Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Ukraine Updates - June 15 , 2014 ---- A review of the chief news items of the day touching on diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine situation , the ongoing Civil War in South East Ukraine and the Natural Gas talks between Russia / Ukraine and the EU ......
Source: Western countries at UN SC block Russia’s statement condemning attack on embassy
UN, June 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Western countries at the United Nations Organisation’s Security Council have blocked Russia’s draft resolution condemning the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, a source at the organisation’s headquarters told Itar-Tass.
“Western delegations have blocked the draft statement for the press, which condemns the attacks on the embassy in Kiev,” the source said.
The UK, the U.S. and France were among those who voted ‘contra,’ the source said.
Russian MP: attack on Russian embassy in Kiev was organised
MOSCOW, June 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Head of the State Duma’s international committee Aleksei Pushkov says the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev was organised.
“Otherwise, how comes the attackers had explosives,” he wrote in Twitter. “It was not a spontaneous, but a thoroughly planned action.”
On Saturday, several hundred people in Kiev attacked the Russian embassy. Some 300 radical young people were throwing explosives and stones at the building. They broke up almost all glasses, and by the entrance displayed the Ukrainian national flag.
The protesters against Russia’s policy towards Ukraine blocked the central entrance to the building, turned over and almost ruined the embassy staff’s vehicles.
UN chief urges immediate end to violence in Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS, June 15, /ITAR-TASS/. chief urges immediate end to violence in Ukraine.
UNITED NATIONS, June 15 /ITAR-TASS/. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Ukrainian law-enforcers and self-defense forces to immediately halt armed hostilities amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine.
In a statement released on Saturday, the UN chief said he was concerned that recent diplomatic efforts in that direction “have not borne fruit” and appeals to all the sides “to implement urgently the April 17 Geneva Agreement, which offered a clear path to a peaceful solution.”
“The Secretary-General believes the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine characterized by growing loss of life and a deteriorating humanitarian situation highlights the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resolution of the crisis through negotiation and dialogue,” the statement said.
Russia submitted a draft Resolution on Ukraine to the UN Security Council on June 12, urging all the sides to refrain “from actions threatening the life and security of civilians” and expressing concern over the use of prohibited ammunition, including incendiary bombs, by the Ukrainian military during its punitive operation in the east of Ukraine.
The UN chief also expressed his support for newly-elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and said he stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people during this difficult time.
“Everyone must do their part to bring Ukraine back from the brink and ensure its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
Clashes have been underway between the Ukrainian military and militias in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which refused to recognize the authorities who had been propelled to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
A Kiev-led punitive operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's east that involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation has already claimed hundreds of lives, including civilian, and left some buildings destroyed and damaged.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. Their independence has not been officially recognized.
Russia has repeatedly called on Kiev to end the punitive operation and engage in dialogue with Ukraine’s east.
Civil War Watch for South East Ukraine ......
3 killed, several dozen wounded in mortar shelling of Amrosiyevka near Donetsk
DONETSK, June 15, /ITAR-TASS/. Three persons died and several dozen were wounded in shelling of the settlement of Amvrosiyevka in Ukraine’s southeastern Donetsk region overnight to Sunday, the press service of the newly proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told Itar-Tass.
“Three persons died, several dozen were injured, some received grave wounds,” the press service said. “More people who received minor wounds did not seek medical help. According to the city council, as many as 27 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged in the shelling.”
The shelling was delivered from large-caliber mortar guns.
Amvrosiyevka, an administrative centre of a district of the same name, is located 50 kilometes of Donetsk and has a population of 19,000.
Ukrainian army continues fire on Slavyansk downtown
SLAVYANSK, June 14, 21:58 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s army have resumed artillery fire on Slavyansk downtown, Donetsk Region, a local militia source has said.
“The Slavyansk resort was under fire,” the militia told Itar-Tass on Saturday.
Reports on casualties are not available yet, he said.
Meanwhile, defenders (militia) in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic launched a counteroffensive to free the town of Schastye ("happiness") earlier seized by Ukrainian forces, the press service of the republic said.
According to earlier reports, a column of armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was moving toward Lugansk from Schastye. "Preparations are underway to defend the city," one of the republic's leaders said. There was no information about the strength of the Ukrainian force that was on the way to Lugansk.
A militia source said that defenders had to retreat to Lugansk during the assault against Schastye, when Kiev's forces used combat helicopters. The defenders regrouped. Militia sources also said Ukrainian troops lost eight people in fighting near Schastye.
One of militiamen also said that when they retreated under the assault of Ukrainian armoured forces, members of the Ukrainian National Guards shot dead six-seven wounded militiamen.
The press service of the Donetsk People's Republic told Itar-Tass that defenders shot down a Su-24 bomber of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Gorlovka, the Donetsk region.
