Tag: Ukrainian

At Least 20 Ukrainian Soldiers Dead, 200 Hospitalized After Apparent Leak Of Deadly ‘California Flu’ By U.S. Lab

20 Dead, 200 Hospitalized After Reports U.S. Lab “Leaks” Deadly Virus In Ukraine – Zero Hedge

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Amid the so-called “ceasefire” in Ukraine, yet ongoing shelling in many regions, the Donbass news agency reports that more than 20 Ukrainian solders have died and over 200 soldiers are hospitalized after an apparent leak of a deadly virus called “California Flu” from a U.S. lab near the city of Kharkov.

As Donbass News International reports,
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More than 20 Ukrainian soldiers have died and over 200 soldiers are hospitalized in a short period of time because of new and deadly virus, which is immune to all medicines. Donetsk People’s Republic intelligence has reported that Californian Flu is leaked from the same place where research of this virus has been carried out.

The laboratory is located near the city of Kharkov and its base for U.S. military experts.

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Leak of deadly virus in Ukrainian side was published first time on 12.1.2016:
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“According to the medical personnel of the AFU units (Ukrainian troops) there were recorded mass diseases among the Ukrainian military personnel in the field. Physicians recorded the unknown virus as a result of which the infected get the high fever which cannot be subdues by any medicines, and in two days there comes the fatal outcome. Thus far from the virus there have died more than twenty servicemen, what is carefully shielded by the commandment of the AFU from the publicity”, said Basurin in daily MoD situation report.

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Outbreak of deadly virus continues and Friday 22.1.2016 Vice-Commander told new information from epidemic:
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“We keep registering new facts of growing the epidemics of acute respiratory infections among the Ukrainian military.

Just since the beginning of this week more than 200 Ukrainian military have been taken to civil and military hospitals of Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk. It is important to repeat that the DPR intelligence previously reported the research being carried out in a private laboratory in the locality Shelkostantsiya, 30 km away from the city of Kharkov, and involving US military experts. According to our information, it is there where the deadly Californian flu strain leaked from,” Basurin said.

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It appears it is not just military that is affected, as Radio Free Europe reports a flu epidemic is sweeping through the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk – and the conflict smoldering nearby is making the situation even worse. Doctors are unable to identify the exact strain of the virus, because the laboratory they need is across the front lines in separatist-controlled Donetsk

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Intercepted Conversation: Pro-Russian Separatists Admit Shooting Down Malaysian Jet Thinking It Was Ukrainian

Intercepted Conversation: Terrorists Admit Shooting Down #MH17, Thinking It Was Ukrainian – Pat Dollard

Ukraine’s security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that they said showed rebels were responsible for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people over Ukraine.

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In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane.

In the second, two rebel fighters – nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” – say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of the crash site.

“It’s 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major reportedly says in the recording, revealing there were no weapons at the crash site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”Neither recording could be independently verified.

Read the entire unverified transcript via Kyiv Post:

Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).

Vasili Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?

IB: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.

VG: How many minutes ago?

IB: About 30 minutes ago.

SBU comment: After examining the site of the plane the terrorists come to the conclusion that they have shot down a civilian plane. The next part of the conversation took place about 40 minutes later.

“Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

“Grek”: Yes, Major.

“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.

“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?

“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.

“Greek”: Are many people there?

“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).

“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?

“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?

“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.

“Greek”: Are there documents?

“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.

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Ukrainian Army Claims Significant Victory Against Pro-Russian Forces

Ukraine Claims Victory Against Rebels – Durango Herald

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Ukrainian troops forced pro-Russian insurgents out of a key stronghold in the country’s embattled east on Saturday, a significant success that suggests the government may finally be making gains in a months-long battle against a spreading separatist insurgency.

As rebels fled from Slovyansk, vowing to regroup elsewhere and fight on, President Petro Poroshenko hailed the recapture of the city as “the start of a turning point” in a battle that has killed more than 400 people since April.

After a night of heavy fighting that saw heavy artillery fire from Ukraine’s troops, government soldiers were in full control of rebel headquarters in Slovyansk, a city of about 100,000 that has been a center of the fighting between Kiev’s troops and the pro-Russian insurgents.

Soldiers raised the Ukrainian flag over the city council building, while troops carried stockpiles of weapons out of the city’s administrative and police buildings, which have been under rebel control since early April.

“It’s not a total victory. But the purging of Slovyansk of these bands, made up of people armed to the teeth, has incredible symbolic importance,” Poroshenko said in a statement posted on his official website.

Artillery fire on rebel forces began late on Friday and lasted into the night. On Saturday, fighting could still be heard on the northern outskirts of the city.

Ukraine’s newly appointed Minister of Defense, Valery Heletey, was milling around with troops in the city center. He said three planes with food and other supplies will soon arrive in Slovyansk.

A spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council said earlier that mopping-up operations were continuing.

“Slovyansk is under siege. Now an operation is going on to neutralize small groups hiding in buildings where peaceful citizens are living,” Andriy Lysenko told journalists in Kiev.

Andrei Purgin of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic told The Associated Press that rebels were evacuating, but claimed the army’s campaign had left the city “in ruins.”

The capture of Slovyansk represented the government’s biggest victory since it abandoned a shaky cease-fire this week and launched an offensive against the separatists. Until now, the Ukrainian army had often appeared feckless in the months-long campaign against the rebels. On Thursday, Poroshenko shook up his defense team, appointing Ukraine’s third defense minister since the former president was ousted in February.

It was not yet clear whether the latest advance has permanently crippled the rebels, many of whom are relocating to other cities.

In the city of Donetsk, streets were deserted on Saturday as local officials urged people to stay at home. They said a battle was ongoing near the Donetsk city airport, but did not provide details.

“Militants from Slovyansk and Kramatorsk have arrived in Donetsk,” said Maxim Rovinsky, spokesman for the city council.

Purgin claimed 150 fighters injured in Slovyansk were in Donetsk for treatment.

“More than a hundred militiamen have been killed in the last three days,” said Viktor, a 35-year-old Slovyansk native who had a shrapnel wound in his leg. “The mood is very bad. It seems that we’ve lost this war. And Russia isn’t in a hurry to help.”

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution News Update

Crimea Parliament Declares Independence, Asks To Join Russia After Landslide Vote – Fox News

The disputed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea formally applied to join Russia Monday, after its people voted 97 percent in favor of a referendum to secede. The referendum has been condemned as illegal by Ukrainian leaders and the U.S. and its European allies are expected to announce sanctions against Russia Monday.

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European Union foreign ministers moved quickly to impose travel bans, and froze the assets of 21 people linked to the Ukraine unrest Monday.

A statement on Crimea’s parliament website said it proposed “to the Russian Federation to admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic,” Reuters reported.

The proposal came after Crimea’s election chief Mikhail Malyshev said in a televised news conference Monday that the final tally of voters in favor of joining Russia was 96.77 percent. The announcement was merely confirmation of what had been expected once the referendum was announced by the region’s parliament earlier this month.

Later Monday, the Crimean parliament voted to formally declare its independence from Ukraine. In the same resolution, it said that all Ukrainian state property on the territory of the Black Sea peninsula will be nationalized and become the property of the Crimean Republic. A delegation of Crimean lawmakers is set to travel to Moscow Monday for negotiations on how to proceed further. Russian lawmakers have suggested that formally annexing Crimea is just a matter of time. Crimean lawmakers have also asked the United Nations and other nations to recognize it.

The election had been denounced as illegal and destabilizing by the U.S., the European Union, and the interim Ukrainian government. The vote offered residents of the strategic Black Sea peninsula the choice of seeking annexation by Russia or remaining in Ukraine with greater autonomy.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday that he was confident that the 28 E.U. member nations would reach agreement Monday on which Russian officials to hit with sanctions, which would possibly include asset freezes and visa restrictions. Hague also hinted that more measures could be taken at a summit of E.U. leaders due to begin Thursday.

President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the vote, and the White House said it would reject the results of the referendum held “under threats of violence and intimidation.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke to Putin by phone Sunday, proposing that an international observer mission in Ukraine be expanded quickly as tensions rise in the east. Her spokesman said she also condemned the Russian seizure of a gas plant near the Ukrainian village of Strilkove Saturday.

Opponents of secession appeared to largely stay away Sunday, denouncing the vote as a cynical power play/land grab by Russia. But turnout was reported to be well above the 50 percent that would make the referendum binding.

Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said the annexation could take “from three days to three months,” according to the Interfax news agency.

Valery Ryazantsev, head of Russia’s observer mission in Crimea and a lawmaker from the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Monday that the results are beyond dispute. He told the Interfax news agency that there are “absolutely no reasons to consider the vote results illegitimate.”

Senior officials in Moscow were discussing Crimea’s annexation as a fait accompli. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said the region could receive tax breaks.

“We want to go back home, and today we are going back home,” said Viktoria Chernyshova, a 38-year-old businesswoman. “We needed to save ourselves from those unprincipled clowns who have taken power in Kiev.”

Ukraine’s new government in Kiev called the referendum a “circus” directed at gunpoint by Moscow, referring to the thousands of troops that now occupy the peninsula, which has traded hands repeatedly since ancient times.

“Today is a holiday!” said 66-year-old Vera Sverkunova, breaking into a patriotic war song: “I want to go home to Russia. It’s been so long since I’ve seen my mama.”

The referendum comes two weeks after Russian-led forces seized control of Crimea. Locals say they fear the new Ukrainian government that took over when President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia last month will oppress them.

Putin insisted the referendum was conducted in “full accordance with international law and the U.N. charter.” At the United Nations on Saturday, Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution declaring the referendum illegal. China, its ally, abstained and 13 of the 15 other nations on the council voted in favor – a signal of Moscow’s isolation.

Andrew Weiss, vice president for Russian and East European studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggested the confrontation could intensify.

Russia “is really turning its back on the outside world and is basically going to say to the West, ‘Now, go ahead. Show us how tough you are.’ And the West, I think, is struggling to come with an adequate response.”

Ukraine’s Regional Policy Minister Volodymyr Groisman told The Associated Press that the new government was already working on giving towns and regions more autonomy but said there were no plans to turn Ukraine into a federation.

In Donetsk, one of the main cities in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russia demonstrators called Sunday for a referendum similar to the one in Crimea and some of them stormed the prosecutor-general’s office.

In Sevastopol, speakers blared the city anthem up and down the streets, giving off a block-party feeling. But the military threat was not far away – a Russian naval warship still blocked the port’s outlet to the Black Sea, trapping Ukrainian boats.

At a polling station inside a historic school, tears came to Vladimir Lozovoy, a 75-year-old retired Soviet naval officer, as he talked about his vote.

“I want to cry. I have finally returned to my motherland. It is an incredible feeling. This is the thing I have been waiting for for 23 years,” he said.

But Crimea’s large Muslim Tatar minority – whose families had been forcibly removed from their homeland and sent to Central Asia during Soviet times – remained defiant.

The Crimea referendum “is a clown show, a circus,” Tatar activist Refat Chubarov said on Crimea’s Tatar television station. “This is a tragedy, an illegitimate government with armed forces from another country.”

The fate of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in their Crimean bases by pro-Russian forces was still uncertain. Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities have said if those soldiers don’t surrender after Sunday’s vote, they will be considered “illegal.”

“This is our land and we’re not going anywhere from this land,” Ukraine’s acting defense minister, Igor Tenyuk, was quoted as saying Sunday by the Interfax news agency.

But Tenyuk later said an agreement had been reached with Russia that its forces would not block Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea through Friday. It was not clear exactly what that meant.

On the streets of Simferopol, blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags were nowhere to seen but red, white and blue Russian and Crimean flags fluttered in abundance.

Ethnic Ukrainians interviewed outside the Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral of Vladimir and Olga said they refused to take part in the referendum, calling it an illegal charade stage-managed by Moscow. Some said they were scared of the potential for widespread discrimination and harassment in the coming weeks, similar to what happened in parts of nearby Georgia, another former Soviet republic, after its 2008 war with Russia.

“We’re just not going to play these separatist games,” said Yevgen Sukhodolsky, a 41-year-old prosecutor from Saki, a town outside Simferopol. “Putin is the fascist. The Russian government is fascist.”

Vasyl Ovcharuk, a retired gas pipe layer who worked at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, predicted dark days ahead for Crimea.

“This will end up in military action, in which peaceful people will suffer. And that means everybody. Shells and bullets are blind,” he said.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Related articles:

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What A Turnout! 123% Of Sevastopol, Crimea Voted For Merger With Mother Russia – Gateway Pundit

You don’t see turnouts like this very often.

123% of Sevastopol, Crimea residents voted yesterday to join with Mother Russia.

Pravda Ukraine reported:
(Translated)

If you believe the Crimean “authorities”, 474,137 people voted in Sevastopol “referendum”.

However, as of November 1, 2013, according to the statistics in Sevastopol , all the permanent population of the city – 383,499 people, and is present at the time – 385,462 people.

At the end of last year, the voting population of Sebastopol was 385,462. This tailored to the children who did not have the right to vote. 474,137 – 385,462 = 88,675 people accidentally appeared in Sevastopol to vote during the referendum. 474 137/385 462 * 100 = 123% of Sevastopol voted for entry into Russia.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Impeach: Obama Skips Another National Security Staff Meeting On Russia – Conservative Times

There’s no question about it – we’re currently involved in a full Cold War-style standoff with Russia right now over what’s going on in Ukraine.

The Crimean region just overwhelmingly (95% of the vote) passed a referendum to join the Russian Federation. Obviously, with thousands of Russian troops ominously looking on nearby, this was essentially voting at gunpoint.

The vote has already been condemned by the government of Ukraine, the US, and most of the rest of the West. Russian president Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscle to see just how tough Western governments really are. e knows Obama is weak, and he has the president looking clueless and spineless on the world stage.

As threats of sanctions from the UN and individual nations loom large, you’d expect for our president to be actively involved in the process of crafting official US national security policy to deal with this crisis. Wrong.

Obama has skipped yet another national security staff meeting on the situation, instead opting to be briefed on the meeting. Amazing.

Remember, he already skipped one national security staff meeting while a Russian invasion of Ukraine was impending and was instead briefed by Susan Rice, the same woman who spent weeks telling us that Benghazi had everything to do with a YouTube video.

Via Yahoo News:

President Barack Obama’s national security team discussed the Ukraine crisis in a session at the White House on Saturday after a last-ditch bid to find a diplomatic solution to the Cold War-style standoff with Russia floundered.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who just returned from talks with his Russian counterpart in London, was at the White House meeting along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

Being briefed on a meeting of this gravity is no substitute for being actively involved in the process of deciding what the official US response to the Ukraine crisis will be. s Commander in Chief, Obama is charged with being the sole organ of foreign policy in the United States – not Congress or another branch of government or the military. His utter disregard for his most important duty shows that he isn’t remotely fit for office. It’s past time to impeach.

