Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WORLD_ UKRAINE_ Ukraine On Full Combat Alert Over 'Invasion'

Ukraine On Full Combat Alert Over 'Invasion'

David Cameron and Vladimir Putin speak by phone as Kiev says the threat of Russia starting a war "is real".

10:27pm UK, Wednesday 30 April 2014

Video: Ukrainian President says his forces can no longer quell the unrest

Ukraine's military is "on full combat alert" over a possible invasion by Russian troops massed on the border, Kiev's acting leader has said.

Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov told a ministerial meeting: "Our armed forces are on full combat alert. The threat of Russia starting a war against mainland Ukraine is real."

Ukraine's government later announced the country's armed forces would hold military exercises in central Kiev on Wednesday night.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by demanding Ukraine halt such "militaristic statements".

"We insist that Kiev immediately ceases the bellicose rhetoric, which is aimed at intimidating its own population," the ministry said.

The increasing tension came as Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin this afternoon.

A statement from the Kremlin said the two leaders agreed that the crisis could only be solved through "peaceful means".

Russia has denied it has any plans to invade eastern Ukraine after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March.

Kiev, however, has accused Moscow of orchestrating an armed uprising in the industrial east by Russian-speaking separatists, who have seized government buildings in a number of towns and cities.

Ukraine's army and police appear to be making little progress in a high-profile operation to prevent the rebels expanding their grip over towns in the east. It came as the International Monetary Fund said Russia was already in recession, while citing the effect of the ongoing crisis on investment in the country.

IMF economist Antonio Spilimbergo was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying: "If we define recession as negative growth in two quarters in a row, then Russia from that point of view is experiencing recession."

The IMF has lowered its 2014 growth forecast for Russia to 0.2% from the 1.3% figure it issued on April 8, Mr Spilimbergo added.

Russia deployed around 40,000 troops to its shared border with Ukraine in March. Moscow initially claimed they were sent for exercises but later said they were ready to respond to Kiev's military offensive against pro-Kremlin rebels.

President Putin insists he has a "right" to send his forces into Ukraine, but has not yet done so.

Kiev and the US say Russian special forces are already active in the insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Turchynov told the cabinet meeting: "Our number one task is to prevent terrorism spreading from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to other Ukrainian regions".

He underlined moves announced a day earlier to set up armed civilian "territorial volunteer militia" units to help beleaguered police and troops in the east.

In a separate development, Britain is to send a prosecutor to Ukraine to help local law enforcement authorities in the hunt for billions of pounds.

The money is believed to have been siphoned out of the country by ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle.

In America, 19 Republican senators introduced legislation on Wednesday proposing broader and tougher measures to punish Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

The measures included sanctions on major banks and energy companies, as well as $100m (£59m) in military aid for Kiev.

Related Stories Ukraine:

US And Nato Build-Up 'Worries' Russia

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

WORLD_ China Warned Over Use of Force As Obama Heads Home

China Warned Over Use of Force As Obama Heads Home


US President Barack Obama delivers remarks to US and Philippine troops at Fort Bonifacio in Manila, April 29, 2014. AFP

U.S. President Barack Obama ended his Asian tour on Tuesday with a warning to Beijing not to use force to settle territorial disputes, sparking an angry response from Chinese media amid growing regional tensions.

Obama told a gathering of U.S. and Filipino troops at the end of his tense four-day visit to the region on Tuesday that nations should respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded," said Obama as Washington signed a 10-year agreement to give the U.S. military greater access to Philippine bases.

Obama said the arrangement will help promote peace and stability in a region unsettled by China's claims on disputed territories. Many of the details remain to be worked out.

"We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force," he told troops at Fort Bonifacio near Manila, before boarding Air Force One for the flight home to Washington.

He said the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines in the face of external armed attacks was "ironclad."

But he omitted to give the same specific reassurance to Manila as he had to Tokyo on the first leg of his tour; namely that the U.S. would come to Japan's aid in the event of military conflict with China over ongoing and multi-party maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

Beijing responds

China's state media responded by accusing Obama of "ganging up" with its neighbors and creating a security threat of its own.

"It is increasingly obvious that Washington is taking Beijing as an opponent," said an editorial in the English-language China Daily newspaper on Tuesday.

Beijing has come to view Obama's visits to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines as a tour of anti-Chinese hostility, it said.

"With Obama reassuring the US allies of protection in any conflict with China, it is now clear that Washington is no longer bothering to conceal its attempt to contain China's influence in the region," the paper said.

"Ganging up with its troublemaking allies, the US is presenting itself as a security threat to China," it said.

Obama on Tuesday also insisted that the United States is not seeking to counter or contain China. China's foreign ministry was relatively cautious in its response.

"As for whether the move is aimed at containing China, we need to see what the American side says and what it does," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.

"President Obama and other US officials have said on different occasions that the United States has no intention of containing China," Qin said. "We believe that China and the United States share extensive common interests in the Asia-Pacific region and in Asia-Pacific affairs."

