Tag Archives: Moscow

Putin calls for non-aligned international security system in face of global terror threat

May 9, 2016. Russian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin at a military parade to mark the 71st anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 WWII, on Moscow's Red Square.

May 9, 2016. Russian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin at a military parade to mark the 71st anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 WWII, on Moscow’s Red Square.

Vladimir Putin said Russia is all for creating a non-aligned system of international security to counter global terror. The president, speaking at the V-Day parade in Moscow, called on all nations to learn the lessons of WWII.

“Today our civilization has faced brutality and violence – terrorism has become a global threat,” the Russian president said, addressing the crowds on Moscow’s Red Square ahead of a parade dedicated to the 71st anniversary of victory in WWII. “We must defeat this evil, and Russia is open to join forces with all countries and is ready to work on the creation of a modern, non-aligned system of international security.”

According to the Russian leader, the lessons of the World War II showed that “double standards” and “short-sighted indulgence to those who are nurturing new criminal plans” are unacceptable.

“The lessons of history show that peace on our planet doesn’t establish itself, that you need to be on high alert,” he said.

The Great Patriotic War (the term used in Russia and former Soviet republics to describe the conflict on the Eastern Front from 1941-45) will always remain “an outstanding, sacred heroic deed of our people, a call to live according to conscience, to keep the height of the truth and justice, to transfer these values from generation to generation,” the president added.

“Our fathers and grandfathers defeated the powerful, merciless enemy, in front of whom many countries folded,” Putin said.

“It was our servicemen who gave the Nazis and their accomplices full retaliation for millions of victims, for all the barbarities and excesses on our land.”

Putin added that Russian soldiers have proven that they are “worthy successors to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War who are defending the country’s interests with honor.”

“I’m sure the veterans today are proud of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren – they are not letting [the veterans] down and will always remember the great victory, the heroic deeds of the glorious generation of victors,” he said.

Seventy-one years ago, Nazi Germany was defeated. Almost 80 percent of the world’s population was caught up in the war, including all of the great powers, and a total of 55 million people were killed in the conflict.

The Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. The following four years of fighting saw 27 million Soviet people killed.

In Europe, V-Day commemorations started on Sunday, as the Nazi Germany’s Instrument of Surrender came into force at 22:43 CET on May 8, 1945. In Moscow it was already 00:43, on May 9.

 

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Al-Moallem: De Mistura Can’t Talk about Syria Presidential Elections

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has no right to talk about Syrian presidential elections, noting that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation will not wait in Geneva forever for other parties to decide to show up.

During a press conference, al-Moallem said the Syrian Arab Republic delegation received a letter from de Mistura  scheduling Monday as a date for meeting at the UN HQ in Geneva within the Syrian-Syrian dialogue.

“Meeting with our delegation at first is a good thing,” he said, adding however that the Republic’s delegation “will not repeat the same mistake that happened in the previous round. They are going to wait for 24 hours only.”

“We are looking forward to having dialogue with the broadest spectrum of opposition groups in implementation of de Mistura’s mandate by the UN Security Council and the Vienna and Munich communiqués, particularly the national opposition…that is not linked to any foreign agendas,” al-Moallem added.

He commented on the UN Envoy’s recent statements setting up a schedule for Geneva talks which he said will discuss the regime, the constitution and the parliamentary and presidential elections, saying de Mistura doesn’t have the right to set a schedule, which is something up to the dialogue parties.

He went on saying that de Mistura must be aware, when he talks about the constitution, that it is the national unity government, the subject of discussion in the future, that will appoint a committee to draft a new constitution or amend the standing one, stressing that any outcome will be subject to referendum for approval.

Regarding the presidential elections, al-Moallem stressed that neither de Mistura nor anyone else whomsoever can discuss this issue as it is “an exclusive right of the Syrian people,” dismissing what the envoy said as “a deviation from all the UN documents.”

“We will no longer accept that [de Mistura] gives up objectivity to please this or that party, and our delegation will reject any attempt to put this issue on the schedule,” he added.

As for the upcoming parliamentary elections, al-Moallem said fulfilling the elections is part of the constitution, stressing that this issue should be respected where no reservations can be accepted by anyone, calling for a high turnout of Syrian voters.

Al-Moallem stressed that Syria is committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement, noting that there have been breaches of the agreement by the armed groups that were responded to by the army sometimes and overlooked in other times.

“We affirm out armed forces’ right to respond to breaches,” he added.

He used this opportunity to urge those who have taken up weapons to utilize the agreement of the cessation of hostilities and engage in reconciliations.

The crisis, he affirmed, is coming to an end, and we hereby welcome all those who want to join our armed forces in the fight against ISIL, al-Nusra Front and the terrorist organizations linked to them,” added al-Moallem.

