Tag Archive: John Kerry


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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at Nazarbayev University on November 2, 2015 in Astana

US Secretary of State John Kerry Lays Out Washington’s Policy in Syria

© REUTERS/ Brendan Smialowski/Pool
US

21:36 12.11.2015(updated 01:23 13.11.2015) 

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Washington’s foreign policy in Syria.

“The stakes could not be higher,” Kerry said on Thursday, before insisting that the United States is “on the right track and we are making gains and we are clear on the road ahead.”

The secretary of state also reiterated the Obama administration’s three principle goals for ending the conflict. The first is the necessity for defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group, the second is the intensification of diplomatic efforts, and the third being a determination to support regional allies to ensure that Syria’s instability does not spread beyond its borders.

Kerry also spent a good deal of time claiming that the Syrian government was ultimately responsible for the creation of IS. While the international community largely agrees that the principle cause for the terrorist group’s formation was the instability created by the US-led invasion of Iraq, Kerry blamed local dissatisfaction with the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 

Armed men outside an administrative building in Slovyansk, Ukraine. American officials say Russian troops or pro-Russian separatists under Moscow’s influence control such buildings. Credit Genya Savilov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea.

But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West.

“It is a significant shift in how Russian ground forces approach a problem,” said James G. Stavridis, the retired admiral and former NATO commander. “They have played their hand of cards with finesse.”

The abilities the Russian military has displayed are not only important to the high-stakes drama in Ukraine, they also have implications for the security of Moldova, Georgia, Central Asian nations and even the Central Europe nations that are members of NATO.

The dexterity with which the Russians have operated in Ukraine is a far cry from the bludgeoning artillery, airstrikes and surface-to-surface missiles used to retake Grozny, the Chechen capital, from Chechen separatists in 2000. In that conflict, the notion of avoiding collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure appeared to be alien.

Since then Russia has sought to develop more effective ways of projecting power in the “near abroad,” the non-Russian nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has tried to upgrade its military, giving priority to its special forces, airborne and naval infantry — “rapid reaction” abilities that were “road tested” in Crimea, according to Roger McDermott, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

The speedy success that Russia had in Crimea does not mean that the overall quality of the Russian Army, made up mainly of conscripts and no match for the high-tech American military, has been transformed.

“The operation reveals very little about the current condition of the Russian armed forces,” said Mr. McDermott. “Its real strength lay in covert action combined with sound intelligence concerning the weakness of the Kiev government and their will to respond militarily.”

Still, Russia’s operations in Ukraine have been a swift meshing of hard and soft power. The Obama administration, which once held out hope that Mr. Putin would seek an “off ramp” from the pursuit of Crimea, has repeatedly been forced to play catch-up after the Kremlin changed what was happening on the ground.

“It is much more sophisticated, and it reflects the evolution of the Russian military and of Russian training and thinking about operations and strategy over the years,” said Stephen J. Blank, a former expert on the Russian military at the United States Army War College who is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

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American Forces Press Service

 News Article

Stavridis Presses for More NATO-Russia Dialogue

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 – Noting increased cooperation between NATO and Russia in several key areas, the top NATO and U.S. European Command commander emphasized today the importance of working through stumbling blocks in what he called a “complicated partnership.”

In a blog post, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis cited concerted efforts by both parties since NATO’s 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where the alliance’s 28 heads of state and government agreed on the need to pursue “a true strategic partnership” between NATO and Russia and noted in the strategic concept that they expect reciprocity from Russia.

Stavridis recognized several areas where increased cooperation has shown signs of paying off: counterpiracy; support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, military exchanges and training exercises, counterterrorism and counternarcotics, among them.

“Overall, we enjoy cooperation and some level of partnership in a variety of important areas,” he said. “On the other hand, there are clearly challenges in the relationship.”

Stavridis noted Russia’s objections to the European phased adaptive approach for missile defense. “Russia sees the NATO missile defense system as posing a threat to their strategic intercontinental ballistic missile force,” he said. “We strongly disagree, and feel that the system is clearly designed to protect populations against Iran, Syria and other ballistic-missile-capable nations that threaten the European continent.”