However, Beijing sent three Chinese coastguard ships into waters around disputed islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, which controls them, the Japanese coastguard service said on Tuesday.

Two threats

Chinese political analysts say the administration of President Xi Jinping has pursued a more aggressive foreign policy than its predecessors since taking the reins of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in November 2012.

According to retired Toledo University international politics professor Ran Bogong, Beijing sees two major threats to national security; domestically from acts of internal unrest, violence and terrorism, and externally, from Japan.

"In the near future, [perceived] threats to China's national security will come from two quarters at least: internally from terrorist activities; and externally from the challenge presented by Japan," Ran told RFA in an interview on Monday.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas, even including disputed waters, islands and reefs close to its neighbors.

Such disputes have sparked sporadic maritime standoffs with vessels from Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines in recent months, prompting calls for stronger U.S. support.

Ran said U.S. military power was still likely to be decisive in maintaining the status quo in territorial disputes.

"U.S. military might is still far greater than China's, and everyone including China recognizes that reality," he said.

Seeking stability Li Xiaobing, director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, agreed. "It would be very dangerous to underestimate America's military strength," he said in an interview at the start of Obama's trip. But he said Obama's aim in Asia was still to maintain stability.

"There is a lot of trouble in the world right now, so Obama will want to stabilize [the U.S.] backyard in Asia," Li said.

"He doesn't want to see any major conflict, and that includes clashes between China and Japan."

Reported by Yang Jiadai and Nan Zhou for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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QUỐC HẬN 30 THÁNG 4 (30-4-1975_30-4-2014)



Đồng bào MIỀN NAM đã ĐỨNG LÊN , NGÀY TÀN của bè lũ chó má PHẢN QUỐC CƯỚP NƯỚC DIỆT CHỦNG BÁN NƯỚC Việt gian cộng sản VN ĐÃ ĐẾN .

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WORLD_ UKRAINE_ Ukraine crisis: Canada imposes more sanctions on Russia

Ukraine crisis: Canada imposes more sanctions on Russia

By Hannah Thibedeau, CBC News
Posted: Apr 28, 2014 11:53 AM ET
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2014 10:31 PM ET

Canada has released the names of the two Russian companies and nine individuals it is imposing economic sanctions and travel bans on, following a move by the United States earlier today to step up economic pressure on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Canada is imposing economic sanctions on ExpoBank and RosEnergoBank and the following nine Russian individuals:

* Vyaecheslav Volodin, first deputy chief.
* Presidential administration Dmitry Kozak, deputy premier, head of Crimean economy.
* Aleksey Pushkov, chair of Duma international relations committee.
* Alexander Mikhailovich Babakov, chair of the Duma commission on legislative provisions for development of the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.
* Oleg Evgenyevich Belaventsev, Russian presidential envoy to the Crimean district; member of the Russian security council.
* Evgeniy Alexsevevich Morov, director of the Federal Protective Service of the Russian Federation.
* Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky, founder and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
* Arkady Rotenberg, Russian businessman.
* Boris Rotenberg, Russian businessman

"Our government has been very clear that any further intimidation or actions to de-stabilize the Ukrainian government will result in consequences," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Monday.

* Ukraine crisis: key developments
* Ukraine crisis: Kharkiv mayor shot in the back
* Canada to send 6 CF-18s for NATO operation in Eastern Europe

"The illegal occupation of Ukraine continues and Russia's military aggression persists.

"Until Russia clearly demonstrates its respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Canada will continue to work with its allies and like-minded countries to apply pressure that will further isolate Russia economically and politically," Harper said.

The federal government also announced today that six CF-18 fighter jets Canada is sending to assist NATO operations in eastern Europe will be stationed in Romania.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson made the official announcement in question period today. "In response to a NATO request to support our collective security and show our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we will be deploying six CF-18 planes to Europe," Nicholson said.

"They will be leaving from Bagotville (Que.,) and they will be based in Romania. These jets will support air policing and training missions."

The United States announced its third round of sanctions Monday morning amid increasing violence in eastern Ukraine, slapping sanctions on seven Russian government officials and 17 companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S. also revoked licenses for some high-tech items that could be used by the Russian military.

The White House said this round of sanctions is in response to Putin's failure to follow through with the April 17 agreement in Geneva.

The seven individuals will be subject to a freeze on any assets they hold in the U.S. and a ban on travel. The 17 companies assets have been frozen.

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WORLD_ UKRAINE_ US sanctions announced on Putin's inner circle over Ukraine

US sanctions announced on Putin's inner circle over Ukraine

• Seven officials and 17 companies targeted
• Statement: involvement in Ukraine violence 'indisputable'

Spencer Ackerman in New York, Julian Borger and Jennifer Rankin in London
The Guardian, Tuesday 29 April 2014
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President Barack Obama speaks in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

The US and the European Union stepped up their sanctions on President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle on Monday, accusing Russia of stoking violence and political tension in eastern Ukraine.

