arab kingdoms support a joint army to preserve themselves -- but Iraq and Algeria express doubts about pursuing a military solution to what is a political problem.
Turkey has already said that it will not engage in any act which sets Shias and Sunnis at war.
Transportation Ministry of the DPR: Passenger train started Saturday 28th
Railway passenger trains connecting the two de facto capitals of the DPR & LPR, have been running since March the 28th.
‘Departure of the power train 6603 will be carried out from the station Yasinovataya at 8am Mondays, Thursdays & Saturdays. The Lugansk-Yasinovataya train will leave every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.
The price is 14,75 UAN.
Ansarullah Has Evidence of US Role in Terrorist Operations in Yemen
A senior member of the popular Ansarullah movement discloses that the revolutionary group has information and evidence to hand that the US has played the main role, in the unrest and terrorist attacks in Yemen.
"The movement has collected documents which show that the US has been playing a role in Yemen's current terror operations," member of Ansarullah Executive Committee Ali Qassem Al-Shahdi tells Fars news agency.
He explains that Ansarullah gained access to these documents after taking control of Yemen's National Security Office which had tight cooperation with the CIA -- and other spy agencies.
Earlier today, Ansarullah spokesperson, Zeifollah al-Shami, said Yemeni tribes, army and popular forces, are united to give a crushing response to the recent Saudi aggression, adding that Tel Aviv and Washington have ordered Riyadh to attack Yemen.
"We know that the Saudi aggression and airstrikes have taken place at the order of Israel and the US," al-Shami tells FNA. He notes that the Yemeni people have put aside their differences, to fight the aggressors.
"God willingly, the crushing response to the aggressions of the Saudi enemy will occur in the coming days," al-Shami adds.
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against a Yemeni shopping market early Saturday, targeting civilian areas.
Saudi-led invasion of Yemen (4th day)
As night fell on Saturday, aerial attacks resumed for a fourth night, residents of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, say.
Dozens of people, including women and children, have been killed since early Thursday, when Saudi Arabia began the invasion of Yemen.
On Saturday, the UN said that most of its 100 international staff have been evacuated from Sana’a.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday, that negotiations “remain the only chance to prevent long, drawn- out conflict” in Yemen, yetthere was no sign of any condemnation of the Saudi invasion, in the UN chief’s remarks.
Riyadh says it launched the airstrikes to defend the “legitimate government” of Hadi, at his request.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former dictator who stepped down in 2012 after a year-long popular uprising, has likewise said, that the Saudi-led attacks aim at saving the fugitive president.
In a televised speech on Saturday, Saleh urged the Arab League to help end this crisis “peacefully,” saying the “problem will not be solved with strikes.”
A senior Yemeni health official says at least 61 people have been killed in three days of fighting between Ansarullah fighters and loyalist militia, in Yemen’s main southern city of Aden.
“There are at least 61 people dead and 203 wounded,” says Aden health dept. director, Al-Kheder Lassouar.
Islamist extremists now control Syrian city of Idlib
Takfiri fighters, including al Qaeda’s Nusra Front have seized Idlib, capital of a north west Syrian province, for the first time since the crisis began, Reuters reports.
Islamist insurgents now control an additional province in Syria, to Raqqa, a stronghold of Islamic State. Syrian officials don't comment immediately, on the report.
Iran dispatches planeload of humanitarian aid to Yemen
Iran's Red Crescent Society has sent a 'plane full of humanitarian aid to Yemen, where Shia mosques were recently targeted by terrorist attacks.
The IRCS sent its 13-ton consignment of aid and medical supplies on Monday.
52 people injured in the recent deadly bomb attacks in Yemen were flown to Iran on Monday and taken to hospital for treatment.
An Iranian medical official says that their patients have injuries such as fractures, burns and amputations.
Soleiman Heidari adds that six victims are in a critical condition.
He says Iran sent a 6 member medical team to Yemen, after terrorist attacks, to treat the victims.
Three bomb attacks were carried out at two mosques in Sana’a on Friday. At least 142 people were killed and 351 suffered injuries in the blasts, targeting Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques.
A branch of ISIL terrorist group in Yemen claims responsibility for the bombings in an online statement, warning that these attacks are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
The blasts took place as intense gun battles went on between supporters and opponents of the fugitive President Hadi in Aden. Over a dozen people died in the fighting, which also forced Aden's International Airport to close.
Hadi, along with members of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah’s cabinet, stepped down in late January, but Yemen's parliament did not approve the president's resignation.
The president fled his home in Sana’a on February 21, after weeks under effective house arrest and went to Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, where he officially withdrew his resignation and stressed his intention to resume his duties. This came after Houthi fighters took Sana’a, in September 2014.
UN staff are all evacuating Sa'ana, capital of Yemen, as the Saudis say their attacks "could last 6 months".
S. Nasrallah to Saudi Invaders: Yemeni People will Triumph, You’ll be Defeated
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah lashes out at Saudi Arabia over its war on Yemen, stressing that the failure of Riyadh’s foreign policy, is the real reason behind the Kingdom attacking its neighbour.
In a televised speech aired on al-Manar TV, Sayyed Nasrallah calls on Saudi Arabia to halt its military attack on Yemen, saying there’s still a chance for the Kingdom to change its mind over the assault.
In this context, the Lebanese resistance leader stresses that the only solution for Yemen's crisis is political, “or the invaders will be defeated.”
Meanwhile, his eminence says the problem in Yemen, is not because Saudi Arabia wants to defend a government or president; it's rather, because Saudi Arabia has lost its influence in Yemen.
“If the aim of the war on Yemen is to save Yemen's people, then why did Saudi Arabia abandon Palestine's people for decades?”
Sayyed Nasrallah stresses that these latest developments in Yemen prove: “that the Arab states have never considered Israel as an enemy.”
“Saudi Arabia opposed the revolution which had overthrown Hosni Mubarak. Why didn’t they form a coalition then, to strike Egypt?”
Hezbollah leader then elaborates on the pretexts used by Saudi Arabia to justify its war on Yemen, saying that they are "baseless" pretexts.
“The pretext that Yemen represents a threat to Gulf states is baseless,” Sayyed Nasrallah states, adding “one of the biggest lies Saudi Arabia has been propagating, is that Iran is occupying Yemen.”
The major mentality of Saudi Arabia is that it does not recognize the rights of the peoples of the region, his eminence says.
“Where are the achievements of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy since thirty years ago?” Sayyed Nasrallah wonders, stressing that the failure of Riyadh’s policy “is prompting the people of the region to resort to Iran.”
Sayyed Nasrallah furthermore accuses Saudi Arabia of inciting the Iraqi Dictator, Saddam Hussein, to wage his war against Iran in the last century. He adds that Riyadh has been behind the terrorist crimes committed by Takfiri suicide bombers in Iraq and Syria.
“What did you do for Iraq? You funded the war waged by Saddam Hussein, on Iran. You supported Saddam Hussein, as he was committing genocide against Iraq's people.
You also supported George Bush in his war on Iraq. And when the Iraqi people resisted the US occupation you supported al-Qaeda- linked groups and Takfiri militants, and ISIL is your latest crime.”
“Saudi intelligence was sending the booby- trapped cars & funding the suicide attacks on Iraq's cities. You have sent the Takfiri monsters to Syria, not to save the Syrian people, but to subdue Syria. However, Syria will remain free and independent,” Sayyed Nasrallah says, to Saudi Arabia.
Sayyed Nasrallah stresses that it’s the Yemeni people's right, to defend their country against the Saudi airstrikes.
The invaders have been defeated through- out history, Sayyed Nasrallah says, noting that airstrikes alone don’t determine the loser and winner of a battle -- and there is still the ground battle, which has the final word.
On Lebanon, Hezbollah's Sec.Gen. stresses that the dialogue between the resistance party and the Future movement is ongoing, noting that the move is a 'national interest'.
“We will go on with the dialogue with the Future movement, since it is considered a national interest,” he notes.
Responding to claims that Iran is hindering presidential elections in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah says: “Iran has not interfered in the presidential elections, and will not do so. Tehran is not responsible for the current deadlock.”
His eminence however, stresses that Saudi Arabia is hindering the vote...
“Saudi FM, Saud al-Faisal -- it is he who is vetoing the election of the candidate who has a majority with Lebanon's Christians.”
Yemen's Hadi in Egypt for Arab summit as Saudi-led coalition keeps pounding Houthi targets (3rd day)
The fleeing Yemeni President, Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, arrived in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt's Red Sea resort city, late on Friday, as the Saudi coalition's aerial campaign against the Shiite Houthi group entered its third day.
Hadi flew to the Egyptian resort city to attend a two-day Arab League summit, on the weekend.
On Friday evening, warplanes conducted fresh airstrikes targeting the largest military base on Nokum mountain in eastern Sanaa, along with several other targets in the area, witnesses say.
Airstrikes were met with intensive anti-aircraft gunfire by the Shiite Houthi group that controls Sanaa. Huge explosions could be heard across the city while the Houthi artillery lit up the sky. So far, no immediate reports of casualties are available.
A source declined to expose Sanaa's casualties after 3 military camps were hit the night before.
In Lahj province, the strategic Anad military airbase was bombed Friday, with 2 rounds of pre-dawn airstrikes. An airforce official states: "a number of military fighter jets were destroyed and all the buildings inside the base, were set on fire."
The Saudi defense ministry said Friday, that operation "Decisive Storm" had succeeded in cutting supply routes to the Houthis from Sanaa and Saada, Al Arabiya news reports.
As the air campaign continues to pound the Houthi group, Iran's Foreign Minister states that Iran calls for cooperation among the region's nations, to promote dialogue and resurrect peace, in Yemen.
Mohammad-Javad Zarif says Iran is ready to fully cooperate with other countries in the Middle East, to promote talks among the regional stakeholders and conflicting Yemeni factions, thus restoring peace. He then adds:
"Those who have caused damage to the region with their ambitions and mistakes should adopt responsible policies and use their capacities for establishing peace & convergence in the region."
Also on Friday, Yemen's former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2011 after a popular uprising, calls for a cease-fire after his forces are targeted by the airstrikes.
The ex-president, now close to the Houthis, also urges, in a statement, resuming the UN- brokered talks between the warring parties.
ADEN STILL IN FLAMES
Despite Yemeni President Hadi's departure from Aden, which he designated as Yemen's provisional capital recently, Houthi fighters are still battling pro-Hadi tribal militias there.
On Friday, forces loyal to Hadi imposed a curfew on Aden, where dozens of people were killed in battles in the past few days.
According to a statement issued by pro- Hadi forces "the curfew will be from 19:00 (1600 GMT) to 7:00 (0400 GMT), starting on Friday night."
"We urge citizens to remain calm and stay home as the street fighting continues," their statement says.
Aden city has been simmering with tension and armed confrontations for over 3 weeks.
Thousands of families in Aden, have fled the battles for rural areas outside the city.
Who Suffers Most in Yemen air-raids?
Figures show some 60 people have been killed so far and dozens more injured across Yemen since Saudi-led airstrikes began on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says a “major humanitarian crisis” in Yemen is possible - in the near future - as the impoverished land is hit by Saudi airstrikes.
UNICEF’s Yemen representative, Julien Harneis, says on Friday that the crisis could come within months -- if the international community fails to immediately raise its efforts to help Sana’a to provide food and vaccines for Yemen's children.
Riyadh says it's launching the strikes to defend the “legitimate government” of fugitive Yemeni president, Abd Hadi, at his request.
Pakistan says will not participate in Saudi-led coalition
Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif:
“Instead of aggravating the situation (in Yemen) by participating in it (coalition), Pakistan should do what it can to prevent it, for the alliance and unity of the Muslim world,” Pakistani Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif, tells Pakistan's parliament on Friday.
“We don't want to be part of any proliferation -- we will try to contain it," Asif says, adding: "There is concern that the move could fuel tensions in Pakistan and the Muslim world.”
“Pakistan is ready to adopt whatever role is needed in order to facilitate the termination of conflicts in the Islamic world,” he states.
Saudi Arabia called on Pakistan to join the coalition, just the day before.
Asif adds that Pakistan has only pledged to defend “the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Reports say nearly 40 people have been killed in a day, since the airstrikes began.
The open violation of Yemen’s sovereignty by Saudi Arabia has so far been ignored by international organizations, notably the UN, which is silent over this latest aggression against one of its member states, despite Ban Ki Moon's 'pro-dialogue' statement.
Negotiations only option to resolve Yemen crisis: UN chief
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says dialogue among all political factions is the only solution to the conflict in Yemen: but stops well short, of condemning the ongoing Saudi aggression, illegally launched on the Yemenis.
Ban in a late Thursday statement stresses that, “despite the escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the crisis.”
The UN chief also recalls that the Security Council has called on all its member states to refrain from any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.
The ongoing Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of dozens of civilians, with more deaths feared.
Saudi Arabia puppet of US, Israel: Houthi leader
The leader of Yemen’s Houthi fighters heaps scorn on Saudi Arabia, for conducing 'unjust and heinous attacks on Yemeni people', and says the kingdom is serving as 'a puppet for the United States and the Israeli regime'.
Saudi Arabia is a puppet at the disposal of superpowers, the Houthi leader says, and asserts that Riyadh is putting into action the US-Israeli conspiracy in Yemen.
He says the US-Israeli plot in Yemen aims to break up Yemen and deprive its people of security and freedom.
Al-Houthi says the Saudi invasion of Yemen has occurred because their agents, including al-Qaeda terrorists and ISIL Takfiri terrorists, failed to execute their plots in Yemen.
He says these “criminal” attacks uncover the “tyrannical” nature of the Saudi regime.
Al-Houthi warns that Saudi Arabia will face consequences, if it pushes ahead with its open aggression against Yemen, saying, “We will confront the criminal forces and their tools in the country.”
“You think you can kill Yemeni people, but this is because of your stupidity,” he says. “This unjustified aggression shows the hostility and arrogance of this regime. These attacks are a reflection of the inhumanity of the aggressor.”
Al-Houthi says the “aggressors” should keep in mind that Yemen's people are “committed to defending their country and revolution”, by relying on God.
Thursday, Saudi warplanes hit a north- ern city, Sa’ada and Ta’izz, in the south.
Airstrikes also targeted arms depots in Malaheez region in Sa’ada, near the border with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi 'planes started bombing Ansarullah fighters, Sana’a International Airport and the Dulaimi airbase, earlier on Thursday.
China ‘deeply worried’ over Saudi attacks on Yemen
China’s foreign ministry expresses its profound concerns about the ongoing chaotic conditions in Yemen, after the Saudi airstrikes on the capital Sana’a.
“The Chinese side has noticed, and is deeply worried about the situation in Yemen that is getting worse,” China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, says at a media briefing.
Expressing hope that the crisis can be settled “through political dialogue”, Hua says, “We hope that all parties will act in accordance with relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council... and restore national stability and order at an early date.”
Hua also advises Chinese citizens to cancel planned visits to Yemen, until further notice.
Fugitive Yemeni president in Riyadh
Yemen's fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, as Saudi airstrikes hit his homeland on Thursday.
Hadi arrived at Riyadh Airbase on Thursday, welcomed by Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and General Intelligence Chief Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan, Saudi Press Agency reports.
No further details were made available about the nature of the visit.
All Central American nations ready to develop cooperation with Russia — minister
All the Central American countries are prepared to strengthen cooperation with Russia in a broad spectrum of spheres, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales, says on Thursday, after long negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.
"We’re going to strengthen our cooperation and I’m speaking, not only on behalf of Guatemala, but on behalf of all Central American nations," Morales says.