NATO and Russia also disagree over Russian forces stationed in Georgia and NATO’s role in Libya, Stavridis said.

“We maintain that we operated under the U.N. Security Council mandate to establish a no-fly zone, provide an arms embargo and protect the people of Libya from attacks,” he said, calling NATO’s actions “well within the bounds of the [U.N.] mandate and the norms of international law.

“Russia sees this differently,” Stavridis continued, “and whenever I discuss this with Russian interlocutors, we find little room for agreement. This tends to create a differing set of views about the dangerous situation in Syria as well.”

Stavridis noted Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko’s stated concerns that these differences — and the installation of NATO military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders — threaten to unravel progress made in their relations.

“Notwithstanding differences on particular issues, we remain convinced that the security of NATO and Russia is intertwined,” Stavridis said, quoting the NATO strategic concept agreed to in Lisbon. “A strong and constructive partnership based on mutual confidence, transparency and predictability can best serve our security,” it states.

Stavridis recognized areas in which the growing NATO-Russian relationship is bearing fruit:

— Counterpiracy: Loosely coordinated efforts by NATO and Russian ships have reduced piracy by 70 percent over the past year and caused the number of ships and mariners held hostage to plummet in what the admiral called “a very effective operation.”

— Afghanistan support: Russia contributed small arms and ammunition to the Afghan security forces and sold MI-17 helicopters and maintenance training to the Afghan air force. In addition, Russia provides logistical support, including a transit arrangement that helps to sustain NATO-led ISAF forces and redeployment efforts.

— Military exchanges and exercises: Russian service members are participating in more of these engagements with the United States and NATO. These exchanges, including port calls in Russia, have been well-received by both militaries, Stavridis noted.

— Arctic cooperation: Russia is collaborating with other members of the Arctic Council, including the United States, Norway, Denmark, Canada and Iceland, to ensure the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation.

— Counterterrorism: In the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, NATO is offering assistance and information-sharing via a variety of channels, Stavridis reported.

— Counternarcotics: NATO and Russia are working together to stem the flow of heroin from Afghanistan, a high priority for Russia.

Expressing hopes that NATO and Russia can continue to build on this cooperation, Stavridis said areas of tensions and disagreements need to be addressed.

“No one wants to stumble backwards toward the Cold War, so the best course for the future is open discussion, frank airing of disagreements, and hopefully seeking to build the ‘true strategic partnership’ set out in the NATO strategic concept,” he said. “Clearly, we have some work to do.”

 

Contact Author

Biographies:
Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force
U.S. European Command
Special Report: U.S. European Command

 

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Pro-Russia Militant Rejects Ukraine Pact

The leader of a group of pro-Russia separatists, Denis Pushilin, said he would ignore the diplomatic pact between Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis.

Credit Sergei Grits/Associated Press

 

KIEV, Ukraine — An American-backed deal to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine fell flat on Friday as pro-Russian militants vowed to stay in occupied government buildings, dashing hopes of a swift end to an insurgency that the authorities in Kiev portray as a Kremlin-orchestrated effort to put Ukraine’s industrial heartland under Russian control.

But the agreement, reached in Geneva on Thursday by diplomats from the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, appeared to arrest, at least temporarily, the momentum of separatist unrest in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east. Armed pro-Russian militants, who have seized buildings in at least 10 towns and cities since Feb. 6, paused their efforts to purge all central government authority from the populous Donetsk region.

It was clear all along that for the pact to have a chance of success, the Kremlin would have to pressure the militants to leave the buildings they had seized. So far, it has shown no inclination to do so, blaming the Ukrainian government for the turmoil and denying that Russia has any ties to the rebels.

With militants vowing to ignore the agreement but halting what had been a daily expansion of territory under their control, officials in Kiev, the capital, voiced some hope that a settlement was still possible. They were skeptical, however, about Russia’s willingness to push the separatists to disarm and vacate occupied buildings.