In his comments on the talk about foreign ground intervention in Syria that came up in the past period, al-Moallem reaffirmed that “No one dares to intervene in Syria in a ground war, and that this talk has receded, noting that US President Barack Obama’s recent speech proved that he is not going to such a war.

“I say with confidence that our people will reject any attempts at dividing [the country],” he said.

Al-Moallem referred to the recent statements about a federal model in Syria made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as circulated by the media, clarifying that the statements were not quoted objectively because Ryabkov made it contingent on the Syrians’ approval.

“I say as a Syrian citizen, and I’m sure you are with me, that we reject the talk about federalism and we are with the unity of Syria,” he added.

The Foreign Minister reiterated in comments on statements by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir that the latter is always repeating his talk at all occasions and what he said “was worthless”. “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” al-Moallem said.

He asserted that the Syrian people are optimistic about the talks in Geneva, adding however that while the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation is going to Geneva with the intention to made the dialogue a success, this issue depends also on the other parties as well.

“If those have illusions of taking over power through Geneva after they failed in the battlefield, they will fail once again,” he added.

He made it clear that nowhere in the UN documents there is something that talks about a transition period of presidency, “which is why there should be agreement on the definition of transition period.”

“As far as we understand it, transition is to move from a standing constitution to a new one and from a standing government to another that involves the other party,” he said.

Al-Moallem went on saying that the standing constitution will remain in place until holding a referendum by the Syrian people on a new or an amended one, reiterating again that there is no link between the legislative elections and what is going on in Geneva.

“We are going to Geneva and we do not know with whom we will have dialogue,” he said, reiterating that the Republic’s delegation will wait only 24 hours for the other parties to show up and if the other parties don’t show up by that time, the delegation will leave Geneva and the other party will be held responsible for the failure of the talks.

Al-Moallem affirmed that the Republic’s delegation does not put preconditions for the dialogue in Geneva, adding that those who know Syria and the Syrian leadership well realize that “we do not bow to anyone, whether states or groups.”

“We will not have dialogue with any side that discusses the position of the president. This is a red line and it is up to the Syrians alone,” he reiterated.

Asked about the Kurds in Syria, al-Moallem affirmed that “Our brothers, the Kurds, are Syrian citizens, and they are with us in the same trench against ISIL.”

Libya’s Presidential Council calls for transfer of power to unity government

Libya’s U.N.-backed Presidential Council called on Saturday on the country’s institutions to begin a transfer of authority to a unity government, and appealed to the international community to stop dealing with any rival powers.

The Presidential Council is tasked with guiding through a transition to end the political chaos and armed conflict that has plagued Libya since the fall of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Its statement suggests it will seek to take power despite continuing opposition from hardliners in both of Libya’s competing parliaments – the eastern House of Representatives (HOR) and the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

Western nations hope a unity government can help tackle a growing threat from Islamic State, which has used a security vacuum and political divisions in Libya to establish a foothold in the north African country.

The Tunis-based Presidential Council nominated a unity government last month, but recognition of the proposed cabinet has been held up by the failure of the HOR to vote to approve it.

It is also unclear when a unity government could move to Tripoli, where the security situation is still volatile and some armed factions may try to prevent it from operating.

However, the council said in a statement on Saturday that a document signed by a majority of HOR members backing the new government, as well as the endorsement by other political figures, represented a “green light to start work”.

The council’s statement called on “all Libyan sovereign and public institutions and the heads of financial bodies to start communicating immediately with the Government of National Accord so as to hand over power in a peaceful and orderly manner”.

“The Presidential Council also calls on the international community and international and regional organisations … to stop dealing with any executive power that does not follow the Government of National Accord,” it said.

The deal to create the unity government was signed with limited Libyan support in Morocco in December.

Efforts to move the transition forward have been hampered by arguments over the structure of the new government, the balance of power between Libya’s different regions, and the future leadership of the armed forces.

The Presidential Council has itself been divided, with two of its nine members suspending their participation and twice refusing to put their names to proposed lists of ministers.

Under the plan, the Presidential Council would form the highest state body. The HOR would be the main legislature, with a second chamber formed from the GNC.

After the latest failure of the HOR to vote on the unity government last week, U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler reconvened the group that signed the December deal.

On Thursday, they urged the Presidential Council “to take all necessary measures to rapidly start working from the capital, Tripoli”, though they also appeared to call on the HOR to take further steps to endorse the unity government.

 

 

North Korea’s Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.

Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions.

U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Kim’s comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding “this can be called true nuclear deterrent.”

“He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful, precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery means,” KCNA said.

Kim also inspected the nuclear warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction, KCNA said, referring to a hydrogen bomb that the country claimed to have tested in January.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to back up the claim, experts said at the time.

The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and sanctions from its rival, South Korea.

On Tuesday South Korea announced further measures aimed at isolating the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were linked to Pyongyang’s weapons program.

China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31 ships on its transport ministry’s blacklist.

