Friday, April 11, 2014

Ukraine Updates April 11 , 2014 --Kiev backpedals on referendums after deadline to stop protest expires - The U-turn comes after Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege protester-held buildings. At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk, one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism and will only act in accordance with the law, local media reported. ........ Donetsk Separatists Warn Civilians at Risk if Govt Attacks Protesters Spurn 'Amnesty' Offer as Ultimatum Deadline Nears .....Russia's Lavrov says NATO forces in Eastern Europe would violate agreements ........ Russia: NATO Photos of Forces Near Ukraine Were Taken Last August Ukraine Troops Involved in Drill Shown in Images


Ukraine Prepares Military Response To Russian "Act Of Aggression"; Fears Specter of "Gas Wars"

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Following more firefights and government building seizures amid the so-called "liberation of Southeast Ukraine," the Maidan's demands that the government not "give up like in Crimea" appear to be resonating woth leadership. Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov has declared: "The Ukrainian authorities consider the events of the day as a display of external aggression from Russia," adding that, ""Units of the interior and defense ministries are implementing an operational response plan." Russia was quick to respond with threats of war action if Ukraine suppresses pro-Russia 'self-defense' forces. As Reuters adds, with the crisis escalating militarily, the specter of "gas wars" is looming with Ukraine's Energy Minister declaring, "we are probably steering towards Russia turning off its gas provision."
government considers today actions as a manifestation of external aggression http://bit.ly/1gneaUU 










New Straits Times


US sanctions Crimea's breakaway leaders

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WASHINGTON: The United States unveiled sanctions Friday against six of Crimea’s breakaway leaders, including the official who signed the deal with Moscow to split the peninsula from Ukraine.

US officials have been warning for days that more sanctions against  individuals and companies were in the works, as it calls on Moscow to  de-escalate tensions and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine’s eastern border  in the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
A first wave of US sanctions unveiled in March notably blacklisted  officials and businesspeople close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to  protest Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.
The new Treasury sanctions targeted the former vice speaker of Ukraine’s  parliament, Sergei Tsekov, who helped pave the way toward the March referendum  in Crimea that led to its annexation by Russia and was branded “illegal” by the  West.
Tsekov now serves as Crimea’s representative in the Russian parliament.
The US Treasury also blacklisted Chernomorneftegaz, a gas company whose  assets were seized by the Crimean parliament and are now managed by Moscow.
“Crimea is occupied territory. We will continue to impose costs on those  involved in ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial  integrity,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial  Intelligence David Cohen.
The seven individuals targeted by the US have already been placed on EU  sanctions lists.
News of the fresh American sanctions came as it was announced that four-way  talks between the US, EU, Ukraine and Russia on the crisis would be held in  Geneva on April 17.
Also targeted in the latest sanctions — which freeze the US-based assets  of all listed persons — was Aleksei Chaliy, the mayor of Sevastopol, who  signed the deal on March 16 to unite Crimea with Russia.
He was joined by Crimea’s deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev, and  Yuriy Zherebtsov, said to be among the main organisers of the referendum.
Electoral officials Mikhail Malyshev and Valery Medvedev were also targeted  for administering the vote, which has been denounced by the US and its European  allies.
The former head of the Ukrainian security services, Pyotr Zima, who was  dismissed after swearing an oath of loyalty to the new Crimean authorities, was  also placed on the list. He is now the head of the Crimean security services.
The Crimea-based gas company Chernomorneftegaz was listed “because it is  complicit in the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an  economically significant entity in Ukraine,” the Treasury said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday  that the United States and its allies should prepare new sanctions against  Russia if it escalates the crisis over Ukraine.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, “apparently with support from  Moscow, continue an orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to  undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state,” the White House said in a  statement.
Republican Senator John McCain, a former presidential candidate and an  influential Washington foreign policy hawk, said that NATO satellite images  made it clear that “Russia has poised a menacing force near the Ukrainian  border as part of its effort to destabilise Ukraine and destroy its chance for  independence, self-determination and democracy.”     
He accused the Obama administration of not doing enough to deter Russia.
“So far, the administration’s only response has been to issue sanctions on  a few individuals and threaten the likelihood of more sanctions if Russia takes  further action,” McCain said.
“No one should believe that these measures have effectively deterred  President Vladimir Putin.”--AFP




EU taking Putin’s letter on gas transit ‘seriously’ – Merkel

Published time: April 11, 2014 18:13
Edited time: April 11, 2014 19:08

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AFP Photo/Ronny Hartmann)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AFP Photo/Ronny Hartmann)
The EU is taking seriously President Vladimir Putin’s letter to 18 European countries, in which he warned that Ukraine’s debt crisis could affect gas transit from Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
"There are many reasons to seriously take into account this message […] and for Europe to deliver a joint European response,” Itar-Tass reported Merkel as saying.