“If Russia is responsible before not just Ukraine but the world community, it should prove it,” said Andrii Deshchytsia, the acting Ukrainian foreign minister, who took part in the Geneva talks.

Western officials said the United States planned to reassure Eastern European members of NATO by conducting company-size — about 150 soldiers — ground force exercises in Estonia and Poland. The exercises would last a couple of weeks and would most likely be followed by other troop rotations in the region.

In a sign of the chasm separating Russian and Ukrainian views, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday that made no mention of the pro-Russian militants driving the unrest. It said the call for militants to disarm “meant in the first place” the disarming of Ukrainian nationalist groups hostile to Russia, like Right Sector “and other pro-fascist groups which took part in the February coup in Kiev.”

The state-run Russian television channel, Rossiya, reporting from an occupied building in Horlivka in the Donetsk region, featured a masked gunman who pledged to “fight to the end for his convictions.” He displayed an armband emblazoned with a swastika-like symbol, which he said had been seized from supporters of the Ukrainian government.

Doubts about the Kremlin’s readiness to push pro-Russian militants to surrender their guns have been strengthened by its insistence that it has no hand in or control over the separatist unrest, which Washington and Kiev believe is the result of a covert Russian operation involving, in some places, the direct action of special forces.

“I don’t know Russia’s intentions,” Mr. Deshchytsia said, noting that during the negotiations, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had repeatedly asserted “that Russia was not involved.” He said Mr. Lavrov had been “cooperative and aggressive at the same time.”

 Russia’s denials have stirred concerns that it went along with the agreement not to curb the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, but to blunt American and European calls for tougher sanctions that could severely damage Russia’s already sickly economy. Western sanctions have so far been limited to a travel ban and asset freeze on a few dozen individuals and a Russian bank.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr. Lavrov on Friday and urged Russia to ensure “full and immediate compliance” with the agreement, a senior State Department official said. Mr. Kerry, the official added, “made clear that the next few days would be a pivotal period for all sides to implement the statement’s provisions, particularly that all illegal armed groups must be disarmed and all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners.”

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In Ukraine, Pro-Russia Radicals Reject Call To Leave Occupied Buildings

By RFE/RL
Pro-Russia radicals occupying official buildings in eastern Ukraine say they will only leave if the pro-Western government in Kyiv resigns.

Denis Pushilin, the self-declared leader of the radicals in Donetsk, told reporters on April 18 that he did not consider his men bound by a compromise agreement between Russia and Ukraine to disarm and vacate occupied buildings.

The agreement was reached at four-party talks on April 17 in Geneva also involving the United States and the European Union.

Pushilin said the government in Kyiv was illegitimate and also must vacate public buildings that he said it was occupying illegally.

Local media reports on April 18 said none of the government buildings seized across eastern Ukraine had yet been vacated.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told parliament on April 18 that the government had drafted a law that would offer an amnesty to insurgents who would lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings.

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“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice,” laureates write.

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Jimmy Carter with his grandson Hugo. Photo: Jeffrey Moore/The Elders

 

A group of 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates including former President Jimmy Carter has sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry urging them to reject the “linchpin for tar sands expansion” — the Keystone XL.

The open letter, which appears in a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Politico, is the third sent by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates to Obama urging him to reject TransCanada’s tar sands carrying pipeline, and the first one to which Carter has added his name. Carter is now the first ex-president to voice opposition to the pipeline.

This additional letter shows “the growing urgency we feel for the hundreds of millions of people globally whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened and lost as a result of the changing climate and environmental damage caused by our dangerous addiction to oil,” the signatories, which also include landmine activist Jody Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, write.

“You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change. As you deliberate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, you are poised to make a decision that will signal either a dangerous commitment to the status quo, or bold leadership that will inspire millions counting on you to do the right thing for our shared climate,” the laureates write.

