Russia / Ukraine Conflict

Russia / Ukraine Conflict22 posts
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21 Jul, 2015
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Pleads not guilty

Plea hearing

Sentsov pleads not guilty to terrorism charges relating to giving gifts of food to Ukrainian troops in Crimea, and attending anti-Crimea annexation protests. The Russian government says he is an affiliate of the Ukrainian activist group, Right Sector. The charges carry a penalty of life imprisonment, but prosecutors have offered Sentsov a 20-year term. Sentsov says he was tortured and does not consider the Russian court a court at all.

Ukrainian Film Director on Trial: Oleh Sentsov pleads not guilty during Russian court hearing

17 Jul, 2015
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Expels Russia’s consul general

The Ukrainian government expels Shibeko, Russia’s consul general, from the Black Sea port of Odessa, declaring him ‘persona non grata’ after the Security Service of Ukraine accuses him of ‘actions incompatible with diplomatic activity.’ Ukraine security:

The security service will continue to identify foreigners who work against our government using their diplomatic status as cover.

17 Oct, 2014
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Credit rating cut to just above junk grade

Moody’s Investors Service cuts its rating on Russian government debt to Baa2, the second ratings notch above speculative grade. The outlook on the credit rating is Negative. It cites ‘increasingly subdued medium-term growth prospects,’ exacerbated by the Ukraine crisis. Low oil prices and other factors also contribute.

13 Sep, 2014
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‘Third world war’

Makes Statement

Pope Francis says that conflicts around the globe represent a third World War. During a Mass held at Italy’s largest war memorial, a Fascist-era monument where 100,000 soldiers who died in World War One are buried, the pontiff appears to be referring to the recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine and Africa. The homily:

Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep … War is madness. Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction … War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying. Greed, intolerance, the lust for power. These motives underlie the decision to go to war and they are too often justified by an ideology.

10 Sep, 2014
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70% of Russian troops withdrawn

Poroshenko says Russia has withdrawn the majority of its forces from eastern Ukraine. At a government meeting:

According to the latest information that I have received from our intelligence, 70 percent of Russian troops have been moved back across the border. This further strengthens our hope that the peace initiatives have good prospects.

8 Sep, 2014
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Threatens to block flights

Russia warns that it will hit back against the West if tougher sanctions are imposed over the conflict in Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev blames countries backing Ukraine for damaging the Russian economy with “stupid” sanctions and suggests Moscow could retaliate by stopping flights over Russian airspace. Medvedev:

If Western carriers have to bypass our airspace, this could drive many struggling airlines into bankruptcy. This is not the way to go. We just hope our partners realise this at some point.

7 Sep, 2014
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Fighting threatens ceasefire

Fighting erupts in two Ukrainian cities, threatening the ceasefire status. Sporadic artillery and machine gun fire are reported in the early hours of Sunday on the outskirts of the strategic port city of Mariupol. A gas station is set on fire, and cars carry wounded civilians down the roads with the Mariupol city government saying pro-Russian rebels carried out the shelling near the city overnight, killing one woman and leaving three people wounded. Shelling and explosions are also heard near the airport of the flashpoint city of Donetsk on Sunday morning, the Donetsk city council says. Mariupol resident Gennady Andreyavich:

There is so much confusion. We really don’t know what will happen, because when people say we must live in a united Ukraine and we see at the same time Ukrainian forces in retreat – what should we think?

5 Sep, 2014
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Ceasefire begins

Ukraine, Russia and the Kremlin-backed separatists sign a ceasefire deal. Gunfire and shelling appear to fall silent across the east of the country as the agreement takes effect. Poroshenko says he ordered his forces to halt hostilities at 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) after the deal was signed in Minsk, Belarus capital, by the three sides and a representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Separatist leaders also say they ordered their forces to hold fire. Poroshenko says the cease-fire is based on an agreement reached during a ‘long conversation’ with Putin and will be overseen by international monitors from the OSCE. The European Union is preparing additional sanctions in case it fails. The negotiators also agree on withdrawal of all heavy weaponry, the release of all prisoners and the delivery of humanitarian aid to devastated cities in eastern Ukraine.

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Ceasefire agreed

After talks in Belarus, Ukraine’s government and rebel separatists sign a ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire agreement goes into effect at 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), per order of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. A CNN team in southeastern Ukraine reports that as of 20 minutes into the ceasefire period there had been no renewal of artillery fire.