Are you outraged that Obama is skipping yet another vital national security staff meeting on Russia? Share this article on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about how Obama is neglecting his most basic duties as Commander in Chief.

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John Bolton: Sending Kerry To Deal With Russian FM Lavrov Is Like “Sending A Cupcake To Negotiate With A Steak Knife” – Weasel Zippers

Cupcake and Mom Jeans, in charge of fore-in policy.

Bolton is however wrong about there being no votes before. In 1991, Ukraine including Crimea voted along with the the rest of Ukraine to be an independent entity. 54% of Crimeans (not under a gun) voted to be part of an independent Ukraine.

Via IJR:

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, but this latest comparison literally “takes the cake.” While appearing on Fox News to discuss the referendum in the Crimea to join Russia, Bolton discussed the weak sanctions America is taking against Russia:

“I don’t think [the sanctions] will have much impact. I think the Obama administration and the Europeans are demonstrating weakness, these sanctions are pinpricks, and y’know we sent Secretary of State John Kerry to London to negotiate with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, that’s like sending a cupcake to negotiate with a steak knife.”

Bolton continued to describe the collective failure of leadership in the West, which he says has ignored these threats for five years, and is now seeing the consequences of this inattentiveness. Finally, he predicts that Putin will use the Crimea to get what he “really wants, which is a government subservient to Russia.”

Meanwhile, Obama is defending his wearing of mom-pants to Ryan Seacrest in an attempt to sell Obamacare to young people.

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Ukraine Mobilises Its Army As Kremlin Ups The Ante With Warning To America: ‘We Can Reduce You To Radioactive Ash’ – Daily Mail

The Crimean crisis moved a step closer to all-out war today as Ukraine mobilised its armed forces and a firebrand Kremlin mouthpiece warned America to stay out of its business, declaring: ‘We could turn you to radioactive ash.’

Since a referendum called for Crimea’s annexation to Russia last night, tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world have risen faster than at any point since the stand off erupted three weeks ago.

As dawn broke this morning, the Ukrainian parliament approved the deployment of 40,000 battle-ready soldiers as it vowed to ‘defend our homeland’ from any incursion.

But with a pool of just 160,000 active frontline personel, the Ukrainian armed forces are dwarfed by a Russian army that includes more than 700,000 men and women and many more in reserve.

Already tens of thousands of heavily-armed Russian troops – mostly in uniforms without identifying insignia – stand guard over swathes of Crimea as Moscow appeared to ratchet up its rhetoric, ignoring western pleas for peace.

Instead, it upped the ante when the head of its state news agency, Dmitry Kiselyov, issued a thinly-veiled threat to America on live TV, urging the superpower to stay out of the crisis or risk facing the full force of Russia’s military muscle.

Speaking against a backdrop of a nuclear mushroom cloud, Kiselyov – who was handpicked personally by president Vladimir Putin – told viewers of his popular news show: ‘Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.’

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Far from warding the US and Europe off, however, his incendiary remarks only added to the situation’s trembling volatility.

This morning Barack Obama responded to Russia’s growing belligerence and imposed visa bans and asset freezes on 11 Russian and Ukrainian politicians blamed for the military incursion, in the most comprehensive sanctions applied to Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Among those sanctioned were ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich and Putin aides Vladislov Surkov and Sergei Glazyev.

Within hours, the European Union followed suit, imposing similar sanctions on 21 Russian and Ukrainian politicians.

In further developments today, Ukraine recalled its ambassador to Russia for consultations on the international ramifications of the situation in its Crimea region.

‘In connection with the situation in Crimea and the necessity of discussing some of its international aspects, the Ukrainian side is recalling its ambassador to the Russian Federation, Volodymyr Yelchenko,’ the Foreign Ministry said.

Today’s events come after Crimea’s parliament declared itself an independent state, following a regional referendum yesterday that saw 96.6 per cent of its residents vote to break off from Ukraine and join Russia.

The referendum, however, is not recognised by the West, and the United States and the European Union are preparing further sanctions against Russia, whose troops have been occupying Crimea for several weeks.

The White House has dismissed the secession vote in Crimea as an illegal power grab by the former Soviet state, saying it violated both the Ukrainian constitution and international law, and urged president Putin not to follow through with threats to annex the peninsular.

And today a senior US diplomat revealed there is ‘concrete evidence’ that some ballots arrived ‘pre-marked’ in the referendum adding that other voting anomalies were also detected.

As a shot across Russia’s bows, Obama today warned that continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine would only increase Russia’s isolation and exact a greater toll on its economy.

‘If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions,’ he said.

Amid fears that Russia might move into eastern Ukraine, Obama said further provocations will achieve nothing except to ‘further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.’

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the penalties said they were the most comprehensive sanctions applied to Russia since the end of the Cold War.

The European Union took similar steps, targeting 21 people in Russia and Crimea while leaving open the possibility of adding harsher economic measures when EU leaders meet later this week.

At a briefing today, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed Britain would join Europe in reducing its dependence on Russian energy which currently supplies 30 per cent of the continent’s gas.

‘We have started today discussing the longer term, the need to reduce European dependence on Russian energy over many years to come,’ he said. ‘It is some of these sorts of things that will be the biggest costs in the long term to Russia if we make no diplomatic progress over the coming weeks.’

As Ukraine recalled its ambassador to Russia for consultations on the international ramifications of the situation in its Crimea region, Ukrainian foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsya also came out fighting today, promising that his government was ‘prepared to defend our homeland’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme: ‘We are very much concerned with the deployment of Russian troops on the eastern border of Ukraine and the number of provocations made by Russians in eastern regions of Ukraine.

‘We are prepared to defend our homeland if Russia will decide to move further into the eastern parts of Ukraine.’

Mr Deshchytsya said the sanctions agreed today were a ‘step forward in mobilising the international community’.

‘But I think we also need to deepen our relations with the European Union,’ he said.

Parts of the Crimea is now swarming with well-armed soldiers without identifying insignia but believed to have been sent across the border by Russia.

Crimean lawmakers have asked the United Nations and other nations to recognize it.

A delegation of Crimean lawmakers is set to travel to Moscow Monday for negotiations on how to proceed further. Russian lawmakers have suggested that formally annexing Crimea is almost certain.

The Kremlin clearly put the issue on a fast track. Both houses of parliament were set to gather for a joint meeting in the Kremlin on Tuesday to hear President Vladimir Putin’s address on the subject.

In Kiev, the national parliament approved acting President Oleksandr Turchynov’s call for a military mobilization that would include 20,000 volunteers with previous military experience, and reservists.

Ukraine recently formed a national guard also about 20,000-strong.

Turchynov said the order was necessary “considering the continuing aggression in… Crimea, which Russia is trying to disguise with a large farce called `referendum,’ which will never be accepted by Crimea or the whole civilized world,” he was quoted as saying by the Intefax news agency.

Russia is expected to face strong sanctions from the U.S. and Europe over backing the Crimean referendum, which could also encourage rising pro-Russian sentiment in Ukraine’s east and lead to further divisions in this nation of 46 million. Residents in western Ukraine and the capital, Kiev, are strongly pro-West and Ukrainian nationalist.

Russian forces effectively took control of Crimea late last month after Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of months of protests.

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Ron Paul Is Supporting Russia’s Illegal Occupation Of Crimea – Daily Beast

The libertarian godfather has become one of the biggest cheerleaders for the “referendum” that will lead to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

In the Crimea crisis, it seems Ron Paul thinks that libertarianism stops at water’s edge.

The former Republican congressman and libertarian icon has long enjoyed a mixed reputation in the United States. While many admire Paul for his small government views on civil liberties, other shy away from a politician who has criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and allowed a series of racist and conspiratorial news letters to be published under his own name.

However, the former congressman whose presidential bids in 2008 and 2012 helped elevate libertarians from a political afterthought to a key constituency in the Republican Party and whose son, Rand Paul is poised for a 2016 bid for the White House, has now started a new chapter of his career. He’s defending the chauvinist and imperialist Russian regime of President Vladimir Putin.

Over the past several weeks, Paul has become one of the most vocal American supporters of Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine. In the aftermath of a revolution that drove out its ally in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow is attempting to annex the province by holding a “referendum” Sunday in hopes that it will provide a patina of legality to its blatantly illegal land grab. Paul, long a foe of military action and democracy promotion efforts overseas, has not been content to limit himself to criticisms of American policies in Eastern Europe. He has gone out of his way to legitimize and justify the actions of Putin.

“He’s no angel but actually he has some law on his side,” Paul said earlier this week on the Fox Business Network. “They have contracts and agreements and treaties for a naval base there and the permission to go about that area.” While Russia has leased its naval base from the Ukrainian government in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol until 2042, the terms of that agreement explicitly prohibit Russian forces from leaving their barracks, never mind overrunning and occupying government buildings, violating Ukraine’s airspace, and taking over border posts.

It is for this reason that the 20,000 or so Russian forces now spread out across the peninsula, harassing journalists and threatening anyone else who protests their presence there, are not wearing Russian uniforms; according to Moscow, these men are “local self-defense forces,” not Russian soldiers. This is a lie, and only the most slavish of Russian propagandists are claiming otherwise.

Russia’s actions also violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which it signed along with the United Kingdom and the United States, committing all parties “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” in exchange for Kiev’s transferring its then-considerable post-Soviet nuclear weapons stockpile to Moscow.

Paul and his supporters used to complain that the American media and political establishment never gave him a fair shake in his various presidential campaigns, so it is a little odd to see him and his denizens providing a democratic gloss to Sunday’s “referendum” on Crimea’s status. The referendum on the Crimea is happening quite literally at gunpoint as Russian forces have occupied the entire peninsula and offers no option for Crimeans to maintain their current status within the Ukraine. Instead, voters can either vote to allow Russia to annex the peninsula or “reunification of Crimea with Russia” in the parlance of the ballot or to “restore the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine.” (Early exit polls show 93% of Crimean voters chose to join Russia.)

The referendum – which has been denounced as illegal by outside observers, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – was only scheduled by the Crimean parliament after armed men occupied that body in late February. Those gunmen installed a pro-Russian figurehead as the region’s Prime Minister, as well – a guy named Sergey Aksyonov, the alleged criminal leader of a miniscule pro-Russian political party which has never earned more than 4% at the polls.

But for Ron Paul and the acolytes at his think tank, a motley crew of Putin apologists and admirers of post-Soviet thugs, Sunday’s sham election is all about the spirit of 1776. He recently wrote that “The only question that remains is whether there will there be an honest election, and I don’t see any reason there can’t be.” He did this on the website of his Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, which, in light of current events might be better called the Ron Paul Institute for Russian Aggression and Economic Exploitation (Its director, Daniel McAdams, has referred to the American ambassador to Ukraine as an “outlaw.”)

Paul bases his support of the Crimean referendum on libertarian grounds, as if what’s happening half a world away under the watchful eyes of the Russian military is akin to a Tea Party protest demanding less federal control over education policy. “There should be a right of secession,” Paul said on Fox. One cannot consider Paul’s defense of the Crimean “secession” without first becoming familiar with his nostalgia for the American one.

A crucial element of Paul’s worldview and that of his paleoconservative brethren is that America began to go to hell in a hand-basket with the Union victory in the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln’s firm use of executive power to crush the slaveholding states’ attempt to secede initiated, in their view, the centralization of federal government power that continues to this day. The 1992 issue of the Ron Paul Survival Report (the name of which was a deliberate appeal to the then burgeoning far-right “survivalist” movement preparing for racial apocalypse) stated that “the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society” and that “there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it.” Ironically, while Paul was applauding Ukrainian independence 20 years ago, he is now cheering the Crimea’s forcible reintegration into Russia.

In addition to whitewashing Russian aggression, Paul depicts some of the most benign elements of America’s overseas involvement as nefarious and illegitimate. “The evidence is pretty clear that the NGOs [non-governmental organizations] financed by our government have been agitating with billions of dollars, trying to get that government changed,” he told The Guardian. “Our hands are not clean.”

By this, Paul was referring to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S.-government funded, independently operated grant-making institution that supports civil society organizations in authoritarian states as well as emerging democracies. It enjoys bipartisan support, but has long been a target of Paul and other American isolationists, who see malevolence in everything their government does. Paul’s belief that America was trying to orchestrate “regime change” in Ukraine goes back to at least 2004, when he railed against supposed NED “meddling” in the 2004 presidential election that Yanukovych attempted to steal. (For the curious, here’s a list of NED grantees in Ukraine, which range from a “weekly youth journal” to election monitoring outfits).

To be sure, Yanukovych’s election theft was exposed and resisted by some U.S. and European government-funded civil society organizations, which would scarcely be able to exist without outside support. Why Americans should be outraged about this is something Paul neglects to answer.

There is an irony in a so-called “libertarian” defending the likes of Vladimir Putin. Ron Paul and his ilk claim to support individual rights, free markets, and a foreign policy of non-violence, yet here they are defending a man who hounds gays, presides over a kleptocratic mafia state, and invades his neighbors. Paul shirks the label of “isolationist,” preferring instead that of, “non-interventionist,” which is true only in the sense that he opposes interventionism – of even the non-violent sort – undertaken by the United States and its democratic allies. When it comes to violent Russian intervention in the affairs of its sovereign neighbors, however, Paul agrees with none other than former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who said that Moscow retains a “sphere of privileged interests” among the ex-vassal states of the Soviet Union. Why would a formerly elected official in America lend ideological cover to a foreign dictator’s assault on the basic human rights of his own people?

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Flashback: Obama Pushed Bill That Helped Destroy Tons Of Ukrainian Ammunition, Small Arms And Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Flashback: Senator Obama Pushed Bill That Helped Destroy More Than 15,000 Tons Of Ammunition, 400,000 Small Arms And 1,000 Anti-Aircraft Missiles In Ukraine – Daily Mail

As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea.

In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.

The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.

After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.

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Photographs from the trip show Obama inspecting a plant where Soviet-era artillery shells and shoulder-fired missiles were collecting dust, leftovers dumped in Ukraine after the USSR withdrew from Eastern bloc nations after the once-mighty communist nation fell apart.

The United Nations had already identified some 7 million small arms and light weapons, and 2 million tons of conventional ammunition, warehoused in more than 80 weapons depots spread across the country.

Many of the artillery shells shown in photographs from Donetsk, multiple weapons experts told MailOnline, would be the same types of ammunition required to repel advancing Russian divisions as they advanced to the west, had they not been destroyed.

Two experts said the ammunition, particularly small-arms rounds, would have been useful to train Ukraine’s armed forces and million-strong reserves.

