Tag Archives: Kiev

‘We see Syria fundamentally very similarly’ – Kerry after talks with Putin, Lavrov

Russia and the US have agreed on a number of ‘critical’ issues, particularly with regard to Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks in Moscow.

The US stands ready to work with Russia,” Kerry told journalists after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. He added that the two countries’ officials had had “a productive day” and the discussions had been “constructive.”

“Despite our countries’ differences, we demonstrated that when the United States and Russia pull together in the same direction, progress can be made,” Kerry said.

Calling the effort “good diplomacy,” the top US diplomat said that the whole global community benefits from such cooperation.

Moscow and Washington confirmed their previous agreements to work together to fight “the evil” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, Lavrov told journalists, adding that some “practical steps” to advance this effort had been agreed upon at the meeting.

We confirmed the agreements reached by the Russian and US militaries, including the agreements that also apply to the US-led coalition working against ISIL, and in practical terms agreed on some further steps which will help make our parallel work more coordinated and effective,” Russian foreign minister said.

“We see Syria fundamentally very similarly, we want the same outcomes, we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges,” Kerry said. He added that the two nations have been “honest with differences,” but in general agree that the crisis in the Middle Eastern country “requires political process.”

Russia and the United States agree that you can’t defeat Daesh without also deescalating the fight in Syria,” the Secretary of State said, adding that both Moscow and Washington are “focused on political process” and that “Syrians will be making decisions on the future of Syria.”

Kerry also said that Moscow and Washington have found “common ground” on which opposition groups should participate in the Syrian peace talks.

Meanwhile, Lavrov has confirmed that a meeting of world powers on Syria penciled in for New York on Friday would go ahead.

A project for a resolution on Syria is expected to be ready for presentation to the UN Security Council after Friday’s meeting, Lavrov said.

We met here today not as Russia and the US behind the back of other members of the international group on Syrian support, but as co-chairs of this group,” Lavrov said, adding that only an “inclusive format” and the collective efforts of all the members of the Syria group can lead to success in solving the crisis in the region.

Russia and the US are seeking solutions to the most critical crises together, Putin said earlier at the start of the meeting, adding that he “is happy for the opportunity to meet and talk.

“Today you’ve had comprehensive talks at Russia’s Foreign Ministry,” Putin said to Kerry, referring to an earlier meeting with Lavrov. “Minister Lavrov has reported to me in detail on your proposals and on some issues that require additional discussions. I’m very happy with the opportunity to meet with you and talk.”

 

 

Great-grandson of Russian Emperor Alexander III dies in Australia

Leonid Kulikovsky died on September 27 but his body was kept in the morgue for two months as he lived alone and no one contacted the authorities

Russian Emperor Alexander III with his spouse Empress Maria Feodorovna and children

SYDNEY, November 23. /TASS/. Leonid Kulikovsky, a great grandson of Russian Emperor Alexander III, has died in northern Australia aged 72, a member of the Union of Russian Compatriots on the world’s smallest continent, told TASS on Monday.

“He died of a heart attack on September 27 when walking with his dog in the city of Katherine [Northern Territory],” Semen Andropov said. “As Kulikovsky lived alone, his body was kept in the morgue for two months as no one contacted the authorities. Police later found his relatives in Denmark.”

“His body was taken to Darwin [capital city of the Northern Territory] and the funeral will take place on November 30,” he added.

Kulikovsky was born in Denmark in 1943. His father Guriy was a son of Grand Princess Olga, youngest daughter of Emperor Alexander III. In 1967, Kulikovsky moved to Sydney and then to Katherine seven years ago after retirement.

Life of last Russian royal family in pictures

‘Assured unacceptable damage’: Russian TV accidentally leaks secret ‘nuclear torpedo’ design

The Kremlin has confirmed “some secret data” was accidentally leaked when Russian TV stations broadcast material apparently showing blueprints from a nuclear torpedo, designed to be used against enemy coastal installations.