He confirms reports that Russia is to file an application for non-regional observer status in the Central American Integration System (SICA) at the association’s conference now underway in Guatemala.
"That’s a crucial meeting for us, that will help build our cooperative relations in all spheres," Morales says.
SICA embraces Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador.
Houthis Pledge Response to Airstrikes:
The revolutionaries say the 'evil' Saudi Regime is targeting all of Yemen and that the resumed Saudi-US airstrikes, on Thursday, took many more civilian lives. Thousands rally in Sanaa, against the Saudi-led aggression on Thurs.
Iran warns that Saudi Arabia will get its fingers burnt in Yemen, after its interference in Bahrain and support for extremism, across the world.
The US lost Yemen, and had to abandon a drone attack base, as well as its uncounted arms, when Iran backed Ansarullah took over the country...
Air Strikes against Yemeni Capital
A spokesperson of Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansur Hadi, says the president is in Aden and in good spirits for the beginning of 'Decisive Storm Operation', commanded by the Saudis.
The operation restores people's determination to fight against the Houthis, says Mohamed Marem, director of Mansur Hadi's office.
For their part, the Houthis have mobilized and armed thousands of men, to face any ground offensive, diplomatic sources in this capital tell Prensa Latina.
According to them, troops controlling Bab El Manded, have reiterated their obedience to Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis' orders.
Official versions reveal that Saudi Arabia has mobilized 150,000 soldiers & 100 fighter jets for the operation, but the number of Egyptian, Sudanese, Jordanian, and Pakistani troops, (if any) --- as well as other GCC members --- taking part in the operation, is "unconfirmed".
HEZBOLLAH:AGGRESSION ON YEMEN --- 'UNWISE' AND 'ILLEGITIMATE'
The Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, slams as “unwise” and “illegitimate” the Saudi invasion of Yemen.
“Hezbollah strongly condemns the US-Saudi aggression, targeting the brotherly people of Yemen, the national army, and its vital installations,” a statement by Hezbollah’s media office says, on Thursday.
Hezbollah warns of repercussions to the Saudi invasion, “which lacks wisdom & rationale and legal legitimacy, [and] is moving the region towards more tensions and risks.”
The Saudi invasion of Yemen is condemned by many countries - such as Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Saudi Arabia to immediately stop its military aggression against Yemen.
Speaking about the situation in Yemen on Thursday, he said "We believe the situation in Yemen is a very dangerous situation and we advise against any escalation - because we believe that any interference in Yemen, will simply lead to a further loss of human life -- as it has, since this morning."
Stressing the need to promote dialogue in the Arab country, he says “We believe that there is an urgent need for dialogue, for understanding among the Yemenis with- out external interference -- and that is what we hope we get."
Russia's Foreign Ministry, says Thursday:
“Such a scenario can't lead to the conflict’s settlement -- by definition,” says Alexander Lukashevich, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, as cited by Interfax.
The Russian official warns the US and other countries backing the Saudi operation of its serious consequences for regional security.
“This is a very serious threat to regional security -- while the conflict in Syria hasn’t been settled -- and conflict areas exist actually, throughout the entire region of the Middle East and North Africa,” Lukashevich says, at a news briefing in Moscow.
“These armed methods of resolving internal Yemeni problems are categorically unacceptable,” he adds.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, also raises concerns about the situation in Yemen, saying that the airstrikes risk causing “serious regional consequences.”
“The latest events in Yemen have dramatically worsened the already fragile situation in the country --- and risk having serious regional consequences,” Mogherini's statement says.
Along the same lines, Syria and Iraq condemn the Saudi raid, with Syria's Foreign Ministry calling for respect for Yemen’s sovereignty.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a International Airport.
The world body took most of Thursday to show any reaction at all to this violation of the sovereignty of one of its members by Riyadh.
Is Ban Ki Moon just being diplomatic?
UN 'does not yet plan' to take action over the military operation in Yemen
The UN Security Council does not yet plan to take any action in connection with the military operation in Yemen launched by Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Persian Gulf, a diplomat from a UN Security Council member country tells TASS on Thursday.
Earlier, Deputy Spokesperson for the UN's Secretary General, Farhan Haq, told TASS the UN 'is aware of' the military operation in Yemen.
"We are aware of what is happening. We are trying to learn more details," Haq said. He did not clarify whether UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was told about the plan in advance.
Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the US, Adel al- Jubeir announced the military operation. Al- Jubeir said Saudi Arabia acted to "defend the legitimate government" of President Abd Hadi, who was ousted from Sanaa by Houthi rebels.
Hadi asked the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing "willing countries wishing to help Yemen to provide immediate support for the legitimate authority by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression."
'Pro-Government' Forces Recapture Air- port in Yemen's Aden From Houthi Rebels
'Pro-government forces' have regained control over the airport in Aden, news Agency France-Presse says, Thursday.
Earlier, Yemeni President Hadi’s spokes- person, said 'the leader is in Aden and he supports the international military operation against the Houthi militia'.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, without UN authority, announced the launch of military operations against the Houthis in Yemen.
US "not participating" on Yemen - envoy
According to Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, the military action started at 7pm EST (11pm GMT) on Wednesday. "The US isn't participating in the operation at all", the envoy stresses.
Al Arabiya says 'planes of the Royal Saudi Air Force bombed the positions of Yemen’s Houthi militia, targeting their air defenses.
Residents say warplanes targetted the capital’s airport, reports Reuters.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, issued a joint statement on Wednesday - saying that they had “decided to repel Houthi militias, Al-Qaeda & ISIS, in the country.”
Egypt is giving political & military support to the operation, Egypt’s state media says. Cairo is prepared to take part in air, naval and ground operations, if necessary, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has announced.
While the Saudi envoy insists Washington only “consulted” Riyadh, a US official tells Reuters - on condition of anonymity - that the US has been supporting the military operation... in an 'unspecified way'.
Assad: European States Make Grave Mistake Allying with Terrorism Supporters
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismisses as 'distorted', the image which some politicians and media outlets show, about the situation on the ground in Syria.
This image totally differs with reality, the President stresses, at a meeting with the visiting Belgian parliamentary and party delegation, chaired by Filip Dewinter, a member of the Flemish Parliament.
These politicians and media outlets, are “twisting” public opinion in their countries to favor “short-sighted visions and narrow interests, that do not serve their people.”
He calls upon delegations who visit Syria to meet with its people and contribute to correcting the views of public opinion in their countries, about the war against terrorism in which Syria and its people are engaged.
It's a “grave mistake” that some European states are allying with those countries that support terrorism, President al-Assad says, stressing that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and is, rather, being defamed by it.
He affirms that the terrorist organizations & their advocates do not represent Islam, which rejects all forms of violence and upholds tolerance and fraternity.
The visiting Belgian figures say they view Syria as the 'front line' against extremism and terrorism, as it's the only one battling with the terrorists on the ground.
If this line collapses, terrorism will extend widely... to European states, they warn.
This is why we must support Syria in its war, a conviction many Western parties and officials have already reached, the Belgian figures say.
They point out that they have witnessed at first-hand, life in Syria and recognise the Syrian people's will to persevere... despite suffering terrorist groups’ acts daily, and years of economic sanctions -- still being imposed on them by the USA ...and its 'allies'.
This will of Syria's people to live, endure and persevere until victory, the Belgian delegation members state, is the most essential factor in routing terrorism and re-establishing stability in Syria.
Cuba Calls on the UN to Support the Reconstruction of Haiti
Cuba believes that the reconstruction and development of Haiti is a debt to the people who, after centuries of colonialism, starred in the very first social revolution in the Americas, it says, in a note.
It is vital to address the needs & priorities of the Haitian people and government, says the delegate, Claudia Pérez, referring to the note released by the Permanent Mission of Havana, in Geneva.
"We reiterate our call to developed countries to honour their commitments and provide the support and assistance which that Caribbean nation urgently needs. We invite creditors, to write off the debt", she says.
According to Perez, "we all have a moral obligation to provide additional financial resources & greater cooperation to Haiti ...especially for its development".
Cuba reaffirms its commitment to the people of that country - and therefore maintains its collaboration to improve the enjoyment of important economic, social and cultural rights, she says.
Among other issues, says the official, there is cooperation with Haiti in the fields of education & health, and Cuba participates in development programs, in conjunction with other nations, with full respect for the sovereignty & self- determination of that sister country.
This way you can really empower people and increasingly improve their enjoyment of human rights, she adds.
The 18th session culminated on March 27th at the Palais des Nations, UN headquarters, in Geneva.
Israel suspends plan to build new settler homes in E. Jerusalem
Israel’s outgoing government has suspended a controversial plan to build hundreds of new settler homes in east Jerusalem, AFP reports.
The plan involved constructing 1,500 homes in the settlement neighborhood of Har Homa. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a controversial speech there on the eve of the March 17 elections, pledging to build 1,000s of new homes if reelected.
The website Ynet says on Wednesday that the plans have been frozen by Netanyahu’s office due to their “political sensitivity.”
Ukraine opposition prepares package of bills to implement Minsk deals
The package includes laws on restoring the banking system, an amnesty for participants in the conflict, social benefit payments in Donbas and other provisions of the Minsk deals
As Kiev is calling for continuing the war in the country’s east, the Opposition Bloc in the Rada says on Wednesday it has registered a package of bills needed for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
"The bills that have been registered give our country a chance for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine," chair of the Opposition Bloc, Yury Boyko, says at a meeting with representatives of public organizations in Kharkov region, in the country’s north-east.
"We believe that the authorities should prepare the needed bills, but, as they have adopted a pro-war stance, we have taken this initiative ourselves.
"The laws we registered in elaboration of the Minsk agreements should be adopted by the parliament," he stresses.
The 'peace package' consists of laws on "restoring the banking system, amnesty for the participants of the conflict, social benefit payments in Donbas and other provisions stipulated in the Minsk agreements," he says.
"First of all, the adoption of such laws is essential for the country. We need to stop people's deaths, reach sustainable peace and start restoring the smashed Donbas infrastructure. This can be done through the Minsk agreement's implementation," the politician says.
Boyko blames the current parliamentary coalition for the fact that "implementation of the agreement reached in Minsk has been blocked." then adds...
"And if the "coalition of war" is not even able to comply with a UN resolution then the parliament needs to be dissolved," he says.
"Most likely, the coalition will break up and this autumn, parliamentary elections will also take place. This is contributed to, by the constant power struggle -- and the rivalry between the prime minister and president," Boyko says.
Persian Gulf Nations More and More Involved in Yemen Crisis
According to regional media, the six-Arab nations bloc is exerting strong pressure, so that the Houthi's Ansarallah movement complies with the so-called Gulf Initiative and its mechanism of implementation, in order to reinstate the authority of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, after Houthi troops'advances in the South.
Saudi Arabia is now building a military base near the Yemeni border. Media reports say the base is being constructed 'in the south'.
Saudi Defense Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, has been ordered to erect the facility immediately, along with a number of training buildings nearby.
Some Yemeni military officers don’t like the idea of foreign intervention:
“We express our total and utter rejection of any external interference in Yemeni affairs, under any pretext and in any form and from any side,” says the statement, by a group of officers calling themselves the 'Higher Committee to Preserve the Armed Forces and Security', Reuters reports.
“All members of the armed forces and security and all the sons of the proud people of Yemen - with all its components - will confront with all their strength and heroism any attempt to harm the pure soil of the homeland, its independence or its sovereignty, or to threaten its unity and territorial integrity,” the military group states, on a website.
In late February, Yemen's Shiite rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi accused Saudi Arabia of trying to divide Yemen along sectarian lines.
“Our elder sister, the Saudi kingdom, doesn't respect the Yemenis and wants to impose here in Yemen, the sequence of events and divisions that happened in Libya,” al-Houthi said, as cited by AP.
A brief war between Houthis and Riyadh resulted in the deaths of about 200 Saudis four years ago.
Sunni Saudi Arabia believes that the Shiite Houthi rebels are backed by Iran, and sees that its richest oil deposits are in the East, bordering Yemen, also inhabited by Shiites.
As Iraq is also in the hands of Shiites Sunni Riyadh could find itself caught in a proxy war with Tehran, near its main oil fields, right on its borders, which threatens its current regime.
DPR militia leader: US REALLY IS already supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine
The militia leader states that US ammunition was spotted in Debaltsevo, and NATO planes land at Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia & Kharkiv airports, every day.
"The US is already supplying weapons there. For instance, in Debaltsevo, we saw US ammunition. That’s a lethal weapon," he tells a news briefing, and adds... "NATO planes land at Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia and Kharkiv airports, every day."
Zakharchenko says Ukraine is also returning heavy weapons to the line of disengagement.
"Ukraine has not pulled back weapons. It is bringing them back. The pullout was a fake," he says.
The militias are expecting more provocations from Ukraine’s volunteer battalions, "which have already said that they are not obeying orders from Kiev," he says.
If cicumstances get worse, Zakharchenko says, the Ukrainian forces may attack from the south, the north-west and in the area of Debaltsevo, to try to cut the Donetsk Republic away from the Luhansk Republic.
"The way I see the situation, I believe there will be 3 attacks," Zakharchenko says. "The main group of Ukrainian forces is concentrated in the Volnovakha, Krasnogolovka, Artyomovsk, Kurakhovo and other communities' areas..."
‘Normandy 4’ meeting on Ukraine due in Paris on Wednesday – Kiev
Authorities in Kiev confirm that a meeting of political directors in the Normandy format, was to be held in Paris on Wednesday.
Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France were to discuss implementation of the Minsk peace agreements. Ukraine was to be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister, Vadim Pristaiko, RIA Novosti reported.
Canada expands anti-ISIS mission into Syria
Canada's Zionist PM, Stephen Harper, is risking military strikes on IS militants in Syria next, Bloomberg says.
Harper is reportedly seeking approval from law-makers for a 1 year extension of the Iraq mission -- plus authorization to expand his attacks into Syria. The mission has focused so far, on strikes in Iraq.
Harper’s Conservatives have a majority.
Media: armed volunteer battalions heading for Kiev
Armed volunteer battalions are pulling into Kiev, Vesti newspaper reports Wed.
"Yesterday, soldiers of a number of battalions were pulled out from the front and are now heading for Kiev with arms. There is no information about the purpose of this move," Vesti says, adding that it might be linked "with the situation around [the Dnipropetrovsk Region governor] Kolomoisky."
Ukraine’s President Poroshenko said earlier that no Ukraine governor will be allowed to have private armies, any longer.
Ukrainian Security Service Chief Valentin Nalivaichenko said earlier that some high- placed officials in Dnipropetrovsk regional administration maintain armed formations that are really groups of bandits.
The topic of armed groups in Ukraine arose after armed men from a security company -- presumably related to Kolomoisky -- put Ukrnafta, the state-owned oil and gas extracting company's building, "under their guard."
On March 19, Ukrtransnafta’s (a company also owned by Igor Kolomoisky) supervisory board dismissed Alexander Lazorko as head of the board and appointed Yuri Miroshnik as acting board chair.
Later reports say the company building was seized by "gunmen led by Kolomoisky." But, Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, stated that Kiev’s law enforcement agencies had taken Uktransnafta’s premises under control.
According to the media, in April-May 2014, Ukrtransnafta took 675,000 tons of process oil from Ukraine’s trunk pipelines -- without permission -- from the Ministry of Energy and Coal Mining.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk demanded then that the law enforcement agencies start proceedings to prosecute those responsible for illegally siphoning the oil.
Dozens of Israeli Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Compound
132 Jewish settlers under the protection of Zionist police, forced their way into Al-Aqsa complex through Al-Magharbeh and Hotta gates on Monday, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, General Director of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, says today.
"A group of 10 settlers mounted the roof of the Dome of the Rock Mosque and tried to perform Talmudic rituals --- but Palestinian guards managed to prevent them," he adds.
Others toured the holy compound, bypassing Al-Qibali and Al-Marwani mosques, then left the complex through Al-Silsileh gate, he adds.
Outside the compound, he says, a group of Jewish settlers attacked 3 Muslim women - and tried to pour hot tea on them.
The occupation authorities also detained 3 Palestinians – 2 men and a woman – when the latter tried to enter the compound.
In recent months, Jewish settler groups – often accompanied by Zionist security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
US & KIEV COUP LEADERS TRY TO RUIN MINSK PEACE
Deputy director of the RAS Institute of US & Canada Studies, Pavel Zolotaryov, sees not the slightest chance of Washington suddenly developing a liking for the Minsk Accords.
"Firstly, this is so, because the United States is not party to the Minsk process. Secondly, Washington dislikes the Minsk Accords, as they're hardly realistic for the people the US has propelled to power in Kiev. Poroshenko and his team are reluctant to comply with the Minsk Accords, and in this, they rely on support from the White House."
"Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has a very diplomatic way of formulating the issue. Kiev’s and Washington’s interpretation of the Minsk Accords show a striking similarity and it remains to be seen who is in the lead. Now it has become very clear that it's Washington who sets the tune," Zolotaryov says.
President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, has no doubt that the US will not confine itself to sending military instructors to Ukraine:
"Washington will be stepping up its military presence in Ukraine --- and building up its military and technical assistance to Kiev --- precisely in the way it has been doing in its relationship with Georgia.
"Washington’s aim is to preserve Ukraine as an apple of discord between Russia and the West, and as Russia’s greatest vulnerability. Therefore, as soon as the military-technical balance changes in Kiev’s favour, a restart of hostilities between the Ukrainian army and the Donetsk and Lugansk militias may follow. This is most likely in April or May," Remizov tells TASS.
President of Russia's Centre for Geopolitical Problems, Col-Gen Leonid Ivashov, recalls that the 'US National Security Strategy' Congress approved in February contains over a dozen references to Russia, as an aggressor, who poses a threat to the US.
"Also, throughout the post-Soviet period NATO never carried out such outspokenly anti-Russian exercises as intensively as today," Ivashov says.
"All these are sure signs that Washington is determined to use the crisis in Ukraine, to try to drag Russia into a war."
Palestinians Protest Planned Jerusalem Evictions
Dozens of Palestinians and foreign supporters protested in east Jerusalem's walled Old City on Sunday against the threatened eviction of a Palestinian family in favor of Jewish settlers.
"No to the eviction of the Sub Laban family," the banners carried by demonstrators read, referring to the 8 occupants of the house near the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque.
Rafat Sub Laban, who lives there with his parents, his sister and his brother's wife and children, says the family have rented their home since 1953, when the Old City was ruled by Jordan.
Occupation authorities issued an eviction order in September which is currently on appeal, but Zionist settlers --- backed by police --- tried to gain possession last week, he says.
"20 police officers with settlers wanted to evict us," he says, in a statement.
Israel, known as The Zionist entity, by those who oppose it, seized Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War & later annexed it - in a move which has never been recognized as legal, by the international community.
Probe to unveil Israeli bombardment of UN buildings in Gaza
A senior United Nations official announces that the result of the investigation into the Israeli bombing of the UN headquarters in the Gaza Strip, will be declared 'very soon'.
Commissioner General of UNRAW, Pierre Krahenbuhl makes the announcement at an inauguration ceremony of the rebuild- ing of an UNRWA school in Khuza village -- east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.
"The results of the UN enquiry, formed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to probe the bombardment of the UN buildings in the Gaza Strip during the last Israeli war on Gaza will be declared very soon," says Krahenbuhl.
The senior UN official won't give a specific date, but does say that "attacking schools and other civilian places which were not involved in any military action is not accepted at all."
"It is immoral and can never be accepted by the international law," he says, adding that "83 educational structures and 10 medical clinics belonging to UNRWA were either directly or indirectly damaged."
Ban Ki-moon announced the UN inquiry committee formation in early November.
During a 50-day offensive, the Israeli army directly bombed 3 UNRWA schools which were sheltering displaced families who'd left their homes to escape the Israeli army's 'ground operation'.
The senior UN official calls on donors now to fulfill their pledges towards reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, stressing "if this isn't done, it will bring rising rage and despair in Gaza."
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip "are still homeless," says Ban Ki-moon, adding: "it is impossible to halt humanitarian aid or delay it -- especially when we see this tragic reality in Gaza."
Architect of Singapore’s economic miracle Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91
Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has died at the age of 91, the Singapore prime minister’s office said Sunday.
Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990. He led the nation when it gained independence in 1965.
Under his premiership, Singapore strode from a third world country, into a global financial centre - among the world’s top three, in terms of its living standards.
Houthis Take Airport in Yemeni Central Province
The Houthi revolutionary movement Ansar Allah has retaken Taiz central province's airport from supporters of President Hadim, who is now a refugee in the southern city of Aden.
The control of Taiz provides the Houthi tribe access to a road linking the capital city with Aden, therefore it is likely that in the coming hours, there will be attempts to recover it.
The US military airbase, in southern Yemen, from which the US miliary has fled, operated drones there, to spy on and assassinate the Arabian Peninsula's people.
Yemen is divided into two governments, one the Revolutionary Committee established by the Houthis... and the other led by President Mansur Hadi, headquartered in Aden, which is trying to become an "alternative" capital.
Mansur, who resigned in January then re- canted in February, is supported by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The Houthis are supported by Iran, which opened a direct flight weeks ago between the capital cities, Tehran and Sanaa.
Argentina: Frente para la Victoria Leads Electoral Opinion Poll
The ruling party Frente para la Victoria (FPV) of President Cristina Fernandez, leads today in electoral opinion polls across the country, 14 points ahead of its closest rival, the right- wing party Propuesta Republicana (PRO).
A poll carried out by pollster Poliarquia, and published by the newspaper Tiempo Argentino, indicates that FPV was given 36% support by those surveyed, while Buenos Aires governor Mauricio Macri's PRO was given 22% and the Frente Renovador (FR) 19%.
Argentinians will elect a new president on October 25th, and, according to the opinion poll, the ruling party would win -- with Daniel Scioli as its presidential candidate -- with 31%, Macri with 25% and parliamentarian Sergio Massa, FR leader, with 21%.
In a possible ballot, Scioli, governor of Buenos Aires province, would be given 51% of the vote and Macri 40%, said the opinion poll carried out during the first two weeks of March, in 24 sites with over 10,000 inhabitants.
Ecuador president blasts Washington's interference
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa slams the US for destabilising the Latin American state, saying spy agencies, including the CIA, have been orchestrating the protests in his country.
"There's a CIA presence in Ecuador's opposition which has the goal of weakening the govern- ment," he tells TeleSUR television network.
The CIA aims to drag Ecuador into chaos by influencing the opposition ahead of the up- coming elections, Correa adds.
The US spying agency and Ecuador's right- wing opposition were likely involved inthe recent nation-wide protests in the country, Correa notes.
Ecuadorians staged protest rallies Thursday in a dozen cities, including the capital, Quito.
The protesters called for political change as well as reforms in labour and land policies.
Correa and his administration enjoy public support for raising living standards for the lower classes.
The country’s GDP per capita rose from $3,572 in 2007 to $6,002 in 2013. He has also reduced poverty and unemployment in Ecuador since he assumed power in 2007.
Released WikiLeaks' cables, however, reveal Washington’s efforts to interfere in Ecuador’s internal affairs & its spying agencies' covert operations to bring Correa down.
In 1963, the US orchestrated a coup d’état by the military junta in Ecuador to topple the left government of Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy after he voiced opposition to US control.
Moscow slams Kiev for reported weaponry deployment in E. Ukraine
"The claims of Ukraine's authorities that all its heavy weapons have been withdrawn are once again proven to be bluff," the Russian Foreign Ministry says in an online statement -- after a Reuters video is released, showing heavy weapons being used by the Ukrainian army at the contact line in Ukraine's S. East.
"The ministry has to emphasize that we are speaking of another serious violation of the Minsk agreements, which stipulates a with- drawal of heavy weapons from the contact line," the statement adds.
Judging by the footage, the ministry says, the Azov battalion is using 122 mill' calibre howitzers D-30 --- with a range of 22 klmtrs.
The ministry also claims that the footage was shot near Shyrokyne Village, Donetsk region.. "a place that must be monitored most closely, by the OSCE special mission."
Russia urges the Ukrainian side "not to mislead international public opinion and faithfully fulfill its obligations under the Minsk accords."
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged France & Germany to persuade Ukraine's current rulers to observe the Minsk agreements.
Late amendments made by Kiev's government on "special status" laws and the peacekeeping mission, have sparked yet another round of the "war of words", and produced a conflict "surge" in eastern Ukraine.
Ansarullah Announces Public Mobilization, Calls on Army to Face Takfiri Crimes
As the US evacuates its main army base in Yemen, the revolutionary movement, Ansarullah, calls a public mobilization - calling on the Army and security forces to confront takfiri terrorism.
Ansarullah stresses, in a statement, the vital importance of political support for these new security measures, to face terrorist crimes.
All Yemenis have to close ranks & cooperate with the military & security forces, to protect themselves from this takfiri threat, says the statement.
UN Security Council to meet on Yemen
The UN Security Council says the 15-nation UN body will meet in an emergency session on Sunday afternoon to discuss the current situation in Yemen, which suffered several terrorist attacks over the past few days.
Erdogan calls for strict compliance with Minsk agreements
Strict compliance with the measures agreed in Minsk will allow for resolution of Ukraine's crisis, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says, at a joint news conference with Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko.
"The settlement of the Ukrainian crisis can be achieved through diplomatic means only," he says.
"We’re calling for strict compliance with a package of measures adopted in Minsk.
"We want the Minsk agreements to be implemented, as well as the package of measures envisaged by them."
He describes these agreements as "a window of opportunity that should be opened as wide as possible."
The Turkish leader stresses that he supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and appeals to Kiev to "further protect the rights of all religious and ethnic groups, primarily the Crimean Tatars."
Iraq war architects admit US' invasion illegal
US Attorney General, Supreme Court judge, and chief US prosecutor for the Nuremberg warcrime trials, Robert H. Jackson, insists the US committed an "act of aggression" when it invaded Iraq in 2003.
According to Jackson, "it is the supreme international crime, differing only from all other war crimes, in that it contains within itself, the accumulated evil of the whole."
That the US-led invasion was unjust, is not news to the American public.
Washington officials have formally said that the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, was a 'mistake'.
Republican hawk and defense expert, Richard Perle, admitted in 2003, that the invasion of Iraq was illegal.
"International law, would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone and this would have been morally unaccept- able," he said then.
So top US officials knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction & top Bush adviser, Philip Zelikow, says that the war was launched to protect Israel.
Several other officials don't deny that the war in Iraq was a war for oil. If so, moral motives had nothing to do with what happened to Iraq.
As US bloggers believe, the White House is left to admit that the US has committed an international war crime in Libya, also, Pravda.Ru reports.
‘UK, US defense interests put above Mauritius' rights in Chagos Islands – UN
The UK acted illegally when it imposed territorial controls on the Chagos Islands without the consent of Mauritius, a UN judgment claims.
The ruling may hinder US operations in Diego Garcia, where it holds an air- base on lease from the UK government.
The UN ruling also accuses the UK of ignoring the rights of Mauritius – which claims the islands as its own.
Declaring the remote Indian Ocean archipelago a marine protected area (MPA) damaged the fishing industry in surrounding waters, Mauritius claims.
The UK's Labour government then, is accused of forcing through the MPA measure, to strengthen its hand in the impending election.
“The UK has not been able to give any convincing explanation for the urgency with which it proclaimed the MPA on the 1st of April, 2010,” the ruling states.
The decision's speed was “dictated by the electoral timetable in the UK or an anticipated change in government,” it was found.
“Not only did the UK proceed on the flawed basis that Mauritius had no fishing rights in the territorial sea of Chagos archipelago, it presumed to conclude – without ever confirming with Mauritius – that the MPA was in Mauritius’ interest.”
The issue was addressed by a panel of 5 judges serving on a permanent court of arbitration, at The Hague.
While three judges ruled the tribunal lacked the authority to adjudicate... two ruled that, before the UK general election in 2010, and at the point of the territory's creation in 1965... “US & UK defense interests were put above Mauritius’s rights.”
Mauritius' government maintains its sovereignty claim, arguing the islands were effectively stolen by the UK -- in contravention of a UN resolution that parts of decolonizing nations couldn't simply be detached by a departing colonial power.
The Mauritian claim is strengthened by the UN's ruling, which finds that:
“The UK’s undertaking to return the Chagos archipelago to Mauritius, gives Mauritius an interest in all significant decisions that bear upon the possible future uses of the archipelago.
“Mauritius’ interest is not simply in the eventual return of Chagos archipelago, but also in the condition in which the archipelago will be returned.”
The move will be welcomed by displaced former residents of the Chagos Islands, who were forced from their homes by the UK in the 1960s, to make way for the current US base.
Diego Garcia has repeatedly made head- lines as US extraordinary rendition flights were/are allegedly routed via the airbase.
Alexandr Zaharchenko: Minsk agreements have been cancelled
Alexandr Zaharchenko, the DPR's head announces that the Minsk agreements are now supposedly cancelled.
Still, he says, there's a small hope that Kiev's officials will return to the Minsk agreement, as full responsibility now rests on Europe.
Presumably, by Europe, he refers to the Minsk agreement guarantors, France and Germany.
Lavrov: Washington pushing Kiev to military solution of Donbass conflict
The US is inciting Kiev to end the crisis in eastern Ukraine by force, says Russia's foreign minister, citing US support for the recently passed Ukrainian law on special self-governing status for Donbass, which Moscow says undermines the Minsk-2 deal.
“If Washington welcomes the action, which undermines the Minsk agreements, then we can only conclude that Washington is inciting Kiev to resolve the issue by military means,” says Lavrov at a media conference Thursday.
His comments refer to a 'phone conversation between US Vice-President, Joe Biden, and Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, on Wednesday, during which Biden welcomed the decision by the Ukrainian parliament to give special status to Donbass.
Self-rule for Donbass is a key condition of the Minsk agreements, but the law passed by the Rada postpones the introduction of any new status until the regions hold new elections... under Ukrainian laws.
Until then, the Ukrainian MPs said that the two republics will be recognized as ‘temporary occupied territories’ & voted that this status should remain, until the Ukrainian military fully restores control.
The leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics say these decisions were not agreed with them.
“The Ukrainian leadership, basically, have terminated their commitments to engage in direct dialogue and negotiate with south-eastern Ukraine, including on the issue of elections and implementing the law on special status.”
Lavrov urges the mediators of the Minsk-2 deal, France and Germany – who invested their authority in the document -- to react to Kiev’s actions.
Russia's foreign minister also calls for another round of negotiations in the Normandy Four format (Kiev, Moscow, Berlin, Paris) on the settlement of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. He says it is necessary to prevent a "further deterioration of the situation.”
"I believe it’s high time for the Normandy Four talks," Lavrov says. "I've turned to my colleagues - the foreign ministers of Germany and France - with a proposal to take urgent steps to prevent the situation from taking a nosedive."
The Minsk document requires Ukraine to adopt legislation that would provide permanent privileges to Lugansk and Donetsk Regions.
These include the right to use Russian as an official language, trans-border ties with Russia, and the authority of local governments to appoint local prosecutors and judges.
