Daily Archives: March 6, 2014

Full video of 9/11 attack captured from space to be shown for first time

A man walks through the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial across from New York‘s Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park (Reuters / Gary Hershorn)

A British news channel is preparing to broadcast video footage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks captured from outer space for the first time in the coming weeks.

Channel 4, a public service television station based in the United Kingdom, has announced that it will show footage from that Tuesday morning captured from the International Space Station by Frank Culbertson, the only American on board the ISS. When Culbertson was notified that something had occurred in New York, he realized they would be passing over the city soon.

“I zipped around the station until I found a window that would give me a view of New York City and grabbed the nearest camera,” he told Space.com last year. “The smoke seemed to have an odd bloom to it at the base of the column that was streaming south of the city. After reading one of the news articles we just received, I believe we were looking at New York around the time of, or shortly after, the collapse of the second tower.”

“I didn’t know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was really bad because there was a big cloud of debris covering Manhattan,” he went on. “That’s when it really became painful because it was like seeing a wound in the side of your country, your family, your friends.”

Culbertson learned hours after the attack that his friend, Chic Burlingame, was one of the pilots who died in the attack. Burlingame was steering American Airlines Flight 77, the aircraft that was eventually flown into the Pentagon in Washington DC.

Despite sitting more than 200 miles above the scene, Culbertson captured the images that have been replicated thousands of times across the media. The footage, which has never been broadcast to the public, will be aired on March 16 as part of a documentary series focusing on the lives of astronauts.

“Not every frame has been seen before, so every frame that was shot on that day is in the show,” Tom Brisley, the creative director of the Channel 4 project, told the Guardian.

At one point, Culbertson plays the Taps trumpet call as a tribute to the day’s events. He will also be interviewed throughout the film to explain what it was like to have such a unique view.

Culbertson wrote a letter on September 12, reflecting on the events that took place the previous day.

“I couldn’t even imagine the particulars, even before the news of further destruction began coming in,” he wrote. “Other than the emotional impact of our country being attacked and thousands of our citizens and maybe some friends being killed, the most overwhelming feeling being where I am is one of isolation.”

But as the September 11 attacks turned into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a number of researchers at universities across the US have warned that media consumers who repeatedly expose themselves to such gruesome images could be putting themselves at risk of psychological damage.

Roxanne Cohen Silver, a professor of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine, said that people who spent four hours or more soaking up 9/11 or Iraq War coverage were more likely to experience acute stress.

“The results suggest that exposure to graphic media images may be an important mechanism through which the impact of collective trauma is dispersed widely,” Silver said, as quoted by the university’s website. “Our findings are both relevant and timely as vivid images reach larger audiences than ever before through YouTube, social media and smartphones.”

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Syrian ambassador to UN restricted to 25-mile radius of New York City

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja’afari

The US State department has banned the movement of Syria’s UN delegation, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, to within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of New York City.

Jaafari has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006 and has been an unwavering supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 3-year long civil war. Jaafari has not yet commented on the restriction.

The United States has not given a reason for the travel ban, but State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, said that such travel limits were not unheard of.

“UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius. So this is not something out of the realm of what we’ve done before,” she told reporters in Washington.

North Korean and Iranian diplomats are also restricted to a 25-mile radius of the Columbus Intersection in Manhattan.

Last year Jaafari complained to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the UN’s double standards in the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which he said did not condemn the crimes of foreign backed terrorists on Syrian soil.

Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fell apart last month, with both sides repeating their previous positions and blaming each other for the impasse.

Observers also note that the Syrian opposition has now become deeply fragmented and radicalized and is not represented by those attending the Geneva peace talks.

 

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‘US using their Africa and Middle East strategy in Ukraine’

Kiev February 20, 2014.

The US establishes strategic networks around globe, some linked to humanitarian organizations, and some to fascist organizations and individuals who will do their dirty work, Scott Rickard, former intelligence officer for the NSA, told RT.

Rickard, who also worked for the USAF and the Directorate of National Intelligence, believes that no doubt Yanukovich was very corrupt, and the uprising can’t of course be called peaceful, although it started out that way.

“When you are throwing thousands of Molotov cocktails and you are being funded – this is a very strategic network that these NGOs have and they have been operating in Ukraine for decades. These individuals have ties at the greatest levels into humanitarian organizations, all the way up to the best side of the things and all the way down into the fascist organizations for the individuals that will do dirty work for them,” Rickard said.

Rickard also argues that “the CIA has operated like this in South America, they have operated like this in Africa” and there is nothing surprising that “they are going to do this in Ukraine.”

‘Denial of reality’

Foreign policy expert, Nebojsa Malic, believes that the West is sticking to its usual strategy: an “absolute denial of reality when it suits their aims.”

“Unfortunately, neither the Europeans nor the Americans generally allow facts to get in the way of a good story and what Mr Kerry said, the fairy tale about peaceful protesters being murdered by the government, that’s their fairy tale and they are sticking to it,” Malic told RT.

British Labour Party politician and MP Jeremy Corbyn suggests that the Western authorities should address a number of issues related to the Ukrainian crisis, namely the nature of some of the protesters and the question of representation of different nationalities living in Ukraine.

People hold a giant EU flag on November 24, 2013 during a rally in Kiev.

I think [there are] two issues that the Western governments have got to address: that the far-right forces that were active at the central square in Kiev, quite racist organizations, seem to be largely ignored by the Western media in the run-up to the removal of President Yanukovich; secondly, they have to recognize that any government in Ukraine has got to make itself representative of all the people of Ukraine, whether they are Russian-speaking, Ukrainian-speaking, Tatar people or whatever group they are from. Surely that has to be the right way forward and I hope it will be the way forward. Otherwise, fundamental instability is going to be there for a long time to come,” Corbyn said.

He also added that “those forces that were active in opposing Yanukovich’s government included very genuine people who were concerned about corruption and efficiency and mismanagement, but they also included some very nasty forces that seem quite happy to be associated with Nazi and neo-Nazi insignia.”

Corbyn claims that “what is happening in Ukraine is going to have to be resolved politically” without any foreign intervention.

I think military intervention by anyone is wrong and I think expansion of NATO beyond its existing area is also wrong and I regret that the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe wasn’t given the premier role it should have been given at the end of the Cold War,” he told RT.

RT Op-Edge.

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US navy confirms missile destroyer USS Truxton approaching the Black Sea

The nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Truxtun, DDG-103

The US Navy has confirmed that a guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment, decided long before the crisis in Ukraine, which has divided world powers.

The US Navy said in a statement that the USS Truxton left Greece on Thursday on the way to the Black Sea and was going to conduct training with the Romanian and Bulgarian navy.

“While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,” The US Navy said in statement.

“Truxton’s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States,” the statement added.

The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.

The announcement comes after Turkish authorities confirmed on Wednesday they had given permission to a US navy warship to pass through the Bosphorus Straights, which is the only entrance to the Black Sea, it was reported in the Hurriyet Daily News.

However, Turkish sources told the Hurriyet Daily News that the ship in question was not the nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, as was suggested in some news reports. The USS George Bush is too heavy in terms of tonnage to meet the standards of the Montreaux Convention, which governs what can and can’t access the Black Sea.

The Pentagon also said on Wednesday that US fighter jets would join NATO patrols on missions in the Baltic countries, which include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

On Sunday the Tass news agency reported that the guided missile frigate USS Taylor, which had been assigned to the Black Sea for the Sochi Winter Olympics, was still in the Turkish port of Samsun for repairs, after running aground on February 12.

Two Russian navy ships also entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus on Tuesday, as well as a Ukrainian navy vessel which was heading for Odessa and not the Crimea.