4 Sep, 2014
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The Times commentary

Obama and Cameron write in a commentary for The Times that global security is under threat from Russia’s unilateral actions in the Crimea and Ukraine and the ability of groups like ISIS to develop state-like powers:

The growth of technology and globalisation, for all its great benefits and opportunities, has put power once reserved for States in the hands of the individual, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. The utterly despicable murders of two American journalists by ISIL are but the latest evidence of a brutal and poisonous extremism that murders indiscriminately and risks exporting terrorism abroa.

Isolationism has no place in the global era:

Of course there are some who say that we shouldn’t get involved in addressing these threats, that in Britain and America we have done our bit for the world and we should leave today’s problems for others to sort out. … First, those who believe in stepping back and adopting an isolationist approach misunderstand the nature of security in the 21st century. Developments in other parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria threaten our security at home.

They say NATO can adapt to the new global security environment, and renew calls for a rapid response force to tackle the Russian aggression and for member nations to commit to spending 2% of GDP on defense. Military, economic and political force must all be utilized:

We know that terrorist organisations thrive where there is political instability and weak or dysfunctional political institutions. So we must invest in the building blocks of free and open societies, including the creation of a new genuinely inclusive Government in Iraq that can unite all Iraqis, including Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, Christian and other minority populations. When the threats to our security increasingly emanate from outside the borders of our Alliance, we must do more to build partnerships with others around the globe who share our values and want to build a safe, tolerant and peaceful world – that includes supporting the partners who are taking the fight to ISIL on the ground, as we have done by stepping up support for Kurdish and Iraqi Security Forces. And we should use our expertise to provide training and mentoring to forces elsewhere, whether in Georgia or the Middle East, strengthening the capacity of forces there to tackle local threats.

The U.S. and UK will continue to lead the alliance:

… It is only by supporting peace, democracy and human rights around the globe that we will keep British and American families safe today.

3 Sep, 2014
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‘Cannot appease Putin’

Cameron says at a closed-door EU summit in Brussels that the international community cannot afford to appease Putin, comparing Russia’s actions to Hitler in 1938.  The Italian La Repubblica newspaper obtains details of the discussion:

We run the risk of repeating the mistakes made in Munich in ’38. We cannot know what will happen next. This time we cannot meet Putin’s demands. He has already taken Crimea and we cannot allow him to take the whole country.

Downing Street declines to confirm the remarks, but does not contest the accuracy of the report.

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‘Russia at war with Europe’

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite says that Russia is now effectively at war with Europe:

It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe. That means we need to help Ukraine to … defend its territory and its people and to help militarily, especially with the military materials to help Ukraine to defend itself because today Ukraine is fighting a war on behalf of all Europe.

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Suspends uranium trade

Abbott announces that uranium trade with Russia is ruled out until further notice due to its actions in the Ukraine, several days after the government announces other sanctions including restrictions on investment, travel, and access by Russian banks to Australian capital markets.

Australia has no intention of selling uranium to a country which is so obviously in breach of international law as Russia currently is

2 Sep, 2014
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Over a million Ukrainians displaced

The United Nations refugee agency states that over a million Ukrainians are in a situation of displacement do to conflicts and warn of “devastating consequences” if the fighting does not cease. The last three weeks a displacement of 260,000 refugees is only a low estimate, nearly double the effect in that time frame. Approximately 814,000 are and may continue to migrate to Russia, with tens of thousands moving to varies European countries. Ukrainian authorities say that about 2.2 million still live in battle areas.

If the crisis is not quickly stopped, it will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences, but it also has the potential to destabilize the whole region. After the lessons of the Balkans, it is hard to believe a conflict of these proportions could unfold in the European continent.

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‘Russia can take Kiev in two weeks’

Barroso questions Putin on the apparent presence of as many as 1,600 Russian troops in Ukraine at a closed-door discussion at an EU summit in Brussels, and the Russian leader responds that he could take the country’s capital in a fortnight. Details of the talk leaked by the Italian La Repubblica newspaper show that he responds:

The problem is not this, but that if I want I’ll take Kiev in two weeks

A Kremlin foreign policy advisor says the remarks are out of context, however the Kremlin does not deny that Putin has spoken of taking Kiev.