Among other points, the deal includes direct talks between Kiev and the rebel republics' representatives, reports RT.
Russia Calls UN Security Council Meeting Over Minsk Violations
Russia has initiated an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council, to discuss shortcomings in implementing the Minsk agreements on reconciliation in Ukraine, Russia's Permanent Mission to the UN says yesterday (Thursday).
"The UN Security Council is holding a closed doors meeting, initiated by Russia, to discuss violations of commitments to implement the Package of Measures agreed in Minsk, on February 12th," the mission's spokesperson, Alexei Zaitsev, says.
The agreements brokered by the leaders of Russia, Germany, France & Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, in February, stipulate a ceasefire, effective since February 15th, in Ukraine's eastern regions, a heavy weaponry pullout from the line of contact, an all-for-all swap of prisoners & the withdrawal of all foreign troops and mercenaries from Ukraine.
However, the US, UK and Poland have already announced that they are to send instructors to Ukraine, to train military personnel, as well as giving "other forms of support" for Kiev's Armed Forces.
UK troops have begun a training mission in Ukraine, helping government forces fighting pro-Russian separatists, the UK's Ministry of Defense in London, says late onThursday.
The BBC reports 35 personnel are in the southern city of Mykolaiv as part of a 2- month mission, although the ministry spokesperson declined to give details.
"The first elements of the training package began in March... We have got troops out there training," she tells AFP, adding that: "the numbers will vary, depending on the schedule."
Ministers announced last month that up to 75 troops at a time would be deployed to Ukraine, providing training on tactical intelligence, logistics and medical care.
However, the UK government has ruled out supplying any lethal equipment to Ukraine's forces.
"The UK is committed to supporting Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, in the face of Russia's aggression," the spokes- person says.
"The gifting of non-lethal equipment is designed to prevent further Ukrainian fatalities and casualties, and to help improve situational awareness on the ground.
"Our overall aim is to strengthen the defensive capability of the Ukrainian armed forces... & build the resilience that they need."
The Kremlin has reacted by saying sending instructors is "unhelpful" in easing the tensions in Ukraine.
Over half of Ukrainians do not approve of Kiev policies — poll
Neither political parties nor Ukrainian media trusted, suggests opinion poll
Most Ukrainians do not approve of the policies of President Petro Poroshenko and PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk and do not believe Ukraine's media, Research & Branding Group says on Thursday.
According to the poll, held on March 6-16th, 58% of all Ukrainians do not approve of the president’s actions. One third of respondents (33%) positively assess Poroshenko’s activity.
68% of Ukrainians don't support Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, while 24% approve of his actions.
Neither political parties nor the Ukrainian media are trusted in the country. Only 8% say they trust political parties, while 81% are skeptical of them. 58% say they do not trust the Ukrainian media.
The poll took place in all regions of Ukraine, except Donetsk and Luhansk. 1,500 people all over 18, participated in the poll.
"Russian serviceman" arrested on Russia-Ukraine border: media
The serviceman joined Russia's army --- after Crimea reunited with Russia.
Kiev's border guards arrest a Russian serviceman who allegedly wanted to cross the Russia-Ukraine border from Crimean territory, the Ukraine media reports on Thursday.
According to the reports, the sergeant was going to visit his family in Ukraine's Nikolayev region, but was arrested on the border, on charges of "breaking his oath of allegiance to Ukraine".
The serviceman joined Russia's army after Crimea had reunited with Russia. Now the sergeant could face 2 to 5 years in prison, for "desertion".
The Ukrainian media claim the man was caught "in Dzhankoi while crossing the border." But Dzhankoi is 35 kilometers away from the Russia-Ukraine border.
There's been no official confirmation of the Russian serviceman’s arrest. The Ukrainian media, however, is churning out reports on "the traitor who has received retribution.".
Ukraine Govt. Enacts Controversial Act on Status of Donbass
An act on special status for Donbass has come into force after been enacted by President Petro Poroshenko, with support from the Supreme Rada (Parliament), but it's rejected by the rebel regions.
Poroshenko signed the amendments to article 10 on special self-management in 'some' areas of Donetsk & Lugansk, local media report.
The amendments to the act establish that they come into force when relevant bodies take office - after local elections are held - on a date that has not yet been set.
After 6 hours of debate, the draft bill submitted by President Poroshenko was approved Tuesday at the Rada, with 296 of the required 226 votes.
The elected leaders of Donetsk & Lugansk, Alexander Zajarchenko & Igor Plotnistsky, issued a joint communiqué on Tuesday, to demand derogation of the controversial act on special status of those territories -- and also demanded a reaction to Kiev's many breaches of the Minsk agreement, from Germany & France, as foreign guarantors.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describes these recent provisions on Donbass, as a clear violation of the political parts of the Minsk agreement signed on February 12th.
PM Arseni Yatseniuk says Ukraine will control the rebel regions "by all means".
ALBA Caracas Declaration: Peace Against US Aggression
The Final Declaration of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) signed in Caracas at the end of the summit held here, confirms their commitment to peace in the face of new United States aggressions.
The text rejects the executive decree by president Barack Obama on March 9th, declaring an emergency, and Venezuela as a 'threat to US national security'.
They call for peaceful solutions to conflicts, following the principle of "non-intervention".
The document calls on the world's states to act within the United Nations Charter, and abstain from using coercive unilateral acts.
For Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, ALBA thus consolidates world support for his proposal of dialog made to Washington, and respect for dignity and sovereignty.
The Executive recalls that UNASUR, Petrocaribe, CELAC and the Movement of Non Aligned nations are united: and the non-aligned nations' presidency, pro-tempore, is held by Venezuela.
ALBA and all above, also ask Obama to revoke the hostile decree and start dialog with Caracas as an alternative to conflict and confrontation.
ALBA offers the possibility of creating a facilitating group in the hemisphere and its institutions, to enable this peaceful diplomacy, alleviate the tensions, and guarantee a friendly solution between the United States and Venezuela.
ALBA reaffirms that Latin America and the Caribbean is a Peace Zone, where nations boost integration processes and friendship with the aim of guaranteeing the greatest possible happiness for their peoples.
It also emphasizes that, far from being a threat to anyone, Venezuela is a nation showing solidarity, and their will to co- operate with the entire región, to ensure social peace and stability in the Americas.
After calling for hostile policies to cease, it warns that they provide incentives to Venezuela's opposition to destabilize, and to use violence.
It denounces the international media war against Venezuela, that's trying to create conditions for an intervention on a bigger scale and is alien to the peaceful solution of differences.
Calling on ambassadors of the ALBA nations and social movements, to spread the truth about Venezuela, the bloc also hails Maduro for addressing his letter to the people of the United States.
The letter commits the South American nation to liberty, independence and multilateralism.
It classifies as false, unjust, unilateral & disproportionate, the executive decree dictated by Obama, adding it contradicts a long-standing friendship of Venezuela with the people of the United States.
The letter also reaffirms support for peace, national sovereignty and international law, in an open and democratic society, which lives according to its Constitution and the aspirations of its people.
Likud wins Israel elections
The Likud party of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu wins Israel’s elections, the Central Elections Committee says.
Likud has enough influence on the extreme right MPs elected, to form a new coalition.
Russian Black Sea Fleet marines put on full combat alert for drills
The servicemen are practising counteracting subversive groups and aviation of a simulated enemy, but are not "sabre-rattling", unlike NATO's provocative recent actions, says the Kremlin.
Marine corps units deployed near Temryuk, a town in south Russia’s Krasnodar Territory, are on full combat alert as part of strategic 'command and post' exercises, Russia's Defense Ministry reports.
Since the beginning of 2015, Russia's armed forces have held over thirty exercises & drills across the country.
The military training involves all services: the strategic, fighter, attack, bomber and transport aviation, warships and all fleets and flotillas of the Navy, both conventional and rocket-launching artillery, plus tank and motorised infantry troops.
Exercises are ongoing.
International Criminal Court Warns About Violence in Nigeria
International Criminal Court (ICC) Attorney, Fatou Bensouda, warns today about what she calls the 'aberrant violence' in Nigeria, and repeats that the court will pursue those guilty of causing it.
She insists that Nigerians hold elections without any violence, to prevent further instability, and sends a message saying elections do not need to lead to crimes.
The west African State is suffering a rise in violence in its northern region, where Boko Haram controls areas.
Netanyahu says no Palestinian state if he wins another term
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an Israeli news website Monday, that, if he is elected on Tuesday, "there will be no Palestinian state."
"I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory, gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel," Netanyahu told the NRG website.
Asked directly whether no Palestinian state would be created under his leadership, the prime minister answered "Indeed."
The statement contradicts his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, in which he gave support for a two-state solution to end conflict with the Palestinians.
In the famous speech, Netanyahu said if Israel receives guaranteed security and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish people's state, there is room for a future peace deal to end the conflict via a two-state solution.
Netanyahu adds that if the heads of the Zionist Union list Isaac Herzog (Labor) & Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) win the elections, they will freeze all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and take orders from the international community.
Netanyahu tells reporters on Monday that - if he is reelected - he will build thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem, adding that he and Likud will ensure Jerusalem "stays united."
Palestinians aim to establish a state in lands Israel occupied in the West Bank and Gaza and annexed in east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War.
Israel and the Palestinians negotiated between July 2013 and April 2014, in recent rounds of US-mediated talks, but the talks reached a dead end.
US Funds Finance al-Qaeda Terrorism
Central Intelligence Agency money financed the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, The New York Times says.
The newspaper specifies that nearly one million dollars of funds which the Afghan government received from the CIA in 2010 were used in the operation.
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai paid five million dollars ransom during the exchange for the release of Abdul Khaliq Farahi, former general consul in Peshawar, who was kidnapped two years before, in 2008.
The Times says part of the money was used for arms and operational needs... quoting a letter sent by a senior official of al-Qaeda, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, to Bin Laden.
The paper adds that, due to a lack of control and poor financial supervision Washington funded the organization it was fighting against.
While refusing to pay any ransom for US citizens kidnapped by al-Qaeda, Taliban or more recently, the Islamic State, the US has spent hundreds of billions over the last ten years, on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of which, was then "diverted" to enemy fighters, adds the newspaper.
The Times article also mentions the monthly funding of 1 million dollars, from CIA funds, which the Karzai government received.
German FM Blasts US Republican Senators
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticizes a recent letter by 47 US senators, who threatened to abort or change any nuclear deal between the US government & Iran, FNA reports.
“This is not just an issue of American domestic politics, but it affects the negotiations we are holding in Geneva,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier says, in reaction to the US senators’ letter.
The German foreign minister expresses the hope that the US senators’ letter does not harm the ongoing trend of the negotiations between Iran and the world powers.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, also the country's top negotiator in talks with the powers, strongly rejects the US senators' letter, saying the message is no more than propaganda & lacks legality.
Iran's Foreign Minister then adds:
“It's very interesting that, while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid, even of the prospect of agreement, that they resort to methods that are unconventional & unprecedented in diplomatic history.
“This indicates that, like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content”.
Zarif expresses astonishment that some members of the USA's Congress, find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration, saying that - from reading the open letter - it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are also not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution, when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.
“I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the US, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law.
“The authors may not fully understand that, in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states, and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations,” Foreign Minister Zarif adds.
The Iranian Foreign Minister reminds people that a “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program”.
“I wish to enlighten the authors, that if the next administration revokes an agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”
He stresses that if current negotiations with P5+1 end in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather, one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all the permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.
Zarif expresses the hope that his comments:
“may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of the USA's obligations”.
The Minister also informs the authors that a majority of the international agreements signed by the US in recent decades, are, in fact, “mere executive agreements”... and not treaties ratified by the Senate.
Poroshenko submits draft resolution on special status of districts in Donbas region (Says Minsk 'has failed')
The Ukrainian parliament’s next meeting is scheduled for March 17th, the website says.
President Petro Poroshenko has submitted a draft resolution on granting special status to separate districts, cities, settlements and villages in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions where a special order of self-government will be introduced, Ukraine's parliament reports on its website.
Under point 4 of the package of measures to implement the Minsk agreements, Ukraine’s Verkhovnaya Rada (parliament) is supposed to indicate the separate districts in Donbas that will have special political and economic status, by March the 14th.
On Sunday, President Poroshenko stated that "the Minsk agreement has failed..." claiming over 1100 violations.
The DPR and LPR say Kiev is fooling OSCE inspectors, by re-positioning heavy arms back near the disengagement line.
After the resolution wasn't passed on time, the heads of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, asked German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President Francois Hollande, who're the guarantors of the Minsk agreements, to exert pressure on the Ukrainian leadership to make it implement the Minsk agreements.
At the moment, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council is the only state body in Ukraine that has supported a decision to delineate the borders of separate districts where a special form of self-government is to be introduced, along the line of contact defined by the Minsk agreements.
Carpathian Ruthenians demand recognition of their separate nationality and autonomy
Ruthenians of the Trans Carpathian region in Ukraine demand recognition as a separate nationality & that they're granted autonomy through dialogue with Kiev, the Ruthenians’ leader, Pyotr Getsko, says.
"There has been an event --- a Congress decision," Getsko says. "The congress has set a task - to demand recognition of Ruthenians as a separate nationality and demand through dialogue, that the results of the referendum on autonomy, held in 1991, be implemented.
It has not been, but now the direction is towards dialogue and not confrontation."
A congress of Ruthenian organisations in Transcarpathia on Saturday approved a decision to demand from the Ukrainian authorities, recognition of the Ruthenian nationality, along with Subcarpathian Rus’ autonomy, via dialogue with Kiev.
"The most significant goal of the Coordination Council is to open and intensify the dialogue with Kiev governmental agencies in order to take a decision on possible recognition of the results of Transcarpathia's referendum held in 1991 when 80% of the population actually voted in favour of granting the region the status of autonomy," says the statement adopted at the congress.
The Ruthenians are East Slavic people, with a population of 1.5 to four million, with most living in Ukraine’s Trans Carpathian region.
The name is a Latinized form of the word 'Russian' and the term 'Little Russians' may also be applied to them.
Carpathian Ruthenia (Subcarpathian Rus) is registered as an object of international law in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919).
After World War II, in 1945, it was abolished and absorbed by Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.
In the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ruthenians have sought for Ukraine's government to grant them autonomy and recognise them as a separate nationality.
Iran Vows to Upgrade Yemen’s Infrastructure
A Yemeni official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran resulted in agreements on oil and energy, plus the upgrading of some vital facilities like ports and airports, says Saleh al-Sammad, counsellor of the Yemeni President and head of the political bureau of Ansarullah.
According to the senior Yemeni leader, the agreement, signed by Iran's Trade Minister, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, includes cooperation in the energy, electricity, transportation, water and sewage sectors.
He says Iranian officials expressed their readiness to provide Yemen with oil for one year & build a 165-megawatt power plant in the energy-starved country.
The agreement also envisages cooperation to expand and develop the Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah, he adds, referring to the port the group seized months ago.
Ansarullah group, also called Houthis, freed the capital Sanaa from al-Qaeda operatives last September, and has worked to restore security and stability in attack-hit areas.
The powerful group issued a Constitutional Declaration, to avoid the power vacuum in the state after the resignation of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and his P.M.
Ukraine Contact Group reaches agreement on passing to political stage of Ukraine settlement
OSCE mission in Ukraine reports fighting around Donetsk airport, east of Mariupol
The Contact Group for resolving the Ukraine crisis has managed to reach an agreement at an online conference on passing on to a political stage of the peace settlement, the Plenipotentiary Representative of Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, says.
"Judging by the results of the online conference, we can say there are certain shifts," he says.