As for the argument some have made that if the pipeline is rejected the Alberta tar sands crude will just travel by rail, the laureates write that this is “a red herring” because “[i]ndustry experts agree that the Keystone XL project is the linchpin for tar sands expansion and the increased pollution that will follow, triggering more climate upheaval with impacts felt around the world.”

Photo: Steven Tuttle/cc/flickrSusan Casey-Lefkowitz, International Program Director at NRDC, one of the groups sponsoring the Politico ad, writes:

As leaders struggle with what the need to fight climate change means in terms of energy decisions at home, the voice of moral leaders such as these Nobel Peace laureates becomes more important than ever. And they are sending a clear message that political leadership is essential to stand up to entrenched fossil fuel interests and to take the kinds of decisions that will put us on the path of a cleaner energy future.

“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice,” the laureates’ letter states.

The State Department recommendation on the project is expected soon. While the State Department’s review is required because the northern leg of the pipeline crosses an international border, the final decision sits with President Obama, who has indicated his decision could come in the next few months.

Next week, Carter will join two fellow members of The Elders, Pakistani pro-democracy activist Hina Jilani and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, in leading a discussion on climate leadership and activism Paris.

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Calgary Herald

Nobel laureates condemn Keystone as climate-change trigger

Nobel laureates condemn Keystone as climate-change trigger

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter sits down for a conversation with Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library, on the first day of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library on April 8 in Austin, Texas. Carter is one of 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners who have issued a letter urging President Barrack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would connect Alberta’s oilsands to refineries on Texas’s Gulf Coast.

Photograph by: Ralph Barrera-Pool/Getty Images/File , Postmedia News

WASHINGTON — Ten Nobel Peace Prize winners from as far afield as Yemen, South Africa and Argentina have signed a letter asking U.S. President Barack Obama to deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oilsands bitumen to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

The laureates, who include former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, argue that denial of a permit would send a strong signal to the world that the U.S. is rejecting a fossil fuels future.

“Let this reflect the growing urgency we feel for the hundreds of millions of people globally whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened and lost as a result of the changing climate and environmental damage caused by our dangerous addiction to oil,” the letter says.

Rejection of the pipeline would set “a powerful precedent” and “would signal a new course for the world’s largest economy,” the letter says.

“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice.”

The letter underscores Obama’s dilemma: By allowing the assessment process to take so long, he has awakened both national and international interest in a project that normally would garner only passing concern.

 

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Creating A Problem 

Inciting A Reaction

Implementing A Manufactured Solution

~Desert Rose~

US considers offering military help to Ukraine – Kerry advisor

Published time: April 14, 2014 18:50

AFP Photo / Dibyangshu Sarkar

AFP Photo / Dibyangshu Sarkar

An advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the United States may decide to send arms to eastern Ukraine as tensions continue to worsen there between pro-Russian protesters and supporters of the country’s interim government.

Reuters reported on Monday that US State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon — a senior diplomat and member of Sec. Kerry’s inner circle — said the possibility of providing arms to Ukrainian forces is indeed currently on the table.

“Obviously we are looking at that as an option … but at this point I can’t anticipate whether or not we are going to do that,” Reuters quoted Shannon as saying.

The counselor’s remarks come following yet another intense weekend in Ukraine, where government buildings, a military airport and other facilities in the east of the country were reportedly seized by armed pro-Russian protesters. Weeks after a similar standoff in the adjacent peninsula of Crimea led to the severing of ties with Ukraine and the subsequent approval of a referendum agreeing to join the Russian Federation, critics in the West are questioning whether or not Moscow has been involved in the latest series of events.

“From our point of view what we are seeing in a series of cities mimics what we saw in Crimea both in terms of the tactics and in terms of the people involved,” the State Department’s Shannon told Reuters early this week. “From our point of view there is a very obvious Russian hand in all of this and we consider these actions to be destabilising and dangerous.” William Hague, Britain’s foreign ministry, has made similar remarks as well.