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Lawmakers ready to pass bill allowing acceptance of Crimea into Russian Federation

Pro-Russian activists wave Russian flags as they demonstrate in Simferopol, the administrative center of Crimea

Several Russian parliamentarians have voiced their readiness to fast track a new bill on accepting new regions into the Russian state, and made it clear that the move was caused by fears over the fate of ethnic Russians in the Crimean Republic.

The draft law simplifies the procedure of accepting a part of a foreign state into the Russian Federation, and could be passed as early as next week, the head of the Fair Russia party Sergey Mironov told reporters on Thursday.

“To put it in plain text, the bill was initiated by me for the sake of Crimea,” the lawmaker added.

Fair Russia has prepared and submitted to the State Duma an amendment to the 2001 law on formation of new subjects in the Russian Federation.

According to deputy head of the Fair Russia caucus in the State Duma, Mikhail Yemelyanov, the existing law reads that Russian authorities can start such a procedure after reaching an agreement with the state that the newly joining territory was part of. The local authorities from the region must then formally address the Russian President with the request to join. The President consults with both chambers of parliament and in case of agreement submits a federal bill detailing the name and status of the new federal subject as well as other legal formalities.

The suggested amendments make the acceptance of new regions possible without intergovernmental agreements in two cases – if such a move is approved by a universal referendum of the region’s residents, or if the request is made by a legitimate body of state power from another country.

Upper House MP Anatoly Lyskov told the Interfax agency that once the bill is passed the decision on accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation can be made very quickly, in between three and five days. The parliamentarian added that as the initiative will come from the majority of the Crimean population, the international community will have no grounds to question its legitimacy.

On Thursday the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted for the region to split from Ukraine and seek to be part of Russia. Legislators also decided that such an important step needs the approval from a referendum which is scheduled on March 16.

On the same day President Vladimir Putin discussed the Crimean authorities’ decision and the forthcoming referendum with members of the top consultative body – the Security Council. The results of this conference were not made public.

All parties in the Lower House support the territorial integrity of Ukraine but at the same time understand the right of the Crimean people to raise any questions they deem appropriate, the head of the State Duma committee for CIS affairs Leonid Slutskiy told Interfax. “The March 16 referendum will form a collective position held by the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and on the basis of this decision we will determine the State Duma position,” the lawmaker said.

The date of the first hearing on the bill on new federation subjects will be scheduled by the State Duma council on Tuesday next week, according to deputy head of majority parliamentary faction United Russia Mikhail Yemelyanov.

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Russia hits back at US ‘barefaced cynicism and double standards’ over Ukraine

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the US State Department of double standards and low-level propaganda after it published a list of President Vladimir Putin’s “false claims” about the events in Ukraine.

“The State Department is trying to play on a shamelessly one-sided interpretation of the events,” ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday. “Surely, Washington cannot admit that they were nurturing Maidan [protests], encouraging the violent overthrow of the legitimate government, and thus clearing the way for those who are now pretending to be a legitimate power in Kiev.”

On Wednesday, one day after the Russian president’s media conference on the events in Ukraine, the US State Department accused him of lying and published a “fact sheet” of Putin’s 10 “false claims” surrounding the crisis.

Moscow said that it will not respond to such “low-level propaganda.”

“We will only say, yet again, that we are dealing with unacceptable arrogance and a pretense of having a monopoly on the truth,” Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

The United States has “no moral right” to lecture about observing international laws and respecting the sovereignty of other states, the diplomat added.

“What about the bombing of former Yugoslavia or the invasion of Iraq over a fabricated cause?” Lukashevich pointed out.

There have been quite a few examples of American military foreign interventions when there was no real threat to US security: Vietnam, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Libya, and Panama.

“The Vietnam War claimed the lives of two million civilians, not to mention totally destroyed the country and polluted the environment,” the diplomat said. “On the pretext of providing security to Americans who simply happened to be in conflict zones, the US invaded Lebanon in 1958 and the Dominican Republic in 1965, attacked tiny Grenada in 1983, bombed Libya in 1986, and occupied Panama three years later.”

