Thursday, September 18, 2014


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Live Blog: Ukraine In Crisis

September 18, 2014

A pro-Russian rebel looks out from a viewing panel at the entrance of the Vostok battalion base in Donetsk.
A pro-Russian rebel looks out from a viewing panel at the entrance of the Vostok battalion base in Donetsk.

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Latest News

 

-- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is due to visit Washington today where he will address Congress and meet with U.S. President Barack Obama. Poroshenko is making his first visit to Washington as Ukraine's president and is hoping to convince the U.S. government to provide further help for his country. 

 

-- A reporter from the BBC says his team was attacked in Russia while investigating reports of Russian servicemen being killed near the border with Ukraine.

 

-- The European Union says new Ukrainian laws offering pro-Russian rebels an amnesty and special status were "important steps" toward a peaceful solution to the conflict in the east of the country. EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said, "Our point of view is that Ukraine has delivered on the Minsk agreement."

 

-- Ukrainian Prime Minister Artseniy Yatsenyuk has told the government that 1 million civil servants will be screened under the so-called lustration law to fight corruption and rid the system of people loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in February.

 

 

*NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Kyiv


12:24
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11:17
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11:12
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11:07
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Timothy Garton-Ash has been writing in "The Guardian" about how Europe should respond to Russia's involvement in Ukraine:

Our plan should have three main prongs – military, political and economic – each of them with multiple components, all to be adapted as circumstances change. The US has its part to play, but in a supporting, not leading, role.

To have a plan, we Europeans must know what we are responding to. This is difficult, since Putin is in the erratic, hubristic mental state typical of your late-period autocrat. Nonetheless, my best guess is that what he currently aims to do is to keep southeastern Ukraine in such a state of turmoil, divided power and Russian influence that the country as a whole cannot consolidate its position as a sovereign, functioning state – let alone move closer to the EU and Nato. Crucial to this strategy is a porous Russian-Ukrainian frontier, through which Russian arms and agitators can move at will.

This was not Putin’s original idea. He wanted a whole client state inside his Eurasian Union, not half a ruined house. But he seems to be falling back on what in the post-Soviet world has come to be known as the “frozen conflict” option. How, then, to respond to it, while keeping our eyes wide open for both worse and better possibilities?

Some have argued for an escalation of military support to the Ukrainian armed forces, so they are in a position to win. Morally, that seems justifiable. Realistically, it won’t work. Following reforms of the Russian military over the past six years Putin has modernised, effective forces just across the frontier, and his generals have thought hard about the new forms of covert, undeclared warfare they have practised rather successfully in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

You cannot transform Ukraine’s own military overnight by equipment transfer and training, any more than you can turn a battered old Lada into a BMW simply by inserting a BMW gearbox and hiring a German mechanic. Unless Washington is prepared to wage an undeclared war against a still nuclear-armed Russia, Moscow will have what strategists call escalation dominance. Putin can always up the ante, and has shown that he will.

Nonetheless, western countries should deliver carefully selected equipment, supplies and training to the Ukrainian military, and not least to their frontier forces. In the longer term, one of the keys to ensuring that Putin does not get his “frozen conflict” is to close that frontier. Nato as a whole must also make it plain that no such Russian covert military or paramilitary tricks will be allowed on any square centimetre of Nato territory – and that includes places such as the largely Russian-populated Estonian city of Narva, hard by the Estonian-Russian frontier.

Diplomatic and political negotiations should be tried whenever possible. But the chances of reaching a constitutional settlement in eastern Ukraine that is acceptable to both Putin’s Russia and Kiev’s Ukraine are small. None of the sides can agree what is meant by words like decentralisation, federalisation or “special status”, and to which areas they apply. (“Ukraine is free to adopt any law it wants,” one rebel leader in Donetsk told AFP, “but we are not planning any federalism with Ukraine.”)

More fundamentally, Putin cannot actually want a stable, peaceful, durable settlement, since this would allow Ukraine to function as a federal state, capable of coming closer to the EU. He and his supporters may care about the fate of those they see as Russians in neighbouring states; but Putin’s great game is geopolitics, not the detail of local minority rights.

Read the entire article here

10:57
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10:51
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Disturbing news this: Steve Rosenberg from the BBC says that his team was attacked while investigating reports of Russian soldiers' deaths in the Ukraine conflict:

A BBC team has been attacked in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan.

We had gone to investigate reports of Russian servicemen being killed near the border with Ukraine.

As we left a cafe and approached our car, we were confronted and attacked by at least three aggressive individuals.

Using physical violence the men grabbed our camera, smashed it on the road, and then escaped with it in a getaway car. During the scuffle the BBC cameraman was knocked to the ground and beaten.

The team is now safe and back in Moscow.

Following the attack, we spent more than four hours being questioned in a local police station.

We discovered later that while we were there, back in the car some of our recording equipment had been tampered with.

The hard drive of the main computer as well as several memory cards with video material had been wiped clean.

09:49
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Good morning. The main news so far today:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is due to visit Washington on September 18 where he will address Congress and meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Poroshenko is making his first visit to Washington as Ukraine's president and is hoping to convince the U.S. government to provide further help for his country. 

The United States has been supportive of Ukraine's government in its struggle with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The United States, along with the European Union and others, have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia for the Kremlin's interference in Ukraine.

Poroshenko arrives in the United States after visiting Canada where Prime Minister Stephan Harper and the Canadian parliament vowed to continue their support for Poroshenko and his government.

Harper told Poroshenko Canada would never recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea or any other part of Ukraine.

22:40
September 17, 2014
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This ends our live-blogging for September 17. Be sure to check back tomorrow for our continuing coverage.

22:39
September 17, 2014
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Some interesting numbers here: 

21:55
September 17, 2014
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