Thomas Shannon (AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida)

Thomas Shannon (AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida)

But Vitaly Churkin — Russia’s envoy to the United Nations — has denounced rumors of his country playing any role in the unrest as false, and the Foreign Ministry has called allegations “irresponsible.”

Also on Monday this week, Moscow’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said he was worried about the possibility that force would be used against pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine, and said he strongly believes “it might lead to a civil war.”

 

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Kerry adviser says arming Ukraine forces is an option

BERLIN Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:30am EDT

(Reuters) – The United States is considering supplying arms to Ukraine, where unrest in eastern cities bears the hallmarks of a Russian destabilization drive, an adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.

Ukraine’s president on Monday threatened military action after pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east ignored an ultimatum to leave and another group of rebels attacked a police headquarters in the troubled region.

Asked during a trip to Berlin whether the United States could arm Ukrainian forces, senior diplomat Thomas Shannon said: “Obviously we are looking at that as an option … but at this point I can’t anticipate whether or not we are going to do that.”

Republican Senator John McCain has suggested providing weapons to the Ukraine government, which says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country.

 

 

 

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Price tag for Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500

Published time: March 20, 2014 12:10

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

The price of Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic meters, as future developments in relations between Moscow and Kiev remain vague.

From April 1 the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will go up to $360-$370 per 1,000 cubic metres, after Russia cancelled the discount agreed in late December, Pavel Zavalny, the head of Russian Gas Society told Izvestia newspaper.

In the worst case scenario, and Ukraine decides to take over Russian property, as well as new threats from radical nationalists, the price could jump to as high as to $500, the paper added.

 

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Russia to redirect trade elsewhere in case of EU-US sanctions

Published time: March 19, 2014 16:59

Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russia will switch to other trade partners if economic sanctions are imposed by the US and the European Union, the Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

“If one economic partner on the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners,” RIA news quotes Peskov.

According to him, possible economic sanctions by the US and EU on Russia are unacceptable, and the Russian Federation intends to offer further economic cooperation with the European Union.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and with the US. Especially with the European Union as it is the main economic, investment and trade partner of the Russian Federation. Our mutual economic dependence assumes that we shall have good relations,” the Russian President’s Press Secretary declared. He also emphasized that discussion of global economic problems without involvement of Russia can’t be a complete discussion.

In a Tuesday telephone conversation between Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union against the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable and won’t come without consequences.

According to data from the EU’s Eurostat, Russia accounts for 7 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports in the 28 European Union bloc, making it the region’s third most important trading partner, behind the USA and China.

In turn, the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner, with trade turnover estimated at $330 billion in 2012.

 

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The Washington Times

By Jacqueline Klimas

Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Charles Dharapak

FILE – In this June 18, 2013, file photo, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, by National Security AgencyGen. Keith B. Alexander. Al-Qaida’s Afghanistan leader is laying the groundwork to relaunch his war-shattered organization once the United States and international forces withdraw from the country, as they have warned they will do without a security agreement from the Afghan government, U.S. officials say. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Rep. Michael Rogers, Michigan Republican chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said Russian president Vladimir Putin is outmaneuvering President Obama in recent negotiations, including the Russian presence in the Ukraine.

“I think Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles,” he said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.”

Russian military forces have seized Crimea, an autonomous version of the Ukraine, and Mr. Rogers said Mr. Obama’s threat of stalling planning for the upcoming Sochi G8 summit is falling on deaf ears.

“Not even a little bit,” Mr. Rogers said when asked if the halting the summit planning would stop Mr. Putin. “If any of that would’ve gotten Putin’s attention, we wouldn’t have been there in the first place. This isn’t an isolated incident, they’re expanding their border.”