Two Su-24s attacked the police department building in Gorlovka with cluster bombs. One of the planes was shot down from a portable antiaircraft gun, a source said. The plane fell outside the city. The pilot bailed out. Groups of defenders went to search for the pilot.
The shelling of the police building, the headquarters of the local militia (self defence force), killed one and injured five people. One of them is in heavy condition.
A military transport plane with 49 people on board was shot down at Lugansk airport overnight.
"About 01:10 on June 14, 2014, when landing at Lugansk airport, an Il-76 military transport plane of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was downed by a shot from an antiaircraft missile system. On board the plane, aside from nine crewmembers, were 40 servicemen. All died," the press service of the prosecutor's office said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared mourning for June 15 over the crash of the Ilyushin-76 military transport plane at Lugansk airport.
The president also ordered to call a meeting of the Council of National Security and Defence in connection with the latest developments in the east of the country.
"I declare Sunday a day of mourning for our military. It is a heavy loss not only for the families, but for the entire country," he said in a statement on his website.
Poroshenko ordered the Council of National Security and Defence to meet and pledged to give an adequate response in connection with the latest developments in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry earlier confirmed that an Il-76 plane with servicemen, equipment and food on board was shot down at Lugansk airport overnight. Later, the Ukrainian prosecutor's office confirmed that 49 servicemen died in the crash.
Donetsk Republic leader: no humanitarian corridors in Ukraine
June 15, 3:41UTC+4 The claims the corridors exist are “another demonstrations of populism,” speaker of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic said
DONETSK, June 15. /ITAR-TASS/. No humanitarian corridors in the area of the force operation have been organised.
The claims the corridors exist are “another demonstrations of populism,” speaker of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic Denis Pushilin said.
He said the self-defence forces had information the Ukrainian security forces were approaching Donetsk from the Karlovka settlement.
On Saturday night, headquarters of the punitive operation said the corridor had been opened. “We are checking buses,” the headquarters’ Press Officer Aleksei Lebed said. As the staff sees there are no banned objects in a vehicle, security forces are escorting the vehicles which carry the relocated people.
On June 10, Ukraine’s President Pyotr Poroshenko ordered the security forces to organise a humanitarian corridor for evacuation of civilians from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Gas Talks .....
Second round of gas talks in Kiev expected after 7 pm, Moscow time
KIEV, June 15, /ITAR-TASS/. Early reports suggest that a second round of gas talks in Kiev may begin after 6 pm, local time (7 pm, Moscow time) on Sunday, a source from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry have told Tass.
“So far we cannot give the exact time and the venue of the talks,” he added. Earlier, the ministry said the talks would be held at Hilton in central Kiev. It is either not yet clear whether there will be a news conference after the talks.
According to the ministry, Russian Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, who arrived in Kiev on June 14, and European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger are still in the Ukrainian capital.
Source: next round of gas price talks on Sunday still up in the air
KIEV, June 15, /ITAR-TASS/. Another round of EU-Russia-Ukraine negotiations on the price of Russian gas for Ukraine, due to be held in Kiev on Sunday, is still up in the air, an informed source from the Ukrainian government has told Itar-Tass.
“A next round of talks ‘is up in the air’, but they (the talks) are still being planned,” the source said, adding that the exact time was still unclear.
At the same time, the press service of the Ukrainian government said on Sunday that parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk could take part in gas talks. “Arseny Yatsenyuk does not rule out his participation in three-party gas negotiations,” the report said.
Talks began in Kiev on Saturday. Taking part are parliament-appointed Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuri Prodan, Russian Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
Spokesman: Kiev round of gas talks ends without result
KIEV, June 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Gas talks at the Ministry of Coal Industry in Kiev on Saturday continued well into the night, ending at about 3 am Moscow time on Sunday without any result achieved, Russian Gazprom gas giant spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Tass.
The new date of the talks was not fixed, he added. Earlier reports said talks in Kiev ended at midnight and were to be continued on Sunday.
The deadline for Gazprom switching over to advance payment is 10:00 Moscow time June 16, when Gazprom should see 1.950 billion U.S. dollars from Naftogaz of Ukraine on its accounts as debt payment for November-December 2013 and April-May 2014.
KIEV, June 15, 0:17 /ITAR-TASS/. The tripartite talks on gas will continue in Kiev on June 15, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, appointed by the country’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada), Yuri Prodan told reporters on Sunday.
“At the past meeting, every side has expressed its suggestions,” he said. “A solution is not ready. Thus, as the EU commissioner [Gunther Oettinger] has suggested, the talks will continue tomorrow morning,” the minister said.
Russia Today ......