But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report released on Tuesday that it had “serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.”

North Korea has been “effective in evading sanctions” by continuing to engage in banned trade, “facilitated by the low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,” the Panel of Experts said.

“The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will, inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the resolutions and low prioritization,” it said, referring to the incomplete enforcement of sanctions.

 

 

Egypt, France conduct joint military exercise off the Mediterranean

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Egypt and France began on Sunday a joint military exercise termed as the “Ramses-2016” in the coastal city of Alexandria along the Mediterranean.

According to Egyptian military, the joint venture off the coast of Egypt will go on for several weeks. This includes both air and naval forces training together to strengthen both military in combating threats.

“Both Navy and Air forces of Egypt and France have commenced a team exercise called the Ramses-2016 in Egypt and this joint venture will go on for several weeks off the coast of Alexandria (north) and in the Egyptian airspace,” read the press statement released by the Egyptian military.

 

The drill is aimed at “sharing our expertise with the Egyptian military, one of our main Middle East partners,” the French defense ministry said at the time.

France also had announced the maneuvers on Tuesday saying the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is being used to launch airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, would also take part.

On December 19, the Charles de Gaulle carrier took command in the Gulf of the naval contingent operating as part of the international coalition fighting the jihadist IS group.

‘Ramses-2016’ wargames are held amid reports that western countries are gearing up for military intervention in next-door Libya

China 2016 military budget to rise 7.6 percent

Military delegates arrive at the Great Hall of the People before a meeting ahead of Saturday’s opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing, China March 4, 2016.

China will increase military spending by 7.6 percent this year to 954.35 billion yuan ($146.67 billion), the government announced on Saturday.

Last year, defense spending was budgeted to rise 10.1 percent to 886.9 billion yuan.

On Friday, the spokeswoman for China’s parliament said the 2016 rise would be about 7 to 8 percent.

($1 = 6.5066 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 

 

Dozens of Turkish military vehicles cross Syria border, dig trenches

Turkish military vehicles have crossed into a Kurdistani area in Syria, Afrin, just over the border, a Kurdish news agency reported adding that the troops started to dig a trench near Meidan Ekbis, a town in Aleppo province.

Dozens of Turkish military vehicles advanced 200 meters into the Syrian Kurdish region in Aleppo province on Thursday, ANHA news agency reported.

It added that the troops started digging a trench between the towns of Sorka and Meydan Ekbis. According to the agency the construction of a concrete wall on the Syrian border in the area is ongoing as well.

The agency posted photos of ongoing operations on its website.

The Syrian Afrin district bordering Turkey is predominantly Kurdish with a population estimated to be of more than 170,000 people according to a 2004 census. The area is part of a de facto autonomous region of Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan since 2013.

A Turkish security source told Reuters that they country’s military shelled Kurdish YPG militia positions in northern Syria on Thursday. The source added that the shelling came in response to cross-border fire.

The developments come as Turkey accused forces linked with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia of an explosion in Ankara that killed 28 and injured 61 more. On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to continue the military efforts against Kurdish groups in Syria. The Syrian Kurds, in turn, denied responsibility for the attack and put the blame on Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Turkey has been stepping up military activity if the areas with a predominantly Kurdish population, which include its own territories in the southeast as well as areas in northern Syria and Iraq.

Turkish military has been intensely shelling Syrian Kurds despite UN Security Council (UNSC) warning on Tuesday which urged Ankara to comply with international law.
The Kurdish region in northern Syria is a stronghold of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its activists, as well as YPG militia. Turkey has claimed that PYD is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is considered to be a terrorist group by Ankara and its ally the US.

Although Turkey views the PYD as merely a Syrian branch of the PKK, the US has backed the Syrian Kurds which have been one of the key forces fighting against the IS in the region. Ankara has been sending diplomatic signals to Washington that it is discontent with Washington’s support of Syrian Kurds.

On the other hand, Washington has been mounting pressure on Ankara to seal its frontiers with Syria. In December, Davutoglu stated that closing the country’s border with Syria is extremely difficult, despite the fact that most of it is “under Islamic State control.” He added that instead Turkey is putting countermeasures in place, which include physical barriers on the entire border.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry has recently released images and satellite intelligence proving the illegal oil supplies are being delivered across the Turkish-Syrian border on three main routes leading to Mediterranean ports, Batman oil refinery on the Turkish territory and a large transfer base in Turkey’s Cizre, respectively. Russia claimed that those oil supplies widely benefit Turkish President Recep closest relatives and help funding IS militants in Syria.