 

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‘Putin is playing chess, we’re playing MARBLES’: Weak Obama has been out-foxed by Russian PM over Ukraine, say politicians from both parties – as head of Kiev’s navy defects to Moscow

  • Mike Rogers, he chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that President Obama was being out-foxed by President Putin over Ukraine
  • Denis Berezovsky, the commander in chief of Ukrainian navy defected to the Russians on Sunday
  • Joined list of politicians from both sides of the house who have criticized the president’s reaction to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine
  • Secretary of State John Kerry called for an immediate de-escalation of hostilities and withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine
  • President Obama had a 90 minute phone call Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • Obama condemned the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine and pulled the US out of preparatory meetings for an upcoming G-8 summit in Sochi
  • The UN Security Council held open hearings on the growing crisis where the revocation of trade deals was discussed

 

By James Nye

 

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President Obama is being hopelessly outmaneuvered on the global stage by President Vladimir Putin after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine said senior House Republican, Mike Rogers on Sunday.

‘I think Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles. It’s not even close,’ said the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on FoxNews.

Rogers said that the United States was being recklessly naive in its dealing with Russia and that Putin’s move to send Russian troops into Crimea following the ousting of Ukraine’s president ‘is not an isolated incident.’

Critical: Republican Mike Rogers was hugely critical of President Obama and his administrations reaction to President Putin of Russia and his decision to militarily intervene in Ukraine

Critical: Republican Mike Rogers was hugely critical of President Obama and his administrations reaction to President Putin of Russia and his decision to militarily intervene in Ukraine

 

‘They have been running circles around us and I believe we are being naive,’ said Rogers.

‘We think it we keep on giving things to Russia they will wake up one day and say, ‘Oh the United States is not that bad’

‘That is completely missing the motivations of why Russia does what Russia does.’

This is the latest critique of the president as politicians from both parties attacked President Barack Obama’s threats to Russian President Vladimir Putin .

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.

Stern warning: President Barack Obama threatened sanctions while talking Saturday on the phone from the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine

 

Stern warning: President Barack Obama threatened sanctions while talking Saturday on the phone from the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine

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.’

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.

And 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.

Tense: Armed men stand guard at the local government headquarters in Simferopol, Crimea March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically

Tense: Armed men stand guard at the local government headquarters in Simferopol, Crimea March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically

 

Defection: Ukrainian navy chief Denis Berezovsky swears allegiance to the pro-Russian regional leaders of Crimea in Sevastopol March 2, 2014 in this still image taken from video

Defection: Ukrainian navy chief Denis Berezovsky swears allegiance to the pro-Russian regional leaders of Crimea in Sevastopol March 2, 2014 in this still image taken from video

 

And inside Ukraine matters twisted yet again as the the country launched a treason case on Sunday against the head of the navy, who surrendered his headquarters on Sunday in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on only his second day on the job.

Denis Berezovsky was shown on Russian television swearing allegiance to the pro-Russian regional leaders of Crimea. Russian forces have seized the Black Sea peninsula and told Ukrainian forces there to give up their weapons.

‘During the blockade by Russian forces of the central headquarters of the navy, he declined to offer resistance and laid down his weapons,’ said Viktoria Syumar, deputy secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council.

‘The prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal case against Denis Berezovsky under statute 111: state treason,’ she said. Another admiral, Serhiy Hayduk, was placed in charge of the navy.

 

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Opposition supporters march protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 22, 2014.

Opposition supporters march protest against Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 22, 2014.

 

 

VOA News

Supporters and opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held rival marches Saturday in Caracas as he summoned all sides to what he described as a peace conference in the coming days.

Opponents of Maduro began marching earlier this month against his government. They say they are tired of out-of-control crime and shortages in supermarkets in an oil-rich nation.

Thousands of Maduro backers held a counter-demonstration, saying he is the democratically-elected leader. His wife, Cilia Flores, described the opposition as “fascists.”

Meanwhile, Maduro is calling on all sides to join him for peace talks Wednesday.

Late Friday, Maduro invited U.S. President Barack Obama to meet him for talks and condemned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as “arrogant” and “insolent” for criticizing the Venezuelan government’s use of force against opposition protesters.

In a statement Friday, Secretary Kerry called on the Maduro government to step back from “its efforts to stifle dissent through force” and respect basic human rights. He also said every government has a duty to maintain public order, and all sides, including the opposition protesters, must refrain from violence.