"There is an understanding on how to move ahead, how to verify the ceasefire process and heavy weapons pullback. But reaching an agreement on the transition to a political stage of the peace settlement, is the most crucial issue here," he says.
He notes the effectiveness of Friday's talks. "At previous meetings, even an attempt to put forward political questions, was abortive," he says.
At the online conference agreement was reached that:"in coming days, the OSCE will submit its proposals on the personal and numerical composition of the Contact Group’s thematic subgroups for resolving the political settlement."
On Feb. 12th, marathon talks between the Normandy Four leaders - Presidents Putin, Hollande and Poroshenko, plus the German Chancellor Angela Merkel yielded a package of agreements in Minsk, which, in particular, set a ceasefire starting from midnight on February 15th.
Simultaneously, Minsk hosted a meeting of the Contact Group, whose members signed a 4-page package of measures on implementing the Minsk agreement.
The provisions stipulate the release and exchange of all prisoners and illegally held persons on an "all for all" principle, plus the withdrawal of all foreign armed groups and mercenaries from Ukraine, under the OSCE's supervision.
Ukraine’s constitutional reform is called for with the country’s new constitution to be in place by late 2015. The key element of Ukraine's new constitution being power decentralisation & the adoption of 'special status' for certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Thus Kiev agreed that within a 30-day period the Verkhovna Rada parliament would adopt a draft law on special political and economic status for certain parts of Donbas. The dead- line expired on March 14th.
US DRILLS EU
NATO members Bulgaria and the US are to hold a series of joint military drills over the next three and a half months, following the recent naval drills in the Black Sea and the shipment of over 100 US armored vehicles to Latvia.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov, says the allied forces are ignoring diplomacy, and NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia's border.
"Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst being terrorism, the Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against 'unwelcome' states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target," Anatoly Antonov says.
He dismisses the idea that the drills being carried out in the Baltic States, Poland and the Black Sea, are a real threat to Russia.
Zakharchenko informs media on success of enlistment to DPR's Army
In a voluntary mobilization, up to 200 a day are enlisting in the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, Head of the DPR, says, in an interview with Donetsk News Agency.
“100 - 200 volunteers arrive daily. Training units are being formed & detachments are working out operational coordination, in units and battalions”, Zakharchenko says.
“The DPR is ready for any action on Kiev’s part. We greatly distrust Kiev & its military machine - that is why our main task is to train”, he says.
According to Zakharchenko, over 4,000 people are ready to be troopers in the DPR's territorial defense detachments. If there is a resumption of hostilities, these forces will constitute the 'second line of defense' of the DPR.
More regular firing battalions are also being formed in the Republic. “As the practice of the last campaign showed, the war is being won by infantry, not by armoured vehicles”, Zakharchenko explains.
Voluntary mobilization started in the DPR on February 9th. The authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic are going to form six new DPR Army brigades.
Funeral for Ukraine's economy
Ukraine's Cabinet is sharply worsening its economic forecast, allowing for 42.8% inflation & a GDP falling by 11.9% in 2015.
Since the “euromaydan” coup, Donbass' factories and mines have been shelled, and the high technology flagships - like the Yuzhmash, (or Antonov), aviation technological complex - bankrupted.
The war brings massive costs, as tens of thousands no longer work in productive jobs, but still use high levels of resources.
Assuming the most conservative estimates, the 'punitive operation' against the Donbass costs Kiev $1 million daily. One month of the war uses as much money as Ukraine used to spend each year on education, or for six months on its health care system.
Today Ukraine's strategic enterprises and fertile lands are sold. The bankrupt state has no more assets left. This means that the pessimistically low indicators put out by the Cabinet, can still be considered as very optimistic forecasts.
Zakharchenko is preparing “the Mariupol cauldron” for Ukrainian forces
Head of the DPR, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, says, if Ukrainian forces resume hostilities in Donbass, they will encounter the next, 3rd cauldron, in the area of Mariupol.
“There have been two cauldrons already. We need to create a third, in order for them to realize they need to stop doing evil things.
“They will have to sit down and think things over, before doing anything”, Zakharchenko says, at a briefing in Novoazovsk, where he emphasizes that the self-defense forces will “act preventively”.
“At the moment we're fully following the Minsk Agreement. We've withdrawn heavy weapons. We are getting ready for the sowing season. We're living a peaceful life, we're engaged in constructive work - and we will be doing everything necessary for a peaceful life.
"And Ukraine, which is used to solving its issues with the help of war, will lose the country — sooner or later”, adds the head of the DPR.
Iceland announces dropping bid to join EU
Iceland has dropped its bid to join the EU, the Foreign Ministry in Reykjavik says. The announcement follows the pledges made by its euro-skeptic government.
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Iceland's foreign minister, says he has informed Latvia, the current EU president, and the European Commission that his centrist government has decided to withdraw its application, which was submitted six years ago.
“The EU and Iceland have discussed the country’s position on the status of its bid to join the European Union,” the statement reads. “The government does not intend to resume preparing for EU membership.”
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson spoke of formally withdrawing the bid in January.
“Participating in EU talks isn’t really valid anymore,” PM Gunnlaugsson told Reykjavík Grapevine at the time. “Both due to changes in the European Union and because it’s not in line with the policies of the ruling government to accept everything that the last government was willing to accept. Because of that, we’re back at square one.”
Iceland applied for EU membership in July 2009, at a time when the global economic crisis was unraveling. By February 2010, the European Commission produced a favorable answer and accession negotiations began in July that year.
Negotiations came to a stalemate in April 2013, when the election in Iceland was won by the centrist Progress Party, and the conservative Independence Party. Then, when the Progress Party's Gunnlaugsson became prime minister, he froze negotiations with the EU in May 2013.
One of the major issues stalling an agreement was fish catch quotas insisted on by Brussels, something Iceland's Fishing industry would never have agreed to.
The small island nation, with a population of 325,000, is and will still be, a member of the European Economic Area, the European Free Trade Association, and the Schengen area, and is an EU partner promoting cooperation in northern Europe – meaning it gets many of the advantages of being a full member, without many of the negative aspects of centralized EU laws and planning.
If - in the future - Iceland decides to join, it will be decided only by a referendum, the government says.
Iceland will continue to comply with the terms of the EEA and to cooperate with the EU, as it has done previously.
THE EU's GRATE GAME
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Thursday, endorsed a resolution in which they called on Russia’s authorities to ensure an "independent international investigation" into the murder of opposition figure Nemtsov.
"I think the European Parliament’s vote... demanding an independent international investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov, is a regular attempt to pressure Russia," the first deputy head of the ruling United Russia party’s faction in the State Duma, Frants Klintsevich, tells journalists.
Klintsevich says "a solution of the crime is the last thing the European deputies are interested in."
The First deputy chair of the State Duma international affairs committee, Leonid Kalashnikov, says there should not be any reaction to the EU's resolution.
"We should not react to that, or say anything to find an excuse," he says.
He says the European Parliament should finally understand that Russia isn't under its jurisdiction - and that such resolutions are an interference in the course of the investigation.
"We need to state once - clearly - that we have enough people to investigate;- that we are a fully sovereign state. We live by our laws."
"We shouldn’t try to find excuses for European parliamentarians. They’d do better to go and investigate the murder of Kennedy," he says.
Vietnam Military Blasts US for Interfering with Russian Refueling Flights
Vietnam Will Not Stop Russia From Using Cam Rahn Bay Base - Think Tank Head
Colonel Le The Mau, a senior military official from the country's Military Strategy Institute, tells Sputnik VietNam that the United States' demand that Vietnam stop allowing Russian refueling planes to land at Cam Ranh airbase, amounts to interference in VietNam's affairs:
"Washington's demand can be seen as nothing else but interference in the internal affairs of Vietnam, a sovereign state which determines its own policies for cooperating with friends and partners."
Colonel Le adds that the Russian planes are not military planes, and their landing at Cam Ranh airbase is part of the base's international functions. Colonel Le adds that it is Vietnam's decision to allow the refueling planes to land:
"Russia is Vietnam's strategic partner: we are developing our cooperation in military and technical spheres, one element of which is providing Cam Ranh airbase, for the landing of Russian refueling planes."
This Wednesday, it was revealed that the US is pushing Vietnam to stop Russia using Cam Ranh Bay military base. The Russian air force recently used the facility to refuel nuclear-capable bombers. US officials say Russian bomber planes have increased the number of flights in the region, and even conducted what the Pentagon has called “provocative flights” around Guam, a US territory in the Pacific that is home to a large military base.
Cam Ranh was the main US Air Force base during the "Vietnam" War. From 1979 until 2002, the Soviet Union and later, Russia, leased the base, turning it into its largest naval base abroad. In 2004, part of the base was reconstructed and opened as a civilian airport.
14 Million Children Affected by Conflicts in Syria and Iraq alone About 14 million children suffer the consequences of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, with a serious impact on their health, education and development, says UNICEF.
In a UN Children's Fund statement, the agency regrets that so many children are suffering from the escalating conflict sweeping Syria and much of Iraq, worsened by the activities of the Islamic State in the region over the last months.
"With the conflict in Syria now entering its fifth year, the situation of more than 5.6 million children inside the country remains the most desperate," UNICEF says. That includes up to two million children who are living in areas of the country largely cut off from humanitarian assistance, due to fighting, or other factors.
The Syria crisis has also forced almost 2 million Syrian children to live as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries, Unicef adds.
The situation in Iraq is as dramatic as in 2003, when the US' invasion & occupation occurred.
According to Unicef, almost three million children have been forced to leave their homes and many remain trapped in areas held by armed groups, like the Islamic State.
"For the youngest children, this crisis is all they have ever known," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says. "For adolescents entering their formative years, violence and suffering haven't only scarred their past; they are shaping their futures."
Lake calls on the international community not to forsake millions of children. "Despite the harm they've suffered, children affected by this crisis still have the courage and the determination to build better lives.... How can we be any less determined to help them?", Lake asks.
UNICEF also urges longer-term investment in education, health care and psychological aid.
’Israel’ Drills to Face Hezbollah Shock Scenario: Heavy Rockets, Ground Invasion
Israel, or the Zionist entity, has started "Shock Scenario" drills which simulate unprecedented attacks, that target the occupied Palestinian territories in any upcoming war with Hezbollah.
The commander of rescue forces in the Internal Front, Haim Rokeh, says the upcoming war with Hezbollah hasn't been witnessed by 'Israel' yet, noting that his troops won't be able to save all the injured.
Zionist media outlets point out that the Internal Front drill is to be able to face heavy rocket attacks from Hezbollah.
Zionist security estimates that 'Israel' will be under Hezbollah's heavy rocket fire & drone attacks & that the party will launch ground invasions: to reach the Palestinian city of Acre and to control a settlement on the northern border.
UN Security Council Visits Central African Republic
A mission of the United Nations Security Council is visiting Africa this week, to assess the situation in the Central African Republic, where fierce fighting between Muslims and christians has left thousands dead... and over one million displaced.
Venezuela: US Actions Highly Threatening Venezuelan diplomats in Spain & Brazil today denounce as 'very serious', a US declaration that their country is a threat to its national security, adding that the statement is with- out precedent, and a continuation of the US's interventionist policy.
Venezuela's ambassador to Spain, Mario Isea, states that the executive decree emitted by President Barack Obama, shows that the US government still serves the interests of the military-industrial complex.
Isea says that US authorities, regardless of the party in power, have intervened in many ways to try to overthrow the government of firstly, Hugo Chavez & afterwards, president Nicolas Maduro, since his election in 2013.
That shows, Isea says, that there is little change in US policy towards Latin America, as this also happened with the government of Salvador Allende in Chile, where they at first tried to block his electoral victory... and then promoted the final coup d'etat which led to his martyrdom and went on to kill thousands more.
In response to a question by Prensa Latina, Isea recalls that the Obama decision has led to a wave of solidarity with Venezuela from members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and other international organizations.
It would seem the US is worried that, after the consolidation of the Cuban Revolution, their model, via elections, has occurred in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia and is taking root.
Venezuela's ambassador to Brasilia, Maria Lourdes Urbaneja, denounces the increase of destabilizing actions against her nation, supported by the United States.
In a meeting held with representatives of social groups, popular movements, some alternative press & political organizations, Urbaneja highlights that the plans of the rightwing forces in her country have all received finance from the US government.
US imperialism does not rest in inciting destabilizing actions and even uses the methods of psychological warfare, as it seeks to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution, by force, she stresses.
Last year, for example, the US government published 105 press releases, half of which supported violent Venezuelan sectors, who don't even have the support of opposition forces in the country.
And this year, she adds, in the first 55 days of 2015, there were 55 statements against Venezuelan institutions and in favor of the extremist sectors, saying their actions are peaceful, when in fact they are violent and terrorist.
In this regard, Urbaneja recalls the violence unleashed by the opposition, which took the lives of 43 persons, of whom 10 were police or public order agents, and a prosecutor, with several of them killed by snipers.
Iraqi forces liberate Tikrit centre from ISIL
The operation to retake Tikrit began from 4 directions, with the army besieging the militants and cutting off their supply lines.
Reports say militants destroyed a bridge, east of the city, holding up the advance on that front.
Iraqis have all left the city, which is under a complete siege by the Iraqi army and volunteer forces.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday says major government buildings close to Tikrit centre are liberated from the ISIL terrorists.
Security officials say most ISIL militants in the city have begun retreating.
The Tikrit advances come after nearly a week of heavy fighting. 160 klmtrs north of Baghdad, Tikrit was one of the two major strongholds of ISIL in Iraq, the other being Mosul.
Iraqi forces took Tikrit's military hospital in al-Qadisiya, early on Wednesday. A mop-up operation has been launched to hunt down ISIL militants across the city.
The operation includes 30,000 fighters from the Iraqi armed forces and volunteers, known as Popular Mobilization forces. It's the largest operation launched by the government to date and seen as a prelude to recapturing Mosul.
The operation is being assisted by Iranian military advisers who have made a huge contribution to similar offensives against the Takfiri militants.
From near Tikrit, Press TV’s correspondent says clashes are continuing, especially in the west of the city, where militants have a stronger presence.
The army’s advance in southern Tikrit has been faster, as other units tightened the noose on militants in the north.
The Press TV reporter says the battle to liberate the entire city will not be easy, as the ISIL militants are fighting hard.
AFP news agency confirms that the army has entered Tikrit, citing a major general:
"We're in control of Tikrit military hospital, which is close to the centre of the city," he says, on condition of anonymity.
"But we're engaged in a very delicate battle. We aren't facing fighters on the ground, we're facing booby-trapped terrain and sniper fire."
The liberation of the hospital is a major gain for the Iraqi forces as the site was used by militants as a place to hold captive citizens.
“Tikrit is effectively now, a prison for ISIL militants,” Press TV's correspondent says.
Israel tortures 95% of Palestinian prisoners
Almost 95 per cent of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, face torture in its different forms, from the moment they are arrested, through the interrogation process, and well after being sent behind bars.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says an average of ten Palestinian detainees are tortured every day by Israeli forces.
Dozens of Palestinians, including families & relatives of prisoners, have staged a protest outside the international committee of the Red Cross building in Ramallah, in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Institutions working on the prisoners’ issue demand now, that the Palestinian authority work on raising the prisoners’ issue at all international levels, to prosecute the Israeli soldiers responsible for mistreating inmates.
Jailed Palestinians had planned non-violent civil disobedience and a mass hunger strike, over rights violations, but the move has been held off for a while, after promises by Israel's prison authorities to "guarantee" prisoners some of their demands...
As the number of Palestinians being arrested by Israeli troops increases each year, so does the illegal torture of those inmates.