“Still, they dare to blame Russia of ‘armed aggression’ when it stands up for its compatriots – who comprise the majority of Crimea’s population – in order to prevent ultra-nationalist forces from organizing yet another bloody Maidan.”

Apparently, Washington cannot adequately handle the development of events which are not in line with American templates, Moscow said. But this is no reason to shift the blame, the ministry concluded.

The two nuclear powers have been involved in a bitter dispute over the Ukrainian crisis, with Washington giving its backing to the coup-appointed government. The US has repeatedly accused Russia of “invading” the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, ignoring the fact that an existing 1997 agreement between Russia and Ukraine allows Moscow to keep up to 25,000 Black Sea Fleet troops in the peninsula.

Following the violent uprising which resulted in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich,Crimean authorities denounced the coup-appointed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The government of the republic – which comprises of mostly Russian speakers – asked Moscow to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.

Crimea is to decide in a March 16 referendum whether it wants to remain within Ukraine or join Russia.

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‘Visa bans, asset freezes are next’: Europe announces three step sanctions against Russia

EU leaders have threatened Russia with sanctions, which could include visa bans, asset freezes and various economic restrictions unless it engages in direct talks with the coup-appointed Ukrainian government.

As a first step, the EU has halted G8 summit preparations and visa-free talks with Russia.

The European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, on Thursday warned that if Moscow does not manage a de-escalation of the situation in Ukraine, it will “seriously affect the relations between the EU and Russia.”

“If there is no de-escalation, the EU will decide on additional measures, such as visa restrictions, asset freezes and cancellation of the Russia-EU summit,” Rompuy said at a press conference as quoted by Interfax.

British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened that asset freezes and unspecified travel bans could be imposed on Russia “relatively quickly,” unless progress is made on dialogue with Ukraine.

French President Francois Hollande said that further economic measures against Russia are also possible.

French president Francois Hollande speaks during a press conference on March 6, 2014 in Brussels.

According to Cameron, those would be step-three in the sanctions and could carry “far-reaching consequences including in a broad range of economic areas.”

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said there was “no enthusiasm” in Europe for sanctions on Russia but the move was “inevitable.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also blasted the referendum on joining the Russian Federation announced by Crimea’s parliament on Thursday as “illegal and incompatible with Ukraine’s constitution.”

Following an emergency meeting of European leaders in Brussels, Merkel said they “condemn the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty with regard to Crimea,” and “consider its territorial integrity to be essential.”

The EU leaders urged the immediate withdrawal of what they believe are Russian troops blocking military installations in Crimea. All troops not part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces must lay down their weapons, Merkel said.

Ukraine should also receive the first portion of EU financial help swiftly, the German Chancellor believes. The EU plans to send 610 million euro to Kiev in the near future, which will later be followed by an aid package of 1 billion euro.

Quick signing of the political part of the EU association agreement with Ukraine is also a top priority task for the European leaders, according to Merkel. The trade-related part will be further discussed, taking into account close economic ties between Kiev and Moscow, she said.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (L) speaks with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel as they meet ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels, on March 6, 2014.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday also gave a speech on the situation in Ukraine, calling to start “direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine with participation of the international community,” Itar-Tass reports.

Speaking at the White House, Obama said the solution to the crisis should “take into account Russia’s interests” but heed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. A proposed referendum in Crimea to join Russia would violate international law, he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said that Moscow will react to any attempts to hamper the process of obtaining visas for Russian citizens travelling to European countries.

“Should consular posts of any of the EU member countries move toward a certain tightening of visa application proceedings, we will immediately react to that,” he said.

He added that Russia was “surprised” by EU’s decision to freeze talks on a visa-free regime with Russia.