The White House announced it was adding seven prominent Russians to a blacklist subject to visa bans and asset freezes, including two officials particularly close to the Russian leader: Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft, and Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy chief of staff in the presidency, widely believed to run its internal political strategy.

“Putin’s decision to move into Crimea is believed to have been based on consultations with his closest advisers, including Volodin,” a US Treasury statement said.

Accusing Russia of continuing to “fund, co-ordinate, and fuel a heavily armed separatist movement” in eastern Ukraine, the US also imposed asset freezes on 17 Russian companies, which will also be denied trading licences.

After a meeting of European ambassadors in Brussels, the EU declared it was increasing its own list of targeted sanctions from 33 to 48 top Russians. The 15 new names added to the list are not due to be published until Tuesday.

Both the US and UK warned that broader sanctions against whole sectors of the Russian economy would be forthcoming in the event of more overt Russian miltary intervention in eastern Ukraine, despite concerns that such measures would pose a risk to the global economy, and have limited support inside the EU.

Speaking in Manila, Obama said the goal of the new round of sanctions was to change the Russian calculation in its alleged sponsorship of separatists in Ukraine. “The goal is not to go after Mr Putin personally. The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he's engaging in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul,” Obama said.

The administration said that further sanctions could include targeting sectors of the Russian economy such as financial services and energy, the impact of which would be “far more powerful” than those announced on Monday, officials said.

The tier of sanctions announced on Monday had been prepared some weeks ago but had been held back after an 17 April accord in Geneva signed by the US, Russia, EU and Ukraine, intended to defuse the crisis. US officials said Russia had done nothing to implement the measures agreed to, but had instead fuelled the separatist takeover of eastern Ukrainian cities.

Anger in Washington and Brussels was exacerbated by the continued detention of seven European military monitors by pro-Russian separatists in the town of Slavyansk. A senior US official said that the seven, including four Germans, a Pole, a Dane and a Czech officer, in Ukraine under the mandate of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), had been “subjected to abuse in capitivity” but that claim could not be confirmed.

At an emergency meeting of OSCE member states in Vienna, the US delegate, Gary Robbins, said the organisation faced “a hostage crisis”. Robbins said: “We remain disappointed that senior officials in Moscow have not condemned the abduction – nor have they demanded the team’s immediate release.”

He added: “While the government of Ukraine is working in good faith to fulfill the aspirations of the Geneva joint statement, Russia continues to deceive and destabilise its neighbour. Despite its propaganda attempting to hide the truth, Russia continues to fund, coordinate, and fuel a heavily armed separatist movement in Donetsk.”

The OSCE reported that other members of its special monitoring team had been temporarily detained by separatists in two locations near Donetsk on Sunday. Monitors were held in a heavily-barricaded police builidng in the town of Horlivka and were accused of espionage before being allowed to leave.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, the British foreign secretary, William Hague said: “Russia is already paying a serious price for its actions and the longer it breaches the independent sovereignty of Ukraine the heavier the price it will pay."

“Russia’s actions betray their fear of democracy and the rule of law taking root in their neighbourhood,” the foreign secretary added.

The principal target of Monday's sanctions was Rosneft. Not only was its president, Igor Sechin, singled out in the US blacklist, but also Sergei Chemezov, a member of the board who also directs a state-owned holding company.

Like other Russian energy firms, Rosneft has deep ties with American-based counterparts, particularly ExxonMobil, with whom it has a $500m joint venture for exploration of Arctic oil. The British oil giant, BP, also owns a nearly 20% stake in Rosneft, but said on Monday it intends to remain a long-term investor in Russia, despite the new sanctions.

Russian officials vowed to take reprisal measures for the American sanctions package. “We are certain that this response will have a painful effect on Washington,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.

The Obama administration indicated it believes it is more likely to influence Russian behaviour through economic pressure than providing additional and potentially lethal military aid to Ukraine, citing the massive discrepancy in Ukrainian and Russian military capabilities.

Last week, a contingent of US soldiers from the 173rd infantry combat team arrived in a Polish air base, part of a commitment of 600 troops the administration will send to Poland and the Baltic states on a so-called training mission that the White House hopes will have a deterrent value.

Fraud investigators in Britain also froze $23m of suspected dirty money held in the UK, as they opened an investigation into possible money laundering from Ukraine, mostly by members of the ousted regime of Viktor Yanukovych.

The announcement of a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office comes on the eve of an international conference in London aimed at helping Ukraine’s new government recover stolen assets. The two-day Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery, organised by the Foreign Office and the US attorney general, brings together investigating organisations to work on recovering millions in stolen assets.

Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International in the UK, said the $23m of suspected stolen money the SFO was looking at could be a tiny proportion of the total money embezzled by corrupt officials in Ukraine. “One would hope this would be the first announcement on a very long journey.”

Governments were working much faster to recover stolen assets than after the Arab Spring, he said. But questions persist about the UK’s legal framework for checking on stolen money. “Why was the money here in the first place? If if was corrupt it should never have been here.”

Last month the EU froze assets of former president Yanukovych, and 21 other people held responsible for embezzling state funds.

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