Palestinians insist that Israeli soldiers should be, at the very least, prosecuted, for torturing the prisoners and denying them basic rights.
DPR says Kiev troops violate ceasefire 400+ times since signing Minsk accords
Kiev's troops have violated the ceasefire over 400 times, since signing peace agreements in Minsk, Eduard Basurin, a spokesperson for the defence ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) says.
"Since February 12, when the peace accords were signed in Minsk, the number of episodes of targeted shelling of our positions by Ukrainian troops has exceeded 400," he says, adding that they have shelled DPR positions 20 times in the past 24 hours.
Basurin says the most difficult situation is still the Donetsk airport area and south of Mariupol, where Kiev is placing units of armored vehicles and servicemen.
"Here, random shelling of our positions from firearms and mortars continued all through yesterday. As many as 18 episodes of shelling were reported from the vicinity of the airport," he says, adding that a DPR serviceman was wounded.
"Despite its loud accusations against us, the Ukrainian side is sparing no effort to hamper or block moves by the monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in territories under its control, where it openly violates the Minsk agreements of February 12," Basurin underscores.
UN refugee agency: 'appalling' conditions in eastern Ukraine
Humanitarian conditions in those regions controlled by Kiev government forces are of special concern, UN High Commission for Refugees William Spindler tells media.
Conditions in the northern part of Donetsk and Luhansk are "particularly appalling" due to electricity and water shortages caused by shelling, Spindler says.
"Of special concern is the situation in regions controlled by the Ukrainian government," Spindler says. It is being made worse by denied allowances and services previously provided by central government and notably by restrictions on the movement of people and goods, he adds.
The internally displaced persons total in Ukraine has reached 1.1 million, the agency says, adding that 674,000 have now found shelter outside their country: 542,000 in Russia and 80,700 in Belarus.
Washington Times: 'Israelis and Zionists' played key role in 9/11 attacks.
The Rev. Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader, states that Israeli and Zionist Jews played a key role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.
"We now know that the crime they say is at the root of terrorism, was not committed by Arabs or Muslims at all. It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks," Mr. Farrakhan says. "Now look, if they can prove me wrong, like I said, I'll pay with my life," he is quoted as saying, in The Washington Times.
"We know the World Trade Centre was insured by its owner Larry Silverstein right before the attack. We know an Israeli film crew dressed as Arabs were filming the Twin Towers before the first plane went in. In other words, these Israelis had full knowledge of the attacks."
According to him, many Jews received text messages not to go to work on 11 September. Who sent the messages, Farrakhan wonders.
According to him, minutes after the attack, Ehud Barak (Chief of Staff in 19913-1995, Israeli Prime Minister), a master of covert operations, was already in a BBC studio in London accusing Osama bin Laden of the tragedy, and calling for the war on terror.
Louis Farrakhan is also attacked as the "leader of black Muslim racists." He has been accused of racism, intolerance of homosexuals, and anti-Semitic views.
Time magazine listed Louis Farrakhan as one of the 25 most influential Americans.
UK, US's TRAINERS CRIMINAL
The dispatch of military advisers is often how disastrous escalations start. They are also in direct violation of February's Minsk agreement, negotiated with France and Germany, that has at least achieved a temporary ceasefire and some pull-back of heavy weapons.
Article 10 requires withdrawing ALL foreign forces from Ukraine. But Nato's hawks have --- the bit between their teeth.
Russia 'completely ending' activities under Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty
"The Russian Federation has taken the decision to halt participation in meetings from March 11, 2015. Therefore, Russia is ending its actions, completely," a statement from the Foreign Ministry says.
Moscow has asked Belarus to represent Russia's interests in the group, starting from Wednesday, the statement says.
According to the Ministry, further dialogue on control of conventional armed forces in Europe will only restart - "if and when our partners are ready for it," the Ministry says, adding that future work on the project must serve the interests of Russia as well as the other European states.
The original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 by 16 NATO and six Warsaw Pact, set equal ceilings for each bloc on categories of conventional armaments, including troops tanks & planes.
1999 saw an “adapted” version of the treaty, but NATO members refused to ratify it until Russia withdrew troops from Georgia and the Moldovan region of Transdnestria. Russia slammed it as “artificial linkage.”
In December 2007 Moscow said the treaty was “irrelevant” as NATO planned to raise its military presence in Eastern Europe.
Four years later, NATO stated that the exchange of information on conventional weapons and troops would be stopped. In November 2014, Moscow suspended implementation of the CFE Treaty.
Then the US House of Representatives issued a resolution condemning Russia and, with other points, urged president Obama to review US and NATO armed forces readiness under the CFE.
"For many years the Russian Federation has been doing everything possible to maintain the treaty, initiated talks on its adaptation and ratified the adaptation agreement," Moscow says on Tuesday, adding that all such efforts have been dismissed by NATO, in favor of the alliance's expansion.
Norway buzzes Russian border with biggest military drill since Cold War
Unprecedented war games, involving 5,000 Norwegian troops and 400 vehicles, have begun in Norway’s northernmost province, bordering Russia. The biggest exercises since Cold War days will last for a week, amid growing tensions between Russia and NATO.
Palestinian Authority arrests dozens of militant Islamists ahead of Israeli election
The Palestinian Authority has arrested around 50 militant Islamists in the West Bank. With the Israeli elections a week away, Mahmoud Abbas's administration may fear any terror attack could propel Netanyahu’s Likud party back to power.
British MPs say US-EU free trade deal must not leave govts at multinationals’ mercy
British MPs protest over the US/EU TTIP "free trade" deal enabling multinational corporations to sue EU governments if new laws harm their businesses --- as this will weaken essential European health and food regulations.
Israeli PM Deals Lethal Blow to Peace with Palestinians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dealt a lethal blow to a negotiated solution of the Palestinian conflict, in a statement published on Monday, according to which, he denies any intention of ending the occupation of Palestine.
The communiqué says there will be neither withdrawals nor concessions, and claims that any territory handed over to Palestine, would be occupied by Islamic fundamentalists.
Israel is the only Middle East country where no activities by fundamentalist Islamic groups, especially the Islamic States (IS), which occupies zones in Iraq and Syria and has franchises in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and the Sahel states bordering the south Sahara, are reported.
The denial follows the publication by Israeli media of reports, according to which, six years ago, the PM secretly negotiated a peaceful solution to the conflict, based on the universally- accepted principle of peace for land.
Netanyahu is campaigning for the early elections scheduled for next week, and there are suspicions that these reports, published by local media, were leaked by extremists in the Likud coalition.
Elections were called by the Head of State after he fired Justice Minister Tzipora Livni & Finance Minister Yair Lapid for opposing his policy to declare Israel a Jewish State, a decision challenged by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is also a member of the Likud coalition.
Netanyahu's statement proves the futility of resuming the 'peace talks' cancelled last summer, due to Israel's lack of will, reports Press TV.
Thousands of Nigerians Flee to Cameroon After Offensive Against Boko
Thousands of Nigerians fled to Cameroon in the last few hours, to seek shelter before an offensive against the extremist Boko Haram, a military source notes today.
Recent fighting by Nigeria's army and troops of the coalition against fundamentalists, has prompted the leaving of hundreds of families to Makari, northern Cameroon, which worsens the situation in that region, where over 30,000 refugees are already being given shelter.
Troops from the multinational force of about 8,000 fighting troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, started a major offensive on Sunday in this latest country opposing the radical sect. An official source notes: "The military are attacking on two fronts, in the area of Bosso, and near Diram'.
The operation began a day after the head of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, swore allegiance to terrorist movement Islamic state through an audio recording released by the group through the social networks, in which he swore to 'tease the enemies of Allah'.
Since mid-February Nigeria has recovered a significant portion of the nearly 30,000 square kilometers of territory controlled by this sect, & released dozens of cities and towns in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, Northeast Nigeria.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently stated that the multinational offensive against the extremist group moves forward aggressively, and the end of that sect will soon come, which seeks to found an Islamic caliphate through the use of force, with over 13,000 deaths, in the last five years.
Colombia, FARC rebels reach agreement over land mines removal
The Colombian government and the FARC rebels have reached a deal to remove the country's land mines and discarded explosives, which have killed thousands in rural areas, over the past 25 years.
The government and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia “have agreed to ask (Norwegian People's Aid) to lead and coordinate a cleanup and decontamination operation for mines in rural areas," both sides say in a statement after ending the latest round of peace talks in Cuba's capital Havana.
Cuba and Norway are guarantors of Colombia’s peace negotiations.
"Our goal is to put an end to the conflict... so the demining proposal is a first step, but a giant one toward peace," government mediator Humberto de la Calle says.
Land mines killed or wounded 11,043 people, including 4,226 civilians, between 1990 and 2015, the Colombian government says.
FARC representatives say progress is also being made on a bilateral ceasefire.
"The technical sub-commission which handles overwhelmingly important topics, such as a definitive bilateral ceasefire and the mutual agreement to disarm, has begun to progress at a good pace," says Ivan Marquez, FARC's lead negotiator.
The peace talks between the Colombian government and the rebels began in November 2012 in Havana.
The negotiations have produced partial agreements on several issues, but no final deal.
FARC is Latin America’s oldest rebel group and has fought the government since 1964.
Bogota estimates that 220,000 people have been killed and over 4.5 million others have been displaced by Latin America's longest insurgency.
Russian FM calls for equal attention to Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Libya issues, not only Crimea
These facts of violations of international law must be studied by historians and not forgotten, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Western partners should pay equal attention, not only to the Crimea issue, but also to the bombing of Yugoslavia, Kosovo’s situation, and Libya's collapse, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says on Tuesday.
"As for international law and the attention it is attracting lately, primarily in connection with Crimea, we wish our Western partners were no less zealous in other cases, which happened recently in the modern history," Lavrov says.
"These include the bombing by members of the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe of another OSCE member, I mean Yugoslavia, and the situation with Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence --- without any referendum --- alongside aggression against Iraq under blatantly false pretences, and abuse of the United Nations Security Council mandate in Libya," he says, noting that the whole state has been destroyed, and the only question now is how to prevent the collapse of other countries in the region.
"All these facts should probably be studied by historians, while we should pursue real practical policy," Lavrov adds. "But we will fail to achieve any results in this practical policy, if we forget why certain events occurred in the international arena, crudely violating international law. This, should be remembered."
China and Russia will jointly support world security - Chinese foreign minister
Russia and China will jointly support international peace and security, and will also defend the results of World War II, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says.
"Russia & China are permanent members of the UN Security Council. We'll continue our strategic coordination & cooperation, in support of international peace and security," he says.
"This year, both countries will have big events devoted to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the war against fascism.
We shall be supporting each other, jointly supporting international peace, and defending the results of World War II," the foreign minister says.
Bulgarians stage demonstration against NATO
On Sunday demonstrators took to the streets of the capital city of Sofia, to call on NATO to leave Bulgaria --- which joined the Western military alliance, in March 2004.
They held banners reading, “Barbaric US bases – out of Bulgaria! STOP the killing” and "Stop the occupation and colonial administration - NATO out of Bulgaria - the future is in sovereign countries.”
In an address to the rally, Yane Ivanov, the protest leader, said, "Unfortunately, Bulgaria at the moment is being ruled by this criminal institution – NATO."
The march came after 5 NATO ships entered the Bulgarian port Varna as part of a joint training exercise with Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania.
Bulgarians also marched in Sofia last month to condemn a government plan to install a NATO military command base inside the country.
In February, NATO defense ministers agreed to raise, from 13,000 soldiers to 30,000, NATO's rapid reaction force.
They also announced plans to set up six new command posts in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The Western military bloc has, over the past year increased its presence and conducted several drills in East Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine.
Moscow repeatedly condemns NATO's exercises and military buildup, so near to Russia’s borders.
Luhansk republic can start making social payments, salaries in Russian rubles
The authorities of Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) are considering making social payments, including salaries and pensions, in rubles, as prices stabilize, LPR head, Igor Plotnitsky, says.
"We'll have both the ruble and the hryvnia in use. The people themselves will decide what's better. The majority of LPR residents want to use only rubles," Plotnitsky says.
"The hryvnia plunged in one night. There is an unannounced default in Ukraine. Residents of the LPR, are ready to use the ruble," he adds.
However, some inflation is expected in the LPR in the near future, due to an unstable economic situation, Plotnitsky says.
"The market will show what prices are appropriate. So, we expect a growth in prices, but later everything will go back to normal. Then, salaries and pensions will be paid in rubles. Only rubles will be used in stores," he adds.
At the end of February, the LPR adopted a multi-currency financial system due to the hryvnia’s plunge and the continuing economic blockade of Donbas by Kiev.
European Commission chief urges ‘joint EU army,’ Germany backs decision
The European Commission chief calls for the creation of an “EU joint army” that can “react credibly” to any external threat & defend the bloc’s “values.” While the UK and France are wary it could undermine NATO, Germany has backed the idea.
“An army like this would help us to better coordinate our foreign and defense policies, and collectively take on Europe's responsibilities in the world," the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says, in an interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
He says the EU’s image "has suffered dramatically -- and in terms of foreign policy, we don't seem to be taken entirely seriously."
"A joint EU army would show the world that there would never again be a war between EU countries," Juncker says.
With a joint EU army, the bloc could “react more credibly to the threat to peace in a member state or in a neighboring state.”
"You would not create a European army to use it immediately," Juncker says, "But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we're serious about defending the values of the European Union."
Juncker’s proposal has been supported in Germany, where last month the Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, also spoke of an EU army, calling it the EU's main goal.
In her comment on Junker’s proposal, she said, on Deutschlandfunk radio station, that a “European army is the future.”
The Chair of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, Norbert Rottgen, has also told the Welt that "a joint army is a European vision whose time has come.”
"European countries spend enormous sums on the military, many times more in total, when compared to Russia. Yet our military capabilities remain unsatisfactory from a security standpoint,” he says. “And they will, for as long as we're talking about national mini-armies, which are often doing - and purchasing - the same things, in their minor formats."
Hans-Peter Bartels, chair of the Bundestag's Defense Committee, is quoted saying: “The past ten years have added little to Europe's defense. It needs a boost.”
“It's important that we now swiftly implement concrete measures. We shouldn't wait for an overall concept of 28 EU members, but start with agreements between the nation states," he adds.
However, Junker’s idea of an EU Army is a concern for some of the bloc’s members, particularly France and the UK. They are wary of granting a bigger military role to the EU, as it could undermine NATO.
Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana is soon to present a report called “More Union in European Defense.” It urges the creation of a new security solution for the EU, which has “a political & military ability to autonomously conduct intervention operations beyond the EU’s borders.” He also proposes to establish an EU military HQ in Brussels.
Senior Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky says the EU is paranoid about Russia...
"The European version of paranoia: declaring the establishment of a unified army to counter -balance Russia --- which doesn't intend to go to war with anyone," he writes on Twitter.
The “military” ambitions of the EC chief come justt after EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, stressed that Europe's view of Russian events is realistic, but it “will never be trapped or forced or pushed or pulled into a confrontational attitude” towards Moscow.
On Saturday German newspaper Der Spiegel revealed that Berlin had slammed comments by Philip Breedlove, European Commander General of NATO, on Ukraine, as ‘dangerous propaganda,’ which put the West at risk of losing credibility.
Russian legislator: EU army, if created, provocative --- if used as NATO addendum
"In the nuclear age extra armies do not provide any additional security", says the first deputy chair of United Russia in the State Duma, Frants Klintsevich.
European Union common armed forces --- if they're ever created --- may play a provocative role, he tells media.
