MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP
From RFE/RL's News Desk:
INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST ESCAPES RUSSIA, SEEKS ASYLUM IN U.S.
By RFE/RL's Russian Service
The editor-in-chief of an independent Russian news website says he will seek political asylum in the United States.
Oleg Potapenko told RFE/RL on November 26 that he has arrived in the United States despite efforts by Russian authorities to prevent him from leaving the country.
Potapenko is editor of Amurburg.ru, a news site in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk that has reported about the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
On November 12, the openly gay Potapenko and his partner were prevented from boarding a flight from Khabarovsk to Hong Kong after border guards said a page was missing from Potapenko's passport.
Potapenko says the page was cut out by a police officer who requested his passport for a check earlier that day.
He told RFE/RL that he had managed to leave Russia from another city, Vladivostok, on November 16.
MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA TRAMPLING ON INTERNATIONAL LAW
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russia's actions in Ukraine are a violation of international law and a threat to peace in Europe.
Speaking bluntly in an address to Germany's parliament on November 26, Merkel said, "Nothing justifies the direct or indirect participation of Russia in the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk."
She told the Bundestag that Russia's actions have "called the peaceful order in Europe into question and are a violation of international law."
But she suggested there was no swift solution, saying, "Our efforts to overcome this crisis will require patience and staying power."
Germany has become increasingly frustrated over Moscow's refusal to heed Western calls to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists who have seized control of large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine.
Close ties between Russia and Germany have been strained by the Ukraine crisis.
(Based on reporting by Reuters)
UKRAINE SAYS MORE RUSSIAN MILITARY IN EAST
Ukraine has leveled fresh charges that Russia is sending military support to pro-Russian separatists in the east.
A foreign ministry spokesman said five columns of heavy equipment were spotted crossing into Ukrainian territory on November 24.
Evhen Perebyinis told journalists on November 25 that a total of 85 vehicles had been detected in the five columns that entered at the Izvaryne border crossing point from Russia.
"The Russian side is continuing to provide the terrorist organizations of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics with heavy armaments," said Perebynisis.
Separately, the Ukrainian military said one soldier had been killed and five others wounded in the past 24 hours as a shaky cease-fire declared on September 5 continued to come under pressure.
The six-month conflict in the east of Ukraine has left more than 4,300 people dead, according to the United Nations.
(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)
RUSSIA SAYS IT WON'T ANNEX ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA
Russia has rejected accusations that it is planning to annex Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RFE/RL’s Current Time program on November 25: “There can be no question about any annexations.”
Georgia and the West have criticized a "strategic partnership" agreement between Russia and Abkhazia signed on November 24.
Tbilisi condemned the pact as an attempt by Moscow to annex the region.
Karasin also said Russia will “continue sparing no effort, nerves, financial expenses” to make sure its neighbors “do not feel endangered.”
"As a large state and a powerful country, Russia is constantly responsible for stability on its borders and everything that is under way along its borders," he added.
Under the "strategic partnership," Russian and Abkhaz forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander.