Tag Archives: Odessa

Former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Warns of War in Ukraine

Michael McFaul, who served as President Obama’s ambassador to Moscow until February, has warned that the Ukraine crisis is approaching a state of war that could trigger a large scale invasion by Russian military forces.

“The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” McFaul told TIME in a Friday interview, as Ukraine’s military began an operation to reclaim eastern cities and towns taken over by pro-Russia militants. The offensive has led to violence, including reports that Ukrainian helicopters were shot down by pro-Russian forces. Brewing violence in the southern port city of Odessa also claimed dozens of lives Friday.

“This is real,” McFaul said. “This is war.”

Amid reports that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are urging Russia’s military to intervene on their behalf, McFaul says he’s now reconsidering the widely-shared assumption that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer to destabilize Ukraine from a distance, without staging a cross-border invasion that would compel the west to take new retaliatory steps, possibly including arming the Ukrainian military.

“It would be very costly for Russia to invade Ukraine,” McFaul said. “It’ll be real fight — maybe guerrilla warfare for years. That’s not something one does lightly. But it got a lot more likely in the last 12 hours.”

Russia’s parliament has authorized Putin to intervene in Ukraine, though Putin said last month “I very much hope that I will not have to exercise this right.”

But many experts fear the rising violence may provide Putin with an excuse, even if it brings a harsh western response. “It would be a very foolish move on Russia’s part,” says Olga Oliker, an international security and defense policy analyst at the Rand Corporation. “However that does not mean that it can be ruled out.”

The chaos deepened on Saturday as the Ukrainian military continued to press its offensive. The pro-Kremlin news outlet RT alleged on Saturday that residents in the eastern city of Kramatorsk chased off Ukrainian military forces with chants of “fascists.” In one bright spot, however, a team of international observers held for days by pro-Russian forces were released unharmed.

But the larger picture remains bleak. The events of the past couple of days, McFaul said, “make me more worried than ever before.”

via Former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Warns of War in Ukraine | TIME.com.

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Crimea observes 3-day mourning over tragic events in Ukraine’s southeast

89898989SIMFEROPOL, May 04.

The republic of Crimea is observing a three-day mourning over Friday’s tragic events, which claimed dozens of lives across Ukraine’s southeastern regions.

The days of mourning on May 3,4 and 5 were declared upon an order from Sergei Aksyonov, the acting head of Crimea.

All flags across the republic were lowered to half-mast and local authorities of all levels as well as radio and television administrations were asked to cancel festivities and entertainment programs dedicated to May 1 celebrations.

Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February, erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions in March after Crimea’s incorporation by Russia. Demonstrators, who are demanding referendums on the country’s federalization, seized some government buildings.

Crimea’s urge to reunify with Russia was caused by the republic’s refusal to accept the new Kiev authorities. In a March 16 referendum, Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and accede to Russia. The reunification deal with Moscow was signed March 18.

On Friday, Ukraine witnessed the bloodiest violence since the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February with the death toll exceeding the figure of 60.

The highest death toll took place in the southern city of Odessa. A total of 46 people were killed and over 200 wounded after radicals attacked pro-federalization activists and then set on fire Odessa’s Trade Union House with activists inside, burning them alive.

The violence erupted in Odessa in the daytime on Friday with a mass brawl at Grecheskaya Street. It was reportedly instigated by football fans from Kharkov and Right Sector and Self-Defense radicals from Kiev, who decided to organize a march on Odessa streets.

They provoked clashes with federalization supporters. Forcing them out, radicals set fire to a camp at Kulikovo Field where activists collected signatures to hold a referendum on federalization of Ukraine and the official status of the Russian language. Activists from the camp escaped to the located nearby Trade Union House, and radicals set fire to the building.

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Duma demands tribunal for Kiev authorities for bloodbath in Odessa

Irina Yarovaya, chair of the Duma Security Committee


The Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) said the Kiev authorities were committing war crimes and therefore must face a military tribunal.

“I think this is an organised criminal group that has been acting like this since the very beginning, committing war crimes. For these atrocities they must be brought to justice as war criminals and they must be tried by an international military tribunal,” Irina Yarovaya, chair of the Duma Security Committee, said on Saturday, May 3.