"In the nuclear age, extra armies do not provide any additional security. But they surely can play a provocative role," he says, adding it is regrettable that such ideas have already had some support.
He recalls that the idea of creating a European army never occurred to anyone, even in the years of acute confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization...
"These days, when the Warsaw Treaty is long gone, for some reason there has developed a need for that," he wonders.
"One presumes that a European army is seen as an addendum to NATO. And in this circumstance, Western politicians are not shy to accuse Russia of some aggressiveness," Klintsevich says.
Iraqi Army Expels IS from Al-Baghdadi and Salaheddin Areas
Iraqi Government troops have fully recovered Al-Baghdadi, a city near an air base used by US Marines in Al-Anbar, & expelled Jihadists from another sites of Salaheddin, say army sources, today.
Ministries of the Interior and Defense of Iraq agree that armed and security forces aided by Shiite volunteers & Sunni tribe members retook the police station and three bridges over the Euphrates river that give access to this territory in the province of Al -Anbar.
Seven other cities northwest of Al-Baghdadi, on the road to Haditha, were recovered from the control of the Islamic State (IS), says the report, coinciding with the arrival in Baghdad of Defense Minister of Spain Pedro Morenes, seeking to discuss a plan to train Iraqi forces.
A source in the Popular Mobilization, made up of Shiite volunteers, reports that, coordinating with Iraqi security forces, they have headed toward Albu Ajil, east of Tikrit, capital city of Salaheddin district, IS held, since June 2014.
The Council of Tribes in that province urges Sunni tribes from Shurqat & Hawija districts to join the offensive staged by the federal police forces and Shiite volunteers, to free them from occupation by the "Takfiris" -- (Sunni Islamic terrorists).
UN Women Executive Director's Message for International Women's Day
In 1995, at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, world leaders committed to a future where women are equal.
One hundred and eighty nine countries and 4,000 civil society organizations, attended the conference.
Women left Beijing with high hopes, with a well- defined path towards equality, and firm commitments at the highest level. Their hope was that we would see this by 2005.
Today, not one single country has achieved equality. It is more urgent than ever that we define - and stick to - a time frame.
There has been some progress in the last 20 years - although it has been slow and uneven.
Countries have narrowed the gender gap in education and some have even reached gender parity in school enrolment.
They have reduced the toll of maternal mortality and morbidity. Many more women survive pregnancy and childbirth than in 1995.
Many countries have created institutions that address gender inequality. Many have passed laws against gender-based discrimination. Many have made domestic violence a crime.
This is all good news.
And yet we are still a long way from achieving equality between men and women, boys and girls.
Implementation of good policies has been patchy. Allocation of the resources needed for effective implementation has been insufficient to fund women's ministries, gender commissions, gender focal points, and gender-responsive budgeting.
For too many women, especially in the least- developed countries, not enough has changed.
In Africa, 70 per cent of crop production depends on women yet women still own only 2 per cent of the land.
Violence against women continues to blight lives in all countries of the world.
And no country has achieved gender equality.
Women need change and humanity needs change. This we can do together; women and girls, men and boys, young and old, rich and poor.
The evidence is overwhelming of the benefits that equality can bring. Economies grow, poverty is alleviated, health status climbs, and communities are more stable and resilient to environmental or humanitarian crises.
Women want their leaders to renew the promises made to them. They want leaders to recommit to the Beijing Declaration, to the Platform for Action, and to an accelerated and bolder implementation.
They want more of their leaders to be women. And they want those women, together with men, to dare to change the economic and political paradigms. Gender parity must be reached before 2030, so that we avert the sluggish trajectory of progress that condemns a child born today to wait 80 years before they see an equal world.
Today, on International Women's Day, we call on our countries to "step it up" for gender equality, with substantive progress by 2020. Our aim is to reach 'Planet 50:50' before 2030.
The world needs full equality in order for humanity to prosper.
Empower women, empower humanity. I am sure you can picture an equal world!
Southeast Ukraine: “We Have Built an Independent State”. Interview with Deputy PM, Donetsk People’s Republic, Mikhail Mnukhin
For further correspondence, you can visit the official MOFA DPR website atmid-dnr.ru/en/.
HANEUL: One year after the US-backed Euromaidan coup, Ukraine is still engaged in a long and bloody civil war. What progress have you made in the fight against the fascist Ukranian military, Svoboda, and Right Sector?
MIKHAIL: First and most importantly, we have built an independent state. Even though some parts of our territory are still controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the state system of the DPR is fully functional and controls all vital operations. We can pay salaries and social dowries, form state budgets, and arrange foreign trade.
At present, the DPR has legitimately elected authorities: the Head of the Republic, [PM] Alexander Zakharchenko, and the supreme legislative body, the People`s Council. The local Councils elections will take place soon.
It should be stressed that we've achieved all these goals during unceasing hostilities and blockades made by the Ukrainian authorities, in addition to a critical humanitarian situation in the region. In our opinion, all these problems are the main arguments in the fight against our enemy. We managed not only to survive, but also to develop a full-fledged state.
Militarily, the DPR Army has demonstrated to the whole world its ability to act effectively, and the number of magnificent victories over Ukrainian troops vindicates this. One should note that the number of UAF soldiers exceeds ours, as does their military equipment.
Nevertheless, we will always insist on and continue to desire, a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We've never sought to annihilate Ukraine & the Ukrainians; however, our key issue is to provide the security of our people and to create the conditions for a normal, peaceful life. We are always ready for dialogue, even with Kiev.
HANEUL: After the May 11th referendum, the DPR declared itself independent from Ukraine, yet the international community's denounced your right to do so. Can you tell me what this signifies about democracy building?
MIKHAIL: The issue of the DPR's recognition remains urgent, indeed. It is the main priority for our Ministry`s work today, and we progress gradually in this direction. The Republic of S. Ossetia has officially recognized the DPR, and we are establishing diplomatic contacts now. The Republic of Abkhazia also announced its readiness to recognize the DPR.
Further, we work in other areas of cooperation and with all countries on any continent. Some of them are officially recognized, some aren't. Additionally, we are now actively promoting cooperation with other social and political movements, to support self-determination for their territories. This process is rather long and complex.
As for the position of a number of Western countries towards us, we understand very well, the reasons for it. One should decide whether or not to recognize our Republic; it does not depend on us. From our side, we can ensure this process by proving our consistency as full-fledged members of the international community.
It's a paradox that, even though the citizens of our state are similar to those in the USA, Britain, or Japan, we still have to prove our right to exist.
In this regard, we've huge expectations of the public's opinion, especially in the west's countries, as it starts to change.
People from all over the world are getting to learn more truths about us, and we hope that your authorities will take an objective stance towards the DPR.
HANEUL: Can you give us a history of the Donetsk Oblast and its history in relation to Russia? Why did the DPR decide to remain autonomous instead of integrating into the Russian Federation like Crimea?
MIKHAIL: Donbass was always a place of enormous accumulated human resources’ -- a place where people of all nationalities united in order to labor together and use Russian as their common language.
As a result, a unique political platform has arisen in Donbass; the consequences of which, we can observe today. All this explains why Donbas has always striven for autonomy and independence.
Crimea has made its own long journey and has finally returned to Russia. However, we are two distinct regions and have formed differently. We do not have the goal to join Russia as a priority now, but instead follow our path to forming an independent state.
We have resolved the social and economic problems brought about by Ukraine’s military aggression and complete transport and economic blockade of our land.
HANEUL: Historically, Ukrainians experienced the 1941 pogroms in Lyiv in which the Ukrainian Insurgent Army worked with the Nazis to murder thousands of Polish and Ukrainian citizens. Do you believe that you are reliving this nightmare? Who should be held accountable for this?
MIKHAIL: We stress that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA or UPA) did not act alone during World War II. With the support of foreign states, the UIA successfully existed in some regions from 1946 until 1948 as a local instrument of the Cold War. However, the ideologies of Ukrainian nationalists have not changed; just their owners.
Repetition is a peculiar feature of history. The tragedy in Odessa - the repression of dissidents and multiple war crimes - proves this fact. The above-mentioned organizations and people, unfortunately, follow the examples of their historical leaders and idols. However, they should remember the fate of the UIA and its leaders, which will partially help them to predict their own.
You can see throughout history, the actions of the UIA and other nationalist groups, which were directed not only against Poles but also Russians, Jews and representatives of other ethnicities. Those who support neo-Nazism in Ukraine, should think about where the Nazis will turn their weapons tomorrow.
HANEUL: Which international organizations are working with your government to provide humanitarian aid to your citizens, and how long do you estimate this crisis to last? How can people around the world become involved in reporting, helping, or donating to your cause?
MIKHAIL: We are open to dialogue and always ready to accept help from all organizations and private persons. There are a number of organizations operating in the DPR, such as the International Red Cross, Medicines Sans Frontiers, and dozens of other charity funds and communities.
Our experiences have shown that we are not alone—that many people from numerous countries are ready to help us sincerely and freely. For example, we have received a few lorries with medicine from all over Germany, collected with some Bundestag MPs' help.
Remember that Donetsk currently has a full economic blockade. The direct delivery of financial assets, food products, and other goods to the DPR are impossible now, but we're trying to solve this problem every day. We are very pleased and appreciate the desire of people from the entire world to help us.
HANEUL: Do you believe that PM Alexander Zakharchenko should have taken part in the second Minsk agreement in Belarus? Why didn’t the Normandy Four (Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France) include Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea into the peace talks? How have the peace talks helped ease tensions in Donbass, and do you believe that there should be separate talks between the DPR and other groups?
MIKHAIL: The situation surrounding the DPR, the LPR and Crimea cannot be combined in the negotiation process, as Crimea is already a part of Russia.
The Donetsk People`s Republic is one of several parties in the conflict, so without Alexander Zakharchenko`s participation, a negotiated resolution is impossible.
However, we can explain Kiev’s harsh stance and attempts to ignore the DPR and LPR in the Normandy Four negotiations. Ukraine considers the truce as a period to accumulate its military forces and prepare for further hostilities, and Kiev has never shown its full readiness for a lasting peace.
The real conflict is between the people of the southeast and Ukrainian government, who should actually negotiate.
Apart from that, the DPR’s entrance into the negotiation process means that it will achieve its new status, which Ukraine is trying to prevent. Alongside this, Ukraine is trying to expand the number of parties involved in the conflict, such as Germany and France, in order to supply them with weapons.
We hope this will not happen.
We are satisfied with Germany and France’s viewpoint; they have started to change their positions on events happening in Donbass. We expect that, instead of more sanctions, they will initiate humanitarian missions here to stop the catastrophe, not aggravate it.
We are sure that peace will finally come, but we cannot achieve it with regular concessions from one side and continuous breaches from the other. Peace is always a compromise and we are ready for it, but only after ensuring the safety of our citizens.
HANEUL: The UAE has already committed weapons to the Ukrainian military, and the United States has considered arming the junta directly. If this occurs, how will this affect the current situation? Will this escalate to a large conflict between superpowers?
MIKHAIL: According to present information, the weapons contracts made between Ukraine and the UAE are not a significant concern, and we personally believe those contracts were made just for PR.
We doubt Kiev managed to convince its partners to supply weapons on credit, and it doesn't have enough money to buy them. Another issue is the US’s arms. According to confirmed information, they have never stopped supplying weapons to Ukraine. Along the whole frontline, after each Ukrainian force’s retreat, one can easily find weapons made in the USA, including heavy artillery. Besides, the large amount of US personnel training Ukrainian soldiers, invokes serious concern. In what way should we estimate this ? Exposing Washington`s participation in the Donbass conflict, is difficult, but direct interventions take place and grow with every passing month, so it is very difficult to predict such consequences.
CyberBerkut Warns Kiev Carrying Out 'Sweep' Operation in Mariupol
Sputnik - A well-known Ukraine hacking group opposed to the Kiev government, reveals that the coup authorities are carrying out a police sweep across Mariupol on regime opponents, and that the authorities plan a "pilot project of military-civilian administration" in the city.
Ukrainian hacking collective CyberBerkut reports that they have obtained a series of documents on Ministry of Information Policy in Mariupol, with correspondence on the "need" for a pro-Ukrainian social- psychological propaganda campaign.
It says a "sweep" of the city is now on.
According to the group, over 100 people have been arrested in the past few days.
CyberBerkut claims to have correspondence belonging to Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy Minister Tatyana Popova, one of which recommends a "pilot project of military-civilian administration" in the embattled city.
"It opens with an analysis of the information environment in Mariupol, given to Tatyana Popova," the hackers report. The analysis, which "reads more like a denunciation," is by social psychologist Oleg Pokalchuk, who says the city lacks pro-Ukrainian propaganda, that the Greek community there is pro-Russian, and that priests of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church carry out "anti- Ukrainian" subversive activities.
Popova advises her colleagues to pay "close attention" to Pokalchuk's report.
CyberBerkut promises to publish more internal correspondence between the Ministry and its workers, at a later date.
It earlier reported that Kiev's authorities plan to "root out informants" accused of passing information to anti-Kiev militias.
Media have spoken of residents being taken away for questioning, some by armed men with no official id. papers.
CyberBerkut is a hackers group opposed to the current government in Kiev. Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, it has conducted a series of high-profile hacks.
It has recently reported on details of the US plan to arm Kiev, information showing the high casualty figures in Kiev's army, information on snipers at Maidan Square, and Victoria Nuland's infamous "F**k the EU!" exchange with the US Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt.
Egypt carries out hanging sentence on 1st Morsi backer
Egypt has reportedly carried out the first of over 180 death sentences handed down by its courts over mass protest rallies and clashes, following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesperson, Hani Abdel Latif, announces on Saturday that a man identified as Mahmoud Ramadan, was hanged at 7am local time (0500 GMT), referring to him as the “first to be executed of those involved in violent clashes” that erupted after Morsi’s overthrow in 2013.
The development comes after an Egypt court upheld, last month, the death sentences of 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, over an alleged 2013 attack on a police station, near the capital Cairo.
The violence occurred after security forces killed hundreds of protesters as they cleared protest camps of Morsi's supporters in Cairo.
Hundreds of Morsi backers have received death sentences following speedy trials described by the UN as “unprecedented in recent history.”
UK-based Amnesty International says the death sentences follow unfair trials and highlight Cairo’s disregard for national and international law.
Morsi was elected president after the fall of long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak, but was then ousted in a coup led by former military chief and current President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in July 2013.
Egypt's government has been cracking down on any opposition, since Morsi was ousted -- arresting thousands -- including Brotherhood leaders and activists.
Cairo named the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in Dec. 2013.
DPR calls on Kiev to fulfill its liabilities under Minsk agreements
The time for Ukraine’s withdrawal of heavy weapons from the actual line of contact, to the distance fixed in the Minsk agreements, expired on March 7th, Eduard Basurin says.
"We call on Ukraine's leaders to ensure the unconditional implementation of the Minsk agreements & secure real centralized control over all their armed groups - which can under- mine the peace process, which is moving with great difficulty, because of their unsanctioned actions," Basurin says, adding that the time for Ukraine’s withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact to the distance set in the Minsk agreements, expired on March 7th.
He underscores that further fulfilment of the Minsk agreements, will depend on "Kiev’s ability to ensure complete implementation of its liabilities on weapons pullout in the terms it fixed and on the public reaction of the Western countries, to Kiev’s possible frustration of this provision of the Minsk agreements."
The agreements outline the parameters for the ceasefire in Ukraine. Their nine-points, in particular, envision a ban on the use of all armaments, and the withdrawal of "heavy" weapons (with calibres of over 100 mllmtrs) to a distance of 15 klmtrs from the contact line from each side.
The OSCE is tasked with controlling implementation of the provisions.