 

Iranians storm & set ablaze Saudi embassy in Tehran to protest Shiite cleric’s execution

Police used tear gas in Tehran after a crowd of angry protesters broke into the Saudi embassy, ravaging its offices and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. The mayhem broke out at a rally set off by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Police used tear gas in Tehran after a crowd of angry protesters broke into the Saudi embassy, ravaging its offices and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. The mayhem broke out at a rally set off by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Footage uploaded on Twitter by Iranian journalist Sobhan Hassanvand showed angry protesters pillaging the ground floor of the Saudi embassy, tearing apart furniture, flags, and documents. It was then engulfed in one big blaze, seemingly after the angry mob, outraged over the Saudi execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh al-Nimr, threw Molotov cocktails at the building.

One of the protesters was also pictured holding a torn Saudi flag, which was reportedly brought down at the compound, outside the embassy.

Police eventually resorted to tear gas to scatter the protesters and managed to force the crowd out of the building and cordon it off again.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries due to the violence. Photos from inside the ravaged ground floor appear to show it is now empty.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement early on Sunday calling for calm and asking protesters to respect the property of diplomatic premises, the Entekhab news website reported.

A ministry’s spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, then said there should be no further demonstrations around the Saudi embassy, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Meanwhile, local journalists have been reporting that the Saudi Arabia’s embassy staff will be evacuated out of Iran tonight.Earlier, images of fire breaking out at the embassy building were shared on Twitter. A Mehr editor has reported a gas explosion, while photos from the scene show the building engulfed in flames.Iran’s security forces had cordoned off the area around the embassy. Photos from the scene showed a heavy police presence.

Protesters gathered in several cities across Iran on Saturday angered by the Gulf kingdom’s execution of al-Nimr, who was put to death along with 46 other prisoners.

Nimr had been the most vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family prior to mass protests that erupted in 2011. He called for regular demonstrations against the ruling elite. Shiites have long complained that they are victims of discrimination in the Sunni powerhouse. Nimr had often called for better protection for the country’s Shiite minority.

Protesters in the city of Mashhad in northwestern Iran gathered on Saturday near the Saudi consulate, throwing Molotov cocktails at the building.  Photos showed several protesters trying to climb the fence around the building. There were reportedly some clashes with police.

The predominately Shiite Iran has bashed Riyadh, accusing the Kingdom of supporting terrorism and executing its opponents. Iran said it has summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in Tehran.

The Saudi government supports terrorists and takfiri [heretic] extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said, as cited by state news agency IRNA.

In the wake of the execution, Iranian lawmakers asked the Foreign Ministry to downgrade diplomatic ties with the Saudi government, FARS news agency reported. They proposed reducing the number of Saudi diplomats and consulates in Iran.

In turn, Saudi Arabia summoned the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh over Iran’s “hostile” remarks on executions, according to the state news agency SPA.

The ministry expressed “astonishment and its utter rejection of these hostile statements, which it deemed a blatant intervention in the kingdom’s affairs.”

 

Happy 2016! New Year Celebrations Across the World

All across the world, people from different nations, cultures and religions celebrated the arrival of New Year’s Day. 2016.

A woman jumps in the air as she poses for a photo during New Year celebrations in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. January 1, 2016.

 

A fireworks display in Moscow during the New Year celebrations. January 1, 2016.

 

‘Tar Barrel Men’ process through the streets of Allendale, UK, when men carry torches and flaming barrels in the annual Allendale Tar Barrel festival in Allendale, northern England. December 31, 2015

 

An Egyptian policeman riding a camel stands guard during New Year celebrations in front of the pyramids near Cairo. January 1, 2016.

 

United States Navy Midshipman Mason Kraft dips Cassidy Cunningham as they pose for a photo in Times Square during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. December 31, 2015.

 

A fireworks display over the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower, known as Big Ben, as the New Years Day celebrations begin in London. January 1, 2016.

 

People watch fireworks during New Years celebrations at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. January 1, 2016.

 

Soldiers patrol as people celebrate the New Year in the historic center of Brussels. January 1, 2016.

 

ew Year celebrations in Moscow, Russia.

 

Revellers photograph a 5-minute video performance displayed on the Arc de Triomphe as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris. December 31, 2015.

 

Fireworks display seen over the Sydney Harbour during the New Year celebrations in Australia. December 31, 2015

 

New Year celebrations near Chechcnya’s main New Year tree in Grozny, Russia.

 

Syrian army destroys leader of “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” in Damascus province

The Syrian army has destroyed the leader of the “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” Mohammed al-Masaalm, Syrian Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Ali Maihub said on Sunday.

Maihub told journalists that al-Masaalm was killed in the province of Damascus. “A large number of terrorists were destroyed, including the leader of the so-called ‘Syrian Revolutionaries Front’ Mohammed al-Masaalm,” he said.

“The Syrian army destroyed armored vehicles with terrorists and three vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns to the south of the Al-Manchiya district in the city of Daraa, and delivered strikes at terrorist groups in a refugee camp to the south of the Busra Square, to the south of a boy’s school, to the south of the Energy Company building, along the road of Daraa-Mahapta,” Maihub added.