During President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with military officials in Sochi, where the development of Russia’s military capabilities were being discussed, a number of TV crews were able to capture footage of a paper that was certainly not meant for public viewing.

The presentation slide titled “Ocean Multipurpose System: Status-6” showed some drawings of a new nuclear submarine weapons system. It is apparently designed to bypass NATO radars and any existing missile defense systems, while also causing heavy damage to “important economic facilities” along the enemy’s coastal regions.

The footnote to the slide stated that Status-6 is intended to cause “assured unacceptable damage” to an adversary force. Its detonation “in the area of the enemy coast” would result in “extensive zones of radioactive contamination” that would ensure that the region would not be used for “military, economic, business or other activity” for a “long time.”

According to the blurred information provided in the slide, the system represents a massive torpedo, designated as “self-propelled underwater vehicle,” with a range of up to 10 thousand kilometers and capable of operating at a depth of up to 1,000 meters.

It remains unclear if such a system is indeed being developed or the slide was presented as just one of the options the Russian military could hypothetically offer. However, according to the leaked paper, the weapons system could be developed by the Rubin design bureau for marine engineering, and may potentially be delivered using nuclear-powered “Project 09852” and “Project 09851” submarines.Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that major TV channels had leaked some classified data on Tuesday following the meeting in Sochi.

“It is true some secret data got into the shot, and it was subsequently deleted,” Peskov said on Wednesday. “We hope that this won’t happen again.”

During Tuesday’s meeting Putin stressed that Russia will counter NATO’s US-led missile shield program through new “strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defenses.”

“Over the past three years, companies of the military-industrial complex have created and successfully tested a number of prospective weapons systems that are capable of performing combat missions in a layered missile defense system,” Putin said. “Such systems have already begun to enter the military this year. And now we are talking about development of new types of weapons.”

 

Vladimir Putin Says Russia’s Military Might Has No Match

6544

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday other countries should not have the illusion that they can attain military superiority over Russia, Interfax reported.

“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 was quoted as saying in an address he will present next week on the Defenders’ of the Fatherland Day holiday.

The report of Putin’s comments came the same day British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that Putin posed a “real and 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 was preparing to repel any possible aggression.

 

Washington’s Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood

President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office with a group of Muslim delegates, 1953. Said Ramadan is second from the right.

As US-backed strongmen around North Africa and the Middle East are being toppled or shaken by popular protests, Washington is grappling with a crucial foreign-policy issue: how to deal with the powerful but opaque Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, the Brotherhood has taken an increasingly forceful part in the protests, issuing a statement Thursday calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation. And though it is far from clear what role the Brotherhood would have should Mubarak step down, the Egyptian president has been claiming it will take over. In any case, the movement is likely to be a major player in any transitional government.

Journalists and pundits are already weighing in with advice on the strengths and dangers of this 83-year-old Islamist movement, whose various national branches are the most potent opposition force in virtually all of these countries. Some wonder how the Brotherhood will treat Israel, or if it really has renounced violence. Most—including the Obama administration —seem to think that it is a movement the West can do business with, even if the White House denies formal contacts.

If this discussion evokes a sense of déjà vu, this is because over the past sixty years we have had it many times before, with almost identical outcomes. Since the 1950s, the United States has secretly struck up alliances with the Brotherhood or its offshoots on issues as diverse as fighting communism and calming tensions among European Muslims. And if we look to history, we can see a familiar pattern: each time, US leaders have decided that the Brotherhood could be useful and tried to bend it to America’s goals, and each time, maybe not surprisingly, the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.

How can Americans be unaware of this history? Credit a mixture of wishful thinking and a national obsession with secrecy, which has shrouded the US government’s extensive dealings with the Brotherhood.

Consider President Eisenhower. In 1953, the year before the Brotherhood was outlawed by Nasser, a covert US propaganda program headed by the US Information Agency brought over three dozen Islamic scholars and civic leaders mostly from Muslim countries for what officially was an academic conference at Princeton University. The real reason behind the meeting was an effort to impress the visitors with America’s spiritual and moral strength, since it was thought that they could influence Muslims’ popular opinion better than their ossified rulers. The ultimate goal was to promote an anti-Communist agenda in these newly independent countries, many of which had Muslim majorities.

