Daily Archives: April 18, 2014

Putin meets with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council over situation in Ukraine

Participants in the meeting discussed the current situation in Ukraine in the light of the four-party consultations held on Thursday in Geneva

 Putin in a meeting with permanent members of Russia's Security Council on April 18


Putin in a meeting with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council on April 18

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday had a meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council on the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service reported.

Participants in the meeting discussed the current situation in Ukraine in the light of the four-party consultations held on Thursday in Geneva and agreements reached in these consultations.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speakers of both houses of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko of the Federation Council and Sergei Naryshkin of the State Duma, head of the Kremlin administration Sergei Ivanov, secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, his deputy Rashid Nurgaliyev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, director of the Russian Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov, and permanent member of the Russian Security Council Boris Gryzlov.

via President of Russia.

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Tymoshenko addresses US Congress seeking military assistance

Ukraine needs comprehensive assistance, including military and technical aid that should comprise air defense and anti-mechanized equipment, the politician noted

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Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko

Ukraine’s presidential candidate, leader of Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko has addressed the US Congress asking to provide military assistance to Ukraine. The relevant statement has been made public by the political party’s press service.

“I’m calling on the members of US Congress with a request to take every possible step towards supporting Ukraine, protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Tymoshenko says.

According to Batkivshchyna’s leader, “Ukraine needs comprehensive assistance, including military and technical aid that should comprise air defense and anti-mechanized equipment, as well as assistance in personnel training”.

In addition, Tymoshenko regards the final document of the four-party meeting between representatives of Ukraine, USA, EU and Russia as “the first step in the right direction”.

The talks brought together Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia, US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

US decides on military assistance to Ukraine

April 17, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that Washington would provide assistance to armed forces and border service of Ukraine. According to Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department Marie Harf, the total value of this aid makes $6.5 million.

Harf specified that different commodities (medications, helmets, bedside rugs, water cleaning equipment) worth $3.5 million from the total amount would be provided by US State Department to Ukraine’s armed forces. The equipment worth $3 million (uniform, power generators) for Ukrainian border service would be allotted on behalf of the Pentagon, according to Marie Harf.

She added that this announcement was not the last regarding US assistance to Ukraine and pledged that American authorities would try to provide Ukraine with all the mentioned items as soon as possible.

As Chuck Hagel stated earlier, the decision to provide aid, which would not include arms and military equipment, was made by President Barack Obama. The defense secretary added that the president had already informed about this in his phone conversation with parliament appointed acting Defense Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Koval. Additional military assistance to Ukraine from the USA is “non-lethal”, Pentagon’s chief said

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Protesters in Ukraine’s Donetsk refuse to recognize Geneva agreements

One of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Dontesl People’s Republic claims the Kiev authorities were not observing the agreements

KIEV, April 18. ITAR-TASS

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine’s east refuses to recognize the agreements on the Ukrainian settlement reached in Geneva on April 17, one of the republic’s leaders, Denis Pushilin, told a news conference in Donetsk on Friday.

Pushilin claimed the Kiev authorities were not observing these agreements. “They are not withdrawing troops from the Donetsk region, so we cannot speak about any concession in such conditions,” he said. Before speaking about any compromise solutions, in his words, Kiev “must vacate seized buildings, unarm illegal groups, such as the National Guards and the Right Sector, and release political prisoners.” “We will be ready for a dialogue only when Kiev does it,” he stressed.

The Geneva consultations involving representatives from Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and Russia yielded an agreement that illegal armed groups were to vacate buildings they had seized and surrender arms. Diplomats also agreed that people who did this would be granted amnesty.

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Europe understands there is no backtracking on Crimea — Russian EU ambassador

Russia’s Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov

MOSCOW, April 18. ITAR-TASS

Europe is fully aware that there is no and there will be no backtracking on Crimea, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said on Friday.

“I think Europe has finally come to understand that there is no and there will be no going back. They understand that it is rather pointless to discuss the Crimean problem with us, although this issue will remain a point of contention in our relations,” he told the Rossiya 24 television channel.

The work on the process that was launched in the Geneva negotiations on Ukraine will be continued, Chizhov added.

“Many were inclined to think that this meeting would be doomed to failure,” Chizhov noted. “The fact that we managed to agree on the document is a big success, which opens the way for further work. The work at the Geneva meeting is not over, it will be continued with active participation of Russian diplomacy,” he said.

Geneva agreement on deescalation of crisis in Ukraine

The term ‘constructive ambiguity’ cannot be applied to Geneva statement on Ukraine, Chizhov said, commenting on various interpretations of the agreements reached in Thursday’s Geneva negotiations on Ukraine.

“The statement rather clearly states what the Kiev authorities should do,” he said. “Kiev is insisting on disarming eastern regions and ignores what is going on in western regions and in the capital,” he added.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will expand its mission in Ukraine and increase its financing, Chizhov said.