The package of measures envisages the creation of a security zone at least 50 klmtrs wide for artillery systems with a caliber of 100 mm or more, a security zone 70 klmtrs wide for multiple rocket launchers, and a zone 140 klmtrs wide, for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S, Uragan and Smerch, and the tactical rocket systems, Tochka-U.
The final document says Ukraine's troops are to be pulled back from the current line of engagement, and the militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, to the engagement line set by the Minsk Memorandum of September 19th, 2014.
African Union approves creation of anti-Boko Haram force
The African Union (AU) has approved the creation of a regional force to fight Nigeria-based Boko Haram militants, who have recently launched brutal cross- border assaults in neighboring countries, diplomatic sources say.
The force, comprised of up to 10,000 men from Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin, will “operate freely” in the region around Lake Chad, unnamed African diplomats say.
Nigeria “has a problem with agreeing to have foreign troops on its soil”; thus, the troops will not operate in Nigeria, according to a diplomat.
This will restrict the force to just countering the cross-border attacks by the terrorists.
While the troops will be provided with “logistical support”, financial backing will pose a great problem for the collective measure, diplomats say.
The idea for the creation of the force was adopted at an AU summit in late January, when the participants also urged the United Nations Security Council to approve the plan.
On January 31, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon threw his weight behind the establishment of the anti-terrorist force.
“I welcome the decision of the AU and regional countries to establish an MJTF (Multinational Joint Task Force) against Boko Haram,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the 24th Summit of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The force, which is set to be based in Chad’s capital city of N’Djamena, will be mandated “to prevent the spread of Boko Haram activities and other terrorist groups” and “eradicate their presence,” AU’s Peace and Security Council agreed at a meeting this week.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” controls large parts of northeastern Nigeria and says 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 beginning of its militancy in 2009, which have left over 13,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced.
Boko Haram, which is considered the biggest security threat in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer and largest economy, has also conducted attacks in the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Zionist media outlets in Israel consider that the Israeli marine oil facilities are directly threatened by Hezbollah and Palestinian Resistance groups.
The outlets add that the Israeli army has to cope with that challenge on both northern & southern fronts, noting that Hezbollah and the Palestinian Resistance factions are preparing to target the Zionist gas platforms during any upcoming war.
Assad: Western Countries Lack the Will to Fight Terrorism
The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stresses that the international community, represented by the United Nations and the Security Council, has failed to fulfill its duties, even though it is supposed to solve disputes, protect states' sovereignty and prevent wars breaking out.
In an interview with official Portuguese TV, Assad says the moderate opposition in Syria is just an illusion, and that the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front takfiri groups, are the main orchestrators of terrorism in the country, with other, smaller, factions.
Syria's President highlights that western officials don't have the will to fight terror, noting that the USA has announced the training of five thousand more fighters, who will represent another prop for the terrorists already operating in Syria.
Assad stresses that it is impossible to say that Syria is overcome when people are united behind their government and army to fight terrorism, the government's institutions are still working, "and we're still offering the state's support & paying wages, even in areas under the control of the terrorists themselves."
He emphasizes that the international community has failed to fulfill its task... proven by its inability to protect several other countries, like Libya and Yemen.
President Assad underlines that the solution in Syria, is only political, and makes clear that the other party, i.e. the opposition factions convening in Geneva for Syria talks, have all been chosen by the west.
Syrian Army Launches New Campaigns in Idlib, Homs, Aleppo
In Idlib, army units killed many members of terrorist organizations on Idlib-Ein Sheib and in the areas of Martamsarin, Abu al-Duhour, Tal Salmo & Um Jerin, in the countryside.
More terrorists’ vehicles, some with heavy machine guns, were destroyed by army units in Armanaz, al-Hbeit and Talaas in the countryside around Idlib, while the terrorists in the vehicles, were killed.
In Homs, army units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, killed tens of terrorists, some of them non-Syrian, in the area around Jazal gas field & in the countryside around central Homs province.
The army also targeted gatherings of terrorists in the hills of al-Msheirfeh al-Janoubiyeh and al-Wudeihi & killed a number of ISIS terrorists around al-Shaer gas field, in the countryside to its East.
In Quneitra, more terrorists were killed and others wounded, in army operations in Mas’hara and Quneitra provinces, in the southern countryside.
In Daraa, southern Daraa province, units of the army and armed forces destroyed caches of weapons and ammunition, killing many terrorists in Kafr Nasij, Aqraba, al-Teiheh, al-Sheikh Miskeen, al-Fqei’, Ibta, Samlin and Zamrin in the countryside.
Other army units targeted more hideouts for terrorists in the area of Tafas, Atman, al-Nueimeh, Kafr Shams and Jassem in the countryside of Daraa and in Daraa al-Balad neighborhood in the city.
More terrorists were killed, and their vehicles destroyed, in al-Lajat area in the countryside.
In Aleppo, several terrorist gatherings and hideouts were destroyed by army units in northern Aleppo province in the areas of al-Rashideen neighborhood, Old City, al-Ameriyeh, al-Naana’I, Khan al-Assal, Andan, al- Shaar, Bab al-Hadid, al-Malah farms, al- Ramouseh and Salah-Eddin.
The operations also resulted in the destruction of several of the terrorists’ vehicles.
In the northern countryside of Lattakia, army units killed many terrorists after targeting their gatherings and hideouts in Salma, Kafr Delba, Marj Khoukheh, al-Kert, Dweirkieyh, al-Mreij.
The army also destroyed a cache of weapons and ammunition in Tertiah area.
Syria has been hit by violent unrest since March 2011. Now, even western media reports accuse countries -- mainly the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of orchestrating the civil conflict in the country and providing terrorist groups with money, weapons and trained mercenaries.
On May 2011, the Syrian army launched a wide-scale operation against armed groups and gunmen in the country, who then started to escape the army's blows by infiltrating illegally, into Lebanon.
Russia Provides Egypt with Antey-2500 Missile Systems
Russia has begun delivering Antey-2500 air defense missile systems to Egypt under a contract signed earlier, a high-ranking source in Russia's Defense Ministry tells Interfax-AVN.
"Deliveries of auxiliary technological equipment have been launched. Within a year, Egypt will receive the launchers and other equipment," he said.
"The contract is being implemented according to schedule," the source said, declining to say how many Antey-2500 systems were bought by Egypt.
Antey-2500 is the export version of Russia's S-300V4 surface-to-air missile system, which is used by the Russian Land Forces. The new system is capable of engaging ballistic and aerodynamic targets within a range of up to 400 kilometers.
Venezuela became the first foreign country to buy Antey-2500 systems, which were also offered to Iran.
Russia is one of the main non-Arab supporters of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government and was among the first countries to endorse Sisi’s presidential bid in 2014, after he toppled the former administration, led by the ousted President, Mohammad Mursi.
Ukrainian MPs vote for bigger army --- despite truce deal
Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a new bill aimed at increasing the number of army troops fighting anti-coup forces in the eastern regions despite a truce between the two warring sides.
The legislative proposal, which was passed on Thursday, calls for a 250,000 force with 204,000 active servicemen, compared with 184,000 now.
According to local press reports, 270 of the 314 parliamentary members present, voted in favor of the new law.
The development came after Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mekhed stressed the need to boost the size of the armed forces operating in the east.
Mekhed said the number of troops will be reduced after the crisis "is settled".
The bill has to be signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko, who proposed the measure.
Russia launches air defense drills as tensions rise
According to Russia’s military officials on Thursday, the Russian army kicked off its drills in Southern Military District, which encompasses regions near the Crimean Peninsula and neighboring Ukraine.
“Crews drilled the most complicated elements of flight proficiency training, like takeoffs and landings in adverse weather conditions, and the application of air-launched incapacitation devices at ground targets on a range,” says Colonel Igor Klimov, an official spokesperson for Russia’s air force.
The Russian Defense Ministry says over 2,000 troops and 500 weapons systems, including strategic bombers (Tupolev- 95MS, Tupolev-160), have taken part in the military maneuvers, which are to continue for over a month.
The maneuvers are being held as Russia and the West raise their rhetoric over the chaos in Ukraine.
On Thursday, NATO's unelected deputy secretary-general, claimed that Russia has a military presence in east Ukraine.
“Russian soldiers are fighting and dying in large numbers in eastern Ukraine,” said Alexander Vershbow, in the Latvian capital, Riga.
His comments came a day after US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland repeated Washington’s claims about Moscow’s military assistance to anti-coup forces in eastern Ukraine.
“President Putin’s aim seems to be to turn Ukraine into a failed state and to suppress and discredit alternative voices in Russia,” said Nuland in an apparent reference to the recent assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition figure, in Moscow.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich, strongly rejects the allegations about dispatching troops to Ukraine, adding, “These figures, which are plucked out of the air, of course, demoralize and disorientate the international community.”
Russian General Mocks US Commander's Size Claim, Suggests Hidden Motives
Russian Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov calls US Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges' claim that Russia has 12,000 troops in East Ukraine "a failed attempt to impress the women of the US State Department."
"The 12,000 troop strength he suggested is a serious army group with thousands of units of military equipment. You can't just cover that up with some snow on a tiny patch of the 'isolated districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.'"
Hodges' claim was a failed attempt to impress the women of the US State Department, Konashenkov believes.
"For the State Department spokeswomen, distant from military realities, it's easy to later cite such 'authoritative' estimates: size matters a lot to them."
On Tuesday, in a speech in Berlin, Lt. Gen Ben Hodges announced that he fears Putin will destroy NATO by splitting it from the inside, saying Russia has inserted 12,000 troops into the Donbas region, the biggest claim made by a US official yet.
Moscow dismisses NATO allegations that Russia conducts large-scale nuclear drills
Moscow dismisses NATO’s allegations that Russia holds large-scale military exercises drilling in the use of nuclear weapons, Foreign Ministry officials state.
"We have paid attention to NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow’s speech... ...in which he said the conflict in Ukraine has a dimension associated with weapons of mass destruction," the ministry comments.
"In particular, he made a dogmatic statement that Russia is conducting large-scale military exercises to drill on nuclear tasks, including a ‘nuclear component’ in the conventional weapons’ drills."
"We've again heard reproaches that Russia’s strategic aviation ostensibly performs flights closer & closer to NATO countries' borders," the ministry says. "These allegations are totally ungrounded, and we have repeatedly proven this with facts to our foreign partners."
"Alexander Vershbow’s attempts to scare the world community with Russian nuclear weapons, look inappropriate against the backdrop of NATO’s long-term practice of involve non-nuclear members of the bloc in performing ‘nuclear missions,’ i.e. in planning and drilling nuclear strikes, including delivering nuclear bombs to targets," Russia's Foreign Ministry says.
"To this end, American nuclear weapons are stored in Europe & NATO servicemen are being trained in their use. The latest such exercise, Steadfast Noon, was held last autumn, in Italy."
Russia's Foreign Ministry reminds people that nuclear and non-nuclear members of the North Atlantic Alliance are signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), article 1 of which prohibits nuclear states from transfering nuclear weapons, or giving control over such weapons, to non-nuclear countries.
Article 2 prohibits non-nuclear states from accepting nuclear weapons or being given control over them, by nuclear countries.
"It means that NATO’s nuclear strategy, which provides for the possibility of using the aviation of NATO’s member countries enjoying non-nuclear status to deliver US nuclear bombs, runs counter to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," the ministry stresses.
"NATO’s leadership would do better to straighten this contradiction, rather than laying the blame on Russia, which has no nuclear weapons on countries’ territories and -- unlike the United States -- keeps its reduced stockpiles of non-strategic nuclear arms in a non-deployed state," the ministry underscores.
PLO plans to end all security cooperation with Israel: Officials
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to end all security cooperation with Israel, Palestinian officials say.
According to reports on Thursday, the PCC (Palestinian Central Council ) of the PLO, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, decided to cut all security cooperation with Israel after two-day discussions in Ramallah.
“Security coordination in all its forms with the authority of the Israeli occupation will be stopped in the light of its (Israel’s) non- compliance with the agreements signed between the two sides,” the PCC, the second highest Palestinian decision- making body, says in a statement.
Tel Aviv “should shoulder all its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people in the occupied state of Palestine as an occupation authority according to international law,” the statement reads.
The statement calls on the UN Security Council to “determine a deadline to end the Israeli occupation and ensure that the state of Palestine is enabled to practice its sovereignty on its land occupied since 1967, including its capital east Jerusalem and, resolve the issue of refugees according to resolution 194.”
“The concept of a Jewish state is rejected and, also, a (Palestinian) state with provisional borders is rejected. Any formula that would keep an Israeli military or settler presence on any part of the land of the state of Palestine is rejected,” says the statement.
At the opening of the talks, attended by officials from the PCC, Abbas denounced the decision by the Israeli regime, to withhold Palestinian tax revenues worth over $100 million a month.
“How are they allowed to take away our money? Are we dealing with a state or with a gangster?” he asked.
The meetings, attended by legislators, union leaders & other figures, focused on a review of the interim agreements with the Israelis.
In response to Palestinian efforts to finally attain membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Tel Aviv announced the freeze on revenues transfer, in January.
Palestinians are continuing efforts to file war crime charges against the regime at the ICC.
The Palestinian president calls the tax freeze a provocation, noting that “peaceful, popular resistance is the only way for us” in the fight against Israel.
Abbas also asked “all countries of the world to recognize the state of Palestine.”
“But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions don't mean in any way, that we don't want to negotiate, or that we're running away from the negotiations,” Abbas said, adding that talks will continue with “who- ever” wins their general election on March 17th.
Russia concerned about US plan to arm Ukraine
“The reports regarding the intentions of the US to start massive supplies of weapons to Ukraine, which keep on coming, cause our most serious concerns," Russian Foreign Ministry spokes- person, Alexander Lukashevich, says, in a regular briefing in Moscow on Thursday.
He says the new move seriously undermines efforts for a successful implementation of the ceasefire in east Ukraine, which was reached in Minsk on February 12th.
Known as Minsk II, a deal was reached when leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, promised to convince the warring factions in Ukraine to withdraw all heavy weaponry from the frontlines.
Lukashevich says the US decision “could not only lead to undermining the truce and to a new escalation in the southeast, but also threaten the security of Russia.”
He says the only way out of the current crisis in east Ukraine will be a political solution:
"It is impossible to extinguish the fire of a civil war by weapons. This can only be done through a political dialogue between the warring parties."
Lukashevich also accuses a number of European countries - including Finland - of following the US in arming the Ukrainian army, in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
He also warns that Moscow-Washington ties will be further strained if citizens in eastern Ukraine “start being killed, through these US weapons”.
The US and Western allies have accused Russia of having a major hand in the Ukrainian conflict which has claimed more than 6,000 lives since it started nearly 10 months ago.
Russia denies the accusations, saying that the government in Kiev must stop suppression of the ethnic Russian population living in east and south eastern parts of Ukraine.
Ukraine's Cabinet extends the list of uncontrolled cities
The Cabinet of Ukraine confirms the list of settlements in Donetsk region, where the organs of state power don't exercise their full commission, or do it only in part.
15 cities uncontrolled by Ukraine, or with limited control, are announced. There were 12 such cities in November.
Specifically, Avdeevka, Debaltsevo and Dzerzhinsk are added to the list, signed by PM, Arseniy Yazenyuk.
Moreover, villages around Mariupol, such as Sartana and Talakovka, and a whole range of settlements in the Artemovskiy, Marinskiy, Volnovahskiy, Telmanovsliy & Yasinovatskiy regions, are now listed.
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 told TASS Wednesday.
"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, the source said.
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 so that March's supplies are not ended, the Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, says.
"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.