She said the issue would be discussed in a meeting between European Union foreign ministers Monday.
Speaking in Athens on Friday, Merkel stressed that the price on natural gas should be negotiated. She also said that EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and representatives of European states should talk to Russia’s biggest gas producer, Gazprom.
“When we take all these steps, we can be sure that we have reached a joined response for the countries that face this problem because they are getting gas from Gazprom,” Merkel said, adding European states "would like to be good clients but we would also like to be sure Russian gas supplies are not interrupted."
Merkel said that she also discussed this stance with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.“There are no disagreements on this,” she said.
On Thursday, Putin wrote a letter to the leaders of 18 European countries, major consumers of Russian gas such as Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland and Romania, warning that Ukraine’s debt crisis reached a “critical” level and could threaten transit to Europe.
He told Russia’s European partners that Gazprom would be forced to ask Ukraine for advance payments.
“In other words, we’ll be supplying exactly the volume of gas that Ukraine pays for a month in advance,” he wrote.
After the coup in Kiev, Gazprom ended all discounts and now charges $485 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. This is a price Ukraine says it will not be able to pay because it threatens Ukraine's ability to continue normal gas transit operations to Europe.
Putin also said, however, that introducing advance payments would be an extreme measure.
“We understand that this increases the risks of unsanctioned retrieval of gas flowing through the territory of Ukraine to European consumers," he said. "And it could also hinder accumulation of gas supplies in Ukraine necessary to provide for consumption during the autumn-winter period.”
On Friday, Putin said that still Russia would fully honor its obligations to supply natural gas to European partners.
"Russia is acting very exactly, very considerately and respectfully towards our partners. We will certainly guarantee in full the honoring of all our obligations to our European consumers. We are not the problem, the problem is ensuring transit via Ukraine," he said.





Europe Folds As Putin Tells It To Pay Ukraine's Gazprom Bill, Or Else

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Another day ending in "y" means another day in which Putin plays the G(roup of most insolvent countries)-7 like a fiddle.
The latest: Europe should provide aid to Ukraine to ensure uninterrupted natural-gas deliveries to the region, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said as reported by Bloomberg.
"Russia is the only country helping Ukraine’s economy with energy supplies that are not paid for,"  Dmitry Peskov told reporters today in Moscow,  commenting on President Vladimir Putin’s letter yesterday to 18 European heads of state. “The letter is a call to immediately review this situation, which is absurd on the one hand and critical on the other.
Said otherwise: PUTIN SAYS EUROPE GAS TRANSIT DEPENDS ON UKRAINE: IFX
Or, as we explained yesterday, Russia is quite happy to keep the EU gas flowing...as long as Ukraine has enough gas in storage to assure Gazprom it won't syphon off gas destined for Europe. So how much gas does Ukraine need to pre-stock? About $4-5 billion worth. The problem is that Ukraine doesn't have a dime to spend on gas.
So putting the question aside if Ukraine will or won't import even one bcf of Russian gas ever again (thanks to some fracking or US natgas exporting magic), what Putin just said is that if Europe wants an uninterrupted supply of gas it better find a way to fund Ukraine to the tune of up to $5 billion, or else the gas may just get shut off.
And guess what: Putin is about to win yet again:  
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is working on a plan to help Ukraine pay some of its gas bills to Russia, he told Austria's ORF radio on Friday, saying there was "no reason to panic" about Russian gas supplies to Europe.

"We are in close contact with Ukraine and its gas company to ensure that Ukraine remains able to pay and the debts that the gas company has to Gazprom do not rise further," he said, adding he would meet Ukraine's energy and foreign ministers on Monday.

"I am preparing a solution that is part of the aid package that the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank is giving to Ukraine and from which payment for open bills will be possible."
The chess game continues: Putin X+1 - Pigeons 0 








Putting The "Costs" Of US Sanctions On Russia In Context

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Despite Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's insistence that "costs" have been imposed on Russia:
  • *LEW SAYS SANCTIONS IMPACT SHOWN IN RUSSIAN STOCKS, FX RATE
It appears from the chart below that - once again - for the elites "when it gets serious, you have to lie."


and if it's not stocks then...
  • *LEW SAYS SANCTIONS CAUSING 'REAL PRESSURE' ON RUSSIA ECONOMY 
We are sure that US will hockey-stick but Russia won't?

"costs" indeed...






Kiev backpedals on referendums after deadline to stop protest expires





Published time: April 11, 2014 09:52


Edited time: April 11, 2014 10:50
Ukraine federalization supporters carrying sand sacks for building barricades around the building of the regional administration in Donetsk on April 10, 2014. (RIA Novosti)
Ukraine federalization supporters carrying sand sacks for building barricades around the building of the regional administration in Donetsk on April 10, 2014. (RIA Novosti)
Just after a deadline set by Kiev for protesters in eastern Ukraine to vacate seized buildings expired, Parliament-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk pledged to push through a law allowing regional referendums in the country.
Holding referendums on the status of their respective regions was among the main demands posed by anti-Maidan activists, who have taken over a number of governmental buildings in eastern Ukraine this week.
Ukrainian law currently does not allow regions to hold referendums separately from the rest of the country. It was one of the main arguments Kiev voiced in declaring illegal last month’s referendum in Crimea, which ended with the peninsula’s seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Speaking in Donetsk, one of the regions engulfed by the anti-Kiev protests, Yatsenyuk said his government wants greater autonomy for Ukrainian regions, including the abolition of the offices of capital-appointed governors.
He was speaking just as a 48-hour deadline, which Kiev gave to protesters to liberate the seized buildings, expired. Previously the central authorities threatened to use force, including that of the military and even threatened their opponents as terrorists, unless they withdrew from the buildings.
Arseny Yatsenyuk (RIA Novosti / Grigoriy Vasilenko)
Arseny Yatsenyuk (RIA Novosti / Grigoriy Vasilenko)