‘Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine,’ Obama said in am August 30, 2005 statement from Donetsk. ‘Some of this stockpile dates from World War I and II, yet most dates from Cold War buildup and the stocks left behind by Soviet withdrawals from East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungry and Poland.’

‘We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’

More than a year later, President George W. Bush signed into law a proposal authored by Obama and Lugar.

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Obama said then that the existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program ‘has effectively disposed of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but we must do far more to keep deadly conventional weapons like anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists.’

Much of the Ukrainian small-arms supply was ultimately exported, not scrapped, by a Yushchenko regime that chose revenue from arms dealing over the cost of melting down metal.

In 2008 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that between 2004 and 2007, the Ukrainian Export Control Service told the UN that it sent 721,777 small arms and light weapons to 27 different countries.

The United States was the top recipient, with more than 260,000 of those weapons, followed by the UK and Libya, which each imported more than 101,000.

That flood of weapons exports has continued, with annual export records showing hundreds of thousands of new exports each year, covering everything from pistols and carbine rifles to heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons.

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But while today’s 130,000-strong standing Ukrainian military isn’t short on AK-47s, Russian troops have met little to no large-scale resistance from armored divisions or heavy artillery as they steamrolled their way into Crimea.

Some of that was Ukraine’s own doing – it sold 320 tanks to Pakistan in the 1990s, for instance – but Obama and Lugar accelerated the pace of the country’s arms liquidation.

While the Ukrainian army seems to have been careful to avoid provoking an even larger conflict, it’s impossible to know whether Putin would have behaved differently in the face of columns of heavy weapons that once belonged to the Soviet Union in whose KGB he held a high-ranking position.

Sky News video broadcast on Tuesday showed Russian troops firing automatic weapons over the heads of apparently unarmed Ukrainian Air Force personnel near a contested airfield in Crimea.

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution Update (Pictures / Videos)

Putin Mocks The West And Threatens To Turn Off Gas Supplies – The Telegraph

Vladimir Putin has mocked diplomatic efforts to end the Ukraine crisis as Russia threatened to disrupt European gas supplies by cutting off sales to Kiev over its unpaid debts.

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The Russian president said through his official spokesman that, despite deep disagreements with the West, he did not want a confrontation over Ukraine to spiral into a “new cold war”.

Nevertheless Dmitry Peskov ridiculed Western demands for direct talks between the Kremlin and the new Kiev government, claiming that the loss of credibility involved “puts a smile on our face”.

The remarks were broadcast during the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, where the Ukrainian athlete carrying his national flag was given a loud cheer.

Earlier, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, said it would start to reduce deliveries to Kiev, a move that would disrupt supplies to Europe. Gazprom said Ukraine had failed to make payments on its £1.2 billion debts.

Ukraine is one of the main transit routes for the continent’s gas and the suspension of Gazprom exports in freezing temperatures in 2006 and in 2009 endangered national grids and caused sharp rises in prices. “We can’t supply gas for free,” Alexey Miller, the head of Gazprom, said. “Either Ukraine settles its debt and pays for current deliveries or the risk arises of a return to the situation we saw at the start of 2009.”

Energy experts said Russia had the power to cause problems in markets across Europe, even though peak winter demand was past. “Europe still relies heavily – in some cases 100 per cent – on Russian gas. And if that was interrupted very suddenly, there would be difficulties all round,” said Lord Howell, the former energy secretary.

But the White House brushed off the Russian announcement as less of a blow for EU economies than in previous years. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said reduced Russian exports would not have an immediate effect since stocks in Europe were above normal levels because of a mild winter. Structural changes in the industry also mean that less of Europe’s gas went through Ukraine.

Russian foreign ministry officials issued the tit-for-tat warnings a day after an EU summit suspended talks on visa-free access for Russians to Europe and threatened sanctions if Moscow did not change course. “Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Two potential Ukrainian presidential contenders demanded a single, tough Western stance against Russia. Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer, and Petro Poroshenko, a businessman, both of whom are seen as likely candidates in presidential elections in May, used a visit to Paris to shore up European resolve.

Moscow displayed no signs of pulling back in the flashpoint region of Crimea despite the summit outcome and a subsequent telephone conversation between Mr Putin and President Barack Obama.

Russia’s parliament made preparations to endorse next week’s referendum in Crimea on joining the Russian Federation as a group of Crimean MPs were accorded a hero’s welcome in Moscow.

Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the outcome would be accepted “unquestionably”. Officials in Kiev retorted that no country in the “civilised world” would recognise a vote for merging with Russia.

Checkpoints manned by Russian soldiers and Crimea militias blocked efforts by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enter the peninsula.

The OSCE convoy, led by a police car and followed by two buses carrying the observers, returned to the southern city of Kherson to decide if the unarmed monitoring mission can go ahead at all.

Russia said the mission was blocked because it had begun without seeking the traditional consensus support from all the organisation’s members.

Russia also scuttled a third ship in the Crimean harbour of Donuzlav to tighten its blockade on the doggedly loyal Ukrainian navy vessels trapped behind Russian lines.

The only bright point of the day came when Ukraine’s Paralympic team announced it would participate in the Winter Games in Sochi.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine prime minister, said his government was still pressing for direct talks with Russia to resolve the crisis. He demanded that Russia pull back its forces and stop supporting “separatist” activities inside Ukraine.

“We are ready to build relations with Russia,” he said. “But Ukraine will never be a subordinate or branch of Russia.”

Mr Yasenyuk also revealed the Kiev and the EU would soon sign an agreement on the political aspects of a strategic accord that fell through late last year.

The collapse of the EU association agreement provoked the mass pro-Western demonstration movement that led to the collapse of the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

“It is the matter of weeks now,” Mr Yatsenyuk said. “This is the most important decision that the whole country has been waiting for. This is what people were going to the streets for.”

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Tension In Ukraine Builds As Convoy Of 60 Unmarked Military Trucks Carrying Hundreds Of Soldiers Heads For Crimea As Pro-Russian Troops Fire Warning Shots At Peace Monitors – Daily Mail

A convoy of 60 unmarked military trucks carrying hundreds of soldiers was today spotted snaking its way from eastern Ukraine into Crimea, with the country appearing more divided than ever.

Warning shots were also fired inside Crimea as a foreign military mission was barred from entering the Ukrainian province by pro-Russian troops.

The mission, made up of soldiers of different nationalities from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, had automatic weapons fired over their heads.

The soldiers were told they had no authorisation to enter the peninsula. No injuries were reported.

Earlier this morning Russian foreign secretary Sergei Lavrov said that the crisis had been ‘artificially created’ for ‘geopolitical reasons’, though stopped short of accusing the West of creating tensions.

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He confirmed that Russia was open to further talks with the West as long as they remained ‘honest and partner-like’, and said he was in contact with the Ukrainian interim government, though he accused them of being right-wing extremists.

In a telephone call he also warned US secretary of state John Kerry that any sanctions would have a ‘boomerang effect’ on America.

Meanwhile pro and anti-Putin protesters have taken to the streets of Ukraine today as the country appears more divided than ever.

In the Crimean city of Simferopol hundreds of demonstrators waving Ukrainian flags marched to a military base surrounded by Russian troops while chanting ‘Russian Soldiers Out Of Crimea’.

Many of the activists waved Crimean Tartar flags. The Tartars were persecuted by Russian during the world wars and driven to Crimea, and so are strongly opposed to closer ties with the Kremlin.

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In another city, Bakhisaray, more Tartars gathered urging Ukraine to stay united after the regional government said Crimea was officially part of Russia and announced a public referendum on March 16 to confirm it.

Meanwhile in the city of Donetsk, former stronghold of ousted president Viktor Yanokovych, thousands gathered to wave banners reading ‘I Love Putin’.

Today is not the first time shots have been fired in the region, but it is the first time bullets have been directed at international troops.

Last week a Russian soldier fired above the head of Ukrainian air force troops as they marched unarmed to their base which had been occupied by Putin’s troops.

Late last night pro-Russia soldiers tried to take over a Ukrainian base in a tense stand-off that lasted for several hours.

Lt. Col. Vitaly Onishchenko, deputy commander of the base, said three dozen men wearing unmarked camouflage uniforms arrived late Friday.

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While one group climbed over a wall on one side of the base, another crashed a heavy military truck through the gates, Mr Onishchenko said.

He said that they turned off power, cut telephone lines and demanded that about 100 Ukrainian troops, who barricaded themselves into one of the base buildings, surrender their weapons and swear allegiance to Russia. The invaders left at about midnight.

No shots were fired in the stand-off, and no injuries were reported, but the incident reflected tensions running high on the Black Sea peninsula.

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In the week since Russia seized control of Crimea, Russian troops have been neutralising and disarming Ukrainian military bases there.

Some Ukrainian units, however, have refused to give up.

Crimea’s new leader has said pro-Russian forces numbering more than 11,000 now control all access to the region and have blockaded all military bases that have not yet surrendered.

Russian energy giant Gazprom has also confirmed that Ukraine owes $1.89billion and has threatened to turn off the gas supply, which could affect the rest of Europe as several important pipelines run through the country.

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Cyber Snake Plagues Ukraine Networks – Financial Times

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An aggressive cyber weapon called Snake has infected dozens of Ukrainian computer networks including government systems in one of the most sophisticated attacks of recent years.

Also known as Ouroboros, after the serpent of Greek mythology that swallowed its own tail, experts say it is comparable in its complexity with Stuxnet, the malware that was found to have disrupted Iran’s uranium enrichment programme in 2010.

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The cyber weapon has been deployed most aggressively since the start of last year ahead of protests that climaxed two weeks ago with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich’s government.

Ouroboros gives its operators unfettered access to networks for surveillance purposes. But it can also act as a highly advanced “digital beachhead” that could destroy computer networks with wide-ranging repercussions for the public.

Cyber warfare experts have long warned that digital weapons could shut off civilian power or water supplies, cripple banks or even blow up industrial sites that depend on computer-controlled safety programmes.

The origins of Ouroboros remain unclear, but its programmers appear to have developed it in a GMT+4 timezone – which encompasses Moscow – according to clues left in the code, parts of which also contain fragments of Russian text. It is believed to be an upgrade of the Agent.BTZ attack that penetrated US military systems in 2008.

The malware has infected networks run by the Kiev government and systemically important organisations. Lithuanian systems have also been disproportionately hit by it.

Ouroboros has been in development for nearly a decade and is too sophisticated to have been programmed by an individual or a non-state organisation, according to the applied intelligence unit at BAE Systems, which was the first to identify and analyse the malware.

The Financial Times has corroborated the existence of Snake with security and military analysts.

BAE has identified 56 apparent infections by Snake globally since 2010, almost all in the past 14 months. Ukraine is the primary target, with 32 recorded instances, 22 of which have occurred since January 2013.

“Ukraine is top of the list [of infections] and increasing,” said Dave Garfield, managing director for cyber security at BAE, who added that the instances were almost certainly “the tip of the iceberg”.

“Whoever made it really is a very professional outfit,” Mr Garfield added. “It has a very high level of sophistication. It is a complex architecture with 50 sub-modules designed to give it extreme flexibility and the ability to evolve. It has neat and novel technical features.”

“You never get beyond reasonable doubt levels of proof in this area but if you look at it in probabilistic terms – who benefits and who has the resources – then the list of suspects boils down to one,” said Nigel Inkster, until 2006 director of operations and intelligence for MI6 and now director of transnational threats at the think tank IISS.

“Until recently the Russians have kept a low profile, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they can do the full scope of cyber attacks, from denial of service to the very, very sophisticated.”

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Journalists Beaten During Russian Storming Of Ukrainian Military Base, Then Live TV Crew Harassed When They Report On It – Weasel Zippers

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Another view:

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Mellunmäki
@mrzff

Это Костас, его пиздят второй раз уже. pic.twitter.com/09RbLJT6nE

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Patrick Jackson
@patrickgjackson

Journalists beaten up in #Crimea: photo by @mrzff pic.twitter.com/Y9cpbHDOiv
6:05 PM – 7 Mar 2014

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Via KPHG:

Ukrainian journalists are reported to have been brutally beaten during the seizure by Russian soldiers of a Ukrainian military unit on Friday evening, while in Simferopol STB journalists were attacked during a live news broadcast.

Budzhurova, head of the Crimean Association of Free Journalists stated on the Savik Shuster talk show on Friday that she had received two calls from Olena Myekhanik, a journalist from TV Inter. Myekhanik first told her that the Ukrainian military unit was under attack, that a KAMAZ truck had rammed the gates and 12 individuals had crossed onto the unit’s land. She asked for a journalist team from TV ATR to be sent. Later she rang in distress saying that the Ukrainian journalists present, including women, had been assaulted, and their video recorders smashed. The journalists were all at Unit 2355 where there is an air force command point in charge of overseeing air safety. The journalists also included a TV STB firlm crew and a Georgian national.

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution Update (Pictures / Videos)

Russia Refers To Crimea As ‘Autonomous Region’; Sets Up Puppet State – Gateway Pundit

Russia declared Crimea an “autonomous” region on Monday. Five top pro-Russian military and security commanders took an oath to Crimea.

Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov appealed to Russia for assistance.

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Breitbart reported:

It appears that Russia has taken control of Crimea without firing a shot and is referring to it as the “Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” presumably with the intention of making it a puppet state of Moscow.

Ukraine’s government in Kiev is only a few days old and seems to be in disarray. So far, it’s avoiding any strong military overreaction that would provide Russia with an excuse for a further military invasion, perhaps into eastern Ukraine beyond Crimea. However, the government warned Sunday it was on the brink of disaster and called up military reservists to counter Russia’s threat to Ukraine.

Russia has appointed Sergey Aksyonov to prime minister of Crimea, and on Sunday he announced:

I believe that this day will go down in history of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the day that all law enforcement agencies were established in the autonomy. We will prove that the Crimeans are capable of protecting themselves and ensure the safety and freedom of our citizens.

Today the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is formed as an independent, integral public authority. I am sure that all of us will prove that we did not just come into power and that we can give Crimeans what they expect from us.

We will never see ‘Maidan’ with their black smoke and burned tires here. I responsibly promise that Crimea by May will be calm, quiet, friendly. People of all nationalities will live here happily.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the decision to send in troops was only to protect human rights.

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Ukraine: Russia Delivers ‘Assault Storm’ Deadline – Sky News

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Russia has reportedly given Ukrainian forces in Crimea a deadline of 3am on Tuesday to surrender or face military action after troops seized key strategic sites in the peninsula.

The ultimatum came from Alexander Vitko, commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea where Russian forces are now in control.

According to Russia’s Interfax agency, it reads: “If they do not surrender before 5am (3am UK time) tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea.”