“Participants in the Geneva meeting agreed that control over the implementation of agreements in Ukrainian cities will be vested with the OSCE monitoring mission, which is already working in Ukraine and regularly sends its reports to Vienna,” the diplomat explained. “I think the mission will be expanded – more personnel will be sent there and more funds will be allocated. Russia supported the initiative to send this mission. It took much time and effort to agree its mandate.”

Ukraine’s entry restrictions for Russians

Ukrainian authorities’ decision to ban entry into the country for some categories of Russian citizens “has revealed hostility towards the nationals of Russia and, on top of that, a bureaucratic mess,” Chizhov said.

“This doesn’t justify the Ukrainian authorities by any means,” he said.

As he answered a reporter’s question on the EU’s reaction to the ban, Chizhov expressed hope that there would be a reaction of some kind eventually. “It turned out that Ukraine’s interim acting foreign minister (Andrii Deshchytsia) didn’t even know about the decision.”

“The anti-humanistic nature of the step is further intensified by its timing,” Chizhov said. “It was announced on the eve of the Easter, which all confessions of Christianity celebrate on the same day this year.”

 

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Breaking News – Bouteflika wins fourth Algerian presidential term with 81.53 % of votes, interior ministry says

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Bouteflika wins fourth Algerian presidential term with 81.53 % of votes,  Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz told a news conference on Friday.

The main opposition candidate, Ali Benflis, garnered 12.18 per cent of the vote. Official figures for voter turnout were 51.7 percent.

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عاجل / الجزائر – بوتفليقة يفوز بولاية رابعة

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أعلن وزير الداخلية الجزائري الطيب بلعيز،الجمعة، فوز الرئيس المنتهية ولايته عبد العزيز بوتفليقة بولاية رابعة في الانتخابات الرئاسية التي حصل فيها على نسبة 81.53% من الأصوات، بحسب نتائج أولية رسمية

وقال الوزير إن المنافس الرئيسي لبوتفليقة علي بن فليس حصل على 12.18% من الأصوات ليحل ثانيا

وصوت لصالح بوتفليقة (77 عاما) 8,3 مليون ناخب من أصل 11,3 مليونا بينما حصل بن فليس على 1,2 مليون صوت

وحل المرشح عبد العزيز بلعيد ثالثا بنسبة 3.03%، بينما حلت المرشحة الوحيدة لويزة حنون رابعا بنسبة 1.37 % من الاصوات

وأكد بلعيز أن نسبة المشاركة التي بلغت 51,7 % لا تأخذ في الحسبان الجزائريين الذي انتخبوا في الخارج وعددهم أكثر من مليون ناخب

وقبل إعلان النتائج بدأ أنصار بوتفليقة منذ مساء الخميس بالاحتفال في جميع أرجاء البلاد
              
واعترف علي بن فليس ضمنيا بالهزيمة لكنه أكد أنه “لن يقبل أبدا بهذه النتائج” وبعد اعلان النتائج الاولية يبقى أمام المجلس الدستوري مدة أقصاها 10 أيام لاعلان النتائج النهائية بعد دراسة الطعون والفصل فيها، بحسب قانون الانتخابات

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Two NATO warships in Black Sea, one remains in Cyprus port

MOSCOW, April 18. ITAR-TASS.

Two NATO warships the US “Donald Cook” with the Aegis missile defense system on board and the large French reconnaissance ship “Dupuy de Lome” are in the Black Sea for the present. The French destroyer Dupleix, which was planned to enter the Black Sea on April 14, remains in the Cypriot port of Limassol in the Mediterranean, a Russian Defence Ministry source has told ITAR-TASS this Friday.

The Donald Cook and the Dupuy de Lome left the Romanian port of Constanta after staying there for a few days. The US destroyer was in the western part of the sea and the French ship was in its central part, the source said, noting that a fuss was created all over the world over a flight of a Russian Su-24 bomber over the US warship, though it was routine practice usual for the United States itself.

As for the French destroyer Dupleix remaining in the port of Limassol for a week, it was unknown yet when the ship would arrive in the Black Sea, the source said.

The US and French warships entered the Black Sea on April 10 in connection with the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

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Turkish president rules out role swap with Erdogan

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(Reuters) – Turkey’s president appeared to rule himself out as a potential future prime minister on Friday, saying a “Putin-Medvedev model” under which he might swap roles with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was not suitable for Turkey.

President Abdullah Gul‘s comments threw open the question of who might succeed Erdogan should he run for the presidency in an August election as expected. Gul had been seen as a potential future prime minister with Erdogan as head of state.

“I don’t have any political plan for the future under today’s conditions,” Gul told reporters in the western province of Kutahya, when asked about the presidential election.