“It is obviously a politicized, unconstructive and baseless approach, which goes contrary to the existing agreements between Russia and the EU on further simplification of rules for mutual citizens’ travels,” Lukashevich stressed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged world leaders to consider the “consequences” of sanctions against Russia on Tuesday.

“I believe that in the modern world, where everything is interconnected and interdependent, it is possible to cause damage to another country, but this will be mutual damage and one should bear this in mind,” Putin said.

Meanwhile, the Crimean Prime Minister, Sergey Aksyonov, said he was bewildered by the threats of sanctions coming from the West with regard to the situation in Crimea.

“We live here, we can choose our future on our own – since when is it punishable by sanctions? What is it, political persecution? In Lvov, a military installation was seized, the prosecutors and police were thrown out and regional authorities were self-proclaimed – and nobody imposed any sanctions,” Aksyonov told journalists at a media conference.

Sergey Aksyonov, chairman of the Crimean Council of Ministers, near Crimean parliament on February 28, 2014.

“As soon as the Russians for the first time concentrated on defending their interests – and not just Russians, the Ukrainians living here also, everyone got agitated and started talking sanctions. Do we advise America or Germany how to deal with their autonomous regions and tell people what to do? This is their own right, as is the right of the Crimeans for self-determination,” Aksyonov stressed.

The Crimean authorities have denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The Crimea authorities have asked Russia to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.

Crimeans began protesting after the new Kiev authorities introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages for official purposes in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population is Russian and uses only this language for their communication.

Facts you need to know about Crimea and why it is in turmoil

Many units within the national armed forces have started joining up with the pro-Russian Crimean government and the locals who organized self-defense against right-wing radicals. Recently, the commander of the Ukrainian navy and most of the military stationed in the peninsula took new oaths.

Under the Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea – signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010 – Russia is allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the peninsula’s territory. The Russian Black Sea fleet is allowed to stay in Crimea until 2042. Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.

Participants of a rally in Crimea’s Yevpatoria voice their support to Russia on March 5, 2014.

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Leaked call raises questions about who was behind attacks in Ukraine

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at a meeting in 2013

(CNN) — Don’t read too much into the conversation.

That was the message Wednesday from Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet after a phone call between him and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was leaked.

In the recording, which was posted to YouTube and picked up by Russian media, Paet talks about his recent visit to Ukraine. He says a doctor named “Olga” told him opponents of Ukraine’s ousted President may have been responsible for deadly sniper fire.

President Viktor Yanukovych fled more than a week ago in the wake of protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, where snipers from nearby rooftops killed scores of people.

“(Olga) can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition that — they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet told Ashton.

She replied: “I think we do want to investigate … I didn’t pick that up. That’s interesting. Gosh.”

Paet’s office released a statement Wednesday that confirmed the authenticity of the recording. It said the call took place on February 26.

“Foreign Minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard the previous day in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence,” the statement read.

“It is extremely regrettable that phone calls are being intercepted,” said Paet in the same statement. “The fact that this phone call has been leaked is not a coincidence.”

Ashton’s office declined to comment on the conversation, saying she does not discuss leaks.

CNN could not immediately reach the Ukrainian government for comment, nor could it confirm the identity of “Olga.”

Russia’s state-news agency RIA-Novosti said she was Olga Bogomolets, chief coordinator of medical aid at the main protest camp in Independence Square.

CNN has previously talked to Bogomolets. She volunteered last month to treat protesters and accused forces of shooting to kill, saying she had treated 13 people she believed had been targeted by “professional snipers.”

“They were shot directly to their hearts, their brain and to their neck,” she said. “They didn’t give any chance to doctors, for us, to save lives.”

The recording is the second such recent leak on Ukraine.

Early last month, a leaked audio recording of a phone call allegedly caught a U.S. diplomat to Europe using profanity to express strong frustrations with inaction and indecision by the European Union in resolving the crisis.

In the conversation, voices closely resembling those of Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discuss a plan to broker a deal between the Ukrainian government and the opposition.