One of the leaders, according to Eisenhower’s appointment book, was “The Honorable Saeed Ramahdan, Delegate of the Muslim Brothers.”* The person in question (in more standard romanization, Said Ramadan), was the son-in-law of the Brotherhood’s founder and at the time widely described as the group’s “foreign minister.” (He was also the father of the controversial Swiss scholar of Islam, Tariq Ramadan.)

Eisenhower officials knew what they were doing. In the battle against communism, they figured that religion was a force that US could make use of—the Soviet Union was atheist, while the United States supported religious freedom. Central Intelligence Agency analyses of Said Ramadan were quite blunt, calling him a “Phalangist” and a “fascist interested in the grouping of individuals for power.” But the White House went ahead and invited him anyway.

By the end of the decade, the CIA was overtly backing Ramadan. While it’s too simple to call him a US agent, in the 1950s and 1960s the United States supported him as he took over a mosque in Munich, kicking out local Muslims to build what would become one of the Brotherhood’s most important centers—a refuge for the beleaguered group during its decades in the wilderness. In the end, the US didn’t reap much for its efforts, as Ramadan was more interested in spreading his Islamist agenda than fighting communism. In later years, he supported the Iranian revolution and likely aided the flight of a pro-Teheran activist who murdered one of the Shah’s diplomats in Washington.

Cooperation ebbed and flowed. During the Vietnam War, US attention was focused elsewhere but with the start of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, interest in cultivating Islamists picked up again. That period of backing the mujahedeen— some of whom morphed into al-Qaeda—is well-known, but Washington continued to flirt with Islamists, and especially the Brotherhood.

In the years after the September 11 attacks, the United States initially went after the Brotherhood, declaring many of its key members to be backers of terrorism. But by Bush’s second term, the US was losing two wars in the Muslim world and facing hostile Muslim minorities in Germany, France, and other European countries, where the Brotherhood had established an influential presence. The US quietly changed its position.

The Bush administration devised a strategy to establish close relations with Muslim groups in Europe that were ideologically close to the Brotherhood, figuring that it could be an interlocutor in dealing with more radical groups, such as the home-grown extremists in Paris, London and Hamburg. And, as in the 1950s, government officials wanted to project an image to the Muslim world that Washington was close to western-based Islamists. So starting in 2005, the State Department launched an effort to woo the Brotherhood. In 2006, for example, it organized a conference in Brussels between these European Muslim Brothers and American Muslims, such as the Islamic Society of North America, who are considered close to the Brotherhood. All of this was backed by CIA analyses, with one from 2006 saying the Brotherhood featured “impressive internal dynamism, organization, and media savvy.” Despite the concerns of western allies that supporting the Brotherhood in Europe was too risky, the CIA pushed for cooperation. As for the Obama administration, it carried over some of the people on the Bush team who had helped devise this strategy.

Why the enduring interest in the Brotherhood? Since its founding in 1928 by the Egyptian schoolteacher and imam Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood has managed to voice the aspirations of the Muslim world’s downtrodden and often confused middle class. It explained their backwardness in an interesting mixture of fundamentalism and fascism (or reactionary politics and xenophobia): today’s Muslims aren’t good enough Muslims and must return to the true spirit of the Koran. Foreigners, especially Jews, are part of a vast conspiracy to oppress Muslims. This message was—and still is—delivered through a modern, political party-like structure, that includes women’s groups, youth clubs, publications and electronic media, and, at times, paramilitary wings. It has also given birth to many of the more violent strains of radical Islamism, from Hamas to al-Qaeda, although many of such groups now find the Brotherhood too conventional. Little wonder that the Brotherhood, for all its troubling aspects, is interesting to western policy makers eager to gain influence in this strategic part of the world.