The U-turn comes after Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege protester-held buildings. At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk, one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism and will only act in accordance with the law, local media reported.
The unconfirmed act of defiance comes days after the siege by police of a protesters-seized building in Kharkov, which ended with dozens of activists being arrested. On Thursday, a local police lieutenant-colonel spoke to the media, claiming that he and other officers had been deceived by the Kiev authorities. He claimed that they were sent to take over the building under the pretext that it was held by dangerous armed bandits. In fact the protesters had only improvised clubs and offered no resistance to the storming troops.
The officer, Andrey Chuikov, said he would no longer take “criminal” orders and announced his resignation from the police, adding that he would be sacked anyway by his superiors for speaking to the press.
Discontent with the new authorities in Kiev, which has been brewing in eastern and southern Ukraine for weeks, escalated on Monday, as protesters in several cities started to take over governmental buildings. Protests took place in the cities of Donetsk, Kharkov and Lugansk, while smaller protest actions and some clashes were reported in Odessa and Nikolayev.
Pro-Russian protesters hold placards during their rally outside the regional state administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 10, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoliy Stepanov)
Pro-Russian protesters hold placards during their rally outside the regional state administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 10, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoliy Stepanov)

Donetsk activists remain in control of the regional administration building and have built three lines of barricades to defend themselves from a possible siege. They have declared the Donetsk region, which is home to about one-tenth of the population of Ukraine, a “people’s republic” and have demanded a referendum on its future status. They also declared forming a “people’s army” in response to threats from violence form Kiev.
Negotiations between the activists and the Kiev-appointed authorities of the region were held on Thursday and into Friday morning. They are trying to hammer out a deal to deescalate the tension, which includes some sort of joint patrols formed by police and the activists of Donetsk and a possible relocation of the protesters to a nearby building.
In Lugansk, activists are maintaining their hold on a Ukrainian Security Service office. They also cordoned off a base of the Interior Ministry’s troops on Thursday night, saying this would prevent their deployment for a crackdown on the protest, although later the blockade was lifted.
Meanwhile, in Kharkov, where police on Tuesday captured a regional administration building and took more than 50 activists into custody, the protests do not seem to be calming down. On Thursday evening several hundred people picketed the building, despite a court ban on doing so. A mass protest rally is scheduled for Sunday.


and....



Donetsk Separatists Warn Civilians at Risk if Govt Attacks

Protesters Spurn 'Amnesty' Offer as Ultimatum Deadline Nears

by Jason Ditz, April 10, 2014
Protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk continue to shore up their defenses today, as the 48 hour ultimatum to surrender to the central government nears, and a planned military offensive seems more and more likely.
The protesters have taken several government buildings around the inner city, and warn the “siege” area is such that if the offensive happens “they will end up killing a lot of civilians” along with the secessionists.
Locals also confronted Ukrainian troops and artillery along the road near the city, sparking arguments with the military. The troops insisted they were there to counter Russia’s military, but the locals believe they are part of the offensive.
The Interior Ministry has demanding the unconditional surrender of all secessionists,saying they won’t be charged with seeking secession if they submit, though the protesters say they have no intention of giving up, demanding a referendum of federalisation and autonomy for their region.



Russia's Lavrov says NATO forces in Eastern Europe would violate agreements


MOSCOW Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:31am EDT

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(Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said the deployment of NATO forces in eastern European countries close to Russia would violate of agreements between Moscow and the alliance, the Interfax news agency reported.
Lavrov said even the fact that NATO was discussing deploying troops or installations on territories "closely adjacent" to Russia ran counter to the Founding Act agreed by Russia and the military alliance in 1997, Interfax reported.




Russia: NATO Photos of Forces Near Ukraine Were Taken Last August

Ukraine Troops Involved in Drill Shown in Images

by Jason Ditz, April 10, 2014

NATO military commanders have been bandying about a handful of satellite images of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, claiming they are proof of an imminent military invasion of their western neighbor.
Russian officials have confirmed the photos are authentic, but the narrative is not, saying the images were actually taken back in August of 2013 during the Combat Commonwealth military drills.
The drills were held along the Ukrainian border, but embarrassingly enough actually included Ukrainian troops, as Ukraine and Russia were on good terms before last month’s regime change.
Russia is currently holding military drills near Ukraine with around 40,000 troops, though NBC reporters in the area reported they were virtually all ground troops and armored personnel carriers, and not the balanced invasion force NATO is portraying.