Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress.

Said : President Obama in a statement on Ukraine, released by the White House Press Secretary yesterday.
The President Speaks on the Situation in Ukraine

Mr. Obama said since the shoot-down of the Malaysian Airlines flight over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and have continued to interfere in the crash investigation and to tamper with the evidence. "They have continued to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region resulting in the death of scores of Ukrainian civilians."

"Meanwhile, Russia continues to support the separatists and encourage them, and train them, and arm them.  Satellite images, along with information we've declassified in recent days, show that forces inside Russia have launched artillery strikes into Ukraine - another major violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. And we have information that Russia continues to build up its own forces near the Ukrainian border and that more Russian military equipment, including artillery, armored vehicles, and air defense equipment, has been transferred across the border to these separatists," he said.

Mr. Obama said : "Yesterday, I had a chance to speak with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy. We are united in our view that the situation in Ukraine ought to be resolved diplomatically and that a sovereign, independent Ukraine is no threat to Russian interests. But we've also made it clear, as I have many times, that if Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow. And today is a reminder that the United States means what it says. And we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world."

Mr. Obama announced imposing of new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy:  energy, arms, and finance blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector. These sanctions involve more Russian banks and defense companies.  Mr. Obama also announced formal suspension of credit that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia.

Mr. Obama informed about the European Union's decision of imposing its most significant and wide-ranging sanctions on Russia to date. "In the financial sector, the EU is cutting off certain financing to state-owned banks in Russia. In the energy sector, the EU will stop exporting specific goods and technologies to Russia, which will make it more difficult for Russia to develop its oil resources over the long term.  In the defense sector, the EU is prohibiting new arms imports and exports and is halting the export of sensitive technology to Russia’s military users," he said. 

Mr. Obama claimed that Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the already imposed US sanctions  have made a weak Russian economy even weaker. "The major sanctions we’re announcing today will continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, including the cronies and companies that are supporting Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine," he said.

"In other words, today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress. And it doesn’t have to come to this - it didn’t have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia, and President Putin in particular, has made. There continues to be a better choice - the choice of de-escalation, the choice of joining the world in a diplomatic solution to this situation, a choice in which Russia recognizes that it can be a good neighbor and trading partner with Ukraine even as Ukraine is also developing ties with Europe and other parts of the world," he continued.

In reply to a question whether what was happening in Ukraine could be a new Cold War, Mr. Obama said : "No, it’s not a new Cold War. What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path." 

In reply to another question about the effect of sanctions on Putin and the supply of US weapons to Ukraine, Mr. Obama said : "Well, keep in mind, the issue at this point is not the Ukrainian capacity to outfight separatists. They are better armed than the separatists.  The issue is how do we prevent bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.  We’re trying to avoid that.  And the main tool that we have to influence Russian behavior at this point is the impact that it’s having on its economy."

"The combination of stronger U.S. and European sanctions is going to have a greater impact on the Russian economy than we’ve seen so far.  Obviously, we can't in the end make President Putin see more clearly. Ultimately that's something that President Putin has to do by - on his own. But what we can do is make sure that we’ve increased the costs for actions that I think are not only destructive to Ukraine but ultimately are going to be destructive to Russia, as well," he said.

Mr. Obama assured that he would continue to engage President Putin as well as President Poroshenko and his European partners in pursuit of a diplomatic solution. At the same time, he made it clear that Russia must understand that "the path for a peaceful resolution to this crisis involves recognizing the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, and the independence of the Ukrainian people."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Prime Minister Cameron should face the fact that the city of London has become a Las Vegas for Russian financial transactions that are self-serving.

Said : Zbigniew Brzezinski - former United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 - in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Zbigniew Brzezinski on Putin: "He has gotten himself into a horrendous jam."
 "I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia's status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia's economically beginning to fail, that Russia's threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia's becoming self-isolated and discredited.”

State sponsorship on a scale that involves the supply of missiles capable of bringing down an aircraft at 30,000 feet would seem to deserve a name more closely related to conventional warfare.

Richard Barrett
Said : Richard Barrett, a specialist in global counter-terrorism operations, in his analysis titled "Are the pro-Russian rebels terrorists?" published under today's CNN Opinion column.

Richard has presented a very meaningful analysis aimed at the question whether  the U.N. secretary-general can admit the demand made by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to label  the two main rebel groups in his country, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, as terrorist organizations, especially in the wake of the rocket attack that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Poroshenko also told the world that everyone must chose between the terrorists and the civilized world.

According to Richard : "Although any country can declare those two rebel groups terrorist in accordance with their national legislation, and so make it illegal for any of their nationals to provide them with support, the U.N. secretary-general cannot, and nor can any other part of the United Nations, except possibly the Security Council."

Richard argues that there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism. He writes that the debate on what terrorism means has been going on at the United Nations for at least 20 years. But it gets "stuck in major disagreement over what may be considered legitimate when people are fighting for their right to self-determination."

In his analysis, Richard has tried to make the understanding of Russia's role, in the Ukrainian case, more distinct given the kind of support the rebels - terrorists or separatists - are receiving from Moscow. He has brilliantly taken up this key issue as described below :
Photo: A Buk (SA-11) missile system similar to the one
US intelligence says was used to shoot down MH17 "by mistake". (Wikimedia)
"Another issue that arises in the Ukrainian case is that if the rebels are terrorists, what does that make Russia?"

"State-sponsored terrorism has been less of an issue since the rise of al Qaeda, which seems to have done perfectly well without it. And while there are murky relationships between illegal armed groups and governments in parts of Africa and South Asia, state sponsorship on a scale that involves the supply of missiles capable of bringing down an aircraft at 30,000 feet would seem to deserve a name more closely related to conventional warfare."