But in a conflicting report, Interfax quoted an official representative for the Russian Ministry of Defence as saying the ultimatum was “total nonsense”.

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The US said any threat by Russia to Ukraine forces would represent a “dangerous escalation” in the crisis, and Moscow would be responsible.

It came as Russian President Vladimir Putin watched tanks and armoured vehicles taking part in military exercises at a training ground in north-west Russia.

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Mr Putin attended the final day of war games he ordered on February 26 to test the combat-readiness of his armed forces in western and central parts of Russia, regions adjacent to Ukraine, a spokesman said.

The Russian foreign ministry said Nato’s criticism of its actions in Crimea “will not help stabilise” the situation in Ukraine.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russia will face “diplomatic, political, economic and other pressures” to send a “clear message” about its actions in the Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discussed the escalating crisis in Ukraine with US Vice President Joe Biden by telephone on Monday.

Mr Medvedev “declared that it is necessary to protect the interests of all Ukrainian citizens, including residents of Crimea, and citizens of Russia who are located in Ukraine,” according to Interfax.

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He added that Russia would press ahead with plans to build a bridge linking Russia directly with the Crimea region – providing a vital transport link to the Black Sea peninsula.

Mr Medvedev told deputies the two countries had signed “documents related to a project for construction of a transport corridor across the Kerch Strait” in December, when now-ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was still in power.

Hundreds of Russian soldiers have surrounded a military base in Crimea, preventing Ukrainian soldiers from going in or out.

The convoy blockading the site, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, includes at least 17 military vehicles.

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Russian troops have also reportedly taken control of a ferry terminal in the city of Kerch, on the eastern tip of Crimea, which has a majority Russian-speaking population.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said two Russian fighter jets violated the country’s air space in the Black Sea on Sunday night and that it had scrambled an interceptor aircraft to prevent the “provocative actions”.

Elsewhere, pro-Russian protesters have taken over a floor of the regional government building in Donetsk, say reports. The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag for the last three days.

The crisis has had a huge effect on global stock markets, with Moscow’s stock exchange plunging more than 10% on Monday.

Russia’s central bank raised its rate to 7% from 5.5% as the ruble hit an historic low against the dollar and the euro.

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‘Weak’ Obama Is Blasted For His ‘Laughable’ Response To Putin As Both Parties Say President Is Letting Russia Push Him Around – Daily Mail

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Senior US politicians from both parties criticized President Barack Obama’s threats to Russian President Vladimir Putin and called for immediate sanctions if troops are not immediately withdrawn from Ukraine

Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL) and Bob Corker (TN) and others, as well as some Democrats, reached across the aisle to call for immediate sanctions against Russia and aid to Ukraine before Putin becomes even more emboldened.

McCain was quick to criticize the president’s threats in an interview with the Daily Beast, calling them ‘laughable’ and partly blaming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for thinking she and Obama could ‘reset’ relations with Russia back in 2009.

‘She believed that somehow there would be a reset with a guy who was a KGB colonel who always had ambitions to restore the Russian empire,’ said McCain. ‘That’s what this is all about.’

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The Senator called for the Obama administration to more liberally enforce the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act, which has allowed the US government to sanction Russian officials for human rights violations since being signed into law in 2009.

On Sunday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry called Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine ‘an incredible act of aggression’ and said President Vladimir Putin has made ‘a stunning, willful’ choice to invade another country.

Kerry says Russia should respect the democratic process through which the Ukrainian people ousted their pro-Russian president and assembled a new government.

Kerry is raising the possibility of boycotting the June meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries in Sochi, Russia.

He’s also discussing visa bans, asset freezes, and trade and investment penalties.

Kerry said he spoke with foreign ministers for G-8 and other nations on Saturday, and says everyone is prepared ‘to go to the hilt’ to isolate Russia.

Any Russian officials, Putin included, involved in sending troops to Ukraine should be sanctioned, McCain argued – such action would result in asset freezing, visa bans and a wagging of the collective international finger, Daily Beast noted.

‘We must consider legislation to respond to this,’ McCain continued. ‘The Magnitsky bill can be expanded for holding people responsible for these acts of aggression.’

The longtime Senator also called for economic sanctions and other actions against Russia.

Corker also hammered away at the situation, calling Russia ‘a nation still smarting from the breakup of the Soviet Union with a leader who is nothing but an autocrat’ and called for immediate sanctions during a CNN interview.

‘We need to do everything we can to isolate them,’ Corker continued. ‘We’ve got to work with [Europe] to do the necessary things… to mitigate conduct.’

He later said in a statement ‘Vladimir Putin is seizing a neighboring territory – again – so President Obama must lead a meaningful, unified response.’

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Rubio called for Obama to deploy Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to the Ukrainian capital, according to USA Today.

He also called for a prohibition of Russian officials traveling to the US, and to convene an emergency meeting of NATO to allow Georgia into the fold.

Kerry, in a statement, said the ‘United States condemns the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory… we call for Russia to withdraw its forces back to bases [and] refrain from interference elsewhere in Ukraine.’

Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to deescalate tensions, the effect on U.S.-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound,’ Kerry threatened.

The president also informed Putin that the US has pulled out of preparatory meetings for an upcoming G-8 summit in Sochi, as the UN mulled over possible sanctions and Ukraine warned that it’s troops are ‘at the ready,’ a government official told CNN.

‘The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory,’ a White House statement said.

New York Democratic Rep Eliot Engel called for a ‘robust international economic assistance package’ including loan guarantees for Ukraine in a statement released Saturday.

Arkansas Republican Rep Tom Cotton demanded the president recall the US Ambassador to Russia from Moscow and revoke visas and freeze the assets of Putin’s cronies, provide military assistance to Ukraine and sack Russia from the G-8 group of nations, according to USA Today.

Russia has military bases in Crimea, but those personnel are in violation of international law by entering Ukraine despite Russia’s Duma willfully granting Putin permission to deploy troops into Ukraine as the country grows further divided.

It appears further liberties were already being taken by Russian troops early Sunday morning, they took weapons from a Ukraine radar facility near Crimea and urged people there to side with ‘legitimate leaders,’ iTV reported, citing Interfax.

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax only hours earlier that ‘there’s not a whole lot the United States can do’ to bring Putin and Russia in line.

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Putin expressed his concern for the Russian citizens in Russia and said that the deployment of troops into the country was to protect them, according to a Kremlin statement.

‘Vladimir Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas,’ the statement said.

Obama strongly urged Putin to immediately de-escalate and to use peaceful means to address concerns including through talks with the new Ukrainian government or through the US of international observers sent under the UN umbrella, the White House countered.

The president also offered to broker talks between Russian and the Ukraine to prevent the countries from war as the former Soviet bloc country’s new government warned it is being ‘provoked’ by Russia’s actions.

A Ukraine government spokesperson told CNN there are an estimated 15,000 troops in Crimea, a small country separating mainland Ukraine from Sevastopol.

‘The troops are already there, and their number is increasing every hour,’ the spokesperson explained.

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Russia has also maintained a naval base in Sevastopol per a 1997 treaty signed shortly after Ukraine gained independence.

The Ukrainian city sits on a small peninsula that is not connected to the rest country, making it particularly vulnerable to the kind of military action undertaken by Russia.

Putin further blamed ultra-nationalists in the Ukraine for Russia’s further encroachment into Ukrainian sovereign territory, according to the Kremlin.

Eastern Ukraine leans more heavily towards Russia than the western part of the country, whee the capital Kiev is located. Many international observers fear the country will plunge into a civil war that might break it up into two or more countries if conditions further deteriorate.

The dramatic eleventh-hour call came as the United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session less than a week after the Sochi Olympics to mull over possible economic sanctions to enact against the rogue permanet Security Council member.

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After meeting behind closed doors, the council agreed to hold the open, televised meeting despite objections from permanent member Russia. Ukraine has accused Russia of ‘a military invasion and occupation’ of strategic points in the Crimean peninsula.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin scoffed at the notion, saying the US and other European nations are overreacting and that his country cannot agree to end all military actions.

Some reports have suggested Russia may even recall its ambassador to the US in protest of western involvement in the crisis.

Ukraine has asked the other four permanent council members – the U.S., Britain, France and China – for help in stopping Russia’s ‘aggression.’

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Yuriy Sergeyev said Russia has rejected Ukraine’s proposal to hold immediate bilateral consultations, and vowed his country would not be drawn into military conflict.

‘Ukraine will not be provoked, we will not use force, we demand that the government of the Russian Federation immediately withdraw its troops and return to their home bases,’ he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier Saturday that he is ‘gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation’ in Ukraine. He spoke later by telephone with Putin.

‘I am gravely concerned by some of the recent events in particular those that could in any way compromise the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the [Ukraine],’ Ban said in a statement about the call.

‘It is crucial to restore calm and proceed to an immediate de-escalation of the situation,’ Ban continued. ‘Cool heads must prevail and dialogue must be the only tool in ending this crisis.’

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A Ban spokesman delivered the statement Saturday afternoon as members of the Security Council met in an emergency closed-door session for the second straight day on the rapidly developing events in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Obama later spoke with President Francois Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the White House announced.

All three ‘leaders agreed that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and expressed their grave concern over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine,’ said a separate White House statement.

‘The leaders affirmed the importance of unity within the international community in support of international law, and the future of Ukraine and its democracy.’

The Security Council decided to hold the open meeting after struggling behind closed doors to reach agreement on how to meet. Some members wanted open, or public consultations, on Ukraine, which Russia initially opposed.

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Ban’s statement called for ‘full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine’ and demanded the ‘immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned.’

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the meeting is to determine ‘what justification Russia claims to have’ for its de facto military takeover of the strategic Crimea region.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has veto power and can block the U.N.’s most powerful body from adopting any resolution criticizing or sanctioning Moscow.

Outside the council chamber, Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador called on countries to do everything possible to stop Russia’s “aggression.”

‘The Russian Federation brutally violated the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations,’ Sergeyev told reporters..

During a break, an exasperated Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, ‘We are ready for serious discussions.’

Ban was flying to Geneva on Saturday where he planned to meet the following day with his special envoy Robert Serry, the Netherlands’ first ambassador to Ukraine.

After Friday’s closed-door Security Council consultations, Ban asked Serry to go to Crimea as part of a fact-finding mission. However, after consulting with authorities in the autonomous region, Serry decided that a visit to Crimea was not possible and headed to Geneva.

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Kerry: ‘I Don’t Know What You Mean By The Reset’ – Washington Free Beacon

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NBC’s David Gregory pressed Secretary of State John Kerry on the status of the U.S.-Russia “reset” during an interview Sunday on Meet the Press.

“Well, I don’t know what you mean by the reset,” Kerry oddly responded.

The question was asked as Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) among others have argued U.S.-Russia relations are deteriorating and have asked the administration to publicly acknowledge this.

“The Obama administration must publicly acknowledge that its “reset” with Russia is dead. The president must now accept that the only way to deal with tyrants like Vladimir Putin is with a clear understanding that they can’t be trusted and that only decisive action will deter their provocative moves,” Rubio wrote in Politico Magazine.

When pressed further by Gregory, Kerry weakly responded, “We’ve entered into a different phase with Russia. I don’t think this is a moment to be proclaiming one thing or the other.”

The full exchange is available below:

DAVID GREGORY: Before I get to my final question on Israel with a big meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, coming to meet with President Obama, Marco Rubio is on this program in just a few minutes saying it’s time for the administration to publicly acknowledge that the reset with Russia is dead. Do you acknowledge that?

JOHN KERRY: Well, I don’t know what you mean by the reset.

GREGORY: The reset in relations that this administration called for.

KERRY: I know, but long ago, we’ve entered into a different phase with Russia. I don’t think this is a moment to be proclaiming one thing or the other. We’ve had difficulties with Russia with respect to certain issues, and even as we have, we’ve managed to do the Start treaty. They’ve cooperated on Afghanistan, they’ve cooperated on Iran. So, it’s not a zero-sum, dead-alive. It’s a question of differences, very profound differences on certain issues and certain approaches, and we’ve made those very clear over the course of the last months.

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Ukraine Illustrates The Danger Of Entrusting Foreign Policy To Top Men – The Federalist

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The past two days have revealed the dangerous ramifications of the narrow-minded foreign policy elite in Washington, and a media establishment that has for so much of President Obama’s tenure accepted the statements of the administration as gospel. Just as we learned the dangers of the lack of a questioning element – a healthy, serious, skeptical voice in the room – within the administration of George W. Bush, so too we see the consequences of a narrow viewpoint on global affairs which now exists within the Obama administration.

As Eli Lake outlines, the decision of Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine came as a sudden shock to a Washington that less than a day earlier had dismissed such possibilities:

On Thursday night, the best assessment from the U.S. intelligence community – and for that matter most experts observing events in Ukraine – was that Vladimir Putin’s military would not invade Ukraine. Less than 24 hours later, however, there are reports from the ground of Russian troops pushing into the Ukrainian province of Crimea; the newly-installed Crimean prime minister has appealed to Putin to help him secure the country; Putin, in turn, is officially asking for parliament’s permission to send Russian forces into Ukraine. It’s not a full-blown invasion – at least, not yet. But it’s not the picture U.S. analysts were painting just a day before, either… U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence on the fast moving situation in Ukraine tell The Daily Beast that analytic products from the intelligence community this week did not discount the prospect of Russian provocations and even light incursions in the Russian majority province of Crimea, the home of Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea. Nonetheless, until Friday, no one anticipated a Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.

These officials were not alone. At Foreign Affairs, the headline was “Why Russia Won’t Invade Ukraine”; at The New York Times, “Why Russia Won’t Interfere”; and at Time, “No, Russia Will Not Intervene in Ukraine”. Joshua Tucker at The Washington Post has already had to change the now-ludicrous title of his post, explaining:

Those who have already read this post (including the first 15 commentators below) will know that I originally posted with the title “5 reasons for everyone to calm down about Crimea”. Developments in the ensuing hours have shown how poor a title that turned out to be.

It’s no surprise that, given the echo chamber of the media, the administration itself gives all the signs of being caught flat-footed, unable to adjust to the situation that runs against their preconceived notions and those of the chattering class:

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu on March 1, telling him that there was ‘no change’ in the U.S.’s military posture toward Ukraine in the hours after Russia’s parliament approved a Russian military presence in Ukraine.

If this is the sort of foreign policy anticipation that the establishment delivers, it’s little surprise that no one trusts America’s self-styled policy elites any more. They are too used to judging the world according to the patterns toward which they are already biased, as opposed to seeing it as it is.