Ukrainian FM chants 'Putin - f**ker' at vandalized Russian embassy in Kiev
Published time: June 15, 2014 08:15 Edited time: June 15, 2014 11:55
In an incident that may be a first in diplomatic history, Kiev’s top diplomat publicly ‘effed’ the head of another state. Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa chanted “Putin’s a f**ker” with a cheering crowd that earlier vandalized the Russian embassy.
Deshchitsa arrived at the scene of the heated protest - which involved overturning cars belonging to embassy staff, the desecration of a Russian flag and pelting the building with firecrackers and paint - in an apparent attempt to defuse the crowd.
He confronted some of the protesters - or rather sided with them. Footage of the encounter shows the minister saying he is all for the protest and its goals.
“I would stand up here with you can say, Russia, get out of Ukraine,” he said. “Putin’s a f**ker, right!”
This treasure of Kiev-style diplomatic language was met with a joyous cheer among the crowd, which erupted in a concerted chant. The profane phrase comes from a chant of Ukrainian radical football fans and is very popular among anti-Russian-minded Ukrainians at the moment.
The minister looks a bit astounded by the overwhelmingly welcoming response and even sings a bit along with the protesters.
Later on Sunday, the minister turned very elusive, when grilled about the scandalous episode. He justified his actions with a need to protect the Russian embassy.
“People were very angry and we had to stop those people, not to let them go further, not to allow an attack and siege of the embassy,” he told Echo of Moscow radio. “They wanted to burn the embassy down.”
Deshchitsa didn’t explain why he thought that profane chants were better at providing security than a police guard, which Kiev was obliged, but failed, to provide.
Demonstrators stand on an overturned car during a rally against the Russian president in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)
The Ukrainian government did not immediately comment on the spectacular work Deshchitsa demonstrated in building diplomatic bridges between Kiev and Moscow in front of the Russian embassy.
No comments followed from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which will probably not be able to find a proper response to such language in its guidebooks.
Cursing at Russian President Vladimir Putin however is not unheard of from the Ukrainian politicians. Oleg Lyashko, a Ukrainian MP who scored the third-best result in last month’s presidential election, chanted the same profane song at a rally amid the election campaign.
Deshchitsa was not the only Ukrainian politician to make controversial moves at the Russian embassy on Saturday to appease the crowd. MP Nikolay Rudkovsky was also at the scene and was practically forced to hurl a stone at the embassy by the protesters, video footage showed.
However, this didn’t convince everybody of the parliamentarian’s patriotism and loyalty to the people of Ukraine. As he was preparing to leave, a masked protester accused him of being a moneybag driving around in a posh car and sprayed his face with green paint, the same that was used on the walls of the embassy.
The Ukrainian troops claimed killing over 50 militants in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, hours after losing a military transport plane with 49 people on board. The claims were not collaborated on the ground.
The massive casualty count among the ‘terrorists’, as Kiev calls local militias claiming sovereignty over Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, also includes some 150 injured military operation spokesperson Vladislav Seleznev claimed on his Facebook page. Kiev’s forces also destroyed an ammunition depot, he added.
Seleznev also claimed that the majority of those killed and injured are “non-Slavs,” without elaborating on how exactly this fact could be established, considering that the city remains under militia control.
Kramatorsk is a city located just south of Slavyansk, the Ukrainian militia stronghold besieged by Kiev loyalists since mid-April. The latest reports coming from the area didn’t mention any spikes in the death toll of the ongoing military crackdown.
The reports come a day after a military transport aircraft carrying 49 Ukrainian troops was downed At Lugansk Airport. It was the largest-ever single loss Kiev acknowledged over the months of violence in eastern Ukraine.
The debris of an IL-76 transporter which was taken down by pro-Russian rebels early on June 14, on the outskirts of Lugansk June 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Daniel Mihailescu)
Seleznev’s claims of a major victory near Slavyansk were mirrored by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who announced “a counter-offensive” phase in the operation in a televised address.
“You should know that today the Ukrainian army for the first time launched a counter-offensive. Our troops started to press terrorists,” the president said. “I tasked the armed forces of Ukraine to take control of Ukraine’s state border through which terrorists get weapons, equipment, support and money."
Poroshenko said Kiev gained control over 11 residential areas in southeastern Ukraine which were previously under the control of militias.
Kiev has been using increasingly indiscriminate and overwhelming military force in a bid to bring the rebellious provinces under its control, escalating from gun raids to mortar shelling to heavy artillery fire and airstrikes. The violence claimed several hundreds of lives of local civilians, militiamen and Ukrainian troops, according to conservative estimates.
Cities affected most by the crackdown, such as Slavyansk, have suffered serious damage in the onslaught and are facing shortage of essentials like water and medicine. Thousands of people fled the area, many of them going across the Russian border to find refuge.