April 13, 2014
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has pledged to provide proof of Russian special services’ involvement in the events in southeastern Ukraine at the upcoming four-party talks in Geneva between representatives of Russia, the European Union, the United States and Ukraine. “The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has ample proof of Russian special services’ role in the separatist rebellion and seizure of administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine. The relevant evidence and proof will be provided to the world community in Geneva on April 17,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. It said the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council has made the decision to conduct an operation “against the current encroachment on our state.”
Copyright 2014 ©: Russia Beyond The Headlines
April 9, 2014
Ukraine’s interior minister has warned pro-Russian activists who have taken over state buildings in eastern cities to enter talks to find a political solution or face “force”. Arsen Avakov said the situation would “be resolved in 48 hours” either way. Earlier, some of those who had been inside security service offices in Luhansk since Sunday left the building. The EU, Russia, US and Ukraine are to meet next week in the first four-way meeting since the crisis erupted. The talks are aimed at breaking the impasse since Russia annexed the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in February. Russian troops are now massed along the borders of the two countries. In another development on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested state-controlled energy company Gazprom should make Ukraine pay up front for its gas, but said there should be “additional consultations” first.
Tensions have been high since government buildings in the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv were taken over by pro-Russian activists on Sunday. Mr Avakov said an “anti-terrorist operation” was under way in the three regions and would be concluded within the next two days. “There are two options,” he told journalists, ” political settlement through talks or the use of force. “For those who want dialogue, we propose talks and a political solution. For the minority who want conflict they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities.” The leader of the armed activists inside the state security service building in Luhansk has appealed to President Putin for help.
Calling Luhansk the “last remaining hope for all Ukraine”, the man identified only as Vitaly said: “Mr Putin, have mercy on your fighters. If you lose us then you will lose the last hope to create a good neighbour.” Earlier, Ukraine’s security service said 56 people held inside its Luhansk offices had been allowed to leave following two rounds of negotiations with local politicians. During a rally outside the building overnight, speakers condemned the interim leadership in Kiev and repeated their call for a referendum on greater regional autonomy. Ukraine’s authorities said on Tuesday they had retaken control of the government building in Kharkiv.
March 27, 2014
Israel says it is allowing building materials into the Gaza Strip for the construction of a Turkish hospital in the crowded seaside strip. Thursday’s announcement is a new sign that Israel and Turkey could be close to ending a four-year rift. Relations broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens. Reconciliation efforts have repeatedly stalled, but this week Turkey’s deputy prime minister said an agreement may be near. Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas militants took power in 2007. Turkey began construction of the Gaza hospital in 2011, smuggling in materials from Egypt. With the tunnels closed, Israel said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to ease the blockade to allow Turkey to ship in materials from Israel.
Copyright © 2014: Associated Press
March 25, 2014
The UN human rights commissioner has condemned an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence to death 528 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.A spokesman for Navi Pillay said the “cursory mass trial” was “rife with procedural irregularities” and breached international human rights law. The defendants were found guilty on Monday of charges relating to an attack on a police station in Minya in August. Another 683 Morsi supporters went on trial at the same court on Tuesday.
They include the Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide, Mohammed Badie, and the chairman of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Saad al-Katatni. Later, security forces clashed with hundreds of Minya University students protesting against the trials. Tear gas was fired at the students after they blocked a main road, threw stones and set an armoured police vehicle on fire.
March 23, 2014
Nato’s military commander in Europe has issued a warning about the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border. Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen Philip Breedlove said Nato was in particular concerned about the threat to Moldova’s Trans-Dniester region. Russia said its forces east of Ukraine complied with international agreements. The build-up has been allied with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, following the removal of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president. Moscow formally annexed Crimea after the predominantly ethnic-Russian region held a referendum which backed joining the Russian Federation. Kiev and the West have condemned the vote as “illegal”.
Russian flags have now been hoisted at 189 Ukrainian military units and facilities in Crimea, the Interfax news agency reports. Moscow’s ambassador to the EU told the BBC the “reunification” had not been pre-planned but was the end of an “abnormality” which had lasted for 60 years. Vladimir Chizhov also said said Moscow did not have any “expansionist views” and that “nobody should fear Russia”.
March 22, 2014
Shooting and explosions have been heard as Russian troops backed by armoured vehicles stormed a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea. Reports say at least one person was injured during the assault on Belbek base, near Sevastopol. The base is now said to be under Russian control. Earlier, several hundred unarmed protesters seized a Ukrainian naval base at Novofedorivka, western Crimea. Pro-Russian militia have also been seizing Ukrainian navy ships. The BBC’s Ian Pannell, in Crimea, says the Ukrainian troops on the peninsula feel beleaguered and abandoned by their commanders in Ukraine. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law formalising Russia’s takeover of Crimea from Ukraine, despite fresh sanctions from the EU and the US.