At one point the woman, who sounds like Nuland, can be heard saying “f**k the EU.”

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Breaking news – US imposes visa restrictions on Russians, Crimeans it says ‘threaten Ukraine security’

The US is imposing visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean officials and private citizens who they accuse of “threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity,” the White House says.

American President Barack Obama has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against “individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”

 

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​US in tenuous sabre rattling over Ukraine

Under the pretext of “deterring Russian aggression” in Ukraine, the US Defense Department has announced plans to add several fighter jets to US aircraft squadrons based near Russian borders, in a move to embolden the Baltic states and Poland.

Following NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announcement that alliance officials would put “the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation under review,” Pentagon head, Chuck Hagel, outlined plans on Wednesday to broaden military cooperation with Poland and the Baltic states, without elaborating on the details.

An unnamed source told Reuters that the Pentagon plans to send six additional F-15 fighter jets, and a Boeing KC-135 refueling Stratotanker, to beef up the squadron of four F-15 currently flying air patrols over the Baltic states. NATO has been carrying out patrols in the Baltic states for the last 10 years.

In Poland the US Air Force has a training squadron of F-16 fighters and Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport planes, and the same source said that more aircrafts might be added there.

Washington is accusing Moscow of deploying troops to the Ukrainian region of Crimea and has already called off all planned exercises and training with the Russian military in protest.

It should be noted that according to a Russian-Ukrainian treaty signed in 2010, Moscow has an agreed and constant military presence in the Crimean peninsula. Russia pays Ukraine $97.75 million annually for use of the naval base in Sevastopol. The treaty underpins Russia’s right to bolster personnel in the Crimea to up to 25,000 troops.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine would take place only as a “last resort.”

“If we see this lawlessness starting in eastern regions, if the people ask us for help – in addition to a plea from a legitimate president, which we already have – then we reserve the right to use all the means we possess to protect those citizens. And we consider it quite legitimate,” he said.

Last week Russia’s Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine if civil rights of the Russian minority in the country are violated.

Western capitals remain skeptical of Moscow’s policy and continue to blame Russia of “military intervention” in Ukraine.

“This morning the Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies,” Hagel told American lawmakers, specifying that this will include expansion of aviation training in Poland and deployment of additional US aircraft for patrol missions in the skies above Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

It is “time for all of us to stand with Ukrainian people in support of their territorial integrity,” Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The general dismissed Moscow’s assertion that Russian troops are not deployed in the Crimea peninsula in Ukraine and called to “deter further Russian aggression.”

Hagel also said that the head of the US European Command, General Philip Breedlove, also planned to hold consultations with central and eastern European defense chiefs.

‘Deterring Russian aggression’

After Crimea’s self-defense forces took control of the peninsula, Poland requested a NATO emergency meeting under the pretext of ‘Article 4’, which empowers any NATO member to request consultations if it believes its security, independence or territorial integrity are under threat.

“Regardless of the limited trust the world and Poland have to words spoken in Moscow, it must be said that we treat some of President Putin’s remarks as proof that pressure … to stop a brutal intervention, a paramilitary intervention in Crimea is working,” the Polish prime minister said last Tuesday, urging Russia to “abandon its aggressive plans toward Ukraine.”

This statement was made after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Poland and Lithuania of inciting protests in the capital of Ukraine, and training the protesters who battled against police forces in Kiev.

Ukraine is not a NATO member country, yet the recent developments in Ukraine caused Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to make a statement that NATO plans to “intensify our partnership” and “strengthen our cooperation” with Ukraine in order to “support democratic reforms.”

Russia’s NATO envoy, Aleksandr Grushko, told reporters “that NATO still has a double standard policy” and that “Cold War stereotypes are still applied towards Russia.”

“Ukraine cannot join NATO because the West realizes what Kiev’s NATO membership would mean for Russia,” noted Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya .

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