She believes that any support for ‘the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities who ordered the extermination of their own people means compliance in this mass killing of people”.

Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov is convinced that “there is no justification” for what happened in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Odessa in Ukraine.

“It’s awful that the unleashing of civil war Ukraine is supported by the West that in no time has forgotten human rights and democratic values, of which EU countries and the United States claimed to be the advocates. Now no one has any doubt as to who is sponsoring unrests in Ukraine and who sponsored them from the start,” he said.

“I do hope quite sincerely that last night’s tragedy will make those who support the illegitimate and criminal regime come to their senses although the chances of that are waning, judging from the reaction of Western politicians,” Neverov said. “Instead of defending peaceful citizens of Ukraine, they are blocking Russian proposals in the U.N. Security Council, which are aimed at peaceful resolution of the issue. The West is conniving at the Ukrainian radicals and Nazi whose ideology is extermination. Apparently Europe has learnt no bitter lessons from last century.”

Frants Klintsevich, deputy chair of the Duma Defence Committee, drew historical parallels with the current events in Ukraine.

“The European Union and America refuse to understand the explosive situation in Ukraine and do not want to figure out what is good and what is bad because they simply can’t benefit from that. They want a civil war,” he said.

Klintsevich recalled that “during the Great Patriotic War [1941-1945], SS battalions manned with Ukrainian nationalists commanded by fascists destroyed the village of Khatyn in Belarus, burning the elderly, women and children alive”.

“Practically 70 years on, the decedents of those fascists did the same. They blocked people inside the Trade Union House and set it on fire,” he said.

“Why does Europe support such atrocities?” the MP asked.

He stressed that all opposition parties in “enlightened Europe” and the whole world must know what “present-day fascists” did in Odessa.

Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky said the bloodbath in Odessa on May 2 “completely destroys the Geneva accords and incites a civil war in Ukraine”.

“What happened, especially the fire in the Trade Union House, reminds me of the Nazi crimes during World War II. This is a new Khatyn and Auschwitz,” he said.

“Especially outrageous is the benevolent reaction of the West to the crimes committed by the Kiev authorities against their own people,” he said, and stressed that “violence must be condemned and stopped”.

Mikhail Starshinov, head of the inter-faction group for interaction between civil society institutions and law enforcement agencies, condemned the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s statement that the Trade Union House in Odessa had been set on fire by the activists who had seized it.

“By the degree of cynicism, this statement is beyond the good and the bad,” he said. “This is yet another evidence that certain political forces in the world will stop at nothing in a bid to achieve their goals.”

He stressed that Russia was trying to conduct a dialogue on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine at all levels, including the Foreign Ministry and parliament. “However our opponents remain deaf to reasonable proposals on how to de-escalate violence. As a result, innocent people died,” Starshinov said, adding that “this scenario would have been unheard of two months ago”.

Unrests erupted on Friday, May 2, with a mass fight started by football fans from Kharkov, Right Sector radicals and members of the so-called “Maidan self-defence” force from Kiev, who had decided to march along the streets of Odessa, thus provoking clashes with the supporters of Ukraine’s federalisation. As a result, 46 people had been killed in the clashes and over 200 had requested medical attention.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said the building had been set on fire by the same people who had seized it. However this disagrees with the footage and eye-witness reports from the scene.

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Clashes, disappearance mar presidential hopeful’s campaign in Ukraine

Seven people were injured in clashes near an Odessa hotel where a Ukrainian presidential candidate was staying, as the building was assaulted by members of the radical Right Sector group.

Oleg Tsarev, a businessman from Dnepropetrovsk and former MP from the Party of Regions, was caught in Odessa clashes between supporters and opponents of the coup-appointed Kiev government on Thursday. At least seven people have been injured in clashes next to the Hotel Promenade.

Shots were reportedly heard after members of the Right Sector nationalist movement and pro-Kiev activists tried to block the entrance to the building.

Soon after the mob blocked the hotel, supporters of the candidate moved in to intervene with the help of several hundred activists participating in a peaceful rally dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi Germany.