As for the situation in Crimea itself: while the 1994 Budapest Memorandum does not require that the United States enter into this current conflict, as it is not a formal treaty, it does make the situation for the Obama administration a great deal more complicated than, say, the 2008 situation in Georgia. The Ukrainian situation has a nuclear subtext which matters in the broader context: because Ukraine had to surrender its nuclear arsenal as part of the 1994 agreement, U.S. inaction now sends a signal that nations ought to maintain their nuclear arsenal as opposed to trusting the Americans to defend their legitimacy. The mix of Polish, Turkish, and Russian interests here make for an all the more dangerous situation given the spillover potential of a major crisis.

What ought to be a first priority in this context is the administration’s opportunity to position itself as ready to use the leverage of international economic policy and energy policy to dissuade the Russians from their current trajectory or, at least, loosen Putin’s stranglehold on European energy markets. U.S. law currently prevents American energy producers from freely exporting natural gas or crude oil to anywhere even remotely near Europe. To remedy this glaring economic and geopolitical mistake, the president (who has shown no qualms about using sweeping definitions of executive power in other areas) could issue blanket executive orders declaring all US natural gas exports to be in the “public interest” and all crude oil exports to be in the “national interest”, the applicable legal standards for both commodities.

While immediate gas exports directly to Europe would be limited by a lack of U.S. export facilities (thanks, again, to glacial government policy), crude exports could begin instantly and US gas could be exported thru Canada and Mexico. At the very least, these moves would serve as a significant signal to global energy markets and to the Russians that the United States fully intends to use its newfound energy abundance to stabilize global markets and counterbalance Russian influence across the Atlantic. At best, they might actually help to weaken Russian energy oligarchs and, by extension, Putin himself.

Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who have both recently expressed support for US energy export liberalization (Cruz especially), should take up this message at once. It represents an opportunity to use expanded trade freedom and American economic might to prevent further loss of life and signal the United States’ seriousness on the matter, without firing a single American bullet. And, unlike the United Nations or the World Trade Organization, it is a step that can be done unilaterally with, quite literally, the stroke of the President’s pen.

In the meantime, at least the president himself is taking it seriously.

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Zeke Miller
@ZekeJMiller

Obama did not attend the meeting, but WH official says he has been briefed by Susan Rice and his national security team.
3:34 PM – 1 Mar 2014

221 Retweets – 31 favorites
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Smart power, indeed.

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Russian Stocks Crash As Central Bank Scrambles, Hikes Rates Most Since 1998 Default – Zero Hedge

Following a 150bps rate hike by the central bank – the largest since the 1998 default -desperate to halt capital outflows and a collapsing currency, Russian stocks have crashed 11% led by some of the country’s largest banks. USDRUB rose to just shy of 37 – the weakest RUB rate on record – but rallied back a little on the rate hike but the MICEX stock index tumbled 11% to almost 2-year lows with Sberbank (Russia’s largest bank) down 17% and VTB (2nd largest bank) down 20%. Between the threat of economic sanctions from the West and simple risk-aversion-based capital flight, as one analyst noted, “uncertainty risks a further escalation in domestic capital outflow.”

MICEX is down 11% today alone…

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Ruble at record lows against the USD…

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It was the biggest increase in a Russian benchmark rate since June 1998, less than two months before Russia defaulted on domestic sovereign bonds and devalued the currency. The refinancing rate used to be the central bank’s main reference.

The Banks have been battered…

* Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, drops 17%, loses most since 2008
* VTB, Russia’s second-bigest lender, tumbles 20%
* Bank St. Petersburg falls 16%
* Bank Vozrozhdenie declines 10%
* Nomos Bank slides 12%

European and U.S. leaders have threatened sanctions against Russia, creating risks that economic growth will stall, demand for the country’s assets will dry up and a selloff in the currency will deepen. “There is a risk of international backlash against Russia at a time when the economy faces an increasing need for foreign capital inflows… This uncertainty risks a further escalation in domestic capital outflow.”

Around the world, stock markets are tumbling with Europe down around 2% – almost its largest drop in 7 months; and Japan down 600 from Friday’s highs.

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Perhaps They Should Have Held On To Them: Hundreds Of Rusting Tanks Abandoned In Secret Ukrainian Depot Unveiled As Russia’s Armoured Vehicles Line Its Streets – Daily Mail

These incredible photographs show a huge tank graveyard in the Ukraine – home to hundreds of the abandoned vehicles which the country may desperately need it tensions with Russia continue to escalate.

Filled with rows upon rows of slowly rusting relics, the once deadly war machines now lie dormant in a secret depot in the town of Kharkov in the Slobozhanshchyna region of eastern Ukraine – just 20 miles from the border with Russia.

After hearing about the strange Soviet-era tank cemetery from a friend, photographer Patvel Itkin, 18, spent months trying find its whereabouts.

Despite the disused area being heavily monitored by guards, Mr Itkin managed to sneak in and spend several hours taking dozens of photographs.

Once a thriving tank repair plant, the depot has since become redundant, meaning all the vehicles are now abandoned.

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution Update (Pictures / Videos)

Russia Moves To Deploy Troops In Ukraine – Wall Street Journal

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The American and Russian presidents spoke on the phone for 90 minutes on Saturday after Russia’s parliament voted unanimously to deploy troops in Ukraine, defying warnings from Western leaders not to intervene.

In his conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed “his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Mr. Obama urged Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine.

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Saturday’s developments come as Russian troops and their local allies have already largely taken control of Crimea, a restive province of Ukraine that belonged to Russia until 1954 and remains predominantly pro-Russian.

In a statement after the call between Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama, the White House said the U.S. “condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.”

Mr. Putin told Mr. Obama that Russia reserved the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect its interests and those of the Russian-speaking population there, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Mr. Putin also spoke of “provocations, crimes by ultranationalist elements, essentially supported by the current authorities in Kiev.” It wasn’t clear what incidents Mr. Putin was referring to.

In Moscow, Russian lawmakers also asked Mr. Putin to recall the country’s ambassador to the U.S. On Friday, Mr. Obama had publicly warned Russia that there would be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

Western officials expressed alarm and cautioned Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

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French President François Hollande also spoke with Mr. Putin Saturday and urged him to avoid any use of force in Ukraine. The French leader held a round of phone calls with Mr. Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that aimed to forge a common position between the allies.

“I deplore today’s decision by Russia on the use of armed forces in Ukraine. This is an unwarranted escalation of tensions,” said European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is “gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation” in Ukraine.

In an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Saturday that the regional Crimean government had formally requested Russian military assistance to restore stability to the peninsula. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power denounced the Russian decision to intervene as “dangerous as it is destabilizing” and said it was taken without legal basis. “The Russian military must stand down,” Ms. Power said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. U.S. defense officials wouldn’t immediately provide any details of the call and didn’t say whether Mr. Hagel delivered any warning or caution.

In Brussels, ambassadors to the main political decision-making body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are set to meet Sunday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. Afterward, the ambassadors will meet with the Ukrainian ambassador to NATO in a format called the NATO-Ukraine Council.

Meanwhile, skirmishes broke out in other regions of Ukraine, raising concern about broader unrest.

The new government in Kiev called an urgent session of its security council Saturday evening and set a special parliamentary meeting for Sunday to discuss the Russian move.

Vitali Klitschko, the former boxing champion who is one of the protest movement’s most prominent leaders, called on parliament to call a “general mobilization” to respond to the threat, apparently referring to Ukraine’s military.

Heavily armed troops, many from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, surrounded key facilities across the region in the past day. The newly installed pro-Russian leader of Crimea Saturday formally asked Russia to deploy its troops to help secure the region.

Mr. Putin’s request didn’t specify how many troops might be sent. It said they would be deployed “until the normalization of the social-political situation in the country.”

The request cited the “threat to the lives of Russian citizens” living in Crimea, as well as the personnel of the Black Sea Fleet.

The approval of Mr. Putin’s request doesn’t necessarily mean troops will be dispatched immediately, an official said.

“Having the right (to deploy forces) doesn’t mean immediately, momentarily exercising that. So we will hope that the situation will go according to a better scenario and won’t continue to be exacerbated as it is now,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a radio interview.

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Mr. Peskov said in the interview that no decision had been made yet on deploying forces to Ukraine or on recall of the ambassador.

Sergei Aksyonov, who was appointed prime minister of Crimea after armed men took over the regional parliament this week, said troops from the Black Sea Fleet are guarding vital facilities in the region and helping with patrols to ensure public order. Mr. Aksyonov, who is pro-Russian, said he was taking command of the peninsula’s police and army.

In the economically important eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, hundreds of pro-Russian protesters massed Saturday in the main square and took over a main government administration building, and raised the Russian flag, according to local residents and news outlets. It was unclear whether the protesters were local residents. The number of protesters was also unclear; Russian and Ukrainian media had wildly different estimates of crowd strength.

The Donetsk city council issued a statement demanding a referendum over whether the mining region with strong ties to Russia should remain part of Ukraine.

By nightfall, the area around the Donetsk main square was quiet. A reporter from Ukrainian national television said that the protesters remained inside the building, drinking tea and planning new pro-Russia protests for Monday.

In Kharkiv, protests erupted Saturday between crowds of mostly young men who have been camped out at different sides of the city’s main square – Europe’s largest city square – for weeks now.

The groups, one which is pro-Kiev and the other which is pro-Moscow, are mostly local youth, some of which are supporters of the local football team, who appear to have more personal grievances with each other rather than deeply held political agendas, according to local residents who know several of the people at the demonstration.

Interfax reported that about 100 people were injured in the disorder Saturday, though that figure couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

Ukraine military bases were quickly surrounded and sealed off Saturday by Russian forces in Crimea as the Kremlin made preparations for a larger-scale landing of troops.

Russian troops were posted near the gates and around the perimeters of several bases near Sevastopol. When asked why they were there, officers replied that they were providing security to the bases, to stop any pro-Russian citizens who might try to take them.

The troops posted around the base had no markings on their uniforms. Their commander, when asked if he could reveal their nationality, said “of course not.” Others admitted they were Russian. Ukrainian officials at the base said the Russians were allowing food and provisions to be brought in.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the government in Kiev of trying to destabilize the region and directing gunmen to capture Crimea’s ministry of internal affairs building overnight. It said the attack, which couldn’t be verified, was averted with “decisive action.”

Five people who live in the buildings next to the ministry building in Simferopol said everything was peaceful Friday night and they heard nothing. There were no signs of struggle at the building complex.

Vladimir Krashevsky, a top official at the Simferopol-based division of the local berkut, or riot police, said there was no attack by Kiev-allied gunmen on the building, where he gave an impromptu news conference Saturday.

“There was no attack here and there won’t be one,” he said.

The resolution authorizing the use of force in Ukraine cited the threat to Russian citizens there, but officials in Moscow repeatedly suggested that the Kremlin was coming to the defense of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, even if they hold Ukrainian citizenship.

“There is a threat today to the lives and safety of our fellow citizens, of Russian speakers, of ethnic Russians,” Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the upper house of parliament, told reporters after the vote. “We can’t remain indifferent.”

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Asked about possible western counter-intervention, she said there was no ground for it. “With all due respect to the United States, where is the U.S. located and where is Russia? This is happening on Russia’s border.”

Alexander Chekalin, a senator, spoke before the vote, saying, “we are one people, speaking one language, following one faith and sharing one history.” The eastern and southern parts of Ukraine have a large number of Russian-speakers who are members of the Orthodox church.

On Friday, armed men surrounded Crimea’s two main airports, took command of its state television network and set up checkpoints along the key roads connecting the peninsula to the rest of Ukraine. On Saturday, professional military men in unmarked green camouflage uniforms appeared outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol.

Ukrainian officials said the well-equipped men – many of whom carried sophisticated automatic weapons – were Russian soldiers.

The leader of the Crimean Tatars, the ethnic minority that accounts for 12% of Crimea and supports the new government in Kiev, sought to dispel the notion that the seizure of government buildings in Crimea had grown out of a citizen uprising.

“These buildings were seized by specially trained people acting on military orders,” said Refat Chubarov, the Tatar leader and deputy in the parliament, at a news conference Saturday.

Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, called the continuing militarization in Crimea a provocation intended to draw in Ukraine militarily. He demanded Russian forces return to their base in Sevastopol.

“The presence of Russian troops is nothing more than a violation of the agreement for the Black Sea Fleet to be in Ukraine,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. “We urge the Russian government to withdraw their troops and return them to their base.”

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Ukraine Calls Up Reserves, Readies For Potential Combat With Russia – Jerusalem Post

Ukraine mobilized on Sunday for war and called up its reserves, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

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Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert, the council’s secretary Andriy Parubiy announced. The Defense Ministry was ordered to conduct the call-up, potentially of all men up to 40 in a country that still has universal male conscription.

Russian forces who have already bloodlessly seized Crimea – an isolated Black Sea peninsula where most of the population are ethnic Russian and Moscow has a naval base – tried to disarm the small Ukrainian contingents there on Sunday. Some Ukrainian commanders refused to give up weapons and bases were surrounded.

Of potentially even greater concern are eastern swathes of the country, where most of the ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as a native language. Those areas saw violent protests on Saturday, with pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisting flags at government buildings and calling for Russia to defend them.

Putin’s declaration that he has the right to invade his neighbor – for which he quickly received the unanimous approval of his parliament – brought the prospect of war to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe.

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Unreal: Obama Skips National Security Meeting On Russia Situation – Capitalism Institute

As the situation between Russia and Ukraine develops, you’d expect our president to be keeping up-to-date on every single detail coming out. But remember, this is Obama. He didn’t attend national security briefings while our ambassador was in danger in Benghazi.

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According to tweets from White House press correspondents, Obama skipped a key national security meeting on the Ukraine situation earlier today. Absolutely unreal.

Where was he? Golfing?

The Weekly Standard writes:

A White House official emailed some reporters to say that President Obama’s team met today to discuss the ongoing situation on Ukraine. It appears President Obama did not attend.

“The President’s national security team met today to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine and discuss potential policy options. We will provide further updates later this afternoon,” reads the full statement.

According to Time magazine’s Zeke Miller, Obama skipped the meeting. “Obama did not attend the meeting, but WH official says he has been briefed by Susan Rice and his national security team,” says Miller.

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Instead of attending a meeting with his national security team, Susan Rice, the Obama advisor who repeatedly said that Benghazi had everything to do with a YouTube video, is briefing the president on crucial national security matters. What could possibly go wrong?

Did JFK skip national security meetings during the Cuban Missile Crisis? No. Even Jimmy Carter was intimately involved in every aspect of the negotiations and operations during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Barack Obama is a new low for the office of the president. Unbelievable.

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Ted Cruz: ‘Vague Threats’ Not Enough; Suspend Russian G8 Membership Now – Big Peace

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On February 28th, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) reacted to President Obama’s “hastily arranged” speech against Russian military intervention in the Ukraine by saying the U.S. needs to suspend “Russian membership in the Group of Eight (G8),” and we need to do so “immediately.”