Russia‘s current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev replaced Vladimir Putin as president in 2008, while Putin became prime minister. They swapped roles in 2012.

Asked if a “Putin-Medvedev model” might be conceivable, Gul said such a formula would not be “appropriate” for a democracy.

Gul did not elaborate on what had led to his decision.

Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers he had not heard Gul’s words and would not comment before speaking with the president directly.

Gul co-founded the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party with Erdogan and has remained a close ally. But he is viewed as a more conciliatory figure than the combative prime minister and their relations have at times appeared strained.

(Corrects fourth paragraph to reflect that Russia’s Medvedev was First Deputy Prime Minister, not Prime Minister, before he became President in 2008.)

 

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Out of control: Fukushima manager admits to ‘embarrassing failure’

The manager of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has admitted not having full control of the facility. Contrary to the statements of the Japanese PM, TEPCO’s Akira Ono said attempts to plug the leaks of radioactive water had failed.

“It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Ono told reporters touring the plant this week, reported Reuters. Last year, the Japanese PM attempted to assure the world that the situation at the stricken nuclear power plant was under control.

However, over the last couple of months the clean-up procedure at the plant has been fraught with difficulties.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, has consistently faced contaminated water leaks at the Fukushima plant.

Water has to be pumped over the facilities stricken reactors in order to keep them from overheating, but this process creates large quantities of contaminated water which has to be stored in tanks on the site.

Ono acknowledged to press that in TEPCO’s rush to deal with the stricken facility following the earthquake-triggered tsunami in 2011, the company may have made mistakes.

“It may sound odd, but this is the bill we have to pay for what we have done in the past three years,” he said. “But we were pressed to build tanks in a rush and may have not paid enough attention to quality. We need to improve quality from here.”

TEPCO will have to improve the quality of the tanks so the plant can survive the next 30-40 years of the decommissioning process, Ono went on to say.

The plant’s manager said that the number one aim was to keep the radioactive water from getting into the ocean.

“The ultimate purpose is to prevent contaminated water from going out to the ocean, and in this regard, I believe it is under control,” Ono said. But a series of leaks have obliged officials to “find better ways to handle the water problem.”

In the latest blunder at the plant, TEPCO mistakenly flooded the Fukushima facility’s basements with radioactive cooling-tank water. Earlier this week the Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun reported that around 200 tons of water had found its way into waste disposal facilities under the power plant. TEPCO said they were working to fix the leakage as soon as possible.

Cleaning up Fukushima is becoming an increasing headache for the Japanese authorities. Experts predict that fully decommissioning the stricken plant is a process that could take decades, costing the country billions of dollars.

Following the multiple meltdown of the Fukushima plant in 2011 that was triggered by a tsunami, the Japanese government pledged to abandon nuclear power by 2010. However, in spite of public outrage, the government was forced to reactivate its nuclear power plants because of massive energy shortfalls.

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UN base in South Sudan attacked by ‘peaceful’ mob, dozens dead

Displaced people walk past a U.N. armoured vehicle inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, March 3, 2014.

Gunmen posing as peaceful protesters forced their way inside the base of the UN mission in Bor, where some 5,000 civilians are seeking protection in the four-month-long conflict, and opened fire, reportedly killing dozens.

At least 48 people were killed and 60 wounded in a brazen attack on the fortified UN compound in northern Jonglei state, where Indian and South Korean UN peacekeepers are stationed, an anonymous UN source told Reuters.

Toby Lanzer, the UN’s top aid official in South Sudan, told the BBC there was a “significant loss of life,” after a mob had approached the UN compound base on Thursday morning under the pretense of wanting to present a petition.

More than 1 million people have fled their homes since violence broke out in mid-December between federal troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against rebellious troops who have sided with Riek Machar, the former vice-president, in 2013.

Tens of thousands of civilians are seeking UN protection from the conflict.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack on innocent civilians and UN personnel marks “serious escalation.”

According to Dujarric, the attack was planned in advance.

“The assailants – a mob of armed civilians – came to the base under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition to UNMISS [the UN peacekeeping mission].”

“The armed mob forced entry on to the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base,” he said. “At the time of the attack there were some 5,000 displaced civilians … inside the base.”

The injured were being treated at the UN compound’s clinic.

The number of displaced civilians in the UNMISS compound has risen to 12,000, according to the UN’s website, adding that thousands of displaced persons assembled near the Bentiu Hospital and the UN World Food Program (WFP) compound.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who just one day before the attack said that up to 1 million people face potential famine as a result of the conflict, condemned the attack, which he said “constitutes a war crime.”

Despite South Sudan gaining its independence from Sudan in 2011, pockets of violence continues to disrupt parts of the landlocked country in northeastern Africa.

At the same time, the instability has put a dent in oil production, a major source of the government’s funds.

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