Richard notes that "we now have a nasty mix in many places around the world of terrorism, armed opposition groups and proxy wars, all dressed up in ambiguity, denial and obfuscation. And while these dirty wars drag on, only one thing remains constant -- the dead bodies strewn around the fields and towns, whether fallen from the sky or just lying where they stood."

Richard Barrett has headed global counter-terrorism operations for the British intelligence service and led the U.N. monitoring team on al Qaeda and the Taliban. He is a senior vice president of the Soufan Group, a New York-based firm that provides security services to governments and the private sector. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The cronies of Mr Putin and his clique in the Kremlin are the people who have to bear the pressure

Said : UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond Commenting on the EU's enhanced sanctions.

EU sanctions on Russia : French want British to act first by curbing Russian oligarchs who have sought refuge in London.  
The US and UK have asked France to cancel the US$1.6 billion deal for the supply of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia in view of Moscow's role in the Ukrainian crisis. They have even suggested France to sell these ships to the NATO instead of Russia. However, French President Francois Hollande said that the plan to deliver the two Mistral helicopter carriers was made in Paris and will go forward despite calls from the US and UK.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that the order is "unthinkable,” calling for tougher sanctions and to halt all arms sales to Russia.  He urged the EU to extend sanctions to the arms sector.

“The Russians have paid. Should we repay 1.1 billion euros if the boat was not delivered to the purchaser?” he asked while speaking to reporters late on Monday – the night before EU foreign ministers are to meet in Brussels to discuss tougher sanctions on Russia following the downing of a Malaysian airline which left 298 dead, reported

Hollande’s decision has found support among French officials, despite going against the wishes of the US and UK.

Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, head of Hollande's ruling Socialist Party, told iTélé television on Tuesday : "Hollande is not backing down. He is delivering the first (ship) despite the fact he is being asked not to." "This is a false debate led by hypocrites...When you see how many (Russian) oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own backyard," he continued. 

According to BBC, a new sanctions list naming individuals and organisations will be drawn up by EU ambassadors by Thursday, Mr Timmermans told reporters after meeting his EU colleagues in Brussels. The sanctions would be aimed at forcing Russia to help defuse the Ukraine conflict and put pressure on the rebels to disarm. But the BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt says it is still unclear if EU leaders will be prepared to accept harm to their own economies in order to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Philip Hammond
The EU and US have imposed asset freezes and travel bans on some top Russian officials, military commanders and companies since Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March. The US has gone further than the EU in targeting members of President Putin's inner circle.

BBC has quoted UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's comments on the EU's enhanced sanctions. Hammond said : "the word is 'cronies': the cronies of Mr Putin and his clique in the Kremlin are the people who have to bear the pressure". "If the financial interests of the group around the leadership are affected, the leadership will know about it."

Monday, July 21, 2014

"I think so much of politics is background noise, and we don't need the background noise anymore"

Said : Bill Clinton in an interview with CNN in Vietnam, commenting on Hillary Clinton's chances for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
 Bill Clinton in an Interview with CNN
Bill Clinton said that although Hillary Clinton hasn't asked him for advice on her 2016 decision, he thinks that the former secretary of state "really does need some time to think through this."

"We've reached a point in our life when we think you really shouldn't run for office if you don't have a clear idea of what you can do and a unique contribution you can make and you can outline that," Clinton told CNN's Anna Coren. "Now that the book is done, she wants time to think about that and work through it. I think so much of politics is background noise, and we don't need the background noise anymore."

Defending his time on the paid speaking circuit, Bill Clinton said that after leaving the White House and paying his debts, he "wanted to try and save enough money so that if anything happened to me, Hillary and Chelsea could both be in public service if they wanted to be, and I don't apologize for that."

"I don't think it's a bad thing to make money," Bill Clinton said. "I think it's bad if you live in a system that's rigged against the poor and the middle class. That's a very different thing and the purpose of politics is to create a system of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

'Our economies are strong, and growing in strength. And yet we sometimes behave as if we need Russia more than Russia needs us...."

David Cameron
Said : British Prime Minister David Cameron, reported by the Daily Mail.

Writing in the Sunday Times Mr Cameron said: "We must establish the full facts of what happened. But the growing weight of evidence points to a clear conclusion: that MH17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area. If it is the case, then we must be clear what it means: this is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias, and training and arming them." Mr Cameron continued: "This is not about military action, plainly. But it is time to make our power, influence and resources count. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action. That action must go wider than just bringing those responsible to justice, he said, adding: 'If president Putin does not change his approach on Ukraine, then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia."

More reactions from UK :

David Cameron Published: 20 July 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"The opportunity expires to show the world that Putin is serious about helping."

Said : Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a press briefing, CNN reported on July 19. 

More than two days after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine, the bodies still have not been removed from the crash site. The remains of the 298 people killed in the crash have not been secured. World leaders have complained that the recovery is not happening fast enough, mainly because pro-Russia militants control the crash site.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to force the rebels to allow full access.

"I want to see results in the form of unimpeded access and rapid recovery," Rutte said in a press briefing. "This is now priority number one." Rutte called images of people rummaging through the debris and belongings of victims "downright disgusting."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a news conference
at the Ministry of Safety and Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Friday. 
According to CNN, Rutte told reporters of what he called "a very intense conversation" with Putin on Saturday in which he told the Russian leader "the opportunity expires to show the world that he is serious about helping."

Nearly two-thirds of the people on the jetliner, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were Dutch.

More details at Read :