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Venezuela’s Maduro Vows to Protect Revolution as Crowds March

Photographer: Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg

Protesters clash with riot police during an anti-government demonstration in Caracas,… Read More

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro vowed to protect his government and keep National Guard troops in the streets as pro-government and opposition groups rallied in Caracas in the 11th day of unrest in the capital.

“I’m going to keep protecting the Venezuelan people with the National Guard,” Maduro said before supporters at the presidential palace in Caracas today. “If fascism eliminates me, I authorize you to take to the streets to defend the homeland.”

Maduro, who spoke shortly after opposition leaders including Governor Henrique Capriles rallied in eastern Caracas, said he would not permit protesters to blockade streets and remained willing to exchange ambassadors with the U.S. Capriles, who in April lost the presidential election by the thinnest margin in 45 years, today said he would accept an invitation by Maduro to hold talks Feb. 24.

Struggling to rein in 56 percent inflation and a shortage of basic goods and medicines, Maduro this week announced plans to import $1 billion in food and medicine and to unveil a new currency auction system designed to help companies and individuals have more access to dollars.

U.S. President Barack Obama, on a visit to Mexico Feb. 19, condemned the violence in Venezuela. His secretary of state, John Kerry, issued a statement last night accusing Maduro’s government of using force against peaceful protesters.

Photographer: Leo Ramirez/AFP via Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a flower during a march in Caracas on February 22, 2014.

‘History’

“I’ve never seen another foreign ministry send a statement at 10:30 p.m. in the night,” Maduro said. “Obama, do you want to go down in history as George W. Bush and Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter?”

Crowds of government supporters dressed in red chanted “strong hand” as Maduro spoke today. Loud bangs could be heard this evening in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas that has become a focal point of demonstrations.

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VOA News

UN Orders Syria Humanitarian Aid Access

The United Nations Security Council votes on resolution on humanitarian aid for Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 22, 2014.

The United Nations Security Council votes on resolution on humanitarian aid for Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 22, 2014.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution on Syria’s humanitarian crisis, demanding that both sides in the conflict provide immediate access to deliver essential aid to millions of people in desperate need.

The 15-member council united on Syria for the first time Saturday. Russia and China — which have shielded Syria’s government throughout the country’s three-year-long civil war — voted in favor of the resolution.

Saturday’s vote does not threaten sanctions. Russia insisted that this reference be dropped from the original Western- and Arab-backed text. But it does express the council’s intent to take “further steps” in the case of non-compliance.

The resolution demands immediate cross-border aid access and condemns rights abuses by the Syrian government and armed opposition groups.

It also insists that all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians and stop the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas — including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote that the resolution should not have been necessary, because “humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.”

The U.N. chief said it is “profoundly shocking … that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the newly adopted resolution could be “a “hinge-point in the tortured three years” of the crisis. He called it “a resolution of concrete steps to answer the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.”

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reuters

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Watch Video Here  :

UN humanitarian chief demands Syria aid access by reuters
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos calls for unlimited aid access to Syria’s worst hit areas.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Amos said she had spoken to Syrian government representatives but they’d asked for more time.

SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF, VALERIE AMOS, SAYING:

“However,the government have agreed to a limited assessment exercise to be conducted by U.N. agencies and the Syrian authorities, which would give us some information about what is happening in the country.”

Meanwhile, amateur videos from Syria posted on to a social media website – which Reuters cannot independently verify – purportedly reveal fresh fighting amid reports that 31 people were killed.

This burning car is reportedly in the Asheera neighbourhood of Homs while this amateur Homs footage shows smoke billowing from buildings amid sounds of heavy gunfire.

This footage, apparently from Damascus, purports to show a group of protesters chanting anti-regime slogans outside the captal’s Russian embassy.

The resumption of the heavy shelling follows a few days of relative calm during which Amos visited Homs and said part of the city had been completely destroyed.

UN and Arab League evnoy Kofi Annan is due to arrive in Damascus on Saturday to try to calm the year-old conflict.