Security officers from the Alpha Special Forces group had to intervene and escort the presidential hopeful out of the hotel, as police were reluctant to stop the violence.

Tsarev’s misadventures in Odessa didn’t stop with the clashes. On Friday morning his press service reported him going missing, possibly kidnapped by his political opponents. But hours later the presidential hopeful resurfaced, saying on his Facebook page that he had been with friends and that his cell phone had needed recharging.

This is not the first time Tsarev was attacked in recent days. Before arriving to Odessa, Tsarev was beaten and pelted with eggs in Nikolaev by members of the Right Sector, RIA Novosti reports. Earlier on Thursday, presidential candidate Sergey Tigipko was also pelted with eggs.

In order to crush the anti-Kiev rebellion in southern and eastern regions of Ukraine, the governors newly appointed by the coup-imposed government rely on their own armed militias, Tsarev said in his latest interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“It is being carried out by the fighters, hired by local authorities,” Tsarev says. “In all areas of the south and the east these questions are supervised by first deputies newly appointed by the governors. Everyone has around 200 fighters on their allowance.”

Yet Tsarev says that not all of the fighters are from the radical Right Sector nationalist movement. He maintains that while many members of the neo-Nazi group might command the militias, many units consist of “local small criminals” that were assembled on the orders and financial support of the “oligarchs.”

He says that this type of intimidation falls in line with Kiev’s government, which relies on “language of threats and individual terror,” something witnessed before in a number of post-coup countries.

“Present day authorities in Kiev with their Right Sector and the National Guard, consisting of former militants, have not invented anything new,” Tsarev says.

Kiev’s policy in relation to the south-east of the country, according to Tsarev, aims to “discourage not only historical memory, but also very fresh memories of ‘Eurorevolution’.” He says that the self-imposed government “ignored adopted laws which they passed themselves, for example, an amnesty for all participants in the riots,” when they refer to protests in the south-east as “separatist”, calling the participants “bandits.”

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Massive anti-Maidan rallies grip eastern Ukraine as residents demand referendum

Pro-Russian protesters hold a banner reading “Odessa for referendum!” stage a rally in the center of the Ukrainian city of Odessa on March 23, 2014

Rallies have swept eastern Ukraine, with residents protesting against Kiev’s coup-imposed government and demanding a referendum to decide on the future of the region. Thousands took to the streets in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, and Odessa on Sunday.

About 5,000 protesters gathered in the city of Kharkov on Sunday to rally in favor of federalizing the country and holding people’s referendums in eastern Ukraine.

The demonstrators also demanded to make Russian the official language of the Kharkov region. Russian is the most common first language in the eastern regions.

Furthermore, the residents of Kharkov proclaimed illegitimate the political part of the EU-Ukraine association agreement signed by coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. Some of the protesters headed to the Russian embassy, asking Moscow to investigate the legality of the presence of NATO troops in Ukraine and addressed Crimeans, asking to help the region.

The rally in Kharkov was also dedicated to two protesters who were killed last week by members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement, which played an active role in the Maidan protests. The demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Glory to Kharkov defendants!” and “We won’t live under Bandera!”

Stepan Bandera was the head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Bandera’s nationalist movement collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II and was involved in the ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews, and Russians. OUN was also responsible for the massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, which resulted in about 100,000 murders.

Meanwhile in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, preliminary results of an improvised referendum were announced to a several thousands-strong rally.

According to the results, over 100,000 people voted in favor of joining Russia in a people’s referendum that was carried out in the form of a poll in Lugansk.

The poll was initiated last Sunday and will continue for another week.

Another 1,000 people gathered near the building of the regional security service, protesting against the current authorities in Kiev.

The city of Donetsk, also located in the Donbass region, also witnessed protests on Sunday, as more than 2,000 people took to the streets. They demanded that a referendum be held to decide the future of the region and handed out ballot papers.

Pro-Russian protesters shout slogans during a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 23, 2014

housands also gathered for a rally in the Black Sea coastal city of Odessa on Sunday, protesting against the coup-imposed government in Kiev. They carried Ukranian, Russian, and Crimean flags and chanted slogans such as “Ukraine and Russia are together” and “Odessa is against Nazis and tycoons,” as well as “Referendum!”