He made it clear that mere words and “the President’s vague threats” are not enough because mere “appeals to international norms” hold no sway over Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moreoever, Cruz said international norms mean even less than usual to Putin “when they run counter to his goal of re-establishing Soviet-style regional hegemony over unfortunate states like Georgia and Ukraine who have the temerity to want a more free, prosperous future for their people.”

Cruz said the U.S. must suspend Russian membership in the G8. If that doesn’t give Putin pause, he added, suspensions from “the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations Security Council” should be pursued.

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Ukraine’s Acting President Demands Russia Stop ‘Provocations’ In Crimea – Euronews

Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov has urged Russia to stop “provocations” in Crimea and to pull back military forces.

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“They are provoking us into a military conflict. According to our intelligence, they are trying to implement the scenario that is very similar to Abkhazia,” he said, referring to Russia’s intervention in Georgia over breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have large ethnic Russian populations.

“I’m personally addressing President Putin and demanding that he stops provocations immediately and calls back the troops from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and works only according to the signed treaties,” added Turchynov in televised comments.

Euronews saw several Russian armoured personnel carriers (APCs) parked in an area where pro-Russian self defence groups set up a roadblock.

We tried to speak to some of the men in military uniform, but they were reluctant to talk to us in detail. They were friendly and they told us that that was a drill.

Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone said: “Finally here are the Russian APCs with number plates and identification signs. They are on the road from Sevastopol to Simfereopol. But it is not clear where are they heading.”

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Ukraine Crisis Tests Obama’s Foreign Policy Focus On Diplomacy Over Military Force – Washington Post

For much of his time in office, President Obama has been accused by a mix of conservative hawks and liberal interventionists of overseeing a dangerous retreat from the world at a time when American influence is needed most.

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The once-hopeful Arab Spring has staggered into civil war and military coup. China is stepping up territorial claims in the waters off East Asia. Longtime allies in Europe and in the Persian Gulf are worried by the inconsistency of a president who came to office promising the end of the United States’ post-Sept. 11 wars.

Now Ukraine has emerged as a test of Obama’s argument that, far from weakening American power, he has enhanced it through smarter diplomacy, stronger alliances and a realism untainted by the ideology that guided his predecessor.

It will be a hard argument for him to make, analysts say.

A president who has made clear to the American public that the “tide of war is receding” has also made clear to foreign leaders, including opportunists in Russia, that he has no appetite for a new one. What is left is a vacuum once filled, at least in part, by the possibility of American force.

“If you are effectively taking the stick option off the table, then what are you left with?” said Andrew C. Kuchins, who heads the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I don’t think that Obama and his people really understand how others in the world are viewing his policies.”

Rarely has a threat from a U.S. president been dismissed as quickly – and comprehensively – as Obama’s warning Friday night to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The former community organizer and the former Cold Warrior share the barest of common interests, and their relationship has been defined far more by the vastly different ways they see everything from gay rights to history’s legacy.

Obama called Putin on Saturday and expressed “deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law,” the White House said.

From a White House podium late Friday, Obama told the Russian government that “there will be costs” for any military foray into Ukraine, including the semiautonomous region of Crimea, a strategically important peninsula on the Black Sea.

Within hours, Putin asked the Russian parliament for approval to send forces into Ukraine. The vote endorsing his request was unanimous, Obama’s warning drowned out by lawmakers’ rousing rendition of Russia’s national anthem at the end of the session. Russian troops now control the Crimean Peninsula.

President’s quandary

There are rarely good – or obvious – options in such a crisis. But the position Obama is in, confronting a brazenly defiant Russia and with few ways to meaningfully enforce his threat, has been years in the making. It is the product of his record in office and of the way he understands the period in which he is governing, at home and abroad.

At the core of his quandary is the question that has arisen in White House debates over the Afghan withdrawal, the intervention in Libya and the conflict in Syria – how to end more than a dozen years of American war and maintain a credible military threat to protect U.S. interests.

The signal Obama has sent – popular among his domestic political base, unsettling at times to U.S. allies – has been one of deep reluctance to use the heavily burdened American military, even when doing so would meet the criteria he has laid out. He did so most notably in the aftermath of the U.S.-led intervention in Libya nearly three years ago.

But Obama’s rejection of U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war, in which 140,000 people have died since he first called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, is the leading example of his second term. So, too, is the Pentagon budget proposal outlined this past week that would cut the size of the army to pre-2001 levels.

Inside the West Wing, there are two certainties that color any debate over intervention: that the country is exhausted by war and that the end of the longest of its post-Sept. 11 conflicts is less than a year away. Together they present a high bar for the use of military force.

Ukraine has challenged administration officials – and Obama’s assessment of the world – again.

At a North American summit meeting in Mexico last month, Obama said, “Our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.”

But Putin’s quick move to a war footing suggests a different view – one in which, particularly in Russia’s back yard, the Cold War rivalry Putin was raised on is thriving.

The Russian president has made restoring his country’s international prestige the overarching goal of his foreign policy, and he has embraced military force as the means to do so.

As Russia’s prime minister in the late summer of 2008, he was considered the chief proponent of Russia’s military advance into Georgia, another former Soviet republic with a segment of the population nostalgic for Russian rule.

Obama, by contrast, made clear that a new emphasis on American values, after what were perceived as the excesses of the George W. Bush administration, would be his approach to rehabilitating U.S. stature overseas.

Those two outlooks have clashed repeatedly – in big and small ways – over the years.

Obama took office with a different Russian as president, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s choice to succeed him in 2008.

Medvedev, like Obama, was a lawyer by training, and also like Obama he did not believe the Cold War rivalry between the two countries should define today’s relationship.

The Obama administration began the “reset” with Russia – a policy that, in essence, sought to emphasize areas such as nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, trade and Iran’s nuclear program as shared interests worth cooperation.

But despite some successes, including a new arms-control treaty, the reset never quite reduced the rivalry. When Putin returned to office in 2012, so, too, did an outlook fundamentally at odds with Obama’s.

‘Reset’ roadblocks

Just months after his election, Putin declined to attend the Group of Eight meeting at Camp David, serving an early public warning to Obama that partnership was not a top priority.

At a G-8 meeting the following year in Northern Ireland, Obama and Putin met and made no headway toward resolving differences over Assad’s leadership of Syria. The two exchanged an awkward back-and-forth over Putin’s passion for martial arts before the Russian leader summed up the meeting: “Our opinions do not coincide,” he said.

A few months later, Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose disclosure of the country’s vast eavesdropping program severely complicated U.S. diplomacy. Obama had asked for Snowden’s return.

In response, Obama canceled a scheduled meeting in Moscow with Putin after the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg last summer. The two met instead on the summit’s sidelines, again failing to resolve differences over Syria.

It was Obama’s threat of a military strike, after the Syrian government’s second chemical attack crossed what Obama had called a “red line,” that prompted Putin to pressure Assad into concessions. The result was an agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a process that is proceeding haltingly.

Since then, though, the relationship has again foundered on issues that expose the vastly different ways the two leaders see the world and their own political interests.

After Russia’s legislature passed anti-gay legislation, Obama included openly gay former athletes in the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

New barbarities in Syria’s civil war – and the near-collapse of a nascent peace process – have drawn sharper criticism from U.S. officials of Putin, who is continuing to arm Assad’s forces.

How Obama intends to prevent a Putin military push into Ukraine is complicated by the fact that, whatever action he takes, he does not want to jeopardize Russian cooperation on rolling back Iran’s nuclear program or completing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Economic sanctions are a possibility. But that decision is largely in the hands of the European Union, given that its economic ties to Russia, particularly as a source of energy, are far greater than those of the United States.

The most immediate threat that has surfaced: Obama could skip the G-8 meeting scheduled for June in Sochi, a day’s drive from Crimea.

“If you want to take a symbolic step and deploy U.S. Navy ships closer to Crimea, that would, I think, make a difference in Russia’s calculations,” Kuchins said. “The problem with that is, are we really credible? Would we really risk a military conflict with Russia over Crimea-Ukraine? That’s the fundamental question in Washington and in Brussels we need to be asking ourselves.”

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution Update (Pictures / Videos)

Putin Seeks Military Action In Ukraine; 6,000 Russian Troops Already Sent To Crimea – Gateway Pundit

Russian President Vladamir Putin asked parliament for permission to send troops to Ukraine on Saturday. The Kremlin already has 6,000 troops in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Security cameras captured the moment Russian soldiers seized the Crimea parliament building yesterday.

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The AP reported:

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked parliament Saturday for permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine, moving to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea.

Putin’s motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Friday “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily.

“I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin.

He said the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. Putin sent the request to the Russian legislature’s upper house, which has to approve the motion, according to the constitution. The rubber-stamp parliament is certain to approve it in a vote expected Saturday.

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Russian Parliament Cheers After Voting 87-0 To Invade Ukraine – Gateway Pundit

87 votes in favor – 0 votes against

Unanimous response to send Russian troops to Ukraine.

The Russian lawmakers cheered after the vote passed.

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Pro-Russian mob stormed the city administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine today. Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine located in the pro-Russian northeast region.

The thugs beat the opposition and forced them to kneel.

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Krauthammer’s Take: Obama Tells The World We Aren’t Going To Do Anything About Invasion Of Ukraine – National Review

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As reports are coming in that Russia has placed 2,000 troops in Crimea, within the borders of Ukraine, President Obama said that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Charles Krauthammer responded on Special Report tonight saying, “The Ukrainians, and I think everybody, is shocked by the weakness of Obama’s statement. I find it rather staggering.”

Krauthammer thinks Obama’s statement is about “three levels removed” from actual action. He explained: Obama said “we will stand with the international community – meaning we are going to negotiate with a dozen other countries who will water down the statement – in affirming that there will be costs – meaning in making a statement not even imposing a cost, but in making a statement about imposing a cost – for any military intervention.”

“What he’s saying is we’re not really going to do anything and we’re telling the world,” Krauthammer said.

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“Stupid” “Insipid” Sarah Palin Predicted Russian Invasion Of Ukraine – Gateway Pundit

Back in 2008, Republican candidate Sarah Palin predicted Barack Obama’s weak response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

She nailed it.

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This was after Barack Obama failed to react to Russia’s invasion of American ally Georgia.

Today Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook – “I Told You So.”

Yes, I could see this one from Alaska. I’m usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did, despite my accurate prediction being derided as “an extremely far-fetched scenario” by the “high-brow” Foreign Policy magazine. Here’s what this “stupid” “insipid woman” predicted back in 2008: “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

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Flashback: Mitt Romney Was Right About Russia And Putin, And Barack Obama Was Wrong – Freedom’s Lighthouse

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Remember this from the third Presidential Debate during the 2012 Election?

Barack Obama had mocked Mitt Romney for calling Russia and Vladimir Putin a U.S. Foreign Policy threat. Mitt Romney responded that it is indeed a threat, and told Obama “I have clear eyes on this, and I’m certainly not going to wear rose-colored glasses about Russia or Mr. Putin.”

Once again, Mitt Romney was right, and Barack Obama is proven to be terribly wrong.

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Stranger Than Fiction: Russian Bikers Among Those Blocking Some Of The Roads In Crimea… Update: Bikers Special Buddies Of Putin – Weasel Zippers

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Alan Cullison
@AlanCullison

Russian bikers take lead at block posts in Crimea. Pic here of commander of post blocking east-west highway. #ukraine
10:29 AM – 28 Feb 2014 from Ukraine, Ukraine

113 Retweets 30 favorites
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Some kind of war. Biker dudes and military without insignia.

Update:

Here’s more on the bikers.

Via ABC:

While a group of camouflaged, armed militiamen patrolled Crimea’s main airport today, there was a second gang of tough-looking men who showed up to join the pro-Russia side to take control of this mostly Russian enclave of southern Ukraine.

The tattooed and bejewelled crew was decked out in leather, black jeans and heavy boots, with patches of a wolf and flame stitched onto their vests. They were the Russian biker gang, the “Night Wolves.” They’ve modeled themselves on the Hell’s Angels, and President Putin has been known to don a leather jacket and ride with them.

Its president, Hirurg, had just landed from Moscow and the local Simferopol chapter was there to pick him up (alas, in a car, not on Harleys). Burly and broad-shouldered, Hirurg sported a goatee, sideburns and a friendly – if intimidating – demeanour. “Hirurg” means surgeon in Russian and he said he was an actual surgeon (having watched every season of “Sons of Anarchy,” I was disappointed the name wasn’t for something more dramatic).

Keep reading

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Alexander Marquardt
@MarquardtA

President of biker gang “Night Wolves” arrived at Simferopol airport from Moscow, says here to ask what locals need.
7:50 AM – 28 Feb 2014

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Update:

Just any old biker group, their aim is to “spread Russian influence around the world”.

Let’s look at pictures from the past few years, with leader receiving medal from Putin for restoring a Soviet monument, and Putin riding with them:

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Your Daley Gator Ukrainian Revolution News Roundup (Pictures)

House Fit For A Tyrant: Protestors Storm The Sprawling, Luxury Estate Of Ukraine’s Fugitive President Which Has Its Own Private Zoo, Golf Course And Is Half The Size Of Monaco – Daily Mail

A beautiful forested estate of graceful waterways, summer houses and exotic gardens.

This is the home of Ukraine’s fugitive president, who was dramatically ousted from power after one of the worst periods of violence in the country’s history.

Ukraniains streamed to see Viktor Yanukovich’s luxury estate, which has been closed off to the world for nearly a decade, and rubbed their eyes in disbelief when they were confronted by the scale of the opulence he built around him.

The property in Mezhyhirya, an hours drive from Kiev, has a golf course, helicopter pad and is situated in a country where the average salary is less than £300 a month.

Below the house, a garage is filled with classic sports cars worth millions, while in the exotic gardens Australian and African ostriches stretch their legs.

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Yanukovich, 63, who fled into hiding on Saturday as the turmoil of three months confrontation with his people caught up with him, relaxed at weekends in luxury behind high walls patrolled by scores of security guards.

When the dream ended and Yanukovich’s staff fled the Gatsby-like mansion in the early hours of Saturday, the Kiev protest movement that had opposed him invited Ukrainians to go to see the opulence Yanukovich lived in.

As they poured in their thousands, by foot and by car, onto the 140-hectare grounds for a first glimpse at a luxury they could only suspect, Ukrainians gawped in wonderment at the fairytale surroundings.

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What they saw reflected more the inflated dreams of a Middle East potentate – with all the attendant obsessions with security – rather than a rough-hewn man from the gritty eastern Ukraine who got to the top the hard way.

Yanukovich bought a small house on the plot at the start of his presidency in 2010. Subsequently, according to local media, he acquired control of the full estate which exists today through a chain of companies with which he had close interests.