But the Brotherhood has been a tricky partner. In countries where it aspires to join the political mainstream, it renounces the use of violence locally. Hence the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt says it no longer seeks to overthrow the regime violently—although its members there think nothing of calling for Israel’s destruction. In Egypt, the Brotherhood also says it wants religious courts to enforce shariah, but at times has also said that secular courts could have final say. This isn’t to suggest that its moderation is just for show, but it’s fair to say that the Brotherhood has only partially embraced the values of democracy and pluralism.

The group’s most powerful cleric, the Qatar-based Youssef Qaradawi, epitomizes this bifurcated worldview. He says women should be allowed to work and that in some countries, Muslims may hold mortgages (which are based on interest, a taboo for fundamentalists). But Qaradawi advocates the stoning of homosexuals and the murder of Israeli children—because they will grow up and could serve as soldiers.

Qaradawi is hardly an outlier. In past years, he has often been mentioned as a candidate to be the Egyptian branch’s top leader. He is very likely the most influential cleric in the Muslim world—on Friday, for example, thousands of Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square listened to a broadcast of his sermon. He has also declared those demonstrators who have died defying the government to be martyrs.

That is an indication of the Brotherhood’s growing influence in the wave of protests around the region. In Egypt, the Brotherhood, after a slow start, has become a key player in the anti-government coalition; on Thursday, the new vice president, Omar Suleiman, invited the Brotherhood for talks. In Jordan, where the group is legal, King Abdullah met with the Brotherhood for the first time in a decade. And in Tunis, the Islamist opposition leader Rachid Ghanouchi, who has been a pillar of the Brotherhood’s European network, recently returned home from his London exile.

All of this points to the biggest difference between then and now. Half a century ago, the West chose to make use of the Brotherhood for short-term tactical gain, later backing many of the authoritarian governments that were also trying to wipe out the group. Now, with those governments tottering, the West has little choice; after decades of oppression, it is the Brotherhood, with its mixture of age-old fundamentalism and modern political methods, that is left standing.

* The appointment book and details of Ramadan’s visit are in the Eisenhower presidential archives in Abilene, Kansas. See my book A Mosque in Munich, pp. 116-119, for details of the visit. On the use of the Brotherhood post-9/11, see pp 222-228.

 

MH17 crash debris finally retrieved for analysis, more human remains recovered

Local workers carry wreckage from the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at the site of the plane crash near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine November 16, 2014.

Dutch investigators have begun evacuating debris of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from the crash site in eastern Ukraine. Human rights activists are addressing the UN and OSCE, warning the investigation is being either delayed on purpose or suppressed.

More human remains have been recovered by experts during the latest debris retrieval operation at the crash site, the Dutch government reported. The remains will be transported to the Ukrainian city of Kharkov for further examination, before being sent to the Netherlands as part of the investigation.

Estimated to last from five to 10 days, the recovery is partial, as investigators have opted to mark only those pieces of debris they are interested in, leaving the rest behind. The works are being supervised by the Dutch Safety Board investigators and observed by the OSCE.

Local emergency workers of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are using cranes to load up large fragments of the Boeing 777 on trucks to take them to the nearby Torez railway station, where the debris is unloaded on to the platforms. After the wreckage is shipped to the Netherlands through Kharkov, the fragments will reconstruct parts of the Boeing in order to find out what kind of weapon caused the catastrophe.

A detailed analysis of the crashed Boeing debris could help establish how exactly the plane was brought down.

Authorities of the village of Grabovo, near which the debris fell, have already handed a number of personal items to investigators, including passports and credit cards retrieved by the locals.

Dutch investigators and an Emergencies Ministry member work at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine November 16, 2014.

Immediately after MH17 crashed on July 17, investigators could not reach the site for some time because of the high-intensity combat ongoing in the region between the Ukrainian Army and self-defense forces of the DPR.

Even after the investigation teams were allowed to work on the crash site, the area suffered repeated shelling, preventing investigative activities from proceeding and damaging evidence.