1 Sep, 2014
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Increases sanctions

Abbott announces increased sanctions on Russia, bringing Australia’s sanctions in line with the European Union. The extra sanctions include restrictions on arms exports, restrictions on Russian State-owned banks to Australia’s capital markets, stopping exports used for oil exploration and production, restrictions on Australian trade and investment in Crimea, and targeted travel bans and financial sanctions on 63 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities. He doesn’t impose sanctions on the uranium trade, but says:

The government does not rule out further sanctions in the future

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‘High-readiness’ force

NATO members meeting this week in Wales are expected to create “a very high-readiness force” to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine, says NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He calls the new unit “a spearhead within our Response Force” that can “travel light, but strike hard if needed.” It will include several thousand troops and respond with air, sea and special forces support.

At the summit, we will meet with (President Petro Poroshenko) of Ukraine and make clear our support for Ukraine, as it is confronted by Russia’s aggression. Russia appears to be trying to force Ukraine to abandon its democratic choices through the barrel of a gun.

30 Aug, 2014
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European ultimatum to Russia

European leaders give Russia one week to scale back its intervention in Ukraine – or face fresh economic sanctions. European leaders order officials to make urgent preparations for a toughening of measures, likely to target senior Kremlin figures as well as the defence, energy and financial sectors. Barroso:

We are in a very serious, I would say, dramatic situation … where we can reach the point of no return. If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point can come.

29 Aug, 2014
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Condemns Russian ‘invasion’

Abbott says an apparent movement of Russian troops into Ukraine represents an ‘invasion’ and is unacceptable:

Clearly if, as seems to have been the case, Russian armed forces have simply moved across the border that is an invasion and it is utterly reprehensible. It is an absolutely clear cut case of a larger country bullying a smaller country and should have no place in our world.

The act presents a risk to global security:

You cannot have an international order if might is right. You cannot have a safe and secure world if powerful countries are able to take what they want and plainly what we’ve seen in the Ukraine over the last six moths or so is an increasingly aggressive role by Russia and it seems that Russia is now stepping out of the shadows and overtly trying to achieve its objects of domination in the Ukraine. It is completely, absolutely and utterly unacceptable.

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Nuclear threat

Putin tells NATO and US not to mess with Russia. He also says that Moscow doesn’t want or intend to wade into any “large-scale conflicts”.

I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words. We must always be ready to repel any aggression against Russia and (potential enemies) should be aware … it is better not to come against Russia as regards a possible armed conflict.

20 Aug, 2014
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Wants diplomatic solution

Branson tells CNN that he and the leaders of 15 major companies including Unilever, PayPal, and eBay, want a diplomatic solution and to avoid a new Cold War scenario:

I just think it’s extremely sad to see in my lifetime the Berlin Wall coming down, and then a number of years later, all that hope seemingly disappearing. And I have a lot of Russian friends, a lot of Ukrainian friends, a lot of business leaders from both countries. And I’ve spoken with them, and they’re equally sad. And we felt it was important to speak out to beg our politicians to — through diplomacy to resolve this particular issue. And then, as quickly as possible, to try to get back to the normality that existed between Russia and Europe and the rest of the world after the Berlin Wall came down.

On whether the entrepreneurs will seek a meeting with Putin:

The first important thing that’s happening is that the president of Ukraine is meeting with President Putin next week, and let’s hope that something positive comes out of that. If that fails, then the group of people that we’ve put together, the group of Russian business leaders would be delighted to meet up with President Putin and see whether a compromise can be reached. The group of Ukrainian business leaders that we have onboard would be delighted to sit with the Ukrainian president. And I think we could use our negotiating skills, our entrepreneurial skills to reach a compromise.

On whether Putin is open to diplomacy:

I don’t know. I think that we would be irresponsible if we didn’t give it a try. And I think that he feels that when he got reelected, the West didn’t welcome him into office, that he was somewhat ostracized by the West. And therefore, he’s going it alone somewhat. And I think that whatever caused him to feel that, it’s up to the West, I think, to make it clear that we want Russia to be — ultimately, that we want Russia to be part of Europe, we want to be able to trust each other completely. And that’s what we’ve all got to try to work towards and try to put the last year firmly behind us and try to find a positive way forward.

1 Jan, 1970
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Prepares for EU referendum

Timoshenko says her Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party will submit all necessary papers to the Central Electoral Commission for a referendum on accession to the European Union before the end of the day, so that the vote can be held simultaneously with early parliamentary elections slated for Oct. 26:

The Batkivshchina party made the decision to begin today all procedures that are required for holding a referendum on accession to NATO on the day of the pre-term elections to the Verkhovna Rada [parliament]

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