Sunita Rappai, Reuters
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by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 07, 2014


Beijing denounces ‘groundless’ US remarks on South China Sea
Beijing (AFP) Feb 07, 2014 – Beijing on Friday dismissed a US official’s warning against possible Chinese expansion in the skies over the South China Sea, calling the remarks “irresponsible”.
The United States had urged Beijing to clarify or adjust its claims in the South China Sea, calling for a peaceful solution to one of Asia’s growing flashpoints.”Some US officials make groundless accusations against China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing.He added that “right-wing forces in Japan” were responsible for stirring up “rumours” on the issue.

Hong was responding to comments made on Wednesday by the top US diplomat for the region, Danny Russel, warning Beijing not to move to impose an air zone over the territory.

Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, even areas a long way from its shoreline, but portions are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Russel supported the Philippines’ right to take its case to a United Nations tribunal — a move last year that was denounced by China — as part of efforts to find a “peaceful, non-coercive” solution.

“China’s lack of clarity with regard to its South China Sea claims has created uncertainty in the region and limits the prospect for achieving mutually agreeable resolution or equitable joint development arrangements,” Russel told a congressional committee.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, citing Chinese government sources, recently reported that Beijing had drafted proposals for the new air zone, with tensions already high over its imposition of an air zone above islands administered by Japan in the East China Sea.

That Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), set up in November, immediately drew condemnation from Washington as well as Tokyo, with which China is embroiled in a separate territorial row.

“We neither recognize nor accept China’s declared ADIZ,” Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told the committee.

He added that the US had “made clear to China that it shouldn’t attempt to implement that ADIZ and should refrain from taking similar actions elsewhere in the region”.

Hong on Friday reiterated Beijing’s position that “as a sovereign state, China has the right to act” in order to defend its air security.

“No country has the right to make irresponsible remarks on that,” he said of Russel’s comments.

Secretary of State John Kerry vowed Friday that the United States would defend Japan against attack including over islands claimed by China as tensions boil between the Asian powers.

Kerry, who said he would visit China next week, met in Washington with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and reaffirmed the 1960 treaty that commits the United States to protect its ally.

“That includes with respect to the South China Sea,” he said, before correcting himself to say the East China Sea, where China and Japan have conflicting claims.

Fears of conflict rose in November when China imposed an Air Defense Identification Zone over much of the East China Sea.

Beijing says it now requires notification from planes crossing a group of islands administered by Tokyo, known in Japanese as the Senkaku and in Chinese as Diaoyu.

“The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China’s declared East China Sea ADIZ and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region,” Kerry said.

The United States and its allies are increasingly concerned China will take similar action in the South China Sea, where the Philippines in particular has voiced worries about Beijing’s maritime claims.

Kishida, for his part, extended an invitation for President Barack Obama to make a state visit to Japan.

Diplomats say Obama is likely to visit Japan on an April tour of Asia, although Kerry is not expected to stop in Tokyo on his upcoming trip.

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ABC.net.au/news/Australia Network News

Beijing denounces ‘groundless’ US remarks on South China Sea

Posted Sat 8 Feb 2014, 4:58am AEDT

Beijing has dismissed a US official’s warning against possible Chinese expansion in the skies over the South China Sea, calling the remarks “irresponsible”.

The United States had called on Beijing to clarify or adjust its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“Some US officials make groundless accusations against China,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

He added that “right-wing forces in Japan” were responsible for stirring up “rumours” on the issue.

Mr Hong was responding to comments made on Wednesday by the top US diplomat for the region, Danny Russel, warning Beijing not to move to impose an air zone over the territory.

Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, but portions are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Mr Russel supported the Philippines’ right to take its case to a United Nations tribunal, a move last year that was denounced by China, as part of efforts to find a “peaceful, non-coercive” solution.

“China’s lack of clarity with regard to its South China Sea claims has created uncertainty in the region and limits the prospect for achieving mutually agreeable resolution or equitable joint development arrangements,” Mr Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a congressional committee.

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