The Dutch investigators published a preliminary report in September, which said that the plane crashed “as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

Dutch experts supervise a crew from the emergency ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic as they break up and load parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 onto the back of a lorry at the crash site near the village of Grabove, in eastern Ukraine, on November 16, 2014.

n late October the chief Dutch prosecutor investigating the MH17 downing in eastern Ukraine did not exclude the possibility that the Boeing may have been shot down from the air, Der Spiegel reported.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by as-yet unknown means in the sky over eastern Ukraine. The debris fell to earth some 60km from the Russian-Ukrainian border. All 298 passengers and crew aboard died, among them 196 Dutch citizens.

Russian human rights activists have addressed the UN, claiming that the investigation of the MH17 crash has been intentionally suppressed.

Georgy Fedorov, member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, believes the tragedy of MH17 is being deferred on purpose and that the slow pace of investigation speaks towards that.

“We’ve addressed all [possible] organizations to form an international commission based on the UN and OSCE to investigate the crash, but there’s no result so far,” Fedorov told RIA Novosti, pointing out that authorities of the DPR have always been ready to let experts freely work at the crash site.

“Looks like somebody wants to hush up the story, once they failed to put the blame for it on Russia,” Fedorov said, promising to make the Public Chamber address the UN and Ukrainian government to bring the investigation to an end without delay.

On the contrary, the chairman of the Russian president’s Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, believes there’s no need speed up the investigation.

“We’re ready to wait patiently for the results,” Fedotov said, as cited by RIA Novosti, urging that experts not be rushed, because the world community and the civil society of the countries that lost their citizens in the crash expect “not politicized, but objective and authoritative conclusions from the experts.”

 

Ukrainian Su-25 fighter detected in close approach to MH17 before crash – Moscow

The Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe. Kiev must explain why the military jet was tracking the passenger airplane, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, it’s distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a media conference in Moscow on Monday.

“[We] would like to get an explanation as to why the military jet was flying along a civil aviation corridor at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane,” he stated.

“The SU-25 fighter jet can gain an altitude of 10km, according to its specification,” he added. “It’s equipped with air-to-air R-60 missiles that can hit a target at a distance up to 12km, up to 5km for sure.”

The presence of the Ukrainian military jet can be confirmed by video shots made by the Rostov monitoring center, Kartopolov stated.

At the moment of the MH17 crash an American satellite was flying over the area of eastern Ukraine, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. It urged the US to publish the space photos and data captured by it.

‘Ukrainian Buk missile system transported to militia-held area’

In addition, MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air ‘Buk’ missile systems, the Russian general said.

“We have space images of certain places where the Ukraine’s air defense was located in the southeast of the country,” Kartapolov noted.

The first three shots that were shown by the general are dated July 14. The images show Buk missile launch systems in about 8km northwest of the city of Lugansk – a TELAR and two TELs, according to the military official.

Another image shows a radar station near Donetsk.

While the third picture shows the location of the air defense systems near Donetsk, he explained. In particular, one can clearly see a TELAR launcher and about 60 military and auxiliary vehicles, tents for vehicles and other structures, he elaborated.

“Images from this area were also made on July 17. One should notice that the missile launcher is absent [from the scene]. Image number five shows the Buk missile system in the morning of the same day in the area of settlement Zaroschinskoe – 50km south of Donetsk and 8km south of Shakhtyorsk,” the Kartapolov said

The question that has to be answered is why the missile system appeared in the area controlled by the local militia forces shortly before the catastrophe, he stated.

Images taken on July 18 show that the missile systems left the area of the MH17 crash, the military official said.

Kartapolov also pointed to the fact that on the day of the plane crash Ukraine’s military increased activity on the part of Ukraine’s Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are part of the Buk system.

..there were 7 radars operating on July 15, 8 radars operating on July 16, and 9 radars operating on July 17 in the area. Then, starting with July 18, the intensity of radar activities radically decreased, and now there are no more than two or three radars operating a day. The reason behind this is yet to be found.”

In response to Moscow’s evidence, Kiev said on Monday it had proof the missile that brought down a Malaysian airliner last week came from Russia.