Beyond a five-floor Russian-style house – some said it was his guest house – a stone staircase opened up to a landscaped vista of water features, arboreal walkways and tree-lined avenues stretching into the distance.

Few people – apart from Yanukovich’s chosen few and family – have visited a secret place which has been charted by satellite images that show a helicopter pad and a golf course.

With Yanukovich obsessed by security and fear of attack, they had to leave their mobile phones at the entrance to the grounds and pick them up only on leaving, locals said.

‘This is a monument to a tyrant which we want to show the people,’ said Eduard Leonov, a parliamentary deputy from the far-right nationalist Svoboda party.

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Graeco-Roman statues – a Goddess covering her modesty with her hair, lovers intertwined – decorated the lawns. Ornate ponds – half frozen on Saturday – nonetheless bubbled with water being pumped through them. Love-seats and colonnaded meeting places dot the estate.

There is a Russian bath-house – closed to the public on Saturday with an opposition protester’s helmet on a chair across the door. On a hilltop, looking down on the Dnipro river through trees, was a plaza for a barbecue.

Families and lovers out for a different sort of Sunday afternoon excursion, posed for family album snaps at a once-in-a lifetime occasion.

Most shook their heads in wonderment at the ambitions of a president who had always proclaimed that he was on the side of the poor people of Ukraine.

‘We did not expect anything like this. It is really extensive and all done with our money, the money of ordinary people. It really is too much for one person. It’s very emotional when you see something like this,’ said Serhiy Remezovsky, who had brought his wife and nine-month old son.

Ukrainian opposition icon and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko spoke to supporters at a Kiev protest camp just hours after being released from a hospital where she was incarcerated.

She arrived on stage in Kiev in a wheelchair and looked frail as she addressed thousands of demonstrators who had packed into Independence Square.

Tymoshenko, heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, is the chief rival of President Viktor Yanukovych.

His rule is crumbling after protesters took control of the capital Saturday and parliament voted to remove him from power.

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You are heroes, you are the best thing in Ukraine’ she said of those killed in the violence, looking tired and speaking from a wheelchair as she addressed the euphoric crowd.

She also congratulated the protestors for ‘removing the cancer from Ukraine’ and demanded the ousted President Yanukovych be brought to Independence Square.

‘This is your victory, no politicians could do what you have done,’ she said.

‘This country is now free, you have given this country its freedom.

‘You have removed this cancer from our country. I am convinced that any bullet shot through the heart of the people went through the heart of each Ukrainian.

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Upon her release, Tymoshenko promised to run for president and immediately went to Kiev’s Independence Square.

‘When I came to Kiev the first thing I wanted to do was come to the barricades,’ she added.

‘I wanted to feel the feelings that had all these boys and girls on the barricades had been through.

‘All the people responsible will be brought to justice.’

The appearance brought Tymoshenko back to the square where she attracted world attention in the 2004 Orange Revolution protests, a riveting figure then for her rhetoric, her elaborate blond peasant braid and her fashionable clothing.

The square has been the nucleus of a three-month protest movement that pushed Yanukovych to major concessions this week.

Parliament arranged the release of the current President Viktor Yanukovych’s arch-rival, who has been imprisoned since 2011, but the president said he would not recognize any of the lawmakers’ decisions as valid.

Her release will send shockwaves through Ukrainian politics, at a moment of deep turmoil following the worst unrest in the sprawling country since the days of the Soviet Union.

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Protesters in the Ukrainian capital claimed full control of the city Saturday following the signing of a Western-brokered peace deal aimed at ending the nation’s three-month political crisis.

They were seen demanding the resignation of their president and attacking politicians, a move which President Victor Yanukovych branded ‘a coup’ and likened it to the rise of Nazis in the 1930s.

Viktor Yanukovych also says he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country. Hours after he and opposition leaders signed an agreement aimed at resolving the country’s turmoil yesterday, Mr Yanukovych went to Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, the heartland of his support.

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On Saturday, he made the coup accusation in a televised statement.

The opposition has demanded a new election be held by May 25, as the pro-Russian leader’s grip on power rapidly eroded following bloodshed in the capital.

The nation’s embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych, reportedly had fled the capital for his support base in Ukraine’s Russia-leaning east.

Ukraine’s border guard service said that a leading governor and a mayor from the president’s eastern base have fled to Russia.

A spokesman for the border guard service, Oleh Slobodyan, said Kharkiv regional governor Mikhaylo Dobkin and Kharkiv Mayor Hennady Kernes left Ukraine across the nearby Russian border.

Both are top allies of President Viktor Yanukovych, whose rule appeared increasingly under question after protesters took over the capital and parliament voted to remove him.

There are fears that Ukraine might split in two, creating a Russian-leaning east and Europe-leaning west.

Police abandoned posts around the capital, and protesters took up positions around the presidential office and residence.

Parliament discussed voting on impeaching Yanukovych and setting a quick date for new elections to end a crisis over Ukraine’s identity and future direction.

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Yanukovych’s whereabouts were unclear Saturday morning. Media outlets reported that he left Kiev for his native eastern Ukraine after surrendering much of his powers and agreeing to early elections by the end of the year.

But despite the promise of an election and significant concessions, protesters blame him for police violence and amassing too many powers and want him ousted immediately.

At a special parliament session on Saturday, Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the nationalist Svoboda party, called for discussion of impeachment.

The parliament speaker – Yanukovych ally Volodymyr Rybak – announced resignation, citing ill health as the reason.

The president’s representative in parliament warned against splitting the country in two, an outcome that worries many but is increasingly seeming a possibility.

The country’s western regions want to be closer to the EU and have rejected Yanukovych’s authority in many cities, while eastern Ukraine – which accounts for the bulk of the nation’s economic output – favors closer ties with Russia.

The president’s concessions came as part of a deal intended to end violence that killed scores and left hundreds wounded in Kiev this week as snipers opened fire on protesters. It was the worst violence in Ukraine’s modern history.

Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the protest camp on Independence Square, known as the Maidan, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that Yanukovych fled for Kharkiv, the center of Ukraine’s industrial heartland. Kharkiv was the capital of Soviet Ukraine from 1919-1934.

The claims of the president’s departure could not be immediately confirmed, however.

A group of protesters in helmets and shields stood guard at the president’s office, with few police in sight.

Protesters booed opposition figures who took to a stage last night to present their deal with the president, which cuts Yanukovych’s powers.

‘Death to the criminal!’ some chanted, referring to Yanukovych.

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Ukraine Parliament Votes To Remove President – USA Today

Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday, even as the embattled leader remained defiant, calling the country’s political crisis a “coup” and saying he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country.

“They are trying to scare me. I have no intention to leave the country. I am not going to resign, I’m the legitimately elected president,” Yanukovych said in a televised statement. “What we see today is a coup – I did everything to prevent the bloodshed. We adopted two amnesty laws. We did everything to stabilize the political situation.”

“I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed,” he added.

In the vote, parliament also moved to have early elections on May 25. In a deal brokered Friday to stop the violence, early elections were set for December.

Lawmakers said the move to impeach was necessary. “Yanukovych is not capable of fulfilling his presidential duties,” said opposition lawmaker Oleh Lyashko. Lawmakers will also consider banning the president from running in upcoming elections.

Meanwhile, imprisoned opposition leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released Saturday after spending 2 1/2 years in prison.

Hours after her release, the 53-year-old Tymoshenko spoke to a crowd gathered at Independence Square.

“No one could do what you have done, eliminate a tumor,” she said “A dictator is gone and you are the heroes, you are the best of Ukraine. But you may not leave here until you finish the job and we go all the way.”

“And now every person in our country must get the kind of life that these people died for,” she added, referring to the dozens of protesters killed over the past week by government forces. “I believe in Ukraine.”

On Saturday, the Health Ministry said the death toll in clashes between protesters and police had reached 82. Earlier, as many as 100 were reported killed.

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Ukraine’s New Leaders Order Arrest Of Former President Yanukovych – Fox News

Ukraine’s acting government announced Monday that an arrest warrant has been issued for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, whose whereabouts are unknown.

In a statement on his official Facebook page, acting interior minister Arsen Avakhov wrote that Yanukovych and several other officials were wanted on charges of “mass killing of civilians” in violence that engulfed Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, earlier this week. At least 82 people, most of them protesters, were killed in clashes with members of the police and security forces. Some of the dead were shot by snipers in strategic positions overlooking the main protest camp in Kiev’s Independence Square.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and cracked down on protesters.

Avakhov said Yanukovych arrived in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsular region of Crimea on Sunday and relinquished his official security detail before driving off to an unknown location.

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies said earlier Monday that they have no information about the whereabouts of Yanukovych, who reportedly was seen in the port city of Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

After signing an agreement with the opposition to end a conflict that turned deadly, Yanukovych fled the capital for eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s border service said he tried to fly out of the country Saturday from Donetsk but was stopped by their officials.

Opposition lawmaker Volodym Kurennoy said on his Facebook page that he had unconfirmed information that the president had been arrested in Crimea. Ukrainain news portal Liga.net also reported that Sevastopol residents saw Yanukovych in the company of Russian marines.

But the claims could not be independently verified, and spokespersons for the regional and national Interior Ministry and Security Service said Monday they had no such information.

Avakhov published a letter that he said was from Yanukovych, dated Monday, in which he gives up his security guard. Yanukovych’s aides and spokespeople could not be reached Monday to verify the reported letter – they have been rapidly distancing themselves from him as his hold on power disintegrates.

Yanukovych set off a wave of protests by shelving an agreement with the EU in November and turning toward Russia, and the movement quickly expanded its grievances to corruption, human rights abuses and calls for Yanukovych’s resignation.

“We must find Yanukovych and put him on trial,” said protester Leonid Shovtak, a 50-year-old farmer from the western Ivano-Frankivsk region who came to Kiev’s Independence Square to take part in the three-month protest movement. “All the criminals with him should be in prison.”

The acting finance minister said Monday that the country needs $35 billion (25.5 billion euros) to finance government needs this year and next and expressed hope that Europe or the United States would help.

“The state treasury has been torn apart, the country has been brought to bankruptcy,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a protest leader and prominent lawmaker whose name is being floated as a possibility for prime minister, said in parliament Monday.

The speaker of parliament, Oleksandr Turchinov, assumed the president’s powers Sunday, but a presidential aide told the AP on Sunday that Yanukovych plans to stay in power. Turchinov said Monday that he hopes to form a coalition government by Tuesday.

But emotions are running high among the country’s rival parties. When a leading member of Yanukovych’s party, Oleksandr Efremov, told parliament Monday that he was crossing over to the opposition, an opposition lawmaker got up and waved his fist in Efremov’s face, showering him with insults.

Russia’s prime minister said the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities is questionable.

Dmitry Medvedev said Monday, according to Russian news agencies, that the new authorities have come to power as a result of “armed mutiny,” so their legitimacy is causing “big doubts.”

He said that Russia doesn’t know with whom to communicate in Ukraine, and criticized the West for recognizing the new authorities following the ouster of Yanukovych.

Tensions have also been mounting in Crimea, where pro-Russian protesters gathered in front of city hall in the port of Sevastopol on Monday chanting “Russia! Russia!” Russia maintains a big naval base in Sevastopol that has tangled relations between the countries for two decades. The head of the city administration in Sevastopol quit Monday.

Turchinov has said that top priorities include saving the economy and “returning to the path of European integration,” according to news agencies. The latter phrase is certain to displease Moscow, which wants Ukraine to be part of a customs union that would rival the EU and bolster Russia’s influence. Russia granted Ukraine a $15 billion bailout after Yanukovych backed away from the EU deal.

U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said the U.S. is ready to help Ukraine get aid from the International Monetary Fund.

The European Union, meanwhile, is reviving efforts to strike a deal with Ukraine that could involve billions of euros in economic perks. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is visiting Kiev on Monday and Tuesday.

The protest movement has been in large part a fight for the country’s economic future – for better jobs and prosperity.

Ukraine has struggled with corruption, bad government and short-sighted reliance on cheap gas from Russia. Political unrest has pushed up the deficit and sent exchange rates bouncing, and may have pushed the economy back into a recession.

Per capita economic output is only around $7,300, even adjusted for the lower cost of living there, compared to $22,200 in Poland and around $51,700 in the United States. Ukraine ranks 137th worldwide, behind El Salvador, Namibia, and Guyana.

Ukraine has a large potential consumer market, with 46 million people, an educated workforce, and a rich potential export market next door in the EU. It has a significant industrial base and good natural resources, in particular rich farmland.

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Why A New Ukraine Is The Kremlin’s Worst Nightmare – The Independent

The details still need to be decided, but the revolutionaries have won in Ukraine. Some elements of the old regime may survive, but that is precisely why the protesters on the “Maidan” (Kiev’s main square) don’t trust the mainstream politicians who claim to be negotiating on their behalf.

The politicians in suits can do the donkey work – writing a new constitution to improve on the old one they have just restored, and trying to save the collapsing economy. But the Maidan leaders in the fatigues and helmets will set the agenda on justice – dismantling the militia and reworking the corrupt legal system, so that the many guilty end up behind bars. And there are credible reports that the snipers who killed more than 70 on Thursday were based in the government buildings that are already being occupied by protesters combing for evidence. Once the world knows who gave the deadly orders, justice will decapitate the old regime. And the “official” opposition will be radicalised by the need to compete with the moral authority of the Maidan.

All of which is the Kremlin’s worst nightmare. When the protests started back in November they were about a trade deal with the EU. Russia was ecstatic that it had persuaded Ukraine to walk away from that deal, and was picking off the other states in the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” programme (Armenia caved in September, Georgia and Moldova were expected to come under enormous pressure in 2014). Russia hoped to drag them into its alternative Eurasian Union instead, which is due to be launched in January 2015.

But this is 10 times worse than Brussels expanding its bureaucracy to Russia’s borders. A real democracy in Ukraine is an existential threat to the entire system that Vladimir Putin has built since 2000. Ironically because Putin is right – most Russians regard Ukraine as a kin state, or not really a different state at all. They are used to stepping in tandem; so if something changes in Ukraine, why not in Russia too? And now the dominoes might fall in the other direction. Other Maidans might appear in other neighbouring states – maybe first in Moldova where the Russia-backed Communist Party was hoping to return to power in elections due in November.

Putin marginalised his own protest movement after the last Russian election cycle. He does not want to see that flare up again. So far, the Russian opposition has been quiet. Few have supported the Ukrainian Maidan, even fewer sound inspired to copy it – for now. But Putin will need to come up with something more convincing than the scattergun propaganda the Russian media has pumped out to date.