The peaceful demonstrators urged authorities to release Anton Davidchenko, the arrested leader of People’s Alternative, a council that coordinates the work of regional public organizations. They demanded an end to the persecution of activists accused of separatism.

Davidchenko’s mother, Lubov, who participated in the rally, urged all mothers in Ukraine to “prevent their sons from going to the criminal war, which the West-backed far-right authorities and tycoons in Kiev are trying to unleash between the fraternal Slavic peoples in the interests of their Western sponsors,” Itar-Tass reported.

“The authorities in Kiev are speaking about war with Russia, but in fact they are at war with their own people. The majority of Ukrainians do not support [Kiev’s] policy, but Kiev prefers not to pay attention to the people’s opinion, retaliating with repressions,” stated city council deputy Sergey Bovbolan.

Pro-Russian protesters wave Russian flags along with the flags of the Donetsk region during a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 23, 2014

Speakers at the rally called for an end to the disinformation campaign waged by local media, and for authorities to stop putting pressure on TV channels.

A crowd comprised of thousands of Odessa residents walked through the central streets, visiting the Polish embassy to remind them of Bandera’s crimes.

Poland, Ukraine’s western neighbor, has been very vocal during the crisis, supporting the current far-right Kiev authorities. The country also hosts the US military. The Pentagon dispatched 12 warplanes and hundreds of troops to Poland following the Crimean referendum.

The decision to hold a referendum in Crimea was sparked by the bloody Maidan protests that resulted in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich. Crimea refused to recognize the coup-imposed government. The referendum held last Sunday resulted in over 96 percent of voters answering in favor of the autonomous republic joining Russia. In turn, Russia accepted the people’s will and welcomed Crimea’s integration on Monday.

People in the eastern regions of Ukraine fear that the far-right Kiev authorities will not represent their interests. Residents of the Donbass region – the majority of whom are Russian speakers – were particularly unhappy over parliament’s decision to revoke the law allowing the use of minority languages, including Russian.

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Ukrainian warships voluntarily leave Sevastopol : sources

About 10 Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet ships have left the naval base in Sevastopol, with several vessels now heading to Odessa, administrative sources have said. The ships left the base voluntarily but some of them broke down and returned, they claimed.

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

Over the last 24 hours, “about 10 [war]ships and vessels of the Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet have left the Sevastopol base,” a source in the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea told Interfax on Sunday.

“Naturally, no one has compelled them to do so,” the government source added.

The administration of the Crimean autonomy has nothing to do with the moves of the Ukrainian ships, an administrative source also told RIA Novosti.

Several vessels have since returned to the base in Sevastopol “because of malfunctions,” the source said.

Meanwhile, former Ukrainian troops were due to swear allegiance to the Crimean authorities in Sevastopol at 5pm local time (15:00 GMT). An unnamed official source earlier told RIA Novosti that “the majority of the Ukrainian armed forces deployed in Crimea” have passed to the side of the region. The transition was made “without a single shot fired,” the source said.

Ukrainian state agencies have been categorically denying both the claims of Ukrainian soldiers switching sides en masse and, earlier, reports of warships leaving Sevastopol.

However, the governor of southern Ukrainian Odessa Region told local media that several Ukrainian ships are sailing to the city of Odessa and it is being decided where they will dock.

A Russian media report on Saturday claimed that Ukraine’s Navy flagship, the Hetman Sahaidachny frigate has refused to follow orders from Kiev, came over to Russia’s side and was returning home from the Gulf of Aden flying the Russian naval flag. Various Ukrainian media denied the report as “false” and “propaganda,” but gave only a Facebook statement of a former Navy officer turned journalist in support of the rebuttal.

This comes as the newly appointed Navy Chief rear admiral Denis Berezovsky has sworn allegiance to the people of Crimea, according to RIA Novosti.

“I, Berezovsky Denis, swear allegiance to the Crimean people and pledge to protect it, as required by the [army] regulations,” Berezovsky said.

Hours after the announcement, the self-proclaimed government in Kiev dismissed the Navy Chief and launched a treason case against him.

Ukrainian warships voluntarily leave Sevastopol: sources — RT News.

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