There is evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council Andrey Lysenko told a news conference. “To disown this tragedy, [Russia] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday that Kiev has “strong evidence” of the causes of the MH17 crash.

We know exactly the place [the surface-to-air missile was] launched, we know exactly the place where it hit the civilian plane and the place where the plane crashed.

Kiev is ready to hand the information to the international investigation commission, according to the presidential press-service.

Militia down chopper near Slavyansk, 9 feared dead – military spokesman

Nine people are feared dead after self-defense forces in the Donetsk region shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter, which was used for transporting military cargo, a Kiev spokesman said.

The Mi-8 helicopter was downed “at about 5 pm local time at Karachun Mountain near Slavyansk by a rocket fired from a portable air defense system,” eastern Ukraine military operation spokesman, Vladislav Seleznyov, wrote on his Facebook page.

“There were nine people aboard the helicopter. According to preliminary information, all those aboard died in the crash,”
he said, adding that the helicopter was returning to a Ukrainian checkpoint after a cargo delivery mission.

The self-defense troops, who fired the missile, escaped to the nearby village of Bylbasovka, Seleznyov wrote.

The Ukraine’s National Guard fighters told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper that the Mi-8 helicopter was downed during takeoff from Karachun Mountain (a strategic high point near Slavyansk where the Ukrainian army’s artillery is deployed).

The place where the shot came from has been established, with troops currently being deployed there, the source in the National Guard added.

The Ukrainian forces continued shelling the village of Semyonovka on the outskirts of Slavyansk on Tuesday night and during the day, the self-defense forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk told ITAR-TASS news agency earlier.

The heavy artillery fire has prevented the self-defense forces from recovering the bodies of two of its troops killed the previous day, they said.

“There’s no living thing left in the village. Everything is devastated, including factories and railway crossings,” the self-defense forces stressed. “The houses are abandoned. Nobody is harvesting crops from their gardens.”

Meanwhile, the town of Slavyansk remains without a water supply, with the majority of shops and pharmacies staying closed.

Also on Tuesday, a crew from Russia’s Channel One was caught in the shelling outside Slavyansk; the journalists luckily avoided injury.

Also, fighting is currently underway in the suburbs of the city of Donetsk, said Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

“Artillery and armored vehicles are being used,” he told RIA-Novosti news agency, adding people have already been killed and injured in the fighting.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the resumption of hostilities in Slavyansk and urged Kiev to strive to bring about an end to the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, now I have relevant information that in one of the most troubled areas – near the city of Slavyansk – the fighting is currently underway; [Kiev’s] paratroopers have landed there and there are already victims. It’s sad,” Putin said during a press-conference in Vienna, Austria.

Read more: Putin: Weeklong cease-fire in Ukraine should be extended, accompanied by talks

The fighting in the Donetsk region is continuing despite the seven-day ceasefire announced by Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, on June 20, which was agreed to by the self-defense forces on Monday.

Putin stressed that “the declarations should be backed by real actions, otherwise none of the problems will be solved.”

“Simply declaring a ceasefire isn’t enough,” the Russian president said, calling on the sides to begin “substantive negotiations” on the matter as soon as possible.

“Seven days of ceasefire is insufficient,” he added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has not excluded the possibility of a premature cancellation of the ceasefire in the country’s southeast, the president’s press service said.

During a meeting with the heads of the country’s security agencies, he touched upon the issue of the downed helicopter, saying that the self-defense forces have no respect for the truce.

According to the president, Kiev’s forces have come under fire 35 times since he announced his peace plan last week.

Poroshenko gave the security agencies “an order to open fire without hesitation” on the self-defense forces,” the president’s press service said.

But the authorities of the People’s Republic of Donetsk said the “so-called ceasefire,” which Porosheko now wants to cancel, “was never in place.”

“The Ukrainian security forces began shelling Semyonovka and Slavyansk in the morning,” Miroslav Rudenko, one of the Donbas self-defense leaders, told Interfax news agency, adding that the artillery fire was less intense than in previous days, but still steady.