None of the favourite Russian myths – the protesters are all crazy nationalists, which is why they are also backed by the Americans, the young guys throwing rocks are really only interested in promoting gay rights – make much sense in the long run.

So the new government in Ukraine, however it’s made up, will be given the briefest of ritualistic honeymoons before Russia uses every instrument at its disposal to try to make it fail. Unfortunately, Russia holds most of the economic cards. Ukraine’s coffers are almost empty, and the old guard is busy looting what is left. It has less than $18bn (£10.9bn) in hard currency reserves, its currency is dropping and immediate debt-repayment needs are more than $10bn.

Russia tied Ukraine to a $15bn bailout deal in December, which is parcelled out by the month to maximise leverage, and periodically suspended whenever the opposition looked like getting the upper hand. But Russia’s real aim was to provide just enough money to support the old semi-authoritarian system (helping Viktor Yanukovych pay the police) and keep Ukrainian society post-Soviet, that is, still dependent on government. So Ukraine’s new leaders will have to be honest and say their aim is to dismantle both. They cannot declare victory now, but will have to plead for popular support during what will be two or three difficult years.

And if the West is serious about an alternative deal, Ukraine needs a lot of money fast. Fortunately, the West would no longer be throwing it down the black hole created by the old regime. Instead the money would support the kind of kamikaze leader Ukraine has never had in the past. Politicians were reluctant to make difficult choices and lose elections, because they’d never get back into power. Now Russia and the old regime will back any populist who promises to keep government subsidies flowing; but an honest kamikaze might just win the long-term credit and at least write his place in the history books.

Russia has talked a lot about its “soft power” in recent years. It isn’t particularly soft. The new Ukraine will pay more for gas, which will be regularly cut off for “technical reasons”. Russia’s crazy “food safety” agency will declare that everything that comes out of Ukraine is radioactive. Ukrainian migrant workers will be sent home now they have finished helping to rebuild Sochi.

Worst of all, Russia will work hard to try to re-corrupt the political system. The Kremlin used to boast that it could exploit Ukraine’s old-style “democracy” – meaning that, just like Yanukovych, they could launch their own puppet parties and buy agents of influence in the honest ones. The Ukrainian Front, a bizarre alliance of hooligans and bikers with a vaguely pan-Slavist ideology that appeared in the eastern city of Kharkiv two weeks ago, was backed by the Russians. Skinheads and sportsmen with the money to spend on propaganda are not a natural combination. Similar groups may pop up in Crimea and elsewhere, where the last elements of the old regime may try and regroup.

But Russia’s ultimate problem is the same as Yanukovych faced. The Kremlin simply can’t understand that protesters would be motivated by ideology rather than by money or foreign support. The Russians were good at manipulating the old system, but dealing with real revolutionaries is a different matter. Ukraine is starting a very bumpy ride.

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Ukrainian Protesters Topple Statue Of Vladimir Lenin In Kiev (Video)

Ukraine Protesters Topple Lenin Statue In Kiev – The Guardian

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Ukrainian opposition protesters pulled down a statue of Lenin in central Kiev as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the latest display of anger at President Viktor Yanukovich’s rejection of closer ties with Europe.

Protesters used ropes to topple the monument, and several then scrambled onto the podium to plant Ukrainian and European flags. Hundreds gathered around to sing the national anthem and chanting “Yanukovich, you’re next”.

A huge crowd formed, desperate to catch a glimpse of the fallen Bolshevik leader, while passing cars beeped their horns in support. Some took hammers to the fallen statue in an attempt to smash it to pieces and claim souvenirs.

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Not everyone approved of the sudden moment of drama, perhaps the most symbolic yet in two weeks of anti-government protest. “They should have got rid of Lenin ages ago, but I’m not sure this is the right way to do it,” said Oksana Petrenko. “I’ve been at the protest for days but we have to avoid it turning violent.”

Earlier, the opposition threatened to march on Yanukovych’s presidential palace and seal him inside if, in the next 48 hours, he did not sack his prime minister.

Hundreds of thousands crammed into Independence Square and nearby streets on Sunday, chanting “Ukraine is Europe!”. They called on Yanukovych to resign in the biggest protest yet of a two-week movement to force the president to reverse a decision to halt European integration.

The protesters carried the yellow-and-blue flags of both Ukraine and the European Union. Although some also waved flags of political parties, the majority of those on the streets were not supporters of particular parties.

One man wielded an effigy of the severed head of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi above a sign reading: “Vitya [Yanukovych], the game is over!”

“We do not want to be kept quiet by a policeman’s truncheon,” heavyweight boxer and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko told the crowd.

Since last Sunday, when protesters attempted to storm the presidential administration and riot police responded ruthlessly, there has been no violence. The government has so far taken a hands-off approach to the protests but resisted concessions. The prime minister, Mykola Azarov, survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday and branded those on the square “Nazis and criminals”, but after previous attempts to clear the square with force increased the protest mood, police withdrew from the city centre.

However, on Friday, Kiev police said that if two occupied buildings in the centre, including the main City Hall, were not vacated within five days, they would be cleared with force.

On Sunday, Eduard Leonov, an MP from the nationalist Svoboda party, was sitting at a desk marked “Committee for the self-government of Kiev” inside City Hall, and described himself as the commander of the building. He insisted that protesters would not acquiesce to the police demands. “First, it’s an illegal order, as MPs have the right to hold meetings wherever they want,” he said. “Second, it’s an immoral order, as this is a humanitarian mission providing food and warmth to the protesters.”

Hundreds of mattresses have been laid out on the floor in the City Hall’s main colonnaded room, and different stalls hand out food, medicines and donated warm clothes to those who want them.

“It the government decides to storm the building, then of course we will resist,” said Leonov.

Yanukovych has kept a low profile since the protests started, even flying to China for a three-day trip last week as the centre of Kiev remained under siege. He returned to Ukraine on Friday, stopping over in Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin, with rumours circling in Kiev that the pair had agreed for Ukraine to join the Russian-led Customs Union. The rumour sparked fury in Kiev but was denied by spokespeople for both presidents.

Russia and the west have traded allegations over which side is putting pressure on Ukraine. On Saturday, former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili told the crowd on Independence Square that Putin had performed a “raider attack on a whole sovereign country”, attempting to steal Ukraine’s fate from its own people.

Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, struck back: “Saakashvili is kind of right. There is an attempted raid on Ukraine, not from Moscow but Brussels, grabbing it by the neck and dragging it to paradise,” he tweeted. “The word ‘paradise’ should be in inverted commas, of course. For Bulgaria, Greece and even for Serbia which is just an EU candidate country, the promised ‘paradise’ turned to hopeless gloom.”

Yanukovych has insisted he still wants integration with Europe, but could not sign the EU deal as it would have caused further damage to Ukraine’s suffering economy.

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Ukrainian President Reportedly Flees Kiev For Kharkiv – Big Peace

Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych has reportedly fled Kiev for Kharkiv amid “[the loss] of most of his power base following the bloodiest day in a 72-hour period in Ukraine.”

According to InterpreterMag.com, he announced “early elections” prior to fleeing, although he did not “[specify] when they might be held.”

Tweets coming out of Ukraine on February 21 described the protests that led up to to Yanukovych’s departure as “the biggest demo in modern history.”

While in Kharkiv, Yanukovych is expected to “take part in a Congress of the ‘Ukranian Front.'” The Congress is expected to reflect the chaos in the Ukraine, which will contribute to the idea that “it is politically necessary for the southeast to become a separate entity.”

There are “17 buses carrying activists from Right Sector toward Kharkiv,” and Yanukovych is expected to “make [a] statement about [a] split of Ukraine.”

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As Kiev Burns, The Obama Doctrine Is Going Down In Flames – The Foundry

The Obama Administration’s lack of leadership on international crises has become so apparent that even The Washington Post is launching broadsides at the White House. In a tweet highlighting a major piece on Ukraine and Syria, the Post declared: “The ‘Obama Doctrine’ flounders as Kiev and Syria crumble.”

This is, of course, what conservatives have been pointing out for years: In a 2010 paper on the pitfalls and perils of the Obama Doctrine, my Heritage colleagues Kim Holmes and James Carafano argued that the Obama stance on foreign policy was making the United States and the world “less secure, courting global instability… The Obama Doctrine is anchored in the belief that America is devoid of singularity, exceptionalism, or historic mission rather than a country with unique resources, experiences and devotion to freedom.”

This flawed approach, with a fundamental rejection of the notion of American exceptionalism, is amply on display over the Ukrainian crisis. The Russian reset has spectacularly backfired, resulting in staggering complacency in Washington over Ukraine and Moscow’s ambitions.

As early as October of last year, Heritage fellow Ariel Cohen warned the Obama Administration that failure to act would hand the initiative to the Russians: “It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent Ukraine from becoming a Russian satellite and a key member of a Moscow-dominated sphere of influence. The U.S. needs to assist Ukraine and its European partners in derailing Russia’s pressure tactics for bringing Ukraine into Moscow’s orbit.”

The leader of the free world has been largely invisible as Ukrainian demonstrators are ruthlessly picked off by government snipers and left for dead, while Russian President Vladimir Putin vows that Ukraine will remain in Russia’s orbit.

As I noted in an earlier piece assessing President Obama’s disastrous record on the world stage, the Obama Doctrine has been a monumental failure because it fails to protect and advance U.S. interests. It is the antithesis of Ronald Reagan’s bold approach, which was based on powerful American leadership on the world stage, including a willingness to firmly stand up to America’s adversaries.

The U.S. simply cannot afford to be a bystander in the face of tyranny. Although Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has signed a pact with opposition leaders in Kiev, this will do little to ease the fears and concerns of hundreds of thousands of protestors. This should be a moment for real leadership from the U.S. President, who should stand with those fighting for freedom. The White House should place itself on the right side of history at a pivotal moment in the 21st century.

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Ukrainian President Yanukovych Signs Deal With Opposition Leaders In Attempt To End Crisis

Opposition Leaders Sign Deal With President To End Crisis In Ukraine – Fox News

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Shots rang out and tension remained high in the streets of Kiev Friday, as Ukrainian protest leaders signed a deal with Ukraine’s president to defuse a political crisis that has left scores dead and hundreds injured.

After hours of European-led negotiations, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed an agreement with opposition leaders Friday that calls for early elections, a new constitution and a new unity government. The deal promises presidential elections will be held no later than December, instead of March 2015 as scheduled.

Many protesters say December is too late – they want Yanukovych out immediately.

Ukrainian authorities also will now name a new government – including opposition figures – within 10 days. The deal says the government will not impose a state of emergency and both sides will refrain from violence.

It’s a “good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way for reform and to Europe. Poland and EU support it,” European Union mediator, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, said in a Twitter post Friday.

The Ukrainian parliament approved amnesty for protesters involved in the violent months-long standoff, following the agreement Friday. The parliament also voted to restore the 2004 constitution that limits presidential powers, clawing back some of the powers that Yanukovych had pushed through after being elected in 2010. Although Yanukovych retains an apparent majority in parliament, his powers are now significantly reduced.

Yanukovych gave in to pressure from European diplomats, offering concessions – including elections – and promising to invite the opposition into the government, in an attempt to end the violence.

Opposition leader Oleh Yaroslavovych Tyahnybok says one condition of the agreement was that the present interior minister and prosecutor-general be excluded from any interim government, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.

Russian officials immediately criticized the deal and protesters angry over police violence showed no sign of abandoning their sprawling camp in central Kiev. While opposition leaders agreed that protesters should hand over any weapons and withdraw from occupied buildings and protest camps around the country, it’s far from clear whether the thousands of demonstrators camped out in Kiev Friday will go home.

One by one, protesters took to a stage on Independence Square to say they’re not happy and didn’t get what they wanted.

A statement on the website of the Health Ministry said 77 people had been killed between Tuesday morning, when the violence began, and Friday morning. The statement said 577 people had been wounded and 369 hospitalized. Opposition sources claimed at least 70 on their side were killed Thursday. There was no way to immediately verify the figures.

European foreign ministers had stayed up all night in Kiev trying to negotiate an end to the standoff, sparked when the president aborted a pact with the European Union in November in favor of close ties with Russia instead.

The U.S., Russia and European Union are deeply concerned about the future of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West.

Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the committee in charge of relations with other ex-Soviet nations in the lower house of Russian parliament, told reporters Friday that the agreement serves the interests of the West.

“We realize where and by whom this agreement has been written. It’s entirely in the interests of the United States and other powers, who want to split Ukraine from Russia,” Slutsky said.

Slutsky also shrugged off claims that Russia could send its troops to Ukraine, saying Moscow will communicate with any government Ukraine has. “No matter how bad and hard to deal with the new government is for us, we will deal with it,” he said. “We must learn from mistakes we have made.”

Lawmaker Inna Bogoslovskaya, allied with the opposition, told The AP that December is too late for elections. “After 77 corpses yesterday… that changes the stakes,” she said. “The Maidan (protest movement) demands immediate resignation of the president instead of early elections.”

Protesters will not abandon occupied buildings until after the constitution is changed, she added.

“It’s completely not enough,” said protester Anton Gusev, standing at one of the barricades near city hall. Referring to the election date, he said, “December or March – what difference does it make?”

At the city hall barricade, protesters were busily organizing stacks of tires. The street was crowded with people heading toward the central square.

Several regions in the west of the country are in open revolt against the central government, while many in eastern Ukraine back the president and favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

In a sign of the high tensions, armed law enforcement officers tried to enter parliament Friday morning during a debate over measures to end the crisis. Shouting lawmakers pushed them out.

The report of a deal followed the worst violence yet in the confrontation between the government and protesters. Demonstrators advanced on police lines in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, prompting government snipers to shoot back and kill scores of people in the country’s deadliest day since the breakup of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago.

Protesters across the country are upset over corruption in Ukraine, the lack of democratic rights and the country’s ailing economy, which just barely avoided bankruptcy with the first disbursement of a $15 billion bailout promised by Russia.

The violence is making Ukraine’s economic troubles worse. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ukraine’s debt rating Friday, saying the country will likely default if there are no significant improvements in the political crisis, which it does not expect.

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Remember that every rule has exceptions!

I have said that all Feminists are, well, bitter and are not, shall we say, pleasing to the eyes, or the ears either. While this is true, there are exceptions, like the Ukrainian feminist group “Femen,” who staged a topless protest in front of the Saudi embassy in Kiev last month as Stacy McCain found

See, if more Feminists in America looked like that and used similar methods, we just might pay attention. Especially if they actually protested for worthwhile causes, like equality for Saudi women. Of course, as Stacy reminds us, we likely would not like the results of “Topless Feminut” protests

I hesitate to encourage American feminists to emulate their example because, unlike the Ukrainians, the women’s movement in this country does not include anyone we’d like to see naked.

Yes, sad but true.