“It was only a declaration [of truce]. On the ground, hostilities didn’t stop even for an hour,”
he added.

Seizure, bloodshed could be aims behind Russian embassy attack – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

There are indications that “physical seizure” and bloodshed were the aims of the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, Russia’s foreign minister told journalists.

“From our diplomats’ point of view, the aim of the attackers was to physically seize the embassy building. There are also grounds to believe that they wanted bloodshed,” Lavrov said.

The leading players in the attack on Russia’s embassy were “fighters from Azov Battalion, created and financed by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky,” who was appointed by Kiev authorities as governor of Dnepropetrovsk, Lavrov said.

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov believes the attack was thoroughly planned.

“In the conditions in which we (Russia) and Ukraine [have] lived for the last 20 years, of course there was no question that the embassy here should meet the same safety requirements as in Iraq,” Zurabov told NTV channel. “But it looks like now we will have to reconsider our approach.”

According to Russia’s envoy to Kiev, there were two groups of “well equipped” young people between 25 and 30 years old who took no active part in the violence but were “absolutely ready to storm.”

“They had baseball bats, metal rods, axes. Had they entered the territory of the embassy, I think we would not have avoided victims,” he said.

Sergey Lavrov called the aggression “disgusting,” adding that the violence faced by Russian diplomats is “good reason” for “our Western partners” to think about how Kiev’s ruling regime is using “inherited” following the protests at Independence Square (Maidan) this winter.

As for Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa using the offensive language addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was “beyond the bounds of decency,” Lavrov said, calling the protest outside the embassy “bacchanalia.”

“[This is] a good reason for our Western partners, who in every possible way support any steps by Ukraine’s ruling regime, to think about how this regime is using powers inherited after Maidan,” Lavrov said.

Speaking about the international community’s reaction to the embassy attack in Kiev, Lavrov said that Russia is “disappointed” by Western leaders’ position on the violence.

“Western partners assured me and our diplomats that they condemn the attack. However, when we drafted a certain resolution to the UNSC, it was Western partners who refused to support it,” he said.

“They tried to link it with offers to condemn the downing of a plane in the southeast, with some other things that have no connection with the main point; diplomatic representatives’ inviolability cannot have any conditions,” Lavrov said, adding that such an attitude “does not add to the reputation of the schools of diplomacy in European countries and the US.”

Vandals stand on top of the crashed cars during an attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.

​Russia now enemy, so we’ll help Ukraine build up military – NATO chief

Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoye near Slavyansk, Donetsk Region

NATO is preparing a package deal to ramp up the Ukrainian military because it ‘must adapt’ to Russia viewing it as an enemy, the outgoing chief of the military bloc said.

The deal would be submitted to foreign ministers of members states later this month, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told El Pais in an interview. He declined to go into detail, but said it provides for defense industry reform and modernization of the Ukrainian military.

The alliance may also facilitate cooperation with Ukraine over military training, although whatever exercises of NATO member troops would be held in Ukraine is up to individual countries, Rasmussen said.

“We must adapt to the fact that Russia now considers us its adversary,” he explained.

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen

The help that NATO plans to give Ukrainian military comes as the said military are used in a bloody crackdown on the defiant eastern provinces, where local militias defend cities from daily artillery shelling and airstrikes.

Kiev regards the militias as Russia-backed terrorists and refuses any kind of negotiation with them. NATO shares the view, accusing Russia of funneling heavy weapons into Ukraine across the border, although so far no solid evidence of such actions was presented.

The alliance itself is experiencing a sort of revival playing the ‘Russian threat’ card to justify the build-up of troops in Central and Eastern Europe. Moscow sees such deployments as provocative and confirming NATO’s aggressive stance towards Russia.

NATO claims that it has been cooperating with Russia in every way until the Ukrainian crisis sparked the cold war hostilities again. It’s not quite true, considering the alliance’s expansion eastwards in Europe and its plans to deploy a system of anti-ballistic missile defense closer to Russian borders. Both have been done against Russia’s objections that such moves compromise Russian national security.